Total Pageviews

Saturday, September 24, 2016

MY LATEST WAIKIKI VACATION: Day 1

My day started with a $6 bento from Mitsuken on my lanai--garlic chicken, chow fun and nishime:


The restaurant has had a checkered past, but their garlic chicken is good.

Yesterday, you read that I just got a TheBus Seniors Pass.  Now, I can catch any bus anywhere.  So, while millions pay thousands, tolerating all the hassle, and wasting a lot of time, for "free," I boarded the #4 just outside 15 Craigside.  One reason why I wanted to get this pass is that, as you enter, there is a sign that says NO LUGGAGE allowed.  I figured, with a small wheely, walking cane and pass, I would be allowed on board.  Yes, it worked.  The problems with any bus are the odoriferous smells, potential of being seated next to a psychopath and danger of being mugged while waiting.  However, this is true anywhere you go, so, what the heck.

At one time this bus went into town, up to the University of Hawaii, and through Waikiki.  No more, as it now does not enter Waikiki.  After showing my pass, I subconsciously asked for a transfer, and the busman looked puzzled, but gave me one.  A minute later, it occurred to me that I never again needed a transfer, for I had that pass.  So I returned the transfer to the driver, and he said he didn't want to argue, but got the best laugh of the day from my mistake.  Anyway, it is then a short walk to the Westin Moana Surfrider after the second bus.  My room view of Waikiki Beach:


Actually, that is a close-up.  A giant banyan tree blocks most of the beach, but right here is where, a weekly radio program, Hawaii Calls, started in 1935 and ran through 1975.  Hawaiian music was first conducted by Harry Owens, who wrote Sweet Leilani.


Of course, they have nightly entertainment, so the music wafts up to my lanai.  Here is a later night view from the ground level, through this tree, to my room:


This Westin has a rather nice Executive Club right next to the beach.  So I went down for a drink to prepare me for my visit to the premiere of Hawaii 5-0.


Way in the background is the screen on which will show the premiere of Season 7:


So I walked towards the screen and took some photos of the stars:

Then, my dinner hour approached, so I left.  Never got see most of main actors:


Here is a view of Waikiki Beach towards the Moana Hotel (that smallest white one in the middle):


International Market Place:


On the third floor is Michael Mina's Stripsteak.  It was in May that I had lunch at his restaurant located next to Tadich Grill in San Francisco.


The restaurant can seat 300 and the decor is fairly simple.  First came some free french fries, and the truffle dip to the left was terrific:


I had a Sapporo and junmai daiginjo sake.  Also gratis was the Kurobuta Instant Bacon, which was spectacular:


I believe this version of Berkshire pork comes from Idaho.  Unfortunately, my camera stopped operating at this point, so I had to use my ancient iPhone for the rest of the meal.  I ordered a Caesar Salad and three ounces of Japanese A5 Wagyu Beef from Miyazaki, with foie gras:


The service here is as good as it can get, and Lauren was fabulous (sorry for my iPhone photo):


I got to know the General Manager, Ron Bonafacio, who toured my through their kitchen:


I met Executive Chef Ben Jenkins:


These photos don't show the huge size (largest I've ever been in) of the kitchen and ballet-like orchestration of the cooking and serving staff.  I think Ron told me that they had 125 people working last night.  

How was the cuisine?  About the best I've had this year, but with tax and tip, the cost was $200.  I'll need to get a 15 Craigside outing here someday soon and inform Chaine des Rotisseurs about this place.

-
To be Typhoon Megi looks now to reach Category 3 strength and make landfall over Taiwan:


-

Friday, September 23, 2016

HOW TO GET TheBus ANNUAL SENIOR PASS


I live in Honolulu.  I'm at least 65 years old.  I should qualify for TheBus Senior Pass.  Very few of you reading this posting falls in this category, but I'm touching on this subject for those who might, for I went through an experience yesterday you can avoid.

I thought I would walk into downtown Honolulu and get this pass at the Satellite City Hall Office located on Fort Street Mall.  However, as I was walking down Nuuanu Avenue, a #4 bus was admitting passengers at the stop, so I paid a dollar and caught it.  The driver handed me a transfer, and my first thought was I won't need this, for in a few minutes I would be able to get on any bus for free.  However, by then I had moved on and, as there was no trash can, I put the transfer into my pocket.

I got off and had a short walk to the office.  I should have filed a complaint, but there was bird excrement all along the length of the handrail.  Thankfully, there was no line. 

    I filled a form.  Turns out that the ONLY PLACE YOU CAN INITIALLY PURCHASE A SENIOR ANNUAL PASS IS AT TheBus PASS OFFICE.  Nowhere in the information provided on the web site is it stated that this bus pass office is located at Middle Street, known as the Kalihi Transfer Center.  It was past lunchtime, so I noticed a MacDonald's next to the the bus stop where I had to catch a bus to TheBus Pass Office.  I thought that sign to the left was so appropriate.

    I had an early upcoming dinner, so I just wanted something simple.  I thought a large fries for $2.79 was awfully cheap.  This is a lot of fries.  At the bus stop after lunch I had to determine which bus actually went to the Kalihi Transfer Center.  

    How convenient, but the next bus actually said Kalihi Transfer Center.  Luckily, I still had the transfer in my pocket, so I gave it to the driver, halfway expecting him to turn me down.  But, I got on for free.  In case you someday need to do this, make sure that the bus turns left immediately after this sign (this has been a very religious day):
    I filled a different color form at the office, paid $60 for two years, and initially felt that was awfully high, but, then, one appetizer at a fine dining restaurant can cost that much and more.  I'm actually quite proud of my first Senior TheBus Pass:


    A few more points.  First, if you are older than 64, don't catch TheBus much and only want to pay $1 for each ride, all you need to do is to show your Medicare card.  You can also purchase a Senior Card for $10.  Mind you, you still need to pay a dollar for each ride.  This is getting complicated, but you can also purchase a monthly pass sticker for $5, which is affixed to the TheBus Senior Card.  Now, you won't need to pay that dollar.  But why bother with all that, for $30 gets you unlimited usage for a year, and $60 for two years.  I have some confidence I'll be around that long.
    -
    Tropical Storm Megi has popped up, will become a Category 2 and head for Taiwan:


    -

    Thursday, September 22, 2016

    ON THE MATTER OF GOING AROUND THE WORLD

    Circumnavigation is the term used for around the world travel.  There are various interpretations of what this means, but the simplest is to start and end at the same place and cross the equator at least once.  Thus, you will at least travel 24,901 miles, the circumference of Planet Earth.

    My circumnavigation feats are mundane, accomplished by many tens of thousands.  However, beginning in 1982, when my wife and I flew on Pan American 1, I have now completed this journey perhaps a dozen times.

    Star Alliance and Oneworld are the two partnerships worthy of your consideration.  I have flown United Airlines all my life, so all my global experience has been with Star Alliance.  While there are prices for various distance levels, essentially, coach costs around $5,000, business $10,000 and first class $20,000.  Once you get started, you can actually make any flight adjustment on time and day, but not the itinerary itself.

    Thus, my adventures were all accomplished via air.  So on 2 January 2016 I announced my intention to plan for Global Cruise 2018.  Alas, various conflicts now mean this will be Global Cruise 2020.  For good reason, I suppose, more people click on this subject area than almost anything else.  I am accumulating a list of people who might want to join me, and, in particular, I continue to search for that special female individual who can be my cabin mate.

    But, as I said, my global travels pale in comparison to the accomplishments of the following individuals:
    • (I began this posting two days ago, for on September 20, 1519, Magellan set sail from Seville, with five ships and 270 men.)  Who is the first person to go around the world?  Not Ferdinand Magellan, for he was killed in the Philippines.  Spanish explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano (right) then took command of the Victoria, and with 18 crew members, returned to their home port of Seville.

    • In 1577 Queen Elizabeth I of England sent Francis Drake on a similar mission, and he completed the second circumnavigation in 1580.
    • In 1922 Cunard's Laconia departed New York on 21 November 1922 as their first scheduled around the world cruise, mostly with middle class Americans, and returned 130 days later after calling at 22 ports.  Two decades later, the Laconia was sunk by a German submarine. 
    • In 1924 the U.S. Army Air Service, using a quartet of Douglas World Cruiser biplanes successfully competed a world trip.
    • In 1929 the airship Graf Zeppelin went around the world.
    • Yuri Gargarin in 1961 was the first person to complete an orbital spaceflight in the Vostok 1, spending 108 minutes in space.
    • Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager in 1986 made the first non-refueled circumnavigation in the Rutan Voyager, taking a little more than 9 days.
    • In 1947 Pan Am began a scheduled round-the-world flight as #1 and #2.  Then in 1962 PA 1 became a daily using Boeing 707s, replaced in 1971 by the Boeing 747.  Pan Am went bankrupt on 1991 and was largely taken over by Delta.
    • 1986:  Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones were the first on the Breatling Orbiter 3 to ballon around the world, in a little more than 17 days.
    • 2005:  Steve Fossett on the Virgin Atlantic GobalFlyer, designed with Burt (younger brother of Dick) Rutan, in 2005 flew the globe in 67 hours.   Fossett disappeared two years later on a flight.
    • 2008:  the trimaran Earthrace completed a global ocean voyage in 61 days.
    • Then, of course, Solar Impulse 2, in July of this year, with Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg piloting the aircraft, went around the world, only powered by the sun.  It did take them 16 months or so, but that is because the plane spent a long vacation in Hawaii because of the not-quite-yet-perfect lithium batteries, something that is currently plaguing Samsung's Galaxy Note 7.

    Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days (Kindle copy is only 81 cents), of course, is fictional, but here is a fairly complete list of the notable circumnavigations.


    -




    Wednesday, September 21, 2016

    A MONUMENTAL DAY

    When you get to my age, it does not take much to have a monumental day.  When I retired from the University of Hawaii nearly 17 years ago, I promised myself not to get involved with any committees or organizations.  I largely succeeded, until I moved into 15 Craigside a little more than two years ago.  I realized recently that I was chairman of three committees/subcommittees, and wondered how this happened.

    No matter.  I decided last night to totally abdicate and live life my way.  Fortunately, these chairmanships are relatively manini (in Hawaiian, insignificant).  Yet, people you live with are involved, so the tiniest of issues still needs to be treated with dignity.  

    The key leadership role was chairman of the 15C Dining and Nutrition Committee.  Eating is just about everything in a senior's community, so, in our confined universe, which is a kind of Purgatory, the responsibility is awesome.  OK, that's an exaggeration, but the fact of the matter is that I had outlived my usefulness after serving as chair for 1.5 years.  The problem is that in a place like this I was not supposed to take this role too seriously.  However, it is understandable that I suffered from hysteresis of too many decades in academia, and in the process of trying to make things work, I did not realize I was alarming too many people who run the place.  While I tried to be as diplomatic as possible, no question I alienated an individual or two or more.

    Fortunately, enough, my Dining Com (most of them I sit with at dinner time) was wise enough to, a couple of months ago, select my replacement.  No one in the real world can truly appreciate this maneuver.  People enter something like 15 Craigside to enjoy the rest of their life...like me.  Trying to get anyone to even serve on a committee is the equivalent of pulling teeth.  Then, to find anyone who has an inclination to lead any bunch is close to a miracle.

    I will not mention names, but this individual was ideal to take over, for he has a more pleasant personality.  While the timing was unexpected, he gracefully agreed to save me.  

    I can't imagine who would be interested in this kind of minutiae about my current life--after all, this is a blog site to Save Planet Earth and Humanty--but I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders.  The relief was so immense, that I decided to walk into downtown Honolulu to have Shanghai Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao or XLB).

    Dumpling Heaven was said to be at Jin Din Rou, a Japanese take on a Taiwanese chain, but it is located on King and Kaheka, and, anyway, after a big splash, it is no longer open.  The supposedly second best XLB was Ming's on Dillingham.  It too closed.  What's happening?

    XLV, or Shanghai Soup Dumpling, can also be found in walking distance from my apartment, Mandalay on Alakea:


    I ordered an Imperial dried scallop soup to accompany these dumplings.  That glass on the plate contains a jigger of scotch, which I poured into the soup.  The beer, of course, is Tsingtao. This is a Chinese restaurant, but my lunch above (plus you need to add the $17 I lost by not dining at 15 Craigside) with tax and tip cost $40!!!  However, I'm at this stage of my life where I have just enough money for my limited lifespan to essentially do whatever reasonable I want, and the crucial factor was that I could not have imagined a better lunch.  There was so much soup that I took home two-thirds. 

    I then stopped by Safeway and bought an artichoke plus Castello Blue Cheese.  My dinner, with a bottle of Stanford Governor's Selection Chardonnay, the scallop soup, Fritos, some celery and Oolong Tea was ideal to prepare me for poker tonight, where I actually won money (this is difficult to do these days because after every game five chips are skimmed off to treat us all to a fabulous lobster dinner on November 10--I am allergic to crustaceans, but I understand I can order something else):


    Incidentally, my herb garden has flowers, first spearmint, then basil:


    Now that I am in the process of gaining total control over my life, I thought I would thus celebrate my coming freedom by spending the weekend at the Westin Moana, on the beach at Waikiki.  On Friday, September 23, there is the Hawaii 5-0 premiere a short walk from the Moana, beginning at 6PM.  While the world, including Hawaii, views the first showing of season 7 on their TV, I will get it live surrounded by these actors to the left.

    Hard to believe it was all of four years ago when also stayed at the Moana, the oldest on Waikiki Beach, and visited the third year premiere.  Unfortunately, I have booked dinner at Michael Mina's Stripsteak, a brand new restaurant in the brand new International Market Place, so I'll miss the actual showing.  Not important, as I don't think I've watched one 5-0 program this year.
    I have not decided what to do on Saturday.    But a whole another day and night in Waikiki.  The options are exciting.  I wonder if Starwood allows one to grill a Japanese wagyu steak on my hotel lanai?  Clearly, this is one of those situations when it is best not to ask.  Can you imagine my getting approval to drop Pearl's ashes off at the Taj Mahal?


    -