Last Monday

Everybody loves Mondays so much, me included. Today is my last one here at my job before I go. I've handed over everything to my replacement now so I'm doing a lot of sitting around and waiting. It is weird leaving yet again a place I have spent a long time in. Almost my whole life has consisted of moving and leaving. Let me tell you, it doesn't get any easer.

 
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What is poverty?

Gross National Happiness
UN Millennium Development Goals

Less than a dollar?
Devalue the dollar

What Profits a man
He is no fool
Money can't buy happiness

 
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Newsletters now available

For all of you not on my mailing list, I've posted the latest newsletter which is # 22 as well as the previous two which I had never posted online. Click on the newsletter link on the left to read them.

 
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Pretty little star means trouble

I've been a Mac user now for nearly a year and have hardly used a Windows computer since. I was just downloading some software from Microsoft's website to play Windows Media Player files in Quicktime when I started noticing all these pretty stars all over the place next to software updates. They are the same little silver stars that have started popping up on all my friend's Windows computers.

 
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Last Week

The name of this post is a double entendre but since I have to explain it, it probably isn't very good. First off, its been a week since I last posted so I'll fill you in on that. My main activities have been continued support of the new Base Manager while he learns the ropes. Also I had a rather emotionally charged and contentious several meetings with the village leadership about the project.

 
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Orang Kampung

Orang Kampung literally means "village person" (not to be confused with The Village People) but could be translated as "redneck" as well. So in honor of Jeff Foxworthy...

You know you're an Orang Kampung if:

1. You can fit more than 5 people on a 100cc motorcycle
2. You think toilet paper only belongs on a dinner table
3. You've had your picture taken with a westerner you don't know
4. You think a Britney Spears song makes a great ring tone
5. You sleep with a band-aid over your belly button to "keep the wind out"

 
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Another Tsunami

This afternoon (middle of the night in the US), there was another earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. First of all, rest assured that I'm okay and didn't even know it happened till I read the news. It actually occurred near where I used to live in Bandung. The villages that were hit are Pangandaran and Cipatujah. I used to go to Pangandaran for vacation at the beach. Both of these villages are much smaller than similar areas hit by the tsunami in Aceh, not to mention that the tsunami is much smaller.

 
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3 Weeks to go

My contract will be done in three weeks time. It seems like I just got started. It's amazing how fast one year goes by. I just got back to Banda Aceh yesterday after seeing the Canadian team off in Medan. My replacement is already here and I've been working to get him up to speed on everything before I go. This morning I turned over my responsibilities to him so now I'm just an adviser to him until I leave. Its strange to have someone else running the project I've been running for so long.

 
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Red Carpet Treatment

Our Canadian work team finished up and we headed to Medan yesterday. When we landed, we picked up our bags and headed to the hotel. Along the way were a million police and tons of government officials. They got more and more dense on the way to the hotel. When we got to the hotel, there was a red carpet and everything! I mean, I knew we were doing good work but I didn't know we would get that kind of attention for it! When checking in, they were really anxious to get us out of the lounge. Turns out the President of Indonesia was coming to spend the night a the same hotel as us.

 
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Strike

Apparently a bill ratifying the peace agreement in Aceh is supposed to go into affect today. The Acehnese aren't very happy that some parts of the peace agreement were left out of the bill so now there is a general strike at least for this morning. At our work site there is nobody except our staff there working. The Canadians are all ready to go but now have nothing to do. Hopefully things will pick up in the morning after the strike is over.

 
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Work Team Progress

The team up here has been doing a great job. They are really hard workers and have gotten a lot of work done. We divided them into five teams. A truss making team, a foundation and brick laying team and three paining teams. The foundation team started from scratch and already has the house with walls half way up. They may be able to put the trusses on before they leave. The truss team builds enough trusses for about 2 houses per day. The painting teams are painting about one house in two days for each team.

 
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New Boat Technology

File this one under, DUH! A company in Germany has figured out a new technology to help reduce the cost of fuel use in ships. Add a sail! No kidding. You can cut fuel costs by adding a sail and using the wind power. Wonders never cease. Why didn't we think of this before? I bet soon we will have fully wind powered vessels cruising around...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13325827/site/newsweek/

 
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Strange Phone Calls

Having a cell phone means you get calls all the time. That is if anyone is calling you. I've had some pretty strange ones in Indonesia. I think things are a little different here. I had a call the other day that went like this:

(ringing)
Me: Hello?
Other: Hello?
Me: Hello?
Other: Hello?
Me: Who is this?
Other: Abdul, who is this?
Me: Randall, what do you want?
Other: What do you want?
Me: You called me
Other: No you called me
Me: I didn't call you
Other: Yes, you called me
Me: Who is this?

 
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Canadians and Durian

We've been doing our best to keep the 27 Canadians (really 25 Canadians and 2 Americans) all fed. They've really been enjoying the food although some have said it is a little spicey. Today I was going to bring them some durian to try. But as I was about to leave, Adrian from Panga showed up with a ton of durian to bring out to them. So we went out there and tried to get them to eat it. That involved me eating a ton of durian and trying every trick in the book to convince them that something that smells that bad and tastes like rancid gym socks can actually be enjoyed.

 
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Blog Comments

Sorry to all of you who have been trying to post comments. I turned on moderation of comments a few months ago which means that I have to approve comments before they will appear on the site. Well, I thought it was going to notify me when someone commented so I could approve it but it never did. I had a backlog of comments that I just approved. Special thanks to all of you who have commented, especially Sarah Jo for the birthday greeting!

I'll try and stay on top of it in the future but if it becomes a problem, I just put it back to automatic

 
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Canada Team

I'm back and working a million miles an hour for 12-14 hours a day. I arrived back at the exact same time as a work group of 27 people from Canada. They are here to help with construction on the project site to taking care of all of them is a full time job for 4 of us in addition to all the other things I'm supposed to be catching up on after 6 weeks of being gone from the base. I'm writing this now in a brief period I have in the morning since I'm still a little jetlagged. Its the only free time I have all day.

 
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Almost back

I'm in Medan now and I'll be traveling back to Banda Aceh this afternoon with a team of 27 people from Canada. They are here for two week work trip to our project. When I agreed to have them come I didn't realize how big the logistics for 27 people is. I'm looking forward to picking them up in a few minutes and helping them make an impact in the villages we have been working in. They will be doing construction and some community health training. Of course I have hardly been in Banda Aceh for over 6 weeks but I have a good staff that hopefully has prepared for everything. We'll see!

 
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Back to Indonesia

I've had a really awesome time in the US for the last couple of weeks. I've been really busy so I'm sorry I haven't been posting to my blog. I'm now on my way back and should be arriving back in Indonesia tomorrow morning. I spent my whole time in Dallas with family and friends. I'd like to appologize to all the friends that I wanted to see but didn't have time and to all the friends who I only briefly saw and wanted to spend more time with. I'll try and catch up with all of you better next time.

 
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