Monday, February 22, 2010

Island Fever

Good news. The island made it through the hurricane with barely a scratch. For whatever reason, it made a sharp turn at the very last second and the eye of the storm passed about 20 miles to the south of the island. Turns out that, like tourists, hurricanes don't want to come here either.

Jamie was the only casualty. And his family is doing better than I thought. Turns out that he wasn't the sole income earner for the family after all (his wife is a teacher) and his family is has strong connections to the rest of the Filipino community and will probably be getting all the help they need. Although his death is still a terrible tragedy, his family is a lot better off than it first seemed. So yeah.

Anyway, I've heard quite a few times that in order to maintain your personal sanity, you need to get off the island at least once every six months. Three months if you count trips to Western Samoa.

I first arrived on this island in November 2008. My first and only trip off was for 48 hours in July, and that was to Western Samoa. That was just over seven months ago. Not counting that brief vacation, I haven't been anyplace other than this tiny island for 1 year, 3 months and 6 days, or 40,003,200 seconds.

And to that I have to say:

Asdlfjk¨hasflkø∑jy&asflkjh afdfucmqieruexn! Uy2@0£uynpolneayƒ¢∞¶• fbae≤.

UYEGRB¥¢•≠¡ycu¡«• Dan Quayle †∑ßheoln§£∂çp]';;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
Sdftrz T.

This past Christmas was the worst. In case being away from home for Christmas wasn't bad enough, about half of my on-island friends went off-island, plus I was going through some crazy unbloggable drama. It got to the point where I was fighting the urge to run outside with a shovel and start digging a hole in the ground just to deal the island a little damage. And I don't even own a shovel.

Hey, it makes sense when you're insane.

But that's all changed now. I finally got to go to Western again this past weekend, to attend my friend and coworker Sene's wedding. And it was amazing. The wedding too. I'm about to start writing about it, and will get the first part published as soon as my Internet connection stops cutting out for hours at a time.

Yes, I realize that the fact that I went somewhere last weekend makes a lot of the details of the second paragraph technically untrue, seeing as it's all about how I haven't been anywhere in ages. I actually wanted to write this entry about a week ago but my connection kept cutting ou

ENDNOTE: Right after I ended this entry with that joke, I lost my web connection just before I could hit "Publish." And I did the same joke with my Facebook status, and the exact same thing happened. Clearly my ISP has become sentient.

February 22nd, 2010: The day BlueSkyNet became self-aware.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Cyclone Rene is expected to hit the island around midnight tonight. Right now the heavy rain and winds are coming in waves that last a few minutes at a time and then disappear. I think they must be the outer arms of the storm waving over the island. It's incredibly weird to be waiting the storm out instead of evacuating, which is the first rule for hurricane survival nearly everywhere else in the world.

I was hoping to blog the whole way through the storm and maybe even provide CNN with more awesome footage, but it seems that ASPA, the territorial power company, is expected to turn off power to most of the island in a few hours, due to the generators requiring someone to stay outside to maintain them. Perhaps I should be using this last hour or so of electricity to cook dinner, but hey.

The hurricane has claimed its first (indirect) fatality. A maintenance worker slipped and fell off of the wet roof of an apartment building while attempting to fix something up there.
Not just any maintenance worker, but my friend Jamie Gulapa. And not just any apartment building, but this one. He was such a friendly guy, always got the jobs done (even the really difficult ones like fixing my air conditioning when I first got here, which required him finding about a trillion different replacement parts), and was always willing to help me get inside whenever I was dumb enough to get my keys lost, stolen or locked inside. It's hard to believe he's gone so suddenly like that. Worst of all, he was the sole income earner for his wife and two kids.

Before work this morning I was in my kitchen eating breakfast and listening to hurricane coverage on the radio via Channel 13 (a slideshow-like channel that I run that carries 93 KHJ as its audio feed) I saw someone climb up onto the roof via my balcony and didn't think much of it, seeing as Jamie and a few others had been working on the roof just a few weeks ago and that's how they got up there. I continued getting ready for work, leaving the kitchen to go shower. It was really eerie to learn I had been on of the last people to see him alive. Even more eerie was what greeted me on my balcony when I came home this evening.

Also, I guess this means he was up there without shoes on. Wonder if that was a factor.

His shoes. And I thought it was surreal to see his car sitting in the parking lot, knowing that it's owner had died.

I'm also kind of glad I hadn't asked him to board up my windows, or I'd be thinking I was the reason he was up there.

In other developments, I'm about as ready for this storm as I can be (minus the windows thing I just mentioned). I even bought and filled a five-gallon water container. I made one last trip to KS Mart on my way back from work today and got all of the remaining essentials: Matches, candles, fresh fruit, and, of course, beer. I also looked around for an affordable battery-operated radio, but I couldn't find one.

KS Mart clearly wasn't thinking of emergencies when they put together their selection of candles. But I'll tell you what, if you're in the market for eensy scented candles, or oversize three-wick Christmas candles (complete with holly), that's the place to go. I ended up buying two candles in glass jars with Spanish-language labels of Catholic saints on them.

I'd like to take this moment to thank my sister for sending me a case of AA batteries as part of her Christmas presents. Anna, I don't really know what you intended them for, but as it turns out, I have a battery-operated radio after all: my portable CD player that happens to have an FM radio, last used right before I got an iPod nearly four years ago. Thanks, Anna!

Anyway, time to try and microwave some Bagel Bites before the power is cut off.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Text Color

-UNNY how these things go. One day you're frantically preparing for a cyclone, and the next day there's a cyclone bearing down on the island. Seems like just yesterday I was vaguely aware that this cyclone was headed this way.

By the way, if you look at the center of that image of the approaching Cyclone Rene really closely, you can see the red outlines of the two bigger Samoan islands, which gives you an idea of scale. See them, just to the left of the main part of the storm? Aren't they cute?

You can also watch an animated weather map of it here. Assuming both that you have a halfway-decent Web connection and are not reading the archived version of this post in the distant future.

It's a "cyclone" here, not a "hurricane," even though they're really about the same thing. It's mostly being rated on the Fijian version of the cyclone scale. Currently, from the best source I can find (a bunch of weather geeks posting updates to a forum I found on Google) it's currently a Category 2 Tropical Cyclone, which would be a Category 1 hurricane on the superior American system, with winds of about 65 MPH.

Also, since it's in the Southern Hemisphere, it's going to be rotating in the opposite direction. A "reverse hurricane," if you will. Therefore, it should be building up everything in its path instead of destroying it. That's how a lot of people I've talked to are reacting, anyhow.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What you really come here for! watch commercials!

...that I made!

Now that I'm done abusing ellipses like one of those printed signs on the wall of a public bathroom around here telling people to flush¹ (yes, people here frequently need to be reminded of that sort of thing), here they are:

"Tausala" is Samoan for "beautiful maiden" and "E lava a oe i le tasi" translates to "One is enough." Which I assume you can figure out is a pun of sorts.

Flush toliet...

(That would waste a LOT of water)