Bare Bones Biology 352 – Do Not Grieve Overlong

This morning I opened up my email to a stiff little corposystem meme that I have heard a number of times before “Anger is another form of Fear.”

That made me angry.

It denies the reality of the American nightmare – the corposystem — the international political/economic/corporate/social domination system that has polluted our American Dream. And it demeans my work and, more importantly, the work of nearly all the deeply committed activists I have met who genuinely speak truth to the power and growth of this corposystem, rather than profiting from the victims of its growth.

The fact is that the author of this convenient meme does not know what anger is. Nobody knows exactly what it is. It’s just a word – just one more human meme invented by and parroted from someone else who also cannot know the deeper secrets of our inherited human instincts. Because nobody knows these things.

Perhaps he imagines the hot anger of the sword of domination, but he probably has never felt the implacable, infinite, cold, compassionate anger of reality desecrated; of Life itself denied and destroyed. The forever anger of the betrayed. I see it all around me, growing stronger with every new betrayal of our American promise to ourselves and to the world.

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I have met and photographed a number of genuine activists, and the best of them are angry. They are not working for themselves — for what they want and how important they wish they were; nor for fear of failure or their desire for fame and fortune. The best of them are motivated by an abiding anger.

I will not name them here, because I have not asked their permission, but I will express a common theme among them using a few comments I have heard them make.

The child who scurried through the night to pour sugar into the gas tanks of the Gestapo. Yes, I have heard this from her mouth.

The anger of a wife betrayed: “You Lied to Me!” And the bonds broken forever into never the same again.

The mother whose child, suffering for years, was eventually cured simply by healthy food that was not available to her ghetto in this wealthy nation. “I swore I would never let this happen to another mother’s child if there was anything I could do to prevent it.” These stories are not my fantasy. I have a CD that records her story.

The mother whose son died in combat — for nothing more important than corposystem propaganda. She has a name, and is not alone.

The white daughter of apartheid, weeping alone under the South African sky, as she understood for the first time what has been done to the people she loves by the people she loves.

I have photographed their fire, witnessed their compassion, and listened to their words.

The best of activism arises out of the infinite anger of sacrificial love.

“You lied to me!” And because I trusted you – the American Dream – I too felt the cold rage when I recognized the lie. The young men sent to war to fight for something that never was; the generations that cannot support and sustain a positive community because they believe in something that no longer exists; the starvation that we have brought upon the whole of the earth and all its creatures because of a dream and all its defining words that were stolen and redefined by the corposystem to win elections; to conform to the demands of money and fame.

Anger at it’s very best is not about fear; not at all. It is about the unnecessary suffering or death of a child; the unnecessary destruction of community; the arbitrary destruction of human dreams, just for money: the slow and unnecessary death of our home on earth for the benefit of a few ugly Americans.

Anger is cold, calculating, scheming, studying the factual realities in order to understand the lies, cooperating, economizing, integrating, loving other mothers’ children. It is exemplified in the deaths of many saints; it is all around us in all our communities, the very places where love should find its home, and it is way beyond fear.

Fear comes before the loss. Fear is naïve. On the contrary, anger is a well-documented, completely normal stage of mourning the loss after the loss. Loss of the child, the destruction of the home; the unnecessary suffering of millions as our Life on earth is slowly destroyed by the greed and hubris of the few. Anger is an expression of compassionate love for the welfare of the community of humankind as it mourns the loss of its American Dream to the propaganda of its leaders.

It is righteous and it is dangerous.

It is as hot as the edge of a father’s sword, and it is as cold and infinite as a mother’s grief. Our anger is an infinite gift of love re-directed to the future of other mothers’ children. It no more describes fear than does the corposystem concept of “happiness” describe what we all crave.

That corposystem propaganda attempts to control what we care about, using: political and commercial questionnaires and gag rules that define what we are permitted to recognize as problems; creating fake or misleading “wisdom” memes; changing the definitions of other people’s words; and denying our documentable, evolved human and environmental reality.  That kind of propaganda won’t work, not for long, because reality is what it is, and our anger is our love — given and betrayed.

We have scattered the very best of our American Dream through the oceans and across the continents. I have met it, alive and well in Africa, in Japan, in Indonesia, in Latin America, and in Europe and Scandinavia. But every golden dream has a shadow nightmare, and we now are gathering the worst of our nightmare into our center.  That is why I tried to come back home.

Not for fear of anything, but in spite of whatever fears I may have had and because it is my obligation – because I see what is happening and how — to raise the flag of our betrayal in the face of the betrayer, and to fight for a future for human kind, for reality, for truth, and against the impossible nightmare of human conquest over man and nature that can never be accomplished because it can’t happen.  Our nature will die before it can be conquered; and conquest is purely stupid when cooperation is possible. It solves nothing; it only creates enmities.

The angry activists are angry precisely because they understand the reality of what is happening to their dream and our dream, and in their anger is the growth of a new commonality, a new view of wisdom as compassion, and a new community – reality emerging from the core of diversity, bonded in outrage. And the cold anger of the best, genuinely dedicated, activists knows what to do with this new community. We will study weakness – first our own, and then the weaknesses inherent in the corposystem lie.

And then we will begin to see real change.

So we grieve for a time, in sorrow and anger and sometimes even in denial. We must grieve, because grief is a part of the process of re-aligning our own world views and beliefs and dying dreams, with the reality of what is and what could be, and what never can be, within the Natural Laws of God and the physical universe. Without the grief we cannot make the changes that must be made if we want to survive.

And let us pray that we can use our grief to mold and sharpen our anger into a tool that will do more good than harm. To make a real change in the direction of humanity, rather than recycling, one more time, our 8,000-year-old failed human theme of domination uber alles.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.wordpress.com

The podcast of this blog will be posted later today at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_352_-_Do_Not_Grieve_Overlong.mp3

References:
http://www.texassharon.com/2017/01/14/hello-camp-toyahvale/

https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/bare-bones-biolo…-grieve-overlong/

Mary Oliver. 1992. New and Selected Poems, volume one, page 135. Beacon Press

            “In the films of Dachau and Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen

            the dead rise up from the earth,

            and are piled in front of us, the starved

            stare across forty years,

            and lush green, musical Germany

            shows again its iron claw, which won’t

            ever be forgotten, which won’t

            ever be understood, but which did,

            slowly, for years, scrape across Europe.


            While the rest of the world did nothing.”

 

 

 

 

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Bare Bones Biology 306 – Butterflies

I want to explain something in 600 words that may not be possible, and that is a relationship between or among butterflies. These are not real butterflies, but a metaphor that we have been applying to different but interconnected mental constructs.

 

“At the edge of chaos emerges creativity” – emergence, an ugly sort of term that has been shortened and verbified by the corposystem in its never ending effort to make believe that humans control Life rather than the other way around. I keep talking about the corposystem world view because I believe it is the cause of our current malaise and will end in enormous suffering of humans and all other sentient beings. So today I am talking about the metaphor of butterflies that the corposystem world view uses BOTH in trying to describe the creativity at the edge of unstable natural phenomena such as weather (and climate) AND as the emergence of beauty, of Life, from the cocoon of its origins on Earth.

WorldviewAction

 

Like concepts without rationale, these metaphors flutter around our heads as we use them to support whatever we believe – rather than informing their beauty at a higher level by incorporating their source, the amazing reality of Life itself and our part in it, and what I am about to say about these metaphors, in my effort to align them with factual reality rather than with human wish-stories, what I am about to say may also lie at the edge of chaos where naturally evolved systems emerge and where they must inevitably either change, in order to conform with the Law of Life that makes Life of Earth possible –

 

or die.

 

We probably can agree that Life itself was not created by humans and the Laws of Nature that nurture Life were also not created by humans. These facts suggest that we humans (especially the corposystem, as it now contains the most overt human power) that we would all be better off if we were to align our power with the needs of Life rather than continue our historic and unsustainable battle to conquer the Earth and all that lives thereon. No matter who created it.

 

Who created it is not the point of life or death, except that our behaviors are strongly controlled by our worldview (a naturally evolved system).

 

Corposystem Cycle

 

A system that is available to our evolution. A naturally evolving system that we could be using to align ourselves with The Law of Life, but for the most part we are not.

 

I am not now talking about the “bad guys.” I have noticed that the “bad guys” most often know exactly what they are doing. Because they enjoy what they are doing. I am now talking about you and me. The “good guys.” It is time we stop sacrificing ourselves to the corposystem ethic in the belief that we are changing the corposystem ethic. We are not – we are ‘ENABLING” the addictive corposystem ethic that would have long since crashed were it not for our good intentions.

 

 

The corposystem ethic does not solve the problem, either in the hands of the bad guys or in the hands of you and me.

 

So then the question becomes not about behaviors, but about worldviews. How does the butterfly of a biologically rational, sustainable worldview emerge from the corposystem that believes it IS biologically rational, but in reality is just turning the dominance wheel one way (the “good guys”) or the other way (the “bad guys”) neither of which bows to the reality of the Law of Life?

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

 

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_306_-_Butterflies.mp3

 

 

 

Bare Bones Biology 238 – Reflux

Congratulations to The Eagle and to Gunnar Schade for publishing an accurate, straightforward, and conservative op-ed describing facts and opinions related to fracking (posted below and at http://www.theeagle.com/opinion/columnists/cs-needs-proper-drilling-setbacks/article_5c06e1bc-abf2-5b67-87c8-9ae1fd6c5347.html )

Facts, by definition, are realities that we cannot change. Opinions, we can change. That means we cannot improve our lives by trying to change an unchangeable set of facts. It does not mean there is nothing we can do to improve our lives. It does mean we should study the facts and use the facts to help us decide what will work and what will not work to improve our lives, and then argue our opinions about the options that are actually available to us.

Bare Bones Biology http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com was created for just this reason: to clarify relationships among facts about biology, and opinions about biology so that we can make the wisest possible short-term choices that cause the least possible long-term harm to ourselves.
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We cannot change facts, but we can change our opinions about how to deal with the facts. For example, we cannot change what fracking is doing to the air that everyone in the community must breath. That’s a fact of Life. We can change what we choose to do about fracking. That’s an available human choice.

In making that choice, another fact of Life should be considered. That is, what goes around, comes around. It is a fact that all the substances of Life (the atoms and molecules) recycle in the Biosystem. The fact is, if we put poisonous substances into the air, water and soil, then at least most of us must breathe, drink and/or eat poisonous substances.

We all know it’s true, what goes around comes around in the Biosystem. We don’t like to deal with it (http://www.celdf.org/), but that doesn’t change the fact. The modern “systems” expert Fritjof Capra (http://www.amazon.com/Systems-View-Life-Unifying-Vision/dp/1107011361/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419440846&sr=1-1&keywords=capra) knows it is true, even though he may think of it more like a business plan than a law of nature. Hundreds of thousands of people during the green revolution came to understand how our earth system functions to provide for our needs, and they embraced the Ecosystem (note, system) as their family of origin. Farther back in time, earlier cultures understood the dangers of fouling our own nest; for example, lessons we have learned in Ladakh (http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org/) and other places are now being applied to problems in many modern communities, even Houston (www.transitionhouston.org/).

Do we need more examples? It’s a fact of life. In the real world, what goes around comes back around to affect our future welfare, the up side and the down side of our welfare, and we can’t change the facts of Life. What we can do is choose how we respond to them.

Of course, we also know that some people do not agree. For example the Eagle also published an opinion entitled: “Fracking Bans in Cities Hurt Everyone.” We know that is not a fact because I am someone and I have been very greatly harmed, physically, emotionally, financially, and permanently by oil and gas development in the Brazos Valley, as have many other people. So the idea that we all benefit from fracking is not a fact. It is an opinion. Furthermore, the author of that letter makes some rather extravagant claims that he does not support with data or references. In my opinion he cannot support some of these claims. So it seems that we have an argument between two sets of statements, each of which is supported by some facts and some opinions, with or without supporting evidence.

141104-FirstFriday-ASC_2633RSsIt seems to me foolish to argue opinions against facts. We can’t change the facts anyhow; it’s a non-discussable issue, a waste of our time that could be used to do something that actually would work to maintain or improve the common welfare. We do know that fracking is toxic to the “commons.” The commons is the air we all must breathe, the water we all must drink, and the soil in which our food grows. That’s a fact. The poisons we throw into the commons will go around and come back to bite us in the end.

If our real goal is to benefit everyone in our community, it should not be difficult to make a list of the most useful facts that limit our options. We could consult unaffiliated, well-informed experts. We then could post this list on the wall in city offices, and stop trying to change facts, admit to the reality of natural law, and begin to rationally discuss our opinions, considering both the up side and the down side of the options that remain to us, under three headings: 1) What is best for everyone now; 2) What is best for the welfare of the entire community. That would of course include people outside the cities who provide services of various kinds. 3) What is best for the future welfare of the children born into this community.

Obviously such a discussion is not an either/or debate that someone wins and someone else loses, and that’s a good thing, because either/or arguments do not lead to win-win solutions. Discussion is not the easiest answer to any problem because discussing real, fact-based issues is difficult. But such an effort, carried out with good will, could genuinely bring us one step closer, at least in BCS, to Peace on Earth and the welfare of all our citizens.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS FM, 89.1 in Bryan, Texas.

A copy of this podcast can be downloaded at:

 

References:
http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

http://www.theeagle.com/opinion/columnists/cs-needs-proper-drilling-setbacks/article_5c06e1bc-abf2-
5b67-87c8-9ae1fd6c5347.html

http://www.celdf.org/

http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org/

http://www.transitionhouston.org/

http://www.amazon.com/Systems-View-Life-Unifying-Vision/dp/1107011361/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419440846&sr=1-1&keywords=capra

 

 

Copy of op-ed:

http://www.theeagle.com/opinion/columnists/cs-needs-proper-drilling-setbacks/article_5c06e1bc-abf2-5b67-87c8-9ae1fd6c5347.html

Posted: Saturday, December 20, 2014 12:00 am

By GUNNAR W. SCHADE

Special to The Eagle

While the shale boom is heralded as a new energy era and an economic windfall for all, the reality often looks much more mundane. Rarely in the mainstream news are there stories about the people directly affected by fracking operations near their homes, or the rapid degradation of air quality in those parts of the nation where fracking is dotting the landscape.

As geoscientists from across the world gathered two weeks ago in San Francisco for the annual American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, there were several sessions on the air quality impacts of oil and gas extraction, especially as related to the “boom.”

And the news is bleak: Ongoing air quality measurements have shown for several years now that numerous hydrocarbons attributable to oil and gas industry emissions are tens to thousands of times higher in shale areas than what is considered clean air. The widespread hydrocarbon pollution creates secondary ozone pollution, even in winter, thus affecting people far removed from extraction areas, possibly erasing two decades of ozone air quality improvements. Air toxics emissions include known and suspected carcinogens such as benzene and formaldehyde, and neurotoxins such as xylenes.

The industry’s large well numbers per area with onsite pipes, valves, tanks, compressors and other equipment, together leak an enormous amount of gas and vapors into the air. Nevertheless, regulators treat each well as a minor emitter, and permits to drill are obtained easily.

In addition, Texas regulators allow onsite gas flaring with little oversight, which together with flaring in the Bakken shale has catapulted the U.S. into the top five flaring nations in the world, wasting more than 240 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year, emitting yet unquantified amounts of soot and formaldehyde. Living downwind of one or more well sites, especially when flaring, thus means intermittent to constant nuisances from air pollutants. Associated public health effects are becoming better documented and are consistent in shale areas, including headaches, nose bleeds, and eye, skin and respiratory tract irritations.

Through front groups such as Energy in Depth, the industry is denying responsibility and shedding doubt on the health effects. But the air quality data show otherwise. At Texas Commission on Environmental Quality monitoring stations in the Barnett shale area and since 2013 also downwind of the Eagle Ford, the widespread hydrocarbon pollution is well documented. In addition, the commission’s data bases contain numerous incidences of individual measurements taken near industrial sites in the Eagle Ford showing outlandishly high pollutant concentrations.

We have analyzed the Floresville monitor (the only current air quality monitor in the Eagle Ford region) data in detail, showing on average roughly 10 times above “normal” levels of hydrocarbons many miles downwind the shale area, with regular pollution plumes at much higher levels. Tracing these plumes suggests that, at times, acutely toxic concentration levels can exist at fence-lines of individual facilities. Independent air quality measurements and the commission’s own data thus contradict repeated statements by its leadership that there are no air quality levels of concern in the shale areas.

Is it thus surprising that residents in Denton and other Texas cities are objecting to wells inside their city limits, in their neighborhoods?

As the city of College Station is pondering changes to its oil and gas ordinance, it needs to consider the impacts of air pollution on the health and welfare of its residents. Despite new federal regulations taking effect on Jan. 1, the industry as a whole has not operated responsibly in the past, and we should not expect that it will do better — especially in Texas, where lax enforcement of the rules and a lack of deterring fines are commonplace. It is up to local communities to put in place and enforce rules protective not only of the air we breathe, but the associated property values and quality of life.

As College Station is impacted ever more directly through fracking sites in the surrounding county — and soon inside the city limits — its leadership has the opportunity to pass a stronger ordinance that addresses various air quality and other environmental concerns, such as via appropriate setbacks, and continuous air quality monitoring paid by the operators, including public availability of the data. The latter falls under the widely accepted “polluter pays” principle and can instill best practices by the operator.

No clear scientific guidance exists yet for the former, i.e. the allowable proximity of a facility to a residence. Toxicological evaluations of existing air quality measurements in shale areas, however, suggest that people living within 2,600 feet of well sites have a significantly elevated risk of cancer and other ailments from their exposure.

Since there is also legal precedent in other Texas city ordinances, it would be prudent to select at least a 1,500 feet setback to limit resident exposure during the inevitable times of poor pollutant dilution under unfavorable wind conditions.

Such setbacks, alongside other rules the ordinance does contain, may allow for responsible oil and gas extraction inside city limits.
• Gunnar W. Schade lives in College Station. He receives funding from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Research Program, though unrelated to the topic of this column.

Amelia’s Uganda Diary #4 – Byana Maryhill

Many may wonder how I came to live in Uganda to begin with.

Well, it’s all thanks to my once pen-pal, now fabulous husband, Phillip, and the work his family has been carrying out in their community for over a decade.

In 1997, Phillip’s parents started a small, rural school, in hopes of alleviating the effects of civil war, HIV, poverty and inequality.

Amelia-534048_3141610093937_1223505999_n-s Over the years, it has vastly grown to 350+ children. They also added on an orphanage, and those orphans attend the school totally free. In fact, the majority of the students are enrolled for free, or their families pay drastically less than the actual tuition price. Unfortunately, one of the biggest and universal problems in Uganda (along with many, or even most, other countries), is that school is not free. Because Byana is in such a rural area (3 hour drive from the capital city), most families make very little money. The culture in the village is one of subsistence, so money is only necessary for things such as school. Otherwise, people grow their own food, and trade for different services. Because of the issue of lack of money, one of the goals of the school is to give a high quality education to these rural dwellers, so that they may have a fighting chance against their urban counterparts. True to their promise, last year’s end of term results found Byana ranked as number 157 out of the top 7,000 primary schools in the whole country. 100% of the leaving pupils had passing grades, and 12 of them were top class.

The most impressive part of this story is that the school only has one solar panel, which on a good day can provide around 4 hours of light for morning and evening “preps” (6-8am and 8-10pm). There is no running water, so it has to be fetched from a contaminated water well, there are only 5 small classrooms, and some kids share seats and desks, three small dorms with kids doubling and tripling up on one mattress, and their most recent book, Geography from 2007, lacks so much information which has changed since then, such as the redistribution of the provinces. The teachers had not been payed for three terms, and didn’t have access to television, newspapers or internet to stay up to date with the world until last month. The fact is, the kids, teachers and staff of Byana have been living in squallor, with barely even the basics, yet they have repeatedly performed better than some of the wealthiest and best facilitated schools in the nation. Can you only imagine how excellent things could be if they had all the necessities?

Fortunately, we have started to improve the conditions for the teachers, as they have now been paid installments of their past due salaries, and have received half of this term’s pay. They now have internet, their own garden with things such as tomatoes, eggplant and pumpkin (they were eating beans and cassava with every meal, everyday), and can now watch Al-Jazeera and the local news channels. The doctor, who works absolute wonders with pretty much nothing, now has refrigerator for holding specimens, a fully stocked clinic, and a certified lab technician (one of the nuns), all thanks to a $200 donation.

The children now have a few new bunk beds, though not enough, and a new and fresh variety of foods. Their once barren playing field has a see-saw and tire swings, plus new goalposts, thanks to a generous visitor from Utah.

Things are indeed improving, but when you are caring for 300+ kids with no help from their families, improvement comes in painfully small doses.

One of the plans being discussed is to put a halt to newcomers for the next two years in order to slim down the population to a manageable size. Another plan which we have already put into effect with much success, is to re-evaluate parent/guardian ability to pay. Yes, a simple and obvious solution, but the administration is in control of nuns and monks, who don’t feel the need to demand money. We are currently trying to get non-clergy, professionals to fill the admissions department, but the drawback is that those people demand salaries, which at this time cannot be managed. The sad reality is that in a capitalist society, money is necessary to get by, and when it is forced upon a communal society, it takes a while for that reality to settle in.

So now, only time can tell what will happen. We will continue to do all that we can, but we do accept volunteers and donations in either money or materials. To find out more, we have a webpage that you are welcome to check out and share. The address is: http://byana1754.wordpress.com . To browse through our many volunteer opportunities and ongoing projects, please visit our profile on idealist.org at the address: http://www.idealist.org/view/org/SBwbtsHFgnp/

Last weekend was visitor’s day for the kids’ families. We received enthusiastic support from them, and it was a great feeling to know that the parents could see visible changes, and that they were excited by them. All in all, it has been a nice start to the year. In hopes of a brighter future, we will struggle on.

– Amelia

Amelia’s Uganda Diary

Oh, the joys of trying new foods! Uganda is the place to be for that, no doubt.

Have you ever wondered what fried grasshoppers taste like? Well, they’re surprisingly tolerable and delicious! And of course, being from Texas means I have to eat everything with hot sauce.

Amelia-551867_3141577373119_1203313865_nSBLsThe hoppers are caught in swarms at night time, mostly in the region of Masaka. They provide a complete market, and people actually look forward to their return. I guess it’s one eco-friendly way of pest control. Catchers set up shop in any open field they can find. They use metal oil drums on platforms with slanted metal sheets forming a tunnel down into the drums to catch and hold the hoppers. The critters are attracted to these death traps by halogen lights which encircle the barrels. They also burn grass right in the center of the field. The hoppers come flying in towards the lights, hit the metal sheets, and fall into the drums. The next morning, street vendors come to buy them by the kilo, and pluck the wings and back legs off.

Then, it’s up to you, the consumer, to decide on buying them fresh or ready to eat. The general recipe is a few onions, some garlic and salt, lightly sauteed with a pan full of hoppers.

Being vegetarian has of course made me wonder if my snacking habits are acceptable or not, but in the meantime, while I try to work that one out, I’ll be enjoying another bag of green fried grasshoppers.

Amelia’s Uganda Diary #2

Wow! Who ever thought that learning to relax could be such a challenge?!?!

Coming from the US, I’m used to structure, and to the saying, “To be early is to be on time, on time is to be late, and to be late, you had better be dead.”

Well, things just aren’t that way here! Time is nearly irrelevant, so people just go with the flow.
I’ve always considered myself to be a relatively laid back and mellow person, yet here and now I am finding that may not be true. I get antsy waiting around with nothing to do. And that, I have been told, is the problem. Because I’m used to the fast paced, ever busy bustle of my life in the US, I don’t know how to relax and just enjoy the present time. My brain and hands scream to be occupied with ANY task, whatsoever, as long as they are busy.

I can say that I have made some progress, though! The other day, we (my husband and I) were approached by a member of the Xavier Project, which helps Congolese Refugees assimilate into Ugandan society. He asked us to play a concert for them to showcase some of their members’ talents of rapping and singing. This was a Tuesday, and the concert was scheduled for that coming Saturday at 2 pm. We were introduced to a few other musicians and the singers, with whom we had three practices, none of which we were successful in getting through one whole song!

Saturday at 2 pm came and went, with no sign of the sound system, stage, or organizers. Then 3, 4, 5 ….. Finally, FINALLY (!), around 5:15, the drum set and 1 speaker showed up. It was nearly 6 by the time everything else came together and we got started (with no sound check). Fortunately, the crowd (who all stayed, waiting that whole time, because that’s how things go here), loved it, and we were thanked and applauded graciously. In the end, it was indeed a blast.

A couple of weeks ago, such a scenario would have caused me to stroke out. But I got through it!

Back to the original point: learning to relax. I don’t believe one can understand how high-strung-life in the US or other Western countries can affect you until you have immersed yourself in a different culture. I always had immense difficulty meditating and falling asleep because my mind was racing with a billion and one thoughts about what I was gonna be doing tomorrow, and the next week, and two months away. Now, I feel like a couple years living this new lifestyle will really help me mellow out. I’m in the beginning stages of purifying my mind, body, and soul (just gotta convince people to stop burning trash…), and I can’t wait to see the results!

My new motto: Just chill, maaaaaaaan!

Amelia’s Uganda Diary

OK, so I took a couple of days off. I had a sudden craving to finish posting everything from the crashed hard drive onto Quicken and spent two days doing that. Odd, very odd, I wonder if it’s a symptom of something. Anyhow, here is Amelia.

Home at Last

The Muazzin (man who calls people to prayer at Mosque) of our neighborhood, I am pleased to say, has a magnificent voice. So much so that I almost look forward to his 5:30am wake up calls, wondering what amazing vocal feat he will accomplish with each breaking day.

And then, the dogs start. Their response, a full ranged choir with every style of howl you could imagine, bounces off the compound walls. It must be every single pooch within a mile radius, and they never fail to reply.
Yes, my morning has begun.

It’s funny how the small things like the acrid smell of burning trash, or the sound of the Pied Crow cawing right outside your window, are the things you didn’t even know you missed.

And then there are the big things as well. The seas of smiling, snaggle toothed school kids, smartly dressed for their morning classes, or the sporadic commotion of dancers and drummers flooding into the already chaotic streets, waving tree branches and egging on their fellow Bagisu tribe members for the Imbalu Circumcision Rites.

I’ve unmistakably arrived in my new home, Uganda. Although I am not a native, this place, as overpopulated, polluted, and down right backwards as it can sometimes be, has burrowed itself deep inside my heart. I am for sure at home at last.

-Amelia Marie Ssentamu