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Thursday, May 5, 2016


I thought, what should I do today, and ended up having a roast duck / ginger chicken bento with a bottle of beer on Magic Island:

I sat under the shade of a coconut tree right next to the Rip Curl surfing meet:

I was entertained by blaring horns and announcements of which surfer was up and his/her score.  It then occurred to me, how lucky I am, but that this fantasy of my present existence is something I've largely enjoyed my entire life.  Fantastical has negative connotations:  fanciful, imaginary, capricious and highly unrealistic.  But also could mean extraordinarily good and fabulously terrific.  Thus, when you combine both, you have my life.

Looking back towards Honolulu from Magic Island:

This is Ala Moana Beach, where I swan when very young, and in the background, Kakaako, where I spent my first 17 years.  In these environs are Queen's Hospital, where I was born, and the schools I attended:  Pohukaina Elementary (no longer here at 690 Pohukaina, but the tallest building in Hawaii, 650 feet, is being planned), Central Intermediate (now called middle school) and McKinley High School (yes, I was in the class of 1958).

My upbringing was merely okay.  Here, with my dog, Blackie:

I don't remember ever wanting to be a dentist.  Maybe the highlight of my fantasy life during this Honolulu phase was that during my senior year of high school the three girls I dated all were beauties:  Jane Kuroda (Farrington) and Karen Dobashi (Roosevelt) were in the Cherry Blossom Pageant, while Alice Ige (Kaimuki) became a Miss Teenage Hawaii.  I wonder what happened to them, although I long ago heard that Jane had triplets.  Maybe someone reading this posting will alert them.  So, anyway, at the age of 17, I had a choice of going to the California Institute of Technology or Stanford, and went to the latter (the ending summarizes my years here):

My older brother, Stan, who I later found out might have been the foremost marine structural engineer of his time, got me a job at the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory in Port Hueneme, where he worked, and I stayed with his family for three summers.  His home in Oxnard had two orange, grapefruit and lemon trees that bore fruit continuously as long as he lived there for more than half a century.  Much more recently, to the left is my younger brother Dan picking a grapefruit.  The problem with places like Oxnard and San Francisco is that the cold currents pass close by and make the weather too chilly for me.  In 1958 when I first went to Oxnard it was a farming community of 40,000 known for lima beans and lemons.  Today, with more than 200,000, real estate there costs more than Hawaii.  People from Los Angeles build second homes here because during summer months, when it might be 115 F in Santa Paula, only 15 miles away, Oxnard could be 65 F.

President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps during my junior year, so many of my closest classmates chose to go to places like Ivory Coast, Philippines and the like for less than $100/month to improve the world.  Thus, I too had to suffer a bit and ended up at the southernmost community in the USA, Naalehu, working for the Hutchison Sugar Company for $500/month, to save the sugar industry.  Here is where I met Pearl, who was a nurse in the next town, Pahala.  We got married, were sent to the Kilauea Sugar Company on Kauai and lived in a trainee cottage next to which South Pacific was partially filmed.  Here Bloody Mary sung Happy Talk to France Nuyen (right) and John Kerr.  Pearl and Pepper at our backyard waterfall below.

How's this for fantasy?  Pearl and France looked like identical twins.  They were also born in July of 1939 and were the same height.  We were married for 47 years and I've now dropped her ashes at more than fifty sites around the world and planted perhaps a hundred Gold Trees in her memory.  This is part of the reason why I've now travelled around the world at least ten times.  My latest adventure was completed this past fall, and I have created a possible future fantasy, my 2018 Global Cruise.  Scarily, there seems to be some actual movement, as on Sunday I''m having dinner with a candidate (and maybe two) to enter Step 2 of the process.  

In the Epilogue of my SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth, I calculated that there was only one chance in 10 trillion that I could have lived the life I lived.  This was on top of the fact that there was only one chance in 10 with 34 zeros that I should have been born.  

I did not even include the odds on getting into Stanford, earning a PhD in biochemical engineering, still having an office at the University of Hawaii now for 44 years and having a professional life where I worked under Edward Teller, on laser fusion, helped Carl Sagan get his first real Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence funding from Congress, and draft the hydrogen legislation that became the Matsunaga Hydrogen Act.  But I continue these impossible quests, as for example, the Blue Revolution.

Life for Pearl and I in Louisiana was rewarding and experienceful.  We drove across the country a couple of times.  At LSU we had Peter Maravich and Tiger football, and all those festivals virtually every weekend.  Here we are in the bayous amidst Spanish Moss.  A PhD in biochemical engineering prepared me for the various environmental and energy crises to come.

My 44 years at the University of Hawaii, in particular, epitomized fantasia, for I was able to design my own courses to teach, from Technology & Society to Computer Graphics to Environmental Engineering.  At one time in the late '70's I had four offices:  Hawaii Hall in the Chancellor's Office, as Associate Dean of Engineering, faculty room in the Civil Engineering Department and new laboratory in Holmes Hall (left).  Today, in my 17th year of retirement, I'm in the Pacific Ocean Science and Technology building:

My room with books and assorted accomplishments:

There is something gratifying about spending 44 years focusing on the ocean, hydrogen, renewable energy and  research administration, and being recognized for doing a commendable job.

One of the benefits of being an engineering professor is being able to dabble in your fantasies, so I worked at places like the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, NASA's Ames Research Center on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and the U.S. Senate, where I drafted original bills for ocean thermal energy conversion and hydrogen.  Three years in Washington, D.C. also meant Concerts on the Mall, link to decision-makers in government, being close by the Smithsonian and train rides to New York City, Philadelphia and Boston.

One book I am especially proud of was produced by one of my Technology and Society classes.  They got National Science Foundation funding to publish this text, which was picked up by the Hawaii State Department of Education to use in high schools.  Mind you, this was more than 40 years ago.

On the walls:

You will note a poster of the St. Andrews Old Course at the top, where I played a couple times:

While my scores here are not worthy of note, in the 1990's the course fee was only $40, plus $75 for a required caddie.  On the other wall I show my best game, at Ala Wai, a score of 74:

I have maintained a one handicap throughout my life...per hole. This scorecard is othewise balanced with more distinguished memorabilia, such as Congressional legislation for which I was responsible, as for example the Matsunaga Hydrogen Act:

Let me close with a few things from my Stanford Class of '62 50th Reunion Class Book:

As you can't really read the fine print:

WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING:  After a career of teaching and administration at the University of Hawaii, I am in active retirement to Save Planet Earth and Humanity.  I've written three books on the subject and have posted more than a hundred articles in THE HUFFINGTON POST.  Of particular interest to me is Blue Revolution Hawaii, an organization for which I am the Chief Visionary.


Upon graduation, I observed that my high school classmates were better engineers from their education at the University of Hawaii.  However, I was able to communicate at a higher level--better appreciate music, art and culture in general--had a more worldly view of things--and most important of all, had the confidence to be innovative and enterprising.

I still can't quite believe that this fantastical life actually happened.  So I ask myself, what have I really accomplished?  Well, not much, but I tried.  Perhaps a few seeds were planted.  I think I here and there made a potential difference, and the world will thusly be a better place to live someday.  Above it all, I certainly enjoyed my life...and here I am now comfortably in Purgatory, also known as 15 Craigside.

More so, my fantasy continues, for in a few days I leave for six straight days of golfing in Napa (actually, Vacaville, which has become a rather nice boutiquish village), then on to San Francisco (where the Stanford Chemical Engineering Department is hosting something), Seoul, Tokyo and back home to Honolulu.  This particular Purgatory allows you to still enjoy Planet Earth.

Oh, tomorrow, part 2 of Humanity's Greatest Challenges:  Outer Space.


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