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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: MY YEAR IN REVIEW

This is a blog site mostly about renewable energy and the environment to Save Planet Earth and Humanity.  However, the postings that attracted the most viewers had to do with entertainment, rainbows, scary animals, my travels/dining and OTEC.  Here are the top entries for 2013:
Close to 200,000 clicks were made to this site in 2013, averaging around 500/day.  Two hundred thirteen countries have visited Planet Earth and Humanity.

My low light of the year had to do with my two (plus one in December 2012) visits to the Queen's Emergency Center.  Just scroll down to the next posting to view the vivid details.  However, these ailments had to do with a swollen thumb, fish bone in throat and separated pinky, hardly what you might call life-threatening.

Otherwise, it was not a bad year, for I attained my primary goal for the year, which was to reach a golf handicap of 14, something I had never accomplished in my life.  I also shot a 76 last week, and my handicap actually settled at 13.  I was ready to descend into a single digit when I hurt my left hand.

My Ultimate Global Adventure (MUGA) took 52 days through Sydney, Bangkok, Japan, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Frankfurt, DC, Denver, San Francisco, and a two week period through Napa, Sonoma and Alexander Valleys for golf and wine.  You know I had too much of a good thing for me to say that I got tired of Dom Perignon and caviar.  While I beat David Niven who took all of 80 days, got to admit that his $2 million gambling winnings and a new wife outdid me.  Perhaps the highlight of this trip was that gold koi, which now represents Pearl in Japan at the Matsumoto Castle.  There is only one gold, so you can't miss it if you go there.

OTEC also seemed to make a revival this year, for several of my postings in addition to #5 above were well pinged.  Two in particular are noteworthy:
If Tomoyo Nonaka can become Prime Minister of Japan, that will significantly enhance prospects for OTEC and the Blue Revolution.  Current PM Shinzo Abe keeps shooting himself in the foot, so some change can be expected perhaps even as early as next year.  Otherwise, Lockheed Martin could well build an OTEC facility for China, and Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation might beat LM by constructing an OTEC system in the Caribbean.


My final life change looms with sale of my apartment and a move into 15 Craigside next year.  I hate to leave my rainbows and sunsets, but it's time to move on.


Well, let me end with my person of the year.  Sure TIME chose Pope Francis, however, I have someone a lot more exciting:


Miley Cyrus is my person of the year, for she not only defined the term twerking (above), the #2 word of the year, but did a selfie (the #1 word) of herself, as shown in the 30December2013 issue of TIME:


Last I heard, her father, Billy Ray Cyrus of Achy Breaky Heart fame, and her mother, Tish, have called off their divorce.  TOMORROW:  ALMOST SURE PREDICTIONS FOR 2014 AND BEYOND.

Oh, by the way, this is already 2014 for 


Dubai supposedly broke the record for "Largest Fireworks Display."

This is getting ridiculous, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 72 to 16,577, for the 52nd time this year, a new all-time record.  Just about every day since I sold my stocks last week this record has been broken.

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Tropical Cyclone Bejisa is now at 110 MPH, will further strengthen, and now seems destined to plow right through Reunion.  I have so many friends there.


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Monday, December 30, 2013

EMERGENCY ROOM: Part 3

I've now been treated by the Emergency Room of Queen's Hospital three times over the past thirteen months or so:

This was trivial, almost embarrassing and a huge waste of time, but there were extenuating circumstances.  Simply, I tripped in a parking lot and used my left hand to cushion my fall.  There was an excruciating pain and my left pinky was out of joint.   Almost instinctively, while I was still on the ground, I somehow did something to force the joint back into place in the knuckle.

I was able to drive home, and had no other recourse but call my doctor, who is retiring tomorrow.  He just happened to be in, but told me to go to an emergency room, as there needs to be follow-up.  

So back I went to Queen's, where the wait was interminable.  There must have been 20 people in the room, and the staff plain forgot me twice.  Again, the room was close to freezing, people were coughing and your mind conjures all kinds of worst case scenarios.  

The worst part was that I had missed lunch, and actually thought, should I eat before going to the hospital.  But pain trumps hunger, even though I knew my blood pressure would jump if I had nothing to eat for a few more hours.  My pressure was measured at Queen's, and was a very high 171 over 80, but I've been up to 180/110 in hunger.  The problem was that I had a few hours to wait.  I had measured my pressure on the fifth hole at the Ala Wai Golf course two days ago, and the machine read 110/68.  I just measured my pressure at home, six hours after that 171/80 above, and it had dropped to 136/78.

Anyway, three and a half hours after entering Queen's parking, I was on my way to pick up a bento plate lunch (kalua/cabbage, rice and macaroni/potato salad) at Zippy's, which I had at home with a beer.  Food never tasted so great.  The good news is that there is no fracture, plus the parking was free.  I just noticed that my ribs now also hurt, so that must have been one of landing points when I fell.  Anyway, compared to all those patients at Queens, I can only feel blessed.

This has not been a great year, so I hope for the better in 2014.  Tomorrow my review of this past year, or, maybe my annual prognostications.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average did it again today, for the 51st time this year, up 26 to 16,504, breaking the all-time record.

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Oh my, Tropical Cyclone Bejisa in the Indian Ocean is up to 105 MPH, will strengthen into a Category 4 and seriously affect the west coast of Reunion in the later afternoon of January 2:



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Sunday, December 29, 2013

SHOULD YOU DRINK ALCOHOL?

Too much of anything can be fatal.  This certainly is true with ethanol (that's what a molecule looks like), the alcohol in your drink.  However, will a little bit of alcohol improve your health?

There seems to be medical evidence that a moderate amount of alcohol:
  • keeps your mind sharper
  • lowers the risk of developing diabetes
  • increases your life expectancy
  • reduces your risk of developing heart disease and gallstones and
  • can raise the level of good cholesterol in your blood by as much as 20%.
According to this article, you should drink alcohol during a meal, for alcohol without food can raise your blood pressure.  My personal experience is that my blood pressure drops with alcohol.  I've taken sips of scotch (2 ounces, and also equivalent wine and beer) over a two hour time frame, and my blood pressure consistently drops with time.  

That said, I agree that it's probably more beneficial to combine alcohol with food.  Not mentioned above is that alcohol tends to slow the stomach emptying time, thus decreasing the amount of food consumed, thus potentially lowering your weight.  However, there are those added calories in ethanol (as opposed to only water), so I wonder about the trade-off.  Clearly, a pina colada or Blue Hawaii will add many calories to your diet.

Not clear where this evidence comes from, but the profession also says don't drink if you're:
  • pregnant or breastfeeding
  • at risk for certain cancers
  • come from a family with alcohol abuse
  • a child or adolescent
  • taking certain medication that can interact with alcohol
  • faced with certain liver and ulcer problems
  • needing to maintain high coordination to perform a task
  • have inflammation of the pancreas.
How much do you need to drink to reach a 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC), the legal limit?  a 100 pound person quickly drinking two 12 ounce bottles will reach 0.07 BAC.  A 200 pound individual can drink four bottles to get to 0.07.  Similar results will be reached by that 100 pound human with 10 ounces of wine and 3 ounces of spirits (like vodka).  However, other sources provide different data, and, of course, there are the factors of time, food, medication and fatigue that complicate the reality.

Clearly, however, don't drink and drive.  While 0.08 BAC  is the legal limit, any amount of alcohol can affect your driving ability.  The facts:
  • the average BAC among fatally injured drinking drivers is 0.16
  • the relative risk of death for drivers in single-vehicle crashes with a high BAC is 385 times (yes, three hundred eighty-five times) that of a zero-BAC driver, and make that 707 times for male drivers
This is interesting:
Okay, so what is moderate drinking?  According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, if you consume alcohol, women should have one drink and men two:

  • Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)
  • Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)
  • Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)
Thus a male can have 10 ounces of wine, which is almost 40% an American bottle (26 ounces).  If you're concerned about gender equity, there are reasons why we, men, can have twice the amount:
  • average woman weight less (of course, then, if you are a really large and heavy female, you can consider having more)
  • not an insult, but the reality is that women have a higher ratio of fat to water, so are less able to dilute alcohol within the body
  • females have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase to metabolize alcohol in the liver
While one drink generally induces relaxed affability, 10 drinks can kill you, and there are some negatives to imbibing ethanol:
  • drinking less will help you look better
  • alcohol interferes with the normal sleep process
  • remember that two large glasses of wine have the same number of calories as a hamburger
  • you will feel better if you stop drinking
  • can affect your fertility and sexual performance
  • can increase the risk of getting breast cancer, and problems with your liver, bowel, mouth and entire alimentary canal
Oh, doctor's say that if you don't drink, that's good.  If you do imbibe, do so in moderation.  Certainly, don't drink and drive.

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Tropical Cyclone Bejisa at 45 MPH has popped up northeast of Madagascar, and is projected to strengthen to hurricane strength and pass between Reunion and Mauritius later this week:


However, the path is uncertain, and so is the future nature of this storm.

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

HOW TO BALANCE CHEMICAL EQUATIONS WITHOUT CHEMISTRY

Every so often I have a posting on something too scientific or mathematical for normal human minds.      In 1976, for example, I spent some time at NASA's Ames Research Center devising the "ideal" system for detecting earth-sized extrasolar planets for their Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program.  Frankly, I thought my concept would be a thousand times cheaper and more direct than the transit and wobble approaches selected by NASA, and still do.  Click on Planetary Abstracting Trinterferometer, with an acronym of, what else, PAT, to get a sense of just one of my impossible dreams.  NASA has now found more than a thousand extrasolar planets, but they still have no ideal goldilocks Earth equivalent.  PAT would have also provided the atmospheric composition.

A couple of years later, while teaching an Engineering-in-Training exam course, a sudden revelation came to me on "How to Balance Chemical Equations without Chemistry," so I published it in CHEMICAL ENGINEERING (pp 120,12213February 1978).  (YOU NEED TO SEND THIS TO A CHEMISTRY OR CHEMICAL ENGINEERING STUDENT!)  The problem is that courses in chemistry then (and maybe still now) teach the oxidation-number and ion-electron methods, where you need to have memorized a whole range of stuff.  Then, there is always that trial and error effort that can only work for very simple equations.

I called my invention the "neoclassical" method for balancing chemical equations, mostly because someone else almost surely must have discovered this technique before me...except I have yet to see this in print.  Given an equation (such as FeS2 + O2 = Fe2O3 + SO2), there are only three steps:
  • Enter coefficients:
    • aFeS2 +bO2 = cFe2O3 + dSO2
  • Equate elements and signs:
    • Fe:   a = 2c
    • S:   2a = d
    • O:  2b = 3c + 2d
    • (there are no signs to balance in this equation)
  • Solve the simultaneous equations, and you will get:
    • a = 4
    • b = 11
    • c = 2
    • d = 8
  • Thus, the balanced equation is:  4FeS2 + 11O2 = 2Fe2O3 + 8SO2

How much more simple can this get?

Of course, with the world wide web, all you need to do these days is to go to a site such as webqc.org/balance.php and they will do this for you.  However, until recently, you had to suffer through the effort.

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Tropical Cyclone Christine will attain hurricane strength in a couple of days and run into a desolate part of northwest Australia:


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Friday, December 27, 2013

A POSSIBLE SOLUTION FOR JELLYFISH


Ten days (plus or minus two days) after a full moon off Waikiki Beach, the box jellyfish (Alatina moseri--left) invades.  Over the past 173 full moons (14 years), a study indicates that 66,000 box jellies arrived across a 1310-foot section of this beach.  However, all the Leeward (south side of Oahu) beaches face this threat.  In fact, jellies can be found throughout the world, although there are different species.  

In Australia, the Chironex fleckeri (right), with a head the size of a basketball, can fatally sting, and, in fact, are responsible for more deaths than snakes, where the world's deadliest can be found.  I'm overdoing this, but 20-50 people die annually in the Philippines from box jellyfish stings.  I don't remember even one death in Hawaii.  In 2010, Valencia, Spain, 150,000 tourists were treated.

How's this for spreading fear?  There is Irukandji, a tiny jellyfish with a scientific name of Carukia barnesi, that causes vomiting, back pain, brain hemorrhaging and heart failure.  They are found in northern Australia, Japan and Florida.  Smithsonian has a posting calling them "Killers in Paradise."  Where in Florida?  Check with the U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West.


I remembered, though, that portugeuse man o'wars (right) were a lot more troublesome at Ala Moana Beach, although their timing does not appear to coincide with the moon cycle.  Both deliver painful stings, and beaches are closed when they appear.

I suspect box jellies, thus, are a negative influence on tourism, for anyone who gets stung will remember the pain, and tell all their friends.  Washing with salt water is the best treatment, although rinsing the area with vinegar for 30 seconds helps for jelly stings.  A heat pack might help.  Some say meat tenderizer or urine.  However, DO NOT USE VINEGAR for man o'war stings, which can provoke hemorrhaging.  Hydrocortisone can relieve itching.

Angel Yanagihara of the University of Hawaii has found that the venom can cause potassium leakage leading to cardiovascular collapse and death within 2 to 5 minutes.  What led her to this field is that she was swimming off Kaimana Beach 16 years ago, got stung by a box jelly, lost consciousness and was bed ridden for days in great pain.  She is developing zinc gluconate as an antidote.  Angel also helped Diany Nyad recently swim from Cuba to Florida because the 2011 attempt failed from box jellies.

Okay, I did promise a possible solution.  Just make jellyfish a desired cuisine, and soon the world will be rid of them.  Well, maybe not, as I've had jellyfish in China, and if the largest country cannot consume enough, and the world is being overwhelmed by jellyfish (actually, they run in 20-year cycles), that is not an answer.

Jellyfish cost South Korea nearly $300 million/year in lost tourism and shutdown reactors.  Thus, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST--I once gave a lecture there), has developed a jellyfish-shredding robot known as JEROS (Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swam--to the left).  Simply, JEROS detects, sucks into a net and shreds with a propeller the jellyfish.  While the first generation did 880 pounds in an hour, the next generation will be able to destroy 2,000 pounds/hour.  But, whoops, according to Angel, though, not so smart, for all the reproductive material is is released, probably enlarging the next swarm.  Back to the drawing boards for KAIST. 

Anyway, while you might be able to quietly experiment around the coastline of South Korea, JEROS X will run into surfers, Greenpeace and a host of other protesters in Hawaii.  Anyway, our box jellies only provide a painful experience.  We should feel lucky that there has been no known fatality here.  

Until KAIST or someone else invents a way to control jellyfish, though, click on this if you are in Hawaii and want to avoid stings in 2014, or want to come here when you can safely swim on Waikiki Beach  Today is still unsafe here, the next three day period runs from January 25 to 27.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH

The following news spots on your health seem worthy of mention:

  • Apparently, if you are older than 60, the medical profession is on its way to declaring that if your blood pressure levels do not exceed 150 over 90, YOU MIGHT NOT NEED TO TAKE ANY PILLS FOR THIS CONDITION.  Seems that this medication can cause fainting and falling, which could well be worse than merely keeping your pressure lower.  Of course, don't just quit your medication with this posting.  See your doctor.
  • I've said this many times before, but the latest studies show that vitamins and other supplements don't improve your health.  This $28 billion/year waste affects 53% of American adults who do take these pills.  Specifically cited as a useless are:
  • Of course, few today smoke three packs of cigarettes daily, but if you do, you will:
    • spend $5,000/year
    • $200,000 in a lifetime
    • pay more for insurance
    • suffer from an obnoxious smell
    • have a shorter life
  • Traveling is good for your mental health.  Stressful business trips don't count.  The relaxing vacation for leisure is recommended.  I wonder, though, if travel might nevertheless be bad for your physical health, for the stresses involved with waking up and catching your plane very early in the morning cannot be healthy.  Certainly worrying about being gyped by your taxi driver in certain cities or walking at night in any new environment can affect anxiety.
  • Appears that there is now a travel advisory for St. Martin in the Caribbean for chikungunya.  I stopped here once on a cruise.  This is the first such threat to the Western Hemisphere.  What is chikungunya?  It's a mosquito-borne virus that can paralyze you.  My visit to La Reunion Island involved this disease.  I understand, though, that this problem has been controlled there.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, for the 50th time this year, again broke its all-time record, now up to 16,480.  The S&P 500 also topped its high and the Nasdaq hit a 13-year high.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

WHO INVENTED SANTA CLAUS?

I like to equate Santa Claus to God.  (This painting is available at Oil Painting Factory.)  Others have too.  Here is an almost too apologetic posting in the Huffington Post.  I go one step further by expressing bewilderment that, while we all once believed in Santa Claus, perhaps 90% of us (not me, but the world at large) continue to have faith in something called God.  Why have 10% of us (this includes me) come to a conclusion that, while Santa Claus is a merry deception, by all available evidence, God, too, is a truly brilliant prevarication that continues to control the mind of most.  But this is Christmas, so let me not go there today.  For more details refer to my chapter 5 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.

In any case, there continues to be a link between these two, as the origin of Santa Claus traces back to the Nordic God Odin, one of his many sons, incidentally, being thunder god Thor (which you saw, twice, in those recent Marvel films--but had eight inaccuracies).  Then, along came Sinterklaa (right), a Dutch saint who:
  • Rode a white horse on rooftops, while Odin used a grey horse.
  • Gave chocolate letters to children, similar to Odin, who provided letters of wisdom.
  • Had mischievous helpers who listened at chimneys to determine if a child was good or bad, while Odin used two black ravens who reported on subjects.

Sinterklaas somehow segued into Saint Nicholas (left) patron saint of children, who as a Greek Bishop of the 4th Century in Turkey, certainly dressed like Santa.  You have to excuse me, but the direct connections are, like most things biblical, mythically convenient.

Those countries surrounding the Netherlands celebrate this day around December 5, which is the Eve of St. Nicholas, but Greece has Christmas on December 25, and so does Turkey, with Noel Baba (right)

In the U.S., the beginning of this all can be traced to an 1823 poem by Clement Clarke Moore, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."  Thomas Nast was, perhaps, most influential for the look of Santa and illustrated this poem in 1881.


Lyman Frank Baum became more famous for "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," but he also wrote 'The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" in 1902.  There was the 1934 song, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," where there were elves and flying reindeers.   Around this timeframe, Coco-Cola gained some notoriety by attaining urban legend status for inventing Santa.  

The Salvation Army early on used someone in a Santa Claus outfit to tinkle the bells.  Mrs. Claus only made an entry in the 50's through "Mrs. Santa Claus."  Spinoffs have included Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, by Gene Autry.  The largest gathering of Santas occurred in Northern Ireland in 2007, with 12,965:


The unofficial Santa Claus Village is in Finland, in the Arctic Circle.  Over the years, 8 million letters have been received from 198 countries, most from Great Britain, Poland and Japan.

Sure there is controversy and maybe even deception, but this is Christmas, so let us enjoy the Holiday Season.  Thank you Santa Claus.


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