I am safe and warm, enjoying a white Christmas in St. Louis with my parents and family. Enjoy your holidays and all the best for a safe and happy 2003.
Obviously, the typhoon was bad. Very bad. I am leaving Guam for the mainland on Sunday, I will update more once I reach civilization. Suffice to say that power, water, phone, and gasoline are all non-existant at this point. The storm left Guam a disaster area. I’ve never seen it this bad in 10 years on the island.
Till next week, adios…
Amazing. The power is still on at 10:15 a.m. Winds are expected to hit 70-90 mph by noon and intensify until the eye hits around 5:00 p.m. That means the bad weather will continue for most of the night. Lovely. Nothing sucks more than a typhoon at night. Winds are sustained 125 mph right now with gusts to 160 mph. This is a bad typhoon – it’s just like Paka all over again.
The television is only showing taped programs. That means they brought down the earth station and stowed the dish. The same thing just happened on KPRG, and they went off the air for a few minutes as the tape ran out and the guys were outside bringing down the dish. This is going to be a BIG TYPHOON.
The weather has shifted today. Yesterday’s bright and sunny afternoon is gone. Dawn brought leaden skies and winds. The wind has shifted direction too, coming at me from the the north/northwest instead of east/northeast. The first indicator or cyclonic activity. Current forecasts predict Typhoon Pongsana will skirt us to the east on its northward track. Unfortunately Saipan is athwart the storm track now. I hope it misses them too. They need a typhoon like a hole in the head.
In a flurry of activity I broke out the generator and tested it out, then oiled and loosened the typhoon shutters. I expect to put up the other shutters later this evening, but I will hold off on that. I keep hoping the storm will spare us. I don’t want another Paka.
I guess people want to pad their pockets at the expense of others around the world. Always have, always will. This is why we’re doomed as a species.
One word: TYPHOON!!
Barring the passage of Typhoon Pongsana, I intend to start Les Miserable, do some laundry and house cleaning, piddle around on the computer, and otherwise just veg out. I need it.
This morning’s prediction for Pongsana indicates that it will pass east/northeast of Guam and Saipan. It’s a part of life here, everybody keeps and eye on the storm and makes their own judgement when to hunker down and batten the hatches. I am hopeful this cyclone will pass harmlessly, but I still got gas in the jeep, extra gas for the generator, made sure the typhoon shutters are loose and smooth running, took an inventory of the contents in my freezer, made sure the generator fired up, and picked up loose crap from around the house. Since I spent a couple days last weekend clearing brush and trimming trees, the foliage should present no problems. I need to pull the yard furniture inside the house, but I’ll wait for that. Hopefully the typhoon won’t hit and I can relax this weekend. It’s been a tough week at work and I could use the rest.
- More Shenanigans at the Airport – Seems the airport recently allowed a number of employees to resign, cash out their accumulated leave, then rehired the employees at the same pay grade. The positions were never announced, no other applications were taken and the employees faced no other applicants for the job. Airport Executive Manager Gerry Yingling defended this policy by saying that everybody else was doing it, so the airport did it too. Of course this is the guy that last week was defending his government credit card expenses at strip clubs as culturally acceptable here on Guam. This comes just days after the revelation that the airport is paying the salaries of 70 employees that should have lost their jobs a year ago when their agency was disbanded.
- Fraud and Payroll Abuse at the Prison – With what’s turning out to be a regular occurrence, the public auditor released another audit damning another GovGuam agency. This time the Department of Corrections was cited for repeated abuse of overtime and hazardous pay for corrections officers, at times tripling the base salary of prison guards. Most troubling is the lack of corroborating documentation that all these extra hours were actually worked. The warden at the prison violently defended his honor on KUAM News Monday night, pulling out a shiv and making predictions of violence if his staff did not continue to get this extra pay.
- GovGuam to Reduce Holidays – In a stunning display of intelligence, the Guam Legislature yesterday voted to reduce the number of GovGuam Holidays from 16 to 10. It’s about time. GovGuam workers receive an inordinate number of holidays. Perhaps this was acceptable at one time, but it just promotes waste and abuse now. November sported four holidays for GovGuam this year, All Soul’s Day, Election Day, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving. I work in the private sector and I only get 9 holidays. From New Year’s to Memorial I get none at all, during that same 5 month stretch GovGuam has 5 holidays.
- Low Water Pressure Continues – Guam Waterworks just can’t seem to keep the water flowing. This has been a problem for years; it reached critical meltdown shortly after Typhoon Chata’an in July. Some villages are without water for months now. Asan is particularly hard hit. School has been cancelled at Southern High School time and again due to no water. Waterworks lacks the money to do anything permanent about these outages, and no planning at all is done for future demand. This will reach crisis proportions before long. I caught a report on KUAM a couple weeks ago that showed how water from Asan Springs is going to waste, running down to the sea through storm sewers because Waterworks has stopped treating the water from this spring. And the very village this spring is located within has no water pressure. It’s a disgrace.
- Convicted Felon Still in Office – Jonathan Toves still sits on the school board, and no action is underway to remove this guy from office. In order to oust him a recall election needs to be held and two thirds of those that voted for him must choose to get rid of him. Looks like apathy wins this time as nobody has the time or energy to mount a petition drive to hold the special election. Score one for the felon.
- Feds Seize Department of Education Documents – a story broke a couple months ago about how the Department of Education had dozens of brand new air conditioners sitting in storage while students sweltered in classrooms. Now it looks like the Feds are interested in how all those air conditioners were procured. I suspect another scandal brewing over this one.
- More Dirt on Department of Education – Another DOE story that’s hit the headlines concerns several promotions given to DOE employees that were close relatives of DOE’s director and chief superintendent. These promotions were all approved last month on Election Day (a holiday – see above), and they came after DOE informed teacher’s that there was no money to pay for merit increases owed to the teacher’s.
- Terra Cotta Soldiers to Highlight Exhibit – Finally some good news. An exhibit opens December 15th at the DFS Galleria featuring the renowned terra cotta soldiers of ancient China. Cool. That’s on my must-see list.
- Batten Down the Hatches – Looks like a tropical storm or typhoon will head towards Guam by this weekend. Great, more lousy weather. Hope it doesn’t turn into a typhoon. That would be a repeat of Typhoon Paka in 1997. That storm ruined Christmas for a great many people.
Well that’s it. I am trying to reference stories beyond the PDN, specifically on KUAM and Marianas Variety, but both sites present difficulties. KUAM has a nice Google Search capability, but they only keep archivesof the television broadcasts. I’d prefer the text, not the streaming video. And Marianas Variety doesn’t seem to have anything beyond the current stories on the front page. Until that happens I am loathe to post any links to Marianas Variety. That sucks, since Marianas Variety has a number of quality editorials and regional coverage that I’d love to link.
I can’t believe it. I just finished up a project I’ve been working on for months. Literally months. Since August. Every day, every evening. But it’s done now. Complete. Verified. Delivered with certitude.
Boy that’s a big monkey off my back.
Before the holidays are over I’d like a couple goodies for my computer:
- Scanner – I own a scanner, but it’s junked. Don’t work no more. Makes it hard to scan photos – actually impossible.
- USB Card – Seems like all the scanners I look at are USB based, so I need to stick one of these cards in my G3.
- Digital Camera – Been wanting one of these for a long time, and since I’m already getting a USB card for the G3…
This isn’t an actual wish list. I’m going to buy these goodies myself and use my company allowed Personal Choices Computer Benefit to get reimbursed. That’s a handy little benefit the company provides. I’m looking at using Cyberian Outpost for the first time in three years to make the purchase. Since they don’t ship free to Guam anymore, I’ll just send it to St. Louis and my parent’s house, then forward the package via US Mail to Guam.
Speaking of computer benefits, last night David was saying he wants a new laptop before he leaves for New Zealand, and that he really likes the Dell laptops. Dude, looks like I can help him with that purchase via our company’s computer purchase program. I won’t charge him anything extra for it, but I can put it on my credit card and earn some miles easily.
I watched this film by Richard Linklater last night called Waking Life. I rented this movie over a month ago and never watched it, so when I hit Blockbuster last week I decided to rent it again. The movie is entirely animated, though it is rotoscope animation; live action footage digitally traced over to create the animation. The movie pulses and throbs constantly but the animation is only a minor aspect of the film, used to accentuate the dream state. The focal point of the film is a series of conversations, diatribes, soliloquies and rants on the nature of life, freedom, death, literature, film making, vengeance and death. The first hour of the film blew me away, animated people just sitting around talking, that’s all this movie is about. As the thin possibility of a plot slowly resolved, I started to lose interest. I could see where the film was heading when the conversations started to focus on a particular idea.
I need to watch the movie again this evening, possibly with a little herbal enhancement. It stirred my mind with ideas and possibilities, something that doesn’t happen too often with Hollywood films.
I inherited a MiniDisc Walkman last night from my friend David. He just gave it to me saying it’s been gathering dust in his closet. If he ever needs it again, I agreed to gladly return it. He kept all his MiniDisc’s, but he passed along the microphone audio jack along with the Walkman. This is cool little gadget for recording conversations and interviews, though I need to pick up some blank MiniDiscs first. I know David used it effectively during his field work in Palau several years ago, hopefully it will incite me to record some conversations with family and friends. A little voice archive for the ages. A quick perusal of the internet has shown a number of MiniDisc oriented sites. I hope I can find what I want online, music, blank discs, accessories, and information on how to use this new toy.
Spent about two hours last night at one of Guam’s best kept secrets: The Marianas Trench. No, this Trench is not the actual deep water abyss, it is an excellent little Thai restaurant and bar. I recently started hanging out there for happy hour. It offers a number of attractions for me; it’s just across the street from my office, the jukebox is free, the pool table is large and only a buck, and the food is incredible. Really. It’s one of the best Thai places on Guam. I left there with my mouth on fire, contentedly smacking my lips. I’ll be going back for more.
I’m in the driver’s seat! A solid victory last week and today clinched my position in the playoffs and as division leader in the fantasy football league. I am sitting in the driver’s seat heading into next week’s final regular season game. I can pick and choose my opponent for the first round of the playoffs, thereby increasing my chances of making it to our SuperBowl. I can taste the money already.
Movies – I watched a couple movies over the last few days; some surprisingly good, other disappointingly bad. First the good: Y tu mam� tambi�n was good, certainly nothing wrong lots of hot sex, though the plot was a tad predictable. Hell really predictable. But I enjoyed it at the time. The Time Machine was a special effects laden bit of fluff, but then that was exactly what I expected it to be. It was loosely based on H.G. Wells seminal work, though it owed a great deal more to the 1960 version directed by George Pal. It passed a couple hours in an agreeable manner, and the heroine was certainly easy on the eyes.
On the disappointing side I received Angels & Insects on Friday from Netflix. I was expecting more. God, it was difficult to watch the movie. It obviously was made with a great deal of artifice, but the metaphors are blunt and wear thin quickly. Yes, yes, yes, I understand. The civilized world is more savage than the Amazon. La dee dah. Yawn. It’s going back tomorrow. A waste of my time. And it got such good reviews. I guess there’s no telling for taste.
Magazines – My first Utne Reader finally arrived in the mail on Friday. About time. I subscribed back in late September. This is a common problem with magazines here on Guam. In fact Friday’s mail also include my new Rolling Stone, from September 5th. So I have a pile of magazines to read; Utne, Outside,, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Macworld, and Archaeology. I find that my magazine reading has slackened as I become more addicted to blogs and the daily ruminations of a dozen or so web logs I follow. Or maybe I am just getting bored with my magazines and need to find a new collection to interest me.
Books – Still reading Hardy’s Return of the Native, though I expect to finish that either today or tomorrow. Then it’s on to Les Miserables and Gravity’s Rainbow. Some dense reading to finish up the year.