Tuesday, June 30, 2009
He said the mood in Honduras is peaceful, and that the desire for peace is the overwhelming public opinion. He referred me to a good article by the Miami Herald that describes the legal issues involved, and has commentary by the leading Honduran military lawyer. In short, it says that they did break the letter of the law in the sense that they denied Zelaya due process, but that the circumstances justified the actions to the extent that there will be "justification and cause for acquittal that will protect us."
One more bit of news about Honduras: I was contacted by a reporter from the Waco Tribune-Herald about it. Apparently, some folks from Waco are having a bit of trouble getting out of the country, and he wanted to know if Ryan was too. This morning, there was the story on the front page. Here's a link to the online version.
It seems that Zelaya may to return to Honduras this weekend. It quiet the international community he did return but was arrested and tried for his crimes. That might take away any argument his side may have claiming foul-play, but, unfortunately, it may result in some people getting killed if violence ensues. Why don't you call Secratary Clinton and tell her this is a bad idea:
State Department Comment Line: 202-647-6575
Monday, June 29, 2009
So why is Hilary Clinton pressuring Honduras to restore their ousted president, "Mel" Zelaya, along side Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, and Daniel Ortega?! This is outrageous! The Obama administration should apologize to the people and government of Honduras for jumping to conclusions and taking their lead from Chávez. But it seems they are more interested in kissing up with Latin American dictators and socialists.
[The US should help support, not attack, Honduran efforts to uphold democracy. Get it? The pipe is like democracy...]
OK. Deep breath. The M just came in and we chatted a while. She sensed that I was stirred up and asked me about the source of it. As I paused in a moment of self-reflection, investigating the source of my own emotions, I realized my agitation was coming from what is going on in Honduras. I am feeling defensive of my brothers and friends there. Even though the Honduran folks who run in my circles have no direct influence on these events, I still feel a certain defensiveness for the country as a whole. They are being bullied. And to make matters worse, one of the biggest bullies is my own government! Hillary and Obama embarrass me as an American. That's how I feel: embarrassed and defensive.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Here is the story as I understand it:
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Here is the sculpture we call "The Scorpion". We build the pipes into the configuration that we imagine, then hook up the water hose and it becomes a fountain! The boys, especially Jono, played with it for hours. He rebuilt it over and over again like Legos crossed with a water gun. David and I brainstormed about how to start a business selling kits of PVC, including our special secret modifications, to other kids in the neighborhood. Entrepreneurs in training!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Ryan is with him now at the police station. Soon they will get his car assessed to see if it is repairable. I don't know if he has insurance or not, but I know he makes his living with that taxi, and he was going to pay it off within a few months. I'm sure this is a very stressful time for him.
Please pray for his peace, that his car can be repaired economically, and for provision for his family. He has a wife and two kindergarten-age kids. He doesn't know I am posting this, but if you would like to help him repair his taxi and/or put food on his table, send me an email. I can help you help him. Maybe this is a time for the global church to support one of its own.
This is a photo of Sergio helping us install electric lights in the church in Pueblo Nuevo in 2007.
Monday, June 15, 2009
This is the outside view of the church in Danta Uno where we held our meeting. Our electricity provided the lights, which I love to see. We had about 30 people in attendance.
This photo is from the other village, Pueblo Nuevo, where we met at the school instead. I think there were even more people at this meeting, though I did not attend it. If you look carefully, you can see the kids standing outside the screen "windows" trying to see what all the crazy gringos are doing.
Here is the drama part: as the people came in, there were no electric lights being used. There were only two kerosene-burning "candils" that gave off only a little light, and were slowly filling the school with fumes and smoke.
Then, after everyone arrived, they began the meeting by turning on a single light bulb, which dramatically outshone the two candils. Yea for electricity. Then we began to describe how they might get electricity in their homes and how much it was going to cost.Sergio and Ryan explained how the light bulbs and current limiters worked, and the pricing options.
I like this photo because it shows how brightly everyone is lit. None of these pictures was taken with a flash. Also, in this shot you can see the fan we put out in the middle of the isle to blow on people. This is what they call "marketing".
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
When I think about bringing the capability to watch television to people in rural villages, I have to cringe a little. I feel like I am, potentially, opening a door to a toxic culture that could pollute or poison them, in a way. As a conscientious company, we plan to address this potential problem through some proactive teaching coordinated with the church, but I still have concerns about the materialism and sensuality that these people could be exposed to, even if only the rich can afford a television.
But tonight I heard a different story. Tonight I heard about a community coming together around their team, to enjoy some fellowship, some camaraderie, some rivalry. Tonight there was an oasis of entertainment in a life heavy on hard work and difficulty. I'm glad Ryan missed his bus.
Monday, June 8, 2009
There was an actual tsunami warning (I didn't even know they issued tsunami warnings!) the next day, but it was cancelled by mid morning. Teresa, one of our team who had to leave early, kept me informed via text messaging from the US as she watched CNN.
Later we found out that there was a lot of damage in the city San Pedro Sula, even though it was farther from the epicenter. Chalk it up to differences in soil or something. I don't know, ask someone who remembers geophysics. A bridge was destroyed in a town west of La Ceiba called El Progresso. I guess they won't be progresso-ing at quite the same pace now. The bridge is made of two parts, an old one (which collapsed) and a new part made by the Japanese government which, curiously, builds a lot of bridges in Honduras for reasons unknown to me.
Since the big one, there have been lots of little aftershocks and tremors. I don't really know what the difference is between an aftershock and a tremor, despite that graduate-level course in geophysics I had to take. Perhaps an aftershock is what happens when you're working on the power lines after they turn the power back on. Then a tremor happens as you realize your close encouter with death. Hypothetically speaking.
Anyway, earthquakes with magnitude greater than 4.5 are recorded on the US Geological Survey's website, and I have been watching them. There have been several subsequent earthquakes, and there was another large one yesterday off the coast near La Ceiba. There have also been several in the vicinity of the villages where we work.
I did a little reading about earthquakes on Wikipedia (SOAK) not because I couldn't remember my geophysics class, but because... because... ok, I couldn't remember. I did recall that an earthquake with magnitude 7.0 has ten times the vibrational amplitude as one with a 6.0. But what I found really interesting was the energy released by earthquakes!
An earthquake with magnitude 7.1 releases the energy of 50 million tons of TNT!! That is on par with the largest nuclear weapon ever tested! It was almost double the energy of 1989 San Fransisco earthquake, the Loma Prieta. There are only about 18 earthquakes, annually, that fall into the 7.0-7.9 range, over the whole world! Who would want to sleep through that?
Saturday, June 6, 2009
This little guy had to crawl up on my hood to wash my windows at the gas station. He didn't do a very good job, but I cut him some slack because I imagined the hood was rather warm!
This is Blaine with Mr. Gomez, Sergio, and Adolfo (clockwise from 3 PM). Mr. Gomez and Adolfo are tasked with promoting the use of electricity in the villages for income-earning activities. They are entrepreneurs in their own right. Mr. Gomez has a fish farm and Adolfo has a general store. Sergio was there to learn about business principles and translate.
I wish the quality of this photo was better, but i took it with my phone in low light, so I guess I should be glad it came out at all.
Friday, June 5, 2009
In fact, it reminded me of my trips to Venus. OK, not really. When I put on sunscreen, it smoked. OK, not really. But in truth, I lost 13 pounds in 14 days, and I think I sweat it off. You know how hamburgers on the grill get smaller after the fat melts off? That was me. Well done.
In the picture below you can see that my shirt was soaked and sticking to me like I had been in the rain or something. I think I drank over 4 liters of water that day.
The day I took this picture I was walking around the village, Pueblo Nuevo, with a map we created. The map showed where all the power lines are supposed to go, but the map didn't have all the roads and foot paths shown on it. So I was walking around sketching the roads and foot paths when these two boys, Darwin and Jami (pronounced Hi-me) joined me. They started chatting to me in Spanish, seemingly unaware of my inability to speak much of it. Surprisingly, I could understand much of what they said.
Perhaps it is because their vocabulary is simpler than the adults', or perhaps they speak slower and clearer, but I could follow these boys pretty well. We had deep, meaningful discussions about how old they were and how many brothers and sisters they had. I would ask them who lives in that house, or which path do we take to get to that house. They were so glad to help me - I think it made them feel important.
Isn't this just like all of us? God is doing the work, but we get to follow him around and take part. It makes us feel important, but it's really him doing the work. Except I don't know if God sweats.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The squiggly line in the middle is the Rio Cangrejal!
He lives with his wife and four daughters in Danta Uno, Honduras. We visited them during the day where the mother shared with us her concerns that Melvin has a difficult time getting work because of his deafness. Ironically, Melvin was working for us at the time and was amazing the students with his strength and endurance. He was outlasting the meat-eating college students who were, themselves, working very hard. (They moved about 20,000 pounds of rocks in two weeks.)
Melvin worked intelligently too, and contributed several good ideas to the construction of the water intake system of the pico hydroelectric generator. For those that did not speak Spanish, Melvin was actually easier to communicate with than the other village men, because he was used to communicating with hand signals. He was soon everybody's favorite.
Later in the week, we revisited Melvin's family (and several visiting friends) under the light of our electricity. It was deeply rewarding to be in his home at night when the lights were on. Only a year ago this room would have been illuminated by kerosene-burning "candils" that belch soot and give only a fraction of the light for a similar costs to our electricity.
Times like these enable me to "not grow weary in doing good", despite the days of unbelievable heat and humidity, despite 20,000 pounds of rocks, or days of frustration when nothing works right, or having six flat tires on two vehicles in two weeks. This gringo grande feels satisfied. I, like Melvin, am happy.
Monday, June 1, 2009
-Ryan McGhee 2007
The first day or two after arriving at the Villa Helen's hotel, we had some design work and calculations to perform. Lisa, Eduardo, and Teresa were fresh out of a class called Fluid Mechanics, which studies the flow of fluids like water and air. They enthusiastically tackled a pipe flow calculation and were somewhat excited to break out their calculators! Engineers!
Arriving in Roatan, we took the ferry known as the Galaxy Wave for the two-hour trip across the Caribbean to the coastal city of La Ceiba, Honduras. Our mission: to launch a new village-level electricity company in a remote rural village, and to repair a pico hydroelectric system installed last year in another village.
Dramamine was available free of charge but the ride was pretty smooth and no one got sea sick... at least on the journey in. On the journey out we had rougher seas and several queasy engineers.
This is the discount ferry, Reina Rusto. We went ahead and splurged on the Galaxy Wave instead, on account of it having air conditioning and life boats, in that order.
Lisa came back for a second trip, a veteran from last year with an unshakably good attitude. Here she is enjoying the sea breezes and trying to stay cool in the intense Central American sun. The air conditioned seats filled up before she could get one, so she had to ride on deck.
Two weeks later on the return voyage, however, Lisa did not fare well in the rough seas. I was talking to a friend when Diana came to tell me Lisa was feeling bad. I jumped up to check on her, and when I first saw her she was a pale green color, almost like in cartoons, and was obviously feeling terrible. We went outside and got her a 7up, but the drink and sea breezes were not enough, and she lost her breakfast. Poor thing. I tried to help her by keeping her hair out of it and saying encouraging things. She was a trooper, actually. I would have been crying and/or fainting for sure. The wind sent her breakfast flying and we were both kind of messy by the time she was finished. But I could tell she felt better just from her countenance. I was almost as relieved as she was.
Having your student throw up on you might not sound like a normal part of being a professor, and maybe it isn't. But to tell you the truth, I didn't mind at all. The whole event evoked strong paternal emotions in me, and I felt like I was with one of my own children. I would have done just about anything for her at that time. I love my job.