Thursday, May 31, 2007

from the "interNAUT?" dept.

I've learned that SKYY has a new ISP with much faster download speeds. It appears to be true: I downloaded the Thursday Globe and Mail in about 10 minutes (compare to 8 hours) and today's NY Times is downloading at a brisk rate as well.

Torrents are slow. But that could be NAT issue stuff.

Let's hope this lasts... it'll mean more images, videos and audio content. Yeah!


from the "back online, nothing to report" dept.

Emilee, my JHR colleague, is on her way back to Accra. It was a good visit and we talked about many things including some interesting future opportunities and a case study project in August.

Apart from work, we visited a couple of places in Takoradi I had not yet discovered. For lunch we wanted a nice quiet spot with a patio. We went to a place called Captain Hook's that looked nice but the patio was closed. A waitress suggested a short walk up the road to a place called Planter's Lodge. Wow!

It's an expensive 40-room hotel with an inviting outdoor pool, comfy chairs all around and reasonably priced beer. I'll be back here Saturday to read and escape the hubbub. It's just a 15,000 cedi ($2) taxi ride away.

After popping home for a long telephone chat with CBC Vancouver regarding some upcoming opportunities, Emilee and I went to a highly recommended restaurant called Akroma Plaza. They have an extensive menu and, it turns out, outstanding pizza. It is a tad expensive at 90,000 cedi ($11 or so), but it is certainly worth it. We ordered two big pizzas. Even better: There are leftovers in my fridge as I type this.

As it's the end of the month, I've got lots of JHR reports to get done today and tomorrow. And then: Hello weekend.

More to come!


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

from the "crossing paths" dept.

Zebras only
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

A sign found in the Adabraka section of Accra, Ghana.

Buduburam Burial Images

Buduburam Burial 3
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

I've posted about a dozen pictures from the burial at the Buduburam Refugee Camp. Click on the image or HERE tell see them all.

Monday, May 28, 2007

from the "back in the saddle, again" dept.

Luck was with me today.

After a surprisingly good sleep on Mark and Janet's floor, I grabbed a taxi to the bus station in the hopes of snagging a seat on either the 8 or 9 or 10 a.m. bus to Takoradi. Advance tickets are recommended but require a special trip to the bus station and the cost of two taxi rides (I don't have the knowledge of Accra tro-tro routes to take advantage of this much cheaper option).

Thanks to a final coffee with Mark and Janet and heavy Accra traffic, I missed the 8 a.m. bus. But I arrived in plenty of time for the 9:30 which left just after 10. A record!

It was a pleasant trip. The skies were cloudy and the bus was cool. Armed with a Carl Hiaasen novel (Sick Puppy) I giggled all the way to Cape Coast. After a short 15 minute pitstop we continued (with me giggling) to Takoradi, arriving around 2:30 p.m.

I zipped home only to discover that there was no power and no gas cylinder for the stove. The former being easier to explain than the latter.

I decided to head into work as I had been gone for a week. After warm greetings from everyone, I settled into a little internet research, some Daily Show downloads and suddenly it was 8:35 p.m.

Emilee, from JHR, is in town for the next few days so this week is bound to be busy. That's ok, because a group of us are heading to the Green Turtle Lodge for the weekend of June 8 and 9. Can't wait for that!

And so it goes... and pictures from the funeral should be up Tuesday.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

from the "short stories" dept.

It's around 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday night at the Sharpnet internet cafe in Accra. My eyelids are heavy and I am dreaming of a comfortable nights rest. It is doubtful that will happen as I am sleeping on a floor tonight. But, I should add, it is by choice. I should also add that it will make getting up and the crack of dawn and heading to the bus station a little easier.

And an apology: I'm writing this as a brain dump sans any copy editing. Hold on tight, a grammatical train wreck is just around the corner...

THURSDAY -- the day after the trip to the refugee camp was fairly busy. Running her, running there. Buying this. Buying that. In the evening I went for dinner at a nice restaurant in Adabraka called the White Bell. It was a mixed JHR/Ghanaian crowd and with much political discussion over several Star beer. I pulled the pin around 10 p.m. so I could get back to the hotel and do a quick hand wash (I've become an expert at this) and pack.

FRIDAY -- I checked out of the hotel and zipped over to Mark and Janet's place in Labone. Our plan for the weekend was a trip to Ada Foah, a coastal village roughly 100 km east of Accra. There is a small "resort" there with a cluster of 15 or so thatched huts on a peninsula of sand where the Volta River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

From Accra, we took four tro-tros and a short canoe-with-a-motor ride to the end of the peninsula and paradise.

Inside each hut is a bed and a chair (or small table). The floors are sand, there is no electricity and you have to make do with squat toilets and bucket showers. But at roughly $7 a night, it is heavenly. There are plenty of hammocks and loungers to read from. The food is good (and cheap $3-4 mains) and it's an amazingly tranquil environment.

The fear of sand contamination kept me from bringing my good camera (although I have found a Sony Store in Accra to buy a replacement point-and-shoot once my replacement Visa card arrives), but my travelling companions snapped many a photo that I will post eventually. In the mean time, I found THESE PICTURES on Webshots and THESE on flickr.

Friday night we sat around until around 9 p.m. There were few other visitors and we were tired from our long journey. I found it difficult to sleep, chalking it up to a lumpy mattress.

The next morning I couldn't get out of bed. I had absolutely no energy. I felt like I had food poisoning but without the vomiting and the runs. In other words, it wasn't food poisoning. I decided to roll over and sleep for another hour. This continued until late in the day. My friends checked to see if I was alive several times and I assured them I was (my voice being a dead giveaway).

I rolled out of bed around 5 and dragged my ass outside to the table everyone was sitting at. I explained how I felt and declined to order any dinner. Around 7, I was done and headed back to bed. I actually slept through most of an evening drumming session, bonfire and sing song.

Sunday morning I bounced out of bed before 6. Feeling much better, I refreshed myself with a bucket shower. I declined the squat toilet, figuring I could hold it for another day.

We spent the day eating, wandering around and reading. Mid-afternoon a big storm hit, sending us all to our huts. After an hour or so, the heavy rain stopped but it remained quite cool (hurray!) with sprinkles. This gave us time to discuss what had made me ill. We concluded that I must have had sunstroke from the funeral earlier in the week. This could be true, as I did get a pretty bad sunburn and I was now shedding facial skin at an alarming rate.

It was getting late and we decided to pack up and head home. It took forever to pay our bills, but this is Ghana and things here work differently. Customer service really isn't a priority.

We each had three bills - one for the hut, one for the food and one for the drinks. Interestingly, coffee counts as food. Fanta counts as drinks. We also discovered a discrepancy in prices. This, we were told, was because the menus were old and hadn't been updated. Change was also a problem. No one seemed to have enough notes to give us the correct change. It took and hour to figure it all out.

Eventually we crowded onto our canoe-with-a-motor and headed back to the tro-tro stop. We found that most of the tro-tros back to Accra were packed. But, thanks to Janet and a group of German students, we decided to hire our own. It wasn't cheap, but we were tired, it was getting late, and it was still raining. We made it back to Mark and Janet's around 8. After a quick slab of pizza in Osu, we returned to the internet cafe to check the mail.

I'm going to sleep at Mark and Janet's tonight and grab an early bus home to Takoradi tomorrow. I am exhausted and I miss my bed!

That's it for now...


PS: My mom sent along this interesting item from the National Post... click here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

from the "mixed bag" dept.

Accra, Ghana - Thursday

The thing about living in Ghana is that you never know where the day will take you. This happens all the time and is one of the things I love about this place. Take Wednesday, for example.

The day began with a tro-tro ride out to Buduburum, a refugee camp located about 45 minutes outside of Accra. I was accompanied by Renee and Angelique, two JHR colleagues.

I had been asked to hold a photography workshop at The Vision, Buduburum's community newspaper.

After speaking to a half dozen Vision reporters about photojournalism, we headed outside with my camera to capture life in the camp.

While walking around we discovered that six victims of a horrific car crash were to be buried that afternoon.

The crash, which occurred a couple of weeks ago, was the worst in Ghana's history. 41 dead. Reuters has a short story on the crash here.

A number of the victims were from Buduburum. According to a reporter from the Vision, 13 members of one family died in the crash while travelling on a bus from Ivory Coast to join relatives at the camp. The crash was so bad that only 9 of the 13 have been identified.

"We are burying only 6 because the other 3 have decomposed" a family member told the Vision. "The rest got damaged beyond recognition."

A 14th member of the family involved in the crash, an 8-year-old girl, is still in a coma in hospital. She is the only family member to survive the accident.

Under a blistering sun Renee, Angelique and two reporters from the paper made our way to the graveyard.

We were initially stopped by a group of gravediggers who refused to let us pass unless we got the OK from the family. Before we knew it, about 30 people surrounded us. Everyone remained calm and we presented our side (to report the news for the Buduburum community) and they presented theirs (we should have more respect).

Eventually the district co-ordinator joined the discussion. A few minutes later we were allowed to continue on.

The scene in the graveyard was unbelievable. Six holes were readied for six coffins. There were more than 100 mourners and not one paid any attention to the Vision reporters or us.

A UNHCR ambulance arrived with four bodies in plain wooden caskets. At this point pandemonium erupted. The coffins were carried graveside as mourners began screaming with grief. I have never, ever, experienced anything like this.

I had been asked to photograph the burial for the paper and as the coffins came out of the ambulance, I started shooting. Every once in a while I had to take a break -- the experience was so overwhelming.

There was some confusion over the identity of the bodies, and the priest planned to wait for the remaining two to show up before starting the service. In the meantime, a call went out for a black marker so that the coffins could be labelled.

After a long wait, I noticed the priest, the district coordinator and others were screaming into their mobile phones. They demanded that the remaining bodies be delivered immediately. Apparently the delay was due to an issue of payment - either for transportation or mortuary work.

It became apparent that the burial wouldn't take place for some time. I was beet red and beginning to feel ill. The two reporters from the paper remained at the site while Renee, Angelique and I returned back to the camp. Renee had a drum lesson at 4 p.m. so we had to head back to Accra.

My mind wandered on the tro-tro back, replaying the scene I had just witnessed. Terrible.

I decided to accompany Renee to her lesson and hopefully get a beer.

We arrived at a public market and met Janet (Mark Leger's wife) for the lesson. A few minutes later three Rastas showed up and delivered the news that there was a ban on drumming in the Greater Accra Region. Joy Online has more.

So here we were, just a few hours after standing in the middle of unbelievable grief, tipping pints with Rastafarians.

Later, we headed back to Osu to meet up with some other JHR colleagues for dinner at an Indian restaurant. Again, another odd place to be considering the events earlier in the day.

That's what it's like here - you find yourself pulled between different worlds never know what you might experience.


Today (Thursday) I am taking a quiet day. A few hours at the internet cafe followed by lunch in Osu with Angelique. I'm not sure what the plan is for tonight, but it will likely be quiet.

A group of us hope to escape the confines of Accra for somewhere peaceful in the Eastern Region. However, because it's a long weekend (African Union Day is Friday), we're having difficulty finding a spot. If we remain in the city, I'll likely return to Takoradi Saturday instead of Monday.

And because I left my laptop back in Takoradi, I am unable to post any of the pictures until I get back home.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

from the "you've got to try" dept.

Mark and I had a long list of things to do today, none of which worked out particularly well.

1. We headed over to the University of Ghana campus radio station to meet with the station manager. It took about an hour and two tro-tros to get there. He wasn't in and his mobile was switched off. After a short wait, we gave up and...

2. We snagged a taxi and sped off to the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Mark wanted to speak with one of the students there who is interested in studying in Canada. Most of the information he needed is available online -- but the only nearby place to use the net -- the International Press Centre --- was hosting a conference. No computers available. The student had to return to class for a project meeting. Mark and I looked at each other and shrugged. Par for the course. However we we were able to salvage the visit with a great lunch of red-red and orange Fanta.

3. Next, we headed to the giant conference centre to see what was happening with the two-week long African Union human rights conference. Dick.

Apparently the most interesting event of the conference occurred the previous day. AU members took the Zimbabwean Minister of Justice to task over the recent events in his country. Drat! The media liaison told us that there was lots of yelling and desk pounding. Double drat! VOA covered the story HERE.

I did experience some unexpected success when, after weeks of searching, I was finally able to find a book on the J.J. Rawlings years. The single copy was hiding at a small book stand in the conference hall. It's the only one I've seen since arriving here. 80,000 cedis later it's mine!

4. We walked across the way to the parliament buildings to see if we could have a looksee. Security told us to return tomorrow. No reason. Just come back tomorrow. There are many arguments you can't win and this was one of them. We hopped into a cab and headed back to Osu and the internet cafe.

5. Upon arrival we found out that we couldn't recharge our accounts with time because the system was wonky. After about 10 minutes, the wonkiness went away and we were back where we started: online at Sharpnet, very little accomplished.

Another day in Ghana!


from the "cost analysis" dept.

I'm killing a few minutes at the internet cafe in Accra. It's early morning and Mark Legere and I are heading to the U of G campus radio station. Tomorrow I'm holding a photography workshop at the Buduburam refugee camp. All this, of course, means I have decided to extend my stay here. Which is a nice treat.

Last night a group of us went out for dinner... and yakked on a patio until well past midnight. Another nice treat.

For the sake of comparision, here's what my costs are like:

Hotel: room w/ bathroom. Moderately clean. Fairly well located: $12/night
Taxi to internet cafe: $2.50
Internet: $1 an hour or so
Chicken Shwarma (sp): $3.50
5 disposable razors and bottle of green tea: $2.50
Taxi to University: $3.50
Damn good pizza (with CAPERS!): $8
650 ml beer $1.50

Cheap like borscht!


Monday, May 21, 2007

from the "monday, monday" dept.

Greetings from Accra!

It's about 9:30 a.m. on Monday May 21.

I've got lots of stories to tell (he says, raising expectations) but there isn't much time to type (he says, crushing expectations).

I've been having a wonderful time over the past few days hanging out with the other JHR folks here in Ghana's capital. We've been to the beach, gorged ourselves on pizza, had a few pints, purchased neat things from the obruni supermarket, watched Jon Stewart video clips and so much more more.

Sunday night, after spending the afternoon at Labadi Beach, Mark, Janet, Angelika, and I cooked up not one but three boxes of... Kraft Dinner! The real deal, which we found on special in the Koala market. I spiced mine up with hot sauce and capers, whilst the others took their KD straight, with a side of baked beans. A baguette completed the meal.

KD has never tasted so good!


The plan for this morning is to hit a couple of used bookstores and visit the University of Ghana campus radio station. This afternoon we're to meet Joesph. He does some JHR work here in Accra and is a budding video editor.

But a massive rainstorm has just hit -- and Mark and I may be in the internet cafe longer than expected.

I'm heading back to Takoradi tomorrow... and hopefully the Green Turtle the weekend after next. Unless, of course, this massive rainstorm carries us away.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

from the "fighting with the interNOT" dept.

You'd think the #1 Internet Cafe in Accra would provide blistering speeds and cracker jack computers.


I've spent half an hour to get this far. And I'm going to the beach!


Friday, May 18, 2007

from the "a man of few words" dept.

It's been a good week in Ghana.

On Wednesday I managed to travel to Cape Coast for the day. The main reason was to take a break from working every day -- and do buy some books at the Black Star Bookshop. I accomplished both AND had a beer by the sea.

On Thursday I did a bunch of stuff around the house... and prepared materials for my trip to Accra and the Buduburum refugee camp.

I am now at work, exchanging emails, catching up on this and downloading that. My bus leaves in about 3 hours... and I still have to run home and pack.

I'll be in Accra tonight and the camp tomorrow. SKYY reporter Christian Baidoo will be with me for a couple of days. He'll head back Sunday and I'll stay to meet with the JHR folks for a couple of days.

Of course, there is lots more... but I have to run!


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

from the "news from home about here" dept.

The following appeared in the Halifax Daily News last Sunday. Trisha Estabrooks is my JHR colleague in Kumasi.

Plane crash gives Estabrooks scare

A week ago this morning, the phone rang and NDP MLA Bill Estabrooks felt his heart stop.

"I thought, Oh God, here it is."

Twenty-four hours earlier, he and his wife, Carolyn, had learned about the Kenya Airways crash at Douala, Cameroon. They knew their daughter, Trisha, was flying out of the same airport that morning.

All 114 people on board the plane died when it plunged into a mangrove forest.

Trisha Estabrooks is a journalist working in Ghana. Her parents knew she had flown to nearby Cameroon, but were not entirely sure what her next destination was going to be.

"All we knew is she was flying out of Douala," said her father, the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect.

Bill and Carolyn spent Saturday making phone calls, trying to find out if their daughter was on the flight. Every time the phone rang, they wondered if it was bad news. Each time, it was another friend calling to see if they were OK. When night came, they still didn't know where Trisha was. They didn't get much sleep.

Estabrooks said he wondered if it was bad news when a call came at 7:45 a.m. But his daughter's voice was on the other end of the phone. She was safe in Ghana.

She said she expected they would be worried, but she hadn't been able to get to a telephone earlier.

Raging Bill said such complications are inevitable with a daughter like Trisha, who has been covering human rights stories in West Africa.

"She has her mother's looks, her mother's brains, and her father's attitude."

Deputy Premier Angus (Tando) MacIsaac never spoke truer words than last week.

As he came from a cabinet meeting, reporters asked him to explain what deal Ottawa is offering to end the dispute over the Atlantic Accord.

"I'm sure you're not going to be any clearer when I'm finished than you were when I started," Nova Scotia's Dick Cheney said.

What the devil's going on in the House of Commons? Check out what Nicole Demers, the Bloc Quebecois MP for Laval, said during recent parliamentary debate:

"Too many of the people in this House do not smile enough. Perhaps that is because their sexuality is unfulfilled. If people were more comfortable with their sexuality, maybe they would smile more. Many of my colleagues smile often, but too many of them never smile. I would like to wish everyone here a fulfilling sex life."

We'd note that Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison smiles incessantly, whereas Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has been frowning a whole lot lately, except when in the company of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Metro MPs Alexa McDonough, Mike Savage, Peter Stoffer and Geoff Regan couldn't be reached for comment. (OK, we never tried.)

from the "posting for postings sake" dept.

Looks like I'm heading to Accra tomorrow (Wednesday).

It'll be nice having a couple of days to relax and see some of the other JHR crowd.

Not much else going on... so, this post will end here!


Sunday, May 13, 2007

from the "why isn't this on BBC World?" dept.

Cure for HIV/AIDS Found!

That's the top story headline screaming from the news page of GhanaWeb as at 4:24pm Sunday May 12, 2007. What follows is a Ghana News Agency article about the discovery of a cure for HIV/AIDS.

Here's the story...

Kumasi, May 13, GNA - HIV/AIDS victims can heave a huge sigh of relief since there is now a potent herbal medicine which is reported to be capable of totally curing HIV/AIDS.

"Koankro", the herbal mixture prepared by Mr Kamara Agyapong, Director of Peace Herbal Clinic at Ejisu in Ashanti, has been confirmed by the Clinical Analysis Laboratory of the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), as capable and potent in curing HIV/AIDS.

This follows the successful trial tests conducted on two HIV/AIDS positive patients who were put on the herbal preparations by Mr Agyapong two years ago. The tests have confirmed that the two patients are now HIV negative.

The test results which were made available to the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi indicated that, the two patients have been tested negative of both HIV 1 and 2 viruses.

The results, which were released on May 4, this year, show that, the two male patients, aged 39 and 34 now have no HIV virus in their blood cells.

Their negative status has also been confirmed by further test results from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) laboratory and Medilab, a private medical laboratory in Kumasi.

A team of researchers from the Biochemistry Department of KNUST had been conducting a series of investigations into the efficacy and potency of the "Koankro" herbal mixture for some years now. They had already confirmed the efficacy of the preparation in the management of HIV/AIDS. The team initially confirmed that after three weeks treatment with "Koankro", there was significant improvement in the haemoglobin content, while the blood counts and weight of victims improved. That made Mr Agyapong to undertake further research to come out with additional 16 preparations, which are administered to the patients at different stages of treatment.

Speaking to the GNA on the test results, Mr Agyapong indicated that there were currently about 20 patients who were at various stages of treatment, adding that, the breakthrough in the test results had provided further impetus to the herbal preparations for the treatment of the disease.
- GNA-

Meanwhile, a similar GNA attributed story on is headlined a little less sensationally:

Cure for HIV/AIDS?

There's also a nice photo of emaciated man labelled "An AIDS patient."

No sign of the story (yet) on but that could be because it's Sunday.

Anyway... I find that this story ranks right up there with the claims of Gambia's president to be able to cure HIV/AIDS.

It gives a false sense of hope, and worse, might encourage people to think that they no longer need to protect themselves.


*Unless I'm wrong...

from the "a visit to Krisan" dept.

I have a ton of things to write about this week, but unfortunately time is short. What I'll do is post the latest in bits and pieces.

The big news is that Skyy reporter Christian Baidoo and I finally got a chance to visit the Krisan refugee camp located near Eikwe, Ghana, just west of Takoradi.

We've been trying to get official permission to visit the camp for more than a month, but we've been treated like a hot potato -- bounced from one agency to another. So, we decided that we would just go out there and sniff around.

In December 2005, there were riots at the camp over what many residents claimed were poor living conditions. Read more about the event here. We wanted to follow up on the story and see if things had improved.

When we arrived, we decided the best course of action was to wander around Eikwe, looking for camp residents to talk to. It didn't take long.

We spoke to man who is a Krisan resident and, within a few minutes, we were surrounded by at least 10 more refugees.

We interviewed a variety of people who had fled places like Sudan, Liberia and Togo. One 17-year-old girl has called Krisan home since she was four. A 35-year-old engineer explained how he was prevented from working (and earning money) and is forced to sell part of his food ration every month.

There were many stories about life in the camp and how the situation remains tense and dire, 18 months after the violence.

Christian and I then tried to enter the camp -- but camp security politely told us to leave and get official permission. To be fair, we just showed up on a Saturday afternoon, and the camp manager was not on site.

We're now going to sift through the video tape interviews and then try and get the United Nations High Commission on Refugees to comment. We hope to return for that side of the story very soon.

I didn't have the opportunity to shoot very many still pictures as I was shooting video. And several of the camp residents didn't want their faces shown.

But, here's a few still images (more on flickr) :

The only sign marking the location of the camp.

Several residents near Krisan's main entrance.

Residents inside the camp.

A refugee cycles to Eikwe.

Krisan, as seen from the highway.

One of the stories:

This man came up to Christian and me outside Krisan's main entrance. A refugee from Sudan, he said he had been living in the camp for several years.

He told us he had been diagnosed with throat cancer and is in need of special treatment. The file he holds contains his health forms and doctor's assessment that confirm the need for treatment.

He says that he doesn't have the money to travel for treatment and the various organizations that run the camp won't help.

His story will be part of documentary Christian and I have started on the camp.

That's it for now. More to come soon.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

from the "peter, julie, and links" dept.

A huge tip o' the hat to the folks at who have put their regional webcams all on one page. Where else can you see all of Canada at once?

And let's not forget the brilliant Katkam. Spetacular images of Vancouver's English Bay as well as links to other Lower Mainland webcams (scroll down). There's also a nifty archive that lets you see the last 14 days at one particular time.

It's so nice to be able to see the rain. ;)


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

from the "three times (un)lucky" dept.

I hit the Ghanaian trifecta last night.

1. No power (fourth evening in a row).
2. No water.
3. No gas for our stove.

The power failure meant I missed yet another episode of the final season of the Sopranos. I've seen 2, missed 3. Grumble.

Adding to the excitement of no water, power and gas was a massive verbal fight in the courtyard outside my bedroom. More on that in the days ahead.

And now, back to Crackbook.


Monday, May 07, 2007

from the "luddite" dept.

I've finally discovered Crackbook -- er -- Facebook (h/t Neil and Heather).

I'm addicted!


Sunday, May 06, 2007

from the "today's menu" dept.

Many people ask what I eat in Ghana. The answer: local food, for the most part.

And what is that? Why, Waakye, Banku and Fufu, of course.

Here's a webpage that describes some of the local dishes. My favourite? Red Red!


from the "sunday morning musings" dept.

The internet continues to work at SKYY, which is a wonderful thing. It's been up for a week, which must be a record of some sort.

It's been so nice having unfettered access to the outside world that I've been downloading up a storm, fearful that the data connection will drop again.

I've been using a service called Newsstand to download the entire issue of the Globe and Mail every day. It's slow and for some dumb reason, you can't read the paper until the whole thing is downloaded into the reader. I have to wait for hours and hours for the download to finish the last page before I can dive into news from home.

The other slight drawback is that I can't select the edition. I am stuck with the Toronto edition. However, I can't say as I blame them for that. The cost is cheap too: C$1/issue.

And it looks like my NY Times news reader is working today as well. The entire copy of the Sunday Times is being downloaded for later reading offline. Tasty!

I'm also having a great time downloading all the video clips from Crooks and Liars. The site has the best clips from The Daily Show, Colbert Report, Olbermann and even episodes of 60 Minutes. And I've got 3 months worth to grab!

After downloading all the delicious political goodies to my computer, I watch them in the evening at home. This is especially enjoyable during a power cut.

And speaking of power cuts. We're supposed to be on a 12 hours off - 36 hours on rotation. But the power company isn't sticking to the published schedule and it has become impossible to predict the outages or their length.

For example: the power went off Friday night at 6 p.m. We figured this was the start of a 12-hour cut. Nope, it came back around 10.

On Saturday, almost the same thing. Off at 6:30 p.m. on around 9:30 p.m.

I'm not complaining about the shorter than expected outages, just the frequency. They now seem to take place during the evening and almost daily. I've missed 2 episodes of the Sopranos due to the cuts... and I don't hold out much hope for tomorrow night. Wah! Poor me!

Today (Sunday) is a cool day. There was a little rain this morning and there is now a cool breeze blowing. Thick cloud is blocking the heating rays of the sun and it's nice to not be sweating buckets for once.

The neighbours were quiet this morning as well. No sweeping the compound at 5 a.m. No washing the car at 6 a.m. No "warming" up the car and filling my room with exhaust at 7 a.m. (they park outside my bedroom window). And the baby hasn't been howling, thankfully. We have a shared area between our flat and the neighbouring flat upstairs. The noise travels like you wouldn't believe. More on that later.

I'm working on a longer post offline and hope to post that in the next day or so.

Until then...


Friday, May 04, 2007

from the "bah!" dept.

The headline on this morning said it all:

Ducks knock out Canucks in double OT

Double BAH!

from the "history repeating" dept.

It wasn't that long ago that I witnessed the damage avian flu did to the poultry back home in B.C.

Now comes word that bird flu has been confirmed at a poultry operation outside Accra.

Click here for the Reuters story: Ghana halts poultry exports after H5N1 outbreak (May 3/2007)

On another farm related note, a goat has given birth just outside the newsroom window.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

from the "new money 2" dept.

Now that you've seen it, why not sing about it?

Click HERE for the redenomination songs!


from the "new money" dept.

Ghana's new currency will be introduced to the public today. I'll have more on the fun ahead. But, here's a local story about the new money and what it means.

Accra -- The Bank of Ghana (BoG) will this morning launch the new Ghana Cedis and Pesewas at the Bank’s auditorium, High Street Accra. The introduction of the new currency has become necessary as a result of re-denomination of the Ghanaian currency the cedi, which takes effect on July 1, 2007.

When the redenomination takes effect, ¢100,000 would represent the current ¢1,000,000.00 and ¢10,000 the current ¢100,000, while the current ¢10,000 would be the same as ¢1.00 within the new currency.According to the Ghana Central Bank however, the quantity and quality of goods that an equivalent of the money in circulation now can purchase would be the same as what the new cedi currency which would be launched tomorrow would be able to procure, hence the refrain that has run through adverts aired and played on air for some months now.

Officials of the bank say the added advantage of the new currency is that it would be less cumbersome to carry and also enhance business transactions while maintaining the value of the Ghanaian cedi. As to whether the new currency would match up with the major currencies of the world, Esi Hammond of the Public Relations Unit, Bank of Ghana asserted that the rate of exchange would still be determined by the market forces of demand and supply. “It is not the redenomination or re-calibration of the cedis that would check prices and thus influence inflation but the interplay of sound macro-economic practices.

Fiscal discipline is needed and when monetary policies go haywire that brings about inflation, but when government does its part and does not overspend, that checks rise in inflation which has been kept steady for a while,” the BoG official stated.

Source: GHP

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

from the "dial M for murder" dept.

The latest tale going around Ghana? Mysterious phone calls are causing people to drop dead in their tracks.

We discussed this at length in Monday's editorial meeting, but ended up not doing a story.

However, the folks over at GhanaWeb have a nice feature on the evil phone calls.