Category Archives: I Miss

The category for everything in the I Miss… series of posts

I Miss… #6

I escaped NYS a day early so that I could get some work done in Mombasa while I still have a nice 3G connection on my ceullular modem. Of course, it also means I am sitting in a hotel room with air conditioning, so I am comfortable, and thought I would fire off a quick blog post. This latest, “I Miss…” goes hand in hand with an earlier one about how I miss summertimes with my friends.

I miss Timesplitters. I bet most of my readers don’t even know what Timesplitters is, and the long story short is that it’s a video game played on a console, which in my case was the Nintendo GameCube (predecessor to the infamous Wii). Now, I fully admit to being a video gamer, through and through, though my interest was always a bit more academic than many people: often knowing much, “about,” the games and gamer culture, while never playing many games at all in comparison to what one may call a, “hardcore,” gamer. In fact this post was inspired by a friend who said he was slightly addicted to a game called World of Warcraft (a common addiction nowadays). Continue reading

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I Miss… #5

Wow it has been quite a while since my last installment in the, “I Miss,” series, but a recent discussion with a friend, combined with just a little time to write today, prompted this. However, when I have more time to write, you can look forward to the next installment in my Open Data Formats series, my Linux Series, and of course the long-awaited Ars Politico Africanae, Part 2. You might even get a brief history of the Internet so that we can all be caught up in the recent political wheelings and dealings surrounding ICANN, IANA and the internationalization of the control over the Internet. The future looks bright for my blog readers! Aren’t you all excited? Oh and for those not interested in computers, I have some entries ahead in what may become a new series, “Kenyan Conversationalism,” plus whatever else pops into mind. Stay tuned. And now back to our regularly-featured presentation.

I Miss

I miss summers hanging out around the pool at night with my friends. A lot. Now first off, let me preface this with telling all you that I have grown up with the best parents ever. They have been such good parents my entire life and have been amazing providers for their zany children (and we are a zany bunch, no?). In fact, I think we got in so many fights because sub-consciously I knew I would never be as nearly good a parent to my own children as my own are to me. I fear the day one of my children finally breaks down and asks, “Dad, why aren’t you nearly as cool and grandma and grandpa?” How this all come into play?

Well, every summer, our house became the central hang out for my friends (and my siblings’ friends as well). One of the highlights that made it all worthwhile was the pool. It was lit up beautifully at night, tiki torches all around, including an accompanying hot tub. It was perfect size for us all and for hosting some really fun nights. Earlier this week, my friends and I were talking and somehow the Mike’s brand of malted alcoholic beverages was brought up, and my instant recall was that of nights at the pool with my friends. High school (no Mike’s involved then) and college (Mike’s became involved after we had all reached legal age) summers are special times in life growing up; times to be treasured, where you have all the freedoms youth affords you, combined with still crashing at your parents’ place so you don’t need to pony up nearly as much money to have fun. Why anybody would actively seek out a lifestyle other than a youthful lifestyle I do not know. Maybe more money?

Yeah, I miss that. I just hope one day I will be able to provide and enable for my own children to have such an amazing youth as I did. Thanks mom and dad. Miss you and love you!

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I Miss… #4

The people around here not from New England don’t get.  They secretly mock me.  I try to explain, they say they understand based on some broader concept of simply missing that which we love, but they don’t understand the magic of it.  I miss Fall.  That’s right.  I am not even going to call it Autumn.  I am calling it Fall.

What’s even funnier about it is that I am missing things I thought I never would.  I miss starting a new year of school, and though I don’t necessarily miss the exams and onslaught of papers, I miss the friends sharing a summer’s worth of adventures with one another; the excitement of slipping into a new routine just as summer started to get boring; the prospects of having advanced one more year, because remember, growing up in America, the year starts in September.  None of this January nonsense.

More specifically though, I am missing Fall in New England.  Apple cider and apple cider donuts; pumpkin carving and Halloween; leaves changing color and falling from trees; that perfect sweatshirt and pants weather that keeps you comfortable while still enjoying the great outdoors, the oppressive humidity of a New England summer simply a fading memory.

Life seems to slow down in Fall, leaves gently easing their way to the ground, children in no hurry to get home from school.  I spent my last Fall in the States at the Franklin Public Library and around downtown Franklin more than ever before in my life.  I was doing last minute work, or simply hanging around, too antsy to stay at home.  I was also teaching little kids how to swim at Boston Sports Club.  I loved finishing up lessons and coming out into the crisp air after having spent hours in the pool.  Not to mention always stopping by for one of the myriad of “Fall-flavored” drinks at Dunkin’ Donuts.  It was all going at the perfect speed.  Probably good preparation for the Kenyan speed of life at which I now operate.

I walk back from the computer lab every day over a path littered with fallen and dried palm fronds and other large leaves.  They crunch beneath my feet.  The sound is the same, but the spirit just isn’t there. I don’t see Kenyans raking these leaves into piles and jumping into them.  The students just burn them. The leaves are just rubbish here. Maybe I will show them the magic of these fallen leaves one day.

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What cool kids do on weekends

This past weekend was the internation Software Freedom Day celebration.  Long story short, it’s a day to allow teams around the world to coordinate and host events to promote Free and Open Source Software.  An event like this is particularly important in a place like Kenya because there is currently very low computer literacy but plenty of hardware is flowing into the country.  The solution to all this hardware and a low level of preconceptions about what a computer should be and should run is to promote Free and Open Source software such as Linux based operating systems and other applications.

Posey and I setting up computers for the Open Source demonstrations

Posey and I setting up computers for the Open Source demonstrations

My Kenyan programmer friend Arthur therefore decided to take the initiative and got people together to host a Software Freedom Day 2009 event here in Mombasa.  How great is that?!  He worked with the guys from Camara, Build-A-Web and Lamu Software to rent a hall, set up tons of computers running FOSS and lined up a few speakers.

The day started with about and hour and a half of setup.  I was able to call in some Peace Corps volunteers who might be interested in utilizing FOSS at their primary projects, and even got some Kenyans I know to also come, including some teachers from National Youth Service and Kenyan NGO volunteers hoping to network with web developers and programmers.  Combined with Camara people, other invitees and people we attracted from our flyers and street table, we had a total participation of about 50 or more.  This is really good, trust me.

On top of all of this, Arthur asked me to give a talk or speech, with complete freedom of topic.  I chose to give a brief, enthusiastic overview of what Open Source Software is and what it means to me, and with the help of my friends and of course Ms. Vosburgh and her indefatigable editing skills, I would say the speech went off pretty well.  I stressed the importance of building up a community of Open Source users to help others learn and grow.  I stressed how these communities need to meet regularly, how they need not feel like they would be unproductive because of a lack of internet, how they need to start really assessing theircomputing  needs and start answering those needs themselves and not wait for some corporation to finally perceive

their community as a viable market.

Yours truly giving his Software Freedom Day speech

Yours truly giving his Software Freedom Day speech

The day was also filled with plenty of software demonstrations and question and answer sessions.  Myself, Arthur and other Open Source enthusiasts fielded all sorts of questions on all sorts of topics from copyright to format compatibility to business strategy and even strategy on how the people at the event could themselves go out and convince others of the need to switch to FOSS.  In the end, the day was very successful in showing people that there are others in their own neighbourhoods that are using FOSS and that maybe they should themselves switch.  And it might mean I am soon going to be attending regular meetings of the Mombasa Linux User Group.  That would be really exciting.

Of course, with such a busy Saturday, and with there being a holiday (Eid, the end of Ramadan) on Monday, Sunday became beach day.  Packed up everything and headed down to Diani beach, hung out, relaxed, got some sun, and played in the waves.  It was my first trip to the beach in Kenya on which I was able to body surf the waves.  Well worth it.  And I like the south coast beaches far more than north coast beaches.  Far less crowded and therefore much calmer and more enjoyable.

Monday as I said was a holiday, Eid.  I don’t really know much about Eid at all except that it is the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  For all practicalities in my life this means a few crucial things: my favourite restaurants will be open again in Mombasa and hopefully the Imams will go back to regular prayer schedules, meaning no more 3am prayer sessions.  I hope.

Of course, last night there was a crazy idea to try and bake a pie.  Mind you, I do not own an oven.  What you t do is create what is called a jiko oven.  Jiko just means cooking apparatus (charcoal burner, gas stove, etc.) and you can create an oven using some pots over this cooking apparatus.  It’s just one of those crazy things Peace Corps volunteers do.  Except I don’t have a charcoal jiko which is best for long-cooking, high heat requirements.  So we decided to dig a pit to make a charcoal fire.  That barely worked.  And then, we placed a ceramic plate as the lid to our makeshift oven, except the charcoal we placed on top of the plate to heat the top of the over shattered the plate.

We were left with an apple pie that had ceramic shards all inside.  Good thing we had macaronic and cheese and hot dogs as a backup.  The initial plan was to just be eating th epie.  Oh boy that would have been a mess.

Needless to say, it was a very busy weekend: software, freedom, glass in pies, everything.

Camara Volunteers setting up the outside table to attract attention

Camara Volunteers setting up the outside table to attract attention

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I Miss… #3

Sandwiches.  Deli meat is not a common purchase in Kenya, as it is very expensive and requires refrigeration.  Americans, do not belittle such precious simple things, for in their simplicity, sandwiches provide easy consumption of many dietary necessities including your proteins, carbs, greens, and fats!  All in one, and usually created in less than 5 minutes.  Heck, sometimes even ramen takes longer than that to make!  Love thy sandwich, for he is your appetite’s best friend!  Also, please do not try to mail  me a sandwhich.  It would take some explaining at customs and I just don’t think my Kiswahili is up for that yet.

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I Miss…

I am going to start a series called “I Miss…” Don’t worry, it’s not because I want to come home all of a sudden, I am quite well adjusted over here thank you very much. But to deny that I am missing things would be a bold face lie. And we all know I am not bold in any way, so we just can’t have any of those. And what person, place, or mineral graces the first episode of “I Miss…”?

I miss Blueberry Ale.

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