Subsidize My Authority!
What are the Palangi Files?
The blogs of a guy who quit his job, sold or gave away all of his possessions, joined the Peace Corps and moved to the tiny island Kingdom of Tonga. This is his (and only) his story.

The contents of this website are my own PERSONAL opinion. They do not reflect the opinions, policies, actions, feelings, emotions or sleep patterns of the Peace Corps, the U.S. Government, the Kingdom of Tonga or anyone else for that matter but me.

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Winner of the First Annual Peace Corps Tonga Photo Contest: A Tau'olunga

Tahines preparing for the Tau'olunga

So this is the picture that one it. Actually, to be honest with you I didn't even submit it, Caty did. I did win though because, well, I'm a winner. I've got a ton of better pictures and I'm not sure this one deserved to win or not, but I do like it. Oh and mine are not nearly as cool as halfro's. He's got some sweet pics. If you click on it, you can get the full-size image.

The ta'olunga is the name of the traditional female dance in Tonga. Its not the good vibration, feel-good, booty swaying that you see in Hawaii and Tahiti, its much more reserved and subtle, but its very good none the less. Usually you'll see girls lathered up in coconut oil and dancing by themselves. However, during celebrations, like school graduations (from whence this photo came) they will perform in a group in unison.

The clothing they are wearing are comprised of all locally available materials like coconut leaves, banana leaves and some of the hundreds of amazing flowers that grow everywhere here in Tonga. Anyways, I do like this pic and am glad Caty submitted it. I won for the 'culture' picture. The Peace Corps is going to blow it up and put it around the office.

Wow. A legacy. Be humble. Posted by Picasa
1 comments - Post a Comment
  • Congratulations!

    It is a GREAT photo. nice work, mate.
    # posted by nicole : 12/01/2005 5:29 PM

I even have sunburn on my eyes!

Close up of my eyes on fire!

Oh My God! My eyes hurt so much I don't even know what to do. So yesterday we went on a fishing trip. I put on some sunsceen early in the morning around 8:00 a.m. SPF 30, nothing less than that and reapplied it around 1:00 in the afternoon, but I could already tell it was too late. I've got the redneck tan like my house has a mosquito problem, Big Time.

So right now, I'm quietly crying and trying to keep my eyeballs as moist as I can because they hurt so much. I have never in my life heard of getting sunburnt on your eyes but then again you learn something new EVERYDAY! Today I learned that you can, in fact, get sunburn on your eyes. Oh Good!

Oh and the results on the fishing trip are a bit disappointing. We shoved off from the Nuku'alofa fishing club around 8:30 in the morning and took the boat out to Eua'iki and did some trolling for mahimahi. Toti, my neighbor, got a hit and managed to get int the drivers seat for what seemed like it was huge fish. Sadly, however, he girled out, and the fish maanged to escape the clutches of our 'barby' and tortures of a tequilla marinade. Everyone was sad. At the time, we didn't realize that it was going to be the only fish that we would almost catch all day.

So that was around 12:00 in the afternoon or so. We continued to drive around the islands for another 3 and half hours trying to catch some fish, all to no avail. Eventually, around 3:30, we decided to call it a day and head back to the wharf. Of course the boat ran out of fuel about 30 minutes from the dock. No problem here, we can use the Emergency motor and this emergency petrol that the captain has. Hooray! We're in business.

Until the emergency petrol runs out. And we're stuck floating in the main channel. For almost two hours. Without a paddle. So we wait for a couple of hours until the Aussie's can come and give us a tow back to town. They do and it takes another hour. So all said and done, we finish up around 6:15 p.m. So, to summarize: The 4 hours fishing trip took almost 10 hours, we didn't catch any fish and Toti can't catch a fish to save his life. Oh boy. Ahhh! Can't forget about the sunburned eyes either. Yes!

I did get to check of "Deep Sea Fishing' from my list of stuff to do and I did have a good time, but like everything else that I manage to do in Tonga, its fakahela. Wanton Lunacy or Craziness. Posted by Picasa
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  • "So we wait for a couple of hours until the Aussie's can come and give us a tow back to town"

    Happy to spirit. hehe.
    # posted by nicole : 12/01/2005 5:31 PM
  • Does Tonga Peace Corp liase with Fiji Peace Corps?

    You are in a interesting period of social progress in Tonga RE: Commoners wanting the Nobles to give up power. Same kind of discourse in Fiji and Great Council of Chiefs.

    What is the general policy of Peace Corp in teaching Creationism vs Darwanism?

    BTW I had a Peace Corp teacher back in 1990. He was Vietnamese and even fought in war. Mr Xuan was his name.
    # posted by laminar_flow : 12/02/2005 2:06 PM


On Sustainability, Thanksgiving, Dentists and Fakamalo...

So I'll start off with the good news, got back from the dentist this morning and had this email in my inbox:

I have done some changes to the postfix server.

I have received complains about this guy, who uses an email address from
gmail to send bad stuff to our students.

I have blocked that email address from sending mail to our domain. I had
to add some few lines to these files:

I have addedd this email address to the header_checks file and then tell to look inside this file for headers to be blocked. I also added
my email address from for testing purposes, and it works!

I hope there is no side effect of the changes I made!

please check it out and tell me what do you think? and whether there is
any side effect!

[your counterpart]

I'm so happy I could poop a deadly, duckbilled platapus! This is everything that Peace Corps volunteers dream of! Sustainability! Less than 1 year ago if I mentioned the word "postfix" to my counterpart, he would stare at me like I was made of kumala. Now, he's EDITING THE MAIN.CF FILE! This is AWESOME! I'm so happy I could crap a monkey. Literally, right here, a monkey would fall out of my highney. Malo, Sisu, Malo.

Even more good news, I'm giving out an exam early for a student that is going fundraising for our school in hawaii his exam or sivi, early. Today, I took a look at his notes and noticed that they were are 1.) from the internet 2.) not from links that I sent this student 3.) Cross-referenced with my notes from class and 4.) Organized by major topic and technology. Sisu Suka! (Sugar Jesus!) I can honestly say, that I feel like I got some work done during my last couple of years and it feels pretty damn good.

Speaking of feeling pretty damn good, (you like that subtle segue? Nice huh?) Today is the end of the Year School Feast for the Tupou High School System! We've got lots of church and eating and church and eating and church... ... ... and eating and saying goodbye to staff that are leaving, which means me! The real Jim Shady. I'll stand up please! So today is my day to shine my big giant chance at the fakamalo. (Fakamalo, literally translated means 'like (faka) thanks (malo)' what it really means is long-winded, frequently rambling dissertations that thank God, Sisu and his cousin Holy Spirit for everything under the sun in a decreasing order of importance. There is also a floating fakamalo theorem that is floating around that states: "The closer your body is to food physically, the exponentially longer a 'fakamalo' will be.") Earlier this morning when I wasn't in such a darn good mood I was thinking of all these ways to subtetly make some stabs at a culture, that frankly, I find to be rather difficult to understand or appreciate. (Sorry, I know Tonga should be magical and delicious. Frequently, for me anyway, it is not.)

However, upon further review, I've decided to keep my fakamalo upbeat and to focus on my all consuming spectacularositicents. I'm tired of accetuating the negative and as of this morning, I can say concretely that Tonga is more technically ready now than it was two years ago as a result of my effort. That may not mean much to the bible-bangers but in good ol' Protestant Work Ethic U. S. of A. that counts for a ton. I feel good and I'm going to celebrate.

I'm going to takes hundreds of pictures and I'll upload them after I eat so much food I have a hard time standing up. 'Kai mate' or, literally, "eat to death". Kick ass!

Oh and things that don't kick ass: The state of my teeth. 7, that's right 7 f*$%ing cavities. I cannot believe it. I honestly feel that I take better care of my teeth now that I ever have. I'd like to compare my early charts with what's they've got now, but man I'm upset about that. Oh, and here is the good news, accoring to recent Peace Corps policy changes, the Office of Medical Services recommends that volunteers get as much of thier dental work done in country as possible. That's right folks! Good old Uncle Sam is recommending that I get my occlusions taken care of in a developing nation after two years of volunteer service. My guess is that its cheaper and easier to get the medical paperwork filled out. Well they can pucker up and kiss my big white butt. I'm going back to america and I'm getting these taken care of by a Licensed American Medical Professional. Just another one of the many things that I can't wait to contact my Senators and Congressmen about as I'm floating about jobless during the next couple of weeks. I'm sick of feeling like a second class American. Sorry for the minor dpression thier.

Finally, Thanksgiving. I miss everyone, I really do. Its times like today that make me more homesick then ever. I'm sure it won't be the last thanksgiving I miss with the family, but I sure hope so. Hope everyone is having a great dinner, playing fun games, watching football and "kai mate". Thanks for the emails and IM's peeps. Serioiusly. Alright, I promise I'll load everything up with lots of pics and multimedia this afternoon.

Ofa Lahi Aupito - Misi.
2 comments - Post a Comment
  • Happy Thanksgiving! (not that we even know what it's all about here in Oz).

    Mate, you should be giving thanks that UB40 and Maxi Priest will be performing in Tonga.

    Now that's a few notches up from 'Oyaba' (an African band) who appeared back in 2001. hehe.
    # posted by nicole : 11/25/2005 12:30 PM
  • Did you cry during your fakamalo? You know it doesn't really count and they won't let you leave if you didn't (and I'm sure god only hears you if you cry). seriously, well done. keep in touch when you get back.
    # posted by Mark & Erin : 11/25/2005 6:05 PM


Some RAID 5 Linux jubilation!

First, some apologies for the geek-speak...

About a week ago, while trying to cleanup my folders and hard drives assorted here throughout school I can upon a bit of a problem. I couldn't delete a certain file in my backup directory through my GUI. I loaded up my scalpel of administration (putty) and proceeded to throw away already duplicated directories and files. For those of you unfamiliar with the command, it goes something like this:

rm -rf [name of folder to delete]

Well ironcally, I had a folder named etc in the directory I was cleaning. And, can you see where this is going... I ran this command:

rm -rf /etc

instead of...

rm -rf etc/

Yeah. Its that little of a mistake. Well I deleted the linux equivalent of my registry, trashing all of my config files and causing our backup server to belch in disgust, throwing up and spitting out all of the schools movies and music. I'm talking almot 150GB's of aforementioned media. It was a crying shame. I actually cried. It was a shame.

Well today there is reason to celebrate! This man hath saveded me! One of the most annoying things about linux is finding answers on the net. Since there is so much software and so many versions of tools depending on your distro and how strong the pull of aquarius is when it crosses Saturn, there could literally be 100 different ways of solving the simlar problem. Its getting better faster and that's good news and when you do finally find the answer, it works generally works. Note to potential employers: I am a Certified Linux Software RAID Masta® now, having earned my RAID stripes through 4 days of intensive research.

Anyway, I'm pumped. I'll be bringing home a pretty sweet music library and can still share the library with all of the Peace Corps Volunteers here in Tonga. Word of advice to all future incoming volunteers. Include and MP3 Player on your Peace Corps Packing list and, if you can afford to, a laptop. Infinitely useful. Also, bring cool stuff for toti. He will be keymaster.

Komiputa palapilema? Mise Ey? Io!

PS - Code thatith truly saved me...
1 cat /proc/mdstat
2 sudo mdadm --examine /dev/hde1
3 sudo mdadm /dev/md0 -a /dev/hde2
4 cat /proc/mdstat
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Well now I have to say something...

As if getting a question about Fafa from Aussie Nicole wasn't enough, nor the great and wonderful Senifa, today I got a comment from Philly Nicole. I can no longer postpone a blog entry. I'm sorry that it takes me so long to actually get on here and to write a blog post. I do enjoy writing, but often times, it is painfully slow. I don't exactly know why it takes so damn long to write stuff, but it does none the less. I think it might be because the funny similes and the outstanding vernacular that I rock when I write take a LOT of energy sometimes. Its not easy being so funny all the time. When I think about the pressures of having to be funny, I get all nervous and put off updating the blog. So please, don't take offense if I don't hop on immediately and respond or whatever. I'm lazy and crack easily under pressure. Please forgive me.

Alright, so I'll give you the quick update on how things are going and then hit up the commenters with an obligatory "what! what!"

Fafa: Rocked like a mutha-hizzle! Hands down, the best two-nights and three days that I've spent in Tonga during my last two years here. My only regret about fafa is that I did not go there sooner. The place is pretty pricey on my shitty peace corps salary. Realistically it would take me about a year of saving up as Peace Corps volunteer and eating ufi, Otua's starchy gift of love, every night to be able to afford the weekend. The total cost between Caty and I for the whole weekend was $1200 TOP, about $600 TOP per person (for you math whizzes) or, even cooler, $300 US (still doing math there smart guy? $1 ~= 2 TOP) for the whole weekend. We brought our lunch for three days and some very good 'pouched wine' to supplement our voracious drinking habits because we wanted to feel just a little guilty for having a great time. Now, to the folks in the Developed World that may think, "Holy Mystical Poop! Only $300 Bucks for a reclusive, beautiful tropical resort island populated with midgets and a magical waterfall that shoots out margarita's all day long! What a steal!" I say to you, "SHUT UP!" When you're living peace corps poor, you moan about 10 cent raises in the price of $1.50 beers. To those volunteers that are like "Dude! You guys spent $1200 pa'anga in three days!" With a bonafide exclamation point at the end of your sentence, I say: "SHUT UP! It was worth it. Playa hate all you want. I use American cash supplements to make my two years enjoyable!" Caty and I had a bombtastic weekend and have been assured that they will name part of the island after us. We will be immortalized in song and interpretive dance.

So here is my recommendation to anyone travelling to Tonga that has some scrill to kill (aka: money to burn! (in Tonga) (during vacation): GO TO FAFA ISLAND!
Tell them Jim sent you and enjoy yourself! Throw stones in the ocean, get served drinks by midgets from the magical margarita waterfall and experience Tonga minus the crap that makes Tonga, Tonga!

Returning to America: That's right, the rumors are true, in less than 30 days, I bid farewell to this little "smaller-than-the-square-kilometers-of-memphis-tenessee-in-the-middle-of-the-South-Pacific" that I've been calling home since I got to HELL Tonga. Right now, I'm sort of a mixture of emotions and I plan on elaborating on this much, much more during my next couple of posts. But, as it stands right now, I will be arriving back in the illadelph at 2:30 p.m. EST on December 14th. (I actually ran over to the travel office right now to make sure that everything was cool *it wasn't*). Scratch that, my updated Itenerary now looks as follows:
SERVICE        FROM                TO                     DEPART  ARRIVE
-------------- ------------------- --------------------- -------- -------

Therefore, I will be arriving back in Philly at 7:18 a.m. on Wednesday the 14th of December!. God, just writing that makes me feel better! Honestly, I can't wait to get home. I had all of these plans to go travel the world and do lots of fun stuff, but to be honest, I really, really just want to get home and see my friends and family. I especially want to spend Christmas with my family. A lot of people say two years goes by in the blink of an eye, and sometimes I can agree with that. I personally feel that two years can also feel like two frigging years. So those are the specifics of my traveling as it stands right now. I'm going to elaborate much more for the rest of the day on HOW I feel about my two years here in Tonga. I'll get more into that later on.

Apologies: Many of you may have read Senifa's (aka: Jen Across the Sea) comment that she isn't quasi-cool, but actually cool. Well I have some problems with this. On two to three different occassions, I've had conversations with Jen about the following topics: 1.) Inventive ways to make garlic bread, 2.) Why I rock and should go over and talk to 'that blonde chick' during King Tupou birthday party while it was obvious that I was uncomfortable and doing everything in my power to avoid uncomfortableness and stop the insanity 3.) how much better the english dental system is than the American dental system. Based on these three limiting conversations, I will let you, as readers of my blog make the call. Are any of those conversations cool? Actually, I'm just joshing. Jen wears cool like Tongans eat sipi. Its a fact. What this post should have actaully read is cool QUASI-OLD. I meant quasi old, not quasi cool! You can see from my thousands of typos and mispellings that frequently, I don't give the Palangi Files the type of love and attention to detail that it should receive. The reason why I say quasi-old is because of the fact that even if Jen is a little bit older than me, its so hard to believe because she has skin like a 15 year belly-dancers, eats her peas one at a time, and has a laugh as young as a First Sunday mass is long. Do you understand now? It was only a mistake! Forgive me grand inquisitess.

So, I started this post at like 11:30 and it is now 5:45. I blew almost 6 hours away today doing absolutely nothing. I'm drunk with nothing its so lovely! So I decided to include a picture that I think is pretty damn funny. As you may or may not know, Tongans love candy and sweets, but hate paying retail. Many of the local chinese copyright infringers have decided to captialize on this obscruity by introducing "Olio: The Occident's Favorite Cookie®"Anyone think that might be copyright infringement? I do! While the packaging may be very similar, there are some slight differences in product consistency, with the biggest difference being that, well, Olio cookies taste like sh*t and Oreo cookies are the best cookies in the world. The funny thing about the cookie picture there is the spelling. There is no 'R' in the tongan language, so 'R's are generally substituted for 'L''s. Pretty market specfic huh? Someone is making a killing selling these to JUST tongans.

Its actually taken me about 6 days to write this friggin post so I'm going to hastily finish it. Apologies. For some reason I can't seem to stay on topic.

Aunt Nancy! You are a rockstar! Thaks for being so awesome and I'm actually quite looking forward to a bit of snow although on my list of things that I will miss, tongan winter weather is right on up there.

Philly Nicole, I'll be home before you know it! My email address is my psuedonym at the name of this website dot com. Sorry for the sneaky post, but the second I add my real addy, I know I'm gonna get popped big time with SPAM.

Senifa, I truly am sorry. Can you forgive me? PS - The last post was nice! Malo!

Kali, its stuff like your comment that makes me glad I'm over here. I don't hear it enough, really and thanks for the support. Sorry we didn't get to meet up. I could have been a contenda... ;P

Caty's peeps. Welcome to the jimsphere aka - Fear not the ramblings. I may even let Caty guest write if she promises to be marginally humorous. Seriously though, stop kidding.

Billadelphia! Can't wait to rock some breakfast with you buddy! Keep me posted and dood! send me an email. How are things?

Round of applause for the Shaffers on the purchasing of a new house and the eating of an enitre block of welfare cheese in one night. Incredible.

Pete, since you can't read, you'll never understand what these things are. I still think you smell like britian.

And for some more shocking news for you to consider... Tonga was recently named the fattest country in the world by the WTO. The fun never stops. I'll try to write more later.

Oh yeah, for you linux fruit cakes out there... I'm in a bit of a "pickle" if you will, having recently trashed the /etc directory on my backup server here at school. If you like me, speak geek, understand this sentence: "Software RAID 5 configuration and performace is VERY compeitive with traditional hardware based controllers" and love me, Check of I need help post here: rm -rf /etc and reconfiguring software raid 5
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A Tongan weekend getaway to Fafa Island Resort...

Yeah! Just wanted to rub everyone's noses in it at home. Going for a nice little romantic getaway to Fafa Island Resort off the coast of Nuku'alofa. Here is a couple of pictures of said tropical paradise...

Just lovely...

Wow! That looks really, really relaxing huh?

So I'll meet you at the bar and we can exchange tropical fish snorkeling pictures right?

That's right all you fools suffering in the chill november air, commence the playa' hating! I'll be back in three wonderful, relaxing days and catch up with what's been going on (or not, rather!)

Ofa Atu!
3 comments - Post a Comment
  • Enjoy while you the not to distant future you will be joining us....the SNOW will be hip deep and just like the rest of us, you'll be shoveling it too!!! See you soon!

    Love you much
    A. Nancy
    # posted by Anonymous : 11/04/2005 9:31 AM
  • so how was Fafa??
    # posted by nicole : 11/09/2005 5:04 PM
  • Oh man, I cant believe this is still here. I most definitely thought this site was down. So glad to see it up and running and hear that you are okay. Havent seen or talked to you in awhile but miss you nonetheless. Sounds like you are still enjoying yourself and learning a lot in the process. Beautiful woman changed your life huh. Its an amazing wonderful to hear. I will try to find an email address on here and write more. Have a lot of catching up to do so I'll be on this site for awhile. Much love, Nicole (an old philly friend)
    # posted by Nicole (from philly) : 11/16/2005 6:21 AM