Start with a cage containing five monkeys.

In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey will make an attempt with the same response - all of the monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Keep this up for several days.

Turn off the cold water.

If, later, another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them.

Now, remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.

The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Replace the third original monkey with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.

Why not?

“Because that’s the way it’s always been done around here.”


In a desperate attempt to defib my erstwhile blog back to some semblance of an animate entity, I uploaded a bunch of my photos taken with the blackberry, and they go back a long way (almost 2 years now). I present them in reverse chronological order, starting with this past weekend.

This is what trying to get a SIM card on a Saturday morning. In Addis Ababa.

This is what I'm hoping will be my next car. Not this exact one, but this model.

There is no happier day for the expat than that of the Care package. Especially when it has BACON!

Look what Brandon and Shannon hath wrought. Namely, Sienna, who has the bluest eyes of any baby of all time.

Pizza! In the DRC. I was just happy to have pizza there. Broke the monotony. Sometimes its kind of sad what you are resorting to for comfort in some of these places.

OK so this is from when I was back in the US, while I was up hanging out in MT with Care's family. Her sister and the younglings needed a ride to the Billings airport. Billings has a Cabela's, which is basically like a Wal-Mart sized hunting / fishing / camping store, which is basically awesome. The Billings one has a 25,000 gallon fish tank *inside the store* and this is that tank. It has all the local species of fish, and it is awesome.

My first proper meal back in the US - from an awesome Mexican joint in downtown SF. God bless Mexico.

Roadside snacks for sale in rural Malawi. They are mice, and you eat them whole. A delicacy!

This was at my hotel in Blantyre, Malawi. This guy was a solid 40 feet above the pavement, sawing off a limb on which he had the ladder leaned up against. With no rope or harness or anything. We had to leave for our meetings so I couldn't stay around to watch him die.

Kind of blurry but this is Sheila and Debbie, the latter of which has forsaken us Nairobite Americanos, and is missed.

Enough said.

OK so this one and the next one are from Accenture's ill-fated bid to bank all of their marketing on the media-elusive Tiger Woods, who I always ALWAYS knew had a dark secret waiting to burst onto the national media. Anyone that famous and that intensely private always does. Anyway, I was only able to capture a few of these in heaven-knows-which-airports when the whole scandal was blowing up, I'm sure by now Accenture's destroyed any evidence of them, but what I wouldn't pay to have one of these to hang in my garage when I some day have a garage...

Also, I think its kind of funny to play that game that people play with fortune cookies where you add the words "in bed" on the end of the Accenture tag line. Works much better post-revelation.

This one and the next two are from our massive (massive) warehouse in Harare, Zimbabwe. Used to be a tobacco warehouse. Now its a mainly food warehouse that we kind of vainly hope government officials won't show up to confiscate before we can distribute it to beneficiaries in the field.

Teton Gravity Research is one of my favorite extreme skiing video producing outfits, out of Wyoming, I believe. I saw this tire cover on the back of a car in Arusha, Tanzania. I am pretty sure I'm one of the few people in the world who's ever been to Arusha that even knows what TGR is. That group does not include the driver of this car.

Whilst in Arusha I found a nice backpackers type lodge that served a semi-American meal. It was nice to have what at least looked to be a "safe" salad. I eat a lot of "safe" salads. Its like salad roulette.

This is the motorcycle that clipped my front side panel when I was making a completely legal right turn (remember in TZ we are on the other side of the road, so that means across the oncoming lane, like a left turn in the US), with my blinker on, and this moron was buzzing down the median line taking his GF for a joyride. What ensued were accusations that he heard one of my colleagues tell me to hit him on purpose, which he apparently heard from his motorbike when all of our car windows were up. I moved my car out of the two lanes instead of leaving it blocking the busiest street in the entire town (also Arusha), which is what you're supposed to do legally while you wait for the cops to show up. I did this after photo-documenting that he moved his bike first, but to no avail - we would end up having to go to the police station, drive the cops back to the scene, be subject to endless lectures that I shouldn't have moved the car (the same one I had to bring them to the scene of the accident in), and then return the cops to the station and wait a couple of hours while they took statements for their report. I didn't insist on filing the report, they made me - I was willing to just leave with the scratch on my vehicle and pay for fixing it myself. The guy who hit me couldn't even afford proper shoe strings for his boots, and being that it was a work motorbike, he probably lost his job anyway.

Somewhere in TZ. "Mustle bound."

This was from Dagoretti School for Boys, which is outside of Nairobi. Jen and I were kind of investigating if it was "outside enough" that if we brought some of the street kids we were working with there, they might actually stay in the school instead of returning to the streets to sniff glue and beg. This is one of those glue bottles that the school kept on a shelf to remind the boys in the school where they had been, and encourage them to stay. I saw one of the boys that we were struggling to keep in a school back on the street the other day. I asked him if he'd let me take him back to the school, and he asked me for money.

This was right in front of my house in NBO. The dogs of war.

From a restaurant I had lunch at in Santo Domingo, D.R. when I got there for a weekend when I was working in Haiti. I took a lot of pictures of that weekend's explorations and have no idea where I put them. Maybe on a backup drive that caught a virus and ate all the data.

Pretty sure this is the airport in Port Au Prince.

This is the High Line Park in NYC, post-redevelopment. So in this case, I was exploring it legally, unlike the previous case. This must have been roughly August of last year when I was around for Dave's wedding.

Sometimes I look at you and wonder whether I miss friends and family more, or you. This makes me feel bad.

This was from right here in Addis, but from July-ish of last year when I was first here. The hotel we stayed in had a floor "-1." I never went to that floor for fear of ending up in a John Malkovich movie.

My first work trip after moving to Nairobi was to Uganda, where I met Ben, at a hotel restaurant where he was having lunch with some of the Save The Children folks he was working with. Why can't my organization work with Ben? Hmph.


Its now April and I am still finding less time than ever to blog. Right now, however, I am trapped in a car for the next 4 hours, and I have my blackberry. Not the most ideal way to type but it gets the job done.

We - my Congolese driver and I - are shooting along a ridge-line road, half an hour outside of Kigali on our way north to Ruhengeri, then from there west to Goma, a large border town on the easten edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo (more commonly referred to by its acronym DRC). No commercial international flights to Goma exist, hence the brief visit to Rwanda.

Kigali seems about the same - warm and safe and green and sad. The two things I noticed as we zipped through that I had not noted previously: there is slum dwelling literally across the street from the shiny US embassy, and a few miles down the same road there's yet another huge dark church on the side of a hill where death once held court.

Damas the driver doesn't speak a word of English but his French is fluent and his Congolese version of Kiswahili is conversant. He knows a few basic phrases of Kinyarwanda - the Rwandan mother tongue, and that's it. I of course speak enough French only to apologize for not speaking it at all, but I have been suerprised how well I can get on with swahili when in a bind. So far, I have been.able to:

- determine what languages he does and doesn't speak, and how well
- exchange names and other pleasantries
- ask about which roads we are taking and how good they are right now
- thankfully accept his offer to stop to pick up a bottle of water
- explain that I am from the USA (and California, and Sacramento upon further inquiries), but that I live in Nairobi and hence the swahili
- point out the hotel I stayed in when I was last here and explain how many times I have been here before
- ask how long the drive is going to take (I had been advised 3 but Damas doesn't share such optimism)

I am still not nearly conversant but I suppose I am at least a tiny bit past the basics by now.

Rural Rwanda hasn't changed a bit - green and densely populated - sustenance farms clinging onto impossibly steep hillsides, one butted up against the next. Kids walking down the side of the road with farming tools or empty water containers, mothers carrying bags and buckets and whatnot heavy on their heads. Young men sharing a bicycle, another one carrying an entire bedframe upside down on his head. Brown rivers carrying mud away to places unknown. Trucks (lorries) and buses belching black smoke as they struggle up the next hill, us breathing it in until the next opporunity to try and pass (overtake). And did I mention the endless farms? Every inch of this hill-covered country appears populated.

Ruhungeri is the town from whence travellers set out to track the gorillas - as such I passed through there one day this past January. I suppose that's one of the many things I have failed to blog about recently, but it was a very cool experience and I made some new friends out of it to boot - pity I won't get a chance to see them while passing through this time.

One thing I have never quite figured out here that seems unique to Rwanda is the massive groups of farm workers - long lines down the side of the road, as many as 200 long - all walking who knows where.

Rain clouds ahead, so much for driving with the windows down.

Life so far this year has been spent bouncing back from home and the office in LA to Nairobi, but already this year I have been spending much less time in Kenya on average than I did last year. Rwanda, Malawi, Tanzania, now DRC and probably Mali soon too.

The road gets progressively worse in quality with each kilometer we put between us and Kigali. Beyonce's song from the Charlie's Angels soundtrack has now replaced the local music. Life goes on. Maybe I will nap a bit.


Blogger tells me I haven't been on this thing since January 20th. Some start this year is off to.

I suppose in my last post I wrote my update up to the point of something that's a bit difficult to write about, in that I don't really feel I could do it justice.

My grandfather, Dr. J. Paul Schweinfurth, died January 7th, 2010. I'm posting the obit text here under the passing thought that perhaps my blog will survive online longer than the newspaper's archives:

Dr. J. Paul Schweinfurth of Nevada City died Thursday, January 7, in Grass Valley. He was 87.

A service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, at Calvary Bible Church, Grass Valley.

He was born Dec. 17, 1922, in Sandusky, Ohio, to William and Hazel Schweinfurth.

He attended Wheaton College, Northwestern University Medical School and the Mayo Clinic. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

He married Marjorie “Marge” Brouwer on Sept. 25, 1947, in Chicago.

Dr. Schweinfurth was a neurologic surgeon in private practice in Loichita, Kansas and Santa Barbara. He was a certified board member of Neurologic Surgery, Harvey Cushing Society and the Mayo Clinic Alumni. He enjoyed reading, bird watching and cooking.

He is survived by his wife, Marge Schweinfurth of Nevada City; children, Susie Culkin of Reno, Nev., Annie Knowles of Sacramento, and Jim Schweinfurth of Portland, Ore., brother, Joe Schweinfurth of Portland, Or.; 10 grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Dr. Schweinfurth was preceded in death by his parents, William and Hazel Schweinfurth; and brother, Henry Schweinfurth.

I loved my grandfather very much, he was kind man, and when I recall my lifetime of experiences with him, I have not a bad memory that I can access in his regard. He was not a perfect man, but he was the best grandfather I could have ever asked for. He read his Bible complete every year, and read voraciously outside of that as well. He was a good man, the type that I can only hope to imitate some day. I am thankful for the days I was able to be with him before he left us here, behind.

We called him "Grandie."


Been over a month since I last wrote on this thing.

Since then, I've gone from Kigali to Nairobi to Dubai to London to Paris to Munich to Vienna to Geneva to Paris to London to Los Angeles to Sacramento to Los Angeles to Sacramento to Los Angeles to Sacramento to Los Angeles to London to Dubai and that is where I am right now. And if all goes well I will be home in Nairobi this afternoon for the first time in over a month. And then I'll go right back to Kigali.

Let's see if I can semi-recap.

Europe was a lot of fun, other than the parts where EuroStar shut down the trains between London and Paris and I spent a nightmare day (after flying from NBO and DXB overnight) trying to find another way to Paris. I made it there late that night, but my bag didn't, and I wouldn't see it again for a full 11 days. Air France graciously provides a whopping 150 Euro should they have lost your bags for your entire vacation. And Caroline unfortunately spent a night in the airport when we weren't able to meet up there.

But Munich was nice and we stayed with some GCC pals there who gave us all the insider tips - had a great time at the Christmas markets, saw Dachau - the model for all of the other concentration camps, and then on our last night we went back to the Christmas markets and almost made it there before I slammed my hand in the car door and sent us to the emergency room for the evening instead.

Then on to Salzburg and then Vienna, which were both nice and relatively uneventful (comparatively speaking), then Geneva, which I really enjoyed but was also stupid expensive. Thankfully, though, Anna was gracious enough to have us stay at her stupidly awesome waterfront apartment on the lake. I managed to get a day of skiing Chamonix in, so now I can finally say I've lived that dream, albeit briefly.

Then on to Paris for New Years. It was nice to explore but next time I'd like to see it at a non-holiday time. Also relatively uneventful. I liked Paris enough that I think I could live there - and that's saying something.

Then on to London and Los Angeles for my meetings. And now it strikes me that the next part really deserves its own post with a little more thought put into it. How's that for a hook?