Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The worst package ever

The other day I went to the office and was excited to see a package on my desk. I tore it open and was perplexed at what I found. No, not a cup of coffee (look closer). A MIF Procedure Kit, for the collection, staining, and preservation of fecal specimens. No explanation as to why this was being sent accompanied the kit. I'm guessing it has something to do with my upcoming mid-service training, but I am steering clear of this particular present until given a specific directive. Wouldn't you?

This seems like a good place to mention my address again, in case you wanted to send me a MIF kit, or maybe something better... like DVDs of the upcoming Husky Football season (I'm really serious, this would make me so incredibly happy), or magazines, as Peace Corps is canceling our Newsweek subscription in a cost-saving move.

Letters, small packages --
Craig Bosman, PCV
c/o the Peace Corps Office
6/F PNB Financial Center
Macapagal Avenue
Pasay City 1308

Larger packages --
Craig Bosman
US Peace Corps Volunteer
Municipal Hall
Amlan, Negros Oriental 6203

EDIT: Please do not send me DVDs of awful games. I don't really want to watch the Oregon or Oklahoma debacles. As Sarah Palin said, "Thanks but no thanks". Except I'm not lying when I say it.

Beijing Olympics... from the same time zone!

Like many major sporting events, I got waaay into the Olympics. And even though Peace Corps Volunteers are supposed to be leading some sort of deprived life, I probably had a much better viewing experience than you. Indeed, I will probably lucky to ever have this outstanding of a (television only) viewing experience again. I’ll leave the analysis of China’s human rights record, the political controversies of the games, etc. to other people, and talk about what the Olympics were like from my vantage point.

I don’t watch a lot of TV here. The steady stream of action movies served up by cable channels and mindless game shows on basic cable are usually a bit much for me, so I typically exclude myself. But in the run-up to the games, I subtly informed my host family how incredibly excited I was to watch the Olympics every night. Luckily, they were also quite into it, which was no doubt helped by the USA Basketball team’s great popularity here.

Instead of struggling with NBC’s hype, commercials, and delays, I was blessed by the South African sports television network, SuperSport. They provided 3 channels worth of live, virtually commercial-free coverage of almost every sport imaginable. In addition to this, there was a Filipino-owned network, Solar, that had one channel devoted to the games full time and four other channels (including Basketball TV) that showed the games at least part time. Solar was pretty obnoxious with its commercials, and had less live action, but it was probably on par with NBC. Both SuperSport and Solar appeared to be using pool commentators from the IOC, who seemed to be from the US, UK, and Canada. My favorite was perhaps a very serious and proper British woman who was helping on the gymnastics broadcasts, whose idea of praise was something like “Well, that routine wasn’t too terribly awful, was it.”

Having the same time zone as all of China (kind of a remarkable idea, given how large that country is), the Philippines was also a good place to be. I could catch most of the action live as it happened in the evening, and for the big morning events like swim races and gymnastics, I was able to either run home real quick to catch a race, go across the street to the Mayor’s office (which was how I saw most of Phelps’s gold medal races), or extend my lunch period at home a little longer. I got to see almost all of the sports, too. It was great figuring out team handball, field hockey, and competitive ping-pong as I watched the action unfold. Some sport coverage was lacking. I was frustrated by the lack of soccer coverage, surprisingly, and also of baseball, less surprisingly, but still managed to see some of each. I could have done with less equestrian coverage. (Once, when searching in vain for the US Women’s Soccer semifinal match, and frustrated with prancing horses taking its broadcast time, I said “Who cares about horses!?” to my host family, and my host mom replied immediately, and incredulously, “People who loves horses!” Touche.)

The Beijing Olympics were, for me, a perfect coincidence of a matching time zone, a cable network that respected the intelligence of its viewers, and a lifestyle and working environment that afforded me relaxed evenings and a flexible workday. The only thing that will top it is actually being there in Vancouver 2010. I can’t wait! And congrats to Team USA for a job well done.

A Lack of Posting

I think the handbook for families of Volunteers warns of less frequent letters home as time goes on and the Volunteer gains new perspectives, gets more used to life in their adopted country, and is further removed from everyday American life. In some sense, this is probably what’s happened with this blog as of late. But also, I’ve also built up in my mind the need to make every entry sort of epic, either a fantastic story or an in-depth news report, and few things lately have fit that bill in my mind. If I think about it, a lot has actually gone on since I last posted. Furthering ties with the local soccer team, including participating in our first tournament, a refurbished tennis court, a plan to make a huge mural in my town, developing some architecture plans for a new library, entering in a mountain bike race, visiting friends in Cebu, not shaving for six weeks and counting in preparation for a mustache contest, helping with a scientific research project in Siquijor, being a complete and total Olympics junkie, and slow but steady progress on most of my projects. Honestly I doubt I’ll ever fully post regarding all these things, but some of them will probably be incorporated into future posts. I tend to do this thing in spurts, and recently most of my writing energy has been focused on creating satirical Onion-style stories for a Volunteer newsletter that would probably take too much energy to explain. So for you loyal blog readers, if you haven’t given up by now, I’ll do my best to update more frequently and less epically. In fact, here come a couple right now.