Monday, January 28, 2008

Sour Grapes for January 22nd, 2008

Ban Black Cats?

In defense of fireworks

Another freedom disappears under the rock of oppressive nanny government intervention. This time we citizens are found incapable of celebrating Christmas, New Years and the Liberation Day as we might wish to. Laws have been passed to stop the sale and personal enjoyment of fireworks by CNMI citizens.

Each year around Christmas a small but vocal group trundles out the timeworn complaints of possible injury and noise pollution. You are far more likely to be ‘possibly injured’ crossing the street. Should we outlaw it, or worse, mandate that a government crossing guard accompany you each time to assure your safety? Should you be allowed to play a Wagnerian opera at anything above 25 decibels without a court decree?

Instead of some simple rules to enforce courteous use and a safety course to teach proper handling methods, our knee jerk reaction is to legislate fireworks displays as a permitted, government only, exercise. I can see it now. A Department of Artistic Fireworks and Fanciful Yodeling (DAFFY) with 200 employees and a several million dollar budget. One need only fill out these 62 pages of request forms, have each duly stamped with a notary seal, stop by 6 different offices and voila, within 2 or three years of processing a dandy fireworks display will be forthcoming at your 40th birthday party. So sorry, Christmas will have to be celebrated on March 14th next year as the backlog of processing requests won’t be finished by December 25th. Not to worry, it’s for your own good. Stand by for instructions on how you must cook your morning breakfast, coming soon from your friendly protectors up on the Hill.

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A Donut Tree

Thanks to online blogging articles and comments made recently, I went out and enjoyed one thing I never knew existed and revisited another I had not been to in a long time.

I must have driven past the Galaxy donut shop dozens, maybe hundreds, of times and never even noticed it was there. Not having a sign does not help their marketing effort or their visibility. Delores, the proprietress didn’t seem to care much one way or the other. Having been in the same location since NMC was a hospital instead of a college (1978), most folks know where she is and what she serves. The donuts are what are called ‘sinkers’ in the US, a heavy cake like donut with iced glazing. I liked the simple fare and the homey, comfortable feel of the place. I’ll be going back for some more donuts and another sack of that cooked Pork. Look to the right as you drive from the traffic light to the main parking lot at the College and you will see the nondescript white building above you on the rise. This is not the place to go if you want Internet wifi and a 6 dollar cup of burnt bean bitter yuppie coffee. This is the place to go if you want a good donut, a good cup of coffee, nice company and a screened porch all at a very reasonable price.

My 3 year old son and I visited the Botanical Gardens the other day. It was his first visit and my first in a year or two. We tromped around the paths, climbed up into the tree houses, scrambled up the stairs to the overlook and swung in the hammocks spending several very enjoyable hours there. We drank fresh guava juice at the snack bar and pored over the historic Japanese era pictures and piggy banks made from coconuts in the museum/gift shop. Alexander tested each tire swing for safety and efficacy and found they all passed his stringent examination. This is one of the really nice tourist venues on Saipan and one those of us who live here are fortunate to have at our disposal any time we need a quiet stroll down a garden path to sooth a bothersome day or a bad mood. The descriptive signage is woefully dilapidated making plant identification difficult but the park is well maintained otherwise. This is a joyful way to spend a day of your life. The local-rate entrance fee is minimal, so go on out and give it another try. I bet you haven’t been there in a long time either.

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Fold flap A into slot B

I’ll admit right off as a first time parent there may be some room for improvement in my technique. I noticed immediately there was no operator's manual attached by little ball chain anywhere near Olivia's enlarging belly when she was pregnant so decided I had better hit the library, the bookstore and Amazon to find out how to deal with the Salamander, as I called him then. (The ultrasound gave me little hope that he would turn out to be another Homo Sapiens).

I got about a dozen books expecting to use the best of each and also expecting there to be broad consensus on the most important items of child rearing expertise. Was I ever shocked to discover that just about every book had a different viewpoint and offered wildly different advice on how best to deal with the little buggers once out of the chute.

If there is definitive proof of a superior method, I have yet to run across it so I use some of the suggestions I learned from the how to manuals, especially the first aid stuff and just wing it for the most part on those items I don’t really know the proper method of dealing with.

The best laid plans, however, are sometimes difficult to actually put into action as he runs over your foot with the electric ATV on his way to stand on the handlebars, open the drawer, climb up, causing the cabinet to overturn smashing the laptop you are doing your research on. A hearty DAMN IT seems to pop out of my mouth, apparently from nowhere when a series of 8 or 10 experiences like those described above all happen in the space of 10 minutes. So much for vocabulary building lesson 202. It can be a bit frustrating.

This child rearing is not child’s play, this is serious stuff. Mine is three now, and I can only imagine what surprises await me as he gains acumen with that opposable thumb and learns to research winning sales techniques, the better to slam dunk me with at the checkout counter.

Making babies is simple: unskilled labor, happy at their work. What to do with them afterwards is certainly a more complex endeavor. If you have any suggestions or a reading list, feel free to email them to me. Help is needed before the men with the nets come for me.

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Quotes of the week: There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure. Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven’s lieutenants. William Shakespeare (1564 1616)


Brian said...

Come on Bruce!!!!!!!!
Organized fireworks are fine..
It's those godamn mega firecrackers that should be banned.
Those things sound louder than a seal control bomb!
This year was the worst ever for morons driving around and throwing them at passerbys... just for laughs.
I was away sailing to Rota for New Years but some local friends said it was like a war zone on Saipan.
In the words of that Turbbit guy I really wished some of those idiots had a testical or two blown off.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Thanks for reading, Brian.

I thought there was a noticable diminustion during most of December. Everyone was trying to pay their CUC bill I guess.

I agree those mega bombs are certainly loud and I agree that time and location limits should be placed, and some safety classes given, but total personal use banning? Unnecessary in my view.

Well, that's what makes for horse races.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

I'm planning to sail down to Rota sometime this month. How was your trip? Did you stay aboard or at a hotel? Do any diving?

Jeff said...

Put up your latest column so i can give you a hassle about it.

Jeff said...

That's not exactly my quote. Here it is:

New Rule. If you let your pre-teen shoot off fireworks over the holidays, you earned a nomination for worst parent of the year regardless of whether junior escaped the event without blowing off his testicles. Kids are supposed to do do stupid things, which are even more prevalent when they are handed over cheaply made explosives. The "pretty colors" aren't worth the price of a couple fingers, not to mention the public nuisance being inflicted. You the parent are supposed to stop your kids from doing these dumb things, not enabling them. Junior is not that far removed from trying to eat bugs and not being able to dress himself. Handing your kids cheap fireworks from China -- a place where people think a good business proposition is borrowing thousands of dollars or several times your net worth from a loan shark to hand over to a recruiter for the right to work for $3.55 in the dying CNMI garment factories -- probably isn't very wise.

Brian said...

We enjoyed a excellent sail down.
The place to dock is the Rota West Harbor. Enter through a small pass in the reef. Two shore mounted green range lights/markers keep you in the center of the pass.
It's a small protected marina with 12 slips.
Funded by DFW and the slips are free up to a week or so. There can be a swell rolling in to the slips so lots of lines and fenders help. Walking into Songsong is easy.
The sail back can be difficult with lots of tacking if the wind has any sort of NE component. With due east winds you can make Tinian in one tack (10 to 12 hours). Anchor inside the reef off the south end of casino beach and take a break.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Thanks for the sailing update, Brian. I will be going down there pretty soon so really appreciate the input.

I've sailed down and stayed inside the Tinian harbor, Brian. There is one place on the south end of the inside harbor seawall deep enough to moor a full keel sailboat.

Yeah, Jeff, I was more than a week late putting this week's SG up. Soon. I'm sure I'll be devastated by your comments. (:-))

You should think about coming with me on the Tackless to Rota for more diving instead of Palau or PI.

A day down and a day back and lots of diving during a few days stay.

KAP said...

So controls are ok as long as they're your controls?

My son gave me a firecracker the size of a California Seal. He had the good sense not to set it off himself. From 30 feet away I got a shockwave.

I didn't sell fireworks this year because of irresponsible parents. They were giving fireworks to kids I wouldn't sell a lighter to. Also, there are too many yahoos who think it's funny to throw firecrackers at people.

All in all, your powder is wet.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Must have been a small seal.

Your choice, and rightfully so, to sell or not sell fireworks, lighters, cigarettes, puga or anything else you want to sell. Whether considered 'dangerous to health' or not.

Not your choice, nor should it be the government's perogative either, to tell me what fireworks to to buy or how to use them.

A reasonable compromise might be to set time limits on fireworks ignition and/or to require basic training. I prefer no restrictions. If someone throws a firecracker and you can't handle it yourself. Call a cop or sue the guy if damage is caused or threatened.

Relying on a government to do a better job of fireworks displays is probably going to disappoint you in a major way. Think $6000 toilet seats.

My powder is fine, thanks.

Jeff said...

I had some kids throw one that landed under my car, probably not too far from my gas tank. Suing the guy wouldn't have helped if I died, or if something happened to my wife or kids.

Bruce, the simple fact of the matter is that there are tons of idiots out there. It would be nice if we were all responsible and didn't need government intervention, but a lot of people are pretty fucking stupid, so what theoretically sounds good doesn't work in reality.

A G Gatto said...

Hey, Bruce..

lol. Our electric bill for 1 month in 3 rooms was $320.

I see you went down to Rota. Too bad it wasn't earlier. We'd have made you some dinner and you'd have brought us a non Bud lite oriented beer!

The swimming hole is one of the things I miss. That and riding my bike up to Teteto beach.

The guy who does the golf course at the Rota Resort is a really nice guy. His name is Russ. If you mention to him, the guy and his wife who shared the plane to Guam by bartering his potato sack weight against their suitcases, he'll probably remember us and give you the grand tour.

I still have his card. In my drunkenness, I always think to call him and thank him, but then I just pass out.

I hope you guys are doing great!



KAP said...

Fine libertarian sentiments, which I agree with in an ideal world. Here we are in this one.

How many people are suing now? Most don't report anything, those that do are laughed off by the cops and if they're persistent, laughed out of court.

If'n you weren't just funning me, a California Seal is a charge, about a quarter stick of dynamite I was once told. They used to show up because of the late lamented Tinian tuna transhippers. Handy to break up the frozen fish, I was also told.

On the kid thing, your guess is as good as mine. There are at least 37 schools of child-rearing. I borrowed from two or three and just try to be consistent. No means no and maybe doesn't mean 'yes, if you bug me enough'.

Oh, and the little people are aces at digging out differences between parents and using them to their own advantage.

glend558 said...

Hey Bruce:
So what is the real skinny on fireworks? Are there new rules or just talk about it. Next if there are new rules being enforced where can I find them, or do you know what they are. Send me an e-mail if you can help me with this subject. I'll appreciate it. I need to know as the Chinese New Year is upon us.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Thanks for the child rearing advice, Ken. No is NO sounds like a good rule, and one I try to uphold, but they can make it damnedly hard to enforce sometimes. "Moms", at least his, seem to cave a bit easier.


Hey Rota Boy! Glad to hear from you. Are you two back in the states?

Hope you are doing well.

Jeff, when they throw a firecracker under your car it may be time to jump out and kick a butt or two....or maybe return the firecracker favor. Sometimes relying on the govt just doesn't work, or takes too darned long, as you and Ken both pointed out.