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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.

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 (to the left 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.


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.


Thursday, October 20, 2016


Last week I enjoyed some excellent wines at a Wine Spectator dinner, hosted by the Kahala Resort in Honolulu.  Among the gifts was the 40th celebration of their magazine.  

Inserted within this issue was the very first copy 11-page edition dated 15 April 1976:
  • One article featured Concannon's Muscat Blanc as a delight.
  • A couple of years earlier--so that would be 1973 or so--when I was spending the summer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, living adjacent to one of the Wente Brothers vineyards, I was asked by a co-worker, a Concannon, to help him taste an early bottling of a Petite Sirah his family had begun to experiment with.  My recollection was that they were the very first to grow this grape in America.  Those were the days I drank Lambrusco, so my reaction was that the wine he served me was terrible!  Today, Petite Sirah is the paramount wine grown in California.  Where this grape has particularly flourished is Paso Robles, located nearly 200 miles south.  In the period of the late fifties and early sixties I must have driven through this city a dozen times, never once stopping for anything.  Sure, the first grape was planted here in 1797, but I doubt if there was even one winery with a tasting room in 1960.  Today, there are more than 200 wineries.  Try finding a cheap Petite Sirah today from Paso Robles.
  • One article from France touted the healing power of wines.
  • It was reported that California produced 273 million gallons of wine in 1975.  Forty years later, California produced 638 million, 85% of the total U.S. production.
  • How quickly things can change, for Yellow Tail from Australia zoomed from zero bottles in 1999 to #1 wine import to the U.S. in 2003...then in 2005 the #1 brand sold in the entire country, ousting Kendall-Jackson and Beringer.
  • Wines are produced in all 50 states of the Union, with California #1, Washington #2 and Oregon #3.
Wine Spectator began publishing in 1976 from La Jolla, California by printing 3,000 copies, and began making strides in 1979 when Marvin Shanken (New York) took over.  They now report a world-wide audience of 3.5 million, and are best known for their 100-point rating scale.  Here are a few highlights from their 15 November 2016 issue:
  • Robert Monday and Baron Philippe de Rothschild met in Hawaii in 1970, where they concocted what became Opus One in 1979.  The cost was $50, then more than three times the price of expensive California wines.  For at least five years I then proceeded to purchase several Opus Ones, then they became too expensive.  A typical 2013 now sells for $280.
  • Chateau Margaux sold in 1982 for $38, Chateau Le Pin Pomerol for $23.  In recent auctions, that Margaux went for $774, the Pomerol for $9,800.  (The minimum price for a  2015 Pomerol today is $1707, while a 2015 Margaux can be had for a bit more than $500.)
  • Georges Duboeuf in 1982 had the brilliance to hype up the first bottling of wines from Beaujolais.  Cases were sent by the Concorde, and Ivana Trump welcomed them at the Plaza Hotel.  Thus was born Nouveau Beaujolais.
  • Donald Trump bought Kluge Vineyard and Estate in 2011 and renamed it Trump Vineyard and Estate.  He does not drink alcohol.
Not from Wine Spectator, but I found the following from the International Business Times to be interesting:
  • Top Ten Grape Varietals Worldwide
    • Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Merlot
    • Airen (white from Spain)
    • Tempranillo (red from Spain)
    • Chardonnay
    • Syrah
    • Garnacha Tinta
    • Sauvignon Blanc
    • Trebbiano Toscano
    • Pinot Noir
  • Top Ten Wine Producing Countries
    • France (21%)
    • Italy (16%)
    • Spain (12%)
    • USA (9%)
    • China (6%)
    • Argentina (5%)
    • Australia (4%)
    • Chile (3%)
    • South Africa (3%)
    • Germany (3%)
    • Russia (2%)
  • Preserves your memory
  • Burns calories in your body for better weight control
  • Boosts body defenses
  • If you're female, guards agains ovarian woes (like preventing cancer)
  • Again, more for women, but drinking wine leads to higher bone mass
But if you're male, drink wine anyway, for wine should increase your life expectancy.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016


This is an alert posting to warn you about tomorrow night, for Fox will (Thursday, October 20) present The Rocky Horror Picture Show:  Let's Do the Time Warp Again, which first was a stage musical in 1973, and is now a re-make of the campiest film of all time, released 41 years ago in 1975.

Then at midnight for Halloween (Monday, October 31) on your IFC (once stood for Independent Film Channel) station (675 on Oceanic Honolulu), the original Rocky Horror Picture Show.  How long ago was that?  Susan Sarandon (with Barry Bostwick) played the virginal girl.  Tim Curry (left) is, though, the only returnee, as the moderator.  He suffered a stroke a few years ago and is now in a wheelchair.

But what is camp?  From Wikipedia:

Camp is an aesthetic style and sensibility that regards something as appealing because of its bad taste and ironic value.[1]

The term has been around for more than a century and became popular in the '60's.  Examples?
Here are the 12 campiest songs, at least according to  Gay notions keep coming up in the term, for featured here are Bea Lillie, John Mathis, Johnny Ray, Vikki Carr, Julie Christie and Lesley Gore.  In college one of my roommates had an album by Jonathan and Darlene Edwards.  This was camp at its best.  Jonathan was Paul Weston, and Darlene was his wife, Jo Stafford.  Listen to their Tea for Two.

I have become an authority on cuisine, so would like to advance a campy dish mostly found only in Hawaii:  loco moco.  Created 67 years ago at the Lincoln Grill in Hilo, Nancy and Richard Inouye used the waste oil from frying pork chops, bacon and all those terrible processed meats to make a gravy, which was poured on white rice with a hamburger patty.  Later came fried egg on top.  Three students from Hilo High School then named it loco for crazy, and, to stick to this Spanish connection, plus for poetic reasons, added moco, Little did they know that loco moco means crazy boogers (also known as snot).    Actually, well-named, for this must be close to the the worst dish of all time.  I have it at least twice/year, maybe more.

So back to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Rotten Tomatoes gave the film 80%/85% ratings.  These are great scores, for The Accountant (Ben Affleck) received a reviewer's rating of 49%, The Girl On the Train  (Emily Blunt) earned only 44%, and Ron Howard's upcoming Inferno with Tom Hanks 22%.  However, The Arrival, arriving on November 11, is still rated at 100%.  You rarely see a 100% production, and the last one I remember watching occurred in 2008, Man on Wire, and you probably missed it because this was the British version.  The Arrival will not have aliens that look like humans, and will be all about linguistics.  As a long-time SETI researcher, I remain addicted to this subject.

With a budget of $1.2 million, the earnings are up to $140 million.  The movie keeps coming back at midnight, everywhere, especially around Halloween time.  Unless you've been to a showing, you can't truly imagine what happens.  Bring a raincoat and a piece of toast and a roll of toilet paper.  Audience participation is everything.  But if you still can't comprehend what I'm saying, here is the Virgin's Guide to watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show:  Let's Do the Time Warp Again.

The original had Tim Curry as the cross-dressing, cannibalistic mad scientist from outer space, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the Rocky Horror.  This time, we have Laverne Cox (in the middle, who already is a transgender actress).  Watch the production with a lot of friends, but not in your living room in case others take it seriously and play their expected roles.  The music is actually memorable, like Time Warp.

I close with my most favorite campy Halloween song:  Monster Mash, recorded by Bobby "Boris" Picket in 1962.  How this came to be is that he was singing in a band called the Cordials going into auditions, and imitated Boris Karloff while performing the Diamonds' Little Darling.  Producer Gary Paxton had some hits with Alley Oop and Mashed Potato Time, so a complete package was created borrowing from here and there.

And speaking of horror shows, tonight (3PM in Hawaii) is the final Clinton-Trump debate.  I don't recall ever regularly watching these presidential battles.  I even enjoyed the VP tussle.  Must be the Trump-effect.  This is like a NASCAR await with almost sure expectation those collisions and fatal crashes.

Haima is now only a regular typhoon, and headed over mostly uninhabited portions of Philippines.  Then, Typhoon Haima will make landfall sufficiently north of Hong Kong: