I don't often publish things here that aren't my own, but I can't resist linking to this fantastic piece of stop-motion video, showing my old home — Cotonou, Benin — over the course of a day.
Cotonou in Motion (Africa) - Hyperlapse from Mayeul Akpovi on Vimeo.
A gorgeous bit of work by Mayeul Akpovi, whose last name shows he is probably Beninese himself. Awesome to see Africans taking pride in their home! And damned if it doesn't fill me with a strong nostalgia for the place I called home from 2006–2010. Who'd have thought?
Like so many other things in life, I thought my website was just the way I wanted it, right up to the moment when suddenly I did not. This is the story of my transition from Joomla to Serendipity (S9Y).
Continue reading "From Joomla to Serendipity"
2013 was the year of Usenet. For me, at least. And here's what I learned.
You might not even remember Usenet. What for my generation was a glimpse of the amazing power of the Internet isn't even known to the new generation of Web 2.0 youngsters: if this article is too long for you, this is the tl;dr conclusion: the Internet is generational, and the new generation isn't better, it's just different.
Continue reading "2013, the Year of Usenet"
It's Movember, folks, the month when we draw attention to prostate and testicular cancer. I'm joining a fundraiser campaign this year, and during the month of November will be raising funds to contribute to the scientific effort to find a remedy.
Interested in participating? Start growing that 'stache, gentlemen. Otherwise, check me out at my Movember Senegal Stache Team page and watch that '70s goodness grow! And kindly kick in a buck or two — our 21-person team is trying to raise a thousand bucks through the power of facial hair.
Continue reading "It's Movember!"
How did we get here? No, really, what is the chain of unfortunate events that leads to a situation like this one?
Well, let's see what we've got: a tractor-trailer mired axle-deep in mud. No, that's not mud, it's human excrement. And it's spun its tires — which were too bald and deteriorated to be worth much anyway — until one of them flew to bits, and now that truck is going absolutely nowhere, and getting it out of that predicament is going to take a couple long hours of pretty nasty work.
How did we get here?
Continue reading "How Did We Get Here?"
They say the marketplace is where the flavor of humanity rises to the surface. Walking through the vendors' stands in Kolda, heaped high with fruits and vegetables, it was easy to believe. Kolda, a commercial center in Senegal's central Casamance region, has long known the power of trade, and its merchants and artisans do business with Africans from throughout Senegal, the Gambia, and Guinea Bissau.
Continue reading "Market Day in Kolda"
In April, 1998, after three intense months of training and cultural learning, I walked up the dusty path from the Condega-Yalí road to meet the Zavala family and begin two years of service teaching agronomy and soil conservation as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The Zavalas would be my family for the next two years, offering me a corner of their home and all their love and support as I lived in their community.
Two years later it was time to leave the Peace Corps and do something else. But I never left the family. And fifteen years — almost to the day — after I first arrived, I returned with Ericka and the children to visit. And I experienced the same whirlwind of emotions as I did in 1998.
Continue reading "San Diego at Fifteen"
The hillsides were dry, but the little shade afforded by the almond and guanacaste trees threw into relief the concrete statues placed by the former owner: he'd reconstructed Nahuatl and Chorotega statues turned up in Ometepe and the Amerrisque mountains bearing tribute to Nicaragua's pre-Columbian history. But he'd done versions of the Buddha and a crucifix or two, as well, so the trail down to the water felt something like a parade-ground of historical dignitaries.
Continue reading "El Remanso"
When walking the cobbled streets of Jinotega, you can't help but feel you're at the edge of the world, with all kinds of unknowns in the hills to the north and east. In fact, hundreds of kilometers of wild, lush mountain country beckon to the east. East of the city the pavement stops, the roads turn rutted and bumpy, bus service is less frequent, and the accommodations dwindle ... But the immense department of Jinotega is comprised of hundreds of small communities and thousands of farmers who make their livelihood in the hills around them &emdash; including many who have barely ever traveled beyond this land in their lives.
Continue reading "Jinotega"
We were on the fantastic and historical San Juan River of Nicaragua, having some away time in Nicaragua's most overlooked corner. And when Diego saw his first river otter sunning himself on a log, and when Valentina caught her first fish, I realized actually we were doing alright. Morning started just after 5AM, when the first morning birds began to call and dawn broke, taking us from night to light in just a few minutes. The Howler Monkeys on the far shore grew silent for a while, and before long the early morning river traffic began to ply the smooth waters of windless morning.
Continue reading "A Bend in the River"
My experiment contributing to the OSNews site lasted just shy of three weeks (see that page for details why) but I was still determined to find some way to contribute to the Open Source community. Strangely, that experiment led me to a new adventure.
Continue reading "Contributing to KDE Docs"
Bravery is relative, as is adventure. In Indonesia, I climbed volcanic Mount Batur before dawn, and reached the summit feeling triumphant only to find a Balinese 10 year old had done the same, wearing flip-flops and carrying a case of soda on his head to sell to us. There's always a team braver than you and it's inspiring to meet those who coax you into discovery and adventure. In Senegal, that team was OAR Northwest.
Continue reading "The Rowers"
Lac Rose was only a couple of kilometers away from Dakar, but given urban traffic/chaos, dusty back roads, one main thoroughfare blocked by a day market, and another closed for construction, it took us over an hour to reach. Surely there was an easier way home? There was, once you put on your lucky adventure hat.
Continue reading "The Sandy Ride Home"
Not far northeast of Dakar on the Cap Vert peninsula is Lac Rose, a shallow freshwater lake that decades of evaporation have converted into a salt pan whose color is somewhat pinkish in the right conditions of sunlight. We went to go have a look. The lake gets its color from a high concentration of Dunaliella salina algae, its shallow depth, and the high salt concentration. But it gets its fame from the famous Paris-Dakar off-road rally, which used to end here.
Continue reading "Lac Rose"
It's the first of January, time to make resolutions that lead you to a new lifestyle, open new doors, and challenge you to leave the rut in which you're languishing. I resolved to get more involved in the Open Source community in more meaningful ways, and here we go.
I was talking to Thom Holwerda over at OSNews who was lamenting the dearth of interesting articles submitted to the site for publication, and I volunteered to help out. My first couple of pieces have already gone live, and I've got a lot more ideas. This is fun!
The submitting process led me to reflect on the nature of web publishing these days. Is there a need for topic-specific news sites when anyone with an RSS reader can simply subscribe directly? Is Twitter the way to go now and is RSS too passé? For that matter, what about old Usenet-style discussion centers? In the 21st century there are so many competing fora and formats it's bewildering. But I think there will always be a role for community - that is, human curation. Given the overwhelming number of fora, blogs, feeds, and accounts out there, sometimes it's nice to be able to just go to one place for an update.
Check me out www.osnews.com/user/uid:885/submissions
Click for the afterward: this experiment is over.
Continue reading "Contributing to OSNews"