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Saturday, May 7, 2016


On Thursday I rambled on with photos of my entire life, but never really had a chance to go into detail regarding a prevailing theme:  sure, they say you make your own luck, but in my case, it certainly looked like someone above kept intruding, providing assistance whenever I needed it.  And, if you're a regular reader of this blog site, while I have tried to maintain an openness about my religiosity, at this time, aside from these bits of pure luck, the lack of compelling evidence regarding God and the Afterlife leaves me currently with an uncomfortable sense about eternal gloom when this life is over.

Luck began at birth.  There was something like one chance in 23 to have been born in the USA, and one in 5000 to have Hawaii as my birthplace.  Both were important, for the opportunities one has in this country are unparalleled, and being from Hawaii turned out to be particularly favorable.

For one, the weather in the 50th State is better than virtually anywhere else.  While we are vulnerable to an assortment of natural disasters, I have never been in a hurricane, felt a serious earthquake only in Tokyo, and have yet to experience a serious tsunami.  In the final chapter of my book on SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity, I select Hawaii as the Best Place in the World.  Here is a quote from my posting of 23February2011:

Early in 2008 there was a best place contest to pick Hawaii’s top 25 sites to visit. Maui’s Haleakala Crater at sunrise? Kauai’s Waimea Canyon at sunset? The volcanoes, green sand beach and macadamia nut plantations of the Big Island?  The Green Flash from my penthouse? That secret fishing ground off Molokai? The Manoa Valley rainbow? You can contact  with the secret password, Na Wahi Heke, and gain access to the poll results.

You, too, can become a part of this future. Can you imagine a better place on Planet Earth? This is not heaven, but is the closest thing to paradise. If you can’t afford it, certainly don’t come, but if this is to be your last life, you might as well make it exciting, memorable, enjoyable and lengthy.

How being from Hawaii personally helped my career was that a high percentage of funding managers from Federal offices like to come to Hawaii.  I was initially able to convince the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and Department of Interior to finance research prioritization workshops in Hawaii.  As I was the principal investigator, I wrote the final report, and well-positioned University of Hawaii programs.  Thus, when we competed for funds, there were links to priorities we created.  Plus, these officials are human.  They tended to place of review committees people who were apt to be helpful.

But to gain the appropriate credibility to secure the above advantage, working for three years in the U.S. Senate was the key assignment I lucked into.  Senator Spark Matsunaga was on the Finance and Energy/Natural Resources sub-committees, and his influence shaped my career:
  • I wrote the legislation that created the national hydrogen and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) programs, was the Senate link to the future of wind energy and the lead staff for deep sea minerals development.  This early involvement led to:
    • The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute becoming a U.S. Department of Energy Hydrogen Research and Educational Center, National Science Foundation Marine Byproducts Engineering Research Center and Department of Interior Marine Minerals Technology Center.
    • The Pacific International Center for High Technology Research dominance over OTEC funds, leading the Blue Revolution.
  • Served as chairman of the Secretary of Energy's Hydrogen Technical Advisory Panel.
  • Created the Spark Matsunaga Fellows in Renewable Energy Engineering program, where a whole host of companies donated funds to HNEI, leading to:
    • The hiring of outstanding individuals at the University of Hawaii to advance programs in hydrogen, marine byproducts, wind energy, ocean energy, geothermal energy and seabed minerals, plus bring to Hawaii Hub Hubbard when he retired as Director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  These are the individuals who paved the way for national programs.
    • Meals and golfing with Federal funding managers, legislators and members of Congress and their staff.  State and Federal funds cannot be used for this purpose.  Much of this is not allowed today, but I remember one dinner at Jean Louis (best and most expensive then in DC) where I entertained the person who determined appropriations funding for the U.S. Senate, an assistant secretary of energy and key staffer for Senator Dan Inouye.  The bill was so large that I had to use two credit cards, and later had some difficulty convincing the University of Hawaii Foundation that I was not double charging.  I would not have been able to personally afford this meal, but industry helped pave the way for research grants.  Was all this ethical?  Well, mostly yes, then, but not now.
  • During those days, Senator Dan Inouye and Representative Dan Akaka were on their respective appropriations sub-committees, and they personally introduced me at congressional hearings, plus insure for the necessary funding to my programs.  As someone who previously worked in Congress, I was able to sidestep the priorities determined by the University of Hawaii.  With Senator Matsunaga, they made strategic phone calls to agencies when asked and wrote supportive letters as necessary.  However, my job when it came to major National Science Foundation grants was to make sure they did not unduly influence the process.  In any case, these federal employees were beholden to the congressional funding process, and leaned in the direction of those members who determined their budget.  Much in life is a matter of trust, and my period with the U.S, Congress anointed me.
Working in the U.S. Senate provided the experience, contacts and confidence to compete for national funds.  All this made my relationship with Hawaii State Legislators particularly favorable, and just the fact that I was born in Hawaii provided a special advantage because of all the other research directors and deans during my active period at the University of Hawaii, there were only a very few locally born administrators.

There was a mention above about the Pacific International Center of High Technology Research (PICHTR).  In the early 80's with Paul Yuen, who also grew up in Hawaii and became Dean of Engineering, we were so bold as to create PICHTR to pass through Federal and foreign research funds.  No one had ever done this before.  The story of PICHTR is another string of lucky coincidences, and you can read the details in my posting of 18May2012.   In total support were the State Legislature, Governor George Ariyoshi, President of the UH Fujio Matsuda, who joined PICHTR's board, plus brought with them people like Ako Morita of SONY and An Wang or Wang Laboratories.  There were always two board members from Japan, I got to know several ambassadors.  Japan provided a $1 million for eight years, and these funds had no restrictions.  Paul and I had our travel payed anywhere we wanted to go around the globe.  This is mostly why I've been around the world more than ten times, and can guess that I have landed in Japan in excess of a hundred times, South Korea 35, Thailand 25, China 15 and Europe on more than a dozen occasions.

All that travel led to my appreciation of Michelin 3-Star and Pellegrino Best 50 restaurants.  Almost all of these meals were paid for by local hosts or PICHTR, which I reciprocated when they came to Hawaii.  I also joined Chaine des Rotisseurs, a gourmet society which goes back almost a millennium.  Appropriately enough, I'm chairman of the Dining Committee at 15 Craigside, and our dinner/lunch outings actually are among my most read postings, much more so than my energy/environment efforts.  While I'm now actually paying for my meals, there is something about nearing the end of your life that makes financial justification painless.

I can go on and on about how luck has influenced my fantastical life, and maybe there someday will be a Part 3.  However, let me end with the final step to the end:  the Purgatory also known as 15 Craigside, which is a senior's community.  Two postings most commented on by my friends here are:
After living alone for five years after Pearl passed away, the last thing I expected was a party every night at 15 Craigside.  So, yes, you can have fun in Purgatory.  My various tables for dinner include people I enjoy being with, and, as an example, the Monday Night Table features a different colorful cocktail every week.  The photos of these drinks, produced by our mixmaster, Dexter, are so exceptional, that a move is being initiated to show them on our basement exhibition area.  However, I still regularly also have dinner by myself on my lanai, and here is what I had last night, beginning with one of those $80/pound wagyu beef steaks from Miyazaki:

I started with a Stanford white for the hamachi sashimi, and was planing to move on to a fabulous Stanford red, but my 18 holes of golf so dehydrated me that I instead added a St. Pauli Girl beer:

In the background is my herb garden, here, arugula and basil:

As you might know, the next step after Purgatory is Heaven, where life can only get better.

Purgatory is an intermediate state of purification between death and heaven for those who die with small sins for an amount of time appropriate to the amount and severity of the sins as deemed by God to remove the temporal effects of sin. It is the final purification so that one’s soul can enter heaven unblemished.

Eternal gloom....Heaven...eternal gloom...Heaven.  Surely, with all the luck I've been blessed with, the odds got to be good for a continuance of my fantastical life.  We already have a lot of rainbows here.  I'm hoping for something similar:


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