Lazy Sunday afternoon for a change and I'm finally writing...also for a change. Only really 2 things...

1. A while back I wrote about Don Dawson, the guy who left his life in the US to go search for his brother who had gone missing in action in Vietnam. I turned up a good deal more than I originally thought I would, including having a commenter offer to send me an original copy of the actual Life magazine article from 1965 (!) that she and her husband had found whilst cleaning out their attic. She sent it to me in exchange for the cost of postage, and it was a cool thing to read when I was back home for a couple weeks in August. I didn't have time to transcribe the article, but was still planning to at some point in the future, until today, when I noticed yet another recent comment on the original post I made. Turns out Google Print now has back copies of Life online. Here's the one about Don Dawson. I love the internet.

2. Today I got the following email, from "Gmail Customer Care":

Gmail! Customer Care Satisfaction Survey

Dear Valued Member,

Due to the congestion in all Gmail users accounts, Gmail would be
shutting down all unused accounts. In order to avoid the deactivation of
your account, you will have to confirm your e-mail by filling out your
Login Info below by clicking the reply button. The personal information
requested are for the safety of your Gmail account. Please leave all
information requested.

Name: ............................................
User name: ............................................
Password: .............................................
Date Of Birth: ........................................
Country Of Residence: ...........................

After you must have followed the instructions in the sheet, your Gmail
account will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Thank you
for your usual co-operation. We apologize for any inconvinience.

Gmail Customer Care

Case number: 8941624
Property: Account Security
Contact date: 26-29-2009

Take the survey
Gmail Copyright © 2009 Gmail Inc. All rights reserved.

Kind of scary and evil that some people might fall for this stuff.


If the blog looks a bit different, that's because it is. Blogger made some overhauls to their user interface for blog formatting, which as far as I can tell adds significant levels of coding on the back end that make it less likely that I'm finally going to figure out all the HTML and CSS anytime in the near future. Which makes it less likely that I'm going to get around to getting my own site up finally. I need to just take like 6 months off at some point and learn to code, and maybe study French, and brush up on my Spanish.

Right now, though - I clearly don't even have time to blog. September's already half gone and this is the first thing I've sat to write, essentially.

Its been a good couple weeks back with the crowd in Nairobi - perhaps even too good, there's been a couple crazy weekend house parties (Brian and Anne's, then Debbie's), softball season has started up again - drama I should write about at some point, and ultimate continues. This weekend is a 3-day weekend because we get Monday off for Id-al-fitr or "Id" for short - the celebration of the end of Ramadan. A good reminder of how close to the ME we are here. Aaron, Kaarli, Alan, Sheila, Debbie, maybe Nat, and myself are off to Naivasha where we rented a house. Should be pretty chill, just hanging with the flamingos and whatnot.

For the first time since I moved here, I've been in the same place for 2 weeks and actually don't have any travel planned in the next 2 - fingers crossed. Well, international travel - I have a field visit next week up in Baringo or somewhere. I did the math while I was home on vacation. So far this year I'm pretty sure 1) I've worked in 13 countries, and traveled to more than that, and 2) I've not been in the same place for a period longer than 3 weeks at any one point - not even Kenya.


As the fireman said:
Don't book a room over the fifth floor
in any hotel in New York.
They have ladders that will reach further
but no one will climb them.
As the New York Times said:
The elevator always seeks out
the floor of the fire
and automatically opens
and won't shut.
These are the warnings
that you must forget
if you're climbing out of yourself.
If you're going to smash into the sky.

Many times I've gone past
the fifth floor,
cranking upward,
but only once
have I gone all the way up.
Sixtieth floor:
small plants and swans bending
into their grave.
Floor two hundred:
mountains with the patience of a cat,
silence wearing its sneakers.
Floor five hundred:
messages and letters centuries old,
birds to drink,
a kitchen of clouds.
Floor six thousand:
the stars,
skeletons on fire,
their arms singing.
And a key,
a very large key,
that opens something —
some useful door —
somewhere —
up there.

- Anne Sexton (1975)


A friend writing about the Sabbath reminded me of this article today. I like the end of it in particular:

Whenever I dream of living in a society with a greater respect for its Sabbatarian past -- a fantasy I entertain only with anxiety, since Sabbatarians have a long history of going too far -- I think of something two rabbis said. Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, best known for his tales of the golem, pointed out that the story of Creation was written in such a way that each day, each new creation, is seen as a step toward a completion that occurred on the Sabbath. What was Creation's climactic culmination? The act of stopping. Why should God have considered it so important to stop? Rabbi Elijah of Vilna put it this way: God stopped to show us that what we create becomes meaningful to us only once we stop creating it and start to think about why we did so. The implication is clear. We could let the world wind us up and set us to marching, like mechanical dolls that go and go until they fall over, because they don't have a mechanism that allows them to pause. But that would make us less than human. We have to remember to stop because we have to stop to remember.
- Judith Shulevitz, Bring Back the Sabbath