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Friday, October 6, 2017

MY WAY

As this blog site nears an end, or, perhaps a new beginning, I'm getting more and more nostalgic.  From AN ASTONISHING KAKAAKO (where I grew up) RENAISSANCE  to HOW TO BECOME RICH OR FAMOUS...OR MAYBE BOTH (where I will present my final major speech to MENSA, giving away my ideas) to THE MOST ENJOYABLE DAY OF MY LIFE, my postings are reaching back to my past.

I now live at 15 Craigside, and finally a year ago decided to live life my way.  For most of my professional life I sacrificed for others.  While one can hope that Humanity will someday mature to the point where everyone else does this, my reason was less than altruistic and  humanitarian.

At any university, everyone is smart and most faculty tended to carry on independently.  That was the American way of succeeding in academia.  You first had to gain tenure and then eventually be promoted to full professor.  You accomplished these goals by adequately teaching your courses, succeed in obtaining research funding for yourself and publish the results of your efforts in the best journals.  There is some credit for community service, but those tended to get in the way of your objectives by, if anything else, "wasting" your time when you should be doing something more important.

I entered the Manoa Campus unaware of my defects.  As a biochemical engineer, I had no true departmental home.  However, I was able to jump over those hurdles by teaching interdisciplinary courses, getting involved in renewable energy / environmental engineering because of energy and environmental crises, and had the good fortune to spend three years working for the U.S. Senate.  I thus somehow was able to maneuver through all those hoops, got tenured and made Full Professor.  Through a remarkable synthesis of the above, I was selected director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute.  Deans and Directors share the same academic perch, and in 1984 I was the youngest of them at the University of Hawaii.

I noted the deficiencies of academia and how researchers tended to be finely focused and studied subjects to almost useless detail.  Mind you, this is what universities should do, but the critical needs of Planet Earth and Humanity required campus-wide cooperation to accomplish monumental goals.  Through guidance from colleagues and some attained wisdom, I figured out that the best way to get things done was to marshal the efforts of the best people to work together, because no one was doing this.  When I made a significant hire, I indicated that I actually worked for that person.  Let me know how I could be of assistance to you.  Trust and loyalty go a long way.  For anyone at Manoa with good ideas I was able to acquire pools of funds from industry and government to pass out.

Of course, an academic environment is not the same as coaching a football team or running an assembly line. But even in these institutions of higher learning, some benevolence, magnanimity, social conscience, public spirit and selflessness are essential.  There is something about integrity, consistency and partnerships that can inspire and maximize effort, for we're all human. 

But how could I get these "individualistic" campus stars to work together?  I gained a reputation of passing on the credit to those who did the work.  My stint in DC also convinced people I had the connections to compete for major grants.  My skill, it turned out, was taking disparate concepts, synthesizing them into a cohesive objective of meaning and worth...and getting people to partner in these efforts.  We became:
  • the national center for
    • hydrogen
    • seabed resources
    • OTEC
    • marine bioresources
    • biofuels
  • the world leader for the Blue Revolution
As such, while my final talk next week is now entitled, How to Gain Fame and/or Fortune in Paradise, I never myself became rich or famous.  But my operative modus operandi precluded any personal benefits.  And that was fine with me, for I'm now living life MY WAY, and seem to be in a perpetual state of euphoria.
But moving on, as my roots are in Japan, and I went there often, I noted that these conflicting attitudes of cooperation versus independence are even more acute there.  The standard order in a university is for a successful professor to have a couple of associates and a bunch of students.  However, each team works only for themselves.  There is very little cooperation among the groups.  Mind you, everyone is loyal to his line, but, in many ways, those others are your competitors.  So in Japan, you grow up respecting elders and not standing out, continuing on in life by also being absolutely loyal to your company and immediate associates.  

So returning to the title of this posting, the most popular alien karaoke song in Japan--at least for my era--is MY WAY, sung by Frank Sinatra.  Very few can actually sing this song well, but many wish they had some freedom to live the life of this tune.  In Japan, especially, you just can't live life your way.  This is probably true anywhere else, too, but, in Hawaii, after you've retired, and can afford to live in 15 Craigside, you can, and, as mentioned in the first paragraph, I've had an incredibly enjoyable past year by living life MY WAY.  Just read my blog.

Here is the most popular My Way with lyrics, so you know what I'm talking about.  Now, Paul Anka singing this song, because in 1968 he wrote these lyrics specifically for Frank Sinatra:

I’d never before written something so chauvinistic, narcissistic, in-your-face and grandiose,” says Paul Anka. But when the former teen idol wrote the lyrics to “My Way” he was writing for (and in the persona of) his hero Frank Sinatra.

Few know that Anka only supplied the English lyrics, for this song was written by Jacques Revaux and Gilles Thibaut of France in 1967, entitled Comme d'habitude (means as usual, and is about a strained relationship--no relation to Anka's version).  

If you polled people around the world, chances are that there will be many who absolutely loathe MY WAY.  Sinatra himself despised the song, for he felt that it was self-serving and self-indulgent
And he was right, my life is now self-serving and indulgent.  This is most definitely not the ideal way to spend the final phase of any life, but after a lifetime of servitude, for now, I will maintain this luxuriant MY WAY existence.

Now that I've probably terminated any hope for Heaven, I guess the next step will be that dreaded eternal gloom.  On the other hand, perhaps there will yet be another Purgatory.

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Tropical Storm Nate is still on track to become a hurricane.  However, landfall has moved east to Mobile:



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