Saturday, December 24, 2005

Home Stay - Eating Highlights

I just completed the home stay portion of my Peace Corps training. It was wonderful. My family is the best!

My host family is one of the most warm and loving families I have ever met. They brought me deep into their family and treated me as one of their own. I feel as though my heart is bigger for knowing them!

Here are some eating highlights of my home stay:
  • Having a traditional soot marks placed on my palms and chest to ensure my family's food would not make me sick
  • Helping butcher part of a Spring Bok
  • Helping butcher part of a lamb
  • Helping skin and butcher a Dik Dik
  • Helping cook over a fire in a traditional cast iron pot
  • Eating Dik Dik heart and lungs
  • Taking Mealie Maize from a shared bowl, forming a ball with it, and dipping it into a shared soup bowl
  • Making Italian spaghetti and meatballs for my family
  • Making eggs-in-the-hole for my family

Monday, November 14, 2005

First Day of Training

Today was our first official day of training. I enjoyed it a great deal. I feel very lucky to be taking part in such an interesting and We had some very good information sessions:

  • The History of Namibia
  • First Afrikaans Language Class
  • Racism in Namibia
We also participated in a couple of medical information sessions and received more shots. I got a meningitis shot. Some people needed two shots today.

We have a pet spider in our room, and we call him Spewiy. His is very large, but does not scare us because he is much smaller than the very large spider we killed in our room last night. The spider was over three inches long, and had huge mandibles. It was the kind of spider that could eat a hardy sailor (comment from Mike, one of my roommates). It was very fast, and actually would not back down when Matt tried to poke at it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Wow, what a whirlwind!
Wow, what amazing people!
Wow, I leave for Africa tomorrow...

58 Americans have travelled to this location (Philly) to begin the process of learning how to integrate and seek acceptance in a foreign land. The Peace Corps calls this coming together Staging.

Certain feelings are very strong here, and being experienced by what seems to be everyone in the group. There is excitement, fear of the unknown, fear of lost baggage, fear of overweight baggage, unfocused anxiety, exceptional warmth towards others, and an extremely strange feeling: the fear of deciding to drop out.

It sounds strange, the fear of deciding to drop out -- and yet, it is not strange to me, for even I have felt it -- to my surprise. The only consolation to any of us is the fact that so many others in the group are experiencing the same feeling.

I had expected there to be warmth towards others; I had not expected the strength of it. I am truly in the company of some very wonderful people, and I am humbled.

In the spirit of "Into the Void", I am going to train my focus on the next rock.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


It's 3:00 am and the Haase house is beginning to come to life. We have to leave the house at 3:45 am so that we can get to Madison, Wisconsin in time for my flight to Philly.

It is sad to leave the people I care about for such a long time. It is even harder for me to feel them feeling sad as I walk away.

I will arrive in Philly sometime after 11:00 am. Once I arrive I hope to hookup with two other Peace Corps volunteers and then the three of us will make our way to our hotel.

Will will need to get settled in, eat, and then go to registration. It sounds like I will be sharing a room with one or two other people.

Monday, November 07, 2005

New Bag Weights

OK, scope creep even occurs in packing...

Here are my final bag weights:
  • Big backpack is 44 lbs
  • Duffle is 25 lbs
  • Little backpack is 18 lbs

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Three post offices later...

I finally found a post office that handled m-bags. M-bags are the most inexpensive way to send international mail. The bags actually look like something carried by the Pony Express!

Under some most excellent advice from a current PCV in Namibia, I am using an m-bag to send a batch of books to myself. This reduced my total baggage weight by 9 lbs -- 9 lbs is a lot when you can only bring 80 lbs. Even better, it only cost $11!

Here are the books I sent myself:
  • Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (to help stay centered)
  • Mostly True Collected Stories and Drawings (for fun)
  • Peace is Every Step (to help stay centered)
  • The Art of Being a Healing Presence (to help stay centered)
  • The World is Flat (to understand current trends)
  • Maran Illustrated Computers (to help build training plans)
  • Ashtanga Yoga (to help stay in shape)
  • World Religions (a gift from a good friend)
  • The Man Who Planted Trees (a gift from a good friend)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Bag Weights

For the curious, here are the weights of my bags:
  • Big backpack is 43 lbs
  • Duffle is 25 lbs
  • Little backpack is 13 lbs

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Bags

I just finished packing my bags, and I got my Dad to take a pic of me holding them!

Trust me, they're not as heavy as they look!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Good to the Last Piece

Yesterday was my last day of work as an IT Manager.

Many people asked me if it felt strange to be done with work, and so close to leaving. For some reason (probably a strange one) it does not feel at all strange to me.

I feel like all my puzzle pieces are in the right place.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Group

It looks like there will be 60 of us going to Namibia. 20 people are with Health and the rest are various types of teachers.

60 seems like a really big group!

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Yesterday I went to REI and bought the things I think I will need. I still have a few more items to get -- I'll do that later today.

I was up until 3:00 AM packing the gear that I had. I am using the following luggage:
  • Water proof duffle (3,500 cubic inches)
  • Internal frame backpack (6,000 cubic inches)
  • Day pack (1,800 cubic inches)
Here are the packing rules:
  • Checked luggage can not exceed a total of 80 pounds.
  • I can check at most to bags.
  • The dimensions of each bag must be totaled (length + width + height) and then added together (bag 1 + bag 2) and can not exceed 107 inches.
  • No bag can be more than 50 pounds.
  • I can have at most two carry-on bags.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Flight to Staging Setup

My flight to staging in Philly has been scheduled! Here is the info:
  • Leave Madison, WI at 6:16 am on Monday the 7th.
  • Arrive in Philly at 11:07 am.
Here is some of the staging schedule:
  • Registration is from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Monday.
  • Welcome is from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Monday.
  • Training all day Tuesday.
  • Leave for Africa on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Staging Kit Arrived

My staging kit has arrived. My Mom just received it at her house!

I have asked her to open it up. The kit will have my last minute instructions -- things like how to get my flight ticket to staging...

This whole thing is feeling very real right now.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I'm Bringing My Laptop

I received an email from the Peace Corps about packing for Namibia. Here is an excerpt:
Laptops can also be useful for Education Volunteers as many sites in the south where you will be located do have electricity and Internet access. Volunteers use laptops to type assignments and tests, as well as communicate with family and friends back in the States.
It's official then, I am bringing my laptop!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

What Language?

We are not going to know what language we are learning until we are placed into groups. The groups are divided by region. Our region will determine our language!

Friday, October 07, 2005

More Training Updates

It sounds like we will be in training for two months instead of three, because because we couldn't leave in October (as originally planned). The school year starts mid January so for
those of us teaching it's necessary to be ready by January.

A two month training cycle seems to translate into the following service schedule:
  • Early January -- we are sworn in as official Peace Corps volunteers :-)
  • Early December 2007 -- our service ends :-(

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Staging Kits On The Way

Just heard my staging kit will be sent out this Friday! It will be sent to my Mom and Dad's house.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Where is Namibia?

Here is a little movie I just made!
(I am decompressing at little at my sisters by feeding my computer addiction just a little...)

Monday, October 03, 2005

First 3 Months

A couple of days ago, I learned the name of the city I will be staying in during my first three months of training. Each new piece of information makes my assignment in Namibia feel more real!

I have decided not to post the city's name in respect for my potential host family. I currently do the same thing for my family and friends here in the States when I blog about my travels to their homes.

I can say I will be staying in the province of Damaraland. Here is a description of the area I found on the web:

Central Namibia and Damaraland are one of the last remaining wilderness areas in Southern Africa. It is a world of incredible mountain scenery, a refuge for the rare desert dwelling elephant and black rhinoceros. The eastern boundary coincide with escarpment mountains, and finally with the Skeleton Park in the west. A sense a freedom is generated by the wide horizons, the clear unpolluted skies and a population density, which is among the lowest in the world. This feeling of tranquility and stillness combines with a landscape which is singular in its colors, full of contrasts of light and shade.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Staging Info

Just found out some cool info about staging:
  • My staging kit will be sent out the first week of October.
  • Staging for us Namibia PCVs will be held in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


House sold: check...
Car sold: check...
All belongings in storage: check...
Quit job: check...
Fly to staging: waiting...

A while back, I decided to take a trip during the magical time between (i.e. the time just after quitting work and just before flying off to staging).

To my delight, the trip evolved (some people are saying mutated) and became a proper adventure. Point of note, one of the key ingredients for an adventure is:
  • An outcome that is (at least slightly) in question.

I am planning on traveling for 6 weeks in an old-style sidecar motorcycle (with my 80 lb dog). My midpoint of the trip will be my sister's house in California (the house that contains my new nephew).

Since this trip doesn't really relate to the Peace Corps, I have created another blog to record all of the wonderful things that are bound to happen on the road to Cali...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

That Chaotic Energy is Back...

I'm still alive!

Not much has been happening on the Peace Corps front, and that's OK, because I am not exepecting anything to happen until mid-October.

I have been very busy carting belongings all over the state. The last four days I have driven over 6 hours each day! All of that is about done now...I just have to take care of the last 10% of miscellaneous things.

In a surprising twist of events, I have decided to take a different motorcycle on my cross-country trip. I will be taking a motorcycle with a sidecar. Now I will be able to bring my dog with me!

I can hardly wait to begin my road trip -- that chaotic energy is zooming all about inside of me right now.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Abbreviation is the Spice of Life

I received an email from the Peace Corps today (I think it is from the Namibia country desk).

They asked me to put my resume in a new format, the Namibia Abbreviated format - a very simple, one page resume.

It was fun to work on the document.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005


My house is getting empty, and I am hovering between frazzled and excited.

Only a couple of weeks before I need to move out...

Saturday, August 06, 2005


I met a strange person in a small Thai restaurant this evening. She asked me if I felt all of the energy that was about lately. I said "I don't know, ...maybe."

Calmness was all about her, and she had a warm smile that made me want to keep looking at her, absorbing her tenderness.

She said "It's there if you pay careful attention. It actually wants to be found. Once you find it, you can turn it into any emotion you want, just by thinking the smallest of thought."

She smiled at me and softly touched my wrist. I wished I could hear the song that was in her eyes as she turned and glided out the door.

(This is based on a true event but, not all true -- I was a story that mostly popped into my head.)

Friday, July 29, 2005

More About Howard

Howard Everyman never stayed in one place to long, he was always walking off to the next place where he felt he could be the most help.

When people asked him why he walked so far to help others, he would usually say:

    I like walking, its a good time to think; besides I've got these really good walking shoes.

Most of the people would just smile at Howard and then begin to talk about something else. Some very curious people would ask Howard why he really walked so far. A few times he said:

    The distance someone happens to be from me doesn't reduce their need (although I wish it would). Often times, the fact that I have walked so far to help someone, helps them more than what I do, when I get there.

More about Howard

Thursday, July 28, 2005

This is Not My Beautiful House

My house is sold! Closing is set for August 22nd -- that's not far away.

Now on my mind:

  • Put my thangs in storage (remember, simplify)
  • Sell my car (bye Az)
  • Get my legal affairs in order (boring)
  • Gear up and pack for Namibia (fun)
  • Quit my job (refreshing)
  • Road trip (freedom)
  • Get on the plane to staging (anticipation)

Once I close on my house, I will turn in my two weeks notice. That means my last day at work will be September 2nd.

My work already knows I am leaving. I actually told them when I started the process of joining the Peace Corps a year ago -- it's to hard for me to keep that kind of thing secret.

Its time to soak my ears in organic sea salt -- goodnight.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I See the Rabbit!

Tonight at 10:00 PM CDST I will find out if my house has sold! It's exciting and scary at the same time.
I received an email from the Peace Corps today. They said they have received my resume and aspiration statement. They also said that staging will most likely begin on November 7th, but that they are still confirming the dates.
Things have sure started to move fast, just after I got my ears pierced!
Morale of the story:
Don't pierce your ears, if you want things to stay the same...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Little Status Update

Well, regarding the house, the offers have started to flow! It looks like I will have three offers before the night is over! There is a good chance my house could be sold by tomorrow night!

Today has the auspicious honor of being my one year anniversary of officially deciding to join the Peace Corps. On this day, one year ago, I stayed up until the wee hours filling out the online Peace Corps application forms (not a task for the faint of heart).

Saturday I got my ears pierced -- something I had wanted to do for a long time. I am hoping I can close on my house soon enough so that I can still do my motorcycle trip to California. I wanna be a long-haried, tattooed, homeless, jobless, guy with pirate earrings, and a motorcycle on the trip!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Random Political Statement

It's good the war on terror is working, there sure are a lot less bombings going on in the world now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Papers In!

I sent in my application for a Peace Corps passport last week! I also just sent in (via email) my aspiration statement and resume to the Namibia country desk.

An aspiration statement answers the following questions:

  • What are my expectations of my Peace Corps service and the program I have been assigned to?
  • What are my strategies for adapting to a new culture?
  • How do I expect my service to further my personal and professional goals?

I thought about posting my aspiration statement in this blog, and then decided against it -- it seems a little too personal to just generally post.

I would be happy to send a copy of it to anyone that is interested in reading it, just email me at:

Thursday, July 14, 2005


There are many emotions floating around inside me right now:

  • Excitement: Just today there will have been three showings of my house.
  • Overwhelmed: I have a bunch of Peace Corps paperwork to fill out.
  • Excitement: This weekend I am going up North with my Dad; that will be fun.
  • Lonely: I miss my dog.
  • Excitement: I've made it into the Peace Corps!
  • Sad: The man I do hospice visits with has gotten much worse, and I think he is starting to die.
  • Excitement: Things are really moving again.
  • Overwhelmed: Things are really moving again.
  • Tired: I need to get more sleep -- I have too many ends burning.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Pics of Namibia

A friend sent me this cool link to some great pictures of Namibia -- thanks for the link Doug!

Some pics of Namibia

The Program

In 1990, Namibia won its independance. Soon after, the new government began the process of rebuilding its education infrastructure.

The number of qualified teachers in Namibia has increased significantly over the last few years. Still, there is a shortage, especially in the areas of math and science. Some reasons for this particular shortage are:

  • Before Namibia's independence, math and science were not taught in many schools.
  • Certain ethnic groups were not allowed to further their studies in math and science.
  • These courses are often taught in English, which has added to the difficulty of finding teachers.

The goals of this program are to help (in a self-sustaining fashion) the Namibian Ministry of Education and Culture as it works to rebuild its education system.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Job

I have been invited to teach computer science at the secondary level. I am going to be assigned to a cluster of junior or secondary schools in Namibia. My responsibilites will include:

  • classroom teaching
  • peer coaching
  • resource material development

I will probably be working with grades 8 to 12. The schools will range in size from 300 to 1,000 students. I might also be assigned to a teacher resource center (TRC).

I will be a classroom teacher, and probably responsible for one or more computer labs. Teachers usually teach 30 to 40 periods per week (each period is 35 to 40 minutes). Classes can be as large as 50 to 65 students in the lower grades.

School in Namibia is divided into trimesters, separated by 2 to 5 week breaks. Even though there will be breaks, I will still be expected to work during them. I can only use my Peace Corps vacation days during breaks.

Besides teaching in the classroom, I'll also be expected to help other teachers upgrade their skills.

I will have to wear, dress shirts, dress slacks, dress shoes, and ties -- teachers are expected to be very professional (ouch to the ties part).

(I wonder what I will have to do with my hair...)

The Invite

The invite came! Here is an executive summary:
  • Country = Namibia
  • Program = Secondary and Upper Primary Education Project
  • Job = IT Support: Computer Science Teacher
  • Orientation Date = 11/7/05 (was moved up from 11/14/05)
I am going to describe each of the four items in their own post over the next couple of days (because I don't like big, hulking posts, and because it seems like more fun to stretch it out).

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Friday, July 08, 2005

No Package Yet

Mail came, no package...

The Package

I am feeling that chaotic energy all over inside. It's that energy I feel whenver I am approaching a cusp in my life.

I already know how I will feel when I first pick up that crinkly paper package containing my invite.

I am just going to look at the package for a while, remembering how a whole year had led to this moment.

I won't open it right away, rather I'll drive it to a quiet place, somewhere outside, away from people that notice me.

I'll sit for a while, thinking of what this all means, and then slowly open the package.

Next Steps

I've been working like a maniac since Saturday getting my house ready for sale -- the first open house is this Sunday! Things sure feel like they are moving fast right now.

My Mom came down for two days and helped me with a bunch of painting -- she was my secret weapon. I would not have been ready for Sunday without her.

If every thing goes as planned, I will close on my house the end of August, or shortly thereafter. Once my house is sold, I will quit my job (no sooner than September 1st).

Once I am jobless and homeless, I will take off for California on my motorcycle. I hope to visit friends and family before I leave with the Peace Corps. I'm thinking about taking Route 66 at least part of the route. My Westerly endpoint will be my sister's house -- I can't wait to see my new nephew!

All-in-all, the days leading up to the road trip will be filled with preparations for the Peace Corps:

  • Selling my house
  • Giving away stuff, and putting what I keep into storage
  • Selling my car
  • Spending time with my family
  • Creating the appropriate legal documents
  • Organizing my finances
  • Getting my dog setup with my Grandparents

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

The Wheels Keep Turning

I heard back from the Peace Corps today. My file is being forwarded on to my Placement Officer!

That is very good news. It means I have passed a bunch of hurdles and am very close to getting a potential invitation.

I am very excited.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Maybe Not Madagascar

It looks like Madagascar could be out of the picture for me. The staging date for Madagascar is September 25th -- not November 14th.

It's all good! The mystery is a big part of the excitement!

Friday, July 01, 2005

New Destination Rumor

Late breaking rumor from Amy:

    "There is a large group of people leaving in November for Madagascar. No French requirement. I have a friend serving there and she said they are expecting a BIG group (60-90) for teaching English and computer work."

The place I am nominated for is a "Non-French speaking country of Africa".

Africa 14rs Yahoo Group Created

Rumors have it there could be approximately 60 Peace Corps volunteers headed to Africa in November!

In an attempt to connect some of the dots, we have formed a Yahoo Group with the hope that it will help at least some of us get to know some of the rest of us just a little before we start on the road to Africa.

So if you are headed to Africa in November with the Peace Corps, consider joining our group!

Ok, here comes a warning -- it's not yet for sure that I will make it into the Peace Corps, and if I do, it's not even for sure that I will be headed to Africa.

At the very least, helping set up the group gives me the feeling like I am preparing; if only in a small way, for something that I deeply hope happens.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Anonymous Commenting Turned Off

I have turned off the anonymous comments feature for this blog.

There is an anonymous person repeatedly posting derogatory remarks. These remarks are extremely hurtful and inappropriate. Consequently, I have been permanently deleting them.

I would ask this person to send me an email (or some other form of non-anonymous communication) to discuss the root cause of their bad feelings towards me.

The Drum Roll is Still Going...

Well, no word yet from the Placement Assistant (the person that asked for more details regarding my essay).

The suspense is crazy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

More Data Please

The review of my application has started!

I just received an email from the Peace Corps, regarding my cross-cultural essay. The essay is supposed to describe a time when I have had to adapt my behavior to meet the needs of a specific situation. My essay was not specific enough, so they have asked me for more detail.

I have submitted additional information based on my "Peace Corps Paradox" post. I hope it is good enough -- I'm feeling both nervous and excited!


Monday, June 27, 2005

The Legal Hold is Gone!

Things are sure moving fast now! The legal hold was removed from my file -- wooo whooo. I am told there is one more legal review after the invitation occurs.
Now I am just waiting for my file to get through the application review and then find its way to my placement officer's desk.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I'm Getting Screened

OK, I couldn't wait for two weeks to send an email to my new placement officer. I sent a “Hi it’s me” email to her today. She replied in a couple of hours. Here is a summary of the email:

    My application is currently being screened and should move to my placement officer's desk within the next two weeks. My placement officer said she will be contacting me as soon as my application reaches her!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Home Front

I met with a second realtor today to discuss selling my house. I plan to talk with one more realtor, and then make a decision on who I will "hire" to sell my house.

I have a number of smallish type things to fix on the house first. Did I ever say how much I hate fixing houses -- just ask me about the time I had the great idea of buying a fixer-upper house...

Hey, if you live in the Twin Cities area, and enjoy fixing houses, send me an email, we could have some fun together!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

New PO

I sent an email to my placement officer to say that I had received my medical clearance and that I was looking forward to the next steps.

(I'm trying to be present without being overbearing)

I received an email response in just a few hours. Here is the gist of it:

    I have a new placement officer. My original placement officer has taken on a new position at the Peace Corps. My new placement officer is going to review my application materials, and then something is going to happen -- I'm not exactly sure what -- I'll probably send her an email in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Huston, We Have Clearance

No f***ing way! I've been medically cleared!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

It's Time For Another Leap

Sometimes leaving for the Peace Corps seems so close, even too close; other times so far away that I can barely see it.

It's been almost a year since I started this journey (July 25th will be the one year mark) -- wow! I've never waited this long to find out if I would be accepted to any type of organization.

I know my Peace Corps gig is not yet for sure; a lot could still happen and I could potentially be rejected. Even so, I am going to begin the process of selling my house. Here's why:

  1. If I do not make it into the Peace Corps: I will still find a way to go out into the world and help, where help is needed most.
  2. It's time for me to downsize -- I have a 4-bedroom house for just two people.
  3. This is a great time to sell my house, the market is good and so are the interest rates.
  4. Many families look to upgrade homes during the summer because school is out. I live in a great school district and I am within blocks of an elementary, middle school, and senior high school.

I know that I am about to take a big leap, and yes I am scared (I could use one of those hugging nuns again). Deep inside though, I am even more scared of not getting into the Peace Corps and not selling my house, and quietly sliding back into my previous, comfortable, sleepy life.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

He Called Back!

The Status Giver called me back this morning. All I can say is that the Peace Corps seems to be doing its best to keep me informed. They have continued to surprise me with their responsiveness.

Here is the scoop: my medical reviewer is still working on summer departures. Its going to be a while before she gets to my file.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I Give Thee Status

I called the Peace Corps medical group today, and left a voice mail with a person I will call the "Medical Review Status Giver", or Status Giver for short.

The Status Giver returned my call 10 minutes later! He had my medical information at hand. He said my medical file had been flagged, and that he was not sure why it had been flagged because it looked like all the info was there. He was very polite, and I could tell he honestly wanted to help me.

He said he would ask about my file tomorrow and then potentially call me back with more info.

Thank you Medical Review Status Giver!

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tomorrow is the Day!

Well, according to my original estimate, tomorrow will be the day I receive my medical clearance...I'll keep you posted!

But, don't hold your breath...

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Aftermath

OK, I'm better now -- I saw a Humvee and didn't freak out.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Sometimes I am afraid I am being selfish in leaving this year. There are things here that I have not yet finished, and they may go smoother if I stay.

But I can't stay, not after seeing what I have already seen in those places that have so much less than here.

The truth is, every day it gets harder for me to stay. I feel as though I have contracted some strange virus of the mind that is slowly changing my values.

I used watch civilian version Humvees roll by with wonder and envy. This Sunday, when I saw one roll by, the wake of its excess covered me, and I felt as though the weight of all my own excesses where made visible to those that have so little. I felt humiliated.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

10 Days Left

Well, there are 10 days left in my estimate of when I will receive medical clearance...I hope I was right!

A Beautiful Nun with a Hug

Well, I let myself get thrown off balance yesterday.

Late in the day, I found out that my grandpa had to go back into surgery to fix a problem that appeared after his initial surgery. I quickly left work and rushed up to St. Cloud to see him before he went into surgery -- I missed catching him by about 10 minutes. :-(

Everything went fine, and he is doing well. I had been very worried, so worried in fact, that I let myself fall out-of-balance.

I got home at around 11:00 PM last night, and practiced harmonica for about 30 minutes before crashing into bed.

I didn't wake up until noon -- I missed a 10:00 appointment but still tried to get there to help wrap it up -- my cell phone was dead, my car was out of gas, I printed out the wrong MapQuest directions, I got lost for over 45 minutes, and I was becoming extremely frustrated with the other traffic (not normal for me). When I arrived, I noticed I had not replaced my gas cap -- it was still hanging from its retaining strap.

I had a surreal feeling as it was all happening, as I took wrong turn after wrong turn -- I knew I was off balance, but I kept going.

I wish there was a store that sold custom hugs. I would buy one of those extra special, warm, gentle, reassuring hugs -- the kind I would imagine getting from a beautiful, loving nun -- the kind of nun that has eyes overflowing with care for the world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Thirsty Devil

When I get lost, I smile a devilish smile, because its then that I have the best chance of finding something new.

When I find myself judging others, I stop and give myself a warm, gentle hug (the more I judge myself, the more I find myself judging others -- the more I love myself, the more I love others and judge them less).

When I am done being angry, I become thoughtful -- the recognition of my anger propels me to look inside and understand its source.

When I start to feel lonely, I write down my thoughts -- and go to coffee shops.

That must be why I am getting a little thirsty.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


A special post, because my thoughts are with my Grandpa who is in the hospital recovering from major surgery.

I'm PO'ed

Hey, great news -- I have a Placement Officer!

This morning, I called the placement office at the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington DC. I left a voice message, asking if I could find out who my Placement Officer was. About five hours later they called back with the name of my PO -- wow!

I know they are very busy, so I was very surprised by (and happy about) such a rapid turnaround.

From my understanding, my Placement Officer will ultimately be the person that decides if, where, when, and what I would be doing as a Peace Corps volunteer.

In a careful attempt to tread the fine line of being proactive without being a nuisance, I sent a "Hi, it's me" email to my Placement Officer.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Small, Unexpected Moments

There are these small, unexpected moments in my life when I realize how different my views and values are from others. Sometimes when this happens, I feel deeply and completely alone.

During these times I question how I really feel and even what it is that I do feel -- like when I can't tell if an old memory is of a real event or just the fringes of some faded dream I had long ago.

I didn't always have these moments.

There are these small, unexpected moments in my life when I realize how different my views and values are from others. Sometimes when this happens I feel deeply joyous in the core of me.

During these times I know I am on the right path. I feel calm and whole and I wonder what took me so long to find this way.

I didn't always have these moments, or feel this alive.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

It's Getting Closer

Today it sunk in a little bit, it's already May. If everything goes as planned, I will be leaving for the Peace Corps in 186 days.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

One of These Things is not Like the Other

Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to get to know someone, that you think you might like, you look for similarities between them and yourself?

Have you ever noticed that when you think about someone you don't like, you focus on the differences between them and yourself?

We all have one thing in common, we are searching for happiness.

I know this is not directly related to the Peace Corps, it was just something that was on my mind.

No change on the Peace Corps front yet, I am still waiting to hear about my medical clearance -- its sounds like most of the Africa nominees are having to wait a long time...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Tribute to Howard Everyman

I watch the people that our society pays tribute to, and I wish we would make more room for people like Howard Everyman.

Howard did not grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer. I'm not even sure what his job was, or if he even had one -- I guess it wasn't that important to him.

Howard didn't have a big house or even a shiny car. I'm not sure exactly where he lived, or even how he got around -- I guess that did't matter too much to him.

The interesting thing about Howard was that he was happy, more happy than most. He was so happy that it readily spilled over to the random people that happened to be near him. Howard rejoiced in his life, caring for the things inside of himself, so much so that it was easy to care for others.

When someone asked Horward how he could be so happy, he would usually say:

    "One day I decided to see how little it would take for me to be happy.
    I found that when I had less, there was more for others, and in some strange twist, the less I had the less I wanted, and the more I saw life as it truely was -- short and wonderous."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

RPCV Photo Collection

A friend of my sent me a link to a photo collection being put together by Dan MacLaughlin. The collection is a neat set of photos taken by returned Peace Corps volunteers while they were in their host country.

The portion of the collection on the web displays pictures from 1966 - 2004.

Dan, thanks for letting me post links to your pics!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

It's Not Logical

Ok, well its not in the least bit logical, but for some reason I feel like I will get my medical clearance soon. Or maybe its just that I have stopped worrying about it. Either way, somehow the mental pressure about getting medical clearance has been reduced -- go figure -- emotions sure can be strange things!


Friday, April 15, 2005

Who Knows What Happens Next?

I don't have anything particular to write about tonight. I am just in the mood to write -- so I'll write about reading!

I am reading the book "The Story of B". It's sort of a sequel to "Ishmael" (which I also read recently). Both books are by Daniel Quinn.

I am gaining a new perspective of modern cultures as I read these books. Quinn gives a very interesting explanation of how we came to view the world as "ours to shape and control".

He is very good at pointing out aspects of modern culture that are surprisingly obvious to me now, and completely unnoticed by me before.

I wonder where this new perspective will lead me.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Well, I'm better today! I bet it's that interesting, healing aspect of writing (that's slowly becoming a friend to me).

Writing is kinda like having someone listen to me that never interrupts, or questions, or gets bored with what I am saying.

Writing helps me understand myself because it causes me to focus my thoughts and then analyze them as I read and re-read what I wrote (to ensure it's ready for "prime time" web publication).

Now, as I sit here typing and thinking and focusing and analyzing, I am not so concerned about being in a more modern setting when I get to where I am going.

When I relax, and listen to myself, I know the experience will be exactly what I make it.

(A pleasant calm comes over me when I remember how much control I have over my own perspective.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

One Given?

A concern has been growing within me as of late: I could be assigned to a gig where I live in a big city speaking English most of the time -- keep in mind, my assigned area in the Peace Corps is currently IT.

(Liz, you didn't cause this - your info just matches with what I have heard from others)

I have been reading about Peace Corps service and emailing with current Peace Corps volunteers about their assignments. So far, I have heard two things in common:

  • Everyone's Peace Corps experience is different.
  • There are many unexpected challenges before, during, and after service.

One thing that has not been common, but has occurred more than I expected was the number of volunteers who are not in "traditional third-world settings".

It may sound weird, but I am hoping to be assigned to a very third-world type of setting. I have been expecting to go anywhere and do whatever job I was assigned -- I just thought the one given with a Peace Corps assignment would be living in a non-modern, non-US style setting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

7 Months

If everything goes as scheduled, I will be leaving in 7 months. I have a few big things to do yet:

  • Do a number of home repairs
  • Sell my house
  • Sell my car
  • Separate myself from a number of other smaller belongings
  • Find cheap storage my remaining treasures
  • Quit my job
  • Find some type of investment for the proceeds of my house
  • Make sure my daughters are prepared for the next 2 years

The tricky part is -- I will have to do most of this without knowing I am going for sure.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Some exciting news! I received an email today from a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia, Liz. What makes the news exciting is that there are some significant similarities between her current assingment and my nomination (some key dates and the program description).

It could be that I am headed to Namibia...

Here is a link to her website: Liz's blog

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Tech or No Tech

Well, I have been thinking about what I will take when I go. I am contemplating two different approaches:

  • some "key" technology items
  • no technology items

I can imagine all the ways my technology items could help and entertain me. I can also imagine worrying about losing them, spending too much time maintaining them, and being set further apart from the host country nationals (HCNs) I am living with because I have wonderful things they do not have...

I am a self-procaliamed technology guy, still there is something very romatic about leaving all of that tech-gear behind; bringing only a harmonica and an old-fashioned leatherbound notebook.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Medical Clearance Update -- Well Sort Of

Well, it looks like it will be a while before I hear anything about being medicaly cleared..

My nurse is currently reviewing medical applications for those people that are leaving in late spring and early summer -- I'm leaving in winter.

Even though the Peace Corps medical review staff is very busy, they replied to my email the same day I sent it -- within 3 hours. This tells me they are doing their best to keep applicants informed.

It feels good to still be in the process! I could have been rejected many times already.

Have a great week!

Monday, March 14, 2005

This is the Only Build I Have

I want to lose myself helping this world.
I know now that it is what I am built for.
Those things that make me who I am (experiences, genes, inhibitors, chemicals, neurons...) are aligned in such a way that there is no other option.

I want to lose myself helping this world.
Some FOD (foreign objects and debris) has built up around me over time.
There are things from this culture that I have used to cover up parts of who I am, and they are difficult to shake loose. Those things will find it difficult to follow me.

I want to lose myself helping this world.
I have so much and others have so little.
I have had more than my share, and now it is time to pay my rent.

I want to lose myself helping this world, because in the process I will become more.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Not Much Action

Not much action here on the Peace Corps front. On the 21st I get to call the medical review center again and find out when they think they might review my medical records.

If everything goes well, I will be leaving for Africa in 9 months -- that's actually that far away....

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Fun With Ants

Here quotes from recent postings in the Yahoo Peace Corps group about ants in food that I found both funny and exciting.

    First month: Ants get in food. Throw entire meal away.

    Second month: Ants get in food. Brush ants off, continue eating.

    Third month: Ants get in food. What ants?

    Last night I made myself a bowl of noodles that I belatedly realized was crawling with ants. After 17 months in country, I still had that clenching of stomach muscles at the sight...but then I thought "oh, what the hell. I don't feel like cooking something else." They're a little crunchy, but you just have to imagine it's Thai food with crushed peanuts.

Ya, I know its weird that these things get me excited about the Peace Corps -- remember, I love adventure!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

In Support!

This support post for my friend, Ashleigh.

Ashleigh and I started the process of becoming Peace Corps Volunteers at about the same time, and were progressing through the stages somewhat synchronously. Ashleigh just found out she is going to be deferred for a year.

Ashleigh, you will make a great Peace Corps Volunteer and someday we will meet as RPCVs and talk late into the night about our experiences!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Flicker, flicker

OK, OK, the telltale screen flicker is getting to me…
    One other reason why I have not been posting is because I have been playing a lot of "World of Warcraft" -- a new online computer game.

Snatch this Pebble From My Hand

OK, I know, I haven't written for a while...I've been trying to figure out why, and I guess its because I'm bummed out 'bout waiting sooo long for medical clearance.

Patience Grasshopper.

There is some good new to report: I have found a home for Gage, my loveable dog and partner in crime. My Grandparents have offered to be his home while I am gone! This is wonderful because I know they will take good care of him.

Next on the agenda: starting phase II of Life Simplification.

In non-geekese that means: I am going to give a bunch more things away.

Friday, January 28, 2005

We Passed 4K

Happy 4K! This blog just passed 4,000 page loads!

Thank you for visiting my site. Knowing there are visitors helps keep me writing, which helps keep me positive and excited about the Peace Corps.


I Called Again!

Sorry its been so long since my last post. I will plead forgiveness with the following excuse: I had four weeks to complete 43 performance reviews -- after work, I came home and vegetated.

Well, the reviews are done and now I'm back on track!

I did call the Peace Corps on Friday the 21st. The person I talked with was professional, respectful, and took a good amount of time to explain the next steps to me.

Here's the bottom line:

    The medical reviewers are currently working on the spring nominations. My nomination is not until November, so I am currently a very low priority for them -- makes sense to me.

The person I talked with said not to expect any activity before March. He also said that I could call him back in March, because he would have a better idea then when they would start the review of my records.

Friday, January 21, 2005

I Called!

The good news is:

  • I called the Peace Corps office in Washington DC today to inquire about my medical clearance.

The bad news is:

  • The Peace Corps office in DC was closed today!

    I'll try again tomorrow.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I'm Going to Call Today

I have made a decision while sitting here this morning, as I am checking the Internet before I go to work.

  • I have decided to call my medical reviewer today.

Friday, January 14, 2005

To Call or Not to Call

I just read about someone that had been waiting more than eight weeks for their medical clearance. Here is what he said:

    "My medical clearance was taking what I felt was forever. After 8 and a half weeks of waiting I called medical and talked to my reviewer. She said right now that 8 weeks wasn’t that bad and she hadn’t even got to my file…then she pulled my file from the stack and cleared me over the phone in about 10 minutes because I had called."

I've only been waiting two weeks, but as soon as I saw the above email, all I could think about was giving them a call...

I'm going to try and wait a little longer -- logically, I know that two weeks is not that much time to have been waiting.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

I've Got My Eyes on You

This post is to officially state that nothing has changed in my status; but I am watching it, watching it very closely...

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Dental and Legal are not Done

At 5:11 am today, I received another Peace Corps status change email.

Well, I thought I had received both dental and legal clearance, but I was wrong -- I had only received dental clearance.

They just started reviewing my legal information -- therefore I currently have a legal hold. It doesn't mean anything is wrong, just that they are in the review process.

Hope u r having a gr8 weekend!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Happily Surprised

One of my daughters just told me she is considering going into the AmeriCorps while I am in the Peace Corps! Pretty cool or what?

Have a great night!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Just A Little Post While I Wait...

I just received an official snail mail from the Peace Corps. The letter states

    "Our dental consultant has determined that you are qualified for dental clearance".

It also states that dental clearance is only good for one year...

The neat thing about getting Peace Corps snail mail is that one of my daughters always calls me at work as soon as it arrives -- it's like getting an unexpected present; and I get to tape them up on my wall of offical PC letters!

Now I just have to wait for that pesky medical clearance.