The scroll of tomorrow does not exist… yet… so I baked brownies instead.

Brownies (made mainly of black beans, chocolate and sugar) are done (unfortunately a triple batch [all that will fit in the food processor and then some] will not be enough to last me until the end of the year).  OS homework mysteriously not due until next Monday, meaning that tomorrow does not exist.  Regardless of its absence, for the first half of tomorrow I will make a test run for a scroll expander engine, then head to Hartford to learn more about networking.  First though, I need to figure out whether tomorrow will actually come to pass… I have a suspicion that when I wake up tomorrow morning, it will still be today.  But then, I’ve existed now forever.

The obvious obscurity

What am I going to do today when today is almost over and almost gone?
When today is a replication of other days spent trying some fruitless attempt at being useful. 
Why do those who have infinite ideas fail while success comes easily from those who play by the game set forth by no one, least of all they.
I know this may be hard for no one to understand, but no one is listening to our plea not to have to plea.
It is silent, your indifference, but it is heard loud and clear all the same because that is how indifference is played out.
But the ramifications indifference has make – and have made countless times before – nothing all that much closer to a reality
So how to proceed?
How to seek comfort from like minded nobodies, keeping in mind that they are alike because they are nobody and they have also failed?
Why seek them out?
Why can’t we, we that are like I save for location and how they got to be like I, be we?
The obvious obscurity is that, if the collective I learned this crucial skill, we would no longer fall into this category.
The category we long not to be the last of.
-Aaron E-J

While what is remains hidden in plain sight from your mind

Some freak occurrence sends you, me us, flying, together, to another realm,
Each in their own shared world of isolation,
Right here…
Recovered what never was, and therefore still remains unrecoverable,
While what is remains hidden in plain sight from your mind,
Masked by the future we want,
The steps unachievable without finding what is,
Now is all there ever was and will be,
But now changes…
Change is what makes life, life, but it does not make life lively without interaction of other lifelike things that cannot be proven to be alive,
Or can they?
For what is life but the exchange of conscious entities?
If there were but one entity, life would not exist, change would not exist, and I would not exist.
But I do, and forever will.
-Aaron E-J

I’ve got malaria even though I’ve been back for almost 2 months

I had been really tired since I got back from the anniversary celebration and my heart had been racing even when I was sitting. I just thought that it had to do with my lack of sleep when I was at Hampshire and the fact that I had drunk a lot of coffee. On Tuesday afternoon though I passed out and when I came to, went to the emergency room. They ran a bunch of blood tests and my red blood cell count was less then half of what it should be. I’ve been in the hospital since then and they’ve been giving me blood injections and ORS through IV. This afternoon they said that the test they did for malaria came back positive and so they’ve been giving me some form of malarone. I’m glad it was malaria and not something else but I can’t stand being hooked up to an IV. Hopefully I’ll come home tomorrow.

string dateWriten = 2010-04-29;

int dateWriten = 2010-04-29;

if (dateWriten <= NOW) {

print “Well, my jet lag is almost gone… now down to business designing Kale (a top secret power source that will revolutionize the renewable energy industry… and make a tasty salad at the same time although using different technologies) and shopping for replacements of all the dead electronics that bit the dust (is some cases literally, it’s really dusty in the dry seasons) while in Zambia. Oh, also looking for a job and studying Calculus, Physics, Neuroscience and Python/Generally doing some refreshing of my Comp-Sci skills that I haven’t used for the passed 2+ years.”;


And only about 34 hours late


Well, I’m back in the States for the foreseeable future (note, the future is more then a little blurry so trying to foresee it is figurative and the figure is all scribbles in the sand at low tide). Getting pulled from my site went remarkably smoothly and I think, all in all, I did achieve something during my two years. This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t have liked to achieve a great deal more, but in the past month or so before leaving many things finally clicked into place. I posted my Description of Service report in the last post if you want to see the ‘glorious’ achievements I have done. And, of course, since all my potential employers enjoy reading my blog they will gobble it up and contact me immediately.

When I got to Lusaka I was inundated with paperwork until minutes before I rang the COS wheel-bell and was somewhat frenzied until I got to the gate for boarding the plain to Addis Ababa. Well, things did not start off well for my journey home because the plane did not lift off until about three hours after it was supposed to due to fueling problems. This meant that we touched down about 15 minutes after the plane I was supposed to be transferred to left. The next flight to Washington, my next stop, didn’t leave for a day so this meant I needed to spend a night in Ethiopia. Fortunately there was another PCV (or actually I guess now we’re RPCV’s) on the same flight and we shared a room together in the hotel. The hotel was pretty descent and had good food if bad coffee (isn’t this supposed to be the home of the best coffee in the world?). Well, after a day spent mainly watching TV, we finally got in the air again and after roughly 16 hours sitting in fight and about an hour or two in Rome for refueling we made it to Dulles Airport at about 8:30AM (back in America so I need to start practicing the AM PM instead of the 0830 hours).

Customs went remarkably quickly and I was directed to the United Express ticket station to inquire as to when my flight had been rebooked to. It hadn’t. And to make matters worse, the flights to Bradley were booked until Monday. I got a standby ticket and the third wait began. The first flight at 12:20 was already overbooked and although I waited with bated breath, or at least as much of one as I could muster given how tired I was, no seats presented themselves. So then it was to another terminal for the next chance five hours later. It wasn’t looking good as there was a huge group of high schoolers’ coming back from some trip but when everyone got on the plane it turned out there were two seat remaining. I was just about to head to the terminal when those two people with the tickets to those two seats rushed up. And so it was back to waiting. Fortunately at this point the ticket takers realized that I was extremely tired and they were really helpful, so much so that they did some computer magic and got me a definite seat for the 10:30 PM flight. I slept on the seat for about an hour and woke up worried I had missed the flight. I hadn’t and was the first person on the plane. After about another hour I touched down for the last time, only about 34 hours late. And thus ended the two year, two month chapter in my life.

Now I need to figure out what I want the next one to be about.

Back until I leave?

On the last Sunday of the month I headed back to Chipata. I had the taxi driver take me to the Lusaka post office because the Zambian mail company has a fairly ingenious idea of combining a mail service with a bus service. I had read in an old travel guide that the post bus only ran on Tuesdays and Fridays or something like that, but I thought it would be worth the short diversion because they definitely leave on a schedule. To my joy they were “going today so I paid the taxi and got all my stuff out. It was only when I heard a number of people talking about Ndola that I happened to ask where they were going, which was not Chipata. Annoyed to no end, lugged all my stuff back to the street and flagged down another taxi. The second bus I got on at the Intercity Bus Terminal was the fuller of the two that were headed to Chipata. I was going to wait at the curb until the first bus headed out but the teeming crowd of ticket salesmen (the number of ticket sales men to customers at intercity is probably four or five to one) convinced me to get on theirs, agreeing that if another bus left before them, I could get on it. Another bus did, and fortunately I was able to rush out, flag it down, argue with the ticket salesmen, load my luggage and get on the bus before it left the station. And thus, I left at a near record of just after 9:30 and got back before dark.
The last Friday in January I had called a guy who ran a computer training institute in Chipata and who is knowledgeable in hardware about having him see if he had a replacement monitor for my laptop. I had set up a meeting with him for Monday morning and went to his school at the third floor of an old British built quasi-government building he rented space from. He seemed to be able to help me but he was either really busy or pretending to be really busy so the whole thing took all day and he hadn’t put my laptop back together before close to 1800 so I needed to spend another night in Chipata. Tuesday he had checked just about everything there was to check and the diagnosis was that the actual monitor part and the tube that makes the screen light up (that I thought would be the logical thing that had gone as the screen goes black) where not the problem but it was the part that process the information that will be displayed on the screen that was, and that was the part that he did not have. So, although now I know what the exact problem is, I’m not sure it was worth the countless hours I spend waiting for him to spend another five minutes on it before he was interrupted. Late on Tuesday though I finally made it back to site where I will be, maybe until I leave for good unless I got to the house in mid March.
Since I’ve been back I’ve been working on getting the Inoviropreneurship program going full swing (first project is doing a version of the TLUD stove that uses only clay) and getting my pedal powered generator working. Alright, need to go get some more chain for the generator.

Back from Chamanuka, Discussion at the Deputy Heads Ambassadors house U.S. on development

Thursday 2010-01-28
Back from Chamanuka, a bwano kwambili resort, for our COS (close of service) conference. Most of the actual conference was fairly straightforward info about what we had to do before we left and options for when we returned to the states. The food was really good and I don’t really need to eat for the remainder of my service.
This evening many of the volunteers, several Zambian PC staff and US staff who work at the embassy or for various NGO’s went to the deputy ambassador’s house (where I had stayed a little over a year ago in the PC home stay program) to discuss development, what it meant and how it was best implemented. The discussion was very productive and really showed how much the people who work in Zambia (be it PCV’s, Gov. employees or NGO workers) collectively have a grasp on how to best carry out development. The basic points that clarified, enhanced and added to my idea of how to bring development and/or the challenges in bringing development during the meeting were:
1. That skill and knowledge aid should be the primary focus and that financial aid should only be implemented when it is the only limiting factor impeding the organization from growing.
2. That when possible, any form of aid should first be sought out locally
3. That a large factor contributing to lack of development is the lack of motivation to improve and bring new change and new ideas.
4. That one likely reason for this is the lack of an education system that has resources and sparks innovation in the children of Zambia
5. That, turning the camera in the other direction, if a Zambian came to America and said that they were here to help your town develop, would you except their idea with open arms and readily stop what you were doing and turn to embrace whatever development strategies they employed? The Zambians, in large part do, but the more radical a suggestion is, the more resistance a volunteer faces.

Now all we have to do is actually take these ideas and turn them into action (as is one of my signature* quotes:
Vision without action is a daydream,
Action without vision is a nightmare,
One needs both to succeed.)

2010-01-08 (is the date in which this synopsis [rundown {abridgment}] is being written)

Got back to Dovu village a little after 900 Wednesday and was very, very tired; not having gotten much sleep the two nights (or knights as I had, for some reason, written before reading again). I attempted to put a new rime (the old one was very warped on the special hub that was custom made for my cycle but this tiredness progressed into a headache and a general feeling of bad. I lay down and fell asleep until 1830ish when I debated falling back asleep but finally decided to have some tea and rice. Yesterday I finished putting a chabwino wheel on and biked to the Zingalume Basic head teachers house but he was in Chipata.
Next week I will be doing some or all of the following:
getting the Inoviropreneurship project revised and started with the Zingalume head teacher; getting my pedal powered generator working; making a solar stove using cheap bathroom mirrors; hopefully finally succeeding in making soap; if the big goat in my village has kidded, milking her
The two weeks after that I will be in Lusaka, on vacation/starting to figure out what I am going to do when I return to the states the first week, then attending the COS conference the second.
Wanting to go back to the states but wanting to get more things done here before I leave.