Tuesday, November 29, 2005

But we haven't gut da pow-ure Captain!

Today we had 8 black-outs/power shut-offs here in central Lae.

I know there were 8, because each time there was a blackout, I took a non-electrical based whiteboard marker, and made a non-electronic mark on a non-electricity dependant whiteboard.

So in 3 days that makes (from this weekend to end of Monday) 3 earth tremors (tinsy lil earthquakes that shake the walls) and 12 blackouts (incl one for over 5 hours last night) - luckily only setting off the alarm only once.

Of course, it was also good excuse for a relatively quiter day in the office *smile*... so it wasn't ALL bad...

Ummm, just sharing -em Tasol!

Crazy Catholics & Mediocre Anglicans

Here we go again - those crazy Catholics are moving to make clearer a stance that they've long held. Link (for as long as it lasts) to one of the Age articles is here.

I think my favourite quote from this article is this one:

Father Richard John Neuhaus, for example, one of the church's most conservative commentators, wrote in 2002 that "it seems more than likely that, in centuries past, some priests who have been canonised as saints would meet today's criteria as having a homosexual orientation".

It's interesting at the moment to see the issue progressing, from a slightly closer vantage point, within the Anglican Church. I'm picking up (and filing mostly) a fair chunk of mail from the position of General Secretary to the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea (ACPNG). And there are a constant stream of emails/letters around the topic.

I found this quote, from this article, interesting also:
"So why aren't liberals fighting back? In a recent sermon, the Rev Canon Marilyn McCord Adams, regius professor of divinity at Oxford University, offers a view few are prepared to admit: "One whispered reason why many personally convinced liberals do not act is 'postcolonial guilt'"

Good article.

I've heard some say the issue is a bit passe now. I've heard others saying about how you shouldn't talk about the issue b/c you're not gay (it's not for you to understand) -: sounds like bollocks to me. When you see the theology and teaching at a local level in a developing country - informed by a world-wide communion - these debtates take on another level of importance. Hopefully the church, partly being my church, somehow manages to pull it's collective brains into the mid-20th century sometime soon. Of course, I realise my opinions are quite different to many of my Christian friends - but *shrug* regardless of your views, this latest push by the Catholics is OTT.

Here endeth the rant.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Macedonians leading technology?

I'm not entirely sure how we got talking about this bit particularly the other night, but anyways. Think it was something like this: There's a new head of the business faculty at the UNITECH here in Lae - Alan. He comes out for a drink here and there, and we got chatting about setting up here in PNG, which led to talking about internet or something... And he said check out "Macedonia Connects" thru google. Non-techo's might find it boring, but I thought it was worth a quick post. If for nothing else than the question of whether it goes along-side roads etc as a right-:

The BBC Article is here...

Further links here...

Friday, November 25, 2005

The easy road or the hard road…

Nuts. Coconuts to be precise.

Now. I’ve bought some fresh, drinking coconuts in Thailand earlier in the year. I bought some of those in Moresby too a month ago or so. Most common use of coconut juices I’ve seen here so far, however, is to scrape the inside of the things out, and use the juice from the scrapings (squeezed) over your vegies (particularly the taro’s and kukim banana’s, but also Yams etc.).

The house came with a good coconut scraper, and I’d watched Martin do one or two with some commentary – how hard can it be?

Surely all too easy!

One takes the coconut, and smacks it with the blunt edge of your bush knife (house came with one of these too – over a foot long – chances are low of me getting one back into Oz methinks). Then once you get all the away around, you drain the juice, take the coconut half, and start-a-scraping.

So Nath gets his coconut, takes up the bush knife, and starts smacking this coconut in various places around the edges… and keeps doing this… and keeps doing this…and keeps doing this… eventually I get a different sounds, and wedge the knife in, thinking I’m about to score PURE coconut GOLD for my vegies.

“Pop!” went the coconut, and “Splatter!!” went everything inside the coconut, spreading my lower t-shirt, shorts, dish rack full of clean dishes – and a goodly portion of the kitchen floor near-abouts with a claggy, ultra-ultra-yukky-smelly, ultra-sticky residue. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but I am still master of my domain. It just turns out this coconut has gone very bad already.

Took me about half-an-hour to remove most of the smell from the surrounding areas!

Saturday I’m buying some fresh coconuts, with someone that knows what they’re doing, – and maybe some (the easy-road) tinned coconut cream… just in case you understand.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Scott Baio gave me pink-eye!!!

Yes it’s true. Scott Baio (spelling?) has been wandering throughout PNG – bringing to truly epidemic proportions the cases of red-eye… or eye infections… or conjunctivitis – whatever your preferred name.

After my self-enforced week of solitude (except for work), and due to such heinous crimes perpetrated by said criminal, I’ve decided on behalf of all red-eye sufferers to put a bounty out on Scott’s head. Hmmm… I’m still deciding on the amount, because I’m supposed to be a volunteer now or something.

If caught, I will subject him to a debilitating course of eye-drops, humidity, sleeplessness and enforced solidarity.

Damn you Scott.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


So before I came, I did some of that looking into the topic of Malaria. That's to say that I read some bits of a lonely planet, clicked around on the internet for a while, and talked to the travel doctor. All a bit vague.

Most people in PNG, except for certain times of the year in Moresby, live with the reality of Malaria alllll the time. Anyhoo's - here's a few other links/spots I've had a read of since coming down with it this weekend.

And here's another...
Though I'm yet to get thorugh it all - I'm still a bit unsure of the long-er term effects (or possible effects). Haven't found a good sharp summary of that yet - if anyone finds one pls let me know!

Actually... One of the AVI's is working with the IMR (institute for medical research) at the moment - I should prob email there also!

All Souls Day at the All Souls Parish (Lae) – one big Sing Sing

Not even photo’s can do justice to this event – but they do better than me prattling on. Briefly -: a kinda high-anglican service with brief traditional dancing inserts, followed by more food than I’ve seen so far in PNG, followed by 7 different ‘zones’ of the church each separately presenting a different set of full traditional dances n ‘presents’ to the parish - - this is with the full get-up. All up this started at 7:45am (church) and finished on and around 4:30pm. Then I went to the yacht club and had a few beers…

Click here’s for some happy snaps...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Yes - there are some very kewl people in Lae

Here are two of them.

I may have to take these pictures down again, as I may have promised not to put them up on a blog, oh well.

Jonika (ex-Canada) & Alex (ex-Melbourne). They’re recently engaged (he proposed in the Taj Mahal, which I’m not even sure that I can spell) – they’ve been in Lae for quite a while. Alex works at an export company, and is an ex-AVI. Jonika does a bit of everything from what I can tell – but lotsa teaching/NGO/consultancy stuff.

So they’ve regularly picked me up to go to the yacht club for drinks any number of times. They have scrumptious brunches. They are a lot of fun.

Anyhoo’s – this week I had pink-eye – otherwise known as eye infections – which swelled the left eye right over (ouch!). Then I got back to Lae, feeling crap and unable to see properly, heaps of work to do – you get the idea. Then on Friday of the same week I get fevers n stuff, get tested – yup – I’m Malarial (is that a word?). Yay!

The long and short of all this, (besides an opportunity for some general whining on my part), is that Jonika & Alex got me around on a Sat. afternoon/evening for some cricket, pizza, DVD’s n steak for dinner – putting a much needed smile n chill-out on a mediocre week. Ta!

Action shot is Alex check’in on the home-brew (go bubbles go) outside…

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mini Tribute – Martin & Alieen Gardham

I spent my first 2 weeks in Lae living with Martin & Aileen.

Martin was General Secretary to the Anglican Church for about 3 years – which from what I can tell acts as the (very) senior civil servant to the Anglican Church of PNG. On the side, he took care of the Finance & Admin Mangers role (which has been unfilled for a few years). Prior to this Martin has worked across almost all areas of ACPNG – diocese secretary for AiPo diocese (almost all the highlands region), and previously in Popondota diocese. All this on the missionary allowance from the UK. The guy is a seriously good administrator. I should know, because it’s relatively serious big hole that’s been left behind! All up Martin was in PNG for 20 yrs + (hope I’ve got all those dates/times right)

Aileen’s ministry/time in PNG was at the same time more broad and at least as important/definitive as Martin’s. For a start, Aileen has been in PNG 30+ years – after feeling called from Rockhampton in her (I think) late 20’s. Aileen is a nurse, and just in the 2 weeks I was here, there were sick babies, staff with Malaria and a general helping medical hand which is invaluable here in Lae, let alone in the rest of PNG. Aileen has been heavily involved in the Provincial (national) Women’s Literacy component of ACPNG – teaching pidgin and getting lik lik buks out to rural areas--, and more locally was secretary and treasurer for Heduru Aids Care here in Lae (based on this same compound). The opening of the office (with computer/phone etc) made possible through some EU funding, was on their 2nd last Sunday.

These little paragraphs can’t really grab even the stories/people/contributions which I was lucky enough to grab a glimpse of whilst being here for the final 2 weeks. Writing the above feels a tad inadequate… but hopefully, as planned, Martin puts all this down in a book/writing - - as it would be a fascinating insight into the changing generation of the Anglican Church and of PNG generally.

More personally, Aileen & Martin welcomed me and settled me into Lae. Made a world of difference starting off with some v.experienced (effectively) locals.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

So I live in this place, right…

A few crazy people have asked for some more on the haus that I’m a’stay’in in.

Fair enough.

So - It’s on the second floor above the workplace (cuts down my lunch expenses!), in that compound I’ve already mentioned. 3 bedrooms, one with a queen-sized bed (yay!), a Neil St.-esque, but serviceable, bathroom (some of you know what that mean), and a v.nice kitchen.

Here’s what the balcony looks like-

Here’s the view from the balcony (green lush gully, down to a stream, then over the back-side of Lae towards a mountain range in the distance) - - photo’s will never do it justice, but I’ll try and get a sunset shot at some stage.

My Kitchen. Boring, but fantastically functional – even for a ramshackle cook as myself. Came fully laden with bits n bobs – toaster, microwave, juicer, coconut scraper, kettle, full pots set, full glasses/crockery/utensils etc. very nice.

The inner security door. This one was new to me – so it gets a gurnsey. This is the second level of defense after the bars/grates and alarm around all the outside walls.

It's a lovely little place - - and as I've mentioned, it's fiiiiiine for (Aussie or otherwise) visitors anytime, plenty of spare bedding etc!

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Slowed down on the posts as it's been work, work, work.

Met some great ppls - churhcy, local and expat. There's a particularly great bunch (mostly expats) who catchup @ the yacht club and seem to gather volunteers in.

Flying off to Moresby on Monday for Provincial Executive. It's one of the twice annual catch-up of all the Bishops n working peope of the Anglicans - 5 Bishops (one for each diocese), one education division boss, one health division boss and one (currently a separate bit) HIV/AIDS division boss...

I'm coming in cold on 5 sets of diocese accounts, 3 divisions, x2 colleges... anyways - wont bore you with the details - - but suffice to say I'm busy and been off the air a bit.

Back on Wednesday from Moresby - catch-up some photo's n things n backlog of stories after that hopefully.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Side Note “Some Volunteers organization gossiping”

Aust. Youth Ambassadors (AYAD) vs AVI. I think we need a soccer match. Or maybe a game of scrabble. Perhaps Mater-Mind? Or celebrity Jeopardy? Something may be needed.

The AYAD program includes an orientation in Canberra, meeting the Foreign Minister (participants are briefed beforehand that it’s a public event – no tricky questions of the minister please), “Driving in PNG” lessons; an extra flight to Madang to snorkel for a bit (Moresby being too stressful for the AYADs first up) before finishing the orientation back in Moresby; a separate compound where all the AYAD’s live; access to vehicles (well ok, this is prob necessary in Moresby – unless you’re with AVI); much higher salary than AVI’s; one year appointments only; and a silver spoon – of course.

Anyhoo’s – I mention this only to stir the pot. Recent government changes have meant that AVI and others now have to tender/apply for certain numbers of ‘volunteer’ positions. This meant large staffing cuts and a drop in the budget (I think they went from 136FTE to 70 or something). The AYAD program being the ‘baby’ of Alexander Downer (so I’m -unconfirmed- told) – somehow in this new age of tendering (for funding from dfat) – one program can provide so much more…

Of course, some of the AYAD programs/jobs looked spectacularly good – and they’ve got some great applicants – it's just interesting.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Anglican Church of PNG Compound in Lae

Mmm. How to give a real picture?

It’s a fairly big property on a corner block of Seventh street & Huon Street (relatively busy-ish streets). Being a city boy, I think in ¼ acre blocks. This compound must have at least 10 quarter acre blocks. Reasonably open place.

Has the parish building (church – seat 200 maybe), a large hall building, 6 or 7 of these 3brhouses + 2 bungalows + a little AIDS educ. office… beautiful views over rainforest long gully then valley into misty mountains, and generally great huge rain-trees all around.

There’s a 24hr guard (one – Simon-Michael in the day, and Mouman on the night shift), kinda nothing gates and a barbed wire fence (waist height) all around elsewise. Bars/grates across all windows/slats/doors etc. Compared to other compounds, this one is an open plot. Normally Aileen & Martin take out a decent helping of dinner around 9-10pm to the night-shift guard (who leaves the plate/bowl back on the balcony in the morning). I’ve added to this with a nightly smoke (my one for the day to date in Lae)

Downstairs from the 3 (small) Br place I live in is the Anglican National Office that I work in, complete with alarm upstairs and downstairs. Inside this upstairs portion, there’s a secondary security door (big iron frame jobby) that locks away the 3 bedrooms separately, and the alarm switch is in there as well.

People are friendly, and almost every night for 2 or 3 hours so far this week there has been the sounds of drums and/or choir wafting across the compound as they prepare for All Souls day church festival on Sunday (I’m getting a crash course in the Anglican lectionary at the moment), and the Ms Milne Bay contest tomorrow (Sat.) night. Nice. Wandered over a few nights and watched the dancing practicing and copped an invite – could be fun.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Side-Note PNG Gender Politics/ians

Marian, another of the volunteers, works in the Ministry for Community Development. That ministry for community development has as it’s head the only (yes – only) female politician. Her name is Dame Carol Kidu… I didn’t get more of a story than that, but something to be looked up – she had the appearance of an Ex-pat in one picture I saw…