Aug, 2019 back to Jun, 2009: (nothing)
I have neglected my blog and will continue to do so for at least another week; in the meantime, a former roommate has written a fabulous piece for the New York Times about my current apartment's view: Parallel Lives.
My office in SoHo is similarly proximate to parallel workplaces: should I break the unwritten rule, I would be spying upon finance companies, design firms, Internet start-ups, and laser light show producers, all 12 feet away. At least my bedroom window faces diagonally, so at night my view is an unthreatening brick wall.
May, 2009 back to Jan, 2009: (nothing)
This story has hit all major news websites, but I want to plug it here, too: Ben Affleck's five-minute film about the UNHCR in Eastern Congo. (UNHCR means United Nation High Commission for Refugees: the agency that sets up refugee camps.)
The film has smiling people, which constantly awes me when I witness poverty, and which Ben Affleck deliberately wanted to demonstrate: these are real people. Hats off for an unconventional and powerful approach to the genre.
(The documentary cleverly omits the part of the story where the UNHCR sheltered the army of genocidaires largely responsible for starting this conflict, back in 1994; but it also refrains from reminding us that we the Western people spent decades hurling causes of war into the region, so I suppose both oversights cancel each other out.)
Again, watch this five-minute film about an entire people's way of life. It should help put our own economic crises into perspective.
A five-foot-tall transvestite, dressed in drag, walks up to me at the Posta Mpya public transit hub late at night in Dar es Salaam, happily yammering words I cannot understand. I smile and shrug, and eventually he moves on to his next comic victim, never missing a beat in his monologue.
Ni mchizi yangu, a passer-by jokes with me: a Swahili pun, in this context straddling the line between, this is my buddy and, this is a crazy person. Out of the spotlight, I am free to look around: I notice that a crowd is laughing at my accoster.
This is yet another little moment from my life in Tanzania which recently rushed back to me when I least expected it. My reminiscing usually begins with smells, sights, or phrases; but this particular memory of Tanzania came from a crazy person in New York:
There seem to be two aspects to my world these days: real life and engineering. Both vary from stressful to challenging to, at times, rewarding.
Most people who read this blog, I suspect, read it to find out about real life, not about engineering. But I feel I have a fair amount to contribute in the latter category, so I hereby announce the grand opening of The Engineering Section of my website, catering to a new potential group of readers with wildly different interests.
My engineering section is blog-like, but is completely separate from this, my actual blog. I encourage interested software engineers to subscribe to the feed in my Engineering section, as I encourage my current readers to stay tuned here while I write my next proper blog post involving a guy wearing a cat as a hat.
I was planning another blog post today about New York, but with the world the way it is, I cannot bring myself to write it.
- In Democratic Republic of the Congo, a new French word is born: reviolé. Rebel forces plunder all they can from the villages they attack (with an insinuation of the word plunder more evil than most people can fathom). Government soldiers, defeated, extract everything they can from the people they are paid to protect as they retreat. Atrocity rates are so unfathomably massive that women who have been raped in several, unrelated incidents is becoming a nonzero demographic. The Congolese government looks in the other direction while its own employees commit atrocities; the UN peacekeepers (the largest UN peacekeeping force in the world) cower in impotence, other international bodies are powerless to interfere, ordinary Congolese men are brushed aside, and Congolese women have no recourse: they must suffer, repeatedly, disgusting humiliation I can scarcely imagine.
- Not to be outdone, a 13-year-old rape victim in Somalia is stoned to death on adultery charges by one of the many groups hoping to become a government, in a stadium packed with a thousand murderous men.
My heart goes out to the victims of this most base, evil, vulgar, and despicable crime: especially those women honest and well-meaning enough to shed their dignity and publicize their suffering. I am sickened by the existence of masses of men in the world who are so unmoved as to lower themselves to rape and murder... and by the fact that I have something in common with them.
I wish I could chop theirs off.
Nov, 2008 back to Oct, 2008: (nothing)
My website, for whatever ludicrous reason, comes up as the #1 Google Search result for Kisambaa.
Since I am now considered the authoritative source on Kisambaa, I should explain a bit about it: it is the native language of the Sambaa people in Tanzania, who live east of Arusha and just across the border from Kenya. How are you? in the afternoon is onga mshi, and the correct response is tiwedi. I do not know the formalities for morning, nighttime, thanks, or farewells. In fact, I know practically nothing about Kisambaa.
I found a website called Ethnologue Report which says 664,000 Sambaa people exist. I would take that website's information with a grain of salt, however: its entry on Swahili suggests that Kiswahili only has 540,000 mother-tongue speakers, while in reality Zanzibar alone accounts for 1,000,000 Swahili people and I expect a significant subset of the younger population of Dar es Salaam (population 3,000,000) also speaks Kiswahili better than any other language.
Factoid: most native Kisambaa speakers know Kiswahili as a second language.
What does gambling mean to you?
To me, gambling is a lark. Last night I won sixty cents on a horse named Pacific Flora: my tactic was to select the horse with the slowest-sounding name, and after searching the big book of small numbers in vain for a name along the lines of Bro-Can Leg, I decided seafaring algae might be comically slow as well. Pacific Flora somehow managed to evolve its way to first place.
Then I saw the slot machines.
Insert $1 to $100.
Sep, 2008 back to Aug, 2008: (nothing)
Though I have not spent much effort recreating my old website, one small accomplishment is my "My Code" section. This lets you view some source code I have written for school projects and pet projects. It is ideal for university students and people interested in learning to program. Most of the code was written in C, Java, and Python; and at the time I write this, all of the code was written at least two years ago.
Check it out at http://adamhooper.com/code.
Jul, 2008 back to Jun, 2008: (nothing)
I am busy rebuilding my website. The new version is better. It is built using Ruby on Rails, which deserves a plug. The hacker in me couldn’t resist writing a blog engine from scratch.
Don’t mind the mess. Not all links behave as they ought to, and I will be putting more content in soon. I figure a website like this is better than one of those animated “Under Construction” websites from the 1990’s.