Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Shooting in Pumpkin Seed Valley

This is a story from a newspaper about my Great Grandpa Brown's grandma, my great, great, great grandma. She lived to be 103 and still had the bullet in her neck. It was near her juguler so they were not able to remove it.

Chimney Rock Transcript
Bayard Co., Nebraska
May 9, 1890

On Friday forenoon May 8th a terrible tragedy was enacted across the Platte in the Pumpkin Seed Valley, Banner County, some 16 miles directly south of this village. Charles Clark, a young man of 23, a somewhat noted character in the neighborhood and semi-desperado of the Cowboy Order, shot and wounded Miss Eunic McIntyre, a lady of 25 and then deliberately fired a bullet into his own brain. He died instandly. The cause of this insane act was in maddening passion-love. Clark desired to marry and Miss McIntyre repulsed his advances and utterly refused to become his wife. The beginning of the affair is said to have originated in Missouri when they were much younger. Coming to Nebraska a few years since a location was made on the Pumpkin Seed, where Clark followed the avocation of cowboy while holding down a claim. Miss McIntyre and her brother also occupied claims in the same neighborhood. Time passed on and Clark became infatuated and at different times had proposed marriage and had been rejected. He has written teh lady upon several occasions, and only a day or so before his terrible death and written her for a definite and final answere to his suite in wihch he threatened her life if again refused, also saying they would both die.

At about 11 o'clock a.m. on Friday, he visited the cabin where Miss McIntyre resided and upon her refusal to comply with his request, pulled a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver and fired. The first shot entered the front edge of the left armit and ranged upward following the left collarbone, stopping at the latter third, directly below where it could be distinctly felt. The second shot entered the anterior armpit of the upper half of the arm, ranging upward and outward, missing the bone altogether, making a clean exit.

Miss McIntyre, in atempting to escapre, ran out the south door, but Clark ran around, met her, coolly inqiring if she was seriously hurt. She fell to the ground, exclaiming "Charley, you have killed me," and feigning death, knowing he would shoot again if not deceived. Believing her to be dead, Clark seated himself on a box near her, twice placing the gun to his head in a hesitating manner. After moments of delay, however, he crossed the room, placed the revolver to his had and pulled the trigger, the ball entered the center of the right parietm bone ranging upward, backward and slightly upward. A Mr. Oliver, an old and feeble gentleman, witnessed the shoting and remonstrated with the assassin but his efforts were ineffectual.

The affair created intense excitement in the neighborhood and the wonder is that Clark failed in killing his victim, he being accounted the best shot in the Valley, often exhibiting his skill as a marksman and boosting his ability t shoot anyone on sight, but this instance he failed.

Miss McIntyre is represented as a lady of refinement and culture and is highly esteamed in the community. She passed through a terrible excitement and trial with true bra ery and fortitude.

Drs. Lonquest of Bayard, Lamb of Redington, and Sherer of Freeport were summoned and the lady was cared for, the ball extracted and she was made comforted and will recover.

Coroner Fletcher and the sheriff of Banner County took charge of Clark's body, holding an inquest resulting in a verdict of suicide. His remains were buried in the Pumpkin Seed Valley.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Funny allowance from US customs

I was searching customs to see if I would be allowed to bring a kris into the US and this is what I found:

Switchblade knives and other spring-loaded knives are prohibited and may be subject to seizure. (There is an exception for one-armed persons.)

Why Do They Do It?

Indonesians seem to do crazy things for no apparent reason.

A few preliminary examples:

Taking all of the straws from juice and tea boxes and holding them at the counter. They never tell you they do this, you just have to know that the straw is at the counter. For weeks I just thought I had been choosing the juice/tea box without a straw!

When buying things from Gramedia or department stores (or similar places) there are usually at least three people and an equal number of papers you must go through before you are aloud to make your purchase. You choose your item and a person takes it from you and gives you a number. You then go to the counter and show your number and claim your item. The person there then writes you a ticket which you take to the cashier. The cashier rings you up and gives you a receipt and a copy of your ticket which he/she has either signed or stapled or both and you then take that ticket to the original counter where you are permitted to claim your item, with they have usually double bagged and stapled shut. So time consuming and silly!!!!!!!!

Garbage/ Recycling Bins without labels. Around campus there are so
me very smart looking new recycling and garbage bins. They are brightly coloured and there is a set of four about every 10 meters. However, these bins have no labels so there is no way to tell which rubbish goes where! Unless of course I'm forgetting that blue is the universal color for plastic and orange for paper!

Random Things When in Indonesia

Since I have moved in with Tom the electricity has gone out nearly every night. Since there is only once room with A/C the only bothersome part has been not being able to see. In a way it has actually been nice because without electricity there are not many distractions. Every thing is darker and quieter. This has also meant that Tom and I have had plenty of opportunities for engaging conversation.

One night I came home and thought it was strange that all the lights were out and all the houses on Ringalli were quiet. I was opened the door only to be scared half to death by Tom opening the door at the exact moment with a light shining from about the level of his forehead as if he were some disastrous offspring of an alien and a cyclops. Once my heart slowed to a normal pace Tom and I stayed up chatting about the trouble of trying to bank (or take care of anything back home really) when in Indonesia, especially with the added interference of louder than necessary motor bikes... grrr!!!

Just last night the electricity went out again. This time I was trying to finish up packing however, so it was a bit annoying. We remedied this by driving my motor bike just inside the front door and shining the headlight into the living room. I had to be quick though so as to not die from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Once I had finished packing we turned the bike of and Lisa and I entertained Tom with some lovely singing. Our performance included such treasures as American Pie, Some Kind of Wonderful, Hallelujah, Mary Jane's Last Dance, Elephant Love Melody, Let's Do It, and Hotel California. You're welcome, Tom ;-)

Confrontation in the Pore!

I just made it in to Singapore. I'm on a stop-over on my way to Montana for Christmas. My flight departed at 7:30 in the morning so Tom woke me up bright and early with coffee. Thanks Tom! :-)

Getting to the airport (thanks to Rika's husband), checking in, landing and taking off all went smoothly. However, when I arrived at Changi airport I had forgotten to declare the kris that was packed in one of my suitcases. Now, I know this sounds like a really stupid thing to do, but to be fair I was never given a slip of paper with which to make such a declaration. So, my luggage was going through screening and one of the airport workers suspiciously asked me if I had anything to declare. In my ignorance I assumed he was talking about the Orang Tua I had in my bag, so I said yes. However, when I opened the bag I was surprised that he was actually looking for a knife!

Before I was taken over to the customs office I had to wait while they searched the man's luggage who was behind me. This man was a little flake of a thing, American I think, and he was completely rude. I told him I was sorry because they thought he was with me, and I thought that was why they were searching his things too. His response was, "yeah, you don't bring a f**king knife the size of your arm into an airport." Now, I thought this was very rude, and it turned out that they were searching his bag because he had some sort of large piece of metal in it that was showing up on the screen.

Once at the customs office I noticed there was a Dutch guy there and an Australian guy there. It turned out they were there for the same reason, illegally smuggling swords into Singapore. It was a big ordeal and they asked 10 million questions and threatened to seize the sword, but once the police were called in things were sorted pretty quickly and to my astonishment I was allowed to keep the kris! So, you had better really appreciate it, Bren.

I also met this lovely woman on the MRT when leaving the airport. Her name is Marylynn and she is from Sussex. She helped me with my luggage and I accompanied her to the market to buy some mincemeat pies for Christmas. She helped me all the way to Little India and even bought me lunch. We have plans to meet and walk around the Botanical Gardens when I come back through Singapore in January.

I'll be enjoying some delicious Indian food later and I'm staying at Footprints Hostel again, so I should be able to get a good sleep before heading to the airport at 4:00 am!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Great Wayang Debate

As Tom has mentioned in his blog we, Adam, Tom, Lisa, and myself, have been having an ongoing debate as to which is the correct way to view a wayang performance.

Tom and I both agree that wayang should be enjoyed from the side opposite the Dalang and gamelan. This is best as the shadows are what is supposed to be watched, not the wayang themselves. However, at every wayang performance I have been to in Java the people are sitting on the same side as the Dalang and the gamelan. The light is very bright and the shadows are obviously not seen from that side. Adam seems to think that because Tom and I are not Javanese/ Indonesian we are not allowed to comment on the appropriate way to watch a wayang performance. I strongly disagree with this. If I were eating burritos and fajitas for Thanksgiving dinner, an Indonesian would certainly be in the right if he were to say that was not what the Pilgrims had intended and that I was salah.

The best part of this story is that I was given a small, but satisfying bit of support tonight. Adam, Lisa and I rented The Year of Living Dangerously and took it to Moviebox to watch. After the hellish ordeal at Moviebox (which is a regular occurrence and I will have to write about another time) we were finally directed to the viewing room. The night before Adam and I had stopped briefly at one such wayang performance, and again the audience was on the wrong side. So the debate was somewhat refreshed then.

To my complete surprise and delight the opening seen of the film was a wayang performance being viewed from the shadow side! I immediately began to laugh and Adam as well, which he quickly followed with a "shut up!" It did not stop there though. Later on in the film one of the central character of the film and the narrator devoted an entire scene to the importance of wayang and the importance of watching the shadows rather than the puppets. It was brilliant timing and I'm sure it was very difficult for Adam to sit through. We had a nice laugh about it.

Unrelated as this is I feel I should mention it. In another scene in the movie Mel Gibson goes to a party in what I assume if Bogor where he just happens to bump into Sigourney Weaver. Sigourney is looking very sultry in a thinly strapped orange and red checkered dress. The music is lively and just before they begin I commented that Sigourney would start with a sexy "shoulder dance." Just then she did! It was fantastic and just confirmed the ongoing rumor that I am omniscient! ;-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

ACICIS Christmas Party

The ACICIS Christmas party was tonight at the Yogya Village Inn. There was plenty of food, secret Santa, and an awards ceremony.

For his secret Santa gift Tom received a Rubik's cube and a fancy holder to go with it. I received chocolate and James a cigarette/ cell phone holder, but Adam's was the best of all. He received a motorized go fish game! We played several rounds and I won all but 2, and on of those was a draw. This game is fantastic and provides endless hours of entertainment for all. Who would have guessed!?

One of he funniest parts of the evening was the awards. I will list them here:

KATE - The Lola Award for taking a bit lama with some of her loading. Kate thought that both Padang and Bali were part of Java and also thought that loading lama meant actually loading stuff onto the back of a llama.

TOM - The Pecinta Alam Award for liking a bit of alam. Tom has watched birds, been chased by ducks, savoured the fresh air and adopted and cared for wayward geckos. He is also rumoured to have drunkenly staged a real-life cicak versus buaya fight using a buaya he bought on the black market. Entry was 500k Rp and the cicak fought nobly but ultimately lost.

CHRIS - The Marriage Material Award. Chris always knows exactly how many days are left until his pacar gets here and has (as far as we know) remained setia despite the legions of Indonesian girls drooling over him and trying to get his HP number.

LISA - The Yes Man Award. Lisa is gung ho, always up for stuff and has never turned down an invitation to something (again as far as we know).

DIMI (JAMES yes) - The MacGyver Award. Dimi is able to fix anything ever and also saved the lives of a family whose car had stalled on train tracks in front of an oncoming train. Seriously.

LAUREN - The Onward Christian Soldier Award. Lauren receives this award for bringing Jesus to the people of Indonesia through karate, which we would like to ask her to demonstrate now if she wouldn't mind.

SIMON - The Some Like It Blonde Award. Simon receives this award for managing to find a Swedish girlfriend in an island full of black-haired women.

PAUL - The Why Do We Even Bother Award. Paul receives this award for repeatedly turning down invitations to stuff, especially stuff he has asked to be invited to.

ADAM - The Fashionable Gentleman Award. Adam receives this award for having by far the most impressive collection of both Batik and Hawaiian shirts.

SAMIRA - The Javanese Princess Award. Samira is Javanese and has gone to enormous lengths to avoid squat toilets. She also lives in a hotel.

BRI - The Valium Award. During her time in Indonesia, Bri unwittingly consumed Valium to the point of dependency. She has also displayed an ability to stay positive through difficult times that makes it seem like she is perpetually on Valium.

JEMMA - The When In Rome, Do As The Indonesians Do Award. Jemma has gone native with extreme dedication and has improved her Indonesian language greatly as a result, though she will deny this fervently.

NYSSA - The Cute Kid Award. Nyssa has a very cute kid who is universally adored and extremely photographed.

MADDIE - The I Own The Moon Award. Maddie officially owns the moon, as America got there first and she is an American. While there are technically other Americans in the ACICIS program, Maddie owns the moon and I think we all can agree it is in good hands.

PETER - The If You Go On Safari You Will Probably See The Rare Javanese Rhinoceros More Than You See Peter Award. Peter has a rich full life in Jogja, a lovely local girlfriend and many girls with secret crushes on him, but he is like some rare jungle bird that you try to see in the jungle but you can't see it because it is elusive.

The Staff

ELE - The Naughty Nurse Award. Ele receives this award for freely dispensing and consuming the forbidden drug codeine and for sticking it to the condescending and patriarchal Indonesian medical system.

PHIL - The God Award. Phil receives this award for being an invisible but omnipotent and ominous force in the ACICIS universe.

SINTA - The Where The Bloody Hell Are You Award. Sinta answered the call of our great nation's intimidating tourism advertisements and deserted us for several weeks to eat steak in pubs, pet kangaroos in wildlife parks and learn some Aussie slang.

FICKRY - The Simple Social Butterfly Award. Fickry has delicately flitted around campus this semester in his new role as ACICIS assistant, people person and chief dosen headcracker. Those of you who have been bonceng'd by him before will understand that 'delicately flitting' in a Fickry context means careening around on a motorbike at terrifying speeds.

It was a really fun evening and I am happy to see my ownership of the moon finally being recognized. :-)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Kok! Ada Pohon di Jalan!

A few days ago I was going to Lisa's kos to watch movies. She lives near me, but down this awful road with about 100 speed bumps in between her kos and Jakal. I was really dreading riding down this road and she sensed it so she took me down an alternative route. This road still left something to be desired, but at least there were less speed bumps. It was already dark so we were going slower than normal which was a good thing because at one corner there was a giant hole in the middle of the road! There were two guys there working on the road, barefoot and with picks, but that was it. No "hati-hati ada galian" or anything! We maneuvered our way around it and made it back to her kos to enjoy a relaxing night of movie watching.

Lisa took that route home again about 2 days ago and someone had planted a tree where the hole had been. Now there is a tree in the middle of the road! It was more or less a sign to keep cars from coming through. Crazy Indonesia, I love you!


Lisa, Chris, Mira, Simon, Paul and I stayed up a little late last night at Djendelo (and some other place which I forgot the name of) playing cards, smoking peach (mix) Sheesha and drinking hot lime juice. We were supposed to be working on the semesterbook, but we ended up spending most of the time creating a new card game.

The name of the game is Montor (the Javanese word for motor bike).

These are the rules:

• All players get 7 cards.
• One card is turned over from the Ijo (deck). Players play a card of the same number or the same suit (a la uno).
• Boncenging applies. There are two piles and players can play their card onto either pile.
• Crash: If a player is forced to play onto another card of the same number, a crash occurs. If the card is a 1-5 the player must draw 2 cards, for a 6-10 they must draw 3 cards and for face cards they must draw 4 cards. Queen crashes are impossible.
• Fatal accident: If a player is forced to play an ace on another ace a final accident has occurred. The player must pick up the entire pile.
• Pile up: if four of a kind are played in succession onto the same pile, a pile up has occurred. The first player to have played one of the kind is killed and must pick up the whole pile. The last person to play must draw 4.
• Hujan: If a player is forced to play a 10, that player is kehujanan and must skip a turn to put on their poncho.
• Lampu merah: If a queen is played, the lamp turns red and the following player is ‘skipped’.
• Galian: If a 7 is played, play is reversed as a result of roadworks.
• STNK check: If a black Jack is played, the following player must have their STNK checked. If the player has a 2 they may play it to avoid a penalty. Players without a 2 at the STNK check mustdraw 2.

Thanks Paul for the original concept. Good team work guys coming up with the logistics! :-)
Everyone play and enjoy!

Cycling to Plaosan

Today is the day after Thanksgiving and Idul Ahad. It is a public holiday in Indonesia and most things are closed. So, we decided it would be a great day to cycle along the selokan to some of the temples near Prambanan.

Being that we stayed up late creating Montor the night before we got a later start than planned. Lisa and I packed supplies for a picnic and met Tom on the selokan just on the other side of Gejayan. Just as we set off an enormous rainstorm moved in. However, we were not going to let a little rain stop us, so we pulled on the ponchos and pressed onward. Although this turned out to be more than a little rain, and I'm sure we looked like crazy bule, the ride was great and the rain only made it more interesting.

When we reached Jalan Solo and were nearing Prambanan there was an older Javanese man sitting on a bench on the side of the road and when he saw us he started peddling with his arms and singing "I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride it where I like..." It was one of the strangest and funniest things I've ever heard!

After getting turned around a few times we found the Plaosan restaurant and asked them for directions to Candi Plaosan. The 1km ride was a leisurely ride through a small village with padis, corn fields, and vegetable gardens. Just when we thought we had been mislead again, I spotted the top of one of the temples in the distance.

As today is a holiday and because this temple is lesser known than Prambanan we were three of the only 5 people there. It was fantastic! We went into the first large temple which had three chambers, sat in the main one and enjoyed our picnic. We feasted on sandwiches made from the best whole-grain bread in Indonesia, alpukat, tomatoes, cucumber, cheese, lettuce, and Miracle Whip! We also big juicy grapes and mangostines. The temple was cool and there was a nice breeze. It was the coolest place I've had a picnic in to date.

Once we were cukup kenyang we walked around and through the other temples. The best part was getting to climb all over them. When we were leaving I needed to use the bathroom so I asked one of the security guards if there was a W/C near by, he pointed to a bathroom in the back of the temple complex that I had peeked into earlier. However, since the mandi water was full of mold and the smell was less than pleasant I decided to wait. The guard was very insistent that I could use that bathroom, no problem. I tried to explain to him that I would just go later on the way home, but I said "nanti di jalan" which literally means "later, on the road." He kind of smirked and started laughing and once Lisa and I realized what I had said we started laughing too. I had just said I would use the bathroom later on the road!

On the ride back I was practicing riding with no hands. We were once more along the selokan when we passed an old Javanese man sitting on his porch near the road. I was riding along in the front, with no hands, and when we rounded the corner he was very impressed and said, "kok! Pintar!" and some other utterances which basically meant he thought I was a very skillful cyclist. :-D

One last thing to note, other than the fact that we saw about 500 goats being slaughtered, or their insides being cleaned in the rivers, was that we experienced a roadside pengenalan. We were riding on the lower part of a road and there was a couple riding on a motor bike on road that was on a hill above us. The said hello, asked us how we were and asked our names and gave us theirs. A bit later the roads merged and they asked where we were from. We told them and they said they were from Timor Leste, smiled, then road off into the distance. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it was one of the things that only happens in Indonesia, and it was very funny and memorable.

This was definitely one of the most perfect days I've had in Indonesia.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More Random Events with James

James' parents, Mick and Sue, are beginning there Indonesian adventure in Yogya since that is where James is settled. Thursday they head off to Flores, Lombok and Komodo. Oh how I wish I were joining!

Yesterday Mick and Sue spent the day in Kaliurang, the mountain village about 45 min to the north of Yogya. James and I had class in the morning, but after Javanese he invited me up to Kaliurang with them. We left somewhere around 3 in the afternoon and drove our motor bikes up. The ride was fantastic and it was made even better by the beautiful weather. It had been raining, practically non-stop, for about a week, but yesterday felt like the best days in spring back home.

Being that Kaliurang is only 45 minutes away, I assumed we would just be making a day trip. However, since I was with James I should have known better ;-) We reached the top and found his parents, who had taken a taxi there earlier in the day. That was when we began searching for a place to sleep for the night. Again I assumed it was just for James' parents, but then Sue began talking as if I were staying and we were all going on an early morning hike to see Mt. Merapi. That is when James mentioned we probably would be spending the night. I was more than happy to stay as it is a refreshing change of pace, and of air quality, from Yogya, but I had not brought a change clothes or even a tooth brush! However, I was not overly concerned with this as James was in the same boat as me and his parents also had no change of clothes, since they were at the laundry.

We looked at two places to stay for the night. Both were very nice. The first was very clean, but it was lacking something. The second place we stopped at was the winner. It was clean, but not sterile. It had a great sort of character with doors and windows painted all colors of the spectrum, and it was a mere 300,000 IRD a night! We took our meager belongings to the room, settled in and went down stairs for a cool drink and a chat.

By this time it was about 6:30 or so and our stomachs were beginning to rumble. Having seen a signs on the way up, we were all intrigued to try sate kelinci. The four of us hopped on the motor bikes and went forth in search of the perfect rabbit sate. We drove around for a bit before realizing that it was the middle of the week and most of the eateries would be closed due to the slow number of visitors, so we turned back and ended up at a warung very near our room.

We walked into the small hut of a restaurant and were greeted by an tired, but pleasant looking Ibu. We ordered two portions of the sate and four teh panas. We waited for ages while the Pak sliced the meat from a pre-skinned rabbit that was hanging in the back, cut it into small chunks, skewered it, fanned it over the hot coals, and then topped it with a peanut sauce. However, the conversation was not lacking and when the food did arrive it proved to be worth the wait. We headed back to the room full and happy.

Once back at Vogels we enjoyed a fruit salad of mangoes, pineapple, papaya, and banana before James' parents headed up for bed. During that time we worked out that we would all go on the early morning trek from the hotel to a point about 1300 meters up where we would be able to enjoy a clear view of Mt. Merapi. Although the trek left at 4 in the morning, James had comparative linguistics homework to do so we stayed up until about midnight deciding how similar a Papuan language was to Indonesian, very fascinating.

The sleep would have been very refreshing had it been longer, but it was pleasant nonetheless. We set out on the trek with a Dutch and a English couple. It was dark and the air was crisp. We walked for about an hour an a half up the trail to the first clearing from which Merapi could be seen. By this time the sun was beginning to rise. It was beautiful and puffs of smoke could be seen escaping from within the volcano.

We made it to the top, sleep deprived and hungry, but the view was spectacular. We listened to a few stories and colorful histories of the mountain before making our way back down. We were making excellent time and made it back to the hotel around 7:30 am, just enough time for James and I to eat breakfast before rushing back to Yogya for uni.

The jaunt was spontaneous and very rewarding, as spontaneity usually is. I plan to go back up this weekend to get some writing done. I definitely recommend the visit if you come to Yogya.

Low Tires...

Indonesian people are pretty chill, but they really lose there shit over somethings. For instance a group of four 8 year old boys can ride past on a motor bike with no helmets, but if your push bike has low tires every nanek in the city will flag you down to tell you and they will insist you air them immediately!

Another instance is asking for directions. Indonesians have a strange concept of distance, so when asking for directions if the place you are going is more than 100 meters away it is JAUH! They go crazy telling you how far away it is and that you just need to keep heading straight then turn left, and the directions are usually always preceded with a "Kalau ingat salah..." which is good because more often than not directions are wrong. If they say it twice, you know they have no clue where you need to go. But, the upside to this is that you can ask absolutely everyone for directions and on about the 3rd time they will be right, which means you never have to worry about getting lost.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

From to Solo to Goa Cerme

Hello all!

I have been spectacular! I have managed to only get sick with a stupid sort of cold twice, but nothing that has kept me home for several days or anything like that.

I had the best weekend and I wanted to write about it! On Thursday I went to an acara in the village of one of my friend's lecturer's. It was a huge party, sort of like a salamatan, but a little different. There was heaps of food and some performers and such. There was a band and then dancers and some other magician type performers. One guy ate razor blades and another stuck pins in his face and neck! Too, there was this really crazy trance dance in which "ghosts had entered the people dancing" and were making them go all crazy and eat roof tiles and plants and kratek and things like that! It was strange, but awesome to watch. I have pics up on facebook... you could see if you get one... :-)

Then friday I was with some friends and ended up meeting these guys from Solo and we started talking about ghosts (I'm doing a small research project about ghosts right now and it is fascinating!) and they said I had to come to Solo to meet a dukun and see ghosts and all that. So Saturday night I went to Solo and hung out for a bit and went into one of the Kraton's secretly at about 2 in the morning. When the security guy saw us we told him I was ghost hunting and then he was more than happy to walk me around and show me all of the particularly haunted rooms. Then we slept in the old Dutch cavalry and artillery building there (practically outside!) Which was weird, but still kind of cool. People were so nice and fed us and gave us drinks and everything, it was great!

The next day I went to Boyolali to a friend's family house there. It is about half way between Solo and Yogya and about an hour away from the top of Merapi, so the weather was fantastic! It was so calm and quiet there. We made a fire in the front yard and cooked an entire chicken on it. We wanted the chicken to be kind of salty, you know more like the chicken you eat at home, but one of the Ibu's there though we were crazy and kept wanting to add sugar to the chicken. So finally we just agreed and we ended up having a more Indonesian style chicken, but it was really funny and we made up a song about it too. Then we woke up early the next morning and I milked the cow they had and got to keep the milk! We left there about 5:30 and went back to Yogya. I met another friend around 9 am and we left for Goa Cerme (which is about 30 min south east of Imogiri). Have you been there/ hear of it? It is a fantastic cave complex which is about 1km long. You can go through and you have to wade through water and in some places the water is only about 1 meter from the ceiling of the cave! It was so cool!!! I didn't have my own torch though, so I fell in twice. lol

On our way back to Yogya we stopped in Imogiri to check out Makam Raja, but it was already closed to the public for the day. There was this really crazy guy there though! He was walking around and went up to this table and ripped this umbrella from it and then walked up these side steps and there were two little pools of water there and he jumped in them and was splashing around a lot and then she came down the steps and threw the umbrella away and then walked up to me and my friend and shook our hands and then walked over to this group of girls with bottled water, took on of the bottles and drank from it and then smashed it on the ground! It was kind of crazy to watch, but kind of funny too. We asked what was wrong with him, but everyone just kept saying he was crazy, the wouldn't say why.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm leaving things out, but you get the just I think. It was a really busy and random sort of weekend but it was great!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Impressions

Today is the third day in Indonesia and the second day in Yogya. Already I have met loads of fascinating people. On the first plane from OKC to Dallas there was a lady from Mississippi who was friends with John Goodman's wife.

Once I made it to LA and was waiting for the plane to Hong Kong, I met a girl from the University of Denver. She was on her way to Hong Kong to study business for a year. Then when the plane was boarding I was near two ladies from East Kalimantan. They were adorable and when they realized I spoke Indonesian they had me translate the announcements for them. We finally boarded, but the plane ride was terribly long and uncomfortable, but it did the job.

On the plane from Hong Kong to Jakarata I met a very nice Javanese woman. Her name was Diane ahd she worked for a chemical company in Jakarta. She was returning from visting her son and daughter who are at school in the US. Her daughter lives in Columbia Missouri and her son in Indiana. She was helpful and nice to talk with, and next I am in Jakarta we are to meet up for a meal and a chat.

Things were fairly smooth getting to the hotel. I was so exhausted I almost went straight to sleep, but I decided to have a bite first. For my first meal in Indonesia I ate Soto Ayam and it was a terrific choice, very comforting and filling. The next morning I caught taxi to Gambir for the morning train to Yogya. The train station was a little unsettling, but definatly a good experience. I managed to board the train with two bags and three suitcases. The porters helped with the last little bit, and then wanted compensation. Being that the train was rather loud, I couldn't hear what they were saying and throughly embarrassed myself by handing them various inappropriate sums of money. The train was beginning to leave and the porters were becomming very distressed, but managed to hand them a suitable sum just in time for them to jump onto the platform.

The train ride it self was scenic, but long! I wasn't sure how the bathroom would be, so I held it as long as possible, but 10 hours is too long without going and I had to. It was not as bad as I thought it might be, but it smelled awful! By the time the train stopped in Yogya I was so tired I wanted to collapse. Again I was assisted by a couple of porters and grabbed a taxi to UCH. I'm fairly certain I over payed the porters and the taxi driver, but I was much to exhausted to negotiate. When I made it to the hotel I went straight to bed and did not wake up until about 5 the next morning. In all it was about 12 hours of sleep.

Since it is bulan puasa I wasn't sure if and where I could eat. Around 9 in the morning I recieved a call to the room from a lady saying I could come down to breakfast until 10. So, of course I rushed down to grab a bite. After breakfast I went back up to the room for a bit for a little rest. My roommate arrived about 12 and that was nice. She has been very nice so far. Actually, everyone has been spectacular. Aussies seem great. It is a bit strange being an American here though. I am somewhat of a double foreigner.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rescuers Up North

This is the a really crazy video, but the people in it are amazing! A great example of shared social responsibility.

Monday, July 13, 2009

PC (?)

I was out tonight with some friends and the topics of religion, affirmative action, race, and disabilities came up. I shared my feelings toward my experience with an individual whom I knew for some time who had muscular dystrophy. When I expressed that I did not like the individual and I thought him to be a rude, heartless, and manipulative person, the reaction around the table was one of shock, disbelief, and possibly disgust. It was as if I had said that I enjoyed punching babies. My attempts to explain myself were in vain. One friend said, “Awe, no, come on. He has every right in the world to be that way.” This is not the first time I have received this type of reaction when discussing such topics and I think this type of reaction is an interesting social phenomena.

In general I would say our society teaches a few things:
We must be nice to all people who are different than the proclaimed majority or ourselves.
We must not treat anyone who is different than the proclaimed majority or ourselves as if they are different.

If someone is different than yourself, physically financially, spiritually, etc, etc. it is not acceptable to express any type of dislike toward or about that individual.

I would first like to say that I do agree that it is important to make people feel included. In my daily activities and encounters I am always trying to be aware of others feelings and trying to ensure that I am being inclusive of those around me. I would also like to emphasize the fact that

I had (obviously) a very personal experience with the individual to whom I was referring. It was not my intent to persuade others to dislike the specific individual; it was only to give an example. I am not certain that I can name the example I was trying to make in a few words, but I will try and describe my position here.

I am a very genuine person. I don’t expect everyone to understand or agree with me and I don’t change things about myself to make others feel more comfortable. I also would never expect someone to do the same for me. When determining what type of person I think someone is, I evaluate his or her personality only. I don’t like people because they are tall, or thin, or intelligent, or black, or white, or Asian, or because they speak Dutch, or because they have one leg, or because they volunteer at a local shelter. I like people because they are genuine and honest about who they are, what they are doing, and how they feel about the world. The people I appreciate the most are those who are not afraid to disagree with the majority and have personal experience to support their position. I don’t believe that people should be made to feel bad or guilty that they don’t like a disable person, or a black person, or a Mexican person, or whatever type of person just because that person may or may not have had a worse time at life than themselves. I think it is less honest and more of an insult to publicly treat a person differently than I feel about them and would express to those closest to me.

The individual in question was not a nice person. I have been acquainted with this person for some time and at one point in our relationship we were very close. The longer I knew this individual the more I began to see the person’s true colors. The person was a rude, manipulative, ungrateful, hateful, nasty, spoiled, hypocritical prick. I felt more empathy for the individual’s mother, family, classmates, teachers, doctors, etc than I did fore the individual. There were moments when I could see nothing but greed in the person’s eyes. It was almost as if making “friends” and winning the favor of others was a sort of game to this person. It seemed as if the mission of the person’s life was to see how far the disability could carry the individual. These are the reasons I did not like this person. The person was exploiting the compassion, caring, empathy, guilt, morality, and sense of responsibility of others. The person knew that most people feel as if they need to share the burdens of less fortunate people in any way they can, and the person took full advantage of this and enjoyed it. It was a sport to this person—collecting as much pity as possible, feeding off of the weakest and most conforming members of society.
I don’t expect every disable person to be nice and to just be grateful that they are alive. I don’t even expect every able person to be as such. My life experience, though short, has taught me that what I think I know about people is usually incorrect. Likewise, people think they know me and know what my life has been like, but they are usually wrong. This is because I made a choice long ago to not let negative things in my life affect me negatively. I have taken the negative things in my life and tried to use them in a positive and constructive manner. Of course, this is not always so easy, and I do still have downs, but for the most part I am an incredibly happy and appreciative person. I know that this is a very personal decision and not all people choose to, or perhaps are able, to make it. All I do know is that I truly do try to boil people down to personalities and to evaluate them on that alone, especially if I will be spending any significant amount of time with them.

I am not trying to convince anyone to begin disliking disabled people. Rather, I would just like it to not be taboo to dislike people in general. It is part of the human experience to dislike people, places, and things and because of this I don’t think it should be such a social faux pas to express dislike of things that are sensitive. One should try and understand the level of dislike before assuming the disliker is harsh, evil, rude, inconsiderate, or what have you.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bastille Days and Dangdut

Today we went to Milwaukee for Bastille Days. It was the usual BFC plus Caitlin and Saku. As there were seven of us we had to take two cars. I didn’t want to be subjected to the torture that is Frank’s music, so I quickly volunteered to ride with Steve and Caitlin, and Saku.

Milwaukee was an interesting city. It wasn’t as interesting as Chicago, but the lake was beautiful and some of the architecture was spectacular. Though, it was obvious the city had gone through some rough financial times.

We parked the cars and walked over to Bastille Days. I’m not sure what exactly Bastille Days is supposed to be, but this was a big street fair with some “French” accents, and by some I mean “cancan” dancers and one guy singing in French. I did have some good lemonade though, and there were other performers worth listening to, even if they weren’t French. One was this group of little old men in white pants, red polos, white shoes, and red socks. They played a type of bluegrass (or something) that was quite entertaining and enjoyable. One of the men played a tuba that looked as if they had rescued it from an abandoned well. Another of the men played a washboard with black gloves that had metal tips on the fingers. He was probably the most entertaining.

There was another band playing that was sort of Reggae at first, but then switched in the middle. We had a good time standing around and admiring all of the different ways people found to dance to the music, some inconspicuously, some not. We also made our way down to Lake Michigan. It was beautiful and the weather was cool and breezy. There were about 3 or 4 weddings going on and every one of the groups was having pictures taken in front of the unusual, white structure that formed a bridge over the road to the lake.

We were all starving, so we slowly made our way to some Thai food, thanks to Frank’s incredible sense of direction (GPS). The meal was decent, but Christy and Frank did their arguing thing, which is always funny, and that is when we decided to start calling Saku Pocket. It just seemed like the right thing to do. After dinner we made our way back over to the festival where Frank purchased his African mask. We hung around a bit long and witnessed some oddly dressed people, men-women, and tiger dogs.

On the drive home we sped past Frank, Christy, and Gilles only to be passed by them shortly after while Frank was wearing his horrifying mask and flipping us off. We passed them again later, and when they retaliated it was with Frank’s big, white ass in the front passenger’s window. Saku threatened to sun them, but alas the threats were idle. For the remainder of the ride I enjoyed playing a million questions with Saku, and found out some interesting things about his family life.

Once we were back in Madison we managed to make our way over to the Eagle Heights Community Center for the Dangdut. It was dark and spooky, and we had to ask a questionable stranger for directions, but we managed to find it at last. We walked in and it turned out they were moving the party over to Arti’s place. We grabbed some things and helped make the move. Arti’s place was panas sekali dan there were banyak orang, but it was still fun. We hung around for a bit, dancing, talking, laughing, and drinking “watermelon jus” but we were tired and so left pretty quickly. All in all it was a great day and I managed to keep both shoes!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Botchi, Beer, and Best Friends

The BFC went to DeKalb/ Chicago this weekend for the 4th. We left on Friday around 3:00 pm. It was supposed to be 2:30, but Gilles was still without a working cell, so it took some time to round everyone up. Almost as soon as we got on the road the music wars began. Ipods are great, but they make for incredible music snobs. Steve's was the only ipod everyone seemed to agree upon, so for a bit we traveled back to the golden days of the 90s. All in all the ride was short and sweet, but I was riding bitch (which is never that great) so I was smashed a lot.

We arrived to Frank's place, got the quick tour, then were off again, this time to the kantor pos to pick up Frank's mail. On the way there we honked at some Vets that were standing on the corner being proud and all and were acknowledged with jeers of appreciation. Since Dekalb is void of a night life we settled on a cook-out at Frank's. For this we had to make a stop at the WalBillie.

The trip was anything but quick, but what else can you expect going to the cheapest place in town for grub? It was clear from the start that some people (Gilles and Christy) were confused as to what a cook-out was exactly. We were in the produce section, shucking our corn, when the Canadian suggested we buy some "cakes and breads." We all laughed hysterically, and again when he asked "what?"

We were deciding on the proper way to make the burgers and there were many suggestions. The men just wanted to roll the meat into a ball and then press it over a grill. Gilles wanted to mix in oatmeal, and Christy and I had the only sensible suggestion of worcestershire, an egg, spices, and maybe some onions and bread crumbs. At least we all agreed it should be beef...

When we moved on to sides, Christy suggested beans, which we all happily agreed upon, until she clarified "black beans." Who eats black beans at a cook-out!? Frank, Steve, and I laughed as we brushed past her to grab the maple baked beans. During all of this we sent the Frenchy to grab the cheese. All that was left to buy was the grill, which cost us a whopping $6 and Gilles HP which was about $20. Yay, for megacorporations!

After our checkout, which when split between the 5 of us came to about $13 each, we were on to Petco to fetch a live mouse. While we were waiting on an employee to assist us, Frank was hit on by a large man at the counter who offered him "the mouse in his pants." (I think it was). The mouse was too cute and we were all gawking at him in his little cardboard box, which he peed in, on the way home. I guess he knew what was coming next.

Once we were back at Frank's it was snakey's dinner time. We all went in to watch the show. It was brutal and lasted about 15min total! Christy only stuck around for about 1min of it.

After that appetizing display, we were all starving, so we got started on dinner. The boys fired up the grill on the deck and Christy and I worked on the corn, beans, and cucumber salad. I don't know how the final decision was made, but the burgers were delish. Gilles taught us all a valuable Canadian trick- folding the corners of the slice of cheese inward so all the cheese stays on the burger, and doesn't melt onto the plate, or grill, or what have you. We all sat down on the deck with our burgers, hot dogs, and sides- the boys with their Moosehead and Christy and I with our wine (we are so much more sophisticated) and enjoyed the evening.

Sudah makan malam, Frank left to visit his advisor and the rest of us hung out on the porch chatting for a while about school, work, research, and life. After a while we decided it was time to play botchi ball. Of course it was dark by this time, but we agreed it was light enough near the sidewalk where there was a lamp (lamp post? street lamp?). All but Gilles were pretty terrible at the game. We went on a bit like this until Frank showed up and joined.

We had been down near the light playing for a while when someone looked behind us and saw a raccoon standing near the corner of one of the buildings. It was just standing there watching us all creepy like. We tried making noise to scare it away, but it just moved closer. The guys decided it would be fun to mess with it, so Steve bowled a botchi ball toward it. The ball rolled right toward the raccoon, bounced up and nailed it square in the face! It jumped, we laughed hysterically, and then it ran off. Or so we thought...

About 10 min later we turned around and saw it watching us again! The guys walked toward it again to try and scare it off, but it just wouldn't leave! Gilles got maybe 3 feet away from it and was clapping and trying to catch it, and then it decided to saunter away. We didn't see it after that, but it was the strangest raccoon I had ever seen.

It was getting chilly and we were getting delirious so we went inside. We stayed in the living room and chatted a bit. Steve fell asleep once on the floor and then twice while sitting up, so we decided it was time to call it a night. We all went to our respective sleeping places. Mine was the Cambodian guy's bed... I dreamt spiders were crawling over me all night. At least I hope it was a dream...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Popeye's and others.

I had Popeye's for the first time today. I have to say, it was quite enak. I would say better than KFC, but still just a fast food, fried chicken joint. The cashier girl thought Pittsburgh was in Newyork, and there was a crazy guy who victoriously locked his bike before entering the restaurant, but other than that is was a nice dinning experience. It was a nice comforting meal and great conversation after a rather confusing and frustrating day in class. We learned about sudah dan baru today and I did not really understand all of the concepts until the last 3 minutes of class! Too, the classes were combined today (because Bu Ameila sudah kurang enak badan), which was not the greatest because it is difficult to concentrate with so many people asking ridiculous questions and wasting so much time. I felt bad for Bu Melisa too. She had to put up with a lot of crap today. Thankfully, tomorrow is the weekend and I'm going to Chicago for the 4th with the BFC! It should be another montage of super fun activities and adventures!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I'm now in the third week of my Indonesian learning/ Wisconsin adventure and things have been going splendidly so far.

I have made some really good friends. We are such good friends, that we have in fact formed a club, the Best Friends' Club. Current members include: Me :-) Frank Chappell, Gilles Maillet, Steve Myers, and Christina Pomianek. We do pretty much everything together, including mandi grup.

Our first official BF event was kayaking on lake Mendota. After driving around Madison for about an hour (which always happens when we try to go anywhere in this freaking city) Christina and I had a tandem kayak and Frank and Steve had singles (Gilles was passed out from the night before, so he missed out on this one). We set out on the lake around 1ish (I think) and we were in route to the "island." It was taking forever to get there and Steve and Frank (mostly Steve) were jacking around.

Frank eventually caught up to Christy and I, and the three of us were approaching the island at a reasonable pace. Christy and I moved a little ahead of Frank and the next thing we knew, his kayak was upside down and he was bobbing in the water beside it. We turned back to "help" him, but when we got near him we mysteriously flipped (it was Christy's fault). Our life jackets were extremely awkward and we were laughing so much that we "nearly" drowned. We spent the next 30 or so minutes collecting all of the paddles, shoes, hats, kayaks, and life jackets while also attempting to climb back into the boats. Meanwhile, a kind, but strange windsurfer wondered by and offered a helping hand, but we were prideful and he was a windsurfer! What was he going to do? Too, Steve was nowhere to be found. He showed up at about the 30 minute marker and took over Frank's kayak for us. After about 10 more minutes of struggling, Frank, Christy, and I managed to climb back onto the tandem kayak, but the wind was not cooperating and Steve had drifted away from us with the other kayak and the paddles. By some miracle we reunited with Steve, but Frank's kayak was full of water. However, our sharp minds told us to pull the kayak onto the other two and dump the water out. Once that crisis was dealt with, Frank managed to climb in and everyone collected their various belongings. Though we were not far from the island, we were exhausted and starving, so we decided to head back to shore. After what felt like hours, we washed up onto shore and crawled to the car.

We were soaked, smelly, and dirty, but we needed nourishment. Luckily, we (minus Frank) are also part of the water bottle club, and so dehydration was averted. It probably had something to do with the music that was playing at the rental shop, but we were all craving Mexican, so Frank hooked us up with places on his GPS. A million places showed up, but we settled on Eldorado (spell?) Grill. We drove off, after Frank "bumped" the car behind us for the second time, but we were all a little delirious. At one point we all began to laugh for no apparent reason.

Again we drove around for about an hour until we reached the restaurant, El Pastor. However, it was a little too "fancy" for us bums, so we headed for another Mexican restaurant on Park. Luckily the second place was a little more "authentic" and forgiving of our appearances, so it was a good match. With our stomachs aching we each ordered a two pound burrito. Thinking that wouldn't be sufficient (and just wanting a tamale) Steve ordered a taco and I ordered a tamale to accompany our meals.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Current mood
: Stunned and Speculative
Category: Food and Restaurants

Recently, I was dining with some of my family and friends at a Mexican restaurant when I took notice of something that made my stomach turn and my immune system shriek. My brother, as most youngsters do, ordered his usual meal of fries with a side of chicken tenders. It was not until after he added a mountain of ketchup to his plate that I was repulsed in toto. Once he had finished squeezing the entire contents of the bottle of his favorite condiment onto his plate, he proceeded to lick the cap! Naturally I was appalled, but more importantly it sparked a thought. How many other tactless consumers had committed this very same galling action? How many times have I unknowingly enjoyed my fries with tainted ketchup? How many times have you? Which brings me to my point, while out at your favorite eatery, enjoy your lightly seasoned shoestring chips and your trite "chicken tenders", just beware the ever lurking, Kootie Ketchup.