September 16th, 2007

Summer Break


...And what a summer break it was... After a two month hiatus from web maintenance and serious responsibility in general, I'm back with a vengeance (vuelvo con una venganza?). OK, that sounds a little violent. But I am back, finally, and with no less than a superexciting recap of the last two months.

So what have I been being doing the last two months? In outline form:

  • A short trip to the States
  • A hurricane scare
  • Some twiddling of the fingers
  • Computer repair
  • A programming class or two
  • Free time! It's summer break right??

So I'll get 'em in order. I took a short trip to the States, Reno/Lake Tahoe to be more specific, for my cousin Amy's wedding. The trip was about 5 days, incidentally tacking on a 6th to allow for an unpleasant night at LAX trying my hardest to fall asleep in a chair that was engineered specifically to prevent just such an activity. Thanks Delta!

The ceremony and reception on the lakefront were very nice and gave me a chance to get to know my own extended family a little better. It's a strange thing, the extended family. Not that the people are strange... Rather, the way we know each other based on encounters of only 2-3 days every 2 years... if that. I feel like we used to know each other better... and that was probably true before distance entered the equation, a distance that has only grown as I have grown. I was consciously dwelling on this thought during the trip, probably spurred by the sudden and obvious cultural differences I was confronted by, especially with regards to cultural ideas of family. Without becoming too long-winded on the subject, most Dominicans do not understand the familiar distance many Americans come to see as typical or even necessary. Generally, Dominicans keep their families (in a very inclusive sense) close, if not physically, then at least in their conscious concern. I can't help wondering if it might be better that way, having a rich extended family in the inclusive sense.

Anyway, I'm waxing philosophical and any self-respecting blogger knows to avoid such ramblings. To sum up: The trip was pleasant and relaxing. After 5 days, my lips and skin were flaking and cracking from the dry mountain air (to be remedied by just 30 minutes in the perpetual sauna that is Santo Domingo). I slept in the most comfortable bed ever (perception possibly flawed by current mattress) at the Hampton Inn in Truckee. I gambled for the first time in my life, losing one dollar in the penny slots at The Sands within one minute. I'm not much of a gamer. I had a bit of prime rib, though, admittedly, it wasn't as good as I remembered it. I had a nice car trip around the Lake with the family. It is certainly a beautifully serene location. And I'm sure other things happened too, though I'd like to talk about the "hurricane" at some point, so I'll move on.

Only a week after my return to the island, we were warned of a tropical storm in the Southeast Caribbean that was expected to become a hurricane and make its way towards us. This was to be my first experience with a hurricane and I can't help but feel a little disappointing at its anticlimactic resolution. Of course, then I correct myself and thank the stars the hurricane came to nothing. The Peace Corps administration felt sufficiently concerned to consolidate most of the volunteers. Translation: we were put up in a hotel for 3 nights with all meals provided. There was even air conditioning and cable! We received little wind and even less rain. My house and cat were fine upon returning home. In the end, the hurricane scare was just less than a vacation (less because we weren't allowed to leave the hotel). I'm certain the entire island was relieved to see the hurricane pass with very little damage.

In terms of actual work, the summer has been slower than I would have liked. We have only been giving two classes a week in the lab and the students in the computer club have all been working (which is actually a good thing... two are working in Internet centers), leaving only Sunday afternoons free for class. I've been repairing and rehabbing computers in another lab. It would be an easier and quicker process if someone knew the passwords for Windows and the BIOS...

I've taken on more Peace Corps related work as well, fleshing out a manual for lab coordinators (in Spanish) and working as a webmaster for the new Peace Corps/Dominican Republic website. At the same time, we the IT Volunteers are putting together a 3 day youth conference for the middle of October that still requires a lot of planning.

Of course, I've still been reading plenty of books and tocando la guitarra more than usual. But don't think I'm complaining about that. The cat also keeps me entertained. I swear, he finds the weirdest bugs and biggest lizards to bring inside and play with/terrorize/eat. He's getting fat.

Anyway, that about sums up life. School is now officially back in session and I'm going to see if I can't get some new classes formed. Stranger things have happened. I hope everyone is healthy and in good humor. Can it really be the middle of September?

Peace.



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