Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Donate! Again...

Hey everybody! So you know how I finished that water system I was building? A lot of you mentioned that you didn't have a chance to donate to the project and you were really bummed about it. Well I felt bad so My friend/colleague (colleague is a dumb word) Cameron and I started another water project so that you guys wouldn't feel left out. You're welcome!

This water project is in a Haitian Batey in the south of the country. We will be connecting about 30 houses to an existing water system. You can see a good description of the community and the project at this website:

That is also the site where you can give money!

Like the last water system I built, this one will not get built unless we do it. As Peace Corps volunteers we can fill a niche that no government or big aid agency can. And as always we guarantee that 100% or your donation goes directly to construction materials. The community members will provide all of the manual labor for free and Cameron and I will be Engineer, Contractor, Community Organizer, Accountant, and Water Boy for the huge salary we receive from the Peace Corps.

Thanks everybody! Send any questions or comments to me at

Sunday, June 12, 2011


So in the city there are these guys who sit on the side of the street in chairs and scream “Compramos oro, plata!” (“We buy gold, silver!”) They sound like the guys at baseball games selling Cracker Jacks. (Do they still do that or am I thinking of 1953?) And then people bring their silver and gold to the buyers and sell it to them. And I’m like “Duh!” This whole time I’ve been wasting my time going places to buy stuff. But I’m the customer. The seller should come to me if they want to sell stuff. So now rather than going to the store I just stand in the middle of the street and yell what I want.

“We buy toilet paper, pineapple, and potato chips! No we prefer Baked Lays! We’re watching our figure!”

Most of my time recently has been spent working with clay. Clay ovens, clay stoves, clay water filters. The great thing about the Peace Corps is that you don’t have to know how to do anything in order to be considered an expert. Prior to the Peace Corps my experience in ceramics was limited to 7th grade studio-art class where I made a crappy ash tray for the zero members of my family who smoked. In the US that nearly qualifies me for a job at Wendy’s. But here that makes me Director of the R&D department of Campo Kenmore’s new state of the art wood-fueled kitchen.

So I’ve been spending my time playing with clay trying to design low-cost, efficient, wood-burning cook stoves and bread ovens. It’s actually a very fun job. We’ve developed a prototype for both so we’re going to begin testing them soon. When those are done we’re going to start branching out into wood-burning computers and wood-burning airplanes.

Now that our stove is nearing completion the ceramics artists I work with are getting very excited to release it to the world. One of the artists, Isabelle, called me the other day because she realized we hadn’t come up with a name for the new stove model. For example, past stoves have been called the “Lorena” stove and the “Rocket” stove. Now Isabelle is a nice lady but she’s kind of dumb. I’m not being mean. I’m just saying I wouldn’t get in the Cash Cab with her. It’s to say that her work wasn’t exactly instrumental in the creation of this stove. So it surprised me when she very matter of factly asked me, “Do you think we should call it Isabelle or Isabelita or something like that?” Nope. I sure didn’t. I was thinking something like “Fire by Peace Corps” or “FireGoodCookYummyStove.” But I guess we’ll have to have a vote. I have a feeling none of those will win.

May and June are very rainy here. It’s been raining pretty much every afternoon for the past few weeks. It doesn’t bother me because I’ve always liked rain. And rain has an added benefit here in that it is a perfectly good excuse not to do something. Why didn’t you go to the meeting? “It was raining.” Are you going to school today?” No it’s raining.” Hey why did you just take a bite of my sandwich? I don’t even know you. You just walked into this restaurant, right up to my table, grabbed my sandwich and took a giant bite from it. What the hell? “Um, It’s raining?”

So we usually just work in the morning and then call it a day when it starts raining. The rain will stop as we approach July. But by then it will be way too hot to work a full day. That will bring us to September so I just need an excuse to work half days from then until October when I leave.