Saturday, January 17, 2009

Animal Balance visits Samoa

As many of you know, there is little to no health care available for animals here on the Rock. One morning a week when they have the medicine, and that is a big when, the Department of Agriculture offers spaying and neutering for companion animals (dogs and cats) for $25.00. Certainly a great price, but often you get what you pay for. For a perfect example, check out Phil Murphy's post on the issue here. And even though spaying/neutering is occasionally available, it is certainly not utilized to the degree that it needs to be in order to have any impact on the dog problem here on our island. What's more, there is almost nothing that can be done for your pet if it gets injured. As a member of the American Samoa Humane Society, we are doing everything possible to bring affordable animal health care, clinical care, and animal welfare education to American Samoa. One giant step in that direction was an assessment visit by Animal Balance to both American and Western Samoa. During this visit, we were able to conduct a free mini-clinic at which over 30 dogs and cats were spayed, neutered and treated for various ailments and injuries. Animal Balance founder Emma Clifford along with volunteer vets, Dr. Byron Maas and Dr. Larry Richmond, were on hand to perform surgeries, provide needed care, and dispense invaluable advice to concerned pet owners. To read a bit about it, see the SamoaNews article here.

Animals were brought into the clinic for all sorts of reasons. Bonnie, pictured above, had an eye infection that needed to be looked at. She also ended up getting spayed. Below, Dr. Byron Maas assesses the problem.

Then he explains how to treat the problem:
This puppy, Daisy, was attacked by some other dogs and brought in for treatment:
Dr. Maas assessing Daisy's injuries:
Dr. Maas examines Jack to see if his hip pin needs to be removed. Jack is doing well and won't need surgery today:
Ratu was attacked by another dog and needed stitches on the shoulder:
These two pit bulls, Dottie & Diamond, both came in to get spayed:
Dr. Larry Richmond removes a tumor and neuters Kane all in one surgery:
The list of patients kept growing. At the end of the day 33 animals were seen at the clinic. A very successful day:
Gently helping the dogs wake up after anesthesia:
Both of my puppies got spayed at this clinic. Here I am with my Suka after she got spayed. Meli is still in the operating room:
Emma Clifford, the founder of Animal Balance, helps the animals in the recovery room after surgery. Their ears were cleaned, nails clipped, and they were treated for ticks and fleas:
These Rotti pups were 9 days old and came in to get checked out. Aside from a flea/mite problem, all were healthy. Mom got spayed today too:
Snowbell had to be put to sleep. Unfortunately she had a tumor that was one third of her body mass:
At the end of the day just before the last patient was seen, the power in the clinic went out. Instead of giving up, Kona's neuter was moved out into the prep room where there was plenty of light to shave him by hand and perform the surgery. Good as new:
We are currently in the process of fundraising to help bring Animal Balance back to the Rock for a 2 week island-wide clinic in March 2010. We hope to have 25 volunteer vets return to help provide spays/neuters, animal care and welfare education in both Western and American Samoa. To read about the Animal Balance Samoa Campaign, go here for general information and here for the Feasibility Study Report. For more information or to help, please contact the American Samoa Humane Society here.

Really Cool Scientific Airplane

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) operates a Gulfstream V mid-altitude jet aircraft primarily to conduct National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored atmospheric research. This aircraft is known as the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER), or GV. The GV has unique capabilities that set it apart from other research aircraft. It can reach 51,000 feet, enabling scientists to collect data at the tops of storms and the lower edge of the stratosphere. With a range of about 7,000 miles, it can track atmospheric particles across the oceans or reach the South Pole from bases in South America or New Zealand.

We were lucky enough to be in American Samoa as the GV came through during Phase I of the Pole-to-Pole Observations. The “Collaborative Research: HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO) of Carbon Cycle and Greenhouse Gases Study” will measure cross sections of atmospheric concentrations approximately pole-to-pole, from the surface to the tropopause, five times during different seasons over a three year period. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a comprehensive suite of atmospheric trace gases pertinent to understanding the Carbon Cycle will be measured. HIPPO will transect the mid-Pacific ocean and return either over the Eastern Pacific, or over the Western Atlantic. The program will provide the first comprehensive, global survey of atmospheric trace gases, covering the full troposphere in all seasons and multiple years. This was the first of those five times and it flew the following missions:
  • Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, CO, USA -> Anchorage, AK, USA
  • Anchorage, AK to the North Pole (up to 85 degrees North) round trip
  • Anchorage, AK, USA -> Honolulu, HI, USA
  • Honolulu, HI, USA -> Pago Pago, American Samoa
  • Pago Pago, American Samoa -> Christchurch, NZ
  • Christchurch, NZ -> South Pole (up to 67 degrees South) round trip
  • Christchurch, NZ -> Papeete, Tahiti
  • Papiete, Tahiti -> Easter Island, Chile
  • Easter Island, Chile -> San Jose, CR
  • San Jose, CR -> Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, CO, USA

This route is 27,760 miles (24,200 nautical miles) long and will take 21 days.

Above is me after checking out the inside. Because of all the scientific equipment on board, only a couple of us could go inside at a time to check it out. Below is Simon in the cockpit getting to check things out from the pilot's perspective:
Pavel Romashkin, our tour guide, describes what types of scientific data the G-V collects in its Pole to Pole Observations:
There was quite a large group of us there to tour the plane. Science is cool!
Here, Pavel shows us how the nose of the plane has been retrofitted to collect atmospheric data through highly sophisiticated sensors during flight:
The various instruments and sensors that were affixed to the jet make this a cutting-edge observational platform that will meet the scientific needs of researchers who study many different areas such as Chemistry and Climate, Chemical Cycles, Studies of the Upper Troposphere/Lower Stratosphere, Air Quality, and Mesoscale Weather.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Howard Dean visits AmSam

Howard Dean recently visited American Samoa as part of his pledge to visit all the states and territories during his tenure as Chairman of the Democratic Party. Obviously, he saved the best for last and in his last week as Chairman, he made the trip to the South Pacific. There was no way we were going to miss it, so 9 of us bought $50-a-plate tickets to the fundraising dinner being held at the Tradewinds Hotel. Worth every penny. Above is Jeremy, me, the Dean, Chase, Ned & LTM. Below is Howard Dean addressing the dinner guests:Governor Togiola even spoke. And he was funny! Who knew?
Here's J.R. Scanlan and the Dean with the rest of our crew--J.R., Aaron, Vojik, the Dean, Doug & Naomi:

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Over the long Christmas weekend, a group of us decided to spend a day at the beach just relaxing and hanging out. We chose to head to the north side of the island and visit Sailele. Check out the super sweet gold sequened fabric that is draped around the sign posts. Oh yeah, they're not playing around. To get there you drive up and over a fairly steep pass, but then you pretty much drive right up to the beach, get out of your car and you're there.
The next four pictures are shots of the coast line taken from left to right starting with the road that runs into the village where you park and moving along the beach.

Here are Nunu, Ben, Steve, Aaron and Naomi getting set up underneath one of the fales along the beach:

LTM and me:

Steve got a boo-boo:

He was in shock:

But Ben kissed it and made it all better:

Several beers in, Naomi had quite a bit to say about the awesomeness of libraries in general and the legalities and ethics of accepting donations of burned DVD's. She was in rare form and it was fantastic! We were just watching the show:

There was a group of kids playing in the water that day. They looked like they were having a blast:

Nunu taking a swimming (aka potty) break:

Emily had to be instructed on how to pee in the ocean. Sit down Emily, sit down:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Aaron's X-mas Eve Extravaganza

On Christmas Eve, Aaron and Naomi hosted a great holiday party complete with good food, holiday decorations and even a gift exchange. Despite 90 degree temperatures, for this one night, it actually felt like the holidays. They even had a Christmas tree! Everyone brought a dish for the potluck and we ended up with an awesome spread. I made broccoli souffle, which is my favorite thing about Christmas dinner. I had to make a few adjustments based on island ingredient availability, but it turned out great. Aaron even fried a turkey, which was awesome. After dinner, the gift exchange got underway. Each person brought 2 gifts--1 in the $20-25 range, and another in the $2-5 range. We drew numbers, started picking gifts and then the stealing began. There were a few hot items including an American Samoa flag and a eukelele from Western Samoa. I walked away with the eukelele and a cooler. A pretty fantastic haul. Others were not so lucky. Ned ended up with 2 floppy fisherman type hats. Aaron got a collage photo frame that he was not happy with. And Naomi got stuck with a callous shaver. Dr. Dave & Maria scored a hamper set after some serious stealing back and forth with Nunu. There were also a couple of bottles of booze that kept getting stolen by Ben and Erick. All in all it was a fun evening and everyone walked away with a little something. Below are Aaron and Naomi explaining the rules and having people draw numbers to begin the exchange.

Here's Siri waiting for the present show to get on the road:
Voj chillaxin:
Julia & Liz:
Everyone waiting for the games to begin:
Melissa & Siri opening the eukelele (which I went home with...bwahahahaha):
Nunu opening the cooler (which I also went home with).
Voj unwrapping the hamper set. You can see Maria eyeing it off to the side..."Those will be mine...oh yes, they will be mine."
Ben in his reindeer gear:
Alden digging in:
See how happy Aaron is with his frame:
Ned and his floppy hats. Sweet.
Nate got LTM an extra special's Sport Action Lisa, complete with black eyes, a broken leg and Doug's drilling field.