I flew up to Banda Aceh in an Airvan today and I was the only one on the flight besides the pilot. After we had taken off, he started doing some paperwork and I asked if the plane had an auto pilot. He said, "Yeah, you!" So I started flying without any instructions. After a few minutes I had it pretty figured out. It wasn't too hard except since it was a pretty small plane with no rudder trim, while we were climbing it pulled left a little. I flew about half the flight before he took back over. No, I didn't take off or land. I'm pretty sure that is still beyond me.
I've discovered something over the years. Yawning isn't the only thing that is contagious. Whistling is as well. Every time I get the urge to whistle, it seems that someone else joins in within about 5 seconds. This makes it really awkward to continue whistling. Sometimes I can't even remember if I started or if I am following the other person. Give it a try sometime. If there are people around, start whistling and see if someone else starts as well.
It looks like I will be in Meulaboh for a while longer so I've decided to go get my motorcycle and move it down from Banda Aceh. I will fly up there this friday and drive it back down on Monday. This is the stretch of road that gave me so many problems last time. I've heard that the road is supposed to be in better shape now. No telling though. I'm more prepared now than I was before. I can also stop by in Panga and check out how the Agriculture project is going.
I don't usually rehash news stories that don't relate to me but this one is too weird. Apparently in the path of Hurricane Katrina was an Army training base for dolphins. The Observer claims that the dolphins were trained to use toxic dart guns to kill terrorists attacking military vessels. Some of them may have escaped during the Hurricane. While the Observer claims that the dolphins could be carying the guns but I am highly skeptical that they are left on the dolphins all the time, much less during a hurricane. How odd would that be though to have killer dolphins roaming the gulf?
I love living near the beach. It is nice to be able to drive for 5 minutes and be at an undeveloped and beautiful beach with nice sand and great waves. I went yesterday and splashed in the waves for a while. Today we had the regular sunday beach party after church. Loads of fun.
I've heard that Rita is scheduled to hit close to Tyler which is only about 30 minutes from where I went to college and my sister is there now. She says they are stocking up on food, flashlights, candles and water in the bathtub. All you LU people out there, keep your head down!
Seems like lightning follows me wherever I go. Our internet got hit by lightning last night. Fried the netmodem for the satellite and the wireless bridge to the office. Will be a few days till it is fixed. Luckily this time it isn't my responsibility to fix it. I'm using the free UN internet for now but it is a 15 minute drive from the office and will be closing down in a week.
Today we started digging the new fish ponds for the people in Gampong Lhok. I went out there to check it out. We hired a trackhoe to do the digging. They are lots of fun to watch. The operators are amazing. They are able to use the shovel as if it is part of their body. He can dig about 4 ponds in a day which are 20x8 meters. We will be doing between 30 and 40 ponds for them that were destroyed by the Tsunami and helping them stock them again.
Lots happening on the browser front today. If you are using Firefox (if not, you should be), be sure to download the latest update. It fixes several security issues that have come out recently.
Also, Opera the "other browser" besides Firefox has decided to become free instead of having to be paid for. If you haven't already tried it out, you should.
Finally, if you are using Internet Explorer (the big blue "e")... Don't.
**Update: Stupid comment spammers. Go somewhere else.
I installed one of my old favorites last night and played till about 2 in the morning. I'm disappointed that I can't get the Mac version to "launch" the arcologies. SC 2000 is still my favorite of all the SimCity games just because of the arcologies. Lots of fun. I was still able to take a city from start to almost 9 million in just a few hours.
I only got two questions, so that is all I'm going to answer.
What were you doing 4 years ago today? (Well, today in your time zone--it is still yesterday here:-)
Randall - Fours years ago on September 11th, I was in college and just woke up to begin the day. I flipped on the news as I do every morning and the were saying the second tower had just been hit. I remember being very angry for quite a few days.
Have you maintained regular bowel movements ??
Janis Miles, my sister-in-law's mom and my mom's best friend died yesterday from cancer. She has been suffering for a long time and is now in Heaven. I remember going over to her house every Christmas Eve for a party with my family and some other families. I'm sad to hear she has left but praise God for where she has gone.
About a month ago I finally broke down and bought an iPod. I've never been a huge music person so to spend $300 on a device that plays music seemed a little silly to me. I actually bought an Mp3 player about 6 years ago for an outragious amount of money and have been hugely disappointed with it (most recently because it isn't supported in Windows XP). I went ahead and bought it anyways and a few days ago decided to find out what the buzz was about podcasting.
I'm back in Medan again for more meetings. It seems like that is all I ever do now. There is lots of big stuff that needs to be taken care of and I may find out real soon about the computer centers. I'll be glad to find out, either way. I'll be headed back to Meulaboh on Saturday morning.
I had a visit from a couple of friends for the weekend. They came down from Banda Aceh and we had a great time. I didn't get a lot of sleep though since we stayed up talking a lot. We even went to the beach on sunday which also was lots of fun. Time to go get some sleep now.
Since so much in my life has changed recently I thought it might be a good idea to do another "Ask Randall." This is your chance to ask me about anything, my job, relationships, Indonesia, the universe. It's up to you. After a couple days I will try and answer as many as I can. I can't guarantee an answer if it isn't a question about me though. Just post a comment to this post with a question in it. Happy Asking!
I've always loved the band Cake but my new favorite song by them is Mr. Mastadon Farm. I'm still not entirely sure what it means but sure is fun to listen to.
Here are the lyrics:
birds fall from the window ledge above mine
then they flap their wings at the last second
you see birds fall from the window ledge above mine
then they flap their wings at the last second
I can see their dead weight just dropping like stones
or small loaves of bread past my window all the time
but unless I get up and walk across the room
Yesterday morning we had a big party in Nagan Raya for the handover of the first 30 or so houses we finished. It was a great party with food from our Cafe and about 45 government officials there including some pretty high up people. Ray Branch, the Asia Area Director for SP was also there. Lots of fun. We are still building about 400 more homes in that area alone.
I've been hearing lots of rumblings recently about how slowly and ineffectively the relief to Katrina has been in relation to what happened in the Tsunami in Asia. I'd like to throw my two cents in about what it was like here after the Tsunami so people can get an accurate comparison.
The plane crash happened only a few miles from our office so our director decided to sent a quick response team to the scene. I was in the office so I was put on the team. When we arrived there were still fires burning and they were still pulling people out of the wreckage. It started pouring down rain and we handed out water to whoever needed it. I got absolutely soaked in no time and after a while things started calming down so we returned to the office to dry out and regroup. We are planning on offering our assistance in any way possible to the authorities.
I just got a message from a colleage on her way to Singapore that the flight before her crashed on takeoff out of Polonia Airport here in Medan. It was a Mandala flight and right now it doesn't look good for the people on board. I was going to be on a flight this afternoon out to Meulaboh but the airport may not be open by then so I might have another night in Medan.
Fingernail clippers. I've been traveling several times a week for the last couple months and haven't really had a place to drop all my stuff. I try and keep a pair of fingernail clippers in my toiletries bag but I forget and put it in my carry-on instead of my check in. Then when I go to fly again they get taken out and confiscated as a "weapon." Come on. It is WAY easier to kill someone with bare hands than with fingernail clippers. Anyways, every time I want to use them now, either I'm in a place where I can't buy them or I buy them and immediately get them taken away. Sheesh.
It is very nice to be in Penang. It is the small things that make the difference. The fact that I can shave in a sink and not in a bucket, a real sit down toilet, a shower with hot water (I haven't used the hot yet since I so used to the cold), fajitas at restaurants and starbucks with free internet! How much better could life get?
I did get some work done here. I ran into someone that I needed to meet with anyways and we met for the whole morning and most of the afternoon on work stuff.