Sunday, February 25, 2007

Jaydn's Swimming Lessons

Jaydn loves going to swimming lessons. I am proud to say that he is fast becoming a better swimmer than I am.

Here's Jaydn doing laps in the pool.

He's a swimming machine.

He loves jumping into the pool!

Here's some more pictures of him swimming. He had to dive down and pick up a diving ring off the floor of the pool, so I think this is where he's catching his breath before he goes down.
He's going down...

Here he goes!

He came back up; no need to worry!

Jaydn's School

Here's a picture of Jaydn's school,

and Jaydn standing in front of his school in his uniform.

Two-Dollar Beach Revisited

On Saturday we went back to 2-Dollar Beach which, yes, you have to pay $ 2 per person to use. It's unlikely that these people make much of anything on their ownership of the beach, but, hey, you have to make a living somehow.

It's a pretty nice beach, but not really worth 2 dollars when there's so many other places to go for free.

The water is pretty shallow, so it's good for kids. There is one area that's a little deeper which is good for snorkeling. When you're not swimming, you can sit in a pretty nice fale and relax in the shade.

Jessi wanted me to take a picture of her in the water. So I did.

Jaydn enjoyed jumping off of rocks into the shallow water. He isn't afraid of much of anything in the water these days.

Here's a shot of Jessi and Jaydn from me sitting in the fale.

Stray dogs are like poverty; they are always with us.

It's always nice to relax in the water when it's soooo hot outside!

Jaydn even tried his hand at boogie-boarding (in really shallow water).

We had a good time.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sliding Rock, Part II (Without the Deadly Waves)

On Monday (President's Day) we went back to the Sliding Rock area. It was much better this time. Last time we went, we didn't plan for the high tide which caused huge waves to come crashing down into the pool where we were swimming, almost sweeping us out to the ocean. Yesterday we went at low tide, and the waves were manageable.
You wouldn't have seen this face the last time we went.
The water was really green, and SUPER salty. More so than the ocean. But it was fun because the pool is deep and there are lots of fish.

This kind of gives you an idea of how clear the water is.
Pay no attention to the guy who can't open his eyes all the way. The importance of this picture is that it shows how the water enters pool after pool before finally exiting into the ocean.

And when the waves come, you have to hold on tight or you'll get swept away!
Jessi, Jaydn and some of Jaydn's friends enjoyed sitting in the "hot tub," which was (I think) caused by thermal pools underground.

There was one shark in the pool. Fortunately, I was able to get free after he had held my head under the water for a while. No worries; no permanent damage was done.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Valentine's Day Lunch

We went to Tisa's Barefoot Bar and Grill for Valentine's Day. Sounds like a pretty un-romantic place, right? And what about the "no shoes, no shirt, no service" rule? I mean seriously.

This was the view from our table.

Here's the bar area. You'll notice that you just walk from sand into the restaurant. It's a pretty quirky, fun place. And expensive, too. There were some German tourists sitting at the table behind me while I took this picture. They'd just come off the cruise ship and were taking a dip and having a bite to eat. Yeah, I guess the guy, about 65 or so, was changing out of his speedo right in front of Jessi while she was smiling for the picture. Doesn't look like it phased her a bit, does it?

Here's the view from the beach. It kind of looks like a treehouse. You step up a few steps and they have a "Swiss-Family Robinson"-type shower so you can clean yourself off after taking a dip.

Jessi's hot.

There's even a rope swing.

Not your average dinner locale. The food is good, too. We had swordfish and papaya kabobs, banana fries and salad.

I guess my sister Melissa had an even more romantic Valentines Day, however. She got engaged.

Queen Mary

We just recently had one of the biggest cruise ships in the world dock in little ol' Pago Pago harbor. Made me feel special. Her name is the Queen Mary. I hear she's the only cruise ship with a planetarium.

My picture really doesn't do the size of the ship justice, but when it's side by side with Rainmaker Mountain, I guess it does look pretty big. It's so big that when it tried to turn around in the harbor, it couldn't. It had to back out. I wonder if the captain has a rear view mirror.

I love taking pictures of tourists, who are taking pictures of their boat. When you come to a strange place like AS, why do you take pictures of your boat? And check out the crazy Samoan truck plastered with US troop ribbons. That's when you know you're in AS.

Jessi with Friends

Jessi and her friends had a lunch date a few days ago for Carol's birthday. From left to right is Carol, Jessi, Melanie and Fua.

Even More Crazy Signs from American Samoa

Here's what's cooking at Checkers, the local imitation of McDonalds. Macaroni salad with tuna. Yum, yum. You think that would be a hit in the states? And what the heck does "You are the pupil of my ?" mean? I think I'll stick with the good ol' Big Mac.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


This is what is starting to get Jessi and I up in the mornings. We take turns going on walks or running in the morning, and the water by our house provides for some beautiful sunrises. The colors created by the sun in the morning are simply incredible; it's amazing what a sight like this can do for your energy level throughout the day.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

OK, That's Weird

I'm here sitting in my office in the courthouse. Mike (the other clerk) walked out of the office to see if the CJ (Chief Justice) received a memo we wrote to him. As he's walking out and down the hallway by our office, he walks past the bathroom. Before he gets there, a prisoner walks out of the bathroom, orange jumpsuit, no leg chains or handcuffs, no bailiff, no guards, nothing. Big guy. He casually galumphs back into court for his hearing. Later, he'll be taken back to the prison. Weird. Welcome to American Samoa!

Looks Like I'm Famous

Have you ever run into someone who wanted to take your picture, but you didn't want them to? OK, neither have I, until a few days ago. I went across the street from the courthouse to Island Business Center to make some copies, and another palagi ("white guy") was in the store. It is highly unusual for me to run into a palagi that I don't already know. So this guy is taking pictures around the store, and he asks me if he can take my picture. Um, no. "I'm Joey from KHJ radio." So what? "If I take your picture, you'll be on our website. You'll be famous." Huh? "Please can I take your picture?" Oh, all right. So now they've got my picture on their website, with the caption, "Customer Sean Coletti smiles at the excellent service he receives when he gets copies made at Island Business Center." Oh, brother!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Driving Through a Samoan Cricket Game

A few days ago I was driving to the church for a meeting. All of the sudden, I saw several Samoans on the left side of the road. They were concentrating on a small field on the other side of the road. I could see that the large group of Samoans on the right of me were playing a game of cricket. I could also hear the guy blowing the whistle for the game. Then I realized--the guys on the right side of the road were fielders, and were waiting for the ball to be hit. Right when I passed I could see their eyes look up, and they all reached out with their hands. I hit the gas about as fast as I could! I guess the ball missed me. I think that was my first experience driving on a paved public road through the middle of a Samoan cricket game!

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Good Friend and Mentor, Judge John C. Hohnhorst, has Died

John C. Hohnhorst, my mentor and my friend, died over the weekend while waiting for a lung transplant. He was 55.

I first met John Hohnhorst in December of 2004 when I intervied for the law clerk position. He first struck me as extremely easy to get along with. I thought it interesting that he had several items of Lincoln memorabilia situated around his office. Not knowing an awful lot about Lincoln (except that he was a good president), I thought that anyone who has chosen Lincoln as their hero must be a pretty good guy.

To my surprise and elation, he offered me the job a few weeks later. And after graduating, finishing the summer bar exam and getting 1 1/2 hours of training, I began my new job as his law clerk. I was blessed (and cursed) to have Judge Hohnhorst on vacation for those first few weeks of my employment. While I could have sorely used his advice, I was left alone with a few assignments and some time to get into the groove of my new job before I had to face my boss again!

When he returned, I had the jitters. I was extremely nervous handing him my first research and writing assignment, but was relieved when he told me that it was "outstanding work." I think he could sense my nervousness and wanted to help me relax. When introducing me to people, he referred to me as the "executive editor of the law review." He knew how to make me feel important during a difficult transition.

I enjoy writing (I always have), but I found it even more rewarding to be able to discuss my research and writing in depth with Judge Hohnhorst. It seemed he could remember just about everything, and he always wanted to listen and discuss. I also got to sit in on every hearing or meeting that Judge Hohnhorst held, whether it was in court or in his office. He liked to get my opinion on the issues, and I often stepped outside on his back porch to discuss cases with him.

Even on the hardest days he had something hilarious to say. He'd always be cracking jokes by email or in his office, and sometimes I just laughed until my side hurt. A month or so into my clerkship with him, I noticed that he said some pretty funny things on the bench, as well. So I started writing them down. By the end of my clerkship, I had over a hundred short quips by Judge Hohnhorst that I framed and put up in the Judge's office. I really wish I could share some of them here, but I seem to have misplaced the file.

Judge Hohnhorst gave of himself freely. He was always saying, "Stoker, Smyser and Harris and I are going to lunch, wanna come? I'm buyin'." He took me to all of his favorite restaurants in town. I think his favorite (and my least favorite) would have to be The Cove. Those are the days I wish we'd gone to Prasai's, but oh well. It was always enjoyable going to lunch with him.

He gave me some really outstanding advice while I was there. Law school taught me to be detail-oriented; Judge Hohnhorst taught me to be more concise. He would always give me insights into how certain lawyers operated, what he thought they did good, and what he knew they did not so good. He taught me to really think about things; he did not make fast decisions. He was a deliberator, and fairness was his #1 concern.

What I think I will remember the most is the way he approached his job. He was so concerned with handling each civil case with exactness, and he treated every criminal defendant like they were his own son. Judge Hohnhorst was notoriously long winded; all of our hearings lasted longer than the other judge's hearing. The Monday calendar was always the longest for everyone, but no matter what, Judge Hohnhorst's was longer. We would frequently go home after 5 pm, sometimes as late as 7:30 pm. It would concern him; he'd always ask us, "how can I get done with my calendar faster?" But it took so long because he counseled each defendant like a father. He took his time with them, and, quite often, he gave them another chance. At first I thought he was just "soft" on criminals. Now I see that he treated them like human beings.

Judge Hohnhorst his condition with more courage than I had ever seen from an individual. He was determined to lose 90 pounds in only a few months so he could be added to the list of donees. What is remarkable is that he succeeded. And because he couldn't breath heavily, he did it without exercise.

When my clerkship ended in August of 2006, I gave him the framed list I had compiled, as well as the book 1776 by David McCullough. Recently, I felt compelled to read 1776 myself. I never had the opportunity to tell Judge Hohnhorst that I read it as well. I went on to read (and am still reading) Lincoln by David Herbert Donald. I know this is a book that Judge Hohnhorst had read; I think I was inspired to read it mostly so I could understand Judge Hohnhorst a little better.

Today, I received an email that told me that Judge Hohnhorst had passed away, apparently in his sleep. I was devastated. I had emailed him several times within the past week, and hadn't received a response. I myself was concerned, but I hoped that he was just in surgery. Unfortunately, his wait was too long.

I stepped outside for a moment at lunchtime, and realized that I was still on this earth, and he was not. It was a surreal feeling.

I will never forget my mentor and friend, John C. Hohnhorst.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pig Thieves

Just a few days ago, a heinous crime was committed in American Samoa. Three men were charged with killing and then stealing their neighbor's pig. For this despicable crime, they could face up to seven years for stealing, up to five years for property damage and up to six months for trespass. I mean, it's as serious as killing a human being down here, folks! Here's the story:

The government's case against three men accused of killing a neighbor's pig, then stealing the pig for White Sunday to'onai has been bound over to the High Court.

The men, Sione Pulou, Amaketo Titiali'i, and Suafai Satale, are each facing charges of felony stealing, first-degree property damage and trespassing. They waived their rights to a preliminary examination hearing at the District Court yesterday and their matter was then bound over to the High Court.

The defendants, all incarcerated at the TCF, are scheduled to appear in High Court for their arraignment and they are expected to enter not guilty pleas.

The charges against the defendants stem from an incident that occurred on Oct. 7, 2005. The victim called police and told them that someone had killed one of his pigs.

The victim said he went to his pig farm and saw a 300-400 lb pig dead with about 15-20 stab wounds on its body. The victim also told police that the pig had been dragged about 100 meters from the piggery, towards the road.

He said that the damage to his piggery and the loss of the pig exceeds $1,000.

At least two witnesses saw the defendants near the victim's piggery. When confronted by police, Pulou admitted that he and Titiali'i were at the victim's piggery with the intent to kill the pig. He admitted that they also caused damage to the piggery in the process of killing the animal.

Pulou said that after killing the pig, he and Titiali'i dragged the dead animal about 100 meters towards the road, then hid the pig under some coconut trees. He said they planned on returning to claim the pig so that they could cook it for White Sunday, according to the government's case.

Pulou further told police that Satale told him and Titiali'i to kill the victim's pig. He said Satale drove them to the victim's piggery, and later picked them up.

Sounds premeditated to me, don't you think? This is serious stuff! Samoans treasure their pigs, and for someone to come and do this is, well, it's unthinkable!!