May 2010 in Tanzania through the eyes of an Englishman

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Visit Tanzania?

If you are planning to visit Tanzania, and come to Arusha, please feel free to contact us. We can tell you about hotels, facilities, prices of basics, etc. Arusha is a great base for trips to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Kilimanjaro, and of course our own pet volcano, Mount Meru. We now also have bed and breakfast rooms available, and a special introductory offer - see Adia's Place.
The BEV Retrospective - 1942/2002.

There was life before Find out what it was like in the second half of the 20th century viewed through the Brits Eye. Read the BEV E-book, currently featuring the year 1970. This is really getting rather stale - it's been stuck there for ages now, but being retired is so busy. I am theoretically working on 1971.

A roof on my new workshop.
31/5/2010 - A Project Milestone.

Today saw a roof in place on my new workshop. This was to have happened yesterday, but when I saw what Innocent was thinking of as a roof structure, I called it off and set a different direction. Innocent is as I have said, an artist with blocks and mortar, but he isn't an engineer or a roofer.

I required that another line of blocks be added. Once wood was put on top of the existing walls the room looked like a cave. Then I wanted the roof to be much simpler, and I could see how to do it with the existing wood. The extra line of blocks was done yesterday, and involved a lot of searching around on Sunday afternoon to find the final required block count.

This morning I had to intervene again because Innocent started putting the rafters (sloping roof beams) on before the grills were put in place. The grills were designed to be structural, so this made no sense. Then after that I had to make them put the central cross member - a piece of 6x2 halfway down the roof slope - in place before going ahead with the rafters. After that it was plain sailing, and I am satisfied that the roof is strong.

The room now feels spacious, and even in the late afternoon, it has decent light. I got the electricity supply cable into the room, and fitted the circuit breakers and some initial cabling.

Tomorrow I have to cut all the channels for sockets, light switches etc, and we have to get a door made. Then on Wednesday Innocent will be back to render the walls so I can apply a coat of white paint.

A skin on the skeleton.
28/5/2010 - Encouraging Progress.

Yeah! It took all day, and the two of us, but we got most of the covering (Tanzanian manufactured canvas) on the sofa. I made some minor design changes first, and there are imperfections, as you can see, but they can be corrected. Other than for those, it looks rather like a sofa.

So this thing is doable. It is now just down to refinement of the design, improvement of the implementation, and practice. Apart from correcting the imperfections, I still have to make pieces for the back corners, and jacaranda facings for the side and bottom fronts - all no problem.

Based on what we have seen, I will make another one, with whatever design modifications seem appropriate, for the South House. After that, I will make the big one for our main living room. That one will be a considerable undertaking.

This morning it was pissing it down again. Innocent and his helper worked for about three hours in the pouring rain breaking up large stones to pieces suitable for the workshop floor ballast, and carrying them round to the back of the house in a wheelbarrow. I felt for them, but at least I was working too. Just before the rain stopped, Adia made them tea, and took that with fried buns and grasshoppers. They were so chuffed it wasn't true. Apparently people don't do that sort of thing for fundis very often.

Before the day was out, they had got two stripes of concrete down on the floor - enough to set the level. Tomorrow it will just be a matter of mixing more concrete and filling it in to the same level. Then it will be time to start on the roof if finances permit.

Upholstery tools.

The mostly padded prototype sofa.
27/5/2010 - Winging It.

Yesterday I made a start on upholstering the sofa. This is completely new ground for me, so how it will turn out remains to be seen.

The first step was to acquire a staple gun. I bought what looked like a reasonably robust one from one of the tool shops in town. They didn't have the staples, but said I could get them from any stationers shop. The gun came with a small supply, so I started work with them.

I had assumed I would fasten the foam padding to the frame by binding it on with a layer of cheap hessian. The arms and the middle of the back got done that way. Later I realized that the high-density foam I was using would actually take staples directly.

By lunchtime today however, I had got through my initial supply of staples, so I took off into town to get more. At the first stationery shop, the owner looked at my sample staples, and told me that he could give me a virtual 100% guarantee that I would not be able to get them in Arusha. He sounded pretty convincing, so I immediately took myself back to the shop whee I'd bought the gun, and asked them which specific stationery shop I should be visiting. No recommendation was forthcoming. They suggested another hardware store. I went there, and the man behind the counter looked at my gun, and said "I have one like that, and I haven't been able to get staples for it either."

I took the gun back to the shop where I had bought it, and they reluctantly gave me my money back. The man at the stationery shop sold me another that used ordinary staples like you'd use in the office - a lighter-weight thing. It seems to shoot those into several types of wood I've tested so far, so though the result may not be as strong, at least I can use it, and just use more staples.

The other piece of equipment I had to make myself, since I could not find what I wanted in town. I use it for pushing pieces of string through the padding and hessian in the course of setting them up on the frame.

The result so far does not look like much, but it is quite comfortable to sit or lounge on. The lumbar support padding at the bottom of the back seems to be an essential ingredient.

This afternoon I got some canvas to attempt the covering. The stuff I bought was not the heavyweight variety that I would want to use if I was confident of the result, but it should be OK for my first attempt - watch this space.

A new bedside table design.

A different honey.
25/5/2010 - OK, Back to Business.

I am in a more optimistic mood today, so I'll press on with BEV regardless. If nobody reads it, what the hell. As long as I have some backup, my grandchildren might read it one day.

Today I more or less finished off two bedside tables for the South House. One of them still needs sanding, but you can see the general idea. One of the primary motivations for this design is the simple practical point that when you buy wood to make table legs, there are inevitably pieces left over that are too short for most purposes, but a big chunk of wood to waste. If they are long enough, they can be used for the plant stand design I showed you last. If not, I can now use them for this BT design. I also did some finishing work - another coat of varnish on the latest table, and linseed oil on the plant stand.

The next job is to get the sofa for the Old Cottage finished. To this end, I made some feet for it today and attached them. Tomorrow I'll go into town and get sheet foam and hessian to apply the padding to it. I can see how I will do that. It's the next bit - the final cover - that is the real challenge

Adia went to the Wild Life Research centre again today, and got some different honey. This stuff comes from non-stinging miniature bees, and is different in both consistency and flavour. It is quite liquid, as you can see from the packaging, darker in colour, and distinctly more acidic than normal honey. It's not sour by any means, but more fruity. The guy at the centre who sold it says that most people don't really know how real honey tastes, because most of the stuff sold in jars is bulked up with sugar.

Having organized the delivery of blocks yesterday, today he put four rows down. Now I can get a better impression of the size of my workshop, and I believe it will be OK. But I also believe we will have to put up an adjoining building at some point to function just as a store room.

It is getting built in heavy blocks - the sort normally used for foundations. This is because there's only one manufacturer we know of who is making decent light blocks at present, and we actually got the heavier blocks at a better price when the transport was taken into account. It was not possible to get the blocks onto the adjoining plot where the workshop is being built. The road was too muddy and eroded by the rains. Consequently Innocent and his helper had to carry each block from our car park round to the back of the house and over the wall - this without a word of complaint. There is method in their madness - during the rainy season building work is scarce, so our little job puts food on the table, tedious or not. To be fair, Innocent is not prone to complaining anyway. He just gets stuck in and does the job, whatever it takes.

A long view into our family guest bedroom.

Another plant stand design.

23/5/2010 - Continue With BEV?

It is obvious from my readership statistics that there is really not much point in me continuing with BEV. The number of readers had a little surge earlier this year, but now it is dropping off again. Regardless of these micro-trends, it has always been close to zero in real web site popularity terms. It is clear that the things I have to write about are not of that much interest to the world at large.

At the same time, it has become something of a habit and a responsibility, and after seven and a half years of doing it, I would feel guilty if I gave it up.

What do you - my few faithful readers - think I should do?

We had a visit today from one of the administrative types at the African Court of Human Rights, which is based here in Arusha. Adia had been to see him about jobs earlier this week. He came to look at the rooms, and seemed to be quite impressed. Whether this will translate into any action, i.e. the placement of any visitors with us, remains to be seen. His wife came with him, and she seemed reasonably interested in the furniture.

If we could get hooked up with a couple of long-term organizations like the court, or the East African Community, and get a reasonably good utilization rate on the rooms, we could make faster progress in the main direction - more of the small houses. It has been our experience that these, if reasonably priced and attractive, are much easier to let than rooms. What's more, the people who rent them are more likely to be medium or long term. How that scales is of course an unknown.

Innocent is coming tomorrow to recommence work on my carpentry workshop. What he's going to do I don't know, since it has been pissing it down all weekend and was probably too muddy and slippery to risk getting a load of blocks delivered. Maybe my down mood is just a result of the rainy season, which can get rather depressing.

On the up side, we sold the turbo from the abandoned Isuzu 4JX1 engine this weekend for what seemed like a reasonably good price compared to that of a new one. The cash will expand my workshop fund.
19/5/2010 - The Shape Of Things To Come?

We all wonder, so here's a little mind game for you.

At the beginning, it is agonizing beyond belief, and the perpetual hunger, thirst, and pain conjures up all your stored fears of death, loss, whatever, so it is miserable beyond description. But after a while, your thought process emerges a little. Communication with those around you is virtually impossible. They can't hear you, and you can't hear them, only their image is available for your torment. They are most likely to be beginners like you, and in such trauma that communication is the last thing on their mind. But in the brief periods when you have some control over your agony you can notice that none of them die. You see some who try to kill themselves with no success. Some try to kill others in the hope that punishment might bring some variation to the constant torment. All this is to no avail. So you live in hell - well, that's where you are - until you have learned to deal with the agony to some extent, and begin to stabilize a bit.

Of course, at that point you don't realize that you are being monitored. But sooner or later, the warden demons will notice that you are getting a bit too comfortable, so they will change your regime. You might initially get isolation. That's much the same as before, except that you don't get to see anyone else, you suffer in your own personal hell. They have to be careful with this though. You can't go mad, because if you did, you might actually get some pleasant delusions. The biggest risk for them is that you might just get used to the pain, and drift off into some catatonic state that would be much too close to real death for their policy. After all, that's what hell is all about - not letting you have any peace.

So sooner or later, you'll find yourself back in the land of the suffering, and then after many many years, after you have tuned out the agony to some extent - you can get used to anything, you will learn the tricks of communication that the long term inhabitants have developed.

There are many variants. One of best is a kind of Morse code based on small eye movements. This worked because it can really only be seen by someone who is looking directly into your eyes, so it kind of cuts out the warden demons to some extent. It is of course impossibly difficult to learn. You start by noticing that someone is looking at you very intently, then after a time you notice that their eyes are moving slightly up and down and to the left and right. Once you are focused, you can be taught some simple signs like arm, leg, left and right. The 'speaker' will indicate one of them, and then sign it. There are also representations of various alphabets, so that if you have an alphabet in common, more abstract concepts can be communicated. It can take hundreds of years to learn, but so what - you're there for infinity. There's nothing else to do so any little communication is a thrill.

If you see people doing it who have been practicing for a couple of thousand years, it's like they are communicating by telepathy. The eye movements are so slight that you can barely see them.

When you've learned to control the agony, and to communicate a bit, you can also learn how to indulge in various forms of sex. It's all in the mind of course, but then, if you think about it, sex always was. Orgasm is something you feel with your nervous system. You still have that in hell. If you didn't you would not be able to feel pain, remorse, fear etc, which are supposed to be your staple diet. Physically you are disabled on entry, so masturbation does not get you anywhere directly. But after a couple of hundred years of practice you can teach yourself to have orgasms, and if by then you've learned to communicate, you can have relationships where you contribute to each other's fantasies - imagination rules OK.

The really old hands theorize that eventually there's no difference between heaven and hell. In heaven you get everything you want except anything that involves being bad. After a few thousand years this becomes agonizingly boring, so there's nothing much to choose between the two systems.

The Hindus and Buddhists succeeded in opting out of the system about three thousand years ago. One way or another they have a potential path to nirvana. If you have no fear of death, then that is what you actually get. An end - nothing, oblivion, perfect peace, with none of this infinite heaven/hell agony - something all of us here would die for.

Coffee on the bush.

Unidentified berries.
17/5/2010 - The Long Middle of the Month.

Throughout my working life I was paid monthly. Now, the bits and pieces of income that I have come in scattered around the end of the calendar month, but the effect is the same. There's a week when you can spend money, and then three weeks when you have to live within your means.

I find that the best way of dealing with the three weeks is to write off the basic monthly things you have to pay, and then every couple of days calculate how much you can spend each day between now and next payday. If you see than number going down, then you're in trouble - rather like Greece or the UK.

Speaking of the latter, the political news has now gone quiet. I guess the next burst of activity will come at the time of the Queen's speech on the 25th. However it is clear that the formation of a relatively stable coalition government has not cut much ice with the markets. The pound continues on its downward path, and my magic number decreases by the day in addition to what we might spend. It's depressing, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

The pictures reflect yet another trip to the plant nurseries. I reckoned we could afford to buy a few plants on Sunday, and I took a few pictures - mostly rubbish - while we were there.

Today I got some wood machined that I bought about a month ago because it looked good and was a decent price - another low budget activity. I made the wood - mringaringa - into a table top for the South House, which will now gradually get a set of furniture in that wood equivalent to what I have made for the Old Cottage. I am definitely an addict.

Bottle washing machine.
13/5/2010 - Brewery Tour.

One of our neighbours works for Tanzania Breweries (no link - they don't appear to have a web page). I was talking to him yesterday, and he invited me to join an already arranged brewery tour today. I was curious to see what an African brewery tour might be like, so I went along.

No big surprise, you get escorted around the plant for an hour, and then they take you to the hospitality suite and pour beer down your neck until you pass out or excuse yourself and leave.

The Arusha plant gives the impression of being very well run, spotlessly clean, and efficient. It has what seem to be pretty modern facilities. Nothing much to see other than the outside of large stainless steel tanks, and lots of connecting pipes and valves. Most of the stuff appears to be from German manufacturers. The operators do their jobs sitting in front of computer screens that tell them all about the state of the process. Instruments in the connecting pipework measure the flow and calculate the tax due to the government.

There's a bit of action in the bottling plant. Fork lift trucks take the crates of empty bottles from arriving trucks. These are transferred to a conveyor belt. A machine then takes the bottles out of the crates, and puts them on a separate conveyor. From there the bottles go to a large washing machine where a jet of caustic soda is squirted into them, followed by successive jets of rinse water. The outsides are similarly treated so that existing labels are softened and washed off. The bottles come out the other side hot and sparkling onto another conveyor belt, where they get checked for defects like chips or foreign bodies in the bottle. The ones that do are unceremoniously tossed off the belt. I felt vindicated in my customary practice of drinking beer from the bottle rather than from a glass that for all I know could have been rinsed out with urine.

Next the bottles are filled by another large machine that also puts the crown tops on them. Another machine then checks the level in each bottle, again tossing them of the line if they are low. They all then go into a pasteurization section, where they are first heated, then cooled again. Finally, another machine applies the appropriate labels, and another puts the bottles back in crates that have been washed by another machine. The crates go to a large storage area. At the other end of the store, forklift trucks remove them and load them into trucks. I guess that these days it is the same the whole world over.

I chickened out of the hospitality area after some samosas, beef skewers, and three Kilis, since I had gone there on Kiki, and it was still only late afternoon. But it made a change from woodwork.

Asexual reproduction.

A glut of avocados.
11/5/2010 - Sorted?

It seems that Nick Clegg's pass at the Labour party has quickly produced a negative result. But it did the trick, the Tories made a better offer on voting reform. So now it seems that the unholy alliance will prevail. I'm sure there are lots of British voters who won't like it.

We probably won't know until around 21:00 BST - nine o'clock news time. I'll be in bed and asleep by then, so I won't know the final outcome until morning.

Here at home in Tanzania, I have continued with my work on furniture. I put together the jacaranda mirror frame for the Old cottage and sent it to have a rebate cut for the mirror by our friend Mr Burhani, who does picture framing and has a router. The chair skeleton I was waiting for also got finished today, so I'm working on a clone of the existing chair example so we can put a pair of them in the Old Cottage.

It is avocado season again here, so anyone with established land that contains one or more avocado trees is trying to unload them on their friends. Adia came home today with a big bag full. They are good, but she'll probably give half of them to someone else. Otherwise they'll rot before we eat them all.

I was correct in my prediction of Danny's fate. Adia sacked him today. I think there's another recruit from Kagera in the offing, but I try to keep out of these things - the whole domestic employee thing raises more questions than it answers.

To my surprise, I got some comments on the chair! The primary objection was to the horn shaped bits sticking up from the back, but they are not a necessary feature, so that's OK. Another was that it does not look very stable, but I assure you it is. Backwards and sideways it is difficult to uproot. Thank you for taking the trouble.

Las Vegas watch out.
10/5/2010 - Uncertainty.

The card game illustrated has now become a daily fixture at the BEV compound. It was three handed, but lately Innocent the builder has taken to turning up to join it at about five, so it is now him, top left, and then in clockwise order, Zaina, Danny, and Adia.

This could quite quickly become three handed again, since I think that Danny's fate is now sealed. He will probably get his marching orders tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the political situation in the UK grows more intriguing/chaotic by the hour. Nick Clegg is now having simultaneous affairs with both the Tories and Labour, and everything remains thoroughly up in the air. My ex-wife Lynn in the US suggested that I might try to explain the British system to Americans, but I am politely declining that role. The Wiki articles on the British constitution, and on votes of confidence do the job much better than I could, though I have to say that neither of them is what you would call crystal clear. I imagine that most British MPs have to go through a fairly stiff rapid education on the subject when they get elected.

At the moment, the issues appear to be simple. The Lib-Dems (centre-left), can choose to form an alliance with the Tories (somewhere right of centre), or with the Labour Party (centre-left or maybe a little lefter).
The primary aim of the Lib-Dems, which for some reason is always mentioned at the end of their list as if it didn't matter, is electoral reform. They want some sort of proportional representation, so that in the future they will not continue to be entirely locked out of the governmental process because they are the party with the third largest electoral support. They also want a 'fairer' taxation system, whatever that might mean.

Unfortunately for the Lib-Dems, the Tories are dead-set against proportional representation, and their ideas about fair taxation probably compare to the Lib-Dem ones like chalk and cheese.

Labour on the other hand, to cling on to power, might accept voting reform, and might accept a modified form of the Lib-Dem taxation proposals. Sounds like a deal? The snag is that that between them, they don't have the votes to command an absolute majority. If you don't have a majority, the other lot can move a vote of confidence, and if you lose it, then the government has to resign or call an election.

To get the votes it needs, a Labour/Lib-Dem coalition would have to pull in odds and sods from minority parties. This would probably mean that four or five nationalist MPs could veto the horrid legislation needed to sort out the economic mess left by the bank collapses and recession as it applied for their national areas (Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales). The resulting government would be hamstrung.

However, if the government were to get a couple of law changes through before it collapsed, the situation could be altered. The changes would be to implement fixed term parliaments - say four years between elections, and to abolish the significance of votes of confidence. After that, bills in parliament could pass or fail on their merits without the temptation to unseat the government over each issue.

Jacaranda - My current favourite wood.

A yam, cut up to be cooked.
9/5/2010 - Textures.

I took a variety of pictures today, but the two to the left were my favourites. This is I think largely because of the texture or surface appearance of the two two substances

As you know, I have been working on furniture for the Old Cottage, and the wood theme there is Jacaranda. As I have been working I have become very fond of this wood. This is partly because it is relatively easy to work with, but mostly because of its endless variety. The trees almost invariably have short twisted or gnarled trunks. Mostly the trees might have only a couple of meters of trunk that can be usefully sawn. In rare cases you might get maybe 4 or 5 meters of straight grained wood. So every piece you open by planing it so you can see the texture - the grain - has some new surprise.

In this case, it was a particularly gnarly piece that became the top of a book case.

The other texture that I discovered today was that of the inside of a yam. Adia bought one, or rather a piece of one, at the market today. Its appearance was to my mind quite interesting. It got better than that though. I don't think I have ever eaten yam before, but the experience was most pleasant. I think that for me it now rates above green bananas and rice, and just below my ultimate favourite, potatoes.

There was another picture I took that I had intended to show you, but it didn't come out all that well. Most of the honey in Tanzania comes from the Tabora district, to the south and west of Arusha by maybe 300km. But Arusha apparently holds the honey crown. There's an organization called the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute that has a centre in Arusha that for some reason has come to specialize in the collection of honey from wild bees - yes, the vicious African variety. It is just up the road from where we live, but Adia got some for the first time this week, and it is to die for. It is a favourite ingredient in African traditional medicines, and I can see why - it makes you feel good just to eat some.

Other than that, not much to report. The power was off most of the day yesterday so I didn't get the chair skeleton we'd ordered, and I bought some wood but could not get it machine planed. I spent most of the day sanding the book case - yuk.
7/5/2010 - Thoroughly Hung.

The UK election had the worst possible outcome from my point of view. I don't really give a damn which party is in power. They are all strapped for cash, so the danger of having my pension reduced is probably about the same whoever is in power. The Lib-Dems were talking about scrapping income tax on the first 10,000 of income, and that would be welcome, but they were probably never realistically in with a chance anyway.

So my primary worry is about the value of the pound. For that to stabilize, and hopefully rise, government stability, and some plan for dealing with the deficit is required, not continuing uncertainty.

The pundits say that the chances of the Tories and Lib-Dems coexisting are low, but on the other hand, a Labour/Lib-Dem combo would be hard pressed to form a stable government, so it is difficult to say where stability and a plan are going to come from in the near future.

I think that for ten minutes the parties should form a national unity government under a nominal prime minister and enact a fixed parliamentary term, at the same time nullifying the effect of a vote of confidence and allowing referendums. The prime minister should then be obliged to resign and to set up a referendum to choose the prime minister for the next four years. Yeah - in my dreams!

A skin over the skeleton.
5/5/2010 - Revolution Pending?

Virtually all world governments agreed during the recent financial crisis that there were many banks that could not be allowed to fail. The populations of the countries were never really consulted, and I guess went along on the basis that the governments had people that understood the financial system.

Now in Greece, and possibly next in Spain or Portugal, and after the election, in the UK, the ordinary people will be told what it will cost them as individuals to pay up for the bale-out of the banks and other government overspending.

The Greek people seem inclined to say "fuck the banks". Our government should just tell them they are not getting their money back - they've had enough already, and are making big profits again and shelling them out in bonuses. If things continue as they are there, the austerity promised to the potential lenders could be hosed, and Greece could default on its debt anyway.

If this happened in two or three countries, the writing could be on the wall for the current capitalist system. The whole thing could fall like the house of cards it probably is.

This could be no bad thing. Would you want to live in the world to be created by current capitalism in 100 years time? World resources would be virtually depleted, and global warming would continue unabated. The gap between rich and poor would be astronomical, and governments - and everybody else - would essentially be controlled by a few large world corporations. We really do need a change of direction.

On a lighter note, I got the leather/jackaranda implementation of the chair finished today. I quite like it. It is very comfortable, but has the simplicity I want in my designs. But what I think does not count - it's others who should judge. Can I have some opinions please

Britseye at 68.

A chair seat experiment.
4/5/2010 - 68 Last Friday.

I decided last year, that on my birthday I would post a picture of my body at age X. This may be of no interest to anyone else, in fact it might be revolting, but there you go. I will find it interesting to see how I change over the years I have left. This year it is the Rodin Thinker pose.

I had a quiet but pleasant birthday, doing what I would have done any other day. In the evening we went to Boogaloo and had chicken and chips as a birthday treat, which we would probably have done if it wasn't my birthday anyway. I got a rather good birthday bonk the next day - so no complaints ;=).

Since then I have finished the skeleton of the sofa, and I got some foam cushion squares that fit it to make sure I had got the geometry reasonably right. With the cushion squares on, and some bits of foam propped up against the back it is actually quite comfortable. It will now go on hold until the end of the month when hopefully I can afford to buy the padding foam, hessian, and covering material, and attempt the upholstery.

I got back a test chair seat that we had given to a woman who does basket work. She had done it with string as a test piece, and it was not complete because I had not got the hole spacings right, and it was going further and further off as she wove. It is clear though that this approach could create a viable chair seat or back, so I shall pursue it further once I have found some suitable string or determined that it can be done with rushes or cane.

Also on the chair front, I am trying a simple design over the steel frame that is just heavy leather suspended between two wooden side pieces. So far I have determined that such a design can be very comfortable, but at the same time rather ugly. Now I need to find a way of modifying it so that the comfort remains, but it also looks reasonably good. I have some ideas that I will probably show you tomorrow.

Over the weekend I broke my remaining pair of light plastic-lens glasses. I really need to wear a dust mask to do any woodwork that generates a significant amount of dust. At some point I removed the dust mask and dragged the glasses off with it. They fell on the tiled floor and broke close to where the titanium frames were riveted to the plastic lens. I was mortified - felt a bit like Harry Potter, except that in my case there was no way to botch them up with tape. I have a pair that are glass in a steel frame that are optically OK, but they are not all that comfortable. I need to find a way to get some new lenses made in the UK or the US, and fitted to my existing lightweight frames. It would cost a fortune to have it done here.
3/5/2010 - May.

I appear to be back in business. As I said on 31st April, I have been having significant problems with my Internet connection. These were such that making the monthly changeover seemed to me to be to be unwise.

This afternoon, things seem to have improved. I have been harassing both ends, my Internet connection provider here in Arusha, and my hosting company which for historical reasons is in New Jersey. I don't know who changed what - I didn't change anything, but suddenly things got better. My primary suspect is the provider here. I have recently switched to paying monthly rather than quarterly, since I discovered that for some inexplicable reason, to do so was slightly cheaper, and since I'd rather hang on to my money as long as possible rather than have someone else hang on to it. This afternoon we paid for the next month. I suspect they put accounts that are due on a degraded service basis, since the problems date from last Friday - significantly the last day of the month, and before a weekend.

So anyway, in consequence, this is a bit bare - little news, no picture, and late.

Briefly, Innocent and his helpers got the foundation down for my workshop. That's a big piece of the work, so rapid progress should be possible next month when further funds become available. Danny has edged his way further down the slippery slope toward unemployment. One further slip, and I think he will be gone. The sofa frame is almost complete, and I have now discovered reasonable sources for the stuff I need to do the upholstery. I got the second prototype chair skeleton, which is generally OK.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible - hopefully tomorrow.
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What is BEV?

Brits Eye View is an Englishman's seven-year personal blog 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.

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bid $ - ask $  .

The most popular BEV archive page (Jan 2003 - Apr 2010) is now hovering between June 2003 and Jan 2005. (And I still wish someone would explain to me why!)

We have rooms available at Adia's Place (the Brits Eye View micro hotel). So if you plan to visit Arusha, and don't mind being a guinea pig, give us a shout. You can stay in a rather nice room close to both the city, and to rural Africa, at a very competitive price.

A GDC-newbie web page

I have made a new page for beginner users of the GDC (Gnu Compiler Collection D Compiler) here. Since I am a newbie to it myself, I thought I should share my experiences of getting the thing up and running and beyond.

Currently on the Software page:

GDC, MinGW, and Code::Blocks
- Taking a different tack on the D programming language.

Javascript Exceptions
- A design flaw?

Minimally Intrusive Javascript
- Writing scripts for use by others.

BEV Tiny Feedback Component
- Simplified installation (I hope).

Javascript Little Known Facts #1
- Array Slicing and Function Call.

Javascript Little Known Facts #2
- Nested Functions and Closures.

Javascript Little Known Facts #3
- Labels.