Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Casi Dos Meses

1)  Throwback For my Mom -- something that's religious and that doesn't involve me hiking volcanoes or crossing the Mexican border:

Semana Santa in Guatemala a few months ago
2)  Reduce, Reuse, Refuse? -- I was at a shopping center in the regional capital and I told the cashier I didn't need a bag for my purchase.  She said store policy requires that I accept the bag.  En serio?!

3)  Speaking of Bags -- Well, I guess the former SF tour guide is not a total D-bag after all.   She owned up to her racist comments and apologized.  She said she would like to work with the Chinese community to mend relations.  Hmm... not sure how she'll do that, but it should be interesting.  She should probably do something that doesn't involve a microphone.

4)  Quote of the day -- "What I do know is there are 12 presidents in Africa who credit a Peace Corps volunteer with starting them on the path to the presidency."  Paul Biya is probably not one of them.  Mind-blowing fact:  Peace Corps has been in Cameroon for 50+ years and during that time, Cameroon has only had 2 presidents.

5)  Teaching English -- my colleagues at my partner organization wanted me to teach them English in a classroom type setting so I willingly obliged.  It was a short class, but it was quite fun.  I think I've found my calling.  Either this or selling recycled crafts.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Who Doesn't Love Parades?

1)  Paul Allen -- Seahawks owner gives $100 million to fight Ebola.  Nice of this billionaire to give back to society some of that $390 million that US taxpayers paid to help build that football stadium in Seattle. 

2)  Internet Commenters -- I sometimes read articles just so I can see reader comments, usually the ones that are Most Liked.  Not sure if that's good or not.  Anyway, the comments for a cyberstalking article were kind of funny while the ones for the Zero Waste Wedding were surprisingly negative. 

3)  Photo Op -- A Parade in Chitre in honor of the city's founding:

4)  Throwback from Cameroon -- taking a moped on a long trip through the bush with a buddy is probably not a good idea.

5)  Throwback from Cameroon #2 -- PCVs Justin and Lauren at the same place at the same time.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

El Ambiente al Puesto

1)  Clean Up Day  -- cleaning up the streets at post with students and teaching them to separate recyclables from the trash.

2)  Sugar Cane For Your Soda

As the song goes, "I can see for miles and miles and …
3)  Enviro Ed --  teaching elementary school students how to reuse/recycle plastic bottles.

4)  Laptop Case Update --  my laptop case made out of potato chip bags/candy wrappers is almost done.
A lot of these potato chip bags/candy wrappers have the recycle sign even
though most of them end up in the landfill.  Ironic, don't you think?
5)  Alligator Tears? -- This baby alligator is looking sad probably because of everyone dumping their trash in it's lake. 

Please donate.  Or just stop littering.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

¡Alla La Vida!

1)  Spanish Subtitles -- Lately I've been watching TV shows or movies without Spanish subtitles.  Its time for me to stop relying on subtitles.  There's no subtitles in real life.  Either I understand it or I don't.  I need to figure it out for myself. 

2)  Cardio for the day -- planting plantains with some students:

3)  Songs to air drum to -- Rancid's Journey to the End of the East Bay, Smashing Pumpkin's Cherub Rock, U2's All I Want is You (the live version), The Police's Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.  I need to meet a drum teacher in town.  Supposedly, there's one who plays at church. 

4)  Three News Articles -- A short history of the media and the Washington team, the D-bag (former) tour guide, and an eco-friendly wedding.  Also, the headline (Reuse, Recycle, Romance) couldn't be any better. 

5)  Possible careers in the Philippines -- start a recycling business, teach people how to make recycled crafts, sell recycled crafts, teach (Latin American) Spanish or French (with a Cameroonian accent), teach English to Koreans (or other foreigners), and of course, Peace Corps. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Wrote a Blog Post and You'll Never Believe What Happened Next

Well, I posted it.  That's what happened next. 

1)  Side Gigs -- I was listening to my brother's senior recital from his saxophone playing days.  He had a pretty good original piece there.  You know, bro, Joshua Redman was accepted to Yale law school but ended up deferring.  The rest is history.  Just sayin'.

2)  Enviro Ed Topic? -- There's nothing like trying to read an article in Spanish about making plastic bags from cow farts.  If there is, you'll have to tell me.  I wonder what my counterparts think of this. 

3)  Dinero -- When I left Cameroon, I made the mistake of not converting about $200 worth of CFA into dollars.  So if anyone's going to Cameroon and you're passing by Panama or if I'm going to see you when I'm visiting the US, I gots what you need.  I'm just glad I don't have to exchange currency in Panama since I can use the US $ here. 

4)  Question(s) of the Day -- How is it that most of the supermarkets in my town (and apparently in most of Panama) are owned by the Chinese?  Supermarkets are so associated so much with the Chinese that the locals call the supermarkets 'Chino'.  e.g. "you can buy X at the Chino."  How have they come to dominate the supermarket business?  Are they all part of a business association?  Do they get incentives back home to set up shop in Panama?  More importantly, where did they learn Spanish?  Well, I suppose I can always just ask them these questions instead of wondering on my blog.   
An ethnic Chinese student in Panama with my counterparts.
5)  There's friends and then there's Facebook friends --  Every once in a while, I unfriend/block people on Facebook.  Although I realize now that that's a little harsh for some of them.  Some, not all.  I probably should've just unfollowed some of them.  Its just weird to be Facebook "friends" with some people I've never met in real life or with people I barely know.  Come to think of it, using words like "unfriend" and "unfollow" is weird.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sabado Cinco

1)  PC cars -- I had blogged a while back about how PC vehicles should be more environmentally friendly and lo and behold, PC is starting to recruit applicants with a Smart car.  Its a start, I suppose. 

2)  Question of the Day -- How do you find a job in the Philippines (let alone a job in one's field), a country that is known more for exporting human labor than for creating jobs? 

3)  Béisbol -- hehey.  Giants are back in the World Series.  They must be doing something right.  I generally root for the A's, because of their underdog story, with Moneyball being one of my favorite books.  But the A's always falter in the playoffs.  So my 2nd favorite team will have to be the Giants.  Why not?  The Bay Area has been kind of a 2nd home for me. 

4)  Recycled Laptop Case -- my counterpart can make coin purses out of candy wrappers/potato chip bags, but I wanted to make a laptop case using the same material.  I searched online and, of course, its already been done.  But what the heck, I want one, so I'll just make my own with the help of my counterpart:

A few more days (and a bunch more potato chip bags) and it should be done.

5)  Salud!
As Robin Hood once said with a US accent: 
 "We have much to celebrate."

Thursday, October 16, 2014


1)  Quote of the day -- "The NFL has had an inappropriate language penalty in its rule book, and this year is having officials enforce it with an emphasis on eliminating racial slurs."   Unless of course when the racial slur is also the name of an NFL team. 

2)  Currently reading -- the Spanish version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (La Cámara Secreta).  Vocab that I learned in the book that I'll probably never use in real life:  pergamino, which means parchment. 

3)  Advantage of a dumb phone -- my dumb phone has this really cool app, where I only need to charge my phone once and it lasts for 3-4 days.  Its pretty cool. 

4)  Floyd Mayweather -- I watched a Mayweather fight for the first time several weeks ago.  The one against Maidano.  Man, that was a boring fight.  I can see now how Mayweather has had such a long career.  Then again, if it wasn't boring, then somebody was probably getting their head bashed in.  Ah, boxing. 

5)  A Day at the Office
Come Visit Me. Yes.  Here.  In Panama.
 6)  Cameroonian English -- I was wearing a shirt from Cameroon that said "Join us improve the environment" and a counterpart was reading it out loud, trying to learn English.  I told him its probably not a good idea to learn English from that shirt. 

7)  Just Like Lebron -- Talked to my mom last night.  Looks like I'll be moving back to the Philippines next year after I finish my service in Panama.  Not sure how useful a TEFL certificate would be over there.  Probably not very. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Cinco

1) Cooking Panamanian Food -- just like in Cameroon, I tried to learn how to cook the local food. Here, my counterpart is teaching me a Panamanian recipe with lentils:

The only thing I always change after learning a local recipe is to make sure to not add MSG.  In Cameroon, the locals are always shocked when I don't add MSG (aka maggi cube).  Here, they also have maggi, but they're more like a bar instead of a cube.  My "cooking teacher" used a broth type powder in a packet, but it was essentially MSG. 

2)  Deforestation -- there's been a lot of deforestation in the region where I'm posted.  My boss says the current forest is 10% of what it once was.  I can only imagine how forested this place used to be:
Slightly askew
3)  Current music in my head -- Sherry Darling by Bruce Springsteen, George Michael's cover of I Can't Make You Love Me and Herbie Hancock's Gentle Thoughts.

4)  El Lagarto en el Lago -- the lake next to the office where I work is rumored to have alligators, but I've never seen any.  Until now:

Pretty cool.

5)  SNAFU -- on a serious note, hostages kidnapped in Cameroon were recently released by Boko Haram  .  Especially telling is this sentence: "No details were given on the circumstances of the release or whether a ransom was paid."  That sounds like a ransom was paid.  If so, then that would just make things worse, according to this NY Times article.  An effed up situation all around.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Así Es ...

1)  Mi Nueva Casa -- I finally have my own place for the first time since Cameroon (10 months ago). No more hostels, staying with friends/family, etc. I can now listen to my own music without headphones, cook my own food and drink my morning tea at my leisure.

I guess you can say I've settled down. Well, for several months anyway.

2) El Trabajo -- making some progress with work. Here's a photo in a classroom after one of my presentations or 'charlas' regarding waste management:

3) Como ésta (es?) tu español -- A common question I get from friends/family "back home" is "How's your Spanish?" Aside from occasional difficulties with "ser" and "estar", its good. But there are times when the Panamanian accent is not easy to understand, especially when they are speaking really fast. In that case, my reaction is usually as follows:

4) Otro Día en la Oficina -- this alligator was caught roaming around in the nearby regional capital and was brought into my counterpart organization's office today.

They're going to release it into the wild, away from urban areas.

5) Los Problemas en el Trópico -- Dear mosquitoes, why are you always trying to ruin my experience in the tropics? Yes, I get it. You have evolved throughout the ages to survive, but your method of surviving (biting me) is getting to be quite annoying.