June 06, 2005

June 3

Here’s what they don’t tell you about SUVs in those commercials where Jeeps are flying around muddy mountain roads and Blazers are making turns on snow covered lakes:

“They got into a neighbor's SUV, but their path was blocked by a utility pole, forcing them to the road.” This is from an article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer describing the escape of families whose houses had come down in California landslides. Now that I’ve written it, I can imagine that maybe the pole wasn’t lying flat on the road – that would prevent any car getting past. Or maybe there were live wires that they couldn’t drive over. Still, it strikes me as humorous, what with SUVs being the all-terrain, safety-first vehicles that they are. Your days are done, SUV. Done.

Ugh. I’m sitting here waiting for a large file to upload. Actually, it’s a series of five documents splitting up the original file. Unfortunately, Ethiopia’s telecommunications infrastructure isn’t the best, though I am grateful that our household seems to rest in some kind of high-speed access area. It might even just be our house, but the connection we have is the fastest one I’ve seen in Ethiopia, outside a handful of large U.S. NGO's and the UN, which all have satellite connections.

Those of us not blessed to be the UN, USAID, or CDC must resort to alternative means of e-interaction, even dividing a document into five documents. A clever ploy.

My body is still aching from my gym experience the other night. I’m really trying to make the three times every two weeks regimen work. Sometimes, I think I’ve really got it down, then I’ll blow it all with a night of draft beer and a lazy week where I don’t make it to the temple of sweat. But imagine. If you only had to go to the gym once ever 5 days, it would be a miracle. Actually, when I combine my unrigorous gym regimen with a new diet strategy I’ve developed, I think I may have stumbled onto the miracle cure in the battle of the bulge, which I’m about to release to the world, free of charge, because of my profound love for my fellow man.

I call it the Spice Diet. It operates on the theory that the spicier the food, the less of it you eat. That, combined with the uncomfortable effects as your body processes the food i.e. indigestion, burning-bowel syndrome, and others, makes this diet almost a sure thing. And who doesn’t love spicy food? If you live in Ethiopia and want to take part in any cultural or social affairs, you have to be, at a minimum, tolerant of the spice – it’s in every dang thing you eat outside of avocado juice and yogurt.

When I first arrived here, I dived in 100% to Ethiopian grits. I was eating shiros, wots, firfir – you name it, I ate it. Somewhere around February, though, I really got a hankering for the foods I know – mashed potatoes, chicken, spaghetti, soft foods that don’t really take much spice. Well, it was a welcome and delicious relief, but a noticeable physical change started to take over my body. Rather than being the lean, mean intimidating machine I’d been before, I was starting to become soft like the mashed potatoes and pastas I was eating. Little pockets developed on my back right above my pelvis and there was the unmistakable presence of a belly that couldn’t be sucked away.

Alas, I resolved to make a change, so now I’m trying to increase my gym time and eat at least one spicy meal a day. The GI upset can be a bit of a downer, but the increased confidence you will experience from the new, trimmer you will make up for all that. So go ahead, get out the Tabasco Sauce, poor on a little more berbere, but have antacid waiting close at hand if you suffer from heart burn. You won’t regret it.

Wow, I have a new appreciation for why I wouldn’t enjoy dabbling in Ethiopian politics. I just read some of the comments posted on the blog of a fellow Ethio-centered blogger (I believe he’s Farenj). His blog is exceptional and has been providing up-to-date and in-depth coverage of the election. I admire the guy's courage to so openly cover the politics here. I don’t have the impression that he interjects too much of his opinion; he just covers what other media outlets may not be doing or at least covers them sooner than many others.

Back to my point though, I couldn’t believe the vitriol of some of the commenters on the site. The author has it set up so that anyone can comment, even without registering. Whew! Some of the language and attacks were pretty serious, getting into name calling, counter name calling, attacks on credibility. I don’t think I’d personally want to expose myself to such an exchange, at least for the time being, so I try to keep my head low by staying out of politics and keeping the site “registration only” for those who want to comment. If you are interested, the site is at www.meskelsquare.com. Enjoy.

Well, I’ve made considerable progress in uploading the files I need – these are exciting times. About 1.5 months ago when our phone line was down and I had a draft I needed to submit, I ended up going to two internet cafes. I recently discovered this little icon in the bottom right hand corner of my screen that shows my progress in uploading and downloading. The document I had at the time was something like 1.3 megabytes. At the second internet café, it took one hour and fifteen minutes to upload 10,000 bytes or 1/100th of the total file.

Because I wasn’t 100% sure at the time what the icon meant and because I needed the document, I continued to sit there before finally giving up. According to my calculations, it would have taken me another 125 hours to complete uploading the document. To illustrate, I could have crawled back and forth to the office with one knee, delivered the items, held a three day celebration, and still been back home before the file could have been sent. And at a rate of 10 Birr per hour, I would have been out over $150. Thankfully, saner heads prevailed and I made like a tree and leaved (this saying, immortalized in the 1980's hit, “Back to the Future”, only makes sense in the present tense, and even then, it’s a bit of a stretch.)

How about these as possible improvements on the “Back to the Future” quote: “Make like a senior and get outta here”, “Make like Jack and hit the road”, “Make like a train and depart”. I’m sure the genius creators of the “Back to the Future” series considered all of these possibilities and finally selected the quote that most personified Biff’s character (Mom, an English teacher, will be thrilled that I used one of the words she loves to torment her students with – “personified”).

Speaking of Biff, maybe we can name one of our offspring Biff. We are trying to find names that have relevance in both Ethiopia and the U.S. Here’s another call for input from the mysterious world of the web-journal sphere (I no longer use the term “blogosphere” as I find it degrading and culturally insensitive) – does “Biff” have any cultural significance in Ethiopia? Thanks in advance for your important input.

1 Comments:

Blogger Legal said...

Nice Blog

I have a diet heath and fitness tips blog

If you have time stop by sometime

Keep up the Good Work**Diet Health and Fitness Tips**

4:30 AM  

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