Socks and Underwear

Socks and Underwear: February 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010


Miscellaneous news that happened this week

My APCD (my boss) came to my site for a chat/interview. It was very pleasant. Sometimes I dont know I am interested in talking about or even venting certain things until I start talking about them. I think I am getting better at being interviewed too. I still dont like talking about myself but I now use more than one word answers. Yet another life skilll laid down by Peace Corps.

Teaching continues to be a learning experience. I have had some particularly bad classes where some of the learners are mistaking my kindness for weakness. I have learned now not to tolerate even the smallest infraction because it snowballs far too quickly. Things have been better since.

The youngest member of my host family stepped on a needle which broke off into her foot. It swelled and was surely infected so her father came to take her back to Pretoria. This same thing happened to my real sister in my real family. And she turned out fine... mostly. Anyway my little host sister will be gone for a while and she will be missed.

Things are cooling down noticeably. I am sure that that doesnt sound all that great to those covered in snow but it means a lot to me.
There are whole chunks of time where I an not covered in sweat!

That is all for today.

Picture Captions

A horse enjoying a drink from the temporary rain-created pond on my walk to school this morning.

A localised downpour. Probably on someone who just got laid off, evicted and dumped.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


A very short picture-less post today but I am running out of data so this will have to do until I recharge. I decided to be ambitious for 2010. My personal goals are to read 52 books, meditate 3 times a week and train to do one-armed hand stand push ups. I feel like these tasks will go a long way towards mind body and soul. At this point I am on track and am still up to the challenge. Any suggestions on books or meditation techniques would be most welcome. The only person Ive ever seen do hand stand push ups was Jackie Chan so if anyone happens to know him, get some tips for me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grass and Mud


We are covering energy in the natural sciences class. As an introduction we started with solar energy. I thought a nice demonstration would be to show how dark colors absorb more energy than lighter colors. So I brought in a black and white t shirt and set them out in the sun. During my class one of the women that cook the learners lunches calmly informed me that the cows were trying to eat my shirt. What?! In no way does my shirt, which was hanging on the top of a fence, resemble grass. I expect that sort of behavior out of those stupid goats but not you cow friends. Well now I have a giant cud stain on the corner of my shirt. You win this round dikgomo.


My host mother is building a traditional mud house, with some modern brick supplementation, in the yard. Well she is rebuilding it but all the same. She is almost finished and it was impressive how quickly she has worked. She had help from most of the family and neighbors but she has done a major portion herself. When I was investigating today she said it would be cool in the heat and warm in the cold which sounded sublime. Indeed it was pretty cool inside the house so I asked her if I should cover my house with mud. She just laughed at me. When she saw that I was only half joking she explained that it was a lot of work because it requires constant maintenance to keep the mud on the house after it rains. She said I can use her house if I need to achieve homeostasis (not her words) so I got that going for me. Eventually the house is going to be used for a big celebration. Ill keep you posted on that.


The race is getting closer and the threats are getting more violent. This morning I woke up to my running sneakers in my bed but they were completely gutted. The tongues were ripped out and the heels were broken. Tell your friends, use peer pressure. Tell your enemies, use reverse psychology. Get out there and manipulate donations for a good cause!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Melon Baller

As some may know, I started a garden for myself and host family. I already had a pretty nice post but was waiting for the right moment. Since it is stowed away on my computer it will have to wait a bit longer. Today is a special case so I will say a little about one of my harvests before I give a rundown of the whole thing. That special case is the cantalope or the sweet melon. A few were ripe today so we indulged ourselves and how sweet they are. I am suprised at how well they turned out and many more are still coming.

If I do this correctly, the pictures should be in chronological order which I will describe now:

The melons grow Look at how peaceful they are. They have no idea that soon I will be feasting upon them.

A beautiful specimen. Had a pungent aroma and a satisfyingly dense reply when flicked. Yes youll do nicely.
Look at that vibrant color! A magnificent fruit to behold.

Cantalope and honeydew (from a store) combination. I could really taste my blood, sweat and tears in that melon. There were overtones of toil and and a playful suggestion of grief. It was certainly one of the finest melons Ive ever had. First class dinner! Thats right melon for dinner because Im an adult and I can do that sort of thing. I may even stay up late tonight too, probably wont though because In pretty tired.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gadgets and a Reminder

Mr. Saw-Open-the-Case

In an attempt to fix my apapter and to gain some knowledge and perhaps even some skills, I decided to open that bad boy up. They dont make it easy but its thin plastic shell was no match for my leatherman saw. Once I got to the guts though I had no idea what I was doing or what to look for, it wasnt very obvious. I was hoping there would be a big switch I could flip or maybe a blinking button to press, alas there was not. So in the future if anyone ever needs to open their power adapter, I know exactly what to do but beyond that I got nothing. Pretty neat to look inside though. Dont go ruining yours though I have included a picture to sate your curiosity.

Computer class

I have started computer classes for the teachers at one of my schools (the other one will start very soon). They have only the one computer so the lessons are one on one so far. This means doing the same lesson over and over and over to all the teachers. Teaching the same science class twice is not as bad because I usually alter the second class to make things run smoother or clearer and keep things fresh. The computer classes are tough though because I have to repeat the same lesson and I hate repeating myself. If for whatever reason you missed what I said, youll usually get one repeat and then after that if you still didnt get it, forget about it man. Even if I were injected with a deadly toxin and I needed you to hand me the only existing antidote for which only you were aware of its location, and I asked you for it twice and you didnt hear me twice, Im a dead man because thats how much I hate repeating myself. But teaching is a different scenario because the message is new to each of the teachers each time and its important to me. So until I can get access to a computer lab I am just going to have to suck it up.

Another note about the computers. Both schools participated in a workshop on using computers more, or if you prefer the lingo/buzz word version, integrating ICT. So they both brought their main school computers with them to get a little training and receive some documents etc. Well when they came back one of the schools computer was so clogged with viruses and the like that even microsoft word wouldnt open. I am sure it will be the same at the other school tomorrow. I just find that deliciously ironic. The irony is so thick I can cut a slice out of it. Then I can take two pieces of the irony from the workshops on "improving classroom practices" that are held during school, which take teachers out of class, and I make an irony sandwich. Then I take my irony sandwich and I put it on my head.


I am still planning on doing this event and therefore I still need donation from you generous, kind smart, funny...trustworthy loyal helpful friendly courteous brave people. Please see my earlier post to find out how to donate. Seriously help of out here, the volunteers in charge of this program keep sending me threats and calling me names, so I need to fill my quota. This is me repeating myself so you know its getting pretty real now.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Well it turns out the shock killed my power converter. Too bad but it certainly did its job; easier to replace than the computer too. In the mad rush to get all the pertinent information off of my computer, I forgot to write down my google password which is so secret even I dont know it. So now all emails and posts will be done mostly on my phone while the US and South African postal systems do their work. Pretty remarkable what can be done by phone, although you will have to excuse the misspelled (sp?) words, short posts, lack of formatting, incorrect punctuation, poor grammar, and all around sloppiness. All those things were there before but now 70% extra!

Here are some pictures because why not?

Another beautiful sunset

My makeshift, junkyard braai (grill), which a friend and I once used to boil water for pasta when the power was out. Grilled spaghetti!

Grilling some goat steaks. Its been a pretty swell Sunday.


This is just crazy enough to work.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010



I had an interesting day yesterday. I was struck by lightning. Well not quite, lightning struck somewhere outside my house, went through the power lines and attacked me. Seriously, that actually happened.

It was raining off and on all day yesterday. By the time I had gotten home it was still overcast but not the downpour it once was. I decided to do so me work on the computer and it started to sprinkle again. Now I suppose at any sign of rain one should immediately turn off electronics for fear of a power surge but I figured it was just a light amount of rain and there hadn't been any lightning yet. The next sequence happened in about half a second. I saw a bright light out of the corner of my eye where my outlet and surge protector are and then I was on the ground. I shouted or at least my brain was shouting and I was paralyzed on the floor still in the sitting position both arms out in the air. My heart felt like it was about to give out and I was disoriented and confused as to what just happened. The continuity of events that holds my reality together was abruptly changed. I should not have been in pain and horizontal, I should be typing and vertical. Things started to clear in my brain and I could move after a few seconds but I was numb and my heart was still racing. I got up and went outside just to tell someone I was alright because I thought I had shouted when the lightning struck. After assuring everyone I was fine and agreeing that I should not be using electronics in a lightning storm I turned off my computer, which miraculously is still alive, and laid down to laugh at myself.

So now the power is out in my village. As I said my computer is still working but I have a feeling my surge protector is shot and perhaps my power converter for my laptop as well but I won't know until power is running to the village again. Even worse is that I don't have any cool scars or super powers to prove my story. I think there was some hair that got singed and my left arm is still sore but nothing other than that. I still run at the same speed and am able to lift the same amount of weight, actually a little less for both since I am kind of sore

I will be sure to just read in the corner the next sign of rain is on the horizon.


I need to get this out now because I have been warned that I have not received any donations and that I failing my duties. As some of you or may not know, many South African PCVs participate in a annual marathon for charity, you can read all about it here and here. The participants are supposed to raise at least $100 dollars so that rural learners may have the opportunity to attend college. So I am asking for donations as I am participating. I am not running the marathon but walking half of it, but come on I got struck by lightning...sort of. Everyone knows but it is worth saying that every bit helps and it will only take a few moments of your time and it is a good cause. Plus if I don't get they will break my thumbs.

Directions for Donating

The easiest way is through an online donation here.

Click on the Donate photo in the upper right corner.

This opens up a secure https connection for you to donate.

Please put my name (Noah Prescott) in the "Longtom Marathon" field so everyone knows the donation was made in my name. Thanks.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Letter To My Blog

Dear Blog,

It has been a long time since I posted to you. How have you been? oh really that is too bad. I hope that works out for you. There have been a few events of note that I felt were worthy of your attention. Enjoy.


The second Peace Crops training was held during January. Which explains a portion of my time not posting, the rest is explained by business and laziness. All of integration was to be summarized in a portfolio for our bosses' reading pleasure. Some people put a lot of effort and seemed to get a lot out of it. I was not one of those people. While I found it useful and a good idea to have assignments and suggestions of things to do in the community to acquaint oneself and get going, some of it just did not apply to my small community nor was it even possible to accomplish in 3 months. If you view the purpose of it to give me ideas of areas to work in and to show my boss that I have ideas then the mission was accomplished.

The rest of IST (inter service training), with the sessions and the meetings was just about on par with all the rest of Peace Corps sessions and meetings I have experienced. That is about as diplomatically as I can put it. I was feeling somewhat sick the first day that I got there, whcih did not help, and sort of carried through to the end.

The best part of IST was seeing the other volunteers. We are down another volunteer but are still quite strong in numbers. Everyone has become a little tanner a little leaner it seems ( I think the peace corps 15 only affects some )and a lot more keen to Peace Corps ways. The most ambitious of the group took it upon themselves to arrange activities for the evening such as parties, talents shows, capture the flag, and even a PC prom. All were quite fantastic. The talent show was superbly better than what I was expecting, I cried laughing during one portion, to those keeping track the last time I cried laughing was at one Master Bacon eating a watermelon without using his hands. There were also some surprises and some serious talent. The capture the flag game was gripping and perhaps the most exercise I have gotten since being in SA. Blood was shed and bodies sacrificed and some voices were raised. The important thing though was that my team won. HUZZAH! The PC prom was even fun, dances are not really my thing but seeing other people enjoy themselves helps...also booze (not that I had any booze). My favorite part was that a very artistic friend helped me make a tuxedo t-shirt, which I have wanted for some time, and the only way to outdo a bought tuxedo t-shirt is a home made tuxedo t-shirt.

On the way back I visited a few volunteers who have a unique site near Rustenburg. They work for a camp that hosts weekly stints on all things life. Things such as how to pay your bills, is getting insurance a good thing, archery, and trust fall exercises. A little side vacation after the semi vacation of IST. I plan on returning because it was a beautiful area and I like the volunteers working there not to mention I saw a wild baboon.

At the beginning of the trip I was feeling grumpy because I felt like a hypocrite leaving my site for a week, right at the beginning of school. The week of introduction and acclimatization would have to start over once I got back not to mention planning a weeks worth of activities based on very little work and teaching. By the end of IST and my visit to fellow volunteers, I was glad I went. Although getting back to site from traveling always takes me a while to get back into village mode. It is hard to explain but I feel incredibly sapped and it may be among the lowest moments of my volunteer life. That is more a topic for another post. Moving on.

Name Dropping

Teaching is going well. I suppose I should say, it is going well from my perspective. I have a nice routine and it should go uninterrupted until the end of March. I am viewing it as half challenge and half experiment which are among my most powerful personal motivators. Other powerful motivators include avoiding annoying things and optimal benefit/effort ratios (I call this the laziness quotient), these thing however, do not lend themselves well to high pressure and involvement jobs such as teaching. Overall it makes me happy. There are moments were I totally get those headache commercials were the woman's face is twisted in agony, then we zoom into her head where her pain is being symbolized by a rope being twisted beyond its capacity for twisting. I also have a fair amount of Ferris Bueller-esque moments where I am just repeating questions over an over again to silence. This is somewhat normal again because of the whole non English speaking class.

One of the most successful things I have been doing so far is starting the class with roll call. None of the classes I observed did this but then again most of the teachers already know all the students in the entire school. In any case, it is helpful for me since I still need to learn everyone's name and there is an added benefit. The kids really enjoy me trying to pronounce everyone's name which is fantastically awful. A good way to start class, there is of course a downside to this though. I adopted the warning system against misbehaving where I write the learner's name on the board if they break a rule. Since I have yet to learn everyone 's name (48 in one class, 52 in the other) I have to get some help. This is bad enough but then I never know how to spell his or her (usually his) name. So I have to ask them how to spell it while maintaining the air of seriousness, since they just broke a rule and I sort of want to scare them or at least put in some old fashioned guilt. This is the part where the air of seriousness is broken. Sometimes the learner has trouble spelling their name, there is often times letter confusion (I and E), and then other students desperately want to help so they all shout out meaning I just hear white noise and see amused faces.

Me: K? O?
Student: G!
Me: K-G-O? S? I?
Student: E!
Me: What?

Afterward I have to re-establish the gravity of the situation. Luckily I was bestowed with the Prescott crazy eye and gloriously bushy eyebrows to accentuate it. It does not yet hold a candle to my father's one eyed focus technique which could stun just about anybody to 100% compliance but I am working on it. Luckily behavior has been quite good. There was one particular day when the barriers were tested and I had some students clean up the classroom but since then it has been smooth.

Teaching has certainly made me think more about when I was in elementary school and what all my teachers did. I think I was pretty lucky as far as public school goes so I have some good examples to remember. As I said, I am enjoying it so far and am excited to see where the learners will be at the end of the term and ultimately at the end of the year. I have high hopes. In the long term this will give me ideas on how to help the other teachers and potentially the school as a whole.


As I said coming back from vacation is tough. Well, that is not quite right. By the end of my vacations I have had enough and want to be home. So the initial feeling of being in my own space and not having to travel any more is great but then this strange unsettling feeling creeps in and then it takes a while for it to go away. I was doing my Peace Corps duties but was feeling sort of out of it and distant. This most recent returning was especially bad since both of my make shift shelves had broken since my being away, meaning wasted food and clean-up and now less shelf space. I was just in a weird, possibly bad mood. Another reason for my lack of writing and e-mails.

I was working through it and decided to make a visit to the post office. That is when things started to turn around. I received a package from my family, from my good friend Tom back home, and even a little package from my VSN (volunteer support network), who are charge with keeping volunteer's sane in some respect. Getting that mail really boosted my spirits. Got some goodies for sure but it is just nice to have physical link between friends and family. The VSN package was very well timed and really appreciated as well. Any scoffing I initially did at the idea were completely unfounded and I take them back.

As I was opening the packages with my spirits being lifted. There was an afternoon downpour. This was no normal downpour though, it goes in the top 5 greatest natural phenomenon in my life. It was not raining, then all of the sudden it was raining buckets upon buckets. Then the wind came and the rain was coming almost completely horizontally. This was my first experience with a leaky roof since being here, there were no holes in the roof, it is just the rain was coming in so hard from the side it was coming up under the overlapping metal sheets. I was completely at a loss as to what to do. I just sort of got up and ran around. Then I pulled myself together moved some stuff around, turned off electronics, put down some buckets and laughed at myself. The power was out at this point.

I then went outside to see what the deal was and saw the most amazing rainbows I have ever seen. One right on top of another one and a gradient of light throughout the sky. Moreover I could see both rainbows from end to end. Awesome in the true sense of the word. One of my host family members came out of the house and the only thing I could think to do was point at the rainbows and make some excited sounds. He looked and then smiled back at me as if he has seen it a thousand times. It was at this point that I was almost right back into village life.

Well blog those are some of the things that have been happening to me the past two weeks. Since I am in full village mode at this point and don't foresee any break in that for quite some time, there will be more correspondence. Stay well.


Noah Manson Prescott