Sunday, April 28, 2013

Travel, Travel, Travel

My travel schedule so far this year has been pretty light.  In January, I spent a week in Suva, Fiji with conservationists from Saipan, Kiribati, Pohnpei, and the United States facilitating a shark conservation workshop I dubbed Pacific Shark School.  And yes, that photo is staged.

In February, Edz and I took the train up to New Haven, Connecticut to participate in the Yale School of Forestry's Shark Talks hosted by Shark Stanley and emceed by yours truly.  On the way up we stopped in New York City and met with government officials from the Marshall Islands.  The next day we helped the Yale kids (and I can call them kids because they are a full 10 years younger than me) with a Shark Stanley outreach event at an aquarium.

I spent the first two weeks of March in Bangkok, Thailand as a delegate at the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  I had the privilege of serving as an advisor on a country delegation, a first for me.  As for Shark Stanley, the idea and the strategy were mine; the art and the grinding work were someone else's.  And the charisma belonged to Leah and Onon.  I was just the aggressive husky dude.

I had zero travel planned for April but had to make an emergency trip down to Florida.  Surprise!  There goes my frequent flier miles.  As April showers give way to May flowers I my find travel schedule jumping into overdrive.  I've leaving for Palau in about 6 hours and then I'm stopping in Yap on my way back to DC.  As soon as I get back, I have to pack up and move to our new apartment, which will herald in a new era of city living that Edz and I are looking forward to, but then I am off to Hawaii for half a week.  There's a good chance I'll visit Pohnpei, Saipan, Fiji, hopefully Guam, and definitely Hawaii again before the end of the summer.  Bring it on.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Parable of the Sinking Boat

I enjoyed Ray Agulto’s parable of the sinking boat (My Mother or My Son, Monday, April 15, 2013). In the story, when Ray's boat sinks, he sacrifices his son so he can save his mother, rationalizing that he only has one mother and he can always make more children. However, Ray forgot to mention several key points from the story. You see, his mother was responsible for maintenance of the boat, but for years used the maintenance money on travel and beach barbeques. Worse, she borrowed against the value of the boat, which was registered to the children, so that she could build several mansions around the island. When the boat sank, not only did the boy drown, but the surviving kids were stuck with the debt, too. When they got back to shore, Ray and his mom continued on doing what they had been doing for decades, having learned nothing from the tragedy.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Eden and Melody's Big Day in the City

I took Wednesday off to spend the day with Edz and our friends Matt and Melody from Saipan.  I first met Matt in Saipan in 2007 and Edz worked with Melody for several years.  There are 13 photos posted in this blog.  There are 31 more posted on the Saipan Blog Facebook Page.

Our morning started off with a bit of shoe shopping in Vienna.  I needed a new pair of flip flops and Edz got some shoes that I don't think she'll ever be able to walk in, but she claims matches one of her dresses.  After shopping we took the Metro into the city and got off at McPherson Square to have lunch at the food trucks.  Edz was not impressed and said they were just like the turo-turo places in Manila.

For the third time since she moved here we went to the White House.  I'm not sure if Barry was home, he may have been busy trying to take away everyone's guns or something.  You may notice that I am wearing a most excellent pair of Tevas.  I've never owned Tevas before, but now that I do, I feel like a true liberal.

Our next stop was the National Museum of Natural History.  You might be surprised to know that this is one of Edz' favorite places in America, in fact we have already visited three times.  No, we're not there to see the dinosaurs.  She likes looking at the diamonds.

Matt met up with us in the afternoon once his conference ended and we rented Capital Bikeshare bikes and rode them around the Washington Mall.  The bikes are quite expensive if you take them for a long ride, but I learned afterwards that you can save money by switching bikes every 30 minutes.

The cherry blossoms were in full bloom glory, unlike only five days prior when they were just starting to come out.  This is the first time I've seen the blossoms here and it was amazing.  And we got to share the experience with half a million of our closest fellow Americans.

Renting bikes is definitely the best way to see the cherry blossoms.  Either that, or sitting on a blanket drinking beer.  But if you're going to move around, bikes are the way to go.  The bikes aren't that expensive and they let you see so much more of the city in a much shorter time.

The Washington Monument is covered with scaffolding while engineers try to fix the crack caused by the earthquake that happened a while back.  This is my attempt at hiding the scaffolding behind cherry blossoms.  In a way I kind of liked the scaffolding.  The thousands of millions of photos taken of it this year will clearly date the photos to 2013.

You see lots of photos out there with cherry blossoms coming into a frame from above with the Jefferson Memorial in the background.  This is my attempt.  I like it.

The FDR Memorial is my favorite memorial. If I'm ever president or do something important, that's the kind of tribute I want.  I like the idea of my life being represented by a park.

I think I read somewhere once that the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was designed with the cherry blossoms in mind.

From the MLK Memorial, we rode our bikes over to the Lincoln Memorial and then along the Reflecting Pool over to the World War II memorial.

The half of the WWII memorial that honors the war in the Pacific has the name of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam inscribed into it.  I like taking photos next to it with my friends from Saipan, Tinian, and Guam.  I think it's cool that my island is represented on the National Mall.  Not every American can say that about their hometown.

We ended the day with some shopping, ice cream, food, and beers in Georgetown.  I hope you enjoyed my photos!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

A Very Cherry Preview

Most of the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC have yet to bloom.  On Friday afternoon, 95% of the branches looked like this.  I think those are extended pentacles, or something.

Many of the trees had a few blossoms, but it was not what we were expecting.  Edz and I have been on serious blossom watch for about two weeks now.  Originally peak bloom was supposed to be March 31.  Then it was pushed back to April 3.  Then April 6.  Even the latest prediction was much too early.

But there are a few trees that are blooming.  One in particular just south of the Martin Luther King Memorial was in full bloom, but there were a few others that were half bloom.

And by zooming in close enough you could create the illusion that it was peak bloom.  Not so much.

Edz and I have plans to go back on Wednesday.  Hopefully the blooms will be just hitting their peak. Also, we'll have some friends in town.  Photos galore to follow on Facebook, I'm sure.

Speaking of friends, fellow Rollins and LCV alum Steve Leopoldo was in town and inspired this very cherry preview.  I haven't seen Steve since the summer of 2005 and it was amazing to catch up.  So much has happened since then.  Both of us are close to hitting the decade mark in our chosen careers, we're both married, and Steve's a daddy.

I Am the Fatty

I wish I could write more about my running successes.  In fact, I wish I could write about my running.  I pretty much stopped exercising after winning my age group at last year's Tagaman.  You'll notice I haven't written about 2013 in 2013.

Oh well.  My waist line has suffered as a result.  I'm tipping the scales at close to 230 pounds these days  and I had to go out and buy some fat clothes.  I can no longer button up my 34 inch waist jeans.

Now that the weather is warm, it's time to start an exercise program again.  Today was beautiful, so I went for a three mile jog late this afternoon.  It was an uncomfortable slog clocking in at 34:34.  I've got a few miles to get under my belt before I'm back at 9 minute miles.

Travel has been the hardest hurdle for my exercise schedule.  Last year I logged about 150,000 frequent flier miles, which is half way to moon or six times around the equator.  Exercising while on business travel is hard because of unfamiliar jogging routes, making time, and jet lag.  Exhaustion, catching up with work and the wife, and jet lag kill me on the way back.  Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Well, at least I've logged 3 miles this year.

Get Over Yourself Already, John

The Marianas Variety reported on Monday ('Residents Urged to United Against Militarization of Pagan") that John Gourley continues to make public statements lamenting the lack of a visitors center for the Mariana Trench Monument. Mr. Gourley has conveniently forgotten that for years he has served on the Marine Protected Advisory Committee to the government agency charged with managing the marine portion of the monument. In fact, if I am not mistaken, he was also the chairman for a while. When one points a finger, you'll find there are three fingers pointing back at oneself.

Delegate Gregorio Sablan earmarked $220,000 to design and build a visitors center in 2009. Local politics and the previous governor stonewalled the spending of that money. Perhaps Mr. Gourley could ask the Department Lands of Natural Resources for an update on that project?

The new governor has a full plate cleaning up the mess his predecessor left, but hopefully has room for this item. I just hope the $1/4 million from NOAA Sanctuaries wasn't spent on "education" and "workshops."