Christmas in Samoa

First of all, a belated Merry Christmas wish from this Malae!

It's early morning in the village. I was awake though my eyes were still sleepy and squinty. I heard the early birds - hen and her chicks - already chirping and pecking at their first squirmy victims of the new day. And as usual, the pigs gathered around the cooking hut, grunting and snorting against the horizontal wooden rails. I opened my eyes and the first things I saw were paper chains.

The events of the night before came back to me. My grandmother had stayed up to help finish our Christmas decorations. She had mixed the right amounts of flour and water to make the glue used to paste several links for the long colorful paper chains. We tied and hung them from different sides of our fale (house) in long curves and converging at the center from where a bell hive ornament was suspended.

During Christmas, the word "toy" (mea ta'alo, literally "plaything") was more common than "present/gift" (mea alofa). The emphasis was on something a kid would and could play with - balloons, balls, water pistols, etc. - and not things like clothes or school items.

In fact, as a little boy, this was the time to start forgetting about school and other less fun things. For one thing Christmas signaled the longest school break; it was also the end of the school year. Before colored paper was used for the decorative chains, pages of old school exercise books were cut up for the links and other paper creations. It was not therefore uncommon to see a paper link or snowflake cut from a page of a Health, Social Studies, Arithmetic or other books.

The family Christmas meal was often prepared early so that the rest of the day was spent with fun and games. Volleyball was a favorite, though some families sponsored lawn bowling using a regular ball and tin cans for pins. Some of these games had monetary prizes. Hence, bingo was also popular. But the malae still serves as the center of activities where the children showed off their simple yet coveted toys.

Perhaps one of the most common ways Christmas is celebrated by Samoans is with drinking parties by adult men. Consumption of alcohol - commercial and otherwise (homemade brew, watered down methylated spirit, etc.,) - is at its highest during Christmas holidays than at any other time of the year. These parties usually start early morning, and so by mid afternoon, drunks were already leaving their party hideouts and started to amble and swagger into the village malae, strutting their stuff.  Drunks actually represent a familiar sight on Christmas Day.

There are usually two types of drunks during Christmas holidays - the comedian and the bully. The comedian would start dancing and making all other funny gestures telling incoherent jokes. He also becomes very talkative, mostly nonsensical blabber. The worst that could happen to him is indecent exposure from a dropped lavalava (wrap around attire)

The bully, on the other hand, who acquires a sense of invincibility from his inebriation, would make loud kiususu (native war cries) issuing challenges to anyone. He becomes a man with superhuman powers, at least that's how he sees himself.

The comedian is usually guided home to have a good sleep, while the bully is sometimes tragically put to "sleep" by some of his assailants.

Speaking of sleep, the village rarely finds time for it on Christmas night. The nocturnal revelry punctuated by blasts and explosions fired by bamboo cannons keep everyone up and in the merry and festive spirits of the season.

And that's a snapshot of a typical Christmas when I was growing up as a little boy in Samoa. Much of it, I'm sure, is still reenacted today.   It is indeed "the most wonderful time of the year."


My Quotable Quotes

...the Samoan translations, mostly!  As far as I'm concerned, a more meritable and memorable quote in Samoan is one that rhymes. Wordplay of course is perhaps still one of the most effective constructions. Here are my Samoan translations of some common English quotes.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder
O le to'esea e tupu ai le loto faavalea
A misia, ua mo'omia

Actions speak louder than words
O aga ma taga e leotele atu nai lo upu ma faamatalaga
E leotele faatinoga ma amioga nai lo luaifofoga
E le o le fofoga ae o amioga ma faatinoga

Doubt and defeat are cousins
E tausoga masalosalo ma to'ilalo

It's better to lose with grace than to win with disgrace
E sili le faia'ina tausaafia nai le manumalo inosia

Where there is doubt, faith is not
O le mea e iai le faalotolotolua, e le o iai le faatuatua

On Debt (Both these are mine)
It's better to sleep without a sheet than on a red balance sheet
E sili le moe leai se ie ‘afu nai lo le moe ma le tele o aitalafu
E sili le moe le 'afu nai lo le moe ma le anoa'i o aitalafu

You can choose the alternatives but not the consequences
E mafai ona e filifili tu'utu'uga, ae le mafai ona e filifili taunu'uga

If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail
A e to'ilalo i au sauniuniga, ia e sauniuni mo lou to'ilalo.

Beggars don't choose/Beggars are not choosers
E le ‘ai filifili le fia ‘ai
E le ‘ai filifili se tagata ‘aisi

What Global Warming?

Okay, if global warming is a real phenomenon, then why in hades (pun intended) is it still cold?  And even without a major snowfall here - where I live - yet? Are people just making things up? Yes, I'm talking about you Internet Inventor ...uhmmmm.... yes, you Al Gore! (You have since cultivated seeming contra measures to the cold - namely beard and belly - since that infamous passionate public kiss with Tipper.)  With all the glacial sheets breaking and melting from the arctic ice fields, one would expect some summer-like or at least some mild temperatures during Winter months.

I am a tropical guy; not a polar bear. That means I don't want to be exposed to snow, winter storms, blizzards, winter air or extreme cold conditions. Well of course I have a choice of living on a tropical island but that's beside the point of this post. Not meaning to belabor the 1 and 99 metaphor, but I believe I am in the 99% of the warm-cold weather divide. And so, like most birds, I want to fly to warmer places during winter. And who should be in the 1%, you ask? Well, let's put the Eskimos, Siberians and Antarctica enthusiasts there. LOL!

This morning, snow flurries blew against my face when I stepped outside. As I drove to work, cold cars disturbed the white film of dry snowflakes on the freeway as crystalline vapor fluttered and wafted into the thick chilly air. In the distance sporadic leafless trees dotted the stiff brown sprawling fields. There were scattered snow patches on the hillsides and the contiguous white mountaintops sent chills piercing through the windows, my heavy coat and two undershirts. And I could still feel the sting despite the gush of warm air from the heat vents.

There are blizzards in some of the neighboring states and a super white Christmas is in the forecast for the Eastern seaboard. Yet global warming is still the mantra of contemporary society especially those less industrialized and less developed countries who point their fingers to their industrialized powerful emission-producing counterparts as the greedy, stubborn and conniving culprits.

To date, the whole idea of global warming is a myth and fiction to some, but fact and reality to others. The latter group have so far come up with only one indisputable proof of the phenomenon.  Here:

The proof, to say the least, seems quite convincing and credible. Aaaaaanyhow, if that wasn't much of a global warming post, I hope it's a heartwarming one. :)


1 and 99

No, I’m not talking sheep here, hence not Biblical, at least in the parabolic context. Instead I’m talking about a trending catchphrase referring to percentage. More specifically, "1 and 99" is a neologism spawned in the last several weeks by the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests as they started and rippled to other US cities and other places around the world.

The fighting slogan of these protesters seemed to have been based on the obvious divide between the rich 1% and the poor 99%. The disparity has become the cause of dissatisfaction and disheartenment for some in their lot in life - for the time being. The gap is made wider by the present economic conditions in which the cost of basic needs and services have jumped while incomes - for the 99 - have remained stagnant, and in some cases, declined or lost.

The lack in unity of message and target, however, has been the drawback and handicap to any measured success of the protests and demonstrations. But this feckless and amorphous character of the protests is not the only setback. It also has to do with the very nature of the OWS which - at its core - goes against the grain of the values and ideals of the proverbial “American Dream”.

The demonstrations seemed to have been ignored by many even in the lower economic rungs of society. Ostensibly, some in the 1% passively agree and quietly support the dissatisfaction in general and uncertain terms. But the majority still believe that socio-economic mobility is a patented American ideology. American society is largely an open society, and that hard work, creativity, innovation, industry and individual fortitude are means to achieving success and improvement in a person's circumstances.

I am definitely in the 99% but I also believe in the socio-economic justice that life offers, at best in the United States. America is often referred to as the land of opportunity. It is no longer the Rockerfeller hand-me-down era or the aristocratic and dynastic cycles of the mother country. Just ask Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett or Shahid Khan, an American success story - born in Pakistan moved to America at 16, graduated from college, became a successful businessman and had just bought the Jaguars football team (NFL franchise) for $760 million.

The indisputable fact remains, however, that the divide does exist, not only in America but on the global level as well.

Anyway, for those in the 99% emotionally charged by the above issue, I think we need to lighten up, and go to work, aye?  So as a believer in laughter and humor, here’s a funny - yet largely true - caricature of the global economic divide - and maybe digital too.



LOL!!!  And speaking of school buses, I believe that EDUCATION is the main remedy in bridging - or at least in narrowing - the gap between the 1 and the  99 ... Yeah?

Utah Still Best

University of Utah and BYU in the News

University of Utah Repeats as No. 1 University for Tech Startups
SALT LAKE CITY, Nov 30, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The University of Utah is No. 1 in the nation at starting companies based on university research for the second year in a row, according to an annual survey recently released by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM). The survey ranks U.S. universities and institutions on commercialization success, and in recent years, the U of Utah has climbed to the top, overtaking such schools as MIT, Columbia, Cal Tech and Johns Hopkins.

The newest survey measures fiscal year 2010. The U of  Utah had 18 startups from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, while MIT was second, with 17 new companies. Other top schools included [third-ranked] Brigham Young University with 13, Columbia and Cornell with 12, Johns Hopkins and Purdue at 11 each, while Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Michigan all had 10.
Source: Wall Street Journal

Utah Best State for Business

The above U of Utah and  BYU rankings have some relevance to the fact that Utah, two years in a row, is the best state in the US for business according to Forbes.
Utah repeats this year as Forbes Best State for business and careers in our sixth annual look at the business climates of the 50 states. No state can match the consistent performance of Utah. It is the only state that ranks among the top 15 states in each of the six main categories we rate the states on.

Manuween continued on Yahoo

Yahoo News headline last week: (Click title below to read)

"Disgraced rugby manager fined 100 pigs"

A ha!  I knew there was a connection between some recent posts (McRib and Manu Samoa ones) when I wrote them. LOL!  (Please Note: The one fined is not Coach Tafua, but Team Manager Tuala Matthew Vaea - pictured.)

In the past, a typical standard fine in a Samoan village was a hundred taros (tubers) and one pig (maka selau ma le aumakua). So today it’s reversed, aye? - a hundred pigs and what? ... one taro? Speaking of pigs, that’s a lot of ‘ofu (tripe) hence lots of McRibs (re: recent McRib post). And since there is now a McDonald’s in Samoa, the village better donate/sell all the tripes and innards (from the 100 pigs) to the restaurant. LOL!

The manager’s village has ruled on the mess involving staff and management of Manu Samoa who have been accused of improprieties during the team’s World Cup stint.

Apparently, the fine is not because the team lost but because of the manager’s irresponsible behavior.  It would have been an unfair fine if it was for the former.  This again goes to prove the Samoans' intransigence with respect to punishment for someone who brings disgrace to the family or village.  Sometimes it becomes an overkill (pun intended), as in this case, as far as I'm concerned.


A Poem

Who Am I, Really?

what am I?
a mere creature
conjured in cellular life form,
lilliputian accidental
and ephemeral?

or a beast
incubated and shrouded in a shard
shot from a blast of eons past,
and raised a salientian
swimming in saltine puddle?

and perchance
grew hands and feet
to crawl on land and hunt
- then hunted?

and die a desultory death
driving up daisies from deep earth?

out of nothing
signifying nothing; all is meaningless -
solitary superfluous and stupid.

So who am I, really?

A spirit child born of Deity,
with divine heritage (Hallelujah!)
raised and loved in yonder home
like brothers Job and Jeremiah

Then sent down to earth
endowed with hands and feet
with real purpose of experiencing
life, growth and joy so sweet.

All part of a marvelous plan
with a meaningful due
of returning home a valiant heir -
tested tried and true.

~ by LV  Letalu, 2011


Happy Manuween

Halloween was Monday. We planned our annual family Halloween party on Saturday (2 days prior) but our ward (auloku) had its Halloween dance that same night so we yielded to the church party/dance. I was the DJ so all the more reason to postpone the family party to Monday.

Monday came and as usual, I still hadn’t decided on a costume and so I had to be creative - yeah riiiigghht. Actually, the right brain did not do much strenuous creative finking, cause it just happened that my Manu Samoa jersey -- compliments of The Coach... yes the Real coach - arrived on time for Halloween. (Thanks Coach! ... and the very generous hosts!)  And so to honor and pay tribute to the Manu Samoa's 2011 World Cup campaign, I decided to be a Manu Playa ... or something like that ...for Halloween. And boy was I overcome by all the rugby nostalgia that it was close to being a scary experience....hahaaa! especially when I started thinking haunted thoughts of the present SRU (aka Schuster Rugby Union) and all the ‘ova a Mary pei a la ua maua ... Well, Happy Manuween!

McRib ...or McR.I.P?

The McRib (sandwich) is making its comeback at one favorite fast food restaurant - McDonald’s, that is. During the previous McRib blitz I was one of those who almost fell for the ambrosial appeal of the “rib” dressed in scrumptious barbecue sauce.

Then suddenly it vanished. The golden arches stopped carrying/selling the McRib, until not too long ago.

So why am I dedicating this blog entry to the McRib, besides the fact that I almost liked it? Well because now someone has dissected the McRib and exposed its contents and ingredients. So?   So if it wasn’t for an interesting Samoan connection, I would not have done this “kiss and tell”

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase and get to the meat - literally and metaphorically - of the McRib sandwich. According to the news article the McRib meat is made of “pig innards and plenty of salt. [It’s] "restructured meat product" [which] includes pig bits like tripe, heart, and scalded stomach.”

Oh snap! In other words, the same stuff you find in the “ofu” - ia poo le dress (LOL) - of the pig, is in the McRib. The ‘ofu (tripe) is a Samoan delicacy, a favorite of both men and women. Ae maise a pe a falai i le agiagi aye? Also, now you know that there’s no rib in the McRib.  LOL!

And like many offerings on Fast Food menus, the McRib, according to the article, “is certainly not good for you,”  Put simply, the McRib can become a McR.I.P ( not “ripped”).  Ioe e vave ai ga malolo i le kuugamau kakou... hehe.   McRib is actually mashed ‘ofu; though I’m convinced that the ‘ofu is still better than the McRib.

But despite this new information, there will still be those who will continue to enjoy the McRib via the “sausage phenomenon” - they like to eat sausages, though they don’t want to know how they’re made.  And these are the ones who still say “I’m Loving It.”


Our little girl's hope

a little girl's faith ...
The family of about fifty altogether - children and adults - gathered in the family room. One young woman had an envelope in her hand sitting at the top of the circle of family members whose eager eyes all focused on her as if she had some great news for everyone. Well, she did. She had waited since she was a little girl for the news. It finally came.

her heritage ...
As if to enhance and promote suspense, the children started singing. And the adults joined in. The musical disharmony - consisting of flats, tone and pitch problems within the mixture of adults' and little children's voices - is ironically considered perfect big family singing. It's certainly an experiment in paradox of harmonious cacophony. And though the adults yielded and tried to adjust their voices or passively try to drown and dominate the little ones in order to acquire a more pleasing degree of harmony, the messages of the songs remained loud and succinctly evident.
With the profound, edifying and soothing reminder that "there is beauty all around when there's love at home," the dissonant voices of the little children sent an unambiguous and important message to everyone - parents and adults. The message of Love, as in "...making life a bliss complete, when there's love at home."

The young woman was teary as she listened to the songs. She sat between her mom and her grandmother excitedly clutching the white, larger - than-normal-sized envelope. On the piano towards her right was a picture of the temple on one end, and on the other, a picture of a little girl about four years old in her Sunday best. She's smiling as if she was reacting to the songs especially the one that said: 
"I hope they call me on a mission, when I have grown a foot or two. I hope by then I will be ready, to teach and preach and work as missionaries do."
The little girl in the picture was looking at everyone in the room at once. But she has now already grown a "foot or two." She is now a young woman, and she was ready to "work as missionaries do" in taking the message of the Gospel of Love to those who are ready, and waiting.

... and her divine nature
Being the youngest of seven children - and daddy's little girl - the young woman seemed to recall and remember how her sisters and brother helped her while in Primary with the songs the children were singing.

And then there was silence. She slowly stood up, fumbled the envelope a bit and then nervously and clumsily opened it. She opened the letter and started reading. She was already crying when she said - in a shaky yet firm voice - what everyone was waiting for: Billings, Montana!!  She paused for the congratulatory applause then continued to read the rest of the letter.

Natalia's hope has come true. They have called her on a mission!

(We love you Talia! Now go forth with might mind and strength in serving your Heavenly Father!)


English skills of The Manu coach assailed?

Coach Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua
This response is in defense of Coach Tafua (and other Samoan sports leaders) whose seeming lack of English proficiency may cost him his job and position as coach of Manu Samoa rugby team. The insinuation and criticism are found in a Savali editorial.  Here’s an excerpt:
As the Prime Minister rightly said, there are many lessons to be learned from this, well, disappointing episode. Here’s [one]:
First lesson, modern rugby is continuing to evolve and we need a coach who can keep up with the evolving joneses [sic] of professional rugby. A coach with good English and speaking proficiency who can communicate well with the players and coaching staff.  It is without doubt that the team will continue to be picked from professional ranks –– largely players born and raised overseas –– who will not have a good grasp of the Samoan language.
First, I agree with the notion that communication is important, and even critical, in any organization - sports or otherwise. However, effective English communication alone - between coaches and players of rugby - cannot and will not win the World Cup for Manu Samoa. It takes knowledge of the game for the coach, and athletic skills and prowess of the players. Coach Tafua may lack a good command of the English language, but the assumption and inference, that such inadequacy contributes to The Manu’s problems, is not only flawed, but also demeaning to Tafua’s character as a coach and as a human being. Again in sports, a coach’s language skills should not be directly linked to the success or failure of a team.

And despite the fact that all the winners of the Rugby World Cup since its inception have been from countries whose predominant language is English, it is still neither a prerequisite nor a guarantee for excellence and/or winning games. The connection is more coincidental than absolute. If anything, the trend seems to favor the countries who have had a long history of playing the game and talent level, not for their English language proficiency. (Though history too is not necessarily a guarantee for dominance as demonstrated by the winners of the Soccer World Cup.)

Rugby has its own “language” - independent of linguistics - which makes winners of most teams. That “language” consists of “words” such as fitness, speed, strength and execution. Oftentimes, our players are found lacking in one or more of these throughout the duration of games. Coaches are often blamed for losing and praised for winning, nonetheless, a coach’s English skills are not and should not be a determinant or cause in either case.

Also, if pre/post game interviews are a concern, then have a translator or a PR/spokesperson do the interviews and let the coach ...uhmmm...coach! I firmly believe that the team management needs to understand that the recruits who “will not have a good grasp of the Samoan language,” should make language concerns the least of their worries and make their skills of the game first and foremost in their minds.

Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interaction between the players and coach(es) during the game (unlike American football and other team sports) so much of the communication referred to by the writer, happens during practices and meetings, hence, no urgency. Therefore the need for good English skills can be resolved and handled through translation and interpretation by an assistant coach or another staff member with English proficiency. And by the way, I believe that Tafua has enough knowledge of English to communicate what the players need to know. It’s not like he’s defending a dissertation. Rugby, after all, is more an art form than a science, as American football is.

And finally, if English proficiency were a defined formula for winning rugby games, let alone the World Cup, then the American Eagles (they speak English too, you know) should certainly be among the Tier One teams; and France will have no right to be in the finals. So once again, let’s not worry about the language skills of the players and coaches; instead, let’s concentrate on the real “language” and fundamentals of rugby.

E a? Ua kau maua mai le ‘auga ma le uke o le makaupu lea e avaku? Ia ga. O le ga e seki a le Igilisi a le coach pau lava o le faakamala o kama ka’aalo ma le leaga ma le faa’au’au o laufali i isi kaimi.

(Read Savali Editorial  here)


Romney is now a "Christiean"!

(Note: This post has direct reference to the previous one. Preferrably, read it first.)

Yes, Mr. Jeffress, here’s news for ya!  Chris Christie, as of this writing, will have already officially endorsed Romney - not Perry.  In other words, Romney is now a “Christiean”!  I guess, according to you, that's the closest Romney will come to being called a Christian, aye?  LOL!

It’s a timely endorsement for Romney ahead of the New Hampshire debate tonight where it’s expected to be ugly. Romney’s fellow GOP contestants will all try to attack, spite, malign and drill him on the Obamacare issue especially in light of some newly released White House information on Romney’s connections to the controversial health care program. Romney will also be the bull’s eye because of his frontrunner status.  He has a big lead in the polls in NH; he is also leading in Iowa in polls released today. Iowa and NH are the first in the nation primaries. If Romney wins both, his chances of winning the Republican nomination are near guaranteed.  Hence the 2012 general election (against Obama) will be a duel of two Harvard law graduates (Romney with Law and MBA degrees, Obama with just a Law degree). All things considered especially competence, qualifications and experience, Romney can, and should be the next President of the United States.

I will certainly be watching the debate tonight. Pundits see it as a make-or-break for Perry.

Again, Christie’s endorsement ahead of the debate is huuuge (no, no, no pun intended!...lol) for Romney! Christie is the man! I still have him as a first choice for VP, with Rubio waiting in the wings as second choice.....

So...let’s ... get ... ready ... tooooo .... Debate!

Just finished watching the Debate.  It was a good one for Romney ...AGAIN!  Here's some early post-debate analysis.

Huffington Post:
8:39 PM  Mitt Romney Wins Big
HANOVER, N.H -- The consensus in the spin room after the debate was clear enough: Not only had Mitt Romney won big, but he had done it partly because of an unrealistic debate format, which made the mistake of assuming that just because the GOP candidates were sitting at a Charlie Rose table, they would behave like a calm and equable Charlie Rose guest.

Washington Post:
We live-blogged every minute of it but also came out with a quick take on who won and who lost. Our thoughts are below.

Mitt Romney: We expected Romney to shine in this economic-focused debate and shine he did. Romney was knowledgeable and detailed — as expected — but also relaxed to the point where he let a little bit of his personality show. Not only was he head and shoulders above the other candidates on stage when it came to looking presidential, Romney also showcased his human side. His best debate in a string of very solid performances.
Others: Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich,

Rick Perry: The problem for Perry in the first three debates in which he participated was that he didn't seem to have enough answers to the questions thrown his way. Tonight, Perry had a different problem: he didn't get many questions and, for much of the debate, felt like an afterthought. When Perry did get opportunities, he tended to try to bend each question back to his preferred talking point — energy — and often made awkward transitions to do it.
Others: Michele Bachmann,

The Guardian:
Mitt Romney's performance leaves others on the sidelines in GOP debate. In a debate which was dominated by the economy and short on policy detail, Romney's main rival Rick Perry failed to deliver

Romney again outclassed the opposition in Tuesday’s Bloomberg/Washington Post debate. Again, none of the other GOP contenders laid a glove on him.

ALSO: Christie on Robert Jeffress:
"These type of religious matters have nothing to do with the quality of somebody's ability to lead," Christie said. "Any campaign that associates itself with that type of conduct is beneath the office of president of the United States."

Robert Jeffress - a Bigot?

“Man is by nature a political animal,” says Aristotle ...hehehe... and so as you can deduce from some of my postings, I do follow politics in America - and elsewhere - especially now with the 2012 US Presidential Elections already making the headlines.

This past weekend the campaigning got mean, nasty and bigoted. A Baptist pastor, Robert Jeffress, who is a Perry supporter, made incendiary and derisive comments about Mitt Romney as a candidate who is not a true Christian because he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ [of Latter-day Saints] which some Baptists, Evangelicals and others consider a cult.  Though such malice and denigration are not new, I will still say: What preposterousness! What Imbecility! What arrogance! What ignorance! What intolerance! ...

I have followed this guy through his ensuing television interviews with his audacious and provocative comments. He even preached to his church on Sunday denouncing the LDS Church. There’s a lot to dislike about the guy. He talks out of both sides of his spit-filled mouth spewing rancor, hatred and intolerance. He says:
"I feel like I ought to use, personally, whatever influence I might have to try to elect a godly leader and place him in the White House,.... It is important for us to elect Christian leaders who embrace biblical principles."
 Then he equivocates here that

“...he hasn’t discussed those views with Mr. Perry. And he conceded that if Mr. Romney wins the nomination, "I’ll hold my nose and vote for Mitt Romney." "I believe a non-Christian who embraces Christian principles is more palatable than a Christian, and I’m accepting that Barack Obama is a Christian by his own statements, I would rather have a non-Christian who embraces Christian principles than a professing Christian [Obama] who governs by un-Biblical principles."
Whaaaat?  Hmmm....well you now have some idea of what this passtor Jeffress is like.  In the above quote he is mimicking one of his benefactors Martin Luther who made this similar comment: “I'd rather be ruled by a wise Turk than by a foolish Christian.”

This is the same pastor who called the Catholic Church a "counterfeit religion".

Anyhow, Mr. Jeffress, if it helps your ignorance and arrogance, or if it gives you some type of solace, let me say that Romney belongs to a “cult”, in the general and traditional sense of the word.  Yes, the cult of  this Man (click here)

O lea la lau afioga Mr. Jeffress (se ua ma’imau le faalagiga afioga) who are you to judge Mormons as non-Christians?  Huh?

And therefore (cue Who Wants to be a Millionaire) my final answer is “Yes, Robert Jeffress is a Bigot! ... a big big BIGOT!"


My NewStand

RIP Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs, a name that is always mentioned - often in a competitive context - alongside Bill Gates has died. He was 56. If you’re one of the millions who has been wowed by - or an owner of - an “i” gadget (iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc.,) then you owe your awesome, cool, nifty, convenient and wonderful life to Steve Jobs. As CEO and co-founder of Apple Inc. he was the brains behind these life-changing inventions. Hence, he has been endowed with different titles like “tech messiah”, “today’s Einstein”, “the man who invented our world”, a visionary and a genius. He was also the owner and force behind Pixar - the company that made Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and other computer animated movies - before it was sold to Disney. The world will miss Steve ...though his legacy will live on, some of it in our pants pockets ...:)

The X Factor
Simon Cowell the former "brutally honest judge" on American Idol, has debuted his own X Factor show on Fox. It’s in its second week now and the talent pool in America of singers/entertainers, I must say, is just phenomenal. There’s over a hundred performers (from tens of thousands auditions) who were invited to “boot camp” from which one winner of the $5 million recording contract is picked. Last night, about 80% were amazing and I can imagine the tough job by the judges in gauging the competition. One of the main differences between American Idol and X Factor is that the latter has no specific age limits while the former does.

NBC has its own singing competition Sing Off on Mondays. This is another must watch. The contestants are a-cappella groups. My favorite? Gotta go with Vocal Point, not necessarily because they’re from BYU, but that they are so gooooooood! ...seeeki a!

Also watched “Tuiga” - another movie by the makers of Tautoga Gausia. Somewhat similar storyline with some of the same actors. Still rough otherwise quite representative of typical Samoan socio-political and cultural pandemonium.

Christie will not run
Chris Christie finally made an official announcement that he will not run in the 2012 US Presidential race. It was great news for Romney, who has regained the frontrunner status after Perry’s woeful debate performances and other mischances.  Most of those who had waited on the sidelines for Christie are now supporting Romney.

Sarah Palin (McCain’s running mate in 2008) too will not run. Good! Great! Awesome! Nice!

Obama ma le kakou kama
Apart from struggling to regain his popularity of three years ago, Obama meets OKama! (Kama o Stui.) There certainly is something discrepant, if not weird, seeing Stui standing next to Obama...LOL!

From political punditry perspective, the most notable difference between the two leaders, besides their physical features, is that Tui has been a prime minister for over thirteen years. In other words, based on the US presidential election cycle of 4 years, Stui is presently serving his fourth term.
Obama on the other hand, is barely surviving his first term. So you go and (cue Zipso) fika mai le pese. And I wonder if Obama hadn’t asked Stui if he was a prime minister or a king, since kings enjoy political longevity. I can almost picture Stui saying: “Well I’m a prime minister but my title (Tuilaepa) is that of a king, since the affix/prefix “Tui” - in much of Polynesia - means “king”.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if Obama extruded some winning tips for his re-election campaign from Stui.  LOL!  Imagine this picture in Obama's campaign ads...hehehee  ...with this VO "If this man can be prime minister for over ten years, I'd say "Yes we can! ... let's do four more years"


My NewStand - a follow-up

Okay, Christie has again said, in his speech tonight, that he is not going to run for President. At the same time some political pundits and blogs today were pro-Romney and favoring him, giving him the edge for the GOP nominee. Huffington Post said that Romney seems formidable despite the "Obamneycare" issue which was viewed as his Achilles heel, predicted to sink his campaign.  Not quite true according to HuffPost. And on Hannity tonight, Connie Mack, a Florida Congressman, endorsed Romney.

Now, here's my take on Christie. He is definitely not going to run, however, in his speech, he sounded like someone who is running for something or at least sizing an anticipated jump into the national political scene. In what? Well, I'm talking about the VP position. And here's my prediction: If Romney wins the GOP nomination, he will almost certainly pick Christie as his VP. And personally, I think Christie will make a great VP ... and eventually an excellent President too!

Romney-Christie is going to be a real winning ticket! So for me, Romney-Christie in 2012!!

You heard it here first!

My NewStand

Fox/Google GOP Debate and the 2012 Race for the White House.
Yes, again... another debate. And again, Romney won on Thursday night last week in Florida according to the pundits and surveys. Texas governor Rick Perry hurt more than helped his 2012 run. He demonstrated inept and feckless debating skills.... again. His campaign is in damage control mode now with key efforts to reverse if not stop the Perry fall.

...but Perry is not the only one falling! A NASA satellite is falling - or already fell - to Earth....where, by the way, on the other side of the US political aisle Obama is still falling - in his overall approval ratings and in his handling of the economy. Too many falls?  It must be Fall season already ...What? Oh, it is? ...Well, there!! ...LOL!

HuffPost-Patch Power Outsiders survey
Romney is polling well nationally, especially against Obama. Romney, not Perry, beats Obama in these polls. Despite Romney’s good poll numbers, the Republican Party still seems to be in discontentment and wants another candidate especially now that Perry seems to be self-destructing and fizzling. What’s the problem with the GOP? (Is it still the Mormon thing?? Saaaad!) And to make matters worse, in paradoxical terms, Newsweek just came out with a new cover story on Romney saying that his main problem is that he’s "too conscientious!" What? “Too conscientious”?... Really? This is according to some index methodology/study of political candidates’ traits and Romney will not win because of that. That is pathetic if such analysis is a reflection of the American psyche. Very sad indeed!

Well, but then maybe what America needs now is a conscientious president, yeah? When was the last time we had a conscientious prez? ..hmmm...Reagan? or Clinton? ... though for the latter, it was a completely different kind of conscientiousness ...LOL!

Now rumors abound that Chris Christie (governor of New Jersey) is being courted to run. Are you kidding me? The guy cannot run (nothing personal!). We shall see what he says in his speech tonight at the Reagan Library. Don’t tell me that Christie will buckle under GOP pressure.  Please learn a lesson from Perry, at least!. So, by golly, GOP, get behind Romney! Forget about his negatives (all candidates are NOT PERFECT and all have baggage of their own!) but look at where America is now with its economy. And when you have a lineup of all the candidates - including, I mean especially Obama - Romney is THE ONLY candidate with the experience, qualifications and business acumen to have the best chance of turning this crisis around! (Herman Cain is second.)  So what and who are you (repubs) waiting for?? And if you (republicans, yes you) want Obama out, then Romney is your guy! If not, then sorry but you (yes you Republicans) and all Americans, sans Obama diehards, will have to endure four more years of fears and tears.

And Donald (Trump) needs to remember the “birds of the same feather” adage and endorse Romney. They are both successful business men and popular CEOs and they also share the same/similar views on the currency manipulation shenanigans of the Chinese. They also both have the hair thing going....hahaa... so c’mon The Donald, do the right thing!

A smoking pot mama
A kindergartener in Missouri took a crack (drug) pipe and some crystal meth to his show-and-tell. Good for him because his mom (the user) was later arrested.  Is this a smoking hot - I mean smoking pot - mama, or what? Again, parents, please help your kids with their homework, but not DO it for them, or the homework will come back to haunt you. hehehe....

Manu/Fiji game
We watched the Manu/Fiji game and it was not bad at all. Fiji has certainly lost a lot of its rugby luster of yesteryears. Now bring 'em on - ‘em Boks!  Is it just me or are NZers also concerned and/or bothered by the dual loyalty of the Samoans (and other Pacific Islanders for that matter), who are residents and citizens of NZ, in these games? It doesn’t seem that big of an issue. Maybe it will be if/when the final game is between the Manu and the All Blacks - or any other time the two teams play, aea?

(By the way, I didn’t make it to the Head of State lecture; I had some last minute change of plans.)

I am always intrigued and fascinated by new innovations especially in computer technology. One of the latest ones is called "cinemagraphs" which are still images that move - yes, move.  Do we still call them still photos/images then? Yes, because the originals are still photos.  I’ve seen these being used in TV ads. Watch these not-so-still pictures ... or cinemagraphs.  Aaaamaaazing, aye? ...third one especially!


Singing the blues

Oh the agony of defeat, or in my case...defeats!  Today has turned out to be a day of the sports blues in more ways than one. Two football games and one rugby game, and all my teams LOST! And all of them wore blue uniforms. But the similarities don't end there. The teams they lost to all wore red/reddish uniforms. Is it fate or coincidence? Go figure!

First, at four o'clock we went to our grandson Kalobe's football game. He is the quarterback and they haven't lost yet - until today. It was a tough game. At halftime, they were tied at 0-0 score. The final score was 14-8 and Kalobe was down and sad, understandably. Kalobe's team was bluish and their opponents' uniform had dominant tinges of red. Kalobe, a BYU fan, went straight to the BYU/Utah (University of Utah) game at Cougar (BYU) stadium, with hopes -I'm sure - of getting some needed relief.

The BYU/Utah is the biggest game - of any sport - in Utah every year. It's an intrastate rivalry, and one of the best in the nation. We planned a bash at our place for our whole family, so we all came home to watch the games. We had chips and dip, sandwiches, ice cream, etc.,

Because of the scheduled times, there was a conflict between the BYU/Utah and Manu/Wales games, so we had to set up two TV's in our game room. The bigger 42" - complete with surround sound - for the BYU/Utah game. The other one, 32", for the Manu game. The two TV's were set up in opposite corners, so we had to cut, dissolve or pan from one to the other.

When we saw that BYU was losing baaadly, we turned and cheered for the Manu, especially when Wales had taken the lead. Well unfortunately, it turned out to be a double whammy for our BYU and Manu bash.

It was definitely a night of the blues from the blue teams.... Well, gotta go to sleep now and hopefully that church tomorrow will soothe our sorrows and disappointment....hahaha... Let's hope for some turnaround games next week!

BYU/Utah game ...

bYu fans ...LOL!

...and the Manu fans ...


And then there was blood

How do you define a real sport? Where do you draw the line between a sport and ...hmmm... blatant brutality and barbarism? We often demarcate sports using the familiar words like "contact" and "non-contact" - as in rugby and tennis respectively. There's also the "extreme" and the "not-so-extreme" classes, although I wonder if "humane" and "inhumane" may sometimes be a lot more effective, truthful and suitable categorizations of certain sports - like boxing and wrestling, in which blood becomes more a sign of surrender and defeat than happenstance.

Yesterday night, while waiting for the Manu/Namibia game to start, Dearie and I were watching the Animal Planet Channel which was showing a documentary on people living under somewhat extreme conditions - from the Inuit people of the Arctic regions to the natives of the African grasslands, to the snake hunters of Indonesia. It was quite informative to learn of their unique formidable challenges and methods of survival and adaptation. But blood - because of its graphic depiction by the documentary - quickly became the subtext for us.

First the Inuits who ate raw - hence bloody - fermented birds as a staple food. Then there were the Indonesians whose own dainty was snake blood. The third bloody scene was from a brutal and violent sport, yes a sport, of stick fighting by African tribal men. The game involved two combatants who tried to outhit each other with long sticks, while cheered on by their clansmen. At the end of the main match, the loser was bleeding from his head and face, and the victor was hailed and carried on his teammates' shoulders back to the village.

Throughout all these blood scenes of the documentary, Dearie and I were silently repulsed with occasional whispered disapprovals. For the food scenes, our reactions were understandably passive, because of our own culinary - mostly cultural - orientation, like raw fish and other sea foods.  The stick fight, on the other hand, was incredulous. We wondered how a sport could be intentionally brutal, violent and bloody. The primitiveness however of the tribe helped ease our guarded acceptance of the cutthroat game. But our disbelief was quickly dismissed thirty minutes later by rugby's own bruising and bloody scenes. Ironically, we were more tolerant and accepting of the close-up shot of the Namibia player who had blood dripping down his face and from his nose. Some of our children sighed in bemusement then quickly followed by schadenfreudic laughter. I immediately commented that blood is part of the physical nature of rugby, especially from wounds and cuts inflicted by the spikes of the cleats and of course from headbutting.

A bloody game
Rugby is sometimes termed as a "real man's game"- albeit debatable on some levels within the totality of sports. The stylemark apparently stems from the physicality and the absence of protective gear especially compared to its American football counterpart. And since some sports can be treated as "friendly warfare", brutality and savagery are sometimes justified. Rugby therefore appeals to - and appeases - some visceral animal instincts and vicious slaughterous behavior in all of us - men especially.

I couldn't help mentally superimposing the image of the bleeding African grassland native onto the close-up shot of a more modern African rugby player. The similarities within the vicious context of some sports were inevitable.

And so as we watched the transition - from a more primitive sport of stick fighting to the modern game of rugby - I had the feeling that although man may have changed and advanced in many aspects of becoming civilized, he still has not progressed much in sports, some of which are still bloody, cruel and vicious. Boxing and wrestling immediately come to mind, but if not, then there's always the trending ultimate and extreme cagefighting to which rugby pales in comparison for brutality. Comparatively speaking, I wonder if that's why some people - like me - still prefer rugby, even if there is ...................... Blood.


My NewStand

Miss Universe
Miss Angola, Leila Lopes wins Miss Universe. Why do I care? Well, in light of some issues and controversies surrounding the Miss Samoa pageant, it’s time for pageant organizers to elevate and promote Miss Samoa in international competition - just like rakapi ...LOL! ....where The Manu might - just might - win it all. Go The Manu!

Samoa Head of State in Utah
Samoa's Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, is in Utah.  Read more here:

This evening Tuiatua and his good lady, Masiofo Filifilia, will be welcomed during an ‘ava faatupu at Utah Valley University (UVU) followed by a fiafia in their honor.

On Friday, he will be speaking at BYU - as part of the Kennedy Center Lecture Series - on "Samoa–U.S. Relations”.  I am planning to attend the lecture. I am a big fan of the Head of State - a man of great wisdom; he's smart, knowledgeable and eloquent in both contemporary world issues and Samoan topics.  His Masiofo, Filifilia, was my English teacher at Samoa College. I’ll post some updates on the lecture later on.

And the Head of State will certainly look forward to watching the Manu/Namibia game tomorrow (or is it today? ..yes, tonight at 8:30 - an hour and a half from now..yes!!!).  If the HOS leaves the fiafia early, then this community should know why.  Wow, these differences in days and times are making me psychedelically disoriented ... LOL!! Anyway, for me, I have the game as part of my TV viewing smorgasbord tomorrow evening... TONIGHT! - PPV.  If Fiji destroyed Namibia then I think the Manu should “destroyer” and “destroyest” them too....hahahaa.  And then the replays will be sweet. The All Blacks/Tonga game has been replayed ad nauseam here in the US; I wonder if they’ll do the same to the Manu/Namibia game.

Another GOP Presidential Debate Last Night
This one in Tampa, FL., was sponsored by CNN and Tea Party. Perry again became the “human pinata”. It was expected to be another Romney - Perry showdown but was watered down by aggressive and surprising performances of other candidates. Nonetheless, the two frontrunners still dominated the debate. And again the pundits give Romney another win.

Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post)
The winners: Santorum —— not a bad answer all night, and sounded better than most of the others; Perry on jobs; and Romney for overall strong answers and precision in his arguments.

The losers: Perry on everything else, Bachmann (who still isn’t on a par with Romney and Perry); national security (almost entirely ignored); Perry spinners who insist Social Security isn’t an issue for the Texas governor; and Paul, who was finally unmasked as a crackpot and apologist for our enemies (reciting Osama bin Laden propaganda).
I agree. Santorum did really well. I also liked Gingrich and Bachmann.  Huntsman was bent on attacking Perry and especially Romney. But Romney was his usual self - confident, smart, composed and witty. Perry on the other hand, was, well, “the other hand” - contrastingly speaking.  Here are some more reviews.

Washington Post:
WINNERS: Mitt Romney: Four debates. Four times Romney has wound up in the winner’s circle. It’s not a coincidence. Romney proved yet again that he is the best debater in this field with another solid performance in which he effectively downplayed his liabilities on health care and accentuated his strengths on jobs and the economy.

Others: Gingrich, Bachmann, Caine and Santorum

LOSERS : Rick Perry: The frontrunner didn’t get it done tonight. After surviving the expected back and forth with Romney over Social Security, Perry seemed to let his guard down a bit when the subject turned to his executive order on the HPV vaccine.

Others:  Huntsman and Paul

Peter Grier ( The Christian Science Monitor)
"... for the second time in a week, Mitt Romney may have turned in the best overall debate performance. He was prepared and crisp in his answers, and he differed with Rick Perry and others without seeming angry."

Howard Kurtz. (The Daily Beast)
"…… Romney seized control of the tempo in what may have been his strongest performance so far. He seemed at ease taking the fight to Perry and got the better of their heated exchanges. The former Massachusetts governor was clearly trying to position himself as the reassuring grownup on stage and Perry as the fearmonger."

Stromberg (Washington Post)
The Bottom Line: Romney was the most substantive. On content, Perry had mostly shallow answers and absorbed a few blows, but he did so with winking Texas swagger and didn’’t have a meltdown on Social Security, so pundits will probably say that he pulled through.
...stay tuned


I see!

"Epiphany" ~ by LV Letalu

I see confusion.
I see peace. I see war.
I see order. I see chaos.
I see smiles. I see scowls.
I see harmony. I see contention.
I see strength. I see weakness.
I see light. I see darkness
I see pleasure. I see pain.
I see wealth. I see poverty.
I see health. I see sickness.
I see cold.
I see warmth.
I see pride; I see humility.
I see hostility; I see friendship.
I see loneliness; I see companionship
I see wrong; I see right.
I see bad; I see good.
I see tears; I see laughter.
I see strife; I see unity.
I see sadness; I see happiness.
I see hate; I see love.

I see death and I see ...

I see them all with my eyes
and with my mind,
then with my heart;
and I say:
"I see!"


GOP Presidential Debate

I did watch the GOP Presidential Debate last night.  After the debate, it's practically a two-man race now between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.
Romney and Perry - GOP Debate Sept 7, 2011.
Okay, I'm not going to comment on the rest of the candidates, but only on the two heavyweights who will battle it out to the end in defeating Obama next year in November. The rest of the GOP field will eventually melt into the "also ran" conduit.

Mitt Romney
This was the first debate that included Rick Perry; he joined the race only a few weeks ago and so he missed the previous debate. Perry jumped right to the front in the polls bypassing Romney who has been the frontrunner. So everyone was anticipating a clash between Romney and Perry. The post debate consensus among the pundits, however, is that Romney won this one handily. Stromberg of the Washington Post said:

"Winner of the Debate: Romney, hands down. He got a lot of face time, made no big mistakes and was more self-assured behind the lectern even than the uber-confident Perry."
The duel is promoted by the media and MSNBC and Politico, the sponsors of the debate, played along by placing Romney and Perry next to each other and dead center (fourth and fifth) on stage. The other six candidates flanked the leading duo.

The host/moderator - Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News - started with a question directed to - you guessed it - Romney and Perry on their gubernatorial records (Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts and Perry the present governor of Texas). The ensuing exchange which took up about the first ten minutes was witty and funny. Romney came out on top in that brief but compendious exchange.  Here:

Perry: We created more jobs in the last three months in Texas than [Romney] created in four years in Massachusetts.
ROMNEY: States are different. Texas is a great state. Texas has zero income tax. Texas has a right to work state, a Republican legislature, a Republican Supreme Court. Texas has a lot of oil and gas in the ground. Those are wonderful things, but Governor Perry [shouldn't] believe that he created those things. If he tried to say that, well, it would be like Al Gore saying he invented the Internet.
PERRY: I know back and forth -- Michael Dukakis (governor of Mass. before Romney) created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt.
ROMNEY: Well, as a matter of fact, George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, Governor.
PERRY: That's not correct.
ROMNEY: Yes, that is correct.
Fact checks reveal that Romney was indeed correct about that last retort.

During the debate Perry reiterated his belief/position that Social Security is a big lie and a Ponzi Scheme.

Amazingly some Republicans are supporting Perry in using such "provocative" language and even agreeing with him about Social Security.
Now here's a warning to the Republicans - and Tea Party supporters of Perry:  Perry may be able to get away with that provocative language in the Primary Election, but in the General Election, if he's the GOP nominee, Obama will have a field day with him and all his extreme right positions, and as a result, the Republicans will lose AGAIN!

Rick Perry
In his defense of the criticism of the executive order he signed as a mandate to have all teenage girls be given the drug/vaccine (Gardasil) to prevent cervical cancer (HPV), Perry said he would always "err on the side of saving lives" ... Really? (Perry's link to the company (Merck) the makes the drug (here) has now surfaced. Cronyism, aye?)

As for "erring on the side of saving lives", Perry again, in defending his record for the most death penalty executions, and when asked if he is bothered by them, he said he does not lose any sleep over any decision to execute an inmate.

So much for "saving lives" especially when there's new evidence that supports the fact that Perry may have executed an innocent man in 2004. 

The two-man race is getting more interesting by the day.  Anyway, may the better, smarter, more qualified and more experienced man (Ahem!) win the GOP nomination.



How about that brain teaser? It's not just a weekend. It's a week with a long end, in other words, long weekend.  LOL!

Labor Day 2011 weekend traffic - Deseret News photo
Long weekend means looooong lines of traffic (as in this picture - not far from our place) from today's (Friday's) gridlock from people traveling on this Labor Day weekend. This particular stretch of freeway is undergoing construction for two additional lanes being added to both directions - 12 lanes altogether.... timely of course.

Now, for me, I'm staying put - at home. I do not want to deal with this kind of traffic; it's bedlam and it's the same with any long weekend.

I do love long weekends however especially when I'm not traveling - and driving. Staying home makes long weekends longer and more enjoyable. It makes Friday longer, Saturday too but especially Sunday. That's the feeling I get of these days. It essentially means I get to stay up late Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

So here's what I've penciled in for the Labor Day weekend schedule

Friday night - Eat out ! ...meaning we're taking our food, sit and eat outside in the yard! ....LOL!

Taleni & Tahi
 Saturday - It's All Football Day - "eat, drink and sleep football" - Will attend/watch grandsons'  games, (need pics of you Kalobe and Jamison!!) then watch BYU's first game on ESPN ... exciting season for my Cougars! ...will try to squeeze in mowing the lawn!...haha ...stay up late play pool and games.

Sunday - Go to church and then hang out with family in the evening - Stay up late have some games, and spend time with family!

Monday - early morning run, then do yard work, water lawn and garden, set up backyard for family BBQ then movie night with the whole clan in backyard, and get the braziers (firepits) going ....

...til Tuesday, so loooong ..................



Obama Joke(s)

The first part is the original one sent by a family member and then followed by my own modification/version.

President Obama walks into the Bank of America to cash a check. As he approaches the cashier he says "Good morning Ma'am, could you please cash this check for me"?

Cashier: "It would be my pleasure sir. Could you please show me your ID"?

Obama: "Truthfully, I did not bring my ID with me as I didn't think there was any need to. I am President Barack Obama, the president of the United States of America !!!!"

Cashier: "Yes sir, I know who you are, but with all the new regulations, monitoring, of the banks because of impostors and forgers, etc I must insist on seeing ID"

Obama: "Just ask anyone here at the bank who I am and they will tell you. Everybody knows who I am"

Cashier: "I am sorry Mr. President but these are the bank rules and I must follow them."

Obama: "I am urging you please to cash this check"

Cashier: "Look Mr.. President this is what we can do: One day Tiger Woods came into the bank without ID. To prove he was Tiger Woods he pulled out his putting iron and made a beautiful shot across the bank into a cup. With that shot we knew him to be Tiger Woods and cashed his check. Another time, Andre Agassi came in without ID. He pulled out his tennis racquet and made a fabulous shot whereas the tennis ball landed in my cup. With that shot we cashed his check. So, Mr. President, what can you do to prove that it is you, and only you, as the President of the United States ?"

Obama stood there thinking, and thinking and finally said: "Honestly, there is nothing that comes to my mind. I can't think of a single thing."

Cashier: "Will that be large or small bills, Mr. President?"

And now my very own version of the ending (I need to copyright this ..haha)...

Obama stood there thinking, and thinking and finally said sarcastically and arrogantly:
“Ok, I’m  the  Black President! ...uhmmmm.... with a white house by the way!”

Cashier: "Will that be large or small bills, Mr. President?"

Obama (jokingly): Sorry, I don’t like bills, I’ve seen and signed enough of them ...give me that in change!

Cashier (bemused): Change? ... CHAAAANGE?

Obama (giggles): Are you crazy? ... I was just kidding!!

Cashier:  Of course you were!!!!



The Day Samoa Lost Her Innocence

It was just a matter of time before Samoa had its initiation in today’s rites of fast-and-instant-do-it-yourself-homemade sex videos. With the ready availability of mobiles, cell phones and other gadgets, loaded with ubiquitous and often predatory apps and services, all at nanosecond speeds, the limits and possibilities of what one can do with them within the privacy of his/her own home, are endless - and boundless. Obviously.

And though the initiation has been loathed by many - at least publicly - it seemed to have been feted by the young and the restless as they circulated and shared the clip, which then slithered onto the Internet.

Subsequently, the panic and shame started rippling through paradise - and beyond. The Catholic Church school - at which the culprit was a student - dived into damage control mode trying to stop the spread of the stigma virus.  The moral psyche of the people was nudged from napping, while the vehicle of government shifted to overdrive in revising existing laws to allow for the indictment of pimps and distributors. Rumors circulated of the girl’s family being banished from their village and letters to a local newspaper (with an online circulation and readership) urged forgiveness, while some issued reprimands and denouncements and still others injected sarcasm suggesting that the video was an effective antidote for some perennial discomforts the girl may have been suffering.

Samoa needs to learn quickly to come to terms with the influx of changes - good and bad - especially those spawned by technology. From a basic and often distorted outside perspective, Samoa is eons behind the rest of the world - if not still very much in Margaret Mead’s sextopia. Reality, however, is that distance, in all its imaginable connotations, is dead - killed by technology - and Samoa is therefore hobnobbing with the most technologically advanced countries in the world. That can be good and commendable for a remote island nation to stay abreast with today’s developments and innovation in technology.

However, the same tenacious approach of staying current with global trends, along with enthusiasm for the latest and greatest innovation, are sometimes spurned and viewed with suspicion, skepticism and paranoia - if not evil - by the older and more conservative generations. As a result, the generation gap seems to be made even wider by today’s fast changing world. And though many young people still espouse the traditional and Christian values of their parents, even in the face of riotous and egregious modern influxes, dilemmas and confusion have become real problems among Samoan youth of today. In some cases these young people resort to rebellion and eventually suicide in coping with resulting despair.

To echo Dickens, I guess these can be the best of times and the worst of times. I still remember when the song “Rosalia” (70's) was shunned and even banned from the airwaves of 2AP (Samoa’s then only radio station) because of its sexually suggestive lyrics. Today it is freely played and distributed. And though the song is definitely not on a par with the sex video, it certainly shows how times have changed. Samoa’s innocence has been on a diminishing path until the coinage broadband revives the feminine/sex connotation, and the godless is found on the wireless, the vile on the mobile, and hell on the cell...and thus Samoa’s eyes were finally opened. Literally and otherwise!

“We each begin in innocence. We all become guilty.” ~ Leonard F. Peltier