Saturday, March 22, 2008


I'm trying to start a call-in radio show where students can ask science questions, so I went over to the neighbor's house to get a few sample ones for the pilot. They were as follows:

Why are there mountains?
When it rains, there are all these clouds. Are they in the sky?
Why are there wild animals in the bush?
Why do people exist?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It Got Even Worse

So after emptying most of the septic tank with buckets, the plumbers got drunk on sodabi and hopped on inside the tank to finish the job. I was going to yell at them for drinking while they worked but it occurred to me that I would probably have to do the same in order to do what they just did.

This Actually Works

Pointing the antenna towards the NGO to test signal strength

I'm starting to trip in this photo, not checking anything

We stayed up til 2 AM trying to get this to work. It finally succeeds here.

The next morning. A mason should come by tomorrow morning to install a post to keep it truly vertical and stable. Still, we're getting 74% connectivity which is outstanding.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

That's About the Grossest Thing I've Ever Seen

A team of plumbers is emptying the Workstation septic tank with buckets. The computer room is right next to the tank so the smell is quite pungent here. On the other hand, the connection is blazing fast right now and I don't want to leave. It's quite a conundrum.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nati WS is Online

The Natitingou Workstation (that is, my house) now has a high-speed Internet connection. Pictures of our ridiculous solution coming soon.

I Am Extending for a Third Year

For some reason no one seems to know this, so I figured I'd make it explicit:

I am going to stay in Peace Corps until the end of 2009. I will get one month of home leave at some point between July and December, the exact date of which to be determined in late May.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Jim Jim

Inevitably anyone who figures out that my name is Jim and not James starts to call me "Jim Jim". I asked someone why. Apparently it's the word in Fon that means "boo". Like, the sound you make to scare someone. So they're all calling me "boo boo".

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Internet, Only For Real This Time

We recently discovered that an NGO near the Workstation got a satellite internet connection. They've been pretty awesome in being willing to let us share it. Unfortunately, it's too far away to get a good Wifi signal, but hopefully over the next few days we'll be able to see if there's a way to put up an antenna of some sort to extend the range. It will be pretty righteous if it works as it's a very fast connection.

Trip to Kerou

I went to Kerou recently to work on a project. This is another way of saying I spent five hours in a van getting coated with dust. Here are a bunch of pictures.

Having a lot of girlfriends is dangerous! My success comes first. Sex can wait


This photo would've been great if I had known how to adjust my aperture at the time. This is a garden situated next to a recently-dammed stream.

The dam. Made out of sandbags.

A mysterious pit.

A thing for scraping off dead skin. These were all over the ground but we couldn't tell where they all came from.

Straw protects the plants from direct sunlight.

Seedlings in bags.

What pretty much every forest in Benin looks like.

The ground is burnt in these pictures because people went around burning the grass in order to drive out animals, which they then killed.

Malnutrition Recuperation Center

Not breastfeeding results in dead children.

An 8th grade classroom in Kerou Secondary School. None of the kids showed up to the formation we had planned. Fortunately, the students next door had an absentee teacher so we just asked them if they wanted to play some games. It worked out well.

Goats hate sunlight.

Eto'o is popular.

Dear Parents, you are responsible for getting your children a birth certificate. Throughout their life they will need it. Don't forget, the county offices are there to help you! Don't leave the birth certificate with the county chief or the mayor, take it and guard it safely for the good of your child.

The same message, only in Bariba.

A primary school.

Glass bottles cemented to wall prevent thieves from entering.

A donkey relaxes.

Every girl in school. A national campaign. These signs are in pretty much every town.

This kid really wanted a picture. His sister does laundry in the background.

Kerou has an abnormally
high number of satellites.