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High > Low < Tech

2 weekly blog resisting the second law

Chapter 19 – Fundi Umeme Solar

[Paolo Nutini – Looking for Something]

There is nothing so fullfilling as the feeling of a hot shower well earned. The dusty closes fall off, stay behind in the other room. A long look in the mirror, studying your dirty sunburned face. The hair still ruffeled from the cap. The fresh towel eager anticipating to wrap itself around your clean warm body. But not yet.

Continue reading “Chapter 19 – Fundi Umeme Solar”

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Intermezzo – Panelis Photovoltaica Germanica

In the vast planes of Tanzania a double digit kilowatt herd of solar panels – or PeeVees – has gathered, their silver lined pseudo square checked faces turned torwards the burning sun as a lone bespectacled engineer observes their absolut stillness. It is the biggest herd of its kind outside industrial reservations in Tanzania.

Continue reading “Intermezzo – Panelis Photovoltaica Germanica”

Chapter 18 – Transcendence

[Paolo Nutini – Better man]

Flashback to three weeks ago.
Freshly sunburned back from South Sudan

Continue reading “Chapter 18 – Transcendence”

Chapter 17 – Fianchetto [1]

[Earthrise Sound System – Metaphysical Fitness]

I wake up to the sound of gun shots. A bang here and peng there. At first I don’t realize what disturbed my sleep. Consciousness comes reluctantly. Suddenly a machine gun burst close to the house. Continue reading “Chapter 17 – Fianchetto [1]”

Intermezzo – The Party

This is a pre-scheduled post due to the fact that I am in South Sudan.

I’m introducing a new Category to this blog – the Intermezzo – to write about things that for some reason didn’t fit the “Journey Journal”.
“In music, an intermezzo (Italian pronunciation: [ˌintɛrˈmɛddzo]), in the most general sense, is a composition which fits between other musical or dramatic entities, such as acts of a play or movements of a larger musical work.” [1] Continue reading “Intermezzo – The Party”

Chapter 16 – People Places Paradise

[Lana del Ray – Video Games]

Its better to know people in places then places.
In Zanzibar I know Omari. Continue reading “Chapter 16 – People Places Paradise”

Chapter 15 – Waves

[Rudimental – Powerless] Continue reading “Chapter 15 – Waves”

Chapter 14 – The Fluke

[NCT Bootleg – Free Falling]

According to psychoanalyzis and neuroscience the “I”, the ego, the conscious “me” we are referring to is a fluke. It is an instance that observes and takes responsibility without actually doing something. It is just a radar, a scanner system to look for problems.

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I mention this because as a project manager I seem to be exactly that. A radar looking for problems, taking responsibility but not actually doing something. A fluke. I talk a lot and then I write a lot of mails about the lot that I talked about. I remind people of what they said they would do and how they would do it. I am a self-aware sticky note on the fridge of this project. I complain if things do not turn out like they were promised to come about. I am the nagging old lady from the first floor left. I do have to organize things. Ask for information, weigh the effects implied. Get the opinion from the people that actually know or convincingly pretend to know what they are doing. As I do not have enough knowledge about all the things I go with the option they want to go with. I am the best pal who gives a pat on the shoulder. I keep track of the happenings and guard the budget and tell people again and again to follow a certain procedure so I know what is being spend we don’t go over budet and we save time and money. I am one of the grey Gentlemen. Playing so many roles effortlessly at once. Guess theaterschool was worth more then anyone could have expected. What I am seemingly not is an engineer. Or am I?

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They told me this was a common sense job. Engineers are common sense people. One would expect. In my mind they are. And it works out so far.  My technical background does help. I learn a lot about very different aspects and although having the feeling of not actually doing something a lot of people are really pleased with my work. By the way I am not complaining. I am analyzing. Going one meta level up. Like meta theater – a theater play about making theater – the manager starts managing his own process.

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So here is one scene out of this play:
For the rainwater harvesting tank I make the measurement calculations. How big does it have to be? The first results are ridicoulus. I adjust and end up with a tank of 16x3x3 [m]. 144 [m3] or 144.000 [L] of water. The contractor Omari shows me the money we have available for the tank. As I have no idea about the costs of building work I ask him to calculate the biggest tank possible with that money. We end up with a tank 4x3x3 [m]. Okay then lets do that. I explain how the tank should be build according to how it was explained to me just a few days earlier. Omari still brings in his own engineer advisors. In the end the only thing I actually effectively add to the process is to choose where it is build. Everyone exit to the left.

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Next scene:
Blue sunny skies, yet in the distance huge clouds build up. Natures sky scrappers, metaphorically and literally. I keep asking the gardeners to finish the gravel beds around the buildings so the red earth will not splash against the white walls when the rainy season starts. But they keep planting the hedges, dig the spice garden et cetrera. Finally one week after the rain has started they finish the beds. Walls are red. But not as red as they could have been I guess. Again you can’t really do anything but keep mentioning it.

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The most important thing about being a project manager: It is not about you. Its about the project and the progress and the process of it. Nobody really needs you because in a sense they know very well what they are doing. Then again everybody needs you. Because they need someone to take the heavy responsibility, to keep an eye on everything so they can loose themselves in their tasks, to nag so they don’t get lazy, to pat their shoulder so they’ll do the work with confidence, to argue with them either winning and pushing them to the next level or loosing confirming their knowledge. Which is exactly what the conscious “I” does in the human body. Because while you can control your breath to a certain extend breathing however is not something that you DO. It happens. The lungs do it. The lungs don’t need a consciousness to do it. The “I” can do nothing about it. Yet it is so nice to realize consciously that it happens. Is it not?

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Chapter 13 – Furaha

[Emilia Torrini – Jungle Drum]

One of my collegues writes me from Switzerland. She hopes I don’t have to do to much work so I can discover this unique island. I don’t know how I could discover this unique island without my work.
Waking through the backstreets of Kinyasini suddenly a quad tour of a near by hotel passes by. Starring and disbelieve. Here are supposed to be little black children waving at them not some pale, blonde dude in torn trousers with a notebook in his hand.
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While I am sitting in the shadow on the side of the road chewing some sugarcane and chatting up a local, a taxi passes by. Behind the window a camera lens, behind the camera a tourist watching the scenery passing by on the little preview screen.
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For displacing some 30 cubic meters of earth Daniel organizes the local football team from the next village. One day leaving the construction site they give me a ride. Imagine 20 young men on a mini trasporter, hardly fitting yet drumming and singing and turning it in to a party at 90 [km/h].

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One evening we leave Matemwe in the evening. Its a small transporter with two covered seats and an open cargo area and we are 5 people. Off course I jump on the back. Hassini protest I have to sit in the front. Hapana, Hapana. I’m fine. I want to sit here. Okay but then he wants to sit on the cargo area as well. Omar starts driving. I protest. But now Omar is alone in front. The car stops, the door opens and Omar joins us in the back. For a moment we are five grown men sitting on the back of a transporter with running motor and no driver. Then everybody cracks. I offer to drive but Omar and Hassini are already taking their places in front. As the transporter pulls away from the shore an orange colored full moon rises from the Indian sea.
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Off course this is before I meet Furaha. She is asian. We are an odd couple but we are getting along better and better. Lots of heads turn our way. Before me there was a Brazilian guy. But he didn’t give her much attention and now he is leaving the country anyway. She hums vividly as we fly over the dusty asphalt road. The first time we went out together she snapped at me. Twice. I wanted to know what she was made of and pushed to hard. Full throttel in the fith gear. Snap, jumping to 10000 rpm and no traction. I calm her down. Back to 4th gear. Lets try this again. Since the boundries are set we are getting along just fine. Just adjusting to each others temper.
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I named her Furaha. The kiswahili word for Happiness. She opens up a whole new dimension to my stay here. The things I can freely explore now are expanded, the way I organized my day more flexible. I sing to her very loud and off tune while driving. She does the background. A weird duett. Anyway sometimes I do miss being squeezed into a dalladalla, or huming jingle bells while driving with Daniel in the car. But thats all still possible. Furaha is not very possessive. I just have to invite her for a drink every 200 kilometers.
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