The usual run-down of the year 2012 as seen by Jim.
The usual run-down of the year 2012 as seen by Jim.
I just got some great slack key sounds from a Ms Helen Weight. She lives over on the big Island of Hawaii somewhere. Back in civilization: music wise, that is. Slack key is “sweet beyond belief, as was the leaf.” Or so they say in Honolulu. It is one of the drawbacks of Saipan. The Chamorro and Carolinian traditions of music and dance are very far underground and unrecovered.
So, Ms Weight, there will be no returns, thank you.
But the package was an audio CD of a vintage era, when liner notes and artwork were just phasing out, and is worthy on that note alone. Thanks. And that’s my point here. If it was just the audio, I could have gotten it in mere seconds, via a ripped CD over the ‘net. As it is, this priority parcel From: a United States Post Office To: a United States Post Office, took about three weeks. Twenty One days. My prescription from Mark Matsunaga VA Hospital in Honolulu takes about the same.
But the time lag is a feature, not a bug. And it’s a bug, not a feature. It promotes patience. And I’m told that patience is a virtue of the wise.
Case in point: Saipan’s government is woefully out-of-step with all sorts of compliance with our federal system of laws. And that is to be expected. Saipan will not be a great cantidate for Statehood — Saipan is trying to find it’s competences.
It is a bold struggle to create a stable government. A stable government is NOT a slam-dunk, folks. My hat is off to every one of those public servants, no matter how corrupt, money-grubbing, or incompetent they may or may not be. The circus is quite fun to watch. Lots of finger pointing, non-compliances, etc, etc.
But let’s face it. Saipan’s economy is about the size of an old Honda 50. The spark plug has to be cleaned every morning or else it wont start. That economy is now tasked to tow the Battleship U.S. Bureaucracy. It isn’t going to work. Crooked politician and Saint would both go to jail, eternally.
Holding Saipan’s Government, Utilities, Social Services, Police, Infrastructure to US Federal Regulations creates debts that can not be paid with the economy of Saipan. At present, we are a Cost center for the US. And that’s sad. Because Saipan is struggling to find it’s competencies.
We know that Saipan had been a very successful economy prior to WWII. That economic prosperity has never really returned. How is that possible, Mr. Free Enterprise American Talkinghead? What is the problem that after 60 years of US nurturing, Saipan has no economy? The simple answer: “The US has no clue how to build economies.” Even now, the US Economy is showing signs of an end-game Ponzi, and needs to vent some of that BS that has been filling the ‘bubble.’
The answer to Saipan’s economy isn’t obvious. To anyone. So don’t expect anything in either direction very soon. Just sayin’ that patience is a virtue of the wise.
Now to more pleasant topics:
Where else can I stand on soil under the full umbrella of the US Federal system and have a live WWII Ordinance right below my feet?
It is historical fact that Saipan was totally SandBlasted by the US Military during WWII. Nearly every living thing on the island had been sandpapered away by relentless US firepower.
The US did a pretty good job of finding and defusing some of the unexploded bombs that rained down on Saipan for a Biblical Length of Time. Most of them. Well, many of them. The ones they could get too easily before the damned Dangy-Dangy trees got in the way.
The common Dangy-dangy trees are a totally invasive species that was forced upon Saipan during the reconstruction. Their net effect? To make the jungle more dense. That seems to be the only real lasting use for these skinny ugly trees. They grow fast, two years to about 20 feet, give no real shade, unless they grow very close together: which, in the jungle, is everywhere.
Since WWII, and that’s a long time ago. So, much of the island has never had a human standing on it in 60 years.
That is an awesome statement. People still find relics from Japanese Uniforms and GI gear. There are statements posted in public places showcasing that Unexploded Ordinance you want to avoid. Is it historic? It may be a WWII trophy, or it may be a land-mine that is ready to go off.
The jungle just became a pretty dangerous place. And a hell of a lot more fun.
There are Bombs under my Boots.
So, Mr American Talking Head, if we have a puppet-on-a-string riding a Honda 90 pulling the Battleship Bureaucracy, let me remind you that Saipan is likely the Poster Child of Superfunds of the 20th Century. We still have US made bombs in the jungle, so what are you going to do about it?
For me, I’ll walk the jungle with respect, tend my own gardens and be patient as the good citizens of Saipan figure out how to be the economic powerhouse of the Japanese Era rather than a Honda 90 with a fouled spark-plug.
Tend your own gardens and become patient. It’s a virtue of the wise. Otherwise, I got a contact for you: Just go to Helen Weight.
A week ago, a bar buddy and I were looking for a bar near my San Vicente apartment. Now I have not found any great bar in San Vicente, but hey, I walk, and there are lots of twisty streets here. None full of great bars. But my buddy, a big-wig at the tourism council here, should know. It’s not just his job to know where the bars are, it’s a passion with him.
Nope. Zilch, Nada. We bounce down side streets — why fill in the holes? Do that, people just go to fast. — Like I say, we bounce down side streets, and find nothing within 3 miles of my place. And the bar only has Bud Lite. In desperation, we drink the watered-down soapy ammonia brew.
It was that moment that I realized I live in the wrong part of the Island. If I’m going to have to live in an apartment, I had better have a good bar within walking distance.
As it is, in San Vicente, I got a huge apartment with a great sunrise view over the pacific. But no beach, only a half mile of jungle down to sheer cliffs. And a mile and a half walk to the closest coffee shop. Java Joes, it’s across the street from the supermarket that mysteriously has higher prices for exactly the same things as all the mom and pop shops that are everywhere. It is another 2 1/2 miles down the hill to the oases of Beach Road.
As the fatal Bud Lite hits my innards, my stomach does a little dance of submission and humiliation, I realize I gotta move.
My current lease runs out in a month so I seize the opportunity! I start at a major intersection on the lagoon. (Yes. Lagoon. I knew you were going to ask. The beach here is on a lagoon. The coral reef is at least a half mile off, and the water is shallow, warm and calm: All the time. Just thought you might want to know.) I start at the intersection and start walking around looking for places with apartments for rent. It is an easy walk down or up Beach Road to nearly 80% of the businesses in Saipan from this intersection. Most everything is on Beach Road, but clustered in several areas: touristy Garapan up north, Library, Shopping Center down south, and Bank and Theatre here at Isa Road. Everybody calls it Isa, but recently it got renamed to honor a dead priest. Nobody remembers the name.
So I walk south and call all the numbers posted with “apt for rent” signs. I walk north and take a look down an alley. A local family is walking out of their house. I say hi, and ask if there are any rentals. They all point to a house nearby.
There, Jess shows me a tiny three room space. Bedroom, kitchen, bath. But each is in a separate building. Cool!!!! This one is high on my list on sheer funk factor alone. Jess tells me that he just painted there and doesn’t know what the owner is asking. We talk for a while. I leave.
The next day, the owner calls, comes and picks me up from San Vicente, and shows me a very tiny, but very workable apartment — This one is all in the same place, and I sigh as I give up my dream to commute from kitchen to bathroom. The price is right: $200/mo. 100 yards from the lagoon. 200 yards from Isa Road. I’m Superman, Able to walk over tall buildings in a single step. We shake hands, I give him my deposit and it’s all over.
A new record for apartment hunting. Four Hours. Tops. I have raised the bar for “quickest rental.” My biggest challenge now is to get a snorkel and fins.
I move in a couple of weeks. My address will not be changing: The US Post Office has no connection to geography in Saipan.
Oh, yes. There’s a bowling alley nearby, bar included.
A small word. In English, we reserve small words for those with pity meanings. Simple concepts: the smaller the word on the printed page, the more likely it came from english and hence roman, Greek, and Egyptian with a lot of Norse thrown in as seasoning for zillions of years. Everything except the word ‘the’ which I have NO explanation of, nor apology for — Fuck you ‘the’ ! Enough with linguistics, back to fealty.
So what’s the bit about fealty? — It has to do with subservience. Subservience as an honorable pursuit in life: “I pledge my service to you, Frodo, as I carry you up this volcano of doom.” — Samwise may have never gotten the Oscar for this incredible performance, but there has been no other, purer expression of this statement than Sean Astin’s performance.
Fealty is the pledge from an inferior to a superior.
Fealty is a pledge to help the superior in all ways to meet the superior’s goals. It is NOT like a negotiation — ‘Um, Frodo, the union rules forbid be from biting off your ring, but unless you you slip me a $100, I’ll let my friend Gollum have a go.’
Fealty is the pledge: “I only sink or swim as you.” — I will help you in all the decisions and pursuits you may have.
That is an amazing pledge, and one that we should never restrict. Between equals. Of any sex.
It’s true, except for the ‘Mad’ part. I threw that in just to make you look. Still, I did in fact, create a Robot Scientist. It’s name is NICI, Nikky to his friends. NICI stands for the Near Infrared Coronagraphic Imager
It is a giant camera designed by Mauna Kea Infrared a Hawaii based firm specializing in optical equipment for scientific astronomy in the infrared spectrum. This is serious kind of design, Image detector chips kept colder than liquid helium, in a vacuum harder that outer space, in a box blacker than black: One loose photon in the wrong place could doom the whole project. Yes, It is rocket science. Just without the rocket. The science is the same.
Doug Toomey, MKIR’s alter-ego called me in 2001 or so about a big project he had bid on, and won. NICI was an instrument specifically designed to image a low-temperature object next to a hot one. A cool planet near a hot star. That was the challenge: to be able to see a planet. Way, way out there.
It had every state of the art attribute imaginable. Two imaging arrays. That gave NICI the ability to record two colors, that is, two different wavelengths at exactly the same time. It had beam splitters, filters of all kinds, an automatic star-eclipse mechanism called a coronagraph. Activate the chronograph, and the bright object in the center of the image is gone. Everything else remains.
It had Adaptive Optics. One thousand times a second, NICI would examine the image automatically and adjust the focus with 85 different solenoids behind a adjustable, flexible mirror. It knew what it was looking at, and could keep it in the exact same location on the image for as long as you wanted. Even when the sky makes the stars seem to move and twinkle. No need to put NICI in orbit. Just turn on the Adaptive Optics machine and it sweetens up the image just like those Bose noise canceling headphones. Only better.
NICI had the ability to self-focus, compensate for atmospheric turbulence, and guide the telescope to keep the image perfectly stable on the imaging arrays.
It was that last bit that was new to the people who actually use NICI: Gemini. Actually everything is new to Gemini, because it specializes in state of the art astronomy. The edge of science is the scalpel that teases out the patterns of nature. And a delicate and expensive scalpel it is, run with lots of quality and dedication. That’s Gemini. They have a facility in Chile where NICI lives.
Why was it new? Because NICI was the first instrument that had the ability to move the telescope. Usually the telescope is simply driven by a clockwork motor to keep an object centered. However, correcting for the atmosphere required the Camera to point the Telescope. Giving up control of the huge telescope? To a camera? Harumph. Never been done!
But that’s what NICI does best. And I wrote the software that juggles the low level messages from the major subsystems and directs the operation of NICI and the Gemini Telescope.
The last time I saw NICI was when it was packed up in big crates for shipment from Hilo, Hawaii to Chile. I didn’t go to Chile: I could telecommute. In fact, I telecommuted nearly 95% of the time for the whole project. Software development is perfect for remote work. It sucks if you want a job where you travel a lot.
I created a Robot Scientist that Lives and Works in Chile! My baby. It never calls or writes. Just like a real kid.
For my money, the movie “ChinaTown” has got to be the best, tightest, believable and time accurate movie ever. I grew up in L.A. just after the time of “China Town” and “The Two Jakes.” and the ‘feel’ was right on. The dry stream-bed, the orange grove across the street, and the crazy lights just on the other side of the hill. The slow, steady unfolding was like the slow, steady unfolding of every sunny day after every sunny day in Los Angeles. And the Sunset was spectacular.
That was the LA I remember as a kid of four to seven. I remember the sonic booms of the jet planes overhead from the test facilities at Northrup or Hughes. I remember “KKSH-Sh-sh-sh-sh—BOOOOOOM!” and a boom that you would feel in your gut.
Early memories are like that.
I remember dancing with my evening shadow on the side of a stucco wall. The white of the stucco turns a deep blue in the shadows that I would cast on a crimson wall in the sunset. Thanks for all the pollution in the air. It really is beautiful, and some level will be sustainable. Maybe. I hope.
So what do you think of Chinatown? The ambience was right on, and as far as I can tell, the Zeitgiest was there too. There are other stories of the Detective’s worst fear being dumped on him, with no recourse — these other LA based Detective deceptives are film anti-noir (in color and makes you feel the pain) “L.A. Confidential,” or ”Mulholland Falls” — The last is especially worthy as coming from the same social background: “Dr. Strangelove” — they are both children of the same angst. I am not kidding you: There was a TV series in the ’50s called “I led three Lives: Citizen, ‘Communist’, Counterspy”
Why am I telling you this? Is it to make you laugh? or is it to subvert you to the evil I represent?
Ok, is this my motivation? OR my personality?
It’s my personality. Slap. NO, It’s my motivation! Slap! NO, It’s my Personality AND my Motivation! SLAP! “You see, My … (the voice trails off) Ya get it? or is it too hard, Mr. Detective….
Celebrating the worth and wealth of pure words,
Jim-Bo-Bob-Brain, ready to take over the world.
PS. ”But how are we going to get the froth from a wave’s white-cap to the Governer’s ball before lunch?”
My name is Jim Hinds. I’m your neighbor. I’m a retired computer scientist/craftsman, and new on the island. I love Saipan, and while I’d much rather learn to grow bamboo than write computer programs or manage another business again, I’m offered the exquisite opportunity to have my computer creations help the local economy, the litter problem, aid tourists, and add value to a lot of other beneficial areas of our lives here too.
The most smarmy and arrogant stuff you find on the web: In response to : https://bugs.php.net/
bug.php?id=40625Derick, you are such a tool of the overlords. Jimbo.
Thank you for taking the time to write to us, but this is not a bug. Please double-check the documentation available at http://www.php.net/manual/ and the instructions on how to report a bug at http://bugs.php.net/how-to-report.php It didn't work properly before either, and now we warn about it.
It’s not really a church, it’s a nascent political party. We allow any number of them in this country. For nearly any reason. Church or Party.
And just like our very successful MegaChurches, we have found that the money making aspect of these things is fabulous. We in America know how to SELL.
And the fabulous wealth and salesmanship displayed by these giant carpeted neo-cathedrals with hot and cold holy espresso fountains have been noticed by the Sarah Palin set. The perfect demographic!
So Imagine that Sarah’s new job is to hold her revivals around the country and introduce candidates (all for money, of course) from those who want to buy into the franchise? She’s the Master of Ceremonies, newscaster and spokes-grrl all rolled in one.
The long term goal of winning seats, changing politics or improving the world? If you could milk it for 10 years would you care?
I’m a Firesign Theatre fanatic. I still quote bits of their fabulous word salad. One quote came into my mind as I talked to the clerk:
“I’ll be in the back at the Pycho-Raga-Rock Old Folks’ Dance Marathon” and then I tried to imagine what that might look like: The image hit me as the first scene of the film “Mystery Men”
Now that’s homage!