Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sign up for the 2011 International Coastal Cleanup on Saipan

The annual International Coastal Cleanup is fast approaching and I wanted to personally ask my blog readers (both of you) to sign up.  The model for this year's cleanup is very similar to the island wide cleanups that Beautify CNMI has helped to coordinate and promote since 2006.  We ask you to pick your favorite spot on the island, grab a garbage bag, a rake and a few friends, and spend an hour or two making the island a better place to live.

This year's island wide cleanup is Friday, September 16 and Saturday September 17 from 8 AM to 12 PM.

Most people adopt a beach, but you can also adopt a road, a park, a church, or even the area in front of your house if you want.  All we ask is that you sign up with our organizers so that we can make sure you have supplies you need and to see if you need any help getting your waste to the landfill or the transfer station.

This year's coordinator is Guy Macaranas at Coastal Resources Management Office.  To sign up for the event or to adopt a spot, please fill out this form and fax it to (670) 664-8315 or email it to guy.macaranas@crm.gov.mp.  If you have any questions, you can also call Guy at (670) 664-8305.

Guy is also the person who rescued my dog Oreo when I lost him for three days in 2008.  That has nothing to do with the International Coastal Cleanup, but it is worth knowing.

I hope that you can participate.

Shark Hope Trailer




Shark Hope is a new film being produced by Manoa Rasagitale and Walker Films in association with Coral Reef Alliance and Pew Environment Group. If you watch until the end of this two minute trailer you'll hear a familiar voice and maybe see a familiar face (RIGHT UP CLOSE).

Ratu and Friends:  That's Monao on the left, with Rob Stewart, Matt, and me at a meeting back in June.  We are all wearing "pocket" sulus in this photo, formal Fijian men's wear.
Yeah, that's me.  I don't know how much of the final film I'll end up being in, but I know for sure it is my interview that introduces our undercover video.  More on that after the film is released in September.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shark I've Known I


I've been able to take a few underwater photos this year.  I use a Canon PowerShot SX210IS with the matching Ikelite housing.  These photos were taken without a strobe.


I think whitetip reef sharks are my favorite species of shark.  These are the most common shark I've come across.  I've seen them in Saipan, Palau, Marshall Islands, and Fiji.  They are probably the cutest shark swimming in the ocean.


Bull sharks, on the other hand, are not cute.  Beautiful is not a word I think of when it comes to these sharks.  Awesome.  Hi five.  USA.  USA.  Something like that.

So I've got several hundred photos of sharks I've taken this year.  A handful of them are decent.  Since I don't write much for this blog anymore, I might as well post some shark photos

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monument Blame Salvation

The last few times I've been to Saipan I've had people accost me about the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. Where are the jobs!? Where is the boat!?

It gets tiring. I feel like I've written about this issue endlessly and do not want to repeat what I have already published so many times. My story and my position on the issue hasn't changed in the two and a half years since the monument was declared.

With that said, I'm glad I can finally blame someone else for why there is no visitor's center yet. Last year I traveled with Agnes McPhetres to Washington, DC (at the time I didn't know I'd be living here in three short months) to testify on behalf of a visitors center being built on Saipan, not Guam (sorry, Guam friends).

While we were there we met with both Delegate Gregorio Sablan and officials from NOAA Office of Marine National Sanctuaries and we helped identify nearly one quarter million dollars that could be used to design a visitors center.

I have been advocating for using the Navy Hill Lighthouse as the site of the Angelo Villagomez Eco-Discovery Center because of its link to maritime history and panoramic view of the Saipan Lagoon and Managaha. Some people have raised the concern that it is not close enough to the water and that it is "up on a mountain," but this concern is ridiculous. The lighthouse is barely 800 meters from shore. In high school I could run that distance in under two minutes.

The purpose of the design plan was to create a concept folder that could be shopped around to funders and the United States Congress. The concept plan would have diagrams for how the Lighthouse would have to be refurbished, as well as draft plans for exhibits. There was plenty of money in the budget for meetings and outreach to all three islands, and honestly, probably enough for the government to skim some off the top for other projects.

And all that funding was nearly lost because someone forget to file a financial report. There is only so much a concerned citizen can do. There comes a point where the government has to do its job.  It has been nearly two years since President Barack Obama authorized Kilili's earmark for NOAA and a year and half since the work plan was developed between DLNR and NOAA.

The visitors center should already be designed.  It should be done.  The Friends of the Monument, the Fitial Administration, NOAA, and Delegate Sablan should have a notebook in their hands that they could be taking around to funders, federal offices, and the United States Congress.

I've been accused of being an angry young man before, but this should really make you angry, too!  The Angelo Villagomez Eco-Discovery Center (we can work on the name later if you really have a problem with it) could serve as a corner stone of the new CNMI economy.

The garment factories and the low wage economy are out and the only option is tourism.  The visitors center could and should be the premier attraction on Saipan, but the local government has to put in the man hours to make it happen.  No one is going to do this for them (mostly because I'm not on Saipan anymore).

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Sokehs Radio Tower


If you are ever on Pohnpei, you have to hike up Sokehs Rock.  I still haven't done that.  I went the wrong way and hiked up to the radio tower along the Sokehs Ridge.  It was not a bad hike and is worth doing.


The hike can be found by taking the road onto Sokehs island and then heading straight when you get to the fork.  From there the road heads up, up, up, and technically you could drive to the radio tower, but I don't recommend it.


There is a dramatic turn in the road and this would be a good place to park.  You could actually park lower down the road, and get a little bit of a warm up before heading up to the steeper part of the road.


This is looking back down at the curve.  Beyond on the other side of the water is the airport.


Turning around and looking up the "road."  I wouldn't want to bring a car up here without 4wd.


At the end of the road is a short path which leads to the radio tower.  I brought a lunch with me and sat at the top looking down at Kolonia.


Some of the local wildlife was interested in my sandwich and french fries.  Prior to human contact, the only mammals on the islands of Micronesia were fruit bats.  This is not a fruit bat.


The view was spectacular.  This is the rock I want to climb next time.  I'll have to pay better attention to the people giving me directions.


I could see down into the port and with my camera get a good view of the purse seiners.  Notice how each boat has a helicopter.  A helicopter for finding fish!


Looking away from the port towards the fishing "mother" ships.  They are catching a lot of tuna in Micronesia.


Looking at Kolonia.


And the airport.

Monday, August 01, 2011

2011 in 2011: Mid-Year Lessons Learned

At the beginning of the year I set out to run 2011 miles in 2011. I weighed 220 lbs and all of my clothes were feeling a little snug. I have now run 430 miles since January 1, 2011. That sounds like a lot of running and is probably about 430 miles more than most people reading this will have run, but it is 547 miles short of what I should have run were I on pace to reach 2011 miles by the end of the year.

There is very little possibility I will come close to reaching my goal of running 2011 miles this year. I could run 10 miles every single day until the end of the year and make it, but that is not going to happen. Maybe if I quit my job and focused on nothing but running I could, but I’m not going to do that, so I’ll just have to be content with this cold reality.

Not that 430 miles is all that shabby. For Brad’s wedding I wore a fancy belt that I haven’t worn in at least a year and my waist is two belt holes smaller since the last time I wore it. While not as great an accomplishment as, say, curing cancer, I’m pretty happy with myself. I try not to think that if I had kept up with my running I’d be four belt holes smaller, but if that were the case I’d have to buy all new belts and who really wants to do that?

There are a few lessons I’ve learned about myself these last few months of running and not running that I’d like to share with the handful of you that still read this blog.

I’ve found that the most difficult aspect of 2011 in 2011 is not the physical act of going out and running for about an hour, it is the ability to schedule a two hour block each day. I am not a morning person. As far back as the third grade I was getting up late and missing the 9 O’Clock bell at school. I’m better as an adult. I can manage to get to work on time, but there is very little chance that I’ll get up at 5 AM and go for a run. I’ve done it a few times this year, but far too few times.

I’m more of an afternoon runner, but again this gets into the whole scheduling thing. If you are going to plan to run every day after work, that means that there a lot of things that you are not going to be doing after work from happy hour, to seeing a movie, and even just staying late at the office and working. Giving up two hours each and every day to exercise is not an easy thing to do.

It is also difficult to keep up the momentum of running every day. My longest stretch of daily running is only 13 days. That totally sucks. Every day that I don’t run I fall 3-7 miles behind on my annual goal. When you are only running 5 miles per day, making up 5 miles for a missed day is really hard.

I also didn’t account for travel, sickness, injury, or general fatigue. I ran about 200 miles between the beginning of April and the middle of May. Then I hit a wall. Hard. Then I rubbed all the skin off my ankles swimming with fins that didn’t fit. After that I had an ear infection. And don’t forget, I was knocked about with E. coli for two weeks. I’ve only run a handful of times since hitting that wall, including 26 miles while in Saipan this week.

Looking forward I’m already planning for 2012 in 2012. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things once I get back to DC next week. Hopefully my travel schedule won’t be as hectic the next few months (I’ve been on the road 110 days so far this year) and I’ll be able to get back into a routine. So whatever I do in these next five months will prepare me next year, which is really what this whole health regimen is supposed to be about, staying active over the long term.

Oh, and no comment on going vegetarian by July. I just finished off a box of chicken nuggets from the Guam Airport Burger King.