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Fun with .gifs

I have been playing around with photoshop and my new camera to make .gif files.

Everyday I'm kotxi-ing

Mika and Sony pound corn for Cachupa

Picos turning green: Photos taken over the course of a month or so at the beginning of the rainy season

Pound that corn.


I woke up in this morning and pondered about the rats.  I wage an odd war on the rats.  I tolerate them until they do something annoying like chew the cap off my bottle of cooking oil and spill it all over my dishes or leave droppings on  on my bed.  This angers me.  The killing floor opens.  I mix some rat poison with sugar, powdered milk and ground corn in one of the little altoids tins I have left over from care packages.  I put the little tin under my stove because that is where they love to hang out.   They run into the side of the stove making loud banging nouses as if someone were slapping the side of the stove all night and keep me awake at night.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and chase them with a piece of plywood.   I also have been known to thrown knives at them.   I hate the rats.  This morning I heard one of them chewing on something.  It is time for a new campaign to begin.

The rats running around my house at night sound like they are this big. In reality, they are normally a little under a foot or long including tail.

Ten Years On

It is ten years on since the 11th of September 2011 and today the world remembers and memorializes (on this planet and others).  I remember very well where I was when the towers were hit.  I was two months into my freshman year at Indiana University in Bloomington.  I was asleep.   It happened fairly early in the morning and I was not in the habit of waking up any earlier than I had to.   My roommate Ryan was asleep as well.   We awoke to banging on our door.   One of us yelled “Go away, we’re asleep.”   It was Max, our next door neighbor from Long Island, New York.  He was urgent.  “Wake up, you have to see this.  Seriously.  Get up.”  He said something about an accident or an attack that neither of us understood.  We got up.

Being awoken suddenly in that odd way is the most vivid memory I have of that day.   The rest of the day we sat glued to the television, but most of it was a confusing blur of confused commentators speaking with confused politicians and confused analysts.  By the time we woke up both towers had been hit, but neither had fallen.  I don’t remember actually seeing either tower fall.  Later we found out about the plane that hit the Pentagon and the other that crashed in Pennsylvania.  Classes were canceled.

I had only been to New York City once in my life and before the attack, I had never even heard of the World Trade Center.  I remember how much harder hit my friends from the east coast, like Max, were.   They were trying desperately to call their family and friends and see if they were OK and if they knew anything more than the confused commentators on the television.   We all had television’s in our own rooms, but instinctively huddled together into one room to watch in horror.

Of course, nobody knew much at that point.   Nobody knew how many mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters were killed on the planes, in the towers or during the subsequent rescue.   Instead we suffered through terrifying images of people jumping or being forced to jump from the towers to avoid a slow death via fire.  I do remember seeing the people jumping and watching it live, with my hand over my mouth, surrounded by Ryan, Max and the rest of my dorm mates.  The entire world could not look away from their TV’s and I wondered if there is anywhere in the world where TV stations didn’t cut into their normal programming to cut to New York.

Nobody knew that the attack on 9/11 would be the rallying cry that kept George Bush Jr. in office for two terms, two wars, the establishment of the extra-legal Guantanamo Bay facility,  and the accompanying deterioration of civil liberties and the rule of law in the name of the war on terror.  The consequences of that day ten years ago have been great.   It led to a hysteria around the threat of terrorism around the world.  The Bush government led the US to another domestic and international war to replace the war on drugs.

The war on terror has in many ways defined and dominated US and western politics (especially international relations and foreign policy) over the last ten years.  The attacks and the war on terror created a collective fear amongst Americans around the world that they or their loved ones might fall victim to another attack.  Violence begets violence, hate begets hate.   As a nation, we did not prove the old adage wrong.  The attack was immediately framed as an act of war (as opposed to a criminal act) and to this act of war we responded in kind.  With the the war on terror came complaints of widespread racism and ethnic discrimination against anyone muslim or middle eastern, a stripping of our civil liberties, a great weakening of checks and balances (as Bush argued that in his role as commander and chief, he could generally ignore any form of congressional or judicial checks/review of executive powers and found other means to skirt requirements for the treatment of prisoners under US law and the Geneva Convention), two prolonged wars in the Middle East (Aghanistan and Iraq) and tightening of security or a shift in policy at nearly every type of event or government agency (for examples, see the mass of changes in airport and event security or US Immigration enforcement and policy).  There is at least one positive consequence of the attack: it led to a great sense of unity amongst Americans and a call to honor those who died that day through public service.  This call to service in remembrance continues today.

The destruction of the twin towers of the world trade center, the partial destruction of the pentagon and the subsequent deaths is the single most influential event that has occurred in my lifetime.   The world, my country and my individual life would be very different had the attacks never taken place.  I am left to wonder what stories would have dominated the political scene if the hysteria of the war on terror had never caught on.  Ten years on, we should attempt to learn from the attack and its aftermath while doing our best to remember and honor those who lost their lives on this terrible day 10 years ago.  The establishment of the 9/11 memorial today and subsequent opening tomorrow is a good start.

Raising rabbits and my house again

I know I already posted this once, but I made a new video of my house to show off my improved house now with rabbits!!!

My association and I are hoping to encourage people in Picos Riba to start raising rabbits.      When residents here raise animals they require an investment of the food and labor to house, feed and raise them and the purchase price (if they are purchased rather than bred).   Back home I might invest my money in a company via the stock market, hoping to get a positive return on my investment, my neighbors here are more likely too invest their money in a new cow, chickens, a pig or two or, hopefully, rabbits.  Just like diversification is the golden rule to investing in the stock market, the same holds true with agriculture.   Disease, accident, a drop in demand/sale price all can ruin an agricultural investment.   In response, my neighbors, like farmers all around the world, diversify.  They raise multiple different types of crops and animals.   Many people already raise pigs, goats, cattle and chickens.   Far less people raise sheep, pigeons and rabbits.  We are hoping to encourage pico ribans to start raising rabbits as a means to further diversify their investment.

I started by downloading as many materials about raising rabbits as possible.  Here’s a .zip file of materials if you are interested in raising rabbits yourself.   I read for a few weeks and then drew up plans for the rabbit’s house.  My neighbor offered an old set of metal shelves that he was no longer using.  We came up with a neat design using a combination of wire mesh and the shelf on its side to make rabbit cages.   The entire set-up is elevated to make the cage relatively self-cleaning.

I made a video tour, but I doubt I will ever get it uploaded.   9 hours to upload a 100mb video…what is that about?   Anyways, the photos below will have to serve as a consolation.

Hammering the wire to the base before adding the legs or the shelving. The wire seen here is the floor for the rabbits and needs to be as tight as possible.


I had a crowd of spectators and assistants throughout the day. Their idea to use flattened bottle caps as washers to hold the wire tight worked very well.


Zuka and I created walls on the top and sides by attaching the wiring to the metal shelving


The finished product. The shelving is laid on top of the wood structure with the wire spread across the top. Wiring is spread across the top and sides and attached to the metal shelving. The weight of the metal shelving isn't tied at all to the wood structure and can be easily removed for cleaning. My neighbors and I made this up as we went along (after getting some ideas from a few guides to raising rabbits). I think it turned out pretty well.


My rabbits in their happy home. The two on the left are not quite breeding age. The ones on the right are ready to breed.

A few amusing stories

A few days ago, I took my morning constitution holding an umbrella to protect me from the rain pouring down on my toilet.  My first thought was that it would be a great photo op for a “life is calling: how far will you go?” poster.

Add rain + me on the toilet with an umbrella + life is calling: how far will you go? tagline on the bottom

A few days ago I was tricked by a trainee.   The new round of Peace Corps trainees arrive about a month ago to Cape Verde to begin their two years of service here.   It was raining and I was tired.  I had been walking around Assomada for most of the day shopping and was feeling both relieved my errands were over and happy to be heading to my peaceful home on the mountain.   I walked with my umbrella up the sidewalk on the main thoroughfare snaking my way through groups of cape verdeans milling about under the terraces waiting for the rain to stop.    I passed a shorter cape verdean man with dark skin and a patchy unkempt beard who stopped me and asked me for my umbrella.  He smelled heavily of grog.  I told him no.  He said he would pay me for it and I told him he should visit one of the chinese lodjas as they have many and I only bought this one an hour prior.    He once again asked for my umbrella, more forcefully this time, and I diplomatically smiled (but did so with effort as I was uncomfortable with his aggressiveness), said no and bid him goodbye.   After getting robbed, I am more alert to aggressive men and odd situations such as this than I used to be.  I am still jumpy and it will take some time before I am anywhere near as comfortable as I used to be traveling alone.

I continued along the road to where I would catch a car home and a tall, lighter skinned, cape verdean, approached me unusually quickly and started speaking with me.  First, he offered to sell me something, but I couldn’t understand what.  The way he approached me, his odd accent and something about his demeanor signaled to me that something was out of the ordinary with this interaction.  I was already on edge from my earlier encounter with the aggressive man and my first thought was something isn’t right here and that I should try to end the interaction as soon as possible.   I told the man I wasn’t interested, bid him goodbye and picked up my pace to lose him.   He caught up with me quickly, his persistence making me even more uncomfortable, and asked me if I lived here.  I gave him the same description I have given a thousand times in response to that question about where I lived and worked in Picos at the Association.  He told me he does development work as well.  I said in krioulo,  “that’s good, I’m sorry though, but I am in a hurry and need to leave now.”   I started to walk off again.  He stopped me and said he worked for Corpo de Paz (Peace Corps).  I gave him an odd look and he said, in English, “yeah, I’m a trainee.”  He was not a cape verdean but an American who arrived with the new training group.  I had been tricked and felt like an ass.  In retrospect, I am amused.  Well done trainee.  Well done.