Small things that aren’t

It’s really the little things that get to you.

When the poorer woman from church assumes you’re paying her taxi fare.

When you’re charged a different price every time.

When the cashiers give you dirty looks every time you don’t have exact change.

Continue reading Small things that aren’t


Odds and ends, visitors, and more weird church things

Good grief, someone is driving around with a stuck car alarm going off.

There are four Nigerians who comprise the summer biology course. They have never taken biology before, ever. Can you imagine? There is so much we take for granted that ‘everyone knows.’ Everyone doesn’t know what protein is, or what the cell looks like, or even that we’re made of cells. I wonder if part of it is because they’re comfortable with the existence of magic?

There is not a whole lot to tell. There have been a couple of visitors from abroad, and a couple other things to note.

Continue reading Odds and ends, visitors, and more weird church things

Research supplies and availability (or lack thereof), Samo church outreach

This summer, “I’ve been busy preparing for a research project” is code for “I’ve been busy slamming my head into the desk trying to figure out how to do research when you don’t know how to contact suppliers who don’t usually have what you need anyway, or leaving at 4 PM exhausted from running in circles.”

I just spent two weeks trying to get the last of the budget for the down payment on a multiparameter instrument. It took several days and a trip to the Dean to get our lab tech to even explore the possibility (one possibility: he’s receiving a little $$ from his favorite supplier, who is slow and unreliable). Then it took another week for the answer of ‘no.’ Then I was told the money “was gone” so I couldn’t even get the small things we need.

Continue reading Research supplies and availability (or lack thereof), Samo church outreach


The university has installed suggestion boxes at the non-main entrance. One inside the gate, one outside the gate.


Seems appropriate.

Meanwhile, my colleague and I went to Ghana for the weekend.

First, I will play Travel Guide and give you my experience with Cape Coast and the road there. Afterwards, you can continue reading for the less sunny but possibly helpful cultural insights.

Continue reading Ghana

Music, Ile Boulay

Happy Pentecost holiday, even to the heathen Americans who don’t celebrate  😉

Rainy season. The Electrical Box Chickens get the additional shelter of a board in front of the grating. They are getting quite fat (unless they are constantly being replaced….). The walk to work has become an obstacle course. Planning trips has become a gamble.

Continue reading Music, Ile Boulay

Update on the chicken situation:

We’re back to three white chickens, still living under my electrical box.


In other news, I reserved a room for finals and asked three times to make sure I was booked. Arrive to find my fears confirmed: another prof had booked the room weeks ago (according to him). They hadn’t updated the schedule. It took 25 minutes to find a room and then bring in desks to fit my entire class.

R.I.P. camera battery. All photos until July will be taken by smartphone.


There are two locked, grated cabinets outside the apartment building, where electrical boxes/breakers are held. There is a large one with most of the apartments, and a small one with two or three, including mine*. The guardian of the building is currently keeping chicken(s) in the small one.

Lower left. There is now one white chicken. And two roosters? Two of a different type of chicken? Staying somewhere else? I don’t even know, except that they were bullying the white one today.

During adjunct-ing and TA-ing in the US, I was not exposed enough to the other faculty to hear the adjectives used when grieving over or celebrating various students, but I am used to distinguished students (good or bad) being “hard-working,” “intelligent,” “creative,” and “lazy.”
The vocabulary used here seemed odd or simplistic at first, but now I realize it’s accurate. Good students are “serious,” bad students are “not serious.” Period. There’s little separation by intelligence or work ethic. It is rare for a student to care about their grades or education but can’t quite get themselves to work, or aren’t quite as quick as the others.


It has been a week (more?) since the last stressful event in the long string of stressful events. Is it safe to come out of the mindset of mentally preparing for the next disaster? Whether it is or is not, life is significantly easier at the moment.


The church I attend in Bassam is very small and informal (they don’t even have a building yet). This is an important detail that makes the following way less awkward.

Last Sunday, the pastor asked the congregation to encourage me and my efforts to consistently attend a foreign-language church. It was very kind.

Then, he used it as an illustration that the holy spirit can speak in all languages, since I always understand the message (true and true…).


* They did not install the box to my apartment until I moved in half a year ago.