Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mi-Select-G

Branding. A good friend is currently running a business based around that needed aspect of products and services.

In Japan, English is the second language. Their car names reflect this. The "Mi-Select-G" is a car that was sold by Subaru, back in the late 90s. That is even a sub-model of the class (think Legacy).

I think they got it wrong. Any two of the three (really four) would have done.

Speaking of bizarre Japanese car names, here's another one I spotted recently: Suzuki "Joypop", model "Sound". It's a tiny van that would never make it to the States for safety reasons. At some point, I might the highlights from a list of bizarre Japanese vehicle names that I've been compiling
over the last year or so.

- - -

So back to the card…

I have no idea who it's for - or what business is represented.

But I do know where I got the card - on the floor of a used van from Japan I was test driving. (I'm in the midst of buying another van for our organization. We're only considering used Japanese vans. For those of you who are interested, it will be a Toyota HiAce diesel.)

I also found a coin in the glovebox of another used Japanese vehicle. Way cool. It has a hole in the middle!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Necessary product

One meaning of the Swahili word, "tena", is "again". I was amused at the implications of using this product again and again. Heather informs me that it also means "furthermore." I'm not sure the implications of that are any better.

"Sifa" means praise in Swahili. Zacky, a colleague, informs me that the product must be worthy of praise - or famous.

A whole country without power

In today's newspaper was the story of the announcement in Tanzania that the whole country is being rationed - no electric power from 7am till 7pm Monday through Friday.

(Tanzania is the country next to Kenya. Several friends and colleagues are there.)

Count your blessings.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Every once in a while...

...an interesting photo begs to be taken (interesting to me anyway).

We are sub-letting from the Johnsons. They are living in England until August 2007. They have an impeccable sense of interior design. We have enjoyed living in the midst of that art form.

A theme that flows through the apartment is candles. This candlestick is on the master bedroom wall.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Next year...

A friend of ours had her mobile phone stolen. (Let's call her Rebecca, to protect the identity of those later in this story.) Thieves stopped a minibus she was riding home one evening. They took everything of value from the passengers.

Rebecca said to me, "I'll get a new one next year." She earns so little that it will take her at least six months to save up enough to buy a new one. They currently cost about $35.

We have known Rebecca for 15 years. She's a wonderful trustworthy person. We would love to just buy her a new mobile phone, but then what would we say to the twenty or thirty people we know who are in the same position she is? Why did we give her that gift and not them?

So here's the heart-breaking part of the story. Rebecca has a son who is in accounting school. We have been assisting with his tuition - some of the costs but not all. She quietly let it slip that he has been skipping meals because he does not have enough to pay for both his tuition and his meals.

We're going to now pay all of his tuition.

We know the people who employ her. We have struggled whether to confront them about raising her salary. She doesn't want us to, as it could spoil her job with them. Also, it's a pride issue, and we don't want to step in where we shouldn't.

That's just a little picture of some of the tricky issues we deal with all the time here in Kenya. The only answer we have come up with is that there are no easy answers.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cape to India

These guys came through Nairobi on their way from South Africa to India. I spotted their vehicle leaving a shopping center parking lot and knew there was a story. I whipped out my camera and took a couple of shots. In the process, I was able to have a quick discussion with the driver.

He said they had been robbed the night before - all their cameras had been stolen. This city is often called, "Nairobbery". I was so sad to hear their tale - they had come all that way to have this happen.

Africa does not have a system of highways traversing the continent - they had to ford rivers and go on dirt tracks for thousands of kilometers - only to be violated here in the big city.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ancient beast

This Toyota from the early 70s has been on the road here in Kenya for a l-o-n-g time. I admire the owners (undoubtedly a long succession) who were resourceful enough to keep it going. My only complaint is that it probably is an environmental disaster - belching clouds of blue smoke everywhere it goes. But I can't complain too hard; it fits the owner's budget. Anything cleaner would not.

Many cars of this vintage on the road here have not a single panel that has not been re-beaten into shape. (This one's in good condition, though!) But again, shops that do the "ripply" work fit the budget. And to be fair to the drivers of the "ripply" cars, it's impossible for ANYONE to drive in Nairobi for very long without getting beat up by another vehicle.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

They extremely blessed us

Simon and his family visited us the other weekend. They brought many gifts! Among the things they brought were three live chickens. Probably the favorite meal of many Kenyan families will include chicken. (It's a luxury.)

So they really blessed us by slaughtering and cleaning the chickens. Last time we were given a chicken, Heather slaughtered it. (I forgot what my excuse was to bow out that time.) This time they offered to do the duties - and we gladly accepted.

ONE YEAR!

Today I am celebrating the one year anniversary of when I first started this blog - and my adventure in blogging.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The American Wing

Very close to downtown is the campus of Nairobi University. Yes, they have an American Wing. It was funded by America, I guess. The engineering department lives there.

Minor things to note about this photo: First, the sign "American Wing" is off-center. (That's not as a result of my bad photography.) Second, see the window open; Nairobi has such a perfect climate that opening windows are part of the vast majority of buildings. And they're open for most of the year!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hi. Fine.

Language is a funny thing. The same words may mean different things in different cultures, even though they are in the same language.

In Nairobi, when you greet a person with "Hello", you may be answered "Fine." Reason? In Swahili, there are really no mainstream greetings that are not asking, "How are you?" So "Hello" is commonly interpreted as meaning, "How are you?"

I have mentioned in this blog before that most Kenyans in Nairobi know at least three languages: Swahili, a smaller mother tongue language, and English. When you go to the coast, the beach hawkers know enough of most major european languages to complete a sale. (Amazing!)

These guys are David, our staff driver, and Kioko, our staff mechanic. (Great people!)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Podcamp promotion

My buddy Chris* is raising funds for his PodCamp. He has helped me many times, so now I'm returning the favor.

*
See the link in my sidebar to learn more about the event.

Shameless self-promotion



If you want, you can add this little icon to your site and link to your favorite blog.

Don't ask me how, I'm not much of a coder.

Visas

One of the tasks my guys do is going to various embassies around town to get visas for people to enter various countries.

So recently I happened to glimpse inside one of those passports. Visas can be very colorful and interesting! I loved the name, "Lt Col. Emmannel Bol Ring".

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why you should get a Mac

Macs come with all kinds of fun and easy-to-use programs like Comic Life. I created this little comic in about five minutes. Anyone can make their own comics based on real-life events. All you need is a digital camera. Or you could use the built-in camera that most Macs come with!

So, this comic - it's not very comic-like. It's not funny. Apologies.

When we went to the beach, I made some ephemera art. (It was vapor-like; I created it, photographed it and then threw it away.) Last year when we went to the beach, I noticed lots of blue bits of plastic washed up on the beach. I gathered lots of bits and assembled them into a collage. This year, I did two more collages: green and red.

I use the photographs as art on my wall at work.

"God's art" is a collage of welk (?) shells. They're little shellfish that congregate on the tidal flats near Watamu, Kenya. The scale of the original art is different; my collage was about 4x7 feet. God's was about 4x7 inches.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Night creatures

Do you have this problem at your office?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Who needs Toys-R-Us?

As you can see, toys can be made with whatever's around!

These boys (or maybe one of their friends) made this truck out of sticks. I didn't have time to look at the wheels to see how they were made.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Simple and expensive

One Sunday we went to the Norfolk Hotel for a basic lunch. We left hungry because we were too cheap to order enough to fill our tummies. But it's a classic colonial-roots hotel close to the heart of downtown, and we wanted the kids to experience it: white table cloths, polite wait-staff and the olde-world colonial ambience.

This lovely tomato was a part of the kiddie eggs-and-toast meal. (I ended up eating that meal, as whichever of the kids ordered it liked what I ordered more.)

Speaking of food, here's a link to the best description of a meal I have read. Linking to that story reminds me of how the internet is a living thing... that story won't be on the web forever. It will die and be replaced by another.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The East Africa Motor Show

On Saturday a few weeks ago, Keith and I did a father and son outing with our oldest boys. It was fun, though we only stayed about an hour.

This guy painted the hood (bonnet) in about 20 minutes. (I enjoy that graffiti style which transcends all borders.)

Jay and Brad had a quasi-good time. (The car behind them is - or was - a Toyota Starlet, circa about 1993. I particularly loved the Batman-car effect.)

Lots of the show highlighted the rap culture here (much of which is borrowed from the States). Several cars had massive sound systems with woofers that went in and out vast distances, as they created bass notes that shook us to the core.

Drummers

An excellent post about my favorite drummer is here. The post is titled, " Going out on top..."

Soon to be my favorite drummer is here. Just scroll down to "An amazing guy".

Monday, August 14, 2006

Colonial remnants, no. 237 & 238

(I'm not keeping track of how many colonial remnants I have featured in this blog.)

Not far from my favorite carpet vendor is this old mailbox. I'm sure it was made in England before I was born. (That was a long time ago!)

It's the only one I've seen in Kenya.

Second for today is the Railway Crossing sign. Or as I like to call it, "Rail Crossing Way". This sign is very close to our church. And it has seen better days.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The AIDS highway

The biggest highway in Kenya goes from Mombasa (the coast) to Uganda (Lake Victoria). It's big in terms of the volume of traffic it carries - not its width!

Anyhow, there are several truck stops along the way. Traveling at night is not much of an option here, due to bandits and due to road hazards and pedestrians that can't be seen after dark. (Bandits set up road-blocks to stop traffic and then rob the drivers or steal their vehicles.) So truckers stop near dusk for the night. Many take up companions for the night. AIDS spreads.

The national newspaper published a map showing how AIDS "hot spots" were located at each of the truck stops along the highway.

This ad is for condoms; industry and international pressure groups are trying to do something about it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Encouragement

God used a guy in Indiana to encourage me. We have never met, except for over the internet.

You always hear about marriage partners who met over the interet, but how many times have you heard of these sorts of connections happening? (And thanks to Chris for making the connection!)

Remember Double-Mint?

This gum came to Kenya from Saudi Arabia. It cost all of about 10c. The thing that amused me about the package is how it copies Wrigley's design of maybe twenty years ago. Double-Mint has moved on in the intervening years.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The CitiGolf

In South Africa, the first generation VW Golf is still made and sold - as VW's cheapest model. (During the year this one came out, it was actually called the Citi.com.) Some of them made their way up to Kenya. They were sold here until cheap used imports (of higher quality) started flooding in from Japan.

Spirals of disillusionment

I don't often do posts like this. I'm going to bare my soul before the world.

Coming halfway across the world in attempts at making a difference have not worked out as we planned. Some days we can see positive effects and others seem like we have actually done more harm than good. (Thankfully, there are more days when it looks good than bad.)

Part of the problem is that I'm human. The other part is that those I work with are too.

I was going to go into detail here, but I don't want to incriminate those I wanted to mention. And being vague and general serves little purpose.

On a personal level, my moods swing with work-related events that hit. I'd like to be more insulated, but then my compassion would go out the window.

Perspective is important. One friend said yesterday that we should be content with what can actually be done in a day. (That was an oversimplification of what Dallas Willard had said to a meeting of leaders here, about ten years ago.)

The comforting knowledge is that God has a plan that's way bigger than what we can see.

We would appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Europe?

This lovely stained glass window is in Nairobi's big Anglican Cathedral (All Saints). This guy represents justice.

And the cathedral has a full-bore pipe organ.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Fun thing

I found the site that allowed me to create this ticket. They are the source of the Church Sign Generator, which I saw and enjoyed two or three years back.

The amusing thing about the ticket is that it reminds me of tickets from a long time ago.

I still save concert ticket stubs, though I haven't added to that collection since arriving in Nairobi. And most of the shows I attend when in Denver are at venues so small that they don't do tickets.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

States of decay

If you have ever lived in Africa, you'll know that many places reflect various levels of decay. I don't say this in a negative or critical way. It's just reality.

This Caltex sign was at a working petrol (gas) station.

Caltex is the local equivalent to Texaco. I think they are owned by the same multi-national. That particular multi-national doesn't see the need to keep their image sparkling. (This station is on the most-traveled highway in Kenya: the road between Nairobi and Mombasa.)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Strange art

This annual award is from the Kenya Institute of Marketing. It is from a newspaper ad, by one of its recipients. The Nation national newspaper has boring and long supplements about once a week announcing similar awards.

This particular award looks bizarre enough that I would like to question the artist: "What is this supposed to symbolize?" "Why does it look like a sail when it has nothing to do with the sport of sailing?" And I'm sure you could come up with some more questions for him or her.

(Note to those of you who are image-quality-aware: I took this shot with my little digital camera; I don't have access to a scanner.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Not far from Voi

This old petrol (gas) station is close to Voi, the closest town to the main entrance to Tsavo National Park. Tsavo is even bigger than some states in the USA.

I have always been fascinated by this structure. It reminds me of an era when The Jetsons were a vision of life in the future.

It was in nearly the same ghost-town condition when we passed it by in 1991.

If you look really carefully, you can see one of the baboons that lives there. He's between the two columns at the right of the pic.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Amazing beauty

After yesterday's pessimism, I thought I'd remind you (and me) that we are surrounded by beauty. This guy flew into our kitchen and landed on the windowsill just long enough for me to capture him in pixels.