Tori Spelling Lives
Mar. 17th 2003
Well the good news is that at the start of last week, a place was found for me to live in town. The bad news is that by the start of this week, I am still not living there. It is in a good area of town (quite near the best hotel), and is within a compound. It is directly opposite my boss which I am not sure is a good idea, but then I don't have to answer the door. I will have two large rooms and an indoor toilet and shower room (quite small). I do not have my own kitchen but the landlady has agreed that I may use the kitchen in the compound. This kitchen appears pretty good - it has a western oven. We will have to see how this works out. The landlords (I have only met the landlady) also live in the compound with several dogs and chickens (not literally in the compound - they have a similar building). Compared to other compounds I have seen, this one is quite small, but that isn't a problem. The rooms are not furnished. This was something that should have been provided by TDA but has not. There is no phone point and I am not sure if/when I will be able to get a phone but I shall try. I do not have to live there permanently though.

At the start of the week, I learnt that we had been granted twenty 486 machines from Kellamino and a single reel of Cat-5 cable (for a network). No RJ45s to go on the end of the cable though. Still, at least this now means that we can request more equipment from the board of directors, now we know what we are getting from TDA.

Kellamino High School has a woodwork department, and my boss decided to get the furniture made there. The workshop was well equipped. However, I don't think that I will be doing any of the students an injustice if I said that they could probably do with the help of a craftsman. Not to do the work but to instill the master craftsman idea. One of the people that works here I had met before. He is very friendly and speaks good English. In fact, I can't fault him. Well, I couldn't until I noticed the T-shirt he was wearing. I thought of Beverley Hills 90210 when I first saw it but that wasn't quite right. As he turned round, it had the initials MP on it, presumably for Melrose Place. I would blame the Americans, but I guess that 99% of them would agree with my sentiments. It's odd to see someone who is looked on as cool by other people sporting such a shirt. We left the students to their wonky tables covered in dust and pidgeon feathers.

On the Friday I was able to test some of the machines at Kellamino. This is a lengthy process, and one that must be observed by their storeman or his deputy. After managing to test and find eight working machines it was time to go into town. I thought that our driver would come over and pick us up. At least this is what I specifically arranged. However, I was told that he might not come (don't know whether that was the case), and we should go into town and wait for him there. We took the Kellamino school bus into town and stopped at a restaurant. We being myself and the registrar. I was then told that the driver would not be there for some time. I was probably quite rude. Because, when offered food I refused and just asked for a drink because I thought that the driver would be there soon. I tried to explain politely to the registrar about the fact that this was eating into my time - something that I do not seem to have much of. I'm pretty sure it sounded rude though. That's really frustrating. Not only do you think that you have offended someone, but they have also meant that you have wasted a couple of hours. I don't think I am adapting quickly enough!

There are not enough computers for all of the students. I would like to have a lab attendant scheme, run by the students. I decided to do a bit of participatory work and invited the students to a meeting to decide what rules this lab should have. I split them into eight groups and asked them to write the rules they thought were important. I then asked one member of each group to write on the board. The board was quite chaotic and people were asking me if they could write one at a time. However, I wanted them to fight for space - it meant that they had to cooperate. Which they did, eventually. I was pleased with the rules. Most were the same as mine except possibly more restrictive. This should make it easy for them to accept the rules once they are drawn up. We did not, however, have time to decide on the responsibilities of the lab attendant. This is something that we will have to do in another meeting. Only once they know the responsibilities will they be asked whether they want to be an attendant.

I was hoping to be able to move into the house on Friday or Saturday but a lack of furniture prevented that.

On the Saturday I went into town and met the other two VSOs in Mekelle, and Wilko and Seamus from Maichew - a nearby town. It was good to see Wilko again, he was the VSO with whom I had trained and journeyed to Tigray. We went for food and Wilko decided to have a pizza (they're not available in Maichew). Myself, Seamus and Andy had the buffet. This was at the same restaurant as the buffet the previous week but I don't think that it was anywhere near as good. The driver was coming at three in the afternoon to pick me up and take me back to MIT. I had to leave the others and a not go to a party that night. Looking back on it, I think that was a pretty duff decision. I could have done with a bit of winding down time. Also, I am now worried that I might look like I don't want to socialize.

For most of Sunday I was very agitated and angry. I wasn't sure why at the time, but what happened on Monday could explain it. The highlight of the week was a phone call from Sarah. We had arranged a time and I had gone into the admin building to receive the call. The calling card had not worked correctly, so I think that Sarah will be getting a huge BT bill, probably about 30 pounds for that call! The administration building is rather spooky. It is old and creaks with the wind. The pidgeons play 'it' on the roof and it generally makes noises. Something that I think is particularly spooky is that the crickets do not make any noise around it. By the dormitories, the crickets make lots of noise. Around this building is silence, although a dog may howl for atmospheric effect in the distance. I looked at where the crickets where - they're in long grass. There is long grass all around the admin building. I must ask an Ethiopian if they believe in ghosts.

Monday 17 was a busy day. I had labs to run, and we got permission to use two of the unused machines from the upper lab (the ones that we cannot touch). I decided to have a look at what was installed. I picked my machine (they were layed out like a class room). Plugged it in, and heard the sickening snap and the puff of smoke. Although the machines looked as if they had been used, they had not. Infact, they were still set to 115 where they had been brought from the US. One of them no longer has a power supply. This is something that I will need to try to fix before it is noticed! Note to self: always check the power switch at the back of the computer. They must have been installed in the US as well. I opened the machine to examine the damage. The part that destroyed itself seems confined to the power supply, but I have no idea where/when I will be able to get another, and even if I replace this, whether the machine will be fixed. This has not helped the general feeling of having far too much to do.

At lunch I described my main problem of adapting. People keep asking what is happening to this or that. As usual, as a computer person, you have the skills to help other people but they can't actually do that much in return. After being asked about the machines at Kellamino for the umpteenth time, I pointed out to the staff why I might be getting upset when they ask. In Ethiopia, you have to keep asking and pushing someone to do something. I pointed out that this was not normal for ferenjis and to bear with me if they got a short reply. I thought about preparing a list of jobs that I am doing and putting it on my door with a notice like 'If the job is on this list, then don't ask about it'. Maybe I should just adapt, and not do things.

After lunch I discovered what else might have been making me a bit moody. A storm descended on Ainelam and released quite a bit of rain. Sometimes in the UK I will get moody before a storm. Looking back, there were signs that it had been coming for a few days. Although it rained quite heavily, it still feels that there is a lot more to come.

There is now furniture in the house, although the bed needs to be built, and there is no mattress. Maybe I will get to move in this week. Who knows.

The mosquitos have taken to formation flying in pairs or threes. I appear to have adapted and can wake up at just the right moment to waft them to the other side of the room. It then takes them several hours to find me just three metres away. I wish I could be quick enough to knock them out of the air. The other VSOs look at me as if I was mad when I said that I was getting bitten. I do not think that the mosquitos have found where they sleep.