Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, April 22nd., 2008

Welcome USS Higgins
Once again we have a US Navy vessel in port, the USS Higgins DDG76. The Higgins is an Arleigh Burke class Destroyer, meaning she is a modern, extremely well equipped warship carrying a variety of armaments and a finely honed crew of technical experts and professional sailors.

The crew of the Higgins has been on deployment for some time now and are here to get some much deserved rest and relaxation. If you have never been to sea, take it from me that everyone on board works long, exhaustive hours to make and keep a Naval vessel ready to respond instantly to any call. They need a rest.

Sailors, you will find Saipan a very military friendly place to spend some time. The scuba diving is great here fellas, as is the golf…world class in both cases. There are scores of great restaurants, outstanding resort hotels, and good shopping for those items to take back home. Bars, lounges and nightclubs abound too.

Charter fishing, snorkeling and many other water sports are available (I will volunteer to take a few of you sailing if you want to go - many others will volunteer to help you out too). Hikers will find lots of jungle trails to keep them busy (check out the Hash Run each Saturday at 3:30PM – meet at the Bank of Guam parking lot across from the Hard Rock). The Flame Tree Festival sporting food, music, dancing plus arts and crafts is coming this weekend too. Finally, Saipan and Tinian are filled with historical and cultural sites that invite exploration.

We welcome you, Officers and Crew, one and all!!
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Will I live to see 80?
A friend of mine wrote to me recently saying:

I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, he said I was doing 'fairly well' for my age. A little concerned about that comment, I couldn't resist asking him, “Do you think I'll live to be 80?” He asked, 'Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer or wine?” “Oh no,” I replied, “I'm not doing drugs, either.”
Then he asked, “Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?” I said, “No, my former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!” “Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?” “No, I don't,” I said. He asked, “Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?” “'No,” I said .

He looked at me and said, “Then, why do you even give a darn?”

I find this exchange pretty enlightening. Its allegory bids us to do the things we are interested in doing while we can still do them. If you like to dance, well then dance before arthritis or gout sets in and leaves you sitting on the sidelines.

This advice seems to work for countries as well as individuals. Pozzolan is in the news again, and according to the last expert hired to go up and take a look at the stuff lying around Pagan, because of erosion there is a whole lot less of it now than was reported to be there 15 years ago. The money that natural resource could have provided to the whole CNMI during the last 10 years of economic decline might have made up the difference and our lives and infrastructure might be a lot better now. Maybe we would have a first-world power generation system instead of what we have.

One thing is for sure, we can’t go back 10 years for a redeux, so all we can do now is fret over lost opportunities and vow to do better in the future. Self interest, eco-advocates, court cases, shady deals, investors with another agenda, political pandering, all have played a role in seeing nothing productive happened. Meanwhile the pozzolan ash slides off Pagan into the sea. Maybe the greatest single cause is simple procrastination. We expect the stuff will still be there as a resource forever so we put off tapping the resource. Some few individuals think it may be bad for us so we all put off enjoying the fruits until now it may be becoming too late to enjoy them at all.

This pozzolan pickle is not the only time we will be faced with a similar dilemma. Do we harvest our resources? Do we reserve the right or fight for the right to harvest our countries resources so we may make use of them when the time is right as other more prosperous nations do? Or do we leave the steak on the platter and die without tasting its abundance?
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Water Power

An interesting alternative to the electric power generation problem we have was proposed a number of years ago but languished and went nowhere because the money was rolling in the early 90’s and we could afford all the then-cheap diesel we needed to run our generator’s engines.

Proposed by Seimens, one of the world’s biggest technology companies, the idea was to have the never-ending action of the sea, power our generators using water movement like many other hydroelectric systems do. Water is trapped and released and its moving energy is tapped to drive electricity generating turbines. They wanted to place it facing into the prevailing seas direction up in Marpi. Back then $45 million would have bought the system, but would undoubtedly cost a lot more now.

The lure was 10 cent per kilowatt power generation payback until the system was paid for then 3 cents per kilowatt cost from then on. Compared to our current costs of 41cents commercial and 25 cents (17 this month, maybe) residential it sounds pretty darned good. The question is, is it still a viable alternative? Is this a real possibility, or just a pipe dream? Having been spurned 15 years ago would Seimens be willing to make another proposal? Someone should take the lead and start checking into this alternative as we look at ways to make our power stay on 24/7 and be affordable. Who will step up to the plate?
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Fire Safety
New regulations will soon require business owners to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from DPW requiring safety checks and adherence to the Uniform Building Code as before, plus a newly created Certificate of Compliance issued after inspections by DPS Fire Division to ensure compliance with the Uniform Fire Code and the CNMI Fire Safety Code.

Pursuant to Public Law 11-56 the new inspections and Certificates will be implemented soon at a proposed cost of $25 for the 1st inspection and additional fees for the certificate itself and for more inspections if a passing mark is not met the first time.

DPS will interact and educate the business public with seminars held at the Rotary Club, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and other venues. Improved fire safety and prevention measures help insure that all of us are less likely to be victims of fire. If you have ever seen or known a burn victim, as I have, you will be more aware of fire safety and be willing to do most anything to prevent it happening to you, your loved ones or the general public.
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Quote of the Week:
We should try to be the parents of our future rather than the offspring of our past. -Miguel de Unamuno, writer and philosopher (1864-1936)


Anonymous said...

"Do we harvest our resources? Do we reserve the right or fight for the right to harvest our countries resources so we may make use of them when the time is right as other more prosperous nations do? Or do we leave the steak on the platter and die without tasting its abundance?"

Thank you Bruce, this is the exact issue that we are trying to get across to the CNMI with respect to the PEW Monument. Those that believe in the sustainable use of our resources (as I) are hard pressed to support something like the PEW Monument that virtually prohibits all extractive uses, whether they are conducted in an environmental sensitive manner or not. It’s also pretty much an irreversible action. They are no “do overs” or “opps” when in the future the CNMI realizes a mistake has been made.


John Gourley

Jeff said...

Do you kill the cow when it is weak because killing it is so easy and you're a bit hungry that day? Do you leave your cow unprotected next to Outback Steakhouse Corporate Headquarters (Japan with its reputation for plundering the seas) and hope they don't eat your baby cow?

bigsoxfan said...

I'll pass on the fish and have a steak, thank you. Actually, I'm going into negotiations shortly with the general manager of the Grand Khan Kempinski Hotel for some corned beef brisket. They don't salt meat here and we'll have to have it flown in.

I'll repost my comment from she/he whose name won't be mentioned here and invite your comments, instead of the anon/hole who felt free to question my mental state.

I don't know diddly squat about the PEW trust other than they have a sound bite on the public radio. Usually, right next to the investment firm, touting thier slogan: "for the greater good" I see protecting the northern CNMI waters as part of that slogan. Protecting fish stocks has to begin somewhere and doing so would take the Gov't reputation a bit further than any number of lobbyists would.

Normally, I'm not a big fan about Federal control of anything except nuclear weapons, but in this case big old uncle sam can save ourselves from ourselves as commercial fishing intrests and stock control don't seem to do a good job of management. Try fishing for cod in the gulf of Maine or Salmon in N. California.

I've seen a lot of fish stocks come and go in Maine and regulation is the only thing which keeps the lobsters going, although they may be bottom dwelling Catholics. Hope it's relevant. Hi to Olivia and Alex. Mark