"" bshawise: January 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008

100 Days, 100 Nights

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are at Bogarts tonight. Anyone interested? Tickets are $17. About the price of Big Mac meal in Amsterdam. Sharon's gonna be way better than a Big Mac. I say we go. We all need a little sway in our step tonight.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Few things I noticed...

Nigerians have crazy balance. This helps when they have to get their mattress home on their motorcycle. Or carry their water on their head when their hands are busy carrying everything else.

It's hard to sleep in. Muslims wake up at 5am sharing their chants over loud speakers with the neighborhood. Cows and roosters parrot back.

As much as I used to make fun of soccer being a communist sport- it's universal. You don't to speak the same language. You don't need a fancy rink or diamond. You don't even need a real ball. Walnut-looking nuts work just fine.

Nigerians find it hard to believe we don't eat ram balls.

In Jos, people's electricity can go out for three week spurts. This isn't rare. Meanwhile the Nigerian government supplies neighboring countries (who have money) good, consistent electricity.

Same with gas. The only good way to consistently get gas is to buy it on the black market.

Their soups are crunchy. Full of bones. It's like slurping through land mines. But the taste is totally worth it.

Nigerian soccer fans are worse than Buckeye fans. Rumor has it when they won a match in the Atlanta Olympics the entire city of Jos streamed onto the streets. Kids were seperated from their parents for days. When a goal is scored during any match you can hear the neighborhoods erupt.

Americans are addicted to reality tv and starbucks. Australians to Outback Steakhouse. Canadians to saying "eh." Nigerians are addicted to honking their car horns. They must have a complicated system of morse code. It was noisy greek to me.

Nigerians also think their car lights drain the battery. So they rarely use them. Night driving is worth avoiding.

After all the hellos and how did you sleep greetings they always say, "You are welcome." And they literally mean it. "You are welcome here. You are one of us." It's a beautiful beautiful thing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Always Be Closing

I put some photos up on Flickr CLICK HERE

There are descriptions for each photo so....read them. If you want. I mean..it's your life.


I lost my insulin pen before I even stepped foot on African soil. Left it on the plan. This was unfortunate because I liked that insulin pen. It helped me. Luckily, I had extra insulin. Unluckily, in less than two days I broke my extra needles. So I was stressed out. Monday, we were at the village and I looked down at my pocket and the cap came off my last needle and was sticking out like a sharp, bent, stray thread. I decided I needed to pursue new needles. So we went driving around Jos to various pharmacies. None of them had needles. Finally, we found a place that did and I bought 50. Which cost 500 naira. $5. That's not the point of this story.

As we drove around the city in search of these needles there were people selling stuff all over. Walking in the middle of the street hawking papers, jewelry, phone cards, sugar cane, etc. Pretty normal I guess. Except for on one corner. There were guys selling posters. Huge 24x36 posters. Quickly, for one second, picture the kind of posters you think they'd be selling..... futbol players (futbol is HUGE in nigeria)....any sports team really- they seem to love the yankees..... political figures/slogans.... propaganda. All of those seem possible, right? Well, the posters these guys were selling were of fat, white babies dressed up like Benjamin Franklin. Powdered wigs and diapers. Chubby loafs holding gavels. If they sold even one they are the best salesmen of all time. Get those closers some coffee. Or some phone cards. And forget the expression "selling snow to eskimos." How about "selling founding father-babies to Nigerians."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Back, Jack.

So after 30+ hours of traveling I'm back. It was quite a trip. I haven't processed everything yet. Partially because there's much to process. And partially because I know processing will lead to convictions which will lead to change. Which will be great. After I sleep, eat and drink too much for a few days.

So in lieu of the deep stuff I'll share some lighter stuff on this weblog. Story calisthenics. Pictures will come shortly as well. But you should know that chances are for a good while I'm going to be THAT guy. You'll tell me about the delicious tacos you had over the weekend and I'll say, "In Nigeria, I had pounded yams." It'll be annoying. Love me in spite of it.

So, DAY TWO in Nigeria.....
I disrespected the Chief of the Rakuba tribe. I tried to shake his hand after initially walking right past him. The videographer recognized him and called me over to introduce. I first stopped and shook the hand of the Chief's whip-handler. No joke. He drives the Chief around and whips people if needed. I didn't know that at the time. So after that brief greeting, I came over and said, "Oh...hey, wow, Chief, nice to meet you. I'm Brad" and stuck out my hand. He stared at it for a little and said, "People do not address me in this manner. You're not from around here." I apologized profusely. He glared at my feet and eventually said, "It's ok." A few minutes later the guys from the drilling crew came by and I saw how people DO address the Chief. They crouch down (like a catcher) and wait for the Chief to acknowledge them. This doesn't always happen right away. So eventually he nods and they stand up and then stare at the ground until the Chief leaves. They call him things like, "Your Royal Highness." Like 300,000 people do. He's a powerful guy. Not the kind of guy you slap fives with and talk about the crazy weather we're having. His stare is immasculating. He tells you to dig a 12 ft. hole and you ask how many. I wanted to disappear when he scolded me. I wanted a Dolorean with a flux capacitor when I saw the drill crew crouch down. It felt like when you screw up as a kid and let your parents down/piss them off and you'd do ANYTHING for a reconciliatory hug. I didn't get that hug. I didn't even get him to look me in the eyes so i could mouth, "I'm sorry" again.

Hey to the Chief. Great way to start the week.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

From Africa...

This is about the only thing that is keeping my mind off the upsetting news that Leah is having to deal with Miss Jackson throwing her back out and being "paralyzed" from the waist down. Not the kind of thing for her to have to manage solo. I guess Miss is making progress and the dye-injected-into-her-spine test came back showing she won't have to get surgery. I'd appreciate your prayers for all three of us.

Nigeria is.....well, lots of things. More on that later...I have to go dig a trench.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Leaving on Jet Planes

I leave for Africa tomorrow. Jos, Nigeria. We're going to drill wells. Actually, we've bought a drilling rig and hired a crew to drill wells. They're gonna go village to village changing the way thousands of Nigerians live. So we're going over there to watch. And celebrate. There will be group updates at this site

I just bought a fanny pack with like 16 compartments. It's sad how excited I am to figure out what I want to put in each of them. I also just found out that I get to operate a 50 year old 16mm film camera while over there. Our video guy bought it at a goodwill. He told me that 25 feet of film is like 3 minutes worth of action. I said, "no way." He said, "way." So, we're gonna goof around with the exposures and see what happens. Should be fun.

I'm sad to leave Leah. Ten days is going to feel long. I keep telling myself that sailors and other such journeymen used to leave for much longer. I'm still sad. Strange to be filled with such a variety of emotions.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Truth About Bears

I'm tired of the lies. Tired of the dangerous propaganda that portrays bears as snuggly romantics who tiptoe through flower-filled forests and fall in love with each other. Let's call bears what they are. Death monsters. Fur-covered murder machines. Jaws' hairy cousin. Unfortunately, naïve artists and irresponsible entrepreneurs
are leading us astray. Bears don't want to swap hugs or honey pots with us. They want to eat us. Bones and everything. They spend the entire winter dreaming about it. And I just worry that if we keep perpetuating the cute-bear lies we're just playing with fire. Fire with teeth.

Build-a-Bear.....more like build-a-terrorist.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Michael Mercury

Have you met Mika? If not, I'd like to introduce you. I think you could be great for each other. He's troubled yet silly. Complicated yet sweet. Like a Little Debbie. He's what happens when scientists mix the DNA of Freddie Mercury with Michael Jackson. The kind of performer who can skip across stage and make the proudest, most hetero-est of men jealous. I'm guessing...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ah yes...i remember it well

i can't believe how different i looked in high school. man, those were the days. wrestling and just hanging out. talking about our capes and how sweet it'd be to own a dry cleaning machine. nothing worse than a smelly, wrinkly cape. s'what we always used to say.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Progress report

went over to the house today. took some pics. check out this photoset if you're curious. lots of killz all over our walls.

Progress photoset

here's the fire pictures if you haven't seen those yet.

Fire photoset

monster mash

Today i learned that a unicorn is a monster. i had no idea. all these years i've been under the impression that unicorns represent peace and restraint. but here he is with his forehead-sword, hanging out with the classic nogoodniks, a dragon, centaur, various ogres and KKK member. i feel like maybe he just got mixed up with the wrong crowd. kind of reminds me of my freshman year in college. my dorm floor, (labeled the worst on campus by the Residence Director) had about five ogres roaming the halls. the kind of guys who drank lots of natural light and wore adult diapers so they never had to leave their playstation. i remember one weekend when my parents visited. as i took them to my room to show off my sweet posters and strategic organizing there was puke, condoms and ramen noodles lining the floor. my poor mom. i bet she felt like that unicorn's mom did when this Monster Manual came out.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

to the left

i know this old. i know it's a bunch of things that point towards my lameness. i don't care. i capital LOVE this video. i find turning a mediocre top 40 song into an interesting country song with an accordion genius. every so often i put it on and two step around my living room. i don't even know how to two step. so i actually country skip/hop around (making waylon jennings turn in his grave) fully aware that i'm a giant loser. what can i say, i'm a sucker for a mandolin. i like that they sing "to the left" and point to the right. i like the way the sugarland lady "dances" all hunched over. and when she says, "welcome my fraynd beyonce" i smile. sue me.

beware the beard

rocking this is like having a license to

A) kick stuff.
B) throw your elbow into whoever and whatever.
C) spit.
D) play a bass guitar in a band and stare at other guys' girlfriends.
E) do pull ups in your basement every morning.

mess of deer

I once went "camping" in a forest. when i say camping i mean sleeping in my car. the forest was full of deer. maybe elk. i could only see their glowing eyeballs. thousands of them. i didn't end up camping in that forest.