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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MY BEST UNAGI MEAL, EVER

Unagi is not umami, which is the fifth basic taste:  sweet, sour, bitter, salty, plus savory.  I'll someday post on this sense.
Unagi is an endangered freshwater eel from Japan, Anguilla japonica, although similar varieties are now imported from countries like Taiwan, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, and, amazingly enough, the USA.  Sometimes this specie is called the Daiwa glass eel.  Anago is a similar type eel, but grows in the ocean, larger and not as oily.

The home of unagi is Lake Hamanako in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka, Japan.  The lake became salty in 1498 after an earthquake, but the first unagi farm was not established until 1891. While the eel is threatened, capture limits have been established, so the price has gone up.

Interestingly enough, this dish is mostly consumed during the summer because this eel contains high amounts of vitamin B1, which you lose from sweating.  The peak of consumption is the Midsummer Day of the Ox, which usually occurs the final week of July, this year, the 30.

Unagi kabayaki: de-boned, butterflied, grilled with a sweetened soy sauce (usually equal parts shoyu and mirin, with added sake and sugar) and served over rice.  I grew up with the canned version, but the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species might have curtailed the importation of this product.  On the other hand, I haven't tried to purchase this canned version for twenty years.
In any case, the above is all background to my latest dining adventure.  I caught The Bus into Waikiki, with an intention to have lunch, then, and this will be my posting for Thursday, walking home through my home village of Kakaako where I grew up.  Well, my remembrance is a few days after 1927, but these details remained during the first 16 years of my life.

There are two new cuisine venues in Waikiki.  Just about fully operational now is the International Marketplace, where 15 Craigside has an outing this coming Saturday.

Today, I ventured into a recently opened Waikiki Yokocho, somewhat similar to the Shirokiya Japanese Village Walk at the Ala Moana Shopping Center.

The basement of the Waikiki Plaza is not yet all open and there is not much yet of any walking public:


I decided to try Beniya:


For the uninitiated, washoku means Japanese food.  I decided to splurge with both sake and beer to accompany their specialty, unagi on rice:


No, that is not a wet towel on top of the eel to wipe your hands.  That's tamagoyaki, a simple rolled omelet.  While the above meal did cost $65, I've had a $60 Japanese breakfast in the past, and the unagi here was the best I've ever experienced.  This is the only Beniya in the world.

I then walked home from Waikiki, which will be posted on Thursday.  Tomorrow?  PEARL'S ASHES, Chapter 3.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

WHO WAS MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR?

Best as I can determine, there is no holiday in the USA followed by all states honoring one human being.  There are ten official Federal Holidays, but only seven of them are followed by every state.  The exceptions are the only ones named after people:
  • Columbus Day is a real mess because most states do what they want.
    • Hawaii calls this Discoverers' Day without giving state employees any day off.  But we do have 14 other paid holidays.
    •  Only 23 states actually honor this day as a holiday.
    • Tennessee moves it to the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Washington's Birthday has been compromised to be Presidents' Day in more than half of the states.  Abraham Lincoln is usually associated co-equally on this day.  Only two states just honor Washington.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr is the individual most honored in the USA as a person, although seven states have chosen to combine King either with Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson or Civil/Human Rights Day.
The junior is because King's father was Martin Luther King senior, also a Baptist pastor.  He, the father, was head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Atlanta and an early leader of the Civil Rights Movement.  The son was assassinated at the age of 39, but the father lived on for an additional 16 years.

The original Martin Luther (born Martin Luder) was a German professor of theology, composer, monk (because he was struck by lightning and lived, to later become a priest) and seminal figure who rejected the Roman Catholic Church and initiated the Protestant Reformation.  Luther's basis tenet was that you shouldn't be able to buy your way out of sin, and that justification came from faith alone.    

Luther translated The Bible from the Latin and married a nun, setting the model for the practice of clerical marriage.  He was excommunicated by the Pope and outlawed by Emperor Charles V.   Clearly, the name influenced the drive of both Kings.

Four years ago on this day I posted on Martin Luther King Day.  To quote:


However, he had a dream, and America will become a better place, partly through this efforts.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

A FEW REASONS WHY I DON'T THINK THERE IS A GOD

I must have believed in God earlier in my life.  I don't today for a variety of reasons.  Just two are:
  • While survey after survey show that something close to 90% of Americans believe in God, only 7% of National Academy of Sciences members do (there has not been a poll since 1998...and I would guess this number would be lower today):
     BELIEF IN PERSONAL GOD          1914   1933    1998

     Personal belief                 27.7    15       7.0
     Personal disbelief              52.7    68      72.2
     Doubt or agnosticism            20.9    17      20.8
  • If God is so great, surely, by now, he would have provided compelling proof that there is a Heaven or that he is real.

The Bible and The Koran were two golden opportunities God had to convincingly reveal His existence.  He either blew it, or, more probably, the whole concept is a grand fiction.  In both  He could have inserted a few simple statements that undeniably showed He was real.

Remember, he is omni everything, so, surely, he is also omni time.  The Bible, for example, indicates that He can foretell the future.  Could these omissions then have just been flawed judgement, or the the ignorance of mere humans crafting these documents?  Nah, He is supposedly omniscient and surely must have overriding powers.

Say in Genesis something like Planet Earth being a sphere revolving around the Sun, defying the common knowledge of those times, might have convinced me that The Bible was not a mere compilation of folk tales representing stories and science of those times.  Mind you, 350 years before Jesus Christ, at least a half century a before The Bible was first brought together, Greek thinkers had already convinced themselves of this fact.

In short, there is absolutely nothing in this publication that amazingly portends of what the world is today and of tomorrow to come.  The Bible is merely a monumental synthesis of earthly mortals, said to be the mashing of 40 authors over a millennium and a half of crystallization.  Totally missing was the inclusion of awesome facts, such as E = MC².

Why didn't the Holy Spirit insure for the inclusion of truths only He knew?  The Council of Nicaea convened by Constantine the Great (left) in 325AD and the translation into English by the King James (VI. right) version in the early 1600's did not adjust the essence of my contestation.

Mind you, there are several biblical hints:
  • Isaiah 40:22 can be interpreted to mean the circle is a sphere, but that would be stretching logic.  
  • In Matthew 12:40 the allusion is made that if a fish is in three dimensions, then the heart of the earth must mean the shape of the planet was more than mere flatness.    
  • Ephesians 4:9 does say Jesus first descended into the lower parts of the earth, so three dimensions must mean a round Earth.
  • Luke 17:34-36 talks about day and night, so the earth must be revolving.
I personally take these as only rationalizations, lacking in convincing detail.

If only God's revelations through Gabriel to Muhammad supported the concept of evolution, tossing in something about DNA, that would have been convincing.  Mind you, religious analysts have interpreted colored sheep sequences as a sign that this advanced bit of science was included.  Sure, Muhammad was a shepherd and he would not have been able to comprehend anything so abstruse as genes when the concept of microorganisms was not even hinted at for another century and a half, but he was just a medium for the message, so understanding was irrelevant.

So as a mortal still searching for an ultimate reality, my sermon on this beautiful Sunday is:

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

WHY WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO GET A PHD?

I'll tell you why I got a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.  We all have different personal objectives and one of mine was to attain the highest educational degree possible.  I almost went into law, but was never interested in becoming a medical doctor.  I did not realize, though, that this particular badge would enable me to have a life of satisfaction and security not otherwise attainable with anything less.

None of the top five 2016 Forbes billionaires has a PhD.  In fact, #1 Bill Gates ($75 billion) and #2 Amancio Ortega ($67 B) never graduated from college.  Neither did Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Ellison.  #3 Warren Buffet had two business degrees, while #4 Carlos Slim Helu ($50 B) and #5 Jeff Bezos ($45 B) are engineers.

The odds on becoming a billionaire, though, are long, very long.  Dividing 7.4 billion people by 1810 billionaires gives you 0.00002446%.  Or, that is one chance in more than 4 million.  Actually, as of this very moment, there are almost 7.5 billion humans on Planet Earth, but these numbers don't change much.

If you're black without a high school degree, your chances drop to less than 1%, or 1.7% if caucasian.  A graduate degree and your chances improve to 37%.  At 15 Craigside, the odds must be much higher than 50%, for couples need to provide $600,000 just to move in.

Anyway, one does not get a PhD just to get rich.  There are easier ways.  Yet, one reason I went into chemical engineering was because, historically, ChEs got the highest starting salary.  That was the case when I graduated in 1962, continuing to today when Forbes reported that these graduates began in 2016 at $63,389/year (that's the average for all degrees from B.S. to PhD).  #2, incidentally, was Computer Engineering and #3 Electrical Engineering.

In the U.S. three percent of us have a PhD or equivalent.  In the world, closer to 1%.  In 2000 only 1% of those in the USA had this degree, so there has been a sudden inflation.  There is concern that there are not enough jobs for those with these advanced degrees.

The Princeton Review had a report on why you shouldn't get a PhD:
  • tenured-track academic positions are difficult to obtain, and you probably won't be able to live where you want if you do succeed
  • most grad students need to juggle part-time jobs and a tough academic schedule
  • most quit at the masters level
From my experience, add:
  • finances:  I was fortunate enough to get a full fellowship, with a wife working as a registered nurse
  • passing that written exam towards a doctorate was very difficult:  I studied harder in my three years of high school than four years at Stanford, but that year preparing for these comprehensives was by far the most challenging
  • the language requirement was intimidating:  
    • Spanish was the easiest, but many failed this test several times
    • some never earned a PhD because of this lack
    • I chose French because of the romance, never having had this language before
      • spent a month taking a course just to pass this requirement
      • was instructed don't guess because the test tries to fool you
      • answered every question anyway because I always did
      • and, to this day, I don't know what happened, but I passed, mostly through pure luck
    • the foreign language requirement has been relaxed, if not eliminated
  • it takes from 5 to 6 years in graduate school to earn a PhD, but I got out in less than 4
  • however, CBS reported:
    • it takes an average of 8.2 years in graduate school
    • you can get exploited by your mentor
    • only 57% earn a PhD within 10 years of study in graduate school
    • you could end up on food stamps--33,655 in 2010
    • between 100,000 doctoral degrees were award in the U.S. from 2005 to 2009, and only 16,000 new jobs were created
    • only 14% of doctorates in the life sciences land an academic position within 5 years of graduation
    • however, non-tenure track positions now account for two-thirds of all faculty appointments
    • tenure could be eliminated in the coming years
    • openings in industry are also difficult to find
    • the average debt at graduation is $37,000
    • you can write obscure papers that only a handful of people will read, but can't eat prestige
    • THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT IF YOU'RE SMART ENOUGH TO EARN A PHD, YOU ARE SMART ENOUGH NOT TO PURSUE ONE!!!!

If I had to re-do my life and analyzed the reality, I would have gone to the University of Hawaii and certainly not Stanford.  In addition, if the sugar industry had not supported me to get a graduate degree, I would never have gone on to Louisiana State University in sugar engineering (they had the only such program in the world), which allowed me to shift into biochemical engineering for my PhD.  And, after paying my salary for a year, the C. Brewer asked me to write them an environmental report one summer to forgive everything they gave me.  No wonder they went broke.

But I learned confidence at Stanford, and that there is something beyond just surviving life.  A PhD further bestowed the gall to try to save Planet Earth and Humanity.  If I merely earned a B.S. in engineering at the University of Hawaii I would never have challenged NASA on how best to discover extrasolar planets, write the initial Senate legislation for ocean energy and hydrogen, start the wind engineering program in Hawaii, initiate an international global climate change remediation program (that was a quarter century ago), organize a team to make Hawaii a world lead for marine byproducts and spearhead the coming Blue Revolution.

On the other hand, this blog site, SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY, has miserably failed:  Donald Trump will gut global warming and renewable energy, pushing forth coal and tweeting about environmental hoaxes.  Worse, I seem to have segued into food, travel and entertainment, with occasional, and feeble, attempts at trying to inspire all towards sustainability and peace.  Hey, but I've been around the world more than ten times  (with my next global journey beginning at the end of March) and enjoy a lifestyle and reputation that would not have been possible without a PhD.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

HAWAII AIR POLLUTION

We all know that China has terrible air pollution, and India might be worse.  Greenpeace India has reported that more than a million citizens die annually from this plight.  I've been in both New Delhi and Beijing.  Here are two photos from my hotel rooms:


That's India Gate on the bottom.  I will never again, ever, go to Delhi and Beijing.  In case you are confused, New Delhi is a city in the state of Delhi.

The real time Air Quality Index for Honolulu?  Below, 15, is incredibly low:

15
Good
Updated on Friday 7:00
Primary pollutant: pm10
CurrentPast 48 hours dataMinMax
PM2.5  AQI
13Honolulu, Hawaii, USA PM25 (fine particulate matter)  measured by :
 • State of Hawaii, Department of Health, Clean Air Branch
 • Air Now - US EPA.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.1376
PM10  AQI
15Honolulu, Hawaii, USA PM10 (respirable particulate matter)  measured by :
 • State of Hawaii, Department of Health, Clean Air Branch
 • Air Now - US EPA.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.1329
SO2  AQI
1Honolulu, Hawaii, USA SO2 (sulfur dioxide)  measured by :
 • State of Hawaii, Department of Health, Clean Air Branch
 • Air Now - US EPA.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.16
CO  AQI
5Honolulu, Hawaii, USA CO (carbon monoxide)  measured by :
 • State of Hawaii, Department of Health, Clean Air Branch
 • Air Now - US EPA.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.515
Temp. 
20Honolulu, Hawaii, USA  t (temp.)  measured by Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP/APRS).2027
Pressure 
1018Honolulu, Hawaii, USA  p (pressure:)  measured by Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP/APRS).10161020
Humidity 
100Honolulu, Hawaii, USA  h (humidity)  measured by Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP/APRS).61100
Wind 
1Honolulu, Hawaii, USA  w (wind)  measured by Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP/APRS).02

Here is the latest world Air Quality Index map.  Both Hawaii and China are terrible:


From the same source, note that Hawaii is at 151.  What's happening?  First, green is good and red is unhealthy, while maroon can be deadly:

If you go to that map above and zoom in, it turns out that the 151 is in Pahala, which is just downwind of the erupting volcano.  Honolulu, it turns out, is fabulous at 15.  However, something is not right, for I look outside my window and there is serious volcanic haze (VAZE) pollution.  I remember New Delhi and Beijing looking similar in all my visits there.  Here is what this VAZE looks like this week (although I can't find any real-time map), with the emission coming from those two stars on the Big Island.  I recently wrote about my personal encounters with Puu Oo Crater, which is responsible for all this natural air pollution.

On Wednesday I quit golfing after 9 holes because the VAZE was terrible.  I felt okay, and could have continued, but I worried about volcanic particulates settling in my lungs:


I could hardly see downtown Honolulu from my apartment.  Then on Thursday I went to the SONY Open.  The VAZE had diminished a bit, but still, not good at all, although you got to be impressed with the blue sky below:


I followed Justin Thomas around for a while, and below, he is stymied by trees, but managed to hit his shot just a few yards from the hole.  I was standing right behind the flag.


Walking up to their balls, Jordan Spieth and Thomas.  Well, he eagled the final hole (this is confusing, but the first nine during the Open is the back nine--and Thomas started at the 10th) and ended up with a 59, eleven below par.  This is where I had my lunch, a chili cheese dog with beer, right behind the 9th green:


Those are my knees.  I then bought a shave ice, added the contents from a small bottle of gin, ate some Fritos and, according to this cigar ad, smoked a $1000 Gurkha Churchill reserve, at the 350-yard mark (from the 18th tee):


Yes, according to this web page, this cigar normally costs $1500, but is on sale for only $1000.  Of course, my sealing plastic is brownish color, and the one being sold is green, so on further research, I found that you can get 30 of my color for $304.50, or, around $10 each, still rather pricey.

The astonishing thing about where I was sitting was that the drives went past me.  I asked the person making the measurements what was the longest so far, and he said 408 yards.  Yesterday I was ecstatic about a 248 yard drive I had on the fourth hole at Ala Wai.  There was no wind, as was the case today at Waianae.   

I still feared that the VAZE was doing damage to my respiratory system, so I left just around when Justin Thomas was finishing with his 59.  Let's see, four times eleven would mean a minus 44.  The PGA record is -33 for 72 holes by Steve Stricker at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic, but this was a 5 round tournament, and he shot a 77 on the final day to end up third.  So Ernie Els' -31 at the 2003 Mercedes Championship at Kapalua stands as the all-time PGA tournament record.   Can Thomas beat that?

Okay, so this is Friday, and, while the Real-time Air Pollution Index in Honolulu is reported to be GOOD, my eyes tell me otherwise.  So what will I do?  I'm headed for the Ala Wai Golf Course for I do need the exercise.  And what is the RTAPI for Beijing today?  Better than Honolulu:

Beijing AQIBeijing Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). 
46
Good
Updated on Saturday 2:00
Temp.: -7°C
CurrentPast 48 hours dataMinMax
PM2.5  AQI
46Beijing PM25 (fine particulate matter)  measured by :
 • Beijing Environmental Protection Monitoring Center (北京市环境保护监测中心)
 • U.S Embassy Beijing Air Quality Monitor (美国驻北京大使馆空气质量监测).
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.25204
PM10  AQI
30Beijing PM10 (respirable particulate matter)  measured by Beijing Environmental Protection Monitoring Center (北京市环境保护监测中心).
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.5126
O3  AQI
12Beijing O3 (ozone)  measured by Beijing Environmental Protection Monitoring Center (北京市环境保护监测中心).
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.632
NO2  AQI
24Beijing NO2 (nitrogen dioxide)  measured by Beijing Environmental Protection Monitoring Center (北京市环境保护监测中心).
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.1049
SO2  AQI
4Beijing SO2 (sulfur dioxide)  measured by Beijing Environmental Protection Monitoring Center (北京市环境保护监测中心).
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.115
CO  AQI
6Beijing CO (carbon monoxide)  measured by Beijing Environmental Protection Monitoring Center (北京市环境保护监测中心).
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.250
Temp. 
-7Beijing  t (temp.)  measured by Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP/APRS).-87
Dew 
-21Beijing  d (dew)  measured by Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP/APRS).-27-10
Pressure 
1031Beijing  p (pressure:)  measured by Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP/APRS).10171031
Humidity 
33Beijing  h (humidity)  measured by Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP/APRS).1077
Wind 
2Beijing  w (wind)  measured by Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP/APRS).112


R.K. Puram, Delhi AQIR.K. Puram, Delhi Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI). 
959
Hazardous
Updated on Friday 23:00
Primary pollutant: pm10
CurrentPast 48 hours dataMinMax
PM2.5  AQI
249R.K. Puram, Delhi, Delhi PM25 (fine particulate matter)  measured by :
 • Delhi Pollution Control Commitee (Government of NCT of Delhi)
 • CPCB - India Central Pollution Control Board.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.165462
PM10  AQI
959R.K. Puram, Delhi, Delhi PM10 (respirable particulate matter)  measured by :
 • Delhi Pollution Control Commitee (Government of NCT of Delhi)
 • CPCB - India Central Pollution Control Board.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.92959
O3  AQI
20R.K. Puram, Delhi, Delhi O3 (ozone)  measured by :
 • Delhi Pollution Control Commitee (Government of NCT of Delhi)
 • CPCB - India Central Pollution Control Board.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.553
NO2  AQI
66R.K. Puram, Delhi, Delhi NO2 (nitrogen dioxide)  measured by :
 • Delhi Pollution Control Commitee (Government of NCT of Delhi)
 • CPCB - India Central Pollution Control Board.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.1878
SO2  AQI
26R.K. Puram, Delhi, Delhi SO2 (sulfur dioxide)  measured by :
 • Delhi Pollution Control Commitee (Government of NCT of Delhi)
 • CPCB - India Central Pollution Control Board.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.1053
CO  AQI
113R.K. Puram, Delhi, Delhi CO (carbon monoxide)  measured by :
 • Delhi Pollution Control Commitee (Government of NCT of Delhi)
 • CPCB - India Central Pollution Control Board.
Values are converted to the US EPA AQI standard.0113
Temp. 
12R.K. Puram, Delhi, Delhi  t (temp.)  measured by Open Weather Map.519
Pressure 
1018R.K. Puram, Delhi, Delhi  p (pressure:)  measured by Open Weather Map.10151019
Humidity 
62R.K. Puram, Delhi, Delhi  h (humidity)  measured by Open Weather Map.29100
Wind 
1R.K. Puram, Delhi, Delhi  w (wind)  measured by Open Weather Map.15
Government policy caused the air pollution in China and India.  Hawaii's problem is nature.  I wonder, sometimes, if the Hawaii Tourism Bureau and the State of Hawaii government are purposefully dampening the public health seriousness of this danger.  I've seen studies which are scientifically credible, but the language is so sufficiently vague that nothing happens.  There are TV and news reports that show mild alarm.  On the other hand, short of face masks and remaining in a filtered and air-conditioned room, I don't know what else can be done.  This situation cannot be legislated, and praying will not make a difference.  People can leave, and from personal discussions, my impression is that the population of Kona is dropping.  In a bad case scenario, our economy will go into depression because tourists will stop coming.  This is becoming a Halloween nightmare and I have no simple solution.

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