Monday, September 25, 2006

Deaf Time...

At last, P.O.'d Cast number 2:

Download the P.O.'d Cast Here!

I somewhat regret my first P.O.’d Cast. Not that I wasn’t pleased with it. But rather, I wasn’t kidding when I said that I was P.O.’d that I’d used a dozen good ideas in one shot. That part was true. Regardless, I feel that some things mentioned deserved to be re-visited in more detail.

For instance, the other day, I was with a friend who works with deaf children. Somehow, during the course of our conversation, she told me that when deaf people are late, they just brush it away by saying it was “Deaf Time.”

I have heard the same thing about Guamanians. They supposedly are famous for being late to everything, thus they run on “Guam Time.”

In Hawaii, I had the pleasure of being accustomed to “Hawaiian Time” AKA “Aloha Time.”

And, if you are a member of the LDS Church, such as I, then you are more than familiar with the term “Mormon Time.”

What’s even better is that people who tend to be even later than the usual stragglers can combine two or more. In Hawaii, every ward activity that didn’t start on time claimed the combination of Hawaiian and Mormon time. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I believe this to be about 10 minutes late for “Hawaiian” and another 10 for “Mormon.”

When I heard about “Deaf Time” I became P.O.’d. I am so darn tired of everybody using the same worn-out excuse for being late to everything. It’s as if people find some sort of ethnic or cultural group to identify with and then use that as some sort of justification for tardiness.

Why don’t people just admit the situation as it is. Everybody is always late, all the time! Let’s not blame this on culture, people.

I find it interesting that being tardy is the one negative stereotype that people wish to be associated with. I’m pretty sure that most Asians would like to shed the image of being bad drivers (not that I don’t subscribe to that stereotype). Do Mexicans like the image of being lazy? No way. I bet Black people don’t like being known as the ones causing all of America’s crime. And Mormons defiantly don’t like the outdated notion that we are all polygamists. Yet, for some reason, we all seem to desire the label of being persistently late.

I suppose there are limited exceptions to this rule. For instance - the Germans. Have you ever heard of someone showing up late and blaming it on “German Time”? Not me.

I suppose the Swiss wouldn’t be able to get away with either; what with those great watches of theirs, and all.

As a side note, I am sure many of you or wondering why it has been so long in between my first and second P.O.’d cast. Well, you will be pleased to know, that I won’t blame it on the fact that I am Mormon. Nor the fact that I have lived for a long time in Hawaii. I won’t brush it aside because I’m living in Guam now and that my sister will likely be def one day. No, I have no excuse…besides, it’s not my fault I was late on doing this P.O.’d cast. It’s the way my parents raised me.

I’m Jared Bodine, and I’m P.O.’d.

Download the P.O.'d Cast Here!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

More Majuro Pics...

More pics from my trip to Majuro for your amusment:

Trash and Paradise

Trash and Paradise

Fisherman's Scale

Fisherman's Scale

How Much?

How Much? Prices are bad, but $41? Or is that $0.41? Who knows?

Grocery Shopping

I think he's grocery shopping behind me

Nat'l Geographic, eat your heart out

National Geographic, Eat your heart out

Thursday, September 14, 2006

At Large In Tiny Majuro...

Yokwe From Majuro

Yokwe From Majuro

I’ve finally had a chance to leave Guam on assignment. I’m in the Marshall Islands on the Majuro Atoll. For those of you who don’t know, an atoll is not quite an island. As islands age, they erode. The coral reef that surrounded the island continues to build up. Within time, the island has turned into a lagoon and the reef has developed above the sea level and becomes the land. You are left with a giant O ring in the ocean. The reef turned island isn’t solidly connected, so you have many small islands making the shape. It’s like living your whole life on one of those toilet seats that doesn’t quite connect in the center.

Here in Majuro, the people have found that the lagoon may be used as a toilet, to match the toilet seat shape. That wasn’t much of a problem back when the population was lower and plastics hadn’t been introduced. Now, dirty diapers and corroded cans wash along the shore. Unfortunately, Majuro is not a flushable toilet. In fact, I’m quite convinced that many toilets from around the world flush their waste to Majuro.

The population is still somewhat small by comparison to…well, more civilized islands. But remarkably, one can find nearly everything that they need here. I was surprised to find electronics for a better price here than Guam, Hawaii and sometimes even the mainland. Although you can get what you are looking for, it is still unique as you never know how it got here or if more will come. This is one of those places where you can point to anything you own and say, “This is the only one on the island” and you are probably right.

I was surprised when I came to Guam and found an educational system worse than Hawaii. I think I may have found one even worse on Majuro. Although the people who work in many of the stores speak English, they don’t seem to understand a single thing you say. There is something to be said for trouble with the language, but when it’s a problem with simple logic and reasoning, I can’t help but be frustrated.

One night I went to the restaurant in the hotel to order diner. I thought I’d give their pizza a try. The first two toppings were free, after that, they charged for each item. I like variety, so I ordered a two topping pizza, half with two toppings, the other half with two different toppings. When I got my bill, I was charged for 4 toppings. When I went to the front desk to inquire, the lady there looked at me like a Martian.

“Excuse me, but why was I charged for 4 toppings?”

“Because you ordered 4 toppings.”

“But I only ordered two toppings, but half and half.”

“Ya, so that’s 4 toppings.”

Rather than accept defeat, I pressed on. “Ok, so if I ordered pepperoni and pepperchinis on the whole pizza, how many toppings would you charge me for?”

The answer seemed almost too easy for her. “Two.”

“Ok, now if I were to substitute the pepperoni on one half for another topping, would that cost extra?”

“No,” she replied proudly, “We don’t charge extra for substitutions.”

“Great. So, I if substituted the pepperoni on one half for ham and the pepperchinis on that same half were substituted with pineapple, would that be the same charge as a two topping pizza?”

She thought for a moment, “No.”

Great, we had come to an agreement. “So, why was I charge for four toppings when I only had two?”

Swift came the reply. “Because you had four toppings: pepperoni, pepperchinis, ham and pineapple.” Indeed.

“But, I thought we just covered this? Look, did I get all four toppings on the whole thing?”

“No. But you had 4 toppings.”

Eventually, she called over the brain trust. Their collective brain was something that I would not trust. After they collaborated in Marshallese for a while, they turned to me. “Ok, fine, we will only charge you for two toppings.” Later I looked at my pizza and saw they couldn’t tell the difference between pepperchinis (which were on the menu) and pepperonis, therefore, they only had pepperoni on one half anyway.

I got the impression that they had finally understood my logic and it was over. A few days later my colleague on Majuro and I decided to split a pizza, he ordered what he wanted on his half, and I on mine. The bill came, and we were charged for 4 toppings. And, yes, it was the same staff.

But the fuzzy logic and lax attitude on things can be beneficial out there as well. I had rented a car for the duration of my stay. When I was to leave, the colleague had two more days on island. Rather than have me return my car and have him pick out a new one, we inquired if we could just transfer the car to him. They were more than happy to oblige.

When I went to pay for my days, the lady wanted to charge me for the current day and then charge my colleague for the same day. Since we were still using the same car, we wondered why both him and I would pay for the full day’s rate for the car twice. She couldn’t understand why we felt that was odd. However, she had difficulty adding up how many days I had the car for. I arrived on the 5th of the month. I was returning the car 10 days later. She counted the days on her fingers to get to that total. Fortunately, she started with 5 and then counted up from there to the current day of the month. She started with “Six.” Thus, she didn’t count the 5th as a day of charge. Since she tried to charge us twice for the same day, her bad math skills actually made things right.

Speaking of driving; while there I picked up the ultimate in souvenirs. I got a Marshall Islands driver’s license. All I had to do was fill out a very basic form and pay the money. In no time, I had a driver’s license. What’s funny is that I never once had to show a single form of identification or prior driver’s license. I could have put down that I was Marilyn Monroe and gotten my license. I was honest and got one that was actually for me. Still, my license says that I have brown eyes and black hair. If you haven’t seen the picture of me on the right sidebar, then you don’t understand why that doesn’t make sense. They are so used to Micronesians and Polynesians that they assume that everybody has brown eyes and black hair. I don’t know if they were capable of changing that in the template or not.

The construction crew we hired for our new building was not much more competent in doing their job. They didn’t build a good 50% to the specs, were behind the clock and over the budget. After they put the protective carpeting on the bottom few feet of the walls, we had to go over and find all of the data ports they covered. That alone took a good half day out of our schedule.

The local phone company didn’t help with our budget or time either. It was a daily occurrence for us to go to the National Telephone Authority to correct a mistake, answer simple questions, and clarify simple needs. Also, every day we had to go in and fix the mistakes of the “professional” NTA staff. You should see the state of their main phone junctions! It’s no wonder they can’t get any phone lines figured out.
Crazy Fone Junkchun

Crazy Fone Junkchun

I have already rambled on too long and I didn’t even scratch the surface of what I encountered in my two weeks at large in Majuro. I could go on and on.

I think that they try to make Majuro frustrating on purpose so tourists will go home. They actually make money on that as well. Before you leave, you must pay a departure tax of $20 USD. If you don’t pay, you have to get charged for twice the toppings on your pizza living on the big toilet lid of the pacific for life!

Seriously, though, I did enjoy Majuro. The people there are simple and sincere. I had problems with a few people, but there are plenty of intelligent and wonderful people I met. Despite the abundance of trash, the place is actually quite lovely. This picture I think sums up Majuro nicely: where man-made trash meets paradise and still looks beautiful.

Trash meets Sea

Trash Meets Sea