Jan, 2020 back to May, 2011: (nothing)
Seattle, Washington. The American Dream is here. Somewhere.
Perhaps it's my perfect cappuccino. Maybe it's the menu at this cafe, with three mentions of "vegan." (I chose an item that included cheese, not "vegan," and the plate melded the goodness of potatoes, eggs, shitake mushrooms and spinach into a single serving with no explanation as to why these ingredients, individually excellent, belong together.)
It's Saturday. Outside the window a man passes by with an upbeat gait, cradling a new, old-fashioned record. Another man stands across the street wearing billboards, waving and bouncing and announcing a furniture sale.
This is my first taste of Seattle. I took a brand-new train from the airport to a bus station and was about to board a bus when a wizened American Indian man called after me, "no." I hadn't noticed him before. I asked why I shouldn't climb aboard, but he didn't speak English. He pointed to his watch and scratched his finger clockwise along its face, then he mutely pointed to the bus as it drove off. I was to wait for the next one.
Dickens and Shakespeare had it easy. In the real world good guys are always flawed, bad guys are always good people, winners are always missing something and victims are always trying to improve their situations. No quantity of metaphors and adjectives can describe what somebody truly feels.
The saddest moments in journalism come when I remember my sources are human beings.
Apr, 2011 back to Jan, 2011: (nothing)
Did you know: digital cameras, from $100 to $10,000, only capture one colour per pixel?
Today's cameras produce vibrant pictures from monochrome sensors. Here's how.
It starts when light hits the back of the camera. This is where the "megapixels" of the camera come in: each pixel, or tiny square of colour, corresponds to one of the camera's millions of sensors. Each sensor says how much light hit it.
Dec, 2010 back to Nov, 2010: (nothing)
It's election season in Tanzania, and there's a new bus station somewhere near the middle of nowhere.
A shiny new bus station in Nyaka Kangaga, Tanzania.
I can't figure out how many people need this bus station. Nyaka Kangaga doesn't even appear on the census. The biggest nearby census-polled town, Heru Ushingo, counted about 60,000 people back in 2002. (And how many of them can vote? The number probably fluctuates wildly with Burundian refugee migrations.)
Nyaka Kangaga isn't at a fork in the road. Sure, Burundi is a day's walk away, but there's no border crossing. Few Tanzanians live in the area. Kigoma, the nearest hub, is three hours away. There's no airstrip or seaport. To me, it seems like there's very little reason to build a brand-new bus station instead of, say, hiring teachers or doctors or paving the road.
Oct, 2010 back to Sep, 2010: (nothing)
Freedom, not democracy, is the basis of our society.
Stunt biker (London)
Hundreds of years ago, political figures commissioned art. Now, they tolerate it. Artists spray-painted London's South Bank when doing so was illegal, and amateur skateboarders kick-flipped in before their parents could buy elbowpads. All the politicians had to do, when asked, was set up lights and tell the cleaners not to bother scrubbing.
Even that concession is a fight, of course, and the powers that be sometimes talk of closing the 30-year-old park to make way for shops. Skaters and bikers, a tiny minority of South Bankers, have fought to keep the park alive.
I'm going home.
Flying away makes me examine my experiences. I reflect and reflect until I worry the mirrors inside me will shatter from over-thought.
To the countless greens of Rwanda, the dusty infinities of Tanzania, the blissful bananas of Uganda, the recently-peaceful politics of Kenya, the picture-perfect beaches of Zanzibar and the friends and strangers who unify and diversify the land with all with your culture, beauty and warmth: kwa heri.
Welcome to Old Taxi Park. It's the heart of Kampala.
The first thing to know about Old Taxi Park is that a measly 18mm camera lens can't fit it all in. If I point it to the left, I can capture hundreds more minibus taxis my first shot missed.
Every once in a while in East Africa, you stumble across a seemingly-absurd sign. They're usually in cities, but I saw one in a village this week.
In a village near Mbarara (Uganda), there is something called "goat technology".
It's brilliant: villagers transform this...
Warning: this entry is graphic, but it's not illustrated and it's not happy. I suggest you skip it if you don't like morocity. Morose-ness. Whatever.
I've promised myself I'd keep pristine memories many times: my first kiss, my first visit to a refugee camp, my first near-death experience, and just last week, my closest view of a death.
But even this latest one is blurring already, just like all my other memories.
It was on an express bus from Kenya to Uganda, and I can't remember which country we were in. I was in the front row. The bus slowed as we approached a village, and we saw crowds up ahead. I remember colours: women wearing colourful vitenge and buildings wearing colourful cell-phone advertisements. I can't remember which colours or which cell-phone companies.