Sunday, November 23, 2008


So, at last, I have some internet. That isn't mine. And nowhere near where I get to live. But at least I get to update my blog this once.

I just got back from an interesting new church just a few blocks from my apartment that captures all the multiculturalism of American Samoa. And by that, I mean that the services are both in English and Samoan, with a translator repeating everything that the English-speaking pastor says. After the service, I was invited out to lunch, and after lunch I was invited to come back to the pastor's house and use their internet. So I still can't send you any of the awesome pictures that I've taken, but the good news is that my computer is on it's way.

After staying up too late to write that last blog entry, I flew out of Vegas and to Honolulu for an expected layover of two hours, which ended up being about 20 minutes, and then more than an hour. The important thing here is that I had to run across the airport to find quick food on a Sunday, and then stay in a weird little "holding area" for passengers headed to Pago Pago that we couldn't leave once we entered. They ended up having to unexpectedly load a stretcher on the plane in order to fly a medical patient out of American Samoa, (Healthcare on the territory, while free, is rather sucktastic, and people that require treament off-island are shipped out for free, which is largely seen as being the best part). If you understood that, congratulations, you are probably smarter than the average employee of Hawaiian Airlines.

But sitting around that much longer wasn't all bad. I got to talk a little longer with a woman I had met just before the flight from Vegas. It turned out that her husband had recently left her, so she was returning to the island for the first time in about 15 years to live with her family for a few months. She was a very interesting person, even if she didn't quite understand that I wasn't going to be working in TV repair. I also met a nice couple who was going to fly down there for a job interview with the hospital, which could really use him. He also had an offer to work in Guam.
I slept through most of the next stage of my flight. We landed in Pago Pago and the first thing I noticed after the door opened was HOLY CRAP HUMID BLAST. We walked around to the baggage claim, where I got my bags, and awesome new stamp on my passport, and went through customs. The customs officer opened one of my two enormous bags, moved about three items on the top layer of my clothes, asked if I was carrying anything illegal or for business pruposes (no), how long I would be here & what I would be doing (around 3 years, working for KKHJ), looked at me like he didn't believe me, and let me through. I then went out and met Joey, my supervisor, and Twinkle, resident crazy character of the station, and her husband, who drove a truck big enough to carry both of my bags. I'm tired of typing in detail, so I'll get to some of the better parts.

My apartment: Amazing view of the mountains from the front porch (which I have pictures of that you can't see), fully furnised, except for a dresser, which I finally got yesterday (some assembly required), a "split" air conditioning, which means that there is one unit in the front half and another in the bedroom, the latter of which doesn't really work, two nice couches and all of the appliances except a toaster (already took care of that). It also features 8 different ceiling lights, all of which work on their own seperate switch.

After thinking that I would have to get my cell phone "unlocked" in order to make it work in a "forigen country" and discovering the hard way that the only guy on the island who can do this set his business hours to noon to 10 PM, according to a piece of paper stuck on the outside of his apartment door. But then he had scratched this out and changed his opening time to 1 PM, because noon was just too darned early. But later that same day, I discovered that it didn't really need unlocking, which saved me at least $20. Huzzah!

In other news, I still can't quite grasp the idea that I actually live on freaking tropical island in the South Pacific.

Next time: Where I work, who I work with, and the awesome projects coming to a TV not-so-near you.

EDIT: The link to the more-or-less complete history of the territory in the previous post said that women and commoners are not allowed to vote here. This is total BS and I have no idea where they got that from. Perhaps it has something to do with the Senate side of the territorial congress, where the Senators are picked by the tribal elders. But that's not even close to what that article said.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It starts...

And so, I have begun my Grand Samoan Adventure.

Even though I'm still on the U.S. mainland.

Right now I'm staying the weekend at my boss's (extremely nice) house in Las Vegas. In fact, you can see a picture or two of it on the website of my future immediate supervisor, which also includes quite a few shots of his original trip down there in 2004.

The flight over here was good. Except that while I was checking in and saying my goodbyes, my laptop fell off of the checkin counter, which I later discovered had cracked the screen. Today I shipped it to my dad, who is either going to get it fixed at this place he found online or send me an almost identical one that he found on eBay. So I guess this means that there is little chance of talking to me on Skype or me posting pictures until I get it back, which I'm guessing will take just over a week. Sorry, iFail.*

Things I've learned about Vegas that I didn't already know thus far:

-There are slot machines in the airport. Larry says they have bad odds.

-It's surrounded by beautiful mountains.

-They have In-N-Out Burgers here.

-Larry's family is really nice.


-That's it.

UPDATE: Larry has now shown me around town and it is awesome. I would show you pictures, but my computer is broken, and I'm not about to put them on the Fuss family computer. I also have awesome video of the fountain show in front of the Paris Hotel and the giant LCD screen show downtown. More when I have the pictures to show you.

But the good news is, I have plenty to tell everyone about where I'm headed. There are a lot of interesting things that I've already learned about American Samoa. It took long enough, but I finally found a more or less complete history of the territory. I would just like to point out that 1) John Williams, the first missionary to the island, was indeed eaten by cannibals, but not Samoans. 2) Holy crap, there is a lot of whining in the last two paragraphs about how the US government "smashed the Samoan way forever" when they brought in all kinds of foreign demon things like running water and electricity in an attempt to fix the standard of living there. My personal favorite part is where they say that the US introduced juvenile delinquency to the territory. You know, because kids there were perfectly behaved until that darned tuna cannery showed up! They also conviently left out how free health care was brought in, but I digress.

In reality, Samoans are still very much about preserving the fa'Samoa, or traditional Samoan way. Obviously it's less about wanting to live in a fale, or Samoan hut, and more about the language and culture. They hold a traditional Pacific Arts festival annually, as well as a tattoo festival. Larry also owns a radio station on the island that mainly plays Samoan music, which is very popular. I have been told by at least one Samoan already that a good story idea would be on the balance that modern Samoan youth try to find between being an American and a Samoan.

Since then, there have been a few moments where the rest of the world noticed the territory. In the 1920s, anthropologist Margaret Mead wrote her famous book, Coming of Age in Samoa, which is where I got the name of this blog. It became an international best seller, possibly because a lot of it was about sexual permissiveness among Samoan teenagers and brought much attention to Samoa and anthropology.

And then it turned out that all of that stuff about the sexual permissiveness was wrong. She had actually gotten all of her information from a small handful of Samoan girls who had been pulling her leg after being asked all kinds of crazy questions about whether part of the fa'Samoa was sleeping around. So this handful of teenage girls essentially fooled Mead and the millions of people all over the world who read her book with a bunch of dirty jokes.

This makes them awesome.

American Samoa was then ignored until it's modernization in the 60s, and then was written about in the 1970s book Tales from the Margaret Mead Taproom. It's by Gary Trudeau, author of the Doonesbury comics. Despite this, the book is actually funny.

Most recently, there was a bit on it last spring on The Colbert Report. You can watch it by clicking here and then scrolling 3/4 of the way down the page. Do it. It is awesome. It is also your prize for reading this entire entry.

More on what I'm actually doing once I actually get there.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Be Prepared!

Once I get to American Samoa, I'll begin writing about my life there in this blog. If you're lucky, I might even write an entry before I leave on November 14th. Stay tuned!*

*Haha, lame TV-related joke