Monthly Archives: April 2003

What’s Going On With Me

Ate an excellent crock pot meal tonight with Dianne. Chicken with artichoke hearts, olives and mushrooms, seasoned with fresh black pepper, thyme and curry. Fresh zucchini on the side, served on a bed of couscous, and washed down with a Fetzer Gew�rztraminer. Very good meal. I do love the crock pot. It is a wonderful thing, coming home to a tasty meal every time.

Now it’s time for a movie. I have a surfeit of videos and dvd’s, what with a bevy of Netflix selections arriving today and stopping off at Blockbuster during lunch.

Oh yeah. I also got a new sound card for my computer today, and my brand new cordless phone arrived. And it was a hell of a day at work, the Federal proposal for 2004 is due by Monday.

Sheesh! I need a vacation – and Continental is offering $350 round trip to Bali. Hmmm, I think I’ll call Horizon Travel tomorrow!

Crikey

Sorry for no updates yet today. Been extremely busy at work – it’s that time of year.

Today’s big story on Guam, brutal murder discovered in Maite on Tuesday morning. A workman stumbled on a dead man behind the MTO (Maids to Order) warehouse in Maite on Tuesday morning. The man was bludgeoned to death and his body dumped in the empty lot. Gruesome.

It gets worse. Police nabbed a suspect yesterday and he readily confessed to the crime. Norbert Keifer confessed to the crime and provided the details of the murder. Apparently Keifer and the victim were drinking at a nearby saloon, LG’s Place, and they ended up arguing. The argument spilled outside, and turned into a fight. Keifer picked up a concrete block and pummeled the victim senseless, dragged his unconscious body into a vacant house next door and proceeded to rob him. Then Keifer thought it would be a good idea to bugger the insensate victim. The unfortunate 47 year old victim awoke while Keifer was orally raping the man, and he bit Keifer’s ‘genitalia’ and fought with his assailant. The enraged Keifer picked up the concrete block and beat the man with it until he was a bloody pulp, then dragged the body behind the nearby MTO warehouse.

This is the first murder of the year, and a gruesome one at that. At least the killer confessed and spared us a long manhunt.

Dial Tone

Did I mention the mopes working on the road through Yona? I think I did. Well they managed to cut the trunk phone line today. I knew it would happen sooner or later. Guess it was sooner.

Apple’s Online Music Venture

So Apple announced a new online music service Monday. Songs can be downloaded for 99� apiece, and the catalog includes 200,000 tracks. Users will be able to download, burn and copy the music at will, without any of the cumbersome digital rights management schemes other music companies have come up with.

Too bad it appears to only work on Macintosh, iTunes, and iPod. And it uses aac audio files, not mp3. Well I hope for the best anyway. This marks a sea change in online music distribution.

Thai Food Extravaganza

Ate a ton of Thai food at Thai Kitchen on Friday. Boy was that good.

I still had the craving for that unique Thai taste, so I whipped up tom yum gai last night. Even though I was rather drunk at the time, the results impressed me. And I still have that craving for Thai, so I am making green curry for this evening. My mouth is watering just thinking about it…

Back In The Saddle Again

About 10 minutes after I wrote my previous post I was passed out on my sofa. Whoa. That was some strong beer I quaffed yesterday. Of course that was the first time I’ve been drinking since February, so maybe I am a lightweight drinker now. All I know is I needed to crash last night, and I was snoring away by 8:30 pm. And I slept until 6:00 this morning, so I avoided any hint of a hangover too. Not too shabby.

Home Brew

Just got back from my neighbor’s place. Chris has an incredible home brew system set up, and I was sampling his frothy, hoppy product.

I am a more than a little fucked up right now. Three hours of home brew stout and India pale ale will do that. I think I will be spending a lot more of my time over at his place in the future. Whoa.

I think I need a nap. And maybe some pizza.

Cake Walk

I think I mentioned something about those amazing GovGuam jobs that people never show up for, yet continue to pull in nice salaries.

Well, it happens in the CNMI too. This is a really bad instance of what I’m talking about. Girl had a $40,000 a year job in the CNMI, yet she was going to school at UOG on Guam. And receiving $20,000 a year in scholarships and grant money to boot.

Double Dippers

Governor Camacho’s deadline for double dippers to either forfeit their retirement checks or resign their positions passed yesterday, with ‘anemic’ results.

I got no problem with these guys coming back to work for GovGuam. Lord knows there is a lack of skilled management level personnel on the island. But during these trying times, it is really galling to here about somebody pulling in two salaries when so many can’t pay for basic utilities and food.

Gas Prices

I don’t think I mentioned gasoline prices on Guam, but let me quickly bring readers up to speed. Regular unleaded sells for $2.1199/100 right now at all the island gas stations. Last month during the height of the War on Iraq gasoline was $2.0699/100. Gas prices after Typhoon Pongsana were about $1.9499/100, and that was during the fuel shortage and rationing.

So gasoline prices are going up. Petroleum companies are always quick to justify the increases; Guam is a small market, so smaller tanker ships are used; our fuel comes from Singapore, not mainland U.S. were prices are cheaper; the cost of doing business on Guam is high because of insurance; and the latest – GovGuam’s 50% gross receipts tax hike.

Still I find it galling to listen to this litany of excuses in the face of worldwide reports on the dramatically falling price of oil. Gasoline prices Stateside are plummeting, oil production is booming. Why are the costs rising on Guam?

Let me explain. Only three companies peddle gasoline on Guam. They got our nuts in a vice, and they can squeeze as much as they like. There is nothing we can do about this but whine and complain. The market on Guam is too stagnant to lure another oil company on island, so the big three are content to wring blood from a stone and only offer these lame excuses in reply.

I guess it is time for me to start cycling to work again. It takes longer, but the equation of time vs. money is swinging away from the costly convenience of my own automobile. Too bad the mass transit system here sucks and is nigh unto useless. I would happily ride the bus to work everyday, if the bus actually ran a real route to my village. The current system of ‘call this number and we’ll send a micro-bus your way in a couple hours – maybe’ just doesn’t work.

Can anybody guess who filled up his tank with overpriced gasoline today?

This SARS For You

Next month brings the biannual examinations for certified public accountants. This event promises to lure several hundred would-be CPA’s from Japan, Korea, China and Hong Kong to Guam. The PDN has embarked on a crusade to brand this a public health risk since SARS is so prevalent in Hong Kong and China.

Uh – hello? Every day Guam receives thousands of visitors from Japan, Korea, China and the Philippines. How are 500 wanna-be accountants going to radically alter the chances of Guam gettings a SARS case?

Database Developer Passes Away

The father of the relational database died last Friday at his home in Florida. Dr. Edgar Codd was 79.

The former researcher at IBM published papers in the early 1970’s outlining a database schema that used the mathematical concepts of relationships to define table structure and query construction. His ideas were initially scorned at IBM, but Larry Ellison read the papers, took Codd’s ideas and ran with it – creating Oracle and redefining the way corporations looked at databases.

You’re Outta Here

The Guam Memorial Hospital board of trustees voted last night to suspend privileges for Dr. Vivien Batoyan-Sagisi. Sayonara doctor. Astute readers might remember that she plead guilty to a drug charge earlier this year. It’s a step in the right direction. Too bad the board refused to consider similar actions against Dr. Davina Lujan, who also plead guilty earlier this year to drug charges revolving around illicit Percoset prescriptions. The general consensus is that Lujan was played by the powers that be, and that she went along with the deals because she comes from a prominent family. Of course, that might be why she is being spared public vilification that Batoyan-Sagisi has endured in the newspapers and television. But still Batoyan-Sagisi is also the central figure in a series of suspect payments totaling $300,000 by the hospital while it was under the purview of former governor Carl Gutierrez.

While their privileges are in danger at the hospital, U.S. attorneys have cautioned the Guam Board of Medical Examiners from taking legal action against the two doctors. So they can still practice medicine on island. I suspect this is because both doctors are cooperating with federal investigations. To me, the charges against these two were basically a squeeze job by the U.S. attorneys, designed to trap them and turn them against the previous administration. Looks like it has worked. Previous attempts to get former cronies to testify against other administrations have met with little success. Why wouldn’t they? Take the fall for a corruption charge, keep your mouth shut, serve a few years in federal prison, your family is taken care of and you have a nice job waiting for you in the private sector upon your release. Maybe the doctors figured they had something more to protect than their higher-ups. I doubt the whole story will ever come to light.

Oh yeah, the public auditor is reviewing the suspect contracts involving a radiology contract at the hospital that was signed while Carl Gutierrez had direct control of the hospital. Something smells fishy about that one too. Always did. Why would a cardiologist get awarded a radiology contract? It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Dem Bones

I guess the governor was as appalled with yesterday’s article in the PDN as I was. He toured the collections in their Tiyan warehouse yesterday and pledged to support the museum and hire a new curator. He also surveyed the heavily damaged museum at Adelup and promised to locate a new facility to locate the museum. Good luck Governor Camacho, I hope you can actually find the funds to create a world class institution.

Full details in an article in the PDN.

Dreams, Careers, Bones of the Museum

I was originally enticed to Guam by suggestions that I could work at the Guam Museum. I’d worked in several museums during college and graduate school, and my degrees in anthropology, art history and museum studies were enough for a number of small museums in the midwest to offer me a position. Instead I came out to this island, looking for adventure and the possibility I could make a difference where it would really matter.

Once I got here however, I realized how pathetic the situation was. At the time, the museum was under the aegis of the public library and housed in a small, decrepit building at the Plaza de Espa�a. The library was pathetically underfunded, and the museum was the red-headed stepchild of the library. The situation at the museum was deplorable. Rainwater leaked through the roof, saturating objects and documents. The staff was non-existent, part of that curious shadow world of GovGuam positions that never report to work yet continue to draw a paycheck. The Micronesian Area Research Center (MARC) at UOG took a number of documents into their storage for protection and the television news would occassionally run brief segments on the detioration of the museum.

My contacts on the island were unable to secure me anything permanent at the museum. I met with the historic preservation people, same thing. I met with Hiro Kurashina, director of MARC only to be told the same things – no positions existed. As things fell apart with the promises I took other work to tide me over until the museum position opened. What happens to a dream deferred? You got to work for an HMO instead…

About a year after my arrival, the museum was spun off into it’s own agency and a new director appointed. I wrote her a series of letters and suddenly one day I got a phone call from the director about my ideas for the museum and the collection! We met a couple times and she was enthusiastic about me and my ideas for turning the museum around. She said she was securing funds for a curator position, and she hoped I would apply. Cool. I went back to my day job with a smile on my face and hoped for the best.

A couple months later, I saw a position announcement in the newspaper. The museum was hiring for the curator position. I hurried to submit my resume with an application and fired off another letter to the director, telling her I was interested. Weeks passed. Nothing happened. Then I got a phone call from the director. My application was scored by the civil service and it was too low to qualify me for the curator position. Thanks for applying though. I found out later that she hired a guy with a high school education to be the curator. Fabulous absolutely fabulous. And so ended my attempt at a museum career on Guam. I shifted focus and moved wholeheartedly into the private sector.

I mentioned this because today’s newspaper has an article about the deplorable state of the collections the museum is storing. The museum is without a building to display the object, has no curator, and the collections are stored in a crumbling warehouse. Insects, mold, typhoon damage. Over ten years have passed and nothing has changed at the museum. They have a staff now, but no trained curator, registrar or conservator. What is especially galling is the fact that we demanded the Bishop Museum in Hawaii repatriate a collection of bones and other ancient Chamorro remains several years ago. Guam received the remains and the governor promised a new museum and internment for these ancestors.

The bones are sitting in moldy boxes in a warehouse, slowly turning to dust.