Tuesday, June 30, 2015

United 1686: SFO to DCA

Hate 66

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Glorious tone he has still. Cork air softer also their brogue. Silly man! Could have made oceans of money. Singing wrong words" #Bloomsday

2004.08.03-18And a happy 2015 Bllomsday to all of you!

* * * * * 

Alas the voice rose, sighing, changed: loud, full, shining, proud.

 --But alas, 'twas idle dreaming...

Glorious tone he has still. Cork air softer also their brogue. Silly man! Could have made oceans of money. Singing wrong words. Wore out his wife: now sings. But hard to tell. Only the two themselves. If he doesn't break down. Keep a trot for the avenue. His hands and feet sing too. Drink. Nerves overstrung. Must be abstemious to sing. Jenny Lind soup: stock, sage, raw eggs, half pint of cream. For creamy dreamy.

Tenderness it welled: slow, swelling, full it throbbed. That's the chat. Ha, give! Take! Throb, a throb, a pulsing proud erect.

Words? Music? No: it's what's behind.

Bloom looped, unlooped, noded, disnoded. Bloom. Flood of warm jamjam lickitup secretness flowed to flow in music out, in desire, dark to lick flow invading. Tipping her tepping her tapping her topping her. Tup. Pores to dilate dilating. Tup. The joy the feel the warm the. Tup. To pour o'er sluices pouring gushes. Flood, gush, flow, joygush, tupthrob. Now! Language of love.

--...ray of hope is... 

Beaming. Lydia for Lidwell squeak scarcely hear so ladylike the muse unsqueaked a ray of hopk.

James Joyce, Ulysses (pp. 236-237)

For a look back a Bloomsdays past, see below:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A visit to the US Embassy in Accra, Ghana for a presentation on Smithsonian resources

Daniel Fennell
I had the pleasure of being invited to the US Embassy in Accra, Ghana to meet with a group of 35 Ghanaian teachers and representatives from other non-governmental organizations. I also had a chance to meet with Rita Awuku, Information Resource Center Director and other staff of the embassy, including Jennifer Yeboah who provided valuable logistical support.

IMG_0018For my presentation to the group, I spoke about Smithsonian resources that would be valuable for teachers and helpful for literacy programs. We also did a live exploration of the Smithsonian's Collections Search where we looked at a variety of Smithsonian resources related to Ghana. There were many questions from the group  and there was a nice dialog about education and museum resources, especially those that come from library collections. There was also an opportunity to show some of the illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library and explain how Smithsonian staff had used these at a presentation at the State Department's Mae Jemison Science Reading Room (Mamelodi, South Africa, see here for a report of that visit) for a group of middle school children in 2011.

Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, Daniel Fennell was my host for lunch and provided an introduction to the presentation. At the end of the session. I also had to opportunity to see the attendees receive their certificates for completion of an embassy sponsored educational program. The day concluded with a reception.


(Photos courtesy the US Embassy, Accra, Ghana)

"The Web of Life: Exploring Biodiversity Resources on the World Wide Web" (1995 presentation)

"The Web of Life: Exploring Biodiversity Resources on the World Wide Web" (PDF of the overhead transparencies and the PDF of narrative).

Just in case anyone thought that biodiversity and I first met with the start of the BHL back in 2005 (or 2004 or 2006), here's a presentation I did for the Special Libraries Association (aka SLA) at the 1995 conference in Montreal, Canada.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Some passages from "Ghana Must Go" by @taiyeselasi #QotD

2015.05.26-DSC01392Ghana Must Go: A Novel  (2013) by Taiye Selasi
NY Times Review | The Guardian Review

A quite brilliant first novel. I was looking for books set in Ghana before my recent trip there and came across this work. Masterful handling of a complex plot and a large cast of characters. Finishing the book on the plane on my way to Accra, the sights and sounds of the city were like memories after reading Selasi's descriptions (I might also add being familiar with the locations she describes in Boston, she's quite good at that also).

My thoughts go out to the people of Ghana who have been affected by the recent floods and terrible petrol station explosion.

* * * * *

The humidity welcomed him back, open arms. He stood still for some moments, obliging the hug. Then hired a taxi to take him to Jamestown—the oldest part of Accra and the smelliest by far, a fetid seaside slum of corrugated tin-and-cardboard shanties in the shadow of the country’s former Presidential Palace—where, braving the stink (re-dried sweat, rotting fish), he inquired in rusty Ga about a carpenter

He had never hired a Ghanaian to do anything (or anything aesthetic) without that Ghanaian reinterpreting his instructions somehow. “No starch on my shirts, please,” and the launderer would starch them, insisting, unrepentant, “It’s better this way.” Or “paint the doors white,” and Kofi painted them blue. “Sa, is nice, oh, too nice,” with the indefatigable smile

IMG_20150526_135402289 A garden. Everything lush, soft, too verdant, nothing orderly or sterile, jagged love grass and fan palms the size of a child and scattered-around banana plants like palm trees without trunks and hibiscus on bushes and gloriosa in flames and those magenta-pink blossoms (Kweku can never remember their names) flowering wildly on crawlers overgrowing the gate. A commotion of color. Rebel uprising of green. “And a fountain here,” Mr. Lamptey concluded

Then Ghana, and the smell of Ghana, a contradiction, a cracked clay pot: the smell of dryness, wetness, both, the damp of earth and dry of dust. The airport. Bodies pushing, pulling, shouting, begging, touching, breathing. He’d forgotten the bodies. The proximity of bodies. In America the bodies were distant. The warmth of it. Pushing through the jostling throng, warm bodies, clutching Fola’s arm while Fola clutched the baby, leading his squadron on to the taxi rank. “Your purse!” he called over his shoulder. “Be careful! This is Ghana.”

“You’re not Asian. Wait. Why are you here? Do you play a stringed instrument? Excel in mathematics? Attend a kind of cult-like Korean-American Christian church?”
There are the standard things, African things, the hawkers on the roadside, the color of the buildings the same faded beige as the air and the foliage, the bright printed fabrics, the never-finished construction sites (condos, hotels) giving the whole thing the feel of a home being remodeled in perpetuity, midproject, the men gone to lunch, the new paint already chipping and fading in the sunshine as if it never really mattered what color it was, stacked-up concrete blocks soldiers awaiting their orders, steel, sleeping machinery interrupting the green. This is familiar.

... she worried about favoring or spoiling the child, or confusing her, leading her to believe that the world was less patently apathetic than it actually was.

Sena had his own tragic tale to unburden: of expulsion from Lagos under “Ghana Must Go,” winter 1983, with the Nigerian government’s summarily deporting two million Ghanaians;

Ga people believe that a coffin should be a reflection of the life of the person inside it. So a fisherman’s coffin might be shaped like a fish or a carpenter’s shaped like a hammer, I guess, or a woman who likes shoes, in the shape of a shoe.

The only illumination is bright whitish sunlight thrown in from the door to the rough slatted floor. Even so, eyes adjusting, Kehinde makes out the coffins that hang more like boats from the beams overhead: one a car, one a fish, one a rose by the look of it, absurd in one sense, wild, fantastic in another. The idea of it. Coffins in shapes, like kids’ birthday cakes, celebratory, colorful, laughing at death.

Really, he was terrified of endings. He couldn’t understand how people loved, then didn’t love. Loved, then stopped loving. As a heart just stops beating. (Of course he knew how, but he couldn’t see why.)

“the only point of a relationship is to play out, in miniature, the whole blasted drama of life and of death. Love is born as a child is born. Love grows up as a child grows up. A man knows well that he must die, but having only known life does not believe in his death. Then, one day, his love goes cold. Its heart stops beating. The love drops dead. In this way, the man learns that death is reality: that death can exist in his being, his own. The loss of a pet or a rose or a parent may cause the man pain but will not make the point. Death must take place in the heart to be believed in. After love dies man believes in his death.”

You say ‘Asia, ancient China, ancient India,’ and everyone thinks ooh, ancient wisdom of the East. You say ‘ancient Africa,’ and everyone thinks irrelevant. Dusty and irrelevant. Lost. No one gives a shit.

“We did what we knew. It was what we knew. Leaving.”


Sunday, June 07, 2015

Some #QotD from "Through the Gates of Thought" by @NDamoah

IMG_20150526_110325My thoughts go out to the people of Ghana who have been affected by the recent floods and terrible petrol station explosion.

Through the Gates of Thought by Nana Awere Damoah

This collection of reportage, poems, stories, and reflections makes for interesting reading for an American visiting Ghana.

* * * * *

In the Twi language, we have a proverb: “Yɛ obi deɛ yie, na wonso wo deɛ ayɛ yie”, meaning “If you treat someone else’s property well, yours will prosper as well.”

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It has been said that the reason why most parents have kid parties is to prove to themselves that there are worse kids than theirs!

“The bird’s chick watches its mother fly before it can fly (we learn by example).” Akan proverb, Ghana

As I read somewhere the other day, “hope is hearing the music of the future and faith is dancing to its tune today”. To all who dare to look Africa’s way, I say, come let’s dance.

In Africa, we have had thinkers like Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba, people who are usually described as being ahead of their time.

Kwame Nkrumah declared that “revolutions are brought about by men, by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought”. He should know - he led the independence struggle for Ghana, culminating in our independence from British colonial rule in 1957. We are where are today as a continent because of our thoughts, and the extent to which we will go as a continent will depend on the quality of thoughts that drive leadership.

Some #QotD from "I Speak of Ghana" by @NDamoah

My thoughts go out to the people of Ghana who have been affected by the recent floods and terrible petrol station explosion.

I Speak of Ghana by Nana Awere Damoah

This collection of reportage, poems, stories, and reflections makes for interesting reading for an American visiting Ghana. This was the first book I read by the witty and entertaining Mr. Damoah.

* * * * *

Benjamin Burombo, a Zimbabwean nationalist, said: ‘Each time I want to fight for African rights, I use only one hand – because the other hand is busy trying to keep away Africans who are fighting me.’

Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop!

Bob Palitz calls it the Ghana Metric Time, arguing that for the Ghanaman, 100 minutes make one hour and a minute consists of 100 seconds.

“Massa, this your habit is not fresh koraa, you got to change.”

According to the United Nations, more than 2.6 billion people live without access to proper sanitation facilities. In 2001, the World Toilet Organization (WTO) declared 19th November World Toilet Day (WTD). It is now celebrated in over 19 countries with over 51 events being hosted by various water and sanitation advocates in 2010.   The purpose of the WTD is “to raise global awareness of the struggle 2.6 billion face every day without access to proper, clean sanitation. WTD also brings to the forefront the health, emotional and psychological consequences the poor endure as a result of inadequate sanitation.”
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Why sweat my youthful years away building someone’s village and not mine? Why put my shoulders to a wheel that turns another economy whilst the one that has my umbilical cord tied to it travels south? And in returning to Ghana, I was returning to Africa, to the continent that needs the resources to grow.

It has been said many times that what happens in a trotro is usually a microcosm of the larger society. I find that nowhere is the Ghanaian gullibility exhibited as well as in a trotro. None of those passengers who tried that ointment paused to wonder what exactly it was the herbalist had used for his concoction. I have seen people on public transport chew barks and drink concoctions that one herbalist or the other shares freely. We are that openly trusting.

2015.05.25-DSC01245 2015.05.25-DSC01233 IMG_20150525_130635005 2015.05.25-DSC01268
Booklong: could stand for someone who thinks he knows it all, too known, too full of himself to listen to other views or simply some anti-so (“anti-social”, someone with bad social manners) guy who would rather read his books than fraternize.

Logoligi: used in describing a winding situation. Not being straight to the point. Could also be used to describe the act of tickling someone, especially with the index finger.
We will crush moro: We shall meet tomorrow What you did is not fresh koraa: What you did wasn’t fair at all.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Visiting State, sorry Sec. Kerry won't be here tonight

The Smithsonian's @NMNH Dodo, exhibited first at the Lewis & Clark Exposition, 1905

"The United States National Museum has recently purchased, for exhibition at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, the skeleton of a dodo, Didus ineptus. The specimen lacks the back part of the skull and the ribs, and the pelvis is imperfect behind. Some of the phalanges have been restored. As mounted, the height of the skeleton is 0.66 m. Beside this skeleton, the National Museum possesses a cast of the foot and of the dried head which are in the museum of Oxford University, and also a cast of the skull in the Royal Zoological Museum at Copenhagen (Nos. 16,954, 55, 57). By the aid of these casts and the excellent drawings published by Owen in the Transactions of the Zoological Society of London, it is anticipated that the skeleton can be completely restored without difficulty."
F. W. True. "Dodo Skeleton" in Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Volume 47 (1905), Plate LXXVI, p. 17.

Recently (November 2014), the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History opened a new exhibition, "The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World"

Originally, the dodo skeleton was exhibited at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland Oregon (which opened on this date in 1905). You can find information about the Smithsonian's exhibition there at Smithsonian Institution Archives collection.

Here's the collection record (you can search for "V 16856" here to find the record):

Catalog Number:USNM V 16856
Collection Name:Aves Indian Ocean
Common Name:Dodo
Scientific Name (As Filed):Raphus cucullatus (Linneaus)
Geologic Age:
Skeletal Morphology:Complete skull and skeleton
Specimen Count:1
Record Last Modified:12 Jan 2015 13:01:00