Total Pageviews

Sunday, May 24, 2015

MY FANTASTICAL LIFE

I went to the restroom early this morning and could not go back to sleep.  I kept thinking, how lucky I am and can only feel being blessed for my fantastical life.  One definition is "extravagantly fanciful."  My life has been greater than great...magically fantastic.

However, the rebarbative (fearsome...forbidding) truth is that the end is near and my religious proclivities are such that I can only envision a final and eternal gloom.  Yet, as Gautama Buddha might say, my next phase of life will have no stresses and only everlasting comfort.  Clearly, in this limited period left, I will need to find a way to be so convinced.

In many ways, I'm writing my eulogy or the story of my life, except this posting will be far too long, approaching autobiographical status.  A symbolic representation is that rainbow-like image I use on the cover of some of my simple solution books.  To paraphrase from Book Two:

The cover shows my family crest or kamon. I colorized this mon into the rainbow version for SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth because most of the simple solutions represented a color, and this resultant bridge (Takahashi means high bridge) connecting country to country, people to people, you to me, as is suggested in the Epilogue, is my self-determined mission to Save Planet Earth and Humanity.



Starting with my beginning, I was born to a typical working class family in Kakaako of Honolulu and went to Pohukaina Elementary, Central Intermediate and McKinley High schools.  My intellectual level was nothing special, but there were signs that I had potential.  

The fact of the matter, though, is that my roots were exceptional.  From my mother's side, two uncles lived into their nineties, drove cars until the end, had terrific personalities, sired outstanding children (my cousins), and liked me most, possibly because I was the only one who regularly drank (alcohol) with them.  Most of my cousins graduated from college, some with doctorates, no one got  convicted of anything bad and I see no obvious signs of drug or ethanol addiction.  I might be the exception here if you consider my Monday night table at 15 Craigside.  Katie from Maui, for example, become a medical doctor and married that ultimate Manhattan psychiatrist, Michael, here having dinner on our penthouse rooftop.

There has to be brilliance on my father's side, for he was much smarter than I am, and his father must have been extraordinary.  In essence, in the later 1800's, he was sent from Utashinai, Hokkaido (in red), Japan to America to learn something (no record), on his way back home, stopped by Kauai to help build the first hydroelectric facility, and that powerhouse with  his name, after nearly 110 years, still produces the same 3 MW.  Unfortunately, he died at the construction site at the age of 33, leaving my father with a rather tough life leading to Kakaako.  Read about Grandpa in my posting entitled, The Search for Kenjiro's (I am named after him) Grandmothers.  Here is Kenjiro's gravestone on Kauai, and posing is Misa Tamura, the son-in-law pf the gentleman who contacted me if you clicked on to that link.

Okay, how lucky am I?  In SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity, I speculated that there was only a one chance in 10 to the 34th power that I could have been born.  Then, after that, if you crank in all the odds, my success is in the one in 100 trillion level.  Considering that Planet Earth has only produced around 100 billion of us, my good fortune seems endless.  I insert an Irish lucky you visual because my name is Patrick.

You ned a lot of luck for a fantastical life, and my birth timing was exquisite.  Turns out my older brother was born ten years ahead of me, and he was near the age of my mother's younger siblings.  When I arrived, I was the only child until my younger brother came four years later, in the midst of several cousins.  Turns out that an individual's personality is shaped by how you're treated, and being the only baby around, everyone doted on me, which has some negatives, but mostly positives.  I learned to play chess at the age of five and was well taught by the family village.

Nothing particularly significant happened until I broke my wrist playing basketball in the spring of my sophomore year at McKinley. Another thing is that, for me, adversity was followed by spectacular good fortune.   At that point, college was not on on my radar, but I had an English-Social Studies teacher, Mildred Kosaki, and Science teacher, Sueko Hirokawa, both who inspired me to become the best.  That is Mildred later in life in the right photo with her husband Richard and grandson.  She only taught for a year, became a noted planner and served on the Hawaiian Electric Company Board of Directors.

That summer between the sophomore and junior years is when almost everyone in my neighborhood worked in the pineapple cannery.  I couldn't, so instead memorized the vocabulary words in the College Board bible.  The cover has changed, but I can still remember that red and blue cover on mine.  In my sophomore year I did well on the math section, but scored in the 200's for the verbal part, placing me in the bottom 10 percentile.  Just boning up for the College Boards improved my score well into the 600's, which had a lot to do with my acceptance by CalTech and Stanford.

I was also elected vice president of the senior class, the first and only time I actually ran in a "public" election, and prevailed mostly because my three opponents were women, and the cast on my arm provided some sympathy points.  The person who was highly favored to win, Linda Tom, went on to become the 1959 Narcissus Queen.  No question that my class officer status, linked to various other activities, helped get me into Stanford.  And mostly from a Colles fracture.  If like most engineers I had calculated the cost of college and the maximum possible income to pay for it, I would have gone to the University of Hawaii, as did everyone I knew well.  Somehow, I made it.  Luck or what?

The class VP heads the commencement committee, so I arranged to select newly minted professor of political science, Richard Kosaki, as our speaker.  Twenty years later I happened to work with him in the Chancellor's Office at the University of Hawaii because he was the vice-chancellor.  He not only I'm sure had some influence on my success at the UH, but is also credited with having found the Hawaii community college system.

Going to Stanford was another piece of good fortune, for it got famous after I left.  There was no Silicon Valley, only cherry and peach trees.  For no particularly good reason I majored in chemical engineering, but took more art courses than I should have.  Here is an oil I later painted:


Turned out, of all graduating fields, chemical engineering pays the highest salary.  Also, in a decade my department became the #1 ChE program in the nation.

All my close friends on campus seemed to have joined the Peace Corps in 1962.  They got $99/month and an assignment of high dubiosity.  I went back to Hawaii to save the sugar industry with C. Brewer for $500/month and free housing.  In September, I met Pearl, and we got married in December, maybe the best decision I ever made.  No one has seen these photos for more than 50 years.

One of our assignments was to Kilauea, Kauai, where we lived in a trainee home with the South Pacific Slippery Slide as our backyard.  Here, Pearl and Pepper.

For the first year, C. Brewer continued to pay my salary while I was in graduate school at LSU, where I also got a full fellowship.  With Pearl working as a nurse, this was the last time we actually put money in the bank.  Living in Baton Rouge was some experience, plus there were Pete Maravich and the Tiger football team, where I wore a jacket and tie to games.  Here I am at my tunable laser micro sterilization system.

I'm still wondering how I managed to gain employment at the University of Hawaii in the College of Engineering after I graduated in 1972.  Between school and work, I have never had a day of unemployment, for after I retired at the UH, 16 years later, I continue to have a nice office on the Manoa Campus.  But during this 43 year period, I was able to:
  • Spend three years with the U.S. Congress working for Senator Spark Matsunaga, where I drafted original legislation related to ocean thermal energy conversion, seabed strategic minerals, hydrogen and wind energy.
  • Work on laser fusion under Edward Teller at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, helped Carl Sagan gain funding on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, during which time I gained the assistance of Nobel Laureate Charles Townes to design a better system to discover extrasolar planets when I spent some time at the NASA Ames Research Center.
  • Become a professor of engineering and director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute for 15 years, winning national centers for marine bioproducts, seabed resources, hydrogen and biofuels.
  • Chaired the U.S. Secretary of Energy's Hydrogen Technical Advisory Panel, where we created the Green Hydrogen Report.  From zero bucks in the early 80's, at one point after 2000, the hydrogen budget exceeded the solar technology budget at the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • With Dean of Engineering Paul Yuen, we created the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR), where we succeeded advancing the development of a $25 million open cycle OTEC program and $25 million biomass to methanol facility.
  • I've written five books, and had two book-signings:

A good measure of a person is what he contributes to society.  There have been developmental successes, such as:
  • I've had students and numerous hires who have done well.  For example, during a short period in the mid to late eighties I hired three researchers who are still with the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, all whose first son was in Stanford engineering a couple of years ago.  Two have thus far gone on to graduate school.  I haven't yet experienced a negative response from any student of mine, and a few now and then  recognize me.
  • After chairing the Wind Energy Division of the American Solar Energy Society, I helped pass the first wind power bill when I was working in the U.S. Senate, and that field has matured into a real industry.
  • The Hawaii Geothermal Energy Project on which I was a reservoir engineer drilled the hottest well in the world in the Puna region nearly 40 years ago, and the industry is now producing 38 MW, with 25 MW to be added.  I still think that, like the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority for OTEC, co-products can be developed on the higher end of the temperature spectrum, as was initiated at Noi'i O Puna three decades ago.  Further, undersea cables can link geo-electricity to the planned grid anticipated for wind and solar from Lanai and Molokai.  500 MW??
  • My academic and PICHTR duties involved considerable international travel
    • with Pearl at the oldest cherry blossom tree in Kyoto
  • a photo before I entered the St. Andrews Golf Course clubhouse:
  • the Crystal Symphony from New Zealand:
  • I visit Pearl's statue at Jindaiji in Tokyo:
  • ...and her Gold Koi at Matsumoto Castle:
  • the best one dish I've ever had was at La Terraza dell"Eden in Rome, a bowl of white truffles risotto: 
    • I served on the board of the Kansai Fishermen's Association, led by Masaharu Kimoto:

    • people I visit, of course, come through Hawaii, so here, Pearl and I arranged a tour of the Kimoto party through Doris Duke's Shangri La:

  • My successor, who I initially hired, is now in his 15th year as director of HNEI, and is flourishing.  I guess he is satisfied with my presence on campus, for I still have my office in his institute.
  • I donated my penthouse to the University of Hawaii, and we are working out a program for the Blue Revolution.
My retirement party was almost 16 years ago, but I maintain an office at Manoa and continue to write, mentor and visionize.  My two brothers, Stan and Dan, and their families, came to my retirement party in Waikiki, as did colleagues from the world over. 

Of course, there were thousands of these types interactions.  The above is representative.

Adding to our storybook life was the joy of living close to Heaven in our 2101 Craigside penthouse, which featured a hundred parties, with:
  • rainbows
  • and sunsets, first our neighbors, Deb and Dan:




Again, I can go on and on with more photos, but my fantastical life will continue with golf (here with Kenji at Oahu Country Club--but note 15 Craigside and 2101 Craigside in the background):



I'll be on a 65-day global adventure this coming Fall, and will dine at a few Michelin 3-Stars and Pellegrino Best 50 restaurants, and will continue to indulge myself with Chaine des Rotisseurs:


They dress funny, but do partake of champagne, foie gras and other treats.  These diversions ruin my ecological and sustainable image, but Saving Planet Earth and Humanity does not mean that I need to wear a hair shirt, maintain a constant state of penance and beg for food.  After all, I now reside at 15 Craigside, the ultimate in coccon-like security.

So glancing into the future, my problem continues be that everything I do is pioneering, so the following list looms like a catalogue of failures:
Nothing much has attained any kind of commercialization or following, but in my justifiable rationalization, I see myself as a kind of Johnny Appleseed for a sustainable world.  Throughout my fantastical life I have maximized pleasure while catalyzing a wide array of progressive things to come. Many of these pathways will take decades, if not many of them, to gain traction.  Should anyone reading this blog site wish to accept the baton, I can speculate that a few billionaires will be created and, perhaps, a Nobel Prize might await the proper visionary.  Pity that will not be me, but feel free to call on me for advice.  After all, I am probably the world authority on most of those enterprises.

-

No comments: