Sunday, September 30, 2007


Our electrician came over early this morning and repaired our connection. There's still some work to be done but it basically works. What a relief. Not only that, but we got hours of electricity today. It's off now, though.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday Review of Books

Here's this week's edition.

Electricity Update

Well, I've been trying to avoid the subject, but a couple of my loyal readers have emailed me to ask what's going on with the electricity. Since I don't have more than a couple loyal readers, I have to keep them happy, so here goes.

Last night the electric company came to fix the transformer. They came not because Neighbor 1 had been calling them every few minutes all day, though he had, but because Neighbor 2 went out and tracked down a repair truck and paid the guys money to come to our neighborhood. When they arrived, they began asking other neighbors for money as well. (See Thursday's post about corruption. It's a way of life here.)

By the time the repairmen left, the other houses in our neighborhood had power, but ours still did not. The only thing we can figure is that it has something to do with the rewiring we had done when we got the new generator. The light comes on in our kitchen showing that the electricity is coming to the house, but none of the appliances is being reached by the electricity. (You can tell from my bumbling explanation that I have only the vaguest concept of how any of it works.)

Our electrician (who in a country with low employment is doing very well for himself, even if we're the only people he works for) is coming over this afternoon to work on the problem. We hope the power comes on before he gets here, because otherwise he can only do a limited amount.

I am heartily sick of the whole subject, and in fact I had decided yesterday that I was going to focus on living with the "new normal" of generating all our own power, and stop even thinking about the electric company. In fact, I was pretending they didn't exist. Denial was working very well for me until they showed up last night and raised my hopes again.

Let's just not talk about it any more.

Article on S.E. Hinton

I'm going to share this article with my students on Monday. A 40th anniversary edition of The Outsiders has just come out and the author has been talking about her writing.

I can't tell you how much my kids love this book - boys and girls, good readers and not-so-good. It strikes a nerve with everybody. It's incredible that it's 40 years old, since some of my students think a book from the nineties is too old to bother with. They've never heard of Paul Newman, who's mentioned in the first few lines of the book because that's how Ponyboy wants to look. (My students didn't even know about the salad dressing, but no doubt that's because they don't live in the U.S.) I told them to take my old-lady word for it, he was/is a heart-throb! There are many references in the book they don't get. But it doesn't matter. The story is so alive to them that they don't even care.

I love what Hinton has to say about teenagers, about writing, and about the book. I'm glad she took the time away from her current writing project to do the interview!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Corruption Index Comes Out Again

Transparency International just came out with the annual Corruption Perception Index, ranking the countries of the world based on how corrupt they are. Once again, this country is very corrupt, but some other countries have apparently become even more so because we aren't ranked quite as high - or low, I guess - as we were last year.

Take a look. You can even see how your country compares with others. You might be surprised.

Here's what I posted when the list came out last year.

Spoke Too Soon

When the power came on, we had some brownouts and then the power went in and out for about fifteen or twenty minutes. Then there was a huge boom and the sky lit up, and then nothing. Fortunately that boom came from a different transformer, not our beautiful brand new one, but the effect is the same - no lights, and this time it's worse because the solution we'd put all our hopes in didn't work. I called the power company and they said they'd come right away, but we all know that doesn't mean they'll come right away.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The new transformer has been installed. The power company came today and put it up on the pole, only three weeks after we purchased it. (We went together with a bunch of neighbors, knowing that the power company would not replace the burned-out one in our lifetimes.)

We're excited - now when/if the city power comes on tonight, we'll have lights! (Right now we're running the generator.)

And just think, gentle reader, now this blog can stop being all about how I have no electricity. I was about to change the title to "Whine Whine Whine Poor Me in the Dark."


Here's this week's Carnival of Education.

Utility, Futility

So I had this brainstorm this morning. What if, instead of everybody having their own generators and polluting the neighborhood with noise and diesel fumes, we had one big generator, run by a company - we could call it the Electric Company - and then we could pay them and they could generate our electricity. That way, when things went wrong, they could fix it. For example, if a transformer burned out, they could get the new transformer and put it in, perhaps right away, without waiting THREE WEEKS. Isn't it a brilliant idea? I wonder if anybody else has ever thought of it?

So now our phone isn't working. I asked the school secretary to call for me because she has a track record of good responses. She tried yesterday, but guess what? All three repair numbers are out of service.

We got a water bill the other day and we didn't pay it yet. This morning I mentioned it to my husband at breakfast. "We need to pay the (insert name of water company which includes the word potable, just as a little joke) bill."

My son said, "What's (insert name of water company which includes the word potable, just as a little joke)?"

I replied, "It's our last working utility, so we have to pay the bill so they don't cut us off!"

The fact is, though, that we haven't received much water from the company lately. (You can read a description here of how it works.) Thankfully, God has been providing rain water.

Oh, and our internet works, too, but you kind of need electricity for that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hyphens are History

My dad sent me this article about how hyphens are going the way of the dodo. Well, I'm keeping the one in the name of my blog. Just doing my part for the has-been hyphen.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


We're just back from a weekend retreat, a wonderful time away at the beach - life as it's supposed to be when you're living in the tropics, but, alas, so rarely is. Not only did we have the ocean, and the pool, and friends, and a wonderful speaker, but we had 24-hour electricity that we did not have to worry about generating ourselves. Oh, and the greatest luxury of all - yes, ladies and gentlemen, I speak of hot showers! So wonderful. I felt so good after my first one, Friday afternoon, that I could hardly stay awake in the session that evening. Partly, yes, that was because I was exhausted from a morning of doing parent-teacher conferences in three languages, but partly it was just feeling so relaxed by the hot water.

Even so, it was good to get home.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another Carnival

Wow, where did that week go? I've been buried under progress reports. We don't usually do them this early in the year, but we're trying something new. We're going to have conferences midway through the first quarter and give out detailed progress reports. This is supposed to head off problems rather than telling the parents about them after it's already too late to change things for the first quarter. I'm all for it in theory, but in practice it's been loads and loads of work. Usually we're just required to do progress reports on new students and students who are getting below a C, but this time we had to do them for every single student, after only four weeks of school. But I got finished today, and now I'm ready for the parents to come talk on Friday.

So, time to relax at the Education Carnival.

Beckett for Babies

Introduce your baby to the gloomiest of the Existentialists!

via Chicken Spaghetti.

Living Without Electricity by Choice

This family actually chose to have no electricity, unlike our family, who had it forced upon us. As you'll see, they are living without a few other things as well.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturday Review of Books

I'm behind on these as well. Enjoy this Saturday Review of Books on the Ides of September.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Child Mortality at Record Low

There's nothing like a positive, encouraging newspaper article! Take a look!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I am seriously behind in linking to Education Carnivals. It's been weeks since I've even looked at one. Here's the latest.

I Saw What I Saw

Tara posted this today. Go look at it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

My aunt forwarded an email to me from a friend of hers. It was called "If I Were a Blogger," and the friend had written that someone should blog reflections about L'Engle to celebrate the wonderful writer who died last Thursday.

A lot of people have. Thanks to Semicolon for rounding up some of what's been said.

Dark Village

I read this article earlier this week. This village has the opportunity to get electricity, and while many people are for it, some aren't. I found this quite interesting:

(Beginning of excerpt)

Masawo, 28, used to work in the city but returned to the village when his parents died.

He talks of a special community spirit, which he fears may disappear forever.

"Without electricity, people get together after work; they share things with each other, tell stories. I think it's a better life.

"It's not necessary to have electricity. You can wash clothes by hand. With no TV, we have more time to chat and discuss together."

And even though the women spend much of the time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning by hand, mother-of-four Okoc is also reluctant to see change.

"I like things the way they are. Here we use oil lanterns, like in the old times. It seems better like that. If you had power, you wouldn't be able to see all the stars, and all the natural living things, like frogs and other animals, would run away."


Presbyterian church leader Rev Chang Ying-mei - who has been instrumental in helping the village think about how it wants to develop in the future - hopes the advent of electricity will bring only superficial changes.

"Power won't change their lives..." she began to say, "but who knows? People's desires are endless.

"I'm positive about the future because the village spirit is strong," she added.

(End of excerpt - you can read the rest of the article at the link above.)

While you might think that the older people would want the traditional ways and the younger ones would be calling for modernization, in fact the exact opposite is true. I wonder what will happen.

Meanwhile, this is a good reminder to me to savor the advantages of having no electricity from time to time!


I suppose that last entry was a bit cryptic. I was feeling overwhelmed by the daily details of my life, and discouraged that the hymn was counseling me to be contented with "room to deny myself." It seemed to me that I was getting plenty of opportunity to deny myself.

The update on the electricity situation is that we have been hemorrhaging money and we are now the proud owners of a new generator (one which works, which is a big improvement over the old one) AND new batteries for our inverter. We also contributed to a neighborhood project to buy a new transformer, since it's clear that the electric company isn't going to bring us one. It's exhausting to spend so much time, energy and money on something that we're already paying someone else to provide. (In the process of installing the new generator, two appliances got fried due to problems with wiring which we weren't aware of before, and, in an unrelated incident, our washing machine has quit.)

And always, when living in a country like this one, I feel guilty for complaining about any of this because it just illustrates how little I have to complain about. We had a bunch of problems but we also were able to pay for them to be fixed. We lost some appliances but, hey, we had them in the first place. The washing machine is sitting out back being worked on intermittently by a mechanic who is also doing many other tasks, but I didn't have to walk from the river this morning with water on my head. I've never had to wonder which of my children I could afford to send to school, or how I was going to feed my kids supper tonight. So all in all, it feels pretty pathetic to whine about my problems.

And yet...there are always more "yets." I still have to get my work done, whether or not I have lights to grade by. I still need to be cheerful the next day after having trouble sleeping with no fans (heat and mosquitoes both keep one from sleeping well!). I still have to look across the street and see the street light shining on the people who have electricity. That's my daily round, my common task. I feel ashamed that I don't have the grace to deal with even these few difficulties the way I see people around me dealing with far worse situations.

As Alana reminds me, glory to God for all things.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Daily Round

This came to mind as I was exercising this morning, from an old hymn that I haven't sung for many years:

The daily round, the common task
Should furnish all we ought to ask:
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God.

I suppose it's true, but it sure sounds dreary, doesn't it?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

DP Blog Theme Day - Street Light or Street Sign

On the first of every month, the Daily Photo blogs have a theme day, and today's theme is a street light or street sign. My favorite so far is from Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. (You'll see why it appeals to me, I think.) You can find links there to the other blogs participating today. Take a look.