This morning I came to the lab and turned on the new Linux server that I have been playing with over the last few days. Well, hang on, lets go back a bit: first I turned on the UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply — something very necessary here in the land of blackouts and spikes), the monitor was still switched on, so it came on immediately. I knew this because of the buzzing noise it made and the small plume of white smoke that rose from near the switch. But what I saw was the power LED on by the switch, so I turned on the system unit. Maybe it was just an insect that got near the electrical gubbins. When the system unit comes on, the monitor switches from stand-by to ON and, of course, the smoke switches from whispy and white to thick and black. I turned the UPS off again!


On Monday I went with Eliud Ngumi (of Mama Darlene’s) to visit his house. This was my second trip away from the tarmac.

I felt a few weeks ago that the time had come for me to venture away from the tarmac. Its not quite that bad: I have been on un-made-up roads since I’ve been here, but I stick to a fairly simple route to and fro and around Tala market. These trips went way off into the hedges and fences of the land beyond the road.

It’s not wild here. Off the road you’re basically in someone’s shamba. We weaved this way and that, round fields and hedges, accross chambers… over bridges, under bridges, through articulation (just kidding) … We took the “short cut” from college, cross country. On the way back we went “direct” to the road which still involved quite a lot of weaving around peoples homes (which sit randomly in their fields) and goats, etc. I kept looking back to get a snapshot of the trees and hedges and stuff so that I might have a hope in hell of navigating that route again. It’s funny, there is plenty of stuff to navigate by. The non-uniform nature of the fields and hedges and fences, the fact that every tree is unique, means there are plenty of landmarks. But I’m accustomed to navigating in towns where the landmarks are … well, pubs right? And houses, with numbers, and street signs and such.

I spoke to Johnson (the Sister’s cook who came by my house last weekend) about post. I’ve a photo of a london post box. He didn’t know which way up to hold it, but that was not the supprising thing for him, the supprising thing was that we get our post delivered to our houses, through a special hole in the door. Here that would simply not work! The houses don’t have addresses. Most aren’t even **near** roads. Denise commented that we (we in the UK that is) get upset if the post doesn’t come for a day or two, but out here (moves self to Kenya) we (we in Kenya, that is) it has never even happened.

Anyway, my trip on monday went on quite late; Eliud and I visited Jackson, his VSO volunteer. I walked home past 7pm! It was dark. It gets dark here promptly at 6.30. (Eliud had been to Suffolk in November last year. He commented on how early it gets dark. I told him what happens in the summer as nobody seemed to have explained that and I got the impression he through I woke and slept in darkness all year round.) The moon was just less than half-full (or is it half-empty? Depends if you are an optimist or a lunatic) but the night was clear, and light enough for me to keep my Petzl off most of the way. Millions of stars that I recognise neither as constalations nor as individuals. A big insect, one of those whose wings make a noise like a WW1 biplane, buzzed out of the darkenes and bounced off my neck, making me jump. But it was a lovely evening. How beautiful the skies are here sometimes. And, despite the noise of frogs, gekos and grasshoppers, how peaceful the night.

Zebra Crossing

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The Zebra at Hell’s Gate National Park at Naivasha, knowing my sense of humor, kindly posed for this photograph.

I went to Lake Naivasha with Christine (another VSO who arrived in Kenya with me) and her friend Shauna. It was a fantastic weekend, more photos and stuff below…
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Stupid white men

Came back from my trip today. A little low on sleep. Sat on the matatu reading Michael Moore‘s “Stupid White Men” and had to hold back tears.

I’ll read more of that when I have caught up with my sleep.

And I’ll write more here about the weekend soon too.

One hit, mwah hah hah! Two hits, mwah hah hah! …

Newly installed, the hit counter over on the side-bar! The formatting could do with improvement, but I’m happy because it works!

Geek alert

I did that this morning while re-installing our second linux-box. One of the staff here set it up originally and somehow it ended up with a very small partition for /var which soon filled up. I tried to move /var last night by unmounting the old partition and replacing it with a normal directory, but the root partition was too small to hold the current /var and the system would no longer boot. So I re-partitioned the disk today (one swap partition and a single large partition for /) and reinstalled everything. It just booted first time and I logged in and connected to the network. So now we can continue playing wih it.

And now I’m off to Naivasha (via Nairobi) with Christine, one of the other VSOs, who is taking a tent. So nothing from me until after the weekend, when I hope to have tales of camping and adventure (and less of linux hackery).

Hi! Rax!

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I met this fellow in Nairobi’s safari park when Cyka took me there. The picture turned out larger than I expected; click and you should get the full size one. 😉

I was back there a week ago with some people from the Amani Councelling centre whom I know through someone I met on a Matatu. This time we did the “nature walk” or “Safari Trail” or some such name which, basically, means zoo. But I did get to see lots of animals!

{{popup zebra.jpg zebra 860×208}}zebraBut that was Easter weekend, the time of the big power outage in Tala and I had moved my good AA batteries from the camera into the diskman, so I couldn’t take any photos. Here instead is another from my game drive with Cyka.


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Oh! I feel better for that. Perhaps not as funny as the Toss Pot but worth including, I think. There is also a local detergent called “Gental” which I always mis-read now.

Feeling a little groggy today. Because I had about 12 hours sleep. I think I might have done it just to demonstrate my independence from the strange and ennergetic David I met last night. But that was after tea with Johnson and family.
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Best Wishes to the Urban Swingers

urbanswing (15k image) Just to let you all know I’m thinking of you and with you in spirit.

I’ve spent the afternoon in the Cybercafe which is closed on sundays so I could work on the machines and try to clear the viruses, spyware and Catholic-kitsch screen savers (you would **not** believe!) off them. So I was in the college compound and couldn’t be bothered to unlock the staff room. When the time came, I used the pit latrine. While I was squatting, I was reminded of a story I heard from one of the other volunteers who has been out here a while…

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