climate changes happens in Africa too

Bry is sitting on her couch eating mini chocolate eggs out of the package with a spoon.

One thing I miss the most about Spain is sleeping under sheets and a blanket. There is something nice about crawling under a bunch of blankets, getting warm, curling up, and
going to sleep. Here, I worry about getting tangled up in my sweat soaked sheet and drowning.

Ningya is my new cat. She is Nigarmi’s mother. She was Karen’s cat but Karen’s plan for bringing her back to the States fell through. Ningya showed her appreciation for me by leaving a mouse head on the floor where I could step on it this morning.

I just finished that latest book by George RR Martin. Seriously, if he’s going to kill off so many characters, he needs to crank out books faster so I can keep track of all the new people he comes up with. Speaking of which, the novelty of killing people has worn off. Now its just tedious.

The weather is weird. Even the Togolese say so. Its like harmattan—there is this perpetual haze and, if I tilt my head just right and squint, it sometimes looks like there is snow blowing past the trees. The dust is there, but the harmattan chill is not. It cools down at night, but the air just stops. There is no breeze.

Walk with me outside, dear reader, at about 1 pm (1300). The sun is shining, the birds are singing. Then a breeze kicks up over a patch of open ground and you feel the heat on your eyeballs—a dry heat that sucks the water out of you so fast that you do not have time to sweat much. This is nice because then not so much dust cakes to your face. People ask you, if you dear reader, are me, how you can stand to wear jeans/khakis, and a long sleeved dress shirt that looks like a Goodwill reject. You reply that you want as much light weight cotton between your pearly white skin and the sun as possible. Hot cotton feels better than sunburn. Bedouin have the right idea. Another breeze skitters along like the heat burns its feet. This particular taste of dust is laced with this elusive hint of lilacs. A smell that brings to mind cool, dew-kissed mornings or deep gardens hung with shadows. Some bush enjoying brief renaissance offered by the two rainstorms of last month perhaps? Some shrub giving the sun the proverbial bird while spewing forth tender green leaves and blossoms? Some sun-inspired hallucination in one American’s head? It is, gentle reader, one of life’s many, fleeting mysteries as you trudge up the hill, through a gauntlet of children gleefully shrieking “yovo yovo Anasara bon soir” in their own midday revelry, and into another dusty afternoon.

I had a new window installed in my bedroom while I was in Spain. I have airflow now! It feels like a whole new house.

That was the nice thing about getting back from Spain. Actually, all of it was nice, up until I noticed that mice apparently held a laxative-laced orgy inside my gaurde-mange (cupboard-esque thing). One mouse apparently got really excited when he found himself in my clothes too. I hope I stepped on his head this morning.

There was a death in my neighbor’s house last week. This old guy got up one day, and did his usual thing. He hung out with people, ate, went to the field, came back, hung out with people, showered, ate, and went to sleep. And 16 hours later they were shoveling dirt in his grave. No one thought they’d be digging a grave that day.

On a more trivial note, I come to Africa and Peyton Manning is a Bronco. That’s the nice thing about life. Its full of surprises.

The thing, I remembered, that I dislike the most about hot season is that you can’t sleep. I am a sound sleeper, I usually do not wake up to dishes clanking, babies/goats screaming, chickens crowing, staticy radios blasting, people yelling, fufu bats pounding, moto horns bleating, or my host sisters arguing. Unless its hot season. I wake up probably three times a night to find a dry spot in my bed that I can move to. My pillow is always soaked in the morning—on both sides. The only way I can get a full night’s sleep is to drug myself with benedryl and chug coffee the next day.

Hey Karen—as I write this Barchisou is yelling at Bahrara “are you mad?!”

One thing that I still miss about the US is the ease of feeding myself. Cooking is tiring, hot, and requires too much thinking sometimes. I do not say that I would do this every day here, but there definitely times where a stack of Clif Bars and a bag of beef jerky would be like a taste of paradise (feel free to read this is a shameless plug if you want to).

I think that I have, on average, eaten 2 eggs a day for the past 365 days. Thats 730 eggs.

Holy week

It´s coming! Yeah! What does it mean for you? People have different thoughts about our holy week, it may mean a period of the year to rest, go to the beach, visit family...For others it has a deep religious feeling and they enjoy watching "pasos", sharing activities with their "hermandades" and taking part in their respective "estación de penitencia". Also there are some people who mix this religious feeling with resting and making other several and different things like myself. Can you write 200 words about what it means for you or what you usually do?

Cirilla Zenari-Sgrignani

Cirilla Zenari-Sgrignani is a currently unvalidated Italian supercentenarian from Veneto region, born on 28 February 1902.
Zenari, who became Veneto's oldest resident five days before her 110th birthday on 23 February 2012 after the death of Stella Nardari-Vecchiato, the country's oldest resident, is also currently Italy's eleventh-oldest known resident as of 2 March 2012, following the death of 111-year-old Giovanni Ligato.
Zenari, who worked for several decades as a haberdasher (dealer in men's clothing and tailoring supplies), is known to her family as "Grandma Cirilla" or "Ocialeti".
Reported to have been a determined and tireless worker throughout her life, Zenari was said to have, according to a number of relatives, been a "feminist before her time", marrying her then-husband, Alberto Sgrignani, against their family's wishes. She had one daughter, Anna Maria, with him.
Zenari on her 105th birthday
At age 105, Zenari was visited by Paolo Zanotto, then Verona's mayor, and received a gift of flowers, as well as a plaque, from him. On that occasion, she was reported to have three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
She celebrated her 110th birthday with a glass of her favourite wine, Recioto di Soave, a passito (straw wine), produced in and around Verona, Veneto, Italy. The party took place at her retirement home, The Betulle: Casa de Soggiorno, or literally The Birches: House of Living. The party took place with her family and several Betulle staff. It was reported that for over ten years, the retirement home had become known as the home of the "Granny of Verona".
If validated, Zenari would at present be the 72nd-oldest living person, following the death of Émilienne Nacry of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, on 10 March 2012, aged 111 years, 0 days. She would also, at age 110 years, 14 days, be Italy's 104th-oldest ever person, one day ahead of Natalina Simoncini-Pistolesi of Tuscany, who died in January 2000.

Chris Amos and Gerontology Research Group correspondent Paolo Scarabaggio helped with the writing of this article.

Man´s best friend

Can you write a composition (200 words) about why the dog is man´s best friend?

notes on the return from "civilization"

I am back in Togo. My backpack, however, is still in Paris (i think) compliments of AirFrance. I am thus conducting a test to see how many consecutive days one can wear the same pair of daily disposable contacts.

Its sort of a relief being back in Togo, aside from the fact that most of my earthly possessions are in limbo. Its less stressful. I do not have to worry about whether I can drink water from the tap. Or if fruits/vegetables have been bleached. Menu choices at restaurants stressed me out. So did the prices. Operating in a constant state of near fiscal insolvency is infinitely easier when one can argue about the cost of everything. I can cross the street where ever I want to and not worry about being splattered by someone going 140 kph in a Maserati. My favorite sports teams win and lose games without my near-fanatic insistence on watching the box score. I am now almost guaranteed the little-boy-on-christmas morning feeling when I check my email/facebook because i know that someone is likely to have emailed me this week . . . instead of in the 5 minutes since i checked it last. I can take showers without being guilty about how many gallons of hot water I am using. I have meaning, purpose, and direction in my life again. I no longer wonder why I am here (not that I spent any amount of time doing that in Spain anyway). I do not have to worry about whether I am conforming to Western social norms anymore, like standing in lines and not having a beer at 9 am. I am not bombarded by the US political situation. Or the Greek bailout. Or much news in general. Life is much less chaotic that way.

Seriously, I am glad to be back.

I really like Andalusia. Great food, good wine, great scenery, nice people, but not to many of them. Andalusia is interesting because it is, in a lot of ways, a real fusion of east and west. the moors left their mark on the place. its not only evident in the architecture, but also in the food and the lifestyle.

I confess that my vision of Spain was partially colored by the fact that I had just read "for whom the bell tolls" last month. I made sure that i went to one of Hemingway's favorite bull rinks. His visceral description of the spainish mountains in "for whom the bells tolls" colored how I saw them. One of my favorite places that I visited in Spain was Ronda. I might have mentioned it in my last post. Its this city in the mountains that straddles a deep gorge. One of the most beautiful cities I've seen. I found out, after the fact, that the scene in "for whom the bell tolls" where the mob executes fascist sympathizers was likely based on a real event in Ronda where alleged fascists were thrown in the gorge. How civilized is civilization.

List of Validated Supercentenarians born in 1876, as of 6 March 2012

There are a total of 26 supercentenarians on the list, with 24 females and 2 males.
(m) = male
italics = disputed

1. Edna Guthrie of Kansas (born Ohio), USA (2 Jan. 1876 – 29 Jun. 1987, aged 111 years, 178 days)
2. Telesflora Torre-Mendizibal of Spain (5 Jan. 1876 – 8 Oct. 1986, aged 110 years, 276 days)
3. Carrie Cook of Massachusetts, USA (5 Feb. 1876 – 31 May 1986, aged 110 years, 115 days)
4. Jennie Parlin of Michigan (born Ohio), USA (26 Feb. 1876 – 19 Dec. 1986, aged 110 years, 296 days)
5. Lizzie Hart of Georgia, USA (6 Mar. 1876 – 25 Sep. 1986, aged 110 years, 203 days)
6. Mary Keller of Pennsylvania, USA (19 Mar. 1876 – 19 Mar. 1986, aged 110 years, 0 days)
7.  Mitsu Fujisawa of Japan (9 Apr. 1876 – 17 Jan. 1990, aged 113 years, 283 days)
8. Mary Broyles of Indiana, USA (25 Apr. 1876 – 4 Aug. 1987, aged 111 years, 101 days)
9. Lillian Dahman of Kansas, USA (1 May 1876 – 1 Oct. 1986, aged 110 years, 153 days)
10. Frances McCord of New Jersey, USA (14 Jun. 1876 – 25 Sep. 1986, aged 110 years, 103 days)
11. Louise Bossong of New Jersey (born New York), USA (19 Jun. 1876 – 26 Jul. 1987, aged 111 years, 37 days)
12. Martha Knoles of Texas (born Georgia), USA (2 Jul. 1876 – 14 Dec. 1986, aged 110 years, 165 days)
13. Alphaeus Philemon Cole (m) of New York, (born New Jersey), USA (12 Jul. 1876 – 25 Nov. 1988, aged 112 years, 136 days)
14. Birdie May Vogt of Florida (born Ohio), USA (3 Aug. 1876 – 23 Jul. 1989, aged 112 years, 354 days)
15. Maxine Ashinger of Indiana (born Ohio), USA (3 Aug. 1876 – 29 Sep. 1986, aged 110 years, 57 days)
16. Nannie Watson of Virginia, USA (20 Aug. 1876 – 13 Jul. 1988, aged 111 years, 328 days)
17. Marie-Louise Jeancard of France (5 Sep. 1876 – 25 Nov. 1988, aged 112 years, 81 days)
18. George Callahan (m) of Minnesota, USA (6 Oct. 1876 – 14 Nov. 1986, aged 110 years, 39 days)
19. May Nutt of Ohio, USA (21 Oct. 1876 – 29 Jan. 1987, aged 110 years, 100 days)
20. Marie-Céline Maisonnaiud of France (26 Oct. 1876 – 17 Jun. 1987, aged 110 years, 234 days)
21. Grace Scott of New York, USA (5 Nov. 1876 – 11 Jun. 1988, aged 111 years, 219 days)
22. Christina Van Druten of the Netherlands (20 Nov. 1876 – 8 Dec. 1987, aged 111 years, 18 days)
23. Effie Samuel of Mississippi, USA (25 Nov. 1876 – 12 May 1987, aged 110 years, 168 days)
24. Sarah Belden of Virginia, USA (15 Dec. 1876 – 27 Dec. 1986, aged 110 years, 12 days)
25. Maren Bolette Torp of Norway (21 Dec. 1876 – 20 Feb. 1989, aged 112 years, 61 days)
26. Julia Cheney of New York, USA (25 Dec. 1876 – 1 Feb. 1987, aged 110 years, 38 days)

Italy's Oldest Man Dies at 111

Eight days after Italy's oldest resident, Stella Nardari-Vecchiato, died at the age of 113 years, 62 days, the country's oldest living man has also passed away.
Giovanni Ligato, who was born on 18 February 1901, died at the age of 111 years, 13 days on 2 March 2012, thus ending his approximately 2-year, 277-day reign as Italy's oldest male that began in late May 2009 upon the death of 108-year-old Carlo Dozzi, born on 25 January 1901.
Ligato, though he died in Liguria, Italy, was at the time of his death the oldest living person born in Calabria, Italy, a title he earned on 18 February 2011 upon the death of Carmela Mileo-Forciniti, aged 110 years, 0 days.
Mileo, born on 27 November 1899, had died aged 111 years, 83 days. Even with the considerably lower age represented by Ligato then, he was also the oldest person living in Liguria region, Italy, at the time of his death. His death leaves Fulvia Canale, born 10 March 1904 and aged 107 years 357 days at the time of Ligato's death, as that region's new oldest living resident.
Ligato's death as the 4th-oldest Italian male ever also leaves Giuseppe Mirabella of Sicily region as the oldest living Italian male beginning at 110 years 178 days. Mirabella, born on 6 September 1901, is the second-oldest living person from that region, behind Concetta La Rocca-Fera, born on 4 June 1901.
Mirabella, who was confirmed to be alive on 29 February 2012, is currently listed on the Gerontology Research Group's Table EE5, which records supercentenarians whose documentation for validation has not yet been completed.
At the time of his death, Ligato was the 51st-oldest living person, a rank that now passes to Olive Deschamps of Centre, France, born on 22 February 1901.
Ligato was the fourth-oldest living man at the time of his death, a honour that is now held by Shelby Harris of Illinois, United States, born on 31 March 1901.
Ligato was also the fourth-oldest resident of Italy, and the oldest living person from that country born in 1901, positions that both now pass to Concetta La Rocca.
At the time of his death, he was the 39th-oldest person to pass away in Italy, and the 47th-oldest person ever born in Italy, if the emigrant cases of eight supercentenarians older than him, one of whom is still living, is counted. He was also the 71st-oldest man on record, one day ahead of fellow Italian Domenico Minervino, who died in 1991 aged 111 years, 12 days.
Click for a report on his death in Italian.

Spain. Or, notes from "civilization"

I am going to live in Andalusia someday. Just to get that out of the way.

Today, for lunch, I had sushi and a Whopper. Some itches you just have to scratch. I really missed sushi. I would have preferred a Double Cheeseburger from McDonalds, but oh well.

So I flew to the southern coast of Spain to meet up with my family for a week, minus 2 siblings. We've been seeing stuff in southern Spain, like Gibraltar and Granada. Its been really fun. I like the wine. And the food. But its been really weird in some other ways.

The day I left Lome, I walked to the marche at about 12 pm. it was something like 50 degrees out. When I got off the plane in Paris, they said it was like 6 degrees out. I seriously didn't stop shivering for 8 hours. I never realized how used to the heat I became.

When I got off the plane in Paris, I marveled at the differences in the way people travel. Africans dress up and bring piles of overstuffed suitcases. Americans dress like they are going to a slumber party and bring piles of overstuffed bags. The difference being that west Africans are bringing presents for whomever they are visiting.

I was hungry, so I bought a smoked salmon bagel sandwich. I paid with my credit card. . . and stared at the offered receipt and pen for a good long time before I remembered that I had to sign something. Has it always been like that? The sandwich was amazing.

At the Malaga airport, I got a taxi to the condo. I was the only passenger in the car. I felt naked.

I've been eating a lot of cheese. Now I can't eat cheese anymore.

When I got to the condo/resort, and after the talking, I realized that I didn't have any clean clothes to change into. So I went to the bathroom, filled up the sink (running water! sparkling bathroom!), got a bar of soap, started scrubbing . . . and my dad comes in and is like 'there's a washing machine in the kitchen.' . . . oh.

I can't begin to describe the wonder of a washing machine. Dryers are useless, but washers are amazing.

We've been taking tours places. With guides. And buses. And someone to tell me where to stand to take a picture. Tourists are like well-trained sheep. They even bleat on cue. If you like tours, do not be offended. If you read this blog, I doubt you clap and cheer when the tour guide gives you the right cue.

I think of myself as a neo-tourist. I like to wander and linger. I found the office of the Social Democrats of Gibraltar. One of my favorite parts of the trip was drinking Malaga sweet wine with my brother and sister in this little sidewalk cafe in the shadow of a cathedral.

Concerning the Christian 'reconquista' of Spain, I think my brother summed it up best in Al-Hambra palace when he was like "the moors built all kinds of pretty "stuff" then the christians came and covered it up with ugly "stuff."'

I feel fundamentally out of place. I can't figure out why. Its not the language barrier. I am used to that. I really enjoy the food. I missed my family a lot. I love seeing new places. The scenery here is amazing. But I'm surrounded by excess when I came from not enough. Its really weird.

I am sitting in reception, surrounded by people on iPads, or smartphones. I am embarrassed to even take my phone out of my pocket here.

When I got to Europe, I didn't stop shivering until I took a hot shower. My first one since I left the States (unless you count the lukewarm showers at this one hotel in Lome). I really love it if I don't think about how much water I am using . . .