Wednesday, 30 January 2008

delta responds

so today i got a voice mail and a random email from delta. the voicemail was a response to my email. a woman said she was from delta's executive office and that she wanted to apologize for my inconvience on flight 35 on dec 22nd. she said she was not privy to the information regarding why my traveling companion was not able to get on the flight with me. that the plane was disabled and that they had to fly a new jet over to pick up the stranded passengers. she said that delta was not able to give me upgrades or vouchers for international travel, but she was able to give me $250 voucher to say they are sorry. she also said that delta would be happy to give a $250 voucher to my traveling companion as well.

i don't feel satisfied. i think they should redeposit the miles i used to get mikki to jo'burg and back, or at least the return portion. i also think that $250 is a little too little. i was going to let it go and then d sent me this article.

what do you think i should do? write back? i would love to hear what you have to say about this. please leave a comment with your vote... should i take the money and run or demand more?

washingtonpost.com
How to Complain
Ten tips for getting just compensation when things go awry on the road.

By Joe Brancatelli
Portfolio.com: Business Travel
Tuesday, January 29, 2008; 12:33 PM

Brancatelli's squeaky-wheel theory of business travel was developed after surviving a generation of incompetent airlines, haughty hotels, and subcompact rental cars reeking of the previous driver's cigar smoke.

The way I see it, the travel industry, in general, long ago abandoned any pretense of providing good service -- or even meeting their minimum published standards. They are also spectacularly inept at service recovery. Giving hundreds of millions of customers what they paid for and making good when things go wrong is simply too expensive in a high-volume, low-margin business.

I believe the bean counters have decided that the best way to make money in travel is to treat everyone poorly and make amends only to the select few who go to the extraordinary effort of complaining about how they are treated. In other words, grease the squeaky wheels and let the silent traveling majority suffer.

But you have to know how to squeak effectively. Screaming at a beleaguered ticket agent or frontline clerk won't get you far. You need to craft a good, crisp letter of complaint, complete with a demand for appropriate compensation. And you need to target your letter to someone who can actually resolve your problem.

Here are 10 tips -- from the beginning of the process to resolution -- to make sure that your complaint squeaks the loudest and gets the most metaphoric grease.

1. Go for Immediate Gratification

The best complaint letter is the one you never have to write, so do whatever you can to solve the problem on the spot. If you can't get instant gratification from the person with whom you're dealing, speak to someone higher up the food chain. Schedule permitting, it's worth investing some time in an on-site, ad hoc arbitration session.

2. Take Good Notes

As a business traveler, you'll often have a sense very early in the process when something is amiss. Start taking notes immediately: Get times, places, names, and as many specifics as you can. Hold on to all receipts, tickets, boarding passes, and anything else that is part of the paper trail. And think like a businessperson: Keep track of anything and everything you'd want to know if it were your job to resolve the situation retroactively.

3. Act Fast

Don't throw your grievance file in the corner with your expense account. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you'll get any satisfaction. Initiate your complaint as soon as you get home.

4. Go With Paper

Despite how reliant we all are on email, most airlines and hotels are unwilling or unable to resolve problems electronically. Rely on an old-fashioned paper letter and snail mail. Use company stationery and never send a handwritten note. Make sure to attach copies, not originals, of all relevant pieces of the paper trail.

5. Send the Complaint to a Specific Person

Letters generically addressed to customer service will be handled generically. If your problem is with a particular hotel or specific airport station, find out the name of the general manager or station manager and address the letter to that person. Unhappy with the frequent-travel program? Write to the vice president of marketing. If your problem is with a hotel chain, airline, or car-rental firm, write to the chief executive. You probably won't get a response directly from the top dog, but most C-suite executives have staff specifically charged with handling letters addressed to them. (An interesting side note: A lot of business travelers I know have resolved their complaints by writing to the firm's assistant general counsel. I don't know why, but it seems to work.)

6. Keep It Short and Polite

Long missives that begin with the dawn of the millennium aren't a good approach. Think of your complaint letter as a memo to your own C.E.O. Keep it brief, firm, and polite. Don't clutter your letter with small indignities or frivolous complaints. Don't go for revenge. It isn't worth it -- and anyway, you won't get it.

7. Use Your Clout

Don't bludgeon the airline or hotel with your clout, but don't run away from it either. If you are an elite-level frequent traveler, put your account number and status on the letter. If the complaint is so serious that you're thinking of moving your business elsewhere, say so. If you can impact your company's travel policy and sway business away from the airline or hotel, say so. But don't bluff. Only threaten what you are actually prepared to do. And don't tell the company that you'll never fly with them or rent a room from them again. If you proclaim yourself a lost customer, there's very little incentive for the company to try to make amends.

8. Ask for Something

Writing a letter of complaint without asking for some sort of tangible make-good is guaranteed to generate little more than a form-letter apology. Tell the airline, hotel, or car-rental firm exactly what is required to make you happy. But have a sense of proportion. A one-hour flight delay does not entitle you to a refund. A rude front-desk clerk isn't grounds for a free night at a hotel. The punishment, so to speak, should fit the crime. Asking for hard cash is always tricky, although sometimes a refund is the only fair resolution. However, if you'd be happy with bonus miles or points, room or flight upgrades, or discount coupons, ask for them. If you're a frequent traveler, elevation to the next level of elite status might be the best compensation of all.

9. Use Your Big Plastic Stick

I assume you know that you should never pay cash for travel services. That's because you do have legal recourse if you charge your travel purchase. Under federal fair-credit laws, you have the right to contest any charge that you do not consider legitimate and that includes a travel purchase gone awry. If you're in a row with an airline, hotel, or car-rental firm over a service they didn't provide, immediately contest the charge with your credit card company.

10. Don't Give Up

If the airline or hotel's first response is insufficient, tell the person who responded to your letter that you aren't satisfied. (By the way, don't return any coupons, discounts, or checks they sent.) You'll be surprised how often a second letter yields a better offer.

The Fine Print . . .

As I warned in a recent column, the travel industry will continue to slap surcharges on published prices. During the past week, for example, airlines have attempted to impose a fuel surcharge of $50 round-trip on domestic fares. It fell to $40 and is now $10. And some Dollar Rent a Car franchises in New England are testing a $2 "top-up" fee if you return your rented car with a full tank of gas.

* * *

To contact Joe, visit his Contributor's page on Portfolio.com.

delish homemade french bread that is easy

d referred to this in a recent comment on the le creuset post. i have now assisted in the making of this bread thrice and it is AMAZING (channel kelly kapur when you read that). i would like to invite all of you who read this blog to try to make this bread. you will feel like you are a marvelous panerista and that you should probably quit your day job and make this stuff for a living. it is that easy and THAT delish...so without further ado...

(thanks nyt! even though you are dumb and endorsed hillary and hired bill kristol. i am really glad you gave us this recipe and let caroline kennedy-- my soon-to-be in law -- to use your paper to endorse OBAMA!!!!)


The New York Times



November 8, 2006

Recipe: No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

le crueset and pancol cabbage

in my old blog i decided i was going to start endorsing products (because you know that will ensure a huge surge in interest). i think i like the tradition. so here goes: teabelly's first product endorsement....

LE CREUSET!!!! i got the flame one, as seen above.

i love this thing so much! i bought it to make pancol cabbage the most fabulous dish my former boyfriend (the frenchman) taught me to make. it goes something like this....

1 head of cabbage
4 slabs of bacon (don't talk about it)
2 chops onions
4 chopped carrots
butter
herbs d'provence
salt
pepper


blanch the cabbage for about 4-7 minutes (until it is bright)

meanwhile saute (in the le crueset on the stove) the bacon, onions, and carrots in herbs d'provence until the onions are a bit clear.

after the above mentioned is done, layer cabbage on top of the the other mix. sprinkle herbs d'provence, salt, and pepper between layers of cabbage.

then put the lid on crueset and stick it in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 90 minutes.

pull it out of the oven and serve.

this le crueset made the best pancol cabbage ever! que deliciouso!!!!!!!

Monday, 28 January 2008

blackle

did you know about this?



i found out about it in my spanish class tonight. i thought it was interesting...

How is Blackle saving energy?

Blackle was created by Heap Media to remind us all of the need to take small steps in our everyday lives to save energy. Blackle searches are powered by Google Custom Search.

Blackle saves energy because the screen is predominantly black. "Image displayed is primarily a function of the user's color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen." Roberson et al, 2002

In January 2007 a blog post titled Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year proposed the theory that a black version of the Google search engine would save a fair bit of energy due to the popularity of the search engine. Since then there has been skepticism about the significance of the energy savings that can be achieved and the cost in terms of readability of black web pages.

We believe that there is value in the concept because even if the energy savings are small, they all add up. Secondly we feel that seeing Blackle every time we load our web browser reminds us that we need to keep taking small steps to save energy.

How can you help?

We encourage you to set Blackle as your home page. This way every time you load your Internet browser you will save a little bit of energy. Remember every bit counts! You will also be reminded about the need to save energy each time you see the Blackle page load.

Help us spread the word about Blackle by telling your friends and family to set it as their home page. If you have a blog then give us a mention. Or put the following text in your email signature: "Blackle.com - Saving energy one search at a time".

Have a look at our energy saving tips page for ideas on steps you can take to save energy.

There are a lot of great web sites about saving energy and being more environmentally friendly. They are full of great tips covering the little things that we can all do to make a difference today. Try Blackling "energy saving tips" or visit treehugger.com a great blog dedicated to environmental awareness.



Contact Blackle - Blackle FAQ

© 2007 Heap Media

Sunday, 27 January 2008

obama rally tomorrow in DC

i was walking home from church and spotted a guy in a obama sweatshirt. we started talking and he told me that obama is speaking tomorrow at american univeristy. i was so excited until i learned that it is at 10:30 and i will be trapped in a very painful meeting. but please, my friends who live in/near dc, please go and tell me how it is!!!! please!!!!!

he went on to tell me that the campaign does not believe that "tsunami" tuesday is going to decide a whole lot. that it will be neck and neck still. and that because dc, virginia, and maryland all have their primaries on the same day, that obama is really trying to get the vote from those of us who live in dc, southern md, or nova.

here are the details:

This Monday, January 28th, Barack Obama will be in Washington, DC for a special event at American University.

Here are the details:

Stand for Change with Barack Obama

American University
Bender Arena
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016

Monday, January 28, 2008
Doors open: 10:30 a.m.

For security reasons, do not brings bags. No signs or banners permitted.

This event is free and open to the public; however an RSVP is strongly encouraged.
Further details to be announced as they become available.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

watch this

how can someone watch this and not vote for this guy???

a president like my father -- by caroline kennedy

The New York Times




January 27, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

A President Like My Father

OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love.”

a blog from st. lucia

this is not the blog OF st. lucia, but from there...

a special guest blogger will be providing the st. lucia blog soon.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I am sitting on my balcony at the still beach resort in soufrie st. lucia. I have a had 5 days of doing pretty much nothing. Lindsay and I have taken big trips to a mineral hot springs (1 mile away); a sulfur spring where you get sulfur mud and smear it all over your body and sleep with the gray much on your body over night (1.5 miles away); scuba diving (just down the stairs from our room); a hot mineral water fall (1 mile away). I have missed many late night pool games at the local bar, which Lindsay had attended. We have played way too many games of rummikub to count. I am usually the victor (should that be victoria?)!

We don’t have the internet here, which is hard for me. Some people like to disconnect entirely, I actually like the internet. But…maybe it has meant earlier bed times? I have been following the primary races with enthusiasm. I think Clinton is really dirty and hope her sales are ripped off with staggering defeats in South Carolina and the on tsunami Tuesday. I am glad the republican field is still so scattered. What excitement!

I feel like blogging because I am reading the “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and it is bending my mind all over the place.

About 10 years ago I started my departure from America’s industrialized food supply. I haven’t eaten at a McDonalds for at least 10 years (a fact I am proud of. I often say I only go to MickyD’s to make pee. They have free toilets all over the world). I started eating organic produce. Stopped eating meat (nearly entirely). As I have been able to afford it I have moved to getting most of my food from four sources: my garden (also a real source of pride); my CSA (community supported agriculture group); farmer dan (a Pennsylvania Amish farmer who sells raw milk, the best eggs in the world, and lots of other pasture raised animal products, and some crazy fermented beets); and Costco. That is not to say that I don’t stop in at MOM’s, YES, or Whole Foods periodically too. And I go to shoppers or Bangkok 54 for Mexican and asian stuff.

I have felt like I am doing the world really good eating more “simply so that others can simply live” etc. Then Michael Pollan has to go and blow some of my ideas. First of all, I would like to defensively say that lots of the stuff I do is good, and I do feel like I am ahead of the average American. I also think that the people that eat at my house think my food is really good and give me all sorts of praise for being a great chef. the truth is, it is all about the ingredients. I blew a couple of my interns minds this summer when I invited them over for a lunch of sandwiches: fresh mozzarella cheese (from Costco); homemade pesto with basil from my garden (and the other ingredients from Costco); yummy baguette from marvelous market; tomatoes from my garden; and balsamic vinegar. I had forgotten all about dessert so I cut up a peach and poured some cream on it (from farmer dan) and they were all praise. Had nothing to do with me. This was simply a meal that was going to be made or broken on the quality of the ingredients. The truth is, all meals are like that.

I have known for a long time that the American diet is basically corn (see pollan’s smithsonian article). I have found it despicable and have tried to ensure that I have real biodiversity in my diet. I didn’t know that this overproduction of corn was made possible by WWII. Huh??!!! As the war ended, there was a surplus of ammonium nitrate that they had been using to make bombs (explosives). “Ammonium nitrate also happens to be an excellent source of nitrogen for plants. Serious thought was given to spraying america’s forest with the surplus chemical, to help the timber industry. But agronomist in the USDA had a better idea: Spread the ammonium nitrate on farmland as fertilizer…As the Indian farmer activist Vandana Shiva says in her speeches ‘We’re still eating the leftovers of WWII.’”

So crazy in light of my experience recently in Zambia were I learned that the Zambian government has a program to give ammonium nitrate “fertilizer” to rural subsidence farmers. They have the farmers pay back one bag but give them two. The farmers rarely make much more than enough to pay back for the bag AND it depletes the soil. One enterprising peace corps volunteer started teaching women who were caring for children orphaned by AIDS to use sustainable farming methods. They had too many mouths to feed to risk this type of venture. The woman were very nervous, but started to compost and grow more protein dense veggies and legumes. After the first year the women had yields that were double their neighbors using the nitrogen fertilizer. Hopefully the beginning of a revolution. Just interesting that WWII is alive and well in Zambia in 2008!

One other interesting side note, Frizt Haber is the man who invented the process of “nitrogen fixing”: the process by which human create “synthetic nitrogen”. He won a Nobel Prize in 1920 for the discovery. He later threw himself into the German war effort and his invention allowed Germany to continue to make bombs. “Later as the war became mired in the trenches of France, Haber put his genius for chemistry to work developing poison gases – ammonia, then chlorine. (He subsequently developed Zyklon B, the gas used in Hitler’s concentration camps.)” Clearly, this was not a man who was too concerned with the ethical implications of his inventions. His wife, also a chemist, killed herself after learning about the creation of the gases. Most of the food in the world has now been touched by this mans invention!

One other mind-blowing issue for me is farm raised fish. I have thought for years that my eating low on the food chain was doing a small thing to limit my impact on the planet. Turns out, eating salmon from a farm is about the same as eating chicken from a farm. It is all corn. I have noticed that the salmon I get at Costco has artificial colors added (which has bugged me). But now I learn that the fish live in small ponds, are fed only corn and weird drugs, and then sent to me to eat. FREAK! What am I supposed to eat now? I can’t really go and catch my own fish. Does this mean I am going to have to stop eating fish? I hope not. But I will have to do something. I will keep you posted.

One last thing, I love to have “green drink’ in the morning. It is spinach, pineapple juice, and tofu blended for so long that the spinach is completely chopped-up small you can’t tell you are drinking spinach. I have been getting my pine apple juice from Dole and my spinach from Earthbound Farms, an organic farm that produces 80% of the organic greens in America. The pineapple has always bugged me because Dole is nearly a swearword in Central America due to their egregious behaviour in the 80s when they took over peoples farms, promised to pay them didn’t, and created a famine by growing more fruit… now pollan is telling me that earthbound farms might not be much better. They barely meet the “organic standard” set by USDA which everyone knows in malarkey and they are shipping it from so far that I am adding so much carbon to the atmosphere just by getting the spinach that I might now need to just get spinach from farmers locally. But I worry about eating such large amounts of spinach that have pesticides. ARG!!! What am I supposed to do about that?? I am going to have to get back to you there too.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

one thing is clear

"The one thing that is clear is that when power is confronted with real change, they will say anything"

michelle obama, 24 jan 2008 commenting about the clinton's response to obama's surge.

clintons stir up race to win

man, the longer this thing goes the more i just hate the clintons. my friend holly explained the other day that she heard that the clintons were stirring up race in an effort to make obama the "black" candidate. she said that the thinking is that if he is just kinda a novelty thing, like "how cool would it be to have a black president", people then won't take him seriously for his ideas, passion, leadership. they will be able to be seen as serious and he will just be quaint. plus, if hillary can be the woman's president she can get soccer moms to the polls and win.

she also explained that bill is loosing it on the press regularly because "hillary can't". apparently the feeling is, hillary MUST be seen as nice. she can be tough, but she MUST be nice. bill is able to do just about anything. and so he is being crazy and rude because hillary can't do anything close to mean. because bill is a former president, anything he does gets press. and the press fall for it. so it just keeps the hillary campaign in the news. they are betting that the more you see of bill, the more you will long for the days when he was president, and you will vote for hillary in effect to get him back too.

it made sense, but i couldn't see why the clintons would work so hard to start dividing the dems? the dems winning the election is not a given and dividing the dems might mean we loose the election. they wouldn't do that. would they? do they want the power and the house back so much that they will sacrafice everything? i think the answer is yes.

and now there are more people saying exactly what holly said...

January 23, 2008

Playing the race card

Posted by Mark Kleiman

Well, this one wasn't hard to call, though I'd expected a little bit more subtlety:

Bill Clinton: Race, gender key in S.C.

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press Writer

DILLON, S.C. - Bill Clinton said Wednesday he expects blacks to vote for Barack Obama and women to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the dynamic may cause his wife to lose the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary Saturday.

Racist? You tell me. The message is clear: Obama is going to win South Carolina, but that won't really count, because he'll be doing it with the votes of black folks. (Maybe those ballots ought to count only as 3/5ths of a vote each?)

The basic fact of the contest is that if it becomes racial, Obama loses, while if it becomes gendered, HRC wins. It would have required patriotism, decency, and attention to the paramount goal of beating the Republicans for the Clintons to refrain from playing the race card. Apparently those qualities are in short supply.

Update A pro-Clinton reader furiously accuses me of inventing the racist edge to Bill Clinton's remarks. So let's hear from his old adviser (and Trent Lott's), Dick Morris, who is surely an expert on the workings of Bill Clinton's mind and on the political uses of racial prejudice:

How Clinton Will Win The Nomination by Losing South Carolina

Hillary Clinton will undoubtedly lose the South Carolina primary as African-Americans line up to vote for Barack Obama. And that defeat will power her drive to the nomination.

The Clintons are encouraging the national media to disregard the whites who vote in South Carolina's Democratic primary and focus on the black turnout, which is expected to be quite large. They have transformed South Carolina into Washington, D.C. — an all-black primary that tells us how the African-American vote is going to go.
By saying he will go door to door in black neighborhoods in South Carolina matching his civil rights record against Obama's, Bill Clinton emphasizes the pivotal role the black vote will play in the contest. And by openly matching his record on race with that of the black candidate, he invites more and more scrutiny focused on the race issue.

Of course, Clinton is going to lose that battle. Blacks in Nevada overwhelmingly backed Obama and will obviously do so again in South Carolina, no matter how loudly former President Clinton protests. So why is he making such a fuss over a contest he knows he's going to lose? Precisely because he is going to lose it. If Hillary loses South Carolina and the defeat serves to demonstrate Obama's ability to attract a bloc vote among black Democrats, the message will go out loud and clear to white voters that this is a racial fight. It's one thing for polls to show, as they now do, that Obama beats Hillary among African-Americans by better than 4-to-1 and Hillary carries whites by almost 2-to-1. But most people don't read the fine print on the polls. But if blacks deliver South Carolina to Obama, everybody will know that they are bloc-voting. That will trigger a massive white backlash against Obama and will drive white voters to Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

delta airline's christmas present to me: the surprise stopover in senegal

i know that i am way behind on my blogging. i will get photos from mozambique and st. lucia up FAST. but first, on the way to st. lucia i wrote my letter to delta and i thought i should share it here... so without further ado...




January 22, 2008



Dear Edward Bastian and Jeff Robertson,

I am writing to inform you of an egregious failure on the part of Delta management. At the forefront, I am asking for compensation for the extreme inconvenience your failure created. These were not ineluctable issues--all of what follows could have been avoided.

On December 21st 2007 I boarded Delta flight 35 from Johannesburg, South Africa to Atlanta via Dakar with a friend. I was returning from an exhausting work trip just in time to spend the holidays with my family. My Platinum status had allowed me to upgrade to Business Class. The cabin crews were wonderful, as was the flight from JNB to Dakar.

However, about an hour after arriving in Dakar, I overheard one of the pilots say, “I don’t know why we fly into places that don’t have the technicians or parts to repair these things.” I didn’t really pay much attention, but after we’d been on the ground for at least two hours (it was now about 3 a.m.), the pilot announced that our flight was being cancelled. We were told that there were technical problems with the plane and that we would be spending the night in Dakar. I later learned from one of the pilots that there was a problem with the flight computer and that Delta didn’t have the part that was needed in Dakar. In fact, you didn’t have the part anywhere in Europe or even in Atlanta. The part had to be flown from LAX, and that would take at least 24 hours.

Deplaning took over an hour because the airport in Dakar only had one bus transporting passengers to the terminal. When I arrived at the terminal there was a long line of passengers making their way through immigration. This process took too long, and eventually we were handed laminated cards indicating that we were Delta transit passengers.

This is the deplaning

We never saw a Delta employee on the ground in Dakar.

We attempted to get our luggage. The luggage collection room looked liked a luggage graveyard. Thousands of bags were crammed between the turnstiles. As I had waited already about an hour to deplane and make it through customs, I assumed that my luggage was somewhere in the piles of luggage. This was not the case. The Delta flight 35 luggage did not begin to be unloaded until 45 minutes after we arrived in the room to retrieve it.

people waiting for bags
mikki waiting for bags

bags...loads and loads of bags!
if your bags are lost, their final resting place is apparently senegal.



I watched as baggage handlers threw bags from the carts, to the ground (for no reason), back onto the same cart, and then onto the turnstile. I watched them break a wrapped sculpture that had “FRAGILE” written all over it. I saw men rummaging through bags. When my bags finally arrived, my locks had been broken off and my duffel bag was open. With the locks broken off, my one large suitcase and custom-made duffel bag are unusable: ironically, they were made for durability.


After collecting our bags and making it through customs, we had NO idea what we were supposed to do. I looked all over the terminal for a Delta representative, but NONE were to be found. Eventually I found one woman, smartly dressed, who said she worked for a contracting company that was hired by Delta. I asked her what I should do. She said she thought a line was forming on the other side of the partition to take people to a hotel. She had no sign, and no indication that she had anything to do with the airline. Many passengers were wandering around aimlessly at 4:30am trying to figure out what we were to do--some with small children who were crying. There was no water and no food. We had been on the ground for at least three and a half hours at this point. The cabin crew from the flight was long gone. They said that they were rendered useless in Dakar and they could do nothing to help us. People were panicking. Parents with small children were dependent on the assistance of other passengers simply to know where to go and how to get to the hotel.

We waited in an incredibly long line, where a van took 15 people at a time (one trip every 35 minutes) to a hotel. After waiting another hour (we were lucky because we near the front of the line), as the sun was starting to come up, we finally got to go to the hotel. Non-airport staff again threw luggage with reckless abandon onto the top of the van. The hotel was a short 10-minute drive from the airport. I am still uncertain way this process took so long. Such was to be my entire experience in Dakar. As the luggage came off the roof the workers demanded payment. They yelled and intimidated people, and many eventually gave them money.


our ride to the hotel

the baggage guys, who extorted payment for their "services."

As we pulled up to the hotel, I thought it was a joke. Delta put up a plane full of people at an insecure, run-down hotel: paint falling off the fa├žade; non-functional locks on the door; no place for valuables; connecting balconies; etc. There was one woman at the reception desk to help us, who doled out keys (on wooded dowels) slowly. No hotel staff offered assistance with luggage. The elevators barely worked. The rooms were disgusting -- brown running water, uncomfortable and dirty beds.

the hotel--does it look nice? well, that's an illusion. it's a rat hole.

Again, Delta was nowhere to be found. When we asked the receptionist when we were expecting to leave, she didn’t know. We asked for the Delta representative and she laughed and said there was no one there. It was too early. “They work at midnight.” She told us that later in the day they would post a sign for when we were to be ready to go.


the following photos will not be included in my letter...this is the other stuff we did in dakar:

the view from my room




i was in need of some stuff from the pharmacy so this dude showed us the way

we walked through this field where people were slaughtering goats and drying their hides
then people took the goat parts and dumped them into the ocean...
we didn't got swimming

tada: the CDC...who knew

mikki, i can't remember his name...
he was sweet

the beach...which was also used as a dump.
i hurt my foot when i stepped on a goat vertebre

being silly in the ocean/dump of dakar...

mikki making la playa look much better!



BACK TO THE LETTER


I tried to get some sleep but the noise outside the hotel was unbearable. I went down to the lobby to find some water and food. I was told I had to buy water--Delta was not paying for “drinks”. With brown water coming out the faucets, I hardly consider clean water a luxury! As an international public health official for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I would argue that potable water is a human right. Without West African Francs, I was unable to get water. Dehydrated from flying for so long and being up all night without access to potable water this really pushed me over the edge.

The lobby was full of other passengers in a similar emotional and physical state. By 10 a.m., passengers were crying and yelling. Weddings were being missed; small children were exhausted; everyone was worried about making their holiday plans. There was still no sign of Delta anywhere. Nothing had been posted; no one had any information. One enterprising gentleman called Delta from his cell phone. He was told that the flight would not leave until 11 p.m. that night. I decided to call Delta too. I figured I was also lucky because I enjoy Platinum Medallion status, so I have a call-in number that allows me to talk to more skilled Delta staff.

The Delta telecenter staff were incredibly unempowered. My first hope was to rebook both my friend and I on the same DL 35 flight on the 22nd Dec. I was told there were no seats available. I spent six hours on the phone with Delta off and on throughout the day. At one point, I was told that the best way to secure that I was home for Christmas on the 25th was to fly coach from Dakar to CDG at 11:59 22 Dec (almost 23) and then business from CDG to ATL for arrival the afternoon of the 23rd. They reiterated numerous times that the DL 35 flight on the 23rd was totally full. I agreed to the arrangement and my friend was rebooked on an SAA flight at 3 a.m. to JFK.

Because I was traveling with a paper ticket, I had to have an agent change the ticket. I was told to go to the airport and see a Delta agent to make the change. Again, there was NO Delta presence at the airport! We arrived at the airport at 6 p.m., and asked all over for help. Finally a gentleman explained that Delta staff does not arrive until after 12:midnight. I started to cry, explaining that if my Air France flight left at 11:59, meeting a Delta agent at midnight would not help--I would surely miss the flight. We talked to Air France, but they were totally un-helpful and said there was nothing they could do. We wandered all around the airport hoping to find someone who knew the phone number for someone who worked for Delta. We got some leads, but never were able to connect with anyone. I returned to the hotel at 8 p.m., exhausted, hungry, and frustrated. I called Delta’s call-center and they indicated that there was nothing more they could do. My options were to take the flight they had rebooked me on, or to wait until the original plane was fixed. I begged for a seat on the DL 35 flight. I was again told it was completely booked. As I called my travel agency to see if they could help, my friend told me that she had overheard someone who was able to get on DL 35. I didn’t believe her--just minutes before a Delta representative said it was impossible.

I immediately called the Platinum members desk, which I had been calling all along. At first they said that there were no seats. I told them that someone had just got on the flight. He then told me that there were two seats in business. I said “I am in business!”

He said “Oh” and then rebooked me.

I asked if my friend could have the other seat, and he said no because he couldn’t change her class of service. I tried to explain that it was Delta’s responsibility to get her home. He wouldn’t budge.

I informed many of my other co-passengers that they could call the platinum number and get help. At the last minute, about 10 people were able to get on the flight. All of them had flown in coach. I still don’t know why my friend couldn’t get on the flight, but by this time exhaustion, frustration, and resignation had set in. She flew home on the SAA flight, which was delayed.

We arrived at the airport at midnight. Delta staff did not arrive until 1 a.m. After an incredibly long security check-in, it was apparent that many of the passengers who had flown over in coach were being upgraded to business as an apology. I thought this was an appropriate gesture, but I am still upset that my friend was told she couldn’t fly with me and had to fly on another airline.


Some of the people I helped get on my flight to Atlanta.

I boarded the plane and was completely shocked to discover that it was half-empty. So many of those stranded passengers still at the hotel could have been on that plane!
Many people were still in Dakar when we took off. I am not sure when the original flight made it to Atlanta, but I know that so many more people could have made it to their destinations, with much less hassle had Delta been more present. I thought my Platinum Medallion status would have somehow made all this easier: it didn’t.

Delta should have had staff there managing the process. You didn’t. Delta also should have had staff there to assuage the anxiety of your exhausted passengers. You didn’t. Delta should have had staff on the ground to help us know where to go and what was happening. You didn’t. Delta again failed us by not protecting us from extortion and intimidation at the hotel. You failed to provide information to your passengers that would have helped us feel safe, secure, and taken care of. You failed to protect the health of your passengers by ensuring them access to potable water. It is your responsibility to get passengers to their destination, but was clear to me on Dec 21-23 2007 that this was not your priority.

some of the people we helped

I was very excited when you announced that you would be flying to Lagos. I often travel to West Africa for work and have never understood why American carriers don’t fly directly from the States there, but now I am not sure I can trust you to get me there safely. Unless you demonstrate that you are working on these issues, and have your passengers’ safety and security--as well as an expeditious arrival at their destination—as a priority, I will choose to fly via Europe on a competitor.

A lack of staff on the ground in these places is dangerous. As you surely know, Nigeria is rife with American kidnappings and murders. When I travel there diplomatically, I am protected by eight armed troops in Jeeps in front and behind my secured and armed Suburban. I cannot imagine the danger a similar experience in Lagos would present. Your irresponsibility would be life-threatening in Lagos.

I expect compensation. I am sure many of the passengers on that flight have not demanded compensation. Frankly, I think it is a shame that it wasn’t offered. You had mechanical difficulties, which are in you control.

As compensation I expect:

• One voucher for an international flight in business class;
• Complimentary upgrades on all my international flights this year, regardless of normal “availability.” I have been on many flights with available business class seats, but my complementary upgrades often are not accepted!
• Free companion upgrades on all international flights I take with a friend/colleague this year;
• Compensation for the exorbitant amount of time I spent on the phone with your poorly trained staff;
• Notification of changes in your operations management in Africa and at the special member services call center.

I wish that all my fellow passengers could be given the same compensation. You lost many return passengers that day. Any good business knows that keeping a customer is worth far more than recruiting a new one.

I await your reply to the issues and problems that I have presented here.

Sincerely,


teabelly

another case against hillary

Slate Magazine
fighting words

The Case Against Hillary Clinton

Why on earth would we choose to put the Clinton family drama at the center of our politics again?

By Christopher Hitchens
Seeing the name Hillary in a headline last week—a headline about a life that had involved real achievement—I felt a mouse stirring in the attic of my memory. Eventually, I was able to recall how the two Hillarys had once been mentionable in the same breath. On a first-lady goodwill tour of Asia in April 1995—the kind of banal trip that she now claims as part of her foreign-policy "experience"—Mrs. Clinton had been in Nepal and been briefly introduced to the late Sir Edmund Hillary, conqueror of Mount Everest. Ever ready to milk the moment, she announced that her mother had actually named her for this famous and intrepid explorer. The claim "worked" well enough to be repeated at other stops and even showed up in Bill Clinton's memoirs almost a decade later, as one more instance of the gutsy tradition that undergirds the junior senator from New York.

Sen. Clinton was born in 1947, and Sir Edmund Hillary and his partner Tenzing Norgay did not ascend Mount Everest until 1953, so the story was self-evidently untrue and eventually yielded to fact-checking. Indeed, a spokeswoman for Sen. Clinton named Jennifer Hanley phrased it like this in a statement in October 2006, conceding that the tale was untrue but nonetheless charming: "It was a sweet family story her mother shared to inspire greatness in her daughter, to great results I might add."

Perfect. It worked, in other words, having been coined long after Sir Edmund became a bankable celebrity, but now its usefulness is exhausted and its untruth can safely be blamed on Mummy. Yet isn't it all—all of it, every single episode and detail of the Clinton saga—exactly like that? And isn't some of it a little bit more serious? For Sen. Clinton, something is true if it validates the myth of her striving and her "greatness" (her overweening ambition in other words) and only ceases to be true when it no longer serves that limitless purpose. And we are all supposed to applaud the skill and the bare-faced bravado with which this is done. In the New Hampshire primary in 1992, she knowingly lied about her husband's uncontainable sex life and put him eternally in her debt. This is now thought of, and referred to in print, purely as a smart move on her part. In the Iowa caucuses of 2008, he returns the favor by telling a huge lie about his own record on the war in Iraq, falsely asserting that he was opposed to the intervention from the very start. This is thought of, and referred to in print, as purely a tactical mistake on his part: trying too hard to help the spouse. The happy couple has now united on an equally mendacious account of what they thought about Iraq and when they thought it. What would it take to break this cheap little spell and make us wake up and inquire what on earth we are doing when we make the Clinton family drama—yet again—a central part of our own politics?

What do you have to forget or overlook in order to desire that this dysfunctional clan once more occupies the White House and is again in a position to rent the Lincoln Bedroom to campaign donors and to employ the Oval Office as a massage parlor? You have to be able to forget, first, what happened to those who complained, or who told the truth, last time. It's often said, by people trying to show how grown-up and unshocked they are, that all Clinton did to get himself impeached was lie about sex. That's not really true. What he actually lied about, in the perjury that also got him disbarred, was the women. And what this involved was a steady campaign of defamation, backed up by private dicks (you should excuse the expression) and salaried government employees, against women who I believe were telling the truth. In my opinion, Gennifer Flowers was telling the truth; so was Monica Lewinsky, and so was Kathleen Willey, and so, lest we forget, was Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who says she was raped by Bill Clinton. (For the full background on this, see the chapter "Is There a Rapist in the Oval Office?" in the paperback version of my book No One Left To Lie To. This essay, I may modestly say, has never been challenged by anybody in the fabled Clinton "rapid response" team.) Yet one constantly reads that both Clintons, including the female who helped intensify the slanders against her mistreated sisters, are excellent on women's "issues."

One also hears a great deal about how this awful joint tenure of the executive mansion was a good thing in that it conferred "experience" on the despised and much-deceived wife. Well, the main "experience" involved the comprehensive fouling-up of the nation's health-care arrangements, so as to make them considerably worse than they had been before and to create an opening for the worst-of-all-worlds option of the so-called HMO, combining as it did the maximum of capitalist gouging with the maximum of socialistic bureaucracy. This abysmal outcome, forgiven for no reason that I can perceive, was the individual responsibility of the woman who now seems to think it entitles her to the presidency. But there was another "experience," this time a collaborative one, that is even more significant.

During the Senate debate on the intervention in Iraq, Sen. Clinton made considerable use of her background and "experience" to argue that, yes, Saddam Hussein was indeed a threat. She did not argue so much from the position adopted by the Bush administration as she emphasized the stand taken, by both her husband and Al Gore, when they were in office, to the effect that another and final confrontation with the Baathist regime was more or less inevitable. Now, it does not especially matter whether you agree or agreed with her about this (as I, for once, do and did). What does matter is that she has since altered her position and attempted, with her husband's help, to make people forget that she ever held it. And this, on a grave matter of national honor and security, merely to influence her short-term standing in the Iowa caucuses. Surely that on its own should be sufficient to disqualify her from consideration? Indifferent to truth, willing to use police-state tactics and vulgar libels against inconvenient witnesses, hopeless on health care, and flippant and fast and loose with national security: The case against Hillary Clinton for president is open-and-shut. Of course, against all these considerations you might prefer the newly fashionable and more media-weighty notion that if you don't show her enough appreciation, and after all she's done for us, she may cry.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Monday, 14 January 2008

part 3: why obama is the better choice


Op-Ed Contributor

Last Year’s Role Model

Published: January 13, 2008
Madison, Wis.

WHEN most of us first laid eyes on Hillary Clinton, it was during “60 Minutes,” and she was sitting by her man saying she was not one of those women who would stand by him. Not long after that, she told us she didn’t make cookies. At that remark I thought I heard the cheering of nonbaking working women everywhere, but apparently I was wrong, and quickly we the people were favored with Mrs. Clinton’s own contrite cookie recipe, which I have not yet had time to try.

A decade-and-a-half later, however, working women were back watching Mrs. Clinton in a New Hampshire diner: they saw her eyes well up in what looked like self-pity but what was to those women recognizably the teary, unbidden mist of exhaustion. Sympathy burst forth, even from Barack Obama (he, too, was tired).

Still, though we are in the midst of an awful presidency, we should not be taken in by the rosy haze that gets cast over the Clinton White House; they were not years of great accomplishment. Baghdad was strafed and embargoed; Waco was gassed and burned; in all these events, children (Mrs. Clinton’s key policy focus) were appallingly killed.

While polar ice caps began to melt, Al Gore was left to do who-knows-what, only to regale us later in cineplexes with the consequences of those melting caps, rendering us panicked in our powerlessness. Nafta was signed and the World Trade Organization was created, national health care went nowhere, and by the second term’s close, the administration’s hope of getting things done had been hijacked by Kenneth Starr and the party dress he had confiscated from someone named Monica Lewinsky.

So here comes another Clinton.

Does her being a woman make her a special case? Does gender confer meaning on her candidacy? In my opinion, it is a little late in the day to become sentimental about a woman running for president. The political moment for feminine role models, arguably, has passed us by. The children who are suffering in this country, who are having trouble in school, and for whom the murder and suicide rates and economic dropout rates are high, are boys — especially boys of color, for whom the whole educational system, starting in kindergarten, often feels a form of exile, a system designed by and for white girls.

In the progressive Midwestern city where I live, the high school dropout rate for these alienated and written-off boys is alarmingly high. Some are even middle-class, but many are just hanging on, their families torn apart by harsh economics and a merciless criminal justice system. Why does it seem to be the Republicans who are more vocal about reforming our drug laws? Why has no one in the Democratic Party campaigned to have felons who have served their time made full citizens again? Their continued disenfranchisement is a foolhardy strike against these men and their families.

Perfect historical timing has always been something of a magic trick — finite and swift. The train moves out of the station. The time to capture the imagination of middle-class white girls, the group Hillary Clinton represents, was long ago. Such girls have now managed on their own (given that in this economy only the rich are doing well). They have their teachers and many other professionals to admire, as well as a fierce 67-year-old babe as speaker of the House, several governors and a Supreme Court justice. The landscape is not bare.

Boys are faring worse — and the time for symbols and leaders they can connect with beneficially should be now and should be theirs. Hillary Clinton’s gender does not rescue society from that — instead she serves as a kind of nostalgia for a time when it might have. Only her policies are what matter now, and here — despite some squabbling and bad advice that has caused her to “go negative” — the Democrats largely agree. But inspiration is essential for living, and Mr. Obama holds the greater fascination for our children.

Mr. Obama came of age as a black man in America. He does not need (as he has done) to invoke his grandfather’s life in colonial Kenya to prove or authenticate his understanding of race. His sturdiness is equal to Mrs. Clinton’s, his plans as precise and humane. But unlike her, he is original and of the moment. He embodies, at the deepest levels, the bringing together of separate worlds. The sexes have always lived together, but the races have not. His candidacy is minted profoundly in that expropriated word “change.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton’s scripted air of expectation might make one welcome any zeitgeisty parvenu. Her “35 years of experience” puzzle in their math. Like Rudolph Giuliani, who wants to keep voters safe from terrorism though his own mayoral bunker was beneath the World Trade Center, Mrs. Clinton wants kudos for the disaster of her failed national health plan. She counts heavily her eight years in the White House. Well, then, she’s already been there! Good for her. Next?

Lorrie Moore, the author of “Birds of America,” is a contributor to the forthcoming “30 Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers.”

Sunday, 13 January 2008

so it turns out

this is going to be el ano de la casa. i am going to buy a house. or at least i hope i will. i have been consumed by it since the beginning of the year. only 13 days into the year i have:
  • hired an awesome realtor (larissa fain)
  • talked to my friend herb riggs who is a mortgage broker and found out how much i can borrow.
  • seen houses in: eckington and capitol hill
  • made appointments to see houses in so/flo (no map but it is just north of cap hill. the boundries east and west are the same as cap hill. but goes from 7th NE to florida.) and in columbia heights
i have found 4 houses that are maybes but nothing is perfect. the big question is do i want to do a total rehab or do i just want to move into a house? i am really really in love with the idea of making my house super green. and i have always loved the idea of doing the "this old house" thing. so maybe this is my chance.

if i do the green thing, i will get a bunch of tax breaks (hopefully, i guess that congress hasn't yet passed the bill). also, i can qualify for a special loan: 203K loan that is somehow administerd thru HUD. i guess others mingle that loan with the "energy efficient mortgage".

the green stuff i would like to do includes:
things that i really want in a house include:
  • a basement that i can either rent out or keep my bikes, luggage, and etc. in
  • a yard where i can have my garden
  • lots of sun
  • fireplace
  • roof access and a roof i can make green
  • wood floors

Friday, 11 January 2008

reuse pill bottles?



so i just took an ambien, for obvious reasons. i can not sleep at night these days. and when i picked up the bottle i had the same thought i have had at least 100 times: why can't we take these back to the pharmacy from which they came and have them reused? my little pills do so little to the bottle. a good soak and dry and it should be good to go. maybe more than a soak, but you see what i mean. seems like HEAPS of plastic is going into landfills for no reason. i wish i could just take my bottle back and have it refilled. just ask them to put a new lable on it. maybe they could even reduce materials by just adding some stickers over the old expiration date and stuff.

i know the bottles cost money. so being able to reuse them would save money and make the world a much better place.

so, next time you have to get a perscription filled, maybe you should take your bottle in and ask them to reuse it. maybe we can be the beginning of a revolution?



think about it...

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

viva namibia

so here is namibia. i was so so so surprised at how much namibia looks like arizona. it is crazy. i love the vibe there. as you will see here. all my az peeps will dig these next few photos


here we are on the trans kalahari highway
i am still mad i didn't get a photo of the sign!

arizona?
nope namibia

a church near a gas station

we arrived in windhoek on friday night and left the following morning for swakupmond
we had a meeting there with a organization that is a sub-grantee to an awesome new partner
they work here in the "DRC"
(i am not sure what it stands for)
it was blistering hot
we learned that in this neighborhood there is no public access water
the gov't sold the water rights to a private company who now charges
residents 10 namibian dollars for water--people who are making about 50 namibian dollars a month.
how do these people sleep at night?

one of the houses in the DRC upclose

susan watching some of the kids who were being helped by CAFO do their dance
lots of the kids you see in the photo above have no parents
they live in corrugates metal shacks in the middle of the hot sand desert
this organization keeps them alive and provides them with school.
there is no gov't school in this area




we left the site visit and i vegged out at my hotel room
it was the first break i had had in over 2.5 weeks.

this is the view from my balcony

looking the other direction

i ordered all this food from the "ocean basket" right next to my hotel.
it was so great! they delivered it and it was so so so delicious!


the first building is my hotel
see if you can find
the museum
a dog
a trash can

we decided that for our free day we would ride quads in the sand
it was awesome!
praya loved it
mike got scared and i don't think he had much fun
but the rest of us were in love with it
i want to do it again, but for much longer

can you see how much she loved it?


i decided we should do disco poses




turns out your c/fbo co-chairs are disco


SHAZAAAM

can you see the ocean peeking from behind that dune?
it is so wild to be in the middle of all this desert and have it end in the ocean


the jumping photos
praya

teabelly


it is safe to guess that susan was once a cheer leader!
you can take the girl away from cheering but you cant get the cheer out of the girl



on monday we visited catholic aids action
they are doing amazing things
the tall white guy in the middle is father rick
all these kids are orphans from a impoverished township outside of windhoek
i am so tired all a sudden
but i want to tell you all sometime how awesome this group is

some of the kiddos

the next morning we flew early to ondangwa, namibia




we met with these women for a while
it was crazy hot
but super cool
they provide palliative care to people with HIV and support orphans
i must say, i believe stigma is more intense in namibia
than in some other countries.

more beautiful women



this is a place outside of windhoek called babylon

this is helping the orphans in the area

teenage girls performed a traditional dance for us -- and the dancing was awesome
i loved watching the little girl in the back the most
she was just way too cute


she started trying to dance with them

those kids live in this neighborhood
and they don't have parents

if you look closely you will see the beginnings of a tiny dust devil
praya and susan made me take photos of it
they had never seen one
ha ha easterners!!!
out west we have cool natural events

the sunset from our awesome bed and breakfast the palm quell
it was a delightful place to stay
i highly recommend it
i think they should get internet service in the rooms
but beyond that
we had delish breakfast each morning
the best bread i had the whole trip

this is where we ate breakfast
it was a nice oasis
(get it... desert)

it is weird that robert mugabe ave is in namibia.
fidal castro ave and independence ave intersect in windhoek
what do you think that means?

the chinese built an amazing presidential palace for the president
guess who did the labor?
chinese prisoners
they flew chinese prisoners over to namibia to build a huge house for the president

leaving windhoek
minus my fabulous new headphones
i am pretty sure they got stolen out of my hotel room.