Death is in the air

There’s something in the air. Bill, a good friend and co-worker of mine’s mom is in the hospital and the prospects are not good. Another co-worker, Tsipi, from my time in Israel just lost her mom. Yesterday I was hanging out with a friend who’s a cop and one of his co-workers was killed in a traffic accident on the way to work.

I first really became familiar with death and rituals surrounding it while I lived in Israel. The thing that’s interesting about death and funerals in Israel is the level of community it provides.

I’ve been pretty blessed. The first time in my life that someone I knew and cared about died was when Oz Moses died from complications due to ALS (Lou Gerrig’s disease). I worked with Oz and loved being around him; everyone was. Intel chartered two or three tour busses to go to the funeral. Those busses were full and there were a bunch of cars that went as well. There were a couple hundred people at the funeral, the memorial 30 days later and a smaller, but still substantial crowd a year later for the one year memorial.

Jewish culture/religion has the concept of Shiva, from the Hebrew root work “to sit”. Shiva is a period of about a week during which immediate family members congregate together to mourn and receive guests who come in a show of support during the most sensitive and numbing days. You just go an hang out for an hour or two. You talk about whatever… politics, vacations, work, as well remember the person that died. I went to probably ten of these while I lived there. I went to Jerusalem about 1.5 hours away on a school night to visit Nava, I went to Oz’s family (who I’d never met before) about 1 or two hours away. I can’t visit Tsipi as I’m not in Israel anymore, but if I still lived in the country, I’m sure I would have made the 2 hour trek. Tsipi will have a bunch of visitors.

For being associated with death, it’s a pretty wonderful experience.

So I guess it’s a reminder to appreciate the people around you. While hanging out with Chuck (the cop) he spent about 50% of the time on his phone talking to other officers supporting each other. I’d met the guy that was killed and he was someone I was glad to have working the streets. I spoken with Bill by phone at least every couple days over the last week he’s been with his mom at the hospital in Eugene and look forward to visiting with him and his family when he returns to Portland.

Baby got greenhouse

Click on the pictures for larger version

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One of the key reasons to have raised beds is that they enable the soil to warm up to a temperature appropriate for germinating seeds and small plant starts. Separate them somewhat from the ground. To further improve things, I’m experimenting with a small greenhouse. I call it a "baby greenhouse".

The top is a simple frame with grooves to accommodate screen cord used to make/fix screen doors. The plastic is painters plastic. Works pretty well. The frame is assembled using using mortises and tenons. (I just got a mortising machine at the woodworking show this year)

Anyway, I have one of those wireless thermometers and using it, I think I have a winner. Whenever I check the temps inside and outside the cover, the difference is about 5 degrees F. Not bad. When things start to warm up, I think this will give me a lot of extra time in the growing season. If I’m just trying to avoid the last frost and I get 5 extra hit points (role playing games, anyone?) I could put stuff out a couple weeks early.

I’m thinking I’ll get some additional advantages as well. The soils in the beds is pretty drenched right now. Covering the beds should help. Cooler temps in the fall will be less of a hindrance as well.

sollar collector continued

Any of the pictures below can be clicked on for a larger version.

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Here’s my latest progress on my solar collector. in order to build supports for the copper, I took some wood strips, drilled some 1/2" holes and ripped them in half. The frame of the collector is a couple 2x4s, planed down a bit, mitered biscuited, and glued. I also drilled some larger holes in the sides to access the copper. I used 1 1/4" bit to drill those. The back of the panel is a 2’x4′ piece of OSB, rabbeted and stapled to the back with my 1/4" crown stapler. (I would add the my stapler is one of the most used tools in my shop. If you have a compressor, you need to take a trip down to the local Harbor Freight and get one of their $20 staplers. I also like using the staples with the adhesive coating on them. Driving them causes heat which causes the adhesive to melt a bit and make for staples that don’t want to come out.

 

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Here you see, I spray painted the collector plates black. I used about a half can of matt black rustoleum enamel. I also painted the grove on the other side to somewhat insulate the galvanized from the copper.

 

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To finish off, I cut a small groove down each side of the frame to create plastic top. I seriously doubt that that plastic will last. In fast, I expect it to sag and melt, but first I wanted to see how the whole system works. As you can see in the pictures, I am using the cord used to make screen doors to attach cheap painters plastic to the top. Pushing down into the groove stretches it out a bit. Notice that I added some staples to keep them in place.

Now we just need some sunshine!

Solar water heater collector part 1

Over the past year, I’ve had thoughts of building some sort of solar hot water heater. In fact the seed was planted well before this year. I lived in Israel for about 2.5 years ending with the end of 2000 when I moved to Oregon. If you look at most Israeli skylines, you’ll see that most buildings (I don’t want to say all) have at least one or two solar collectors. One of my apartments there had one and it meant that my electric water heater was off all but 3 months of the year. This was inspite of the fact that I took my showers in the morning.

Anyway, we got a swimming pool last summer. It’s a collapsible pool about 15′ across and 3′ tall and it often seemed a bit cold, hence this project.

So I’ve been doing a bit of surfing on the topic on da web and while I didn’t come across much, I did find some DIY project at this site. In particular this project which uses a big industrial looking press to form collector absorber plates got me thinking. The thing is I don’t have a press and don’t have much other need for one. So after thinking about it a bit, I decided to try using the weight of my pickup.

Note: each of the pictures can be clicked for a larger version.

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As you can see from the pictures, I just took a couple pieces of scrap and build a simple form. I then just drive over it. A couple things to notice:

  • I screwed a couple loose washers on each side to keep the metal lined up. (the second picture)
  • I use a couple long bolts (two right pictures) to keep the top form from sliding away when I drive up onto it.

The metal is roofing flashing bought in a roll from Lowe’s or Home depot. about $6 for a 6″x10′ roll. I got the thinnest stuff they had to ensure my truck is heavy enough to form it.

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Here are some pictures of my current progress. My intention is for water to enter one corner and leave the opposite corner. I figure this will lead to an equal resistance path through each of the tubes which are 1/2″ copper.

One thing about using dissimilar metals in contact with each other: one of them will corrode. After googling around a bit, I came across this site about metal corrosion and it looks like it will be the galvanized metal that will corrode. I figure that’s better than having the pipes spring a leak.

I have couple options on how to address this, I need to spray paint the flashing black anyway, so I’ll spray the grooves as well. Also, I’m gonna glue the pipes into the grooves which should further isolate the copper while hopefully acting as a sort of heat-sink grease.

That’s the current progress. Next, I’m gonna have to practice my copper sweating skills which I haven’t done in a couple years. I’ll also build up a box to hold it all.

Wormbin

I love to garden. It’s something that my girlfriend Robie and I do together. Each year we get better, we expand the garden, and learn new stuff on how to get our plants to grow.

Robie and I also try to recycle and compost as much as we can and this is includes kitchen scraps. We’ve been pretty consistent in collecting scraps and I decided to take it to the next level.

Vermicomposting. I mentioned wanted to try it to some friends at work and one of them told me his wife has been doing worm composting for over 10 years now. He put us in contact, she lent me her “Worms eat my garbage” book, and even gave me a bucket o worms.

Of course just using a simple rubbermaid container is not enough, so I decided to build some stackable wormbins.

click on any of the pic for a bigger version

IMG_7667.jpghere’s a picture of the finished project. It’s made out of OSB, a fairly cheap type of plywood, particle board. I don’t know how well it will hold up to moisture, but I’m hopeful.

IMG_7662.jpgHere’s the base, which can also serve as the lid. I’m thinking that this will come in handy when “harvesting” the results in the lowest bins. Also, this libs have holes drilled on the perimeter to allow air.

IMG_7663.jpgHere’s a closeup. just a simple miter joint. The rabbet was cut on my table saw.

IMG_7665.jpgHere’s the first level. The bottom is 4 1″x1.5″ wood strips, half-lapped together. I then stapled 1/2″ galvanized screening to it. Notice that the sides are tapered. to enable stacking. One level stacks on another by resting on the 2x2s in the corners. Since the sides are tapered, I angled them as well with this jig. Just a piece of 2×4 with a V cut into it.IMG_7674.jpg

IMG_7671.jpgIMG_7672.jpgHere is how I cut the compound miters on the sides. Just a 3/4″ strip of MDF I had laying around. The OSB is about 1/2″ think so I was looking for a taper of about 3/4″ to get a somewhat loose fit between stacks.

That’s it.

my teaching blog

This is the first of hopefully many articles about stuff that I build. One of my obsessions is building stuff. I work on my house, in the garden, on the computer. If I haven’t worked on something for a couple days, I start to stress.

I also like to teach. some day I hope to switch to being a school teacher. Middle school. Old enough to learn real stuff but not too old to be reached.

After I complete a project, I like telling my friends about it which often requires pictures. Getting in the habit of taking more progress pictures is also something I hope this blog will help me do.

Funny story about my trip to Frankfurt

So I’m in Germany at the moment, but it wasn’t a straight shot to get here.

I left last Saturday from PDX with a connection in LAX. I had a couple hours in LAX and considered calling my family there to meet me at the airport, but elected not to. Little did I know I would see them anyway.

The flight from PDX to LAX went smoothly, with very little turbulence. LAX was LAX; not the nicest of airports, but I did get a chance to walk around outside a bit going from one terminal to the another. Big place.

I found a place to plug in my laptop so I could listen to some of the intereviews that I had downloaded to drown out the crowds, but eventually boarding time arrived and the normal ordeal of sitting on a plane for 10 hours was about to begin. I got on the plane and immediately was uncomfortable. I don’t remember there being as little leg room on a plane as there was on that one. This is gonna suck but at least we were almost on our way. We already had a delay of about 45 minutes.

Flying that long always sucks, so I tried to settle in and make the best of it. Everyone finds their place, the safety video starts and we begin to taxi.

Then I hear a sound from ahead of mean. It was the sound of compressed air being released. Didn’t sound too horrible; it wasn’t an explosion or anything like that, but it did get me to lift my head out of the magazine I was reading and look forward towards where the flight attendants were standing.

There were three or four of them and all of them had an expression of, “this ain’t good”. One of them had her hands on her cheeks.

I look in the direction that they were looking and while I could see what was going on, I did notice the door is open. At the time this didn’t seem strange to me. The only thought that crossed my mind was that maybe someone had fallen out as we clearly were not at the gate anymore.

It turns out that the electrical panel cover, the one that the cleaning crew needs to move to plug in their stuff, was stuck in the door and one of the attendants wanted to put it in it’s place. Not thinking of the consequences, he turned the handle to open the door, and in doing so, activated the emergency slide.

Woops….

A couple minutes later the captain got on the intercom. His voice didn’t sound mad, or annoyed. I would characterize it more as “I’m too old to have to deal with shit like this. Sure could use a drink.”

“Well, folks, we have a little problem….” The first thing that needed to be done was to get some technicians out to come and remove the slide. Can’t have the plane driving around the airport with an emergency slide hanging off the side of it. Not only would that look really ghetto, it’s probably not that safe. So we waited.

Next course of business is to go back to the terminal. We passengers were all hopeful though. “get a couple techs out, to put the slide back and we’ll be on our way. Mabey an hour or two late, but let’s get on with it.”

Nope. Lufthansa doesn’t have the facilities to do that there, and even if they did, it ain’t that simple. Nothing on a plane is. So here we are. a 747 with a missing slide. Even worse because of the missing slide that portion of the plane will need to fly empty, but I still maintainted hope. The missing slide is on the left side of the plane and I’m on the right.

Wrong again. That WHOLE section must go. What if the plane were to crash on it’s side? I’d need to be able to exit from either side and since side selection cannot be scheduled in advance.

In all 120 people had to leave the plane and would need to wait til the next day, since this flight was the last one of the day to Frankfurt. Normally, this would have sucked, but I have family in LA. It’s where I spent over half of my childhood.

Plus Lufthansa offered each one of us 600euros (~$830) CASH or 700 euros travel voucher. Not back for a day of not working.

Either way, it cut a day out of my vacation, so while they were rescheduling my outbound flight, I asked them to push out the return as well. Since returning one day late would have given me only one day back to work, I had them make it two.

But I did get to visit with my grandmother. We had a very nice visit.

Shasta trip report

I posted this story on usenet Jun 17 1997

This past weekend (6-14&15) I went north to climb MT Shasta. I hope you find it interesting. I very much enjoyed the trip. It was a tough trip though which at times made it difficult to realize that I was having fun. In this report I’m stressing mostly the things I learned.

Miles

From the beginning, this trip was bound to be slow. It wasn’t clear until a week before who was going, where we’d be staying (Bunny, Sierra hut, or lake Helen), and we didn’t finalize on the source of specialty gear like crampons til a day or two before.

– lesson 1: your more likely to be able to borrow stuff if you ask more that a day or two in advance.

In the end there were two or us. We got up at 6 on Sat morning to make the drive up. We stopped in Berkeley for breakfast then later in Shasta City for lunch, then we kinda putsed around Bunny Flat (6900ft) before starting the hike to lake Helen (10200) at about 3.

– lesson 2: you don’t need to be in a group to be slow.

I made it to Lake Helen at about 6:40 about 20min ahead or my partner John who was attempting to xcrountry ski up the mountain. The snow level pretty much starts at the Sierra Hut.

– lesson 3: skiing up a steep slope can be slow and frustrating.

I got to camp pulled out the shovel and dug the small trench in the snow. that would be the “kitchen”. I mention this trick because I find it very useful but haven’t seen anyone else do it besides the guy that I learned it from. Essentially, it just dig a 3ft deep trench about 4ft long and level the surface on either side. One side serves as a sitting spot the other is where cooking happens. You can use the dug snow you dig up to form a small wind break. No stooping, or crouching required.

By the time John made it to Helen, I’d gotten the water going and started on the tent location. While I worked on cooking dinner, he set up the tent and setup the sleeping bags and all that stuff.

– lesson 4: a thermos can be very useful in the snow.

While cooking I first boiled some water and poured it into the thermos. This would service as the water for the Ramen. I then worked on the main course of dried black beans and cheese on tortillas. The beans were purchased at Whole Foods market. If you have one (or some other health food type store) you should check it out. Good cheap dried foods.

– lesson 5: beans for dinner and sleeping in a tent don’t mix.

Before going to bed I melted some more snow for the summit and replenished the hot water in the thermos for hot cider in the morning.

– lesson 6: snow gets cold quickly. Water should be melted before      the sun goes down. The snow got hard pretty quickly and it (the air)      wasn’t even that cold.

It was very nice for have a hot morning drink yet not have to fire up the stove. The night was pretty toasty though (probably close to freezing) so this wasn’t a serious issue.

We got up at 5am after a restless night and managed to start our climb just before 6. It quickly became obvious that footwear is the name of the game. John had on his Nordic ski boots and I wore my regular backpacking boots.

– lesson 7: stiff, insulated boots are key.    – THIS WAS THE TOP LESSON OF THE TRIP.

I had rented plastic mountaineering boot the first time I attempted Shasta and stiffness makes a BIG difference.  In the plastic boots I felt more like I was simply climbing a long set of stairs. In my hiking boots my calves and feet had to do alot more work. (This difference is more pronounced than my shoes for my mountain bike) Also, my toes were cold the whole day. Anyone out there got a pair of size 13 mountaineering boots you want to get rid of?

After climbing for awhile the climbing techniques I read about (in “Freedom of the Hills”; awesome book) began to make much more sense.

– lesson 8: mountains are windy, so tie it down.

Before we started I decided to take advantage of the loops on my gloves and my jacket and this made it way easier to do stuff on breaks. Not having to worry about losing them was nice. In hind sight, I would also tie my ice axe and my backpack to a harness.

About a third of the way to Red Banks I witnessed the only mishap I know of on Sunday. A guy slid from a couple hundred feet above me pretty much down to Lake Helen. He almost smashed into John and was pretty much in reaching distance of him. His ice axe followed him down but I managed to snag it. At this point everyone in the general area stopped semi stunned. Another climber at the based went over to him to help but I never saw him get up.  The previous day two people fell from Red Banks to Helen and had to be airlifted off. I handed the axe to his partner, and kept climbing. I looked down periodically but never saw him get up.

If it were to happen again and I were harnessed to my ice axe I probably could have slammed the axe fully into the snow and grabbed him as he came by. He didn’t seem to be going that fast.  Anyone have any opinions on this?

We made it to Red Banks (12900ft) at just after 9am. The view from up there is stunning. This was the one thing that made the trip most worthwhile. Shasta is a lone mountain. If you drive 20 miles away from it you are in boring farm country. I’m generally not big on melodramatic views but the vistas never wore off. Whenever I needed a pickup, I would lift my eyes from where my feet were and just look in the distance.

WOW!

Though it took 3 hours to climb 3000ft it would take another 3 to climb the remaining 1000 to the top. I was lucky enough not to get altitude sickness but I did experience altitude short-of-breathless.

Looking at the map, I had expected to next section of the mountain to be shallower after Red Banks. Fat chance.  The next section seemed just as steep. I’m not sure if this was part of Misery Hill (I need to look at my map again) but it was pretty tough.

I had a number of friends that have made it to the top of Shasta. I’ve seen pictures. My attitude has always, “that doesn’t seem so tough”. I definitely had to work to keep going. Maybe I’m just a wimp. 😉

Just before the last short ascent there’s a flat ridge. The word “windy” can’t really describe it. Walking in a straight line was definitely a challenge. The wind was stronger than anything I’d experience. Luckily, it wasn’t that cold.

– lesson 9: drink water until you can’t drink anymore…. Then                drink some more.

It was at this point that I started to feel the affects of dehydration. I drank a good amount of water the night before hoping it would help curb the affects of altitude. Altitude was not my problem. In anticipation of the cold and wind, I dressed warmly but the day was really nice so it was overkill. As a result I sweated alot. Very seldom did I have my jacket zipped or the hood up. I lost more water than I could have carried.

At this point John and I are both very tired and starting to get a headache. We spoke for a few minutes and decided that John would wait at one of the less exposed parts of the small clearing before the summit and I would run up and back. There were still a couple parties trickling to the top so we figured this would be a problem. At 12:05 I reached the top (14162ft – 4316.5meters). The last push was surprisingly easy and being at the top was almost a surprise. It was a little windy but I couldn’t imagine it being any nicer in that location. I asked two other guys on the top to take a picture of me and then just kinda hung out for a couple minutes. Being one of the latter parties to get to the top, there wasn’t any crowding. I had a couple minutes on the top to myself.

– lesson 10: small mechanical cameras are the way to go.

On the way up I tried to take lots of pictures. On a number of occasions I had to hug my camera to warm it up. Cold has adverse affects on batteries and it wasn’t even cold. A camera that didn’t “need” batteries would have been nice. My handheld light meter worked fine. Also, it would have been nice to have some thing a little more pocket sized; getting it out of my pack was a pain.

One the way down from the summit one of the first things I noticed was a congregation of people around where I had left John. I worried a little at first but then saw everyone dispersing. It turned out that a mountaineering class noticed him laying there and was checking that he was OK.

Down we go. Going up was tough but at first when we started our descent, we were surprised how steep it was.  I had a perpetual fear of tripping and faceplanting on the snow. (ice would almost be a better word) It had been recommended that we not try glissading (sliding) until Red Banks, so we walked down that section. When I got to Red Banks I was still wary of the idea because it was so steep. (I think 45 degrees is a fair estimate) I kneeled over and planted my ice axe in the snow to see what kind of arrest it gave me. I slid a little and stopped. Then a little faster and stopped again. I gained confidence in my ability to self-arrest and before long I was looking for ways to go faster. It probably took only 5 or 10 minutes to go from Red Banks to Lake Helen (it had taken 3 hours to climb)

lesson 11: have water ready when you get back.

In spite of worrying about altitude sickness it was only AFTER the summit that we started to feel less than perky. By the time we got to Lake Helen John and I both had big headaches. We both wanted to get out of there and almost just threw everything in our packs and continue down. We decided that it would be smarted to melt some water first. While John worked on packing up our junk I melted a couple quarts/liters of water most of which we finished at Helen.

Sliding down wet snow is not a much fun as sliding down soft snow. The trip from Lake Helen wasn’t as quick as from Red Bank. This was mostly because my feet acted more like a snowplow.

It seemed like we were pretty much the last people off the mountain. (which is tough given the number of people there) I really enjoyed the trip. The views were great. The challenge was nice to overcome. I learned alot.

Would I do it again. Yes! Just give me a couple weeks to forget about the hard parts. I would probably want to take another route though. A more technical, multi-day experience would probably be more rewarding. At times it felt like I was just kinda trudging along. I don’t find trudging that enjoyable. An extended stay would give me more time to enjoy the climb.

“get to the summit because you climbed. don’t climb to get to the summit” is what I really learned this weekend.

Trip to Africa

hello all,

I’m writing this to let ya’all know what I’ve been up to here in the source of humanity. (That would be africa)

The pln is to be here in Africa for a month and a half. I’m here with my friend Michal. Most of you probably know who she is. For those that don’t she a friend that I met in Israel shortly after I got there. For those gossipping people out there, she and I dated for a short time, for that was over at least two years ago. So get your minds from where they shouldn’t be.

Anyway, here’s a short synopsis of what we’ve done. We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on Jan 10. We spent about 3 days there getting out bearings, visiting the museum, and scheduling a safari. We went to Masai Mara reserve for a total of two days followed by a day at Lake Nakuru. After that we were on our own.

In Masai Mara, we saw that more traditional safari animals like zebras, giraffes, elephants, gazelles, lions, and a leopard. Some of the hilites include: we saw the two lions going at it. I’ve never heard that many camera shutters before. The zebras also had their fun. We saw an elephant that probably just finished doing his thing cause his unit was hanging out. It must have been 6 inches…. all the way along the 3 foot length. We are in Africa. 😉

At lake Nakuru, we saw alot of flamingos. By alot I mean 1 million. There were also some rhinos and giraffes there as well.

We didn’t do much else in Nakuru and we headed towards Kisumu with the intention of heading NW towards Ethiopia or Uganda. First we stopped for a day in Lodiani where we met a carpenter. Very cool. More on that later. (I hope I have time to cover all the “laters”)

WE spent two days in Kisumu where we visited the local museum and hiked to Lake Victoria. This is a BIG lake; something along the scale of the Great Lakes in the USA. It was really interesting to talk to the curator there. There weren’t any other visitors there at the time, so he had plenty of time to explain stuff. More on that later.

We left Kisumu and went to Kisii where we spent another two days. On one of those days, we went to a town called Tabaka where they carve soapstone. More on that later.

We also took a hike up onto Manga Ridge which was about a 2 hour walk each way. It was really nice as we got to see quite a distance. We gathered about 10 kids along the way who showed us the way, followed along marvelling at our lite skin-color.

We went from Kisii to Kakamega stopping at Sandu for a day in between. Sandu was nice. We met a local who was home from the Nairobi University that showed us around. He had a nice walk, he explained how to select a good pineapple and he introduced us to his mom. At one point, he had a short discussion on how he’s different from most of his relatives in that he only intends to marry one woman. More on the polygamy thing later.

Kakamega, we didn’t like so much so we didn’t spend much time there. By this time, we realized that Ethiopia wasn’t a viable option since we would have to return to Nairobi to obtain the visas. I guess we didn’t plan this part so well. We thought we could get them at the border. Apparently, very few people would travel to Ethiopia this way, so it’s not really worth it for them. It is a long way.

After Kakamega, we ended up in Bangoma where we stayed for a little over two days. This town was quite nice to be in. We’d been getting tired to the monotonous East African food and really wanted something different. I’d seen a number of Indians (as in India) so I approached one of them for the location of an Indian restaurant. In the end, he invited us to his home. Good food! The next day we had breakfast at a family restaraunt. That day, one of the daughters, also home from University, was running it. Michal and her hit it off quite well and we ended up eating the rest of our meals in Bangoma there. Also good food.

WE then headed for the Ugandan border and are now in Kampala, which is the capital city. It’s a nicer city than Nairobi. We plan on being in Uganda for a couple days to check out the museum as well as some of the nature. There’s supposed to be some great river rafting.

And here I am now.

Now for some more detail.

When we visited the Kenya museum in Nairobi, we had a really nice time. Before we went into the museum itself, we went into an area that was occupied by local artists doing their work. Some of it was pretty good! (to my eye, anyway) One artist caught our eyes more than the others. He uses a small spatula to paint on canvas. We were most impressed that he has so many styles. When we return to Nairobi, I want to go back and give him a roll of film to take pics of his favorites which I’ll take back, scan, and put on my website. This way, maybe someone from USA or Europe can see them and purchase some from him. Computer access is expensive for locals so I figure it’s help him out. (Plus I get some good art pictures)

When we were in Masai Mara, we saw two lions having their fun. It was rather entertaining. So we drive up to where they were in our vehicle. We knew they were there because another group was also parked there. We were maybe 10 or 20 feet away, but the lions just ignored us. They were sleeping. We watched for awhile and eventually another vehicle joined us as well.

Then the male wakes up. You could tell he was kinda groggy. He goes over to the female and sniffs around a bit. She doesn’t really take notice, but he gets on her anyway. She was accomodating be rolling off of her side more into a crouched position and lets him do his thing. This is when all the cameras were in action. Then then both let out a big growl and they’re done. The male gets off, takes a couple steps and goes back to sleep. The whole thing took no longer than a couple minutes.

And women complain about men?! I do hear that lions mate on average 18 times a day, so I guess they’ve got us beat there.

While we were in Lodiani, we went a carpenter. This guy was amazing. He have build his own wood lathe, table saw, and planer. I’m not talking about assembling, I’m talking build from scratch out of car, and train parts and other scraps. Very cool stuff. I’ll put pictures on my site when I get back. In the end, the work looks good. It’s all hand made except for the three tools I just mentioned. It seems like someone could get this guy to buy some “antique” furniture and sell it in the USA for large sums of money. I mean, who really cares whether and antique was made last week or a hundred years ago as long as they were made the same way and look alike?

The people of Kenya are very friendly. After a couple days there I decided on a goal of one good/interesting/fun interaction each day. Each day, I want to meet someone that I remember. So far, I think I’ve missed only one day. I’m not sure how Uganda will turnout since we’re just in the big city and not in the countryside.

The curator at the Kisumu museum was really interesting. He explained some Kenyas tribal culture, specificly the male/female roles. He told us of some time he’d spent in Chicago researching at the university (I don’t know which one; I assume there are more than one) They’d gotten him an apartment, but he was in a bind with the cooking. In his culture, men are not allowed to cook. “What, you don’t trust your wife? So why are you cooking.” It’s not just that her job, his dependence on her in this regard is also expected. They do get around this by marrying multpile wives.

It seems that in Kenya the average number of wifes in just about any of the cultures is three, each of which had 4-6 children. This way, if one dies, is sick, or is away, there is always someone else to cook. There is also a power heirarchy between the first wife and the others. In some tribes like the Luo, it’s the negotiation of the wives amongst themselves that determines who the husband will sleep with on any given night. In other tribes, like and Masai the husband goes whereever he wants.

I was a bit confused by the math of this multiple marriage thing wondering how they keep from running out of women in the population to marry, but it turns out that the birthrate of girls is higher than that of boys.

Another funny thing that he explained is the roles of the witchdoctors. My favorite was one of the solutions to the problem of a woman not bearing children. If a man marries, he’s expecting some children. When they don’t come, he goes to the witchdoctor and asks what to do. The doctor will propose some possible remedies and if that doesn’t work he’ll ask to “examine” her. “sleep with” her is a more accurate description.

It’s funny that the woman often gets pregnant shortly after.

Tabaka was nice. This is where they quarry and carve soapstones. We walked around and were quickly joined by a local who showed us around. He showed us where they get the stone, some shops with the results, and lastly, he carved up some figures out of the stones that Michal had picked out. It was interesting to watch because they used a machette for much of the work. They also had this hoe looking (though it was thin) thing. Within 5 minutes you could already see the shape forming. The whole process from start to finish on the simple pieces can’t be more than 20min. So of the pieces were really impressive, though obviously take more time. One thing we were suprised to here is that small pieces are more difficult than the big ones. This is because the smaller pieces are more delicate and therefore break easier. Makes sense when you’re told, but we were suprised.

In Bangoma, we met a shoemaker. We only spend maybe 15 minutes talking to him, but it was interesting. He’d made his own tools. As a cutting tool, he took a putty knife and sharpened it. Most impressive was his awl. (I think that’s the name.) It’s essentially a crochette needle, hook. He’d made it out of the airstem from a car tire and pieces of an umbrella. He made sandals, repaired worn shoes, and replaced the soles on otherwise good shoes. It was cool to see the simplicity of it all.

I guess those are some of the hilites. There’s a bunch more to tell about and I’ve taken lots of pictures so far. My nightmare is that there’s something wrong with my camera and the pics will all some out blank.

God willing, they’ll be ok and I’ll put many of them on my website.

Miles