“Touchable Memories” is a short film about blindness. The film was made by Marco Aslan. Director Marco Aslan lost his sight 12 years ago. He works as director of photography without seeing. In this film, he and others who have lost their sights share their stories about how they “see” a photo. It is a moving film about something many of us take for granted – being able to see.
Grace Nugi was crowned Miss South Pacific-PNG 2014. The 24-year-old from the Papua New Guinea Simbu Province took out four other awards from her five competitors. Grace will represent Papua New Guinea in the Miss South Pacific Quest in Samoa later this year.
What I enjoy most from this beauty quest is, it is nothing like what you see or hear in the international arena. Coming from challenging personal backgrounds and a wider culture (PNG) where women’s freedom is threatened with continued violence and in many areas women and girls are regarded as lesser than their male counterparts. It takes a lot of courage for the contestants to be in public and learn to develop a sense of confidence. The quest teaches these young women – how to gain confidence and strive to be whoever they want to be. The quest opens doors for the young contestants to opportunities in education and career apart from the obvious tourism aspect.
Cultural Heritage and Cultural Preservation
The other thing I love about the quest is that it promotes our material culture, the intangible culture and it involves family and community. Through the promotion of both tangible and intangible culture we preserve our heritage.
How does this happen? Each contestant wears (traditional and day wear) that is original and handmade. The dress could be made using tapa cloth or hand knitted string made fibre (hilum) from natural fibre, shells, bark etc. The headdress and body adornment would come from the province of their heritage and most likely made by family members. Each contestants have to perform a traditional dance from her own heritage. Bear in mind PNG has over 330 languages and 22 provinces with many tribal groups.
Finally, the money paid by their sponsors, is put to a good cause. It funds other young women to complete their education. The quest also assists the winners in international travel to the Miss South Pacific, and further develops the contestants while they are engaged in tourism to promote their country.
In the world of art-practice this creature is one of the most photographed, filmed, painted and generally studied for its beautiful, delicate and visually exotic body. When you look at a lionfish, it is so luminous, graceful and breath-taking that it is hard to imagine such a creature could be so harmful to humans and other species.
The Red lionfish has been named an invasive species, taking over the smaller fish and other crustaceans in the Atlantic ocean. Scientists reported that lionfish were invading the Atlantic Ocean at an increased rate they were worried that the consequences could be grave. A year ago (October 21, 2013) UPI released a report that this native of the tropical waters of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, was not only venomous but it was also a fast-reproducing fish that had no known predators. The lionfish can produce 30,000 to 40,000 eggs every few days. They are aggressive eaters that will eat almost anything and the lionfish can destroy 90 percent of a reef.
If you found this story disturbing, read the next part.
In an article written for the Coastal Heritage magazine Editor John H. Tibbetts wrote; a group of strategist made up of fishermen, divers, chefs, educators, conservationists and scientists have come up with a solution to rid the lionfish in Bahamas, Mexico, Cayman Islands and Florida Keys.
The strategy is simple: the only way to get rid of the invasive species they said was to harvest and eat it.
It is that time of the year again and the Pacific islands’ quests leading up to the Miss South Pacific has begun. Miss PNG held their competition last Saturday evening, October 18th in the capital Port Moresby.
Here is a preview of the contestants. Rocky Roe pictures show contestants parade before judges. More pictures and story tomorrow.
That was the question from my 15-year-old son, Chris.
Am I suppose to know? I thought, somewhat guilty that I had no idea how my car engine worked. And so it was, a few moments ago that I had to learn about car engines. I am smiling as I write this post because I was thinking earlier, what was the point of having a potential engineer in the family when you didn’t care about what their interests or capabilities were? Besides, I did learn something new. I learnt about “controlled explosion that makes a car work” to put it in Chris’s words.
Well you may ask, how does this relate to my stories about extra-ordinary things. Let’s go back to when it all started.
Friday, October 17th October 2014
Apart from his school bag, I saw my son leave the house with a re-cycled groceries back and something heavy inside. I thought, “that’s a lot of lunch for Chris”. I did not ask him at that time because I thought he could be sharing food with his friends; perhaps they were having a party at school. Teenagers are mysterious but sometimes as a parent you have to trust your instincts and give them some space.
Same day, 3:40pm, Chris walked home carrying the same bag and the bag was still full. He put the bag down on the lounge floor in the corner.
“What’s in the bag?” I asked him.
“My technology project”.
“Is it a child’s toy?” I asked knowing he was working with wood.
“No mum, it’s an engine”.
“It is a 3-cylinder combustion engine”, he said.
Then he explained there was no such thing, (as a 3 cylinder combustion engine) but his replica shows part of an engine.
The class was asked to build a child’s toy initially. I guess Chris wanted to be more creative.
“This children’s toy/ working model of a 3 cylinder combustion engine aims to explain to children in a simple way about what goes on in a engine”, Chris said.
Sunday October 19, 2014
Tonight, curiosity got the better of me, I had to see it. I asked Chris to show me what was in the bag.
“It is not finish mum”.
“I want to see it”.
Chris reluctantly revealed the content of the bag, pictured below and explained how it worked. I was intrigued but at the same time impressed with the woodwork. Although it was only one of many things Chris had designed and build over the years, he is a perfectionist and he was not too happy that I wanted to take a photo. I insisted on a work-in-progress picture and later a follow-up picture to show a completed the engine. I also asked his permission to blog about the engine and I am sure he thought it was weird but he agreed.
The wood engine did look like a child’s toy at first. Then my 15-year-old explained how his project was only a replica of a real engine. He demonstrated how it worked by turning the handle. I was impressed.
Naturally I was trying to place the replica in my car body, in my head. To show me the “big picture” Chris pulled up some pictures. Google helped. I looked at the pictures and realised the magnitude of what was involved in making a car engine. I was quite emotional. I was and am a very proud mother regardless of whether this wooden replica was three or ten cylinders. There are some extra-ordinary rewards in being a parent. So the answer to my question in the post is, yes! now I know how my car works.
Above are two of many artwork I created, purely because I love owls and I find them very interesting.
Growing up in my culture, owls have been linked to death. If you hear an owl consistently calling or crying then, death is near. This was the belief. An owl crying or calling is quite rare but when it does happen, it is quite scary.
In some Brisbane (Australia) suburbs and out where we live, there are a few species of owls. The most common one is the Frogmouth. My family and I have had several occurrences with owl visits that I find very interesting and hard to understand. Once we had three owls come into our garden and sit for three days in the same spot. There was another incident where two large owls appeared at the front of our house and sat on a very low dead tree. They must have arrived before we woke up. At first, we thought they were part of the branches of the dried tree trunk. These two sat in the same position for almost a week. I went up very close to them one day and the taller of the two opened its eyes and glared at me – so I left. I hope to find their photos that I took that day and post it here in the future. Despite my cultural learning and spiritual beliefs about these birds, I find them especially interesting because of how quiet and often secretive they are. Sometimes, you don’t know they are there. They can camouflage very well.
Many owl species have developed specialized plumage to effectively eliminate the aerodynamic noise from their wings — allowing them to hunt and capture their prey in silence. Almost a year ago, a research group started working to solve the mystery of exactly how owls achieve this acoustic stealth — work that may one day help bring “silent owl technology” to the design of aircraft, wind turbines, and submarines. I found this small clip on reddit.com. Click the link below to see the wing action.
In the first moon of the coffee season, the bees would have long gone from the sweetness in the coffee blossom. The delicate petals of coffee blossoms would wither, turn brownie-yellow and drop to carpet the base of the trees. Here, under the tree, other insects such as ants would gather around the sticky rotting pulp. This was the picking time. My mother and her sisters would prepare to harvest grandpa’s coffee.
This is my mother’s Coffee Land story.
My grandfather’s name means “intelligent” and so he was. Kauc’s coffee garden was planted on his father’s land, miles away from our village.
To harvest the coffee beans; equipment, food, bags, water and all other necessities for processing had to be carried to the garden on foot. It was a labour-intensive method in which cherries are picked, selected and pulped by hand all day and for several weeks.
The remaining flesh from the pulping process was used as composting material for both the coffee and food gardens. Once the bean was dried, it was shelled. The coffee was now ready to sell and grandpa took it to town and in exchange, he bought sugar, rice and a small stick of tobacco. The tobacco was his treat, although he rarely smoked. My mother often wondered why he spent his hard-earned money on tobacco he did not really smoke. She said perhaps he shared it with his friends.
The coffee garden was Kauc’s pride and joy. Being a male and the second eldest in his family, Kauc owned a large piece of land. He was a devout Lutheran and a teacher. Kauc loved the land and he tried some cocoa and his coffee garden for cash.
The coffee garden, near our food garden, was situated less than an hour walking distance from our small coastal village outside Lae, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. Kauc grew Arabicas. With a high rainfall and good soil, the trees grew well and produced top quality beans. The family did not drink this coffee. They drank tea which came from Garaina, a sub-district in our province. This coffee garden was purely cultivated as a cash crop.
When the coffee berries ripened they developed a glossy sheen on its deep red shades. My mother, her sisters and my grandparents would go to the garden to pick the coffee and spend the whole day sorting and processing.
Sometimes, they would take a break and make a fire in nearby kunai (grassland) to surround and trap bandicoots for lunch. This made the long day interesting.
My mother said she would feed me milk and lay me down in a bilum (string bag) and hang the bag on a Rosewood branch. Under the shade, the cool breeze kept me asleep while she and her sisters picked coffee. My grandfather washed and peeled the red skins, revealing pale beans. The sisters would pick and bring bags of the red cherries and pour them into my grandpa’s pulper.
“He would stand there in his laplap and T shirt and just turn the handles until the machine skinned and spit the pale brown seeds out the other end. The seeds were collected and dried in the sun. He was in charge of this machine” my mother said.
The trees and in particular, the Rosewood tree became the landmark. Memories of the coffee garden surfaced in a family argument over land allocation eight years ago. My grandfather and his brother were the head of our family and clan. Both men had died three decades ago. Their sons, my two uncles who became head of our clan and land had also died. My mother remains the eldest of the family and clan. Her being a woman brought another cultural and customary argument about where she would live.
According to my cousin brothers, my mother should not have any land. Fortunately for my mother, and for the fact that she was born the daughter of an intelligent man, she stood up for her share. My mother made sure she had spoken to my uncles and got both their approvals before they died. When my uncles asked her to choose, she had marked the land where she used to hang me in a bilum, while she picked coffee with her father. This coffee garden became her land. In memory of her father, my mother named her son Kauc and I named my son Kauc.
At first, I thought a house had fallen off a cliff-side when I saw this image. There were no crash pieces, no dents and the house seemed in good shape. I have to admit the picture also made me disoriented. I probably would feel dizzy standing next to the actual building. I had even thought it was a Photoshop ‘nonsense’ when I saw the picture. That first impression led me to research. It took me a little while before I discovered that the house was real. It is a retreat cabin. And of course it made the “Cool Stuff” category in my blog. I think it is an amazing piece of architecture. I love the sustainability aspect of the cabin and how clever the designers were in blending this work-of-art into its surroundings in a subtle and playful way. View links to take you inside the ‘ice-cube’.
Block of Tumbling Ice Inspiration
Czech architects Atelier 8000 designed this monolithic cube retreat for the mountains of northern Slovakia. Inspired by glaciers, the architects envisioned a block of ice tumbling down a mountainside and crashing into the snowy landscape. The building was designed for the Kežmarská Chata (Kežmarská Hut) international competition, and it contains a restaurant, a sleeping area and ski storage for visitors.
Read more: This Crazy Solar-Powered Cabin Looks Like a Giant Ice Cube Atelier 8000 Kežmarská Hut – Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building
ABC reported that the Pacific Climate Warriors have arrived in Australia today to mount a protest against the Australian coal industry and call for action on climate change. The group made up of young Pacific Islanders represent 13 countries. They brought five specially made traditional canoes, which will lead a fleet of boats to blockade the coal port of Newcastle. In the group is the daughter of Marshall Islands president Christopher Loeak.
“The coal port is the largest in the world and there are plans for it to expand and we want to bring the message that the expansion is definitely going to have an effect on the islands, not just in the Marshalls but all over the Pacific,” said Milan Loeak.
“We just want to share our stories and make sure that people are aware that the decisions that are being made over here are directly affecting our islands back home.”
The Warriors are in Australia as part of 350.org’s protest of the port, which will culminate in a flotilla of the Warriors and Australian volunteers blocking coal exports for a day on Friday.
Fiji Climate Warrior George Nacewa said he had already seen villagers displaced by rising sea levels. He said the expansion of the port would have wide-ranging effects.
“These expansions will affect us and I live in a generation that has inherited a perfect environment but I am not too sure if I can pass this on to my kids and future generations to come,” he said.
Getting their send-off in Vanuatu, Iasoa Chief Kawea Sausiara told the Warriors the canoes carry a vital message.
“If climate change is not stopped we will lose our cultural activities. This is the message that we must remember. If not, Vanuatu will be nothing more than a wasteland,” he said.