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BritsEye (2017-02-21 08:05:00)
Do my eyes deceive me, or is Trump going grey already?
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BritsEye (2016-10-24 06:35:38)
My little girl set off on the adventure of life today - off to school today and I don't even have a picture. I hope Adia got one.

I shall be lonely.

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BritsEye (2016-10-17 13:20:06)

OK, Now Wait Some More

I was to see the orthopaedic guy again after 26 days of rest and no load on the leg.

After two days I fell off my walking frame. How do you fall off a walking frame you might well ask. Well, you lose your balance to the rear or side while standing on the good leg. The frame weighs next-to-nothing, so it's no use to you at that point, and down you go. I'm blaming the loss of balance on getting up from a sitting position quickly, and my blood abandoning my brain in the direction of my feet. Only mildly, but enough - my blood pressure was low during my days of inactivity.

I experienced a moment of terror as I realized I was going, then landed on my arse on the carpet. Didn't feel much more that the regular movement time pain in the leg. After a couple of hours I was pretty sure I'd done no damage beyond a bruised bum. I was damn lucky. The doc told me to stay strictly in bed for 4 days - crime and punishment.

And then. 20 days of wake up, get a little breakfast, lie there for 8 hours, get up and sit in the living room for 4 hours, then back on my back in bed and sleep-wake-pee until morning.

Pain levels diminishing as I learned how to position myself and move to minimize it, but mind-blowingly boring, and no nookie.

We have a cable package with the customary 200 or so channels, but mostly either blank, or Tanzanian politics, or religion, or in Swahili, or Brazillian soap operas. Basically BBC news, one Warner Bros film channel, cricket as available, and premier league on two of the three weekends.

Happy days.

I should be seeing the doc today, but he postponed until tomorrow.

Comment
BritsEye (2016-10-17 12:42:24)

Wait

That's what hospital is all about really. You wait, then after a time something happens, then you wait.

They kept me in the hospital for 6 days. Until they were happy that I could move household distances with a walking frame and pee and poo with Adia's assistance. Then I was sent home with the basic instruction that I should put no weight on the leg, and between excursions I should lie on my back in bed.

I declined pain killers after the first day. I like to think that if you have pain it's because something is happening to your body that is not good for it.

With the leg pinned it was no longer so floppy, but no less painful if it was manhandled. I could be put in a wheelchair without too much howling and cursing, and that's how I got back down to ground level, with the wheelchair carried down the three flights of stairs by four guys - too scared to howl. Then I was manoeuvred into the back seat of potter with my leg stretched across, and thus home.

Extracted to my new walker I was able to use that to cross a short distance of the car park. Then there were steps. I was lowered to a sitting position on the second step, with the leg supported, and then lifted my arse a step at a time using my hands and good leg. Then I was l was under-shoulder lifted to a plastic chair, and that, the leg, and me carried to the bedroom, with stops when the pain got bad.

Comment
BritsEye (2016-10-07 12:00:36)
Pound/dollar rate alarming for us expats who have a sterling denominated income, but live in a dollar denominated world.

GBP worth under $1.23 today, result being that my disposable income (from GBP) here has shrunk by about 16.5% since that damn BREXIT vote.

That percentage makes a hole in your standard of living!

Comment
BritsEye (2016-10-07 11:47:07)

Thursday 15th September

Next morning, hospital routine took over, as it does. We were woken at 6:30 for me to have my blood pressure and temperature measured. Then Adia went home to cook for her guests and make me a little breakfast. Then at around 09:00 Murtaza arrived to check on me with little to say except that he needed the two tests. I gave in and was later carried down the steps, X-rayed, ECGd, and carried back up again. Nothing further was said about the chest X-ray, but on getting my ECG report Murtaza told me he would be doing the operation with an epidural injection. I have an unusual ECG. Technicians tell me I have a problem, but cardiologists say it's OK. The epidural thing was a bit of a surprise, and I'd never had one before. I was expecting the usual general anaesthetic thing, where the anaesthetist says count up to 10, then you wake up in the delivery room. But epidural was what was on offer, so I took it, and now I'd do it again for anything below the tits.

Adia wanted a private room, but was also aware of my IFS, so we had initially been moved into an empty ward on the second floor. She agreed to stay there until after the op, but then we would move up another storey. I got to to theatre at about 4pm,and rapidly had no sensation whatsoever from the waist down. Then I was rolled onto my left side for the op. I was facing a tiled wall, and the team were mostly behind me so I could get a reasonable impression of what was going on via reflection in the glazed tiles.

It was a pretty physical job, reaming out of the various pieces of my femur through a hole drilled in the top joint part where it sticks out of the hip joint, and then connecting them together again by threading them onto an alloy tube. Pins were then inserted through bone and tube in the top piece, and just above the knee joint. I took them about 2 hours, and then they had to stitch me up quickly to stay within the epidural limit.

They pumped me full of painkiller and antibiotic, and then took me upstairs to the private room while I was still reasonably numb. Being carried upstairs on a stretcher when you know that you are still in a very fragile state is still an exciting intellectual experience though.

Once there I was sufficiently exhausted that I believe I slept some.

Comment
BritsEye (2016-09-23 10:37:41)

Wednesday 14th September

We got away to the X-ray centre at about 08:30. Thinking along stretcher lines I decided that we might try half of the ladder in that role, using Alicia's small foam mattress as padding. This worked reasonably well. I was moved to an oblique angle on the bed, and then the ladder plus mattress was laid on the bed parallel to me, and I was lifted on - aaargh!

At the car the end of the ladder was put on the back seat, and the mattress and me pulled along and off it into the car, head first with Adia supporting the leg.

Fortunately the equipment at the recommended place was working properly, and the guy there took one X-ray to establish what was where, then another one to give a good view of the break. Movement here was by wheelchair, which was a good deal less comfortable than the table/ladder combination.

Then it was back to Mount Meru. The orthopaedic guy took a quick look at the X-ray report, then told us that an operation was definitely required, but that he cold not do it there as they didn't have the required metal parts. He did some calling around, and quite quickly located the bits at another Arusha hospital where his friend works. He told us that the friend was at least as good as himself, and sent us there - the Sree Hindu Medical Center - to see Dr Murtaza.

This particular hospital is quite exciting for patients with injuries, in that is does not have a lift (elevator). Five big African lads got me out of the car onto a slippery metal stretcher, and then proceeded to carry me up two flights of steps to the nearest ward, and then to slide me off onto a bed. This produced another extended outburst of cursing and supplications for mercy from me, and somehow caused me to have a negative view of the process - IFS we might say - irrational fear of staircases.

Murtaza arrived at around 15:00. He took a look at the leg and the X-ray, and agreed with his Mount Meru colleague that the bone needed to be pinned. He explained that they would take some blood for lab tests, and that I would then have to have a chest X-ray and an ECG. The ECG I did not particularly baulk at, anywhere would probably have done that, but the chest X-ray struck me as unnecessary. Nobody had even taken the trouble to listen to my chest with a stethoscope. More significantly, the X-ray involved a trip down the two flights of stairs, and then back up again. I asked what was the need, and Murtaza said these examinations were just 'protocol' for the hospital, so I asked him to think of some other way. I slowed things down at that that point. He said he would need those results and left me to stew on it.

Comment
BritsEye (2016-09-23 09:05:00)

Tuesday 13 September - An Unfortunate Accident

OK a small saga should be related. I'll do it as separate posts so I remember the chronology (actual date here 2016/09/13.
For me this was a 13th that indeed turned out as unlucky.

I was at the pub at about 18:30 as is (or possibly was) my wont, when I got a call from a friend asking if we could meet at Rubi - another bar about 100m further along the NaneNane front. I wandered along there and chatted for maybe half an hour, then decided to head for home.

The road between PLM and Rubi is in a bad state with quite deeply eroded water courses and an occasional outcrop of the underlying rock or road-stone. As I walked back to the car my left foot slipped on a loose stone, and I went down to my right. I extended my right arm, slightly bent, to my right, expecting to be able to cushion the fall. My hand took the first contact and then my arm bent to a right angle so that my forearm touched down.

At that point I should have been OK, expect some scratches to my arm, and bruises along my side, get up and walk away. But fortune decided otherwise.

There was a piece of stone protruding from the road that caught me right on my upper right femur. It was rounded enough not to cut, but pointed enough to create a narrow hammer-blow effect.

I bounced off to my left, landing on my back, and was very quickly aware that something was wrong. I could not move my right leg to get up: it felt strange. I thought I might have dislocated my hip.

So there I am lying in the middle of what is quite a busy stretch of road, in the dark, and immobilized. I called out to the first passers-by for help, and three of them attempted to pick me up by shoulders and legs to get me off the road.

The leg was not notably painful when I was lying on the road, but when they picked me up, the pain was excruciating. I think I actually screamed.

Almost opposite to where I fell, there's a 10/10 dispensary that often has a doctor on duty. So I asked them to go there and see if anyone could help. There was no doctor, but they returned with more hands, and a plastic pub-style armchair. They got me into that despite my shouts of pain and colourful language, then picked it up and carried me to a safer place at the side of the road.

My phone had survived, possibly just an inch away from the impact, so I phoned Adia and asked her to come and rescue me. There is no public ambulance service here. If you know the number of a private one it'll cost you about $125 for a routine patient transfer, like bed-to-bed within the city. If you're lying on the road helpless, I suspect the price might escalate quite sharply. I was lucky with my passers-by though. It's not unusual here to see spectators going through the pockets of helpless accident victims to remove unnecessary wallets, mobile phones and so on.

Adia turned up with Harry and his nephew after what seemed like forever, but was probably just around 15 minutes. After a lot more swearing and cursing, they and the spectators managed to get me into the back seat of Potter (my 1998 Isuzu Wizard) with the injured leg extended along the back seat and my back against the opposite rear door.

We went searching for an emergency department. The first that Adia thought might be OK was the AICC medical centre (associated with the Arusha International Conference centre). So we drove there to see what was available, but their X-ray department closes at 16:30, so blank. Next on the list was Mount Meru hospital - North Tanzania's referral hospital. We got there, and there was an orthopaedic surgeon around, but their X-Ray machine was broken. The man took a quick look at the leg and said he thought it was broken, not dislocated. He told Adia of a place where we could get a good image, and told us to come back when we had it. I'd had enough medical tourism at that point, so we decided to get the X-ray in the morning, and went home, pausing on the way to get the strongest pain-killer we could extract from our local pharmacy.

Back home I suggested they put me in the South House, the cottage that has the smallest height difference between its tiled floor and our car park. With the aid of an extra village lad, our two male helpers, the girl Essalie, and Adia, extracted me from Potter in the same direction as I was put in, head first, holding my left and right arms, left (good) leg, and the bad leg. Adia supported the bad leg, since she was best placed to decipher the stream of screams, curses and instructions issuing from your truly. They put me on the cottage's small dining table, which was about the right level for Potter's back seat, standing as close to the back seat as possible.

The table was then carried into the South House bedroom, placed next to the bed - a relatively painless trip for me. I was then manoeuvred on to the bed - more shouting and cursing. However, once I was there, and we'd experimented a bit to find the least painful position for the leg, I was able to get maybe half a night's sleep in preparation for a hospital visit the next day.

Comment
BritsEye (2016-09-11 05:28:40)
Would you believe that there's nothing in the Tanzania news media about the sizeable earthquake close to Bukoba!

It's on BBC World News, but here it's not mentioned.

BritsEye:
First report early yesterday evening on Reddit, was then on BBC news at 8am when I got up. Appeared in Tanzanian media approx 9.30am.
Comment
BritsEye (2016-09-09 16:51:06)
I keep getting messages from the likes of Google and Facebook asking for information that will allow them to show me advertisements that match my requirements better.

Do these companies not know that as far as I am concerned they can stick them up their ass. From the user point of view they are just a distracting use of screen space!

I realize that they need advertising to provide me with the search services that I want, but beyond that, they can just fill the space with rubbish, and I don't care!

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BritsEye (2016-09-07 07:43:36)
I think we have a budding engineer in the family. Mama bought Alicia a little trowel, and it is now a treasured possession.
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BritsEye (2016-08-31 18:28:04)
Just so this joke is preserved somewhere.

Why programmers like UNIX/Linux

unzip, strip, touch, finger, grep, mount, fsck, more, yes, fsck, fsck, fsck, umount, sleep

Comment
BritsEye (2016-08-26 17:29:58)
There's a news outfit called ippmedia.com in Tanzania. If you go to its main page, you get the news in Swahili.

There's an option to switch to English, but if you choose that you get a completely different set of news.

Dishonest or what?

Comment
BritsEye (2016-08-26 17:17:57)
The BREXIT vote, and the resulting loss of value for GBP has pushed us over the Micauber line. Now it is income (in Tanzanian currency) equals x, result happiness; expenditure = x+1, result not appreciated ;=(
Comment
BritsEye (2016-08-23 06:56:26)
Knows to pose!
Comment
BritsEye (2016-08-01 12:24:56)
Went with Alicia to the first day of the annual TASO show at Nane Nane this afternoon. We go to the JKT bar there once or twice a week where Alicia has a small carton of fruit juice and I have a beer, and we share a plate of chips.

The greedy bastards wanted full adult admission price for a 3 year old to come in with her dad. I told them they could stuff it.

So then we went to one of the pubs on the Nane Nane front road and sat at a table outside. There I was told they couldn't sell me a beer because our new president has resurrected some 60 year old law that says pubs can't sell alcohol until after 4pm, and there were police around the show-ground.

In that and other ways the guy seems hell bent on collapsing the economy.

BritsEye:
British law, I should add!
Comment
BritsEye (2016-07-06 17:59:12)
Well I hope that you Brits who voted out are happy now. The subsequent fall in the value of the pound has left me about 10% worse off than I was. The Micawber difference has thus been crossed, transforming me from being reasonably well off to being a little short each month.

And for what? Nobody seems to have a good silver-lining theory. The Tories will probably elect another leader who is against Brexit. Where will that lead?

I think that a general election is needed. As it is, nobody seems to have any idea what to do.

Comment
BritsEye (2016-06-25 06:06:25)
And indeed it did. I am shocked and disappointed at the referendum result. As I said before, I hope that MP's use their common sense.

Also it's time the UK had a sensible referendum process where at least a 60/40 majority would be required for a referendum to have legal force, As it is, almost as many people are going to be upset as are going to be pleased.

Comment
BritsEye (2016-06-22 17:20:42)
Also for the record, the pound has now gone madly the other way.

Could come down again just as quickly on Friday ;=(

Comment
BritsEye (2016-06-22 17:29:57)

Is it Binding?

The BBC news says that the referendum result is not legally binding (which given the supremacy of parliament is not surprising) so:

"MPs could technically choose to ignore the referendum result and block the agreement, but it would be madness for politicians to attempt to go directly against a popular referendum result."

But it's probably not going to be a madly popular thing - maybe one or two percent. So MPs, please feel free to use your common sense!

Comment
BritsEye (2016-06-14 04:11:42)
I see the GBP is plunging to the depths. Damn referendum!
Comment
BritsEye (2016-06-08 17:57:10)
The referendum requires only a 51% leave vote to cause a tremendous upheaval. Surely something as important as a referendum should require at least a 2/3 majority?
Comment
BritsEye (2016-05-30 19:18:35)

What do we get for our taxes

This post is directed particularly at Tanzania. No doubt some parts of it will be relevant elsewhere, but just so you know.

I was trying to think what it is that 'ordinary' taxpaying members of the public get back from the government in return for their taxes - VAT, excise duties, income tax, license fees etc.

By 'ordinary', I mean not employed by the government, thus excluding the army, the police force, civil servants, and the host of quangos (Quasi-autonomous government organizations). This group do pay taxes, but their residual (after taxation) salaries are paid for by taxation levied on the 'ordinary' citizens - the OC. Their tax contributions simply cancel out. However, the residual salaries constitute a large proportion of government expenditure.

Some sections of the OC population, including the poorest, don't pay any taxes, and don't get any benefits. They continue to live the impoverished lives that their ancestors lived before there was any organized government

OK, so we have an army that I presume is nominally there to defend us against foreign aggression. It hasn't done any of that since the time when Idi Amin was in power in Uganda, several decades ago. Given that the country is now surrounded mostly by the East African Union, and by the lakes of the rift valley or the sea, it seems unlikely that they will be facing action any time soon. So apart from giving the OC a vague feeling of security, they don't contribute much to them.

The police are largely used to back up the civil servants in collecting taxes. They don't seem to contribute much in the way of road safety, or to prevention of crime. So once again, what's the OC getting.

The civil servants occupy themselves by collecting taxes and innumerable license fees etc to pay their own salaries and those of the army and the police, and by administering their own organizations. On the whole thy are a net negative contribution to the OC, since they simply make it more difficult to do productive business.

And then of course, there's corruption: and despite the best efforts of our new president, I'd guess that there is still a good deal of taxation money siphoned off by government officials, not to mention bribes extracted from the OC in order to get anything done!

So what on the positive side? Well, it's difficult to be overwhelmed there. Health services and education provided by the government (and I'm not making any distinction between national and local government) are uniformly awful.

OK, there are some infrastructure improvements. In particular, the country's trunk roads have been considerably improved (to a large extent subsidized by foreign grants). But the average OC does not do that much in the way of inter-city travel. Also, the presumably reduced transport costs don't seem to have been reflected in reduced prices in remote cities like Arusha. Local roads, particularly those in the suburbs, where they are mostly dirt roads, get little or no attention - it's a DIY thing for the local inhabitants. The electricity supply situation seems to deteriorate year by year, despite frequent assurances that from now on it will be OK.

The country does not have a widespread system of social security benefits or government provided pensions, so there's not much to look forward to when you're old or down-and-out.

So what do we get in return for our taxes?

Comment
BritsEye (2016-05-30 19:11:17 - sent from my phone)
Testing my Android app for posting from my phone.
BritsEye:
I just rebuilt my Android app to send posts from my phone using Android Studio 2 - what an ordeal.
Comment
BritsEye (2016-05-19 18:00:56)
A young child was killed today when a bodaboda (motorcyclist carrying passengers for cash) driver carrying the child and mother ran a red light in the path of one of the new rapid transit buses (20m long concertina buses) that have just started to operate in Dar es Salaam. The mother and the bodaboda driver fell off on the lucky side, but the child fell off the other side under the bus.

The other bodaboda drivers said it was the bus driver's fault - he should have stopped, and he was pretty lucky to escape being lynched. Generally if a driver injures a bodaboda driver, the others will beat him up badly and in some cases kill him.

As a group, they are lawless, and the police just ignore them. If there's a police officer standing by traffic lights, and a motor cyclist runs a red light he will not react in any way. If you challenge him on this he will say "Well, what can we do?"

He's right in a way. The traffic police don't have patrol cars, and motor bikes - which would be the ideal tool - are very few in number. Consequently the traffic police make little if any contribution to road safety. Here in Arusha they just act as agents for taxation enforcement, stopping drivers randomly to check their paperwork.

Comment
BritsEye (2016-05-19 12:46:27)
This rose bush in a corner of our garden has been particularly prolific lately. I was somewhat late taking the picture, they are a little past their best now.
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BritsEye (2016-05-16 18:15:08)
I was looking at Facebook for the first time in ages, and saw this picture of an old friend.

I commented 'Grumpy old bugger', but Facebook rejected my comment - Arsebook.

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BritsEye (2016-05-16 04:49:47)
The graph is of the dollar against the Tanzanian shilling. Those spikes suggest to me that someone or some organization is making money out of the Bank of Tanzania by manipulating the value of the currency.
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BritsEye (2016-05-12 11:50:58)
I made a couple more example files for the JSWB. You can download them -

usejquery
paint

Download, copy, and paste into the JSWB editor. JSWB can now open and save script files from your local disk drive, and it has some help.

Comment
BritsEye (2016-05-12 11:48:54)
Teach your kids to program.

1) Find a web javascript tutorial,
2) Fire up this little javascript workbench - JSWB
3) Load the example, then play!

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