Pregnant cats, bike chains, and freedom toasters

I present to you, for your enjoyment, a random selection of scenes from my life, in no particular order whatsoever.

** My cat is pregnant. *Very* pregnant. I estimate her belly contains somewhere between 30 and 40 kittens. It has had the wonderful side effect of mellowing her out; less meowing, less demanding to be let in/out, and more sleeping. I approve. At least until the kittens arrive, that is.

** My students are continually flabbergasted at all the things I can do, like cook, fetch water, use a broom, and talk to them in my (very) rudimentary Twi. I don’t know if it’s the gender roles (very rare to see a man cook or sweep) or the fact that I’m white that causes their surprise. Just today, I surprised two of my female students by lighting a coalpot and cooking up a giant pot of black-eyed peas. They stood, watched, and congratulated me (not kidding — they literally said “You have done well, sir!”) for a full 10 minutes as I stirred the beans and fanned the coals while sitting on my wooden cooking stool. It’s a tough job, but somehow I manage.

** The term is over in approximately a week and a half. I get a brief bit of respite until I have to mark the bazillion exam papers that I will have from all of my classes. The sad thing is that I _just_ finished marking homeworks and class tests last Wednesday. *sigh*

** Marathon training is coming along well. I am steadily working at building my base, and steadily growing hungrier as I do it. I just completed a 23km week; next week is a 24.5km week. And so we go from there. At some point, I will be averaging 50km per week. And that’s before I start the honest-to-God training. *gulp*

** Every time I pay my electric bill, I have to replace a light bulb. An odd coincidence, but I don’t like doing my evening routine in the dark, so I do it. When I went to the provision store to buy a bulb, the owner gave me a “blue” one — one that resembles a black light that is used in bars for mood lighting. I didn’t bother to check, and you can’t return goods in Ghana without a serious fight, so I now have a black-light style light in my main hallway. I feel like I’m 13 again.

** My bike chain broke the other day. I was hauling water, and luckily was returning to the house with my last jerry can before the bearing slipped and the link bent itself at a very odd angle. And of course, when I tried to replace the chain with the spare one I brought from America, my chain breaker (the tool you use for removing/opening the links) promptly broke.

Luckily, Mike Simpson at KSO has a complete set of bike tools, so I’ll just bring my bike there and get the chain fixed; it’s just a question of when. I’d like to have a working bike for hauling water during the break, as well as for marathon cross-training; on the other hand, traveling with a bike sucks. Really sucks.

** I’ve been spending a large amount of my free time trying to assemble a working Freedom Toaster, and then compile my efforts into a distributable package that can be used to create additional Freedom Toasters.

What is a Freedom Toaster, you ask?

A Freedom Toaster is a stand-alone, easy-to-use kiosk that is used to distribute open-source software and freely licensed media (a la Creative Commons). A user goes up to the Toaster, picks out their software/content using a touchscreen or trackball, and inserts a blank CD, and the toaster burns it all to a CD for them.

The original Freedom Toaster was first proposed in South Africa as a way to facilitate the distribution of open-source software in places where broadband internet access (the traditional delivery tool for open-source software) was prohibitively expensive or non-existant. It can be put in places like libraries, internet cafes, public computing labs, and university campuses to allow the public to take full advantage of quality software.

The original project had quite a bit of steam, and several toasters were built from an open code base before the developers founded a company in 2007 to build them (only in South Africa, to my disappointment), and the open code base for building a toaster was left to moulder. Thus, I grabbed the code, set up my own development environment, and set to work updating it so it would install again. If you feel so inclined, you can help me: the code’s at

** Caroline and I do not yet have a definite date set for our wedding, but we’d really like to have it within 6 months of returning to the U.S. We’ll keep y’all posted.

Alright. That’s all I’ve got. Until next time…

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I'm just this guy, you know?