Monthly Archives: November 2002

Memorial for Ron Strong and the Polynesian Dance Show

Last night my friend Dianne hosted a memorial service for her late husband Ron. She convened about 17 friends together at the Fish Eye Marine Park in Piti to view the underwater observatory and enjoy the dinner buffet and show. Ron and his company provided the environmental impact study for the observatory that was crucial in getting the project approved, so Dianne thought it fitting to get together there. The observatory is located in the largest of the Piti Bomb Holes, pockets of deep water within the reef offshore of the village of Piti. Local legend attributes their creation to bombs dropped in World War II, but the bomb holes are actually the remains of collapsed caves, similar to Shark’s Hole north of Tanguisson Beach. The observatory, which looks like a flying saucer hovering above the water, is reached by a long causeway above the reef flat. Once inside, a spiral staircase descends twenty feet below the waves to the observation deck. Large porthole windows located around the circumference allow for viewing the fish, shrimp, sponges and anemones in their natural habitat.

After convening at the observatory and watching the sunset, our group migrated back to the the main building on shore. This building houses a gift shop, several large aquariums, the buffet dinner and the Polynesian dancing show. The food was onolicious, a tantalizing seafood buffet, complete with sushi and sashimi. Once we ate our fill, the show began. The dancing was great, and it was like visiting an old friend. The show, the musicians, the performers, the entire act was lifted from the venerable Tahiti Rama beach bar in Tumon. Tahiti Rama was the quintessential beach bar in Guam, a favorite watering hole and destination for many years. They had a great island dance show on Friday nights for a couple years, highlighted by Tana’s fire dance and the owner’s guitar playing and running commentary. Several years ago Tahiti Rama was leveled by hotel expansion in Tumon and I always wondered what happened to the owner and his great Polynesian show. Well he relocated to Fish Eye. And the show is better than ever.

Post Holiday Analysis

My first Thanksgiving dinner was a rousing success. Just a few friends and neighbors came over and enjoyed the deep fried turkey, and everyone was amazed at how good the bird actually tasted. Tender and juicy, no oily taste at all. I am actually frying another bird this evening for some more friends.

Besides the food, the company was excellent. A small group convened at my house and we spent the day playing backgammon, drinking, talking and taking some pictures. The party kicked up a notch in the evening with the addition of a couple more people, one providing some herbal entertainment. I don’t think the party really died down until two in the morning. I’m not exactly sure though, I got tired at 1:30 and went to sleep. Some folks were still up.

Looking back, this was definitely my best Thanksgiving since 1999, and a great way to kick off the holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving

Allow me to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving, full of family, friends and fine food.

Looks like I will be hosting the holiday festivities at my place today. Fine with me, it’s going to be a low-key affair anyway. I’m frying up a turkey, making some Stove-Top stuffing, a loaf of bread, and some brownies. I ain’t sure what other people are bringing. I might toss up a salad too, I need to use up the rest of those greens before they go bad. Should be a pretty good spread.

The Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past

This morning I got to thinking that it has been ten years since I shared Thanksgiving with anyone in my family. That got me thinking about where I was for each Thanksgiving since I left St. Louis in 1987 for Beloit. There’s a couple I don’t exactly recall, the one in 1991 and the one in 1988

  • 1987 – First from Beloit, drove to Chicago with Curtis Meyer, then down to St. Louis. Rigged the lights for Vianney’s Fall Theater production.
  • 1988 – Thanksgiving in Chicago with Nancy & CJ. Got a ride with Suss in his van, and it lost a wheel near the Belvedere Oasis. Spent hours at that oasis waiting for his dad to come rescue us. Nancy was terribly worried about my late arrival.
  • 1989 – Thanksgiving in Chicago with Nancy & CJ, met CJ’s proteg� Helen. Jem Ripley gave me a ride in his ’67 Mustang. Met his folks in Skokie, then drove down to Oak Park.
  • 1990 – Thanksgiving in Chicago with Nancy & CJ, in their new home. Took the bus this time.
  • 1991 – I honestly don’t remember. Maybe it was in Farmington at Gary’s?
  • 1992 – Went to Elgin, IL for the family get together at Rick & Karen’s. It was a tense weekend. I wasn’t happy in grad school, and my journey from Columbia to Chicago was via just about every back road and highway I could find. The entire weekend could be summed up as creepy.
  • 1993 – First Thanksgiving in Guam, ate dinner with Chris, James, Tillie and her family. Gave thanks that I was on a beautiful island.
  • 1994 – The Best Thanksgiving Ever. Beachside in Tamuning with David, Jenny, Brad and Craig. We had a bonfire on the beach after sunset, then all ended up at my place, content and sleepy.
  • 1995 – Turkey with the Goldbergs at Alupang Condos. First tasted Jason Goldbergs sweet potato souffl� – wow.
  • 1996 – Mid-afternoon turkey dinner with Jason Goldberg and his friends off Mamis Street in Tamuning. This was a bunch of Sandcastle dancers, I remember that vividly.
  • 1997 – The season of many turkeys. Ate a killer meal at Mel & Craig’s place in Agana Heights, turkey with all the trimmings. Everything done up like Martha Stewart. Then off to Tamuning for another meal with Craig, Darren and Cindy. I was hurting by the end of the night.
  • 1998 – Started with a mid-afternoon meal with David and the Tobi boys in Mangilao, then more turkey at the Koon’s place atop Nimitz Hill.
  • 1999 – Arrived back from Bali in the morning, then spent the evening with Mel & Craig. The infamous turkey carcass congee with Annie.
  • 2000 – House sitting for Mel & Craig, Annie was staying there as well. She went somewhere in Tumon, I was under the weather and moped around. I don’t think I even ate turkey that day.
  • 2001 – Kim & Suzanne hosted a dinner at their place, Cyrus & Jen, Steve & Katie and several other people were there. I fried a turkey! And it was good.
  • 2002 – Looks like I am hosting the party this year for a few friends. I am frying another turkey of course, those things are ‘da bomb!’

Headline Roundup

Just a quick one, the latest dish on a couple stories featured in the PDN:

  • Airport Expenses Audited – The public auditor last week revealed the results of an audit of the Guam International Airport spending habits. Her results? In 1999, the board of directors approved $97,382 in travel expenses. At the end of 1999, Gov. Carl Gutierrez released a secret memo, relieving the board of this oversight duty and giving full approval for expenditures with his appointed director, Gerry Yingling. During 2000 and 2001, the expenses soared to over $1,000,000 dollars, including over 150 trips for the governor, over 70 trips for the first lady, and expenses for strip clubs, lap dances, plane tickets for family members, health club memberships, massages and other questionable items. This is the exact same thing that happened over a year ago at the Guam Mass Transit Authority and other GovGuam agencies. The incoming governor vows this will not happen. [Yeah, right. Though Felix Camacho was the one spearheading the GMTA investigation. Maybe there is hope…]
  • Archdioceses Buys Hotel – The Archdioceses of Guam purchased the hotel across from my house on Ylig Bay. The Accion was a horrendous failure as a hotel. The Church plans to convert the property into a seminary and retreat center. [Better a seminary than another hotel. This is a great idea, and the Church picked the place up for a steal.]
  • GovGuam Revenues Plummet – No surprise here. Thousand laid off, spending less and less, the deparment of Revenue & Taxation announced that 2002 receipts were down 27% from 2001. And things were already bad in 2001. That’s bad. [Unless you happen to have a goverment agency credit card…]

Telecommute

I can get used to this. I think I am actually more productive working from home. It’s been non-stop since 8:00 this morning, and I am not tired or cranky. Usually I have a serious headache by this time of the day, but that’s not happening. I am sitting at my computer and working diligently, but I am also listening to Monday Night Football on the television. I worked through my lunch, and I ain’t even suffering from the mid-afternoon siesta urge. This is cool. I wonder if I can get away with this more often?

Car Troubles

Today I am working from home. It’s not bad. No morning commute, I can listen to the radio as loud as I want, I’m sitting here in shorts and t-shirt. This telecommuting thing is a good idea. I should try and do it more often.

Unfortunately, this pleasure of home bound work is due to automobile problems. Funny, I think my Isuzu knows I am thinking about getting a new vehicle. This morning I had a flat tire. Well not completely flat, but very low. I could probably head out and stop at the gas station a 1/2 mile up the road. I started up the engine and heard an ungodly racket. I think my clutch is burned up, and I can think of no better reason to buy a new car. The damn thing is just falling apart in front of my very eyes.

Perhaps the reason a new car has been on my mind lately was because I subconsciously suspected my vehicle was near death? The mind is a powerful thing, perhaps my unconscious knew something the rational mind didn’t comprehend. That could be, but it’s really a combination of factors:

  • No air conditioning in the Amigo
  • The extreme susceptibility of the soft top to theft and the elements
  • The age of my Isuzu – 14 years and counting
  • The brakes need work
  • The clutch needs to be replaced
  • The crappy fuel economy of the SUV
  • The rust that has literally exploded throughout the body in the last year

I guess all these factors combined add up to a new car for Tom. Probably the main impetus for auto replacement is the robbery three weeks ago. That was the third time the Isuzu was broken into, and I am just sick of it. I want a secure automobile, with air conditioning, that runs well, and gets good mileage. The urge is growing. I guess I’ll spend the weekend auto shopping in earnest. And getting the Amigo fixed.

More Crock Potting Goodness

Last night I made another delicious crock pot meal. This time I dropped Angus beef boneless rib fingers into the crock pot, poured in a couple cans of stewed tomatoes, some mushrooms, a can of pinto beans, an onion and lots of fresh rosemary. When I got home last night the house was filled with the divine aroma of rosemary. While the beef was okay, the broth was incredible. The rosemary infused the tomatoes and it was amazing. I was happy to just dip my home made onion bread in the juice and eat that for dinner.

There’s quite a number of sites devoted to crock pot recipes. I am intrigued and look forward to trying some of these culinary creations. I also dug up an interesting recipe for rib fingers. Since I love Thai food, this has just become a future menu item.

Hungry Hungry Hippos

A couple things to celebrate today: I got my ATM card and checks in the mail today, thanks Bankoh! Now I can have cash in my pocket again. Alleluia! To commemorate this fine day, I am going to eat lunch at Carmen’s today.

On the down side I got a phone call early Friday morning from American Express. Somehow, I am not sure how, my $10 payment to them last month bounced. I could have sworn that check cleared before I closed the old checking account. Anyway, I had to send off a check this morning to Amex for the $10 plus $29 penalty fee. That just chaps my hide. They even went so far as to deactivate that card account until the problem is cleared up.

Fantasy Football Update

Monday morning, time for another week of fantasy football here on Guam. The Zulus are looking pretty in the Easter Conference today, crushing the bottom placed team Wala’Au Pilau. After last week’s agonizing loss to Team Amy’s Lap by 4 points, this victory is a vindication. I can taste that prize already.

Wal-Mart

I’ve always tried to avoid Wal-Marts when I go shopping in the states, primarily because for personal reasons; I abhor the cultural vacuity of those giant megastores. Now I’ve found an good article that validates my choice: Wal-Mart is evil. Anti-union, forced labor, low wages, no health benefits. That’s what drives those low low prices that the American consumer craves, the exploitation and degradation of thousands of people. Henceforth, I shall shop at Wal-Mart no more.

Pounding

My heading is throbbing. Too much Scotch last night. Funny how I could spend nearly the entire waking day in a series of pubs and bars, not feel drunk the entire time, yet wake up this morning with a pounding headache. Anyway, time to take a nap and hope this dull ache goes away.

Just When I Thought it was safe to fly again.

A chilling article on Salon today (requires a Salon subscription.) One thing occurred to me as I read the article; if such an attack occurred on a commercial airliner, it would be a tremendous blow. In the past year I’ve often heard how al-Qaida seeks to turn back the clock, bring back the middle ages and Islamic supremacy. Crippling the airline industry would be a major step in that direction.

Weekend’s Here!

Finally – and here’s what on deck for me:

  • The 2003 Auto Show at Micronesia Mall – I am looking around for a new car, and this auto show should provide me with a good chance to check out a number of models, take some test drives and make comparisons.
  • The Laramie Project at UOG – Grim little play about Matthew Shepard’s murder in 1998 that is being put on by UOG students this weekend. Shows Friday and Saturday night. $5 admission. Beats watching TV.
  • Boonie Stomp – I don’t know if I’ll make the hike to Sigua Falls with DPR’s group tomorrow, but I’ll take a stab at it. At least I should hike to Tarzan Falls, my default hike when I can’t think of anywhere else to go. Maybe I’ll take the dogs too.
  • DVD’s – I got a couple DVD’s I need to watch, that ought to keep me busy. Mainly Croupier, I need to watch that.

Blustery

That describes the last 24 hours. Tropical Storm Haishen has certainly raised a ruckus on Guam. Strong gusts of wind and driving rain lasted until this sunrise this morning. I lost a large plastic Rubbermaid container that housed my scuba gear to the high winds. It overturned last night spilling my equipment across the lanai before rocketing into the railing and breaking into several pieces. Wow. The surf was immense this morning in Ylig Bay, and huge waves were crashing into the cliffs north of Pago Bay. Pretty cool stuff.

Local News Roundup

  1. The PDN continues to turn up more dirt on school board member and convicted felon Jonathan Toves. Toves was arrested in 1999 for impersonating a public health inspector and extorting money from island businesses. However the case was never brought to trial when the prosecuting attorney left the Attorney General’s office and no one picked up the case. [I heard about this months ago – from another friend of mine that works at an island bakery and called Public Health about this scam. I am betting this guy just got himself elected into another criminal charge – hopefully the AG’s office will reassign the case to another lawyer.]
  2. The imbroglio over the smoldering Ordot Dump continues:
    • Monday brought rumors of a settlement offer to make a lawsuit against Guam Resource Recovery Partners (GRRP) disappear.
    • The rumors were vehemently denied by Governor Carl Gutierrez, who laid blame for the situation at the feet of several legislators.
    • The Ordot landfill fire was finally put out.
    • Lawmakers met this week to discuss closing Ordot.
    • The Department of Public Works estimates $2.7 million is needed to close the facility.

    [This landfill crisis has gone on long enough. The Ordot landfill is literally a mountain of trash now. This environmental disaster needs to be the primary focus of the incoming administration and legislature.]

  3. Another good piece on Bali from Guam ex-pat Pamela Tibbs. [My heart is aching for Bali right now. The Balinese are suffering as a result of the October bombings, events that were largely beyond their control. I can think of nowhere on earth as special as Bali, and it pains me to think of what is in store for the island.]
  4. A new U.S. Attorney was nominated by George W. Bush.Leonardo Rapadas will replace Fred Black as the U.S. Attorney. A date for the change has not been set, since the nomination must be approved by the Senate first. [Mr. Black has done an excellent job as U.S. Attorney, let’s hope Mr. Rapadas will continue his excellent work. Rapadas worked on several high profile cases, so hopefully he won’t shy away from the government corruption and graft cases that have been Black’s forte.]

Rainy Day, Blown Away

A tropical depression is skirting Guam today. The winds are gusty, about 30 to 40 knots. Tropical Depression Haishen is expected to bypass Guam, but still upset the weather around the island. All my patio furniture is skittering around outside, and leaves and branches are scattered across the lawn.

My plans for Friday are shot, but I still think I’ll take the afternoon off tomorrow. It’s been a tough week. I was really frazzled when I got home last night. I needed some bourbon, a couple beers, and a nap to calm down.

My Head is Spinning

I am doing query after query after query after query after query. It’s like I am building a hall of mirrors, one that I delude myself to believe is reality. I am so tired. So damn tired. It shouldn’t be this hard to pull useful numbers out of our data warehouse.

Clouds and Confusion

Stargazing was a bust last night. I woke a little before 2:00 a.m. and went outside to discover thick milky clouds, suffused with silvery light from the lambent moon. I stayed outside for 45 minutes and saw nary a star the entire time. When I went back in and laid down to sleep, slumber eluded me. So I vacillated between sitting outside, hoping for a fortuitous break in the clouds, and surfing the ‘net. I finally drifted off to a fitful rest around 5:30 a.m. Never saw a single shooting star. I think that makes it four years in a row that the Leonids disappointed me.