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Monday, March 31, 2014


I've lived almost 32  years in Penthouse A2 of 2101 Craigside.  Tonight is my final night here, for tomorrow, I move into 15 Craigside.

I was extremely lucky in 1982 when I returned to Honolulu towards the end of my 3-year stint in the U.S. Senate.  My  Hawaii apartment was leased out for another year.  My real estate agent and personal friend, Stan Lizama, noted when he saw me that morning of a new listing that just appeared as he was leaving his office to pick me up.  From all reports, one of the co-owners of the 2101 Craigside development had a falling out with his partners, and had just offered it for sale.  I was the first to see it, fell in love and in minutes put in my bid.  Pearl and I were the first to occupy this great apartment.

There are a few perquisites if you live in Penthouse A that defy reality.  But, aside from having two floors, let me leave it at that.  However, anyone who purchases my apartment (it is for sale--in fact, if you buy now, you will get a bargain, for after I re-paint and re-floor, the price  will go up) will enjoy these special benefits.  Now is the time to buy in Honolulu, for according to Paul Brewbaker:

If history is our guide, even ramping production up like was done in the last cycle  will not prevent the 10 to 20 to 30% annual increases.

Even more than potential financial gain, though, are the rainbows and sunsets I regularly see:

So back to my story on this latest move, on a lark, I decided one day in December to trot next door to 15 Craigside, a seniors development.  I was shown apartment 1212 (highest floor), which had a view of the ocean, located in between the two towers of 2101 Craigside so those occupants can't see into my rooms.

Apparently, a University of Hawaii professor had reserved this apartment a long time ago, but had a health problem and long delayed his move.  However, he finally got well enough, and just the week before decided that 1212 was too high and instead moved into a lower floor unit.  1212 was made available the morning I happened to appear.  I don't believe in fate and things like the afterlife, but this coincidence with 32 years ago was, indeed, eerie, and convinced me to take this monumental step.  And, remember, the food here is a combination of Zippy's, Rainbow Drive-Inn and a good Japanese restaurant, with salad/soup and dessert bars.  You can bring your own wine and there is no corkage charge.

Thus, my final weekend here started with lunch at Orchids with Professor Mikiyasu Nakayama of the University of Tokyo.  Unbeknownst to both of us at that time, he was an associate dean at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology perhaps fifteen years ago when I spent my sabbatical there.  Anyway, note Diamond Head in the background.  That photo of me at the top of this blog site was taken from House Without a Key, which is adjacent to Orchids.  Miki is in the department of International Studies and graduate school of Frontier Science at Todai.

He indicated that the future of electricity in Japan was to wheel it in from Russia, and for their country to also be linked with China and South Korea.  Hopefully, this electricity would have green origins, and further, would serve as a security advantage in that one country could help the other if more Fukushimas occur, and not necessarily in Japan.  Rather than use his present title...

“Security Implications of Transboundary Power Trade”

...I suggested that he might want to stress the positive nature of his project with something like Peace through Power-Sharing.  I'm big on PEACE these days.

Then I perhaps might have had my final PHA2 sunset meal last evening, with Debbie and Dan Bent (they live on my floor at 2101 Craigside):

We had a spectacular 24-year old chardonnay from my Stanford Alumni collection.  The label was so old that I couldn't read it:

I think I barely distinguished something like Kenwood from Sonoma Valley, with the 1990 quite obviously so.  I've never before had a chardonnay that old.

So from PHA2 of Craigside, ALOHA.


Sunday, March 30, 2014


While the above title refers to two films, Noah's personality seemed Divergent.  I saw what will most probably be the two most popular flicks this weekend.  Noah will be #1.

Incidentally, two months ago I posted on "What was the Shape of Noah's Ark?"  Read the details, but the movie and previous artistic speculations were probably wrong.  The shape probably was round, with a diameter of six London busses.

We all know the story of Noah:  God tells him to build an ark to save land creatures, two by two.  Almost any biblical film is controversial when not entirely representative of The Bible.  The storyline is close to what is written, with departures.

One of my problems with The Bible is that time is relative.  Noah (Russell Crowe) lived to the age of 950, while his grandfather  Methusela (Anthony Hopkins) died at 969.  The Flood came around 2500 BC, or 4,400 years ago, and it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, something Honolulu went through in the spring of 2005.  Mount Waialeale saw 7.5 feet of rain during this period.  However, I might note that Egyptian civilization has been continuously recorded for at least 5000 years, with no mention of a flood.  Also, marine life would have ceased to exist in this now almost freshwater, and there is a continuous fossil line going back hundreds of million years.  There are pine trees at least 5,000 years old.

Another unnatural aspect had to do with the Watchers:  rock monsters, which protected Noah.  There were other absurdities, as, for example, there were no trees in the neighborhood of Noah, so Methusela gave him a seed from Eden, which overnight became a forest.  The tree, from the Bible, provided gopher wood, something not quite defined.  This was probably a kind of Acacia (to the left is an Acacia growing in Turkey), and there are a thousand varieties.  The Koa tree in Hawaii is an Acacia.  A couple of decades ago a very rich man from Japan came to see me about using this tree to build a replica of Noah's Ark on the Big Island.  Never happened.

The Ark is surmised to have been built in the vicinity of Turkey, coming to rest on the mountains of Ararat.  Grown men and women take this seriously.   The ship was 438 feet long:

God showed Noah how to build this ark, so maybe a technology was provided to build a wooden boat that large.  However, till today, nothing built of this material has ever been close to this size because any wood flexes and leaks.  Zheng He (right) of China supposedly had a ship 538 feet long, but the latest information indicates this was an exaggeration.

Forget for this discussion that if all the moisture in the atmosphere turned to water, the sea level would only rise about an inch.  But if this somehow happened, and the flood rose as high as Mount Everest, the ice caps are insufficient to account for where this fluid went, for if they all melted, the sea would still be less than one percent of that height.  99+% could not have evaporated into space in 4,400 years.  The porosity of Planet Earth is woefully insufficient to have sucked up this missing liquid.

Anyway, back to the movie, except for the fact that I fell asleep for some length of time, I found the film reasonably entertaining.  Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave Noah a 76% rating, but only 49% of audiences liked it.

The book Divergent is #1 on the New York Times best selling list, BUT AS A CHILDREN' SERIES, although I think they meant young adults.  Veronica Roth (age 25) wrote two other books, Insurgent and Allegiant, so, of course, there will be two more films, and they promise the third will not be split to maximize revenues.  Rotten Tomatoes reviewers only gave it a 40% rating, although 79% of audiences liked it, just the opposite of Noah.

Divergent occurs in a future dystopian Chicago (actually filmed in downtown Chicago), where, to maintain peace, there are five factions, where at the age of 16, citizens select and begin their initiation to join their chosen faction:  
  • Abnegation:  
    • selfless
    • the majority
    • takes care of the poor 
    • runs the government
    • wears gray and loose fitting clothes
  • Erudite:  
    • the intelligent
    • all wear at least one blue article
    • big on speeches
  • Dauntless
    • the brave
    • they serve as the guards
    • dark makeup and tattoos
    • their mind is controlled by the Erudite
    • wears black
  • Amity
    • the peaceful
    • kind, loving and free
    • artists
    • dresses in  red and yellow
  • Candor
    • the honest
    • leaders
    • truth is black and white, which is what they wear
There are two more classes:
  • Factionless
    • failed to complete the initiation into the above
    • lives in poverty and homelessness
    • janitors, construction workers, etc.
    • wears send me downs from the above
    • shows more than one trait
    • can't be controlled
    • Tris (Shailene Woodley) has three traits
    • her mother Natalie (Ashley Judd)
    • Four (Theo James) appears to be one, but in the third book is found out probably not to be so
    • his father Marcus (Ray Stevenson)
    • as they could rise up and control this Utopia, the leaders of Erudite (led by Jeanine, played by Kate Winslet, in her very first villainous role) and Dauntless have decided to terminate them
That pretty much sums up the movie, with the focus on the initiation of new Dauntless members, making this film somewhat similar to Hunger Games.  Shailene Woodley and Jennifer Lawrence represent the next generation of female movie stars.

I very much enjoyed this film and will go to see Insurgent (yes, there already is a pre-trailer).  They're all back for #2.  No, not Jennifer Lawrence (right), who, of course, will be in Part 1 of Hunger Games 3 later this year.

There is a major cyclone, Hellen, at 150 MPH, just about to crash into the northwest coast of Madagascar:


Saturday, March 29, 2014


My Chapter 2 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity dealt with Eternal Life, the science of living forever.  Medical science now and then uncovers evidence that can confuse you.  At one time eggs were bad, now, they're okay, if not even good at one per day.  Once margarine was recommended over butter.  Today?  Margarine is still better, but only the ones that don't have trans fats.  How can you tell?  Read the label, or, in general, avoid solid margarine in sticks, like:

At one time salt was more valuable than gold.  I consume too much salt, for sure, with poke, lau lau, teriyaki pork, soups, etc.  The average American takes in 3,300 milligram of sodium chloride each day.  The body supposedly needs only 200 mg, although the suggested maximum is 2300 mg, with a recommendation for African-Americans and those older than 51 to keep the intake at 1500 mg.  From Dieticians Online:

The problem is, of course, most of the salt you ingest comes from soups and processed food.  Be prepared to be shocked by this list:

You need a microscope to read, but click on it to expand the view.  Anyway, the top ten ranges from 1180 mg to 1650 mg per serving.  At #123-125 on the bottom are Health Valley Organic No Salt Added soups with 30 mg/serving.  One ounce small bag of potato chips has around 175 mg of salt.  The low-sodium variety still  has 130 mg.

Oh, by the way, salt is bad because it causes high blood pressure (which itself results in all kinds of terrible things), osteoporosis (weakens bones), kidney disease, cardiovascular problems and stomach cancer.

On the other hand, there seems to be evidence that a diet with less than 2300 mg/day of salt did not help those with diabetes and ailments associated with the kidney and heart.  Plus, there was a higher risk of congestive heart failure, insulin resistance and raising blood triglycerides (which leads to heart disease).  So, the best advice is to use good judgement.  Too much or too little of anything can hurt you.

Here are a few other latest newsworthy health matters:
  • Bittersweet dark chocolate improves cardiovascular health because bacteria in you gut convert the contents into anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • A 2012 study showed that Vitamin D supplements did not lower blood cholesterol.  Yet a recent study suggested that Vitamin D can lower low density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol.  This was a study on postmenopausal women, but it nevertheless makes me think that golfing and all that sun can only help me lower LDL.
  • Heard of "oil pulling?"  Gwyneth Paltrow and Shallene Woodley do it.  They say this whitens their teeth and prevents  tooth decay and gum disease.  But who has 20 minutes every morning to swish in your mouth coconut oil? Dental authorities say this cannot hurt, but it's also important to keep brushing and flossing.
  • Sugar, or sucrose, is bad for you.  The World Health Organization says the limit should be 26 grams per day (note, this is 26,000 milligrams--remember the salt discussion above?).  In the USA, the recommendation is 36 grams/day for men and 20 grams/day for women.  You'll be surprised as to how much sugar there is in foodstuffs:
    • one can of Campbell's tomato soup:  30 grams
    • one blueberry muffin:  22 grams
    • on cup coleslaw:  23 grams
    • tablespoon of ketchup:  4 grams  

  • Why is sugar bad?
    • Tooth decay
    • Sucrose breaks down into glucose and fructose, and fructose is terrible
      • liver turns fructose into body fat, leading to fatty liver
      • causes liver disease
    • Glucose overdose can result in diabetes and blindness
    • Causes cancer
    • Addictive (that photo above is a joke, but the meaning is clear)
    • Leads to obesity
    • Is the leading cause (more so than the fat you eat, say from steak) towards higher cholesterol and heart disease

Friday, March 28, 2014


Today is the 87th day of the year, with 278 days remaining in the Year 2014.  On this day in history:
In other words, in the 13.8 billion year age of the Universe, nothing much happened on March 28.  So here are a few interesting tidbits having nothing to do with today:
  • Manfred von Richthofen, the celebrated Red Baron, the top ace of World War I with 80 air combat victories, was himself killed in action, at the age of 25, on 21 April 1918.  Remember Snoopy vs. the Red Baron, a tune by the Royal Guardsmen?
The 1000 large animals included 512 big game animals, including six rare White rhinos
If you are taking vitamin supplements to reduce your risk of heart disease or cancer, a government panel of health experts wants you to know that you’re probably wasting your money. In some cases, those vitamins may actually increase your risk of cancer.


Thursday, March 27, 2014


Exactly fifty years ago today, the Great Alaskan Earthquake at Prince William Sound, with a moment magnitude of 9.2, caused $311 million (worth $2.2 billion today) in damages and killed 139.  This was the second largest earthquake in recorded history, next to the 1960 Valdes Chile monster rated at 9.5.  In comparison, the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake was a 9.0, but mostly because of the subsequent tsunami, resulted in a death toll of 15,884, with 2,633 still missing, and the largest natural disaster economic loss ever, at $235 billion.  Hurricane Katrina in 2005 had an estimated damage cost of $81 billion.  Worse, though, just the clean-up of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe could add up as high as $10 trillion!!!  Thus, fortunately, that Alaskan earthquake of a half century ago did not make any top ten list for economic nor human cost.

Nevertheless, that earthquake was monumental, as parts of Alaska rose 30 feet, and others dropped 8 feet.  As reported, a 27-foot tsunami was created, but Shoup Bay in Alaska saw a height of 210 feet.  There is every expectation that earthquakes from Alaska will continue to come, for:

Note also that this portion of the Ring of Fire is more dangerous closer to Japan, in particular that portion of the country east of north Honshu, or Tohoku.  Click on that map to expand it, but the larger the circle, the stronger the earthquake.  On my trip to Japan next month I'll be staying at the Westin Sendai, close to Fukushima and this earthquake-prone region.  Interesting, but when I made my hotel reservation a couple of months ago, the price was $45/night.  I just went to that site and the cost has zoomed up to $250/night.  Maybe it's now safer.
There were no injuries and minimal damage from this tsunami in Hawaii, even though the waves reached a height of 11 feet in Kahului Harbor and 12 feet in Hilo.  Part of the reason why is that we were hard hit in the forties and fifties and learned a lesson or two.  But we were also lucky, for most of the tsunami energy was directed at the West Coast, where eleven were killed in Crescent City, California.  For those living in Honolulu, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will this morning at 10 AM present "Tsunami, Waves of Destruction:  50 Years of Lessons Learned," at the Bishop Museum planetarium.  It is free if you are younger than four, but escalates up to $19.95 for adults.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014


This blog site, fundamentally, focuses on sustainable resources.  Of course, my book two, SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity (through, the Kindle edition costs $3.99) delves into areas such as crime, war, education, eternal life, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, religion, travel and nutrition, so I've expanded the scope of coverage to even entertainment and current news, especially disasters, man-made and natural.  These latter topics actually get more viewership.  To the right are my most popular postings.  However, today, getting back to my roots, I'll draw from the latest issue of Renewable Energy News  

1.  Global clean-energy projected growth from 2013 to 2023 in billion dollars:

From $248 billion last year, the total for biofuels, wind power and solar power is expected to increase to $398 billion in 2023.

2.  We tend to only read about solar at home or where we travel.  Here is an article reporting on Renewables in North Africa.  Renewable energy is expanding everywhere.

3.   The Greek government will reduce the renewable feed-in tariff (FIT), as has already occurred in Spain, the Czech Republic, Australia and Germany.  This seems to be the global trend.  So, enjoy what you now have if you have a solar PV system on your roof.  Of course, most already don't have this federal generosity to promote the renewables:

Under a FIT, anyone who installs renewable energy systems (RES) on their homes or businesses sells all of the power produced by the renewable energy system back to the utility at an above-market rate under a contract that usually lasts for a period of about 20 years.

In Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Company wants to reduce the break-even figure even lower, so the customer also pays his fair share of grid costs.

4.  Siemens (from Germany, and the largest engineering company in Europe), will invest $264 million in a wind turbine factory in northern England to manufacture wind turbines for offshore applications.  Siemens already has 2,7000 MW of these machines installed in United Kingdom waters.  The British last year built half of all new offshore wind capacity.  On the other hand, utilities in the UK since this past fall have already cancelled 5,760 MW for offshore wind farms.  Further, the latest worldwide data shows that the total system levelized cost for wind farms on land was 8.7 cents/kWh, while that of those installed in the ocean was nearly three times more, 22.1 cents/kWh.  So why are they building wind energy systems off shore?  This has to do with better (not as turbulent and maybe even stronger) winds, less NIMBY (not in my back yard) opposition and government incentives.  All the large ones are in the UK and Denmark.  National policy determines cost, and the average price of electricity in Denmark is 40 cents/kWh, while it is exactly half that in the UK, 20 cents/kWh.  Germany pays just about what we do in Hawaii, 36 cents/kWh.  The USA average is 12 cents/kWh.  Don't look for too many competitive offshore wind farms in the U.S.  Hawaii, maybe, as there is a lot NIMBY-ism here, but only if floating systems can be developed.

Here are a few upcoming gatherings in this field:

Energy Ocean
Energy Ocean 2014
National Hydropower Association
NHA 2014 Alaska Regional Meeting
US Solar Institute
PV-401: Field Training
AWS Truepower, LLC
openWind Training in Las Vegas at AWEA Windpower


Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Several people recently sent me a couple of articles on Solar Space Power (SSP), or Solar Power in Space, as it was called a long time ago.  Simply, a photovoltaic system (other options can of course be used to convert sunlight into electricity--but PV is lighter), is used as in NASA's Suntower concept:

A 1999 article projected operation by 2015.  Fanciful, right?  Well, maybe not.  Read on.  Imagine each pair of 100-150 meter diameter solar collectors (a polymer film is used to concentrate the light to a highly efficient PV cell) stretching 22 miles, producing 1200 megawatts.  The facility would be in geosynchronous orbit (22,300 miles) and beam down the energy using a microwave emitter or laser, to a rectenna that would need to be 10-15 miles in diameter as such:

A price tag of from $1billion to $2 billion was mentioned as the price, producing electricity for 5 cents/kWh.  Futuristic energy concepts have a way of enhancing reality.

Here is a comparison of carbon dioxide emissions:

The idea for SSP might have first been mentioned in 1941 by Isaac Asimov in his short story, Reason.  In 1967 British television adapted his story in the "The Prophet," a program in the television series Out of the Unknown

It was in the mid-1970's that I loosely had a relationship with Peter Glaser of A.D. Little on his patent for this technology.  Our birthdates were one day apart, except he was born 17 years earlier.  This means he will be 90 this year.  When I worked in the U.S. Senate from 1979-82, the U.S. Department of Energy actually spent $50 million on his idea.  President Ronald Reagan killed the project and tried to decimate the entire solar program too.

In  1997 NASA took a fresh look at the feasibility of this solar option, and focused on bringing down the cost of transporting equipment into space.  Pete Worden, though, claimed that SSP was five orders of magnitude (note:  this means 100,000 times, not five) more expensive than solar power from the Arizona desert.  He was then with the U.S. Air Force, and is now director of the NASA Ames Research Center, where I once worked.  I can't imagine that his attitude has shifted much.  I, too, have felt that anything on a large scale dealing with space is too dangerous and too expensive, especially when your final product is energy, which is still relatively cheap.  The International Space Station is a $150 billion (the entire Apollo Man on the Moon Project cost $25 billion,  which is worth $100 billion today, but in those days space had everything to do with the Cold War) white elephant, and has not produced one commercial product:  

Japan announced a $21 billion Solar Power Station in Space to beam power to 294,000 Tokyo homes by 2030.  Their plan is to have a 1000 MW system producing electricity at 9 cents/kWh.  Tokyo Electric Power today charges 28 cents/kWh.  Here is this New Sunshine Program Grand Design:

The four latest efforts are:
  • The U.S. Navy would like to beam down energy from orbiting solar panels (right).
  • Shimizu Corporation of Japan has a 6,800 mile long by 12 mile wide solar strip planned for installation across the equator of the Moon, sending back 13,000,000,000 MW of electricity.  How fanciful is this?  The U.S. summer generation is 1,051,000 MW.  But here is their system anyway:
  • More realistically, but still amazing, PG&E has a contract to in 2016 purchase from Solaren Corporation 200 MW of SSP.  

Pardon me for showing some skepticism, but the company only has 20 technical personnel.  It's beyond my imagination that the cost of placing their solar system in orbit and selling electricity in a little more than 2 years be accomplished with profit.  Just the environmental impact process will take a decade!!!  Nevertheless, they expect to beam 24 hours/day with a 97% power capacity, and hope to double production in time to support 250,000 homes.  I would love to be proven wrong.