Monthly Archives: October 2002

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Work starts today on Route 4 in Yona, a mere six years after it was authorized. The entire two lane road just 50 meters from my house will be torn up and replaced with a modern 4 lane highway, with a center turn lane and sidewalks. I am pretty excited about this, the road has been among the worst on Guam for the last couple years. In just the last three months the road has really detiorated, with huge potholes opening up and long stretches were the top layer of pavement has washed off, exposing the road bed. While the traffic will suck on the road for probably the next year, I am looking forward to the construction work. Hopefully a number of people from Talofofo and Inarajan will divert to Cross Island road and lessen the traffic impact.

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It’s Wednesday; tonight is the Chamorro Village Night Market. This started a few years ago to boost the shops and food vendors in the Chamorro Village. Dancing, food, music, carabao rides, arts & crafts on sale, food, people, food, a farmer’s market, and oh, and did I mention food? I’ll probably stop and pick something up on the way home from work. I got a hankering for Jamaican Grill jerk chicken tonight. Check out some photos of previous Wednesday nights, courtesy of the Guam Visitors Bureau.

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Today’s big headline photo in the Pacific Daily News: The pumpkins have arrived! Just in time for Halloween. Only 250 – and only at PriceSmart! This story takes up 50% of the front page, relegating the other headline to just a couple paragraphs. After all, who cares about the FBI investigating the Government of Guam for corruption and mishandling of funds – again. Happens all the time.

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I tried to make a Mama Tita’s bake-at-home pizza last night. It was not a success. But from bad experiences comes good judgement. I now know that you bake these things with the cardboard base still under the pizza – otherwise the pizza melts through the rack and gets all over the inside of your oven.

It was a disaster, melted and burning pizza everywhere inside my oven. I had a friend over last night to watch a movie and scan some documents, and we both just stared in dismay at the debacle within the oven. We both looked at the mess and said it was a waste, then reached down and started picking half-cooked toppings off the mess.

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On my drive into work this morning I noticed that the smoke was no longer billowing from the landfill. I guess the surface fires are out. Last night the smoke blanketed low areas throughout the area, searing my throat and watering my eyes. The exotic sides of island living.

Speaking of island living, the New York Times has a poignant story about Hawaiians relocating to Las Vegas. The high cost of living on the island is driving many to the desert. Substitute the word Guam for Hawaii, and the article is virtually interchangeable with the situation here in the Marianas. People are leaving in droves for the Mainland, cheaper costs, cheaper housing, and more job opportunities.

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Well after three consecutive losses, my fantasy football team finally won a game this week. I am happy, doubly so since the other two teams in my division that I shared first place with lost to their opponents. That puts me in sole possession of first place in my division, and happy as a clam after a couple good trades this week. I got a solid roster now, and I think I am placed to make a solid run in the last half of the season for a playoff berth. Since the prize is now over $500, I am pretty interested in winning the league.

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The Ordot dump, Guam’s only landfill, is on fire once again. The whole thing is a terrible situation, Guam’s greatest environmental disaster. The landfill should have been closed over a decade ago, but no one has the political will to open a new one. The politicians just talk endlessly about what to do, but never make any decisions. The EPA has sued GovGuam to close the dump, it regularly catches fires and it’s leaking pollutants into the groundwater.

The struggle to close the dump is a large, tangled mess. A large part of the problem is the NIMBY effect – “Not In My BackYard.” Nobody wants a new landfill near them and no senators are willing to champion the issue for fear of political suicide. A new landfill site was selected on the western end of the island, in a relatively unpopulated area near the Guatali River Valley. However, upon further study most of the land was determined to be on Navy property and not available for GovGuam’s use. So that plan is in hiatus.

The other major issue in creating a new landfill is the incinerator debacle. The law mandating the creation of the new landfill includes a section on the creation of an incinerator to burn a large part of the waste material before placing the ashes in the landfill. The government signed a contract with a contractor to build and maintain the incinerator and landfill. The plan was fundamental sound; the incinerator would be a waste to energy generator, supplying much needed electricity from the burning of trash to supplement the island’s power needs. However the contract has one major caveat: it stipulates that GovGuam supply a minimum amount of waste for incinerator or else we must pay a fine to the company. Many have pointed out this as a major stumbling block for the finalization of the contract, to say nothing of the protestations about the construction of an incinerator.

Personally I feel the incinerator is a good idea for Guam. It would drastically reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill. Combined with an aggressive recycling program, the island’s waste troubles could be eliminated. As for the minimum waste clause in the contract, Guam could make arrangements to take the waste from the CNMI, Yap and Palau for a fee to meet the quota. All these islands are also facing a landfill crisis, especially Saipan. Their dump at Puerto Rico is literally falling into the sea just north of the port. Guam could arrange for contracts to accept the waste from these islands and burn it in our incinerator. I will admit this isn’t a perfect solution, but given the realities of modern life I think this is the best possible solution for Guam.

Read the articles I linked to above; many more are available on the web. This is an issue near and dear to everyone on Guam. I woke up this morning with the smell of burning tires for the dump filling my house. I pity the poor souls that actually live next to the festering mass.

On a related trash note, my own personal pile of trash continues to grow outside my house. Trash collection is at a virtual standstill, not because of the fire at the dump, but because GovGuam’s fleet of trash trucks has been reduced to only 9 out of 35 vehicles. Of course nobody bothered to order replacement parts, or even notify the public until the trash just started piling up. I am luckier than most; my landlady owns a condo with private trash pickup, so we took a couple loads of trash over to that dumpster over the weekend.

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I took a little excursion to the beach today. The fourth Micronesian Cup outrigger challenge was held today the the Outrigger Beach Hotel and Resort in Tumon. While I have lapsed from the paddling routine, I thought it would be good to check out this event. The first Micro Cup was held on Guam in 1999, then it went to Saipan in 2000 and Palau in 2001. Numerous teams from Australia, Hong Kong, Saipan, Palau and Japan are participating in the races, making this a truly international event. This morning was the sprints, the Micro Cup will culminate tomorrow with the open ocean distance race. I think it’s going to be a 10 mile race from Boat Basin to Camel Rock, then north along the coast to Hospital Point and back to Boat Basin.

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I got wind of a good deal for travel last night. I was told by a friend at dinner last night that Northwest is offering a special deal for Guam and Saipan residents: $239 round trip to Hawaii plus 20,000 bonus miles; or $199 to Tokyo plus 10,000 bonus miles. I just checked out the offer on Northwest’s Guam page. The offer is actually Hawaii for $239 and 20,000 frequent flyer miles, or Tokyo for $199 and 10,000 frequent flyer miles. This is still a good offer and I might take them up on the offer, but it certainly isn’t as good as what I originally thought.

I really want to get off Guam for Thanksgiving. Hawaii would be nice, but I am itching to get some new stamps in my passport. Maybe that deal to Tokyo; I could spend a few days in Japan. Another possibility is Hong Kong; a good friend of mine will be in Hong Kong for most of November visiting family; She’s already suggested I join her for a few days. Last time I was there was 1999, but I seriously doubt Continental is offering any good deals right now. They seem to specialize in applying the screws to Guam residents and wringing every possible dollar out of this region. Ah the joys of a monopoly!

Oh I take that back. Continental is offering a good deal to Manila right now; only $295 round trip. Of course the State Department just issued a travel advisory for US citizens to stay out of the Philippines right now.

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My friend Chris woke up a couple nights ago to a harrowing sight: a SUV hurtled into the utility pole outside his house a little after midnight. The driver of the Isuzu Trooper died, two others are still in the hospital. Turns out drugs and alcohol weren’t a factor in this fatality; something different for a change.

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There’s this dog I pass everyday on my morning commute. She’s old and haggard and doesn’t look like she has a lot of life left in her. Everyday she sits in the exact same spot alongside Route 4 in Chalan Pago, watching the traffic pass her by. I first noticed her about four months ago, sitting out there at the end of a driveway. Her fixed stare down the road was a little unnerving.

On Monday this old dog was joined by a new white dog, and a peculiar drama has started to unfold. Traffic Watcher was obviously disturbed by Whitey’s appearance; as I hurled past on Monday she was lying in the driveway, barking furiously at this new arrival. I got the sense that she was too old to get up and chase this interloper away. On Tuesday Whitey was there again, this time considerably closer. Traffic Watcher has the quintessential “hang dog” look on her face as she stared not at her beloved traffic, but at this new intruder. Today the new dog was even closer. I fear for Traffic Watcher’s future. Will she survive this slow usurpation?

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I feel like I just fell into a time warp. I am re-running all the queries I built in California on a different database. It’s a little bit boring.

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Yesterday I went online to purchase my tickets for Cairns next month. I was flabbergasted. The price for the ticket tripled in the space of one week. I guess Continental realized that it was a long weekend and people might want to actually travel somewhere. That or they realized people were cancelling their trips to Bali, so they jacked the rate up on the other routes to compensate. I don’t know their reasons, but I do know the upshot for me: I’ll be sitting at home watching TV Thanksgiving weekend instead of scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, exploring the Daintree Rainforest or any of the other activities I was looking forward to enjoying. Thanks Continental.

Oh, and needless to say I did not manage a trip to Saipan over the weekend. I worked around the house instead. Maybe I should go to Saipan for Thanksgiving? Maybe for my birthday? We’ll see. Continental will probably triple the rates on that route too.

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It’s been over a week now since the bombing of the Sari Club in Bali. The initial shock has worn off for me. It was unsettling to think that a place I frequented a number of times has been bombed out of existence. I am still dismayed, especially for the Balinese. Such a warm and friendly people, and they are the ones that will suffer the most from this violence.

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I ended up watching Spy Games last night on TV. I sat down with my pizza and came across the beginning of this film on the tube. It was an engaging action thriller.

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Jesus, I am tuckered out. I just spent a really busy afternoon. I water blasted the roof, the upper deck the lower patio and the kitchen porch. Sheesh, put a fork in me, I’m done. Plus I ran errands in the morning to the bank, my ISP, the auto parts store, and the post office before heading home to work on my car for a couple hours. It just turned 8:00 and I just got in from the yard. Oh yeah, I raked the cut grass into piles of mulch.

Time to eat some pizza, drink a couple beers, read some of my current book, and listen to KPRG or Radioparadise. I was thinking about heading out earlier this afternoon, but I’m too tired right now. And once I get this pizza inside of me, I’ll be very loathe to move.

Pizzas ready!

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Well, yesterday was interesting. I visited the optometrist for the first time in almost three years. The verdict? My eyes are still 20/20 and in good shape. The optometrist was curious about the shape of my eye since the LASIK procedure I received in 1999. My record has charts taken at the time of the LASIK that showed my before and after tomographic maps of my eyes. He wanted to check how the current tomography of my eye has changed in the nearly four years since the procedure. Unfortunately, the interface between the tomographic scanner and the computer was not functioning correctly. He promised to have me back once the system is corrected and performing normally.

The final step in the appointment was dilation and a fundus examination. Basically he put numbing drops in my eyes to relax my iris and dilate my eyes wide open. (Just thinking about it right now is making my eyes water.) Once they were dilated fully, he was able to examine the interior of my eye for defects or retinal detachment. The actual examination took just a few minutes; the hard part was the 4 hours afterwards when I couldn’t see a damn thing because my eyes were so dilated. I ended up sitting in my office the rest of the afternoon with my sunglasses on, trying to focus on the monitor with little success. Luckily the effects were diminished by about 5:30 and I could safely drive home. I stayed a little later, just so I could avoid driving into the setting sun.

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I left work early yesterday. I wasn’t feeling well, and frankly I was worried for my health. I was all woozy and lightheaded, and my heart was racing like crazy. I suspect it was high blood pressure or something. I went home and laid down for about three hours, that cleared it up. Other suggested theories were fatigue or jet lag from the trip, but I suspect the high blood pressure thing. I hate to admit it, but I am in a state of very poor health. It upsets me because I have always been a relatively active fellow. Football, running, hiking, paddling and biking were some of the favorite activities of mine. But I fell into a cycle of despondency and sloth in mid-2000; I stopped paddling, I stopped running, I stopped biking, I found the hikers I was spending time with offensive, so I stopped hiking, and I begged off football because I wasn’t in the best shape and had no health insurance. All these things I stopped doing and I just slipped into bad health and increasingly worse shape. Now it’s been over two years since I stopped all that stuff and time is catching up with me. I need to rejoin these activities, but I keep procrastinating. Mostly because work sucks the life right out of me; I just want to come home and sleep at night, forget doing anything else. That is the crucial obstacle I need to overcome. More energy, more time.

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Talked to the doctor this morning. I have tennis elbow. And it hurts. I need to go looking for some sort of strap to fasten to my elbow to put pressure on the tendon. I’ll try K-Mart at lunch and see if they have what I need. If not, then a trip to Cruz Pharmacy should set me up. Either way it’s going to be a while before the pain subsides. I was hoping for a shot or something to dull the pain.

After stopping to see the doctor, I paid a quick visit to our Optical department. My sunglasses lost their nose pad during my trip and I needed them repaired. I walked out of there with my sunglasses repaired, and an appointment for tomorrow afternoon with my eye doctor. It’s been a few years since my last visit, and I am curious to see what my vision is now. Since the LASIK surgery in ’99, I almost forget that I once wore glasses and sunk a large piece of cash into frames every year. Now my visits are occassional, yearly updates and the only glasses I concern myself with are sunglasses.