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Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Yesterday featured my zero years.  Today, I start at the age of 12 and speculate on the Year 2012.

When I was 12 in 1952, Elizabeth became Queen of England, and I made it through elementary school, walking barefeet, a trek of a mile or so, to Central Intermediate School.  I can't imagine how we did not regularly step on something lethal as there were shards of glass everywhere.  This might have been my most difficult transition, for from the relative tranquility of Pohukaina Elementary, middle school was a whole new adventure, with hijiackings, fights (not me, but they seemed to occur all the time) and general insecurity.  Well, this was the roughest school in the state.  I remember scoring in the bottom 10% of those taking a national standardized test in verbal abilities.  What hope was there for me?  I did well by surviving.  The first Hydrogen Bomb was exploded on Enewetak, the Summer Olympics were held in Finland, a loaf of bread cost 16 cents, a Magnavox TV set for as much as $600 (this is the equivalent of $4000 today), I Love Lucy was #1 and the polio vaccine was invented.  Song of year was Nat King Cole's Unforgettable (hear him singing this remix with his daughter, Natalie).  Top grossing movie was The Greatest Show On Earth.

1962 was my most memorable year, for I graduated from Stanford University and married Pearl.  I began working for C. Brewer in the sugar industry and lived as a trainee in Naalehu, the Southernmost Community in the USA.  Becoming the factory engineer where the average age of a supervisor under me was double mine, with a union generally uncooperative, 12 hour days, 19 straight days of work and then two days off for a weekend, call at nights--I still mildly recoil when the phone rings at night.  The rest of my life was relatively easy after this.  The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred and Telstar, the first communications, was launched.  Song (Chubby Checker's Twist was big, but the most requested was Dick Dale's Miserlou--a beach version of the 1927 Greek song).  Film (Lawrence of Arabia).

1972 saw me joining the staff of the College of Engineering at the University of Hawaii after gaining my PhD in biochemical engineering from Louisiana State University.  This was, again, a whole new kind of life.  It's difficult being the least senior person at a time when there was a state budget crunch and the department I joined feared disestablishment.  President Richard Nixon visited China and the Soviet Union, Watergate burglary, HBO launched, Nike sells first shoes, and video games started with Pong,   My 8September2009 blog reported on my University Years.  Song (Rock and Roll, Part 2, Gary Glitter--wonder where that music bands play at college basketball games comes from?--American Pie was #2, the full 9 minute version).  Top film (The Godfather).

I returned to the University of Hawaii in 1982 as a full professor after spending three years in the U.S. Senate as the energy, education and technology aide to Senator Spark Matsunaga.  It is from this point that my life became fun and creative.  I had completed my schooling and promotions, and could now synthesize a sustainable future.  No doubt the experience I gained assisting with original legislation in OTEC, wind energy and hydrogen affected what I pursued.  Dean Paul Yuen and I created the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research, and I learned a lot about the Orient during this period.  I soon thereafter also became director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute.  Larry Walters fined $1500 for flying up to 16,000 feet in a lawn chair with balloons, Michael  Jackson's Thriller sells 20 million albums, Argentina invades the Falklands, and first artificial heart transplant.  Top song (Apache, Sugarhill Gang...really???...#2 was I Love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett).  Top film (ET:  the Extraterrestrial).

1992 was the year when many of the crusades I orchestrated reach a kind of peak:  U.S. Department of Energy Hydrogen Center, U.S. Department of Interior Marine Minerals Technology Center, OTEC projects at PICHTR, and the beginning of the Blue Revolution.  I was traveling more than 100,000 miles/year and I thought the timing was ideal to focus on dual applications--defense and civilian--for the Cold War was now over.  Bush the Elder and Yeltsin proclaimed the end of the Cold War and the USA actually left the Philippines, amazing considering that we are still in Germany, Japan and Korea.  Top song (Too Legit to Quit, MC Hammer--mind you, there were hits such as Take My Breath Away and I Will Always Love You, plus, and how can we forget, I'm Too Sexy) and film (Aladdin).

2002 found me two years into retirement.  The transition to peace of mind and general free will was incredible.  I began researching those three books I have now published and golfed more, maybe a lot more.   This was a mostly uneventful year, actually, with Hu Jintao becoming the leader of China, the Enron bankruptcy (I still have their stock certificates),  Top song ( A Moment Like This, American Idol Kelly Clarkson--I went down to #20 for the year and couldn't identify even one song I knew) and movie (Spider-Man).

2012, a leap year, featuring my dragon, should be monumental.  Of course, this could be when Doomsday arrives.  Perhaps The Venus Syndrome, a novel about the end of humanity as we know it, might be published, or not.  Yeosu, South Korea, will host the World Expo from May 12 to August 12, the Summer Olymics will be held in London in August, and commitments to the Kyoto Protocol to control global warming will end.  There will be a total solar eclipse on November 13, but you will just about need to be on a ship in the southern Pacific.

That's Australia to to left.
The Dow Jones Industrials jumped 84 to 11,755, and so did virtually all world markets.  Gold went up $3/toz to $1386 and petroleum is up to (NYMEX) $92/barrel, with the London Brent at $97/barrel.

The day ended with a wonderful dinner involving Jim Seger, my freshman roomate at Stanford, Kathy Ray and her son, Kris.  My last remembrance of Kathy is that Jim and I had a double date with Kathy and some female, and I'm not sure who was whose date...for that was almost half a century ago.  Kathy is now a wine connoisseur, among other things, and lives in Napa Valley.  Jim teaches at Cal Berkeley.  I might join them on Kauai, as they are staying at Princeville, very close to where Kenjiro made his mark in 1906.  The hotel there is now the St. Regis, and I might extend to luxuriate for a couple of days where I got my early start in 1963.  Kauai is my favorite island.


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