Saturday, May 17, 2008

The mundu has Moved

Hello the remaining, valiant few who still visit this site.

... assuming you exist. Well, I warned you this would happen, didn't I?
The school year is grinding to a close. (No, the stop won't be abrupt and joyous because I continue to dither obstinately, taking weeks to finish final assignments).

And my writing interests, through diverse means, are turning to writing again. (It helps to win a writing contest.) Which is a very roundabout way of saying -- "wordpress" blogs are cooler than "blogger" blogs, or so I was told, and so I moved.

It's not completely finished, but I'm posting

Well, that and the fact I've decided to shift focus slightly on what I write about. Ah well. Visit the other place if you actually want to read something.

Till then -- cheers and happy surfing. I got some schoolwork to finish.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

When Strangers Stop

An oxygen-deprived brain can spawn some random and highly erratic thought trains. I shall always remember jogging one late fall day at a few degrees below freezing. My mp3 player had died, my mind was wandering, and it occurred to my frozen synapses that I’d never jogged shirtless before. I’m not sure the farmers who passed me haven’t forgotten that day either: 18 km runs can be dangerous to your mental health and general image.

But my intention wasn’t to talk about a vaguely similar incident of a few weeks later. I was partway through a typical Mundu long-distance bike ride: in other words, I was totally lost and blissfull unaware that I was taking a 25 km long scenic detour.

As I crested a long hill somewhere in rural southern Ontario, my chain slipped off and I flew with relative decorum and dignity into the ditch. I entangled myself, got out, and was fiddling with the chain when an SUV sped by in the opposite direction. Abruptly it stopped and reversed 50 metres down the lonely road.

“Hey, I was just mountain biking and I’ve got some tools in the back. Do you need some wrenches or something – can I help you with that?”
Yanking the earphones out of my ears, I replied instinctively that I was fine, and thanks but no thanks.
“Well, okay then. Have a good day.” And she smiled, rolled up the window, and drove on. And I slipped my chain back and biked on: still lost and not knowing it, but having a nice warm feeling inside and a slightly higher hope for man.

Ironically, I’d spent the last hour indulging in an incredibly cynical train of thoughts about the world in general and the “West” specifically. I did a lot of that in the last six months. But it’s hard to hold onto a bitter, resentful outlook when someone has deliberately gone out of her way to, at no possible benefit to herself, offer to help a total stranger … especially when that stranger happens to be your own flailing self. I coasted down a hill, past a graveyard and watched the spectacular fall colours. I turned off my mp3 player because the hard rock now felt, like my thoughts, childishly nihilistic.

Now, at this point I could have stopped, and ended the experience with a cute, feel-good story to share at some point in the future.

But the Mundu never hesitates to attack an abstract: If, I asked aloud into the slipstream, if life indeed is and always has been driven merely by a rat race for the survival of self and kin, why did she stop?

If her mind had been slowly moulded through millions of years of evolution to be ultimate tool of (inevitably self-centred) survival, why did she stop? Because people do stop: the world might be churning out crap at an astonishing rate, and we may have people killing people for the most petulant and nauseating reasons (a fact that agrees with human nature, whatever worldview you subscribe to) but people still do help others for no apparent reason. Technically, I was direct competition for her and her kin. Society tends to frown on this sort of thing nowadays, but, evolutionally speaking, she would have been “justified” in ramming me into the ditch with that gleaming silver grille. And, to walk a line with self-flagellation here: whatever genes I have that possess me to get totally lost on fairly simple bike trips and crash into ditches … we’re not talking a particularly valuable contribution to the survival of my kin.

Not a thought to dwell on, so as I biked, I further deconstructed evolution’s incompetent attempt to explain altruism. (I also got more and more lost, which is, for the purpose of my present point, off topic.)

A psychology book I’d borrowed from the library presented two explanations for these "aberrations" of the fight to survive:

Kin selection: creatures denying themselves for their kin’s sake. This increases that specific gene pools chances of survival, if at the disadvantage of an individual.

Problem: assuming that a herd of “givers” came about, all it would take would be for one individual to become a “slacker” to screw the continuity of this generous little community: Slacker smoochs off the all the Givers in the society, thus increasing his likelihood of surviving,. His descendants inherit these selfish genes, and they grow and prosper, gradually rubbing out those who help them until this (of origin still unexplained) inclination towards selflessness has just terminated itself through its own success.

Karma: that being my rather un-naturalistic way of putting the explanation that individuals become Givers (to their own hurt) in the hopes/expectations/instinct that it will someday work its way back around to them. “Tit for tat” and “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

Umm … Doesn’t that go a little against the whole premise of survival of the fittest? Since when does a delayed, indefinite reward of equal value trump (survival speaking) an immediate and certain cash-in? And that's not repeating the first argument. (As to the theory that individuals who fail to "share" would be drummed to share: that assumes intelligence and a sense of right and wrong. How can an entire system based on survival learn to frown upon members who take the best path to it?)

Well. Ants, wolves, chimps, ants and bees were all very well, and really I could not completely refute or crush their arguments because I was no naturalist. But what of humans? What about their continuing tendency for ‘real’ or ‘psychological’ altruism? (As opposed to the ‘altruism’ in nature that is actually an indirect way of benefiting your gene pool.)

From the sociobiological slant (your big word for the day), there a few more theories. One of them is the most curious word combo I've seen. Hedonistic Altruism: X treats Y well even it if means depriving himself because it makes him feel good. Need anyone even respond to this? Hint: it has to do with the sponatneous appearance of "feeling good" from helping someone.

I started to see the many online (ridiculousy thick) articles on this as a lot of big words building shaky walls and ramparts over an empty hole. A lot of circumstantial evidence being pointed to certain conclusions: not pointing. No uninformed judge could look at the theory of evolution and conclude that altruism would develop, let alone come anywhere close to anticipating Mother Teresa (or the millions of mini-replicas). But this does not stop a multitude of scientists from seeing altruism's existence and grinding out pages of disagreeing theories about why it does.

I read the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy’s view on the subject: several thousand words with a bibliography citing maybe twenty weight tomes by various big names in science. And after reading a series of shaky theorizations about “altruism” in non-human animals and an even weaker application to humanity, the only passage that stuck with me was the following:

As Sober and Wilson (1998) note, if one insists on saying that behaviours which evolve by mechanism such as kin selection and reciprocal altruism are ‘really selfish’, one ends up reserving the word ‘altruistic’ for behaviours which cannot evolve at all.”
· [Sober, E. and Wilson D.S., 1998, Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press]

And that, my regrettably myopic Sober and Wilson, was a petito-principi (circular reasoning). To the lot of them: Try again or try religion.

And I did, eventually, reach my friends house: I just had to ask several strangers for help first.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Birthday Mumblings: 17-18

One year ago today, I sat by this same computer to type my Birthday Mumblings. I wrote about feeling the the need to do something memorably idiotic like a joy ride in our Land Cruiser or eating the three kilo bag of chocolate chips mom was hiding in the kitchen. Now, older and wiser, I sit on the couch and muse on the fact that I shall never again be able to sing “I am 17 going on 18 …!”.

Actually, I sit here and realize that I probably do enough memorably regrettable things without commenmorating my birthdays with them. And they’re not even all funny … But to keep this on a lighter tone.

This past weekend I went to a snow camp in Sherbrooke, Quebec. This camp confirmed popular suspicions that the Quebecois idea of a good time is to go swimming at 10 below and then go eat 4 kilos of poutine – French fries buried in curds and gravy. Now poutine is actually really good. But, I mean, most people when its 10 degrees below freezing its ‘Lets go bundle up and go skiing’. But in Quebec? – Lets chop a hole in the ice and go swimming! Yes, the difference in world-views can be astonishing.
And if, in the following picture, I am not beaming, there are two reasons. First, I rarely beam. Second, I was thinking that if my present situation demanded I participate in a cultural idocicy with suicidal overtones, I would do so, but don’t expect me to be jumping for joy.

So there I am, poised in the air, halfway into tucking into an ill advised quasi - cannonball. The toque was a lack-a-daisal, concession to the fact that you’re not just supposed to dive into a tank of frigid water but you’re supposed to look really silly doing it.

And here, in the next picture, after having submerged and tried unsuccessfully to press my face against the glass for the camera, I am now groping blindly for the steps. And I mean blind: while my limbs didn’t seize up on impact (thanks to 15 minutes of movement in a shed with a woodstove, a boombox, and 30 people) I did have some serious brain freeze. Hence, you see me lunging for the ladder and my hands missing it by about 12 inches.

So tomorrow I’ll be eighteen. How, exactly, will/could change life? … Well, let's google it. Let’s see: I can marry without parental or court consent. I can vote. In Quebec I can gamble. I can join the army. But I have to wait another year to buy alcohol. …

I'd always pictured 18 as a kind of mature age, and frankly, I so do not feel like I'm almost 18. I also ask myself why, exactly, I'm typing this? Perhaps 10 pm after a very long day is not a good time to muse on the future of my blog ... but here it comes : for the first time in its (short) history, the Mundu is temporarily shutting off production.
What does this mean for you? Nothing, really, since I've been extremely bad about posting already. But for me this means I can stop feeling guilty about it and concentrate a bit more on getting a handle on life.

It might be a week, it might be a month or it might be until I'm finished grade 12 : at any rate, it will be until school is well and firmly under control and I've succeeded in realigning myself agai into a blogger mentality. Until then, keep your stick on the ice and have a good one.

The Mundu

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Kenya has been struggling lately in the aftermath of presidential elections last December.

BBC has the best converage:

Tribailsm has raised an ugly head. I wonder - is it purely ethnic, or, are some of the politicians just using it as a convenient way of to draw some battle lines and label the enemy?

January 25th (tommorow) is a day of prayer for Peace in Kenya. Pray for them, or at least be aware of it and thankful that the violence seems to be decreasing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Vive le (la?) Quebec

Well, its been a quiet week at home in Repentingy, Quebec, where the snow doesn’t melt till August.

And after having moved to Quebec and interacted with the French in several different areas, including the intimacy of hockey arena, I’m forced to the conclusion: you know all those stereotypes we had? They’re true.

The national sport in Quebec is hockey. All the license plates (which, btw, are only placed on the back bumpers of cars) say ‘Je me souviens’ (I remember). This refers to the last time the Montreal Canadians won the Stanley Cup. For the record, it was a heckuva lot more recent than Toronto’s last win. As we crossed the border, I mentally switched allegiances from the rapidly-sinking Leafs to the not-as-rapidly sinking Habs. This means, of course, I will be excecuted in a back alley with a hockey stick if (when) I return to Leaf-Land, but, as to fitting in, it was so much quicker than learning French.
Of course, the fact that I now anguish over every goal Cristobel Huet (as opposed to Vesa Toskola) lets in and spent 5 hours watching back-to-back hockey games last Saturday, this does not make me a hockey player. I joined several members of ‘our’ church for a friendly match of floor hockey. While everyone else practised their dekes and ripped off lethal slap shots, I shot a few baskets and dribbled a ball. It may not be the top reason, but its definitely in the top 5 of Being Not Familiar With a Sport when you don’t warm up because you’re afraid you’ll use up all your lucky shots.

After hockey, the favoured form of relaxation appears to be running over pedestrians. On my first day here it took me ten minutes to work up the courage to actually cross a street – and that was at an intersection with pedestrian lights. These seemingly homicidal vehicular tendencies are increased by how the snow gets piled up along the sides of the roads. The clear part of the road is getting progressively smaller until, presumably, I’ll be jogging alongside that solid yellow line. This brings to mind a short poem I learned in 6th grade geography:

There was a young man from Quebec
Who, when frozen in ice to his neck
Was asked ‘Are you frizz?’
He said ‘Yes I is,
But we don’t call this cold in Quebec’

I, full of that youthful naiveté of elementary school, assumed they were exaggerating. I erred. Big time. It appears that Quebec yearly receives more snow than Antarctica and Greenland combined. As we drove through Montreal, I saw (I kid you not) snow in a parking lot piled as high as the streetlights. And this was after a week-long thaw that saw me in Ontario running on grass in my t-shirt.

It’s a common misconception that Quebecois greet each other with a quick kiss on each cheek. They don’t: they touch each other cheek to cheek and make kissing noises with their lips. It’s a rather singular greeting ritual, if you think about it. If, however, you were to think about it (and think about it you do, when transitioning from a good, solid unhygienic handshake to kissing strangers) you realize that it would be physically impossible for someone - unless they had the lip structure of an orang-utan - to kiss someone else when their cheeks are touching. Further than that, I will only say it’s an interesting habit, and I am definitely not complaining: I don’t have to kiss the guys, like in France. Just, key: START ON THE LEFT (Hers, not yours.)

Our house is small and cute, tucked away in the corner of a shopping centre parking lot. No really, it is. But it’s winter so yards are optional.

The people, I must say, are quite friendly. … Well, I assume they are, as I don’t actually don’t understand much of what they say. We are quite grateful to those in ‘our’ new church who welcomed and helped us settle in.

This week or the next I should get to Montreal where I find some more of these profound, cultural insights. Until then, it’s good to be back.

-ever thine Mundu-
(Recently moved from Toronto; where the Leafs still suck.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Curve Balls

The difficulty of blogging is that you must perpetually be finding inspiration for posts with which to entertain your virtual audience. Someone has yet to ask me from whence my inspiration cometh – I suspect this is either because I’ve blogged so little recently, or maybe they’re just scared to know.

Now that I’m in Canada, I keep thinking that the interest level of events in my life has dropped slightly. Short of taking snide potshots at American Eagle and working at sewage plants, let’s face it: Whitby, Ontario isn’t the mother lode of inspiration. In Arua, when I sat down and thought about what ‘Westerners’ didn’t know about Uganda, the possibilities appeared endless. But today – I may have had a great time hanging out with some friends on the weekend, but is my pool game really going to be as interesting a read as, say, the rag-tag Arua martial arts club where I was the only white member? (‘We had black men and white man, Muslim and Christian, sweating together in perfect harmony as they strive to kick each other’s faces in’)

And yet, even when he seems to be consigned to living an enjoyable, if (relatively) dull life, the Mundu tries doing something utterly ordinary and ends up throwing himself a curveball. Like remember that microwave, the cheese sandwich, and the fire alarm?

Have I raised your hopes? Good. Crush them and read on.

I used to bike exclusively to get places. But today was so beautifully warm and mild, and biking so infinitely superior to chores or school that I decided to take a 75 minute long bike ride to nowhere in particular. Now, our whole family has been struggling with colds for some time. I’ve been holding myself aloof from all the coughing and sneezing, and was rather proud of it. Colds suck at any time, and especially when you’re moving, so I was being extra careful not to catch one.

The literal second I got off the driveway, it started raining. I could have turned back, but I’m an optimist at heart: it would clear up. As I biked through the light rain, I had the rather profound reflection asking whether I could, in any accuracy, attribute my belief that ‘I won’t get wet or sick because the rain will stop’ to optimism … when the forecast was calling for three days of rain? Hmm. Deep. So maybe the fabled optimism of youth is really idiocy. I decided to think about something else. We’ll get back to idiocy, though.

Skip ahead 12 or so km: on my right was a beak in the woods. That’s new, I thought. It looked like a body of tanks had blasted a neat, 15 yd wide path through the woods, literally shredding all the saplings in their wake. A small sign said “Oil pipeline”. Cool, I thought, and left the road.

Biking through deep slush and mud riddled with shredded chunks of wood and branches is difficult. The woods were foggy and damp feeling, and silent. The scene was so primeval and different from jockeying for position on the shoulder of a highway that I even turned off my mp3 player to enjoy it. After only several hundred meters, this harsh forest highway devolved abruptly into a narrow snowmobile track through a thicket of young brush. My tires slewed about and spun impossibly on the slush so I walked the bike, sneakers squelching softly. I wasn’t sure why I followed the track, but if definitely felt good. Besides, biking back would be fiendishly difficult. Absently, my eyes followed the tracks of deer(s), man, and dogs.

My snowmobile track became a deer trail along a semi frozen creek bed. I dragged my bike through tangled grape vines and brush. I tried scurrying up the muddy embankments to walk in the woods, but had to slide back down into the muddy middle. So much for staying dry and clean.

After 20 minutes where I covered about 300 m, I could see a road I recognized. I propped my bike up and picked my way carefully through a stand of fallen trees and brush. A river, swollen with melting snow, cut me off from the road. That sucked. Now what? I was just 4 klicks from my house, and in 20 minutes my physics class started. It would take too long to backtrack through that mess – maybe I could jump the river somewhere. I took a step and looked down. I was standing in the very fresh skeleton of a deer, surrounded by dog prints and deer hair.

Heh, moving on, I thought. Downstream a bit there was a spot narrow enough to possibly jump, but it led into a swamp of sorts, which might not be wise, considering the thaw. … I felt very clever, considering this possibility. I worked upstream, slipping once, banging my shins on a log.

Ah, here was the place: true, it was about ten feet bank to bank, but a log lay in the water halfway. I looked at the murky creek and thought: heck, it could only be a foot or so deep. And it wasn’t that cold, really. I hesitated slightly. This would never do, I thought, looking at my watch. Quickly and decisively I came to a decision: I would throw my bike to the other bank and hop across after it. It could handle a little water and so could I. I felt so clever.

I picked it up.

I’ll pause here, to let you savour the image of me dressed in muddy jeans and a shirt, stifling sneezes, and standing at the edge of a small river in the middle of winter, about to throw my bike across. What, you ask, was I thinking? … I stood and heaved my bike as far as I could.

At this point, I began to think. My brain unlimbered and began to examine the plan from all angles as I watched my bike hit the middle of the muddy stream with a splash. “Aww … shit.” I thought, as the white, second hand Schwinn disappeared entirely into the muddy waters. “This could be not a good idea, after all.”

At that moment, a group of cars roared down the country road and I crouched quickly behind a clump of dead bushes. (Something else I’ve learnt: if you must do something dumb, for pete’s sake don’t let anyone see you.)
So now what? Well, I had to get my bike back, for starters. I looked around for my log and saw if tranquilly drifting downstream. Hm.

I’ll just skip quickly over my deliberations, because 1) they took an embarrassingly short time and 2) led me to the conclusion that my best option would be to take my shoes off, step on a different log, and skip lightly across 7 feet of water. … Looking down at my rather white and red bare feet, trying to stay warm in all that snow and sharp wood splinters, I thought: you know, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this …

So, I threw my black Nikes to the other bank.

There – I was committed. I was standing barefoot in a snow bank in a woods, miles from home, my bike was sunk in the middle of the river and my shoes were lost in the bushes on the other side of the river – failure ceased to be an option.

Let’s make a short story even shorter. The water was cold. I stepped on the log, which promptly sank, dropping me into a foot and a half of water. I took another step and was in 3 feet. My heart rate spiked and started racing. I tried to tell myself that this was no colder than swimming in the North Sea. Except that was in June, you nit, I thought. I took another step and was in 4 feet of just melted snow. Bad trend, I thought. You know, this sucks, I added. I lunged through the water, grabbed the high bank and scrabbled up past a few random ice chunks and into the muddy snow.

I pedalled furiously home to counteract the very odd feeling in my legs. Home, I slipped on dry clothes, signed in for my online Physics class and immediately fell asleep.

Now, admittedly, this may not be that exotic, foreign adventure you were hoping for. But think about it – you can do this at home! You’re winter doesn’t have to be dull, either. …

Ever thine,
*trying to balance entertainment, profundity and actual posts*


Monday, December 31, 2007

One Year

January 8th, 2007, Mundu wrote his first blog, so it’s been basically a year of Mundu blogging.


It seems the custom to stop here, thank my readers, and say “You have made this blog what it is today”. But frankly, I have no clue whom most of you are, and moreover have made a point to blog exclusively on what I want to, not what people like to read. So excuse me while I savour this independence. … And thanks anyways, whoever you are. And in the spirit of the season – which is examining the old for faults – we will take look at the long history of this blog.

An incredible amount has changed for me in the past 12 months. My first post was about a 16 km jog at sunrise through the north-western Ugandan countryside: I wrote about passing women carrying enormous loads of firewood on their heads and bicycle taxis. Today I played hockey for two hours with a few of my cousins on my grandma’s pond.

Frankly, I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long, this being the third blog I’ve started. The first was a clueless attempt on Myspace, called “Avritan”, where I made the fatal mistake of assuming people actually wanted to read my writing. The second was the inexcusably awful monstrosity called “Mostly Non Synthetic Stuff” where I planned to divulge my great knowledge of herbal medicine. Technically, I’m not sure I could call either of them flops, considering they never actually got ‘on their feet’.
My parents arose the question whether I was even allowed to have this blog under the mission’s policies. The idea that blogging could be frowned upon or even forbidden immediately incensed my desire to have one, and so, after hastened deliberation, I came, I registered, I blogged. All my contacts soon received a carefully worded email containing a casual reference and link to the Mundu.

After the first two months, I went anonymous and used a blurry/distant photo because I was tired of being asked for autographs. Ish-er. Well, actually, I was sitting in a corner of a room, minding my own business when a new girl in town entered. She was introduced to everyone, but before I could say anything –
“You’re Michael VanderMeer and you’re 16.”
She’d googled Arua, Uganda from her apartment in New York, and had found my blog. It felt very cool, to be moochin around in North West Uganda and be recognized by a girl from New York who has found your two-month old blog, but it also felt very wrong. I was a blogger and bloggers are anonymous, or so I thought. … And I changed those pictures because I look better when it’s blurry.

In the last six months, since arriving in my technical homeland of Canada after 9 years abroad (famous first blog on arriving: ‘Patriotism is overrated’) this blog has suffered slightly. Partly this reflected my personal adapting difficulties, partly because this blog still has no clear purpose, and partly because I’ve slipped back into that style of thought they’ve been trying to hammer into my head for the last 6 years of school: Edit, Edit, Edit. Hence a post or month, making me more of an erratic columnist than a erstwhile blogger.

For your benefit, I’ve attempted to gauge public reaction to my blog with this highly scientific survey I’ve conducted on totally random people and combined with choice comments I’ve received over the past year:

Freind1: “You have a blog? Really?”
Brother1: “Your quirky sense of humour is … interesting.”
Mom: “Don’t you think you should wait a few days before posting something new? So you can read it over an decide if you actually want to post it.”
Brother2: “You almost sounded professional there. For the first half. Almost.”
Freind2: “Why don’t you just shut up and blog”
Freind3: A non committal: “mmmmm”
Freind4: “No really; its, um, interesting.”
Freind5: “The Mundu has hit a new note of fake, shallow writing”
Freind6: “Please tell me you are being sarcastic.”
Random Mall Person: “Stay away from me!”

The best title, ever, was: “A Life Lesson. A Red Herring” The worst was “The Ergonomics of Anonymity”.
The most memorable opening line: “I am officially in idiot”.
Best quote used: “Excuse me while I laugh so hard my drool short circuits the keyboard”. (Dave Barry).
A record 19 posts (and over a 1000 views) in February. There were 18 posts between July and December, and I couldn’t even blame it on the internet, because that’s when I was in Canada.

Google Analytics tracks all my blog visitors and keywords. For a **very* short while, googling “meningitis outbreak in Quebec” listed my blog as the third site. This is nowhere near as intriguing as the fact that no less than 4 people have found my blog by searching for:
“Will I find love even if am a tomboy?”. … I’m not sure they could have possibly been more misdirected. Still, I don’t want to appear incompetent, and if I can advise on fashion, love and the future should be no problem: so, of course you will! … Just, probably not in connection with me.

Well, I was typing on eggshells there, so I’ll move to a more comfortable topic: four visits came from some poor buggers Googling “sulphuric burps”. Eh, I think those must have come from my job interview post – and don’t ask.

But proudest am I of these three, Mundu procuring, key phrases:
-“pan galactic gargle blaster”
-“funky grasshopper”
- And sitting pretty, at #333 on the list of key words, is “why the VW bug dies on the downshift”. Mid September of this year, someone spent 90 very confused seconds looking for mechanical advice on the Mundu. Something tells me that this is a topic I should not attempt to enlighten people on.


If, during the course of the year, I made someone laugh, I am happy.

If after reading ‘Jekyll, Hyde, and Mr. Bob’, someone understood a little clearer what TCKs (and foreigners) struggle with, I am happier.

If someone now looks differently at an issue at home or abroad, or cares a little more about what happens in East and Central Africa, I would be even happier.

Even more things are changing for me in 2008, and I have no idea where I will be a 366 days from now. Conversely, for once, I actually have a few ideas for this blog, which will definitely be continuing.
New years eve, 2006, I spent around a bonfire on a hill out in the country near Arua, Uganda, with a couple hundred secondary school students. It was 30 degrees, we roasted a bull which each of us got a finger sized fragment of, sang, danced and listened to speeches. Tonight I’m going to my uncle’s barn – it’s going to be a mild –10 below, and I’ll spend the night playing pool, losing at ping pong, winning at fuseball and eating all the snacks I want.

Till the next time, I remain:
Ever thine -
World travelling, microwave screwing, American Eagle wearing, heat loving, UN scoffing, cynically optimistic, –

Have yourself an amazing new year.