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.

Thursday, November 06, 2014


We interrupt my list of 5 things in order to bring you a short story entitled Racism in the Corps (aka Why Some People Can't Be Helped), a throwback story. 

My story takes place back in Cameroon.  As I've blogged previously, during my time there, I experienced a lot of harassment from the locals because I was Asian.  Surprisingly, I also got it from fellow PCVs.  There's an ugly truth during my time in Cameroon -- there was racism amongst PCVs.  It was along the lines of "Let's make fun of the Asian guy's ethnicity because its ok to make jokes about the Asian guy". 

It all started when I became friends with a fellow PCV fairly early on.  We would make jokes and we had a good time.  Sometimes though it seemed like the jokes started to creep towards crossing the line.  Eventually, they did.  This fellow PCV started using words like "chink" or "Chinaman".  As a joke.  I wasn't laughing.  There's more.  He kept making jokes about Kim Jong Il and of the inability of Chinese to distinguish between "L" and "R" and directed them at me.  It all came to a head one day when he made a joke using one of those racial slurs.  There was another fellow PCV who heard it.  She just looked at me kind of shocked.  Then, I suppose, not knowing how to react, she laughed, although kind of a nervous laugh.  This was 2 years ago and I myself couldn't believe that I would be subject to racism in that day and age, let alone from a fellow PCV.  That's when I realized.  My so-called friend is actually a d-bag.  Also a racist.

Now I have to say that he was not alone in thinking it was ok to use those racial slurs.  There were other PCVs who used those words.  But then they stopped using them once I called them out on it or when they realized I found it pretty offensive.  Yet the fact that I had to call people out on it in 2012 or 2013 is astounding.  Anyway, things were never the same between me and said PCV after that incident.  I don't keep in contact with him and I doubt I ever will.  He has never apologized for his racist comments and he probably doesn't even think he did anything wrong. That's ok.  I don't need any d-bags in my life anyway.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Caption What?

1)  This!

Or not.

2)  Quote of the Day -- "The Turtle franchise was ridiculous way before Michael Bay got his hands on it.." 

3)  Recommended News Articles By Me -- So ... Google IS evil? and a soccer player gets a 50 year ban for bad behavior.  That's right -- not games, years. 

4)  5 Day Weekend -- I'm usually busy with work, but I have 3 days off because of a national holiday celebrating Panama's independence from Colombia:

5)  Spare Time Activities -- Not really sure what to do with my free time so I decided to think up things I could do in case I have another prolonged weekend:  relearn the guitar, learn meditation, take up a sport (softball?), get my TEFL certificate online, start a small garden in the backyard, research careers in the Philippines.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Cinco Aleatorio

1)  Postmate, Kind of -- I don't have a postmate, but I do have a fellow PCV named Kelsey who's not too far from my post, but more in the countryside.  I recently attended one of her recycling charlas, complete with old fashioned, roll-out paper presentations and an icebreaker:

It was quite motivating to see such enthusiastic community members, making suggestions, coming up with solutions, etc.

2)  Como se dice "sorcelery" -- Baseball is big down here in Panama and one of the students in the office asked me who I thought would win Game 7 of the World Series.  I wanted to say that whoever had their mojo going would win.  I didn't know how to say 'mojo' in Spanish, so I ended up not making a prediction.  Either way, looks like the Giants had their mojo going.  Note:  I had an idea what 'mojo' meant, but not its precise definition.  According to the Oxford dictionary, it means magic charm or spell.  Sounds like sorcery to me. 

3)  Ser o No Ser -- one thing I do to improve my Spanish is by reading books.  That's what was great about Guadalajara, Mexico -- the bookstores were everywhere.  At the regional capital here in Panama, not so much.  The only books I could find are school books.  So, as much as I love the classics, its also nice to read newer books like those by Malcolm Gladwell or J.K. Rowling in Spanish.  Since I didn't have much of a selection here, I ended up buying Hamlet.  They also had Plato, but that might take a while to finish since that's probably already hard to understand in English, let alone Spanish. 

4)  Sustainable Aid -- Back in Cameroon, I was influenced by a fellow PCV named Jeff.  He was of the belief that we should not do any funded projects.  Not one.  Zero.  We should only be teaching techniques (eg agricultural techniques) and sharing ideas.  He saw projects that required outside funding as handouts.  He even wrote about it in our newsletter.  He draws influence from William Easterly and Roland Bunch.  I agree with him to some extent.  As they say, "Give a man fish…"

5)  Quote of the day -- "This is a sub-Saharan Spring and it must continue against all the presidents who are trying to hang on to power in Africa."