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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A SIMPLE BUT ALMOST ULTIMATE DINNER AT 15 CRAIGSIDE

I live at 15 Craigside, where I'm provided 3 meals/day.  However, I might go down to our dining room only 25 times/month, almost all being dinners with special tables of close friends.  This seems like a huge waste of money, but one's priorities change with age, and I have chosen to Live Life My Way.  Today is a good example of my current lifestyle.

I have six postings left before Planet Earth and Humanity unbecomes a daily, plus I will shortly begin my 20th year of retirement.  Thanks to the support of the director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, Rick Rocheleau, I have maintained an office on the Manoa Campus for almost 46 years now, and I hope to continue this status into the Year 2020, or maybe even into 2022, which would mark half a century of service to the University of Hawaii.  Whether this happens will mostly depend on my health, but, also, progress on the Blue Revolution, one of the reasons why I am still here.

Today I welcomed a faculty member from Nihon University, who will stay with HNEI for a year or so, working on an element of the Blue Revolution.  Nihon has 70,000 students with 32 research institutes and 3 hospitals.  His laboratory on their campus has 72 students.

He will be using my office as his local headquarters.  Can you believe that back in Tokyo he works from mid-morning until an hour or two past midnight, MTuWThF, every weekday night?  He says that is because he has so much to do.  

Nice to have someone actually spend time in my office, although I hinted that this will be his final chance at any kind of vacation for the rest of his professional life.  His family will later join him in Hawaii for short periods.

Here, Hiro Eto and I are having lunch at Orchids in Waikiki:


Both of us had their onaga specialty.

Having taken yet another small step for the Blue Revolution, on the way home, I decided to celebrate by stopping at Marukai, for my Tuesday night table has been dormant while my neighbors visit their son in California.

Every so often I'm known to splurge.  I considered the following:


Note that the beef is from Miyazaki, regular winners of best wagyu in Japan.  The price, after the discount, was less than $80/pound, a bargain when I usually pay around $100/pound.   Oh, you, too, can have some Japanese wagyu through D'ARTAGNAN:  11 pounds for $1,499.99, with free shipping.  You can do the math yourself.  Or try Amazon, only $549.95 for 3 pounds.

The tuna (maguro) chunks were:
  • o-toro bluefin tuna at $48.99/pound
  • chu-toro bluefin tuna at $28.99
  • local yellow-fin tuna at $16.99
The person behind the counter said that some o-toro was coming in tomorrow, but he cut a nice small sliver and made me taste it.  Yes, it was wonderful.  However, as that fish was not the freshest, I chose the chu-toro.

Most of you settle for wasabi out of a tube, including me.  I saw that $119/pound root of a wasabi plant, and decided to skip that option.

Have you ever had a Parker rated wine at 98?  This was my first, which I purchased at Foodland Beretania for my 15 Craigside lanai feast.  This is an affordable (in a manner of speaking) Alvear Ximenez Solera 1927 from Spain, where the 1927 stands for a few drops of that vintage year, which they mix into the bottle.  Frankly, I can't really tell any taste difference from a 99 to what Robert M. Parker, Jr. would refuse to drink.


My meal:


The meal was a surprise, and shows how much I know wines.  First the wine was not red, but kind of brown.  I thought, oh no, it went bad.  I carefully tasted it, and the wine was sweet.  The shock was that this Parker 98-rated wine is supposed to end dinners:


"The impressive 1927 Pedro Ximenez Solera, from a Solera begun nearly 80 years ago, boasts a dark amber color as well as an extraordinary nose of creme brulee, liquefied nuts, marmalade, and maple syrup. Huge and viscous, yet neither cloyingly sweet nor heavy, it is a profound effort priced unbelievably low. It is meant to be drunk alone at the end of a meal." ~ RP

Would have gone great with the Castello Blue Cheese I keep in my refrig.  Well, I have a lot left, so maybe later this week.

People ask me how my papaya plant is doing:


No papayas, but alive.  My basil is doing great:


And one of my mint plants has beautiful purple flowers:



I never before saw flowers on mints.  I took the glass of sweet wine, tossed in a sphere of ice (bought this device at Noritake Garden in Nagoya) and went to play poker, where I won $10 on close to the final hand and ended up ahead by $5.  Ah, life at 15 Craigside.  

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

THE RETURN OF BLUE HAWAII?

Hawaii has always been associated with the color blue.  The song, the ocean...  Fifty years ago, when you flew into Honolulu at night, you gazed at a Blue Hawaii.  This is because street lights then were mostly from mercury-vapor lights.

Then, came those sodium-vapor bulbs, which were more cost effective, but imparted an orange color.  We became Orange Honolulu.

But, a $46.5 million project will change 53,500 street lights all to Light Emitting Diodes (LED).  City officials say they will save $5 million annually just in electricity costs. Plus, these LEDs seem to last forever.

However, there is trouble brewing.  The Sierra Club has argued the selected LEDs are too blue.  This color is said to be detrimental to human health and bird safety.  The City argues that the the cooler color at 4000K (I'll later explain) are cheaper to operate, and, only 10% of the lights will be of this type on busier arterial streets.  The rest of the lights will be at 3000K, imparting a warmer glow.  The lens will only shine down and should not affect migrating birds nor astronomy requirements.

In any case, Honolulu is just among a swarm of cities shifting to LEDs.  Much of this activity began a decade ago.  Seattle has changed color, and so soon will Atlanta.

Back in history, here he is again, but Benjamin Franklin, who was the postmaster of Philadelphia, was the inventor of street lights in 1757.  He used candles.  Natural gas lighting arrived in Britain in 1792, with electric lights in Cleveland/Wabash in 1880.  Why is Broadway nicknamed the Great White Way?  Electric street lights.

From the beginning of electricity, General Electric and Westinghouse fought it out.  Should AC or DC be the national form of this power system?  Edison, who, with J.P. Morgan, founded the predecessor of General Electric, got Nikola Tesla to develop the alternating current (AC) form.  Edison did not like it and let Tesla go, for direct current (DC) seemed safer.  George Westinghouse embraced AC, and ultimately prevailed.  Read about their colorful and deadly rivalry.

Eventually, standard incandescent lamps were used.  In 1948 the mercury vapor bulb was made available, and it was brighter and cheaper to operate.  However, people complained that this light made them look like zombies.


Around 1970, the high pressure sodium vapor light began to replace mercury for economic reasons.  It was initially disliked because of the orange glow.  But Blue Honolulu became Orange Honolulu.

Then, for a while the metal halide lamp looked promising.  Recently, the induction lamp looked hopeful, for the light was close to incandescent, life was long (100,000 hours) and cost reasonable.  Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), the kind we all now use at home, also made inroads, and the color was an acceptable soft white.

However, light emitting diodes seem now be taking over, for maintenance is low, lifetime high and investment cost rapidly dropping.  Here is a comparison, showing how much the price can vary:


Some additional info for your files:


What about you?  Which bulb should you use today.  You've of course discarded the incandescent option by now, and these will disappear in 2020 anyway.

If you have a nicely working CFL, keep it.  If you need a new bulb, LEDs now are the logical choice.  CFLs are good for 8,000 hours, while LEDs should last you for more than 25,000 hours.  Those hours listed left and right here can be contested.

So just as you now think you can comfortably use LEDs forever, comes OLEDs, or organic light-emitting diodes.  The color is closer to sunlight, and there is no piercing brightness factor.  For now, OLEDs are light panels, with diffuse lighting in sheets.  They are thus for those seeking the latest fashionable option.  Cost?  Don't ask, however, the price has dropped by a factor of ten since 2011.  But, get this, for an equivalent 25 watt incandescent bulb which costs almost nothing these days, the OLED will set you back $300.  Something to keep in mind as you design your new home or office.  You don't want to be stuck with simple ole LEDs.

Aha, but what about television sets?  Should you get OLED or LED?  Well, the jury is still out, but most reviews seem to lean in the OLED direction.  Surely, that's just got to be a clue to the future of lighting.

But just when you thought OLED, owned by LG of Korea, with partner Sony of Japan, was the final answer, here came QLED of Samsung, with the Q having to do with Quantum Dot.

Not unlike golf clubs, sure the technology is improving, but certainly getting people to buy something new must be at play.  Just another marketing conspiracy?  Such is the nature of progress.  Note also that the field of consumer electronics is now being dominated by South Korea.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

RAMPAGE and YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

My two films this weekend were, again, as different as you can get.

                                  Rotten Tomatoes     Mojo   Pat
                            Reviewers  Audiences

Rampage                  50               82            2        B

You Were...Here      86               70            ?         C

Rampage was standard Rock, adventurousness with humor and a lot biceps.  The computer graphics were outstanding.  Those Rotten Tomatoes scores pretty much explain it all:  reviewers were not impressed, while viewing audiences liked the film.  The giant albino gorilla looked real.  The gorilla, George, who was raised as an infant by Dwayne Johnson (who went to McKinley High School, my alma mater--he's our most famous alumnus, with Senators Tammy Duckworth and Daniel Inouye as #2 and #3), was a giant because of a genetic engineering development called CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), which is the key  scientific breakthrough that will change the nature of us.


There were boring moments, especially at the beginning, but, the final quarter was non-stop excitement.  In essence, three  genetically morphed monsters make their way to Chicago, George being one of them, where the Rock and a Phd geneticist from Stanford, who would be the love interest if there is a sequel, attempt to stop them.  Director Brad Peyton has indicated so, especially if the international box office revenues materialize.  There are five versions of the video game.   The movie was an adaptation of an arcade game, and you can now play it free online.

You Were Never Really Here is a well-made potential cult classic, according to Rotten Tomatoes reviewers, which won a Best Actor award for Joaquin Phoenix and Best Screenplay honor for director Lynn Ramsey at the 70th Cannes Film Festival.  Unfortunately, the whole production mostly lost me, and I can't figure out why they used that long title.  I could not quite understand what was happening, for Joaquin with beard is hard to understand.  Why it did not register on Box Office Mojo is  a mystery, unless Honolulu was one of the very few early release sites.

Here are some comments from those who do this for a living:
  • YWNRH lands like a blow to the sternum (Adam Graham, Detroit News)
  • This is an amazing movie that's not for everyone (Jay Stone, Ex-Press.com)
  • Nearly noir-ish, a man who saves kidnapped young girls becomes more involved than usual in his latest case. (Kevin Williams)
Only after I read the Wikipedia summary of the film did I get a sense of what happened.  What I got out of the movie:  ball peen hammer, elliptical, jelly beans, nostalgic popular music laced with Jonny Greenwood sounds, and a puzzle with missing pieces.

I might mention that Joaquin Phoenix had siblings named River (who died of a drug overdose), Rain, Summer and Jodean, most who became actors.  When young he renamed himself Leaf.  He and River are the only two brothers who got nominated for Oscars.  He was superb in Walk the Line,(Rotten Tomatoes 83/90) his version of Johnny Cash, gaining a Best Actor nomination for the Oscar.  Phoenix sings so well that people can't tell the difference.  Here, again, I Walk the Line.  I have CDs of both and I can't.  Incidentally, that was also the voice of Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash.  Terrific, and she won the Oscar for Best Actress for the role.

Joaquin, or Leaf, has now and then taken leave from entertainment, once for alcoholism, and has been associated with a wide variety of charities, including peace, meals for Africa and animal rights.  His next film will be as Jesus in Mary Magdalene with Rooney Mara, his current girlfriend.

Opening next weekend, Disobedience rated 94/93 by Rotten Tomatoes.  Also, the latest Avengers, scoring 99% from the potential audience.  I don't review comic-book films.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

MY SATURDAY MORNING WALK: Blue Flowers and Shanghai Soup Dumplings

I have ten days left for this daily blog.  So why am I bothering to just report on my Saturday morning walk?  Over the past decade, I have taken pride in covering the totality of what occurs for Humanity on Planet Earth.  The articles featuring simple pleasures balance my efforts at seeking universal peace, establishing contact with extraterrestrial life and promoting the Blue Revolution.  Walk of Life by Dire Straits is also one of my favorites.  Click on it and imagine that this was a third of century ago at the Wembley.   They are a British band from London.

I use my Saturday morning walk into downtown Honolulu usually to have lunch, so that I can hike uphill back to 15 Craigside to maintain an optimal weight.  The future of our society is not as important as my personal health. 

My 32 years in my previous Craigside life averaged 5 to 7 hours of sleep.  When I moved into 15 Craigside, this period increased to 6-8 hours.  After my bout with flu earlier this year, I now am in the 7-9 hour range because I have more and more agreed with medical science that adequate sleep is as important as exercise and diet.

I never plan on a coordinated photo shoot during these Saturday treks.  Yesterday, however, blue flowers kept appearing.  While Jacarandas are more violet or purple, the tree growing adjacent to 15 Craigside had a bloom and looked/smelled wonderful:


Then a short distance from Zippy's:


Closer to Chinatown:


Speaking of blue, my Blue-bar pigeon showed the way up River Street:


Chinatown Cultural Plaza, where there is a pigeon home and loads of activity outside of Fook Lam:


I bought my usual cheap beer in the plaza.  Inside, Fook Lam was packed:


I sometimes order something new to go with my Shanghai Soup Dumplings.  This time it was Fish Dumplings:


Hennessey is the third best cognac under $60:

The best Cognacs under $60
  • 1) Remy Martin Mature Cask Finish.
  • 2) De Luze VSOP Fine Champagne.
  • 3) Hennessy Fine de Cognac.

Ah, the happiness of a Saturday walk into Chinatown Honolulu for Shanghai Soup Dumplings enhanced with Hennessey.

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