Snail Races

...where even the winners are slow and slimy. It's all a matter of degrees, really. Reality based since 1692.

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Location: Upper Canada

Monday, March 28, 2005

clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

atrios has it just about right here...

Quote of the Day

"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture." -- Pastor Ray Mummert, on his desires to muck up teaching evolution

...nothing "Radiant" about this dim fundie bulb...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Update from Carl

Here is the latest from the peripatetic professor...

Our trip continues to be a wonderful adventure, full of the expected and unexpected. Into the Kenyan port of Mombasa a bit earlier than expected and we were all able to clear customs in the evening for an early departure the next day. Up at dawn, we packed our bags (traveling light) and on the bus for the half hour trip to the local airport. Easy flight to Nairobi (with the Snows of Kilimanjaro in the distance). There are 35 of us on a safari to the north end of the Serengeti, at a spot called Maasai Mara—the home village of Maasai people who live in the general area but are really nomadic herders with cows and sheep. Annie and I and the trip leader are the “older” folks, and the rest are students. We had a nice van with 7 of us, so quite comfortable. Our guide is a Kenyan (Bantu) named Martin to us English types, but Duojo in his language. Nice man, good driver, excellent guide. A five hour trip to the safari lodge, and about half of it on some rough, pot-holed, and gravel roads. Martin called it the free “Kenyan Massage”, and for sure we had our teeth rattled. Tiring for sure but also fun to see some rural areas after the big cities we have been visiting. We drove through The Great Rift Valley—spectacular cut right down from the Mediterranean to Mozambique. Dry and an historic animal migration route. Much of the area, especially with the Keawe trees (called acacias here), reminds us of Molokai. When we were within a couple of hours of our destination, we began to see lots of the Maasai men with there herds—just walking along keeping the animals moving. And then, fairly suddenly, our first taste of animal life—zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, impalas. All herds, fascinating to see them just on the savannah. Martin stopped the van and all of a sudden we were in the midst of about 15 giraffes, just wandering along eating the tops of the acacias. Felt like we were in a movie somewhere not of this world. We were all so excited, the students were just squealing, while we more sophisticated types just gawked—what strange and exotic creatures the giraffes. As we approached our Mara Simba Lodge, we saw a pair of jackals and a small tribe of baboons with babies. We are not in Kansas anymore Annie! The lodge is large, lovely and wide open, on a river and our first sight was of two crocodiles having their dinner—provided by the lodge. We checked in, we have a nice room a bit away from the action. A buffet dinner and then the local Maasai village men gave a cultural dance/welcome for us. A tall, slim, athletic people—much of their dance is in the form of competitive jumping. Pretty high, and some of our kids joined in only to prove that white men can’t jump—at least in this context. I had a nice talk with one of the leaders, James, and he said we would visit his village as a part of the programme. He told me they get a fair amount of money from the tourist trade, and although a nomadic people, they have used the funds to build a school and to have a teacher. A first major step in a change in their lives. We had a glass of wine and ready to be horizontal. We are at about 1700 meters, the air is cool and feels special—a little like an early Fall day at home. Slept well, oh so quiet and soft.

We were up early and in the van by 6:30 am for an early morning game drive—but we are hunting the “Big Five” with digital cameras rather than rifles. There are huge cranes here called Marabous—second largest bird and highest flying—can go to over 25,000 feet. Quite a wingspan, and after their night roost they were flying over us on the double. We just watched for any large droppings. Each day just seems to be more spectacular, and this was no different. Gazelles and Zebras, and then one of the highlights, two male lions walking through the grass, right next to the van. When a sighting is made, the driver gets on the radio and tells the other safari people and there is a convergence to see the big game. There were five or six vans around, and we all had good views—had some good photos. On the way again and another major find—Martin said, “look over to your left”, and there we saw two beautiful cheetahs, one male and one female. Our guide said they were not mates, but more likely brother and sister. They were on the hunt. We spent quite a bit of time just watching them, so graceful and statuesque, prowling through the open grasslands. Always from the safety of the van in that these cats look domestic but they are hunters, which we were to witness. There was another cheetah across the open space and we went over to check it out when all of a sudden, back from where we had come there was a commotion. The other two cheetahs had tracked some Thompson Gazelles and as we watched, the chase began. The Cheetahs are the fastest running animals around, but the gazelles are not slow and as we watched, I thought the cats were too far behind—high speed for short distance is their forte. Such speed, just a blur really and in a few seconds, the one Cheetah caught the Gazelle, cut its legs out from under it and made the kill with a snap of the neck. Martin brought the van quite close, just as the feast began. There was no hostility over the food, the Cheetahs worked together and had the meal as a team—but always wary, looking out for other predators that might steal their hard-earned breakfast. Our guide said that he had not seen a chase/kill in over a year, so it was a pretty special sight for all of us. Some of the students were upset, but it was pointed out that the big cats have to eat just like the rest of us—and the Tommies are their favourite meal. A rare moment with a certain bottom line.

Back to the lodge for a nice breakfast, and a shop in the lodge store—a few souvenirs and I bought a nice safari jacket—looking like the B’wana type with the bald head. I do not look much like me really, but having fun. Annie got some coffee and rosewood salad tongs. We had a few hours off so just hung around the pool and got some sun. A couple of large baboons roaming the grounds, they are shy and run when they see you. Good thing. The guides gave a talk on the animals and ecology, and then back to the vans for an afternoon drive and a trip to the local Maasai Village. Strong, hard working folks but clearing suffering from diseases like malaria—children all had some respiratory difficulty. A difficult, physical life—a third world country is the bottom line. They are proud, patriarchal, and organized. Women make various trinkets and the students shared their wealth a bit. The Maasai are great traders, and usually get the best of any transaction. Back on the game road, lots of antelopes and then the star attraction of the afternoon, the Elephants. A herd of about 15, babies, young males, older females and a major matriarch. She ruled and it was easy to tell she was obeyed by all. We also saw a couple of Lions (one really old guy) and a large herd of Cape Buffalos—can be pretty nasty guys but were placid for our visit.. Back to the lodge for dinner, we had a huge thunderstorm which began just after we were settled in—lots of lightning showing us the way in the dark. We had a good dinner, and then a slide show about problems of poaching. The elephants almost decimated in the past for the ivory, but quite well protected now. We had a great day, more or less were just poured into bed.

Up again at dawn for another game drive adventure. The ground really soaked up the rain (rainy season just underway), so not too much mud to contend with. In the past few weeks, there had been quite a few brush fires and there was some scorched earth, and we saw smoke now and then from continuing fires—but the rains will really help. We saw lots of grazing animals, even a couple of ostriches which are close to extinction due to eggs being stolen. Always something from the human interference. A large herd of buffalo came into view, and we saw two very large male lions stalking the critters. Big cats, obviously waiting their chance—too far away for us to get photos. Our guides told us the lions would follow for the day, and then make their kill attempt in the dusk when they have the sight advantage. Nice morning, back home for a late breakfast and then a nature walk with some Maasai warriers. One of the students quipped: “What did I do today? I went on a hyppo hunt with some Maasai warriers, doesn’t everyone do this?” And he was right, this is a pretty special experience for the Semester at Sea kids. The Maasai in their colourful red clothing—they are very distinct. We learned a great deal about medicinal herbs and plants and trees. Our leader (his name is Dickson Koehi) was a young man who had been to school in a large nearby town, and he is going to go to university in India for business management—the first of his tribe to do so. He speaks excellent English and knows the culture inside and out—he would be a fine inter-port student and I will suggest that to SAS. We hiked for an hour or so and came to a river where we found about two dozen giant hyppos just cooling in the water. They are huge, and when one of the students got a bit too close to the river edge—the largest female charged at him. Pretty scary until the animal stopped about 10 yards from the bank. Since we were in the bush, we were also accompanied by some guards with rifles, and they were ready in case something happened. These animals are fast for their size, and from what we learned, quite dangerous when their territory is threatened. Hot walk home, shower felt great. Had a couple of hours of down time and then back out for another game drive. Annie and I are just loving all of it, and the students are truly thrilled by this experience of their lives. A day for Lions (Simba)—about 15 in a pride that we watched for quite a while. The female always the head of such a group, but several of her young males growing up fast. Then we saw a mating pair, and I got a great photo of some of the amorous action. National Geographic type shot. On the way home a beautiful sunset and some nice giraffe photos in the twilight. Finally home for a bottle of South African wine and grilled beef, chicken and pork. An animal meal for sure. The Maasai celebrated for us again, and this time the students joined in and they had just one hell of a time. What a special adventure for everyone. There is a guitar player in the lounge who sounds an awful lot like Tony Bird—one of the folk singers we knew. People said Tony sounded like Donald Duck on acid, and that is not far wrong. To our nice, comfy rooms, some reading and asleep before 11. A truly fine day.

Annie having a few stomach problems so stayed behind this morning while we went on our last game drive. We hunted for an hour looking for the elusive leopard and rhino, but with no luck. Very shy creatures indeed. Saw the grazing folks—giraffes and zebras, before heading back to pack up and get ready to leave. Annie really not feeling good so we just took it easy and then into the van for the long 5-6 hour ride back to Nairobi over the tough, washboard roads. Saw animals all the way along for a couple of hours, and lots of Maasai with their herds. My observation in general is that the people in Kenya walk everywhere. Even in the big towns, few bikes or scooters. You can see dozens of people just walking along the roadsides, sometimes with nothing around for long distances. They walk for miles, and they are trim and fit when healthy—life expectancy about 50. Bought a couple of souvenirs from people along the road whenever we stopped. When we neared Nairobi, we stopped at an old colonial tea farm for lunch. Granddaughter of the original owner and builder still runs the farm—an interesting look at how the old English were the leading colonists in this part of the world. Independence has been since the l960s, and still working out from under the colonial yoke. As we drove into Nairobi to catch our plane right at sunset, there were herders with their cows and goats on the main streets of this city of three million. Quite a sight. Easy check-in, Annie hanging in there—she needs her bed. Easy flight, and the ship had waited dinner for us—light meal for me and crackers for Annie Fannie. She is feeling some better and on the mend. A few people around, gathering back to our ship board home.

Our last day in Kenya. Annie feeling well, and so we went on a tour of Mombasa and the Islamic art here. About half of the population of the city is Muslim, so basically architecture and mosques to see. Went to a work shop at a Swahili cultural centre, but on some hard times. Government monies dried up and no resources to really carry on. A good business plan, and some more students to practice the old arts and crafts would help. Probably a good idea gone wrong—sad to see the old way disappearing from lack of support. We had a couple of local guides, one black and one white. Together they know much about the place. We went into a few mosques, the women (there were only 7 of us on the tour) were able to go in with the proper attire. Walked around Old Town, got a few souvenirs and had a fair lunch at a local Muslim restaurant. Finally a trip to some Mosque ruins out on the ocean front—very impressive remains of a society that disappeared about 500 years ago. Somehow the fresh water dried up. A few folks took a swim, we just relaxed in the shade. A hot, humid part of the country. Annie is all better and enjoyed the trip. Again, as we drove back to the ship, many people walking along as their mode of transportation. And for us, all of the people back on board as we leave Kenya tonight on our six day voyage to South Africa. That is our story, we are sticking close to it. We miss our family, especially the little ones. We get some news from home but the internet is a pretty expensive communication on board the ship. Be talking to you soon—we love reading the e-mails. Talk with you again from Cape Town. Love and aloha, Carl and Annie.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

blokus blogging

Cory Doctorow at boing-boing has discoverd Blokus, our favorite game for a ski weekend... we will be taking ours along in only ten days for the Spin Symposium at Tremblant. Owen likes to play with us, but he likes making pretty patterns more than strategizing... he does have a spatial sense that lets him see fits that no one else sees...

wolcott rocks

this is why Wolcott rocks... he understands what is going on in America today.

This country is wearing a blindfold, staggering backwards, and slitting its own throat in slow motion. Watch the cable news, listen to our elected leaders: there's no more urgency about the economic decline in living standards dead ahead than there is about addressing global warming or loosening the chokehold of military spending. A country where "evolution" is becoming a bad word is not a country interested in facing reality. Instead, as the passage of the bankruptcy bill shows, corporate-political power is going to grind every last dollar out of the desperate and destitute rather than confront the difficult macro decisions. The elites in this country have never had it so good, and as long as they're prospering the distress will (be) smothered under the surface, kept under a lid.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

I can't believe spring is here

tomorrow being the equinox, I realize that there are signs of spring all around...

how 'bout those Catamounts!!!!!!!!!!

what a Friday night... Bucknell and Vermont wearing the glass slippers...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Brad DeLong Hearts Madeleine Peyroux

amusing economist J. Bradford DeLong stumbles across what is my favorite album of the past six months, Careless Love. We got it at the Madrigal, too bad it will be closing soon...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

still further updates from Carl

Tuesday, Mar 8
Dear Family and Friends: Thanks for all of those e-mails, always wonderful to hear the news from home—especially about James, Chella and Nathan. So, here goes the latest update on the traveling Grindstaffs.
After our trip to Cambodia and the good fortune to stay in the Presidential Suite at The New World Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, we decided to just hang around the town for the next two days and went to museums and galleries and markets during the day. Eating special food and drinking good wine with friends in the afternoon and evening. Pretty nice life in this most foreign of lands. The traffic is always amazing to us—Annie calls it “the dance.” People just weave in and out, mainly on their cycles, and it all seems to work with pedestrians fitting in there by some miracle. Home in the late afternoon, we decided to have a massage. Pretty special to have the sore muscles worked on for an hour--$20 U.S.

Then, ready the next morning for our last day in Viet Nam. The ship will be joining us tonight after two weeks away from us—apparently the sail from Honolulu went very well and all is ship-shape so to speak. I continue to have a bit of the quick step, but feeling well and Annie just goes along—we watch her respiratory system and so far no problems at all. Went to the market for some souvenirs, bought a nice shirt for the unheard of price of about $5.00. As always, the middle of the day just hot and humid, couple of showers necessary. Had a bottle of wine with some faculty on our floor, packed the bags, grabbed a cab, and headed for the marina. There she was, in all of her glory, the M.V. Explorer looking a lot like home. We are so glad to be back aboard and to have a base of operations. Our steward, Dante, is leaving the ship for a two month holiday—we will miss him, he has taken good care of us. Unpacked and did some class questions on the computer—an A day tomorrow, have two classes, one an 8 am type. No rest for the retired faculty.

February 26, we were still in port when we woke—did not leave until 9 am while I was teaching. We went to the deck and watched us leave “Saigon”—we had a special time here really. I have three classes with 98 students in all, evenly divided. And, I have been getting the best attendance I have ever had (of course a captive audience). Today, of the 64 students I have, only two were absent. They are fun to be around and they are responsible. I have taken about 300 photos and received some help to put them on a disk and on the computer. Again, thanks to Kelly and Mike for the laptop and to Ryken for the wireless—it all works. My digital is working just great. Had the ship rescue drill and it was very hot, one of the senior passengers fainted. Always something going on with some 800 of us on board.

Went sailed out of Viet Nam via a long (20 miles or so) inlet that heads out to the South China Sea. I am new to this geography and learning as we go along. We have six days at sea, I am teaching everyday, Annie takes classes and we both do all of the extra activities at night, including bridge. These six days were special to us. As bad and stormy as the first 10 days were, these days were soft and gentle, with the sea like silk. We hardly know the boat is moving, smooth seas, blue skies and blue, blue water. This is the way it is suppose to be, we love it. Late at night we have good old movies—“Good Morning Viet Nam”, “Indochine”. But, we usually fall asleep before they are over... just like at home. Classes go well, I had 100 port reports to read and then on the last day gave the two population classes exams. The student reports are excellent—they have experienced a great deal and it shows in how they discuss all that is going on around them. Lots of time in the faculty lounge reading and watching the ocean flow by. We went around Malaysia, up through the Malacca Straits past Sumatra, past Banda Ache where the tsunami was so destructive , into the Andaman Sea and finally to the Bay of Bengal. Smooth for every second. We spend as much time outside as we can, but try to stay in the shade — the sun is hot. At one point we were within a degree of the equator. Our wine time remains at 4:09, and we still have about a case left from our stash when we left Vancouver/Hawaii.

Annie and I work out regularly in the weight room — they have a tread mill and we are usually up before any of the students so we manage to get some exercise in. And yesterday, we woke up in the port of Chennai (Madras), India. It has always been a dream to be here, I am so excited. Lots of red tape to get off the ship (visas, customs, money changing), but by late morning Annie and I were out just walking around and getting our bearings. A bit of a walk from the port, but once across the bordering railroad tracks, it is just wild. People and cars and trucks and buses are just everywhere, and I mean in very nook and cranny. It is hot, dirty and above all, poor. Everything is such an assault on the senses. But somehow it all works, it is so exotic! A saying here is IWA — India Wins Again. Chennai is pretty ugly in the area we call home in Port, but we can see there are some charming spots.

We took a city tour, and again just astounded at the traffic and noise and congestion. The buses rule, they even drive against the traffic (left side normally here). Our guide was a bit mercenary and just kept wanting to take us to stores where he probably had a kick-back, but we persevered and did manage to see some of the temple, church and marina beach sites. So far, overwhelming. Last night we had a reception put on by one of the local universities—I was a trip leader, 108 of our students went. Lovely night, warm and calm, and we were treated like royalty. The college is an Engineering school, with mainly women studying. They greeted us warmly in all of their sari finery—Annie remarked she had never seen such colour and style. Students had a great time, there was dancing and music and food. What a welcome from some wonderful people. We all had temporary henna tattoos put on our hands—suppose to last a week, quite different. A famous Indian dancer performed for us, with some fine drum and violin accompaniment. A short bus ride home and ready for the bed.

Today was a tour of temples days—two main ones about 70 Kms south of Chennai in areas called Konchipuram and Mamallapurum. Both old, from the 8th century, and pretty amazing. Took mucho photos. And, this area is famous for silk, so stopped at a factory to see how saris are made, and was a special visit. Hard to describe the looms, the silk thread (even some gold and silver), and the amount of love and care that goes into the production. Annie still looking for the perfect Pashminas (?), I had two silk shirts made and they promised to deliver them to our ship tonight—yea, sure. And, just after dinner, a knock on my door and there was a package with the shirts in them. IWA—India Wins Again. Just a wonder to be here, such a contrast of stuff. The day ended with a visit to a crocodile farm—literally saw thousands of these creatures. Some naturalists is raising them too release back to the wild where they have become scarce or extinct. I am just awe struck at all that goes on here. And always, the poverty and need. And always, the beauty and the people. I talk with the local folks every chance I get, and although sometimes it is hard due to language problems, there is always a smile even in the hardest of conditions. I am more and more taken here with each passing hour. Speaking of hour, time for me to call it quits. Have fun in Mexico friends, we wish we could join you, but there is next year. Will report again, probably from Kenya. Miss everyone, but would not have missed this chance for anything. Love and Aloha, Carl and Annie.

Wednesday, March 16
Dear Family and Friends: Another update as we sail from India to Africa (Kenya)—will send this from that port. Our last two days in India were eventful and full of that which is the best and the worst, the rich and the poor. We walked out the non-descript warehouse area to the buses which are taking Annie and me to our field trip for the day—I am the leader of the trip. Always an adventure to make sure the right students are there and on the right buses, but somehow it all works out. We went to what is called the M.O.P., a women’s science college in Chennai just to see their educational programme. We had a warm greeting from the student’s council (about 20 young women), and they acted as our guides for the day—there were only about 30 of us. While this is a science school, they do offer other courses—I even spoke to their only sociology course, one on religion. They also allowed us to make some presentations in their media centre. But more than an academic school, they teach the women almost as if it is a life preparation course. The women are confident, poised, educated and speak their mind with grace and style. I have never seen such a well-rounded group of young students—about 18-20 years old. I think that gracious and intelligent are the best words to describe them. They are the future of India, and in many ways, of the world. How women enter into the power positions of many of these countries we visit will set the tone for what happens in the future as they move through the Demographic Transition. As always, Annie charmed them and we had such a marvelous experience taking with them and finding out about their families and their ambitions. They treated us to a wonderful Indian lunch of curries and foods that we did not know but were oh so tasty. Plus, plenty of bottled water for the gringos. We exchanged gifts—frisbees from us and little wood statues (mainly the God Ganesh) from them. We said our good-bys to the students (I kissed one on the cheek and she was quite surprised—not done too often here) and went to one of the professor’s houses nearby to meet our hosts for a home stay for this evening.

We left the S.A.S. students to their own devices, as we are all going to separate places. Our home stay host, Premilla Rajan picked us up in her chauffeur driven car and we went to our place of residence for a rest and tea. Upper middle class woman, retired as a school principal, quite well educated. Her husband is a retired army officer who is away on a trip. Very nice, very gracious, very Indian in dress and behaviour. She treated us pretty much like royalty. She took us on a little shopping expedition to a local craft centre and we bought gifts for home. Then to a music store where Annie got some bangles and beads, and all the time fighting the tremendous traffic. We went to the large beach area—miles of wide sand ocean front, all open to the public. A wonderful area with a great deal of local colour going on all the time—fishermen, crafts people, the inevitable poverty in the form of beggars and wandering women with children. On the way home we stopped at a gourmet food store where Premilla showed us all of the more or less strange veggies and baked goods. People everywhere, just such a local sight. We loved the interaction—they stare at us as we are pretty unique looking creatures in this part of the world. When we got home we had a nice rice and curry dinner and then talked politics. The people of the world are not too fond of Georgie boy, but from Premilla’s point of view, it has to do with the U.S. cosying up to Pakistan around the Al Quaida thing. The hostility between India and Pakistan is one of the strongest hatreds around, and we see that a lot in talking with people here. Not a good sign to have such hostility between neighbours and historical combatants. Premilla came from a Brahmin caste and had her marriage arranged, but her children are marrying for love, and live in other parts of the world. So, another side of the equation—here is wealth that is expanding outside the country. A bit on internet, some work on my school term essays, and then a shower and to sleep in our own room. Pretty special for this part of the world. We slept fine

Up early the next morning, and Premilla’s driver took us back to the ship. She was a great host and we will continue our friendship via the magic of the e-mail—she was special to us. Annie is hanging out on the ship today, and I have a trip to the HIV/AIDS policy and research centre which is funded by USAID. It turned out to be quite a sad day and at the same time awe inspiring. The office was in a hospital, and I was prepared to give the policy makers trouble there around the U.S. directives about using abstinence for control of the spread of HIV. But the first thing out of the director’s mouth was that abstinence did not work and it was not a part of their programme—they concentrated on particular groups of people (truck drivers, prostitutes, poverty-stricken) and the whole process is predicated on use of the condom. And, these folks are out there in the grass roots areas making a difference in terms of spreading information and getting people tested for the virus. Good, committed people—I was impressed. Four million cases in India, about 400,000 in this state of Tamil Nadu. We were then taken to an NGO called CUSH. They specialize in reaching and helping women in the sex trade. They do not preach, they simply want the women to be safe and healthy and not spread the virus. Use of Condoms is again what is pushed. There were six prostitutes there to talk with us and the students—their stories are hard and yet human. And, they act as peer counselors to other prostitutes in the area—and none will have sex without a condom, no matter what. They have seen too many of their friends die. The woman who runs this programme is amazing, she has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people. Our students learned a lot, had their eyes opened to one of the world’s great issues. We then went to an orphanage where there are 33 children (even some young babies), all of whom had parents die from aids and most of whom have aids themselves. It is just so sad to see all of these little folks coping and being cared for by dedicated people, both men and women. And, I was so proud of our students—they came in the door and just swept these kids up in their arms, and talked and laughed and played games and sang. Brought tears to my eyes to just watch the scene. Rays of light in a really dark day. Finally home, hot and tired but somehow with a sense that it can work out for these folks. Wish Annie could have been along—an eye opener for those of us who are so comfortable. Many of the shipboard community are back from trips all over India with lots of stories to tell—so much fun to live it all vicariously. But I would not have traded my experience today for anything else that could have been done.

The next day was pretty light—I studied some lecture material and did exams and papers. Annie went with some colleagues to tour around a bit of the city, and then in the afternoon we went on a field trip to the old Fort George and then spent an hour or so just walking in a local neighbourhood with a guide. Fascinating—so much poverty but people working hard just to get a few rupies. No tourists around except us, and they would offer us flowers just to be nice. Again, a hard experience to see all of the difficulty in day to day life, but there is also a celebration here that is warming. Our last night in Chennai, had a nice dinner and a few drinks with friends before preparing to leave in the morning.

Up at dawn, already on our way. The lanai we have is just black with soot from the city and the pier. India showed us it has it all—good and bad, lovely and ugly. Into the routine of teaching, the A days (I have two classes) and B days, where I have just one. We all go to the Global Studies. Faculty giving talks in this total community class, and I gave mine on population growth and the demographic transition. It went well, but as usual not enough time to more than touch on the subject. Still, the message of population control as crucial is echoed by just about everyone who speaks. A big day came on the 12 of March, as we prepare to cross the equator tomorrow and we have a ritual called Neptune Day. The night before, there was a huge student meeting in the major classroom area (called The Union), where faculty and staff members had their heads auctioned off to students. This means, shaving of the heads, and I was one of the faculty who volunteered. Students bid on who is going to do the shaving, and three of my students bid $250 for the right to shave my head—going, going, gone! I was stunned—a nice tribute from the students and the money goes to charity. And so, on to the big day. We had set our clocks back an hour, one of the perks of sailing East to West. We were at the equator before noon on the next day, and all of the activities commenced. Those who have crossed the equator by ship and have gone through the initiation are called “Shell-b acks” while those of us who are rookies are called “polliwogs.” We were called to the 7th deck and proceeded with the initiation. Bathing suits the order of the day as we had fish guts (or some suck concoction) poured on our heads and then we jumped into the pool to wash it off—that pool got nastier and nastier as the morning wore on. We were presented to Neptune and his Queen, and allowed into the exalted Shell-back club. Annie and I took a quick shower (we were a mess) and then back out for the head shaving. My three students (Jamie, Stephanie and Kate) really did a nice job and in about 10 minutes, I was (and am) pretty bald. And, I look more than strange, and people do quite a double take. I have had numerous folks say I look a lot like Gandhi, so it cannot be all bad. Had my third shower of the day before noon and went to meet the public. Most people have been very kind in their assessment of this “new” look, and all in all quite an experience. As a part of the festivities, we had a trivial pursuit game about all that had happened on the ship—fun and academic—and I finished 2nd out of the five faculty members. We are having so much fun, it is a great community of friends and scholars and students that has been put together by trial of fire over the past couple of months. And, on we go to Kenya, about three more days.

Two wonderful days at sea have transpired. Calm, clear, warm, with the ocean pretty much like glass. Trying to get a bit of sun on my basically bald head, and taking it in 10 minute segments. Teaching and exams and grading—all of it fun and exciting. Still plenty of time to be out on the deck and just watch the Indian Ocean pass beneath us. For two days we watched just thousands of flying fish avoid the onrush of our vessel, a few school of dolphins jumping as we move past, and even a whale or two putting on a show. We crossed the equator on the afternoon of March 14th; and exciting event with the whole shipboard community out in force. Blowing the whistle to announce our arrival to King Neptune. The whole trip from India to Kenya has just been spectacular—plenty of work to do but enough down time with social and entertainment activities. We arrive in Mombasa tonight and Annie and I leave on a safari trip first thing in the morning. That is it from the world travelers for now—back in touch at the end of the Kenya expedition. For us, it is all about physical activity, new education and unique culture. We move on.

blogging the backyard igloo

since I had to shovel the deck anyway, I piled it so as to create a suitable base for making an igloo with the ICEBOX igloo maker... then put up the tarp to shade it from the warm (almost) spring sun... Dan also has one in his backyard, and we set a new speed record with that construction.

igloo blogging Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Carl's haircut

according to the previously noted blogger on the boat with Carl and Annie, there was a charity auction of head shaving... and Carl's locks went for $250 (!) while Annie played the ukelele...

I'm sure, Carl, in the words of Billy Crystal, "You look mahvelousssssss..."

Saturday, March 12, 2005


we now have gone wireless, as I am blogging from the dining room table... this will be great, but the kids will have to learn how to exercise their restraint...

go Catamounts... I am able to keep updated on their blowout of Northeastern today from the couch... such luxury...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

great SAS student blog

Catherine Taft is blogging the SAS trip and has some cool photos... have you met her, Carl? I haven't looked at all of her reports, but it certainly is worth checking out...

One of Catherine's photos of Lagoon Mountains, very evocative...

public health blog

effect measure is possibly of interest to those involved in health care education...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

links added

just a few random favorites as I learn my way around this thing...