At Decade’s End

2010 is coming to a close and so is another decade. I think back to the last time a decade ended and the whole world was wondering if Y2K was real and if the world would go dark when the clock hit midnight. It didn’t come to pass and so here we are 10 years into the 21st century.

I thought I would pick my brain and try to remember where I was as I rung in the New Year for the past decade so here we go:

2010 – in the gym at my apartment complex with my dog Vincent watching the ball drop on the little TV.

2009 – Jenny and I were at a friend’s house. We all watched the ball drop then played poker the rest of the night.

2008 – I watched the ball drop at Jenny’s parent’s house.

2007 – Jenny and I went to an LA Clippers game and got upgraded to floor seats which was pretty sweet.

2006 – Jenny and I went to Washington DC for the festivities, realized there were none and went back and celebrated in downtown Cumberland which was hopping.

2005 – I’m having trouble remembering this one, but I think I was in Cumberland.

2004 – I was on an airplane flying over Libya on my way to Uganda.

2003 – I had just arrived in Uganda that day and rung in the new year with my buddies Mark and Craig at Craig’s house in Bunga.

2002 – I was on tour with the African Children’s Choir in Washington State at the time and we had a staff retreat at the Choir’s cabin in Arlington and celebrated the new year as a staff.

2001 – I had just joined the African Children’s Choir and we had a midnight concert at a church in Virginia.

Thanks for joining me on that trip down memory lane, I hope you all have a great New Year’s celebration and an awesome 2011. Keep checking back here for more posts in the new year! Some of the things planned for 2011 are a week of reader’s posts, another week in food pictures posts, some guest bloggers and a whole lot more!

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Henry’s 4 Stages of Sleep

Henry is our second oldest, but biggest Basset Hound. Recently we realized that he has 4 stages of sleep, each with a different level of intensity needed to wake him up. I thought I would share them with you since they are extremely cute.

Stage 1: Find a comfortable place to sleep

Henry usually finds a couch, bed, or cushion to sleep on. When he decides on where he wants to sleep he hops around in circles, digging and growling and finally settling in to go to sleep. At Stage 1 he can easily be motivated to move by offering a treat, making funny noises or running around.

Stage 2: Dozing

Once Henry is settled in he almost instantly begins to doze. His eyes get red and droopy, his face gets wrinkly and sassy and he blinks a lot. On one side he really wants to sleep, but on the other side he really wants to make sure he knows exactly what Vincent (our oldest Basset Hound and Henry’s best friend) is doing at any given time. Sometimes he likes to doze while holding a toy, so that no one else can play with it of course! In Stage 2 the only things that can arouse Henry are treats or Vincent doing something interesting.

Stage 3: Deep Sleep

This is when things get serious for Henry. He’s found that perfect spot that is oh so comfy, he’s put aside the distractions of the house and the other dogs and he starts snoring, quietly at first and then louder and louder the deeper he goes into sleepland. At this point we can play loud music, shake the treat jar, or simply pet him and he just keeps sleeping. In Stage 3 the only thing that can awaken Henry is saying “Vincent yay!” over and over in a really excited voice. Because the only thing Henry loves more than sleep is Vincent.

Stage 4: we just refer to this stage of sleep as Stage 4

Once Stage 4 is reached there is no waking Henry until he is ready to wake up. When you see him roll onto his back and angle his head to one side you know that Stage 4 has been reached. At this point I have picked him up off the bed and moved him onto the floor without him realizing it. You can sit down next to him or cover him with blankets, he doesn’t even notice it. All Basset Hounds love treats but in Stage 4 a tasty snack won’t even get Henry to arouse himself from his slumber. Even Vincent has no affect on him at this point, sleep has overtaken him completely.

My (current) 10 favorite iPhone apps – December Edition

Back in May I posted about my top ten iPhone apps at that time. 7 months later I thought it was time for an update, so here are my ten favorite apps at the moment:

1. Tap Zoo (free) – an app that is super addicting. You start from scratch and build your own zoo. Mine is pretty awesome. Jenny introduced me to this game and now I’m hooked.

2. Angry Birds ($.99) – I missed the Angry Birds craze when it first came out, but I finally succumbed to all the peer pressure and bought it and couldn’t stop playing until I finished all the levels.

3. Facebook (free) – a favorite that I use every day all the time.

4. Echofon (free) – a repeat from the original list, because I like to tweet and keep up with what’s “atwitter”

5. Foursquare (free) – at first I wasn’t a fan of Foursquare and I stuck with Gowalla but I finally made the switch and I’m glad I did it. I’m at “Home in the Heights” right now in case your wondering!

6. Words With Friends (free) – another repeat from the last list. So fun to play a scrabble-like game with friends! Challenge me, my user name is: Adamansel

7. eBay (free) – there have been a few auctions I’ve been bidding on and having this app has been super helpful for keeping up the pace on who’s winning.

8. Netflix (free) – I can watch movies and TV instantly over my phone and then pick up at the same place I left off on my laptop! How awesome it that!

9. Flashlight (free) – it always seems to be dark in the new house I live in so this helps a lot.

10. Holy Bible (free) – it’s nice having a Bible with me all the time, especially when I forget mine at home on Sunday morning!

Legally Blind in Kampala

If you wear contact lenses or glasses this post will resonate with you. I have horrible eyesight so having my contacts in is a must or I’ll stumble around in a blurry world.

When I lived in Uganda I would usually go into Kampala once a week, usually on Tuesdays and it was a day to enjoy some nice things that Uganda had to offer. I would go to the gym, look around the mall, and eat lunch at a pizza place downtown. I loved Tuesdays, I loved my trips into Kampala, but on one certain Tuesday, disaster happened

At this point I have to stop and thank my good friend Mark, if not for him I would probably still be wandering around Kampala unable to find my way home.

Mark and I had gone into the city together and after working out we both jumped into the pool to cool off. I swim with my contacts in and I open my eyes underwater, making sure to close them before I surface. But something happened that day that had never happened before and has never happened since. When I came up out of the water both, not one, but both of my contacts had fallen out in the swimming pool. The clear, sharp focused world I was used to living in had become a blur where everything ran together into one enormous blob of color. I flubbed my way over to the side of the pool and climbed out and told Mark what had happened. We were supposed to be going to a meeting or something after the gym so I tried to convince him to go to the meeting and I would find my way back to Gaba to get new contacts. It wouldn’t be that hard to find my way out of the mall, catch a boda boda (motorcycle) to the taxi park, navigate through the chaos to the correct taxi, get off at the right stop, pay the correct amount of money and walk the bumpy roads back to my house.

Thankfully Mark realized the nonsense in my thinking and decided to escort me back to Gaba. He didn’t hold my hand, but I followed closely behind him, squinting to make things a little clearer and we made our way out of the mall, onto a boda boda, through the taxi park, rode all the way to Gaba, paid the correct money, and stumbled up the bumpy road to the house. Once in the bedroom I found my spare contacts and put them in and the world was brought back to that sweet clarity.

The lesson from this story: if you wear contacts and go swimming in Kampala, make sure you either have an extra pair of contacts with you or a friend who will be your seeing-guide for the day!

Benjamin & Theodore

Jenny and I are dog lovers, particulary Basset Hounds, but all hounds in general. Recently though, we added 2 members to our family who are not of the canine breed…

This is Benjamin

And this is Theodore

 Welcome to the family guys!

Proverbs 25:24 – a short story

                                                                                                                      8 August, 1904

‘I felt the onset of the sickness four days ago. First my muscles became weak; I found it difficult to stand for any extended length of time. Then, the very bones within me became racked with a dull, throbbing pain. Next was the vomiting, I couldn’t keep anything down, whether food or water. Unfortunately there are no doctors here in the village to give me medicine of any sort and I don’t even know where the closest hospital is, but even if I did, I wouldn’t go. I already know my deathcase – malaria. It’s what gets everyone here, especially us whites.

Those damn mosquitoes are always around, thick as fog sometimes and there is no getting away from them. It’s because of our proximity to the coast, no more than a few miles at the most. They like the water and the humidity, of which we have plenty, which accounts for the masses of them. Three of my predecessors went out the same way I’m going. I personally buried two of them myself.

This morning I made the mistake of looking out my window and the locals have already begun digging my grave. That gives me mixed emotions, not only about my imminent demise, but about my work. The locals have supposedly accepted the faith I’m preaching to them, but it seems they missed the part about healing. At least I know what I believe. Maybe I’ll go have a look at my grave later, my very own gateway to heaven.

It seems like many years have passed since I first came here, but in actuality it’s only been nine months. Nine wonderful, depressing, life-changing, emotional months. I’m only a few months away from my half-way point. My commitment was for two years, but the bloody grim-reaper has stepped in and had his say. Death is a strange thing, I always wondered how I’d die, if it would be instantly or if I would have the chance to say my good-byes. Now I have the time but no one to say good-bye to. My last letters home will arrive long after I’ve been laid in the soil.

I know I mentioned the local’s faith earlier and it’s not that I don’t have faith to be healed. I’ve just resigned myself to my own fate, all men have to die at some point in their life and…’

“Excuse me dear, what are you doing?”

“Nothing. Just getting ready for work.”

“Are you playing with that new voice recognition software for the computer?”

“No honey, only in the evenings, just like you said.”

“Good, then come downstairs, I got up early this morning to fix breakfast for you.”

“Okay, just give me a minute to finish getting dressed and I’ll be right down.”

‘I can feel my temperature rising, almost as if the blood running through my veins is beginning to boil. Sweat is pouring out of me so fast I’ll soon be dehydrated, death can’t come quick enough.’

 – written on the road between Mombasa and Nairobi

Monkey People

I grew up in the Appalachians, out in the woods, in the sticks. And although I’ve never seen one, I swear Bigfoot was watching me sometimes when I drove home late at night.

Recently my wife and I have started watching this show “Monster Quest” and they have episodes about Bigfoot/Sasquatches all around the world and it has convinced me even more that they do exist. Which leads me to pose this question: am I the only person who is freaked out by monkey people? Giant monkeys who think/look/or act like people scare the heck out of me. Even when they do the recreations of people’s stories in these Monster Quest episodes I have to cover my eyes. I hate seeing the graphics and I don’t even like seeing the people dressed up in the Bigfoot costume.

Despite my fear, I am addicted to these shows and I want to learn more about Sasquatch, maybe so I’m better prepared if I’m in the situation where I might meet one. Although I certainly hope that never happens. So tell me, do monkey people scare you?