Thursday, January 31, 2008

Computa Crackahs Be Dangerous...

I subscribe to a Word of the Day list from, a computer geek site. Today's word was "Rootkit." Although I knew what a rootkit was, I was sure surprised by some info in this one.

"A rootkit is a collection of tools (programs) that enable administrator-level access to a computer or computer network. Typically, a cracker installs a rootkit on a computer after first obtaining user-level access..."

What?! Did I read that right? Crackers such as myself install rooktits? I know that statistically Caucasians are more likely to be involved in this, but really, I don't think this is any reason to bring race into the matter.

What's next?

"Typically, a Russkie sends a phishing attack to rob you blind..."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Guam's Bottom Ten...

Yeah, this list was by far easier to compile than Guam's Top Ten. I try to be more optimistic than pessimistic, but finding my misgivings with Guam was easier than spotting a rusted-out abandoned car on the side of the road.

  • 10. Traffic and Road Conditions
  • 9. Distance
  • 8. Public Utilities
  • 7. Natural Disasters
  • 6. Public Education
  • 5. Cell Phone Coverage
  • 4. Taxes
  • 3. Shopping
  • 2. Corruption and Nepotism
  • 1. The DMV (a.k.a. The Devil's Armpit)

10. Traffic and Road Conditions

It's a sad thing when the main road in Guam, Route 1, looks like it still has bomb holes from WWII. I have to bob and weave like a dizzy George Foreman to avoid flattening a tire on a lazy Sunday drive. The only parts of the road where you could go fast are so congested you wonder where all of these cars could have come from. I've heard that there is an average of two cars per person on this island - and it's a small island.

9. Distance

In order to visit my family I have to travel half way around the world and pay about 2 grand. Good thing they in the western US.

8. Public Utilities

Power, water, telephone, garbage collection. All things that you should never depend on if you live here. The constantly inflating power cost is about 4 times per kilowatt hour as it is in mainland US, if it happens to be on that week. The water is technically safe to drink, but don't count on it. The Telephone system was so bad they had to try privatizing it so people would stop bashing the government. And the garbage men leave trash behind that little Asian grandmas are capable of putting out if it "feels" too heavy...assuming they manage to come around at all.

7. Natural Disasters

I've felt at least a dozen earth quakes in my first six months here. Luckily none big enough for damage yet. I've had two typhoon warnings and again, dodged the bullet. Anyone who's lived here long enough could tell you horror stories of weeks upon weeks without power and possibly food while hoping your house can get fixed. That is part of the price of paradise.

6. Public Education

I heard that the public education in Hawaii was the worst in the 50 states. If they included the territories and protectorates, I'm sure Guam would be the top of that list. I have a friend who used to teach in Guam's public school system (GPSS). GPSS is so poor that she had to provide pencils, paper and even toilet paper for her own students. That was out of her paycheck and with the assumption that that week her check wouldn't bounce. GPSS's water bill is so far behind payments that Guam waterworks authority has had to threaten and even take away the water. Power bills are in the same status. And the only main office supply company has such a bad past with GPSS that they only take orders with cash in hand.

5. Cell Phone Coverage

Honestly, how hard can it be to cover an island that's only 10 x 40 miles?! They say that the US is about 4 years behind Asia and Europe on cell phone tech. For Guam, double that.

4. Taxes

My manager recently just got his 2003 tax return - at the end of 2007. If you pay late you sure as heck get notified quickly. Hypocrites.

3. Shopping

Every store on this rock has to import inventory. And for their trouble, they hike the price up beyond reason. Ordering online is a good idea, except you often have to pay international shipping. More often than not, any good online store won't even ship to Guam.

2. Corruption and Nepotism

If your family name is Cruz, Gutierrez, Calvo, Aguon or other select few, then you have it made. Through no effort on your own part, you can be elected into office or manage a very successful business (or get paid for doing nothing). Truly, in Guam it's not what you know, but who you related to. And once you've made it, you're in. The corruption at all levels of government is astounding. I particularly enjoy reading regularly of corruption in the police department that is supposed to be on our side. I'd say that a good 90% of all Guam's shortcomings could be cleared up if we had honest, qualified and trustworthy people in our government and institutions.

1. The DMV (a.k.a. The Devil's Armpit)

One year ago I had a dream of getting a Guam driver's license. After a mere one year, two mandatory $60 driver's ed classes, compulsory 6 month permit holding period, 50 clocked hours of practice driving, half a dozen trips to the DMV, hours of line waiting, a $20 written test, a two month waiting term for the road test, a $10 license fee, and, of course, the hair-pulling frustration of dealing with DMV employees, my dream came true. And don't get me started on the act of congress in cooperation with God that it took to get the DMV to change the incorrect spelling of my wife's name on her license. When the Rapture comes, I wouldn't stand too close to the DMV if I were you.

Don't take this post as my swan song for Guam. Goods and bads tallied up, we are not moving anywhere any time soon. The life and times of the Bodine Family are passing pleasantly. That day will come when its time to kiss Guam goodbye. For now, I continue silently taking notes on the oddities of life in Guam.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Guam's Top Ten...

I've been here for going on two years. In that time, I've been able to get a real feel for what makes Guam both great and grievous. First list, Guam's Top Ten.

  • 10. Weather
  • 9. Casual
  • 8. Travel
  • 7. Something Going On
  • 6. Local Food
  • 5. Proximity
  • 4. Friendly
  • 3. Culture
  • 2. Scuba Diving
  • 1. Natural Beauty

10. Weather

Some people may hate frequent rain, storm-like weather and cloudy skies. But not me. It seems that there is rain when it gets too hot and sunshine when you need some outdoor fun. I admit, it's a bit hot and humid for me sometimes, but a good sweat is often just what I need.

9. Casual

Sure, I have to wear a white shirt and tie to work. But if I go to a birthday party or even a wedding, shorts and slippahs will do the trick. And even then I'm still slightly over dressed comparatively.

8. Travel

You can see the entire island at once from the airplane. It's easy to feel trapped in the middle of nowhere from time to time. If you wanna go somewhere exotic, or even just somewhere else it's never too hard or far away. In three hours I could be in any of 5 or more countries, and all for less than $500 on a costly flight.

7. Something Going On

You'd be surprised how many kids say that there is nothing to do in Guam. If you like to sit around, that will feel true. Anybody motivated to have a good time will have no shortage of fun. There's hotel road with 24-hour life for locals and tourists alike. Boonie Stomping through the jungle, swimming in crystal clear reefs, Geocaching or anything else you imagine doing.

6. Local Food

I thought that I'd be eating basically the same food here as I had in Hawaii. Sure, there are some similarities, but the differences were nothing but satisfying surprises. Red rice, Keleguan, and Finideni (don't check my spelling) are just some of the best things that I could describe. But, any attempt to do so would be a far cry from the justice those delicious delights deserve. You'll just have to visit me here and let me take you to a grand fiesta.

5. Proximity

It's refreshing when a 5 mile drive feels like a long commute. When you stay on island long enough you get so used to things being close you can't image it any other way. One can circle the island in a few hours drive with time to sight see along the way. At most, it will take me one hour to get anywhere I want on island - during rush hour.

4. Friendly

Despite cultural differences and misunderstandings, interaction with most locals is friendly. When I first arrived here, I was clearly a new outsider coming in. In a place with small communities like this, feeling like an outcast is usually the norm. Rather, I felt like I was instantly accepted and welcomed home.

3. Culture

Much like the exotic Hawaiians, Guam's indigenous people, the Chamorro, have a rich heritage and are proud of it. I'll never understand Chamorro, but I can stand in awe of those that do.

2. Scuba Diving

I have been scuba diving a lot here. Not only is Guam just about the cheapest place in the world to scuba dive, but also the best. A walk out from any number of a hundred places and you'll have a dive that other people wait a lifetime to experience.

1. Natural Beauty

Like any tropical locale, there is never a shortage of natural beauty. Just about anywhere you are on the island has something nice to look at. Whether tropical greenery or azure oceans you'll have a hard time getting used to seeing a glimpse of paradise every day.