Saturday, September 29, 2007

What's good about this football season so far

The best thing so far this season is Notre Dame is bad. Really bad. Bad like the Huskies were when Gilbertson was the coach. Washington's excuse then was that there was poor recruiting under Neuheisel and Gilbertson was put in a tough spot. I don't believe this excuse and feel that had UW not abandoned Rick (and/or Rick could keep out of trouble) there never would have been this bad stretch for UW because Rick could win with the guys he had and nobody outcoaches him on GAMEday. Notre Dame has no excuse: they have had highly rated recruiting classes for several years. Tyrone Willingham's classes were pretty highly rated, and Charlie Weis's classes have been highly rated.

I should clarify that I have always hated Notre Dame. I hate how they are always overrated. I hate that they are always on TV. I hate that occasionally a good recruit from Washington who is Catholic will choose 4 years out in the middle of Indiana over Montlake. I hate that they had to make a rule about minimum wins to be eligible for BCS games because Notre Dame makes a BCS game if they win 6 games. I hate that Notre Dame is almost guaranteed 6 wins a season because they usually play that many teams that are horrible. They don't have to deal with the grind of playing a tough conference schedule. I hate Notre Dame because they produced Rick Mirer and inflicted him onto me for several years of awfulness:

I liked Bob Davies because Notre Dame wasn't very good while he was coaching. But, they finally fired him. Then they hired George O'Leary. I thought that was a great hire for Notre Dame because they would probably continue to suck under O'Leary. Then, they found out that O'Leary fabricated his resume and they un-hired him. I didn't like that because I was afraid they would get someone good with a second chance. Then they hired Tyrone Willingham and I was dejected. I regarded Willingham as the second best coach in the Pac-10 behind Rick. He took Stanford to a 9 win season season. Another season he took them to the Rose Bowl. Stanford! In the Rose Bowl! As I feared, Willingham took Notre Dame to a 10 win season right away. Then he had a couple down years. In his third season, Notre Dame won 6 games, but still went to a bowl game. At this time, Washington was looking for a coach. I was hoping that UW would re-hire Rick, but knew that would not happen. The next best thing would be if Notre Dame lost their mind and fired Willingham. Despite the fact that of Willingham's own recruits that redshirted, he only had sophomores that season, he was fired by Notre Dame. Washington hired Willingham right away. Jim Mora Jr. had just taken the Falcons to the playoffs and couldn't leave then so it was an easy call. The Huskies are getting much better after being completely decimated by the loss off Rick and the transition to Gilbertson.

Notre Dame hired Charlie Weis with to a big contract:

He has since gotten the stomach bypass surgery and his frontbutt is now down to the size of a Newfoundland.

So what did Charlie Weis do? Well he inherited Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija from Willingham. They were good enough as juniors to make the Irish pretty good. After ONLY 7 GAMES AS HEAD COACH Notre Dame gave Weis a 10 year, $40million contract extension.


They won 9 games and went to the Fiesta Bowl with those guys. Last year they started out well and were even ranked as high as #2. Ah, but #2 of a different sort was how they played at the end of the season as Notre Dame lost its last two games by at least 17 points.

This season, the coaching genius of Charlie Weis is really carrying Notre Dame. He is such an offensive master that until last week, the Irish had negative yards rushing for the season. Here's how the season has gone so far:
Georgia Tech 33- ND 3
Penn State 31 ND 10
Michigan 38-0 (pssst, they lost to Appalachan home)
Michigan State 31- ND 14 (Weis told a group of boosters that they would never lose to MSU as long as he was the coach)
Purdue 33 ND 19
That is 0 and 5 without Samardzija and Brady Quinn. Weis needs the Quinn. At least Notre Dame doesn't have to worry about looking for a new coach though because they already committed to that 10 year $40M contract.


It is almost GAMEtime for the Huskies vs. USC. You can't spell suck without usc so I'm revising my prediction:

UW 37
USC 35

Friday, September 28, 2007

Addresses in Samoa

There aren't any addresses in Samoa. I have had to get everything sent to my work PO Box. The problem with that is that the guy that is in charge of the mail is INCREDIBLY lazy even by local standards. He might check the actual PO Box, but he won't ask for the big tub of mail that he knows (or should know) is there---because there is one for our office every time since about 40 people get their mail there. So many people get their mail there because there are no available PO boxes.
Our mail guy has 2 jobs. Empty our garbage and get the mail. OK, sure technically he is supposed to keep the office clean, but there's no way he can be made to do that, so he just has take out the garbage and get the mail and he has to cram both of those things into an 8 hour day (he has to clock in and out or he'd just leave at 830am). He often comes back with 3 pieces of mail for the whole office. I ask him if he asked for the rest of the mail. He'll tell me he did. This is a total and verifiable lie because I know for a fact there are Netflix movies waiting for me because I got the email that they were sent last Wednesday, and now it is the next Tuesday. The movies were there since Friday. He'll just straight out lie and then go back to making his football picks or sleeping. He has no other job to do (since he won't do the cleaning job- who could expect that anyway from someone who's job title is janitor).
Anyway, as a result I have tortured the post office guys by continually going into the office and asking if there is any mail for me. The drill goes:
"Hi, can I get the mail for Box 7- the AG's office?"
"You have to have the key."
"I know, but our guy said he got the mail and I know he didn't"
"We have been instructed to not let the AG's office pick up the mail before they check the slips in the box"
"I know, but our mail guy just won't do it and I don't have the power to fire him."
"Can't you get the key?"
"I asked for it, he said he lost it...but I know he is lying."
Big sigh, "OK, but this is the last time...I'll go look."
This drill was repeated over and over. I went in last week for the second time and tried to get the mail and the guy said that he really can't get it for me because there was a written note about our office to the post office employees to not let us do that anymore. I asked if there were any post office boxes (I knew there were not). The guy referred me to another guy to ask. I waited for 10 minutes while he helped someone fill out their passport. Maybe it was 15--it seemed like forever since I knew the guy was going to just say nope, sorry, they are all full. A lady tried to cut in front of me after about 10 minutes, but I gave her the I haven't gotten my mail in 2 weeks; don't even think about it look.
I walked up and took my turn and asked if there were any PO boxes available.
"Sorry, they are all full. There might be some available in Leone."
Leone is on the other end of the island and is not a realistic option from which to collect my mail. Plus, I know that now all the Leone boxes are full as well and I suspect that this postal worker knew that too.
I gave him my best dejected look. "Is there a waiting list or anything?" I also know that people have been put on a waiting list, but those people suspect that this list is not respected or worth anything.
He looked me over and said, "no, there's no waiting list. You kind of just have to be here at the right time."
"OK." I was defeated.
"Check back Monday, there might be one Monday. I think maybe there are a couple boxes that might get cleared out this weekend."
This was actually encouraging because usually if Samoans blow you off, there's not so much detail put into it. They just say, -yeah, Monday, come back Monday.-
I said ok, and was at least a little encouraged, and started to slowly walk out- having been beaten by the mail again.
" work at the AG right?"
I said that I did.
"Uhhh, come back over fill this out, I'll go check to see if maybe there is one."
He'd given me the form to fill out to get a PO Box. I figured if he got the form out for me, he was going to hook me up- especially since he told me how much it was ($25). After about 60 seconds, he came back and said, "looks like it is your lucky day. We happened to just have one come available."
So, it is a miracle. I have a PO box of my own.
My new address is:
PO Box 8188
Pago Pago, AS 96799.

So maybe you are wondering what you tell them if you order pizza delivery if there are no addresses. Keep in mind that I live right off the main street and maybe 1 mile from Pizza Hut. There are lots of houses that are up several dirt roads in valleys.:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bill Bavasi

Whose stats are these?
Called up August 7, starting 2B since August 12: BA: 288 HR: 3 RBI: 21 R: 27

Why is this guy smiling? Because he inexplicably is not fired and will be retained for another year. Bill Bavasi would have probably been given some credit for turning the M's around to 2nd in the division and 2nd closest team in the AL from the playoffs if this was Kansas City, Oakland, or Pittsburgh. The Mariners have the 6th highest payroll in baseball and they still suck. At least their pitching sucks. The Soriano trade is just unacceptable. We took one of the top setup guys in baseball who wants to switch to starter and traded him for THE worst starting pitcher in baseball. I don't fault him terribly for the Sexson or Beltre deals. They had to do something and there wasn't much else out there. But, they should have gotten Vlad Guerrero the year before for much less than Beltre and Sexson. But Bavasi just didn't. We got nothing for Carlos Guillen. We got nothing (as it turns out) for Freddy. I think that when you have as much money as the M's do, it shouldn't take 5 years to get back into contention. Their lineup looks pretty fixed, but what is he doing right now? He is going to sign Guillen to an extension. We have Balentien and Jones ready for the outfield with nowhere to put them. There's Morse and Clement in AAA, but no infield or DH spot available. If he is signing Guillen because he's going to trade Clement and Balentien for Santana, do it. I just doubt that he has thought that far ahead. I'm ok with giving McLaren another (1/2) year I guess. They better be ready to get Bobby Valentine or Joe Girardi on the horn in June though if the M's are 8 games back.
Also, the record looks decent, but did you notice that they gave up more runs than they scored? That is not the mark of a playoff team.

Stats belong to: Asdrubal Cabrera. Starting 2B for the Indians. This is the guy that the M's traded for Eddie Perez last year. So we gave up one of our top or second level of prospects for a 39 year old pinch hitter to a team that had no interest in him. Why? Especially when we went ahead and traded for the Indians' other pinch hitter later in the season who is actually good (Broussard) and gave up much less.

I went bowling last night. At home I have a hard time finding bowling balls that have holes close enough together and have fingerholes that are big enough because I use the wrong fingers and mostly power my roll with my wrist. Here, I can't find balls that have small enough finger holes because everyone's hands are so giant. Also, I wear a size 11 shoe or so on the mainland. Without any exaggerating, I have to wear a 7 here and am thinking about a 6 next time because the velcro would hardly buckle. All the bowling shoes are stretched out from everyone's gigantic feet.

I don't like my prediction very much this week for the Huskies. It is at home for Lou Gellerman's last game, but I think USC 33 UW 20. By game time, I'll think differently, but I can't think straight until the cloud of insanity descends upon me right before GAMEtime.

OK, I have to go to the bar association meeting. I don't have to go, but they give us free dinner and I have to go.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fales on Tutuila

Sharon and Maximo found a little fale place that you can stay at for $5 a night on this island. It is pretty nice- almost like being in Western Samoa...except that it is only a 35 minute drive (going 25mph) instead of a flight.

There are several fales close to the beach.

They don't provide food or bedding, but you can drive right there, so it is kind of like car camping. Very nice.

We had tons of food anyway. NOAA Eric was our grillmaster for the evening.

After dinner we had a bonfire on the beach.
The snorkeling there is pretty good as well. There is a nice dropoff not far off shore and there is no ava (death-causing current). I think it might be the most big fish I've seen snorkeling around here. The water is nice but not the totally crystal clear that you find other places on the island. This is due to the fact that there is actually sand on the beach so some of it gets stirred up. It is a good tradeoff I think.

Movie review:
This one is ok. It is pretty entertaining for a while, but during the second part it gets less and less realistic. The same thing happens for maybe an entire third of the movie, just a bunch of guys chase one guy. For a movie that forces you to read, it isn't quite worth it. If you are going for a shoot em up (or spear em up in this case), why bother with making everyone on the cast learn an extinct language and go with subtitles for the movie? 4

Monday, September 24, 2007

If anyone needs a tropical vacation coming up, Shane bought his tickets to come out for spring break. He'll be here March 27-April 4. I'll take some time off then so we can go to Western Samoa or Ofu for a few days.
Of course you can come out sooner if you like. I've got plenty of room.

The Huskies have a tough stretch here. If they can win 2 of the next 5, that might be pretty good. Then they can turn it on and get into a bowl.

Movie review:

Grandma's Boys. This is a good one. It is the type that you can watch over and over and it gets funnier. I need to see it some more, but for now I'm giving it an 8.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


The Mariners have 8 games to go. They need to win them all and hope either the Angels lose all their games, the Red Sox lose all their games or the Yankees win only 2 games.

I'm sure that will happen.


Why things don't work here

I've eluded to the fact that things don't run smoothly here. Nothing here works like you think it should. Some of that is cultural difference, but that's just a small part. By far a bigger reason is rampant corruption.
The lieutenant governor was arrested on federal fraud, bribery, and obstruction charges:
Everyone on the island has known that his arrest had been coming for months.
But, he's still at work. There's no real pressure for him to resign. Until there is some sort of pressure (which there probably won't be) he'll just stay in office collecting a check until he pleads guilty. Then he'll be thanked by the governor for his years of service, he'll go to federal prison for a couple years, then he'll reappear as the director of a government agency here. Seriously, that is probably what will happen.
Here he is with the Secretary of the Interior a couple months ago:

Yup, no problems here.

The legislature here went way over their own operating budget that they set for themselves this year already. The president of the Senate didn't think that was fair because they "needed to spend the money" on repairs of the legislature building and thought that shouldn't/wouldn't count against their budget. So he requested that the treasurer just find them some more money. The treasuerer said he could not legally just find them more money and that they, being the legislature, needed to pass a supplimental funding bill and have the governor sign it. The president of the senate did not understand why they should have to do this and complained. Then they finally figured it out that they need actual legal funding acts to get funding so they passed one and then asked other departments to donate extra money to them. Of course, one of the departments that had plenty of money was mine because we are at less than half staff and give no raises- sure, we have plenty of money...why don't you guys take it and spend it on personal travel expenses...because that is what they will do.

Weave, Aunt June wants to know if you are going to start a new blog. Are you?

Friday, September 21, 2007


This video is great:

I think the "yes!" is the best part or "thank you Joe Peschi".

Court in the Time of Cholera

I didn't feel very well the last day in Savai'i. Then the Tuesday back at work, I could bearly make it in. If there was anyone available who could have reasonably covered for me, I wouldn't have gone in. It was pretty miserable. Then I was mostly sick all week and the next weekend.
The next Sunday night/Monday morning I was super sick. I thought it was food poisoning, but now think it was something like giardia. It was BY FAR the worst sort of intenstinal distress I've ever had. We had eruptions from both ends. Not so nice. I couldn't physically make it in on Monday and I actually called in sick Monday and Tuesday.
About this time my normal, semi-messed up ankles (from mosquito bites and itching) got horrendous. My ankles and calves were disgusting oozing messes that were all swollen up and looked like smallpox. I think that when my immune system bas busy thing to bust the cholera, it let in the leg infection. I should have taken a picture then.
I was better Wednesday and went to work. Thursday, I was back to Tuesday status. I went to work and had court all day- but it was pure torture...just awful. Friday was merely not so good. I slept and did nothing Friday after work. Saturday, I felt better and helped Ruth move, but by the end of it I was exhausted at about 5pm. So, to avoid having my ankles amputated and to avoid dying from cholera/disentery, I broke down and Nate took me to the hospital. They gave me some antibiotics. Things were dramaically improved by Monday. Naomi had the great pleasure of keeping my disgusting ankles covered in fresh bandages. Sorry about that. Now I'm getting close to being back to normal. Even my leg rot has mostly healed. But, it was good times.

My Vonage phone is still down. I'm hoping to remedy that tonight or at least this weekend. We'll see. My cell phone got stolen so at the moment I don't have that either. My home phone is 684.699.8221, but hopefully I'll only need to use that until tonight when my vonage gets fixed. We shall see.

Maybe my sickness was caused by the Mariners. What the hell was that? Say you are leading the wild card race and trail the division leaders by a game or two going into a series with the division leader, what do you want to do? Lose 17 out of 22 games? Well that's how the M's went about it. Simply inexcusable. They have to get rid of Bavasi. We could have gotten something for Soriano or made him a starter instead of ending up with probably the worst starter in the league Horacio Ramierez. I like MacLaren, but I think he probably has to go as well. There's Bobby Valentine, Tony LaRussa, Joey Cora, Larry Bowa, and Joe Girardi. Pick one of them and get a new GM.
The pitching problems are harder to fix. They have Felix, Washburn, and Batista. They need 2 more. Maybe Morrow can be one. The other? Here's who could be decent and available:
Bartolo Colon (hurt- so the M's will probably get him)
Jason Jennings (this would be my pick)
Matt Clement
Kenny Rogers
Livan Hernandez
and that's about it. The rest either suck (worse) and/or won't leave their team.

I'm pretty impressed with the Dawgs so far. It is great that they thrashed Syracuse and beat Boise. The Syracuse game was even on TV here. That was fantastic. They could have beaten Ohio State as well if those two bad plays in the 3rd didn't happen.
This week: UW 30 UCLA 24

Seahawks: Blech! They haven't lost a game that the had won like that since all 3 of those Rams games and the Cowboy game of 3 years ago.
Hawks 38
Cincy 20

Special shout out to Zach Bays: How about those Irish? I think I have 12 more rushing yards so far this season than their entire team; though I am tied with them for wins.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Labor Day weekend, Ruth, Fred, Nikki, and I went to Savai'i in Western Samoa. On Friday though we stayed in Apia and went to Apalua Hights restaurant. It is a fantastic place in this big old mansion overlooking the city. They have terrific food as well. At least I think they do. I'm afraid I've lost my ability to tell what is actually good here since the quality is somewhat less at most places on Tutuila than say the Palace Kitchen (or the Pastime). Anyway, I think I might have had the best sashimi ever there. Really, it was incredibly fresh and as soft as butter. I also had filet mignon which came with 2 filets. Sashimi appetizer, filet mignon and about 4 drinks at the nicest place in the country ran me about $25 or so with tip.

Saturday "morning" we went to the market and then headed to the ferry dock to get to Savai'i.

See our ferry?

That is because the 1pm ferry left at 1240. Nice. We got there at 1245. So, we had to wait until 4, take that ferry,
and then when we got there, the rental car place was closed so we had to take a cab all the way across the island to our place at Vaisala. Savai'i is the largest Polynesian island except for New Zealand and the big island of Hawai'i.

Vaisala is nice though. Nice little beach and pretty decent rooms. The food was ok. I'd rate it slightly more comfortable than a fale resort, but not as cool because you're not in a fale right by the water. Also the food is not inclusive so it is more than 2x as expensive and the food isn't up to Lalomanu fale standards. It is still a cool place, it is just that Lalomanu is awesome.

(I tried to grow a beard)

The next day, we got our rental car delivered to us and checked out the northwest corner of the island where we climbed up a giant banyan tree and took a canopy walk. It is super high up there. I don't think the pictures can really get across how high it really is.

The banyan trees in the pictures got their tops ripped off by Hurricane Val several years ago.

Then we drove to the end of the world.

Around here is the closest you can get on land to the end of the day. The international date line is not too far off the coast. Can you see it?

Then we went to the little town of Manase on the north coast of the island and stayed in fales there. That was a really nice place.

We had a good time hanging out with a cool couple from New Zealand there.

And Fred made some kava:

The next day we headed to the ferry to go back to Upolu. On the way we stopped at this place where you can swim with tons of huge turtles. The turtles are very interested in people.

The market in Savai'i is hilarious. It looks like something you might find in Afghanistan or something. It is definitely wayyyyyyyyyyyy more ridiculous and crappy than anything I've seen in Mexico. They pretty much don't have anything you'd want unless you really need to do some laundry by hand. The floor is mud. The stalls are just jammed together and all have the same things. There are dogs running all over and half of the place is taken up by guys just sitting around playing checkers and smoking- crammed together at sawhorse tables in the mud. I actually enjoyed it though, it looked like I was definitely somewhere foreign. I guess I do live a long way from anywhere.

I didn't feel too good that day. I don't know if I was already getting sick from bad tap water (giardia has been suspected) or if I was about to eat was what actually got me in the future. We went to this 'restaurant' with precooked food sitting out and since I was starving I had some of it- though nothing looked good. My policy about eating things in foreign countries or from vendors is usually take zero precautions. I've gotten food poisoning from this a total of 2 times in my life from a Mexican place in Greece and from a Mexican place in Seattle. Neither place is known for delectible Mexican food. This crap I got was scrambled eggs with sausage and curry chicken. The curry chicken was way below par but edible. The eggs were repellant. Blech. One of the worst items I've ever eaten (look out rotten egg nog).

So we got on the ferry. This time it was the small ferry. The small ferry is about the size of a tugboat. It clearly was not made for hauling passengers. There are a couple plastic chairs on deck. Otherwise there are wood boxes (supposedly full of life preservers). We picked some boxes and sat down.
They looked like good boxes because it had started to rain and they were under cover. And then...

The drainage features of the Lady Samoa II were highlighted. The basic thinking with this engineering is to let the water build up on the top deck and then once the level gets to the inch or two level of the lip around the top deck, just let that water drain wherever. If there are any palagis available, that's the place to drain it. So, we were maximum drenched, sitting in a waterfall for the 90 minute ferry ride. I was cold- which would have been a plus if the ride was 10 minutes, since you are never cold in Samoa.


It was a nice night for the lunar eclipse.
These pictures and video probably suck, but here you go...hope you like crap.

Up to Aug 19

Weave left us on our island to go work for the man. Of course, I hear that they have real restaurants in Chicago and they actually pay enough that he's already bought a house. Whatever. I bet they don't have all you can eat papaya there.

To date, Weave's going away party was the last event that the Assciation actually organized and did anything somewhat planned.
The Friday before Weave's Sunday flight, Nate took the day off work and decorated my porch like a Samoan fale would be decorated for a fa'lavelave. A fa'lavelave is pretty much any big family event, but is usually a funeral or wedding. The whole practice is now a cause of many problems because people are expected to give a ridiculously large portion of their income to these. For example, I had to give $200 for my deceased boss's fa'lavelave even though I hadn't been paid yet at the time and had never met him. Then when it was over, they gave us back $40 and a bag of frozen chicken...very strange, very complicated. Family members that make much, much less than me had to give much, much, much more. Partially for this reason, you see a ton of brand new $45k trucks around the island because if you have the money saved, you'll have to give it at a fa'lavelave so they figure they might as well get something for the money.
Anyway, Nate did a great job getting the place together.

The idea was to treat the going away party like a funeral. We picked up Weave at his house and had a funeral procession around Tafuna. He got to ride parade style in Barbie. Don Shaw provided "police escort" with his scooter.

When someone dies here, you make a t-shirt and buttons to memorialize them. So Nate set that up for everyone as well. Pretty great.

Everyone took turns giving offerings to the spirit of Weave. In Samoan style, the host gives some things back to the offerer. Weave usually did this in the form of making people drink.
Nate served as high bullshit talking chief and was hilarious... and did a fairly accurate representation of some Samoan speeches I've seen. The key there is emphasis by repetition emphasis by repetition emphasis by repetition emphasis by repetition emphasis by repetition, like you say the same things over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over until the audience gets it and/or falls asleep.

We tried to make it as authentic as possible, so Nate also got a #2 size pig for the event:

Everyone brought a ton of food:

There was also plenty brought to drink as well:

The next night, we played poker and Weave won.

Sunday night there was another really big turnout for his final going away before catching the plane...and then he was gone.

Everyone already really misses Weave. The Association now has no direction. So get on it Mike and tell us what we're doing this weekend!

On August 19, the M's were in first place in the wild card and 2 games behind the Angels in the west.