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Thursday, April 21, 2011

SiMPLE SOLUTIONS: FINAL EPILOGUE (Part 3)

David Ichinose sent this video of the most graphic GreatTohoku tsunami clip I have yet seen:


http://mashable.com/2011/04/17/japan-tsunami-video/


Rainbow Vision Lessons
To gain rainbow vision, combine the foundational roots of Parts 1 and 2 with the following lessons:

LESSON #1: determine what you want to accomplish where you have a natural advantage, and develop a sensible strategy. You won’t be able to, with distinction, compete in traditional fields. If you’re in Kansas, and water is running out, you must figuratively learn how to tame a tornado to produce water. In Hawaii, we are in the middle of the largest ocean, are endowed with a range of natural energy sources and rest at the interface of East and West. Clearly, an international sustainable resource project puts you at a distinct advantage. It is best to start with something you can accomplish…perhaps small, like inviting a promising new political campaigner to your home to meet a few friends. They never say no. Then, who knows, she might win the election, with your assistance. You now have done some good and formed a base for something bigger in the future.

 LESSON #2: invariably, other people will have better ideas than you. Be influenced by those around you. Your mentors change over time, and now, at a relatively advanced age, have learned to better appreciate my elders. Take Edward Jurkens (he is to the right in the above photo...and is with a flying mate of the Battle Bismark, 1943), for example.  You haven't read about him.  He still picks me up for golf, we walk (well, he now rides), and has a beer, afrter which he drops me off, going home for at least a double martini, while he completes the newspaper crossword puzzle.  He is 93.  


Then there is Ken Watanabe (well, that photo on the right is the actor version).  The Ken I know, who is approaching 90, still golfs well, and his form is a lot better than mine.

 LESSON #3: optimize your social skills. Take politics, for example. The worst place to convince an elected official is in his office. You especially won’t be able to change the mind of a legislator in a public hearing. Most of the effective selling, call it, even, lobbying, you will do needs to occur in a social setting. Consider golf, surfing, wine and karaoke to break the ice. Find your forte and apply it. Research awards are not only won by pure scientific brilliance, an academic corollary to LESSON 3. You need to first get that grant.

LESSON #4: work/volunteer for someone in Congress, the National Science Foundation, your State Legislature or an environmental group of your interest. A couple of years looking from the inside out, or, even, outside in, will give you a broader perspective, special connections and a competitive edge. Using politics again, LESSON 4B: go out of your way to help get someone elected. If that person loses, keep quiet and try again. A senator, any politician, will never turn down a sincere request for help, for the effort and effectiveness might suffer if there is no compelling need for them or their staff to want to really help you. There will be a hundred times more need than ability to deliver. Yours will be important enough only if they think you deserve it. It’s amazing how important you can be if you have done something for them, even waving signs for the candidate.

LESSON #5: tolerate the small stuff, but ultimately, focus on something monumental. Why waste your time and that of others, for it only takes a little more effort to attain a higher goal than something too easy or simple. On the other hand, how can you be effective if you haven’t had some experience? #5 is on the surface not consistent with #1, but only you can resolve these apparent contradictions in life. Hint: start small and build.

LESSON #6: make your own luck. Bob Gibson, when he pitched, had incredible luck. Batters kept missing his ball. People still can’t believe how lucky Rod Carew was, for while other infielders were almost always only inches away when the ball passed them, somehow he made the play. While you accept any good fortune, many times you need to make your own luck through uncommon effort and good people relations. Gibson and Carew made their luck through talent and practice.

LESSON #7: everyone has unique skills and friends. You must find something distinctive, with future utility, where you have a clear advantage. If you eventually undertake that monumental mission, find that niche or element ideal for you and your environment.

Thus, the Seven Lessons of Rainbow Vision.  Combined with good attitude (yes, be nice to people, please), the combination should work every time.

As one of my personal case studies, take the field of hydrogen. The details are provided in Chapter 3 of Book 1, but appreciate that Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific and runs mostly on oil. We have a wide variety of natural energy resources, but there was something about hydrogen that made long term sense, especially as 40% of the energy used here went towards aviation, and this gas was ideal as a future jet fuel. Why not, then, make Hawaii a leader in this field, as no one was yet doing anything of any importance. Choosing the U.S. Senate as the launching pad for action, using all the lessons above, Hawaii eventually became the U.S. National Center for Hydrogen Research. This is only a very preliminary first step, but others, hopefully, will continue the effort.

Case two: Hawaii is surrounded by salt water, so what about tapping the riches of the seas? Again, we would have no competition if we could have our congressional representatives place funds to help build credibility. We had to take this step because the University of Hawaii had no national respect in ocean resource technology. In the Senate, I helped write the ocean thermal energy conversion bill. Also, I shepherded the Hard Minerals Act for strategic seabed minerals, so why not establish a center on these subjects in Hawaii?  Finally, marine biotechnology: Hawaii as the biological equivalent of Silicon Valley would be as high tech as they come, and no university at that time had any engineering capability in this field. My PhD involved using a tunable laser to stimulate the DNA/RNA of E. coli. Thus came the Department of Interior Marine Minerals Technology Center and National Science Foundation Marine Bioproducts Engineering Center. I did not play superman to gain these leading research units, I hired the people to do it, and helped them. It is relatively easy to find unique themes in whatever makes sense from your experiences.

Combining all this ocean stuff, we could then have a Blue Revolution (Chapter 4 of Book 1), the marine equivalent of the terrestrial Green Revolution, where the only product was better grains. The Blue Revolution had the promise of providing next generation seafood, sustainable energy, new habitats, and natural materials, while enhancing the environment, plus, perhaps preventing hurricanes and remediating global climate warming.

Now, there is a danger in floating a mega project, no matter how terrific it sounds, for funding and staff people are inherently afraid of ten year, $10 million/year initiatives that could lead to a billion dollar requirement. You need to start reasonably, and build up to the worthwhile adventures. Thus, while you must conceive of the total program, begin by suggesting an element of the system. This is a way to reconcile LESSONS ONE and FIVE.

Initial thoughts were imagined in the 1970’s, and matured in the 1980’s, for basic research at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute of the University of Hawaii and technology transfer at the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research on hydrogen and ocean resources. A third of a century later, we are yet, only a third of the way there. But the seeds have been planted. That was the best I could do. But there will be others.

What if none of the above had turned out positive? Suppose nothing useful happened. That’s okay, too, because I would have felt good trying to do well, and, in addition, improved my health, as indicated in the following books:

o      Why Good Things Happen to Good People, reports that, by being good, mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortune are increased. Thus, the act of giving results in better health, enhanced happiness and longer life.

o      The Power of Nice, shows that nice people can be very successful, as well as healthier and happier, same as the other book.

Oh, yes, there is also the No Asshole Rule, which rather effectively informs you that assholes—also known as jerks, hotshots who alienate and dickheads—not only don’t get hired nor promoted, but are the first to be fired. It should be clear which one you should be, I hope.

These lessons for Rainbow Vision, however, are mere personal strategies. You still need to get out there and do something, and the next sections should provide some confidence, as it sometimes takes only a spark to galvanize monumental deeds.

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The Dow Jones Industrials rose 52 to 12,506, while world markets were mostly up.  Gold was up $2/toz to $1508, while the NYMEX is at $112/barrel, with the Brent Spot at $124/barrel.  Gasoline reached an all-time high of $4.51/gallon in Hawaii yesterday, and broke it today at $4.53/gallon.  The USA average is $4.09/gallon.  Our price is only around 10% higher than the national average.  Our electricity is 300% higher than the national average.  Interesting that we complain about gasoline, but the price of electricity is just accepted. 

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