Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I quit beer for 2010. A year of hard liquor has done me well. I've found a new appreciation for whiskey - although I can't say the same for much else. I am Irish after all though.

I also quit the Beatles, which was good, cos I am sure I'll appreciate them much more now.

Unfortunately, looking at my most listened to chart for 2010 I'm still listening to a lot of old bands. But then again mainly their new albums, so that's probably OK (I won't consult my inner-conscience, too afraid of what it has to say).

On the plus side my 10th most listened to album was Homocide Indonesia's The Nekrophone Dayz, which is all about Indonesian genocide in the sixties (an antidote to too much of The Beatles over the years?) and then there's Kill The Moonlight by Spoon. I haven't the foggiest who Spoon are, so that has to be good, they got be sorta indie-edgey-cool if I have listened to them for a year and still couldn't name a single song, eh?

I quit Facebook last year. Not as a new year resolution, but after a realisation that no one had much interesting to say. It's also refreshing not having someone Facebook you and dispel any mystery when they realise that yes, you too look stupid when drunk.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Clash of Civilisations

I remember during the first trip to Indonesia, thinking that this country is about as alien as I could imagine. I couldn't wrap my head around it.

Not only was it alien however, it was hospitable, my then girlfriend's family bowled me over with how welcoming they were.

Back then, I didn't go anywhere without someone chaperoning me around the Big Durian. The girlfriend left me a year or so after, but my interest in Indonesia grew, so I figured I needed to cut my own way through the country (however clumsily).

Still after all these years, there are some circles I can't square. Perhaps they don't need squaring.

For example, while for the most part I feel quite at home nattering with pals who wouldn't touch alcohol, and sometimes think about whether something or other is compatible with their religion. I wonder how they would fit in back in with my pals in our godless, alcohol swilling New York.

I remember on that first trip to Indonesia, we were staying at a pal's big house in Jogja. I was pretty indignant at not being able to sleep with the girl I had been living with for a year. Moreover, I thought the little pullavah over not seeing a jilbabed guide's hair a bit stupid.

Sometimes on that trip I felt arrogant at times, feeling that I knew better than Indonesian people. Perhaps confusing wealth or might with right. I confess I still feel this sometimes, but less often.

In any case, I wonder what would happen if the Indonesia and New York side met? They'd probably get on like a house on fire!

Freedom of Movement

The right to freedom of movement is the only issue I advocate - mainly because so few others do.

In recent years Ireland has seen a lot of immigration, now that is set to reverse.

The right to leave one's country and settle elsewhere, is you could say, the right to reject your own country and sign up to a new one, one that you hope will give you better opportunities.

It is the ultimate democratic right.

The Irish are lucky, they have many countries which will take them, not the case with unfortunate people from many other countries.

Richer Lives

The Irish ambassador to several countries including Indonesia is in Jakarta today.

Hopefully he can rake in some Rupiah on behalf of Ireland - I never thought I'd be saying that!

Recently, I have been thinking a about Ireland's economic predicament.

I have heard a lot about impending mass migration out of the country. It is a lamentable situation.

But, I always thought the Ireland I grew up in, the successful brash Celtic Tiger Ireland was too insular. That's not unusual - you learn from your mistakes not your successes.

For example, I remember when I was in college in Germany, how I thought that while many of my fellow students came from poorer countries across the world they had much richer educational experiences in Germany than my school classmates that mostly went to college at home.

I had chosen to study in Germany on a whim; most of my international classmates were forced to study in Germany because of the woeful level of education at home.

Perhaps that's a silver lining, however sad it is that a generation of Irish people will end up living in foreign lands, many of them will lead richer lives, experiencing and learning more of the world than they ever would have if they had stayed at home.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sometimes the evil spirits can take the form of people you know. That's why you have to be careful

I.e. perhaps - don't blindly trust people, use your own judgement.

What's the difference between asking god for success for example and asking a spirit?

The spirit will take something from you in return, even though initially you seem to get what you want easily

I remember before I came to Indonesia I was pretty dismissive of people's beliefs in the supernatural. I still don't believe in a literal way like so many people seem to.

Yet there is something to what people say. Common sense couched in the supernatural.

Spirituality is a very human thing.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gutsy Women

My pal has a write up on Indonesian maids on her blog.

I always see lots when I fly through the middle east. Gutsy women.

Friday, November 12, 2010

18 Minutes

Walking past the subway turnstiles, a pal asked did you see that mother and child standing either side of the barriers?

In New York for 89 bucks a month you get unlimited rides. Actually they are limited in one way, you have to wait 18 minutes between swiping your card through the turnstiles. I've been caught out by this a few times.

In any case the mother and daughter were waiting 18 minutes until they could go on their way together.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Taman Bacaan Pelangi

I donated some money to this charity / project way back when, I'm surprised at what it's turned into.


Monday, September 20, 2010

I looked into the Lens God's Eye...

... and the great Nikkor smiled.

Here's what I just wrote my Dad.


On 20 September 2010 20:03, John Orford wrote:
B&H weren't much help, too big, scale guy was clueless - and initially guffawed at me bringing the thing back after so long. I said I thought they repaired cameras and only wanted some idea of my options. He did recommend going across the street to a camera repair shop though.

The repair shop was Canon only, and recommended me to go downtown - unfortunately they close at 6 so I went back down hearted.

I rang Nikon however, and they said they would honour the 5 year warranty (even though I didn't apply for it within 10 days of purchase). As you can imagine, I was pretty ecstatic and I think the woman on the other end of the phone was pretty happy for me too! : ))

Then I found the old receipt, almost completely faded in my wallet. I think I will go back to B&H and ask for a new copy - they are pretty good at keeping everything on file by customer.

I feel like having a celebratory whiskey now! : )

Sunday, September 19, 2010


An expensive lens of mine is broken. Well known problem (Nikkor 24-70 locks up at a certain focal length) unfortunately I am all out of warranty also.

Hopefully the lens Gods will be smiling kindly on me tomorrow as I enter the temple of B&H. I have been generous in my offerings before, so fingers crossed.

I actually have a knot in my stomach - shows you how mundane my life is nowadays.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Back Home

Indonesians go home for the end of Ramadhan, Christmas and for whatever other religion's family-get-together-holidays.

It just so happens I too find myself at home in Ireland during the end of Ramadhan.


I got stuck under a big old tree in a heavy sun shower today.

The silvery rain splashed and spluttered down.

The street empty, the sun shining.

Ireland has some of the prettiest rain around.


Happy Leberan!

Monday, September 06, 2010


Southpark predicted all this sh%^ exactly!

Turns out that when you deactivate your Facebook account, all your Facebook friends think you're deleting them individually, causing a lot of tut tutting among those I don't see often.

Argh!!! Facebook!!!! You won this time! Grr.

Gangs of Indonesia

By far my favourite blog at the moment.

Karate Kid

Best movie of 2010 so far?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Laskar Pelangi

Just saw Laskar Pelangi (a movie about a school in Sumatra).

Unimpressed all in all. I still haven't seen a really good Indonesian movie.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Peas in a Pod

Here's a story.

Imagine one of those Bird's Eye frozen pea adverts and how they only pick the ripest peas and freeze 'em straight after.

But instead of pea pickers think of those 72 poor old souls found in a mass grave in Mexico. Then instead of a happy family salivating over their dinner, think of Paris Hilton being arrested by the police for possessing coke.

You can play the same little game in your head when it comes to marijuana , any mexican border town and anywhere around the East Village in New York - chock full of those well meaning kids smoking pot.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Just booked my flights to Indonesia this year for Nov 21 - Dec 6.

As I was booking 'em Seurieus came on my iTunes. Haven't listened to 'em too much. A bit Aerosmithy.

Man, it's a good feeling having my flights booked. I feel all warm inside : ) or is that just my stomach gurgling at the prospect of some dodgy street food : )

Monday, August 16, 2010

Physics Envy

An article about how financiers look up to physicists.


Religious persecution in Indonesia and the US makes me mad. I love both countries, but there's an awful lot of racists in both also!

The minorities must be gutsy people.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

VJ Day

On Friday I mentioned to my pal that my granddad fought in Burma during the war. We were arguing about the necessity of war at about 2AM Friday night.

My point was that although he lived in London he probably didn't have to join the British army (he was Irish). On a personal level he must have felt it was necessary (he wasn't a gung-ho type - one of his ongoing themes was how crazy career soldiers were).

Coincidentally it's VJ day today.

I grew up on stories about his time in Burma and India. It's a pity that I can't remember any of them now. My dad once had an idea that he would record them, but I suppose that never went anywhere.

It's hard to say, but maybe those stories had some effect on me in my formative years that still live on with me today.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I got back from California last Sunday. Have just posted up some pictures on my Flickr account - if anyone's interested!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Set up my printer today. The big problem was that the software on the CD couldn't see the printer over the network while installing.

Solution (as in most hardware installation problems) download the drivers directly from the manufacturer's website.

Advantages to this are: you get the latest drivers, things tend to just work(TM) and you get no crapware installed (your printer works and that's that!).

[If you have a problem getting the your Mac to see the Canon MP560 printer - go to the Canon website and download the drivers!]

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Brazil, Russia, India, China and...


Just heard the CEO of Nissan declaring that Indonesia will buy a lot of Nissans in the future. It's one of the biggest growth markets apparently.

Fingers the supposed good times last this time!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

MLK Soccer

My friend teaches at a school around the corner, it's a tough school by all accounts.

On the eve of USA vs Ghana, this is her school's soccer team's story.


Recently I complained about being a tad bored. My sister suggested I take up a hobby.

Over the past week or two, I have taken up ironing clothes. It's meditative, in a washing the dishes sort of way.

In any case, the only thing that has been unsettling in my overly tranquil world recently has been a sense of sensory overload. I am one of those people that needs media when I am not engaging with people.

Having breakfast I listen to Irish radio. I listen to podcasts going asleep and walking to the subway. I skim my RSS feeds on my phone while sitting on the toilet. MP3s plug the rest of the silence.

I soak up information throughout the day, and, it doesn't feel good anymore. It's becoming information gluttony.

Maybe that's why I am becoming to love ironing, cooking and washing up.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Closer to God

When you are closer to sin you are closer to god

Just as a thief might be intimate with the criminal justice system.


Genocide is not just about people killing but story killing

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I quit!! I only ever joined to see what all the fuss was about. Now I know.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

99 Problems

Another hat tip is required - just can't figure whom to!

A Kite with a Broken String

The Big Durian

I read this and it struck a chord. There is something about landing back in Jakarta. A feeling. A fantastic feeling.

I remember three pals and I went to Bogor in October. We ended up eating at an outdoor stall - and embarrassingly for me, all I could do was think of the hour long train ride back and the possibility of getting the runs. What a whimp!

If you plan to visit Jakarta you need to be sometimes brave, sometimes inquisitive and most of all open minded!

I Wish I Learned this...

...while I was a little younger!

God v Satan

God is bad ass!!

[Btw, not 100% sure where I got this link from - hat tip is in the post...]

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Devil's in the Detail

While on the topic of food, in Bukittinggi Delvi and I had lunch at a Sunda restaurant.

I love Sunda food - I reckon it would go down a storm with hip westerners - it's such a fresh smorgasbord of a cuisine.

In any case Delvi told me how the local Minangkabau never really got Sunda food and the restaurant was mostly empty.

I chuckled to myself. West Java and West Sumatra seem so similar to this person that lives on the other side of the planet. It reminds me of my Korean pal who told me (straight-faced) that Ireland and Germany were pretty much the same.

Minang Asli

I went to a restaurant called Minang Asli in Queens last weekend.

I surprised myself at how excited I was to eat Indonesian food.

My date and I had...

1) Pempek Palembang. Is there any other type of Pempek?

2) Sate kambing. Which was translated as lamb satay. I am not sure whether it was a translation error or whether they were trying to fool the Westerners - or maybe they were trying to fool the Indonesians (suspect goat meat is hard to find in NYC).

3) Nasi goreng with ikan asin - fried rice with small salty fish.

It was all delish and I was so happy. So much better than the last time i went to an Indonesian restaurant in Queens - Upi Jaya. Although I should really go back to Upi Jaya and make sure it's not as good. Then I'll also go to Minang Asli to be doubley sure which is best : )

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wild and Whacky Stuff in Indonesia

When people ask me about Indonesia I want to tell them about the bizarro, whacky mind altering stuff (at least to the average Westerner) that happens over there.

So the list could include something about how the Minangkabau is a matriarchal society - I need to learn more about Minangkabau culture!!

How the Timorese rever chickens (at least I think they do).

Or how everything can be eaten with a chocolate and cheese topping.

Any ideas?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Doing a Bono

Every so often my pals and I argue about Bono.

The question is should you dislike him or like him for his promotion of causes. Are Bono and the like vainly trying to prove their worth and greedily self promoting themselves? or are Bono's efforts a net positive?

In any case a pal of mine asked me to promote her charity a little after I made my yearly donation. Why not eh? But to avoid any risk of doing a Bono, I am gonna dredge up some embarrassing story as a confessional ying and yang thing.

Over the past few years I have been supporting POTA. Lieke runs the charity. It's a Christian charity and although I like to think of myself as a strictly kosher atheist - Lieke is deeply passionate about helping the less fortunate in Indonesia.

She has lots of stories. When you hear these stories they draw you in and you feel part of the story.

They're better if you hear them from Lieke in person, but one of them was about a Christmas party they gave to some poor kids. KFC donated all the food. Everything was going well. Lots of fried chicken (Indonesians love fried chicken!!) and good times had by all. Thing was Lieke noticed one boy (or was it a girl?) that wasn't eating his KFC. She was sort of dumbfounded as all the other kids were eating away.

Lieke went over to the boy and asked him why he wasn't eating. He told her that he wanted to save his KFC so he could bring it back to his siblings back home and share it with them.


In New York we don't do KFC we do fried chicken from trendy brunch places and cool divey bars.


Now for the yang.

Last night I got hammered. Made a lot of lewd jokes. Then went on to interrogate this girl (with whom I am semi obsessed) about her ex.

That is too fresh. Let me dredge up something else.

How about the time when we were coming under huge pressure from a hedge fund client of ours. These guys are huge. Their risk was out of whack. I was newly arrived in New York, and was getting phone calls from big wigs.

So anyway, it was getting late and I was trying to figure this out and I had to call up our tech support people. The guy who was supposed to be on duty went home early. I got onto him on his Blackberry and went through him, I was fuming.

A week later it turned out his kid was diagnosed with cancer.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Moon Cake

I was Chinatown this morning.

I ate three quarters of a moon cake - apparently you are only ever supposed to eat one quarter at any one time.

Stomach troubled ensued - lesson learned!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I have finally realised how much breathing correctly can help you when you're working out.

Not sure what the mechanics are, but it seems to help a lot!

Probably the most Xenophobic Country in the World(?)

Is Japan the most xenophobic developed country in the world?

Judging by the number of refugees they allow in every year they probably are.

Mirror of Pride and Pain

I heard this great quote about how countries teach history:

"It's a mirror of pride and pain"

It's true, and not all that encouraging eh?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

School's Out / In

I remember the number one reason for getting off school in primary school was frozen pipes, leading to a lack of water and probably heating.

That and a sprinkling of snow - Ireland rarely gets much, so everything comes to a standstill when we get a smidgen!

It looks like these students are a hardier bunch.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


When I tell people that I love Indonesia people often look at me as if I have two heads.

I like seeing Indonesia getting a bit of good press.

If nothing else it means I am not stark raving mad.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I am giving up beer and the Beatles for 2010. It's gonna be one hell of a year!