Sunday, July 25, 2010

All the best fruit

I've never spent a summer in Cambridge/Boston before, and since I like it a lot and am getting real used to living living here, I thought this summer would be a great time to live in the city. Initially I found such a "laissez faire" (someone else's words) lifestyle a little difficult. It was hard to fill my days, or feel accomplished at the end, being unemployed and unproductive.

Eventually, I settled into a groove of working remotely for Kopernik (see below), with whom I'll be working for in Indonesia this September, and dancing tango and lindy hop, the usual volunteering at Bikes Not Bombs, playing Ultimate frisbee, trying my hand at parkour, and seeing friends and meeting great people on top of and in between all that.

This turns out to be a really bad idea.

I really don't want to leave now. Perhaps I'm missing out on other great places by focusing on Boston, but it's grown so much on me. I've never had such (relatively) great social networks and lived in a place where there live so many other people I like. I enjoy my life so much here: my familiarity with the city, the great people I know, the wealth stuff there is to do. Sometimes, I feel that each day I am more desperate to enjoy my last days here, and more desperate to stay in Cambridge. Alas, this impossible.

I am, however, pretty excited about the future. It's ironic how excited I am to go, for how much I don't want to leave.

Next year, I'll work for IDE in Ghana. Before that, I'll volunteer for Kopernik in Indonesia.

Kopernik is a young non-profit that connects communities seeking technologies with organisations and companies which produce off-the-shelf technologies that are appropriate and useful, as well as ones that share blueprints and instructions to home-build technologies like wind turbines and hand-shellers for corn.

IDE is a very distinguished and experienced non-profit that develops local industries in different countries to produce and distribute useful products and services that local people need, and to do it at a profit, sustaining and growing these industries. One famous example is the drip irrigation kit. For an amount of money that can be paid back in a single harvest, a farmer can buy a kit that allows him or her to plant during the dry season or otherwise be unaffected by unpredictable or poor rainfall. This can more than double a farmer's income. That's totally crazy! What's even crazier is that the producers and sellers of the irrigation kit make a profit too.

Adventures ar icumen in.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Regatta de funk

You might have heard of the Couchboat.

Now, behold Couchboat Two, with two couches!

All credit to the illustrious Laura Stupin for the brilliance to put a couch on a pair of surfboards to go on the Charles river for last year's fourth of July celebration. This year, Daf and I spruced up the old surfboard chassis to take two couches and a whole bunch of extra flotation.

And by "spruced up", I meant "worked like dogs to rebuild". We designed and built a wooden space frame onto the boards that "securely" held our couches, and a system of airtight containers mounted on the underside of the boards to keep us buoyant. Couchboat Two's top speed, going downstream and with four people paddling: half a mile per hour.

Seven of us floated down the river on the mightiest and slowest of all couchboats on the Charles that day, and watched the fireworks just a couple of hundred metres from the barge they were fired from, drinking brews, eating strawberries, chips and hommus, singing sea shanties and talking the talk of pirates. Ah, simpler times.

To get home, we offloaded most of the cru at the MIT boat dock, and Daf and I unmounted the flotation from the underside of the boat as we floated in the water (itself a mighty effort) and then paddled a mile upstream to our launch site.

With lots of help, we carried the boat and couches home, we managed to finish at 3 or 4 am. We were completely exhausted and worn out, but extremely pleased with the success of our mission.

Next year, look out for the grand premiere of Loungeboat.