Monthly Archives: August 2006

links for 2006-08-31

links for 2006-08-30

One Last Thing On This Pluto Business

Skimming through the internet, I’ve seen all sorts of complaints about Pluto’s demotion, and last week there were all these complaints about the addition of more planets. I don’t get the problem here. People didn’t complain when chemists isolated the periodic table of the elements did they? Or where there protests about how all we really needed was the original four?

links for 2006-08-28

links for 2006-08-27

links for 2006-08-25

A Life Told In Bone And Stone

Dr. Gary Heathcote sent me a link to his report on the Taotao Tagga’, the remains of a Chamorro male on display at the CNMI Museum of History and Culture. He lived on Tinian in the 16th century, during the end of the latte stone period and the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the islands.

Dr. Heathcote examined the skeletal remains are draws some conclusions about his life and occupation. In a word, Taotao Tagga’ was very robust, showing telltale signs of a lifetime spent quarrying and transporting heavy stone. He was gravely wounded earlier in his youth, but survived and lived a relatively long and healthy life.

It is a very interesting report, and Dr. Heathcote concludes with some remarks on Guam’s failure to create a museum of similar caliber with the CNMI’s. He has a valid point, which could be extended to the library and schools. It seems as though the civic will to create and fund these bastions of community does not exist on Guam. The museum is in cardboard boxes in a warehouse, the library is in a state of disrepair and the school system is just a complete mess. The cohesive bonds that create a polity are frayed on this island, but this is vital stuff, the very lifeblood of a society. I know it is hard to see the value in these things when the power grid is fragile, villages go without water and there aren’t enough cops on the street, but things like museums, libraries and schools represent an investment in the future. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul to neglect them during these tough times.

links for 2006-08-23

A Painted Ship Upon A Painted Ocean

This is just an amazing story of survival. The newspaper here runs the odd story about some Micronesians lost at sea, but never anything like this. These guys drifted from Mexico to Kiribati for over 9 months. I am flabbergasted. The story is from today’s Marianas Variety, a paper that doesn’t quite get the whole permalink URL idea. I will post the URL when the story is archived.

Mexican fishermen see land for 1st time in 295 days

By Giff Johnson
For Variety

MAJURO — Three Mexican fishermen saw their first land in nearly 10 months today (Tuesday) after drifting across the Pacific Ocean since last October 28. After 13 days aboard a Marshall Islands fishing vessel since their rescue, the Mexican fishermen looked healthy, smiled often and talked about their ordeal in an on-board interview with AFP shortly before they arrived in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands.
“When we first took them on board on August 9, they were very weak looking and their clothes were ripped,” said Marshall Islands fishing vessel crew member Lanpe Lejjiur. Chin-shui Yen, fishing master on “Koo’s 102,” a Marshall Islands fishing vessel, picked up the drifting Mexican boat on his radar screen at about 4 pm on August 9.
When the Koo’s crew visually spotted the small vessel, all they saw was a lifeless-appearing boat with a limp sail. “We could only see the sail on the boat,” said fisherman Ken Loran. “We thought there was no one on board.” But Lejjiur, who joined Loran in a small rescue boat dispatched from the Koo’s vessel to check the other boat, said: “When we got closer, the three men suddenly jumped out of the front of their boat and started waving frantically at us.
In fact, even when we got up next to their boat they kept waving.”
Salvador Ordonez, 37, the oldest of the three Mexicans, said they were sleeping on the floor of their boat the afternoon of their rescue. Ordonez said he woke to the sound of a boat engine nearby and tried to wake the others. But after so many days drifting at sea, Lucio Rendon, 27, and Jesus Vidana Lopez, 27, weren’t impressed.
“It’s just the noise of the wind,” they told Ordonez. But a few seconds later they sat up to find Koo’s 102, a 72 meter, 1,100 gross ton purse seiner sitting just a few hundred meters away.
The Mexican trio said through an interpreter that they divided their time between reading the Bible and fishing on their epic trip across the Pacific in which two others died earlier this year.
“Two months after we started drifting, the two died,” said Ordonez. “They couldn’t eat the raw fish and birds. They kept throwing up and eventually vomited blood.”
When the two men died, Ordonez said they threw the bodies overboard.
“We were lost for nine months and nine days,” said Lucio Rendon, 27. Pointing to his Casio wristwatch, Rendon said: “This watch was an incredible thing to have.”
At first they thought they would be rescued when they were still only days away from the west coast of Mexico. But they ran out of gas and none of the vessels that they saw in the distance saw them. They drifted until the Koo’s vessel found them in the waters of Kiribati in the central Pacific.
“They were just skin and bones when we picked them up,” said Linter Lepan, another Koo’s 102 fisherman.
The only equipment on board was shark fishing gear, according to Orodonez. But the hooks were too big to catch little fish, so they used wire on the boat to construct smaller hooks to catch fish during the voyage, he said. But it was hardly gourmet eating on the nine month drift.
“We spent most of the time reading the Bible,” said Lopez.
“Fishing and praying mostly. God really helped us because we were at sea for so long.”
But what really kept them eating was Ordonez, whom the others referred to as “El Gato” (the cat). He would creep along the bottom of the boat and catch birds that landed on the small boat. They would then eat the raw meat.
The worst time of the voyage was during December and January, when they were hit by big storms. “We were afraid we would sink,” Lopez said.
It was also a time of starvation. “The longest we went without food was about 13 days during that time when we had only one sea bird to eat,” Lopez said.
The rescue by Koo’s 102 brought more good news than their own safety. After being picked up August 9, they telephoned their families and Lopez found out that he had a six-month-old baby girl who was born in San Blas while he was drifting.
Several Mexican television stations and newspapers were on hand to record the arrival in Majuro Tuesday of the three fishermen.
Two Mexican government officials—one from the embassy in New Zealand, which has jurisdiction for the Marshall Islands, and another from Mexico City — flew into Majuro to help process the three men. After the vessel docked, medical officials examined the three men, and shortly after they were whisked to the Majuro Hospital for further check ups.
The men arrived with no passports or proof of identity. Luis Enrique Franco, deputy head of mission in Mexico’s New Zealand Embassy, is providing them with passports. They hope to depart Wednesday night from Majuro to Honolulu.

links for 2006-08-22

GovGuam Health Care Woes Continue

The new rates for GovGuam health insurance were published this week, along with the news that the AG will not sign the rates and intends to force the insurance companies to re-negotiate. I just wonder why GovGuam doesn’t just bite the bullet, pay into Medicare for the retirees and solve this problem once and for all. It is the tremendous cost of health care to the ever increasing and ever aging government retirees that drives the rates into the stratosphere.

Sad News

I got a shocker this evening at paddling; the Mermaid Tavern, home to Guam’s only microbrewery, burned down last night. That’s just terrible news, I’m really bummed out about this. Apparently it started last night after closing, some sort of electrical fire.

I was just thinking of stopping by the Mermaid on Sunday. I’ve spent many a good evening at the Mermaid, regrettably not since I stopped drinking. I hope they recover quickly since I’ve started having the occasional beer – and they have the best beer on the island.

links for 2006-08-21

El Dorado

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of El Dorado.
But he grew old —
This knight so bold —
And — o’er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like El Dorado.
And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow —
“Shadow,” said he,
“Where can it be —
This land of El Dorado?”
“Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied —
“If you seek for El Dorado.”
Edgar Allan Poe, 1809-1849