Friday, June 27, 2008

The sun sets for me in Saipan

Saipan has been extraordinarily good to me. I met my wife here, saw the birth of my daughter here, adopted my two sons here and got a graduate degree here. I taught nearly 1,000 students. I visited Bali, Palau twice, the Philippines three times, Korea as well as Thailand. Those are all great memories. But just as it seemed, and was, a good move to come here five years ago, it seems the right time to move the family back to the states now. I'll miss friends, the small community feel of always seeing people you know, the beauty of the island and of course the diving. Thanks to everyone who checked in here and read and commented for the last year and a half, and thanks to lots of folks on Saipan, especially Brad Ruszala, who has been a friend since I got here and will continue to be a friend as last night he agreed to be the Godfather of Baby Ashley Lynn. I'm sure I'll blog again from this same place in the future with a different perspective. The pictures below really are Saipan for me.

I used to go to Sam's, now Wild Bill's, most Friday nights and check out the Big Beats, where I sometimes sang or sat in on bass.
I'll spend my last dives in Saipan in this spot over at Bird Island. The underwater world was a panacea for all the bad stuff in Saipan.

I would walk with Shelby on the beach path near Oleai. She would require some water in adjusting to this hot climate. How I miss that little dog.
The Mandi Spa was always a good respite to read and relax. I'll miss that place.

I almost bit the dust on a second caving trip, but it was an amazing experience exploring those caves and seeing those World War II artifacts.

This poor dog had a crooked head and was one of the saddest living things I've ever seen. I would feed him every day and he would come running as best he could when I got home from school.
I've always enjoyed taking the kids to World Resort for the water park.

I went on a few of those sunset cruises, but never quite enough given how spectacular they are.

I went cliff jumping, not all that high in Lau Lau, which has some beautiful water.

The view over at Bird Island is always impressive.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Strolling with Ashley Lynn

On my own, I took Ashley for a walk along the beachpath in her stroller, which I really hadn't done before. She gazed at the ocean and the sky in bewilderment. She really hadn't seen either of those things. I felt the last vestige of my youthful freedom drift away like a leaf in the breeze, yet it still felt pretty cool.

Uhhhh! I have a question Beavis

Here is the news:

THE “sympathizers” of the Fitial administration” in the private sector will finance the costs of suing the U.S. government over the federalization law, Variety was told yesterday. Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, a former executive of Tan Holdings, left yesterday for the U.S. mainland and will be gone for 10 days. He said the lawsuit will focus on the “economic injury” that the provisions of the federalization law, or U.S. P.L. 110-229, will inflict on the CNMI. “I have now retained the firm of Jenner & Block to assist our government lawyers,” he said.

Here is my question:

Can I sue the government for economic injury in authorizing the Iraq War since my gas and power bills have doubled? Any sympathizers out there? Enjoy ten days of power Governor Nero!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

CUC Dandan as ground zero for Saipan gloom

I head to CUC in Dandan this afternoon to pay my ridiculous power bill. In the lobby is a giant group waiting to arrange a payment plan or to dispute the random billing practices of this incompetent cabal that's about as popular as a case of salmonella. Standing in the line leads to a type of chit chat I haven't experienced since camping out for concert tickets in college -- only a far more negative type of chat focused on comparative horror stories.

The guy in line behind me shows me his bill with water, but no electricity charge. I ask if he just had to shut off the electric completely, and he relates that he didn't, the meter reader just didn't bother checking the meter and he wasn't waiting around to get a sudden $1,000 electric bill. The contempt flew from his lips as he raged about "laziness."

The payment line, unlike the financing line, is not all that long, so I saunter up fairly quickly. The large woman behind the counter could not look more unhappy. In fact, instead of handing out suspended sentences, I urge our judges to render sentences based on days spent as a CUC bill collector. Being the public face of CUC is a cruel and unusual punishment the most sadistic goons from Saddam's torture camps couldn't dream up. I smile at her and express some empathy for her plight. She relates that she doesn't even listen to all the complaining anyway, though I'm pretty sure her look of distress was in part due to listening to the guy behind me complain about his non-read meter. In this situation, that glaring statement about "not listening" that violates most all customer service principles doesn't seem out of place or in any way unreasonable. It's doubtlessly not her fault that in fourteen hours I've had three two hour power outages. She's mostly just guilty by association.

Yes, the burden for this folly gets spread around. Politicians caved and artificially lowered the rates. CUC risk managers didn't manage any risk, as no one contemplated a future where $20 oil became $140 oil. Executives went on trips and collected per diems. People hired by CUC who knew nothing about their field were happy to get a check. No one was concerned, and it didn't seem to matter. But it always really matters because this place is in an economic and self-confidence death spiral with no end in sight, and CUC is ground zero.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin passes away

George Carlin died today. He was someone I really admired. He stayed relevant for a long time in a very difficult field. This new book about stand up in the seventies tells his story very well. The book is about a lot of comedians, not just Carlin. I saw him perform in a small theater in New Jersey about 12 years ago. I still have the pictures somewhere. I went to a Yankee v. Mets game in Shea in 2002 and he sat close to me. I shook his hand, spoke to him briefly and he was very kind. He was also sitting up in the nosebleeds near me, which I thought a surprise.

In other news, this account of this ship that went down in the Philippines with 800 people missing is disturbing. Only 24 have been found. I was on that shipping line last year on a family trip to Boracay. It might have even been that ship, I'm not sure. I'm also not a mariner by any stretch, but I don't get why this ship didn't head to port as soon as this report of a typhoon came out. There is no answer to that in the newspaper account. The AP pictures are really disturbing. I feel terrible for those people.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Car for sale

I have a 2001 Toyota Echo for sale. This is a friendly car for our exorbitant gas prices. Blue book has it at $4,875. I'm offering it at $3,800 for a quick, no BS sale. This car has been maintained by Manny at ELS Auto since I got it. It has only 51 K miles. Email Jeff at

I still have a host of books to go, as well as two tvs, and a panasonic dvd and vcr to go, two separate components.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Everything sucks, there is no gravity

I spent some time off island lately. I get back and see my latest CUC bill is $421 -- for a two bedroom apartment that we keep the hot water heater turned off in, and run one air conditioner not terribly often. As soon as the NBA Finals game came on today that my kids and I were eager to watch, immediate black out.

Yesterday I went and perused the We Love Saipan site for the first time in a while. Among the people who gave a testimonial on how much they love Saipan, here is who has left: Bev, Steve, EJ, Lauralynn, Bree and Melissa has resigned and leaves in September. Almost half. That's not a dig at those people. I don't blame them at all. This is an issue that is heavy on my mind as well. I'm just pointing out some of the good people we've lost. All contributed mightily to this place. The Garapan bars still haven't recovered from EJ's departure.

My family is visiting extended family in Singapore and the Philippines this summer to get away from this sinking ship for a while, but even that got screwed up as our return flight was washed away with Continental's decision to scrap the Saipan-Manila route. I can't imagine putting my baby on that Cape Air Flight from Guam. I hope there are other options. That prop-plane feels like riding in one of those remote control toy airplanes for kids, only less sturdy.

Governor Nero of course is in the paper today bemoaning the loss of "autonomy" again. Has he ever considered offering a plan on fixing the power plant, or can we just expect nothing out of him other than speeches where he blames the previous administration or begs the feds for money, even though we're "autonomous." The guy was Speaker of the House during the last term and has been governor two and a half years and still has no plan? Oh yeah, we have a PUC board to take the heat on the rates and more vague talk about privatization, as if businesses are dying to invest in us as we implode and pols change laws constantly to suit their re-election purposes. This runaway power and gas price situation is a blow we simply can't handle. Lots more businesses are going to fold. It's sad. It's even more sad that the business community spent all its influence on the wage/immigration fight and never insisted on making this power plant the big issue.

Even when we get a break, such as with this Marine Monument possibility, we screw it up. The same old ignorance is out there. Forget the millions of dollars that could be injected into our economy and good publicity for once because Joe Fisherman can't fish somewhere 300 miles away he would never be able to fish in anyway.

The way I see it, we're going to have Fitial around to do his fiddling for another year and a half. Someone else will run on the "beer and barbecue" and "I'll give you a frivolous job we can't afford" platform and take over. I don't see any evidence that anything is going to change for the better. It's no fun thinking about it, blogging about it or probably reading about it, but I was tired of seeing that Bateman pic at the top of my blog.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Enough said

Several have thrown their hat in the ring already, but none can hold the claim of being Saipan's Number One Bat Shit Crazy Haole. Bruce declared his candidacy last week with a central promise not to ever vote. Straight from the drunken face of evils' mouth, here it is: "I am planning to join the pack and run for the new Non Voting Delegate seat in November. I will run on a simple one-plank platform: I shall not vote! As your non-voting delegate it is my blood oath to you that “I-will-not-vote”. Come hell or high water, even if they hold me down and try to make me, I will abstain from voting."

Check back for more on the waving campaign in Tanapag.