Sunday, January 12, 2014

Books Read in 2014

The last couple of years I've kept a near complete list of the books I read.  Half way through the first month and I've already flown 10,000 miles and read three books.  The list is sure to grow as the year progresses.

by Rick Riordon
You probably saw that there was a new Percy Jackson movie last summer, but it's doubtful that you actually saw it.  House of Hades is the fourth book in the second series about Percy Jackson, and I'm about 25 years older than its average reader, which is somewhat embarassing.  Even so, I've enjoyed the second series more than the first and I'm looking forward to reading the last book where I'm sure nobody will die and the world will be saved.

by Orson Scott Card
Another movie book.  How about that?  When I saw the commercials for Ender's Game there was no doubt I was going to see it.  Then I heard all this talk that the author was a raging bigot and all liberals were supposed to boycott it.  That didn't happen.  A few weeks ago I saw one of my coworkers reading the book and asked if I could borrow it when she was done.  So in not paying for the book, I have stolen the words from the bigot author, thus negating the $30 Edz and I paid to see the movie in IMAX.  I am really disappointed that I did not learn about this book until I was 35.  It should be required reading for every single smart kid.  Ender's lessons on leadership and dealing with those ranked above him and below are fascinating (it's a military science fiction story).  There are two surprises towards the end of the book that are also in the movie, so I wasn't, er, surprised when I was reading the book, but I prefer that I saw the movie first.  

by Francis X Hezel
This book was only published a few months ago, but it should be required reading for anyone planning on doing work or living in Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and possibly a few other places.  No other book has ever picked apart and explained the cultures and people of Micronesia in such easily understood themes and anecdotes.  I learned a lot about myself from this book.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

10 Years of January

The Saipan Blog was not always called The Saipan Blog.  I got into blogging in 2004 because several of my friends were into it.  My first blog was terrible (I won't mention the name since it has long been deleted), and even got me fired.  The parlance at the time referred to it as being 'dooced.' 

I started the blog you are reading right now when I started the application process for the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme in Japan.  I called my new blog JET Applicant.  Not very inspired, I know.

I didn't get into the JET Programme, but I did move to Japan in November 2005.  Living in the town of Takaoka in Toyama prefecture, this blog came to be know as Livin' La Vida Takaoka.

Japan didn't work out.  I moved to Saipan a few short months after my father passed away and this blog became the Saipan Blog.

In honor of 10 years of blogging, I am going to do a look back on what I was doing during each of the 12 months during the last 10 years.  I will start with January.

In 2005 I was working two full time jobs.  I worked for the League of Conservation Voters in their Orlando office during the day and Roy's restaurant at night.  In January I took a few days off to drive up to Washington, DC with my good friend Steve Leopoldo to protest the reelection of George W. Bush.  Mostly this month I was waiting to see if I would get an interview for the JET Programme.

In January 2006 I was living in snowy Takaoka and had every intention to stay there for several years teaching English.  I spent my days trying to learn Japanese and soaking up all the little bits of amazing that make Japan the wonder that it is.  I really liked Japan, but the universe had other plans for me.

In January 2007 I was single and had a new best friend and partner in crime named Brad.  I had my Beautify CNMI! volunteer activities going full blast and I had just been hired by the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance as their first executive director.  I was a regular island boy.  And I made this video.  And someone in the White House read a letter I wrote, which I thought was very exciting at the time.

I started working for Pew in January.  I spent my last few days working for the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance while in Pohnpei.  In 2008 there was a thriving blogger community in Saipan and we had a lot of fun in those days before Facebook became popular.  This was the start of my third year in Saipan and I started to notice how transient the island's population is as many friends started leaving.  That's when I started thinking about leaving.

Having protested his second inauguration in 2005, on January 6, 2009, George W. Bush put pen to paper and declared the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.  Delegate Kilili was also sworn in as the Commonwealth's first representative in Congress.  After the declaration, I spent a few days in Florida with the family, came back up for President Obama's inauguration, and then spent a few days in Pohnpei at the Micronesians in Island Conservation Learning Network retreat.

After losing my bid to become mayor of Saipan, I decided to move back to the mainland.  One week after leaving I was the first person to call on Ben Fitial to resign I kept on fighting for the monument, although most people in Saipan didn't know about it.  But mostly I worked at adjusting to life back in the mainland.

This year I decided I was fat and wanted to do something about it.  Starting at 217 lbs. I set out to run 2011 miles in 2011.  I did pretty well until I started traveling.  I went to Guam and Saipan in January to help them pass their shark laws.  I also changed the url of this blog to

I published 70 blog posts in January 2011, but only 105 blog posts in all of 2012.  I posted only 7 in January.  I starting running again, this time calling it 2012 in 2012.  I did well enough in the beginning.

There was no 2013 in 2013.  I dropped off completely.  As did my blogging.  I posted only 3 times in January.  Edz and I were invited to Delegate Sablan's swearing-in ceremony and we both went to the inauguration and froze our tooshies off.  Much of my attention at work was focused on Shark Stanley and CITES.

This January I am in Pohnpei again.  Next weekend I'll be in San Diego.  I weigh 230 lbs. now, but that's probably because I haven't run regularly in a two and a half years, right around the time I became a married man.  I should really start exercising more.  I'm a manager on Pew's shark campaign now, and my life is so different from what it was 10 years ago.  I really miss Saipan.  I miss the beach, I miss my friends, and I miss the island lifestyle.  I marked four years in the mainland this month and I haven't lived somewhere longer than four years except for the 10 years I lived in Massachusetts as a child.  If Edz and I don't get up and move, we'll probably start to settle down.  That's a scary thought for me.

I have so few readers these days that I only expect John Gourley and my mother to read what I have written. But this has been a really fun exercise!.  I miss blogging as much as I used to, but Facebook, Twitter, and oh yes, my job and my family, take up much of my bandwidth these days.  Most of my thoughts end up on Facebook, but it is not as easy to look back on Facebook as it is with the blogs.  I think that's a strong argument for me to blog more.

I look forward to reminiscing on 10 years of Februarys with you next month.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Five Years a Monument

I marked the five year anniversary of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument by flying from Guam to Chuuk.

Five years on and there is still lots of confusion about this marine protected area.  Someone wrote a letter to the editor the day after the anniversary claiming that the CNMI had not been given jurisdiction of submerged lands surrounding the islands of Asuncion, Maug, and Uracas, which of course, it has.  The sumberged lands bill opened the area around the the islands to all methods of fishing, but also opened the door for co-management, so it is a mixed blessing it turns out is correct.  Holy shit!  Expect a blog about this.

There have been many benefits from the monument.  The CNMI has received recognition nationally and internationally, scientific interest in the trench has been reignited, and federally funded staff work in a federally funded office on Beach Road.  I wrote about some of these benefits in an editorial back in September.

I often wish I was on Saipan to fight the daily battles, but the burden to pass our natural heritage down to our children is not mine alone.  I am thankful for the Friends of the Monument who accept this responsibility as well.