Sunday, October 18, 2020

Ghana Mid Way Point


It seemed to take me longer to acclimate than in prior trips. I suspect this had to do with being the long gap since I’ve traveled – having gotten out of practice so to speak. That plus all the stress related to COVID test requirements and whether I would actually get into the country. Be that as it may, I made this trip because of the Theodora Project. We have had more success than we could have anticipated. But that same success brought on other challenges, particularly in Ghana. These challenges were ones that required my personal involvement as the project up to this point has been very dependent upon me individually. Specifically, we needed to 1) establish a sound Ghanaian not-for-profit organization with its own leadership that could oversee things there, 2) determine how we would manage our existing group of participants both in their work and in their personal development, and 3) lay the ground work for expansion and sustainability by documenting training and recruitment.


Happily we have had the kind of success I hoped for with the first and third goals. Not only do we have the independent Ghanaian organization required but its Board has members who are committed to our goal. Our initial group of participants found that the training that was developed during our very chaotic start in April fulfilled their requirements and allowed them to make the necessary transition to an American work environment. So we are using that curriculum as the basis for future training.


The second goal has been more problematic. I was far more optimistic about our initial group being able to grow into a self-managing team than the reality of capabilities is allowing. It is clear that we will need some kind of local management that can provide the structure and discipline that a group like this needs to function effectively. Fortunately, I have members on the local Board that I can lean on to assist in that effort.


Due to the pandemic, I have restricted my going out. Fortunately I have the best apartment I have had yet. It is spacious. I have been able to run all of my group meetings in it. It is well situated with many more places one can walk to. I hope to secure it or another in the facility for future trips. I have one-week to go. I took a trip out of Accra this weekend that was both ‘interesting’ and nice. I will put up a separate post on that. It is the first time I have taken time to myself on one of these trips to Ghana.


The last week will be devoted to summarizing and putting in place a project management system that will allow us to start pulling together the volunteer efforts that include a wide variety of individuals in different parts of the world.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Back To Ghana


Although a lot of the world is hunkering down, and with good reason, I am in Ghana. I have had a lot of second thoughts…not about being here, none at all about that…but about posting that I am here. There is so much intense feeling on the part of many people in my circle about the dangers of the current pandemic that in all candor I did not want to expose myself to their judgments by making too big a deal about what I was up to. But so much progress has been made that it seems a shame to not be posting about it.


As Theodora Project has grown and progressed, a number of issues in Ghana screamed out for attention…in person, live attention. But Ghana’s borders were closed and there was no way to get there. As that country got control of its contagion, it began to consider how to create an opening to the world to revive the kind of interaction needed for economic stability. Finally at the end of August, the country opened up its only international airport with an ingenious system. It invested heavily into the capability to do rapid testing to passengers upon arrival. It initiated a system that required incoming visitors to be tested in there county of origin 72 hours before you flew to Ghana (you have to show a copy of your test report or the airlines will literally not let you on the plane). Then upon arrival, you are immediately given another test (costs you $150). You get the result in about 45 minutes. Get your bags and are on your way. Then before you leave, you have to have another test done 72 hours before your departure.


There was a lot of gnashing of teeth, frustration and fear before I left trying to figure out how I was going to get the test done within the allotted time and still get the result before I flew with most of the labs in our area promising 2 to 3 day results and my losing 10 hours of time window since my official flight was from Chicago not Albuquerque. Further, I was not able to get my hands on the actual lab report. The report was sent to my doctor and only the results were recorded on a patient portal website. Much calling to doctor and the labs ensued (while I was actually on my way from Albuquerque to Chicago. I got lab reports but they had the wrong time. But in the end I showed them the documentation from the patient portal whose date was not the lab date but the date the lab report was received. It proved to be perfectly acceptable. I feel the airline people who are forced to do these check-ups can’t possibly know all the variations on what lab reports look like. As long as there is a negative test, a legitimate lab name, and a date within their parameters, they are happy.


Business class on my flights from Chicago to Paris and then from Paris to Accra, Ghana were virtually empty so no problem social distancing there! When I arrived in Ghana, they didn’t even look at the test papers. They just put me through their on the spot test. It was done with well done effectiveness. Within an hour and half of touching down, I was in my apartment. I was back in Ghana.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

End Of Yet Another Era

 When you reach your 7th decade you are naturally going to see A LOT of Eras ending. This one particularly annoys me. The Wall Street Journal, venerable business newspaper with such a range of reporting, will no longer deliver a print edition to where I live. I can get the digital edition for about 70% of the cost of the print one. But digital delivery systems are not particularly convenient to read at the times I would be reading the WSJ. Not going to do that. So after 40 after 40 years, done, over. So sad.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Falls-19th Century-Relics

 Gad how I love it when my adoring public responds to the rapid changes in blogospheric content so quickly. Right from our Nation's Capital, the cry comes...Thank God, Finally, An Insufferable Amount of Pictures! How could I know that people were suffering from almost withdrawal type symptoms due to the lack of photo posting on the blog resulting from our enforced lock down. Who am I to resist the call of duty?

Off we went in serious search of photographic opportunities. I started the day off using an old lens to determine if some of my frustrations from the prior day were the result of the new camera or the new lens. What I discovered is the new camera does process information slightly different than the old version requiring an adjustment in how I set things up. But the new lens has its peculiarities as well. It goes to a very low f-stop but only at its shortest length. As soon as you start zooming out to a longer length, it goes to much higher f-stops like old walk around, zoom lens. Once you accept this it is like having two separate lens in one. 

Today we visited Ithaca Falls, one of 10 major falls in this area. Then we went to the small town of Moravia (birthplace of Millard Filmore - on free de-I Sandia Travel's Post-Covid Tours vacation if you know who Millard is without checking up on line you bastards!). Moravia is noted for its 19th century architecture (as are many towns here) but is unspoiled by the 'quaint' bug that has hit many places. 'Quaint' is code word for 'now has lots of trendy eating places and places to shop.' Finally we just 'ran into' a place on a road with some ruined barns and buildings.  Really a pretty good day for working the camera.

Ithaca Falls

Coming up to the Falls

A Waterfall Study

I really tried to restrain myself...I really did

Two Natural Beauties

Tree Roots and Other to Study

On to Moravia

Famous Church with Alter from Austria that we couldn't get into because Wife is on the lam from her Tram fines in Austria! No because it is closed because of the pandemic.

Oldest House in Moravia (but far, far from the most interesting)

Good luck symbol we saw everywhere

Now! On to a SERIOUS study of 19th Century homes

Found at a lakefront - handy dandy geese repellents. They work. Just down the shoreline from these was a ton of geese shit

And out in the middle of nowhere

Barns and Corn

Finger Lake Daleks

Derelict School

From on our way back on Sunday in Pen Yan a cool looking mill that is still in operation

Saturday, September 12, 2020

New Camera-New Lens = ?????

 We are taking a little sojourn. As things are opening up every so slightly and as at least in certain parts of the country, people are acting in a more and more responsible way, we both felt the need to just get out. We thought about going to Colorado but honestly we live in the mountain west and we were just there in the summer. So we decided to try the Finger Lakes area of New York.

This is our first time flying since the pandemic

Things were quiet in the Albuquerque Sunport

Less so in Chicago where we changed planes. But I was literally giddy entering the airport, going through security, all the way until actually being on the plane where it was right back to the old airplane experience. 

Both in the airports, the airplanes and in the hotels (both Hilton brands), the protocols for safety seem to be adhered to pretty strenuously by the vast majority. We chose the area we did for low population density, good state numbers and rates, and strong state policies. We felt good with people using safe behavior patterns with one exception which was close to a University. We was double careful there and left as soon as possible. 

Our goal was just to get back out, see what things were like, feel how comfortable we felt AND use our new cameras and lens. Wife got the newest version of our Olympus OMD-M III and gave me her old M II. It operates different than the M I than I had. We were also trying out a new walk around lens that is a 12-200 zoom with a lowest f-stop of 3. 5. If that means anything to you, you are probably more photographically oriented than I. 

Day one was a lot of frustration with the two new devices. Plus we were looking for authentic, older architecture. We'd read there were lots of 'quaint old towns' but evidently that is code for 'refurbished old towns with lots of trendy places to shop and eat.' I was also tired which meant I was fighting a lot when driving.

Anyway, on to Saturday's photographs 

First on in the town of Canandaigua - Lake front

 In the town

The Finger Lakes are major wine country. Unfortunately, tasting with pandemic restrictions is by appointment only and we hadn't done enough research as to where we would be do do so.

                                                    Along Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen

Responsible Photography

It is important to understand what we value most in our country

Watkins Glen is home to a Grand Prix race track

                                                    And finally SIGNS OF THE WORLD

                                        Do we really need to 'Practice' Social Distancing? Can't we just do it?