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Saturday, January 13, 2018


What would you do if you were in Hawaii and got the message:


This was, actually, not the first indicator, for I was lolling around in bed sometime past 8AM, totally relaxed after 8 hours of sleep, wondering what my posting would be on today, looking forward to the rest of the day watching the Sony Open Golf Tournament, then the NFL Tennessee Titans playing the New England Patriots, followed later this evening by viewing a recording of the combined basketball games the University of Hawaii women's and men's teams would be hosting against Long Beach and Santa Barbara, respectively.  Recording, because I have poker tonight, which means that I would not be sleeping until well after midnight.  Life could not be any better

At 8:10 or so the 15C emergency intercom blared (it is so loud that you would take notice even if you were in an alcoholically induced stupor--nothing I've experienced, of course):  actually, I've already forgotten the exact message, but it was something like, "stay indoors, take immediate precautions, THIS IS NOT A DRILL."  That was it.  Nothing about what was the problem.

You need to understand that this week has been particularly vexatious, for these alarms have occurred with regularity as they were conducting staff drills.  Sometimes there is no indication that this was for practice,  so the crying wolf response prevails for the residents.

Yet, I was curious if something truly serious was happening, for the same type of message came on again in a few minutes.  But no reason for being concerned was explained.

So I turned on CNN and they had business as usual, something about our President again putting this fingers into his mouth about shit-hole countries.  Tried the local radio news channels, and nothing.  On Saturday mornings there are no Hawaii TV news programs because in January it's all about college basketball games.

I went to pick up my newspaper outside the door, and saw three people down the hallway in animated discussion.  However, I was not properly dressed.  I glanced at the headlines and saw on the front page:

The photo to the right shows from that meeting Governor David Ige, Adm. Harry Harris and David Carey of the Chamber of Commerce.    Noticed on CNN that they had gone on to President Trump bragging about his good relations with Kim Jong Un, and a seed of doubt began to trouble me, for our PUS#45 is so out to lunch that anything he says is almost always on the wrong side of reality.  It couldn't be lightning, because the weather outside was gorgeous:

By the way, I have added a water lily plant, with some guppies.

In any case, the only potential catastrophe I could imagine was that North Korea had launched a missile to Hawaii and I had by that point no time to react because that would only take 20 minutes  to reach me and about as many minutes had already elapsed.   I began to reflect on my life, which has been a series of one in a million events of amazing luck, so it could well be about time that some balance was swiftly coming.  Growing up in Kakaako, who could imagine me:
  • graduating from Stanford
  • earning a PhD in biochemical engineering
  • working in the U.S. Senate and drafting original legislation in hydrogen and ocean energy
  • attaining full professorship and directing the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute for 15 years at the University of Hawaii
  • dreaming up the Blue Revolution
  • taking a dozen around the world trips and heading towards 3 million miles on United Air
  • now in my 19th year of retirement being asked to give a plenary energy talk in Japan at the end of this month and, two weeks later, a requested presentation in Las Vegas on the Blue Revolution
A nuclear attack right on top of me would more than equal all the above.

Then, CNN showed:

It took 18 minutes for the "Hawaii authorities" to learn someone pushed the wrong button, but a full 38 minutes for the State to finally cancel the mistake.  The 15 Craigside intercom never once mentioned incoming missiles, except that the alert was over, or something like that.  Said Governor David Ige:

STATEMENT: While I am thankful this morning’s alert was a false alarm, the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future.
Three hours after the 8:07 debacle, the White House only said this was a state matter.  Hawaii is a minor thorn in the side of President Trump.  For good reasons, he hates us.  Unfortunately, he was busy golfing, and, apparently did not have the presence of mind to tweet what he really thought.

The media reported that people in hospitals were crying...and so much more.  Frankly, I got to the point of actually being a tad worried.

As I went to the Sony Open Golf Tournament yesterday, it now seems appropriate to bring it into this discussion, especially as the only truly exciting moment was when a missile, a golf ball at warp speed, hit by PGA Pro Corey Conners (left), went right over me into the stands to my left (you can see the golf ball) next to the 18th hole.

He got a free drop and a par for the hole.

But today, some memorable quotes from the players themselves, beginning with the winner last year:

To all that just received the warning along with me this morning... apparently it was a “mistake” 🤔 hell of a mistake!! Haha glad to know we’ll all be safe 

So.......this can’t be good. Everyone is freaking out in the hotel

In a basement under hotel. Barely any service. Can you send confirmed message over radio or tv 

If these visitors had these reactions, can you imagine how everyone else living here felt?


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