Sunday, August 26, 2007
Here is where I need your help. I've moslty been busy this past week putting the finishing touches on a book I've been working on. It's titled "World Peace, a Blind Wife and Other Intriguing Matters," from a Goofball Eye Surgeon in the South Seas. It's a collection of about 50 of the most popular columns I've written for the Tribune over the past few years. If you like my writing, I need your help. I need some testimonial "blurbs" that will go on the back cover and in the first few pages. I'd like to invite you to provide a blurb for the book. If the publisher prints the blurb, it will include your name and other identifying data (your blog, the name of your business, your URL, etc.). Just let me know how you prefer it to appear.
Usually these sort of blurbs are just a few sentences long, and give your general impression of the book or author. Some blurbs include why you liked the book and why you would recommend it. Just pick up any book and turn to the back cover and you'll get a good idea. It's there to help a person decide if they want to read it.
If you aren't from Saipan and haven't seen my columns (or if you need to refresh your memory), I can send you an excerpt from the book (click on "About Me" over on the right for my email address). If you are ready, send me a blurb by email, or leave it as a comment here.
My deadline for these is Friday. I appreciate your help.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
MARINE WATER QUALITY REPORT
For the week of August 23, 2007
The Division of Environmental Quality has raised the red flag on 17 sites on Saipan and advises the public not to fish or swim within 300 feet of these locations for the next 48 hours or until otherwise notified.
The agency said samples collected from Nikko Hotel, Aqua Resort Hotel, Tanapag Meeting Hall, Central Repair Shop, DPW Channel Bridge, S. Puerto Rico Dump, Smiling Cove Marina, American Memorial Park, Outer Cove Marina, Micro Beach, Hyatt Hotel, Fiesta Resort, Fiesta (Dai Ichi) Drainage, Hafa Adai Drainage, Garapan Fishing Dock, Garapan Beach, and Community School Beach contained excessive concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria-enterococci-that exceeded the CNMI Marine Water Quality Standards.
These bacteria can indicate the presence of human and animal waste in the water. However, studies have shown that storm water runoff in tropical environments may also contain these bacteria from the natural environment, which may not be directly associated with public health concerns.
Water samples collected this week from Tinian and Managaha Island passed water quality standards and are assigned green flags.
DEQ analyzes samples of marine recreational and storm drainage water from 38 locations on Saipan, 10 on Tinian, and analyzes a total of 11 samples from the shore surrounding Managaha. The agency welcomes all inquiries as to the quality of the beach water. The public is encouraged to contact DEQ at 664-8500 with any questions concerning this matter.
DEQ would like to create a mailing list for individuals and organizations interested in receiving marine water quality reports (red flags) on a weekly basis. If you do not wish to receive red flag notices, please reply to this message.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Friday, August 17, 2007
So, Mara’s mother, Carol did arrive safely on Saipan to start her life here. Mara met her in Hawaii, and helped her get her five dogs and three cats smoothly through Japan and on to Saipan. Carol has settled into her house in San Vicente, and has been struck by how nice people are here. (That seems to be a recurring theme among visitors to the Marianas.)
The renovation of two buildings at Brilliant Star went smoothly. I really wasn’t as involved as I had expected because Rob was there every day and took care of everything. The contractor, USA Builders (formerly USA Fanter) did a good job, and I’d recommend them. They got everything done in 40 days, and Rob spent a lot of time trying to ensure that the CUC power hookup happened on time. It did – two days before the start of school. We scrambled on the last weekend to get the campus cleaned up, and with the help of these parent volunteers, school opened on Monday.
Our family celebrated two birthdays this summer. For Mara’s, we took advantage of the Sandcastle special and went, for the first time, to watch the show. It was good, and everyone enjoyed it. When I was growing up, I used to really like sleight of hand, and I learned to pull a coin out of the air, and make it disappear, and I could triple cut a deck of cards with one hand. But for the life of me, I just couldn’t figure out how these guys at Sandcastle could keep making live doves appear out of no where. It was a good show, and worth the $30 per adults (kids were free), though there was a little more flesh in the performance than I expected to see at a family show. What’s up with that?
We also celebrated Nava’s birthday with a trip to Managaha, a ride on the go-carts, and she, blowing out her candle at the exact moment she was born. This was important to her. Mara and I freaked out briefly when we realized that now that she’s nine, her time with us is half over. Nine more years, and she’s gone. That depresses me thinking about it. She does say that after college she wants to come back and live in Saipan. I would love to be able to spend the rest of my life around my kids and their families, like the way families are here. But the rest of the world is a mobile place. It’ll be nice to visit them all over the world too, if that’s where they end up.
The kids stayed busy and happy during the summer, and we stayed on Saipan. We had thought of taking a brief trip, maybe to Bali or Cairns, but, honestly, it ain’t easy traveling with four kids ranging in ages from 2-8. So, since they weren’t going crazy, we decided to just say put.
Other big news of the summer was that we got our daughter, Jaleh’s passport. Hooray! She now has proof of her US Citizenship, and it will be a lot easier to travel as a family now that we don’t have to apply for the visas for her Chinese passport. A big thank-you to attorneys Glen Jewel and Rex Kosack who helped us with the adoption, all pro bono.
As an aside, adoption is a very common thing here in Saipan. At our kids school, which has 100 or so kids, there are 10 kids that come to my mind immediately that are adopted. A few of the attorneys on the island have adopted kids, and as part of their community service, they help families with adoption legal work on a pro bono basis.
Soccer has been great, and from my other posts you know I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s also inspired me to get into better aerobic shape. Last week I did something I hadn’t done since college: I ran two miles. I hate hate hate running. But now that I’m doing it for a reason, I’m more willing to do it, even though I still hate it. I find running so boring that usually after 10 minutes, I just say, “okay, I’ve had enough.” It might help me to run with someone, just to have some conversation and keep my mind off the monotony. Anyone want to run in the mornings early?
Russ has offered to take me out biking, so as soon as my “form-enhancing” shorts arrive, we’re heading out. (No cameras allowed).
Work was good this summer too. Now that I’ve been focusing on seeing the patients who are the most complicated and those who are surgical patients (while Mark focuses on everyone else in our practice), I really look forward to going to work. I love operating. Bev asked me if she could come watch some surgery, and I’m happy to arrange it for any other friends.
That’s it. The summer was good. I’ll add some pictures to this post later.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
A couple of his posts really went deep, like this one. And today, while I was in surgery trying to concentrate on removing a cataract, this one (which is hilarious) kept popping into my head.
There is clear evidence that beneath the persona, there is a profound mind at work.
So, I pass the Thinking Blogger award on to Saipan's own Einstein in the Sand. Nice work.
The following is an excerpt from Happy Pocket Full of Money By David Cameron.
"Cause others to experience wealth massively, increase their wealth consciousness massively, and you will experience wealth massively. Look at life today. Any business that deals with the increasing of people’s productivity and connectivity always becomes a very big self-sustaining business. It may not be a perfectly good business, but it is big and self-sustaining. Software, networks, transport, electronics, and such businesses improve people’s productivity and
standard of living and in return, they grow. But that is only a scratch on the surface. Even more magnificence will come our way when we start building businesses that deliberately are designed to give rather than receive. Businesses designed to cause first that other people get wealthy. Future businesses will be designed to cause growth that is true growth and not growth with serious side effects somewhere else. These businesses will cause elevation of populations
from a lower standard of living to a higher one, and elevations in their consciousness and well-being. The more you cause others to have in wealth, the more you will have in wealth, effortlessly."
"The leading causes of death were
- Tobacco (435,000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths)
- Poor diet and physical inactivity (400,000 deaths; 16.6%)
- Alcohol consumption (85,000 deaths; 3.5%)
- Microbial agents (75,000)
- Toxic agents (55,000)
- Motor vehicle crashes (43,000)
- Incidents involving firearms (29,000)
- Sexual behaviors (20,000)
- Illicit use of drugs (17,000)."
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Instead of a press pass, I thought about going anyway, and wearing my NMIFA soccer ID around my neck, and carrying myself like I belonged in the front row. That kind of stuff always works for me.
But, ultimately, I think I decided that I've already heard all the points of view on this. And I don't want to hear them again. Some of them churn my stomach. Plus, I don't like to be in places that require a lot of security. I don't' worry about the threats. I worry about the security guys walking around with those M16's, looking a little unsure about what to do other than just spray. It was pretty freaky after 9/11, driving up the airport here in Saipan, seeing these guys in full combat gear, walking around with their machine guns. I actually asked one of them, "Is that a real gun?".
So, anyone going?
Saturday, August 11, 2007
The vast majority of diseases in America and its outcroppings like Saipan are "lifestyle" diseases -- heart disease, diabetes, cancer. You get that stuff because of the way you live -- eat high fat foods and live a sedentary point and click lifestyle. The way to determine where a country is on a developmental scale is to look at their diseases. Developing countries deal with infectious disease. People die of things like measles, influenza, etc. When they reach a level of affluence where they can afford high-fat foods and a higher percentage of animal products, then they begin to experience diabetes and heart disease.
In medical school we had exactly one day of lecture on nutrition. But this is the key to treating almost every disease that we face. Even if you don't exercise much, if you eat well, you'll do well. All the new fangled drugs to treat high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, are really just a testament to the failure of American medicine and preventive health. Our new dialysis center is a beautiful building that is a monument to the failure of our system to prevent diabetes.
The hard part about preventive medicine is that you require people to make changes before anything goes wrong. They have to realize that the morsel of fat they're about to put into their mouths won't cause problems now, but will lead to a rotten life later.
In reality, it's pretty simple stuff. You gotta stop eating garbage (and honestly, almost everything you eat falls into the category of garbage). You can turn your life around in a matter of weeks. Pick up a copy of Eat to Live. It will change your life. By reading it, you'll likely know more about nutrition and health maintenance than 95% of the doctors you'll ever meet. But don't just read it. Knowledge isn't enough. You have to take action.
Let me know if you need help. If you want to lose weight or improve your health, Eat to Live is the path. I usually help my patients lose about 20 pounds within 10 weeks. I lost 30 pounds in 12 weeks and got down to my high-school weight. That was three years ago, and I've kept it off.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Our family of six stopped by the drive-thru window of a local fast food restaurant because no one wanted to cook. Our oldest son, Arman, who is six, had recently taken a liking to the Smiley Meal. He didn’t really like the food, but he really liked the toy, which is why, I suppose, it’s there in the first place.
We pulled up to the little speaker. “Hello, welcome to Fast Food, may I take your order?”. I’m guessing that’s what she said. You know how those drive-thru speakers can be sometimes – pretty crackly. “Yes, I’ll have a blah, two blahs, one blah, and one Smiley Meal.” “May I repeat your order, sir? That’s one blah, two blahs, a blah, and one Smiley Eel.”
Hmmmmm. I’m pretty sure I said “Smiley Meal” and she probably heard “Smiley Meal” and she may have even meant to say “Smiley Meal”, and it may have just been the speaker crackling, but I’m sure she said “Smiley Eel.” Here on the tropical
The scene flashes across my mind: Arman gets the Smiley Meal box. Everyone is opening their food. He sticks his hand into the box without looking and this smiling slithering sopping wet three feet long eel latches onto his wrist with two hundred tiny razor teeth. He screams! Everyone screams. Food flies! The eel won’t let go! Arman is flailing his arm and the eel is swinging like a fat whip, smacking the other kids as they try to duck. Blood is spurting from Arman’s wrist, splattering the inside of the windows. This is the scene that I imagine, in that split second. Parents are programmed to imagine worst-case scenarios in an instant, as part of an evolutionary mechanism to ensure the survival of the species while simultaneously keeping parents on the edge of insanity. I stare at the speaker and hear. “Sir, will that be all?”
I’m weighing my options. I mean, I really don’t want to end up with a Smiley Eel instead of a Smiley Meal. I’d better clarify things, don’t you think? Well, I break with long-standing character flaws and put my trust in the forces of the universe. “Yes, that will be all.” “Thank-you, next window please.” I pull up with a sense of doom.
She passes the food though the window. The kids are eager. I (while still completely trusting in the forces of the universe, mind you), peek inside the Smiley Meal box. No eel. Whadya know. Silly me.
I pass everything back, shaking my head and chuckling at myself for my ridiculous imaginings. Arman gets his meal, thrusts his hand inside the box, pulls it out screaming! Food flies. Everyone is screaming. It’s minivan pandemonium! “What in Ray Kroc is going on?!,” I wonder, “I checked the box. I swear I did!”
Tears are running down Arman’s face as he clutches something in his small hand. “This isn’t a toy!,” he screams. “Look at this! This isn’t a toy!” (Okay. This here is a little note for Arman’s future college application reviewer or employer or fiancé or whoever decides to google Arman and comes across this column. I’m exaggerating, okay? Arman would never ever respond like this in real life. He’s a great guy and emotionally solid. I’m using artistic license here. Plus, he’s only six.)
I stare at the toy, as do all my other kids, and we agree with Arman’s sentiments: What in the H-E-double-toothpicks is THAT? It’s a sort of demented looking Sponge Bob pin-cushion thing-a-ma-bob. Not much you can do with it, except look at it (which isn’t easy) and throw it away.
Which brings me to my point (yes, there is one). What are they thinking up there at worldwide Fast Food corporate headquarters? These toys last 30 seconds, fill the dump with unnecessary mass, end up in the ocean, or worse, my sock drawer, and have little redeeming value beyond the sale. A toy like this just isn’t very satisfying.
Here is what I propose (and I speak on behalf of all parents). Instead of adding these cheap little toys to the meal, throw in something that will last. Something that will bring joy. Something that will love you back. Throw in a puppy. A cute warm, fuzzy, adorable puppy. (Or even, say, a live chicken.) Now that would be something to cheer about; something to live with and grow with; a pet! And here on
Sure, it’ll take a little extra training to figure out how to safely pass the critters through the take-out-window, across the gap, and into the car window (probably tail-first), but it’ll be worth it. We face a multiplicity of serious issues on our islands, and this is one solution that can definitively address several of our mounting problems simultaneously. The landfill wins, the stray dogs (and chickens) win, the children win, the whole island wins! This is a real solution to a real problem. Let’s generate some discussion on this. Do you think a Boonie Dog offer with every Fast Food Meal with help eradicate the CNMI’s stray dog problem, while simultaneously decreasing solid waste? Click on “Comments” and fire away.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
So, here is another option. A totally new name for the archipelago currently known as the CNMI: Saitiro. That's Sai, from Saipan; Ti from Tinian (not from "a drink with jam and bread"); and Ro from Rota. I like the sound of it... a bit Asian, somewhat exotic. Saitiro.
What do you think? (I'm serious).
Sometimes we forget what we have, and reading this paragraph from Andrew's recent post reminded me that it's the people that make our community.
The most positive thing to note about Rota is that the people of this island, whether Chamorro, mainlanders, Philippines, or otherwise, are all representatives of the salt of the earth. Nay a single soul here has treated us as if we were not part of some sort of family, which is beyond surreal given the world(s) we come from. This unnerving beauty shared among the people of Rota surpasses, even the vast, VAST, beauty of the island of Rota itself...Another recent post describes, with poetic beauty, the feeling of looking across the night to the distant twinkling lights of Guam. It's a haunting picture.
I encourage all the Saipan bloggers to visit their blog and write a little review about it (or if that seems like too much work, just link to this review). Let's let the world know that a glimpse of Rota is just a click away.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Any slogan has to be memorable, unique and descriptive. The concepts are there in this slogan, but I can't remember the slogan. The Hyatt hotels have a similar three word slogan that I also can't remember.
There has been a lot written about marketing and branding. Ultimately, business is all about comparisons. We have to be able to clearly define what we stand for and what sets us apart. What is our USP - unique selling point? What words sum up our spirit? There has to be some direct reference to the fact that we're a tropical island with water, warmth, sand. But that isn't enough. After all, there are plenty of places like that in the world. What differentiates us from the rest? In my mind the key features are the indigenous cultures, the diversity of Asian cultures, the rich history, the people, and the fact that we are in fact not developed to the extent as say, Guam -- something raw about the land. Now, you can't have a slogan that says too many things, because, well, then it's an unwieldy paragraph, not a slogan. You have to capture the gist, the essence in just a few words that anyone can remember.
When I let all these thoughts rattle around in my head, something like "Where Asia Meets Paradise" emerges. Or "Meet the People of Paradise," "Meet the Cultures of Paradise."
What do you think are our unique differentiating features? What slogan comes to mind?
Sunday, August 5, 2007
When we go into our half-time huddles, Angelo and Brad give some pointers, but spend a lot of time encouraging us, telling us what we're doing well. They even say, "hey, we're playing a better team, so don't worry about the score." They don't yell or roll their eyes at missed kicks or bad plays. They're out there to have fun, which makes it all enjoyable.
In order to become a decent soccer player there are really only three things that I need to do: learn to dribble the ball, learn to kick the ball (preferably with some power) and gain some lung capacity. Just these three little things...
Now, on the other hand, I bring three things to my team. First, I'm lighter than most people on the field, which also makes me faster than most. Second, I don't give up on the ball. And, third, I'm fearless. During our last game, the opposing goalie punted the ball out to where I was standing at midfield, and by golly, I got under that thing and headed it. Never mind that I misjudged the distance a bit, so the ball caught me off balance, knocked me to the ground (like some kind of cartoon character getting hit by an anvil) and flew off in the wrong direction towards my own goal. Who cares! I'm fearless.
I'm having loads of fun, and getting into better shape. My legs hurt less now after practices. I can't say that I've gained any soccer skills, but I expect they'll come. This is the most enjoyable thing I've done in a long time.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Thursday, August 2, 2007
I nearly forgot about the last gory eye picture. Bree was the winner of the Hollywood Theatre tickets for two and as a bonus, a Crabby Pattie.
The photo showed that the cornea, that front clear layer of the eye is normal. But the front chamber of the eye -- that space between the cornea and the iris -- is full of blood. That's why you can't see the colored iris or the pupil. Blood inside the front chamber of the eye is called a hyphema. He has a finding that threw most of you for a loop, and that was an air bubble floating up there at the top of the chamber. I put the air bubble there by sticking a needle into the chamber and injecting the air to try to tamponade the bleeding. The yellow-green stuff on the lashes is a dye that is used during the exam to help assess the surface of the eye and to check the pressure inside the eye. The white part of the eye is red just from the general trauma.
Hyphemas usually do well, clearing themselves over a week or two. The dangers are that the blood can clog the eye's drainage system, causing a high intraocular pressure, or that the blood can be there so long that it stains the cornea. This young man did well, with his vision returning to normal over two weeks.