Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Who cares what a kid thinks?

I have been blessed enough to just sort of fall into a tutoring position as the result of someone whom I met here leaving the island. Initially it was only seven hours a week, but then some more students were introduced and I now am pretty busy tutoring from 10:30 am until 5:30 pm five days a week, plus a few hours on Saturday. It is amazing and humbling and tiring and exciting to see people so excited about learning.

One of my students is a boy named Chris. He is fourteen in Korea, where they began a person's age at conception. Which by the way I think makes a great deal of sense-think about it. But he would only be twelve in America. He is the most advanced out of his family, who have all come to Saipan for a month of intensive English tutoring. He is very talkative and I really like him.

This afternoon we were talking about different types of food and as I pointed at a picture of a supermarket meat case I jokingly asked him if it was American Beef. To explain the joke, he, his mother and his aunt have all informed me that people in Korean don't like American beef. Ya' know, that whole mad-cow disease thing kinda soured them on it. So anyways, I said this jokingly-and the joke was in the inflection of my voice, which is not something that most foreigners can pick up on-and Chris' eyes got really big. His answer came in the excited, elevating voice that is his normal volume of communication with me. (I am going to paraphrase his answer and our dialog in general-doing my best to leave the point that struck me intact.)

"No, no American beef. Is Korean beef. No buy American beef. American cows are crazy," was Chris' response.

"Not anymore," I tried to defend my countries meat practices. "They say that the beef is okay and there is no more mad-cow disease."

His eyes got big again and he responded with words that would have made many people nod in agreement. "We don't believe your president when he says mad-cow disease is no more. Why we believe your president? George Bush is a liar. He attack Iraq and say maaaanny nuclear weapons and so attack Iraq and fight and no nuclear weapons. And he say bin Laden and..." Here he paused and asked me if he was saying bin Laden right-he wasn't, because he pronounces the letters R and L incorrectly unless he makes a great effort to inflect them properly-and what his whole name was. I told him, and he continued.

"Yes Osama bin Laden and he say find him and kill him. And no kill bin Laden. And he really attack Iraq for oil."-(it sounded more like oir)-And he said it questioningly and so we repeated the word 'oil' quite a few times. And then he finished up with "Your president is a bad man attack Iraq for oil and a liar."

A twelve year old. From a country on the other side of the planet. Of course he has heard and absorbed this from others. From his parents, his teachers, relatives and the news. Maybe there is a left-wing liberal party running around trying to convince non-voting, non-citizens of our country and its leaders incompetence. That seems likely. I don't really believe that there is a global conspiracy to make George W. Bush seem like a liar and an imbecile. I realize that this wasn't exactly a scientific poll, that one young Korean boy is not representative of the entire world and its views...but still.

As I sat there and listened to him I could hear the emotion in his voice, the feeling behind his words-and none of this is really that "close to home" for him. It became incredibly clear to me in a moment how young boys are willing to die because of opinions like this. His opinion may not mean much right now. I wonder how many more children there are like him around the world, wondering at American incompetence and ignorance. At our ability to demand righteousness and good behavior from others and our seeming inability to present it in ourselves. Maybe Chris becomes a politician in Korea someday...who knows. Whatever, he's just a kid right?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Brian Regan

Someone else has always said it funnier...
I plan to use this for my tutoring sessions this week...


an email to my father dated April 5th, 2008,
he asked me to 'describe' where i was...

cherry blossoms--white and pink
petals falling down on you like snow
bamboo forests
wind whistling through them
stone cairns
in graveyards from at least a thousand years ago
sounds of trains
beautiful roofs
and houses stacked on top of each other up the mountainside
always rice cooking
and the smell that a city makes when throngs of people stomp around it all day long
oh yeah
apparently japanese as a culture don't wear deoderant
not that bad yet
as the temp is still mild
but i can't even buy any there
maybe in the other places
may need a care package
or maybe its one less amenity to worry about
toliet seats are almost always heated

Friday, July 25, 2008

No Vegetarians Allowed

It began with pork ribs
and about twenty hot dogs
out came the containers of steamed rice
green salad-with apple slices in it-
of course the kimchi.
by the time my plate was full
chicken wings were ready
with some spicy chili sauce to flavor them
followed shortly by beef sliced
the way that I have only seen Koreans do it
some T-bone steaks to add to the mix
and large shrimp followed that
I ended it all up with a tin-foil wrapped potato
a plate full of sliced mangoes that weren't totally thawed
and marshmallows to roast over the dying charcoals of the grill
as children shout at each other in Korean
and I turn down a cold Bud Light...
I realize just how well these folks would fit in
at a BBQ in North Carolina
or anywhere else in the U.S.
if only people weren't so blind to our inherent oneness.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I am busy, busy tutoring students six days a week, for many hours each day.
The owners of the house I have been staying in get home in less than a week.
I need to find a car to purchase.
I feel like every muscle in my body is contracting bit-by-bit each day.
I am listening to My Heart Will Go On...
ok not any more, whew.
I am sad because I really like Saipan but I am trying to make plans for the next year of my life...
and building anything upon the shifting foundation that is this island seems...
either blissfully idiotic
or just foolish.
I don't know
Nor does anyone else
I wish the light at the end of the tunnel was visible...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tank Beach

This past Saturday, I went out to see Tank Beach for my first time since I have been on the island. I went along with Denise, who teaches children's classes on Saturday mornings to a group of kids in Kagman.

At about 9:00 am we had seven kids and the two of us, and we partnered the kids off and gave each set of 'buddies' a bag. I had another bag for Denise and I but didn't bring any extras. We figured we would spend about an hour out there and then head back to the house, only a short five minute walk away from the beach.

We got down to Tank Beach. It looked like a boat carrying plastic containers had dumped its load into the ocean of our coast. The tide line contained as much minuscule broken plastic pieces as it did shells and coral. I was stunned by the amount of plastic out there; from bottles to pieces of crates, from wheels to what can only be described as 'chunks' of plastic. There was some trash that I would describe as "locally grown", styrofoam plates and cups, drink boxes and beer cans, but this was much more the exception than the rule. The one thing that I was really disturbed by was the plastic six-pack rings. Really?!?! Maybe that was in the trash from the sunk plastic boat too...but for pete's sake!!! People! Cut the six-pack rings up so that fish and wildlife don't get stuck in them! It even gives you an excuse to whip out your knives while drinking-which always can make for a good story that the whole family will remember for years to come!

We filled up five trash bags in about fifteen minutes. The kids spent a lot of time examining stuff, we could've done it in about five minutes. We barely made a dent in it. I hope we can get back out there soon, even though that was the culmination of our children's class lesson on service. I feel like we barley scratched the surface. These children didn't seem to know that plastic NEVER will degrade. They didn't know about the danger of six-pack rings, or that many of the bottles we found are recyclable. Maybe a lot of other people don't either.

There's much that can be said about the need for reducing our waste, re-using what we can, and recycling what we are able to. Plastic NEVER goes away!! It isn't out of sight, out of mind anymore either. Just read this article to discover where your plastic has been going...

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Little Boy and the Starfish

One fine warm day, an old man was walking down a sandy, tropical beach. He noticed as he was walking that the tide had brought in a lot of starfish. He started looking at the starfish and admiring their pretty colors as he walked.

He noticed a little boy in the distance was walking towards him, but at a very slow pace.

The reason for the slow pace of the little boy became apparent the closer the old man came. The little boy was also looking at the starfish, but he was doing more. He was picking up those he found and throwing them back out to sea.

"Why are you throwing the starfish back into the sea?" asked the old man. "Starfish die if they're out of their sea water for too long." replied the little boy.

Ever the practical man, he said, "It's a good thing to do, but do you know how many starfish there must be washed up on this beach every day? You can't possibly make a dent in that. What difference can you make in an effort to save starfish?"

The little boy bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it out into the sea, turned towards the old man, and said, "It made a difference to that one."

I challenge you to find a way to make a difference.

Honesty is in our Eyes

I was reading an e-mail from someone who I considered a close friend, someone whom I shared a time in my life with, who I haven't really connected with since last fall. At least I didn't think we had, but I heard rumors of things being said by them that suggested otherwise. The things I heard were only told to me because I asked about them specifically, and they didn't really affect me-but they affected someone else who was close to me. And so I decided to be upset about them. And I have been upset; I have been holding on to a resentment about these words that I didn't hear, that weren't said to me, or anywhere near me, for almost three months now.

I was considering a response to the e-mail I just got, which I believed to be extremely deceitful and insincere. I cannot claim to always being an honest man. I have told my share of lies in my life, and I doubt that I am finished with dishonesty. But I have recently been shocked by the ability to just stare into another's eyes and pretend as if there is nothing to be truthful about. That there aren't things that need to be said, explained, accounted for. I have felt my heart literally break as I stared deep into eyes, waiting for something to be said...and all I got was intense fear. And again, I felt a pain when someone pretended not to notice me, then acted surprised when they saw me. Yet it was a fraudulent act, so clearly dishonest that its a wonder we even kept up the charade of friendliness. This time at least, there was talk...but it was a thin glaze over the words that had been said, and I couldn't help bristle with resentment for the lack of confession and apology I felt was deserved.

And so I was going to write all this to my one-time friend, and as I thought about it I was bowled over by the duplicity of the situation. For while one person was looking me in the eyes and leaving it all unsaid, I was doing the exact same thing to another. Of course, I felt my deception was right. I thought my lie was justified. I wanted to say something, really I did. But I just couldn't bring myself to admit the truth. Face-to-face, I shied away from the truth, and I missed a valuable chance to be a better person. I did exactly that which I was despising.

And while my friend clearly felt uncomfortable around me, and didn't attempt to stay near me, I covered my dishonesty so well that I continued to stay near another, even as I kept up my treachery.

So I cannot reprimand another, for over and over again I find, that I, somewhere-somehow, have been guilty of the same transgression, whether in a lesser or greater degree. And it all makes me wonder...where my eyes as filled with fear as yours were?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My piriformis is sore. Now, since my spell-checker doesn't know what a piriformis is, maybe you don't either. It is a muscle that has it's attachments on the sacrum and the grater trochanter of the femur, and its main action is lateral rotation at the hip joint...or you could say it's a muscle in your butt that turns your leg.

That's it. Hope you weren't looking for a whole lot more.

Oh, and I am absolutely ecstatic right now! I just can't tell you why!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

rainy night

I recently went somewhere special
with someone special
and while we were there I found something special
and i just wanted to share some of it with you
these are just the ones that really spoke to me...

My home is the home of peace.
My home is the home of joy and delight.
My home is the home of laughter and exaltation.
Whoever enters through the portals of this home,
must go out with gladsome heart.
This is the home of light;
whoever enters here must become illumined.

The mother is the first teacher of the child. For children,
at the beginning of life, are fresh and tender as a young twig,
and can be trained in any fashion you desire.
If you rear your child to be straight, he will grow straight,
in perfect symmetry. It is clear that the mother is the first
teacher and that is she who establisheth the character and
conduct of the child.

O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God's sight,
the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children
and train them in all the perfections of humankind;
and no nobler deed than this can be imagined.

If love and agreement are manifest in a single family,
that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual;
but if enmity and hatred exist within it,
destruction and dispersion are inevitable.

And above all other unions is that between human beings,
especially when it cometh to pass in the love of God.
Thus is the primal oneness made to appear;
thus is laid the foundation of love in the spirit.

I have the different source information if you are interested.
Please forgive me for my earlier ranting...I didn't mean YOU.

True Story?

The following scene took place on a BA flight between Johannesburg and London . This is a true story.

A White woman, about 50 years old, was seated next to a Black man. Obviously disturbed by this, she called the air Hostess. "Madam, what is the matter," the Hostess asked. "You obviously do not see it then?" she responded. "You placed me next to a Black man. I do not agree to sit next to someone from such a repugnant group. Give me an alternative seat." "Be calm please, the Hostess replied. "Almost all the seats on this flight are taken. I will go to see if another seat is available." The Hostess went away and came back a few minutes later. "Madam, just as I thought, there are no other available seats in Economy class. I spoke to the Captain and he informed me that there are also no seats in the Business class. All the same, we still have one seat in First class." Before the woman could reply, the Hostess continued: "It is unusual for our company to permit someone from Economy class to sit in First class. However, given the circumstances, the Captain feels that it would be scandalous to make someone sit next to someone so disgusting." She turned to the Black man and said, "Therefore, Sir, if you would like to, please collect your hand luggage, a seat awaits you in First class." At that moment, the other passengers who were shocked by what they had just witnessed stood up and applauded.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I just feel like saying forget it.
Who am I?
Why in the world do I owe you anything?
Did I promise you something?
Because I don't remember that...
We are all giving to each other all the time...
and sometimes I am so damn sick of you expecting another gift
Yeah, it's too much to ask
No, I can't spend all my time with you
Not even a little bit
It is time to make some choices in my life
So sorry for wanting to be happy
I hate that you are inconvenienced by my happiness
It's tearing me up
The messed up part is--
It does tear me up
I hate this feeling
I am not responsible for you and your
I just want the clarity I felt once before
to be present on a regular basis
why can't you just be happy?
why in the world do you insist that i be a part of it?
i can't do that for anyone else
God knows I've tried


"...on a jet plane,
don't know when I'll be back again."

I heard those lyrics over and over in my head during the past two weeks. Late in the evening on July 3rd, I became convinced that I needed to make a trip back to Charlotte. The party that I had helped organize the year before was going to happen and I was going to miss it. I tried to discard my yearnings as ego-mania, believing that there was no rational reasoning behind such an impromptu-an expensive-trip to my hometown.

So I resorted to meditation to clear the nonsense from my brain. Only it didn't, clear, it crystallized into a list of things that I had left undone, or that I needed to do. Still suspecting some sort of acute mental dysfunction, I sat down to make a list of the pros and cons of such a trip. The majority of the cons centered around money-and I have been making efforts in my life to not live based upon a fear of not having enough of it. As long as I was honest and truthful, I didn't feel as if I was going to do any other sort of damage on my trip.

I bought my ticket at 1:30 am on the fourth of July, hopped in the shower, threw some stuff in a bag, gave the house a thorough water-proofing, left the landlord a note, and headed to the airport to catch my four a.m. flight to Guam. It's a short half-hour flight, on a wonderful twin propeller aircraft. I am used to it now, but the first time on it was a little unnerving. After an hour in Guam, we left around 6:30 a.m., headed towards Hawaii. The flight landed in Honolulu around five o'clock in the afternoon on July third, seven hours after leaving Guam. Weird! I always wanted to be a time traveler! From there, we flew to Houston, and since we arrived a little behind schedule, I barely made it to my next flight. Houston is an enormous airport, and I hope all the others who were with me made their respective flights as well. We touched down in Charlotte at noon on the fourth of July, almost exactly twenty-four hours after I had left the house in Saipan to go to the airport.

That was just the beginning...I made three more trips to the airport over the next 10 days, for a total of over 32 hours. I also rented a car in Texas and drove for over four hours one way to visit some family. And now I am contemplating my next trip... although I don't have a definite date yet, it is going to be soon!

Special thanks to a wonderful woman here on Saipan who saved my ass by cleaning up the mess I left here as I rushed away to North Carolina...I owe her big time! I would also like to apologize to anyone who I didn't get to see, or didn't spend much time with...I love you and wish there had been more time!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Power woes in the CNMI

Saipan's rapidly deteriorating power situation is a constant frustration for almost everyone on the island. I read an excellent blog that asks some point-on questions of the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation(?) and the government...

Go check it out.

Marianas Pride

meditation made simpler

When I met Mark, whose house I am in right now, I was laying on the sand at Micro Beach, trying to decide if I was going to stay in Saipan and fly back to Tokyo and then on to my next new country. He was kite boarding, and he had gotten blown a little too far downwind. We talked just a little bit that day, but he gave me his number and told me to call if I stayed. I did stay. I didn't call. But it isn't a very large island, and it wasn't long before I ran into him again.

I feel a lot of things about him. Not going to go into that now. Before he and his family left, he had been raving about a new approach to meditation that he had been trying. He brought it up again, and the night before he left he gave me the first two tracks of the Holosync program from the Centerpointe Institute. I know now why he was so excited to share it with someone. I feel the same way right now. So I am going to attempt to share a little of Holosync (which is a copyrighted name) with you.

Real quick-your brain activity can be measured in waves. Beta waves are what most of us are in during our awake, active state of being. Slightly slower are alpha waves, which usually come at the period between waking and sleep. They have been associated with focus, "superlearning" and meditation. Theta waves are present during the dream phase of your sleep, and also increased creativity, extremely deep meditation and some kinds of learning. The deepest waves are Delta, the deep sleep where the body seems to produce healing hormones as well as many other autonomic nervous system functions.

Meditation is hard work. The idea is simple. Sit calmly. Focus on one thing. Think of nothing else. The actual doing usually requires years of practice to achieve this seemingly simple task. Lots of benefits though...increased calmness, inner peace, ease in dealing with stress, detachment and love for all creatures, etc...Long-time meditators achieve theta and even possibly delta waves during meditation, and some times even out of it.

Holosync uses binaural beats to cause the brain to tone itself to the waves of deeper concentration. Studies since the 60's have shown that people exposed to this type of audio stimulus can learn better and faster, retain more; alcoholics sober up and stay that way, developing needed skills better; stressful situations are handled easier; creativity is increased; the studies go on and on. Using this type of technology, the brain creates these waves, and a natural process that can be a result of meditation is sped up. But not only is it quicker, and easier, since you don't have to be a master at calming your mind to reap the benefits, the creators says that it eventually takes you deeper than meditation has ever been shown to take you, allowing you access to the Delta waves in a way not possible on your own.

There is a lot going on in my life. I have been pushing myself, off and on again, for the past six years, to truly discover my beliefs and other filters that skew my version of reality and cause me so much suffering. I have come across some amazing tools along the way. I am not 100% sure about Holosync, but after reading the book, 'Thresholds of the Mind' by Bill Harris, I can recognize his approach and the fundamental truth of his years of experience with helping to change his own and others' lives.

There's a lot more that I could talk about. There are some of you who I want to give this gift too. Many of us could benefit from the book as well. Some will just get scanned pages that relate most directly to how we have related in the past. This little book has reminded me again of how wrong some of you have treated me. And how wrong I have treated myself and others. There are a lot of lessons, albeit repeat ones, in this book. It is a good read even if you aren't doing the Holosync program. There is one thing that Mr. Harris doesn't mention in his book that I feel is absolutely paramount to a complete shift, a complete psychic change. It is a firmly entrenched belief in my life now.

It is my responsibility to pass on all that I learn to others. If I am not helping another person, I find myself backsliding in my development. Books and meditation and theories on transformation are all great. But for me, I must give what I find away if I want to keep it.

Here is a link to the website: Centerpointe