Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Final Post

Well, only three days left in beautiful sunny Haiti before I return to snow, temperatures below zero, and a life that is polar opposite to my current one.  My last few weeks I’ve managed to visit almost every corner of Haiti.  After my previous blog post I bumped and bounced some 8 hours with three Swiss folks and our Haitian driver to Cap Haitien.  This is Haiti’s second largest city and the best part; still assembled!  An earthquake leveled the city in 1842 but the city has been earthquake free since then.  What a breath of fresh air (well diesel-infused fresh air) it was to be in a city that wasn’t collapsed.  Sadly it is still doomed to fail if another earthquake hits and the other Swiss engineer, Jan, and I played name-that-building-that-will-fall-in-the-next-earthquake game in the car for entertainment.  A little morbid but still fun.  

Our first day we had plans to visit a huge mountain top fortress in the nearby looming mountains.  This famous monument , the Citadelle, was constructed by Henri Christophe, a key leader during the Haitian slave rebellion, after Haiti gained independence from France at the beginning of the 19th century.  Jan, our trip organizer, kindly arranged for us to visit the Citadelle on possibly the only gloomy rainy day in Haiti.  Regardless we had a blast (in a drowned rat sort of way) and learned a lot.  Well the French speaking folk (Swiss and Haitian driver) did.  Our translator for the Citadelle and surrounding sites had difficulty remembering which one of us didn’t speak French (you’re truly) and proceeded to deliver most of the history to me in French.  No worries, I wouldn’t remember it no matter the language spoken to me.  I was more interested in the massive stone structure (130 feet tall) that has withstood several earthquakes and contains walls as thick as I am tall.  The cannonballs scattered around the fortress were also fun to pick up as well as climbing around the entire structure.  Luckily there are no rules for safety (besides our guide yelling “Attention” at us every 10 minutes) so there was no limit to where we could or couldn’t walk.  Here’s the website for you history buffs.  Pretty fascinating! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citadelle_Laferri%C3%A8re

The next day we followed a dirt road along the north coast to Labadie where we took a very small boat to our hotel which was only accessible by boat.  A quaint little place with plenty of hammocks, beer, a mountain behind to climb the next morning at 6am, and dead seafood to eat for dinner.  This would be where I tried my first lobster.  If the cracking sounds to get to the meat off the lobster aren’t discouraging enough the crunchy meat inside will.  Not delectable in my book.  

So after my wild weekend across country, I flew into the next week giving my last workshop.  Our limit for these workshops is 16 students.  We were warned we may have as many as 30 students a few weeks prior which gave us opportunity to hire one more expat to help me give the workshop.  Come Monday, I had 60 beady eyes ranging in age from 20-70 staring back at me anxious to learn.  In Haiti I’ve developed this “don’t think, just do” mentality which has aided my apprehension for many things; mainly standing in front of large groups, entering houses that are far from stable, etc.  This was in full effect come Monday.  As most of these workshops have many malfunctions throughout the week, we found our site not prepped for concepts that we needed to teach.  I like to call it improv teaching.  Each hour goes differently then planned and I find myself pulling ideas out of my hiney right and left to make up for items we can’t teach simply due to the chaos.  James would come back each day from teaching these workshops saying “Just another day in paradise” and I found myself succumbing to the brainwashing as well to eliminate pulling my hair out, throwing things, etc.  

Finally by day two we had figured out how to control some 60 grown Haitian men, all of which have a different opinion on EVERY minuscule detail of masonry construction (including even how one ties the wire the holds rebar together).  Johnny (our new engineer and my replacement), Sayem (the other expat that was hired to help), Raoul (my voice…a.k.a translator) and I arranged the men into sub-groups and monitored separate sessions of all parts of building that are important and that need to be changed in rebuilding Haiti. 
All in all, this workshop and my final week has been the most rewarding week of my time spent here.  I am flabbergasted at these Haitians’’ desire to learn.  They ask question after question after question.  I think we could have saved an entire day just for questions and they still wouldn’t be question free.  Coming from a country where education is entirely taken for granted, I found myself immersed in a community that would kill for an education but simply can’t afford one.  Some men have never taken a written test before in their life.  Some can’t even write their name and had to provide their drivers license instead.  For these men, we retested them orally.  Several completely failed the written test but when asked the same questions orally aced it.  One old man who didn’t pass either test told me his father couldn’t afford school for him so never sent him.  He didn’t want to make the same mistake with his four children so he worked day in and day out to send all four to school.  Now one is an architect and the other three completed (I didn’t understand what in) their school as well.  He then proceeded to tell me how gracious he was that I had volunteered my time and patience for him.  Heart wrenching.  I wanted to pass him simply due to his situation.  And there are hundreds upon thousands more in the same situation.  It’s a funny world we live in.  While some countries fight over which brand of epoxy to use on site, others merely scrounge for enough hand tools to even complete a job.  Incredible.  

My last weekend was spent driving with two co-workers down to the southwestern point of Haiti to a delicious sleepy little town called Port Salut.  We stopped to check the structural integrity of a school on the way so we could call it work.  It is here in Port Salut that the beaches are the bluest and the streets are the cleanest.  As any trip of course isn’t complete without a river crossing we had the joy of such an activity a few hours before our destination.  The “highway” was flooded with approximately 2 feet of water and our new Toyota Rav4 had its first swimming lesson.  We arrived at our little cottage and much to our delight found one could practically fall out the front door into the ocean.  We marveled at some antique wood row boats on shore which we later learned were not antiques but the “modern” boats they actually USED to catch the fresh fish each day.   

Port Salut

Port Salut

Lobster cage

Our little boat to Labadie


The walls of the Citadelle
Well it’s the final countdown to homeward bound and I have to admit I’m ecstatic to return to life in the States.  At the moment I’m more excited to go home then sad to leave but I know that will change as I adjust to life in the US and think back to my adventures here and the amazing people I have met and worked with.   I feel like 4 months ago I stepped into a time machine that set me back some 70 years to a world where electricity was a luxury and TV dinners didn’t exist yet. Along with that comes fresh home cooked meals without preservatives, a chance to enjoy other’s company without the distractions of iphones and a hectic lifestyle, appreciation for a good book, and the opportunity to learn how peanut butter and sugar are actually made.  I’ve found we are so far away from where we get our resources and where the waste goes in the US that we loose focus on appreciating how technology allows us to buy pre-chopped veggies on the cheap and walk down litter free roads.  Parents only need to register their child for a free education versus pulling a 80 hour work week just to afford for their child to attend school (forget trying to feed the family).  As hypocritical as it is to say, I think I will struggle with reaccepting the American fussy, or dare be it, snobby lifestyle.  The pharmacy doesn’t have your medicine in stock (hey at least it carries it at all, and they have change for your 20 dollar bill so you can purchase it the next day) or waiting in the line at the bank for 30 minutes because service is poor (a good day in Haiti will put you around 2 hours) will be some things I may have to resist slapping people over.  Having services like public toilets (and ones that <gasp> flush!) and restaurants or gas stations to buy food in within spitting distance of each other is something we need to cherish a hole heck lot more.  Personally, not squishing biting ants in ones bed each night will be a plus as well as not living in the equivalent of a sorority and fraternity combined (guest house, it was my choice mind you).  Hot showers will also be appreciated.  I would sum up my experiences in Haiti as a life where constant struggle of the simplest things absorbs a significant portion of ones life and there is little energy left for advancement.  Then you throw shattered politics into the kettle and finding despair comes easier than solutions.    But this isn’t the mindset of the Haitian. They pray.  They have hope.  They smile and laugh.  I think because life is tougher they are tougher.  Put an American in a Haitian’s shoes and they’d die after a day.  It’s mindboggling to me and I am so thankful I was able to be exposed to a glimpse of it.  

So on that note I say “pase bon vwayaj Ayiti”.  I look forward to seeing you and your progress again some day. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mamajuana - The Domincan Drink

Goodness I’ve fallen a little behind in my blogging.  So many things to write about.  I suppose I should start with the story where I got the Tacoma hopelessly and very much stuck on our way to a job site.  We (me and the 3 Haitians with me) were all assessing the depth and location of a drainage ditch as I slowly crept over it.  I knew I’d guessed wrong  when my side of the front of the truck fell down 2 feet.  After a few “oh shuuuuts” (this is missionary work, no swearing EVER takes place….) I opened my door and fell out of the truck.  The clutch peddle was level with the ground.  After collecting myself and taking a few steps back I saw the full damage I’d done.  The drivers side front wheel was sunk 2 feet down in the ditch while the opposite rear tire was floating 2 feet in the air.  I happily handed the keys to Raoul after he asked me if I wanted to try and get us out or if I wanted him to.  

In true Haitian culture by this time a crowd had formed around us and people from all directions were “helping” shouting directions in Creole for the best method to get unstuck.  Back and forth with much tires skidding and clutch burning Raoul miraculously got the car out of the ditch.  I would have taken some pictures but I was too busy picking my jaw up off the ground.  In USA we say always have 3 points of contact when off-roading.  I have confirmed Haitians only need two wheels on the ground to recover a car.  Incredible.  When I returned to tell my story to my supervisor the first thing she asked me was if I’d gotten any pictures.  Apparently this is a common occurrence.  Raoul only laughed at my request to do it again so I could video it.  I thought that was a splendid idea.  

After my exciting car adventure I headed off to the Dominican Republic where I met the beautiful Miss Sara for 10 days of fun filled travel.  After 10 hours on a bus and crossing a border that felt, I image, something similar to a concentration camp I found myself in the booming metropolis of Santo Domingo at a hotel with a rooftop swimming pool AND air conditioning!!!!  The next day after collecting our rental car (they gave us a nice flashy red one so we’d really blend in <snort>) with 2 inches of clearance and wheels no larger than a wheelbarrow wheel we headed off to the little town of Jarabacoa in the mountains.  Here we hiked to a series of three waterfalls (two by mistake after adventuring off on a muddy steep path with a trail bridge down that we crawled underneath).  We were joined on the trail by Paul from the Peace Corp who is a mechanical engineer and working in a town near by.  

The next day we headed to Cabarete, world renowned for its amazing kite boarding.  After reading about people who’d lost limbs and viewing images of faces being massacred from hitting the water of course I had to give it a go.   Turns out it’s a little more complicated than a piece of cake.  More like a 10 layered cake.  The minimum lesson time required is 6 hours and most companies recommend 12.  I had 2 hours before the wind died.  The first part of kite boarding is all on beach just learning to fly the kite.  I spent most of the time trying to stay grounded and avoid flying away with the kite.   The trainer kite they give you that rips you around is half the size of the one you actually fly in the water.  Yipes!  The next part is body dragging through the water where you practice flying the kite with your life vest on in the ocean and let the kite pull you around.  This eliminates one extra object and sport to try and learn (the boarding part).  The third part is putting all three together and not drowning, loosing some $3,000 of gear, and actually enjoying the sport.  I got to level 1.  Hardly.  Too be continued at the Gorge in Oregon.  Who’s with me?  

As I was taking my lesson some young Dominican that works for the same company that my instructor was from came behind me to tether me (when you’re learning to fly a kite you need someone to help ground you or else you end up running all over the beach into people trying to control your kite due to the massive pull you receive from the kite).  After he walked away and my instructor came back she explained he was one of the best kite boarders in Cabarete.  He’s 18.  When he was 8 years old he wanted to enter a competition one hour away but didn’t have money for the bus fare so he decided to wind surf down to the competition.  About 1 mile offshore the wind died completely and he was left to paddle and survival sleep (cocooned himself in the kite) in his kite all night long on the ocean.  Did I mention he was 8?  Oh yes I did.  Perhaps we’ll mention again that he was only 8.  A fishing boat picked him up the next day some 4 miles out at sea.  He came home, hung his kite up to dry and was out kite boarding the next morning.  

The next day we backtracked to a splendid little series of waterfalls call 27 Chacos inland a bit.  For 14 dollars you get a life vest, helmet, two of the most hilarious Dominican guides you’ll ever meet, and 4 hours of sliding and/or jumping down 27 waterfalls.  The areas you can slide are actual rock formed from the waterfall itself.  They are almost like a luge but made out of rock.  The highest waterfall we got to jump off was 25 feet.  To do so one must climb up wet slippery rock to a wet slippery edge.  Because my brain doesn’t work on vacation I didn’t think that tennis shoes would be a good idea to bring for such an occasion so I arrived in sandals.  The guides were quick to knock that idea down and I was given keds, of which I think had about half as much traction as my teva flip flops.  This added to the adrenaline rush of walking down wet slippery waterfalls for 3 hours.  We had a blast in a butt-slapping, nose-filling-with-water kinda way.  

The next day we headed off to playa grande, probably the most beautiful beach in DR, where Sara snoozed and I entertained myself with a man trying to sell jewelry on the beach.  After he realized I didn’t want to buy anything he plopped himself down next to my lounge chair and we chatted away in Spanish for a few hours.  Anytime I didn’t understand a word he would draw or create the word in the sand so I understood.  “Trampa” was my favorite (booby-trap) which he proceeded to dig a miniature hole in the sand, lay sticks over and a leaf on top.  Priceless.  We became fast friends (it doesn’t take long in DR) and after a while he had pulled out a little book in Spanish he carried in his back pocket (after seeing that I had been reading a book in English) and told me all about the funny stories in it.  Anis, as his name was, became one of my favorite parts of the trip and made playa grande a lot more grande in my heart.  

Next I drug Sara out to a little one intersection minuscule spit of a town on the eastern peninsula.  Here we took a small motor boat to a remote island.  Our captain was a charmingly attractive young man whom I loved mostly because he only spoke Spanish.  Great opportunity to practice!  While Sara spent 4 hours snorkeling and getting barnacles stuck in her toes and hands, our captain and I clambered off up the mountain looming behind us.  The trail was pretty similar to rock climbing in that I used all four appendages most the time to hike in my sandals.  Remember that whole brain on vacation thing?  Finally I followed the example of my guide and just ditched the slippery suckers for better traction.  

Never did I think I would travel to a Latin country and have a Latino be ecstatic for me to teach HIM how to salsa dance but thus was the case with Elvin our boat captain.  At the top of the mountain we enjoyed breathtaking views of the ocean, a few bachata and salsa dances, and prickly sticker bushes.  Pretty awesome last day in Dominican Republic and I found myself reluctant to leave.  Dominicans will go out of their way to help you (as well as whistle or kiss at you too) and we found it easy to get around even on our most lost days.  On the second day of our trip we thought it brilliant to shortcut it through the mountains rather than take the autopisto all the way around.  Turns out the sides roads aren’t marked at all and we found driving 15 minutes and then asking someone on the site of the road where we were and how to get to the next town more productive then using the map.  At one point a man in a delivery truck stopped next to us in an intersection, rolled down his window and asked us where we were trying to go.  After rolling my window down and shouting back the town we were trying to find he led us through town to the road we needed.  It was awfully helpful to have Sara with her platinum blond hair and short summer dresses along for those days we really got lost and needed help.  At one point I recall getting out of the car and asking a very inebriated man (little did I know) which direction we needed to head.  He was all smiles and happily pointed a wavering hand in the direction we needed to go.  There were a few “I love you”’s and “Marry me”’s included in the directions.  What a hoot. 

So I have returned back “home” for a knockout three remaining weeks.  In these three weeks I have some 20 houses to inspect, one last week long workshop to teach, overseeing the installation of trusses on our huge community center in Cite Soliel and helping Sue interview Haitian engineers to fill my place.  Go BIG or go home I say.  But not before one last vacation.  I will be traveling with the Swiss up to Cap Hatien on the north end of Haiti this weekend for some exploring.  Three Swiss expats that work with the Swiss Confederation here in Haiti have generously given me the last seat in their car so I can attend.  Should be fun.  I fear I will be the only one in the car that speaks less than four languages.  Sigh…..sometimes us Americans just can’t win. 
Sara feeding all the stray dogs in Las Terrenas.  Felt like I was traveling with Jane Goodall

Elvin our boat captain and my faithful mountain hiking guide.  Complete with Bachata music as we hiked.

Santo Domingo

The little mountain town of Jarabacoa

Our Ferrari.  I named it Horse spit

Salto Jimenoa near Jarabaco

Playa Grande

My friend Anis at Playa Grande

I miss you all so very much and although life here in Haiti is quite exhilarating and thrilling I am ready to return home to a land where the temperature falls below 60 degrees and where I can hate myself for eating fastfood. Looking forward to a splendid holiday with the fam in addition to a new job and reconstructing my life in Seattle. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mom comes to Visit!

This blog will be the blog of the mom visit mostly because nothing too out of the ordinary happened between the last blog post.  Oh wait.  I guess I did spend a day with our engineer prospect.  And I do have the story of collecting a package sent from my darling brother and the lovely Caitlin Kiley (gf) (Side Note:  DO NOT SEND ME ANY PACKAGES.  Stay tuned to find out why) so let’s back that horse back up to last week. 
Late last week I came back from a hard day in the field to find a little slip of paper from the Haitian Post Office signed out to me.  After hearing horror stories from my co-worker about $20 fees for a few magazines that were sent to her I begrudgingly headed downtown in search of the post office.  Once found I headed across the grass lot to collect my package.  I was quickly steered over to four ladies sitting at a fold up table conveniently located under a tree in the yard.  They had a box that said “Post Office”.  Then after much hand motioning, blank stares and “m pa pale kreyol” I was directed back to the tent to pay my $5 (phew..only $5) to pick up my item.  Not a moment before I was starting to think ‘what a simple process is it to get a package in Haiti’ did I get directed to another building across the grass lot and across the street.  So close to my package…and yet so far away.  I wandered aimlessly into this building across the street past all the employees who were sitting outside in the shade.  One followed me inside and collected my ID.  After filling out a form equivalent in length to one’s home owners loan paperwork, I was marched back across the street to the back of the tent and ordered to sit (which was commanded to me in French, then Creole, and finally English before I figured out what I was expected to do) while the postman went in search of my package. 

My package was placed in front of me, I was asked something in French which I quickly replied “oui” to and then those nice postmen did me the favor of opening my package for me (so NICE of them…..) and rooted through each and every item.  I think they felt that to make the opening process a more fun surprise, it would be a grand idea to parade each item by my gaze and comment in French about how nice it was and how it would probably taste tremendous later.  I gave them an annoyed stare as I glanced down at the slip of the package they’d given me prior to opening the package which said plainly in English “candy, magazine, Gatorade”.  Upon completion of this process I sighed a deep sigh thinking FINALLY my package would be handed over since it contained no guns, drugs, or fruit and I would be on my merry way.  WRONG.  Once again I was marched away from my package (although this time open.  Wasn’t expecting much to be in it when I returned) and across the street to collect my receipt.  All receipts are hand written mind you.  Getting quite fed up with the “system” I rushed back across the street, picked up my package and just walked off.  Seemed to work.  Didn’t get arrested.  A few murmurs were directed towards me but I just kept walking.  Thanks muchos Brother dear and Caitlin for keeping me in my sweets and cliffbars while I’m here in Haiti and giving me something to write about in my blog!  That was fun to go through once.  Please no more gifts folks! 
Following the package incident came the day in the field with Engener Jacqlyn whom I learned many things and am STOKED to have fill my place if MCC feels that is the correct path to take.  He did a nice job of professionally and politely admitting that the work that was done in between when James left and I came (without supervision) was pretty poorly done and the reasons for it.  An engineer here in Haiti plays the part of engineer, architect, contractor, subcontractor, and sometimes as far down as the mason if they have to.  This means Engener Jacqlyn can pick out things I’m not used to picking out (like incorrect aggregate size for mortar in a final product) and giving me important recommendations from his experiences in the field (like the absolute necessity of renting a concrete mixer to get a proper mix ratio because it is simply too much work to do by hand and the masons just wont do it correctly).  Plus I got to practice my Creole because he spoke very little English!  I find myself following most conversations in construction pretty well these days but if the topic switches to “the weather is nice today” or “what did you do this weekend” I’m pretty lost.  Funny but this type of conversing doesn’t get you too far in the bar.  Or the office for that matter.  Bummer.  

So on to the mom visit.  We had a most fabulous time giggling away at the cultural differences here and jarring the snot out of ourselves driving around.  Mother now appreciates a good pothole.  Like a good loving daughter, I whisked her off from her redeye flight to a full day of affairs.  We visited Pastor Yvon and the church where I taught my workshop out in the countryside.  The next day we slept in tell 6am  and rose for church (in French) followed by amazing eggs and bacon from the local equivalent of McDonalds only with real eggs and real bacon.  Probably more grease though.  Haitians looooove their cooking oil.   Next it was off to the beach but not before buying peanut butter patties (sorta like a payday only a million times better)…..um 15 actually….for the two of us on our way out.  You never know when your car might break down.  

Monday Mom got to job shadow and meet the MCC staff.  We hit almost all the projects I had been working  since I’ve been here including some nice steep off-roading through downtown PAP.  This might become Mom’s new favorite pastime.  Or not.  Everyone just loved her and she chimed right in with the eclectic group we have here in Haiti.  

Our remaining few days were spent freezing our bones off up in the mountains (it got down to 60 degrees!  BUuuurr!) and telling little Haitian children that no, we didn’t want to give them one dollar and also that we didn’t want to pay for their school.  I’m sure glad I brought my translator up to the mountains with me.  Apparently ritzy resorts aren’t so fond of speaking Creole and insisted on speaking to me in French.  One problem.  Julie doesn’t remember her French.  BUT MOM DOES!  After dusting off her 40 year old French we made out just fine.  Service doesn’t really come with a smile anywhere in Haiti (and sometimes the service hardy comes) so we felt content with our waiter’s 36 degree warm personality.  Once we convinced him to come wait on us of course.  We almost got a smile out of him at the end.  After our glorious time spent up in the mountains at an incredible lodge we headed out for a hike along the ridgeline of beautiful Haiti.  Check it out folks.  Haiti hides its beauty with poverty so foreigners won’t discovery what they are missing not visiting here.  Pretty clever.  

Mom and my’s favorite part of the hike was our turn around point.  A few peasants had come up with the clever idea to install a sort of road block toll.  Mind you this is out in the absolute middle of no where.  The road block consisted of a single row of cement blocks with two vertical blocks in the middle acting as the gate for moto taxis.  Never mind the fact that one could merely WALK over the block with little effort.  We stood dumbfounded for a few minutes watching the commotion as motos would approach the “gate” and decided instead of exhaust all my Creole to get through, to just turn around.  Hiking in Haiti is a little less fun with the attention we attract from the locals and after 2 hours of hiking we were mentally done with our hike. 
All in all we had a splendid time and I haven’t been that full for a very long time.  It was just peachy to finally be with someone who appreciates food and eating as much as I do.  

On another note we had a few members of our Haitian staff attend orientation in the United States these past two weeks.  Orientation is designed to orient (duh) those who work or are going to work for MCC about the organization and all the wonderful things they  are doing globally and have done in Akron, PA.  Some national staff here in Haiti have never been to orientation due to difficulties to obtain a passport.  For some this was their first time to the United States so a special trip to NYC was planned.  Never had they seen so many fat people in their lives.  There were so many that they had to come up with a special classification for those that were beyond fat and obese.  The word that developed was Walmart.  I think on the way to NYC their guide stopped at Walmart.  Here is where the fattest of the fat shop apparently (hey, it’s true!) so as the Haitian staff spotted an obesely obese tourist in NYC they would say “Look, another walmart”.  I was snorting and spitting out my lunch today when our Haiti rep informed of this.  I have seen one obese person here in Haiti and I think by American standards we could classify her as fat.  Amazing what not having access to cars does for people’s health.  I also think it’s due to the fact that you can’t buy chocolate without a refrigerator.  

On the opposite of fat, our skinniest Haitian staff member who went couldn’t stand American food and lived off of Insure for the whole two weeks he was there.  I’m not sure (no pun intended) how Insure is better than American food.  I’d say that’s a pretty big slap to our culinary skills.  Although I would have to say that when Haitians cook in bulk they eliminate those pesky preservatives that make my stomach churn and everything is pretty much organic.  
Thanks to Brother and Caitlin for sending me my Halloween costume to Haiti.  The Haitians got a kick out of it.

Us with Pastor Yvon

Mom soaking up some rays at the beach

My translator up in the mountains at our resort called "Lodge".  Pretty appropriate name I'd say.

Beautiful Haiti

Along our hike.  Believe it or not they garden all over these hills. 

Carrots and onions being carted to town

Ok well I’ve bored myself with my blog so I’m sure you’re sawing logs at the moment.  WAKE UP.  Off to one more day of work and then a fun filled weekend of…well…probably working.  Headed to the Dominican Republic in a few weeks though for Turkey day with Miss Sara Sieteski.  Now if she would just buy her ticket!  Hope you all are amping up for the Holidays and having a glorious time freezing your bones off and making snowballs already.    Sounds cold over there.  Me, I got sunburned yesterday.  Brag, brag, brag.  At least you have electricity.  Till next time!