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Friday, January 20, 2017


This was a recent question in QUORA.  First of all, here is the popular knowledge:

Well, in a way, this was a trick question, because the person who responded to Quora said that Deep Springs College (DSC) was the most difficult.  Turns out he was wrong.  Most interesting place to study for two years, where no tuition is charged, and half go on to receive a doctorate at the top schools, but my calculations show that annually, only 200 or so apply for 14 slots, meaning an average acceptance of 7%.  Also in the century or so of existence, I don't recognize even one distinguished alumni.  They might begin to admit females next year.

In 2015 Alice Lloyd College (ALC) and Stanford tied at 5%.  ALC is a smallish Kentucky university which, like DSC above, requires that you work in some way, stressing leadership, responsibility and service. However, in 2016, ALC dropped to #6 at 7.1%.  #10 is the College of the Ozarks at 8.3%, right behind the Naval Academy, but ahead of Juilliard.  Ozarks is 1% black.
Further, Education Corner last year had the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia the lowest at 4.9%, with Stanford at 5.1% and Harvard at 6%.  Scanning further down the list, I see at #33 Mississippi Valley State University, a 91% black campus, at 16.2%, behind the University of California Berkeley 16%, but ahead of the US Air Force Academy 16.6%.  #40 is Rust College at 17.6%, #45 Williams College (Forbes has Williams at #2 to Stanford #1 as Best Universities) and #89 California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.

Internationally, Rajat, from India, put Stanford at 4.7% and Harvard at 5.1%, but the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) as low as 0.5%.  Another site had IIT at 2%, with Japan's eight national universities at 1%.  Ah, but Icy Wang, somehow linked to China, indicated that China's universities are the toughest to gain entrance.  He (she?) said that the Beijing (formerly known as Peking) University School of Management has an acceptance rate of 0.0003%.  For Tsinghua or Beijing University, the rate is somewhere between 0.04% to 1%.
For your interest, here are universities that have a 100% acceptance rate.  Another open enrollment list.  There are 4,726 colleges in the USA, although online options are escalating.  U.S. post high school enrollment actually has declined for five consecutive years and will continue this drop for the next two decades.   

I find some of the following surprising;
In China, only 20% of of high school graduates get enrolled in some form of  higher education.  By 2050, this percentage is projected to increase to 50.  

Apparently, then, the top universities in China are the most difficult to gain acceptance.  Next, the best Japanese universities, followed by India.  Stanford?  No comparison to Beijing (Peking) University, Tokyo University or most of the India Institutes of Technology (there are 23, and seven of them are rated #1-#7 in the country, although another list has the University of Delhi as #1).

Finally, what are top world universities?  There are various sources, but the Shanghai Ranking first appeared in 2003, and is generally considered to be the most followed:
  • #1    Harvard
  • #2    Stanford
  • #3    California at Berkeley
  • #4    Cambridge
  • #5    MIT
  • #6    Princeton
  • #7    Oxford
  • #8    CalTech
  • #9    Columbia
  • #10  Chicago
15 of the top 20 are from the USA.  Others of note:
  • #20  Tokyo University
  • #32  Kyoto University
  • #46  University of Paris
  • #58  Tsinghua University
  • #71  Peking University
  • #87  Moscow State University

Thursday, January 19, 2017


This is part two of my holiday unagi lunch and stroll I reported on Tuesday.  Nadine Kam, coincidentally, yesterday featured a full article in the Crave section of the Star-Advertiser on dinnertime at Beniya.

Me, I left the Waikiki Yokocho basement on Monday (scroll down to my Tuesday posting), intending to just walk home to 15 Craigside, at my age, a major adventure.  But I felt nostalgic, so strolled through my home village of Kakaako where I grew up.  I took the ocean path, first to Waikiki Beach:

Then, turning 180 degrees, my view in the Ewa direction towards Kakaako:

I walked by Hilton Hawaiian Village, and, here, rested a while:

Then through Ala Moana Beach Park along the canal, where I noticed a dozen baobab trees, this one with Ala Moana Shopping Center in the background;

A picturesque scene along the canal:

You'd never recognize the Ewa-Makai (southwest) corner of the shopping center.  Park Lane, the $1 billion luxury condo will accept its first occupants in April.  A Black-Crown Night Heron also was curious about these apartments:

There are a few units still for sale, but the price ranges from $4 million to $10 million.  Location!  Location!  Location!

Then, a lagoon at the west end where I went Samoan crabbing:

Skye Manuel, not me, and this is his Hawaii record of 7 pounds 7 ounces.  Turning around, the new Waiea, into which Nobu's recently re-located.  Still a few units open, from $2 million to $35 million:

I continued walking to Kewalo Basin at the Ewa end, which was my site for sayori, or half-beak (the beak is on the bottom).  In my days, there were these Japanese-type fishing boats moored here.  We chummed the waters with bread, and the exciting moment came when the school showed up.  

We used long bamboo poles with a line, small lead and 1/4-inch hook on which was squeezed a small amount of bread.  Satori, about a foot long, and at most weighing three-quarters of a pound, was a good-eating fish.

To be avoided was the needlefish, which could get up to a yard long.  No one ate it.

There were no retail stores in this part of Kakaako then.    There was the Red and White Kamaboko factory at Pohukaina and Ahui.  But it's gone, and, across the street was my home.

That building next to the telephone pole sits over the duplex where I lived from birth to 16.  On the above map (you need to click on it to read the details), my house was next to the initial A in Ala Moana - Kakaako.  The neighborhood has totally changed, but there are still flowers and fruits on this block:

A five-minute walk to my elementary school, Pohukaina, which is no longer there:

At one time a 650-foot high sky rise (418 feet is now the max height) was proposed for this site, 690 Pohukaina Street.  The latest plans show a lower high-rise with an elementary school.

Another ten-minute walk to Central Intermediate School which is still there, but now called Central Middle School:

In all my elementary and intermediate periods I walked barefeet to school.  With all the shards of glass and other dangers, it's a wonderment that we somehow survived.  Shoes, though, were required for McKinley High School.  

Then I arrived at where my life began:  I was born at 8:11PM on 6 September 1940 at Queen's Hospital.  Yes, I was legitimate, and the doctor was Richard Sakimoto, according to my birth certificate:

As I walked up Nuuanu Avenue, I saw a #4 bus coming, so, with my Bus Pass, I decided to pass on the quarter mile uphill climb.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Chapter 3:  Pearl's Sunburst

In 1983 Pearl was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her doctor recommended surgery followed by chemotherapy.  While she was recuperating at Kuakini Hospital, I saw in a flower shop a red, spherical flower with no leaves.  I learned that this was an African Blood Lily (Scadoxus multifloras) and grew from a bulb.  I called it a sunburst to inspire her.  I told her that as long as she could re-grow this flower, she would live.  While chemotherapy lasted for a terrible few months, she mothered two more flowers the following year, and they almost kept doubling each year.  That's the view of Punchbowl from our Craigside penthouse.

Thus, when I returned from the Big Island in 2010, I planted a gel cap of her ashes (#7) in this particular plant at sunset:

Our roof that summer must have had a dozen sunbursts:

I brought a pot with me to 15 Craigside, and exhibited a flowering on my floor:

Note the SIMPLE SOLUTION ESSAYS dedicated to her.  This is the photo I used on the back cover.    I passed on copies of this book at occasions when we planted the Gold Tree at the Hilo Municipal and Ala Wai Golf Courses.  These will be later chapters.

These African Blood Lilies normally bloom between late June and early September, but usually in July, the month of her birth and death.  On the roof of my previous apartment it was so hot that the leaves dried up in November and the pot was covered until June.  Here at 15 Craigside, the leaves never go brown:

A photo with Pearl's urn:

Finally, Pearl was awed by the Washington Monument, we went to several concerts on the mall when we both worked for the U.S. Senate and every year the 4th of July fireworks certainly look like sunbursts:

Tomorrow, my nostalgic walk back home to Kakaako.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017


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.