I’m back

Yeah, we back!

Not having either blog or email server right over my birthday weekend was good practise in acceptance and patience for me. And even as it was I texted Prof Mungbean and asked him to call the Phreaki Boi in CA who runs my server to see what is wrong. I still dont know what was wrong, but said Phreaki has his email on the same machine so there wasnt even any way to email him. So I have had a few more texts than usual, but otherwise been making do with less contact.

My appologies to those of you who tried to get in touch, I guess my email was bounching because the server that receives it was down, not just the one I read it from (its the same machine in fact). Most of the other volunteers I know — I met up with a bunch of them on my birthday as you’ll hear soon — rush off to the nearest cybercafe as soon as they get near a town, to pay Ksh 2/minute (sometimes 1 but 2 is common too) to access clockwork internet connections. I am **so** lucky that the college has internet. And I’m not paying extra for it. I could: they have public access via the library in the afternoons and they charge Ksh 1 /min for it. I could restrict my personal internet use to visits to the library and pay a fair rate. I won’t, however. But I am having to deal with the implicit double standard. I’m taking advantage of my position. Just in the same way that many in this country alledgedly do. Im screwing the system like them (whoever they are). I like to remind myself of it from time to time. Perhaps my guilty consience will get the better of me and I will start saving a flat rate per month to use with the Swingbunch collection money when the time comes. Meanwhile Im just keeping it in mind: experiencing corruption first hand.

Speaking of the local system: I got a birthday card from Penny who says (by text) she sent it “AGES ago to make sure it arrived on time“. I got it yesterday (monday). So post officially takes “AGES“. There was also a parcel from someone… I have seen it but not collected it yet. The manifest says it contains a game and CDs. I’m excited! But it was opened by customs who have made an estimate of its value and want Ksh 720 (about, what… 5 or 6 quid?) duty. Now I’m supposed to be exempt from duty for the first three months in the country but, as the lady in Tala post office pointed out, the customs officers dont know who I am or how long I’ve been here. So I’m off to Nairobi with my Vounter ID card, probably tomorrow morning, to introduce myself to them and, hopefully, get a chitty exempting me from duty on the package at Tala post office. Apaprently since it was posted as registered post they will not charge me for keeping it at the post office, which they would for normal parcel post if I didn’t collect it within 7 days. So I hope I can get it for free, or for just the Ksh 67 fee for ‘presentation to the customs officer’ after tomorrow. Its great fun figuring this stuff out, and also exciting to know I have a parcel “on the way” with cool stuff in!

I’ll tell you the story of my birhday weekend in a while. First I have to catch up with some email!


  1. Cyka Says:

    i just sent you a mail about parcels, please call me.

  2. tygger Says:

    great to have you back piggie! want to hear about your weekend … mine was good – the course was great and it was topped off with a lovely time at brooke’s on sunday (miss your music though!). The cheeky pilot and i had the fabbest bal to a 270bpm song! yes!!!!ahahahahah!!!!!

  3. Prof Mungbean Says:

    Welcome back – PHEW!

    Well, inspired by your example I now have a blog of my own, albeit one that’s intended for me to try out blogging and (mainly) keep track of all the interesting and useful stuff I find on the Web without having to stick it all in bookmarks on various machines….

    Spent the weeking hacking PHP and CSS in my pyjamas (recommended! Kinda…) and started by re-visiting Movable Type which I already put on my Linux server, but decided that was too much faff and CGI wasn’t enabled for me on work webserver anyway. Then I stumbled across the appalling-named but very cool Blosxom (rhymes with Possom) which is somewhat easier to install — it’s ONE CGI script! HA!

    From there it was a short hop to phposxom, a rewrite of Blosxom in PHP with an even more unpronouncable name. Phposxom is a single PHP file, using customisable "flavors" and with a plugin architecture that makes it easy to extend and customise. Practically all the work I had to do was (a) hacking a stylesheet so the blog would fit with the rest of my site, and (b) writing my own custom Flavor to control layout and plugins. Much easier than it sounds, especially if – like me – you’d rather be hacking PHP than perl. The only disadvantage seems to be lack of docs (it’s recently moved onto SourceForge), but the source was easy to understand. It also includes support for RSS out of the box, which is nice.

    Gosh, that was a bit techie. :confused:

  4. Chris Says:

    Also wanted to say that I don’t see any reason for feeling guilty for not paying for net access… when you were lecturing in the UK you probably never gave free net access a second thought… it hardly even constitutes a "perk" of the job — it’s a requirement!

  5. Mark Says:

    Ugh I just typed a load of stuff about the weeknd and ended up telneting to this linux server from one of the windoze boxes and killing my x-session to un-lock the machine. 🙁

  6. Mark Says:

    I wanted to bring up the subject of double standards (rather than Guilt per se). I think its unavoidable. We have a bore hole for water at the college these days and before that the water used to be delivered in a truck and the girls received a ration of a certain number of buckets. If I use three buckets to rince my laundry, am I taking advantage of my position?

    Today I went to Nairobi to ask the customs officer to waive the 720 Bob duty on my birthday present as it counts as personal effects. Then I went to the Java coffee house and spent 340 on hot choc and pastries. Surely it was a reasonable thing for a volunteer to do, but equally it embodies a double standard.

    Im trying (and using the blog as a vehicle) to e aware of some of these (I’m sure most of them I dont even notice). And maybe it will help me decide what my position is.

  7. Steve Says:

    😥 I just spent ages writing a comment and then pushed the B reset button instead of submit :blush: 🙁
    Anyway the thought was
    about this double standard anst of yours:it could be said that it’s not dissimilar to paying a professor more than a lecturer, GP more than RGN, or paying a surgeon more than a GP to remove a small skin lump – happens all the time .Good to be aware – but no need to go as far as Gandhi.
    love S

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