Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Last day at work

Well, this is my last day at work, so probably my last post until I'm sitting in a wifi cafe in Portland. There will be more posts to this blog as I decompress this entire experience, remember things I never posted about and upload photos. Although I'm sure that I'm doing the right thing for both R and myself, it was not an easy decision and this is a weird time. All I know for sure is that I won't be spending the rest of my life wondering "what if?" about Fiji.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Conjunctivitis epidemic

This is the latest news on the conjunctivitis epidemic in Fiji. It has hit USP and you can see people around with swollen eyes. I am paranoid that I'll get it before I leave and it will screw up our flight plans. So I'm washing my hands all the time and using hand sanitizer like a lunatic. The University has e-mailed me these handy tips:

o wash your eyes when they feel dry or itchy with tap water - you
can do this every 3 to 4 hours;
o dry your eyes with disposable tissue paper - never use
o use the eye drops every 3 hours but wash your eyes first;
o do not go near the infected people;
o do not touch other people's property. Keep to yourself;
o see the doctor straightaway if your eyes are infected.

With the second to last suggestion, I can't help but think of that guy from Office Space not wanting anybody to borrow his stapler. As if the e-mail's author was thinking "finally a reason to admonish people for using my stapler!" Of course I had to use somebody's stapler today (as mine has gone missing) but I used hand sanitizer immediately afterwards. As I look a computer all day long I'm subject to eye stress and now any slight change in the "feeling" in my eye is immediately contributed to "the conjunctivitis coming on". Yes, I've gone crazy.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Fessing up...

After an awful lot of agonizing thought and discussion, R and I have made the decision to come home to Portland. We actually made the decision a while ago, but I've kept it off the blog. Now that our leave date is so close (March 30th) it's hard to blog without referencing it. Besides, we've told some folks, but they also read the blog, where it hasn't been mentioned, so it was getting confusing.

The homesickness was simply too much for us. It wasn't that we would occasionally feel homesick, our homesickness ranged daily from merely noticeable to totally unbearable, but it was never absent. We were unhappy. R wasn't getting the education he wanted, my job wasn't a dream job, and Suva's a hard place to make a home. Life is too short to spend somewhere where you are unhappy. Especially when you have a home to go home to.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Human Rights

This is the text of an e-mail I just received. Note that one of the topics of the debate is IF HUMAN RIGHTS ARE UNIVERSAL! This is not the first time I have heard (actually read) this question being asked. It comes up in letters to the editor and interviews with Important People (tm) in the paper with alarming frequency. I find it disturbing that the existence of Human Rights is even questioned, but I'm glad that there are folks here in Fiji making the claim that they do indeed exist and are essential.

Debate: Respecting Human Rights: challenges in Fiji and worldwide

Date: Tuesday March the 21st at 6.30PM
Venue: Alliance Française
Entrance: free

At the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March), the Alliance Française and the Regional Office for the Pacific of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR) propose a debate: Respecting human rights: challenges in Fiji and worldwide No country or region in the world is sparred from human rights concerns.
Fiji is no exception; but what are currently the main human rights challenges the country faces? Are human rights truly universal or should they be specific to the Pacific region? How can the human rights cause progress in Fiji?


• 6.30PM The pain of others. At work for the UN Commission on Human Rights.
A film-documentary produced by the Swiss Television

• 7.00PM Debate: what human rights challenges for Fiji?

Speakers: Dr. Shaista Shameem, Director, Fiji Human Rights Commission Ms. Edwina Kotoisuva, Deputy Coordinator, Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre

Capital is dirty and filthier

Capital is dirty and filthier

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

THE capital is getting filthier by the day and there is a need to clean it as soon as possible...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fijian Politics

I don't usually post about Fijian politics. Despite my best efforts to understand, it generally makes my head spin. This quote from Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama in today's Fiji Times sums it up nicely. [Speaking about Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downe] "He understands only Western politics. He does not understand Fijian politics. It is dirty politics at its worst. It is cannibalistic."

Monday, March 13, 2006

Local Rate

Once again, R and I took advantage of a local rate to stay at a swanky hotel for the weekend. This time it was the Warwick Fiji. This was more of a resort catering to the all-inclusive crowd with lot's of Australian families. The breakfast buffet was the best breakfast we've seen so far, and there was swim up bar in one of the pools! I got a sunburn again, despite serious application of serious sunscreen, and was actually bit by a fish while snorkeling. No harm done, but it freaked me out.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bad Science

I'm usually annoyed as science reporting because the reporting is so bad. When I read this article in the FijiTimes I was stunned by how bad the science was. The random sample wasn't random, there was no control group, and the measurement instrument is designed to measure something other than what they are trying to measure (they claim the test indicates that there is an effect on the nervous system then go on to explain that the test is commonly used to test if people are under the influence of Kava!) So the news is that some people, when they drink Kava, fail a test to see if they've been drinking Kava! That is neither science or news.

And more on the litter front. I guess having articles in the FijiTimes is a big part of the clean-up campaign. Actually cleaning up, does not seem to be part of the plan. I walked by the ocean as Suva Point last night hoping to see some improvement in the litter, but it was as bad as ever.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More on Litter

The Fiji Times has a couple more articles about the litter problem. The first one, the city council states that the people are to blame. And while I agree that ultimately it is the residents who are doing the littering, perhaps the city council could come up with something more constructive than just blaming folks. I have seen nothing of the "clean-up campaign, [launched yesterday] which will end on Thursday next week" and imagine a sustained effort might be needed. The second article suggests that harsher enforcement of extant litter laws is needed. I agree that without enforcement, it might as well be legal to dump. In fact, there is a rubbish pile near my house that is not only right in front of a sign saying that it is illegal to dump, but also right next to the police post! As much as litter makes me crazy, I really don't think blame and harsh punishment are the ways to go about curbing the problem. At least not as the only parts of the plan. This AskMetaFilter discussion has some interesting ideas and anecdotes about litter in other cities.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A heartbreaking counterpoint

to the reports of the missing baby bodies.

Babies Buried
Sunday, March 05, 2006
SEVENTEEN babies lie buried in a coconut grove at the Kinoya Treatment Plant as the area has become a dumping ground for unwanted foetuses...

Foetus dumping raises concern
Sunday March 05, 2006
A women's rights orgnaisation has raised deep concern regarding the increase in the number of unwanted foetuses being dumped by their mothers...