Blog Neglect

As one of my two semi-regular readers might have noticed I have been neglecting my blog of late. I reached the epic 100th post milestone with a post about the joys of urinating on ice in February, posted once in March and have been silent ever since.

Various other VSO bloggers have talked about the fact that to them life becomes more normal after a time and so they have less bizzare or seemingly unusual stuff to write about. Not in my case; life continues to be a bizzare mix of the seemingly unusual as I lurch from disaster to cultural misunderstanding, back briefly to disaster and then onwards to failure.

My lack of posts is probably due to one or more of the following potential reasons:

  1. I’m just too busy being generally awesome, saving orphans and puppies, solving the poverty problems of the world and addressing inequality in my spare time.
  2. I have been too caught up in various sagas such as the saga of the keys (see below).
  3. My spare time has been filled developing further features nobody wants or uses in my range of cackware FOSS.
  4. I was actually kidnapped by the Angolans and forced to escape with only a spoon and a loin cloth. Lived wild in da bush for several months surviving on my wits, bushman skills and takeaway from the Opuwo coffee shop.
  5. General slackness.

Hint: It’s not 1. Or really 2, 3 or 4.

What Has Actually Been Going On

Ok well some stuff that has actually happened is…

  1. The Great Network Project ™ Phases IV and V completed – yeah and verily. Basically all the offices in our regional office slated for network access now have it, we also have a link to our head office and new computers for our finance and HR people to run their applications without having to travel to Windhoek one week in two (good news for efficiency and our budget; bad news for their per-diems and the guesthouse business in Windhoek). We also have a proper half-height rack, a fibre link to our district office, a proper server, some proper switches and all that good stuff (probably deserves a post in its own right if I don’t fall back into blog-apathy).
  2. Some new VSO volunteers arrived in-country. I happened to be in Windhoek the week they came so gatecrashed their welcome lunch and as many meals out as possible. Meeting new volunteers is great as not only are they all clean, shiny and keen but also think (for two minutes at least) that you’re interesting with your hardcore knowledge of the country (hah). So I filled their heads with half-truths and outright lies.
  3. In an election worthy of North Korea I won the much sought after position of VSO Regional Representative. It was a landslide victory and I would like to thank my electoral team for their support as well as the electorate for their loyalty. It hasn’t changed me much, I just now wish to be called “Blessed Leader” or “Sainta Davida”. Between you and me though I think the fact I am the only person in the VSO North-West (Opuwo) region might have had something to do with it. Nonetheless I attended the Regional Reps meeting in Windhoek and only made one highly inappropriate “joke” (that I can remember). It was probably bad enough to get me sent home but luckily, and amazingly, people laughed rather than shouted.
  4. Various other stuff such as trainings, computer repairs, travelling, holidays, meetings and all that good stuff.

Additionally a few months ago we received a reminder from VSO to make sure we state that these are our views and not necessarily those of VSO on our blogs. Whenever we get the reminder I always (perhaps wrongly) assume some poor demented malaria-prophylaxis-crazed heat-stroked VSO volunteer out there has vented their spleen online.

So – just to reiterate: The views expressed are my own and not necessarily those of VSO.

For example; I don’t think we should drown all kittens at birth or torture monkeys for fun on a Friday afternoon. It’s not a religious objection or anything – just ethical.

In fact I go further in my full disclaimer in which I explain that these views might not even be my own let alone those of VSO or the MoHSS.  Assume it’s all a work of fiction (in other words lies). You can see my brief disclaimer at the top right of the main page or in full on its very own page.

The Saga of the Keys

So then, as promised, for those still awake who have made it this far the saga of the keys.

Background: We have a digital video conferencing (DVC) room which has burglar bars on it and hence has been chosen as the main point for any network equipment to go into. A while ago we lost the padlock (seriously) and we only had one key to the main door.

Until recently this didn’t really matter as the “networking equipment” in the room consisted of an ADSL modem/router, a wireless access point, a switch and (recently) an unimportant little Linux desktop acting as a backup DNS server. I only needed to go in maybe once every couple of weeks and even then it didn’t matter if I couldn’t get in straight away.

Developments: Because this room had been chosen as the site for our new shiny network equipment and server I decided that we should (a) replace the padlock and secure the room better and (b) get some more copies of the keys so enough people held them immediate access could be gained. Luckily I had a spare padlock and was also able to get more door keys cut in Otjiwarongo.

Cabling: So… Some cabling contractors turn up who are to put in a fibre-optic link down the length of the hospital and some additional local network points. To do this they need access to the DVC room. For the first couple of days they were there I simply opened up and locked up for them (advantage of living close by) but then I had to go to Windhoek so, foolishly in hindsight, gave them my keys.

To be fair they also had numerous other keys for offices and blocks in the hospital so were to give all the keys back to someone (they had a few contact numbers) and all would be well.

My Return: When I returned from Windhoek I tried to locate my keys to no immediate avail. This didn’t worry me too much as a couple of the nominated key holders were not around. I messaged the cabling guys who assured me they had handed my keys over.

Saga: Over the next few days the saga unfolded as follows…

Cabling guy (CG) said he had given my keys to A. A said she had given them to R. R had received keys from A, just not mine. CG now said he had given them to M. M denied all knowledge.

At this point CG told me he had given them to “that girl”. On further questioning this turned into “you know, that girl”. Sadly no, I did not know “that girl”. I could understand if there was one particular girl maybe standing around juggling tiger cubs or breathing fire, you know, that girl. But no.

So I started randomly canvassing around the hospital. R said she had heard that R2 had received some keys but R2 was now on holiday. CR said that he thought R2 had given the keys to Sr. M.

Sr. M did indeed get keys from R2. Many keys. But not mine.

(This is a much condensed version – by now several days had gone by).

Disaster: Then the next installment of IT people, this time consultants for the MoHSS and a couple of MoHSS head office IT people turned up to install the server, some new computers and commission the network link. The link inside the DVC room.

As I still didn’t have my keys I went to see the other DVC key holder. It turned out the day before she had lent her keys to another lady in the office who had taken the home and was now on leave “back in the village”. With no cellphone coverage. Or indeed any clear idea about which village she was in.

So with our guests standing around looking at a locked gate shielding a locked door I began yet another quest for my keys, this time with more urgency.

R2 had now returned from holiday (woo hoo) and confirmed she had been given keys by CG (woo double hoo) just not mine (boo hoo).

Then as I was standing around talking to R2, R and C about this a passing nurse butted in “are you looking for keys?”. “Yes, yes I am”.

And she produced my keys from a pocket. She was, you know, that girl.

Apparently on night duty some days before some guy (CG we presume) had insisted she take the set of keys.

Success: So I was now able to return to the office and open up the DVC room providing access after only about an hours delay (so pretty good by normal Opuwo standards).

Of course it then turned out some of the cabling hadn’t been done to where they wanted and some more that had, it seemed, been agreed to be done already by the Regional IT Advisor (some cowboy) also hadn’t been done (ahem) so a crazy 48 hour wall drilling and cabling fest then took place.

Blog Apathy No More…

So I will now try and overcome my natural apathy, award-winning slackness and general uselessness and post more often. Seriously recently I have been doing all sorts of fun stuff including playing with One-Laptop-Per-Childs, driving through swamps, making Linux based wireless access points and I have even found a coffee club in the regional office that have taken pity on me and let me join.


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