Sunday, May 31, 2009

Phew, it's hot in hurr. That's what wick would say. The term "Africa
hot" will forever have a different meaning to me. But I would like to
think that I am acclimatizing.

Today we are headed to the bush to interview some rural liberians. We
can barely understand city liberians. I have no idea how we'll
understand indigenous peeps.

There are alignment issues with our project. The furniture that
people are making is priced at $600. The average Liberian makes $1
per day. So the avg joe would need to work for two years before they
could afford a furniture set that you probably wouldn't even put
outside on your patio. Rough. We have quality control issues and our
cushion costs are way too high.

What we are trying to to is take the bamboo furniture making industry
to individual villages. They harvest the bamboo and craft the
furniture. Then, an NGO or third entity takes the beautiful furniture
to market. This sounds like a good idea and could work. But Liberia
has an85% unemployment rate. The country is torn from 10 years of
civil war with only hampered progression and deveoured any economic
opportunity. This place is simply the remnants of a war zone.

The people live in delapitated buildings with no running water, no
doors, and definately no power. There ate basically two types of
markets, really expensive stores for expats, UN workers, and us. Tub
there are huts, wheelbarrows and street peddlers pushing fish, bags of
water, andloaves of bread. Liberians can buy amy of these items for
less than 5 cents usd. But if we were to buy anything, it'd be a
couple dollars.

As you can imagine, people here don't shower much. We have one bboo
expert who interviews with us around the city. Gettin within a couple
feet of him makes me sick to my stomach literally. Couple that with
the fact that pollution is rampant, it's a cocktail for disease.
There is no sanitation at all. I have a better understanding for by
people poo on beach--it's the cleanest place to relieve yourself.

Tv other issue is trash. There is no dump and not even any garbage
cans. Liberians just throw trash on the ground. Some are tidy enough
to put it all in a pile. Then they burn it. It smells so bad and is
so toxic, I am amazed these people don't fall over dead.

There no home per se, people just sleep in random buildings with no
sense of property. Even the nicest buildings would be uninhabitable
in even 2nd world nations. It's pretty intense.

One of the problems is that there ate international organizations that
have been handing out aid for decades. So liberians know they can
just sit around, do nothing, and someone will come give them good,
water, Medicene, and clothing. Why would you bust your ass in this
African heat when you know that if yousit tight long enough, all that
you really new will be given to you.

Currently, it's 5 hours into a one hour trip. Again, absolutely no
sense of urgency. Our first hold up was some rubber necking near a
bank. After passing, we noticed the police were there and there was a
bloddied body in the dirt lot out front. Someone had just been
killed. This place is real! Then, in the midst of the worst traffic
jam you gave ever seen, a car went flying down the middle of the.
Street bouncing off other cars. It ran over a kids foot and I thought
the kid put himself there on purpose. Turns out he did place his leg
under the car. It had lost it's brakes. Wow.

Ph yeah, I almost forgot. Every single vehicle here, including
thousands of Motor scooters, has an intense horn. Our driver uses 10
blasts for anything you can imagine. Turning? 10 blasts. Someone
walking on the street, 5 blasts. A car 1/4 mile down the road, 5
blasts. I think all car horns should be banned

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We are staying at a beach resort in congotown. And when I say beach resort, I mean that you'll likely get 100 bug bites on your face as you sleep at night in your cinderblock room. Justin looks like he has chicken pox slash he was attacked by mosquitos. Its likely he now has malaria.

There is no power grid here, only generators. We are at the mercy of the compound proprietor who promises power from 7pm to 7am. We count our blessings when the power lasts past 4 am. WE do have AC units to fight stifling heat at night, but when the generators go out, its time to lay in a pool of your own sweat, fight bugs, and think about the amazing weather in norcal.

I couldnt sleep past 530 yesterday so I went for a run on the beach. If you run east, you are likely to run into ex-combatants who'll likely hold you for ransom. I ran west. It took about 2 mins until I realized that dawn on the beach was synonymous morning bathroom time. I ran past no less than 5 people dropping a deuce out in the open right there on the beach. It kinda felt a little bit like telegraph, but there were less dreadlocks and less tie-dye.

At least we are making progress in determining the feasibility of our project. Alignment and motivational issues are east to assess.

One last thing, we found out today that the place we are staying is a hideout for russians looking for african professionals. And when I say professional, I mean the oldest kind. Sweet. And a monkey tried to steal my iphone as I was snapping pictures of him eating a red bull can.

FML. -jwb

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Liberia presents some challenges. We are staying in a glorified ruck house where there are more bugs than Alaska. I am taking malaria pills so I am hoping that I wont get sick. The compound electricity is run via generator. However, the owner refuses to run outside of his set hours--which are 7pm to 7 am. So we accepted that. However, the generators usually cut out around 1 am and then again at 5am. So at 5am, I wake up and start burning up from the oppressive heat. I took off the sheet and got attacked by bugs this morning. I was so upset that I got up and went running.

It was still early and light was just cresting the horizon. We are staying near the southern coast and we were told that the beach is the safest place around. So I decided to run along the beach. Much to my dismay, the beach at sunrise is also the place where locals go to take care of the serious bowel movements. I saw at least 5 africans just squatting on the beach doign their business like it was no big deal.

We found out today that most people here make 50 cents a day. However, they are happy to charge us $17.00 for a nasty chicken dinner. So there is a disconnect between trying to sell $600 sets of furniture to these people. Just another alignment problem surrounding this entire trip.

As you can easily tell, I am a little more than upset with the circumstances around this social enterprise. We were told that we'd be staying in a hotel, have security, access to food and water, and have safe transportation. Oh, I am working for free by the way. Our IBD director didnt give us the tools necessary to be successful here.

I'll keep trying to bring events to the front as they unfold. And I will work on my attitude, but working in oppressive heat with no relief, insane taxi rides, and paying more for meals here than I do in the US makes for a frowning jw.

Making sure I end on a bright note for the day, Happy Birthday Annie

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just got $250k travel insurance for $18. I heart usaa. I don't heart avalanches or malaria. Also, a tree grabbed my rear tire yesterday stopping me in my tracks. I picked my face up off the dirt and noticed I had a hole in my shin. Not too much blood but pretty cool to see my tibia

First travel challenge

I had to wake up at 445 this morning to make my flight out of sfo. I
have to admit that I am not all that pumped about travelling for the
next 26 hours. But I am going to do all that I can to sleep for 23 of
those hours. When we would leave san diego enroute to Hawaii on the
carrier, I averaged 19 hours of sleep for 4 straight days. I was
proud of thy accomplishment.

I am travelling with 3 other haas boys enroute to Monrovia, Liberia.
Wow. We are consulting on a sustainable bamboo furniture business
plan. I will also be watching every exit and unruly characters. And
this time I have travel insurance. However, it is highly unlikely I
will encounter any avalanches in west Africa. Interesting note: one
of the fellas already forgot his wallet at home. His wife is bringing
it to the airport.

Second interesting note: this is the largest randy moss bobblehead
none to exist. It's 3 feet tall.

I should be on email and the blog over the next 3 weeks. If you don't
hear anything from me for a while, call the sheriff.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I want to share this with you. I am sure you have already seen it, but it is spectacular:

Also, I am now complete with my first year of B-school. Sweet (except for one bit of editing). Yay for me. Africa next week.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Esquire Tuesday

I took some heat today for not posting earlier. Sorry, I was in my strategy final and the prof would have thought it a little odd that I was trying to fit my "get out of jail card" girl into my plan to save CarMax. Anyway, yes, scarlett jo is my one hollywood celeb that if I had I girlfriend, I would make said girlfriend allow me this one "get out of jail free card."

And I saw Colby Callait this weekend. She was a very beautiful girl, very humble, and very nice. Jason Mraz put on a good show with james morrison.

One more final and a paper edit and I am done with my first year of B-school.

Also, I am pretty sure this is my last post of beautiful women for a while. I am traveling to Liberia next week. It is likely that is more important to discuss than who is hot. Plus, I need to think about what I want to leave here. My mother reads this thing afterall

Monday, May 11, 2009

Its like taking a guess when the only answer is yes

My black vernice sidi shoes arrived today. They are stunningly beautiful. Black in the new black.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday does not equal hump day

I wouldnt say that today was taxing. It was just kind of there. Lately I have been worried about stuff that in the grand scheme of things really doesnt matter. I got my Visa for Liberia today. So that became a little more real. I leave in 14 days. Pray for my safety and health. I'm worried about river blindness and being held for ransom.

I had to travel to 3 USPSs today to get the certified mail that was my passport. I was disappointed that something so simple would take such a large effort. It inspires me to be a better businessman and pay attention to details. I think that I'll be attentive and quick with details when it comes time to work again. Neglecting those things in the military will get you killed. Neglect details in your garage and the next thing you know wick is quietly saying "my B" because he just broke something on my bike. Neglect details in the things that make you happy in life and you'll be unhappy. So I devote this weblog to happiness.

Take a look at this pic. My house is just over the furthest ridge and covered by a cloud. I crossed over Grizzly peak and it was absolutely beautiful and 65 degrees. Dream day. Stopped to take this pic of the landscape and cows and just be in the moment.

I turned my phone's camera on myself and realized a couple things. Lately, in my no more than 3 rides per week, I've been wearing a perma smile. Things are just starting to get better. I really want this year to be over and to turn the page. The last couple of months have been absolute dogshit for me. And I'm not the kind of guy to complain about stuff like that publically. But red hats and smiles are for the best. Tough to swallow still, but that just means that I'm a human. My heart goes out to all those who have not had a smile like mine below in a while. I'm thinking about mike stoops and his condition. You are in my prayers. I'm thinking about toon and missing his wedding. This is a great regret for me. I am so sorry that I cant make (due to the Liberia trip that I figured would get cancelled) and feel like I am really letting you down. I left the military to avoid these kinds of situations.

I'm thinking about my mom on mom's day. I promise to take you to mom's day brunch next time we are together. Happy mom's day to mary--my 2nd mom. Happy mom's day to jmw and amb (you've earned it).

I got a text message from prague today. I can honestly say that I've never received an SMS from Europe. It was pretty cool in that a good friend took me back to the screen below. I think Friday weather in Vegas would be fantastic. Cheap tix anyone? Lastly, I found out tonight the janitor is named Glenn Mitchel......or tony. Either will work for me. But it'll be sad to not have that search for his name anymore.

Chris and Jarrett, just keep riding. Good things come to those who put in the work. I still believe in that. And I still believe in capitalism, the American Dream, and hope. Amen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Esquire Tuesday

not that I am able to come up with something better, but I submit the following for Esquire Tuesday. Megan Fox: tattoos, unapologetic bitchy behavior, and real. Thoughts?

On a separate note, I have two more papers and two more finals and then I am done with my first year of b-school. Oh yeah, then I am off to Liberia for 3 weeks to work on a sustainable bamboo furniture factory biz plan. Then Cisco for 10 weeks. At some point in there, I'll figure out how to get back on my bike and race. I am just calling this my "mid-season" break.