Monthly Archives: July 2004

Mmm Beer

One nice thing about all this traveling is the chance to sample all the great beers. I already mentioned St. Arnold’s in Houston and their great brewery “tour.” Now let me throw in a plug for Karl Strauss brewpubs out here in Southern California. Damn tasty beer, and the patrons at the bar are quite passionate about it. I stopped in for happy hour a couple days ago and enjoyed myself so much I am thinking about paying them another visit today after class. Fresh beer does taste better, just not that nasty crap Budweiser markets as beer.

This is my last day in California, I fly out tonight for St. Louis and a few days with my family. It’s been a good week, I’ve learned a great deal and I’ve really enjoyed the cool California weather. Last night I paid a visit to some former co-workers. They left Guam late last year and settled in Orange County. They seem to be doing well and I was glad to get a chance to visit.

Smokin’ In The Locker Room

Ricky WilliamsSo Ricky Williams, one of the best and oddest running backs in the NFL these last few years, retired on Sunday. He said he was tired of the game and lost his desire to go through another grueling season. Sounds fair to me, I’ve played football and I know the older you get, the worse you feel after a game. I can only imagine what it feels like to get pounded by professional players, and I grimace just thinking about it. If he wants to bow out of the league and wander the earth like Caine in Kung Fu, so be it.

Smokin' a doobieToday comes a story about how Williams failed his third drug test in as many years, and was facing suspension by the league before he decided to retire. He readily admitted he smokes marijuana, and while he knows the league bans drug use, he refused to stop smoking it. Call it reefer madness, but it looks like Williams knew the gig was up and decided to exit stage right before facing censure and fines by the NFL.

I’m sure a front page story in High Times will be out soon.

Preaching To The Choir

James van Allen, noted space scientist and discover of the radiation belts that cocoon the planet Earth, spoke out against human space flight in a recent essay.

Writing in the journal Issues in Science and Technology, van Allen calls for a rational examination of the costs versus the benefits of manned space flight. The costs are high, both in human lives and finances, and the scientific data returned is paltry compared to unmanned satellites and interplanetary probes.

In his book Race to the Stratosphere: Manned Scientific Ballooning in America (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1989), David H. De Vorkin describes the glowing expectations for high-altitude piloted balloon flights in the 1930’s. But it soon became clear that such endeavors had little scientific merit. At the present time, unmanned high-altitude balloons continue to provide valuable service to science. But piloted ballooning has survived only as an adventurous sport. There is a striking resemblance here to the history of human spaceflight.

“Almost all of the space programs important advances in scientific knowledge have been accomplished by hundreds of robotic spacecraft in orbit about Earth and on missions to the distant planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune,” van Allen writes. Similarly, robotic exploration of comets and asteroids “has truly revolutionized our knowledge of the solar system,” he adds.

Four decades of human space flight have proven one thing: Space is inimical to human life. It is a harsh place, full of radiation and debilitating zero gravity, to say nothing of the launch and re-entry hazards. To ensure the safety of astronauts, astronomical costs are incurred designing safety measures and backups; money that could be better spent on unmanned robotic missions to the frontiers of the solar system. A perfect example is NASA’s decision to abandon the Hubble Space Telescope in favor of completing the orbiting boondoggle also known as the International Space Station.

Francis Crick Obit

Frances Crick, Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of DNA, passed away in San Diego at age 88, after a long battle with cancer. A sad day for the scientific community.

Working with James Watson, Crick published their findings on the double helix shape of DNA in 1953, correctly theorizing that the structure of DNA contained the genetic information, encoded in the base pairs, that passed from generation to generation in all life.

Crick was later president of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.

New Montrose Blues

Still here boys & girls, I’ve just been wandering about the country in airplanes for the last few days. I left Seattle late last week, spent the weekend in a steamy Houston, and I am now in sunny southern California. This excursion to Orange County was unplanned, but I am here now and it is a good thing.

I spent the weekend in Houston, mostly because my tickets were non-refundable, and it was more expensive to change the ticket to a new destination than just buying a new ticket. Crazy. Houston was a good time though, because my good friend Craig lives there and we had the weekend to kick back and relax. Here’s a couple highlights:

  • The Ginger Man – I only put it together later, but I’d actually been to one of these in Dallas a few years ago. I didn’t know it was a chain of bars. Lots of beers on tap, some okay pupus and excellent jukebox loaded with Grateful Dead and Phish. And the bathroom reminded me of the Coughy Haus back at the old alma mater.
  • Saint Arnold Brewing Company – I thought it was going to be a mildly amusing brewery tour, but it soon became obvious it was a party. Every Saturday at 13:00, the Saint Arnold Brewing Company holds a “tour.” It was certainly the most euphemistic of brewery tours I’ve ever been on. It lasted maybe five minutes and then the crowd of 300 people got down to drinking the free beer and enjoying the music and whatever snacks they brought along. Definitely a must do stop in Houston. The beer was damn good and the cheery ambiance of the regulars and staff is quite welcoming.
  • El Buen Bife Argentina Grill – Friday night was really jonesin’ for a steak and Craig suggested this place. At first I thought we were going to Fogo de Chão, the place where they serve meat on swords. I was mistaken, but I was not disappointed. It was the best damn steak I’ve eaten in a long time. Tender, juicy and bursting with flavor, that filet mignon was like everything a steak should be.

How about a few pictures from this sojourn in Houston? I got a few to share:

Saint Arnold brewery tour

Pouring the microbrews at Saint Arnold's

Craig kisses his Belhaven Scottish Ale

The Ginger Man serves up a tasty beer

Craig pontificates on the prophecies of John Titor, time traveller

Not a bad weekend, even if my plans went awry. And now that I’m in sunny (and chilly) California, I got a chance to meet up with some co-workers based here in Orange County. We’re meeting up tomorrow night for beers and some dinner at the Yardhouse. I may even take some pictures.

Manenggon Tribute

I forgot to mention this story last weekend. On July 10th, Hasso Manenggon, a tribute march to commemorate the Manenggon concentration camp, was held in Ylig Bay.

The march from Ylig Bay to the site of the concentration camp in the Manenggon hills concluded with the unveiling of the entrance memorial to a Manenggon memorial park slated for construction on the site.

During a somber ceremony at the Manenggon site, concentration camp survivor, historian and former Sen. Tony Palomo spoke of survivors’ experiences. Despite the suffering inflicted upon the Chamorro people, Palomo… stressed forgiveness.

Father Eric Forbes also spoke of forgiveness in his homily. Speaking both in Chamorro and English, he told the audience not to hate.

“This is not what God wants,” Forbes said.

Also during the ceremony, Japan Consul General Kennosuke Iriyama joined survivors and board members Rita Franquez, Marian Johnston Taitano and former first lady Geri Gutierrez. They placed a floral wreath on the entrance monument that was unveiled yesterday.

The PDN ran a series of pictures covering Hasso Manenggon and the memorial park. Here is a photo of the memorial fountain:
Photo &copy Masako Watanabe/PDN: Jesusa Arceo, 72, left, and Bert Unpingco, 71, right, stand by the new Manenggon memorial fountain shortly after its unveiling at Manenggon in Yona. The two survivors of the concentration camp were among the many survivors who helped to unveil the fountain at the 'Hasso Manenggon' tribute.

Charles Sweeney Obit

Found this obituary in today’s Seattle Times:

Charles Sweeney, pilot of plane that dropped A-bomb on Nagasaki
MILTON, Mass. – Charles Sweeney, 84, a retired Air Force general who piloted the plane that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki in the final days of World War II, has died.

Mr. Sweeney died Thursday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, hospital spokeswoman Christine Johanson said. She did not disclose the cause of death.

Mr. Sweeney was 25 when he piloted the B-29 bomber that attacked Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, three days after the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and six days before Japan surrendered.

About 70,000 people were killed in the explosion of the bomb, dubbed “Fat Man.” It was the first bomb Mr. Sweeney ever dropped on an enemy target.

He was an outspoken defender of the bombings, appearing on CNN and speaking at colleges and universities.

Mr. Sweeney also wrote a book, “War’s End: An Eyewitness Account of America’s Last Atomic Mission,” to counter what he considered “cockamamie theories” that the bombings were unnecessary.

“I looked upon it as a duty. I just wanted the war to be over, so we could get back home to our loved ones,” he told The Patriot Ledger of Quincy in 1995. “I hope my missions were the last ones of their kind that will ever be flown.”

Mr. Sweeney also played a role in the bombing at Hiroshima, where he flew an instrument plane that accompanied the Enola Gay during the attack.

The Nagasaki bombing run, in Mr. Sweeney’s B-29, the Bock’s Car, was harrowing for the crew. The flight had fuel problems from the start, and clouds and smoke were covering the mission’s primary target, the city of Kokura.

After making several dangerous passes over the city, he abandoned the primary target and flew to Nagasaki. Only a break in the clouds allowed the bomb to be dropped, Mr. Sweeney said.

Mr. Sweeney was a graduate of North Quincy High School who traced his passion for flying to a local airfield. He became a brigadier general in 1956, and at the time was the youngest man in the Air Force to reach that rank. He retired in 1976.

Strange how both Sweeney and Paul Tibbets wrote books to explain how necessary it was for them to bomb two cities into oblivion and to set the record straight against disparagement. They will forever known to history as the men that obliterated Japanese cities with nuclear bombs. All justifications aside, it is a terrible thing to live with the deaths of 70,000 people on your head.

Seattle Day 2

Seattle's new Public LibraryDid I mention my hotel is across the street from that amazing new Seattle Public Library? How serendipitous. I plan on checking it out tomorrow – I don’t have anything to do until 3:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

I spent the afternoon in conference sessions, by 5:00 p.m. I was so tired. I didn’t mean to fall asleep, but after I got off the phone around 6:00, I fell asleep until 9:30. I headed looking for dinner after I woke up, but I was extremely disappointed. I took a walk this morning around downtown and I located three Thai restaurants that looked very appealing. I set out tonight with intentions to eat at one of those three places, but every one of them was closed by the time I arrived. It struck me as extremely odd. Maybe I am just used to Guam, but I really don’t think restaurants should close at 9:00 p.m. on a Saturday night.

I wandered around for a long time and eventually found The Islander, a tiki bar and restaurant. Funny how the island boy gravitates for the island bar. Actually I picked it because it looked low key. It was, but with a well stocked bar. While the main kitchen was closed, I could order pupus. Good enough. Mix in some sushi with tasty Pacific Northwest hefeweizen and you got a good dinner. I settled in at the bar and drank my fill for a few hours. I was comfortable and felt like a bit of home. The music on the P.A. was your typical fiesta mix of cha cha and island dub. But the crowd at the bar was definitely Seattle twentysomething’s. It was a good, relaxing, low key place. And the pupus weren’t half bad either.

Seattle

I arrived in Seattle at 8:00 a.m. this morning. Got to the hotel in
downtown and promptly fell asleep. I am convinced airline seats are
designed to be as uncomfortable as possible. I couldn’t sleep a minute
on the plane and one in-flight movie was Welcome to Mooseport, possibly the worst movie I have ever endured. The other movie was 50 First Dates,
which was innocent enough and made me laugh a few times. The flight was
completely full, not an empty seat on the plane. Crammed into a flying
tin can with 450+ other people is not my favorite travelling conditions.

Oh well all this kvetching will get me no where. The conference starts
tomorrow, and I actually think I am ready to go back to bed and sleep
some more. I was absolutely exhausted this morning. I didn’t sleep the
night before the flight, who can get up at 4:00 a.m. to check in for a
6:00 a.m. flight – I stayed up all night. The only rest I got in
transit was about an hour in the Narita traveller’s lounge. They have
these great recliners in a quiet corner of the bottom floor lounge that
are perfect for catching some sleep. I can’t begin to describe how
comfortable they were to an exhausted traveller, it was just what I
needed.

Travellin’ Man

It’s sort of a late announcement, but I am on the road travelling for the next few weeks. I’m currently sitting outside my gate at Narita, waiting for a Northwest flight to Seattle in about an hour. I’ll spend a week in Seattle at a conference, then head east for a week of training and a quick visit with my parents in St. Louis. I’m looking forward to the trip, I’ve never been to Seattle before. Now if only I didn’t have to sit in coach for 9 hours to get there…

UOG Professor Says Guam Students Are Getting Worse

Dr. Gary Heathcote, professor of anthropology at UOG, is concerned. His students from DOE schools are appalling unprepared for college level work, lacking basic knowledge and skills in vocabulary, word usage, reading comprehension, history, geography and current events. In fact, the results were markedly worse than a similar test administered a decade ago, a test that showed shocking deficiencies in the same areas.

Can’t say I’m surprised. Education is the last thing on the agenda at the Department of Education.

Who Needs Elections, This Is Amerika

First the Atlantic Monthly runs this story about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld’s role in a Reagan era cold war plan to install a puppet government, without the Congress or any elected official, should the president and vice-president die in a nuclear attack, and now I keep finding these stories about how Republicans are planning to stall this November’s election in case of a terrorist act. This isn’t some tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theory, the story was carried by the BBC, CNN, and Reuters, all referencing a Newsweek article published this week. And who’s in charge of it? DeForest Soaries Jr., a Baptist minister appointed by George Bush as chairman of the Election Assistance Commission to oversee elections in the wake of the 2000 presidential debacle. The Republic of Gilead draws nearer and nearer every day.

While I’m at it, how about a couple personal stories of the climate of fear and oppression the government is creating to keep all of us safe, quiet, and in control?

Traditional Seafarers Back In The Water

In 2001, the Pulawatese canoe Quest arrived on Guam, piloted by Manny Sikau, a traditional navigator. The craft has lingered long on Guam, damaged by Typhoon Pongsona in 2002. But now the canoe is headed for Palau and the Festival of Pacific Arts – though it will be shipped to the island nation, not sailed. Traditional seafarers are still learning on Guam, and with typhoon season already begun they are leery of heading to Palau in the outrigger canoe.