Monday, April 21, 2014

The Goober Gets Married

The Goober's real name is Bob.
My oldest cousin on my mom's side got married last weekend.  Edz and I took the train up to Worcester, Massachusetts with a pitstop in New York to catch the Red Sox play the Yankees.

One half of the O'Connor cousins
I don't get to see my Massachusetts cousins often enough.  My aunt Judy lives on Cape Cod and when I was little I used to think that was so far away.  Now we stretch from Maine to Florida and across the pond to England.  The England, DC, and one quarter of the Florida contingent made it.  Maine, Atlanta, and the rest of Florida will have to wait for the next reunion.  I've posted more photos to The Saipan Blog facebook if you want to see them.

The wedding reminded me of our wedding in Saipan two years ago.  It was a small crowd of close friends and family with nothing too fancy.  Oh, but Bobby and Robin bought a keg.  And some of us taught our young English nieces how to work it.  A brilliant move.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Y.M.C. What's That Letter Again?

The HD Jumbotron out in Yankee Stadium's center field is 103 feet wide by 58 feet tall.  So if you ever wondered what the attack of the 50 foot woman would look like in real life, look no further than Edz doing the YMCA last Saturday.  She started off well enough.  That's a good Y.

And the M isn't too bad.  But then things got a little confusing.  She got very excited to be up on the big screen.  Just look at the people along the bottom for the scale.

But what's that?  Is that a K or an X?  C?  It doesn't look like a C.

W?  Or is that one of the Greek letters?  I think she needs more practice.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Snow, Sakura, Sand, and Sedge

It snowed the day I left Washington, DC.  This has been the winter that refuses to end.  I usually have a hefty travel schedule, but spent a solid six weeks in our nation's capital after my last trip to Fiji.  I think it snowed four times during that stretch.  I'm praying the snow is over.

Meanwhile in Japan, Spring has sprung.  My flight from Dulles to Narita was two hours late, so it was a rush to get through customs and immigration, on the train to Naritasan, and back to the airport in time for the flight to Guam.  Yet again I missed peak sakura blooms.  Visiting Japan during peak cherry blossom season remains unchecked on the bucket list.  But like Fa Zhou said, "My, what beautiful blossoms we have this year. But look, this one's late. But I'll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all."

During my layover in Guam I met up with Julie Hartup of the Manta Trust.  I've been reading about her work with Tumon mantas.  I mean come on, manta rays in Tumon Bay?  No way!  As this photo proves, yes way!  And speaking of Tumon, I feel like there are more and more fish in the water every time I visit.  My unscientific analysis hereby declares that marine protected areas work!

From Guam it was onto Chuuk with a short sojourn in Pohnpei.  Curtis and Lorenzo, two colleagues who work for the local government, took several enviros visiting the island and me on a monster four hour hike up through the center of Weno.  Chuuk reminds me a lot of the Northern Islands, just with more people.  The lower part of the hike was through agroforestry, while the center of the island was savanna and grasslands.  In Saipan we'd say it was ranch and badlands.

Tomorrow afternoon I'll retrace my steps and head back through Guam and Narita on my way back to Washington, DC.  Does anyone want me to bring them a Chuukese love stick?

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Inspired by Guam

Simon Sanchez Sharks
In 2011, students from Guam rallied to pass the world's third ban on shark fins.  They collected petitions, wrote letters, sent emails, and attended public hearings to showcase how strongly they felt about protecting sharks.  The Sharks M.A.D.E. club at Simon Sanchez High School and Marine Mania at George Washington High School were the leaders of this effort.

George Washington Geckos
Over the last three years, both schools have stayed involved in shark conservation issues.  There are two issues facing Guam sharks right now that have the students concerned.  First, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is attempting to overturn shark fin trade bans that do not exempt commercial fishermen.  All of the shark fin trade bans in the mainland either exempt all fishermen, or exempt the species of the predominant shark fisheries in the state.  Hawaii and the territories do not make exemptions for commercial fishermen (although CNMI and Guam make allowances for subsistence fishermen), so this is where the preemption fight is taking place.  The second issue has to do with a proposed shark fishery by the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council (WESPAC) which ignores the social and cultural values of the people of Guam.

I had a long layover in Guam during my recent trip to the Federated States of Micronesia, so I stopped in on both schools to hear how their campaign was going.  I also talked to them about the most recent shark science, particularly the Worm 100 million shark paper and the Dulvy "more sharks are threatened and near threatened than we thought" paper.

Angelo, Julie, Elise, and Joni
I also made a few new friends this trip.  Julie Hartup is a member of the Manta Trust and is studying the manta rays of Micronesia, in particular an aggregation that lives just outside Tumon Bay.  Joni Kerr is a professor at Guam Community College and the advisor to Eco-Warriors, the club that made this great video starring my good friend, Shark Stanley.