Friday, November 25, 2005

Day 18

Day 18 (24-Nov 19h51)

Another great day. After going to bed early again, I was wide awake at six. The sounds of youth getting ready for school are not as disturbing as you may think, but they do rouse the senses; feet pattering down halls, shoes clapping against pavement as learners ascend and descend stairs, morning pleasantries exchanged in a foreign tongue, it all has a homey feel to it.

After writing some emails out to send later, Mr. Gallant (Science and Biology teacher) came to pick me up in the school van. The adventure started early when he was unable to get the van started after waiting for me to come down. We played with it for nearly an hour, thinking it was the van’s security system which disconnects the ignition when armed. Since the door locks didn’t work properly, we assumed there was something wrong with the disarming mechanics, we were proven wrong later. A phone call to school procured for us another teacher, Mr. Hoxobeb (English, Damara, and History teacher, and yes, the vertical line is part of his name, it’s a click) who took us to the mechanic. The mechanic told us that they did not work on our particular brand of security system, so we drove twenty minutes to the alarm manufacturer. There, we found a nice mechanic who followed us back to my place to asses the problem. Any ideas what it was? If you guess the battery, you’d be correct! We jump started the van and drove it to school. Later, Mr. Gallant found out the battery was dry (no salt water), and once it was refilled, worked like a charm.

Morning antics completed, I spent the rest of the school day in the computer lab. There I located more places on the server that the previous volunteer stored music. I believe I have uncovered more than 60 gigs of music in various places, the server holding the majority of it. The server’s capacity is only 60 gigs and nearly three quarters of it is used by music. In addition, many services are not being used (exchange, AD groups, Group Policies, Backups, and DFS just to name a few). Sincerely, it will be fun rebuilding the network in January.

The computer lab is actually quite nice. I don’t recall describing it before, so here it is. There are four rows of glass-top desks with monitors sunk inside them. The computers are Dell mini-towers and pretty fast by even today’s standards. There are two air conditioning (called air-con here) units on the wall opposite the door, and a large table greets you as you enter. To the left of the entrance is a doorway to my new office which houses the servers and enough desk space to put one, maybe two elbows. I hope to consolidate the servers to create a bit more work space back there. I have a personal air-con unit in my office, very nice. There is a white board in the front of the room and two post boards at each end. It’s going to be fun filling the walls with stuff. I’ve already got an idea of how to display class progress throughout the term. There are enough motion detectors, entry sensors, and silent alarm triggers to make you feel like there’s also some gold in the floor no one told you about. But the security is necessary, break-ins are a weekly occurrence. Just last Sunday someone cut the metal cage around the window, but ran off when the alarm was tripped after breaking in.

The computer lab is the only room on campus with air-con, so I feel very lucky. I’ll be working with resources that represent a fortune in a room that’s cozier than most feel all year; I feel a little spoiled.

After school, I spent some time with Mr. Hoxobeb who is going to be a lab assistant and is eager to learn as much as possible about computers and networks. He had some great input as to what the teachers would like to see this next year. The top of the list was after school lab hours, some of which should be dedicated to teacher training.

About two ‘o clock, both Mr. Hoxobeb and Mr. Gallant took me out into the city to get dinner. We stopped at a market to pickup a meal, which we then took out of town to a small picnic area, nestled in a large valley with Idaho-esc mountains on all sides. On one side the mountain range shot up out of the desert floor like the bunching of carpet when you stop too fast. On the other side a conglomeration of isolated mountains, some topped with enormous boulders and rock precipices. In the valley, thousands of small trees and brushes in which hid wart hogs, whatever they call the deer here, free-ranging cattle, and baboons. That’s right, baboons. I saw at least a dozen of them on our drive in and out of the valley. They climb the trees and sit at the tops watching the cars go by. It was pretty cool.

The three of us had a very enjoyable meal and conversation, after which we went on a short walk. On our way back into town, thunderstorms rolled through, dumping more of that thick rain. This time though, the ground was already damp, and after twenty minutes of constant down pouring, you could watch the water start to collect into rivulets, streams, and small rivers. It was amazing how fast the water poured across the ground, a stark contrast to the way the ground handled the short bursts of rain yesterday. Now I know why all those deep dry river beds are so cautiously guarded.

I have enjoyed my evening alone. While I thoroughly enjoyed the company of new friends today, it takes a great deal of effort to stay pleasant, smile, introduce yourself to every family member and friend-of-a-friend they happen upon; I was glad to have some down time.

I took a bath. It was hot. I think baths will be more enjoyable in the winter months, but nevertheless the bathtub is large enough to accommodate me, quite a feat for a tub. I arranged my laptop at the end of the tub, with speakers on either side and watched part of an episode of Firefly before the heat finally got to me. I took a picture of this setup and will post as soon as possible.

And now the sun retreats as I enjoy a cool breeze by my window. There are a few small birds playing some sort of flying game outside, singing pleasantly. The sky is a deep red, reflecting the remaining shards of light through thick, moist clouds. It’s a wonderful end to a stormy evening, though distant thunder reminds me that the weather is a pawn to no one; the storms will return soon. I find comfort in the storms now, understanding their important place in bringing respite from this season’s blaze. Perhaps the summer won’t be that bad, so long as there’s a storm on the horizon. It used to be that storms in life brought perspective to forgetful minds, but here in Africa the storms, temporarily blotting out the intolerable, are a welcomed challenge.

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