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Monday, October 24, 2016

FABULOUS FALL FANTASY Day #2: A Seoul Breakfast

Took the $13 (15,000 won) bus ride from Incheon International Airport directly, with numerous stops, to the Sheraton D-Cube City.    There are various other options.  A taxi will cost you $50, plus or minus $10, depending on where you go.  The AREX train is faster and cheaper, but you still need to transfer to a taxi to get you to your hotel.  

Incheon, incidentally, is the second best airport in the world:

The World's Top 100 Airports - 2016
2015 Rating
1Singapore Changi1
2Incheon Intl Airport2
3Munich Airport3
4Tokyo Intl Haneda5
5Hong Kong Intl Airport4
6Centrair Airport7
7Zurich Airport6
8London Heathrow8
9Kansai Intl Airport12
10Doha Hamad Airport22

Note that the airport in Qatar jumped from #22 to #10 in one year.  Read about my Doha arrival six years ago.

The Sheraton D-Cube City has just about become my best hotel in the world, for the cost.  I'll be here for three nights so you'll get a sense of why by the time I leave for Tokyo on Thursday.  Here is the view from the check-in desk:

I had a nice rest and went to my free breakfast at Feast:

For some reason, there is a choice of nuts at the front, but then...

So with all that variety, what did I choose?

Only an enhanced Caesar salad and a mixed noodle soup with a sunnyside-up egg.  I was so filled after this combo, that I decided to have a more extravagant breakfast on a later date.  I have two more opportunities.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

FABULOUS FALL FANTASY: DAY #1--The Difference Between North and South Korea

I'm on my way to Seoul.  Every time I plan for a trip to South Korea something dastardly occurs in North Korea that gives me pause.  However, I refuse to allow North Korea, and terrorists in general, to much affect my life.

I have no interest in visiting North Korea, but CNN says you can:
  • Need to go on a guided tour.
  • About a third of North Korea's 2000 tourists/year come from the USA.
  • You can bring a cell phone but will need to get a SIM card when there.
  • No credit cards and difficult internet, if at all.

South Korea?  Just need a passport.  No visa unless you stay for more than 90 days.  13 million visited the country in 2015.

To compare:

                                SOUTH                                NORTH

Government            Republic                               Dictatorship
Capital                     Seoul                                    Pyongyang
Slightly larger than Indiana                                  Virginia
Literacy                   98%                                      100%
Chief of State         Geun-hye Park                      Jong Un Kim
GDP                       $1.7 trillion                            $0.04 trillion
Exchange rate       1100 SK won/$                      157 NK won/$

Here are a few graphics showing the differences between North and South:

Interestingly enough, it took a decade after the Korean War for South Korea to show recovery.  

Military, although South Korea has the USA, too.

This comparison is a bit busy, but you get the point.

Three years ago I proposed a total makeover for North Korea.  A few samples:
  • To their whitewall leader:  get a new hairstylist.
  • Replace your female TV announcer with Kathy Couric.
  • Ditch Dennis Rodman and cultivate Michael Jordan.
Whoops, I'd better cut out these insults until I leave South Korea, for I don't want to provoke the Stupendous Puerile Leader to lob a missile on Seoul.

I'm at the Honolulu International Airport and gaze out at my plane, with Diamond Head in the background.  Why am I going to Korea anyway?  Here I am in my comfortable cocoon in Paradise, otherwise known as Purgatory, but more accurately called 15 Craigside.  I live an enjoyable life not absent of challenges and opportunities, which are desirable.  Why go to exotic locales and place undue stress on my body for no good reason?  Well, for the Fall Colors (below is a photo I took in the Fall 2015 of Korakuen Park, Tokyo) and the potential for Fabulous Fantasies.  So return to Day 2 for possible vicarious thrills and experiences.

Surprise, surprise.  I bumped into Rick Rocheleau in the Honolulu Airport United Club.  We then sat next to each other for seven hours on the United flight to Tokyo, followed by a few hours in the ANA Lounge at Narita, before he flew off to Singapore.  Rick replaced me as director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute nearly 17 years ago, and we had a nice long series of chats. He mentioned that Hawaii has, indeed, become a showcase for wind/solar/HPOWER electricity, as these facilities can now supply up to 80% of the electricity on Maui and Oahu during specific periods of the day.  The current challenge is grid stability.  While I ate, relaxed and read in the ANA Lounge, he spent a goodly portion of his time working (left).  My meal:


Saturday, October 22, 2016


I hate vampire movies and don't go to them.  I did enjoy Love At First Bite with George Hamilton, but that was in 1979, and much earlier was into Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, but I grew up and matured.  
Of course there is no such thing as a vampire, but, apparently, while maybe only an urban legend, there could well be a kind of  bear known as the chupacabra, said to suck the blood of goats.  Looks like a wolf to me.

Okay, so much for speculation.  National Geographic had a nice, short article on this topic.  The vampires cited are all female, and they fly.  They're better known as mosquitos.    Interesting that most of the famous movie/TV vampires are male, but above are a few of the other gender.

Actually, it's not really the mosquito at fault.  It is the transmitted virus that is the problem, although malaria is uniquely caused by neither a virus nor bacterium, but a single-cell parasite known as a protozoan:

Mosquitos are not born with these micro-critters in them.  Both male and female subsist on plant sap.  However, genetics inform females that to produce eggs, they need to suck blood.  They feed into a human, and if it has this microbe, this contaminated blood is injected into the next victim.  Imagine the evolution of these microorganisms, having to be sipped into a mosquito's gut, exposed to digestive enzymes, surviving, then pushed through a membrane into the salivary gland, before being injected into another warm body.  What a life!  A regular reader will note that just last week I empathized with the life of a cockroach.  Now I admire the life cycle of a microbe.

In short, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus carry viruses for Zika, Chinkungunya, Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever, while Malaria is the fault of the Anopheles (left) specie.  I myself have totally lucked out, for I somehow escaped contracting Malaria in Papua New Guinea, Dengue in Thailand (when I went to visit a sugar cane factory, even though warned not to go), Chikungunya in Le Reunion and Yellow Fever in Tanzania.

As global climate change occurs, the USA will more and more become an ideal habitat for mosquitos:

If you live in a blue area, your exposure to mosquitos will drop by as much as 100% in 2050.  However, in the U.S. and Europe, plus Japan and Australia, mosquito presence could well increase by 100%.

Earlier this year I posted on HOW DANGEROUS ARE MOSQUITOS.  

Mosquitos, or the equivalent of VAMPIRES, are the deadliest animal on Planet Earth, killing a lot more humans than humans.  In July I wrote about CRISPR, a genetic engineering technology that shows promise for wiping out all mosquitos.  But should we do this?  Maybe these vampires are an integral part of humanity.

Tomorrow, I'm off for Seoul.  Join me for my two-week visit to the Orient.


Friday, October 21, 2016


I was planning to pile on and elaborate on the woe's of Donald Trump, citing how he keeps putting both feet in his mouth as he stumps the country, including at the Catholic fundraiser last night...and how Hillary Clinton should best now go into hiding with the excuse that she is preparing for her victory speech on November 8, because her surrogates are doing a better job of promoting her:  just in Arizona this week:  Bernie Sanders in Flagstaff on Monday, Chelsea Clinton at Arizona State University on Wednesday and Michelle Obama at the Phoenix Convention Center on Thursday.  And even President Barack Obama yesterday in Florida got in a few licks to undercut Marco Rubio's senatorial hopes.  The Democrats' focus now is to win the Senate.

Worst of all for The Donald, he apparently this morning lost Sheldon Adelson, who had already given $25 million, and was expected to provide another $75 million.  He had already in August lost Charles Koch, and even the Republican National Party could well be on the verge of abandoning Trump.

However, this is Friday.  Let me wrap up my week with something a lot more appetizing, my assorted meals.  I start with my weekly Diamond Head setting of a rather unusual bento combination--corned beef and cabbage with shoyu pork:

Yes, that was my view from my carseat.  I yesterday caught The Bus (I now have a 2-Year Bus Pass) to the Chinatown Cultural Center, where I had my best dumpling lunch ever in Hawaii:

Here, just outside of Fook Lam, there is River Street culture and lifestyle:

Even my Blue-Bar Pigeon--and he was in a particularly macho mood-- came by for a greeting.  On the way to the restaurant, I stopped by the adjacent mini-mall to purchase a $1 can of 8.1% beer, for Fook Lam is a BYOB establishment:

As I was taking this above photo, I noticed this award:

They are a finalist this year for the Best Dim Sum in Hawaii.  I did not know that.  So I ordered my favorite, Shanghai Soup Dumplings, but added their Steamed Scallop and Spinach Dumpling:

You will note that small bottle of scotch.  I carefully open the dumpling at the top and pour in half a cc of White Label.

The scallop/spinach dumpling is better conformed for this scotch enhancement, as you don't need to tamper with the skin.  On the walk back to 15 Craigside (the exercise uphill is the primary reason why I came down to have lunch) a neighbor shop is Royal Kitchen, where I was tempted to buy an egg custard tart:

However, my Thursday night table of faculty members meets for an early dinner at 5PM.  Speaking of dining at 15C, recent guests of our Monday Night Table were Kathy and Kenji Sumida (former Air Force General, President of East-West Center, and leader of our Golf Safari to Napa every May):

That's Dexter, our mixmaster, who designs our drinks every week.  That night he produced an Air Force One, in honor of Kenji, plus a custard pie from Lee's Bakery.

Note that the color of cocktail is similar to that of Air Force One, the plane, and the drink served on the Obama White House in the Sky.

I have several meals/week on my lanai, and here are two breakfasts, the first a salmon belly, with tsukemono (which I make), eggs and rice:

The bottom features ham (with marrow) and eggs over rice, grilled onions, tsukemono and hamachi sashimi on shredded cabbage.  Note the abundance of vegetables.  For those concerned about my drinking took much alcohol, yes, those are sake and beer...for breakfast, but this is only a small volume of hot (the temperature contrast is the main reason) and I only take a couple of sips of Mickey's for the sparkle.  I like this beer because it comes with a screw cap and I might drink this bottle over several meals.  I do consume all the cold green tea.

I now eat a large breakfast on MWF because I tend to golf later that day.  I found that if I begin to walk an hour after I have a meal my blood pressure drops too low (as low as 80/50 when my pulse rate goes up to 125) by the 4t-6th hole.    I long wondered why I got dizzy when I picked up my ball on the 6th hole.  Interestingly enough, I learned that others too, who I happen to golf with, have this same problem, except that they didn't know why.  Now they do.  Thus, no more Rainbow Drive in and Zippy's.  By having only an apple and some nuts for lunch while I walk 18 holes, my blood pressure now is largely maintained in the 110/60 range on the course even if the pulse rate jumps to 130.  

By the end of the round, when I get hungry, the blood pressure rises to 130/75.  Then when I come home, take a bath and have a drink, the vital statistics are 110/60 and 75.  My rest pulse rate is between 55 and 60.  When I wake up in the morning the numbers are 155/85 and 52 pulses/minute.  This is why people tend to get strokes and heart attacks in the early morning.  Keep in mind that the combination of needing to go to the bathroom, hunger and low pulse rate, plus the shock of waking up, significantly increases your blood pressure.

Tonight, I have on take-out a Hawaiian plate of lau lau, etc., plus I'll drop by Marukai and get a poke. Sunday, I'm off to Seoul.