Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I need more room!

It finally happened.

With nearly 20,000 emails in my inbox and several thousand photos uploaded to my blog, I finally ran out of storage space. I put this day off as long as I could by deleting emails with large attachments (sorry, Bryan) and by using other accounts to upload pictures (RC&D and Friends of the Monument).

Well, I finally got an email from Gmail telling me that I was completely out of storage space and that it was time to either buy some storage or stop receiving email.

I went with buy some storage.

For $20 per year I am now the proud owner of 10 GB of memory.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Reaching the Young Vote

It looks like Juan Pan and Joe Camacho are stepping into the world of Web 2.0 with their very own Youtube channel! Well actually, it's Joe's wife's Youtube Channel, but the video is from the campaign.

Look out for my relatives Shane and Niana:

PIC Donates to PAWS

Last Saturday the Pacific Islands Club held a fundraiser for PAWS. They opened up their water park for the low, low price of $10 for one day only and donated all the proceeds to PAWS. The PAWS volunteers heeded the call and showed up in droves.

pacific islands club donation pawsToday PIC General Manager Keiran Daly handed PAWS a check for $545.

Thank you, Pacific Islands Club! And special thanks to Kanae Quinn and Elly Stoilova of PIC who arranged this generous opportunity for PAWS!

PIC wave makerNot that this wasn't the funnest fundraiser I've been to in a while. I spent the afternoon floating around in the lazy river, sliding down water slides, and watching Edz learn how to boogie board.

Governor Fitial and Beautify CNMI

Governor FitialFor three years Governor Benigno Fitial has been an important component of Beautify CNMI's success. I forget exactly how he put it, but I remember Cinta telling me that he once told his Cabinet to, "give Beautify CNMI whatever support they need."

In the last three years government staff and resources have been dedicated to helping us make these islands a better place to live and visit. Most recently, Governor Fitial gave all government offices permission to participate in the island-wide cleanup during working hours. Many of our 4,000+ volunteers were government employees.

For all his support, we gave him a limited edition Beautify CNMI volunteer t-shirt (only 400 of this design were printed).

Thank you, Governor Fitial!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Heinz Wins 2009 Republican Primary

The numbers are in and Heinz Hofsneider and Arnold Palacios have defeated Juan Babauta and Galvin Guerrero by a tally of 3384 to 2984. The Heinz camp is throwing a celebration party down in As Lito. I'm sure they are whooping it up.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Intelligent Conservation

My This Week in Congress newsletter from Representative Sablan contained some environmental news this morning.
The 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies appropriations, H.R. 2847, passed the House on June 18 with special earmark funding for the Northern Marianas. An earmark in the bill goes to the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife to educate the public about the importance of marine sanctuaries. DFW will receive $220,000. The CJS appropriation must still pass the Senate before these funds become available.
I am really interested to see how DFW spends this money.

The director of Fish & Wildlife was one of the main opponents to creating the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument last year (I wouldn't even be writing this if they weren't still updating it). He directed his staff to create an anti-conservation website. Staff members also wrote several letters to the editor spreading misinformation.

I was also confidentially told by some of the staff of the shenanigans that goes on in that office. Not good stuff. I can't write or talk about it though, because it would give away who told me what.

reed warblerOn top of that, in the last few months, the Secretary of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, the man who has oversight of DFW, has stated that we should be able to kill more turtles, that birds on Saipan should be eradicated so that they don't interfere with development, and that conservation areas keep farmers from growing enough food to feed the people of this island.

And these guys are going to get a quarter million dollars to educate the public about the importance of marine sanctuaries? This money should have gone to MINA.

Heinz or Babauta

Tomorrow is the big day for the Northern Mariana Islands Republican Party. Their Gubernatorial Primary will be held from 7 AM until polls close at 6 PM. The primary is open, so anyone, regardless of political affiliation, can vote. The polling places are as follows:

Precinct 1 — San Antonio Elementary School, Koblerville Elementary School and San Vicente Elementary School

Precinct 2 — Municipal Council Office

Precinct 3 — Oleai Elementary School and Garapan Elementary School.

Precinct 4 — Tanapag Youth Center, Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School and the legislative building

Precinct 5 — Kagman Community Center.


Tinian Elementary School


Northern Marianas College cafeteria

Northern Islands, Rota and Tinian voters who are on Saipan can cast their ballots at the multi-purpose center in Susupe
Babauta's website can be found HERE. Heinz' website can be found HERE. The CNMI GOP has more election information HERE.

So who am I voting for?

Well Heinz had the best chicken kelaguen at his parties and that is worthy of my vote. Plus, Babauta's website always plays a song when you log on, which I find kind of annoying. Although, Arnold once told me he'd never seen Star Wars and Galvin did buy me that beer that time...

Just kidding. That's not why I would vote for someone.

It will be interesting to see who wins tomorrow. I had a few beers with some Democrats last night and we were discussing the likely outcome. We couldn't agree on a winner. Some thought Babauta had it locked up and listed all his family connections. To which someone countered with Arnold Palacios' family connections.

So how will I choose who to vote for?

Well, when it came to supporting the monument, both Babauta and Heinz were supportive. Babauta wrote letters to President Bush and Heinz was one of only three elected officials who voted against the Joint Resolutions from the Legislature. Arnold was an opponent, but was the most gracious of all the elected officials immediately after the declaration. I heard a recording of him on the Harry Blalock show afterwards and he sounded reasonable and intelligent. He's forgiven. As for Galvin, he was never asked to get involved, so I don't know how he felt about the issue (although I assume he was supportive).

I have personally been lobbied heavily by one of my cousins to vote for Heinz. On the other hand I've received several personal phone calls and invitations from Galvin. The conversations I've had with both individuals will weigh heavily in my decision.

So who am I voting for? I'm not telling. I think that both teams deserve my support for their support of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. I will likely support the winner of the Republican Party Primary in November's general election.

Don't worry, I'm not turning to the Dark Side in my old age. I still have a donkey tattoo, after all.

I wish the two candidates had had several debates leading up to the primary. During last year's campaign the debates really separated the serious candidates from the fools trying to get a job with a $165,000 annual salary (cough, Felipe Atalig, cough).

Name That Abyss!

marianas trench marine national monumentUniversity of Hawaii professor and geologist Patricia Fryer and George Washington High School marine biology teacher and Marine Mania advisor Linda Tatreau are holding a contest to rename HMRG Deep, the second deepest place in the ocean.

According to the article in Pacific Daily News:
The contest is open to all Guam and Northern Mariana Island students ages 18 and under. The proposed name must reflect Guam's history, culture or language and the applicant must include a paragraph explaining the significance of the name.

All entries should include the applicants name, school and contact information. The deadline to submit entries is July 14 to lindian@ite.net.

The winner of the contest will have their chosen name on all bathymetric/geologic maps and will also get to ride on the UnderWater World float in the Liberation Day Parade, with a banner stating the winning name.
First of all, why should the "proposed name must reflect Guam's history, culture, or language?" What about us? Secondly, when were they going to let the students in the Marianas know that they were eligible for this contest? And why does the winner get to be in Guam's parade?

Alright. Deep breath. Let's have some fun with this.

The article says that the name will be printed on a banner on a parade float for the Liberation Day Parade in Guam. So how about:

There is a lot of friendly competition between Guam and the Marianas, and I believe this name highlights that spirit. This name printed on all bathymetric/geologic maps and on the float will help bring us together as Micronesian brothers and sisters. It is also what we say under our breath every time a federal job is moved out of the Marianas to Guam or every time a brown tree snake is spotted at one of the ports.
Alright, don't take me too seriously. Remember, this blog is supposed to be entertaining.

What is really going on here is that the people in Guam and the professor in Hawaii don't think about the Marianas when they think of this stuff. Kind of how like Tinian and Rota always pipe up with, "Hey, we're part of the Marianas, too!" Guam forgets about the Marianas as often as Saipan forgets about Rota.

I wrote an email to the professor in Hawaii asking her to include the Marianas on any further work she does out here. In the meantime, if you know a local student under the age of 18, please have them submit a new name. The contest rules are posted above.

Blue Hole IN, Marianas Trench OUT

About a year and a half ago I wrote a story for the Saipan Tribune about the Marianas Trench being nominated as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Obviously the Marianas Trench is one of the most spectacular geological features on the planet and would make it to the next round, right?


Those morons at New7Wonders didn't include it. So what did they include?

Guam's Blue Hole!

What kind of crap is that? There aren't even any fish at the Blue Hole because Guam has been completely fished out.

From the Vote for the Blue Hole page on New7Wonders.com:
Blue Hole


Guam is the southernmost island in the Mariana island chain and the largest island in Micronesia. Guam's Blue Hole is a natural limestone vertical shaft formed millions of years ago which extends down into the reef. The opening is approximately 35 x 25 feet. The upper reef varies in depth from 20 feet near the cliffline, to 55-60 ft at the upper opening of the shaft. From there, it drops downward to 300+ feet.
300 feet? 300 feet!

The Marianas Trench dips down 7 miles?! What the heck!?


Vote for Guam's Blue Hole here:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A letter to Kilili

The Friends of the Monument sent a letter to Representative Greg "Kilili" Sablan last night reaffirming our position on submerged lands and co-management.

The position of the Friends on submerged lands and co-management remain as they have been since our Vision letter was published in October 2008. The letter reaffirms the position of the Friends of the Monument and was written after consultation with the governor and members of his administration. We have found that our position is similar to the position of the administration (at least on two of three issues) and are happy to work together with them.

Friends of the Monument
PO BOX 500921
Saipan, MP 96950

June 23, 2009

Representative Greg Camacho Sablan
423 Cannon House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Re: Marianas Trench Marine National Monument

Hafa Adai Delegate Sablan,

This letter is a follow-up to the letter we sent you dated April 17, 2009. In that letter we requested for “the state waters from 0-3 miles surrounding the islands of Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion (to) remain a part of the monument, under the jurisdiction (and ownership) of the Commonwealth and co-managed with the rest of the monument by the Commonwealth and the Departments of Commerce and Interior.”

This was our stance before the declaration of the monument and it is our stance today.

Many promises made by the former Council on Environmental Quality Chairman James Connaughton in the lead up to creation of the monument have been kept. The Commonwealth has received untold amounts of positive media exposure. There is a renewed world-wide interest in exploring the depths of the deepest, darkest place on Earth, as evidenced by the recent expedition by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to the bottom of Challenger Deep, only the third such expedition in the history of mankind. The Northern Marianas are also now recognized as the home to one of the most iconic, recognizable geological features on the planet, adding to the richness of our culture and heritage. The creation of the monument will have everlasting positive effects on our economy and the health of our marine environment and will help preserve our unique culture. It has also brought the Commonwealth closer to achieving the goals of the Micronesia Challenge, which seeks to effectively conserve 30% of the near shore resources of all the islands in Micronesia. Most importantly, in the span of just a few months our people have become worldwide leaders in ocean conservation. Perhaps you saw the Friends of the Monument on NBC Nightly News during Earth Week?

Sadly, several promises remain unfulfilled. During his visit to the Commonwealth in October 2008, Chairman Connaughton promised the people of the Commonwealth that the designation of the monument would give our people (1) co-management of the monument, (2) a visitors center on Saipan, and (3) control of the submerged lands from 0-3 miles around the 14 islands of the Commonwealth.

We remain committed to fulfilling these promises, starting with the control of the submerged lands around all the islands of the Commonwealth. Just so that we are clear, it is our recommendation that “the state waters from 0-3 miles surrounding the islands of Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion remain a part of the monument, under the jurisdiction (and ownership) of the Commonwealth and co-managed with the rest of the monument by the Commonwealth and the Departments of Commerce and Interior.”

Thank you for taking the time to listen to our concerns. Your staff has been very gracious in allowing us time to share our recommendations and concerns for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

And on a final note, on behalf of the entire Friends of the Monument organization, thank you for the recent Congressional Commendation. It is quite an honor to be one of the first organizations in the Northern Mariana Islands to be so recognized by the United States Congress.

Thank you and I look forward to your reply,

Ignacio V. Cabrera
Friends of the Monument

cc: Governor Benigno Fitial

A new member of the Beautify CNMI family

I love quoting myself.
Bridge Capital donates to Beautify CNMI!

Generous Donation: Angelo Villagomez (left) and Joe Kaipat (right) accept the donation from Bridge Capital at the Governor's Office this past Thursday.
Bridge Capital donated $2000 to Beautify CNMI last Thursday during a ceremony at the Governor’s office on Capital Hill.

Beautify CNMI has earmarked the funds to support the Solid Waste Committee, which coordinates weekly cleanups. The donation will fund at least six months of volunteer cleanups.

“For three years we have depended on the generosity of the community to support our volunteer programs,” said Angelo Villagomez of Beautify CNMI. “This donation will ensure that 2009 will be our most successful year yet.”

Bridge Capital, LLC is an international investment banking firm specializing in high yield real estate secured lending, distressed debt acquisition and restructuring, equity and debt placement, and investment management services. The company is based out of Saipan, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Beautify CNMI! is a coalition of concerned citizens, private groups, and government entities united to enhance the CNMI's natural beauty and foster community pride in its residents and visitors. Beautify CNMI was the 2006 Saipan Tribune Person of the Year, was a recipient of a 2007 EPA Environmental Award and received a Certificate of Commendation from the United States Congress in 2009. For more information visit them online at http://www.beautifycnmi.org.

Guam on The Onion

Not that it matters, but Guam was on Onion Radio News.

Tip of the hat to Rick.

Monday, June 22, 2009

New York Times on Fishing Councils

The New York Times recently published an editorial about overfishing. As you read it, keep in mind that the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands recently approved a plan to open up the United States Exclusive Economic Zone surrounding our islands to foreign fishing.

Some commentary:
Most of the world’s important commercial fish species have been declining for years. Nearly one-fourth are unable, essentially, to reproduce. The biggest cause of the deterioration in ocean health — bigger than climate change or pollution — is overfishing. American fisheries are in better shape than most but not by much.
Anyone who has fished on Saipan in the last 30 years knows that our fish stocks have crashed. Sure, the establishment of the small marine protected areas a few years backed have slowed the decline, but it has been a decline nonetheless. The same decline is being seen around the globe.
George W. Bush, though more sensitive to marine issues than other environmental problems, was slow to offer remedies, the most important being the establishment of three large protected marine reserves in the Pacific.
There it is again. The creation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument was the most "important" environmental action President Bush took during his eight years in office. Go us!
Under the present system, America’s regional fishing councils, which are run largely by fishermen with federal oversight, set annual catch limits.
I have no comment on the fishing councils.

The editorial goes on to explain "catch shares" and how Dr. Jane Lubchenco is going to end overfishing in American waters.

Meanwhile, we just opened our waters to foreign fishing vessels.

Solar eclipse next month

2009 solar eclipseAccording to Boing Boing there is going to be a solar eclipse across the Pacific in exactly 30 days. Saipan is a bit too far south, but Maug is darn close to the narrow band of Earth that will witness a full eclipse. Anyone got a boat? Doing anything around July 22 of this year?

solar eclipse july 2009The NASA website has some solar eclipse information as well as some maps.

iwo jima 2009 eclipseIf Maug is out of the question for you, maybe you should try Iwo Jima. Looks like it will pass right over them.

marshall islands majuro 2009 solar eclipseIt also makes a pass over several atolls in the Marshall Islands, but barely misses the Continental Island Hopper stops of Kwajalein and Majuro.

The eclipse also makes a pass over some major cities in China and India, but the eclipse over that part of the Earth won't last as long. The longest and darkest place to watch will be just north of Maug in the middle of the Pacific.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Journal of Micronesian Fishing

I picked up my copy of the Journal of Micronesian Fishing today at the 26th Pacific Islands Environment Conference. Edited by John Starmer, Peter Houk, and Scott Russell, the premier issue has stories on commercial fishing, talaya fishing, fishing Boyscout Beach back in the 1970's (before it was called Boyscout Beach), and traditional trolling.

A pdf of the first issue is available on their website.

Nice Trees, Better Socks

saipan flame treeIn 2006 Beautify CNMI planted 22 Flame Trees. In 2007 we planted several hundred, including about 30 trees in Dandan near the airport. Several of the trees died, but there are a row of them on the big turn between the village of Dandan and the CPA Airport Field that have grown tremendously in the last two years.

flame tree dandanI don't drive by this road very often and the last time I did I think the trees were about 1/3 the size they are today. A lot of effort went into planting these trees, from the planning stages of finding a grower, to raising funds to pay for their planting, to finding the volunteer labor to plant them. It makes me proud to know that I was a part of putting these beautiful trees here and I'm happy that our work from years ago continues to pay dividends.

And please excuse my appearance in these pictures; I had just come from a soccer game and was still wearing my socks and cleats.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friends of the Monument featured on EPA blog

The Environmental Protection Agency blog has a blog post about the Friends of the Monument. Woot!

I heard you like green

Yesterday afternoon Bridge Capital LLC donated $17,500 to local schools and charities. Beautify CNMI was a recipient of their generosity, receiving $2000 to pay for cleanup supplies. By my calcuations, this should be enough money for two island-wide cleanups or six months of weekly cleanups. It will likely be the latter.

Lieutenant Governor Eloy Inos was on hand for the ceremony. When I went up to accept the award I gave a blue Beautify CNMI shirt to CEO John Baldwin and then turned to Eloy and said, "I heard you like green."

lt governoreloy inosGreen is the official color of the Covenant Party. The Lieutenant Governor liked his shirt.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

CNMI Waters to be sold off to Foreign Countries

Last week it was announced that the Wespac proposal to open up CNMI waters to foreign fishing vessels was approved by Governor Fitial and NOAA.

Today there is news that Wespac wants to allow those foreign fishing vessels to come even closer to shore, allowing them to directly compete for fish with the locals guys with the smaller boats.
Fishery council: 30-mile exclusion zone good for local fishermen
FRIDAY, 19 JUNE 2009

ESTABLISHING a 30-mile exclusion zone for long line fishing will entice local fishermen to venture into this commercial fishing method, according to the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Long line fishing involves setting a 20 to 35-mile long line with baited hooks on its branches left for up to 12 hours in the water.

Last year, Wespac members agreed to allow long lining outside the 30 nautical mile closure area from the shores of the CNMI.

This unanimous recommendation has been submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is now being reviewed by its Pacific Islands Regional Office.

However, during the meeting of the regional ecosystem advisory committee last Tuesday, concerns were raised by some members.

Lino Olopai, a traditional fisherman, wants the exclusion zone pushed to 50 nautical miles as originally recommended, while
other members noted that small fishermen may lose their livelihood to long liners.

Jack Ogumoro, CNMI Wespac coordinator, said setting a 30-mile exclusion area will entice foreign investors interested in long line fishing as well as the local people who may soon have the capacity to engage in such a large-scale fishing activity.

Right now, there is a Hawaii-based fishery firm doing long line fishing in the CNMI.

Ogumoro said long line fishing is expensive in terms of fuel cost.

Martin Mendiola, who represented Rota on the panel, suggested full scholarships for locals to build local capacity in manning long line vessels.

Tony Benavente, who also attended the meeting, said there are locals who are considering long line fishing but lacks the financial capacity to do so.

He wants to know if they can get help from the Commonwealth Development Authority regarding the needed start-up funds.

Ogumoro said all the recommendations brought up during the separate meetings of the advisory panel, the plan team and the regional eco-system advisory committee will be sent to the NOAA which review them during the drafting of new regulations.
This kind of news is so frustrating.

Keep in mind that these are the same guys who vehemently opposed the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. These are the guys who whipped up the anti-Federal government, anti-outsider frenzy.

One of their arguments back then was that the indigenous people have been managing the resource for millennia and should be allowed to continue using their traditional conservation strategies without the interference of the Federal government. (As an aside, I think John Joyner was using these traditional conservation strategies when he allowed the bulldozers to flatten Marpi earlier this year without an earthmoving permit.)

Yet six months later they are trying to sell off our waters to foreign countries. Imagine watching Taiwanese fishing vessels mining our waters from the shores of Beach Road. That is what these new regulations are going to allow.

More Wespac Misinformation

The Marianas Variety has an article today chock full of more Wespac misinformation. Let's dissect the article paragraph by paragraph.
Fishermen, NMI officials want 3 miles of Monument

CNMI officials and local fishermen insisted on Tuesday that the three nautical miles surrounding the recently designated Marine Monument in the Northern Islands should be shared with the people of the commonwealth.
The people writing the Wespac talking points are great political linguists. Often in writing, what you don't write is inferred by what you do write. In saying that the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument "should be shared with the people of the commonwealth," it is assumed that it is not currently being shared, that somehow those waters have been taken away from the local people. If anything, the monument has opened up those waters to the local people. How many locals had never seen a picture of those islands and waters before last year's campaign?  How many people had never heard of a beaked whale?  A humphead parrotfish?  They have now.  Furthermore, anyone at anytime can hop in a boat and go up there. Want to go fishing while you are there? The monument allows fishing! What's really the problem here?  Is it more a deep-rooted hatred of the Federal government?
Former Rep. Benigno M. Sablan, who chaired the regional ecosystem advisory committee meeting at the Fiesta Resort & Spa, and Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Ignacio Dela Cruz said they oppose “giving away” the three-mile waters around Maug, Uracas and Asuncion to the federal government.
Discussing this is like beating a dead horse. The Commonwealth did not negotiate for submerged lands before the Covenant was signed, mainly because the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Treaty was not adopted until 1982.  The Covenant was signed in 1976.  Check out the United Nations website for some historical perspective. The Commonwealth is not "giving away" anything because they never "had" anything.  And again, if anything, this monument has brought the world's attention to our natural wonders and is focusing the attention of a whole new generation of locals on our oceans.
President Bush’s declaration last January that designated the waters surrounding the three northernmost islands as part of the Marine Monument gave back to the CNMI three miles of its exclusive economic zone from the shores of Agrigan to Rota.
This is a false statement.  I have written to the editor, Zaldy Dandan, asking him to retract it.  The proclamation declaring the monument can be found here. I will buy a beer for the person that can find the passage giving the Commonwealth control over any submerged lands.

Political language is used again in the paragraph. When the Commonwealth gains control over some submerged lands, the control will not be "given back," it will be "given." We never had control, so it cannot be "given back."
Although the rest of panel members declined to take a stand on the issue, they expressed concerns about losing the three-mile state waters in the Marine Monument.
Again, there are no state waters. Nothing is being lost.  And what is it that they are assuming is being lost?  The "right" to sell those waters off to foreign fishing vessels?  That is the only restriction that has been imposed.
Sablan said accepting the three miles of EEZ from Agrigan to Rota is actually giving away the same size of water in the three northernmost islands.
No EEZ has been accepted because the monument proclamation does not include language about transferring any submerged lands to anyone. Sablan is at best misinformed.
Dela Cruz also opposed the exlusion of Maug, Asuncion and Uracas in the three-mile offer. “We need three miles of the EEZ in the Monument too,” he said.
Again, what offer? And what exclusion?

Are these officials working under the assumption that the Commonwealth has been given jurisdiction of the submerged lands from 0-3 miles? This has not been accomplished yet.

Representative Sablan has a bill he is introducing in the United States Congress that would grant the Commonwealth jurisdiction over those state waters, but there are no state waters now. What are these guys at the Wespac meeting talking about, other than trying to make people angry at the Federal government?

The Friends of the Monument have some concerns about the submerged lands bill that Sablan is introducing. We are worried that he is going to poke three giant gaping donut holes in the monument, right in the area with the highest biodiversity and productivity. We have yet to see the language of the bill, so we have not taken a stand on this issue, although we support the Commonwealth's efforts to gain control over state waters.

The stance of the Friends of the Monument is the same today as it was when we published our Vision Letter back in October 2008:

The Friends of the Monument want the state waters surrounding Asuncion, Maug, and Uracas to remain a part of the monument, but under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, to be co-managed with the entire 95,000 square mile monument by the Commonwealth, Department of Commerce, and Department of Interior.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thanks, Dave

Self-proclaimed Visionary, Goof Ball, Eye Surgeon, Artist, Dad, Doer, Husband, Teacher, Speaker, Wannabe Musician, Coach, Friend, Brother, Juggler, Laughing Man David Khorram deserves a hearty thank you from the 75+ individuals who participated in the recently completed Coed Spring Soccer League. As one of the players, I offer my personal thanks. And please add Soccer League Commissioner to your list.

It was a very successful league. It brought in new players. We made new friends. And most importantly, we got to play 5 months of weekly soccer for the affordable price of $20. We even got to keep our t-shirts!

Now that the season is over, one of the four teams is inviting everyone to a post-season pickup game:
On behalf of Team Red, a big thanks to the organizers and players for a great co-ed season. To celebrate, Team Red would like to invite you to a friendly, post-season pick-up game on Monday, June 22, at 5:00 PM at airport field. If the field is available, we will use it. If not, we will play wherever there's space, no lines, no refs, goals made from water bottles, split into smaller teams, whatever it takes! Just bring your uniform and a white shirt and come kick the ball!

If enough people are interested, we'll probably continue pick-ups once a week, but on a different day in consideration of men who also play on Sundays.

The Future of the Saipan Blog

There have been a few times in the last two years that I've disallowed access to this blog. The last time was about a month ago. Within 10 minutes of turning off access I received two messages from people asking me what had happened and could they please be granted permission to read my blog.

I'm starting to think that this blog has outlived its usefulness.

This blog has always been about something and now it is about nothing. For a while it was a blog about applying to the JET program; then it was a blog about living in Japan; then it was about living in Saipan; a blog about creating and coordinating Beautify CNMI; running a small non-profit; creating a monument.

Now the blog is about my new puppy and playing Mafia Wars on Facebook. How boring is that? Oddly enough, Snow White and Mafia Wars still manage to attract nearly 800 unique readers per day. How is that possible?

Anyway, the post titled The Final Post is rattling around in my abnormally large cranium. It may be coming soon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How well do you know Angelo Villagomez?

How well will you do? Take the quiz on Facebook.

I'll give the answers in a week or so.
1) What animal do I have tattooed on my body?
a) Eagle
b) Donkey
c) Rooster
d) Dog
e) Elephant

2) Where did I attend the eighth grade?
a) England
b) Massachusetts
c) Florida
d) Saipan
e) Japan

3) My degree from the University of Richmond is in which field?
a) Political Science
b) English
c) Physics
d) Biology
e) Chemistry

4) Where did I graduate from high school?
a) England
b) Florida
c) Massachusetts
d) Virginia
e) Saipan

5) What are the names of my brothers and sisters?
a) Angie Alex Abraham Solomon Memong Kevin Catie
b) Angie Alex Abraham Solomon Memong Kevin Donna
c) Tiana Alex Herman Solomon John Kevin Donna
d) Tiana Alex Abraham Solomon Memong Kevin Catie
e) Tiana Alex Herman Solomon John Kevin Catie

6) What is the name of the first environmental organization I worked for?
a) Pew Environment Group
b) The Nature Conservancy
c) Beautify CNMI
d) Mariana Islands Nature Alliance
e) League of Conservation Voters

7) What was my Halloween costume last year?
a) John Gourley
b) Sylvan Igisomar
c) Stanley Torres
d) Benigno Fitial
e) John Joyner

8) What is the name of my dog?
a) Jumper
b) Oreo
c) Joe
d) Meatball
e) Rescue

9) What was the nickname my father used to call me?
a) Taicho
b) Taipan
c) Typhoon
d) Tiger
e) Taichi

10) Which continent have I not visited?
a) Australia
b) Asia
c) North America
d) South America
e) Europe

11) What is my girlfriend's real name?
a) Edith
b) Eden
c) Edna
d) Edwina
e) Edina

12) What year did I move back to Saipan?
a) 2004
b) 2005
c) 2006
d) 2007
e) 2008

13) What did I collect as a child?
a) Comic Books
b) Stamps
c) Coins
d) Baseball Cards
e) Bottle Caps

14) What are my biological parents' names?
a) Angie & Ramon
b) Angie & Jim
c) Donna & Jim
d) Donna & Ramon

15) What sport did I play in high school and college?
a) Soccer
b) Cross Country
c) Volleyball
d) Baseball
e) Swimming

Tom Clancy on Article XII

I'm finally reading Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy, the book where the Japanese invade Saipan. It is not one of his more popular titles; In fact, the local book store doesn't even carry a copy. I was at a friend's house and saw the book sitting on a shelf and asked if I could borrow it. I am about half way through.

Published in 1994, the book is a bit dated. So much has changed in the last 15 years. What ever did we do with our lives before email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, FOX News, and texting? It is hard to imagine my life without an email address, but amazingly enough I didn't use email until 1996. Makes you wonder how anything was ever accomplished back then.

Anyway, page 316 has a passage that alludes to Article XII of the CNMI Constitution:
Of late Saipan had become a much more popular place for Japanese businessmen. A recent court decision had struck down the constitutional provision prohibiting foreign ownership of land and now allowed them to buy up parcels. In fact, the island was more than half foreign-owned now, a source of annoyance to many of the native Chamorros people, but not so great an annoyance as to prevent many of them from taking the money and moving off the land. It was bad enough already. On any given weekend, the number of Japanese on Saipan outnumbered the citizens, and typically treated the owners of the island like...natives.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

PAWS WARS Episode 3: Revenge of the Boonie

About 30 dogs and 100 humans took part in yesterday's Beautify CNMI/Paws sponsored third annual Best of the Worst Boonie Dog Show, PAWS WARS Episode 3: Revenge of the Boonie.

We had a late start due to an equipment malfunction, but once we got started it was smooth sailing.

tan holdings beautify cnmi jerry tanWe started off by awarding the annual Beautify CNMI Champion and Beautify CNMI Steward awards. Laurie Peterka, Ken Kramer and Tan Holdings were recognized as Champions (our annual advocate award) and the Friends of the Monument were recognized as Stewards (our annual volunteer award).

laurie peterka beautify cnmi awardWith that done, I stepped off the stage and let veteran dog show host George Hasselback take over. We had six categories this year: fattest, most misbehaved, most talented, booniest, best star wars costume, and best in show.

At the beginning of each category, all of the competitors were paraded in front of the judges and then brought out one by one for judging. Dogs were scored on a 1-5 scale, with 15 being the highest possible score.

dog show judgesAfter all the competitors had been judged and scored, the winners for the round were announced and prizes given out. Before starting the next round we gave away a few raffle prizes.

I think the Star Wars category was the most popular. Brad Ruszala, as usual, kicked it up a notch and used his personal Princess Leia costume to dress his dog, Meatball. It was good enough for first place, with Snow White's rendition of Princess Leia actually tying her, but losing to Meatball in the tie-breaker.

This year we had help from some of the fighters from Trench Tech thanks to the involvement of Jason Tarkong and Cuki Alvarez. They upped the cool quotient of the hippie, tree hugger dog show at least 15 percentage points.

We also had tremendous support from the community. I put out a call for $20 donations to pay for prizes and over a dozen people donated, including Jerry Tan, Lydia Tan, Marianne Teregeyo, Marianne and Richard Pierce, Kathy Yuknavage, Susan Macario, Kyle Calabrese, Mike Tripp, Aya Matsumoto, Tyler Yoshimoto, Catie Hiney, Ed Manibusan, Joey San Nicholas, and Lina Dimaano. Pacific Trading, Seafix, Hyatt Regency Saipan, Fiesta Resort & Spa, Palms Resort, Moby Dick Restaurant, Expressions, Mike Tripp Productions, Price Costco, and Pacific Islands Club Saipan also donated support and prizes. Representative Ed Salas donated tents. I donated tables and chairs.

The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands also used the dog show as an opportunity to donate $2000. The money will be used to help find stray animals permanent homes.

When it comes down to it, the Boonie Dog Show is a perfect example of how the Beautify CNMI spirit works. People pitch in what they can and we come together to do great things.

Another Award Winning Dog

snow whiteMuch to the delight of Edz, Snow White took home second place in the Best Star Wars Character category of yesterday's Beautify CNMI/PAWS boonie dog show, PAWS WARS Episode 3: Revenge of the Boonie.

maltese puppyHer respectable second place finish earned her a 50-pound bag of dog food, which should take her about 10 years to finish.

In other news, Oreo didn't win anything, but his owner, me, won two prizes in the raffle. I took home lunch for two at Palms resort and a second 50-pound bag of dog food, meaning we won't have to buy more dog food until 2029.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tan Holdings, Friends of the Monument recognized with Beautify CNMI awards

Beautify CNMI announced today the winners of their annual Environmental Champion and Environmental Steward Awards. The awards are given out to recognize individuals, organizations, and businesses that have proven to be environmental leaders in the Commonwealth.

The Environmental Champion award recognizes a person or group that exemplifies the Beautify CNMI spirit. Those qualities include volunteerism, cooperation, innovation, creativity and the ability to infect others with the Beauty Virus. The Environmental Champion is a role model for others to follow. They bring environmental issues to the forefront of public consciousness. They make things happen and effect change.

This year Beautify CNMI will recognize Tan Holdings, Laurie Peterka, and Ken Kramer as the 2009 Environmental Champions.

Tan Holdings is being recognized as a model of corporate environmental responsibility. Under the leadership of President Jerry Tan, Tan Holdings employees and friends have been part of several environmental projects over the past year. All Tan Holdings offices on Saipan participate in a Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle program and the company participates in a reusable shopping bag campaign with Joeten. Employees, often with the participation of management, regularly participate in cleanups, including the recent island wide cleanup.

Laurie Peterka and Ken Kramer are being recognized for their roles in the creation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

Kramer was so inspired by the concept of the monument that he quit his job so that he would have more time to collect signatures. Kramer was the largest signature collector for a petition being circulated in support of the monument, collecting over 1000 signatures at the street market, in front of stores, at the Sabalu market, and door to door. Kramer also penned nearly two-dozen letters to the editor educating newspaper readers about the benefits of a monument.

Peterka is being recognized for the role she played as staff with the Pew Environment Group. According to one of her nominations for the award, “Laurie has been the backbone of the Friends of the Monument’'s efforts: always there, always supportive, keeping things moving, doing much of the organizing, writing, scheduling, as well as a lot of the scut work.”

The Environmental Steward award recognizes a person or group that leads the community in activities that help protect our environment in a variety of ways. This individual or group has demonstrated the need to take pride in our islands and to take care of the place we all call home. They serve as an example for others, especially the next generation, to follow.

This year Beautify CNMI will recognize Friends of the Monument as the 2009 Environmental Stewards.

Friends of the Monument was formed to help promote the idea of creating a national marine monument in the waters around the three northernmost islands of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Friends of the Monument engaged in activities to help educate the community --distributing leaflets, conducting meetings, and coordinating with teachers for classroom presentations. The organization gathered more than 6,000 signatures on petitions in support of the designation of a Monument. The Friends sent representatives to Washington, D.C. to meet with White House officials, and participated in television and radio public service announcements and advertising. Ultimately, they were instrumental in the process that resulted in former President George W. Bush designating the Marianas Trench Marine Monument, along with three larger national marine monuments.

The awards were handed out at the Beautify CNMI/PAWS Boonie Dog Show on Saturday, June 13 at the CPA Airport Field.

Beautify CNMI recognizes Steward and Champion Awards winner each year in Spring. Nominations are taken from the community at-large and the Beautify CNMI Committee Chairs select winners. Past winners include Aqua Resort Club, Friends of the Mariana Islands, Marites Castillo, Kathy Yuknavage, Captain Carl Brachear, Adam Sablan, Katie Busenkell, Rose Callier, Mike Tripp, Marianas Dive, Nava Khorram, Max Aguon, Paseo de Marianas Promoters, and Bree Reynolds.

Beautify CNMI! is a coalition of concerned citizens, private groups, and government entities united to enhance the CNMI's natural beauty and foster community pride in its residents and visitors. The coalition was a recipient of a 2007 EPA Environmental Award and received a Certificate of Commendation from the United States Congress in 2009. For more information visit them online at http://www.beautifycnmi.org.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CNMI Waters Opened to Foreign Fishing

The Saipan Tribune carries a story today that unearths the fact that NOAA has approved opening the Exclusive Economic Zone around the Northern Mariana Islands to foreign fishing.
The plan also identifies 22 programs or projects associated with the plan objectives for potential funding under a Pacific Insular Area Fishery Agreement.

These include an exclusive economic zone enforcement program; commercial harvest monitoring system; fisheries technology and education program; development of fish marketing plan; CNMI commercial fisheries baseline assessment; and regional fisheries meeting and conferences funding assistance.

Also on the list are vessel monitoring program; construction of cold storage, fish processing, and fish market facilities; foreign fishery observer program; establishment of fishery management units for the EEZ; Northern Islands remote fishing station project; charter fishing economic impact study; and foreign fishing revenue for the Puerto Rico dump cleanup [emphasis mine].
It is very coy to try to say that they have approved "foreign fishing revenue for the Puerto Rico dump cleanup," when what they have really done is to simply approve foreign fishing. You don't really think any of that money is going to be used to pay to cleanup the dump do you?

Sheds some light on some of the Wespac representatives' (and the governor's) opposition to the monument last year. They were trying to sell our waters off to the Chinese while we were trying to protect them for indigenous use.

Guantanamo prisoners to get permanent vacation in Palau

According to the Associated Press, Palau is going to be the new home of some Bush-era suspected terrorists!
The tropical Pacific island nation of Palau announced Wednesday it will accept up to 17 Chinese Muslims who have languished in legal limbo at Guantanamo Bay despite a Pentagon determination that they are not "enemy combatants."

China's Foreign Ministry had no immediate reaction to the decision by Palau to grant Washington's request to resettle the detainees from China's Uighur minority who had been incarcerated at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. Palau is one of a handful of countries that does not recognize China and maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Since they are no longer considered enemy combatants, they're not going to be locked up. In fact they are going to be allowed to start a new life, perhaps as dive instructors.
President Johnson Toribiong said Palau was accepting the detainees "as a humanitarian gesture" intended to help them restart their lives. His archipelago, with a population of about 20,000, will accept up to 17 of the detainees subject to periodic review, Toribiong said in a statement released to The Associated Press.
What does Palau get out of this? Cold. Hard. Cash.
Two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. was prepared to give Palau up to $200 million in development, budget support and other assistance in return for accepting the Uighurs and as part of a mutual defense and cooperation treaty that is due to be renegotiated this year.
That is just under $12 million per terrorist (I used my calculator, not Dr. Dela Cruz's). Hell, can the United States send me a terrorist? I think I could help him restart his life with that kind of money.

The New York Times adds:
Palau is known more for its tropical scenery and scuba diving than for its involvement in international politics.
With only 20,000 residents, now they'll also be known for the highest percentage of suspected terrorists per capita!

So what did these guys do that got them locked up for a decade with no trial? According to CNN:
The 17 Uighurs -- members of an ethnic Muslim group from western China -- are accused of receiving weapons and military training in Afghanistan.
Alright, that sounds bad. Maybe they are terrorists. Except...
Some of the prisoners have been cleared for release since 2003, but the United States will not send them back to their homeland because of concern they would be tortured by Chinese authorities.

The men have been in legal limbo as a federal court has ordered them released, but an appeals court halted the order. The Justice Department had no comment Tuesday on the fate of the Uighurs.

Albania accepted five Uighur prisoners in 2006, but has refused to allow any more in the country. Human rights activists say that European nation is concerned about economic and diplomatic retaliation from China. The Chinese government has said no returned Uighurs would be tortured, but warned other countries in January against taking the men.
How much does that suck?

"Uh, I'm sorry sir, we've found you not guilty but you are going to have to stay in jail for the next 6 years because China wants you dead."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The post in which I rip on Dr. Dela Cruz

There is an article in the Marianas Variety headlined, "NMI ‘loses’ 20-hectare land to reed warbler." In the article Dr. Ignacio Dela Cruz laments the loss of land use privileges of a 20 acre plot of land to conservation.

Let's dissect this article.
THE Northern Marianas has just “lost” 20 hectares of its prime land to ensure that the nightingale reed warbler will have a protected habitat, according to Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Ignacio Dela Cruz.

In an interview yesterday, Dela Cruz said the San Juan farm northeast of Saipan was reserved for agriculture.
Who did we lose the land to? Was it sold to someone? And who determined it was prime land? Wouldn't beach front property with access to sewer lines, electricity, and other amenities be more "prime?"

And the San Juan farm is northeast of Saipan? Where? The next speck of land northeast of Saipan is Alaska.
But DLNR’s Agriculture Division has to give up the land and designate it as a conservation area for the protection of reed warbler an endangered bird species.

The CNMI government was required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to address the impact of the proposed $12 million Route 36 or Winward/Chalan Kalabera Road project funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

Department of Public Works’ Technical Service Division Director Joe Inos said the Federal Highway Administrator offered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife mitigating measure to minimize the impact of the project on the 16 territories of the reed warbler.

These include the establishment of 50-foot buffer that eventually required the DLNR to designate the San Juan farm plots as conservation area.
Oh, alright. So the land wasn't really lost. It was just set aside as a conservation area to protect a rare, federally protected bird species.
Dela Cruz said nobody can now enter the area and the government can no longer use its economic potentials.
Who said no one could enter the area? Managaha, Forbidden Island, and Bird Island are conservation areas and I can go there. Who made the determination that no one can go to this area? And how is the government using the potential of the area now? If its not being used for economic purposes, why not use it for ecological services. Does Dr. Dela Cruz even know what an ecological service is?
He noted that in Kagman, a single plot produces between $5,000 to $10,000 worth of farm produce that helps feed over 50,000 people on Saipan.

The San Juan farm has potentials for growing a variety of fruits, herbs, nonie plants, nut trees and other agricultural products, e (sic) said.
So a single plot of land in Kagman feed 50,000 people? So how many people do all of the Kagman farms feed? 2.6 million people?
The San Juan farm area is equivalent to 225 house lots, he added.
Does he read the newspaper? What happened the last time they tried to put a homestead in Marpi? It was only two weeks ago! How could he forget so soon?
Turning the farm into a conservation area is basically giving each bird up to 7.5 hectares of land, Dela Cruz said.
Let's do some math. 20 hectares of land divided by 7.5 hectares of land per bird equals 2.67 birds protected by this conservation area. What does 2/3 of a bird look like? And didn't Joe Inos a few paragraphs up say that there were 16 nesting pairs? 16 pairs is 32 birds. 20 hectares for 32 birds is 0.625 hectare per bird, not 7.5.

I guess his calculator is broken.
He said he opposes the idea which he believes will eventually cause hardship in the CNMI.
How does leaving an area in its current state cause hardship?
The federal Endangered Species Act, he added, is designed for the vast U.S. mainland and not for Saipan which is “already too small for its own human population to be taken away for the birds.”
Wow. This is actually the first potentially logical thing the good doctor has said, but his argument doesn't support his conclusion.

I think there are actually reasons to visit how the Endangered Species Act is applied in the Marianas, not necessarily the act itself. Most reasonable people would agree that rare birds endemic to the Marianas should have habitat in which to live. Taking a western approach to conservation (i.e. putting up a sign that says "No Fishing") can have unintended consequences. For example, I've heard stories of people actually going out to kill reed warblers because they are afraid the government will "take" their land if they find out about the birds. Same goes for fishing. When certain people see an English sign that reads "No Fishing," what they actually read is "Good Fishing."
In the Northern Islands, he said, Endangered Species Act can be implemented since there are not too many people living there.
When it comes down to it, conservation laws don't manage nature, they manage people. What Dr. Dela Cruz means to say is that there is no need to conserve or preserve on Saipan because there are birds and fish in the Northern Islands.

Futhermore, he'll throw out any and all scare tactics to build up hatred of the Federal government. The Federal government will "take" your land. The Federal will give your land to a bird. This is prime land. It could be farm land. It could be your homestead property. It will ruin the economy. The birds will mutate into killer pterodactyls and eat your children. Alright, I made that last one up.

It is disappointing on so many levels that this guy heads the Department of Lands and Natural Resources.


One of our web wizards has put together a website for the Friends of the Monument at www.marianamonument.org. It is very basic now, but watch for more in the near future.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Weekend on Tinian

freedom airFreedom Air has a special right now where a round trip flight to Tinian is only $69. It is still much more expensive than the $20 ferry trip (one-way, with a free return as long as you gamble $50 at the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino), but much more convenient. On the way over and on the way back, all you have to do is show up at the airport and they'll fly you over.

This was Edz' second and third time flying in an airplane. The only other time she had flown was when she flew direct from Manila to Saipan a few years ago. Naturally, she had her camera out snapping pictures and taking video the entire time. She won't admit it, but when the pilot was trying to land the airplane, he did so with Edz' camera blocking his vision on the right side. I'm amazed he was able to land the plane.

Tinian is really an amazing place and has as many hidden treasures as Saipan. It has a completely different feel from Saipan, though. It is quiet. And once you get out of the main village it is very, very isolated.

Fully 2/3 of the island has been leased by the United States military since the signing of the Covenant. The lease was signed with promises of development, which never really occurred other than the odd war games activity every few years.

As an aside, the issue of unfulfilled promises was a monument issue that was never really forced to the front in Saipan, but we heard it multiple times in Tinian.

But this post isn't about the monument...

Much like Saipan, Tinian is littered with remnants from World War II. This bunker on Chulu Beach on the northwestern side of the island shows scars from the war. Were one of those bullet holes put there by my uncle Jim Walsh while a young marine? Who knows?

tinian banyon treeIf there was a theme to the World War II remnants, it is that given time the Earth will reclaim our destruction. This beautiful banyon tree grows on top of what may once have been a street. I think at one time it may have been on the side of the street, but it has gotten so big that the road now curves around to avoid the tree. The interlocking roots of this tree were truly amazing. It could be a tourist attraction unto itself.

The road this tree was on led to a shinto shrine I never knew existed. There isn't too much left of it, just a concrete monument etched with the name of the shrine, two lantern bases, a water basin, some stairs, beyond which is a concrete base which held the shrine.

view of saipan from tinianThe view from behind the shrine was fantastic.  That's Saipan in the distance, and although my camera lens couldn't capture it, there was about a 180 degree view of Tinian.  

Since we didn't have any work to do or any real plans, Edz and I took time to go down roads we had never been down to explore places we've never even heard of. That is how we found the shinto shrine on the hill. That is also how we found the old Japanese fuel storage depot.

This place was beyond cool and I didn't even know that it existed. It is just past the Atomic Bomb Pits on North Field. There were two of them, but one was completely destroyed during the war. The one that is still standing was carved right into a hillside.

Like something right out of Indian Jones, the road leading towards the entrance is lined by 20 foot coral walls and trees.

Some of the banyon trees dropped roots right down along the side of the walls. Given a few hundred more years, these roots will rival anything at Angkor Wat.

Inside the fuel storage building are hundreds of old oil barrels. I learned later that this fuel storage had caught fire during the invasion. That means that these barrels have been sitting where they're sitting since 1944. How amazing is it that you can just walk right up to them? The scene hasn't changed since the waning days of World War II.

We also found an old Japanese power generator complex, a group of buildings which I had never seen before. In one of the buildings were the original metal tanks for holding fuel. Amazing!

The buildings themselves had been shelled by the Americans. What kind of a blast bends rebar to look like that? It could not have been fun to be a Japanese national living on Tinian in 1944.

Tomorrow, June 10, is the 65 year anniversary of when the Americans started bombing the islands of Tinian and Saipan in what would be the final months of the war. Five days after bombing commenced, they invaded. My Uncle Jim Walsh (my grandmother's brother) was a marine storming the beaches on Tinian while my grandfather, grandmother, aunts and uncles, huddled in a cave on Saipan.

65 years. Wow. So my question is...

Can the EPA please clean up the stupid oil that the military left behind after the war? It's probably contaminating our ground water!

Uncle Karl supports Juan Galvin

The Juan Babauta/Galvin Guerrero campaign is running a new commercial on TV starring Friend of the Monument's Karl Reyes.

Karl is becoming a regular Youtube star. Some of you will remember him reading the letter he wrote to Senate President Pete Reyes on the John Gonzales TV show. If you don't remember, here is the video:

Are any of the other candidates running ads on TV? I don't have a TV so I don't watch the news. I just know what is on Youtube.

Carnival of the Blue 25

The best in ocean blogging this month can be found at Carnival of the Blue 25, hosted at Blogfish this month. Carnival of the Blue 25 represents the beginning of a third year of ocean-related blog carnivals. Woot!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

World Oceans Days

taga beach wavesToday is World Oceans Day. Why don't you celebrate by hugging a fish? I'll celebrate by posting photos that I took over the weekend of Taga Beach, one of my favorite beaches on the planet. In the first photo there is a man sitting on the cliff next to the end of the railing if you want to use him to judge the size of the waves.

taga beach tinianThe waves were kickin' at Taga Beach on Saturday. It was so rough that the triathlon scheduled for that morning canceled the swim portion and instead had a run-bike-run format. I don't know, it might have been fun to read the headline "Scores Perish in Tinian Triathlon."

I have nothing of particular significance to say on this World Oceans Day. I've been talking about marine protected areas and ocean issues ever since I became involved in the campaign to create the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. What can I say that isn't already said in the archives of this blog?

big wavesIn the 12 months since the last World Oceans Day, the people of the Commonwealth, more than your average Americans, have lived and breathed ocean issues. They were subjected to ocean related issues in the letter to the editor section of the paper, on the nightly news, and pretty much just about every time they sat down for a cup of coffee. Anywhere.

We done good last year. Go us.

Saipan Moonbow

Some friends are leaving Saipan for greener pastures and we had a goodbye celebration for them at Wing Beach tonight. After a short rain, in which almost everybody left, and just after the moonrise, we were treated to something I had never witnessed, a moon rainbow, or moonbow.

According to Wikipedia:
A moonbow (also known as a lunar rainbow, lunar bow or white rainbow) is a rainbow produced by the moon rather than the sun. Moonbows are relatively faint, due to the smaller amount of light from the Moon. They are always in the opposite part of the sky from the moon.

It is difficult for the human eye to discern colors in a moonbow because the light is usually too faint to excite the cone colour receptors in human eyes. As a result, they often appear to be white.[1] However, the colours in a moonbow do appear in long exposure photographs.


Moonbows are most easily viewed when the moon is near to full (when it is brightest). For other than those produced by waterfalls, the moon must be low in the sky (less than 42 degrees and preferably lower) and the sky must be dark. And of course there must be rain falling opposite the moon. This combination of requirements makes moonbows much more rare than rainbows produced by the sun.
That explains our conditions perfectly. The moon was rising in the East and there was rain over the ocean to the West. The moonbow we saw was a full moonbow; we could see the full arc stretching across the far ends of the Philippine Sea.

Up until about two hours ago I had never even heard of something like a rainbow. A rainbow at night? Are you kidding?

I guess I can chalk this up to just another one of the cool things you get to see when you live on Saipan.

Drop the Puppy

maltese dogsSo this photo pretty much sums up how Oreo feels about me playing with Snow White.

Laughing or Yawning?

maltese puppyEdz took this photo of Snow White.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Election Time in Tinian

I enjoyed the weekend on Tinian with Edz this weekend. We flew over on Freedom Air and stayed at the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino. We ate our meals at JC Cafe.

I rented a car and we drove all over the island. This is the first time I've been over here where I've had transportation and no work and where I wasn't playing tour guide, so we drove down roads I had never been down before and found some cool stuff which I'll post later.

Right now I want to post the campaign signs.

The 2009 campaign is in full swing in Tinian. The main village of San Jose isn't much bigger than a few city blocks, but there are trucks carrying political signs and blaring music swarming the streets. We saw a BBQ for Republicans down on the beach, while the Covenant supporters were up at campaign headquarters.

covenant party headquartersMusic was blaring at both locations for the enjoyment of everyone, and I mean everyone, within a half-mile radius.

heinz arnold campaign signThere seem to be more campaign signs on Saipan than on Tinian, but most of the major intersections seem to be covered here, so maybe the per capita signage is higher. Whatevs.

covenant party tinianWe haven't seen these kinds of billboards on Saipan yet, probably because none of the parties have agreed on their slate of candidates. I know they're coming, though.

Tinian Republican BannerMy favorite sign on Tinian had to be this Republican banner on top of a Jeep. Yes, We Can? Doesn't that belong to somebody else?

Whatever works, I guess.

Later on in the day we saw a sign waving event...in the dark. I didn't take any pictures of that...because it was dark.