Archive for January, 2007

Chess – the game of kings

Alex and I have taken up playing chess.  This is the one game where he can trounce me.  Not only can he win, he can win in 5 moves, sometimes less.  He comes out of nowhere really.  I’ve been learning lots just playing him.  Chris Field and I are playing chess over the internet at a site called Netchess.  The games are incredibly engaging and good fun once you get over the crying and whining.  If interested in playing me, just let me know.  It doesn’t take much time, a couple minutes a day, and it’s a good way to stay in touch.

The 2 words I dread to hear from Alex:  Check mate!

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Saipan

Saipan is the main island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Part of the same geologic formation as Guam, it lies a few hundred miles north. I just returned from a 3 day work trip and was able to tour the island with my counterparts at the Department of Environmental Quality. The island is much smaller (13 miles x 5 miles) and has only 60,000 folks. They have hit hards times economically. Like Guam, they depend on tourism but even more so. They’ve long held an exemption from the US minimum wage and thus the manufacturing on Saipan was attractive. The garment industry thrived there using chinese immigrants. The exemption is in jeopardy as well as the commonwealth’s control on its on immigration. If you’ve been following the Abramoff story, Jack was a big player in keeping Saipan a ‘made in the USA’ haven for manufacturers. With Jack gone, I believe life there is about to undergo a monumental restructuring. Anyhow, the people of Saipan, Chamorros and Carolinians, need to figure out how to emerge from their economic recession. I’m guessing that won’t be for many years. It’s a beautiful place with lots of WWII history. Here are a couple pics.

The flame tree.

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A view from Suicide Cliff where the Japanese jumped to their death rather than surrender to the Americans.

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Cave Drawings

Davis and I went on a short hike at the northern most tip of Guam, Ritidian Point. This area has recently become a National Wildlife Refuge. Prior to refuge status it was part of one of the military bases. In addition, to having one of the most beautiful beaches on Guam it is the site of a former Chamorro village. A short walk from the village location are caves cut into the limestone in which the Chamorros would take shelter during a typhoon (in the time before cement buildings). Pictographs have been found on the cave walls that may be 500-1,000 years old.

In addition to the walking through areas with mythological significance to the Chamorros, we also saw pig bones which Davis thought was the best.

Ritidian beach’s soft white sand.

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Tarza pools

Went on a 1 mile hike on the southern part of the island to the Tarza pools.  It’s a fresh water pool nestled in a fairly barren valley.  There’s a little rope swing and enough cool water to whisk the heat away.

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Happy birthday Lyla!!!

To our little niece in Boise: We’re so sad not to be with you on your big day. All of us think of you often (and Henry) and wish you a great year. Davis has put together this little video just for you (and Henry). Hope you enjoy it!!

Love,

Uncle Wally, Auntie Gwen, Cousin Alex, Elli and Davis

(In Davis’ defense, the video and audio are out of sync when I play it back.)

Kadun Benadu anyone?

Kadun Benadu is a deer stew made with onions, garlic, lime juice, coconut milk, yams and deer meat.  My friend Danzel, the hunter extraordinaire, gave me the back strap and neck of a deer he shot last weekend.  He also dug up a couple huge yams.  I took these to my neighbor George’s house for a cooking lesson.  George is an old harley rider who was once part of the Syndicate Motorbike Club in Southern CA during the 60’s.  He’s now the neighborhood caretaker knowing who is coming and going.  Nice guy who has a shop full of tools and a garden full of fruit and peppers.  George taught me the art of making this Chamorro dish in his outdoor kitchen.  We had the stew over rice and added a special hot pepper sauce called Fine Denny de Nanci.  Delicious.

Here we are with Monica, George’s daughter.

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Beatlemania hits Guam!

I remember my first record album was the Beatles red album back in the early 70s.  I was alive during the british invasion, but only a toddler in the 60s.  Well, Beatlemania is back.  This time in Davis who is 6.  Davis remembers listening to Sgt. Peppers at Ben Ben’s house (Pierre and Ingrid’s) in Seattle and was reminded of those songs as I played the newer “1” CD.  Now, he can’t get enough.  I dusted off the old VHS copy of a Hard Day’s Night and our evenings are now spent answering every question imagineable about the Beatles.  It’s been fun reliving it.  I’ll have to get a pic of him dancing and singing.