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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

WHO AM I?

First, Day 20 of the Puna eruption, which has added to fissure 20, a second finger of lava flow, this one from fissure 6, threatening the Puna Geothermal Venture power plant.


The company is continuing to have problems plugging up one well.  We keep getting surprised, but, apparently, the plugs for these wells are supposed to arrive only today.  Another Halemaumau Crater explosion occurred earlier this morning, and ash is falling over two towns I lived in from 1962 to 1967, Naalehu and Pahala.

I was a sugar engineer in Naalehu and Pearl was a nurse in Pahala when we first met in 1962.  However, as the Puu Oo eruption only began in 1983, we had no air pollution problems in the 60's.  The scary thing is that if she got pregnant, we might still have been living in Kau.  That is Hutchinson Sugar Company manager, Bill Baldwin, who introduced us and bade us goodbye.  We a decade later shared the same office when we both worked for U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga in DC.

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My life as a university professor began with the Hawaii Geothermal Project, for which I was the reservoir engineer.  Our 3 MW powerplant was also on that same East Rift a short distance from the commercial geothermal facility.  If we had not succeeded in discovering the hottest geothermal well in the world, PGV would not have existed.  I thus have a particularly paternal involvement with what is happening there.  All the above links to the rest of this posting, for I'm today giving a rather unusual presentation at 15 Craigside.  I'll be giving a talk about myself, I think.  This is all rather embarrassing, for I'm sort of providing my own eulogy.


Leading to ending my daily blog after ten years, in March, I began a series by selecting one posting for each year of this site, beginning with #10, entitled MY LIFE.  That pretty much gave my background, beginning, actually, with my father's father, Kenjiro Takahashi.  I'm Kenji, so was named after him.  To the left with my niece, Nalani, at his gravestone on Kauai.

The May issue of Action Line, a monthly newsletter published by 15 Craigside, provided a different kind of summary, written by Sets Ozawa, who heads a writing group at this seniors' facility.




(For some, if you really want to read the above, you will need to ZOOM IN to enlarge the print.)

How this Action Line article happened was that Sets, who knew I had a daily blog, asked me if I could speak to her writing group.  I agreed, but on afterthought, she thought that, perhaps, my presentation could be provided to all the residents.  That was fine with me.  Then, to prepare for the talk, she wrote this above article based on postings from my blog.  So, in any case, I'm releasing this effort today, when I give my presentation.  Frankly, I'm not really all that sure, but I think it is about my life.

But the above still does not quite represent me.  Who, really, am I?  How did I become what I am today?

Let me start with IQ.  I won't say what mine is, but studies, which are all controversial, seem to indicated that you inherit from 58% to 86% of your intelligence from your parents.  However, your IQ and effect of your environment varies with age.  It is estimated that genetics are responsible for less than half of your IQ in childhood (meaning your upbringing, etc., can have a greater influence), but this percentage rises above 80% when you get old.  Thus, the older you are, the closer you get to your inherited traits.  However, your IQ drops because of cognitive decline.  But you need to appreciate that there is a difference between IQ and intelligence, and this all gets rather complicated, so let me stop here.

The point to the above is that I had an advantage when I was a child because my mother was the oldest of six children, while my older brother came ten years before me.  What this meant was that I was the only baby in the entire family of relatives until my younger brother and cousins came four years later.  Thus, everybody pampered me, and the whole family tended to get together weekly.  An aunt taught me chess when I was 4, and so on.  That early experience most definitely shaped my personality.

However, growing up in Kakaako in relative poverty (hey, things weren't that bad, actually), and being part of a gang, resulted in my remaining an average student.  My math scores were okay, but I did really poorly in anything verbal.  Then, as mentioned in the Action Line article, my family was forced to re-locate when the Kakaako area was re-developed in my sophomore year of high school.  That adjustment totally changed my attitude and ambition.  This qualifies for fairy tale status, but in two years I found myself at Stanford University.  The rest of my life was just a continuation of what must be a fantasy.

When I compare myself to my youth friends and my freshman classmates at Stanford, the one difference I can draw out is that I kept changing and improving every year in a variety of ways, while most of them strengthened who they were and where they were.  Mind you, my friends are doing well and quite satisfied with their life.

I was totally out of my element in college:  financially,  intellectually, sociologically and physically.  But since then, none of them did anything like travel around the world a dozen times, and work at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, U.S. Senate and the NASA Ames Research Center.  I'm now in my 46th year at the University of Hawaii and still have an office on campus, even though I've been retired for nearly 20 years.

I've planted seeds for the Blue Revolution and the Hydrogen Society, and dabble in trying to save Planet Earth and Humanity through peace, sustainable resources and environmental enhancement.  No one else I know focuses on impossible dreams.  Maybe that best describes who I am.

Two years ago I again transformed myself.  I gave up all chairmanships, and after a lifetime in education and helping other people succeed, I decided in my limited time left to maximize MY enjoyment of life.  I don't go to funerals anymore and avoid participating in anything that provides any kind of stress.  This talk today I actually find almost enjoyable, although speaking about oneself seems philosophically antithetical to my upbringing.  I indulge in Japanese wagyu beef with o-toro sashimi, a variety of alcoholic drinks, yearly Japan Rail Pass visits for cherry blossoms/fall color changes, fantasy sports and golf.

Thankfully, I'm at 15 Craigside where they have promised to take care of me until I die, even if I run out of money.  But I have enough continuing income and resources to do whatever I want within reason.

I again have many friends (there are 200 living here) and my health at this moment is fine, if not terrific.  My eyesight is 20-20 because of cataract surgery, the tinnitus I thought I had is mostly not there anymore, my hair is getting blacker (or perhaps I'm deluding myself here) and I walk 18 holes of golf twice/week.  Every dinner night at 15C is a major party.  After a great weekend, the vacation continues Monday morning.  I am in the midst of rainbows daily.

So who am I?  I'm, maybe, the happiest and luckiest person in the world.

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