An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Don't Trust A Chemical Engineer

The annual Soroptimist Trivia night was on last night. A night of fierce competition, heated debate (on and off our table), very slow proceedings, late finishing, dubious questions and down-right wrong answers. The last bit has still got me pissed off.

It was in the PNG section, one of the 10 groups of 10 questions, where the question arose. "What is the height of Mount Wilhelm?". No brainer for me. I have read about it, written about it, climbed it (twice), had my photo taken with the sign* and ingrained it in my memory - 4509m. Then the quiz master gives a hint, "It is between 4300m and 4400m". WTF! ... whatever, we are putting on our answer sheet 4509m!

I take the answer sheet up to the judge's table for marking. Their answer - 4350m. "Where the hell did you come up with that? I have climbed the thing twice and I can safely say that is wrong!". Luckily the judge I was abusing happened to be my neighbour and she knew I had climbed it and decided to take up my case at the end of all the marking.

She did and she conferred (and I argued) with the head judge, some Chemical Engineer boffin, who refuted my height and sticks to his 4350 which he says he pulled from some book. I tell him he should throw away his book. All the books and maps and signs that I have seen certainly show otherwise.

Their mistake didn't effect our overall result, we ended up winning the thing .. again .. second year running. I now have a nice new fan swinging away keeping me cool, which is better than the aluminium pots we won last year. Though the prizes were almost irrelevant. Out of the 27 tables, I think there were 20 prizes given for places. Of course some were crap (plastic buckets).

Our result was a good effort all round, though the competition was stiffer than it was last year. Instead of the 82 points (out of a 100) we ended up with last year and the 12 point buffer to second place, this year it was 77 points and 4 point buffer.

There were some good pick up on some rounds. We did surprisingly well in Literature (getting 7/10) but unfortunately for some strange reason not so well with Science, only getting 5 points. Geography was blitzed with a 9 pointer. And of course Sport was excelled, an 8 pointer, with a dubious question about the Cricket World Cup, which was read out 3 different times in 3 slightly different ways, making the result slightly different each time.

All of our team, called the Lae Say Fairs (other suggestions were The Easy Laes, The Quick Laes or simply Last Years Winners), pitched in with some good pick ups. The only ones that I can remember now were ones that I managed to come away with, eg "Which book from the 20th century has a leading character named Winston Smith?" and "What is the capital of Kyrgyzstan?" - don't ask me how I remember these things.

But enough about the trivia. The other major event for me of course recently has been my trip away to Rabaul. It was my first visit to East New Britain and I must say that before I thought living in Madang would be a good location, but now it would have to be a toss up between there and Rabaul/Kokopo.

There's a tale or too to tell regarding some of my activities (mostly involving a certain volcano), but I will impart fully on all of that soon. As a teaser though and so people don't feel cheated here are some pics from the 5 days to keep you satisfied.

Umbrellas at Kokopo Market

My colleague Joy giving a WWII Japanese barge a tug

A US WWII fighter at the ENB Cultural Museum

* Mr Chemical Engineer, if you are reading, here is a detail from the photo of my first time on top of Mount Wilhelm. Even though the full numbers are slightly obscured, you can see that it definitely does not say 4350m on the sign. Go back to your beakers.