Information Overload – 1st World Problems

The most striking thing I have noticed since returning to New Zealand is the amount of information there is to digest. I suppose I have been fortunate in that I quickly weed out the stuff I want to read, vs the stuff I don’t need to read. It also helps that since returning to NZ, I’ve largely been a “man of leisure” and focusing on looking after the house and my kids as my wife has slid back into the workforce here. I can say – it’s really hard to figure out what to cook for dinner, and hence I have a huge appreciation for the mum’s and dad’s out there that fulfill this role in their family unit. Looking after the pennies whilst I’m not formally engaged in employment is a priority, as is trying to make it easy for the family unit to reintegrate back into kiwi life.

So what does a “man of leisure” have the luxury of doing? Well – I do get to decide what we are having for dinner (I generally have to cook it too), I keep a reasonable house, and I can now keep up with the huge volume of information out there. I am dabbling in things that interest me, doing some mentoring, and helping friends without needing to schedule it into my previously busy schedule – although over the past 2 weeks I’ve lost time due to being a little bit too busy…. I am reading a lot of innovative and thought leadership articles, but I’m also discovering that there is a lot of “made up bullshit” out there, a…lot. I am reading a lot of LinkedIn articles and opinions, and honesty, the gullibility of some people just makes me shake my head. Quite obviously, people are making up or exaggerating “stories” just to get likes and shares – it’s sad that people do this, but this is the world we live in – so pragmatic..

I’ve also been really interested in both the PNG and NZ political landscapes with both countries having very contrasting elections this year. I find PNG politics to be fascinating, and this year social media played a huge part in some really dirty dirty politics. It also exposed some ballot box scams and put it all out there for the nation to see. I was very excited for people I grew to know, either by word, or personally, that really achieved in these elections. Amongst what people hear about corruption in PNG Politics etc – there are some astonishing nice people that just want to make a difference, lets hope they all can.

I’ve blogged. A lot. I have literally written pages and pages of blog posts, however have not published them all. I’ve listened to MY music, LOUD, all day! No one to stop me, no one to say “Dad, your music is sooooo old”… I’ve relaxed. I’m energised. I’ve read some novels. I’ve looked into new technologies. I’ve got my own seat and table at the local cafe! My new friends are retiree’s and cafe owners. I’ve gone to the kids schools more times than I can remember, the Principal and his PA at the local High School actually know who I am – we have a great relationship. I have reconnected with old colleagues, and I have built things. I have wireframed new apps that I want to develop, and I’ve even played some video games. Who has time for that when you work in a 24/7 job in a 24/7 country???

I tried fishing, but the weather hasn’t been right – but I have got all my gear ready to hit it as soon as the fishing gods allow. And I’ve been there for the kids, and my wife. Or at least I think so… They still think I am a grumpy old bugger, truth be told, I just want them out of the house so I can listen to Joe Walsh and Bob Seger – hahaha.

I’ve been able to reflect on the past 6 years in PNG, and use those reflections for me and the future. Sometimes, when you are busy just doing it, you never get a chance to look back or mentally celebrate your achievements.

One of the striking things that I have reflected on, was the amount of innovation we delivered in PNG. And that was set up by having a strong strategy, and brilliant team – we couldn’t have done it without each other. I often remark to friends, that the work you can do in PNG sometimes isn’t just about the company you work for, I believe that you can really make a difference to the entire country by the actions you take, and the ethos you bring. Certainly, my team are the future (if not already current) leaders of Papua New Guinea, albeit quietly achieving behind some of the fluff that is happening out there.

But it somewhat annoys me, that companies aren’t giving Papua New Guineans a fair crack. But then I see young men and women that fall into the trap of “I’ve got it, I’ve made it” and then proceed to stop learning, stop doing, and start sliding backwards. We often hear the words that Papua New Guineans aren’t capable – but they are. They just need good positive guidance and leadership – just like everyone else on this planet. They need to be empowered and trusted, and given the tools to make things happen, and then helped along a journey.

Which reminds me of one of my favourite quotes from Steve Jobs “The Journey is the Reward”

We need to show people that there isn’t an endgame, you need to be striving, learning, teaching, and creating a journey for yourself – not stopping at the summit, but looking up to the next.

It bloody well helps with a good internet connection 🙂

Aussie TV in PNG

The worst thing here in PNG is having to put up with bloody Aussie TV… Really, I don’t get The Block, Home and Away should have been canned many years ago, and Aussie’s funniest Home Videos??? C’mon Australia – where the bloody hell are ya! You’ve copied US, British and Kiwi TV and quite frankly done a shit job at it.It’s sad – that we have to watch it here…. And so, TV ends up revolving around Discovery, Discovery Turbo, emtv, and the movie channels.What we want to see: Outrageous Fortune, Sparticus, you know – tv shows that are different… Poor PNG having to put up with this, and c’mon Aussie’s if you think I’m being harsh – let me know the best TV shows so that I can actually get entertained….And onto the biggest rant ever: the All Blacks vs Ireland rugby test this evening isn’t on free TV in Aussie (or PNG). wtf!! Union is bigger than AFL, or League – and only fox sports (which we can’t get here) is showing it… Wouldn’t be so bad if I could stream it, but with the cost of Internet….I always thought that kiwi TV was backward, until your only selection is 20 odd Australian channels… I’ll take tv1, 2 & 3 any day now 🙂

A kiwi Christmas

I know… What an opportunity to have a PNG Christmas, but with Jacinta needing a break from Port Moresby, the oppressive feeling in the air, and the kids having no Xmas presents – we made our way back to the in-laws for Christmas. And yes – a kiwi Christmas isn’t complete without the rain – so I feel even more trapped here in the middle of nowhere on a rural lifestyle block, and with none of “my” space…

On the flipside, the family was blessed at Christmas, with Xanthe getting a speaker dock for her iPod, Xavier getting an iPod, I acquired a Kindle Fire (yes – not meant to work outside the USA *bullshit*) for Jacinta – that is totally awesome, and I was very fortunate to be able to upgrade my camera to a new Sony NEX-5N with Dual Lens kit. So I have spent a lot of time (and so far 1000 photos) learning all about my fantastic piece of new kit. The photos that this camera produce are AMAZING with some reviewers putting in in a better spot than the likes of the Canon 600D. It certainly takes an awesome photo, and I can’t wait to really spend lots of time with it.

I have missed being in PNG, but will be back there on the 2nd January to start the new year with a bang. Having just read Steve Job’s biography on my iPads kindle, and connecting it up with one of my favorite tech books – Infinite Loop (also about Apple), I am in a really good frame of mind to tackle anything at work and really make a difference. Whilst I was doing my degree a couple of years ago (yes, I think life skills relate better to education when you have spent 20 years in the workforce), I talked through one of my mantra’s with the panel that were accessing my degree. It came from Steve Jobs: “The journey is the reward” – I need to get that back in writing and hook it up next to my desk….

Leaving PNG for such a short time, has given me a profound respect for the simple methodologies that we can deploy in countries where materialism is still just a word, and epidemics such as obesity can be countered by not westernizing a developing country, but instead creating its own worth in the world. The more we can mentor and provide the right type of assistance, the more people can assimilate what is wrong or right with other countries and people.

I read and watched with interest how politics within PNG can create separatism, but also marveled at how – when faced with a crisis most countries would riot over, the PNG people just kept on going. It is something the rest of us could learn a lesson or two from.

It also amazes me the amount of people I have met or have had contact with since starting this blog. Just before we left we had Anna and her family all the way from the UK pop in to see us whilst on holiday in Port Moresby – thanks Anna 🙂

And then there are the many other people…

Yes – I am in a very reflective mood – does it show?

And here is a photo of my not so baby anymore Xaria – just because it’s cute :), and a couple of Xanthe and Xavier – shit kids are hard to take photos of …. “stay still!” Have a very happy New Year – Aaron




Introducing the family to PNG

It’s taken a month, and finally – Jacinta and the kids are here in Port Moresby. I flew to Brisbane on Thursday, and they flew in from Auckland. Typically my flight out of PNG was delayed, and I arrived some 2 hours after them. Imagine trying to clear customs with 3 kids (one a baby) and two trolleys of luggage, then spending the next 2 hours in arrivals with no Aussie dollars… Yup – she’s a trooper my wife…

We had a great time in Brisbane – spent a lot of money, went to Movieworld where the kids had a ball, and I almost shat myself on the Superman ride… Yes – a born again screamer!

We only had a couple of dramas in Brisbane, firstly the car we hired had a problem with the cigarette power so the gps wouldn’t work. They swapped out the car the next day. And then the Motel we were staying in, which we thought was a dual bedroom – wasn’t. All 5 of us in the living area of the room, not enough room to put your socks on… So thankfully we were able to transfer to a brand new motel down the road which was a bit more family friendly.

On Monday (after PNG independence weekend) we took the 10am flight from Brisbane to Port Moresby, and after a delay – arrived in PNG, the 3rd plane in a row to land. This meant at least 600 people in the airport, trying to clear customs (4 counters) and then 2 more planes arrived….


So after about 30/45 minutes in a HUGE queue, an Air Nuigini flight attendant went past with a couple and three kids in tow, taking them through Airline Assisted customs. I grabbed Jacinta and the kids (who were almost dying of the heat by this stage) and followed them through, and she helped us jump the 3.5 hour queue… Yes, 3.5 hours is how long it took one of my colleagues to get through.

Welcome to PNG!