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Thursday, December 8, 2016

GRAND MYSTERY #4: Beautiful Butterflies

If you are keeping up with this blog site, you are generally aware that I've experienced three grand mysteries in my entire life.  The first two were reported on in Chapter 5 of my SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:
  • Schick  Quattro
  • Soap at bottom of bed
These were examples of reality that defied explanation.  So I called them miracles.  You can click on Chapter 5 to read the details.

Grand Mystery #3 only came last month.  It had to do with my calamansi plant and the green colored red mask parakeets screeching around my building.  However, this mystery was solved so it did not attain miracle status.

This week, however, here came Grand Mystery #4:  a beautiful butterfly appeared two days ago next to the calamansi plant I had moved indoors to avoid the parakeets.  I would have loved to have it stay with me indoors,  but with so short a lifespan, I should release it into the wild.  Yet, how could I carefully catch it to safely let it go.  I thought of that fish net I once used for flying cockroaches.  But it was probable I did not bring it to my current living quarters after leaving my previous apartment.  The best I could quickly come up with was to wet a paper towel and place it over the butterfly, then cover it so that I could take it to the lanai.  It worked!  The butterfly flew away and I had done my good deed for the day.

That was not the Grand Mystery.  I purchased a second calamansi plant (above, with at least a hundred citrus globes in various stages of maturity) two days ago and yesterday decided to place it next to my other one.  The timing is a bit cloudy, but essentially the very next day another butterfly, looking exactly like the other one, appeared in the same place.  This time I took photos:

I'm sure I've seen this species before, but it definitely was not a Monarch, for as a child I captured caterpillars on crown flower plants and watched them undergo the metamorphosis process into a butterfly.  

These were always Monarchs.  Wikipedia indicates that this variety ONLY consumes milkweed.  Turns out that the crown flower is in the milkweed family.  How did they come to Hawaii?  Apparently they flew here a long time ago and found out they could survive on crown flower leaves.  Unfortunately, pesticides and the red-vented bulbul, which suddenly appeared here a half a century ago, have decimated the Monarch population.

So I began to think, how could the same butterfly appear in the same spot when I'm in an air-conditioned apartment and it would be impossible for a butterfly to fly in and end up next to the plant by the glass wall.  A few options:
  • I was dreaming.  In fact, when I was relating this mystery at the dinner table last night I thought the color was black and bluish, not yellow, so at my advanced age, this might be the best answer I'll ever find.
  • It just so happens that  the caterpillar of this butterfly plants its pupa on calamansi plants, and it was pure coincidence that they happened to leave its chrysalis one day apart.  In both instances, it appeared that the butterfly had just emerged and was in a kind of shock, so I could easily catch it.  However, I can't find any evidence of a chrysalis on my two plants.  On this second event, I did not just throw it over the lanai railing.  I let it rest at the base of my basil plant.  In ten minutes, the butterfly recovered and flew away.
  • Yes, a miracle, as maybe this location in my apartment has become the site for the spontaneous generation of butterflies, and for eternity I will be producing beautiful butterflies.  It's a good thing this phenomenon did not germinate B-52 cockroaches, for which Hawaii is famous.  In any case, this is Day 3, I just walked over to the two plants, and I see no butterfly.
My best guess is still that I did see two separate Chinese Swallowtail Butterflies:

So is Grand Mystery #4 a miracle?  I'll make a judgement in a few days.

I place butterflies right up there with rainbows. on the beauty scale.  Thus, I was joyous last year when my 4-year old grandniece  named Sofia Pearl said she wanted to become a RAINBOW BUTTERFLY to my query on what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Butterflies might be fragile, but they are doing something right.  Deriving from moths, they began at the time of the dinosaurs, and there are 18,500 species.  I despise the moths living in Hawaii, for they are large, mostly dark (black witch) and dangerous-looking.

Turns out the largest moth, the Atlas (right), has almost a 11.5 inch wingspan, and looks like a butterfly.

When I travel the world, I usually stop by butterfly parks.  Clearly, I haven't been to enough, as I don't remember visiting any of the top ten in this country.  #1 is the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center in Callaway Gardens, located at Pine Mountain, Georgia, with 1,000 tropical butterflies.  USA Today had a world list, and, again, never been to any of them.

The Queen Alexandra's Birdwing  found in Papua New Guinea is the largest butterfly in the world.  How can male and female be so different, but the brown female is, thus, the biggest of all at 10 inches:

Here is a list of the most beautiful butterflies, and I show only one, the Blue Morpho:

Well, the Dow Jones again broke its all-time record, up 65 to 19,550.  Caterpillar is up 44% for the year, while Goldman Sachs has increased 34%.  Coke is down 5% for the year.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

THAT DAY OF INFAMY: Part 2--75th Anniversary Ceremony at Pearl Harbor

Scroll down for Part 1.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser today had an article, Telling the "forgotten story," of the 68 civilian deaths on December 7, mostly, it turns out American Japanese, all by friendly fire (anti-aircraft ordnance that exploded on the ground).

Agonizing, but I vividly recall a close-by family in Kakaako, where three children of one family lived with relatives because their parents died during one of these shellings of McCully.  Interesting that the "lucky" one stayed with a more prominent family, went to Iolani and became a high school football star.  A second son not sheltered as well became a fisherman.  This photo is of Hisao Ueno, who was killed only a few blocks from where I now live.

The 7December1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was coordinated with Japanese military strikes on the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong on December 8.  Loss of most of the bombers caught by surprise in the Philippines was particularly devastating.   Lt. Douglas MacArthur in 1903 was shot (through his hat) by guerrillas in the Philippines, but managed to kill them.  Thirty eight years later, unlike the Hawaii commanders, Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short, General Douglas MacArthur somehow was not relieved of duty for being negligent, while commanding the Philippines and went on to later victory when he returned.

At 7:48 Hawaiian Time, 353 Japanese planes in two waves from six aircraft carriers in less than two hours sunk eight U.S. Navy battleships., but six were repaired and joined the war.  Scores of other ships were also badly damaged, as were 347 of the 402 aircraft on the ground.  2,403 Americans were killed, nearly half on the USS Arizona.  The Japanese lost 29 planes and five midget submarines, 64 were killed and one, Kazuo Sakamaki (right), a naval officer, was captured with his sub.

Sakamaki requested that he be allowed to commit suicide, which was denied.  He went on to live an incredible life:
  • Spent the war in prisoner of war camps on the mainland U.S.
  • Upon repatriation after the war he became a pacifist.
  • He wrote a memoir, Four Years as a Prisoner-of-War No.1, which became I Attacked Pearl Harbor in 1949.  Amazon today sells the hardback (used) for $120.
  • However, he refused to speak about the war until 1991 when he attended a historical conference in Texas, where he reportedly cried after seeing his submarine for the first time 50 years.
  • He did become president of Toyota's Brazilian subsidiary in 1969.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt at his Day of Infamy speech to Congress to the left.  Did the White House know of the coming attack?  Various conspiracy theories have been floated, but just the fact that all three aircraft carriers based at Pearl Harbor were not there is revealing.  Turns out that Japan naval policy featured battleships, while the U.S. view was that carriers would be the key to victory.

On December 27 President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will both participate in a follow-up program at Pearl Harbor.  Obama visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with Abe on 27May2016, becoming the first President to do so.  The problem is that neither side wants to say I'm sorry, there will be no apologies, so society will for now need to be satisfied with respect for the heroic dead.  

My colleague at the University of Hawaii on the front page of the Star Advertiser yesterday was quoted to say:

Just the fact that they'll be there together at Pearl Harbor is historic.  Time heals.  The only lesson of war is that you want peace.

The ceremony at Pearl Harbor today featured a missing man flyover at 7:55AM (when the planes reached this location) and cutter sail by:

In addition to the usual military formalities, Hawaii was generously sprinkled into the program with Hawaii Ponoi, Kahu blessing ceremony, Aloha Oe and, even a Buddhist priest.

The keynote address was provided by Admiral Harry B. Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.  Harris was born in Yokuska, Japan in 1956 of a Japanese mother who had experienced the cruelties of World War II.  His father was a U.S. Navy chief petty officer on the Lexington, an aircraft carrier with a home base of Pearl Harbor.  Harris graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and has 400 combat flight hours to his credit.

Throughout the day there will be other events:
  • 7:50AM, Atterbury Circle, Hickam Air Force Base, Attack on Hickam Field Ceremony & Reception.
  • 8AM, Marine Corps Base Hawaii Flagpole, Annual Wreath Presentation.
  • 11AM to 1 PM, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, Freedom Bell Ringing.
  • Noon to 4PM, Aloha Tower Pier 9, Public Tours of the USCGC Morgenthau.
  • Noon to 1PM, Battleship Missouri Memorial, 75th Annual Pearl Harbor Mass Band (1000 student musicians) Performance.
  • 1PM to 2:30PM, USS Oklahoma (429 deaths) Memorial Ceremony, Ford Island.
  • 2PM and 4:30 PM, Block Arena, Pearl Harbor, FOX Sports Pearl Harbor Basketball Invitational, Seton Hall vs California and Princeton vs Hawaii (live broadcast on Fox Sports 1).
  • 3PM to 3:30PM, Fort DeRussy, 25th Infantry Division Commemoration Ceremony.
  • 4PM to 5:30PM, USS Arizona Memorial, Double Interment Ceremony (80% of the crew died, and is the only ship that returns cremated remains of survivors in a service attended by family and dignitaries).
  • 4:30PM to 7:30PM, Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki, from Fort Debussy to Kapiolani Park, Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade and Public Ceremony (there will be a 20hour History Channel special).

You can donate to this organization, established by the National Park Service and State of Hawaii.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average will again today break its all-time record.  The closing bell is yet to ring as I post this article.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Tomorrow is  the 75th anniversary of that Day of Infamy:  the Japanese surprise attack of Pearl Harbor.  I am among the very few alive today who was personally caught in this irruption.

I was one year old, and, according to my mother, witnessed the blitz that changed the world and my life.  I don't remember anything of that day, of course,  and only faint memories of gas masks and blackouts.

Furthermore, while I was born American in Hawaii, my roots are Toyama (Honshu) and Utashinai (Hokkaido), Japan.  I've posted on my Search for Kenjiro's (he was my father's father and my middle name is Kenji) Grandmother's, and, growing up, avoided most things Japanese to exhibit my loyalty to the stars and stripes, never learning the language of my grandparents.  There was a lot of the culture I purposefully missed.  Now, I regret being so immature in my thinking, but, after all, I was a child, then a disattached adult.

Thus, in many ways, I am uniquely qualified to comment on this general subject, for I have given considerable thought to the consternation and consequences.  Conspiracy theories abound about the sudden strike, dropping of those Atomic Bombs and subsequent ramifications.  My take is quite different, for my conclusion is a positive twist to the derived awe and hatred engendered by December 7.

Wars, certainly, are terrible.  They are one of the ultimates in human tragedy.  While nature--the jungle...viruses versus bacteria--has evolved through survival of the fittest, Humanity does have a special kind of social intelligence and conscience that, over time, should prevail to someday make warfare obsolete.  We are not there yet, and World War II was only another example of global conflicts to come that will further change our societal structure.  There will always be winners and losers.  WWII nicely set the stage for the USA becoming the supreme nation in the world, and, too, also paved the way for my success in life.

How so,  you ask?  Hawaii was a paternalistic White-dominated society before WWII.  Mind you, Hawaii's racial prejudice at the time of WWII was almost civil.

The malevolence was palpable in much of the U.S., where I remember seeing black and white drinking fountains and toilets when I lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  However, non-Caucasians were definitely second-class citizens in the Territory of Hawaii.

WWII, heroism of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) and the GI Bill totally changed the political structure, thus affecting the way of life in all of Hawaii.  While the demographics have shifted...
  • In 1940 the state was 38% Japanese and 25% Caucasian.
  • Today, 17% Japanese and 24% Caucasian.
...locals of Japanese descent continue to play an expanded role throughout the state.

More specific to me, I ascended into leadership roles at the University of Hawaii.  This would almost surely not have happened before WWII.  I first stepped into my Manoa Campus office in 1972, and, here, 44 years later, I'm composing this statement from my office in the Pacific Ocean and Science Structure building, for which I helped secure initial planning funds, almost 30 years ago.

Today, Hawaii is far from perfect, but, still, the most racially harmonious of any other State in the Union.  Well, here is one list that shows Colorado and Maryland are the least prejudiced in the country, with Hawaii at #3 (worst:  Mississippi).   However, I've lived in our Nation's Capital, and there is no way Maryland can possibly be #2.  Hawaii, incidentally, is now the fifth most popular state (California #1).  Oh, that's President Barack Obama to the right when he played basketball for Punahou.

For the USA, World War II set the stage for supreme global dominance.  We are by most measures the Best Country.  Also, certainly, #1 as the Most Militarily Powerful.  Mind you, when it comes to quality of life, our cities do not fare well.  In the Mercer rating, the best U.S. city is San Francisco at 28, Boston 34 and Honolulu 35.

Maybe most important of all, portending continued success, the U.S. has the best universities, with eight of the top ten (the other two are from the United Kingdom).  And if you want to get physical, we have easily won the most medals in the Summer Olympics.  Sure, Norway is ahead of us in the Winter Olympics...but the U.S., thankfully, is not frozen for a good part of the year.

But returning to the purpose of this posting, the attack on Pearl Harbor could well have, in the mind of President Harry Truman, justify dropping those Atomic Bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  

The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold.

Yes, the 2500 deaths from the strike palled in comparison to the 250,000 (and other horrors, right) or so who died from those two bombs, but the horrific devastation served to prevent future Soviet Union and U.S. presidents to avoid any serious thoughts of a nuclear first strike, such that Humanity somehow survived the Cold War, a sign that Humanity is beginning mature.

But progress is never steady, and the present struggle for dominance has been complicated by the emergence of China and rise of Muslim terrorism.  Yet, nothing today shows the potential for the total annihilation of life as we know it.  Sure, the Atomic Clock still indicates imminent doom, but global warming is yet a pale shadow of what could have been a nuclear winter.

The matter of biological terrorism cannot be discounted, plus that next 100 million-year asteroid is out there somewhere.  There is further a chance of a gamma ray burst from a hypernova, but I'm now really stretching my imagination.  And what about aliens?   I do have a 10% simple solution for world peace, but that is almost frivolously picayune relative to the magnitude and inevitability of true Universal Peace someday.  In any case, the reality of today is that we live in an imperfect society on a still thriving Planet Earth:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, again, broke its all-time record, up 36 to 19,252.  Frankly, I'm confused as to why, but I shouldn't have negative thoughts, because all my endowments are doing fabulous.


Monday, December 5, 2016


I join a table on Wednesday nights at 15 Craigside, and sometimes, too, again on Sunday.  Last night I featured Johnnie Walker.  I have perhaps a dozen different kinds of this scotch.  The Company sells the most scotch in the world, and has been in existence for almost two centuries.

The most popular JWs are the colored ones, and they are all a blend of different whiskeys from thoughout Scotland (prices vary widely, depending of various factors, but the relativity is close):
  • Red Label around $20/bottle, is rather harsh, leading some to mix it with something like ginger ale.  This was Winston Churchill's favorite, with a little soda.
  • Black Label sells for $30 and tastes woody.  It is a blend of 40 whiskeys at least 12 years old.
  • Double Black, for $40, was only launched five years ago, has no age designation, and is peatier (said to more closely resemble Caol Ila, whereas the Black has the essence of Cardhu).
  • Green Label appeared two decades ago, is aged 15 years, and costs $60/bottle.  Once was sold as Pure Malt, but has a blend of 15 single malts.  (For a while restricted to duty free, but now being sold retail.)  I still have a bottle this version, which should get more valuable with age.
  • Gold Label is at least 18 years old of 15 single malts and is $70/bottle.
  • Platinum Label goes for $100/bottle, is a blend of whiskeys at least 18 years old, and only appeared three years ago.  It is sweetish with a mild Islay (peaty) smokishness.
  • Blue Label is the iconic expensive bottle, going for $200.  Has won awards, tastes great and is a celebratory scotch.  Supposedly, only 25 years and older whiskeys are used in the blend, although the bottle shows no age.
There are, of course, other Johnnie Walkers, including Swing (right, where the bottle swings when you touch it), XR 21 Years Label, The John Walker and a hundred special bottlings.  Oh, The John Walker and Sons King George V:
  • Retails for $1000, but generally sells for $4500, for only 330 are annually sold worldwide.
  • Here is a site with a $600 price.
  • You can have a dram (one-sixteenth of an ounce)  at Charlie Trotter's bar in San Francisco for $650.
  • Supposedly goes well with blue cheese and chocolate truffles.
At this point, I thought, this scotch surely looks familiar, so I rummaged through my liquor cabinet and found an almost empty bottle:

This will now need to be locked up close to my Louis XIII cognac.

As those on the Monday night table are not scotch drinkers, I thought I'd begin modestly, with JR Red and Black Labels, a Dewars White Label and that 24-year old Costco scotch I just bought:

To maintain their privacy, I won't mention who sits on this table, but none of them drinks scotch, and one gave up after the first taste.  We all agreed that the Kirkland Signature Scotch Whiskey was the best.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average again broke its all-time record, up 46 to 19,216.