14 April 2009

you're a skylark with your head up in the clouds.

I recently read Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Call me heartless, but I
really liked it. Maybe it's because I've spent the last 18 months as
a spectacle, but I really identified with the notion that "not a
single second of my life belongs to anyone else." And I don't think
she's arguing for "selfishness" in the sense of overtly hurting others
in the pursuit of your own happiness. Her point isn't that you
shouldn't care about or help others. It's that you should do
something because it make you happy, because you're good at it,
because you want to - not because others will be impressed with the
selflessness or nobility of the act (and honestly, isn't that more
selfish than not caring what others think of you?). If others are
helped along the way, that's great. But live for yourself.
"Selfishness" in the sense that you shouldn't sacrifice your own
happiness for the admiration of others. I also read David Sedaris' Me
Talk Pretty One Day and almost soiled myself, especially during the
story mentioning the town of Mojo, Ethiopia. Small world.

On that note, it's been a rough week. My CSW herb garden imploded on
Friday when the women realized that the grant would be used to start
the business, not distributed as cash to the group. They're not
interested in starting a new business, they just wanted money. I'm
trying to recruit a group of people with HIV so it doesn't have to be
a complete wash, especially since Bekelech, the woman who initially
proposed the idea, is doing this for free and I want to encourage
volunteerism in all forms here. Ran into a similar problem with a
group of high school teachers who want to start a program to help
female students with extra tutoring (75% of female university students
flunk out in their first year), but only if they can be paid. The
program entails an extra hour or two per week of specialized classes,
meaning each teacher would have to donate an hour of their time. No
one's interested without payment. That night, a power surge fried my
computer power cord. All in all, not my best 24 hours.

But life is looking up - Easter was a delicious feast of lasagna,
hummus, and apple crisp (perhaps not Easter-y, but American/British,
and that was the point), where I tried eggnog for the first time
(without contracting salmonella, which is impressive). I'm now
wondering where it's been all my life. The HS teachers are
developing a way to make the tutorial program sustainable - some sort
of income generation done by the students to pay the teachers since
volunteering is so distasteful to everyone. They do have a point - if
it's not free, students are more likely to take it seriously. Trying
to look on the sunny side...

Photos of Zecharias, my newest family member!

(see last post)
-Man deodorant (sheer roll-on)

01 April 2009

you're only wet because of the rain.

Since my last post, I've been on safari and gained a new habesha
family member. It's been a exciting couple of weeks. My aunt and
uncle adopted a three-year-old Ethiopian boy named Zecharias,
which meant I got to visit with them in Addis (and take hot
showers!) and now have no need for souvenir shopping since I have
a cousin from Ethiopia. I also liked an infant. Not enough to
have one of my own, but still, a big victory for those hoping I'll
one day have some semblance of maternal instinct. Photos coming

Afterwards, my mother and I went to Kenya for a safari. We had
some difficulties with the travel company (under no circumstances
would I ever recommend Planet Safari Adventures), but the actual
trip was incredible. Masaai Mara, Nokuru, and Amboseli national
parks. The photos speak for themselves, but some fun facts in the
meantime. A 3-month old rhino is the size of a large golden
retriever. Kissing a giraffe is like kissing an unshaven man.
Lions won't interrupt their siesta for something as incidental as
a car, so you can get within a few meters. 6-month old elephants
are only waist high on an average adult. Camping includes tents
(some members of our travel group weren't aware of this shocking
fact). Impalas and gazelles live in groups of 20-30 females to
one male. Monkeys don't fear humans and really do like bananas.
A 200 mm telephoto lenses is invaluable (I seriously regret not
buying one before this trip). Warthog sex is one of the most
awkwardly funny sights on earth.

Safari photos:

I'm back in Assela now, trying to get back into the swing of work
(and ration the cheese carried over by my visiting family). The
new supermarket in Assela is selling strawberries. While I was
gone, Abebe, the town crazy, was apparently attacked and killed by
hyenas while sleeping outside the hospital one night. I'm not
really sure how to feel about that.

An interesting (read: non-Ethiopian government sanctioned) look at
the food crisis in Ethiopia:

I'm planning to go to Rwanda this summer to see the mountain
gorillas, so if you were going to send me a birthday package, I'd
love for you to consider donating the money you would have spent
to my travel fund instead. Just a thought, I'm not actually
begging for money here, just proposing an alternative use of it.
Email me if you're interested.

But if you wanted to send a smaller gift...
-Burned/bootleg AVI files of the following TV shows:
+Weeds - Season 4 & 5
+The Office (US) - last 6 episodes of Season 3, Seasons 4 & 5
+30 Rock - Season 2 & 3
-cheese in any form