Monthly Archives: August 2004

Thanatopsis

TO HIM who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;-
Go forth under the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around-
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air-
Comes a still voice-Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix forever with the elements;
To be a brother to the insensible rock,
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world,-with kings,
The powerful of the earth,-the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun; the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods-rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,-
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man! The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.-Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings,-yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep-the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest; and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man-
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

William Cullen Bryant. 1794–1878

Monkeys, Bears, You

I should really show more self restraint, but I can’t help myself. These stories are too good to pass up.

  • Monkeys Terrorize City In Sudan – Rampaging monkeys hold sway in the Sudanese city of Kassala. In coordinated attacks lasting from dawn until dusks, swarms of hungry monkeys assault the city, terrorizing women, children and baked goods. The monkeys break into homes, steal food from children, raid the refrigerators and leave a gigantic mess in their wake.
  • Bears breaking and entering homes in Norway Monkeys might be bad, but bears in the house are worse. On the Norwegian island of Svalbard, polar bears are breaking into homes looking for food. And I mean breaking into homes. The bears tear down doors, smash through walls and break open cabinets and refrigerators looking for food.

Storm Update

Well the situation with Typhoon Chaba is very fluid. Guam is sandwiched between Tropical Storm Aere to the west and Typhoon Chaba to the east. Aere is moving to the north and presents no danger to the Marianas, but its departure is blocking the northwest track of Chaba.

Chaba is currently at 14.7N 153.2E, or about 571 miles to the east. It is tracking due west at 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 81 mph, with gusts to 98 mph. The forecast track still has the storm passing north of Saipan, but things can change at any time. The governor declared Typhoon Condition 2 at 17:00, which means a storm is expected in the next 24 hours. I spent some time today securing stuff in the yard. I haven’t put the shutters up yet, I’ll wait for the situation to develop a little better before I make that decision.

Guam is in that blue area between the two storms right now
Guam is in that strip of blue between the two storms in this photo: Aere is on the left and Chaba on the right.

  • Typhoon Condition 4:
    Winds of 75 miles per hour or more are possible within 72 hours
  • Typhoon Condition 3:
    Winds of 75 miles per hour or more are possible within 48 hours
  • Typhoon Condition 2:
    Winds of 75 miles per hour or more are expected within 24 hours
  • Typhoon Condition 1:
    Winds of 75 miles per hour or more are expected within 12 hours

Crime Wave Strikes My Neighborhood

My street is in the grip of a crime wave. Three homes were burglarized this week, and the homes vandalized. Two were broken into yesterday. Stuff was stolen, drawers rifled and windows broken. The burglars left potato chip crumbs sprinkled everywhere and a slab of bacon smoking in the oven and left the oven on. In the other house they drained the water bottles in the fridge and refilled them with liquor. It is very disturbing, especially since Dianne’s truck was vandalized last week too. For the first time in seven years of residency on Chalan Ayuyu, I am locking my doors and windows. This nagging anxiety dwells in the back of my brain now, the first thought that crosses my mind when I wake up. “Was my car fucked up overnight? Did anything else happen while I was asleep?” It seems like the work of delinquent kids trying to make the leap from misdemeanors to felony terrorizing.

Beer Guzzling Bear

I love to post these tales of ursine antics: Bear found passed out in campground after guzzling 36 beers. Rangers removed the drunken black bear, but he returned to the campground the next day. I guess he liked happy hour.

HomerThey trapped the bear and removed him from the area. They baited their trap with doughnuts and beer. I’m surprised they only caught one bear in that trap and not a bunch of thirsty campers. Or at least some other silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat, like Homer Simpson.

Homer againIn a related drunken idiot story, a local man is behind bars for stabbing his cousin Tuesday night. The two men got in an argument over who could drink the most beer. Somehow I think he should try and outdrink the bear next time.

Chaba

Well, the storm from earlier this week is safely to the west of us, but here comes Chaba barreling down on us. I had reservations for the weekend in Saipan, but I changed them this morning. It looks like this storm will be on top of either Guam or Saipan by Sunday, which makes a weekend getaway irrelevant.

Movie Consumption

The ceaseless rain provides ample reason to sit back and watch films this time of year. Over the weekend I rented a passle of movies that I missed in theaters. Frankly I was surprised that a few of them were available at the local video store.

  • Paycheck – A fairly normal, nondescript action film. The action was okay, the production and sets top notch, but nothing to really get excited about. Predictable characters and a cookie cutter bad guy. The idea of a man who sees the future and forgets his past is an interesting conceit. I did enjoy the envelope of random objects used to extricate the main character from tight jams. That plot device was executed nicely in the film. I understand the script was based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, who has become a veritable font for screenwriters these days. Perhaps I need to read some of his stories when I get a chance. But rent Kill Bill to see Uma Thurman in a much, much better film.
  • Cold Mountain – I missed this movie when it hit theaters around Christmas, so I’ve been waiting for a chance to watch it on DVD. I read the novel by Charles Frazier years ago, and the movie followed the novel closely. However, something of the gnawing desperation of the times that was developed in the book was lacking. The movie certainly played up the sadistic nature of the Home Guard, but I think it didn’t portray the descent to the brink of oblivion that Ada was put through. The threat of winter was a very real concern for people a hundred years ago, the prospect of starvation was very real. Ada’s plight seems trivial in the movie. I mean, a rooster terrorizing her? Get serious.
  • The Pianist – Another movie I missed in the theaters a couple years ago. I watched it right after finishing Cold Mountain and it certainly made for a bummer of an evening. The true tale of a Warsaw Jew’s ordeal during the German occupation of Poland, it bears stark witness to the horrors of war. Adrian Brody’s family is killed, his friends shot, his city leveled around him, while he slowly starves hiding in abandoned apartments around Warsaw. The final vignette, where a German officer locates his hiding place in the closing days of the war, is a powerful and moving evocation of the human soul.
  • Max – I returned the three movies above and found this sitting on the shelf at the local video store. Max never played on Guam, and I remember reading the review in Salon when it was released. Many criticized the movie because it humanized the most dreadful person in 20th century history. The movie has an incredible idea, what if Adolph Hitler became a successful painter instead of a rising demagogue in the years after World War I? Hitler’s unlikely friendship with a fellow veteran, a Jewish art dealer, offers a taste of what might have been. Again and again, John Cusack, the worldly art dealer Max, urges Hitler to channel his rage and frustration into his art, and Hitler tries. But he lacks the creative muse, and turns to propaganda and anti-Semitism at the urging of his Army superiors. Again and again, Max reaches out to Hitler and tries to engage him. He comes so tantalizingly close; for a moment towards the end of the movie Max realizes Hitler’s true gift is performance art and it looks like Nazism will become a kitschy gallery show and nothing more. But fate takes a hand and quashes that possibility, pushing Hitler onto the podium and unleashing horror upon the modern world.
  • The Cooler – The big surprise rental. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a real gem. Great characters, good acting, interesting plot, and some great twists at the end. Alec Baldwin really knocks one out of the park with his character’s fearsome combination of mercy and ruthlessness as he runs his doomed casino. William Macy is a “cooler,” an unlucky schmuck that Baldwin uses to turn the odds against high rollers in the casino. Everything’s fine until Macy falls in love with Maria Bello and his luck changes. Or does it really? A great movie, even though I never want to see Macy do a sex again. That’s just not right, he looked like Ichabod Crane bouncing along on top of Maria Bello.

So I guess the big winner in this roundup is The Cooler, followed by Max and the The Pianist. Definitely check any of those movies out for a rainy afternoon/evening.

Oh yeah, one final bitch about Cold Mountain. A little over a decade ago The Last of the Mohicans was filmed in the mountains of North Carolina, and it was a beautiful film. For some reason a movie about that exact corner of Appalachia was filmed in Slovakia or Transylvania or some such place. The genuine article ain’t good enough or something? Several panoramic shots of Inman trudging back to Cold Mountain featured mountains in the distance that have no business in Appalachia; tall, razor edged peaks girdled in glaciers. North Carolina my ass.

Storm’s Here

It was clear last night. I spent some time stargazing.

It was sunny at 8:00 am this morning. Around 9:00, the clouds started rolling in and by 10:30 the downpour commenced. The first squall just passed through Tamuning, and I can see more rain coming down our way from Barrigada and Mangilao.

That storm depression wasted no time in getting here. That’s good though, because it hasn’t had time to develop into something worse like a tropical storm or typhoon. I can handle a couple rainy days.

Tidal Power

Excellent post by Roland Piquepaille on a test project being installed in New York’s East River. If successful the pilot project by Verdant Power will become the first installation to generate electrical power using tidal ebb and flow. Reading his article, I was struck by the possibility of using this tidal technology in other places, specifically rivers. Turns out the Tennessee Valley Authority already approached the company about supplying low impact hydroelectric power in the TVA.

Typhoon Season

Uh-oh, this makes me nervous.
GUZ001-002-003-004-161900-
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TIYAN GU
145 PM LST MON AUG 16 2004
...TROPICAL DISTURBANCE DEVELOPING SOUTHEAST OF GUAM...
A TROPICAL DISTURBANCE IS DEVELOPING SOUTHEAST OF THE MARIANA ISLANDS AND MAY BE UPGRADED TO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.
AT 10 AM...THE CIRCULATION CENTER OF THE DISTURBANCE WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 8 DEGREES NORTH AND LONGITUDE 153 DEGREES EAST...OR AROUND 700 MILES SOUTHEAST OF GUAM AND SAIPAN. THE SYSTEM WILL LIKELY BECOME MORE ORGANIZED AS IT TRACKS WEST-NORTHWEST TOWARD THE MARIANA ISLANDS OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO.
THE LATEST COMPUTER FORECAST MODELS TRACK THE DISTURBANCE SOUTH OF GUAM ON WEDNESDAY. HOWEVER SINCE THIS A POORLY DEFINED SYSTEM SIGNIFICANT CHANGES MAY OCCUR. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR RESIDENTS OF GUAM...ROTA...TINIAN AND SAIPAN TO CLOSELY MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS DISTURBANCE.
STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OR TUNE IN TO YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL MEDIA SOURCE. INFORMATION IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET AT HTTP://WWW.PRH.NOAA.GOV/GUAM (LOWER CASE).
$$
HENDRICKS/MA

The Basics of Space Flight

Orbital period of a satelliteAnother great link from the Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Here’s a very cool lesson plan from JPL, used to bring new employees up to speed on the Basics of Space Flight. “Basics of Space Flight is a training module designed primarily to help JPL operations people identify the range of concepts associated with deep space missions, and grasp the relationships these concepts exhibit. It also enjoys popularity among high school and college students, as well as faculty, and people everywhere who are interested in interplanetary space flight.” It explains in lucid terms on JPL designs flight paths, orbits, and how they use gravitational boosts from various planets to slingshot probes to the furthest reaches of the solar system.

Anthropology Days at the 1904 Olympics

Since everyone seems to have Olympic fever these days, I thought it might be worthwhile presenting an article on 1904 Olympics and the ‘Anthropology Days’ that preceded the games during the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. The fair organized a series of games to see whether the savages brought from around the world displayed any athletic ability. Ainu vs. Zulu, Sioux vs. Bedouin, Patagonians against Philippine Igarot tribesmen. The dismal results were loudly proclaimed as evidence of their inferiority. Lovely, just lovely. Makes me proud to be a native St. Louisan.

What's for dinner?While I’m at it, let’s settle this legend that Dogtown got it’s name from Igarot tribesmen poaching all the dogs from the area during the fair. It’s nonsense, an urban legend that has become popular in the last few years. My parents never heard of such a thing, and they’ve lived in St. Louis all their lives. I mentioned it to both of them during my recent visit and they looked at me like I was crazy. Don’t know how this one got started, but it needs to be discredited.

La Fiesta Mall and the Woes of NMC

I think I mentioned the troubles that La Fiesta Mall in Saipan is having. This exquisite outdoor mall has been plagued by vacancies and the economic woes of the CNMI. In an amazing boondoggle, the Northern Marianas College, or NMC, took control of the lease for the mall about two years ago. At the time the administration was promoting the idea of converting part of the mall into a satellite campus for the college, or perhaps and English language institute for Japanese businessmen. Suffice to say none of these things happened and now the college is saddled with this nearly vacant property. But they got Plans, oh yes they Plans…

Lucio Tan eyed to save La Fiesta Mall

By Gemma Q. Casas
Variety News Staff

ONE of the Philippines’ richest Chinese-Filipino businessmen is being eyed to help save the La Fiesta Mall from being a white elephant.

The government is currently discussing to offer the operation of La Fiesta Mall to beer and tobacco magnate Lucio Tan, the 377th world’s richest man, according to the Forbes magazine’s latest ranking. He has a net worth of $1.5 billion with investments in banking, airline, food and beverage, catering, tobacco and retail.

Tan also owns Micronesia Mall in Guam as well as a host of other companies on the island.

“One name that was brought up was Lucio Tan because he owns Micronesia Mall in Guam. From what I’ve heard, I don’t personally know Mr. Tan, but I know that he’s a very wealthy man and people are saying that $10 million is just a drop in his bucket,” said Northern Marianas College president Tony V. Deleon Guerrero.

One of the possibilities NMC is considering is for Tan to continue the operation of La Fiesta Mall just like his mall business on Guam.

“That’s why I want to develop a request for proposal, so that we can set it out to the media, so that people would know that we’re looking for potential investors to lease and then we would sit down with the board,” Deleon Guerrero said.

La Fiesta mall has become a liability to the already financially struggling government-owned NMC which does not have enough income to pay for the mall’s maintenance.

In an interview with reporters, Deleon Guerrero said management is also considering the original plan to infuse $10 million to finally convert the mall into another NMC campus on Saipan.

But the nagging question is, is it worth considering that NMC’s remaining lease term agreement with the original leaseholder, Cocos Development, Inc., is just 19 years?

On the other hand, the NMC As Terlaje campus is forever under the name of the government.

“The $10 million is a big price tag. Right now, it’s a question in a lot of people’s minds. The other contention that I would really urge is, is it wise for the CNMI to invest $10 million on a leasehold property for 19 years?” said Deleon Guerrero.

“I’m sure that the board will deliberate on this issue and then compare it with the current campus. Some board members are also of clear understanding that this (As Terlaje) campus and this land belong to the CNMI. It’s lifetime,” he added.

“I told the Governor, ‘Is it really wise to go on with the project converting La Fiesta into a campus or leasing it out to private investors?'” Deleon Guerrero said.
He said NMC will release a request for proposals to invite potential investors for the site.

A self-made billionaire, Tan made it big with his business in cigarettes and liquor. His company, Fortune Tobacco, supplies about 70 percent of the cigarette market in the Philippines. His Asia Brewery continues to pose a challenge in the beer market against leader, San Miguel Corp.

Tan also owns Philippine Airlines, the pioneer flag carrier in the Philippines, which is currently under rehabilitation. He owns Allied Bank and a third of Philippine National Bank, which continues to have the largest banking network in the Philippines and the most number of overseas branches among Philippine banks.

&copy 2004 Marianas Variety Vol. 32 No. 109 Friday, August 13, 2004

NMC officials are basically hoping for a little deus ex machina here in the form of Tan and his millions. He’s shown no interest in the place, and they haven’t even approached him with this great idea of him investing in a derelict mall. They’d be better off buying a million lottery tickets. La Fiesta is a beautiful place, all fountains, tiles and mosaics, but it is in the middle of nowhere. Nobody lives up near there, and only one hotel is nearby. All the other tourists are down in Garapan enjoying the beach and stuff. La Fiesta is a ghost town.

Isla Exhibit

Photo &copy Victor Consaga/Pacific Daily NewsWell, looks like I scooped the Pacific Daily News. There’s an article in today’s lifestyle section about the architecture exhibit at Isla Center for the Arts. I figured this was a traveling exhibition, and the article confirms that suspicion. It was previously shown in Frankfurt, and it is heading to Beijing after it leaves Guam later this month. That’s some prestigious company for our little island.

The photo from the PDN shows Guam architect Andrew Laguana and Japan Consul General Kennosuke Iriyama at the exhibit, which runs through August 27th. The Isla Center, #15 UOG Dean’s Circle, is open Monday through Friday 10:00 – 5:00 and Saturday 10:00 to 2:00. Be sure to check it out.

Culture

At Dianne’s behest, I joined her and spent the morning absorbing culture at some galleries around the island. She wanted to check out the bomber nose art at the KAHA gallery before it closes on Tuesday. I think she was satisfied with the experience. I certainly enjoyed myself.

  • Nose Cone Art of WWII – The KAHA gallery at Two Lover’s Point is showing an exhibition of nose cone art from World War II bombers. Also on display are a couple smaller exhibits on the downing of Admiral Yamamoto and the role women played in the Pacific front during the war. Not a bad little exhibit, but it was a little strange seeing an endless stream of Japanese tourists enter the building and gawk at the Enola Gay model and all the war memorabilia. The exhibit runs through this Tuesday, August 17th.
  • Contemporary Japanese Architecture – At the Isla Center for the Arts on UOG’s Dean Circle through August 27th. A quiet little exhibit at Isla, Contemporary Japanese Architecture was nicely executed. I was expecting much except boring pictures, but I was pleasantly surprised. The exhibit did consist of nothing but photographs and schematics of modern architecture from the last 20 years, but they were exceptional photos of striking architecture. The captions with every photo were informative and the quiet background music struck a positive mood. The exhibit is funded by the Japanese Consulate, the Japan Foundation and the Architectural Institute of Japan, which probably explains the excellent exhibit catalog that was available for free.

So Isla was the big winner today. The Isla exhibit was much better than the KAHA exhibit. It was quiet, well done and pleasing.

While I enjoyed the WWII exhibit at KAHA, but I found the gallery noisy and heavily trafficked. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some sort of snob that wants to enjoy a gallery to myself. It’s just that the crowds entering the gallery came for one thing, the toilets. The public restrooms at Two Lover’s Point Park are just plain nasty, so the tour buses send all their tourists over to KAHA for the toilets. It’s a little annoying trying to listen to a short documentary video over the constant flushing of toilets.