Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jake Shimabukuro on KSPN


This is the KSPN story about the Beautify CNMI 2nd Anniversary Jake Shimabukuro concert.

TNC Conservation Action Plan

I'm off to Chuuk!

I'm traveling with Kathy Yuknavage of Coastal Resource Management Office (and MINA!) and Steve McKagan of Division of Fish & Wildlife (and the CNMI soccer team!)

We are participating in a Micronesia-wide, Nature Conservancy-led Conservation Action Planning Process (CAP) conference.

The CNMI has identified Laulau Bay as the focus of their CAP. I was invited to tag along as "community guy" because of my previous work with Marianas RC&D, Beautify CNMI! and MINA up at the Laulau Revegetation Site.

We've been working with other government agencies and community partners in developing our CAP. This week we'll present our CAP to our Micronesian brothers and sisters from Chuuk, Guam, and the Marshall Islands. Those are the countries working on their own CAPs. There are also representatives from Palau, Pohnpei, and Hawaii. They're going to let us know what they think about ours and we'll let them know what we think about theirs.

This is a really exciting week...and we're staying here.

Come back for updates on Chuuk!

...and for updates on the "National Park of the Sea!"

...and for the results of the Beautify CNMI! fundraising anniversary concert with Jake Shimabukuro!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thank you, Volunteers!

Beautify CNMI volunteers with Jake ShimabukuroThe concert was a huge success! Thank you to everyone on the planning committee and to all of our volunteers!

You guys made this special night happen.

More pictures to follow...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Maug

Maug is the third island in the proposed "National Park of the Sea."

Maug consists of three islands that surround the caldera of an ancient volcano. The ancient volcanic peak has eroded and is now a deep and spacious natural harbor. Steep cliffs border the islands and the landscape on the north and west islands is dominated by columns of basalt resembling tombstones. Vegetation on Maug consist mostly of grasses with a few coconut palms

MaugMaugMaugMaug

Jake Shimabukuro plants a Flame Tree

Ken Kramer and Angelo VillagomezI get to dig a lot of holes. I'm not talking in the figurative sense, I literally dig a lot of holes...for trees.

My latest hole (Ken was my co-digger) is the home of a new Flame Tree sapling. It was planted to commemorate the two year anniversary of Beautify CNMI! and was planted by celebrity tree planter/ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro.

Jake Shimakuro and his saipan flame treeLike all things Beautify CNMI!, we had a lot of help from many different people planting this tree. Brad Doerr, volunteer and tree grower extraordinaire, gave us a tree and fertilizer, Ken Kramer brought shovels from the RC&D, the World Resort GM and staff provided water and other coordination, and an army of people took photos.

Here we are with the anniversary concert planning committee:

Jake Shimabukuro Tree PlantingThis is a special tree. I look forward to watching it grow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Do you support the park?

In the last two weeks about 200 people have seen the power point presentation about the proposed "National Park of the Sea" in the far northern islands of the Marianas. The proposed designated area encompasses Uracas, Maug, Asuncion and a slice of the Mariana Trench.

Discussion about this has already popped up here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here....and here.

One of the bloggers created a Vizu poll to gauge support. So what do you think so far? Considering what you've heard in the presentations or seen in the media, do you support the park or not?

Uracas

Uracus, also called Farallon de Parajos (Bird Rock) is the northernmost island in the Marianas archipelago. It is a tiny volcanic island (less than a square mile in area) surrounded by three underwater volcanoes (more on that in a later post).

farallon de parajosuracasUracusfarallon de parajosUracus

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jake is on Saipan!

Jake ShimabukuroJake arrived this morning!

His flight arrived as I was being interviewed with Jay on Harry Blalock's Island Issues radio program.

He's here now playing Ave Maria live on the radio.

Jake Shimabukuro and Harry BlalockJake Shimabukuro...after that he played Let's Dance and In My Life.

Sweet.

Saipan Earthquake

We just got hit by a pretty big earthquake.

It started pretty weak. It just made my bed rumble a bit. Then 15 seconds later everything in my apartment started to rattle.

The heavy shaking probably only last for three seconds.

Scary.

******
The earthquake was a 5.4. It was located 15 miles north of Guam.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Asuncion

One of the islands being proposed as part of the Mariana Trench Park is Asuncion. At 313 miles away, it is the closest of the three islands to Saipan. There is an active volcano in the center of the island, making living there dangerous. Here are some pretty pictures:

Asuncion

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Proposal

Mariana Trench Marine Monument MapThe economic study and the scientific reports are forthcoming, but this is the basic proposal. The proposed park would encompass a section of one of the most spectacular geological structures in the world, the Mariana Trench.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I should have bought the nose guard

Angelo Villagomez and Steve McKaganIn our soccer game against Multinational Football Club two weeks ago, I took an elbow to the face and had my nose broken. I didn't go to the hospital to see if it was actually broken, but I could slide it side to side and hear (feel) a definite crunching sound.

In Guam last Tuesday I bought two new pairs of soccer boots. There was a hard plastic nose guard on sale at the store for $40. I should have bought it.

...because during yesterday's game against the Independents I took a ball to the face and busted it again.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Conversation Has Started

Happy Easter!

On Thursday morning I announced my support for the creation of "a National Park of the Sea" encompassing a slice of the Mariana Trench and the three northern islands of Asuncion, Maug, and Uracus.

I spoke briefly about the project on Harry Blalock's Island Issues radio program on Friday morning. At the end I read Practicing My Culture, my blog post turned editorial turned speech. Harry has been playing my speech over the weekend as his Food for Thought, his weekly on air editorial of all things Saipan.

There have been newspaper articles and the local bloggers (here and here) have started to chime in, too.

A conversation is starting.

I believe that this is an excellent opportunity for the CNMI to improve our economy and protect our culture and natural resources. I'm looking forward to getting this idea out into the community, so that we can all judge it for its merits.

I haven't had a chance to put the presentation into blog form, but I will as soon as I have time. I've been kind of busy with the Jake Shimabukuro concert and meeting with people that have asked to see the proposal...and it's Easter.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Practicing My Culture Redux

Sometime in the last 20 years, indigenous people in the CNMI came to understand conservation as a bunch of haoles telling us not to fish, not to feed our families, and not to practice our culture. We have been mistaken. Conservation has always been an integral part of our Micronesian culture.

I learned it from my father and I know other people on this island learned it from theirs.

Even so, times have changed. Our island has changed. The definition of conservation has changed along with it.

Old habits and old technologies result in expected outcomes.

1000 years ago when one of our Chamorro (or Carolinian) ancestors went out to catch fish using the technology available to him at the time, he could safely assume that he wasn't depleting his resource. No new technology was going to be introduced to help him catch more fish and no huge influx of off-islanders would be coming to his home anytime soon (at least for another 500 years).

The only things he needed to navigate his world were the stars, the waves, and the wind. He lived the way his grandparents lived and he could expect his grandchildren to live the same way.

However, that was 1000 years ago. Times have changed. We now have more people and new technologies.

When people use old habits combined with new technologies, unexpected outcomes occur.

Fish & Wildlife admits that SCUBA spearfishing nearly decimated our Napoleon Wrasse population. In the 1990's monofilament gill nets wiped out the turtle population in our lagoon.

When these new technologies were introduced, they weren't introduced with the intent of destroying our natural resources. We just wanted to catch more fish, feed our families, and practice our culture.

Even so, old habits (catching as much as you can to share with family and friends) combined with new technologies (diving deeper and longer with SCUBA and better nets) led to a decline in the resource (an unexpected outcome).

Fortunately the CNMI was able to identify both of these new technologies as destructive. Both technologies have since been banned.

Culture and Conservation are integrally linked.

One day when my parents were still married, my father shot a Mariana Mallard on our family property. He ate it.

A few days later my mother was visiting with an American wildlife biologist working on Saipan. Inside his office was a picture of a similar mallard and my mother told the biologist that her husband had just shot and eaten a bird just like the one in the picture.

The biologist replied, "That was probably the last one."

My father did not purposely eat the last mallard. He was just practicing his culture. If you had asked him about the bird on the day he shot it, he would probably have told you that he knew where to find more.

I don't recount that story to try to paint my father in a negative light; I just use it to highlight my point. He had spent his whole life shooting and eating that bird and probably expected his children to spend their whole lives shooting and eating that bird.

He was only feeding his family. He was practicing his culture.

However, old habits (hunting every bird you see) combined with new technologies (more people with better rifles than centuries past) led to extinction (the shelling of Saipan during World War II didn't help either).

Am I less Chamorro because I will never see a Mariana mallard? Am I less Chamorro because I will never taste one? And is Saipan less Saipan because we no longer have bats, barely any coconut crabs, and fewer turtles and reef fish?

If eating certain foods is part of our culture, then what does it say about our culture when we allow that food to go extinct? Will our culture go extinct along with the resource?

We are the people of the land and these islands define who we are as a people. It is the responsibility of every indigenous person to ensure that these islands are passed down to the next generation in the same condition in which they were passed down to us.

I take that promise seriously. This is how I practice my culture.

In the upcoming weeks a new project to create “a National Park of the Sea” will be introduced to the people of the CNMI. Some people know about it. Some people only think they know about it. Some support it; others do not.

Undoubtedly there will be a lot of discussion about this project. I suspect there will be presentations and public hearings. There will also be rumors and lies.

I ask that everyone educate themselves about this issue before forming an opinion.

As for me, I support this project.

If the Commonwealth takes the leadership to make this project happen, the CNMI would gain more control over our waters, our economy would benefit greatly, we could create local jobs, we would keep illegal foreign fishing boats from other countries from taking our fish, and still allow indigenous fishermen to fish for generations to come.

More importantly, our children will be able to practice their culture the way we practice ours.

******
This is the version that was published in the newspapers. This is my big announcement.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What's up with WESPAC?

I subscribe to a lot of email lists.

I'm here on Guam at the 140th meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WESPAC), so this news alert about WESPAC caught my eye:
WESTERN PACIFIC FISHERIES MANAGEMENT COUNCIL REBUKED FOR MEDDLING IN AFFAIRS OF U.S. TERRITORIES
Complaints From Governor of Guam & Officials In American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Spawn Action By U.S. Federal Agency

HONOLULU: MARCH 16, 2008 -- The embattled Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (Wespac), the federal agency charged by the U.S. Congress with setting fishery management rules outside U.S. Territorial waters (from 3 miles to 200 miles) has received yet another rebuke -- this time from the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The story goes on, but basically it references this letter written from David M Kennedy, Program Manager of NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, to Sean Martin, Chairman of WESPAC.

This story doesn't surprise me. WESPAC has been very disruptive at meetings on Saipan and has tried to involve themselves in local CNMI issues. For example, they oppose the Micronesia Challenge. On top of that, WESPAC is already being investigated by Congress "in response to concerns about the council’s questionable use of federal funds."

I wish I had known that this letter was being prepared. I would have shared some of the emails I received from Guam WESPAC members during the recent Napoleon Wrasse controversy.

No need to rehash the entire controversy, Mike Tripp did an excellent job here and here.

Basically, a local fisherman who works for one CNMI resource agency called out another local fisherman who works for a competing CNMI resource agency on his catching a very large Napoleon Wrasse. He did so using some very unflattering language.

Another CNMI resource agency employee chimed in, expressing her disappointment in the killing of the fish.

Several people were copied on both emails. I was one of them.

I didn't necessarily agree with the first two emails, so I defended the accused fisherman in an email. I wrote:
That's a big fish.

While I wish that that huge fish was still out there, ***** did not break any code of ethics or any laws in catching that fish. He was not fishing in a protected area and he was not going after a species with any sort of protection.

If the CNMI thinks that Napoloean Wrasses should be protected, then a law protecting them, like a similar law that exists in Palau, needs to be passed.

Again, I wish that big fish was still out there, but how can we be angry at ***** when there are people fishing at Managaha and the Grotto on a weekly basis?

Those are the fishermen that deserve our scorn, not the guy who was following the rules.

Angelo
I was the first person to defend him.

I kind of hoped that this would have been the end, but it was only the beginning. The discussion got real heated, real fast. Dozens of people shot off emails, and the emails got copied to WESPAC members in Guam and Hawaii, including some guy from Guam who signed his email in the following manner:
James Borja, GUAM
*President, Marianas Underwater Fishing Federation
*Guam Advisory Panel Chair, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council
*Member / Board of Directors, Guam Fishermen's Cooperative Association
*Part-time Commercial Fisherman
Mr. Borja's letter was respectful and well written. He took the comments made in the first email and he gave a point by point argument defending the accused fisherman. I'm not going to reprint the whole thing, I just want to point out that several of the people commenting were doing so as representatives of WESPAC.

After that comment things got out of control. Dozens of emails started flying and the local blogosphere went bonkers.

One WESPAC member from Guam even started started calling for the heads of the two first email writers. He wrote:
All,

I think the issue at hand is not the fact that ***** legally took a fish but that local government officials may be spending official time on government computers going after a very talented local fisherman who followed all laws and regulations pertaining to the harvesting of fish in the CNMI. Even if the emails were not sent from work, the fact that the senders are using their official titles when sending the emails means that they are using their government positions, and by extension the agencies they work for, to bully a law abiding fisherman. I am not so sure CNMI's leaders would appreciate all the time and effort being wasted by these government servants.

If these same government officials would instead spend their time and effort going after those that fish illegally in the CNMI, I and others on this mailing list would be much more willing to partner with the government in establishing fishing regulations that work to the benefit of all fishermen.

Robbie Cabreza
Member - Marianas Underwater Fishing Federation
Member - Guam Advisory Panel, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council
Things were getting ridiculous. We were talking about two fishermen from two competing government agencies and a fish caught by a spear fisherman swimming from the shore. This was a local issue. WESPAC is supposed to only manage the waters from 3-200 nautical miles. This was out of their jurisdiction.

In response to this Mr. Cabreza's email I sent out an email that read:
Who forwarded this conversation to people in Guam? Is Kitty Simmonds going to give us her thoughts next?

Furthermore, why are people in Guam threatening the jobs of government workers in the CNMI?
Kitty Simmonds is the Executive Director of WESPAC. WESPAC didn't like my comment.

When he added his two cents, the Vice Chair of WESPAC finished off his long email by writing:
Lastly, an idiot made a comment about Kitty Simonds writing a letter...to the idiot, you have the audacity to speak ill about a woman who has worked her entire life to protect our Chamorros and Carolinians cultural right to decide our future, I am expected to be in Saipan in March so I may be able discuss about your unhappy childhood and reality that you should never speak badly of someone's mother...taotao manu hao'? I guess the coconut mentality is not limited to Guam. Enough said!

Manet Duenas
Peskadot Guahan
671-472-6323
Well, I sat behind Manny Duenas for almost two hours today and at no time did he offer to discuss my unhappy childhood. I was very disappointed.

I guess he didn't want to talk to an idiot with coconut mentality...an idiot with coconut mentality who happened to be the first person to speak up for fishing.

Oh well, I don't know if these emails constitute "meddling in the affairs of US Territories," but for an environmentalist to be insulted by these guys is a badge of honor.

Thank you, WESPAC.

It is an honor to even be on your radar.

I hope that your GAO investigation goes well.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Major Announcement

Beware the Ides of March.

I'm going on blogger hiatus for about a week. I've got some important things to work on.

When I come back, I'll make a major announcement.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Can this get any better?


I love Japan!

I heard Nintendo is designing a Bruce Berline pokemon!

Go to Club V


Everyone's doing it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bruce Berline: Cliff Jumper


Yeah, so this video has had several thousand viewers in the last few days thanks to a mention on a Japanese blog. Remind me again, is Bruce Berline the Charlie Sheen, the Tom Cruise, or the David Beckham of Saipan?

It is hard keeping track.

Bruce Berline: a model, idiotBruce seems to be taking in all this publicity with a great sense of humor. I don't know how he feels about the Bruce Berline dolls they're selling in the Tokyo subways these days, but he's agreed to donate his now famous sunglasses to Beautify CNMI! We're going to put them up for auction on Yahoo! オークション...that's Yahoo Japan Auctions for those of you who don't know how to copy and paste Japanese like me.

We'll use the money on a project of Bruce's choosing.

******
Alright, is it just me or does Bruce look like "The Model" Rick Martel in that above photo?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

HANMI and Beautify CNMI team up for concert fundraiser

Jake ShimabukuroThe tickets won't be printed until Friday, but...
The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands and environment advocate Beautify CNMI will be hosting a fundraising concert this month featuring world renowned ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro

The concert, held in conjunction with Beautify CNMI's two-year anniversary, will be held on March 27, 2008, at the Saipan World Resort.

Known for his lightning-fast fingers and revolutionary playing, Shimabukuro's musical styling ranges from jazz, blues, funk, and classical, to bluegrass, folk, flamenco and rock.

“Jake's last concert on Saipan was a sold out event and we are thrilled to bring him back on island for a second time,” said HANMI chairwoman Lynn A. Knight.

Proceeds from the charity concert will be divided between HANMI and Beautify CNMI, both non-profit organizations.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children less than 12 years in age. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $50.

Tickets are available for purchase at Century Hotel and Marianas Eye Institute. For additional ticket information or to purchase VIP tickets, call the PTI-sponsored Beautify CNMI volunteer line at 285-6462.

HANMI was established in August 29, 1985, after a group of hotel operators came together and saw the need to form an organization representing the hospitality industry in the CNMI.

Beautify CNMI is a coalition of various government agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations, private citizens and visitors. Its mission is to foster community pride through a beautification campaign aimed at enhancing the beauty of the island environments and quality of life through public education on recycling, restoration, waste management, and enforcement of laws.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Pass the Animal Cruelty Act NOW!


http://view.break.com/463231 - Watch more free videos

CNN reports that the military is investigating a "shocking and deplorable" YouTube video that seems to show a Marine throwing a puppy off a rocky cliff.

CNN adds, "if the video is deemed legitimate, the lance corporal could face a charge of conduct unbecoming a Marine, Perrine said. There could be administrative action, nonjudicial punishment or a court-martial, he added."

Even the US Marines have something akin to an animal cruelty act.

Why doesn't Saipan?

We're in the Network

Oreo stars in a PTI commercial currently playing on KSPN during the local news:


PTI sponsors the Beautify CNMI volunteer hotline. If you ever have a question about anything pertaining to Beautify CNMI, call 285-6462 and I'll answer any questions you might have.

Speaking of Beautify CNMI, I've been bombarded with questions about recycling lately.

When we first got started, Beautify CNMI did a lot of recycling promotion. Volunteers sat at a recycling tent every night of the 2006 Liberation Day carnival. Then we had a recycling contest for the schools back in November 2006.

That was the last big thing we've done. We've offered recycling services at some events and some of our partners have their own recycling programs, but nothing large has been done under the Beautify CNMI banner in almost a year and a half.

I'm not personally interested in leading a recycling campaign in the CNMI, that's just not what interests me. Not that I don't recycle, I'd just rather be out planting trees, clearing new trails, painting over graffiti, and doing other outdoor things that can help me with my tan.

There is a definite need for someone to be the CNMI recyling guru. Give me a ring if you are interested.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Best Restaurant on Saipan

When it comes to hospitality and service, nobody beats the Hyatt. Last night's dinner with David and Mara Khorram at Giovanni's was outstanding.

I had a caprese salad and the mushroom soup to start and had lasagna as my main course. I don't think I've ever seen bufala mozzarella on Saipan before. I wonder if Hyatt makes it?

The fast went well. I was a little irritable in the afternoon, but as sunset got closer it got easier. I told myself that I was going to wait until David or Mara took a sip or a bite of something before I broke the fast.

Right.

As soon as the bread was put in front of us I took a bite out of a bread stick. Oops. I forgot. The sun had already set, right?

The food was outstanding. With all the fish and soy sauce in my diet, I'd forgotten how much I liked balsamic vinegar, pesto, and olive oil. This is the kind of food I would make for Alex, Tiana, and Sandra when we all lived together. What a satisfying meal.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fasting

Dave gave everyone on the island of Saipan an open invitation to join him and his family in the Baha'i Fast. Dave writes, "It's a period of 19 days, from March 2-20. Unlike Lent and Ramadan, it is fixed to the solar calendar, and falls on these same days every year, ending on March 21 with the Baha'i New Year -- the vernal equinox."

Read his blog for more, but he invites you to join him for a day.

I've asked if I can join the fast tomorrow. We won't eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. Then we're having dinner together at the best restaurant on Saipan, Giovanni's, when it is all over.

******
Catholics celebrate the vernal equinox, too. We just call it Easter. And instead of restricting all food and water, we don't eat meat. Well, we don't eat beef, chicken, or pork...on Fridays.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Jake Shimabukuro VIP Tickets

HANMI and Beautify CNMI are budgeting for the sale of only 20 VIP tickets for the Jake Shimabukuro concert. Once they are gone, they are gone.

The concert will be at World Resort on March 27.

Let me know ASAP if you want VIP tickets. The cost is $50.

Regular price is $25 and $15 if you are under 12.

Always Something to do on Saipan

Saipan Play BuffetJeff and Brad star in a new production called The Play Buffet: A Little Something for Everyone's Taste, and it debuts Friday, March 7 at 7 p.m. in the American Memorial Park with followup performances March 8, 13 and 14.

Tickets are available for $5 from cast members, at the door or you can inquire via email at barbara.sher@gmail.com.

******
The unveiling of the Ben Ki monument at the Grotto is Saturday at 3 PM. Friends, family, and lots of people more important than me will be there.

There has been talk of a 1:30 PM dive, but nothing quote me on it.

******
Men's League Soccer continues on Sunday. Last week there was a fight and someone was arrested. I wonder what will happen this week?

All the games are at Ada gym. Inter plays FC Arirang at 12:00 PM, Independants play Onwell at 2:00 PM, and Multinational Football Club plays Ol' Aces at 4:00 PM. All games have two 45 minutes halves.

******
I have a friend coming in from Takaoka on Monday afternoon. This is the friend who took me to visit Gokayama about two years ago. I'm thinking of taking either Tuesday or Wednesday off and heading down to Forbidden, Bird Island, or Managaha. Anyone want to tag along?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Saipan: We're Not Gonna Take It

Dave wrote a very touching blog today, Saipan: What I like about you. In the spirit of George Costanza and Just Do the Opposite, I offer the things that annoy me about Saipan. Here's my list of bad things:
  1. Grocery stores tying the handles of your plastic bag together. This happens every time you buy anything at a grocery store. If the handles are all tied together, then how the hell are you supposed to carry your bag?
  2. The amount of wrapping used when you buy food at the street market. My favorite thing to order at the street market is yaki-tori, which is grilled chicken on a stick. I usually order three or four. After I order, they take the sticks, heat them up, wrap them in foil, put them inside a plastic bag, then add napkins to the bag. Come on, it's meat on a stick! Take my money and give me my stick. Never mind all that other stuff. It just ends up in the garbage two minutes later.
  3. Animal pancakes. Our streets are littered with dessicated, flattened cane toads, rats, cats, dogs, and other small assorted farm animals. Gross.
  4. African Queen and I'm Yours only get played on the radio a few times per week. I miss the days when these two songs were played no less than 37 times per day.
  5. Global Warming. Global Warming sucks and it needed to be included on this list.
  6. Media coverage of our local beauty pageants. We have a beauty pageant every other weekend on this island, yet instead of hot girls in bikinis the stories that hit the newsstands are from the pageants with dudes in bikinis. What's up with that?
Alright, so I'm just trying to have a laugh. This place has its problems, but they are outweighed by all the great things about living here. A list of reasons to live in Saipan needs only one item:

Chicken Kelaguin

Carnival of the Blue X

Carnival of the BlueCarnival of the Blue X is now live at Kate Wing's Switchboard.

My submission was my response to the recent Napoleon Wrasse controversy here on Saipan, Practicing My Culture.

I want to submit this piece as a letter to the editor, but it is not ready yet. It is still too bloggy.

There are a lot of ideas swirling around in my head and I have not yet been able to hammer them into bullet point ideas.

The cultural component of environmentalism and development is difficult. What is culture? What are Indigenous Rights? What is it that makes me Chamorro? For that matter, what is it that makes me Irish and American?

Maybe that post will be ready in time for the next carnival. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I need a car

I thought I was going to get my Jeep back this week. Nope.

I'm in the market for an automoblie. I'd prefer another Jeep or a pickup truck.

If you know someone who is selling one, have them give me a call.

******
The Center for Living Independently in the CNMI is having a Bingo Bonanza fundraiser on March 16 from 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM at the meeting hall next to Mount Carmel. Tickets are $20 and are worth 10 bingo games.

I bought one ticket, but I won't be able to use it. I've got it in my pocket. The first person to ask me for it can have it.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Building Angelo's Army

San Vicente Elementary studentsLast Thursday I participated in a cleanup of South Laulau Beach led by 43 second graders from San Vicente Elementary. The kids had some help from their teachers, Miss Diana and Miss Kathy, as well as some of their parents.

Miss Kathy and Miss Diana participated in the MINA teacher education camp last summer. As part of the camp, they each had to come up with two lesson plans and one field trip plan to teach their kids about coral reefs.

This cleanup was one of the field trips.

In the classroom the kids learned about the effects that humans can have on coral reefs, such as driving on the beach, causing erosion, and leaving trash on the beach.

After learning how turtles and other sea life can mistake bits of plastic for food and choke on them, the kids decided that they wanted to do a beach cleanup on the beach near their school.

Laulau Beach is not far from the school, so the teachers had the students walk. It took about 30-40 minutes to get down. The kids picked up trash off the road along the way.

The streets of Saipan are much cleaner than they were just two years ago, even so, I'm always amazed at the amount of garbage that we find. A can here and a bottle there really adds up when you collect them and put them all in one place.

At the start of our short hike down to the beach we split the 43 students and the dozen chaperones into about 10 groups. Each of the groups managed to fill a garbage bag just on the walk down. A few groups filled two.

I love the enthusiasm that kids show when they come to Beautify CNMI events. You would think that picking up other people's garbage was the greatest thing in the world. By the time we got down to the beach some of the kids were already exclaiming to anyone within shouting distance, "This is the best field trip EVER!!!"

I'd like to think I had something to do with it, but something tells me my dog, Oreo, was the reason.

I really think that the cleanups we do with kids are the most important ones. This is our island and if we don't take care of it, no one else is going to do it for us. For some reason, children seem more willing to accept that idea than adults.

I have a lot of hope that these kids remember that. If they keep hearing the messages "Don't Litter" and "Walk it, Don't Drive it" then maybe by the time these kids have kids of their own, packing up their trash after a picnic will come as naturally as knocking out an "Our Father" during church.

Anyway, Miss Diana told me that the kids were wiped out after the three hour field trip.

Oreo Kenobi Villagomez sleepingThey weren't the only ones.

******
Beautify CNMI is out of trash bags. We've got about 100 left. I'll be making the announcement that we need more in the next couple of days.

I appreciate anyone who wants to purchase and drop off bags at the RC&D office, but what I really want is for someone to buy us a boatload of those sturdy blue bags that are made from recycled plastic. The last time we bought them they were $40 for a box of 200, but that was last year. The price may have gone up.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Charlie Sheen of Saipan

Bruce Berline and Charlie Sheen「弁護士いらず」 - Bengoshi Irazu - I don't need a lawyer

The Japanese media is going absolutely bonkers over local attorney, Bruce Berline. Bruce is defending a Japanese guy named Kazuyoshi "Bengoshi Irazu" Miura who is accused of killing his wife 26 years ago in Los Angeles.

One story is comparing him to actor Charlie Sheen. Can you see the resemblance?

The article went on to talk about how Bruce is at least 6'4" and has a chest diameter of a meter. It also says that he shows confidence and has a distinctive character.

Because that matters.

******
Apparently Miura tipped off the Cold Case Unit of the LAPD with his blog 三浦和義の独り言. The post that tipped them off was made on 5/28/2007. It reads:
このところ・・・

サイパンに5泊6日で、ゆったり~と遊んできました。
一日中、クルーザーを借り切ったり、カジノで遊んだりの、親しい友人ら15人くらいの滞在でした。

南の群青色の海に浮かんでいると、この地で戦死した先人らの思いに引かれ、物悲しい切ない気持ちにも始終でした。
合掌。

ゴーカート、ジェットスキーではトップ!(エッヘン!!)

今度は9月に3・4日、再び友人らと行こうと思っています。

「弁護士いらず」の改訂版の校正も今夕にはほとんど終わりそうで、ホッとしています。

このところ、民事訴訟が増え、毎日訴状や書面を書いたり、登記簿謄本の取り寄せ手続きをしたり大童です。

既に、和解を申し込んできている会社もあり、その話し合いにも時間がとられそうです。どちらかと言うと、勝てる訴訟だけに裁判の場で決着をつけたいと思っているのですが・・・。

このところ、ラッキーとマリンの6種混合ワクチンの接種やら、トリミングやらで、愛犬のお世話も大変です。そういうさなか、先日は接触事故に合い、車はトヨタに入って、代車に乗っています。

この代車、バックのテレビカメラがよく作動しなかったり、センサーが付いていなかったり、空気清浄機もなかったりで、一日も早く自車が戻ってくることを待ち侘びています。[emphasis added]
The English translation of the section I highlighted says:
We're thinking of going back for 3 or 4 days in September.
Talk about blogger regret.

Note to self: If I'm wanted for murder and I plan on visiting a foreign country, I should check out their extradition laws.

On my way

Angelo Villagomez CNMI National Soccer PlayerI have dropped about 20 pounds in the last six weeks. I cheated a bit last night, but I haven't been drinking alcohol or soda. I also haven't eaten any fast food. I lost the first few pounds when I was sick in bed for two weeks and I've shed a few pounds each week since.

Other than restricting alcohol, soda, and greasy food (my breakfast at Shirley's this morning excluded), my weight loss plan consists of playing soccer six days a week (the NMIFA Men's soccer league is in its seventh week and I've been training with Team CNMI).

I topped out at about 210 and I'm about to go below 190.

I'd like to get down to 160 by the end of April.

Being overweight is very uncomfortable. I don't like it. Obviously when I'm heavier I can't move around on the soccer field the way I would like, but even off the field I notice the extra baggage.