Jun 17, 2010

Conference Proposal

As I watch an awesome sunset behind the hills across the bay, I think about the week's events and wonder what could possibly come next. I've had an incredibly busy week, finished up a big project, brought someone new into the company, knocked out some very big contract preparation activities, and then there is today's big news. Today I got word that my abstract was accepted and I am on the schedule to present at the PNG Science & Technology Conference 2010. Yes, that's right. My name is officially listed in the program as one of the presenters on Wednesday afternoon, August 18, 2010, at 2:00pm. The presentation before mine is "A comparative analysis of attrition rates of the first year engineering maths students of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology" by Augustine Moshi, and I am followed by "Community education: Alternative for the country", by Michael Kapari. Mine is listed in the program as "Public-private partnership in delivery education programs", and my name is there in print too!

The venue for this prestigious gathering is "Divine Word University" in Madang. I've not been to the northern coast of PNG yet, so I am really looking forward to the trip. Still, there are some drawbacks too. Namely, that I haven't a CLUE what to expect! I mean, I know my topic, and feel relatively confident that I can provide a decent paper. I'm really hoping my presentation might spur some to action and encourage the kind of partnerships that I have envisioned to actually be established. But as far as presenting a topic at a conference like this, well, I'm actually clueless on how to proceed.

So, my next game plan will involve me checking in with some of my academic resources back at TTU, my putting in some long hours tweaking my paper until it is ready for prime time, then observing day one and day two of the conference to get an idea of what I am going to actually do on day three! I am so very excited, so please, wish me luck. Uncharted waters are nothing new to me. I'm always nervous, but I always get through it. Here's hoping that I hold to my standard and actually survive this!

Jun 15, 2010

Best Pizza in Moresby

Memories from home: Pizza with sizes, toppings, tastes, and prices that I really miss!

Yes, the search is on. A friend and I are trying to find the best pizza in Moresby. As far as I know, there are only 4 places in town worth entering in the competition. We are judging our winner solely on taste, although we are making other notes as we go along. In an attempt at fairness, we are also ordering the same pizza each time, whatever passes for their version of a "meat lover's pizza".

I have to include a little disclaimer here for my husband, if for no one else. You see, Leo is a pizza connoisseur. He discovered long ago that he can start with a store-bought pizza and dress it up (differently every time) to suit our needs. So Leo, just for your information, none of these pizzas even come close to what you fix for us at home. These aren't bad, but they aren't loaded up like the ones you are used to. Still, sometimes you just get a craving for a good pizza. Hence, our quest to find the best in town.

Our first contestant was the Pondo Tavern, the bar at the Crowne Plaza. When I look out the window of my apartment every day, I see a sign that says "Best Pizza in Town". Well, so far, it actually is, although only by a slight lead. Here are the current standings:

1. Pondo Tavern

Crust: Good
Toppings:Excellent. Lots of variety, good veggies, thick and delicious.
Service:Poor. We were out on the deck and I had to go inside twice, to ask for menus, and to ask for refills and check and see what was taking the pizza so long.
Atmosphere:Good. It can be a bit noisy along the street, but we ate in early arvo on a weekend, so no traffic and no bar traffic to deal with.

2. Ela Beach

Crust: Good
Toppings:Really good flavour, but too thin. If they had beefed up the toppings a bit, these guys would've taken first place.
Service:Excellent. Perhaps because they know me, or perhaps they are just good at their jobs, but we got lots of attention, were checked on regularly, and felt very "taken care of" there.
Atmosphere:Good. Even when crowded, the Ela Beach staff seem to keep things flowing smoothly. Not too noisy, not too quiet, very nice.

3. Gateway Bar

Toppings:Good. Of all we've tried so far, these guys were the "thinnest" on their toppings.
Service:Okay. We sat right next to the pizza ovens so we could see them steady at work, but it still took a long time.
Atmosphere:Okay. Although we were there before noon, we kept seeing pitchers of beer being delivered somewhere. When we walked outside, we had to pass through a trail of smokers and drinkers that was slightly unpleasant.

Jun 14, 2010

Starting to Have a Routine

Although I HATE having my picture taken, and always have, I occasionally find I just have to share one of me anyway. Perhaps I was worried that people might think I'm not really here. Perhaps I just wanted to "show off" a bit, as I am STILL enamoured with the view from my apartment. Whatever the reason, here I am, standing in my kitchen, getting ready to head downtown for a little grocery shopping.

Never one for routine, really, it seems I have developed a bit of one now. I usually wake up around 6:30am. For the first couple of weeks I was here, it was 4:30am, but I've worked myself out of that little problem, for the most part. After my shower, I start in on emails and try to catch up a bit on the news. This week, I check the World Cup updates when I get up. I used to look and see what's happening back home as well, but I've modified those habits a bit too and tend to check in on what the BBC says is important in the world instead. This week I seem to be drawn to following the sad news of ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan.

I only eat breakfast once a week or so. If I do, it's usually because I skipped supper the night before. My largest meal here is usually lunch, but on nights when I go out (1-2 per week) I often eat a good sized meal for supper. If I don't go out, supper is usually sliced potatoes, sliced tomatoes, or something along those lines. Oh yes, a friend and I are involved in a "Pizza Challenge" this month, with our goal being to find the best pizza in Port Moresby. But, that's another blog posting, I think.

The rest of my day has been split between two activities, but starting this week, it will be a 3-way split instead. I generally spend about 8 hours focusing on business. We are working hard to build something new, and it's a tough battle trying to get our foot in the door at the moment. Still, we seem to be making some headway. I also generally spend 2 hours focusing on homework. I sometimes spend another hour or so travelling down "rabbit holes" (unplanned side tracks that come up while I am researching topics) as well. This week, however, I am adding a new dimension to the plan by putting in 3-4 hours on ExxonMobil (Houston) work. Yeah, I know that adds up to a VERY long day, but if you stop and think about it, you'll see that it really does work out okay. I live alone, have very few friends here, have no television and no habits (drinking, golfing, knitting, whatever) to take up my time, so what else am I going to do? Besides, as you might have heard me say before, I really do like my work.

So, that's it in a [very big] nutshell. I have a routine, of sorts, in PNG, and I like how it keeps me busy, focused, and engaged in activity. However, I am starting to be curious just how long I can hold up at this pace. :-)

Jun 13, 2010

Learning to Drive

Okay, yeah, I do know how to drive. I've been driving for more years than most of you have been alive. But, I've been driving all those years while sitting on the left side of the car and driving on the right side of the road. This, this business today, was something different entirely.

I wasn't sure just how to proceed really, but when I spotted "the boys" driving by my place earlier today, I got an idea and rang them up to see if they were game. They were. One of them got in the vehicle with me, a little moral support and all that, and we proceed to follow the other two around town, making a point of driving to the bank, the market, the technology store, the airport, etc., in an attempt to cover those places that I would normally drive.

For the most part, it was a very smooth adventure. Okay, yes, I know it's a Sunday and things are pretty laid-back here in the city on Sundays, but hey, it was a start. Anyway, when we got up to the airport, we took a little side trip and enjoyed pizza together at Gateway. We talked of sports, and drinking, and bachelor parties, and who can remember what else, but it was a great deal of fun. [Of course I have an idea that they are just humouring me most of the time, but I don't care, it IS fun!]

After pizza, I made sure they showed me how to stop in at the station and fill up with petrol (you leave the vehicle running and hand your money out through a gap in the window glass). Finally, we made our way back to my place where I parked on the street (don't forget the hand brake Bea!) and called the adventure to an end for the day. Much thanks to "the boys" for an excellent adventure today! I feel like I am well on my way to becoming qualified to drive in Moresby!

Jun 11, 2010

Out and About

After a morning of productive work, and nice lunch of chicken, rice, and a slice of fresh pineapple, I decided to take a stroll. Actually, I just realised that this is only my second "stroll" of my entire time in PNG! Although I generally make my way through grocery stores and other shopping excursions alone, the "boys" are usually there to lend a hand if needed. My only other unaccompanied stroll was many months ago when, while staying at the Ela Beach Hotel I got a bit "stir crazy", I went for a nice walk along the seawall.

Today, I decided to walk down the street and visit a couple of shops. The streets are crowded this time of day, lots of pedestrians and lots of traffic, but it was an easy walk down to the office supply store. I only bought a few of the things on my list as I am still struggling with the "sticker shock" of living in such an expensive city that has no outward signs of being prosperous. Anyway, after the office supply, I strolled across to a print shop to see about getting some brochures printed up. I want large format brochures printed on the local equivalent of 11" x 17" paper, full colour, both sides. The price quoted was K6 ($2.10 USD) per page. [Sigh]. Guess I'll just have to make sure that we take good care of them and only hand them out to real potential customers.

Other than homework, project work, and real work, I'm not sure what I have on tap for tonight. I'd really like the kids (my neighbours from the old neighbourhood) to come by for a visit, but until I can get to the point where I can drive over and pick them up, I guess that's just not going to happen. Maybe next weekend!

Anyway, my broken air con unit is repaired, there is very little water still leaking into my place, and it's Friday night in the big city, so I guess I'll just settle in for the evening. I really could use some company tonight, but until my hubby gets home from his rotation in Nigeria, I can't even hustle up a Skype call to get me past my loneliness. Still, there is some excitement on tap for the weekend, and next week promises to be business-eventful, so, I really can't complain. Another week in the big city!

Jun 9, 2010

Work/Life Balance Struggles

Work/life balance is something that all the educational programs and business ventures I've ever engaged in dedicate at least some lip service to at some point. I know, I've been taught, how important it is to have some "balance" in my life; to find something I like to do and to spend time doing it outside of work. Trouble is, I seem to really like two things in life; work and school.

Tonight I realized it had been weeks (almost 4 weeks, actually) since I had done anything other than focus on those two items. Even during movie night at school I sat in the back of the auditorium with my laptop running working on our class project through the entire thing. So tonight, I gave my business partner, the guy who has dedicated a LOT of time and energy to the venture recently!, the night off and decided to treat myself as well by watching one of the movies I brought along. I have a dual screen setup on my computer that would actually allow for watching a movie on one screen while working on the other, but I thought this would be "cheating". So, I arranged my couch comfortably, opened all the shades so I could enjoy the city lights, turned out the lights, turned up the sound, and JUST watched a movie. It was actually nice. As a matter of fact, I can honestly say that I enjoyed it. Well, until the end that is.

At the end of the movie, I scrambled a couple of eggs then sat back down to the computer to work, and you know what I felt? I felt guilty. I felt like a couple of hours of my life were lost to me, to my business, to my educational pursuits, just because I watched a movie. Dang. Unexpected consequences, I guess.

So now I'm faced with a real dilemma. I'm thinking this can go either of two ways for me here (so far away from psychological counselling of any kind :-) Either I can force the issue a bit, and make myself take some time off now and then, if only to see if I can train myself to believe I deserve a break, OR I can abandon the exercise entirely and just stick to those two things that I seem to love, work and school. Work/Life Balance? Hmmm...perhaps for me it's going to just be Work.

Jun 8, 2010

I'm Back

After much delay (so sorry) I am happy to report that I am back in POM and settling in to a busy lifestyle again. My biggest recent excitement was my move into a new apartment. Although I miss the old neighborhood, I really do love the location of, and the view from, my new digs. On the downside, however, is the fact that the place leaks like a sieve. I was "misled" a bit when I Moved in as to just how much it leaks, so now I spend hours each day attempting to mop up buckets of accumulated water. So, sadly, I probably won't be here long. Still, I'm giving it my best shot because I really hate to give up this wonderful view!

Now, on to the pictures!

This first photo shows the building where my apartment is located. I am on the top floor, left corner. This gives me a beautiful view of the harbour to the northwest as well as a view of Walter Bay to the southwest. The building houses offices on all floors except the top where there are 5 or 6 apartments. Mine defintely has the best view! I am just across the street from the Crowne Plaza hotel, so I have access to a restaurant, a backup internet service, and a convenient ATM machine when I need them.

This is the view that greets me when I walk in to my apartment. The apartment is relatively spacious and affords the most wonderful views. I can leave the shades up in the mornings and evenings, but have to put the blinds down on the harbour side in the middle of the day as the light is too bright for me to work by. By late afternoon, however, I am ready to open the blinds once again. I like this location so much and am now thinking I may continue to use it as my primary office space. [IF we resolve the water issue, that is!]

The harbour is a busy, bustling space and there is construction going on all around me. So the city is noisy and bustling during the day, and I have had no problems at all with being able to sleep at night. I haven't gotten out and walked the streets much yet, but that's mainly because I have been so busy with other matters. I expect I will be ready for some exploring when the weekend rolls around.

My small stove is pushed right up next to the window, so it is really easiest on me when I cook to just open the window to make sure I don't catch something on fire. (Leo would joke that I cook by fire alarm, but it's not true.)

My bedroom is also large and actually a waste of space as the only things in it are a bed and some closets. I thought about arranging my office in that room at first, leaving the living area open for entertaining. Then I remembered...I don't entertain! All I ever do is work! :-) So, I scratched the original plan and set my office up right in the middle of my living space. Hey...it works for me!