Another Blog Editor Test

OK, this is another editor called BlogPad Pro. It looks like it has every bell and whistle a blogger could want, except a clean, uncluttered writing environment. Which is a shame because this app has captioning and nice tools to properly imbed photos and videos.

I think what I’ll have to do is continue using Notes then copy/paste what I’ve written and add photos here. I guess I can live with that, until I can’t.

BlogPad Pro seems to have it all, and maybe a bit too much


If any of you have blog editor suggestions please let me hear about them.

Stay tuned,




Testing Blog Editors

I’ve been writing all my blogs on my iPad’s Notes editor, which allows me to upload the text directly into WordPress for publication. The problem is that it doesn’t work for imbedded photos.

What I used to be able to do is upload the text into Draft, edit and insert photo there, complete with captions, then publish. It was an extra step, but I didn’t mind. Then WordPress changed something and there is no longer an option to add a caption to uploaded photos. To get captions into photos I have to add some HTML code, another step. That was one step too many. So, I went looking for a WordPress compatible blog editor.

The next few posts will be from editors I’ve downloaded. This one is called BlogTouch Free. As the name implies, it’s free to use, but I haven’t investigated it enough to know what the paid options are. So far, it looks pretty good.
But, from what I can see, this tool offers not captioning either.
The search continues.
Stay Tuned.

Namibia: Observations: The Night Sky

There are still many places on earth where light pollution hasn’t blotted out the stars, I’m glad to be in one of them.

One a clear night, like tonight, there are so many stars out that it’s hard to see some of the constellations. Orion is always the easiest to recognize, but others get lost in the speckled immensity of the Namibian night sky.

The Milky Way is easily seen as a smudgy swath of luminance bisecting the night. Looking at it makes it hard to believe that the smudge is the cumulation of millions of suns so far away that their individual light, dimmed by unfathomable distances, can only be seen as a tiny pinprick.

The Milky Way as seen from my backyards

Those bright spots are set in a sea of black. At least, we see it as black, but in fact, it is filled with energy that we are shielded from and can only perceive with the aid of our technology.

But I don’t care about that. I just enjoy looking up and getting lost in the vastness of it all.

What’s also interesting is that aircraft of any type is rarely seen over many parts of Namibia. I’ve been at my site for eight months and I’ve seen only one aircraft, likely a jet flying so high that its flashing running lights moved slowly against the starscape.

Orion Constellation (the three stars are the belt)

That’s not to say that I don’t see interesting things moving around in the sky at night. I’ve seen several meteors and a flock of relatively low flying birds. All a lot of fun to see, but the weirdest thing I’ve seen is what I call a brief battle in space.

While enjoying a beautiful night and view of the Milky Way I saw a series of bright flashes.

The first light, almost directly west of me, flashed then died, lasting maybe half a second. The second flash was not as bright as the first and dimmed slower. Maybe a second and a half. It was to the right of the first by maybe 1 degree.

Then another light way to the right about 15 degrees flashed like the first but not as bright. It flashed again about 2 seconds later, then went dark.

The last light was in the vicinity of the first but more to the right by about 5 degrees. It flashed for a second then died away.

That was it. The whole show lasted maybe 15 seconds. I watched the area for another 20 or so minutes, but no more flashes occurred.

Alien space ships zapping each other to smithereens? Americans and Russians duking it out in low earth orbit? Distant stars going nova in sync? Your guess is as good as mine. I saw lights flashing, you take it from there.

The weird flashes, the Milky Way, the gazillion stars. The night skies here are amazing.

Stay tuned.


Namibia: Getting Around

As of February 15, 2018, I have served 1/3 of my 24 month commitment to the Peace Corps here in Namibia.

There’s a saying that seems appropriate about time flying, having fun, and so on. For the most part, I have to say that I’m having a blast! I’m really feeling integrated into my community (Peace Corps speak for people recognizing you and saying hi), I feel like I’m contributing to the greater good of Namibia (more Peace Corps speak for teaching classes and providing counseling to those seeking business advice), and I feel I’m doing well in cross cultural exchange (still more Peace Corps speak where I talk about life in the States and get schooled about life in Namibia). As with any venture, there are ups and downs, but this one has, thus far, been mostly up.

My job with The Rössing Foundation requires that I travel through many of the northern and western regions of Namibia ( a definite ‘up’). As a member of the Peace Corps Namibia Media Committee, I get to range even further into the country. While I’ve only been in country 10-ish months, I’ve been able to travel to places many PCVs don’t get to go as part of their normal duties. And as another saying goes, getting there is half the fun. Which brings me to what I want to talk about in this post: travel in Namibia.

Women crossing a flood plane near Onesi

There are several ways to get around in Namibia, which you choose depends on where you want to go, what you need to carry with you when you go, what you can afford or, if you are lucky enough, who you know. There’s the normal compliment of motor vehicles available to the adventurous traveller, which we’ll get into in a bit, but there are also (slow) trains, planes, and bus services. These tend to be limited to major towns and cities in each region and not all services are available to even these. I have not taken any of these, those I may catch the Intercape Luxury Bus Service if I need to go south. Others have used the Intercape and liked it.

Most people who own vehicles own pickups, except here they are called bakkies. They are usually white, usually 4WD, usually capable of seating 5 in the cab, and the bed is likely covered. I’m lucky, I have a friend who owns a bakkie and doesn’t seem to mind giving me rides if he’s headed where I’m headed. As you may imagine, bakkies are the workhorse vehicles of choice here. Regardless of whether it is open or closed, bakkie beds are loaded up to overflowing with anything and everything. It is not uncommon to see 10 or more people in a bakkie bed, often riding along with their luggage.

A typical ‘Bakkie’

The only vehicles more popular than the bakkie are the small 5-seat sedans favored by cab drivers. Realistically these sedans comfortably seat 4 adults, but cabbies will cram 5 in regardless of the size of the adults in question. (More on this later.) Small children may ride free if they can sit on your lap. I’ve seen at least 3 small kids ride this way, which brings the passenger tally up to 8. Watching people climb out of these wee vehicles always reminds me of circus clown cars.

A typical ‘cab’

Next we have the kombies, which are small buses capable of seating 7 to 15 depending on the size. Again, the advertised seat count is theoretical. These are typically used for intercity transports and typically haul trailers for luggage, packages, even furniture and small caged animals. Like cabs, kombies can be in various states of repair (or disrepair). If you really want to experience travel in Namibia, go by kombi. Opt for the larger ones that at least look like they’ve maintained. You’ll find that Namibians are generally friendly, generous, and have a great sense of humor. You can practice your Afrikaans, Oshikwanyama, and other local languages.

Kombies at the Rhino Hikepoint in Windhoek

I’ve come to believe that kombies drivers are frustrated Indy 500 driver. They are only supposed to go 100kph, but they tend to move somewhat faster, passing double-length trailer trucks like they were standing still, all while pulling a loaded trailer and carrying more people than they should.

Kombie trailer loaded with goats

The well heeled urban Namibian is likely to drive a Euro-luxury sedan from Mercedes, BMW or Audi. These tend to be black or dark gray with heavily tinted windows. Like in the States, these are status symbols.

Well heeled Namibians who live out in the sticks drive expensive 4WD RangeRovers, LandRovers, LandCruisers and the like. Here, 4WD is actually needed, the rural terrain is unforgiving and road service practically nonexistent. Even some parking lots require 4WD because of deep sand or sharp, shifting rocks. And everyone carries full size spares that have been pressure checked. I’ve taken 3 trips to the north and have gotten flat tires twice. And I don’t mean a nail-in-the-trend type flats, these were rip-a-hole through-2-inches-of-rubber type flats. And both happened many kilometers from the nearest town. Unpaved roads harbor sharp rocks that can challenge even 4×4 tires. Spare tires are essential.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’m not allowed to drive (this even though my duties can carry me far and wide), so I am forced to get around like the average Namibian; I hike.

Hiking is done in one of three ways: you can call a transport company and arrange to be picked up, you travel in air conditioned comfort, and they drop you off at your destination. (This is hiking only in the vaguest sense.) You can go to a hike point and climb on one of the kombies or get a private car heading in your direction, or you can head out to the highway, put out your thumb and hope someone picks you up. That last one is not as unpredictable as it sounds. Many are quite successful getting around using their thumbs. Still, as it can be anywhere, hiking can be dangerous. Namibia, is a relatively safe country to be in, but bad people can pop up, or in this case, drive up anywhere, and there are long stretches of road where there’s not even a mobile phone signal. Extreme caution is advised.

Hiking the B2 Highway can be a lonely and dangerous endeavor

Hike point travel is far more reliable and these places are typically brimming with cabs, kombies and private vehicles vying for your dollar. In fact, the drivers can get so worked up that they jostle and shove each other, yelling at you to pick him over the ten others yelling at you. For women, especially young women, it can be a nightmare. The drivers will often grab her belongings and shove them in the trunk of his car, forcing her to either go with him of demand her stuff back. I’ve seen women crying while trying to get a ride.

Hike points are not for the meek.

Drivers mobbing a cab at a hike point in Windhoek

Normally I take the far more comfortable and predictable transport company, but today I wanted to ‘rough it’, and walked to the road leading to Windhoek and tried my luck.

Hiking from the side of the road is a bit less intimidating than hike points. You can stick your thumb out to passing RangeRovers, trucks and VW GTIs, but they seldom stop ( I suppose there are many factors that play into the decision to stop for a hiker. I would likely only stop if the hiker was alone and neatly dressed.) The vehicles that do stop are old sedans and small 7-passenger quasi-station wagons (think micro-vans like the Mazda MPV and you’ll get the idea). These are enterprising Namibians who fill in the transportation gap by picking up hikers and charging a bit less than what you might pay at hike points.

The 7-passenger thingy is what I caught into Windhoek this morning and I can tell you that the only 7 passengers that can sit comfortably in that vehicle are a troop of emaciated, vertically challenged Oompa Loompas.

As luck would have it, my fellow passengers were of normal dimensions, except for the woman next to me, who grossly exceeded her already small seating allotment to the point were an imprint of the door trim I was squeezed against will likely stay with me for the remainder of my service here.

My overly ample, but pleasant seat mate

I suppose we were luckier than most, our vehicle had air conditioning running. Normally very loud music is substituted for AC. I guess the thinking is that if you make the music loud enough passengers will be more concerned about bleeding eardrums than sweating brows.

It seems to work.

Hike point hiking is really how it’s done here, though the Peace Corps frowns on it. I get their concern, too much can go wrong. Vehicles tend to be poorly maintained, drivers can be overly aggressive, and the environment can be dangerous to the less worldly. On the other hand, you can meet really interesting people and feel closer to the environment. There are inconveniences (like the rather large one this morning who pressed so close to me that when I felt my stomach rumble it turned out to be hers), but I honestly believe its worth it. The woman next to me was very kind and caring, offering snacks to those around her (Namibians share, it seems to be part of their DNA).

I also enjoy the scenery. Regardless of which part of the country I’m traveling through, I’ve found the views mesmerizing and often breathtaking. For a guy whose driven through much of the U.S. and rarely seen anything more interesting than a herd of white tail deer grazing along the roadside, sitting in the passenger in on a Namibian road is a treat. I’ve seen baboons, warthogs, and ostriches. Cows, goats, sheep and donkeys will wander onto the road as well. And if you’re very lucky, you’ll be forced to stop while a herd of zebras cross in front of you. While stopped you might see a small herd of giraffes grazing at a safer distance from the road.

You never know what you’ll try not to run into, cows, donkeys, …

…warthogs or baboons,…

…or a herd of zebras crossing the road.

It can be a lot of fun.

I will continue to take the more comfortable passage if available, but I now have no qualms of taking to thumbing it. It’s all part of the adventure.

Stay tuned.


Namibia: Dog’s Life

Namibia is at once incredibly beautiful and incredibly unforgiving. To live here, especially in rural areas (which is a vast majority of the country) creatures, including us humans, must adapt. The environment offers challenges found in few other places on earth.

For instance, in the Namib Desert, one of the oldest and harshest deserts on the planet, you can still find animal activity. I’ve seen ostriches, springbok and scrub hares. I’ve seen the tracks of these creatures and those of other animals I didn’t recognize. But there are tracks that even a purblind urban kid, like myself, can immediately recognize, those of dogs.

A pack of strays in the desert

While the African Wild Dog’s population is under serious threat and is considered endangered, the average mongrel can claim no such protection. Dogs are everywhere, and if I had to guess I’d say that dogs are the second most populous mammal in Namibia, right behind humans. (By way of reference, there are approximately 2.3 million people in Namibia, which has an area a little larger than Texas, and Texas has 10x the population.)

You find dogs wherever you find people, and their lot in life is intricately tied to the humans they live around. In the town of Okahandja, for instance, where homes are surrounded by walls and barbed wire, dogs, at the very least, serve as living doorbells (they bark only when someone approaches the gate of the compound), but more often they are kept as burglary deterrents. You’ll find far fewer strays in Okahandja than you’d find in Arandis, where walled homes that corral dogs are the exception.

‘Watchdogs’ behind a fence in Okahanja

As with the humans they live next to or live with, dogs adapt. In Okahandja they seem quite content to stay behind their gates and bark in exchange for a daily meal. In Arandis, they’ve accepted their station as second class citizens and eek out lives subsisting on whatever food is discarded, which is often very little. In homesteads in the north dogs are part of the typical farm menagerie. There are strays, but it seems that most dogs have human homes.

Small dogs seem to like the height advantage fences provide

In the more expensive areas of Swakopmund and Windhoek one can identify several recognized dog breeds, but in the outlying ghettos, dog lineage is as mixed and varied as the ingredients in a pot of beef stew. I’ve seen Rottweilers, Pitbulls, Shitzus, and more than a few Schnauzers. One of the more impressive breeds I’ve seen are the Rhodesian Ridgebacks. They are a medium to large sized animal with brown to rust colored fur and a distinct tufted ridge of fur running the length of its back.

The Ridgeback isn’t the only dog in Namibia with that distinctive fur feature, however. I seen short legged, long bodied pooches with a crop of unruly hair starting at the shoulders and running along the spine. I saw one such canine while in the East Kavango Region of Namibia. It was in a primary school. The dog wandered in among students and adults as if the school were its home. It stood glancing up at the adults, tail wagging lazily, waiting for notice, but getting none. At last it turned and ambled away looking sad and dejected.

Life can be tough for dogs in Namibia

I asked friends about their observations of the relationships between dog and man in the areas to the south. One reports, “Keetmanshoop is more similar to Okahandja. I thought the dogs I saw were strays at first, but after closer observation realized they all have owners and a place to come back to, they just aren’t kept inside the gate all day.”

Further to the south, another tells me, “The dog population in Oranjemund is pretty large. Most, if not all, of the dogs are domestic pets. Rarely do you see any strays or wild dogs. There is a pound or kennel where you can house dogs while on vacation or pick up new ones. Oddly enough, there are a ton of mini dachshunds! Nearly every house has a beware dog sign in Afrikaans and Oshiwambo!”

And to the west I’m told, “Luderitz is completely divided between the town and location. In town the dogs are fenced in and bark at anything that moves.

In the location there are stray dogs and dogs that sit outside of house but they rarely make noise.”

I feel like this sometimes…

Adapt, survive, and if you’re lucky, prosper. It’s a dog’s life.

Stay tuned.


Happy New Year!!

This year is quickly drawing to a close and it’s been a whirlwind, roller coaster, and tsunami all rolled into one big adventure. I talked a bit about what I’ve done, haven’t done this year, and what I intend to do next year in an earlier post, so I won’t recap here.

This post is simply to wish my family and friends, both old and new, a Happy New Year, and to offer a few suggestions for the coming year.

While my path involves what may appear to be exotic places and adventurous doings I’ll admit here, that, for the most part, it’s a 9 to 5 punctuated by the occasional “OH WOW!” moments. Many of you have just as interesting, and dare I suggest more interesting, though less far flung engagements and you should let others know what you are up to. So, I invite you to start a blog like this one.

Yeah, I know that there’s Facebook and Instagram, but I believe those places are less personal than a bonafide blog. Here you can offer up your insights, opinions, photos and other discoveries you encounter in your day to day journey without all the glitz. It’s just you and your readers. And really, that’s the interesting part. Letting people know that you and the people you meet are as human as they are, and vise versa.

So, make it a New Year’s resolution to create and keep a blog and invite your friends and family to subscribe to it. I think you’ll be glad you did.

When I say the term, “2018”, for an instant my mind defines that to mean a time in the distant future where space travel, flying cars and robot overlords are as common chewing gum on the sidewalks of New York. Yet, in a week, 2018 will be here and none of those things are common (they’ve been promised for years, but we may actually see all three within the next 10 years, if we survive the next 3). As much as the shenanigans of 2017 has dimmed the faith in humanity for many, I continue to find reasons to keep the faith because I firmly believe that we, all of us, are greater than the sum of each of us. (Did that come out right?)

In my family and friends, and a vast majority of the people I meet, I see a future of diversity over divisiveness, of acceptance over ignorance, of good will over ill will. I think it’s far too optimistic to believe, as the the Beatles did, that love is all you need. It’s far more realistic at this time to believe that tolerance is really all we need. You don’t have to love or even like everyone or their ideas. Just be and let be, and we may yet survive this.

So, with a hopeful and faithful eye on the coming months, I wish you all a joyful, prosperous, and adventurous New Year.

Stay Tuned,


Namibia: Merry Christmas!!

It’s been a bit more than 8 months since I sold my stuff, bided my family and friends goodbye, and boarded a plane with 15 other people who would become my ‘Namily’ here in Namibia.

Truth is, it doesn’t feel like 8 months, more like only 4. I don’t feel as if I’ve done enough, though my supervisor insists that I’ve made a difference. I have projects that I’m working on and am determined to make real headway in the coming months.

One such project I may have mentioned in an earlier post, Dreamland Gardens. The owners, Joseph and Elizabeth Makina, are hard working folks who are trying to make a business of growing vegetables here in the desert. Sometimes it seems that the cards are stacked against them. The biggest issue, as one might assume, is water. Oddly, there is water available, it’s just unreliable. When it’s not available everything dies and we have to start again. So, I’m trying to come up with ways to increase the reliability of the supply and more efficiently use what we have when we have it.

Spinach growing in Dreamland Gardens when we do have water

Another project is the Ûiba Ôas Miners. They are 50+ kilometers away and I have no reliable means to visit them, yet I need to help them somehow. The miners produce and sell raw semiprecious stones to tourists who stop at their kiosks on the roadside. There isn’t much I can do to improve that situation, but I think I have a way to increase their sales.

This petersite could make a great necklace!

The miners have equipment that lets them finish (turn raw stones into cut and polished gems) the stones they mine. The problem is that they don’t have the skills to finish the stones in ways that are aesthetically, therefore commercially lucrative. There is training they could take, but it would have to be tailored to them. So, that will be my focus for them.

Many other projects too, but that isn’t why I’m writing this post. What I really wanted to do was to send a big hearty THANK YOU to my family and friends who have supported me in my decision to do this Peace Corps thing.

The past 8 months has been a wild roller coaster of an adventure. I’ve felt the full spectrum of emotions, some I didn’t think I was capable of. I’ve seen and done things I know I could not have had I not boarded that plane 8 months ago. And the ride looks to be even wilder in the coming months.

And I’ve grown since coming here (not just in girth), and I feel that my path for growth stretches out in many directions, and all are positive.

None of this would have been possible without the support of the people who are the foundation of my social life, and who mean so very much to me. Again, to you I offer a deeply felt thank you.

To my new friends, those I have met physically and those I’ve met virtually, thank you as well. You’ve added to my adventure, and will continue to do so in ways I can’t imagine now. I hope that our meeting was mutually beneficial, and that our friendship continues.

To everyone, a Very Merry Christmas from beautiful Namibia.

And I hope that you will continue to…

Stay Tuned