October 2009 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 britseyeview.com. 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 promise that one day...
30/10/2009 - Feedback.

I have tried for some time to maintain different systems to allow readers to comment on BEV. There was a bulletin board, but when it wasn't disabled by hackers, it was used by people for purposes for which it was not intended. Then there was a newsgroup, but when I went to look at that a few days ago I found that it was broken also. Both were somebody else's free software, so fixing them was problematic. So, as I do, I have started to work on something home grown. Then if it gets broken, I should be able to mend it.

You can see the result from the feedback or comment link in later months of BEV. Currently it needs a better way of organizing and presenting topics, but I can see how to do that. Otherwise, I think the difficult bits are done.

The tree installed.
28/10/2009 - Obsession(s).

You'd think that after many years of doing it for a living, and then some time doing it as a diversion, that I would get over it. But no! Computer programming seems to have a grip on me that I can not deny - similar to sex, you could say.

So I have just (almost) finished my exercise in PHP programming, then suddenly someone tells me about the Google App Engine, and I discover that currently you can only write applications for that in Python, or Java. So now I have to learn Python, because as anyone who has read BEV for some time will know, for no rational reason, I hate Java. In fact, I think there is a semi-rational reason: when I was making money out of C++, Java suddenly appeared as a serious competitor - that would account for it.

The primary snag with Python is that it doesn't have built-in support for MySQL - one of the world's most popular database systems. This is not supposed to be a big deal, since the Google engine provides some sort of database, but it ain't SQL compliant, so you'd have to rewrite anything you'd done before not only from say PHP to Python, but also to a strange new database language. I'm not sure I want to go there yet. I believe the engine will encompass PHP in time, so I'll wait.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I have spent today reminding myself what Python is about (it's named for the British TV series, not the snake). As I read the stuff, I realized just how much the D programming language had got from there, although I also realize that Python probably got it elsewhere - LISP or Scheme or elsewhere. You could spend a lifetime learning about computer programming languages without writing a single useful application.

Enough! During some break, I potted the rubber tree in the living room. I'm not sure about it. Maybe I'll have to cut off the top to make it grow sideways, but Adia likes it, and I'm getting used to it now. It is surrounded by smaller plants that I hope will grow and make the pot look more of a jungle. What's missing currently is some sort of creeper plant that will grow up the main plant's trunk. I'm still looking for the right one. If the room had more furniture and a big LCD TV, I think the effect would be better, but before we can get there, I have to design the stuff and determine how to make it!

The new Hits'n Stats software has told me things about BEV that I didn't know. Principally that there are more hits on the backnumber pages than I had thought, and that these are often visitors who do not appear to have visited the home page. Now I have to answer the question "how did they get there?"

The most inexplicable case is a hit I had today from someone in Texas. Back in the first month of BEV - Jan 2003 - I had a link to a popup of "Maria's Tits". I was dubious about including it on the page, since Internet hosting companies like to charge you a lot more if you run a porn site, so I played it down. It's genesis was at 'Jimmy's Cafe' in the South Bronx. I had been taking pictures of something there when Maria essentially said "here, take picture of these", which of course I did.

What I want to know is how the visitor from Texas found this little snippet? Over the previous few weeks of recording hits with the new system I'd never had a hit from Texas before. Perhaps he's an ex BEV reader who, like me, just likes tits, and thought he'd go back for another look.

Maria, wherever you are now, I'm sure that many of my readers would appreciate an update ;=)

Whoops there goes another.
27/10/2009 - More Plants.

We went plant shopping again on Sunday, and one of the figs was ripe on the fig tree I've mentioned before. The man at the nursery gave it to me. I left it in the car and forgot it until this morning. It's still fine, and I shall eat it with my breakfast.

We acquired some more small plants that I just saw and fancied, but our main intention was to get a rubber tree and some accompanying plants to go in a large pot in the living room. We got the one you see and a pot, which is about 600mm wide and 600mm high. The tree itself is over 2m tall. The two of them were TS 40,000 - about $30, which I thought was a pretty good price.

It didn't get planted yeterday because it was pissing it down most of the day, and everything was too muddy - maybe today. The potting will have to be done indoors, as there's no way I'll be able to move the pot once it is filled and planted. I'd better get the location right first time. There's not a lot of choice. The placement of other things means there are only two places it can go.

The other smaller plants.
25/10/2009 - BEV Hits'n Stats System.

I've mentioned before that I have been working on a PHP coded system for recording and reporting hits on the BEV web site. I have done it in such a way that it will be possible for other web site owners to use the facility, or to download the source code and other files, and install it on their own server or hosting. Yes, you could use Google Analytics, but even signing up for that made me feel downtrodden.

It's not finished yet, but a lot of it is working, and I've written a description of it - still a bit rough - so if there's anyone out there who'd like to be a tester or a critic, they can let me know.

The big table migrated into the house from the veranda.

Work in progress on the new vegatable garden.
25/10/2009 - Revisited.

Tom Routen, who visited us before when he was in Tanzania a couple of months ago, was back this last week and stayed with us in room 2 - our first bed and breakfast visitor.

Since we have others in the house in two other rooms, this made our tiny plastic dining table somewhat laughable. So given that the weather this year does not seem able to settle down to being warm at breakfast time, I moved the big table from the veranda into the living room.

I say I, actually me and the two Masai who are resident at the moment. I have to say as a result of this exercise that Masai are like women when it comes to moving heavy furniture. There were two of them at one end, and me at the other, but it was there end that was always getting put down. It is bloody heavy mind you.

Adia had resisted my previous suggestions to do so, but now it's in she likes it as do the guests, who had previously more or less ignored it.

What else? Well Tuma the builder has now moved on to the retaining wall and fence posts that will surround our new kitchen garden. The old one rapidly fell to pieces as a result of attacks by termites to the fence posts, and the ability of the dogs to jump over the fence. The vegetables seem to be a terrific attraction to them, especially the cucumbers. The new one will have chain link fencing on steel posts, which I'm hoping might keep them out, since I like the cucumbers too, and they seem to grow well here.

In the course of making the retaining wall, at the beginning of the week, Tuma's helper succeeded in puncturing the drain pipe between the big house and the septic system. This gave me a frantic couple of hours work cutting out the broken section from an inspection chamber at one and and a cut I made upstream of the damage. There were two pressures. First, and most obvious, I don't think the guests would have appreciated not being able to use the toilets. Second, it has rained quite heavily several times this week, and Sods Law would have determined that it would do so again when the pipe was open in the foundation trench, thus washing a load of mud into the septic tank. Anyway, I got it done before nightfall.

I've also done most of the electrical installation work in small house 2. An electrician came yesterday to advise on how we should do the connection to the existing supply, and how we should deal with Tanesco.
Speaking of the latter, apparently the story behind the power cuts is that Tanesco were buying maybe 100Mw of their supply from a private company who had generating capacity. The company had determined that they needed a price rise, and Tanesco - or the government - had refused. So the private company turned the plant off, and said they could do without then. After a couple of weeks of this, with a very disgruntled population applying pressure, President Kikwete signed a deal for the price increase a couple of days ago.

The story then was that this would put an end to the power cuts, but surprise, surprise, we were cut off again last night.

Meru on a fairly clear day with a cap of cloud.
19/10/2009 - Opaque Power Cuts.

From a quick search on Google for "Tanzania power cuts", you would never know that they were happening. This is characteristic of the amazing lack of transparency in the government and running of the country. Apparently Tanesco - the national power company - announced on Friday that power cuts would be extended, but from various Internet searches in English or Swahili, you'd never know. If you go to the Tanesco web site, this is what you see:
The fact of the matter is that the power supply situation in Tanzania is totally screwed up. Here in Arusha, the power is off more of the time than it is on. The government does not appear to be eager to explain this problem to the population. Parliamentarians are a little less coy: "A PARLIAMENTARY watchdog committee is to examine the validity of the decision by the state-run Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) to announce crippling 14-hour power cuts due to a reported 65-megawatt (MW) shortfall on the national grid." I'll believe it when I see it.
17/10/2009 - Bill Gates Visit.

The buzz is that Bill Gates is arriving in Arusha tomorrow with some sort of delegation presumably associated with his and his wife's fund. I guess once he has set foot there will be more news about it from the local media.

The buzz says he will set up some sort of educational institution here. If any of my readers have heard more, please let me know.

Small house 2 structurally complete.

The tail end of the tomatoes.
16/10/2009 - A Miscellany.

I seem to have frightened my visitors from Beijing and Shenzhen away. Perhaps I have said something bad about China, and was being monitored. If not please come back, I won't bother you again.

My PHP work on the web site infrastructure has now reached the point where I could just about stop using the service I've used for some time to monitor hits and statistics. In fact, with a little more work, I'll be able to offer a similar service myself, which might well be an improvement. I'll put the stuff on the software page as soon as I've got it tidied up to my satisfaction.

Tuma the builder has now finished his work on small house 2. It is now rendered inside and out, and the floor screed is down. The next step is for me to put some minimal electrical connections in there - a couple of sockets, and lights. Then I can move my workshop in there and start work on the next guest room.

The tomato glut continues. I picked another bag full, and already there are more ready to pick. We can't possibly eat them all, and will have to give some away, or try and get the woman who runs a vegetable stall at the end of the road to sell some of them

My wonderful HP printer has run out of ink, so yesterday, when I took the laptop to the repair shop, I checked out the price of replacement cartridges. Talk about sticker shock! I haven't bought any of those for maybe ten years, and I just can't get my head round paying about $30 for replacement ink. I checked prices on the web, and they don't seem to be much cheaper elsewhere. I think I shall have to drop the idea of printing our own brochures and business cards, and just go to a printer.

The electricity supply situation here continues to deteriorate. This week, I think is has been off more than it's been on. It was off from eight in the morning yesterday until about six in the evening. Today it went off at lunchtime, and I'll be pleasantly surprised if it comes back before bedtime.

The incidence of noise pollution in and around our village continues to rise. We already have the mosque across the valley, and various churches bombarding us with noise. This week it has been augmented by a bunch of seventh day adventists, who have set up shop on a bit of spare ground where the kids usually play football, about 200m from our house, and they have added to the barrage every evening since Monday shouting at us about the end of the world, salvation, and such. I can do without that.
13/10/2009 - Sods Law.

Sod's Law (Murphy's law elsewhere), says that if something can go wrong, then it will. I think that there is also an extended form that says, in addition, "at the most inconvenient possible time."

The on/off button on my laptop has been dodgy for some time, and I think it has now finally given up the ghost. I had to press it about 20 times this morning before it finally deigned to switch the computer on.

To compound this problem, my wonderful HP printer's associated software messes up the automatic shutdown sequence of Windows XP if you unplug the USB connector to the printer, and then shut down the computer. It also locks up the USB port so you can't plug anything into the same port afterwards. I have never been impressed by the software that comes with HP printers. When I was writing 'Publicity', a program for printing labels and business cards and such, it was always the HP printers that caused problems.

Now of course, if the auto-shutdown sequence fails, that means you have to turn the thing off manually. To turn it off, you have to hold down the on/off button for some time. During that time, you can't tell if that particular press of the button has had any effect. So you have to hold it down for as long as you think that takes, and then maybe repeat that process 20 times. Most annoying. So the laptop has to go to the repair shop, but it can't go tomorrow because that is the anniversary of the death of President Nyerere - essentially the founder of the Tanzanian state. Even when it does go, there's no guarantee of success.

I'll settle for anything. A couple of wires coming out through a hole that I had to touch together would do! In the meantime I'm working on a desktop that doesn't have a UPS. Both UPSs that I brought from India died on the way. So it the power goes off, which it did earlier today, you are back to square one.

This Sunday's plant haul.
11/10/2009 - Sunday Plant Shopping.

When we were in Bangalore, on Sunday afternoons we'd go to a shop in Brigade Road that sold jewelry made with semi-precious stones. Here in Arusha we go to the 'shops' that sell plants. The two venues have something in common. At both of them, if you spend the time and effort, you can find some pleasing little gem.

There are lots of the places that sell plants, but we have our favourite. It's one that is situated so you think it would be among the most expensive, but they seem to like Adia, and she can always get a good price. It's also the place where the parent of my remaining baby fig tree lives. The baby - a cutting - has now recovered and has some healthy looking leaves again. Currently it's living on top of the dog kennels where it should be pretty safe. Its parent is only two years old, but it has about 25 figs on it that are approaching being ripe. I'm negotiating to buy the lot. The single one I had before from this tree (more of a bush really) was wonderful.

Today we bought cactus plants, and a couple of small spreading succulents to plant around them. When we got them home I made a bed for them surrounded by some of the remaining stones we got for the base of the floor in small house 2. The succulent still have to go in there, but I think when they all get established it might look quite good. Hopefully the dogs won't eat these, since they have some rather sharp spines as I discovered when I tried to steady the larger one as we drove it home.
As a result of my PHP programming activity, I now have more information about where my readers are located. The most fascinating of these so far are two from China, in Beijing and Shenzhen respectively. If it's not an invasion of your privacy, please get in touch and let me know how you came across BEV and what you think of it.

Jacaranda blossom and figs.

9/10/2009 - A Measure of UnderPrivilege.

I've been messing with PHP (a computer programming language) over the last few days to see if there were any useful bells/whistles I could add to BEV.

Today I found that I could not access the database on my web server from my machine - probably because the web service provider here is blocking it. So I thought I'd better install PHP on my machine, where I already have Apache and MySQL (seriously popular web software items), so I could develop things here, and then move them to the server.

When I tried to download PHP for Windows, I noticed that in the list of mirrors, there was not a single African country. New Caledonia has a Mirror, and Argentina, and Armenia, and the Bahamas, and Jamaica, but not a single African country.

Now I think that PHP is probably the most popular of the server side applications for the web, so that fact that it has no representation in Africa is an sad indictment of the state of development of the continent. I'd have expected to see at least one for South Africa, but no.

What's more, my attempts to download it from other mirrors in the UK, Ireland, Japan, Australia, and the USA have also been unsuccessful over the last few hours. Internet connection here is truly miserable.

Tomatoes all at once.
7/10/2009 - A Glut.

The tomatoes in our vegetable patch did not seem to be making much progress. However, two days ago, our Masai - Wilson - picked those that he thought were ready. I was mildly upset, because they did not look ready to me.

But, lo and behold, today the bag was full of ripe, firm tomatoes. I had always thought that to ripen them you had to put them somewhere in sunshine, but that is apparently not the case. I guess it must just be temperature.

Now, of course, we have the problem of what to do with them. Tonight we should have fried tomatoes with tomato sauce and a garnish of spicy tomato chutney, accompanied by a tomato salad. Then tomorrow and the day after, the same. Inevitably we will have to give most of them away, and by now there are probably another lot that are ready to be picked!

I don't know that I mentioned it, but despite the dogs' best attempts to destroy them (they seem to enjoy cucumber leaves), the cucumbers did pretty well too, and we had really fresh cucumbers most days for about three weeks.

I really need to learn to plant these things in a progressive sequence so that just a few of them are available most of the time.

Flowers in the garden.

6/10/2009 - Last 600km Problem.

In other places I've lived, it's been the last mile that stood in the way of a decent Internet connection. Here in Tanzania as at present, it's the last 600km. There's a working undersea fibre optic cable connection (Seacom) that makes landfall at Dar es Salaam, and connection speeds there have apparently improved substantially.

However there is no provision for broadband Internet connectivity between the cities here, so in Arusha, or Mwanza, or wherever, we're no better off. If I send an e-mail to someone in Mwanza who uses a Tanzanian Internet provider, chances are that it will go up to a satellite, down to a ground station in Europe, up to the satellite again, and from there to my correspondent. Presumably, when the only option was satellite connection, it was cheaper to build antennae in each major city than to provide inter-city connections. TTCL, the national telecommunications provider, has a network of microwave towers, but this does not appear to constitute a public facility that can be used as an Internet backbone, so inter-city connectivity will presumably have to wait until alternate fibre optic connections can be put in place (if that ever happens).

At present it seems that TTCL will use their inter-city communication facilities to improve their own Internet connection options (which are very limited - they don't even support cellular modems), and leave the other providers in the country high and dry, still dependent on their satellite connections. In the words of one of their executives, "the arrival of the new technology would not completely replace the satellite technology, since the mobile phone companies would still need to utilise their old towers that were connected to satellite." This sounds like a polite way of saying "we've got the inter-city bandwidth so now we can make a killing - and fuck the rest of you." I think I know where the excess profits from this approach will come to rest - any Tanzanian will tell you.

Check out the related article.

The other thing that amazes me is that there is virtually no Internet buzz about this within the country. There's a fatalistic attitude that says there's no point. Whatever facilities are installed, the politicians will simply use them to line their pockets rather than passing on the benefits to the public and to businesses.
5/10/2009 - Design Fault?

I have been frantically measuring things for a few days now trying to understand how I made a significant error in the size of the bathroom in small house 2. Today, the drawing I had given to Tuma, which was apparently lost, resurfaced, so I was able to determine that I had not made the mistake. It was in fact the builder who had made a room clearly indicated as 1.6m wide only 1.2m wide.

On a room that size, 40cm - nearly half a metre - is very significant. Among other things it would mean that if the door was normal size, and I used a typical washbasin, you would be able to trap your hand between the door and the washbasin as you opened it, and if I used a typical sized toilet you might have to walk round it sideways to reach the shower. In short, very cramped.

Now in a building designed for letting this is really bad. The bathroom is probably the most important single room when it comes to first impressions, so Adia and I have been brainstorming all day to try to find a way out of this situation.

We can't simply move the inner wall to where it should have been, as that would make the bedroom look a strange shape. We could knock out all or part of the outside wall and move it outward with appropriate adjustment to the roof, but that seems extreme. As it is we are thinking of trying to make the bathroom look OK at its present size. This may mean setting the toilet back somewhat into a recess, with a corresponding bulge on the outside of the building, and will require the door either to open outwards into the bedroom - not the end of the world, or to be a folding door - there isn't room for a slider.

I hate all of these alternatives. The lesson I have learned is a simple form of caveat emptor. You must measure everything the builders do as they start to do it. It's no use telling African jobbing builders they've got it wrong, so fix it. They'll just disappear. Even if you took them to court and the court found in your favour there would be no way they could afford to pay for the materials.

I think a toilet slightly recessed into an arched niche, and a folding door, will make the room look just about decent. But it would have been so much easier if ...

Clothing mall Tanzanian style.
4/10/2009 - Self Indulgent Sunday.

As you can probably tell, I have not done much in the way of work today. Work always ends up costing money - strange that, and I want to get small house 2 to a structurally complete state before committing to any further serious expenditure.

So today we went to the equivalent of a suburban mall where you'd find instances of all the popular clothing shops. The equivalent is quite different. When people in the UK or the US junk the clothes that they are fed up with, or are out of fashion, or that have got too small or less likely too big, chances are that they could end up in Africa. The vast majority of people here wear clothes that have followed this path. Me too.

I have never been particularly sensitive about things not being new. In NYC I had a number of second hand whatever shops that I visited regularly. Here it is on a much larger scale. There's a whole quite long street with big sheds along one side as in the picture, that is entirely devoted to this trade, and it contains everything from absolute crap to real bargains.

The great difficulty of course is that there are no price labels. Every single purchase has to be the result of appropriate haggling.
This makes it very difficult for a mzungu, because in that case, the price of the article in the eyes of the seller becomes inflated by at least a factor of three, and quite possibly ten. So I have to wander about the place looking for things I might fancy, and then point them out to Adia. She actually speaks to the vendor, gets down to the nitty gritty, and establishes what might be a realistic price. Failing that, walking away often works wonders.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I bought - by proxy - three pairs of track suit pants, two pairs of boxer shorts, and two silk shirts - the latter probably hopelessly out of fashion, but I'm a sucker for silk - and a pair of shoes somewhere between real shoes and sneakers.

The indication of success of course is when you get the things home and try them on in front of a large mirror. There are no mirrors at this mall. The result was not bad. There was not a single purchase that I regretted.

Of course I can't wear them yet. They will all have to be laundered to Adia's exacting standards before that is permitted. But the outing made a change. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy as they say. I may do it again sooner rather than later.

Worlds best Avocados.
4/10/2009 - Mama Rossa's Parachichi Tree.

One of our neighbours has a large avocado (parachichi) tree in her garden. It's big enough so that it's difficult to get at the fruit. You have to wait until they fall off, and that inevitably damages them somewhat.

Damage aside though, these are the best avocados I have ever tasted. They have all the things you love about avocados with none of the things you don't. In my case that is the rather overpowering richness of some examples of the fruit. These ones have a strong avocado flavour, but at the same time they are light and delicate and almost melt on your tongue like cold butter. Yumm!

On my list of things to do today is to go round there with my ladder. Hopefully, with that, a boy will be able to get up there and remove some of the crop. The tree is groaning with the things.

Far too close?.
4/10/2009 - Perspective.

I don't think about it often, but this Landsat image of Mt Meru reminded me how close we are to an active volcano (She last showed signs of life only 100 years ago.)

On the image I can see the valleys of two rivers that run off the mountain to the south and to our west, and I can see the hill to our east over which you can see Kilimanjaro on a clear day.

These features allow me to place the white dot at the approximate location of our house.

The 'C' shaped feature on the east side of Meru is where she blew her top and side off a few thousand years ago. You can see from the size of it that if she were to do something similar again in a southerly direction, then we, and the city of Arusha between us and Meru, would be toast!

It makes you realize how tiny you are.

Small house 2 approaching structural completion.
3/9/2009 - October.

Tuma has rendered the sides of the house facing into the compound. There is still the outer face corresponding to the outer wall of the compound to do, but for whatever reason, he had said he will do that last, and is now rendering the inside walls. Fortunately I have got most of the electrical conduit work finished. I dug a hole in the wall for the consumer unit and installed it yesterday and got the conduits to that in just before the light failed.

We now have two guest rooms occupied. A third is ready, and some people were supposed to come Thursday for a few days but changed their minds. Hopefully we might get someone in there in the next week or so.

When we were buying some plants a couple of weeks ago, I acquired a couple of propagated fig tree cuttings. They were from a tree that I know produces fruit well at only two years of age, and looked strong and healthy. Two days ago, the darling puppies fixed that. They were 'potted' into cement bags containing potting compost, and had been doing fine for the two weeks or so, but the dogs have completely destroyed one of them. I can't even find the remains of the plant, just the cement bag with a little soil remaining in the bottom. The other one got all its leaves eaten. That will probably survive, but with a significant setback. They're just puppies!
And just now, Tuma has managed to break of the water tap in the public toilet at the bottom end of the compound. That supply leg, which serves small house one, now has to be turned off until we can get a plumber to come and remove the remains of the thread, and replace the tap. I'm not willing to do that, since I don't have the gear to repair the plastic PPR pipe if that gets damaged during removal of the thread. The fundis have been told not to use that tap as a supply for water for building purposes, so I shall be inclined to dock the cost of the replacement from their money. There's never a dull moment.
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What is BEV?

Brits Eye View is an Englishman's six-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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Hanlon's/Napoleon's Razor:
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.

"I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy (cannon fodder?). The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!"

For more see this.

We do now have the second room of Adia's Place (the Brits Eye View Micro Hotel) available for occupancy. 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 ridiculous introductory price!

If you think I was being hard on MJ, try:

Twinkle twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are,
up above the world so high,
like a diamond in the sky!

"What's a diamond mummy?"

RFC - How About New alternate stuff in a right column?

Now that many people are likely using higher resolution screens than they did in 2003 when this blog was started, I'm considering adjusting the format to take up a little more real estate.

Please get on the newsgroup and let me know what you think.

For example, odd interesting quotes or things I've seen, or links to interesting sites. For example:

Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Or the content at:


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