leave your thoughts at the door


On Separation and Fluid Homeostasis


እንዴት ብዬ እንደምጀምር አላውቅም:: ቃላት ያጥሩኛል::

It all started with the visit to the embassy. The things that caught my attention were the lush greens outside the premises and the huge flag that could be seen እየተገማሸረ across the perimeter. Man! Why don’t our office buildings have flags that are as big? The flag we had at my institution was a sorry affair that was “put down” because it was hanging on for dear life, and when I saw it last, there was just a naked pole standing there.

Come to think of it, it didn’t all start with the visit to the embassy. It was preordained from the beginning of time that I should be feeling this way at this point in my life.

I want to take from my feelome (you feel-o-me? You know, a la genome, transcriptome, proteome, etc – the whole range of feelings that a person is experiencing at a given point in time) those feelings that define the me of recent weeks. And of course, there would be cameos from the impure thoughts of mine because, need I remind you that the feeling horny always stays in the background of a man’s feelings, like an engine idling, ready to come forth when bidden by “the stimuli?”

Separation ain’t nothing new. Still, the fact that millions of people have experienced and are experiencing it every second all over the world does not make my case any less special. Here go an account of some of the events surrounding my ending up in a city the name of which is a mutant of the Amharic name for female parts. You have got to be in it to win it, right?

I used to think that my English was ok. I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t think it was. Well, tell that to all the people here which are having trouble hearing and understanding me.  Maybe it is just that I am soft spoken and they want me to speak louder. In that case, why don’t they listen quieter? Or maybe it is the accent. I have been told that it happens to everyone when they come here and to be patient. In the meantime, since they don’t “understand the words that are coming out of my fucking mouth”, what if I tried an experiment? What if I sidled up to a random chick on the streets and went, not like Tupac “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but your body is bangin’ , got me attracted in a strong way” but like Ariel Spears “Excuse me baby. I don’t want to bother you but you got a fat ass I’d like to take you home and fuck the shit out of you.”  Here comes the slap, the pepper spray, the Taser, or a combination.  I would be standing there befucked, bothered and bewildered — ይሄ ይሄ ሲሆንማ ይገባሻል!

She does not even let me get to the part where I state that I may speak softly but carry a big stick.

Please bear with me because there is going to be a lot of name dropping and allusions to famous people in this post. It is almost like I was The Game.

In one of the taxis on the way to the embassy, out of all songs, I shit you not, ትዝ ትዝ አለኝ ጎራው ትዝ ትዝ አለኝ …. የናት ቤት ውለታ ያገሬ ትዝታ… ማን እንደናት ማን እንዳገር… starts playing on the radio. Last time I heard the song must have been back when ፀሀይ was still ፀሀዬ. Why now? I mean, if they wanted to play one of his songs, then why not አንድ ሁለት ሶስት አራት እስቲ ቁጥር ጥሩ…?  የምን ሆድ ማባባት ነው?  ሊያስለቅሰኝ ነው ይሄ ሰላቢ!

Now I am in another car. The family is returning from a trip. Thoughts run through my head of how I would kill for anyone of the people in the vehicle; my perfect-with-all-its-imperfections family. One of the babies on board starts crying አውደኝ! አውደኝ! for አውርደኝ! ሂሳቡን መልስለትና አውርደው!  –I was feeling very clever and funny when I gave that reply to the baby’s request. The way one feels at the very first stages of being drunk, along with the great care that is taken to make sure that one’s voice does not get too loud.  In my defense, goodbyes were looming and I had a bottle of (Ethiopian) chardonnay to finish in a very short amount of time. The person that was supposed to help me was dilly dallying with their first and only glass. I don’t hit the bottle that much but when I drink, I drink responsibly. To mean that I have got to get to the bottom of this bottle, like it was an X-Prize. I am the captain of my bottle, the master of my intoxication.

I gave it my best. What remained of the wine, I decided to have the bottle sealed with tape and autographed by the whole family to bring it with me in my travels. I would finish it when five years have elapsed and, I am done with my studies and move back home.  Another instance of the bright ideas sparked by ethanol in one’s system. It is now sitting behind me:

the_wine[1]

 Don’t get it twisted though; I don’t worship at this altar.

It was also on that day two months ago that this post started to take form in my head. I am having double visions of cars in front of us just like the way receipts are made: ቀዩ ኮፒ ለሂሳብ ክፍል : ነጩ ኮፒ ለከፋይ… Some Omar Khayyam would have complemented the talk of wine. But here is a poem that tugs at my heartstrings from his fellow countryman:

Our

Union is like this:

You feel cold

So I reach for a blanket to cover

Our shivering feet.

A hunger comes into your body

So I run to my garden

And start digging potatoes.

You ask for a few words of comfort and guidance,

I quickly kneel at your side offering you

This whole book-

As a gift.

You ache with loneliness one night

So much you weep

And I say,

Here’s a rope,

Tie it around me,

Hafiz

Will be your companion

For life.

ሀገሬን አልረሳም-ነዋይ  was playing on the radio. I fight back tears.

I have been drinking and crying ever since.  An over exaggeration maybe. But this is the hardest and the most frequent I have cried in my life. And the drinking, although I had tried to fight the sadness with a glass or more for five days straight including the eve of my departure, I am yet to take it up this side of the Atlantic. መጠጣትም መስከርም እኮ የሚያምር በሀገር ነው::

The day I said goodbye to the girl I was going out with, የቦሌው ጎዳና ሽርሽር ያልንበት-ጎሳዬ was coming from the speakers. The fact that she and I ran the streets from ብሔራዊ to ሜክሲኮ notwithstanding, you will have to agree that it was one too many ሆድ የሚያባባ ዘፈን ::

Now I am on the plane and discover that the girl I was checking out during check in was sitting right across the aisle from me. My response to this fortunate turn of events could be summed up in what ፀጋዬ kind of said:

ፈራን

ሴቶቹን ማናገር ፈራን

ፈጣሪ የለገሰንን

በጥበቡ በረቂቅ የከፈተልንን

አፋችንን

አፕል ጁስ ጠጣንበት

ቱ!

አፈር ጠጣ! ዝጋታም!

I doubt if I would be able to remember all of this safety instructions if shit goes down.

When we touched down at Frankfurt, I was reading:

መንገድ አይኑ ይፍሰስ አይባልም ደርሶ

የወሰደውን ሰው ያመጣል መልሶ

yiwesdal menged yameTal menged

It’s the second of አዳም’s books that I have read. I don’t claim to understand his writing every time. But reading this chapter from ግራጫ ቃጭሎች was a near tears experience. I remember muttering over my breakfast, “እግዚአብሄር ይባርክህ!”gq igq ii gq iii

Let’s call it a post. ይቀጥላል::

One

Glad August is gone.

GPSing and freedom


I enjoy driving the long roads and have long conversations with my self, somehow discussing all things in life with me and myself brings me joy. Free of the care of the world, driving somewhere on I 70 east or on I 495  and then I feel this sharp shooting pain in my gastrocnemius, and the nurse in me freaks out. Oh no I cannot afford DVT, or PE, but no chest pain for now or no trouble breathing. At this point the conversations with one’s self turn into conversations with GOD and prayers. I know I have to stop driving 6 hours non stop but I blame the Sonata, very fuel efficient, so I don’t have to necessarily stop at any point until I reach my destination  and I love the fact that my bladder listens and does not act at all.  Prayers replace the disturbing thoughts  automatically to happy thoughts.

Ever since I watched Jeff Corwin and found about GPS, I have been fascinated by it, I do not have to worry about getting from one place to another. A few hours will fly by and I find myself in the state I have come to love the most; VIRGINIA. Right now I am sitting at a Panera in Arlington, I love traveling here, good food, good companies mostly ( fake Tedy Bruschi) and if the need to jump from state to state comes to mind, it is just a matter of crossing the beautiful Potomac river and voila; DC and Maryland.

 Fake Tedy Bruschi introduced me to Old Town Alexandria, amazing  food and a beautiful park with the view over the Potomac river overlooking DC. A perfect place to unwind and close one’s eyes and breath in the air and relax, although if  you are sitting near the water, avoid breathing in too much air since there are no roses to smell if you know what I mean.

One of my best friends is here and I hope the GPS will lead me to visit IOWA next time, welcome Papy

until next time

 

 

Mela Keyboard


There are thousands of English keyboard apps on Google Play and a few Ge’ez keyboards. I’m quite satisfied with my choice of English keyboard (I use “iPhone Keyboard for Android”), and I’m sure many Android users have found one they like. However I couldn’t find a good Ge’ez keyboard. I was looking for these features,

1. Must support Ge’ez and English so that I don’t have to switch between different keyboard apps
2. I should be able to switch between the two keyboards seamlessly
3. Must have English spelling suggestion
4. Must have Amharic suggestion
5. Typing Ge’ez letters should be easy

I tried every Ge’ez keyboard on Google Play. None of them had the features I was looking for. They all lacked at least one of the features I had in mind, specially points 4 and 5. Mela Keyboard has all the features that I feel a basic Ge’ez keyboard should have.

And that is why I have been passionately working on Mela Keyboard, an Android keyboard with Ge’ez and Latin letters.

Here is the Ge’ez keyboard with Amharic suggestion. The dictionary of Amharic words being used is so rich that I sometimes get surprised when a lengthy word I have in mind comes up right away. A few percentage of the suggested Amharic words are misspelled. I plan to get those gradually weeded out.

Image

To allow typing Ge’ez letters easily, you use what I call the “Handy Key”. It’s the one in the middle with a yellow border. Every time it is pressed, it switches the current character, eg. from ሁ to ሂ.

Here is the English keyboard with word suggestion.

Image

I used it for about two months while continuously fine tuning it. Now that I think it is a good keyboard, I’m ready to share it with everyone else. I released it this week. I hope fellow Android users enjoy it.

To install it, get Mela Keyboard on Google Play.

If you like it, like Mela Keyboard Facebook page to let others discover it.

If you don’t like it, the app makes it easy to send comments.

I look forward to hearing from users!

wuletah beza


addis abeba


  addis abeba 1

DSC03011

addis abeba 3

Courtesy of Sami

One

Ants launch first rocket to Mars


I listened to Richard Dawkins’ interview in BBC’s Life Scientific radio program. It was important to him that those who read his book ditched their religion and became atheists like him. It’s only natural that he wants others to see what he sees. But for him, the non-existence of God can be shown through reasoning. Now that, I don’t understand.

Think about this. Do you think ants will ever send rockets to Mars?

Ants marching along in a line. They look so unaware of their surrounding. I can put a piece of rock in front of an ant, leaving it with no other choice but to climb it. I can then lift the rock and take it elsewhere with the ant on it. Does it know what’s happening? Probably not. And yet, the arrogant ant scientist will dismiss the notion of a powerful being watching over the ants as utterly ridiculous.

A digital composite of Leaf cutter ants from The Guardian.

We take animals and test their memory, time perception, self awareness, tool use, language, and so on. We flash images at them and see if they remember what they saw. We put marks on their bodies and test whether they recognize it when they see themselves in the mirror. We record sounds they make and look for meanings in them. That’s all good but who is testing us? What makes us sure we are at the top of this intelligence hierarchy? If at all, doesn’t the result of these tests show there could be a superior intelligence, where all our current reasoning falls apart in the face of it? I’m not just saying we know very little and we have a lot to learn. We all agree with that. I’m questioning if, with the mind we have, we are capable of knowing and explaining everything there is.

In his book The God Delusion, Dawkins’ main argument against religion goes like this,

1. Suppose everything around us is designed by a designer (a supreme being, a god, etc).
2. If so, then who designed the designer? Who created God? Someone must have designed the designer too. This contradicts 1.
3. Therefore there is no designer.

But he missed one small point: those who believe in religion believe their mind is not capable of comprehending their god. He has silently dismissed that crucial point, and made a hidden assumption that the existence or non-existence of a god can be reasoned with human logic. Here is the missing bit,

0. We as humans do not have any limitation in our understanding. Our logic system is sound, and can explain everything.

Just for fun. Purity, curtosy of xkcd.

Point 0 is known and studied very well in philosophy, mathematics and artificial intelligence. There is a beautiful example quite related to Point 0. Here it is in all its glory,

This sentence is incorrect.

The sentence is a paradox. Here is why,

  •  We can’t say it’s correct because it says it is incorrect.
  •  Our remaining option is to conclude it is incorrect. If it is indeed incorrect, then it’s opposite must hold. The opposite is,

This sentence is correct.

The result of our conclusion is against our conclusion itself! The paradox is related to Godel’s incompleteness theorem, which demonstrates the limitation of our reasoning. The solution is to avoid making self referential statements. Have sentences talk about other sentences, not about themselves. Otherwise the universe will collapse on us. The consequence of our logic system is that it can’t prove its own correctness. Proving our logic correct requires yet another system that lives outside us.

That is why atheists’ attempt to prove God’s non-existence will always be a flawed logic. Their option is to just believe in God’s non-existence and have faith in themselves.

I leave you with an object we can’t explain.

Penrose triangle

The Penrose Triangle, an impossible object.

Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice


I think if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar. I think if somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to them, they’re not just a thief. I think even if you kill someone, you’re not just a killer. And because of that there is this basic human dignity that must be respected by law. I also believe, that in many parts of this country, and certainly in many parts of this globe, that the opposite of poverty is not wealth. I don’t beleive that. I actually think in too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.

We cannot be fully evolved human beings until we care about human rights and basic dignity. That all of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone. That our visions of technology and design and entertainment and creativity have to be married with our visions of humanity, compassion and justice.

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