Exploration, Confrontation, and Politics

I’m struggling against domestication here, and in the mood to explore.  The President of the United States is over in Africa right now (Tanzania to be specific) while we all pray daily for the health of Nelson Mandela, and hold our breath over the political uprising in Egypt.  I guess in some parts of Africa (below Equatorial Guinea), it is technically the middle of winter over there.  It still seems pretty warm on the map.

The President of the United States is taking a slightly different trip than the one I had planned a long time ago – West, South, East.  I had chosen Mali, Zimbabwe, and Kenya, wanting to spend a whole year on the continent.  He picked the neighboring countries of Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, and integrated the trip with very poignant juxtapositions.  Twenty minutes in Nelson Mandela’s jail cell versus the 27 years that Mandela had spent there, extending a promise to 7 countries in Africa to provide them with electricity (Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Mozambique), and offering to establish business relations on capitalistic terms.  The Africans are expressing some concern for their natural resources with the American appetite.  The President of the United States must feel very pulled to integrate these extremes.  It’s a big legacy he wants to leave.  With a big heart.

I’ve been told it is beautiful over there, and there are some who have gone who never come back.  I had wanted to split the trip with animal (wild animals) work, archeological work, and humanitarian work.  I could never figure out how to integrate my family of dogs into the trip, though.  And of course, there are the medical, financial, and security concerns, as well.  I work through the mapping exercise (eventually scoring a perfect 165) and capitals (eventually scoring 2’01” on the hard one), and am reminded of the Africans I went to school with (on both sides of the French colonial equation), mentally placing the student’s faces and names with their original locations on the map – Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Liberia, Djibouti, and Egypt.  I had the privilege of going to a French school which was about 1/3 African, and 1/4 Middle Eastern.

Reflecting on the situation in Egypt, with its dramatic precocious threat of military intervention from its own government in the form of a coup, I am struggling with the need for a military that is strong enough to protect against an outside pillaging of resources from what are sometimes pretty desperate neighbors fighting civil wars that destroy their own countries, and one that is not so strong as to suffocate its people.

Some pretty low scores on my days – which have ranged from 2 to 4/10 for the past few days. I had one day that was an 8.5 and also some 5’s.

Found my food card.  And invested in a little shopping therapy.  A lemon tree an apple tree, an orange tree, and some potting soil.  I’m privileged to have a well so I can water everything daily.

There are a couple of lemons growing already on the tree.  I planted it outside my window.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to make some lemonade.  It probably won’t be tomorrow.

Although I still have really baby tomato plants growing in pots, I lost all of the squash and cucumbers that I planted in 1 night.  I think it was too hot, and then I watered too much.  It was quite dramatic.  Maybe the watering should happen twice a day with the heat.  It has been over 100 degrees, and they were still small plants, planted late.

I picked up a guitar for $30.  I suppose I could have bought the Artin math book for the local library with the money.  Anyway, I finally made it to the University library and copied the problems from the end of the chapters in Artin’s book to work on them.

I put a string on the guitar, and enjoyed my first guitar lesson a whole lot.  Hava Nagila.  Something to keep me awake and cheerful.  I guess the song is from an older part of what is now Romania and Ukraine, and is often played at weddings.  I must admit that I dissociate from any war-derived connotations that I later found out were associated with the music.  At the same time, I thought that the Balfour declaration was a classy piece of work.  The text of the music comes from Psalm 118.

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