Monday, July 12, 2010

A Useful Traffic Convention from Namibia

(photo from flickr)

Picture this situation: You are driving down a two-lane road when you come upon the inevitable semi-truck going *gasp* under the speed limit. This is, of course, unacceptable. This truck should be passed at the first opportunity, but any driver who has been in this situation before knows that this is risky business, even under ideal conditions. Semis are wide and long, preventing visibility, and taking more time to pass. Typically, the way a driver in America would look for an opportunity is to sneak out slightly into the oncoming lane and either go for it, or jerk back into their lane to avoid getting hit by an oncoming vehicle. Sounds dangerous! But there is another way...

In Namibia, almost all roads are only two lanes, but they have developed a useful way to get the cars passing the trucks efficiently. It's simple: when the truck driver sees that the road ahead is clear, he puts on his right flasher (they drive on the left) to signal any cars behind him that the coast is clear. I'm guessing it's safer too, since the truck has a clear view of the oncoming lane, and I'm guessing a professional truck driver can make a safer estimate of whether you're going to make it past him.

I'm guessing this might be something that happens in other countries besides Namibia, and maybe even other parts of the states, but it sure doesn't happen in the northeast.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Face-Off: Black Mamba vs. Chameleon

Which of these two animals are you more frightened of? On the left we have the black mamba, one of the deadliest snakes in the world. On the right, we have a chameleon. Both of these creatures inhabited the general area of the youth center where I taught in Divundu, Namibia. (No fully grown mambas, though, thank goodness)

If you thought this one through logically, you would probably give the incredibly poisonous black mamba a wide berth, whereas a harmless chameleon in the wild might be a subject of casual observation and interest.

Now for the typical Mbukushu reaction to these creatures.

All Snakes: Standing Kill Orders

The immediate reaction to any snake is to engage it in mortal combat and destroy it. The only acceptable reason to disengage combat is to search for a weapon (stick, rock, possibly a .22 rifle) or reinforcements. It doesn't matter that this snake is capable of leaping past your piddling defenses to bite your face off and inject enough neurotoxin to kill you 10 times over. People will gather round to watch the show and offer advice on how to deal with the snake (the stick vs. rock debate is timeless)

Chameleons: Widespread Panic

Upon sighting a chameleon, most Mbukushu will run away and get some help to set up an exclusion zone so that no one accidentally bumps into this fearsome beast. The bravest villagers are called upon to monitor the progress of the chameleon from a safe distance until it disappears into the foreboding tall grass from whence it came. People maintain vigilance for hours afterwards lest the soul-eating demon spawn return on its dark shambling.

Okay, so, slight exaggeration on the chameleons, but seriously, I'm not sure why these people are so afraid of them. Something to do with witchcraft? Googly eyes? Color changes? I have no idea, but it's not logic, and it's tons of fun for someone who's willing to pick one up and chase people with it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Taipei Games Show 2010

So I got to Taiwan just in time for the final day of the Taipei Games Show hosted in the World Trade Center complex. As I understand it, this show is pretty modest compared to Tokyo Games Show, but still sports the ridiculous exhibits the rabid fans have come to expect. This time around, I was most impressed with the racing hardware. They basically built some 1:1 scale cars inside the building (at least I didn't spot a door they could've fit through) and wired them up with screens and such so people could get the complete video game driving experience. Funs!

The other thing that impressed me but isn't pictured here was a VR experience box thingy where you could get a rifle and wherever you pointed it, a projector would track your motion and display the game in front of the barrel. More realistic than mouse aiming, but your arm gets tired.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


So, it was really hard to update the blog from Namibia and I pretty much gave up after a couple months. Plus I was pretty lazy. You just kind of fall into a different rhythm there. A rhythm that allows people to procrastinate indefinitely. But now I'm out! ... and back to the rush of the workaday world. Desires to tear off my clothes and live an idyllic life in the forest with the animals and various parasitic life forms aside, I will now try to update my blog somewhat more often than once a year. Some of it will be remembering events and posting pictures of my experiences in Namibia. Other times, I'll talk about what's happening with me now (for example, I'm in Taiwan right now for a month). In extreme cases I may offer an opinion on a subject if I think I'm particularly qualified, but I promise that won't happen too often.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More things to do on a Sunday afternoon

Save a goat from drowning in an open septic tank, of course. I took a shower afterward. The photo is courtesy of my roommate, and it's a little blurry because he was laughing so much. All in a day's work for an IT volunteer in Namibia!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things to do on a lazy Sunday in Namibia

Teach some Hambukushu ladies how to crimp network cables for a rural
youth center's computer lab, of course. Yes, I fully intend to introduce
Counterstrike to the African youth.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Namibian Names

So, most Namibians have Christian names because they actually have lots of trouble pronouncing names of people from other tribes or other language groups. These Namibian Christian names are sort of pseudo-Roman, Latin-esq, and straight out of fantasy novels. I may have to use one of these next time I'm playing D&D. Here's a sampling:

Male Names:

Female Names: