Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Time is flying

Monday 1st September

Time is running away! All of July and August have gone and with them the cool weather. I am aware just how sensitive we humans are to the temperature. A degree here or there makes a huge difference. The breeze – or even wind as it was today – now only has a marginal cooling effect. Even a strong breeze doesn't make you feel anything like cool in the heat of the African sun. Temperatures are now easing into the low 30s. An extra degree or two in the water temperature also means that soon a cold shower will become a real treat!

The past week has been interesting and probably one of the most productive so far this year. I deliberately devoted time to catch up on the projects and people outside the hospital. I usually find little time for doing this. The people included a priest, three School Managers and the Diocesan project Co-ordinator. All gave me plenty of things to think about and challenged some of my pre-conceived ideas and beliefs. I have heard from many Zambian people that they shouldn't blame others for their plight and also that there are some here that have more wealth and live in greater luxury than most in the UK. These views were repeated this past week. Even my belief that bio-fuels are only for the benefit of the energy hungry West that is looking for some fancy accounting trick to allow it to continue to burn more carbon, was challenged.

As I constantly repeat, this world of ours is extremely complex and there are no simple solutions to the huge problems we face. However it is important for me to recognise that nothing is black and white, and just like humankind there are a multitude of shades in the middle.- and we should thank God for that.

I have spent a lot of time sitting in my flat at Homecraft with a coffee and my laptop. When I am playing with the databases I need to be able to concentrate and this is the environment I find best for this. One of the major outcomes was a solution to my problem with the expiry dates. I can't claim that the solution is very elegant or straightforward but it seems to work and produces the required result – which is to be able to press a button and find out which items of stock are due expire within any period stated. Well almost!! I had assumed a first in first out system – now I need to cope with the exceptions to this rule! Still don't worry I am sure that is only a minor modification!

I spotted a couple of Jacaranda trees close to full bloom at the weekend. A large Jacaranda is a ten metre high deep blue bush full of delicate blooms and a truly beautiful sight. My trip to the small dam yesterday found many enjoying the cool water, including a couple of cows that had found some new grass in the shallows so waded out for a hearty meal. I sat under a small bush which gave a little shade and settled down for a while to see what birds I could spot. Very soon I attracted the attention of some youngsters who enjoyed the next ¾ hour peering through my binoculars and scouring the pages of my bird book. Eventually I made my leave of Brian and his friends and returned to my laptop. Without my binoculars or book I realised that I could easily spot the African jacanas and cattle egrets (even at a distance) but which of the many types of swift were busy way above my head was a different matter.

The country is still in mourning for the loss of their President Levy Mwanawasa. The body was flown around the country so that as many people were able to pay their last respects and view the body. Pictures in the paper show that many thousands took that opportunity. Tributes continue to flood in. There is some unease at gap that has been left and fears that Mwanawasa's passion to fight corruption and support the poorest in the Country is not shared by all. It was revealed in the press this weekend that President Mwanawasa left a video to be shown after his death. With the burial on Wednesday, the tape planned to be televised on Thursday and the governing party (and Mwanawasa's) due to announce their presidential candidate on Friday, we seem to be set for an interesting week!
Today I tried to help one of the sisters at the hospital by preparing her computer to receive a copy of Windows and Microsoft office (despite the problems we have with Microsoft). Anyway I left her tonight without a working computer! My God knows how easily I get big-headed after a slight success and I am usually brought down to earth with a big bump. I am sure that when I have learnt my lesson everything will start to work again – but quite rightly relief rather than praise will be the order of the day.

Best wishes


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