Tuesday, June 28, 2011

two weeks in -

As always, time keeps slipping by very quickly. I was rather contemplative last week after the news of a former classmate’s passing. It’s given me much inspiration to write, though not specifically on that topic as that is both a downer and something for people to process in their own way. It has been more of a catalyst for general thought and everything I can churn through the five-course zombie dinner that is my brain. (Hey, my brain is high grade. It’s no fast food value meal and the zombies should appreciate that.)

I have made a couple small conclusions, perhaps quite banal to you, but they are about items that impact me. Compared to Gabon, power is either more reliable here or our back-up generator is much better and seamless. To contrast this, you have to understand that there were some days in Gabon where the power would go out, the generator would not work, and then stay out long enough to drain laptop batteries. Hey, at least it gets you out and about checking the yard. (To be frank, the days when the water didn't work were the worst. Hygiene is not given the same level of importance as in the U.S. and coupled with no running water the results are an olfactory assault.) To balance this, the network is both distinctly slower than it was in Gabon and less reliable. It seems to go down for brief moments several times a day and once or twice a week for an extended (more than 30 minutes) period of time.

The food is adequate. It's not bad, is far more convenient than having to shop and prepare on my own, and is reasonably (but not abundantly) varied. I have been eating a lot of curry which helps flavor-up everything else. Two complaints are both petty and not real grievances. First, all meat is halal which means no delicious, magical bacon. (Also no ham or pork chops in case it wasn't clear that those are all from the same animal. As an example of the network speed, that page took about 1 minute to load, and then the clip at 240p took another minute to fully buffer.) My second non-complaint is that I am not used to eating on a schedule while at work. I have no doubt it might be beneficial to eat at more structured times than what I have done in the past, but I would rather just eat when I'm hungry. Hence, I always take a piece of fruit with me after every meal.

The rain last week brought out some frogs. I had noticed a couple earlier in the week, but they really made a showing after the rain. It reminded me of the frogs they had in when I lived in Texas, but these were much smaller. You might be wondering how we can have frogs in the middle of a desert. I am a little curious about how they got here, but they are not exactly tropical tree frogs. Plus, within the walls of the base, specifically in the camp portion, they water the plans quite heavily and it is surprisingly green within our walls. Looking out beyond them is a bit bleak, but inside the camp, it is quite pleasant. The frogs are also drawn to the pool, but once inside they cannot get out on their own. I assume someone is helping them out of the pool as I do not see the pool bottom littered with frogs unable to appreciate the irony of their need for moisture.

I am still feeling out operations. It's always the same goal, but execution varies so much amongst locations. Here, it is some hybrid of other locations I have seen so nothing seems too radically different than what I have seen before. Or, I have become used to expecting surprises and perhaps very little would be radically different. It's always the classic issue of working within the constraints of available resources. What I might take for granted in one place could be nigh impossible to do here. Likewise, we have some resources here I would not have expected, but they enable us to makeup for not having other things. We also just closed the fiscal month (which ends on the 25th) so that flurry of trying to piece together a month that I was not fully present for was fun. There's lots to do and learn so time to get back to work.

(Note: I deliberately fudge a bit with timestamps on these posts. I am not actually writing this in the middle of the work day.)


mere said...

Thanks for the report. Keep it coming.

cuisine said...

Think frog legs. They are really easy to prepare. Taste great.