Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chucky T's


I love my Chucky T's! Thank Goodness I can get them again.
Amelda Marcos eat your heart out,
Chucky T's, otherwise known as Converse All Stars, are the worlds most popular shoe ever. They are comfortable and come in an astronomical variety of patterns. You can get them on line at or

Monday, October 26, 2009



After a weekend of watching football, I wonder just how many commercials can a human take. The commercial breaks far exceed the actual game time. Even though I complain bitterly about the constant bombardment of the inanity and insanity of the ads, I sit there like a duffus. Is this my future?

You could say I have a choice. I can easily turn off the TV or read a book, but how then could I converse with others? I like watching the games, even if my teams don't win. I feel trapped by the inevitability of the tube.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009



To understand Samoan agriculture and my efforts at trying to encourage gardening, you need to understand why I can buy fresh Del Monte pineapples in Minnesota from Costa Rica for less than I could buy them in Samoa where you just stick a pineapple top in the ground to grow a new plant. But to explain this seeming paradox and my take on the reasons requires more effort to explain than I am willing to do, which in a way is an explanation. Suffice to say, making pineapple jam here is easier, but less gratifying than it was in Samoa.

Pineapple can be used as a meat tenderizer, topically applied as an anti-inflammatory drug, or ingested as an antihelminthic, to get rid of parasitic worms.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Saint Lucia?


St. Lucia is an Caribbean island country located near South America in the Lesser Antilles. It is the home for over 100 Peace Corps Volunteers and one Peace Corps Response position for a Program Development Assistant working with the St. Lucia Diabetic & Hypertensive Association which starts this February. This is exactly what I did with the Diabetes Association of Samoa and Samoa's National Health Service. So I have applied for this 10 month position.

Coincidentally, there is a Peace Corps Volunteer in St. Lucia, Karen McCarthy, who has been reading my blog and who contacted me over one year ago about some material which she found useful in teaching computer skills. She is most helpful in putting in a good word to increase my chances for the position. I highly recommend her blog: .

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Survivors" Greatest Villian


My activities have stooped to a low level. I find myself watching the TV program "Survivor Samoa". One of the survivors is considered the most evil and conniving of all the "Survivor" participants.

I found a picture of "Survivors" Russell when he was younger and couldn't help but compare it to one of the current Peace Corps Volunteers on Samoa. Even their Tennessee twang sounds the same.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bulgaria is a NO GO

Heard today from Peace Corps in Washington, DC that the Bulgarians changed their requirements for an experienced volunteer from one to help Sofia University's Business Alumni Center raise money and network with businesses to that of an experienced Career Counselor.

Mary and I were set to go. Now we have to see when or if another opportunity for a person with my background arises. In the meantime...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Window with a View


The view from my condo window is not what many people would call spectacular, yet from it are scenes as amazing and unexplainable to Samoans as the Samoan scape is to those passing below. My American friends remark how they are able to live or sample what my life is like in the South Pacific as if my Samoan host family can understand my descriptions of what life is like outside my window. Ah, but the mind does construct concrete worlds made from imaginary stones.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Crossing Over


Whether you want to or not, you find your surroundings before Peace Corps begin to swallow you up, to redefine who you now are. The activities you remembered while in Samoa are now the activities you do do. What you left, now are what you find routine; you never left them at all. Your tan fades. Your shorts and t-shirts replaced by jeans and jackets. Instead of watching sunrises and hearing the oinking of pigs, you sit before TV's endless stream of car/beer/fastfood commercials interrupted by ballgames as the sounds of the city provide the white noise. There is a mental disconnect between what you are and what you just were. It is finding new meaning in familiar places that makes this readjustment process so difficult.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Update: Bulgaria, Samoa


Our wait about going to Bulgaria is a little bit longer. Peace Corps says the Bulgarians are revising the qualifications for the assignment. Once the new qualifications are determined, the Peace Corps will see if they still mesh with my background. I believe this delay affects Mary as much or more than me. She is ready to go.

Catholic Deacon Tovi'o Mano said in the Samoan newspaper, "The disaster (tsunami) is God preaching to us. This is a message from God for us to look deeply into." Other Samoan clerics have made similar statements. To understand these statements is to get an insight into Samoa and the Samoan mind. While our news explains the cause of the tsunami as a sudden shifting of tectonic plates deep under the sea, Samoans look to their Christian clerics for the answer.

A little discussed fact of the Samoan tsunami was that the hardest hit areas were also the major resort spots. Just when Samoa was enjoying one of its best tourist years ever, the waves washed away the islands most important source of income.

Sunday, October 4, 2009



I am in a state between here and there, this and that, just floating aimlessly, knowing where here and there are or this and that is, but not moving towards anything. The pressure to do something is counteracted by being surrounded by lights stuck on red. I can't remember ever being in limbo while in Samoa where even doing nothing was a part of doing something. Now, as I await word from the Peace Corps as to whether I shall be selected for a post in Bulgaria, I am doing nothing while awaiting something.



Don't ever buy an annuity. I didn't buy one, but ended up getting one years ago when Hartford Insurance bailed out a real estate trust. Now I have to decide how to take the payout. How to get the most out of this meager investment before I die?

The choices are endless. Do I take larger monthly payments until I die, or be guaranteed a certain amount for 10 years with additional payments for life, or a guaranteed fixed amount for a specific time period? The actuarial combinations boggle the mind as you try to outsmart your own demise.

P.S. Since my father and grandfather lived to be 81, I am betting on living till 83 which makes taking the maximum monthly amount, ceasing upon death, worth the extra $10-20/month.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tsunami News


Here are clippings about the recent tsunami/earthquake from various Peace Corps Volunteers and Staff currently in Samoa:

  • "Some absolutely wonderful news is that Filia’s (Peace Corps Staff) two nephews and nieces who were reported as either dead or missing are OK. They were found earlier today in the forest up the mountain where a wave deposited them after being torn out of the grasp of adults. They are OK after a night on their own. Her sister-in-law also was reported as having died, but she is OK, too."
  • "We’ve heard from the Samoa Red Cross that they need volunteers for various tasks, as well as donations of food and clothing. If you want to volunteer your time, go directly to the Red Cross office. If you do volunteer and they send you to the field rather than doing office work, be careful and prepared with shoes (rather than flip flops), water, sunscreen, a little food, a hat, etc. You also can take up any donations of food or clothing, or bring it to the Peace Corps office and we will deliver the donated materials in batches."
  • "Teuila (Peace Corps Medical Officer)has been donating her medical skills, and we also have sent to the Red Cross some food we have been storing at the office for an emergency."
  • "We’re also trying to work the leaders of the villages of Poutasi and Saleapaga (where Peace Corps has contacts), where they have lost family members, to see if they could use our help on Friday or Saturday for relief and clean-up efforts. We thought it best to try to focus our efforts on villages with which our staff members have a strong connection. If so, we’ll send out staff members and PCVs in some of our vehicles. As these plans firm up, I’ll let you know."
  • NZ Red Cross is taking donations for Samoa:

  • "It's very hard to get news. The phones don't work. But I have heard via email that my village of Poutasi was one of the hardest hit. Initial reports are that it was devastated, flattened. One Peace Corps volunteer in country says that there are possibly 50 dead in Poutasi (in a village of 325 people). I heard by email from the Peace Corps country director that one of my family members was killed. Her body was found washed up in a tree after she tried to help some children get to safety. I don't know yet if the others are safe."
  • "The quake, with a magnitude between 8.0 and 8.3, struck at 6.48 am Samoan time on Tuesday and locals said it lasted up to three minutes. According to news reports, eyewitnesses said that over the next 20 minutes there were four giant walls of water, between three and nine meters high."
  • "About 8 minutes ago, we just had a big earthquake. Big. No information yet on the exact magnitude, but it was quite long and certainly big enough to knock over stuff around my house. I'm guessing it was at least a 6.0 on account of the stuff flying about. About 40 seconds in, I grabbed my laptop because I was afraid the cinder block shelf was going to fall on top of it. The quake went on and on and on to the point it felt like it was continuously shaking into the aftershock phase. And we've had a couple aftershocks already."

Check these Peace Corps Volunteers blogs for excellent eyewitness accounts and experiences:


  • Returning New Zealand holidaymakers told of "truckloads" of bodies in the worst hit area on the southern side of Upolo, in Samoa.
  • "We've seen pick-up trucks carrying the dead... back to town," Fotu Becerra told radio Newstalk ZB, the AFP news agency reported.
  • Joey Cummings, a radio broadcaster in Pago Pago told the BBC that he watched from a balcony as a five-metre (15ft) wave struck and "the air was filled with screams".