Friday, September 25, 2009

Speaking Of The Highway Trust Fund ...

Wednesday the House voted 335-85 to suspend the rules, and passed a three month extension of funding for the federal Highway Trust Fund, throwing down the gauntlet in the face of Senate leadership and the Obama administration, which prefer an 18 month extension to avoid debating how for pay for a six year, $500 billion reauthorization which is not supported by motor fuel taxes at present rates.

Mired in health care reform negotiations and climate change cap and trade discussions, the House Ways and Means Committee is unprepared to find new revenue sources for highway and transit projects, and loathe to increase motor fuel taxes during this recession. Nevertheless, Congressman Oberstar, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, won this round, and the battle is joined for the hearts and minds of the commuting public and the trucking industry.

Lake House Exorcism

We snuck off this week to spend some alone time at Lake Granbury. Rented a nice lakehouse, boat, the works. I’m so spoiled. I know. So shoot me.

But first, the REAL haircut. We drove into Mansfield about midnight, then had a leisurely breakfast with Mike and Pam. Pam and I then went to VuJen Hair Studio for me to face my fate with Robyn and Rebecca, hair artistes extraordinaire. They’re both regular readers of this blog, so the new do a la drug test wasn’t a surprise. My blog couldn’t prepare the girls for the WAY the drug testers wrecked my hair, though! Rebecca said it’s going to take some doing to work with those layers when they grow out, and I think Robyn just flat gave up on the highlight part.

Later that afternoon, we went to supper, then traveled on to Granbury. Dropped by Kroger’s and picked up about $250 worth of perishables. (This will be important later.) By now, it’s dark. We were so stupid to try and find a lakehouse in the dark! We put the address in the GPS, to no avail. “Address doesn’t exist in this town.” You gotta love it.

Finally, we find the place. Gated property, looks inviting. We drive down the driveway and get out of the truck, flashlight in hand.

We cannot find the front door. By this time, ThatManILove is exhausted, he’s been sick, and he’s more than just a little done. We see a ramp, and go up it. There’s a door there, but no lockbox. We go downstairs, same thing. Finally, we find the lockbox...but by now, we’ve forgotten the lockbox number. I trudge back to the truck, find the paper, read the number by the interior light of the truck, and call it out to ThatManILove...who can’t hear me, because the wind is blowing.

We finally get into the place. We walk into the living room with the beautiful rock fireplace, just like was shown in the pictures....except for the bed in the kitchen, which is also in the living room. ThatManILove looks at me like, “What have you done, girl?” (Thank God he looked at the pictures, too, before we closed the deal.) Whoever took the pictures for the ad is either a cropping expert or one who knows how to work the heck out of Photoshop!

We’re both trying to talk ourselves into making this work when we realize there is no way from the 1st floor to the 2nd floor. We have to go outside to gain access to the 2nd floor. I can’t make this stuff up.

And then, I see a door. I open said door. Inside said door is...(wait for it!) old elevator. Complete with pillows and blanket. I kid you not. We work and we work, and we can’t get the elevator to run. Finally, we walk back up the upstairs ramp (outside the house, remember) and go up to the second floor. We get the second floor unlocked, and try the elevator from the top down. No go. We look around to see if this house is even a doable deal, since by now, it’s 9:30 p.m. There are probably 10 beds on the 2nd floor, complete with a black bathtub/shower. Scary, that.

None of this stuff was ever even mentioned in the ad - and the ad certainly never mentioned an elevator! That had been converted to a very small bedroom.

Needless to say, we immediately tried to call the realtor, to no avail. I sent an e-mail, we locked everything back up, and we get ready to leave. At this point, we realize that the lights on the second floor porch are blinking like they're participating in an exorcism. We go back in, try to find the way to turn them off, to no avail. We give up.

ThatManILove looked at me, and said, “We need to jet this deal and not worry about it tonight. Let’s holler Calf Rope and leave. I’m calling Mike and Pam to see if we can stay with them.”

So, he does, and they graciously say, “C’mon!” Thus begins another 45 minute drive. We’re trucking down the highway towards Mansfield about 20 minutes later, and somehow, I have my first post-elevator/bedroom shock cognizant brain thought.

“Honey, what did you do with that 30 lbs of ice?” (that’s now been melting for an hour plus...)

“Oh, Lordy, Janie, pull over! It’s sitting on top of everything in the back of the truck.”

We contributed to the ground water level of Johnson County, hit Mike and Pam’s house around 10:45 p.m., unloaded all our groceries into their refrigerators, and crashed.

It’s never boring around here!

PS - Did I tell you that the next day, I realized I left my favorite pair of MauiJim sunglasses on the table right next to the bed that was right next to the stove that was right next to the elevator/second bedroom that was in the kitchen/living room in the house we refused to sleep in? Oh, yeah, baby.

Oh, yeah.

$49 million Jury Award to Victim of 18-Wheeler Truck Collision

A California jury this week awarded $49 million in damages to a man who was catastrophically injured in a trucking accident in California. The damages were awarded against the 2 truckers, whose big rigs collided when one truck crossed the center line and the other truck driver was talking on his cell phone, and the State of California.

As a Georgia trucking accident lawyer, I have seen all too often where tragic accidents such as this one rob an individual of a promising future. This is a young man who, 2 and 1/2 years ago, was about to finish college and start medical school. Now he is living in a full time neurological treatment center because of his severe brain injuries and head trauma.

You can read a copy of the article from the California newspaper here.


The hydraulic post driver was now fully operational, and on my return trip this was the top project for Ed and me. All the vines had been planted, and during the last couple of weeks Ed had been trucking water back and forth from the house well to keep the new plants watered. With 2000 vines at 1/4 to 1/2 gallon a day, that's alot of trucking. Ed was probably the only one wishing for non-stop rain just so he could skip doing it. It wasn't like he was carrying pails upon pails; he had a 55 gallon drum in the back of his truck that he filled and then used a standard hose with "gravity feed" to water the vines. It was still alot of work even with this. Couple this with the mowing he did weekly, and a certain amount of weeding, and you can see how his time was spent.

When these poles were dropped we only had half a clue as to how we were going to proceed with the job. One of the things we did was break all the bundles, determine which end would go in the ground, and predrill our first wire holes that were to be 18 inches above the ground surface after they were pounded in. It just made sense that it would be easier to drill them lying on the ground instead of in a vertical position. We loaded about 20 poles at a time onto the pickup truck for distribution, using the tape marks on the yellow rope we had also used for plant location. This is when we found another problem. Turns out the rope really did stretch, especially over 450' of row length, and that everytime we moved the rope a bit to plant the vine (or auger the hole), the rope was really pulled out of position, affecting every location down the line. What a mess. Plants were to be 6' on center, poles 24' on center. Putting the first vine 3' from the first pole, then going 6', 6', and another 6', (leaving 3' to the next pole) we would be giving each vine 3' in each direction for trellis training and growth. Our actual measurements were close at best, and putting some plants literally on top of a true pole location at their worst. It bothered me (and still does) to no end how 2 educated guys couldn't get a simple pole / plant layout to work in a simple grid pattern. We did the best we could though, compromising in some areas and moving vines in others. We decided future layouts would use a steel cable only, and discard this rope idea.

This problem, though accentuated by this rope idea, was really due to not getting the poles in the ground first. Pole pounding is a long tedious process, and we wouldn't have been so inclined to use the yellow rope if we only needed to be true on center , which we used a surveyor's transit for, and be 24' apart, easily measured by the cable or a long tape measure. Once the poles are in, laying out the plants would have been easy.

There are 2 sizes of poles. The 10' long end posts, that are 5" - 6" diameter, that go 3' into the ground, and the smaller much easier to handle 3"-4" line posts, that are 8' long and go in the ground only 2'. Though the hydraulic driver was able to handle the end posts, it did take seemingly forever to drive them in. Remember, the posts have blunt ends and had to go in 3'. Driving straight down, with all the earthly resistance , is a tough job even using hydraulics. It maybe took 15 minutes to pound one in, and we had 82 of these to do ! We resolved the time issue by using a post hole digger to start the poles, digging down maybe half the required depth and letting the driver do the rest. It cut our time in half, thank heavens. And you couldn't even get these to vibrate once they were in. Line posts comparitively, were a snap. Their biggest issue was because they were smaller, if they hit a rock or a hard spot they would go in crooked. Though we were really aware of this, Ed ended up digging out maybe 20 of them to straighten them . The vineyard was now easily identifiable when someone drove by on State Route 10. There were nearly 500 poles in the ground, dwarfing the vines they would someday support.

As you can see, it took some time to do this part of the job. Oh, and those pre-drilled holes ? We couldn't see them after we brought the poles out and put them in position, and the poles sometimes twisted when they were put in, which would have twisted the wires had we used them. We also changed our minds sometimes on which end of the pole should go in first. Enough of that. We gave up and just decided to ignore the hole locations and to drill them later. When we finally got to this, we set up a portable generator on the back of the truck and used a drill with a level on its face to keep it aligned, and placed the bit on a jig that located the hole exactly 18" above the ground. It was much easier than we would have guessed, and alot more accurate.

When we finished with the hole drilling, it was now time to run the lowest wires. Bamboo stakes were used to support the vertical growth of the vines, but the wires were needed to run the black flexible PVC pipe needed in the drip system. But now was the time for chasing the latest problem, and strange as it may seem getting water to the plants efficiently had to take the back burner. We were getting eaten alive by Japanese beetles, which came out in droves on June 1st. And with the hot humid days before us, weeds as well as airborn fungi & mold became our primary concerns. I raced out to our local AgriSupply (local is 50 miles away) and picked up a backpack sprayer. We only had 2000 vines, and none of them were above knee high yet. I felt it would be able to do the job. Wrong again. A backback sprayer only held about 5 gallons, which didn't get us very far. The very next day I raced out once again to pick-up a 55 gallon ATV-sized sprayer which I put in the back in my truck, locked and loaded to spray the vineyard.

The good news ? 55 gallons was enough to do the entire vineyard, riding along down each row in my truck, using a hand wand to direct my spray on each vine. The bad news ? Though the rows were supposed to be 9' on center, they weren't, and I got my truck wedged in-between 2 endposts, bringing my nice shiny truck to an end. There was no debate on which was the immovable object. The truck now has "personality" with what I call "story lines" on its right side showing that this is no longer a highway truck, it is now a working farm truck. Needlesstosay, when Ed saw what I did to my truck, proclaimed I would get in a boatload of trouble with the Mrs., and that he wasn't going to subject his nice shiny F150 truck to row driving. Once again, Weeds 2 - Opposition 0.

The Adventures of the Morning Commute

Every morning's drive to Chase's school is a lesson in how to drive and how not to drive for my son. Naturally, we have no choice but to head out during the high traffic time when everyone else is also hitting the road to go to work or school. Plus, you've got the moving obstacles stopping at every school bus stop with flashing lights that few seem to understand (flashing yellow means you can continue past them cautiously; only flashing red means you need to stop). It's hectic, and there's nothing you can do about it.

I personally have an unfortunate amount of left hand turns on my route from home to school. One light in particular is a true test of patience for all involved: the traffic is so backed up in all directions, each light change finds a multitude of cars blocking the intersection in a desperate attempt to not have to wait one more cycle of light changes. Which means the alternate flow can't move anywhere until halfway through their green light, which allows about two cars to squeak through before the light changes again and the dance starts anew. We are all familiar, right?

The sketchiest part of the drive is a T that I encounter each morning. Like a breath of fresh air, the traffic as you approach the T greets me about 20 car lengths out. About 80 percent of the cars approaching the T (a 1-way stop, not a 3-way) need to go left, including myself. There's those damn lefts again. And from all three directions, the traffic flow is very heavy with a healthy dose of buses sprinkled about thanks to four schools in the proximity. So those of us approaching from the stem side of the T with the stop sign must rely on the courtesy and generosity of the drivers cruising the top side of the T to allow us schmoes to get out. And when turning left, we need the generosity and kindness of two souls to help us get out. Now you're asking a bit much. Particularly at 7:45 a.m.

And it's at this intersection that the ratio of considerate drivers to inconsiderate drivers is abundantly clear. In case you couldn't guess, we're severely lacking on the considerate side. Here's how it operates in a perfect world: Driver #1 is in a car approaching from the right and wishing to turn left onto the street I'm on. So he's forced to stop and wait for a break in the onslaught of vehicles approaching from the opposite direction. Fortunately (for him), lots of these cars are turning right onto my street. So we have one coming along, planning a right hand turn onto my street; this is Driver #2. As long as Driver #2 is a nice, observant driver who sees Driver #1 needing to go left, he slows down to create enough of a gap to allow this. Now ideally, Driver #1 would have observed Driver #3 (that'd be me) sitting at this same intersection with her signal flashing a need to go left and when he gets his go-ahead from Driver #2, he would first allow #3 to hop out, he'd then turn left in front of the still-patiently-waiting #2 and all is right with the world. Make sense? Clear as mud? You'd get it perfectly if you could see the intersection. My main point here is that it's rare that Drivers #1 and 2 both get this or are in the kindhearted mood to allow it.

Since almost everyone in this particular show is in it daily, everyone is familiar with the intersection and the steps that must be maneuvered for all to finally make the turn they need. So when it doesn't flow properly, I tend to blame it on inconsiderateness more than obliviousness.

So each morning I tell Chase the rules of driving: 1. Safety first. 2. Be a defensive driver because too many others out there aren't as concerned for your life (or their own) as they are getting somewhere fast. And 3. Be aware of what all is around you and be considerate of others. As often as you have the opportunity to help another driver, you will need the same sort of help yourself. And if the world were full of nothing but inconsiderate people only looking out for number one, it'd be a pretty miserable place to be...not to mention impossible for any of us to get anywhere.

Monday, September 21, 2009

New 2 week period

Took the wife out and generally had a very good time at home. Went and got the air card on Saturaday hope I don't come to regret the expense (but it is a write-off).

Got out of the house about 9am went over to the yard to get my load. Life lesson call the shipping office on Friday to get the trailer number. This way you don't have to spend 20 minutes looking at all the bills on all the trailer to find yours. (Grin). Anyway saw about 5 dead deer along side the highways today guess it tis be the season or close to it.

Made it to the 44 on I-20 and called it a day. Figure on rolling out about 4 or so in the morning. Here's the w/a so far this week.

A career in the trucking industry?

Out for a walk on a beautiful autumn day, Emmett and his parents happened upon a monster truck event at Stampede Park. With tears in their eyes, Emmett's parents wondered if this might be the moment that would set the tone for the rest of his life. Would he grow up enjoying a life of adventure on the monster truck circuit?

Alas, Emmett conjured up little enthusiasm for the spectacle, and opportunity knocks but once. Poor little fellow, relegated to a life of relative obscurity in medicine, law, education, or municipal solid waste management.

Quality, Cost and Service

Quality, Cost and Service

During this economic recession, it seems that the emphasis at most trucking companies has been placed almost exclusively on cutting costs and providing lower pricing to customers. Necessity has forced most companies to concentrate on cost cutting and lowering pricing. However, when we emerge from this recession the carriers that provide the highest level of quality and service will still be the winners in the long run. Smart companies will only make cuts that don’t damage their ability to provide quality and service to their customers.

The three critical success factors are service, quality and cost. We have some degree of control over all three of them, but have the most control over the way we treat our customers. This is an element of the service factor. In trucking, it is at least as important as product quality (good transit time, low claims ratio, etc.,) and low cost. It is hard to say which of the three critical factors are the most important, but we can always control how we treat our customers, even when costs and quality aren’t meeting our standards.

Quality exists when a product or service meets customer expectations, at the minimum. It increases as customer satisfaction increases. In order to retain existing customers and attract new customers, an organization must produce high-quality products and/or services. If quality is poor, a company must identify the problems and bottlenecks, redesign their products/services, or lose customers by allowing their products/services to be sold as less than acceptable. Therefore, when quality is poor, costs increase and customers are lost. Talking about quality is common in most firms and a great deal of time is devoted to quality discussions at meetings. However, unless concrete steps are taken to improve quality, it will not improve.

The traditional view assumes that improving quality always trades off against lowering costs and that costs will increase with attempts at quality improvements. The quality-based view believes that firms should always try to improve quality and that higher quality products/services pay back the costs required to get them. Improving quality may initially increase costs, but the quality improvements reduce costs in the long run.

The cost of lost customers cannot be exactly calculated. The lost revenue from each lost customer can be approximated, as well as the costs associated with securing new customers. However, the damage to a company’s reputation cannot be easily approximated. Once a reputation is damaged, it is very difficult to repair the damage, even if quality is improved. Companies with bad reputations must offer lower prices to sell their products than do companies with better reputations. Delivering products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations is essential for the survival of a firm today. In the long run, quality improvements pay for themselves.

Prevention costs are incurred in order to prevent defects. Appraisal costs are incurred in order to detect defects in the services already provided. Internal failure costs are incurred when a company detects defects before delivery to the customer and external failure costs are incurred when defects are detected after delivery to the customer (damages, shortages, etc.,). External failure costs are the most costly, as they may result in lost business and damage to the company’s reputation. If defects are detected and eliminated (or mitigated by good customer service) before getting to the customer, the loss of future revenue that is prevented outweighs the costs involved in the prevention and detection of defects.

We’ve all heard it said that quality is not free. You must first pay to improve quality. However, it pays a firm back in the long-run to improve quality through the retention of existing customers and improved reputation, which leads to new customers and revenue. Monitoring variations in quality provides warning signals to help managers distinguish between random variations and variations that should be investigated. Any deviation from specified levels of performance that exceeds what is deemed statistically significant can be investigated and improved. Managers can work to first control the most out-of-control processes. The effects are identified and then causes are identified for the effects. After the cause of the variation has been determined, corrective measures can be attempted.

The need to reduce the amount of time between when a customer places an order to when they receive it is an example of the importance of time in today’s business environment. Trucking companies play an integral part in reducing cycle time and inventory carrying costs for their customers. Processes must work correctly every time. Potential problems must be anticipated and corrected before shipments are tendered, if possible. Consistency is also important.

The balanced scorecard reports a group of performance measures that monitor both financial and non-financial performance. Changes in the non-financial measures are likely indicators of changes in financial performance. So, with balanced scorecard performance measurement, the performance measures should bear a cause-and-effect relation to each other. Improvement of one performance measure should lead to (or be accompanied by) the other performance measures. If employees see that management is measuring an item, they will likely focus on that item, if they have some control over it.

It is hard to say which of the three critical factors are the most important; quality, service, or low cost. Trucking firms should continuously try to improve all three. Higher quality products/services pay back the costs required to get them. Improving quality may initially increase costs, but the quality improvements reduce costs in the long run. Cost cutting is necessary and healthy, as long as you’re not cutting too deeply. However, price slashing will not help your company to grow in the long run. Finally, we can always control customer service (how we treat our customers), even when costs and quality aren’t meeting our standards.

Independent but dependent: PNG 34 years on.

This commentary was published by Sunday Chronicle newspaper Sunday September 20, 2009 under 'Letter from China" column.

By Gelab Piak

WEDNESDAY September 16, 2009, marked the 34th year of independence. We, as Papua New Guineans are proud of our nation but on the other hand, are troubled by the torturing thought. What really did we celebrate about?

We maybe celebrating our freedom, or independence. Both are right. However, what is freedom. Freedom is the power to express one’s thoughts, action, words and rights without objection or intimidation. Freedom is having no objection to your rights, unless they violate the law of the land.

Last month, Metropolitan Superintendent Fed Yakasa, in stopping the “infamous” NGO political march said that the actions of the police were to protect the people’s Rights.

First, what Rights is the police protecting, when in fact, contradictorily, they are depriving the people’s Rights and Freedoms. The people have the Right, under the law to expression of Freedoms.

Secondly, People have the right to services and the duly elected Government has the obligation to provide services to the people. When the Government doesn’t do what it is obliged to do, then the civil society stands up.

The vibrancy of any democracy depends on the freedoms and the liberation of its civil society to exercise its rights. When the civil society’s freedoms are suppressed, a nation’s democracy is under threat.

The opposition has on several occasions cried foul about Parliamentary democracy not being exercised. Are these tell-signs of suppression and oppression, and at the highest level?
Thirdly, what is Independence? Independence simply means being Independent. Independent and Independence are two big words. So what is it like to be independent?

Being independent is being able to fend, provide for oneself, and meet one’s own needs. Put it that way, it is very hard to see the PNG Government fending, providing or meet the needs of its people, now or in the future.

There is a great need for policy makers to draft effective medium term policies. Malaysia and Venezuela are good examples of countries that have been transformed through short, effective medium term policies.

Long term policies and plans such as 40 year plans, may not be effective, may not realize and maybe thrown out by future Government, that may not understand the need to make such policies.

Big Projects: An illusive idea.

Our future mustn’t depend on “big projects”. The idea of ‘big projects’ is an illusive one that is luring landowners to give away their land without proper consultations with other villagers and community members.

‘Big projects’ are creating a lot of problems in our Melanesian society of communality, brotherhood and peace and harmony. ‘Big projects’ are often rushed and no proper social mapping is done, no proper assessment for environmental damages is done, landowners form factions as self-interest eats away at the morals of society, corruption becomes rampant in the Government, and unwise decision are made.

It has also created a mentality in this contemporary society where villages wait for big projects such as oil, gas or mining and do not take initiatives to develop themselves with small projects that are community orientated like small holder plantation estates (coffee, cocoa, copra, etc) or sawmills. Overall, once the projects fail, we, as a nation, tend to lose millions or even billions of Kina.

We need to look at ways of becoming self-reliant, with a Government that is the main services and goods provider. Thus we can say that we are independent, because by then we have a government that fends, provides and meets its people’s needs.

A sad fact is that the Australian Government, through AusAid, is more popular in rural areas than the PNG Government. This paints a picture of a Government that is not able to provide and meet its people’s needs so other Governments have stepped in.

Does that mean we are dependent? Yes, it does, as we are dependent on overseas aid. We must, as our Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare always says, be an export orientated economy or nation. Not an exporter of raw materials and vast natural resources, but an exporter of finished products.

But that will only come about if there is Government leadership, and there must be Government leadership. A good example is Japan. Japan today is the floating factory of the world because by Government leadership and a bold move towards industrialization, only now known as the industrial revolution.

The Government must lead by investing in downstream processing. The government must build factories in partnerships with companies to produce locally that create more jobs, boost the economy, increase our GDP and greatly reduce our imports.

Exporting and producing locally maybe deemed as a far cry or something that happens in the future, but for it to eventuate in the future, we must start now. PNG should start producing small products such as peanut butter, coffee jam, copper wires, etc., and then we can look at bigger products and projects like partnering with auto giants Toyota or Nissan to produce cars and trucks locally.

We can then become a cheaper option for our close neighbors when they want to import cars as these cars will be genuine Toyota or Nissan made products.

The Government must also enact tariff laws for certain period of time to help local products gain popularity among consumers. This type of Government leadership is lacking in our country and that is demonstrated by the fact that many of our exports are raw materials and do have a higher value thus the returns are mere peanuts to what is made and earned by other countries out of our resources, that are later sold back to us as finished products. Until then are we really independent!

Infrastructure, Education and Heath: The Secrets to Prosperity.

The secret to a nation’s prosperity is its infrastructure, education and health. The Government of PNG needs to seriously consider the state of its infrastructure such as bridges, roads, airstrips, government hospitals, schools and communications infrastructure.
Bad state of infrastructure is a bottle neck to the economy. The PNG economy while enjoying growth over the years, is struggling and the tell-signs are evident.

Exports of products such as coffee, cocoa, copra, and rubber may drop if road conditions are not improved and more farmers can not have easy access to markets. This will have much greater impact on the smaller farmers who grow cabbages, tomatoes, ginger, and other crops for sale at local markets and also markets outside their province.

The state of the Okuk Highway is also costing trucking companies thousands of Kina. With the deteriorating road conditions pot holes form and becomes every Truck driver’s nightmare.
If they avoid them, they risk the chance of bumping into an oncoming vehicle, and, if they go through them, it wears out the truck’s tyres and other parts under the trucks. Thus is a call for the Government to invest in infrastructure.

Investing heavily in infrastructure will not only improve the economy but also provide jobs. Road condition must be fixed and maintained to acceptable standards where they are in a useable and working state. Roads must be built to villages far out in remote areas which are in isolation. Using these roads the people can then access markets to sell their produce or other services provided in the towns.

Bridges that have broken down due to lack of maintenance must be fixed, so that people can have access once more, and may revive agriculture and farming in the ‘cut off’ areas.
An educated nation is a healthy nation. Education must reach all the rural areas. Schools that have shut down must be reopened, and teachers must be sent there.

The Government has to invest in Education by building schools in both town and rural areas, and must pay teachers properly so they are happy to go to rural areas and teach, and they must have good houses so that it boosts their moral.

With an educated populace a nation will progress, as most of its citizens will be in a position to understand the problems facing their country or the economics of their country with a competitive work force.

Today, PNG’s workforce is not that effective, in the sense that there is no competition and workers are not competing for jobs. What happens, and is happening now, is that the current work force is aging and there isn’t a younger generation to fill the gap created.

The education of the youths must become a priority for the Government. It must focus on equipping its people with knowledge, as the present world is a world where technology rules and a young, striving nation like PNG must equip its people with knowledge so that they understand the technology and use it for the benefit of their nation.

A meaningful and effective start would be investing in Vocational training education. PNG must start training its next generation of welders, carpenters, plumbers, and mechanics. These people are equal contributors to the immediate building of the nation.

The Government should provide scholarships to Vocational Training Schools. It is again these very people who will be involved in the infrastructure building and building of huge investments such as factories and hotels in this nation.

We need not bring other people from outside; that happens when a nation forgets about building its own workforce through investing in its peoples Education. Thus the nation is not healthy.

Healthy citizens contribute meaningfully to the building of a prosperous nation. When a nation has a healthy workforce, production is said to double its normal rate.

The recent outbreak of cholera shows clearly the concern our Government has for the health of its people. Little that is, and that’s demonstrated by its snail-paced response to the recent cholera outbreak. Not only had that, but the lack of health services also contributed to the deaths that have occurred in the affected areas; as some of the deceases are treatable.

Cholera was a time-bomb waiting to happen, as many rural areas do not have aid posts or the aid posts have been run-down and shut for many years now.

Even in towns, the standard of healthcare provided by the Government is no where near any standard at all. Port Moresby General Hospital is no exception with rotting wood, ill-equipped and lowly funded. The hospital cannot cater for Port Moresby residents.
Nurses and doctors must have good housing and transport must not be a problem to hospitals, which need to transport patients or staff.

Providing a better healthcare system will ensure a brighter future for Papua New Guineans and a more productive workforce, resulting in a growing, demanding economy, thus a prosperous nation looms in the making.

A challenge for everyone

Members of Parliament really need to stop their corrupt practices and have a true nationalist feeling that drives them towards nation building. Nation building is not an overnight job. It takes many people, in fact a whole nation, many years, and many hearts.

One pure heart can not turn the many unclean hearts. It has to take courage for everyone to change, and if the Politicians are not serious about building PNG, then who else?

No one may take the courage to build our nation, as you politicians are the top leaders, PNG is looking at you, and this Independence, PNG heard what you said.

Together, let’s build a nation in PNG, so that we can have something to celebrate about.

Note: Send comments to Mathew Yakai: or SMS 71489901

The Boo Radleys - Everything's Alright Forever

Is this 1992 LP by that other Liverpool band The Boo Radleys the best post-Loveless (My Bloody Valentine) shoegaze LP there is?


I am not feeling too chatty tonight. That, or I'm simply not as deeply familiar with the band at hand tonight, or full of a wealth of useless nuggets as I am for other bands. But who says every post has to be my blathering?

Everything's Alright Forever is just a great, GREAT out of print record by a band that quickly escaped this classic sound just as the backlash started. When the UK press beat down the 'gazers, the Boos put out Giant Steps - a record that sounds like Britpop played by shoegazers, with a bit of the classic Rough Trade dubby catalog mixed in.

Giant Steps receives all the critical accolades, but this record is better. And the dynamics are utterly amazing - you can HEAR the volume swells.

Incidentally, I have an unused ticket (number 001) from November 1992 for the cancelled Sugar/Boo Radleys gig that was to be held at The Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I ran the college's live music committee, I booked Sugar who were bringing along the Boos as support (they were both on Creation in the UK), and then the Colorado voters passed a hateful anti-gay-rights constitutional amendment that forced Bob Mould to cancel all Sugar gigs in the state. So the interview for the college paper I conducted with singer Sice that fall, which was never published due to the gig cancellation, remains unpublished. It was on micro-cassette and I no longer have the cassette, or a micro-cassette player even if I did have the tape, so his musings are forever lost to history. A damn shame because it was a great interview!

Regardless, I never got to see the Boos live so I hope they were as good as the record is!

THE BOO RADLEYS Everything's Alright Forever
(1992 Creation Records CRECD 120)

01 Spaniard
02 Towards The Light
03 Losing It (Song for Abigail)
04 Memory Babe
05 Skyscraper
06 I Feel Nothing
07 Room At The Top
08 Does This Hurt?
09 Sparrow
10 Smile Fades Fast
11 Firesky
12 Song For The Morning To Sing
13 Lazy Day
14 Paradise

one file! grab it here!

TrUcKiNg AcRoSs AmErIcA!

Oh boy, Gracie and I loaded up our stuff into Brock's peterbilt and are headed out to Port Reading New Jersey with Brock... it' s the last exit before Staten Island. I have never been out that way so I jumped at the chance... We are now in Ohio and should be to New Jersey tonight. I am having fun (alot more that I usually do when I go with) and Gracie has been enjoying spending time with just us. Although she misses her big sissy and brother.

Anyways just wanted to do a quick update and give a big thank you to my parents and in-laws for tending while we are away.