Monthly Archives: March 2004

Mars Rover Captures UFO In Image

The Mars Rover Spirit caught an interesting object with it’s panoramic camera earlier this month. While taking images of the crepuscular sky on Mars, Spirit captured an image with a streaking object passing overhead. It could be either the first meteor imaged from another world or one of seven decommissioned Earth probes still in orbit around Mars. Judging from the streak’s north/south orientation, it could possibly be the Viking 2 orbiter, which is in a polar orbit around Mars.

Guide to Airplane Seating

Now here’s a useful site: SeatGuru.com, a guide to a number of US airlines, their fleet of planes, and the seats on those planes. Gives tips on good seats (extra legroom, more recline) and bad seats (no recline, next to the toilets). Just to tease us mortals, they threw in a 747 Qantas flies to Sydney, complete with private sleeper berths in first class. Mama Mia!

Puppies!

Time for some puppy pictures. These were taken on Sunday, during a long afternoon of puppy snuggling.

Ebony & Ivory Tom and a couple puppies

Healthcare Troubles

Guam’s healthcare system appears to be coming apart at the seams. The doctors are in revolt against the hospital, with the OB/Gyn’s saying they will refuse to accept hospital house patients. House patients are people that show up at the hospital without any medical coverage or regular doctor. GMH forces the island’s doctors to treat these people in exchange for hospital privileges. The problem is GMH rarely pays the doctors for these visits, which can amount to over 50% of a physician’s practice for the obstetricians. The doctors are tired of this, and other problems with the high premiums for malpractice insurance on island.

The hospital is deeply in arrears, after losing over $10 million last year. Hospital administrator Bill McMillan said 40% of the hospital’s $100 million in expenditures must be written off because it must provide healthcare to the island’s indigent population and those with no health insurance.

And last week brought more bad news. The island’s only cancer treatment center will be closing in less than a month. The Cancer Institute of Guam will shutter its doors on April 8, forcing all those patients receiving chemotherapy to seek off island treatment. Not good, not good at all.

New World Discovered

Okay, time for some more information on this new world that NASA astronomers discovered. The new planet has been christened Sedna, after the Inuit goddess of the ocean. It is about three fourths the size of Pluto, and the second reddest object in the solar system. And it is way out there, with a wildly elliptical 10,500 year orbit. Sedna is well beyond the orbit of Pluto and currently approaching perihelion (an object’s closest approach the the sun). In about 72 years Sedna will start it’s long cold journey away from the sun and back towards the Oort Cloud, a region that astronomers theorize contain many of the planetoids that occassionally tumble to the sun and become comets. It boggles the mind to think that the last time this planetoid approached the sun, Earth was locked in an ice age

Here’s the relative sizes of this new planet, Pluto and the Earth.
Photo from Spaceref.com

And check out the orbit of this thing. It is absolutely huge.
Photo from Spaceref.com

Dihydrogen Monoxide

Oh those crazy Californians! Calif. Officials Nearly Fall for H2O Hoax

City officials were so concerned about the potentially dangerous properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production.

Then they learned, to their chagrin, that dihydrogen monoxide _ H2O for short _ is the scientific term for water.

“It’s embarrassing,” said City Manager David J. Norman. “We had a paralegal who did bad research.”

The paralegal apparently fell victim to one of the many official looking Web sites that have been put up by pranksters to describe dihydrogen monoxide as “an odorless, tasteless chemical” that can be deadly if accidentally inhaled.

As a result, the City Council of this Orange County suburb had been scheduled to vote next week on a proposed law that would have banned the use of foam containers at city-sponsored events. Among the reasons given for the ban were that they were made with a substance that could “threaten human health and safety.”

The measure has been pulled from the agenda, although Norman said the city may still eventually ban foam cups.

“If you get Styrofoam into the water and it breaks apart, it’s virtually impossible to clean up,” Norman said.

New Lunch Spot Found

We had a department luncheon today, one of the underwriters is leaving the company and taking a position at Continental Micronesia. The combined departments of Facets, Pricing and IT took him out to lunch at the Joinus Restaurant for teppanyaki. I am ashamed to admit it was the first time I ever stepped foot inside the Tumon Sands Plaza, after 11 years of living on Guam. I guess I ain’t the target demographic for Cartier, Rolex, Tiffany & Co. and the rest of the ritzy stores in that little mall.

Despite the tony surroundings, the Joinus Restaurant seemed a bit rundown. It was certainly dark and claustrophobic, there is not a window in the restaurant. However the restaurant packed in the patrons for one reason: a great deal on teppanyaki. People on Guam know a good deal when it involves food. The price of any one of three set teppan menus is $10.99 – the options all include sirloin steak and shrimp along with a choice of chicken, salmon or scallops. I cannot remember the last time I ate teppanyaki, easily two years or more. I like teppanyaki too, but the closure of the Kurumaya Seahorse in 2002 set me adrift. God I miss that place. I spent many an evening there, relaxing after paddling practice, enjoying Tumon’s warm sands and the fading twilight over the Philippine Sea. It is a crying shame the restaurant was closed down and the building demolished, especially since the developer never built a damn thing on that lot. A vibrant business destroyed and turned into a vacant lot. Seems to happen all the time on island.

South Korean Political Crisis

In a bit of regional news, South Korea was thrown into a political crisis yesterday when the National Assembly voted to impeach President Roh Moo Hyun and remove him from office for comments about an upcoming election in April. South Korean law bans all electioneering until 17 days before an election, so technically Mr. Roh broke the law by saying he was looking forward to the elections on April 15 and the encouraging the presence of opposition parties on the ballot.

Massive protests were held in Seoul on Friday night and again on Saturday. Polls indicate 70% of South Korea’s population disagrees with the National Assembly’s move against him, with many complaining of a coup d’etat by the main opposition parties.

Two Good Links

Here’s a couple good things I found trolling the internet last night:

  • NPR : Walter Cronkite – Walter Cronkite’s commentary about Edward R. Murrow taking on Joseph McCarthy, a moment when broadcast media actually stood up to political bullies. Fifty years ago Republicans were bashing Democrats over the head, accusing them of being traitors and anti-American. Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same. It was FUD then, it’s FUD now.
  • Brian Eno – The Big Here and the Long Now – A short essay by musician Brian Eno about the Long Now Foundation and the need to start thinking in broader terms, both physically (the Big Here) and temporally (the Long Now). He suggests people need to expand their personal space beyond their four walls and start thinking about their communities, and start thinking about the ramifications of their actions and lifestyles on our descendants, and our descendant’s descendants.

That is all. Time to unplug for the day.

What’s Really In Pet Food

Ever since I read Fast Food Nation I cringe at the thought of eating at McDonald’s and the other fast food joints on Guam. The portion of the book that dealt with slaughterhouses and the meatpacking industry was particularly chilling. The fact that cattle are fed meal with ground up pets and other cows just grossed me out.

Now comes this chilling article on what really goes into pet food. My poor cat eats that crap every day. Ugh. Ground up lungs and bone, smothered in used restaurant grease. Cripes.

Bali – Quick Notes And Photos

I might write up something in greater detail later, but I really don’t want to bore people with minutiae of my boring vacation. Here’s the two sentence rundown. I spent the first three night in Kuta, partying with Aussies at the Barong Hotel and other spots in Kuta. From Sunday through Tuesday I was in Ubud, relaxing in the sedate atmosphere at Pertiwi Resort and Spa, enjoying fine dining and doing a little sightseeing.

I visited the sight of the October 2002 bombings, it is only about 100 meters from the Barong Hotel. A large memorial is now on the location of Paddy’s Pub (which relocated about 200 meters down the road). The site of the Sari Club is a somber, vacant lot. Takings pictures seemed sacrilegious.

I ate at a number of good restaurants in Ubud, some new, some retooled, and some golden oldies. Lamak was excellent, good food, great wine selection, though a little pricey. Very pretty girls waiting tables though. Bebek Bengil was very good, as always. And beautiful ambiance with the full moon hanging over the gardens. Mystical. And I know I ate at Tutmak the last time I was in Bali, though it wasn’t called Tutmak back in 1999.

It was a relaxing little trip. Bali seems to be coming back from the disaster of 2002. There are still plenty of closed shops and a definite rise in the number of people begging on the streets. But everyone I talked to said things were getting better. There was definitely some anxiety about the upcoming Indonesian elections. A couple guys I spoke with thought that terrorists might try to influence the election with another round of attacks on Bali. That is the last thing Bali needs right now.

Without further ado, some pictures I took on Tuesday:

Check out that pool Ganesh Loves You

Mossy statue

Reflecting Pool Flowers & reflecting pool

Lotus Morning sparkles

That pool again Bridge over rushing waters

Monkeys eating rambutan Monkey picking his butt

Monkey chilling for a photo op Gorge of the Jungle

Dragon Bridge Carved Komodo dragons

A shrine up the gorge Heading home on Continental 901

Oh yeah, if you need a taxi in the Kuta area, you can’t go wrong with Ketut Sukadana. He hangs out at the Barong Hotel.