Thursday, December 25, 2014

No Obstante ...

1)  Unplugged -- I feel like I've been "too connected" to the internet lately, so I decided not to add credit to my internet key.  Instead I've been using the free (government-provided) internet that they have in the park in town.   Nevermind that it blocks sites like youtube and other "non-educational" sites.  I'll survive. 

2)  Time Left --  hard to believe, but I only have about 6 months left in Panama.  Time to make a list and check off the places I want to visit here and also to prepare for post-Panama. 

3)  Mario Meme of the Day -- "Falls underground through a pipe: fine. Falls 3 feet into a hole: dead"

4)  From NFL Player to Farmer -- First read about this story from a Panamanian newspaper, how a former NFL player turns down millions so he can be a farmer to feed the hungry.  And he used youtube videos to learn how to farm.  See, Panamanian government, youtube IS educational.   

5)  Plastic Bottle Nativity Scene -- I made the trip to Monagrillo to check out the plastic bottle nativity scene:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Man, A Plan, A Canal …

1) … and an Injured Shoulder -- I injured my shoulder a few weeks back so I had to go to the capital to get it checked out.  Hadn't been there since I arrived in country.  Since I was there, I checked out the Panama Canal with PCRV William:

The Atlantic is that way
A ship heading towards the Pacific
Fans of ships crossing the Canal
The canal isn't just for cargo ships but also
for rich people in their sailboats
2)  Todos Somos Americanos -- Barack habla español.  Well, a couple of sentences.

3)  Anti-Corporate Video of the Day

4)  Christmas Displays in Panama 

Display at my post.  Snowmen in the tropics?  Makes sense.
Display at a mall in the capital
Also in the capital
Product placement much?

This one is also from the capital and has a magi that looks like its from a 1930s racist cartoon:

Of course, none of those displays compare to this one I found while reading the Panamanian newspaper La Prensa online.  Its a display near Chitré, made out of plastic bottles:

 Note to self:  make pilgrimage to visit this display before they take it down.

5)  Se Puede Ser! -- I made the cover of the PCV Panama Newsletter! 

That's me in the top right

I'm holding a tank while a counterpart is using a circular saw to cut open the tank.  We're building an incinerator. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


1)  Day Trip to the Frontera --

2)  Checkpoint Differences -- in Cameroon, the gendarmes at checkpoints always asked for my identification .  In Mexico, I was asked a couple of times for my ID at checkpoints.  In Panama, I've been to 3 checkpoints and have been bypassed 3 times.  Fellow PCVs say I'm well integrated.

3)  Question of the Day -- Can you rail against corporations if you use a macbook and Facebook?  Or google for that matter?  Are all corporations bad?

4)  Where Am I? -- With images like this, I sometimes can't tell if I'm in the Philippines or Panama:

In Chiriqui
5)  Music of the Day -- I sometimes feel like parts of my life are like those 3 minute short films on fast-forward (or 4x speed) with this music in the background:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lo Siento

1)  Current Music of the Day -- U2's I Feel Free.

2) Wahlberg Forgiven By His Victim -- "What a humble kind soul this man is to forgive."  C'mon, Mark, man up and personally apologize to the guy already.  You know its the right thing to do, so just do it!  And pay for his kids' college fund while you're at it. 

3)  Videos of the Day --  on the way to the mountain town of Guarumal ...

... to go to a fiesta:

4)  Sugarcane

Me for scale
5)  Behold -- Avocados. 

I see guacamole in my future.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

No Sabía Que Fuera Gracioso

Title is from the film El Sexto Sentido.  

1)  One of the three R's -- helping out fellow PCV Kelsey with her school recycling program:

2)  Wildlife --  Saw this iguana running outside the office and up a tree:

3)  Las Palabras Divertidas -- Spanish needs a funny word like 'donc' in French.  I know they're out there. 

4)  Uh-huh -- this plastic bag is supposedly biodegradable:

I'm skeptical. 

5)  Mission Impossible? -- they say that the region where I'm posted is ideal for growing fruits, but not for vegetables.  Therefore, tomatoes should do well, right? 

Improvised version of basket composting using chicken wire.
That's a lizard apparently looking for the tomato seeds I planted.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

El Día de la Madre

Just some thoughts during Mother's Day in Panama. 

1)  Wishful Thinking -- Ah, to be a kid again like these indigenous kids.  And have all my hair. 

in Boquete
2)  Music of the Day -- Eric Clapton's cover of San Francisco Bay Blues and his original song My Father's Eyes, both acoustic versions.  Also, Junior Brown's Baby, Let the Bad Times Be. 
3)  Best Comments on the Mark Wahlberg Story --  "I'd give Wahlberg the benefit of the doubt if he'd at least looked up his victims and tried to make some sort of monetary amends (when you have $200 million, you can afford to do that).  After all, 45 days in jail doesn't quite make up for being blinded in one eye.  But he never has.  He's only as sorry as it's convenient for him to be."  Or maybe this one:  "F*** him.  He can't buy him a new eyeball." 

4)  Armchair Quarterback -- I know people are really eager to get rid of 49er coach Harbaugh.  But remember where the Niners were before Harbaugh got there.  Remember the Dennis Erickson days? 

5)  Throwback to Cameroon Again -- found this picture that I've never seen before, back when my group was still a bunch of trainees:

I look like I'm ready to bolt for the exit
Incidentally, I found this photo on a fellow trainee's page, who's not even in the picture. 

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Sin Título

1)  Split Personality -- I work with a counterpart who acts differently when he and I are with a bunch of people versus when he and I are just by ourselves.  Its like when he's with a bunch of people, he has to be a stand-up comedian.  When its just us, he acts like a normal person.  Reminds me of someone I met in Cameroon ... 

2)  Quote of the Day -- "How about owning up to your past, claiming your mistakes and living with the consequences? And then make good on your supposed redemption".  And I LIKE Mark Wahlberg. Say it ain't so, Mark?

3) News Articles Recommended By Me --  concerts moving away from plastic bottles.  The concert article is awesome because the comments in the original article led me to this:  Klean Kanteen and pickathon.  Second recommended article:  How cool is Stephen Curry?  So cool he rode BART.  Respect! 

4)  Mother's Day -- this holiday is celebrated on December 8, which is incidentally also my mom's birthday.  Anyway, I had the following interesting conversation with my counterpart the other day:

Counterpart:  Cuando es el Día de la Madre en los estados unidos?
Me:  No sé.  Mayo, pienso.
Counterpart:  No sabes?  Es un día importante.
Me:  Cada día es el día de la madre.
Counterpart:  Ah, buen respuesto.  Todos los días son El Día de la Madre.  

Good save, right? 

5)  Panamanian IGAs -- funny hats:

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Insert Preferred Holiday Greeting Here

1)  Bike!  -- bought a bike.  Unlike in Cameroon, where PCVs get bikes from PC Cam, PCVs in Panama don't get one unless they buy one themselves.  Looking forward to checking out the nearby towns.   And do an environmental bike tour project perhaps??

2) Happy Holidays! -- that's my preferred holiday greeting.

3)  Old News -- Green Seoul, an old story (2 years old), but still pretty cool.

4)  Comment of the Day --"I have no faith in the justice system. It is broken."

5)  Things I Didn't Know -- according to a vendor, most of the vegetables at my post come from Boquete and are not locally grown.  The weather at post is apparently not that great for growing vegetables.

In Boquete

Monday, December 01, 2014


1)  Biking in Boquete --  Peace Corps gave us two days off for Thanksgiving, which gave me the chance to check out a bit of Panama.  In this case, the cool climate of Boquete with fellow PCRV William:

2)  Staged Photo of the Day

"Reading" Plato's The Republic in front of a church
3)  Hmmm...  -- according to this Coke poster in Boquete, 2 liter Coke bottles are now returnable:

4)  Quote of the Day -- "Life is too short for me to be piddling around."

PCRV William's translation into Spanish
5)  Music of the Day -- Sublime's Santeria, only because I heard music in Boquete that sounded like the song. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

We Have To Go Back …

… and reminisce.  Not actually go back.  Just reminisce.  About Cameroon, I mean. 

1)  1 Year Anniversary -- about a year ago, I was giving stool samples to Peace Corps as part of my medical check-up to wrap-up my service in Cameroon.  How time flies.  Ah, Cameroon … one of the most unreal or surreal things I've ever experienced.  Its hard to put into words those two years.  Maybe "Its complicated"?  The highs, the lows, the weird, crazy, awesome and life-changing experiences, the friendships and yes, the frenemies.  When I got back to the states, I wondered, "Did that actually happen or did I just have a crazy dream for 2 years?"  A lot has changed one year later.  Except, well, I'm still in the Peace Corps.  This time, the dream is not as crazy.  And in Spanish.

Stickers since I left Cameroon

 2)  Quote of the Day -- "Until you start believing in yourself, you ain't going to have a life."

3)  Cake News -- I don't know if this is good or not, but I've been getting a lot of my news from Cake's newsfeed.  Sometimes, they have posts about one of their upcoming concerts, although I can't remember the last time that happened. 

4)  Cameroonian Food --  In Ebolowa, there were a couple of merchants from the North who made a dish, which was some type of stir fried beef and then mixed with pasta and plantains or potatoes.  Add mayonnaise, of course.  C'est magnifique. 

5)  Media Coverage -- On a more serious note, check out this article about how the media outside the US is covering the Ferguson story

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

No Puede Ser

1)  Quote of the Day -- "I get it, you don’t like science.  And you don’t like science that interferes with the interests of your corporate clients. But we need science to protect public health and the environment."

2)  Pacquiao - Mayweather - Marquez -- watched the Pacquiao-Algieri fight (or sparring session?).  Who should Pacquiao fight next?  The old guy Marquez who knocked him out?  Or Mayweather?  I say Mayweather.  If Pacquiao and Mayweather don't fight each other for their next fight, then viewers are just throwing their money away if they pay to watch that fight.  My proof?  Mayweather's last fight was dull and Pacquiao's last fight was a mismatch.  The only interesting fight they have left is against each other.  Besides, Mayweather already beat Marquez, so why not fight Pacquiao?

3)  Awkward-Pose Photo of the Day -- after assisting my counterpart with an enviro ed activity:

4)    Music of the Day -- Tito Puente's El #100
5)  Things to Do With Your Free Time at Post -- make a wallet out of the Peace Corps newsletter thanks to youtube.  After I learned how to do this, I showed it to my counterpart who wanted to know how to make one, so I ended up spending about an hour teaching her how to make one using newspapers:

Saturday, November 22, 2014


1)  Craigslist Baguio -- There is no craigslist Baguio, which makes me wonder what website the locals use to sell their stuff, find jobs, etc.

2)  Things I Didn't Know -- "If it is a permanent body of water (such as a lake or pond), it is much less likely to be a source of mosquitoes than if it were a temporary body of water such as a puddle."  

3)  Coin Bag

The one on the left I bought in Mexico, the one on the right I made by using plastic grocery bags.

4)  Brindis -- a sad day at the office as we said goodbye to our student interns, who are now headed to university:

Good luck to them all!

5)  News Articles Recommended By Me -- I can't decide which story is more incredible: the one about the lady who produced zero trash in 2 years or the guy who survived falling 11 stories from a building.  Ok, probably the guy surviving the fall is more incredible, but the story about the zero-waste lady is still pretty cool. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


1)  Cellphone Case Completed! -- only took a few days compared to a few weeks for the laptop case:
Sabina is one of my counterparts (a recycling artisan) who helped
me make the case out of plastic grocery bags

2)  Captions of the Day -- any meme with Yoda.  Awesome they are.

3)  Actual News Articles NEVER Recommended by Me -- Snapchat personnel (CEO or founder?) buys a house and pretty much any 'news' involving a Kardashian.  No links provided, because, really, who gives a sh*t? 

4)  Music of the Day -- Romeo Santos' La Diabla/Mi Santa and Jimmy Fallon's cover of Desire.

5)  Things They Make in Prison -- in Cameroon, they make prison bags.  In Panama, they make prison wallets:
Apparently made from raffia plastic

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Counterpart: Debe ser un ingeniero. 
Me: ¿Ingeniero de chiwi?

Chiwi means 'junk food bag'.

1) Things I Don't Understand -- why do people say someone "cleaned up nicely" if they're dressed nice, like for a wedding? Does that mean they normally look like slobs when dressed in their everyday clothes? "You cleaned up nicely because normally you look like a homeless person."

2) Recycled Laptop Case Finished! 
One of my counterparts and the laptop case
After I showed the case to a couple of PCVs, they joked that I don't seem to have gained weight and one asked if I was going to do a health talk soon. Well, if you are going to make a laptop case out of junk food bags, cardio does help keep the weight off.

3) Quote of the Day -- "By the way, what have you done that's so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others work and belittle their motivations?" - Steve Jobs

4) Chalk One Up for the Tropics (Again) -- recently discovered a coconut drink here in Panama called 'pipa'. Gotta love the tropics.

5) Music of the Day -- Jaco Pastorius' Liberty City

Saturday, November 15, 2014


1)  News Articles Recommended By Me -- Peace Corps is going to send volunteers to Burma while Obama tells Burmese gov't to let Aung San Suu Kyi run for president and the Pope says not to buy presents for people for X-mas

2)  25% done -- I've already been in Panama for about two and a half months, which means I'm 1/4 of the way done with my service.  That's kinda crazy.  That's like 6 months of regular Peace Corps service.  Pretty soon, I'll have to get my resumé ready again.  Now THAT's crazy. 

3)  Respect! --  So I gotta give props to Sarah, an RPCV I served with in Cameroon.  She recently did an open mic to do stand up.  Talk about ballsy.  All I know is that she is one funny gal.  May she follow in the footsteps of comedic geniuses like Tina Fey, Mitch Hedberg and Norm MacDonald.  No pressure. 

4)  Song of the Day -- this song reminds me of Billy Bean, who said in the film Moneyball, "Would you rather get one shot in the head or five in the chest and bleed to death?"

5)  Comment of the Day -- a fellow PCV showed me this old article about what they found in a drug lord's house, like gold-plated guns and rooms full of cash.  This comment from the story is, well, the comment of the day (even if its from a day several months ago): "Criminals like this can thrive because we have laws that ensure that things people want are sold by criminals. Drug prohibition doesn't work." 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

No Hay Título

1) Site Visit Pics
Talking shop with the boss and a counterpart
At my porch with the boss, my counterparts and new PCRV,
William.  What is the deal with my pants?  Looks like I'm sagging
against the Man.


2)  Baseball in the Tropics -- watching a game in town amongst the banana trees plants:

3)  The Grocery Store Next Door -- I'm practically next to a grocery store and that may not be good.  All that junk food.  Easy access.  And I can only say "I'm promoting the three R's since I'm reusing the packaging like potato chip bags to make a laptop case or whatever" so many times. 

4)  Throwback from Cameroon -- that time we played soccer during training:

I've only played soccer maybe 3 times in Cameroon even though I had like 3 soccer jerseys.  My bad. 

5)  Song of the Day -- Mr. Big's cover of Wild World

Sunday, November 09, 2014

¿Cómo No?

1)  Whatsapp With That? -- in Cameroon, locals who don't have phone credit will call you and then hang up.  You then call them back and have to pay for the call.  They call this bipping someone.  In Panama, the locals use whatsapp because its apparently cheaper than paying for phone credit.  Unfortunately, I don't think I can put whatsapp on my dumbphone, so what ends up happening is that people who want to get a hold of me will not call me unless it was really important.  Wait a minute, that's actually not a bad deal.

2)  Down with Monopolies -- I just used a free online photo editor to redo the banner for my blog.  Better than paying who-knows-how-much for Photoshop.  Not bad for something free, eh?  Its not the first time I've used a free program instead of the more common or popular one.  I also use a free word processing and spreadsheet program (ie not Word or Excel) and they work just fine. 

3)  Reuse/Recycle -- making a cellphone case using a knitting needle and plastic bags:

Now I just need a rocking chair and about 100 cats.

4)  Site Visit -- my program manager dropped by to check out how work was going.  She also went with me to check out a potential accordion teacher:

What a cool boss.  Tiki would never have done that.  If they had accordions in Cameroon, that is. 

5)  The NFL -- Its Sunday and that usually means watching football back in the US.  But I don't really miss it.  I do miss this:

Throwing the Nerf in Ebolowa

Friday, November 07, 2014

Now back to regular programming ...

1)  ¡Qué Bárbaro! -- how can I forget the greatest invention to come out of Cameroon -- the bean omelet.  I just now remembered this after pondering what I was going to do with some leftover lentils.  Just add them to an omelet, of course and make a lentil omelet!

2)  News Articles Recommended by Me -- then on the 9th day, God created the ozone layer so it can be politicized, thrift stores hurting more than helping?, and An African Spring?, Not so Fast with a cameo from Paul Biya.

3)  Se Mezcla -- for some reason, I always want to say 'regarder' instead of 'ver', e.g. Quiero regarder el juego.  Also want to say 'dommage' instead of 'lastima.'  I don't know what you call that.  Franspañol?  Espaçais? 
4)   Comment of the Day -- "Everything is as it should be."  I think Baron Baptiste said it.  Or maybe Deepak Chopra.

5)  Welcome to heaven, here's your harp -- I'm trying to see if I could get accordion lessons.  I know what you're thinking: "Me too!"  Anyway, I just thought it'd be fun to learn the accordion since its so popular down here.  I asked my colleagues if they knew anyone who could teach me.  One said he knew someone but he also said I should buy an accordion so I can practice it at home.  He said I can get a good one for like $300-400.  He said if I had my own, I could be a really good accordion player.  I just looked at him, smiling (almost laughing) and saying, "No, no voy a comprarlo."  But I like how my colleague has such high hopes for me.