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.

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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.

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Languages, juju curses

I hope you all had a blessed Easter.
We had a nice, quiet lunch.


So after the last post about the Malian people coming in and farming the forests….

There’s a woman who sells roasted peanuts on the corner of the university. I don’t know where she gets her energy. Every day I pass her, I’m greeted with, “Eeeeeehhh, camarade!” and given what I like to think of as the secret handshake (slide your palms together followed by a fistbump, then touch the fist to your heart. She takes such delight in teaching me things, such as schooling me on African French. She’ll speak to me (usually too quickly) the same phrases over and over, each day, until I start repeating them back to her. She asks me questions that she obviously doesn’t care about the answer.

Me: Je suis ici lundi.
Her: Eh? *confused look*
Me: Lundi?
Me: En deux jours?
Her: *face lights up* Aaaah, Lehn-di! Lehn-di!

It’s obvious French is not her native language, because sometimes here friends are there and they understand me.  (Maybe that’s why she’s so excited to teach me French? And is actually fairly good at it?)

Turns out, she’s from the Bambara people, which probably means she’s Malian. …so now I’m probably going to learn Bambara, too.

Other very common words/phrases (excuse the lack of appropriate accents):
On dit quoi? – What’s up?
Vas á oú? – Where are you going?
‘Ya monné? – Do you have change?
Faut monté – Said by taxi drivers when they accept your conditions (destination, change availability, etc)
Faut….- You have to…. Nobody says the “il” in “il faut”.
Bic – Pen
Yah koh! – I’m sorry; an expression of sympathy and encouragement.
C’est ca – That’s right, that’s it
Pas de problem – No problem
Ca c’est combien? – How much is that? This is the grammar used here. None of the stuff you learn in an actual French class.
On peut…. – Can I…./ is it possible to… I tried the “Puis-je….” suggested by Google translate when I first arrived, and nobody understood what I meant.
Pallu – Short for palludisme, or malaria. Small change, but it threw me when I went to the pharmacy.

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Course maximums and registration deadlines are for sissies.

Last week was week two, and my classes were both at the maximum of 15 studies. I assumed that was it, assigned work, sorted students into groups for their research assignments.

You know what they say about the word assume.


Meanwhile, did I mention our microbiology supplies have come? It’s always like Christmas when supplies come. Here, it’s a Christmas miracle.


Me: Really, we should keep bases and acids separate. So they don’t fall over on each other and blow up the building.
Tech: We need more space.
Me: Yes.
Tech: And the bottles are not good, so the chemicals are evaporating. That’s why I keep the window open.
Me: …Wait, what?

New Year’s, Adventures of Lost Luggage

One of the expats has a term for our Christmas adventure. “Cultural Kidnapping.”

Later in the week, we had a Christmas Redo, with more traditional activities: a nice lunch, exchanging gifts around the Christmas tree*, Christmas music.

LM made cornbread stuffing (Texas native) from polenta cornbread, and it was the best thing ever. I learned that you cannot heat up mashed potatoes on the stovetop unless you want a gluey mess.**

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