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The Passing of a Devoted Dad
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Reopening the Doors of MicSem
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Christmas, 2023
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Ken Urumolug: 1965-2023
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Furlough to the Mainland IV
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Furlough to the Mainland III
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Furlough to the Mainland II
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Furlough to the Mainland

Reopening the Doors of MicSem

For nearly four decades Micronesian Seminar (usually known as MicSem) was the center of my life. As we went about our mission of promoting public discussion and reflection on key issues in Micronesian life, we managed to build up a library. Over the years it grew from a few shelves of books on the islands to an internationally recognized collection with 24,000 print titles, 82,000 historical photos, 800 videos, and 22,000 audio tracks.

When MicSem operations ended in 2012, its library was moved from Pohnpei to Chuuk for safekeeping, but was only last year relocated to Yap, where it is now laid out in a beautiful new building on the campus of our Catholic high school there. The treasured collection has been saved; now it needs to be opened to the public, whether walk-in visitors or on-line.

For the on-line guests, we have updated the MicSem website so that they can easily search the contents and let the librarian know what they need.  After all, the value of our library depends on broad public access to an actively maintained collection that continues to document Micronesia’s history while offering people the materials we developed in our 40 years of public education work.

To fully reopen, MicSem library needs operational funds to see it through its first year—funds that will be used to purchase a few scanners and some basic office equipment, along with the salary of our former librarian so that she can instruct her replacement during the transition year. The amount we estimate needing is in the area of $35,000. I should add that Habele, a US-registered non-profit with a great track record in this part of the world, has agreed to a 2-to-1 match from its own endowment for any donations we receive.

So here I am again, as so often in the past, asking for your help. But this time it’s not to assist us as we carry on our operations; it’s to ensure that what we tried to do over those years might continue to survive and reach those who can profitably use it over the years to come.


Christmas, 2023

I wish this were a personal visit instead of a written greeting, but let this note with its brief update suffice until we do meet again. 

Any honest update from me would have to deal with the challenges of getting old, but you’ve heard all this from guys like me before. Maybe you’re even going through it yourself. If so, you know that becoming an old-timer does take a bit of adjustment. Not only to the aches and pains in the joints, but other things are just as bothersome:

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Ken Urumolug: 1965-2023

I always thought of Ken as a kid—but a big kid, for sure. He had that playful smile that made you feel that, sincere as he seemed, he might be stringing you along just a little bit. But the smile was real. The earliest vivid memory of him was sitting on the hull of our overturned boat with that triumphant smile as Xavier freshmen splashed in the water around him. The boat had been swamped by waves not too far from shore, but Ken and a couple of his buddies held tight to the food packages they had saved from the floor of the lagoon.

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Furlough to the Mainland IV

Back to Hawaii

There may have been no problem running down the Hudson, transiting to New Jersey railroad and checking into the hotel, it was a different story the next day a the airport. Check in was was no trouble, but the line for security defied belief. It was the longest I’ve ever been in, winding as it did around the entire terminal. The wait of an hour didn’t seem as long as the walk.

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Furlough to the Mainland III

Family Time in the Adirondack Mountains

Within minutes of greeting my brother Rich and his wife Jan, we were in deep conversation. The same happened when I met my brother George at the beach just before dinner. In fact, George was so caught up that he volunteered to join us for dinner that evening. We chatted about the usual family topics: What are the real family traits? Who got along well with whom when we were young? How have we changed over the years?

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Furlough to the Mainland II

Two Days in the Hudson Valley

On September 3, I took the plane to Newark after a series of annoying run-ins with airport officials. Maybe the early hour (5 AM) was responsible, but polite old Minnesota didn’t seem quite as warm and tender as Garrison Keillor represented his state on “Prairie Home Companion.”  The TSA people were especially rude, as I went through a surprising delay while they checked out a Kindle in my carry-on bag.

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Furlough to the Mainland

First stop: Minneapolis

My two-week furlough began on August 31 when I left for Minneapolis. The seven hours to Honolulu was painless, but then again I was seated next to Bernie Helstrom and so had a companion. When she exited, I was left on my own to negotiate the Honolulu airport—ie, picking up baggage and going through customs before traveling the length of the terminal to go through customs again along with the screening (not required in most places) and then the long journey to our departure gate. As I hobbled along, a couple of other passengers muttered that the Honolulu system made no sense at all. I had to agree completely.

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