Sunday, September 24, 2006


Well, I've been a little busy in the last few months in case you hadn't noticed the lack of action on this little corner of cyberspace.

In summary, in the last 7 weeks I have left my old job, interviewed for 3 jobs, picked one, had a trip to Vietnam, started the new job, moved apartments and bought a lap steel and mandolin.

My old company, a local investment bank, was very good, but you know, even with the great experience I was getting, there reaches a point where living hand-to-mouth stops making sense. I had learnt most of what I would learn and the law of diminishing returns had started to tap me on the shoulder. I was planning on going home to Australia, but I was fortunate enough to get two job offers when I announced that I was heading back to Australia; one with a rather large development organisation, and one with an Australian accounting firm.

The Australian company offered me a substantially better package, and probably a job when I return to Australia; but when I arrived here almost 2 years ago I really thought I wanted to do the development thing. So, I figured, if I'm ever going to do it, I might as well do it now. Also, even the lower salary is roughly 4.5 times my old salary, so there's not too much to worry about.

So, continuing on my streak of getting jobs I'm hopelessly unqualified for: apparently I'm an economomist for the next 6 months...

I started the old job as an intern with no job specific skills whatsoever, whereas I got this job based on experience so they're actually expecting me to know shit... Considering I'm only going to be here for 6 months or so, they sure as hell don't want to spend their time training me just to have me leave.

Sure, I speak pretty damn good Indonesian; I'm young, enthusiastic and can pick stuff up pretty quickly, but there comes a point in your life where peope stop cutting you slack for your age and expect some hard skills.

Well, here I go...

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I freely admit that I am not the most fashion savvy guy in the world. I know how to pronounce haute couture, but that's as far as it goes. Even so, I can generally make a stab at what various different parts of my own various items of clothing are meant to be used for.

I bought a pair of underwear recently, at first glance they seem normal enough...

but on closer examination, for some inexplicable reason, they seem to have a set of ribbons, one at the front, and one at the back. I have seen such ribbons before on certain delicate items of womens clothing for use in hanging said item out to dry, but these ribbons are seriously long, and it's a pair of underwear for christ's sake... They aren't going to be damaged by being hung on a line...

Can anyone offer an explanation?

Mud and Morons...

Plugging "Lapindo" into Google News will give you a taste of the recent outrageous ecological disaster foisted upon the poor downtrodden Kampung-ites by big business in Indonesia.

Since late May millions of cubic metres of 160 degree celcius poisonous mud has been gushing out of the Lapindo drilling site in East ruining farmland for generations, shutting down roads, and displacing thousands of people. Let me just repeat that this mud has been gushing SINCE MAY (!), and it is now a good chunk of the way through September.

Big business does get a bit of a bad rap in Indonesia. Periodically they slip up a little and displace a couple of thousand people here, or chop down a heritage forest there, but on the whole the economic benefits they provide are helping bring Indonesians out of poverty and into the 21st century.

The people in charge tend to be well educated too. So when things do accidentally go wrong, they tend to use the most effective means possible to put things right again.

Take for example the most recent efforts to stem the mudflow as reported in the Jakarta Post last Sunday:


The government is offering a prize of Rp. 100 million (about US$10 grand, or about 10 times the stipulated ANNUAL minimum wage) to anyone who can stop the flow by supernatural means... And, to thin down the competition (because hundreds applied) they put together the following:

In a screening process, each psychic had to pass a test: turn off a water faucet left on by the organizer with only their supernatural powers.

"With the test, many candidates had to go back home. How can they stop a mudflow if they can't even shut off a faucet," Titus (the competition organiser - john) said.

As the rest of this article talks about the efforts of some of the participants, I suppose we are to assume that some of these "Paranormals" have passed the test.

Well, if the Indonesian government is as strapped for cash as they claim to be, then pick any one of these magic men and fly them over to the US to take part in the Randi Challenge. A cool million bucks is available to anyone who can demonstrate the existence of paranormal phenomena, and turning off a running tap would be sufficient. While they're at it, they can travel around the world and pick up all of the other prizes offered by the other sceptics associations around the world...

Not a bad return on investment, even if they split it two ways with the lucky winner... It might not stop the mud, but at least it can fund some of the clean-up.

At least this is only the regional governmental body offering the prize, the central government would never do something so stupid... Like, say, having the Vice President spend tens of millions of Rupiah on hiring rainmakers to rain on the May Day parade...