fun story

My son's 6th grade teacher was presenting the class with hard problems
yesterday and said 'okay, ready for this next one, it's a doozy' and the
class responded 'um... what's a doozy?'

surprised the teacher responded 'oh, I guess that must be old lady talk.'

my son replied, "I know what doozy means, does that make me an old lady?"

The entire class erupted in laughter.


Holy Cow

Some of our friends keep a milk cow so that they can provide fresh milk to the community.  Our other source of milk is milk powder.  Today as I left the house I saw his cow walking down the road.  I was on my ATV, and knowing that the man of the house is currently out of country, I decided to try and rustle the cow back into his paddock.  I got in front of her, with my ATV and laid on the horn which stopped her dead in her tracks but she wouldn't turn around.  What followed was a fun little scene where I'm chasing this cow beeping while the neighbors are watching this surreal event unfold.

I had no rope.  I had no real plan other than to get her back to the paddock.  She had a plan, but I thought she was just wandering free.  At one point I had rustled her into a corner so she leaped over the ditch, and landed in a garden.  Suddenly I saw pictures of people demanding compensation of me as I caused a cow to damage and eat their garden.

I gave it one last try, and got in front of her, stared her down, laid on the horn, and she juked me and started kicking up a storm.  I decided to let her go and alert the owners.

I found out that whenever she goes into heat, she escapes and runs down the road to where the bull lives.  The story has a sad ending though because though they've been trying to mate her for a long time, the bull seems to have chosen a life of celibacy.

Oh well, next time I'll have to bring along a rope.


no pain no gain

Photo taken in a nearby town to us.  Fun school motto, sure to attract flocks of students.


Worst Dad Ever

aka, Epic Dad Fail

So today is a big day in our family. Sports day happens once a year and
this is our last sports day at the primary campus. Also it's our
daughter's 13th birthday party. Our house has been a flurry of
activity. My wife has been cooking up a storm for this party/sleepover
of 11 teenage girls. Making everything from scratch, and I mean
everything! So this means that our daughter will be getting a ton of
attention. So dad, needs to be sure to spend a lot of attention on our
son too, since it's his last sports day.

"Dad if you can only attend 2 events it should be the sprint and the tug
of war, I'm anchor."
Typically I show up to sports day for an hour and go back to work, but
today, I put on the red t-shirt I bought on furlough, and showed up to
support the Red team my son was on. The kids here still have activities
and fun. Sports day is all about building character in the kids as well
as giving equal time to kids who may excel in sports but not in
academics. Of course some kids excel in both. The school is a very
academically tough school, so it's important to create opportunities to
let kids shine in whatever area they can. Sports day is hugely about
encouraging others, people cheer just as loudly for last place as well
as for first. I'm not one who thinks every participant deserves a
prize, but I do believe that sports day is a great opportunity to help
kids apply some of the stuff they've learned about how to treat others.

The boys had to do a 3 lap race, and my son had to pull out his inhaler
during it, and finished last, but he had a great attitude, was
participating and adults were coming up to me and saying 'your son has a
great attitude!' They were inspired by his well documented breathing
problems and yet his desire to participate.

By the time tug of war came around, he had three first place ribbons for
team sports, and 1 second place ribbon. This was the final and big event.
I stood by to capture it on video and to coach him, we practiced, he was
getting ready.

But then, according to him, the opposing team began pulling before the
whistle was blown. It caught a lot of boys in back of guard and they
went down quick, and were dragged.

Here's where I get the worst dad award.
I video'd the whole thing, and was laughing, hard, because... it was
funny. I thought my son was smiling and having fun, but a few moments
in I heard him screaming in pain. Apparently he was rope burned
everywhere, his pride was hurt, and his sense of 'rules' was really
offended. He was mad... and I calmed him down enough to rejoin the group.

He walked away with the sportsmanship award for the 6th grade boys. I
told him "son, this is the hardest and most rare award to win, I'm proud
of you." It's true, people can go their whole lives never really
learning to maintain a good attitude even when life
serves you rotten apples.

My son has gotten a few rotten apples this year, but he's a trooper and
his attitude inspires others.

Here's the video, I promise not to think ill of you if you laugh.


Herding Bees

Herding Bees

We had a bee infestation in our woodshed.  I covered myself in denim and made a mask consisting of my jackaroo leather hat, and some fly wire (screen).  I then sprayed the area with poison and the bees died.  The next week I had an infestation under my house.  Did the same thing, this time threw some mothballs around the location as well and calked up the hole. (mothballs are poison to bees).  They died.

Then the next week I had an infestation in another area outside my house.  Rinse, repeat.  The bees seemed to enjoy moving between four locations.  3 of them on my property and one on my neighbors who did not at all enjoy having a nest of bees to contend with .  So, I repeated until finally the bees decided to settle in a location on my property that wasn't as dangerous as the others, and there they lie.

So, if you want your bees moved, I'm sort of the pied piper of bees now.  Only instead of playing a pipe, I spray poison.

I smell ants

"I smell ants."

It's not as catchy of a line as 'I see dead people', but my life isn't a
movie. Maybe it should be, who would star as me?

Last night around midnight, I woke up, it was dark in the house and as I
headed to the bathroom I smelled a familiar smell and said out loud "I
smell ants."

My wife must have thought I was crazy, but she didn't. She said
'Where?'. I replied, "you don't think what I just said sounds crazy?"

She got up turned on the light and we looked, and sure enough, there
were a hundred or so ants crawling along the wall into a hole.

"No, you're not crazy, those black ants have a very definite smell", and
she pulled the covers back over her head.

Well, chalk that one up to "skills gained by adapting to your environment."

I can smell ants, at least this type. They tend to come in the house
when it's raining outside. I thought I was wrong, I thought I was just
associating the smell of ant poison with these ants, but my wife's
distinct lack of calling me crazy was all the proof I need that I
wasn't. She's usually the first to let me know when I'm being nuts.

I can also apparently herd bees. But that's.... a different story.


Greek to me

This morning one of the legs of the network went out. (a UPS went bad,
so I had to replace it). The network closet is in the back of a class
room, in retrospect, not the best place to put it because we end up
having to wait for classes to be over. Today, it was a Hebrew class. I
stood outside the door as expats were teaching Papua New Guineans,
Hebrew. They were singing the alphabet in Hebrew.

It was interesting and odd. But the usefulness of it strikes me as two
purpose. There are artifacts all over the room and they were working on
their vocabulary, and as they were doing so... I observed in only 3
minutes what I see as two very useful reasons for such training. I'm
sure the instructors have many more uses.

1 - it teaches them how to do language learning via a process... a skill
vital to Bible translation....,ironically most of the people in this
course are already multi-lingual.

2 - it teaches them Hebrew, knowing source Hebrew is also vital in
translating the Bible.



MORE than three thousand people in the Transgogol area of Madang District who speak the Marik language will now be able to read the New Testament Bible in their own language. This follows about thirty six years of hard work by bible translators from the PNG Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). The New Testament translation in the Marik language was launched over the weekend and marked by cultural singing and dancing and choirs by the local people at Gonoa Village. The translator Hyun Mo Sung who hails from Korea said soon after the launch that it had been a huge challenge trying to translate the New Testament. He attributed the success to God, as well as the passion in him that had pushed him to complete the translation.
Mr Sung said he and his wife would be leaving the country in two weeks time back to the United States of America where they have recently become citizens. Pictured here are the Sungs enjoying the festivities to mark the launching of the New Testament in the Marik Language.


The folks didn't really like the results of the elections around here, so they burned down one of the few restaurants in town, and they burned down the equivalent of a DMV about 20 minutes down the road. I got my license renewed here last month.  Sometimes this culture is so self-destructive. You put a lot of time into helping people, but inevitably something like this happens and you wonder to yourself who exactly is being punished?  The nearby prison was full of people, they screamed but thankfully didn't burn.


Anticipate I.T.

A huge part of doing I.T. in the middle of nowhere is being to
anticipate equipment failure.
In the Silicon Valley, if an important hard drive died, and I didn't
have a spare, it would take me twenty minutes to rush to a store, buy
it, and return with it. If I had to do that it meant my support
contracts weren't great because usually I had someone show up in under
an hour with a replacement part.

But in the middle of nowhere, in a country without electronic stores,
being able to anticipate failure is important.

Hard drives are easy, they WILL fail, so you keep a stock of spares.
Spare RAM too. If you can standardize on equipment it makes keeping
track of it easier.

It takes about 2 months to get a replacement part here. So, that's a
VERY long time to be without something like, the Internet.

Today our internet went down for the first time in a year. It was down
for 12 hours, (from 9pm to 9am).

Thankfully a year or so ago, we got DATA plans on the nearby cell
service and sometimes it's up. So, I used my phone, launched 'myWi'
connected with my laptop and sent off an email to our provider in
Singapore who called after a fashion.

They asked me 'do you have alternate internet?'

ALTERNATE INTERNET... what a concept for a place lucky to have internet
in any fashion. But, as a matter of fact, YES WE DID, because we
thought ahead of time, ordered a HUWAEI CDMS usb modem from the U.S. and
purchased a SIM card for it, which we configured to be the only POST
paid card around. (Pre paid cards expire here after 90 days).

So I grabbed a laptop, headed to the VSAT dish and the nearby modem,
(it's down the road a bit), connected via a console cable, plugged in my
USB CDMA modem, and used TeamViewer for the tech to see what was wrong.

I was sitting there thinking 'wow, this is awesome! What if we didn't
have this usb modem? This wouldn't be possible, we'd have to talk it
out... how? Over the cellular phone I have that didn't work 2 years ago.'

Technology is awesome, and the funny thing is, to us all of this is new,
but in the U.S. it's been around forever. Still, being able to
anticipate problems, and having equipment on hand here, means we don't
have to have an outage for 2 months.

If you're a praying person, pray that we can always have spares at hand
when they're most needed.

I'm sad we were down for 12 hours. The really puts a dent in my five
9's... drops us down to 4. But hopefully it will remind the community
that we still live in a third world country and to be thankful for what
we do have.


Have Laptop, Will Travel

Today it rained.  I was called around 3pm because the nearby clinic had installed a new X-ray machine that produces digital images.  It was a network box, and they needed me to check it out and tell them how to accomplish what they wanted as far as file sharing.  So, I dawned my poncho, hopped on my ATV and drove to the clinic.

Who knew I'd be working on X-Ray machines when I woke up this morning?  Raise your hand... come on.. what no one?
Who knew they'd be basing it on Windows XP??!?!?!!?!!  And... check this...  the interface to the scanner, is FIREWIRE.  Finally, an in production windows machine running firewire, I never thought I'd see THAT.

fun thing if I understand the tech, exposing a plate is pretty standard, but the film inside is mylar with a phosphorous base, that can be reused 30,000 times.  This solution apparently is popular in humanitarian clinics all over the world.  The electrician that installed it, said his last one was in Ethopia.  I meant to snap a picture of me working on it, but was to surrounded by people with questions, that I didn't.


Jesus Film

In concept you've probably heard of the Jesus film.  The idea of this somewhat aged, movie of Jesus' life being dubbed into a local language and then shown.  One of my earliest experiences in this country was trekking up a dangerous muddy road to show the movie to a village.  Raised with such films, I had never truly seen the impact that video has on people when they see and hear the story for the first time.  There were people openly weeping during this movie.  It has a huge impact, especially on those who can not read or have not read the Gospel before.

Today I had the incredible and AWESOME opportunity to sit in on a recording session for the Agarabi language.  It sparked all of my old juices from when I went to Biola.  I instantly understood the equipment.  He was using an Intel laptop running Adobe Audition to cue up the video track and then dub new audio.  There were two technicians, a friend and his wife, she was managing the edit list, there were two voice talents pictured in the booth there.  There was a voice coach (to my right) and there was a translator linguist coach.

So a scene was cued up, (everything was run from the laptop, via a usb interface so dual monitors, 1 mic, with a talk back mic)... we played it once in Aramaic, the voice talent listened... then he read his lines and did his thing.  If it needed some coaching, then the man on my right here would take the English instruction from the technician at the laptop, then speak into the talkback mic so the voice actor in the room heard it.  Then if there was something wrong with the line, the linguist would assist us in translation.

It was remarkable.  You had audio recording, and editing all happening right there with translation, 3 languages flying back and forth (english, tok pisin, agarabi), it was an energetic mixture of translation, production and some post-production all going on at the same time.

I was REALLY excited by this.  It's been 16 years since I've had my hands on this level of equipment, and while I'm a hobbiest, seeing the templates and editing lists and all of it made me feel as if this production was at a much higher level of professionalism than I was expecting.  I was very impressed with the proceeding and I sat there enthralled and excited and... to use a word I haven't used in a long while.. 'like totally stoked!'