Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Picture of the Day


I am a technological nightmare. I'll tell you alllll about it later, but it has something to do with a $250 phone that I can't download pictures from and bringing my laptop to the local computer witch doctor to get fixed. I know that "IF IT SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS,..." but I'm a dreamer. After shelling out $8.00 for the witch doctor to completely suck the brains off my computer, destroy the trojan horse that was on it and put most (a sporadic most at that) of my files back on, I should not be surprised that Big Brother Microsoft has spotted me on the Web and keeps sending littl annoying pop up reminders that 'MY SYSTEM IS AT RISK' and I am basically a criminal and should be expected to be detained this summer when I attempt to come back in to my home country.

So, anyway, I do have dreams of posting a picture each day to keep the grandparents happy, but user error and techno mishaps are just a few of the hurdles I have to jump to bring you this:

Although it's kinda small, eh? Sigh,.. back to the drawing board,...

Save the Starfish, Save the World!

Researchers say 300 kilometers of sea floor heaved more than a meter upwards
14 Apr: Presszoom

The recent survey by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society - Indonesia Program and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (ARCCoERS) investigated the condition of coral reefs in Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak off Aceh, Indonesia, in March 2007.

NEW YORK -- Scientists have reported what is thought to be one of the world’s greatest mass death of corals ever recorded as a result of the earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia on 28 March 2005. The recent survey by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society - Indonesia Program and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies ( ARCCoERS ) investigated the condition of coral reefs in Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Banyak off Aceh, Indonesia, in March 2007.

The surveys covered 35 sites along 600 kms ( 372 miles ) of coastline, have documented, for the first time, the effects of earthquake uplift on coral reefs. The entire island of Simeulue, with a perimeter of approximately 300 km ( 186 miles ), was raised up to 1.2 m ( 3.9 feet ) following the 28 March 2005 earthquake, exposing most of the coral reefs which ringed the island.

Dr Stuart Campbell coordinator of the Wildlife Conservation Society –Indonesia Marine Program reports: "This is a story of mass mortality on a scale rarely observed. In contrast to other threats like coral bleaching, none of the corals uplifted by the earthquake have survived".

Dr Andrew Baird of ARCCoERS says: "Amazingly, the uplifted corals are so well preserved we could still identify each species, despite these colonies having been exposed for two years. Some species suffered up to 100 percent loss at some sites, and different species now dominate the shallow reef."

"This is a unique opportunity to document a process that occurs maybe once a century and promises to provide new insights into coral recovery processes that until now we could only explore on fossil reefs" says Dr Baird.

Dr Campbell adds "The news from Simeulue is not all bad. At many sites, the worst affected species are beginning to re-colonize the shallow reef areas. The reefs appear to be returning to what they looked like before the earthquake, although the process may take many years. "

The challenge now is to work with local communities and government agencies to protect these reefs to ensure the recovery process continues," he says.

The team found coral reefs ranging from highly diverse assemblages of branching corals in sheltered waters to vast areas of table corals inhabiting surf zones. The team also documented, for the first time in Indonesia, extensive damage to reefs caused by the crown-of-thorn starfish, a coral predator that has devastated reefs in Australia and other parts of the world.

"Finding the starfish damage is particularly important" says Dr Baird. "Most observers would attribute damage on this scale to more common reef threats in Indonesia such as cyanide fishing or bleaching. People monitoring Indonesian corals reefs now have another threat to watch out for, and not all reef damage should be immediately attributed to human influences."

Many other reefs, particularly in the Pulau Banyak, continue to be damaged by destructive fishing including bombing and the use of cyanide. These practices are now illegal in Indonesia, and need immediate attention.

Dr Campbell concludes "While reef condition in south-western Aceh is generally poor, we have found some reefs in excellent condition as well as and evidence of recovery at damaged sites. This gives some hope that coral reefs in this remote region can return to their previous condition and provide local communities with the resources they need to prosper. The recovery process will be enhanced by management that encourages sustainable uses of these ecosystems and the protection of critical habitats and species to help this process."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"Have A Nice Flight!"

Oh yeah,.,. this is just what I needed right before embarking on Garuda Airlines for our R&R to Bali this Saturday. Nothin' says 'Have fun and relax!' than a Warden message!

U.S. Embassy Jakarta
U.S. Consulate General Surabaya
Warden Message
April 17, 2007

Indonesia has suffered a series of serious aviation incidents and accidents in recent months that raise questions about the safety practices of Indonesian air carriers and their oversight by the Indonesian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). On April 16, 2007, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it had revised Indonesia’s safety oversight category from Category 1 to Category 2 due to serious concerns about DGCA’s safety oversight and operational control systems. Category 2 indicates that the FAA has assessed the Government of Indonesia’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for the oversight of Indonesia’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s internet website at
It is important to note that the FAA category designation is different from that used by the DCGA in its March 22, 2007 media release outlining the results of an operational performance assessment for all domestic air carriers. The assessment examined the performance of airlines using 20 different criteria; however, the DGCA has not identified detailed methodology supporting the ratings. Categories as defined in the media release, and DGCA domestic airline assessments, are as follows:
Category One: Airline meets all requirements of civil aviation safety regulations: No Indonesian air carrier was found to meet minimum civil aviation safety standards.
Category Two: Airline has met minimal requirements of civil aviation safety regulations, but some requirements have not been implemented: Garuda Indonesia, Merpati Nusantara Airlines, Lion Mentari Airlines, Sriwijaya Air, Wing Abadi Airlines, Indonesia Air Asia, Pelita Air Service, Riau Airlines, Trigna Air Service, Travel Express Aviation Service, Republic Express Airlines, and Express Transportasi Antarbenua.
Category Three: Airline has met minimal requirements of civil aviation safety regulations, but some requirements have not been implemented, which may reduce safety levels: Metro Batavia, AdamSky Connections Airlines, Kartika Airlines, Trans Wisata Air, Jatayu Gelang Sejahtera, PT. Dirgantara Air Service, Tri MG, Intra Asia Airlines, Manunggal Air Service.
Whenever possible, Americans traveling to and from Indonesia should fly directly to their destinations on international carriers from countries whose civil aviation authorities meet international aviation safety standards for the oversight of their air carrier operations under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.
The U.S. Embassy reminds Americans in Indonesia of the continued serious security threat to Americans and other westerners in Indonesia. The Embassy urges Americans to remain vigilant about security at all times. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time and could be directed against any location, including those frequented by foreigners and identifiably American or other western facilities or businesses in Indonesia. Such targets could include but are not limited to places where Americans and other Westerners live, work, congregate, shop or visit, including hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, identifiably western businesses, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools or public recreation events. While past terrorist attacks have involved the use of vehicle-borne explosives or suicide bombers carrying explosives in backpacks, terrorists may use other forms of attack in the future. Terrorists may target individual American citizen residents, visitors, students, or tourists, and tactics could include but are not limited to kidnapping, shooting, or poisoning.
The Embassy strongly encourages Americans in Indonesia, including short-term visitors, to register with the Embassy in Jakarta, the Consulate General in Surabaya, or the Consular Agent in Bali. Registration may be done on-line at or by telephone to the numbers below.
Information on registration procedures, all security-related Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, and recent Embassy warden messages are posted on the Embassy’s website at

Easter in the heart of Islam

Okay, Easter season 2007 has finally come to a close for the Richardson family. We had an extended remix dance party holiday since friends of ours were in Singapore renewing their Indonesian Visas over the actual holiday. We waited for them to return, then played host to them and three other families for a belated Easter brunch and Easter egg hunt this past Sunday. This meant we had eight adults and seventeen children (YES, Seventeen!!! We NGO types like to reproduce, I suppose) running amok. Oh, and one happy German Shepherd who snuck food off small kiddies’ plates when the terminator (that’s me) wasn’t looking.

The real Easter Sunday was the usual get up at 5AM to see what the bunny brought. Jared is on the cusp, so to speak, of believing in these ethereal characters. So, while Zach spent most of his week up until the big event writing various love letters to the Easter Rabbit, Jared took a more high brow, mature approach and made Stations of the Cross pictures for us to tape to the walls of the house. At the last minute, Jared did break down and write a letter to the Easter Bunny requesting a photograph, just to ensure the basket of goodies on said morning. Smart kid.

When the Easter Bunny DID actually leave Jared a picture, he was astounded and has put the picture in a place of honor on his school desk. The boys were all impressed with the International savvy of the rabbit, as he had candy from Indonesia AND Scooby Snacks which can only be had in the US, they insist. Quite the magic animal, that Easter Bunny.

Then, on to the official Easter egg hunt. I think both Rob and my families had Easter egg hunts well until all the ‘babies’ were driving or growing facial hair. Thank goodness the magical rabbit tells us the number of eggs he hides in his ‘thank you for the treats’ letter or we’d search forever.

That evening was the English service at the local Catholic Church. Felt guilty that we haven’t done more during Lent this year. After our 2 ½ hour Bahasa Indonesian Christmas Mass experience where I gave a man on the verge of passing out my bottle of water, we opted out of any of the Holy Thursday, Good Friday or Easter Vigil Masses.

Really missed the Easter Vigil mass since for the past two years Rob and I have taken turns being RCIA sponsors. Congratulations Myra and Tom! Can’t wait for Teri next year! It’s so hard being away from our communities, whether friends or family, especially on holidays.

The whole Lenten experience has left something to be desired for me this year. I think about how much I really rely on my community to drive my spirit and my quest to be a better human being. Whether it’s Mass, attending MOPS, or a bible study at the local Protestant church, it helps to be around people who are good role models. Otherwise I revert to my normal state of being, which is quite crabby.

This year it’s been hard to abstain during Lent when I feel like I’m doing that by living here anyway. I’m shallow. I’m shallow enough to give up shopping most years for Lent. And I am always pledging for the whole Lenten season that I will put a quarter in a jar every time I swear. But this is an impossible thing to explain to small children without sounding like the worst mother on earth. For those a little older, it leads to a forty day discussion on whether the word ‘frickin’ is in fact a swear word.

So, after our Sunday Church experience we had the ol’ Easter Pizza Delivery and called it a day. I felt okay with the whole pizza thing since the night before we had dinner at the CRS’s Director’s house and it was fantabulous. And I was cooking brunch the following weekend. But I do miss the whole Easter feast thing. Especially the ham. Not to be had in this Muslim Province.