Manhattan seen across the Hudson river from New Jersey.New York panorama image

June 2013 in Tanzania through the eyes of an Englishman

In some corner of a foreign field: RIP Cali".

In some corner of a foreign field.

21/6/2013 - An Obituary.

It is with great sadness that I report the death of our friend and companion Cali the cat.

She suffered some sort of crisis this morning and was struggling to breathe. I took her to the vet and got her admitted. Apparently she showed some signs of recovery, but then relapsed, and died at about 15:00hrs. I have just buried her with appropriate dignity.

Cali was about 13 and a half years old. She first came into my life on Valentines Day in the year 2000, in New York City. She came with me and Terry on my trip to India, and then with me and Adia to Africa - a very well traveled cat. But now she has made her last journey. When I met her, she was a scrawny kitten with aweful conjunctivitis. I took her the three blocks to the ASPCA vet. Having no crate at that time I carried her and she clung to my sweater for dear life. They fixed her up.

When I took her on the final trip to the vet, she did the same thing, but as usual she went calmly into her travel crate to be an in-patient. Poignant or what!

I am somewhat surprised at my reaction to this event. I am usually rather phlegmatic about deaths, but this somehow touched me. I took her for granted to some extent, but she'd get in her crate without complaint and go anywhere with me. Interestingly, me having been a serially unfaithful bastard, Cali was with me longer than any of my wives. As a personal reference point I have dedicated the last movement of Elgar 2 to her memory. Not to a king, but to a cat.

Extended: I have tried to design a strong and simple table for small houses and apartments.".

Extended.


Closed: A considerable space saving.".

Closed.

21/6/2013 - Wood and Metal.

The weather has been cold, so some work that involved physicality was appropriate. Also I'd had a design for a drop-leaf table in my head for some time, with unit 1 in mind. So I decided to execute it.

One of the primary design considerations was that the the table should be strong and modular. People in rented accommodation have special skills for destroying things. So I want repairing them to be easy.

Consequently I decided to make the core of the central pedestal of the table in steel. The top, and cosmetic side parts would be screwed on to that. Typically (of me) the piece of steelwork I had made was excessively strong and a little on the heavy side. But having done the thing I can now see clearly how to simplify and lighten it, which will result also in a reduction of the cost of making it.

The part of the woodwork requiring some skill is of course the table top. A drop-leaf traditionally has the boards comprising the top at right angles to the length (assuming that the width of the centre pedestal is narrower than the extended table top.) So I jointed the whole top as one piece, and than cut it in half. Another tricky bit is getting nicely rounded corners. I don't have a jig saw or a band saw, so I have to approximate the curve with straight saw cuts and then finish the rounding with a plane and sandpaper. The other wood parts were very straightforward. I used Jacaranda wood since it is easy to work, and relatively cheap, so is the thing did not work out it would be no big deal.

You can see the result - still requiring some sanding, paint, and varnish - in the picture. I am very pleased with it. Extended, the table top is 0.75m by 1.5m, closed it is 0.75m by 0.27m.

Example page: Nothing exotic".

Example page.

15/6/2013 - Programming Again.

I came up with a fairly interesting piece of Javascript today, as an unintended consequence of investigating some aspect of Javascript and jQuery syntax. Javascript seems to be one of those languages where there's always something new to discover and several ways to skin a cat.

To give a context, suppose you have a web page that displays a number of screens. Each of these comprises a div, which may or may not be displayed - only one at a time - and a set of buttons, or other clickable elements, that choose the div to be displayed.

This is easy to code in a rather literal way, but gets tedious to maintain as you add screens. If you can accept the constraint of naming the divs and buttons in an orderly fashion, this can be automated quite tidily. The solution involves nested functions and closures, and the principle of it is probably applicable to quite a range of situations. You can get an idea of the circumstances I'm talking about from this demo.

For any nerd readers, there's an article about it here.

The African way: As any of you who have picked one up will know, a bag of cement is quite heavy!.

The African way.

6/6/2013 - June.

The weather seems to have settled to a pattern that would do nicely for an English June. It is cloudy in the morning then clears up gradually so that by now - three in the afternoon - it is mostly sunny. Suits me fine!

I'm still computer bound to some extent. I'm trying to make a version of my news feed program that is more suitable for mobile phones. That seems to be coming along quite well.

Yesterday though I spent the whole day down at the new bridge site. Pressure from the villagers had eventually forced a visit by a senior engineer from the municipality for a meeting with the villagers and the contractor. We (the villagers) expressed our views quite forcefully, and the outcome was twofold. First, the contractor had got word of the visit, and had a reasonable sized work team on site, who got quite a lot done the previous day and yesterday. Second, he was put on notice that he had two weeks to make 'substantial progress', failing which the contract could be suspended.

For their part, municipal engineers, after much nagging - possibly mostly from me, had decided to change the shape of the culvert to an oblique one from the original rectangular box design. This is much more suitable for the direction of the stream and of the proposed road improvement.

The bottom of the pit had also been tested, and found to be close to bedrock, so when I arrived yesterday morning there was a new layout properly marked out with lines, and largely covered with large stones which did not sink into the mud. The day was spent by the workers extending the coverage of the stones and laying a substantial blinding layer of concrete over some of the area - about half I reckoned by end of day. Being a typical Brit I could not resist getting involved, and assisted with the stone laying and repairs to the levy where is was leaking excessively.

Today, more concrete is being poured, albeit by a smaller team. If the progress is noticeably slower, I will raise the alarm. The next job is to cast a 50cm thick reinforced concrete slab on top of the blinding layer. The steel for that is or has been cut and bent, and I want to see some of that being put in place starting tomorrow.

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Check out the BEV retrospective
currently covering 1942 - 1975.

1976 is yet to be started.

What is BEV?

Brits Eye View is the personal blog of a 70 year old Englishman - Steve Teale, started in January 2003. It's currently about life in Arusha (Tanzania), and previously in Bangalore, Manhattan, and the Bronx. It deals with life in general, building a house, food and drink, computer programming, opinion on current affairs, 20th century history, and so on. It may give you some insight into what life is like in 'the third world', or encourage you to visit Tanzania.

I started playing with it in January 2003, when I was living in Manhattan. At the time I felt I was going nowhere, and exposing the details of my life could be no worse than not. Almost immediately I changed partners, and quickly recognized that while I might be prepared to live in a goldfish bowl, other's weren't.

The same year I lost my job - recession, exhausted my NY State unemployment benefits, and got a job in India. Consequently a large proportion of BEV was written in Bangalore. India was OK, but I could not see what I was going to do there when I retired.

This uncertainty was resolved when I met my current partner Adia in 2006. She was a Tanzanian, studying law in India, so I came Tanzania in 2007. Here we have built a house, and made new friends. The rest, you can read on BEV.

At about the same time I had the ridiculous idea of extending BEV backwards to cover the years 1942 to 2002. So far I have got to 1975. For the years 2003 - 2012, choose a year/month from the tool bar, or go to the archive page. For 1942 - 1975, choose a year or go to the retrospective page.

Visiting Tanzania?

Adia's Place now has On-Line Booking. Please feel free to check it out. It may not be 100% yet, but if you get a confirmation email then it's a safe bet that we got your booking.

In the short term we will re-confirm.

If you have done all the usual tourist destinations, then make a leap and discover Africa! Come and visit Arusha, Tanzania.

You might be able to stay at - a great centre for safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Kilimanjaro, and of course our own pet volcano, Mount Meru.

Please feel free to contact us. We can tell you about hotels, facilities, prices of basics, etc.

We now have very pleasant bed and breakfast rooms available at $20 per night. The Old Cottage and the South House are also available for longer term visitors.

Studying in Arusha?

Some of the major study centres in Arusha are at Njiro. There, you'll find the Arusha Institute of Accountancy, ESAMI, and TRAPCA.

If you are not happy with the accommodation there, you are only a 5 minute drive from - a secure haven of tranquillity with African food like your mother cooked for you. Price is competitive with the on-campus accommodation.

Just call Adia - 0762 442888 - and she'll come and get you and show you her place. You won't regret it!

This Month's Posts

If there's something particular you'd like to go back to, just click it here

Top 20 BEV Pages.

Exchange Rates.

Moods of Meru.

Mt Meru

The clouds give a good impression of how high it is.

Random BEV Poem.

COMPO.

If you are a Linux user, you might want to try this piece of graphical design software I worked on last year. You can use it to design business cards, labels, logos for your web site, and things of that sort.

You can download it from the BEV COMPO page, where you'll also find the documentation.

About You.

A bit of nonsense. If you've ever wondered what a web site can discover about you when you visit one of their pages with little or no effort, then now you know.

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Contact BEV.

If you want to get in touch outside the built-in comment system, email Steve Teale.