Archive for August, 2004

Goals

I have various and sundry things that I would like to accomplish at some point in my life. So far, major ones that I’ve (sort of) accomplished:

  • learn to program computers
  • have a long term girlfriend
  • go to France and speak the language (I went to France and mangled the language, mais je suis allé de toute façon.)

This leaves several (including):

  • learn sign language
  • visit Nepal
  • watch (and comprehend) French TV
  • build something complicated and electronic
  • pay back the education department for fucking up my contract with them
  • get married
  • have kids

One that I am toying with working on now is I think it would be really cool to see my abs before I die. Getting to the point that one can see their abs means being at 5-7% body fat. I’ve been dropping a bit of fat thanks to giardia and a generally poor diet, but I’ve also dropped all muscle not required for movement. I’d guess I’m at 14-15%.

It’d be a good idea to get in shape for WAIST anyway. Marc told me that I could join his gym for 5000um a month.

I’ve got the money and the time. All that is required is
self-discipline. That is definitely something it would do me good to develop. A six-pack would be a nice bonus.

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Prices

Question for the evening last night was, “what would your price be for 30 minutes maximum of sexual activity?”

It turns out that I am the cheapest date since I can be had for a mere four goats. Carl was second with 10 goats or alternately a well crafted paper mache rabbit stuffed with quality candies. His goal with the alternative was to not eliminate those with artistic talents, but lacking in worldly wealth.

Miriam was by far the priciest at $5000. (That’s 10 camels!) She was accused of pricing herself out of the market especially when she said that she’d have certain requirements about what exactly was and wasn’t permissible behavior.

I think most of the difference came from her evaluating the question in terms of how much money it would take for her to compromise her values and me (having looser morals) thinking in terms of how much pleasure I think I could give someone in the half hour we allotted.

I can’t come up with anything I could possibly do for someone in half an hour that would value $5000. Maybe if I could be a tour guide / love slave for a week in some exotic destination that could warrant it. My skills, which aren’t nonexistent in the quick passion department, are decidedly stronger in the more emotionally involved area.

So far as blow jobs though, Miriam is a far better bargain than Carl who said it’d take $100,000. Myself, $5000 sounds like a lot of money to me.

I remember reading something recently about how bisexuality is far more detrimental to the chances of a male engaging in sexual activity than a female. I need to work on the ardence of my heterosexuality.

A million dollars! It’d take a million dollars for me to even see a guy naked. Touch his thingie? Never. Not if you held a gun to my head. Eww, that’s just not natural. $5000? Hell no. Not unless he was really cute. I mean… Dammit.

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Quotent Quotables

On the subject of academics, this site entertained me: profquotes.com.

(There are some 500 odd emotions to choose from and bemused isn’t one of them? Travesty.)

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GRE

So, in principle I am eventually going to come back to the States and rejoin the “civilized world.” Not that I’m looking forward to it especially, but that ol’ biological clock is a tickin’ and so I can’t hang out in Africa forever.

The current most appealing plan is:

  1. Leave Mauritania in Octoberish (stay an extra month to help in the transition with the person who will be taking my place)
  2. Travel back to the States. I recently talked to someone who flew Air Maroc round trip from New York for $600, and I am hoping I can do it for about that
  3. Spend November and December practicing deep meditative states while watching DVD’s at the lake house
  4. January to April move the burden from my parents to my extended family and travel around doing interviews on family history. (This is a project I’d really like to see done for my kids and if I could get it done while most everyone is still alive, that’d be great)
  5. May to June head over land to Alaska with my two brothers and meet my mom up there for sightseeing
  6. July move to Berkeley, California and prepare to start grad school
  7. August start into my computer engineering Ph.D. at UC-Berkeley

This plan is such a dream. Me not working for nine months will likely be impossible. I’ll only have $5000 coming out of the Peace Corps and that will dwindle quickly, I’m sure. I would also have to make it into UC-Berkeley which is going to be nearly impossible, especially given my computer science undergrad.

But, there is no harm in dreaming at this point… I am scheduled to take the GRE in October. I had to pick four schools and so I went with:

The one thing I want in my grad school is to be sitting in a classroom and think, “Oh my God, these people are all so much smarter than me. I am going to have to work so hard to keep up.” I liked good ol’ TTU good enough, but it did not incite those sorts of thoughts.

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Vermonster

Elijah is kind enough to give me web space since I was kicked off of the Honors server. I was Googling around his site and ran across a photolog of one of his friends eating a $35 Ben and Jerry’s sundae called the “Vermonster”.

It consists of:

  • 20 scoops of ice cream
  • 10 scoops of chopped walnuts
  • 4 ladles of hot fudge
  • 4 bananas
  • 3 chocolate chip cookies
  • 2 scoops of 4 toppings
  • 1 giant fudge brownie
  • whipped cream
  • 1 large bucket

I am thinking maybe I’ll fly into New York and make it back to Tennessee by way of Vermont since the only place I hear tales of this being sold is their Vermont headquarters.

There is something highly addictive in ice cream. I don’t know what it is, but when I saw that bucket full o’ frozen goodness I’d have sold my grandmother to slavers for a go at it. It’s worse than heroin I think.

At the very least during my month long readjustment sabbatical when I’m holed up at the lake house watching all the movies I’ve not seen in the last year, I’m going to try and recreate it. Oh, what grand times those will be…

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Boxing

I went with some people the other night to try and find a TV to watch the Olympics. After a bit of looking we managed to find one at a hotel with a satellite. The only issue was that it was an Arab satellite and none of the stations had consistent coverage. We did manage though to catch some bits and pieces on news casts though. The most entertaining was a boxing match between Australia and Morocco.

Boxing normally isn’t my sort of sport. Having seen it up close, it really is two guys just pounding the shit out of each other. Generally a bit too gruesome for me. If we could get commentators in the States though who are as unabashedly biased and emphatic as the Moroccan one was, I might give it a shot.

If you are a Muslim and you get bored, a nice pious way to pass the time is to start praying. In general praying is just recitation of verses from the Koran, the longer the better. The tonality of it is very flat and regular. It is chanting more so than anything. The vast majority of the commentary was like that; just a continual chant punctuated every so often with an “imshi!” (“move!”) directed at the Moroccan boxer.

The part I think would most enhance American commentating though would be putting a little more God into beating the crap out of people. Whenever the Moroccan would land a solid hit on the Aussie it would prompt an al-humdillah (“thanks to God”) and if they’d separate and there was a quiet bit there would be several inshallah’s (“if God wills [let us win]”).

I guess it’s only fair. God ought to be involved in everything you do, right? If you doesn’t seem right bringing God into it, that suggests that perhaps you oughtn’t to be doing it. I for one think it is kinda cool that they have managed to integrate the religious life so thoroughly.

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Topical

I was getting ready for my French class this morning and decided to be a little topical. So, advice for the verb consacre (meaning to dedicate as well as to consecrate) I decided on the sentence, pharmacy pills “A mosque is consecrated to the worship of God.” Upon consulting my dictionary, bronchi I found the noun, “worship” is “le culte.” “Interesting,” I thought to myself, “a cult definitely has a different sense in English.”

I thought nothing more about it until class when my teacher queried me as to what exactly I meant by that sentence. It turns out that the French word for cult is also “culte.” Fortunately for me my teacher knows my French sucks far too much to pull off a double entente like that.

Perhaps I should leave being topical until later…

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Pictures

Apparently the Peace Corps has been holding a contest to expand their repertoire of marketing images.

http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=learn.whatispc.photocontest

Of the 25 winners, we had two from Mauritania:

PCV Jessica Dunsmore: Showing Off Our Henna Hands
http://www.peacecorps.gov/learn/whatispc/Gallerypop_PhotoContest.cfm?Gallery=bcem&ImgNo=2&maximgs=2&catNo=4

RPCV Kerry Zahn: Women at Well
http://www.peacecorps.gov/learn/whatispc/Gallerypop_PhotoContest.cfm?Gallery=hcn&ImgNo=2&maximgs=6&catNo=5

There are some really pretty pictures there. You ought to check them out. I’m thinking I’m going to try and crack my camera open and get to the bottom of its mysterious death. It is a real shame not to get more pictures while I am here…

Love,
Will

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Hot or Not

A while back we took pictures of everyone so that we could put together a book for the new trainees and help them put faces to names. I recently integrated those pictures into the my lists of volunteers.

Creative group that we have here a couple of our guys took all the pictures (about seventy of them) and put them all on Hot or Not. It is not something I would have done myself, but it is kinda interesting and apropos to the discussion of beauty.

My entry has a 7 now. Apparently that puts me at 67% which feels alright to me. Maybe with some nice abs I could bump myself into the top quartile. Someone gave me a 1 though. A 1? C’mon now. I’m not terribly conceited about my physical appearance, but I’m not a fucking 1. Isn’t a 1 missing teeth or an eye or something?

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Doors

Mauritania is sort of like a video game. As you get better and better at dealing with it, it comes up with new twists. For instance, I was nearly getting to a point where I could come to the University and get work done on a regular basis. My group’s mid-term reconnect is at the end of the month and I just about have the place ready to demo as a model for labs that we can help them set up in their sites. I also have a ton of music downloaded so that our mtr party could be held with all the latest tunes that we haven’t heard in the last year.

Given that things were getting easy, I should have been prepared to come to work last Thursday and discover a big metal bar across the door secured with a padlock.

I went to find the guardian for the University and unfortunately it was the not so useful one. It took me about five minutes of “pardons” to awaken his nearly comatose ass and then all I got out of him was a string of Hassaniya. Eventually, using the ancient art of gesticulating wildly, I convinced him to come with me and upon seeing the bar he spurted another stream of Hassaniya which was clearly along the lines of “why have you barred the door?”

Since this was obviously a dead end I gave up and wandered the University for another half hour looking for anyone else, but it is summer and after noon on a Thursday, so I was the only one there. I decided to give up and come back on Sunday.

On Saturday I was lying around my house being frustrated because I couldn’t get any of my work done and decided to go over to the University and try my hand at removing the lock myself. If lock picking skills were ranked on a scale of 1 to 10 where a 1 has difficulty operating a key and a 10 can open doors using the powers of his mind, I managed to hone my skills to a solid 3 back in the States. This means that given good tools and about half an hour I could open one of four locks purchased on sale at Wal-Mart. I figured “what do I have to lose?” and off I set to try my hand.

All that I managed to achieve was a solid confirmation of my amateur status. I did have fun though. All that I had was my multi-plier and so I was wandering around the University picking up pieces of garbage and trying to form them into lock picking tools. If I had managed to get the door open I was going to make myself a little MacGyver merit badge and stitch it on my hat. Unfortunately though, I hadn’t the skill. After about an hour of cutting up tin cans and filing broken pieces of door jams I gave up and went to the bureau where I could at least check my e-mail.

Sunday I came back and was fortunate enough to be able to hunt down a French speaking guardian. He told me that he had no idea about the lock and that I needed to talk to Moussa. So I set off to find Moussa who amazingly wasn’t in his office. After about half an hour of wandering I managed to find someone with his phone number and so I called him. He told me he had no idea about any of it and I needed to find Ahmed. Ahmed was, of course, not here today and so I needed to come back Monday.

That brings us to today. I sent Malick a SMS message to see if he had any leads on Ahmed and he came by to help out. I managed to find Ahmed who told me that it was the Secretary General who had locked the door. Great. I found Malick to discuss this latest wrinkle and he told me that the Secretary General tried to have him dismissed a while back and replaced with a Bidan (white moor), and that he wasn’t especially fond of Americans either. This is all largely moot however since he isn’t here except in the afternoons on certain days. In the one convenience to date though this day happened to be one of them and so after a mere five hour wait we get to see him.

His first questions are about a video projector used in the Cisco classes sometimes. It came and went from the classroom according to some logic I couldn’t fathom and never asked questions about it. It hasn’t been there for a month at least though, since we stopped teaching classes. I’m guessing it has turned up missing. A couple of computers have been missing out of that lab for a while and I had just assumed that someone authorized had taken them. I’m hoping that I was correct. I didn’t get into it with the Secretary General at this juncture.

He did say that he had locked the door and that I could get in to work next Sunday. Why it needs to stay closed for a week? (Until just after mtr.) No explanation. I’ve decided it is just because I nearly had a plan work out well here and whatever cosmic force has aligned itself against this country couldn’t see that come to pass.

Anyhow, I reckon I’ll figure something out. I’m going to get my music out of that room if I have to take a blowtorch to the door. This is the last time my group will be together for another year and we’re gonna do some dancing by golly.

Love,
Will

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