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Thursday, August 21, 2008

RAINBOW PEARLS, INTERNATIONAL (Part 2)

The second venture has become a series of epicurean treats. This all started around the time of the below (August 20) hunt when Paul Yuen and I discussed with former Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi the desirability of growing pearl oysters at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, a legacy of George. He agreed, and was able to obtain funds from Japan to initiate the program. I traveled to Sydney, Australia to recruit to Hawaii Neil Sims, who had a good reputation in this field. Over a bottle of Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet/Shiraz, I convinced Neil, and his wife Kate, to come to Paradise.

The experiments went well, and we learned that not only could we control the growth conditions on land, but that the pearls grew at twice the rate of the traditionally cultivated version. The Governor was able to gain additional funding until the Orient market crashed, so the project was abandoned. But the attraction of growing a product that could be sold for $10 or $100/oyster, as opposed to $0.25 for just the eating type, remained in my memory. Neil went on to found a mariculture company growing and marketing Kona Kampachi, a desirable sashimi delicacy. He deserves a more complete blog posting, and someday, I'll do this.

Anyway, it occurred to me that, as we could regulate the growth conditions, why not try to produce colored pearls. Not only white and black, but what about Chinese Red and Kelly Green? Someday, perhaps, the Royal Hawaiian Rainbow Pearl Necklace could reach the marketplace.

I thus formed an international team of marine biotechnologists and marketers. Grant Burgess of Heriot-Watt University, associate editor of the Journal of Marine Biotechnology (JMB), began searching for marine algae which could provide the range of colors. Next to his office was the Scotch Professor of the country and on the other side was a biologist who held membership in the Royal and Ancient Club, which supervised over the Saint Andrews golf course structure. We usually held annual meetings in late August (the only period when the weather is halfway tolerable there) when the world’s largest arts festival is held in Edinburg. Unfortunately, Grant, who grew up in Edinburg, just moved to Newcastle, where they are allowed to do human cloning, not an interest of his, but, nevertheless intriguing with respect to Chapter 2 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity. Aside from coal, what else is there in Newcastle?

In usual attendance was Tadashi Matsunaga, former editor of the JMB, and a vice-president at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, who spent a sabbatical at the University of Hawaii as the first International Professor for the Blue Revolution. We also needed to use some genetic engineering to obtain the right colored pearl. Plus, Professor Matsunaga has some ideas on how to artificially grow pearls.

A few years ago, Takeo Kondo, a colleague from Nihon University, who was advising the mayor of the city of Ago in Japan, Chihiro Takeuchi, arranged for me to give a talk on colored pearls to his community. The situation was ideal, for Kokichi Mikimoto, nearly a century earlier, had experimented on cultured pearls in the waters next to the hotel in Ago where I stayed. I learned that while this region was at one time the largest pearl producer, growth conditions were declining and the current owners were beginning to abandon the field. My recommendation was to bring deep ocean waters into their estuaries and initiate a new product, colored pearls.

It just so happened that several towns were consolidating into one city, Shima, so Mayor Takeuchi ran against the other mayors, and had on his campaign platform a new industry in colored pearls. He barely won, it is said because he had the only new idea. My first dinner with him was an incredible French meal, the second, a classical Japanese kaiseki, the third, a teppan yaki of lobster, steak, and foie gras over bottles of bourdeaux and, on my latest visit, barbecued Matsusaka beef, said to be better (and more expensive) than Kobe beef. Matsusaka, also spelled Matsuzaka, is adjacent to Shima City. I'm trying to sell the concept to Ago/Shima, but, because of honor and territorial cultural imperative, perhaps, Mayor Takeuchi always picked up the tab. He'll love Zippy's in Hawaii, and so will Chisako, wife, communicator (she teaches English), inspiration and balance to the Mayor.

If you someday see pearls of intense hue in your jewelers, chances are that this team had something to do with the introduction. The question is whether we will be doing this using the traditional oyster farm or just a laboratory growth chamber.
Friends regularly ask me, "Pat, how's the colored pearl project developing?" My standard response is that some things take time. If anyone reading this has deep pockets and wants to become richer and more famous as the Mikimoto of next generation rainbow pearls, your legacy is a mere agreement away. Just contact me.
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Tropical Storm Fay is at 60 MPH, and has made a suddent (but expected) left turn back towards Florida. Earlier projections saw the cyclone moving west northwest in the general direction of northern Louisiana. Latest prognostications wonder if Fay might instead slowly--and this storm seems unsure of where she wants to go, meaning two and three foot accumulations and tornadoes will continue to be threats--move west, ending up back in the Gulf of Mexico and re-strengthen. If Fay then becomes a hurricane and continues to go west, watch the price of oil jump up, and woe be New Orleans if there is a right turn at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The scientific projections, though, point towards Fay remaining terrestrial, weakening over the next week and waffling along a wide path through the deep South.
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Tropical Storm Nuri will smash into Hong Kong Friday, but this city is immune to these storms. A few hours after any hurricane, the metropolis is virtually back to normal, with a few broken tree limbs. Send FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers here to find out how they do it. That was unfair, for HK suffers through several of these inconveniences every year, and has worked out a compromise with nature, while NO is below river/sea level and has a totally different problem.
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For nebulous reasons, oil jumped to $122/barrel today and the DJI eased up 13 to 11,430.
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