Archive for April, 2005


Well, I’m in my lab, but they’ve disconnected the internet. Just to make sure I don’t get too happy; they have locked me out of my office where there is internet. What I did to make them hate me I’m not sure, but that they want me to suffer is the answer that makes the most sense. Whatever they do it is the most inconvenient thing…

So I have not posted since I’m only online for an hour or so at night. I’ll be even more sporadic as I leave tomorrow to do some work in Aioun and try to fix their DSL connection which is broken in a way that I have no experience in fixing. I’m the biggest geek around though, so off I go.

After this it is off to Senegal with me. Gonna try and catch some monkeys and see a hippo. Hopefully there will be internet occasionally and I’ll do the whole travelogue thing.

Off now for one last dance.

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Grumble… Every single thing in my life sucks. Well, I’m not sick right now. If I get hit by a car walking home from work today then that will pretty much top off my list of things that matter to me that aren’t going well.

As I mentioned, at COS conference I felt really bad because my friends mistreated me when I was drunk. Worse though was the bit with the girl. I’ve never actually had a girl turn me down before. Not that I am that sexy, just that I don’t ever breach the subject. I’d not have done it with this girl; it was done by a friend. I know full well that I’m a big dork and I’m largely cool with it other than worrying girls won’t be interested in me. Having a girl I liked straight up tell me she didn’t find me attractive stung a bit.

Work is also complete shit right now. The university locked me out of my lab without any warning. More importantly they locked all the stuff I was working on in the lab, so not only could I not work for them, I couldn’t work on any of my other projects either. It is really damned frustrating to have all these different people calling me asking for my status and all I can say is, “sorry, all my work is locked up right now.” I’ve been coming to the uni, but most of the administration is out on vacation including the one guy who can authorize freeing my stuff from the lab.

So, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. Yesterday I was in bed for probably twenty of twenty-four hours. I just lay around and slept and read. There are days this is a fun comfy sort of activity. Yesterday was more of a depressed can’t bear to face the world sort of thing.

Today I get this email from my mom about her proposed trip to some out and see me in June:

Matt and I talked last night about our trip. We were thinking perhaps a trip to places other than Mauritania might be more fun. We want to have real fun on this trip and Mauritania just does not seem that enticing. We will be on a plane forever and I don’t think Mauritania is really worth the effort.

This is in response to my message which said:

Noooo! Please come. I was actually thinking about it today as I was walking to work. There is absolutely no way I can describe to you all what it is like being here. I want so badly for you to know what this is like. I already feel depressed thinking about coming home and that I’ll not be able to talk to anyone about this place that has so dramatically altered me. I’m not expecting it to get to you like it has me in two years, but it would really mean a lot if you would come.

Do I have unrealistic expectations as a son that me being here and telling her that it would mean a lot to me if she would come ought to at least count for a bit? I’m not going to try and sell Mauritania as the most fascinating place ever, but I really do like it and I really think that it would be a neat trip. Do I not make it sound like it would be at least mildly interesting to come see me here? Goddammit.

Oh well, I’m not going to beg her because I think if she is coming here with really high expectations for really exciting stuff, she is likely to be disappointed. This is desert life. It is fascinating culturally and aesthetically, but it isn’t the Wild Africa ride at Disneyland. I can’t promise her that kind experience. I just wish that someone from home had gotten to see this place with me before I left.

I’m such a weenie anymore. Things just keep hurting my feelings. I remember long ago wishing to be more emotional and I seem to have gotten some of that. The only real repercussion is I spend lots of time sullen and injured. Oh well, so it goes.

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Du Pop-corn

Lesson for the day on how to not make popcorn. First is a basic physical property: the burning point of butter is apparently lower than that at which popcorn pops. So, if you were to melt a lot of butter to use in the place of oil, it will burn and smoke regardless of how much you stir it.

Caramel popcorn is a really tasty dish. If you take a bunch of sugar and butter and popcorn, and dump them all together in a pot, after a while the sugar will start to brown and combine with the butter to make tasty caramel. The problem comes shortly thereafter. Imagine, if you will, what is now a sea of molten sugar. In this sea are little unpopped popcorn mines. As these mines are detonated they spray molten sugar all over the place. This whole concoction, as I mentioned before, is already nearly ready to catch on fire, so it has to be continually stirred. With something like kettle corn, it is stirred with a three foot long stick so as to avoid the flying sugar. If you are working in a more traditional environment, you are stirring with your hand about six inches above the flying sugar. My arms look like I got in fight with a little tiny army that attacked me with miniature shrapnel grenades. I’ve got little blisters all over my hands because I was too stubborn to stop stirring just because it hurt like hell. I solaced myself with lots of screaming and cursing; something of a theme as of late.

The secondary problem though is that the popped popcorn cools down and causes the caramel to get tacky. As this happens the unpopped kernels start to stick to the popped stuff and you end up with a mass of a little popcorn and lots of kernels. So, lots of pain and an inedible product. Go me. ☺

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Question du jour: is it wrong to eat monkeys? I was visiting a volunteer who has a pet monkey and it inspired me and a friend to go on a monkey hunt. We have a village that has monkeys in its environs, bronchi and I found an article on monkey trapping. It mentions:

The poached adult is used for meat while the young are sold as pets.

Hmm, monkeyburgers anyone? Not that we can likely catch a monkey, but just in case I want to have the morality of my options worked out. ☺

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Wow, COS conference was quite an experience… Supposedly if you are a monk at certain monasteries in Tibet, you have a trial that you have to undergo in order to pass into the inner sanctum of he brotherhood. I feel about that battered without the benefit of any real reward for having survived.

The purpose of the COS conference is, at the least, threefold:

  • Introduce volunteers to the various administrative procedures associated with closing service
  • Discuss with volunteers their plans for after their return to the United States
  • Allow the whole of the group a final opportunity to reconnect and see one another before we disband

For me the important part was by far the third. I’ve got a pretty good grasp on job hunting and grad school applying. I can read well enough to understand a manual on COSing. This is the last time that I may see some of these people, and that meant a lot to me. I have said it before, and perhaps it sounds overly sentimental, but these people have become a sort of family for me.

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