29 June 2012

Funnyquote Friday

At Team Trivia this past Tuesday, the very amicable Canadian couple asking the quiz were, despite their best efforts, not able to avoid a smattering of scoring irregularities, particularly when they asked the question: "How many colored balls are used in billiards?"  Now, as any connoisseur will tell you, billiards refers to a long-played tabletop game that involves a mere three balls – the two players' respective cue balls, and a single colored ball (typically red) that is communal and responsible for earning tallies in score.  This is the common understanding in England and other English-speaking countries not found in North America.  This is not to be confused with pool, of course, which uses a single communal cue ball and no less than fifteen colored balls.  It is unfortunate that, in North America, the term billiards serves to act as an umbrella term for all cue-related sports.  Thus the quizmasters, being North Americans and not familiar with the former game, were unaware of the discrepancy, and when the room burst into chaotic babble at the revelation that a scoring injustice had been made, the question was eventually scrapped in the interest of civility.  The ensuing question, "How many pips are on a pair of dice?" was met with much less controversy, to which the quizmaster replied, tongue-in-cheek,

"What do you know?
They have the same dice here as in England."

It was a strange week, all things considered.  The Ripple Institute received another community donation in the form of a secretarial desk, and I had to be on-hand at the office to receive it.  I was pleased to see it finally arrive, too – a mere 52 hours after it was originally promised to be delivered.  I ended up waiting at the office each of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons for this desk.  And even though this was a hassle, it gave me ample opportunity to get caught up on the bits of work I can do at TRI just to feel like I'm contributing: I designed a new business card this week, to be used by officers of the organization; I am still working on converting the recently completed Youth Council Group Application into an Individual Applicant version; I am waiting to hear back from my contact at the ICT for confirmation on the establishment of the website.  I'm so confounded with what molehills here in St. Kitts are rapidly morphed into mountains – I can't even get a 6" x 24" sign hung in a week's time!

St. Kitts MusicFest is all weekend, starting last night.  I'm still debating whether or not to attend, as the entrance price is a steep XCD $100 per night.  I don't relish the thought of dropping that kind of cash and finding myself standing at the back of a J'ouvert-esque mosh pit for 4-5 hours straight.  The issue has caused me some unfortunate anxiety, however, as I am confronted with some degree of social expectation to take part in the festivities.  I thought a nice compromise would be to go Saturday night, when the headliners Roberta Flack and Toni Braxton would be playing, but I've still not come to grips with this as of yet.  We'll see what happens, and I'll report back next week accordingly.

January's video is complete, incidentally, but I'll roll it out next week, so as not to crowd the homepage with embedded YouTube videos.

EDIT: It seems I missed Tau day.  Oh well.

22 June 2012

Funnyquote Friday

This past Wednesday, my boss was serenaded by the Food Preparation and Hospitality Training class in a chorus of "Happy Birthday."  The traditional follow-up here in the Caribbean is a second verse, set to the same tune, with the words, "How old are you now?" repeated four times.  It serves as a practical safeguard for avoiding the awkwardness of guessing how old someone is, and instead transfers the embarrassment to the birthday guest, who is almost socially required to answer now.  But my boss deftly responded, in the same sing-song tune,

 "As old as I look / As old as I look..."

Not much to add this week; I think I'll let the new (old?) video do the talking for me.  It's highlights from last December – hence the Christmas music.  But who couldn't use a little Christmas music in June?

15 June 2012

Funnyquote Friday

The office I work at in Basseterre, the NSTP, is in an old, decrepit building that is heavily infested with termites, among other vermin.  We've looked for other locations to move to, but the government, as a rule, cannot afford the down payment on a nicer office space.  The room where I work, the computer room (also the only climate-controlled room in the building) unfortunately has a wood floor in lieu of the more common tiled concrete floor, and in certain places the wood is sinking, warped, cracked, or quite literally falling through.  When Betty, the transient cleaning lady came by one afternoon and stuck her head in to the computer room, she stumbled on the threshold when it nearly gave way under even her meager weight.  She frantically exclaimed,

"Oi! [Prime Minister] Douglas ain't got no money
to look out for me?!"

We EC82 Volunteers received a welcome surprise on Wednesday: Close Of Service training, scheduled for the third week of July, will be held in St. Mary's, Antigua.  So I get to see everyone a third time and experience a third EC island, making this an experience I'm very much looking forward to once again.  COS is intended to help us, in the words of our Training Officer,
1. Reflect on, share and celebrate your experiences in the Peace Corps.
2. Develop plans for your remaining Peace Corps service as well as your readjustment to the United States.
3. Consider your short- and long-term goals, and determine options for life after Peace Corps.
... particularly in view of our remaining three months of service, which will be immediately in front of us come July.  In related news, judging by the guest list, my class of EC82 has diminished from its high-water mark of 28 down to 24 – that's only four volunteers lost in 22 months of service!  To give you some idea of how much I feel connected to the group, my first reaction to seeing the list was one of shock at what felt like a bunch of PCVs missing – but, in retrospect, I can now tick off the four in my head.  So that's an 86% retention rate - not too shabby!

I've spent a lot of time at The Ripple Institute this week, and I got a lot of work done towards a number of projects that promote the institute's public presence.  The new building sign will be hung on the office this week (barring any setbacks) and the logo (seen right) has been completed, approved, and finalized.  With this out of the way I was able to create official copies of the letterhead, enrollment form, and government NGO license.  The work there is rewarding, and something closer to what I had envisioned myself doing in NGO development on island.  And even though my time is more and more rapidly coming to a close, I hope to be around just long enough to see the Institute open and start functioning at capacity.

Well, the interview did not happen as planned on Tuesday, but it was rescheduled for the following week.  The company posted some new videos on YouTube this week, however, so I was able to catch up on some history and additional info that will hopefully serve me well.  Please remember me this upcoming Tuesday afternoon, when I will field questions from the co-founder and Senior Vice President of the company.

08 June 2012

Funnyquote Friday

Well well, it snuck up on us again... the Funnyquote Fridays in Review!  And you know what that means: even more funny, often inane, but occasionally insightful, translations from our friends at Bad Translator.  Here are the last 24 weeks of funnyquotes and their repeated translation through 56 different world languages:

16 September 2011: *Whistle* "I'm coming back.  Coming back!"
... becomes, "Get the police!"

23 September 2011: "As Benjamin Franklin, former U.S. President, famously said..."
... becomes, "The most popular singer, Former President of the United States, said of Benjamin Franklin, and the most popular artists..."

07 October 2011: "Your wife's HOT!"
... becomes, "Spice Girls!"

14 October 2011: "You'd never see a movie called Boyz in the Bonnet."
... becomes, "The film takes place here."

21 October 2011: "That's not air conditioning, that's cold storage!"
... becomes, "Air conditioners, refrigerators, no!"

28 October 2011: "We do everything we can, but we can't do everything."
... becomes, "We can do that."
... and, "We tried, but did not."

18 November 2011: "Don't date the local homeless guy [just to date someone]."
... becomes, "It's time to go home."

25 November 2011: "So it not turning on, or it just running slow?"
... becomes, "You need glasses."

16 December 2011: "Ask not about the stipend. When it is ready, you will be informed. In the meantime, learn as much as you can!"
... becomes, "You don't have to pay the witness to find that now."

03 February 2012: "What is this, opera??"
... becomes, "This is for me?"

10 February 2012: "The Sea Hustler – it doesn't really hustle..."
... becomes, "Very sharp lie."

17 February 2012: "They all have a Blackberry®. I have a gooseberry."
... becomes, "Can I have a strawberry?"

24 February 2012: "Keep going until you pass the squished frog."
... becomes, "The first set of compressors."

02 March 2012: "What other 4A6 teacher do you know that comes to work on a Friday?"
... becomes, "Mr. President, no dispatch on Friday?"

16 March 2012:  "Now if only the White people would stop coming."
... becomes, "If there is one of these eggs on the ship..."

23 March 2012: "Good night! Drive safely!"
... becomes, "Good night stupid!"

30 March 2012:  "His head was in the living room, and his feet were in the kitchen."
... becomes, "Cooking, cleaning, and living space summit."

06 April 2012: "Please answer 'A' for this question."
... becomes, "Welcome to the response."

13 April 2012: "Boy I wish my camera had a phone on it right now."
... becomes, "I think this would be a mobile phone camera fan."
... and, "My God.  My camera."

20 April 2012: "Hey, you are falling out of tune!"
... becomes, "However, you can create what has been broken open."

27 April 2012: "Woo Peace Corps!  Even lower down the totem pole than UNDP!"
... becomes, "Helping the UN Association of Self-Employed Female Workers group."

04 May 2012: "I can't change the laws of math!"
... becomes, "Count!"

18 May 2012: "Same s**t, different dialect."
... becomes... Well, actually, it rather ironically doesn't change at all.

25 May 2012: "... (Are you reading this, Chris?)"
... becomes, "Even Christopher Lee?"

EDIT: Woo! Got the photo slideshow up and running, finally.  Check it out in the upper-left corner.  From there you can navigate the random 50 photos and also click on any one you want to see larger - it opens in a separate window/tab.  Enjoy!

06 June 2012

"Can't Stay" Says May / Too Soon for June

Wow, 70 hits for Monday's blogpost in two days?? Maybe I should title all of my future posts with allusions to popular rock songs from the '80s.

Now seems like it would be a good time to recount some more achievements of mine since starting my Peace Corps service all the way back in September 2010.  Using the previously seen GamersCorps Achievements format, here is an update to how my last 20 months have shaped up in my mind.

... Oh, and one that stands out above the rest:

It's satisfying to have all of these positive reminders of a fruitful term of service all in one place here.  Hopefully I get to add a little more to it come October and tally up my final score.

Also, new blog header.  I tried to pick the clashingest colors I could find, and I think I succeeded.

04 June 2012

Under Pressure

Ughh... I woke up this morning with sinus pressure strong enough to knock me out.  Unfortunately for me, I didn't recognize it for what it was until after I left home, or else a quick dose of sinus medication would have most likely restored me to my normal self.  But, instead, it's off to work feeling like my head is about to implode and my body drained of energy.  But I think I can still be productive, somehow.  Lately I've been spending the days at the NSTP office entering A Ganar trainees' attendance into the corresponding spreadsheet and calculating their training hours.  Not very engaging or inspiring work, but it takes a little bit of pressure off of a few others around here, freeing them up to deal with the countless other demands of maintaining a government agency while also implementing an island-wide youth program in the high schools.  So I'm happy to help out.

I was the recipient of a grand surprise this weekend: it seems that for the last x months the water bill for my building has not been paid. 
I was caught unawares,
They approached my home in pairs;
My bill was in arrears,
Confirming all my fears.
It took no less than three representatives from the Water Department (and a fourth to drive the get-away car, apparently) to inform me of the outstanding balance in excess of XCD 2,000.  Since I've never had the pleasure of meeting my landlord, he's certainly never personally signed a contract/lease agreement with me, and so in the... (calculating)... ninteteen months I've lived here, there has always been the possibility of this happening.  My neighbors, my APCD and I have always operated under the assumption that electricity and water were included in the rent.  Thankfully, this was confirmed when we finally managed to get hold of my landlord, who lives Stateside and tragically does not ascribe to the standard practice of employing an agent to manage his property down here on the island while he is away.  Instead, my lawn is turning into the untamed bushlands, and my water pressure is at risk of being cut off.  While no definitive resolution has yet been reached, we were successful in contacting the landlord and informing of the urgent nature of the situation.  Incidentally, my future rent payments remain canceled until such a time as the matter is concluded.  I'm not at all keen on the idea of picking up and moving to a new location all of a sudden, but I'm prepared for the possibility of such a necessity.

I enjoyed a long weekend this time last week, in honor of Whit Monday, taking advantage of the chance to release some of the pressure of all the projects I have going on right now.  Since a former PCV's parents were on-island, we took a big group down to the Southern Peninsula for an early summer Sunday at the beach.  It was a delightful romp for all of us, and pleasantly reminiscent of Memorial Day weekend Stateside.  (It always helps to have a bit of a reminder of home from time to time.)  Then a few of us capped it off by enjoying hot dogs and watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  It almost made me a little homesick! (almost)

My fifth trimesterly report is off, leaving just one more come September.  I was on the beach at Nevis on Saturday to finish it.  Those of us PCVs still here on St. Kitts are looking ahead to July, when our Close of Service week-long conference will be held.  This we know – what remains to be seen is whether our wishes for it to be held at any island not St. Kitts will come true.  If historical precedent is any indication, the St. Lucia staff will attempt to make arrangements with a hotel in St. Vincent, far far to the south of here, before pulling out and booking last-minute reservations at the Ocean Terrace Inn in Basseterre.  For my part, at least 79% of the appeal of COS is the chance to see all of our PCV friends from the other islands one last time.  But I'd sure like to augment that with the 21% appeal of getting to see a third Caribbean country during my term of service here.

The reader may recall that I was scheduled for two interviews the last couple of weeks.  The interviews went well, and indeed I am preparing for a second-round interview tomorrow.  I am highly reluctant to say more about it at this time, for fear of overexciting myself and adding more pressure to my performance.  God has already protected me thus far; I can't say enough how much it has eased my mind during interviews knowing that each one is not the end all be all of interviews, even for just that month or week.  Going through the process with two organizations simultaneously has allowed me to remain comfortable and just be myself during the interviews, and the effects are much more positive results, I hope.

Well, that's all the updates I have for now.  It's back to entering endless arrays of students' Present or Absent marks and adding up their training hours.  Then I need to make time for more work on this Ripple Institute website – it's shaping up nicely enough, but I still haven't made contact with the ICT Department yet.  All this to say nothing of organizing a training day for teachers volunteering at a possible Chess Camp this summer, and... oh! I need to contact the people in St. Lucia associated with the Chess Club there, and request info that can be used to persuade government officials here in St. Kitts.  And I need to do all of this soon, or else I fear that the trust these people have put in me and my ability to efficiently and effectively do this work will slip.

...No pressure.