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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORLD SERIES


The absolute final game, #7 of the 2014 Major League Baseball World Series, will be held today at 8PM (EDT, 2PM Hawaii time), with the San Francisco Giants at Kansas City Royals.  The Royals fans are euphoric, for they won Game #6 last night 10-0.  The last time they were in the World Series was 29 years ago, when, in game #7, they beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-0.  However, while on the same site, this is a totally different Kauffman (leftonly American League park named after a person--Ewing Kauffman owned the team, passing away in 1993) Stadium, for there was a $250 million renovation in 2009, reducing the capacity to only 37,903.

The Major League Baseball season actually started more than six months ago in Australia.  You probably did not know that the National Basketball Association opened their season last night.  If the finals go to seven, the final day of the NBA could be about 8 months from now.  The regular season ends on April 18, and the playoffs go on for at least two months.
This is the first Major League Baseball World Series I have actually watched in decades, maybe the most ever.  Why?  I think because I have a fantasy team  (CDM Diamond Challenge) that is doing well.  I am #1 in my league of 25.  I've already won $150 because I have such a huge league lead, and could, under best case conditions, win up to $200.  My investment for this team was $14.95.

Most of you don't care beans about the World Series.  I have provided reasons why you might actually want to view the game tonight:
  • The catchers wear brightly colored fingernail polish.   Here is Buster Posey to the right.  This is so the pitcher can better see the signs.  Kind of reminds me of Seoul, Korea, where a large number of women paint the nails on their feet.  I don't have a foot fetish, but on summer days sitting on the Seoul Subway, when slippers/sandals are won, this becomes obvious.
  • Major league baseball players spit...a lot.  Gross!
  • The Giants have a lot of chubby players.  The only weight-challenged Royal regular appears to be Billy Butler, here, next to Pablo Sandoval.  This is nothing close to high school softball players in Hawaii.  Earlier this year I noticed at a televised game that the majority of the girls were almost obese, and most were Polynesian.  This can't be good.
  • Giant's Hunter Pence commands the batting box.  Reminds me of a lion staking out his territory.  Or maybe a Tyrannosaurus Rex holding a bat.
  • Unless the Giants are leading or losing by five runs or more, you will almost surely at some point see Madison Bumgarner pitching in this third World Series game:

He is currently the best player in baseball.  Last year, each player on the winning team earned $307,323, with each loser getting $228,300.  Not bad, but the AVERAGE salary of a major leaguer last year was $3,386,212.

Keep in mind, though, that this not really a WORLD series, for the USA has yet to win the World Baseball Classic, held every four years in the USA.  The best we've done is fourth place.  Gold, silver, bronze?  We have not even placed for a medal.  Japan has twice won the world championship and the Dominican Republic once.  There are 134 Major League Baseball players from this country.  Only 12 from Japan.

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The lava is interminably stalking Pahoa town on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Homes will be destroyed, probably beginning tonight:


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

THE FINAL TRANSITION: STILL IN PROGRESS

I now and then check on which blog postings have been popular.  To the right you see the top 20 as of a few weeks ago.  In general, older articles rate higher because some have had years to accumulate views.  However, there is another part of the stat analysis that shows which postings which have recently drawn interest.

Over the past few weeks, THE GRAND COMPROMISE generally has rated as #1. Why is a mystery, for it was released about a year ago, and is lengthy and boring to boot.  It talks about the national deficit, defense spending and the beauty of sequestration.  Why would anyone today want to read about these topics today, and here in PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY?

Also in October of last year I published:  CAN YOU GET VIVID DREAMS WITH GARCINIA CAMBOGIA?  For the past many months, this posting regularly reaches the top, almost every day.  In a way, I can appreciate the popularity because people crave vivid dreams.   I was attracted to this option, for I wanted to lose some weight, and this natural pill also indicated a lowering of blood sugar level.  I asked my doctor first and he was wishy washy but not opposed.  He basically was not aware of GC.  That vivid dream the first time I took it could have been totally coincidental, but I certainly did dream well.  However, very shortly after taking a few of these GC pills, after actually losing a few quick pounds, (which shouldn't have happened, for all ads say it should take at least 3 weeks) I stopped because I thought I read that there was some danger to weakening your skeletal muscles, plus, there was some discouragement about combining this treatment if you are already taking statins for cholesterol.  Here is a reasonably accurate portrayal of the reality (but is also a sales video).  And another longer one.  I still have four large bottles, so might someday soon try it some night just to see if I can again stimulate more vivid dreams.

In July of this year I was completing my life story through transitions.  Again, I wonder why, but--THE FINAL TRANSITION:  Part 15A--has recently reached the top three.  This posting has to do with the terminal question of "An Afterlife or Eternal Gloom?"  I guess my readers are interested in the afterlife, or potential lack of it.  Anyway, my current transition is in the pre-purgatory state of my final transition.  To summarize, 15 Craigside:

  • The food now is cafeteria-like, but reliable.  I actually eat in the dining room perhaps only once a day, wasting something like $45/day.
  • My next three dinners will be
    • tonight on Fred's Tuesday-Thursday table for 6 or so (Fred is a Stanford graduate who taught in Japan for most of his professional life)
    • Wednesday with the Chaine des Rotisseurs on a steak with extraordinary Italian reds extravanga at Wolfgang's (the wines are supposed to be so fabulous that one sitting should have cost $500/person, but we're paying less, although still ridiculously expensive)
    • Thursday with my regular former professors group at 15 Craigside through the invitation of Ted, who taught chemical engineering in Oregon, and his wife Sets, who teaches a roots-type course here.
  • Here is a typical meal I have on my lanai, this one from Gyotaku:
  • This is actually a topic of some dinner conversation here:  no one has yet seen a cockroach in 15 Craigside.  Now, that is amazing, and reassuring, for I must have caught a thousand using Hoy Hoy Trap a Roach on my roof at 2101 Craigside.  Maybe tomorrow I'll narrate one early evening I had in my battle with large flying roaches.  I felt like General George Armstrong Custer.
  • In fact, I still haven't seen a fly or ant here.  Maybe they are overdoing this.
  • I like the temperature control system.  I set my apartment for 76 F in the daytime and 69 F at night.  
  • I have not locked my door now for months.  There are security guards, a check-in desk, and cameras everywhere.
  • I now and then join the poker group and there is a regular MWF bridge table.
  • There are six or so exercise sessions every day.  Also, Tai chi and yoga.  Some day in the future I'll join them.  For now, I walk nine holes two or three times a week at the Ala Wai Golf Course.  I actually went 18 holes a few days ago.
  • My personal doctor is the house doctor.  I see him in our basement clinic, which is always open,  The second floor is a hospital,  There is a beauty salon where I get my haircut.  Exercise machines, small pool, etc.  I live in a cocoon.
  • There are a couple of entertainment specials daily, like My Fair Lady, the Royal Hawaiian Band and everything you need to know about your health plan.  I'll in time give a lecture on how to go around the world.  I leave in a few days, and largely waste $4000 for the month I will not be here.  But there is a lady who teaches in Alaska nine months of the year and only lives here for three months.  I ask her why, and she says this like an insurance policy.  Makes me feel better about my absences.
  • The people here are friendly and staff helpful.  I am slowly breaking out of my hermit phase.
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Tropical Cyclone Nilofar in the Indian Ocean is now at 130 MPH.  However, all models have the storm weakening before crashing just south of the Pakistan-India border:


WELL, IT'S HAPPENING:

  Lava enters residential property, but homes standing

On Saturday, my posting was

  IS THIS THE END OF PAHOA?

Here is a recent video clip.


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Monday, October 27, 2014

THE GOOD AND BAD NEWS ABOUT CHOCOLATE


According to a study reported in Nature Neuroscience, chocolate contains flavonals, specifically epicatechin, an antioxidant, which can help boost memory.  Physiologically, blood circulation and heart health improve, leading to some activation of the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus.  While most of the research focused on snails and mice, a small group of humans, 50-69 old, drank cocoa flavanols (900 milligrams) for three months, and compared them with another lot provided cocoa low in these flavanols (10 mg).  A typical candy bar contains 40 mg of flavanols.  The difference was phenomenal, for the high-F group performed as if they were 20 to 30 years younger.

  • reduces the risk of diabetes
  • doesn't cause acne
  • prevents tooth decay
  • reduces heart diseases
  • prevents cancer
  • doesn't lead to weight gain
  • can cure cough
  • helps you relax
  • led to the invention of the microwave oven
  • is a vegetable
Much of this actually might well be true, but you wonder how much of this R&D was sponsored by chocolate companies.

Anyway here is the more sobering part of this announcement about chocolate and memory.  First, only 37 individuals were studied.  Worse, the reality is that the process of processing cocoa into chocolate actually removes many of these flavonals.   And, get this, the study was funded by Mars, the largest chocolate company in the world with annual revenues of more than $10 billion.  This is the worst part, for to get the 138 mg of epicatechin/day to match this study, you would need to consume seven dark chocolate bars/day.  That's, further, about 1500 calories, meaning you would need to spend an hour and a half/day climbing stairs.

In any case, one candy bar is only around 200 calories, as compared to:
  • a small piece of birthday cake (312 calories)
  • small hot fudge sundae (392 calories)
  • 20 ounce soda (250 calories)
  • one large bagel (320 calories)
  • glass of red wine (125 calories)

Oh, do you remember that I have long been touting red wines for old people like me?  They also contain flavonoids, but also, other goodies like resveratrol (Malbec and Pinot Noir are best).  Not only memory, these natural ingredients prevent cardiovascular diseases, increase high density lipoprotein, and, even, prevent cancer.  But, hey, there might only be 1 mg of resveratrol in a glass of wine, and those pills contain 250 mg, so one could also question the reality wine improving health.

In any case, there is more good than bad about chocolates, so do feel comfortable with a reasonable amount of dark chocolates (the darker the more flavanols, but certainly, too, continue to exercise).  Plus, there is good reason to drink red wine.  How much?  The medical profession suggests up to two glasses of red wine/day.  One glass is all of 5 ounces, and, as you can get five glasses/bottle, this means drinking 40% of a bottle of red wine/day.  Frankly, even I wonder if this might be too much, but what do I know?  And I don't really drink wine for the health benefits, but more for the mild high, something chocolates do not provide.

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In the Indian Ocean, Cyclone Nilofar is a 105 MPH and is strengthening, expected to reach Category 3 status, but, then weaken, and crash into a region near the India-Pakistan border.


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I might add that the open house of Craigside Penthouse A2 yesterday went well:


You can hardly recognize then, but here are Darrell of Paradise Optical, Abbie of Horita Realty, Tim from the University of Hawaii and Suzette of Horita Realty.

My 15 Craigside sunset is not as spectacular, but still okay.  Tonight:



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Sunday, October 26, 2014

REPETITIVE MINIMALISM IN MUSIC

You can read all the academic analyses you want, but there is something universal and magical about repetitive minimalism in music.  From African and Far East compositions to Gregorian chants, Philip Glass, jazz, disco and rap, I especially can note that classical masterpieces are infused with this style.  Beethoven and Schubert creatively applied repetition, and it is said that Johann Maelzel's (that's him to the left) metronome (he so patented this invention in 1815) was the inspiration.

I might post a part 2 and more in the future on other genres, but here are my all-time classical favorites featuring the same thing over and over again:

1.  Composed three and a third centuries ago by Johann Pachelbel, his Canon in D (some say this is the ultimate best) is as simple as "three violins,one cello and eight bars of music repeated 28 times." One original version.  Actually, this piece was essentially lost for 300 years until French conductor Jean-Francois Paillard made a recording in the 1970's.  Click on his name for this "original" that inspired a thousand copycats.  Not generally known is that Handel, Haydn and Mozart borrowed the iconic bass line in their own compositions.  Pachelbel wrote more than 500 pieces and taught the man who became Bach's teacher.  It's possible that my love of Baroque music began with Canon in D, and this might have been in 1980 with the film, Ordinary Peoplethe directorial debut of Robert Redford.  He not only won the Oscar for Best Director, but this was the Best Picture of the Year, and also won Oscars for Mary Tyler Moore as Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor for both Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton (and this was his first film).

2.  Maurice Ravel's Bolero has 18 repetitive bars.  After the first performance in 1928, said Ravel:

I am particularly desirous there should be no misunderstanding about this work. It constitutes an experiment in a very special and limited direction and should not be suspected of aiming at achieving other or more than it actually does.

Nevertheless, one analysis suggests Ravel was at the beginning stages of premature Alzheimer's, and, certainly, as used in 10, a 1979 film with Bo Derek (above, and that's her more recently to the left, a third of a century later), there is always the connotation of the sexual act itself.  I once sat across the aisle from her on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu.  She was friendly, but her husband John was hostile.  Their relationship began when she was 16, and he was 30 years her senior.  What surprised me most was that she was so short (5 feet 3 inches).  But back to the music, as simple as it was, it took Ravel 5 months to perfect the piece.  Here are ten things you might not know about Ravel's Bolero.

3.  Ludwig van Beethoven's Wellington's Victory is not in the mode of the two above, but I insert here because things seem to repeat, and whenever I have a monumental victory, I listen to this composition.  I once owned that album to the right.  The victory of Wellington over Napoleon has to do with the Battle of Vitoria, not Waterloo.  It is exactly 15 minutes long.  Interestingly enough, Johann Maezel actually sketched the concept of the Battle of Vitoria, which Beethoven put into music.  Keep in mind that Beethoven did not create "God Save the King" and "The Bear Went Over the Mountain."  He borrowed from the British and French.

I had a list of ten, but let me stop here and wish you a great Sunday.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

IS THIS THE END OF PAHOA?

Last month I posted on THE MOST DANGEROUS SPOT ON PLANET EARTH.  The town of Pahoa was speculated to be as soon as two weeks away from inundation by lava.  Then last week, in PART 2, it was still two weeks away from doom.


Well, Apaa Street has already been crossed and chances are that, by the time you read this, at least the Pahoa Recycling and Transfer Station has already been destroyed, for the flow is moving at up to 15 yards/hour.  No doubt Cemetery Road has also by now been crossed.  This photo was taken yesterday, with the transfer station and road to the right:



Some argue that waiting for the inevitable is at least better than being instantly buried by pumice, as happened on 24 August 79 to Pompeii from Mount Vesuvius.  This town was five miles from the eruption and was covered by ten feet of ash.  I toured the site, two centuries later.  It was worse, for Herculaneum was overwhelmed by 66 feet of pyroclastic flow.  Among those killed was Pliny the Elder, author of Natural History.


Then, of course, more recently, on 18 May 1980, Mount St. Helens, located 96 miles south of Seattle, exploded.

Fifty seven were killed and 185 miles of highway were destroyed.  The elevation was reduced from 9677 feet to 8356 feet.

Mind you, while recent Hawaiian volcanic eruptions have been relatively benign, with moderate flows of lava,  two millennia ago, Kilauea had a devastating explosion almost as large as that of Mt. St. Helens, and in 1790, Kilauea exploded, killing, perhaps, hundreds of people in opposition to future King Kamehameha.

Kilauea might have crowned Kamehameha.  In 1924 there was also a deadly explosive eruption of Kilauea.  Rocks as heavy as 16,000 pounds were thrown a mile from the center of Halemaumau (right).  Day became night in Pahala, a town I lived in 40 years later.


Here is a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory site to link with to gain the latest info.  Further, you can contact:

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
by phone at: (808) 967-8862
by web at: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php
County of Hawai'i Civil Defense
by phone at: (808) 935-0031 (7:45 am - 4:30 pm)
by web at: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/

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Amazingly enough, Ana is still a hurricane at 75 MPH, now located almost dead north of Kauai, and heading for Vancouver Island.  I yesterday said Victoria Island, but I meant the city of Victoria.


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