outback to jungle

Musings on experiences of volunteering in Papua New Guinea with some gratuitous domestic social and public comment

Saturday, April 29, 2006

"the problem with aid

is getting the money to those who need it." Thus spake the editorialin SMH today. Australia gives just .25% GDP compared with the Scandinavian countries which give about .9%. "Too much money has been wasted by incompetent administrations or siphoned off by corrupt regimes. If we know what is going on then why are we seemingly powerless to stop the rot? The academics have told me where the rot is so if they have told me then presumably it is widespread know;ledge. Nearly everyone talks about the rot but if anything it is just laughed offf as another case case of "the land of the unexpected".
"In Papua New Guinea and much of the Pacific, poverty levels have stagnated or crept up" the SMH continues. "despite the highest levels of per capita injections of aid in the world."
So when I get back, hopefully between all parties - the University and myself and DODL we can make sufficient resolutions to emable me to work to get University courses deliverable to the teachers in the first instance because education in the provinces has immediate impact where it counts.

Friday, April 28, 2006

what if we're not real?

My essay question On Camus' L'etranger wants me to consider "Meursault, est-il un personnage vraisemblable?" The novel is written from Meursault's perspective so he is real to him and the court trial is meant to introduce some some objectivity about Meursault but of course Meursault can edit the trial to siut himself. Thus it was that I was wondering about Mel and Coshi how vraisemblable or plausible or like;ly they are. I wonder if they ever consider they are selling their character and personality to the network to do as they wish and if this makes them any different to a sexual prostitiute? I tried to enter politics by means of the Liberal party once or twice but I felt too uncomfortable mixing with the bid end of town it just wasn't me so I got out. What if I'd stayed in there and took the seat that became available which Senator I forget his name, nice bloke, took in my stead? When I say it doesn't matter I can't be serious because the issues still bother me - the lies, the hypocricy. Tell someone who cares I feel like telling the next sopa box orator. This is my private soap box so I'm telling me about what bothers me but which should not bother me. I think I must get frustrated that the issues which should bother do not bother. Living through a generational change in which the issues of my generation are being rehashed by new faces in Matt's generation something about plus la change la plus la meme chose.

does it matter?

I saw the news last night and I read the letters page of the SMH and if there is one thing I am thankful about for going to PNG is that I've woken up to the inanity of life in Australia. Nothing has changed - except for the bimbo Mel who used to be on Ch 7 morning show as a giggling flirtatious girty well now she is on the same show cast this time as the serious bird trying to gurgle deep and meaningful commentary about tragedy such as the men killed in the underground mine disaster in Tasmania and the wrong coffin being brought back to Australia in place of the dead soldier. Beazeley and Labor are trying still to grunt something relevant, Howard is still trying to keep a straight face as he lies his way from one policy to the next. Who cares? Well I care about most things but not the junk that TV and politicians and celebrities care about. So what if Tom and his new wife have a baby. Of course having a baby is a big deal - I ought to know I have two of them - but why should it matter to anyone else. Twenty five years ago when Matt was a baby I was doing casual work in schools in Canberra while I tried to get permanent work in the public service and while I studied Fine Art at ANU and Journalism at CCAE. What if I had stayed there and locked myself into the gross materialism of Canberra? I am thankful that PNG has woken me up to such ugliness and inanity. Why should anyone care about what the networks decide we should care about? The way they have changed Mel and probably Coshi although I didn't see him- by character recast following polling - should make people realise they are being conned.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

back to lismore

last night after getting up at 4am in Lae, flight out of Lae 7.15, arrive PMoresby 8am, up to Airways for breakfast of Omelette and bacon and coffee, read L'etranger for two hours, back to airport where the indicator advised of a tail problem with the 767 and that two F100s would transport us to Brisbane - flights were full of Kokoda trail explorers/pilgrims who had arrived ten days previously and after completing the walk on the previous day had got up for the dawn service in Kokoda and fly out on Anzac day. Matt and Josoe met me at Brisbane at 7pm and we were back in Lismore by 9.30. Matt's leg is swollen - torn anterior cruciate ligament in knee from a tackle last Saturday playing Rugby. Visits physio again tomorrow. He is walking on it without crutches so I don't know how bad it is. We'll go up to Grafton probably Friday to see Mum. Will try today to get a replacement phone.
I am booked to be back in Lae on the evening of 5th May and that will still go ahead. Meanwhile I think about how best to help the situation at work. If we can get programmes for teachers to upgrade their qualifications then that has to be a good thing. I'm updating this blog at the internet cafe in Lismore. $1.50 for 15 minutes.

Monday, April 24, 2006

yair but Geoffrey remember

why you came here. This is a developing country. This is a developing country. This is a ... You have to make allowances. You have to make allowances. You have to.. How many allowances do I have to make before this becomes a developed country? With the resentment being felt by the academics I am starting to feel resentment myself. Was I brought up here on the cheap as a volunteer because they did not want to lose their own gravy (K500 for living away from home allowance, boat allowance, hire car allowance, best hotel allowance, lawn mowed allowance) by having to pay international weighted salary which would eat into U reserves they keep for themselves? I'm beginning to feel like a sucker, used beyond my job description, ordinarily a good thing for one's CV - advertise for a position at low rates and then pay the same low rates for performing duties of a much higher order. I wouldn't mind the low rates but I feel the managers are treating me in the same way as the phone thief in laughing and mocking me at his coup. I told the boss this morning I want to stay here in order to get teachers doing U level courses to upgrade their skills so there will be an immediate follow through into the isolated communities. I used to be a bleeding heart until I came here. Why do not the leaders care as much about their people as a volunteer does? This is a developing country. The leaders are developing too. You have to make allowances. If I have to make allowances, why don't they?

what a foolish man

is this Foreign Minister of Australia. Foolish and ignorant - if there is a difference. An Australian soldier was killed in an accident yesterday where his gun discharged while he was cleaning it and Minister Downer said Well remember of course that he was not killed in combat. Not killed in combat? Where was he when he was killed? He was killed in a combat zone where nearly 3000 Invasion troops have been killed not to mention how many poor bloody iraquis have been killed and this fool says Oh yair but. The RSL and the soldier's widow ought to be very angry at the hide, ignorance and foolishness of this idiot.
I showed Joseph how to play Solitaire the other night - its a good programme for teaching mouse and clicking skills. I couldn't get him to stop. He learned very quickly. Maybe I might have a role in computer classes or something.
I leave for Brisbane for 10 days tomorrow. Went shopping yesterday - to get some red meat into the blood. Sores are taking a long time to heal -over a month now. Bought 3 pieces sirloin steak K20, 6 pack K16, frozen chips K11, blackberry jam K11, Tea dunking biscuits Nice K4.4, Frozen Peas and Corn K6, 2 loaves bread K6.6, Sugar K2, Milk powder K3, milk K4, pepper K6. Total groceries K92.

why do people tell me

these things? There is so much resentment about the University's not having got its act together that the academic staff in particular will tell anyone who seems to come to them from an administration perspective. My doing the awareness raising makes me look as though I have come as a messenger from the hierarchy. They are resentful that registration was such a shambles at the beginning of this year and now the students are wanting extensions on their assignments which will push the academics' timetables for completing their schedules out. They see an administration in which only one of the senior executives out of the top five is on campus. They see themselves tied to the classroom while senior executives live away from home in order to pick up a K500 living away from home allowance. They see gravy being poured on the administrators' plates while they eat the lowest coloured brand of Ox and Palm boiled offal. They are resentful at the low quality students which are being accepted by the University to get money. They are resentful that they will be contracted to write external courses which will bring in fees for the administrators to buy boats and buy more living away from home allowances while they will not be rewarded for their efforts which has been responsible for bringing in the fees. That's why people tell me these things. There is so much resentment.

Friday, April 21, 2006

the scariest people on earth

Hey Karl, get your butt in here. Yes Mr President. Now listen Karl you gotter do somethin' to turn around these polls. People are startin' to think I'm a loser. You got any ideas? Well yeah, you remember that little baldy head little dude from Austria, you know the guy, always wanted his picture taken with you. Talks pretty good English. You know what's 'is name? Well anyway he told his voters that boatloads of Indonesian fishermen were comin to get 'em and they swallowed it like that. Real dumb bastards, frightened the shit outer them and they voted him back in. You're bullshittin' me Karl. Nope, that's as true as apple pie. All the way from Indonesia he told 'em. I always thought the Austrians were smart. You know Mozart and all that. You think our voters are that dumb? Excuse me Mr President, that guy wasn't from Austria he's from Australia - AustrALia you know sort of down near the South Pole there somewhere. Oh Yeah, thanks Condi. John I think he said he was, I remember now. Wanted a picture on my lap of all things. Well go on Karl, what do ya reckon? Well we won't tell the voters that Indonesian fishermen are comin' we'll say a generic term like "illegal aliens". How do you mean genetric Karl, help me out here. Generic Mr President, generic. Well they watch lots of Hollywood aliens movies so we just tell 'em they're alien and as well that they're illegal aliens. It's worth a try. That other guy did it. OK Karl, well give it a go. I trust your judgement on this one. I might lose faith in the American people that they could be that stupid. I mean its no big deal to say I'm President of the most stoopidest people on earth but if it keeps them do gooder liberal Democrats out I'll give it a go. God bless America Karl, God bless America!

eligibility for the death penalty

I checked the definition of "eligible" in the Oxford and it says "is able to have to do s'thing because they have the right qualifications". I hear on Fox Nuwws that Prosecutors are advancing legal argument to prove Moussawi, an alleged 11Sept terrorist, is "eligible" for the death penalty. If they were to ask me I would tell them they are terrorising the English language in the way they are turning around the meaning of words. What is meant by having the right qualifications for the death penalty? Qualifications? Having a qualification to be killed by the State? So Louis xvi and Charles i had the right qualifications to be beheaded? These people are not only crazy with their torture of the English language, they are crazy about the death penalty. Last year a judge ordered a mad condamne to be given drugs to make her sane enough to be executed. I know Romans like Caligula and Nero were crazy so maybe craziness is a condition for ruling the world. I think we are the crazy ones for letting them do it and get away with it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

what I liked about Dave

Dave asked me if I was going to the yacht club and I told him that I enjoy dialogue and trialogue but not one way conversation where I listen and the listenee does the talking and for that reason I began to avoid it. Dave nodded knowingly and agreed I know what you mean, It's a bit like that isn't it. I think that's why I was affronted the other night when I thought for about the first time I was going to be given the chance to be a listenee and then the bloke turned his attention to this newcomer. It is why Dave and Atul and I found Rotary to be such a good social outlet because there people actually engaged in conversation where there was an exchange of views, experiences and opinions. What do you think about that, That's interesting, tell me more, I'd be interested in your ideas on, I find myself thinking x, how do you deal with that, I'm not sure - I wonder etc. Last night I almost felt like interrupting a one way conversation with something like Excuse me but would you like to know about my experiences? Poor Fr Stanley gets earbashed as well and he is too polite to interrupt and so he was relieved when I was able to interrupt him to get him to check my plans for the parish roll data base. One should feel sorry for the Lord when he has to listen to one way prayers and we don't remain silent to listen for his answer or read his reply in the bible or see his reply in our lives or our relationships.

how the protocol works

I resolved last night to go to the Pro VC to discuss the job issue of nothing to do but I was unsure of the protocol - whether he would see me or not. I was fortunate or maybe serendipitously he and I arrived at work together so after exchange of pleasantries I told him I was frustrated in my job owing to lack of something positive and constructive to do and I alerted to my opinion about the slack management and advised him of my model for getting things to happen and he received me well and I told him I would confirm our discussion in writing which I did just now. I say I was unsure of the protocol because the first time the acting HOD saw him he wanted to know if the HOD knew of the substance and I told him that with due respect the acting HOD had authority. It is very hierarchical and strict line management - everything goes through the HOD and before that the section leader but I went straight to the Pro VC and I feel a lot better about that. I was worried that acting HOD might be offended but I told him the story and he is happy about it because I think he too is getting frustrated by the absence of the HOD and the lack of leadership. This University is existing in maintenance mode and not very good maintenance at that - the Coffee shop problem, the catering problem, the maths professor's leaving, externalisation or lack of it.

the coffee shop

I found this on the university notice board this morning. "Dear John, The Kopi Shop is on halt because of several things1:University administration has terminated the last contractor 6 months prematurely 2:The last contractor has issued a court injuction to unitech to stop the eviction notice. The Administration proceed to change the Locks of the Kopi Shop. 3:The matters was brought before the court because the last contractor still has good locked in the shop. 4:The last contractor has produce a cost analysis on the monthly Turn Over with an intention to sue the University for Premature termination of Contract. 5:The Matter is before the Court and the Guys making decisions for premature termination of contract are brought before the court to justify their actions in the court of Law ( Lae Court House) 6: A Court decision may have made or may be pending but I have followed up lately. If the Court is in favour of UNITECH, then we safe some money, Otherwise,another headache added onto the Existing headaches. John, thats the whole holdup because people make bad decisions without a second thought or may be using their power of the position to the extreme to make decisions that back fires. The Kopi Shop that gives good services to students, staff & defendants are badly affected because of a that decision".

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

pissing in a pocket

I have probably at same stage made a boss uncomfortably wet by pissing in his pocket but I hope the practice in my case is not habitual. Dad never did it and if I have then I am sorry. Likewise if I have ever started a conversation and then abruptly ended it by talking to someone else then I am sorry. For the second time the same bloke has snubbed me. That is just rude. I went out last night with a pleasant group of people and while the rest of the table went to order dinner he began to engage me in conversation when another guest turned up and I was ignored completely. I mean I wouldn't have minded if he had said something like "excuse me for a moment, Hello Jack. I was just listening to this engaging young man, now where were we, of yes you were telling me about...Listen to this Jack." As for the pocket piddlers, they belong to the same category of people - they recognise someone who could help their career despite their personal mediocrity and rude people who ignore the more humble and probably taciturn (he's got a lot to be humble about) for the pharisaic tassel wearers of Jesus' scorn. Maybe I was sullen myself but I was nevertheless glad to have gone out because a friend's Dad had a stroke and is in a coma on life support and so between us we needed to unwind. In that situation rude people and pocket piddlers are more obvious and offensive.

I found this in my pigeon hole

"MEMO to All DODL Staff. This memo goes to all of us including me. Wantoks, friends, relatives and others who are not directlky involved with DODL business are prohibited to waste our time waiting and chatting in our offices. People in this category must be dealt with at the common room and then sent off on their way, NOT IN THE OFFICES WHERE THEY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR PRIVACY and stay on/long. Office phones, toilets, amenities (tea,coffee etc) and furniture are strictly for DODL staff use. Continuous inundations by such persons hinder our work progress and are a disturbance to the rest of the staff. If such continuous please have the coutesy and honesty to request for a transfer or resignation. If we are still blinded then I will ask for your transfer or resignation. Please post this memo on your doors so that the above category of people can read it too. cc Registrar; cc Vice Chancellor."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'm outer here

Well for ten days anyway. Booked my ticket to Brisbane -about K2450 return which is pretty good compared with the nearly K3200 at Christmas. At the top of the hour as I write I'm worried I might be watching too much Fox Nuwws as we head to the bottom of the hour. Get outer here. You'd better believe it anytime soon we might need to touch base on that one if you don't gimme a brake. But anyway at that price and I'm only going for 10 days or so I might be able to get back twice more before Christmas at say seven or eight days at a time. Matt's looking forward to it and his mum's there at the moment too so I hope we can watch him play Rugby on Saturday week.
I still can't work out what everyone has got against the Iranians having a nucelar bomb. When was the last time they rocketed the West Bank or blew up Iraq's nuclear facility or invaded Vietnam or Cambodia or Honduras or Guatemala or Afghanistan or El Salvador or Nicaragua or killed a Chilean Head of State President Allende? Or when did Iran last perve on China with spy planes and when did Iran last perve on me sunbacking in the nude in my back yard pool? They are not deviant perverts like some people I could mention so what is wrong with their having a bomb?

I don't know that I

should be writing given the mood I am in at the moment. There are no bosses in the office, an international visitor is here for the purpose of setting up a computer lab and I am collating the results of a survey. My judgement is probably impaired and I might regret something. I feel embarrassed. The visitor is treated discourteously by his not being received appropriately. No wonder Pana will not come back. Mnambe and Kia might lose connection to half of their culture and that is sad but I can understand Pana's way of thinking.
Not only am I upset by this but I wonder whether the rest of the world has gone more stupid in my short six months up here. I hear that US Foreign Minister Rice is talking about the Security Council of the UN as though it has been privatised and bought by the USA? Then another two blokes on Fox News were saying that they should bomb Iran because intelligence was unreliable on Iraq and therefore it follows their intelligence on Iran might also be unreliable and that Iran might already have a nuclear bomb so better to bomb them first and be sure and not worry about intelligence. With genious like that it's no wonder Iraq is worse now than before the invasion.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I employ a haus meri

but that does not make me a leader. Nor does it make me a manager. I employ her to do house work for me. I do not delegate house work to her. Delegation is about reluctantly and jealously giving up a task that I would love to do myself. I'm not that fussed about house work so I give it up because I don't want to do it myself. Actually I don't mind house work but here even on a volunteer's wage when I could better use the money myself, I'm justifying to myself that I'm doing something additional for the economy by employing someone. I don't employ a gardener. When I settle down I'm going to have a garden but I will do it myself because I would jealously regard it as a creative thing I wanted to do. If I needed to get a landscaper in, then this would be a delegation area rather than an employment situation. Unfortunately management science posits notions that good managers know how to delegate and poor managers mistakenly invert this to a non sequitor that "I delegate, ergo I am a good manager" when all the time the only thing they have done is employed someone to do a job they didn't want to do themselves. Delegators do not have to be always checking up on the delegate because they will have done their preparation and checked the credentials of the delegate before entrusting their vision to the delegate.

the funding of aid positions

Why should such a position be funded by an aid organisation? With so many calls on the Aid budget, how does an organisation justify why aid should go to it and not to one of the limp teated women with a forlorn baby sucking vainly on the end of it in Somalia? Education has helped so many people and let us not forget how the Romans civilised the Britains and so in my situation too Education is so important. So important that it is ahead of very survival? Hardly because Education is not much good if you are dead - I think?
Is the organisation not capable of funding the position accountably from its own resources when it can fund other positions from its own resources? I don't know how the politics of the situation works out. I'm glad to be a volunteer and able to help out because I have been given an opportunity to test my values in a situation which is unique for me and which I would otherwise not have had the opportunity to do. But nevertheless I do wonder. Equally I wonder about the programme itself if I am unable to achieve anything for want of policy and vision and consistent/coherent expectation of what the position was created to achieve. I assume the position had to be argued for and justified?

Leadership doesn't happen

by telling employees what to do. That is called employment. Leadership is about sharing the vision of your heart with people who can help you to make it happen. These people are behaving as employers. They limp along in policy maintenance mode where there is no capacity for creative thinking. Michaelangelo was both leader and manager. He didn't do all the work but his heart was so much on task and his expertise was such that he was able to manage by delegating. Delegation is about jealously giving up tasks to others only because he was unable to physically accomplish everything himself. Had Julius 2 or Michaelangelo or the Medici's heatrs not been in it no matter how good the other artists, nothing would have happened. It explains why nothing has happened for 13 years in the situation I find myself in. They would do well to listen to Gen Richard Myers of the US Army explain how US Minister for War Rumsfeld operates: Rumsfeld tells his vision to his experts and gets them to advise him with their best judgements. If they need time to think about it he gives them time. To do nothing is not an option. This is what I want to do. Give me your best advice on HOW to do it - not WHY it should not be done. I'm the leader - how can I do what I want to do. If you claim to be a leader and you've got nothing you want to do, then you are no leader at all. You're just drawing a salary for policy maintenance.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I've a message from the Lord

Alleluia, I've a message from the Lord for you. Lukautim i go antap. sanup na putim Jesas Krais long ples bilong yu. Igo antap, igo antap, igo antap. Mama papa pikinini man meri yu, yu lukautim olgeta, igo antap, igo antap igo antap. They get really excited about their faith and the way it comes across in tok pisin is just pure faith based joy. igo antap = He goes above (on top) = He is going to Heaven = He is risen. As for their rhythmic clapping with a taa tefi beat interspersed with a tafetefi beat well I can't compete. I was never much good at a 3/4 waltz let alone trying to understand a 9/13 beat if there is such a thing.
I am sure I will be back after going to Australia next week to see Mum and Matthew and to do my Camus assignment and hopefully get to see Cynthia. But I'm just recounting now how much I enjoy the acapella singing. I think two of the Australian Opera stars are Pini so I wonder if they are related to the gold medallist and the Theodist company? What were their names now? I saw one of them in the Magic Flute.

Paying too much respect

I have a genuine appreciation for the abilities of people to do what is necessary in their jobs and when I see progress is not being made I fail to understand how someone whose ability I respect can be failing in his job. Therefore I get frustrated. I have told several colleagues of the problems I am having in getting externalisation going and they remind me that Geoff, just because someone has a masters degree this doesn't mean they know what they are doing. They need to be guided and shown. That's what you have to do.
I assume someone in a position of authority is an implementer and has ability to direct me and so it is foreign to my way of thinking that I not give him credit for being able to do something and to direct me - after all he is the employer. It is a bit like a dog who you give too much credit to - when you come to the closed gate the dog waits there. You assume that because he has dug holes before that he knows how to get out of a fenced yard. Differnet situation. Aha, here is a gate. Man igat skills mi no gat. Mi larim gate bilong man. Perhaps something similar is going on with trying to externalise University courses. This is a major change of culture for this University and I should not assume that knowledge and skills in one area are transferable to another. I've got no idea how useful this way of thinking might be to my sorting out a role for myself.

how low is too low?

I thought the theft of a phone from a volunteer who had come to this country to help people was a low act but I heard last night about the theft of Simon's burial money. A con man came to the clinic and told the nurse he was Simon's wontok and was to collect the money that the saint and other disciples had contributed - K3000. The money was handed over and not long after the genuine wontok turned up. The depravity of man respects none - not family or God or animal or property or even the dead.
The poor dead little python about a metre long which I nearly tripped over on my way here - only about as thick as my big toe - brown and black diamond markings could have grown up to be a better member of the kingdom than the low life that steals a dead man's burial money.
This reminder of the misery of man is in focused contrast to the most moving Resurrection service I have ever been to. At Verdis funeral, a solo voice from the mourners began humming the Slaves Chorus from Nabucco. Similarly this morning the congregation began with a few voices quite spontaneously a Melanesian hymn whose words I did not know and the tune was taken up by the cognoscenti until by verse's end the children too were singing what was obviously a Melanesian chant to the glory of the risen Son told in the language that was meaningful only in their culture. As an outsider I was moved to tears in the way I would be moved if Waltzing Matilda were done the same way or the battle hymn of the republic for Americans, as Verdi's was for the Italians. Cognoscentis do not set out to lock others out for what they do is remind themselves that this is us and this is our identity - pikininis, mummas and papas. At least Simon has identity which the low life will never know while ever he pretends to be a Melanesian.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

a bit more sarcasm

Thinking further about Rugby League as a fashion parade, I wonder if the next change to uniform style might be to put the boys in ties with a trendy Luis Vuitton tie pin to hold it fashionably in place while they ran down the sideline with the ball in a leather briefcase and then at half time they had personal hairdressers recoiff their locks and shoe cleaners come in and polish up their auburn or burgundy leather soled Julius Marlowes or Florsheims? And they could serve say some devonshire teas to the poor chaps whenever there was a break in play - after all, swigging out of a plastic bottle from a common sports store seems rather down image doesn't it? Imagine the footy shorts and footy sox look but team colours tie and Florsheims instead of Nike boots and it wouldn't take much to keep the footy jumper look but attach a collar to it so the tie could be worn. And then after a try was scored the Royal Doulton tea service would be brought on. And as for the scrum. After the forwards had "finished" if this is what they do, they could go off and have a shower and reset their hair.

Joseph came in again

and we both watched the Roosters v Broncos match last night. I'm watching it for something to do and after being at church yesterday morning and spending some retreat and solitude time reading again the stories of the crucifixion and contemplating the meaning of executing God and the meanings that are drawn from that by the theologians and doctrinarians and grimacing at the savagery of the most civilised people at that time and wondering how little mankind had changed, then I needed to get myself into my own colosseum of my time lest I should become painfully morbid for no worthwhile reason. And so watching the Rugby League I have seen for the first time since I gave up playing myself a scrum in Rugby League. I would be ashamed to say I was a forward these days. These blokes and the regulators have brought disgrace to the game. When I played prop I went in and grunted and shoved and banged my skull against theirs but I have seen netballers and synchronised swimmers behaving with more grunt than these blokes. As for the head high tackles. What are these pretty boys scared of? They don't want to mess up the gel out of their hair or lose some teeth with a knee or sprig in the mouth by tackling too low? Fair dinkum I can't believe that people actually go to watch the game. Maybe it is marketed as a fashion parade? Now Rugby Union, there's a game where blokes are still blokes and where a scrum still means a scrum.

Back to the point

I got carried away and I forgot what point I was trying to make but it seems to me there is a lot of money at the top of the table and there is not much at the bottom. I pay my haus meri K20 a day. Say she gets that every day of the year - K7000 about. A secretary in an office gets about K5000 pa. The security guard is on about the same but the national income is av K2100. Why is it up to other countries to try to get aid through to the people sitting at the bottom of the table? Why are those at the top of the table not contributing? After all, they are their own countrymen I thought.
I was wondering too that at 57 whether I am too old to be naive. It's quite nice to realise that one doesn't know everything and that there is still something about human nature to be discovered. And not only about human nature. I think my friends thought I was going to PNG with my eyes wide shut and blinded by some Quixotian naivete or idealism. Maybe they were right but am I any the worse off for having had my mobile stolen and for realising the job might collapse in a heap? It has been an experience that I would not otherwise have had. I've met some nice people -Fr Stanley, Peter, Joseph, Vivien, Betty, and lots of others. Hopefully the job will work out and I can stay here to mature it for the next 18 months. I'd like that and it will look good on my CV.

Aid is a Conspiracy?

I have become suspicious that Aid is a Conspiracy of some sort but I haven't worked out the reason yet. PNG is milking Australia and playing on possibly a colonial guilt complex. An associate to a Judge who prefereably has a law degree is advertised here for salary K28000 top - basic middle range public servant. House rents in Port Moresby - 3br units that is K900 pw -K650. to buy, houses K250 000 cheapest. Have only seen three ads for new 4X4 - cheapest K100000; BMW K165000, Toyota Lexus K230000. Used cars about K20000-K30000. Hotel rooms K220single; restaurant meal K40 one course drinks extra. Cheapest thinga here is the fresh produce -K1 for pawpaw. Return air Lae-Brisbane K2600 ($A1450). The PNG Treasurer Bart Philemon ranted about Australia's not supporting PNG tourism. Why would we when we can go to Fiji or Bali or Bangkok for those prices and get 5 nights accomm as well. This country has not got many ex-pats now so it is the nationals who are buying. The prices seem to be out of the range of the Judge's associate but I am yet to work out how it works. The point I am making? If a public servant can't afford things and there are people who can and there are not many expats left to do the buying, then who is it who is buying?

Friday, April 14, 2006

normally I wouldn't be in

its being Good Friday but I went to 9am Church, talked to Nathan afterwards because he too was in a rewrite contract dilemma but his was the other extreme - doing two jobs -Accountant and Acting General Secretary. Rewites have implications for AusAid funding and other issues but it seems to me that if I have done as much as my job within policy constraints will allow me to do then there is no other choice. So far, in order to draw attention to the need to do something, I have written papers to my bosses on Renegotiating the Objectives of my Job Description; Assignment Objectives and Direction; Leadership, Direction, Coherence and the Externalisation Goal; Role of the Instructional Designer DODL; Direction and Clarification of my Role, DODL, AMC and Tertiary Externalisation; Clarification of DODL, Instructional Designer, Academic Department and Academic Board. There are six papers here and between them I would have thought in normal circumstances someone in authority might have realised there was a problem that needed to be clarified and a direction that needed to be addressed. There is close to a ream of papers that I have written since I came nearly six months ago, all addressed to Instructional design and trying to get tertiary externalisation off the ground. What makes this University think it is so special that when nearly every other University in the world is dual mode that this one is so elite at about number 5328 in the world rankings and 68th in Oceania that it doesn't have to externalise?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

what a difference

a year makes. At Easter last year I was in Bourke, western NSW. The Tuesday of Holy week we went to Dubbo for the renewal of Priestly vows and calling and for blessing of Holy Oils. I was teaching French part time at Cornerstone and they liked cooking so as a "treat" I bought some Tasmanian scallops there and took them to class the next day back in Bourke and passed them off to the students as snails, a recipe for cooking of which I had done in French and which they had to work out to enable them to crumb and fry. On the Good Friday we had church at Holy Innocents and I waited for cousin Stuart and lady friend Cynthia from church in Enmore to visit me for the weekend. Easter day we got up and went to the sunrise service at the Busters and ate pancakes before going back in to town for our own church service. From the dry sandy red earth at the back o' Bourke to the strangling geen jungle in Lae. Now there's a contrast.
As for work here, I calculate I have about 9 hours of presentations to do over the next month and without policies in place, that is all I have to do for the next 18 months of my contract. I've told AVI I will go back to Australia next weekend for 10 -14 days and I will stay there until such time as my employer gets me something constructive to do. These are educated people with Masters degrees we are talking about and either the University wants Externalisation or it doesn't. Already one Professor left this week. People have better things to do with their lives than being mucked around. There are plenty other people who want to be helped.

David Hicks and Bangladesh

Onyers David and the Deshis. Two good news stoiries this morning. The Britsh legal system is more supportive of David than his lousy birthplace country which has betrayed him. If it is treason for an individual to betray his country, what is the crime if a country betrays an individual? Because this is what has happened in David Hicks' case. The British got their citizens out of Guantanom Gaol but the arse licking Australian government with the complicity of the "aussies" who make up 52% of the population has allowed one of our own to be held by the Yanks for over four years now. Thankfully the civil rights activists and David's lawyer Major Mori have more of the qualities that made America great than Howard and his governemnt could ever hope to have for all their arselicking and these people are doing more for him than David's own government. The Australian government and the aussies are no better than the people who tied the snake up by its neck.
As for the Bangladeshi cricket team, what champions. Protecting 90 runs and trying to get six wickets is still a big job but its good to see the aussies eating crow pie as they try to hang in there.

another sore leg

This time it is on my left leg and in a difficult position where I have trouble monitoring its healing. I don't even know how it started - I assume I scratched it on something but it is over two weeks now that I have been treating it with antiseptic powder and cream and iodine and antibiotic powder. I cover it up with a bandaid to hold the powder in place but that seems to make it go gooey. It's not as red around the edges and it didn't make my leg go stiff like the previous time and I didn't see the clinic for antibiotics. I don't like taking them or any medicine if I can help it. Steve's mother started each day with a bex and she ended up on dialysis which he puts down to the bex so I don't even like tablets for a hangover or any headache - usually I try as much water in the first instance and if that doesn't fix it I reluctantly have a tablet.
As for the Iranians who are giving the Yanks a headache over their announcement of successful uranium enrichment. good for them. I heard Pres Bush of the USA announce he would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Not allow? Not allow? Who the hell does this man or his country think it is? Julius Caesar and Rome? I remember when Caesar told the Gauls he would not allow them into Rome's allies' territory but I thought we had moved beyond Roman dictatorship.

the snake tied up

by its neck; the dog with its litter of four new puppies. I don't hold much hope for either species. the cruelty to animals generally here is woeful. I don't like snakes but I dislike cruelty to animals more. As a visitor and guest in PNG I can't say too much but I might see if Rotary can do something to promote the dignity of species. When you feel badly about yourself you can make yourself feel better by putting down or mistreating somebody else. It is why bullies behave as they do. Here animals are an easy target and the appalling treatment of dogs on the campus is a disgrace to a supposedly learned institution. But as for the snake the other day which we saw on the way back from the Nadzab airport that is just cruelty of a kind which would land you in gaol in most other countries. The poor fate of the huge python on the road I assume was a run over accident, but to tie an animal up and let it writhe in torment well that is just sadistic.
I heard on the news last night about revenge attacks in the highlands and as I said yesterday, for civil society to become reality people need to give up something of tradition for the ultimate betterment or everyone. As Joe told me at Rotary, it took the West 800 years to rediscover civil society after the barbarian invasions and we expect PNG to learn it in 50 years. But therein is the difference - education is more widespread now than then and if education means anything it means hastening the civilisation process.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

problem of the hanging participle

I just picked up my hanging participle in the Blog about David - "on arriving (we saw that) two other friends..." I get bothered by the participialisation of the news and so I try to avoid the same type of grammatical offence myself but somehow it just slipped through in the way this computer regularly mis-spells words.
Individualism and Nationalism are becoming more problematic for this developing nation. On the one hand there is pride in the idea of nation but it comes second (I think) to loyalty to tradition and wontok and province. For effective civil society to operate, citizens have to give up something of themselves and this may take generations of negotiations to work out what is essential to the being of the individual - whether highlandism and the rituals and ceremonies and stiories of the culture are more important than the wider collective common good of the nation which you hardly identify with on account of the still undeveloped communication naetwork. As for my own nation, I watched Australian news on the TV this morning and I see it reinforced that the TV is the Colosseum of today: mass entertainment to keep the lumpenproletariate quiet for the purpoises of strengthening the power of the ruling elite. One "celebritiy" as they like to be known these days takled about rattling cages on her programme. As if. The only cages they rattle are those of mean minded petty rogues who are too dumb to do rip off the big white collar shonks and power brokers.

A sample of the frustration

is demonstrated by this email which came around yesterday. David's mathematical modelling was dependent on regular and reliable internet so I would not be surprised if the frustration just ate away at him until it exhausted him. I am truly very sorry.
"Dear All,
Our Telikom Data Line is currently experiencing a major outage. This outage was experienced as at 4:05pm today and will continue for an indefinite period of time. Telikom has been made aware of this issue.
Apologies for the inconvenience caused".

I get frustrated too and have had to resort to solitaire to appear to be doing something worthwhile but I do not intend to tolerate boredom much beyond the end of this month. Hopefulli can have a productive meeting with my HOD tomorrow. Actually today has been very good - we had three presentations to make and provided the momentum is sustained I think we can actually achieve soem courses for external mode by Sem 1 2007. Our goal is one course for each semester next year to start with with subsequent courses following.

David and the tragedy

of Papua New Guinea. We went around to pick up David for Rotary last night - he was to have been inducted with me and on arriving at his house two other friends were loading their car up with David's chattels. He's gone - left Sunday we were told. David, newly appointed Professor had only arrived two months earlier, had got himslef on to the Univ Council, was doing things and getting thigs done, had been to the Univ Council meeting on Thursday last week and now he was gone. I don't know if there was a family trauma which made it difficult but certainly from his professional position the irregularity of the internet made things difficult. Whatever the reason, his loss to the Univ and to PNG cannot be overestimated. He would be up at 3am in order to get a reliable internet connection, he would book into the Lae Inter to get a reliable internet connection and now he has gone.
The theft of my mobile brought about my first problem of being without it. Mum couldn't contact me over the weekend whhile I was in Moresby and I thought I had told her I would be away. Apparently I hadn't told anyone. Maybe I had told my blog and not my email or phone.

Friday, April 07, 2006

people for the universites

or Universities for the people is what I am arguing in my paper. The waht the people can supply function rather than the what the university can supply is what is needed for the human resources potwential of this country to catch up with its vast physical resources potentioal. What the people can supply is about what hidden talents they have which the university needs to discover and exploit for the good of the individual. This is a demand function as well as a moral and good for the soul function. Without the hidden wealth of the people's being dioscovered then human talent is unused. Already the universities through its supply function supplies the technocrats such as lawyers, doctors ,engineers, accountants and teachers among others. But there needs to a be balance bewteen what the two functions can supply. If the universirty is doing all the supplying on its terms (meet the western criteria of what counts as inteeligence by passing successfully throught the western model of school and curriculum) then clearly only one half of the supply/demand problem is being solved. So we will see how well my paper is received.

titles of the papers

It's encouraging (or is it perhaps discouraging?) to realise my Univ is not on its own as it tries to address problems in implementing distance learning (DL). Some of the titles of the papers are : DL - Dinosaurian Extinction, Draconian Imposition, Darwinian or Kuhnian evolution; DL - Constructive Learning Opportunities or Playing Corruptive Politics; DL - A short Cut to a Degree; Establishing DL in Developing Countries.
Certainly several of the problems I have encountered here at Unitech seem to be the experiences of others. Why there is such resistance - we've been trying with an unsuccessful model for 13 years but there is a long way to go in breaking down resistance and resentment? If the Univ generates an extra K300 000 in fees by increasing its enrolment to include externals and the course writers have been responsible for that increase to happen, it is understandable that they want to be paid for that. This has been one of the sticking points. Hopefully their staff union and the univ management can come to an arrangement to allow university level courses to happen on the outer islands and the remote mountain valleys and mountains.

the real problem is water

In Lae where the Markham river is so big and muddy and silts up the Huon Gulf there is a water problem not so far away in the dry season which we in the city are protected from - except in blackouts. At the Rotary meeting three weeks ago the club had the Principal of a school up the road about two hours away talk about the water supply problem in the dry. Children were disciplined (I'm not sure how) if they did not bring to school a bottle of water with them. I'm sure this does not even happen even in the drought areas of Australia. The school has no tanks for a reservoir and so flushing of toilet and regular drinking water is a problem for the school. Rotary is going to erect some tanks in early May. As for Lae, even after a night of very heavy rain it just seems to go straight through the soil. This is apparently the origin of the water in the great sub- artesian basin in Australia.
It is very quiet in the office today as graduation occupies the campus. I'm just refreshing my presentation for the Distance Learning seminar in Port Moresby on Monday and adjusting some ideas for the series of seminars which John and I have been presenting over the last fortnight. The VC is to chair one of the sessions in PM so that is encouraging to realise his enthusiasm for DL which he is now pushing is made evident in his participation in this way.

graduation day Unitech

It is a serious day for the University to show itself off to the rest of the nation. Coming to work I passed the noisy chants and drums of sing-sing groups - each of the provinces must be represented I assume to rejoice at the successes of their wontoks. One graduand had a tie tied for him by another because he couldn't do it himself. These are serious Engineering and other graduands who have to put on the Western male bird of dress for the occasion. I see that as with other graduations the style of wearing the hood reflects personality. There is the floppy look in which the hood drops over one shoulder so you can see your colours out of one eye without looking as pretentious as the style with drapes the hood over both shoulders. Then there is the superman look which I prefer which has it dangling down your back. I'll take notice to see if there are other styles.
Asde in our Externalising seminar at Agriculture in the light of the comments and perception that externalising was a pipe dream, I raised in the awareness session the fact of the obstacles - unwillingness and inability. My job as instructional designer is to provide training to overcome the inability in writing. But if someone is unwilling then leadership it seems to me might be needed to "move things along" with the sack. New contracts need to have a provision for teaching and writing for external mode. Not that I can't understand the resentment: if academics extra work is going to result in more fees, then they want some of this to trickle through into their pockets. The fact is that almost every other serious university in the world has a distance learning requirement so if they want a job elsewhere and can not demonstrate experience with distance learning...well?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Now that's off my chest

I can get on with trying to turn around the embedded (hasn't that become such a convenient phrase?) thinking that has prevented the development of external courses here since 1993. I am trying to get my department to see that its ROLE is teaching Adult Matriculation and the MODE of teaching is Distance Learning and this distinction should follow through into its name. The ROLE should define the name. Students from my Dept of Open and Distance Learning do not graduate with a Certificate of Distance Learning. They get an Adult Matriculation Certificate. Likewise, a graduate in Engineering does not get a Degree in Campus Learning. They get a Degree in Engineering. So I am trying to convince the authorities to change the name of my Dept to the Dept of Tertiary Entrance Studies or some other such name that reflects its role.
Jeremy, the previous AVI left early December - nearly four months ago. He cancelled his phone and has been waiting until now for the bond to be repaid. He emailed me early February to get me to follow up and on Tuesday, two months after I began the follow up, Telekom settled the amount. I have a phone system where I buy credit and if there is no credit I can't call. So why would they have sent me a bill for K8? If I can't use the phone without credit, how come there is a debit? They laugh about PNG being "the land of the unexpected".

I finally told my haus meri

that she worked for me under my terms or she could look for amother position. When she came this morning she started again about leaving the used beer cans for her and I told her it was my decision that Peter will have them and supos yu no laikim then yu ask narapela man for haus wok. I then told her that when my time here was ended there would be no two weeks pay for each year worked and if she didn't like that she could leave. The morning after the previous AVI had left she came to me with a sorry face telling me she was tumas no hamamas - she had expected a cash going away present. I knew nothing about the "going away" present but one long term expat told me about the week pay for each year worked, another told me he hadn't heard of it. I told her that at K20 per day for two days a week that she was better paid than other haus meris - I had checked and most were on K10 - K15 a day. Volunteer wages are equivalent to nationals wages and they can't afford haus meris which is why they look to ex pats for work. My being a wait man stands me out as an expat but it does not distinguish me as a volunteer. Thursdays, after her having worked Tuesday, has only two days of clothes and dishes to do plus cleaning. I was thinking of sacking her but it is convenient to come home to a clean and tidy place.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I even felt useful

this morning when David, one of the builders asked me if I was busy. I have a license to drive the Univ vehicle so I took him and Samson along with a load of timber back to the workshop. On the way David pointed out to me another of the buildings which he had built. Both David and Samson are the most unassuming and modest blokes but they have a wealth of world experiences. I forget how many languages Samson speaks but he's spent about 6 years in Japan and here they both are working as carpenters. They do everything by eye and cut timber not with a preset saw bench but a hand saw. They made the desk at which I am now sitting and the angle joints you could not get a cigarette paper into anywhere.
Patch came up to the workplace as she normally does and I lifted her onto the back of the truck to come for the ride to the workshop. Roger is away and he's the main custodian of this hand-me-on-when-you-leave pet dog. He drives a red Suzuki and our Dept truck is red. So I was imagining her confusion when I lifted her into the tray and when I was driving around with the wind brushing against her face. This man sort of looks different to Roger (who has a beard). This red car sort of looks different and I've never had to be lifted into it and why is it I can feel the wind? May be there are some things a dog is not meant to know.

The paper I am presenting

at the Distance Ed seminar in PM this weekend arose out of the understanding I got from talking to several academics that Dist Ed is only for people who do not get scholarships for full time campus study and therefore Dist Ed was synonymous for people who had failed to qualify for Univ and who would be a drain on their teaching time. I am not making this up. This "perspective" comes from educated/"educated" people who having done well themselves in one aspect of their life cannot seem to recognise that there may be students on one of the remote islands or mountain villages or in the western mining towns who would feel threated by coming to a big town like Lae and who by doing so would set themselves up for academic failure in the Western sense of the term "academic failure" My paper wonders what is "academic success". Is it confined to the western model of intelligence - the type of thing that western intelligence tests measured on people who had not seen a plane or a refirgerator? My experience of the need to differentiate came as a result of teaching in Aboriginal communities where numeracy understandings in tribal culture necessitated only the concepts "plenty" in which the word was doubled as in "Wagga Wagga" or few or not many in which case the meaning would be just "Wagga" for example.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I've been wanting

to blog my weekend but other things such as Simon's funeral and the haus meri and the wishful thinking about my assignment have got in the way. So I "helped" Roger - actually watched is a better word - fix his muffler with spaghetti tins and hose clamps and then he took me shopping. The campus AVIs (Tony, Robert, self) got together on Sarere night with Eli and Roger and we went in to meet the town AVI's (Jane, Nathan) at the LAE Inter on Sunde and to wish former AVI Alex and VSO Jonika warm congratulations for their wedding in Melbourne this coming Sarere. Jonika na Alex have been very kind to AVIs - my first night in Lae was at Jonika's for a party and we went there for Christmas avinun na evening. I get to look after Patch for three or four days as Roger, father of the bride goes to Melbourne.
I struggle to understand why externalisation of courses is so difficult a concept and so complex to implement here. Without having taught and written distance materials these days, university lecturers would find it difficult to get a job in any other university. The astute ones are already committing courses to the internet.

nothing should astonish me

I had some more blogging problems asde avinun about what I wanted to say about Simon's funeral. It should not astonish me that the altruistic kindness of the dear saint who took the trouble to be concerned and compassionate when wontokism is supposed to do this job is sort of being expected to do more than he has already done. If I was in a bad mood this morning it was made worse when my hausmeri saw there were no beer cans and when I told her I gave them to Peter she told me she wanted them. I bit my tongue to stop me from saying I'll do what I like; besides Peter is on K12 a day compared with what I pay her - K20 a day two days a week. My patience is being tested as we were warned it would be. When a bloke in the shop the other day pulled me aside to ask for K2 for a bus I told him any spare money was going towards a new phone that one of his %&*# countrymen had stolen from me. On top of that another mate told me the feeling around campus was that the externalisation of Univ courses was a pipe dream. They've been trying for ten years working with a particular model that centres on a Department and I think I have turned the thinking around to centre it on the university. If the VC gives leadership on the issue well its the same with anything. Without leadership anything is a pipedream. I'm not even a Lance Corporal being a humble volunteer so I can't make it happen.

Monday, April 03, 2006

funerals are not simple

Concerning Simon who died last week, the kind ex-pat who knows about him on account he let him live on his premises write today: "I have been in contact with one of Simon's younger brothers. He works at OK Tedi. He also has a brother that lives in Mt. Hagen, another brother lives in Goroka, and a sister lives in Mendi.The brother in OK Tedi is the only one who is working, so is having trouble finding the money necessary to get Simon's body sent to Tari for burial. (There was another funeral two weeks ago; a nephew living in Port Moresby died.) I told him we could bury the body here for K100, but he told me there is no way the family would want him to be buried outside their home area.We checked with Air Niugini about cargo costs. It will cost about K1800 for the paperwork and the air freight costs to fly the body to Tari. In addition to that there is the cost of the coffin, and the cost of the airfare for someone to accompany the body. They are probably looking at the least K3,000. The president of the NCSA has suggested that I ask the UNITECH community for donations. So, I am now doing that. If you want to donate, give the money to me or to one of the secretaries in the Business Studies Department, if I am not in my office.I would also like someone who has been in charge of shipping a body before to come forward and teach me what I have to do." What can you say about the kindness of some people.

chicken in the bag

Asde monin there was a bus waiting with plenty room on it - unlike most Sundays when I have to wait patiently for about 8 or so buses to take away the bustle before I can get on one. And then as the bus went to drive away, a flat tyre was observed so we had to get off. Humphh! Then when the next one came a lot more people had arrived by this time but a man who had seen me get off the previous pushed me in front of him towards the door to ensure I got on. I went down the back and on comes a man with two lik lik pikinini girls and a chook in a bag - a live one with its head poking out having a look around. It's the quaint and unusual that makes PNG what it is. Some of the unusual are not so quaint - like the thieves and buai spittle and the piles of filth in the town square next to top town bus interchange.
Church (lotu) is such a contrast to the rest of the community. There you see Sunday best and so many smiling faces and shaking hands. There are lots of churches all with the same behaviour and they reinforce in my mind the conundrum - why is filth tolerated in public places in such a way as to make PNG look like a 3rd world country when there is so much 1st world humanity in the churches?