Tuesday, August 24, 2010

7792: Meetings like Pancakes

I am in DC for a few days. It is hot and my days have been stacked with meetings day and night! Still, it is great to be here again!Two years ago, Bernie and Johnny went with me to the Smithsonian. We had a blast. Johnny is from Pohnpei, FSM and was exited to see that the museum had a Yappese stone money. I hope we have time to visit there again. So many meetings though....sigh...

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Secret I Keep

I recalled a verse from a song.
I sang it out loud and laughed.
I just needed to tell someone about you.

"Blue Eyes" by Carey Brothers

Wish enough, wise man'll tell you a lie
Window broke, torn up screens
Who'd have thought that you'd dream
Of a single tragic scene

I just wanna sing a song with you
I just want to take it off of you

Cause Blue Eyes
You are all that I need
Cause Blue Eyes
You're the sweet to my mean

Fess it up, dot on the palm of your hand
I can help you to stand
Saved it up for this dance
Tell me all the things you can

I just wanna sing a song with you
I just wanna be the one that's true

Cause Blue Eyes
You're the secret I keep
Cause Blue Eyes

All the lights on and you are alive
But you can't point the way to your heart
So sublime, when the stars are aligned
But you don't know
You don't know the greatness you are

Cause Blue Eyes
You are destiny's scene
Cause Blue Eyes
I just wanna be the one

I just wanna sing a song with you
I just wanna get it on with you

Cause Blue Eyes
You're the secret I keep
Cause Blue Eyes
I just wanna sing a song with you
I just wanna sing a song with you
I just wanna sing a song with you...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fun Guys: Beehive Cave

Fun Guys: RC, Laurina & Niko

The Fun Guys had another chance to go on a hike and explore more caves. This time, we headed to Marpi Village to what are called the Beehive Caves.
It was only my second time there and the first was with Laurina and DJ last year. I think there are about 4 caves in a system of natural limestone caverns. They were utilized by both the ancient Chamorros and in more recent history, as shelters during WWII.
Cave I
Cave 1 has an actual beehive at the top of its cliff face. I am not sure if this is why they were named so or if it is because of the network of caves that reminded someone of a beehive. Since Laurina and I got stung by paper wasps the first time we went there, I also wondered if that was a common occurrence and if people mistook them for bees. It's a mystery. The entrance to Cave 1 is somewhat hidden in the picture below, but it is to the left of RC.RC and a big column speleothem (cave formation). Limestone is porous and allows water to seep through. Calcite and aragonite dissolves and get deposited, building up over time into stalactites and stalagmites. A column forms when the deposit on the roof cave meets the deposited material on the cave floor.
Niko looks a little worried here but we had a good time exploring the 1st deep and dark cave.
We didn't have proper lights but you can see the stalactites hanging on the cave roof in the picture below. The lot of them were damaged indicating how fragile some of these structures are to disturbances. Pretty major disturbances as you can imagine are earthquakes and the fighting in WWII.
Here are some broken columns that were pretty huge. It looks like enough time has passed and enough minerals deposited that they are fairly glued and have become a part of the cave floor.
Beautiful crystal stalagmites.
RC replacing a broken column.
The patterns in nature are quite beautiful!
Niko noted the different layers of minerals in the cross section of a broken column. It reminded him of petrified wood.
There is some sunshine from outside but mostly at the entrance. Inside can be quite disorienting especially in the total absence of light and muffled sounds.
Cave II
Larina opted to stay outside the caves. We were getting ready to go into the second cave.
Fun guy Niko- he partied quite a bit the night before and almost did not make it to the hike! Good thing Laurina was able to convince him!
Fun Guy RC- Notice the zories (slippers or flip flops) on this guy and imagine going through jagged or slippery rocks. I swear this is how he likes to hike. We have to come up with a nickname for RC.
Beautiful flowing patters on a flowstone.
The darkness was amazing. The unknown was exhilarating. RC led us to a part of the cave I missed the first time.
This was a nice looking column in Cave II.

Artifacts- we found a lot of old rusted out cans, most seemed as if hastily opened.
There were also a lot of empty bottles. Post war offering to the departed? Probably.
There were a lot more tunnels that we did not have time to explore.
There were speleothems called draperies too that look like tattered curtains.
These were awesome looking flowstones that were as high as the cave roof.
Niko said they reminded him of corals. Kind of cool since corals are made out of the same stuff- CaCO3!
Inspecting the rocks more closely.
Lots of formations here.
You can see the Fun Guys sweating here since it was quite humid inside.
Cave IV
We followed the marked trail through the secondary and limestone forest and found what I believe is Cave 4. On our first trip here, Laurina, DJ and I did not follow the trail far enough and missed this cave.

Here is Niko with an artillery fragment. There was also an unexploded grenade close to the opening. Do not pick any of the unexploded ordinances up because they can go off without warning given their deteriorated state.
Here's a gorgeous flowstone in Cave 4.
Entering Cave 4. We still had energy but decided to eat our lunch in the open air room close to the entrance.
Ficus prolixa or Pacific Banyan tree roots from above the cave roof.
These banyans or fig trees are the tronkon nunu to the local Chamorros who believe that the spirits of their ancestors, the taotamonas ("people of before") lives in them. In Tagalog, ninuno or nuno means "forefather" which is another link n the two languages.
There are some dramatic lighting in the nook and crannies of the caverns!
There were lots of WWII artifacts and some from offerings to the departed. We found bottles, cans, ceramics (Chamorro and Japanese), pans and even some wooden saki (Japanese rice wine) buckets.
"Jane" is waiting for her Tarzan.
Unexploded 6 inch heavy artillery shell in Cave 4 that has probably been in the jungle for 66 years. Again: DO NOT TOUCH!

After Cave 4, we got lost for a little bit in the jungle wanting to circumvent the trek back into the entrance of the cave. We rounded a bit too far from where I thought the main entrance was and lost all of the trail markers. It was really hot and humid that I needed to take frequent brakes and lots of cool water to drink. We ended up back tracking to the exit hole and found the trail markers again. Man, that was quite a tiring experience finding the right way out! Thanks, Niko, RC and Laurina! See you later, Fun Guys!

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Monday, July 5, 2010

Flat Stones

I wrote a little about sling stones in my blog about trying to replicate them using modern tools. The Chamorro name for sling stone is acho' atupat (or atupak) and were produced in the Latte Period/Phase (1000-250 BP). History books describe them as egg or acorn-shaped stones fashioned with “jasper-like” stone, or with sun or fire-hardened clay. People now use the words biconical or football-shaped to describe them. The ancient people wielded them with deadly accuracy. The biconical shape of the Chamorro sling stone is supposed to be state of the art as compared to sling stone designs from other parts of the world.

Pictured below are views of two different examples that were found in Wing Beach or what was known by the ancients as the Chamorro village of Luyo.

I noticed that these are more like flattened or deflated footballs. The views on the left are the top and bottom views typical of what a Chamorro sling stone should look like. I composited the different views of the two "flattened" acho' atupat into the picture above for your study and enjoyment. These are clearly flatter stones.

Maybe the flattened shape was a sign of design development? Was this shape specific to a certain purpose? One day, I hope someone studies what the different shapes were good for. The ancient people were truly amazing craftsmen.

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tonight is a Four Day Weekend

Okay this is cool!

I happened upon this movie clip from when I was much younger. I don't know why it reminded me of Total Eclipse of the Heart that was remade for Glee.

I loved this movie then and I remember wishing to be a tough guy like the Michael Pare's character, Tom Cody. One of my all time favorite movie lines came from Streets of Fire:

You know, no one ever had a hold on me like you did. I would have done anything for you. A long time ago I would have thought you were worthy of it. Not anymore, babe.

I've had a few opportunities to quote that line in life but never did. I guess I still aint a Tom Cody.

Well, there are a few new movies coming out this weekend that may produce more movie lines I can rip off. Have a good week end!

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Friday, June 25, 2010

Drift seed- Prickly Palm

I wasn't sure what these were the first time I found them. I was unsure whether they were a type of drift bean or drift seed. One was polished and shiny while the other was not. "Shiny" was rounded but "Dull" was not.They both had three weird holes on their sides. I've never seen seeds with three holes on the side though. Maybe they are made of plastic and the holes were for lines, like a float. "Dull" had a pointy top crown though that made it look organic. Plus, if they were manufactured then they would have been molded into the same side.

After a little more research, I found these out to be nuts from the prickly palm (Acrocromia sp.). The common name is the corozo palm. Imagine a coconut palm with crazy long spines on the trunk! There isn't a consesus as to what species they are, so I will just leave the name as that. They are apparently drift seeds from tropical Americas and the Carribeans that drift their way around the Gulf of Mexico.
I've only found 3 so far. I don' tthink the prickly palm exists here or on Guam. I wonder if they really drifted from as far away as Central America?The corozo palm nut polishes quite nicely and people in Central America still use them as ornamental beads. I don't think we can find enough around to be of that use.

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Fun Guys: Hiking and Caving

Once in a while we will hear from our friend Niko to go on a hike or some other adventure. He and some of his coworkers were supposed to go on a day trip to Tinian but it got cancelled leaving them a rare 3 days off from working at the hospital.

Form left to right: Cecille works at Physical Therapy. Niko works at Medical Telemetry. Laurina works are Pediatrics. RC works at MedTele with Niko.
We met RC via Niko last year and we went on a few outdoors excursions with them until he got hired at the hospital and got too busy with work. I am glad we had another chance to explore nature.
Niko wanted to take RC and Cecille to some Japanese WWII caves in Navy Hill that were built more than 60 years ago as a refuge against the Allied forces. You have to follow a usually dried stream bed and navigate through the slippery limestone forest to get there. The Pierson's shared this hike with us a few years ago, and Dr. Ken was familiar with the place since the Xterra Races go through the caves and the trail as an obstacle.

After a few minutes walking along the stream bed, you'll spot the first opening of the caves on the left. You can see how they were hewn out of the limestone cliff.
There is a lot of room inside but it is pretty dark so you'll have to bring flashlights.
This is our second trip here with Niko. Niko is one of my first friends here on Saipan along with Laurina since I met them together going through nursing school. We all got our nursing degrees from the Northern Mariana College in 2004 and still occasionally hike or hang out together.

We sometimes call these the "crystal caves". They are full of deposited calcite and aragonite that seep through the limestone walls as they are dissolved by rainwater. Limestone is porous and even man-made caves such as these start to develop natural cave features or speleothems (like stalactites and stalagmites) given time. The picture below gives you is a pretty good clue as to how the water and dissolved minerals flow through the roof and down to the walls and floor of the cave.
The crystal formations are beautiful, almost like frosted sugar. The picture bellow illustrates a gorgeous flow stone formation. They are also very delicate so we try our best each time we visit not to destroy or disturb the site. Imagine the Xterra racers going through here though.

Here is RC pointing out soda straws. A soda straw is a speleothem that is a hollow mineral tube of calcium carbonate or sulfate. As each drop of mineral rich water hovers at the tip and a ring of minerals is left at the edge when the water drops. Each drop of water can deposit a little more mineral before dripping, slowly building a tube. Stalagmites or flowstone can also form where the water drops to the cave floor.

A soda straw can turn into a stalactite if the hole at the bottom is blocked, or if the minerals are deposited outside surface of the tube.
Can you see patterns of the water deposit?
Here are some really delicate flow stone features on the cave wall. Amazing and beautiful!
Amazing and beautiful, but this time in the form of my BFF!
We had a little snacking moment outside of the caves after we reached the end. We still had some energy and decided to hike up the trail a little more.
I started finding some seed that I blogged about for one of my projects. This is the source of the sea or drift beans! The round ones are from what the Chamorros call Nonnak (Hernandia sonora), the big round one is called bayogun dankulu (Entada rheedii), and the dark flat ones are bayogun dikike (Mucuna gigantea).
I totally made a mistake on my first blog about sea beans on the identity of the Black Marbles. They are not from the glass eye vine (Oxyrhynchus volubilis). They are from the Nonnak after all! Here are the fleshy pink pericarps on the forest floor.
A Nonnak sapling grows quite readily from the seed on the forest floor. I need to collect some for my native tree planting projects. They are gorgeous trees for landscaping and the bowed trunks were once used for canoe outriggers.
I wanted to explore more since I spotted the woody vines or lianas of the bayogon dankulo.
Laurina spotted this one that can probably support a man's weight! This is what Tarzan probably used to swing from tree to tree.
I didn't see a "monkey ladder" formation though that develops when the vine grows in a spiral or twisty manner. I truly wanted to spot its huge seed pods though.
I was only able to spot parts of the huge pods on the ground. I want a complete one for my personal collection but they are so hard to find!
This is a picture of one from the Thursday Night Street Market that showcases a complete seed pod. This seed pod is a few feet long and you can see the bayogu seeds made into dolls in the display here.
Only fragments were found. I have to search harder for a complete one it seems.
It's interesting how the woody side structures are retained and the middle pods are separately discarded to split up and release the big seeds.
We also found some wild chiles! These are locally known as donne sali (donne means chile and sali is the endemic Micronesian starling or Aplonis opaca) and is a variety of Capsicum annum or domesticated chiles. In the Philippines, we call these types siling labuyo (Labuyo is a jungle fowl) and is reported in both cultures as being very spicy. One day, I'm going to have to see where it really is in the Scoville scale.
I hope the crows and the jungle fowls don't mind us gathering their donne. These will make a deliciously hot marinade after the hike! Who is cooking, guys? Anyone?
I had to let the party go ahead most of the time so that I could explore a little bit more of the place slowly. We were just following the trail back to get to the vehicles. There goes Laurina the Explorer!
Maple leaf-shaped leaves? Big football-like fruits? What is that? I don't know what kind of tree that is? Wow! A mystery tree!

There are whole lot of them here! They look amazing! I've got to figure out what they are!
I thought these seeds were dokduk or the Seeded breadfuit (Artocarpus mariannensis) but they are not! The seeds were all over the forest floor and were readily sprouting. Oh, well. I'll figure it out one day!
On the way out, we saw that the Japanse shrine at Sugar King Park was open- a rare event! We wanted to see if we could ring the bell, but there was a solemn prayer going on inside.
Thanks for suggesting the hike, Niko! Let us go again soo!
Ti napu.
The Beachcomber