'Tis the season to be jolly....

...so come one, come all to eat, drink, and most importantly, be merry!

Photo credit: lockedoutcomedy.com

Locked Out Comedy troupe is hosting my "Going Away: Part Deux" party on January 8th at 10 pm at ArtCentre Theatre in Plano.  Buy tickets online for $12 or pay $15 cash at the door.  Five dollars of every ticket sold will benefit Skillshare International and GHARP Kenya.  So bring the kids or make it a date night and come LOL, ROFL, or LYAO while enjoying the comedic renderings of LOC.

Impending Departure

Less than three weeks and counting until I once again leave for Kenya.  I head back on January 10th and barring any weather delays am hopeful to arrive in Nairobi on the evening of the 11th.  Now to decide what fun things to cram in to my final weeks home:

. Celebrate Christmas with the fam
. Party it up with friends on New Years Eve
. Eat copious amounts of Tex Mex
. Finish my final paper
. Pack up everything for the second time in less than a year
. Veg with the cats

Suggestions welcome!

Spam and Procrastination

I rarely delve into the black hole that is my spam mail but this week I was looking for a lost email that I hoped had been misdirected into said folder.  Instead I discovered a plethora of junk emails offering me the opportunity to check my credit, order Viagra (titled "This===will help you!===Soon holidays!" because that makes sense), meet 1000s of single parents, and messages from supposed long lost friends.  Tired of not finding my lost email, annoyed by the numerous scam messages I was finding, procrastinating from finishing my final paper of my masters program, and because I have turned into an incurable insomniac and am very bored very early in the morning, I decided to respond:

Don't Panic!

Photo credit: http://pricegroupblog.com/2010/03/dont-panic/
...are words to live by when exploring the outer reaches of the universe as Douglas Adams tells us in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Apparently it's also sage advice for those traveling through the heart of Africa as well.  AP sources report that two American kayakers maintained level heads while watching in horror as their South African tour guide, Hendri Coetzee, was ripped from his kayak by a large crocodile while paddling down the Lukuga River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The experienced outdoorsman is presumed dead but thanks to his number one rule, "nobody panic," his fellow kayakers escaped unharmed.

"You live and learn. At any rate, you live." Douglas Adams

Beware of Imposters!

We all know who the REAL Captain Awesome is, but an Oregon man apparently is unaware of my alter ego.  He legally changed his name to Captain Awesome recently and his signature to: ---> <---.  Really, guy?

Christmas Spirt is Like an Infectious Disease

Because this is how my family rolls.  And what happens when I'm put in charge of decorating.  If only I had a light up baby Jesus then the scene would be complete.

My mother closed the shutters to prevent the neighbors and homeowners association from being able to enjoy our festive decorations.

Because Chuck Norris Loves Christmas

Who doesn't need a Chuck Norris collectible revolver for only $1,995?  Chuck Norris that's who.

If you went to shoot Chuck Norris with a gun, the bullets would run away.
Chuck Norris doesn't need a gun to shoot someone in the head. 
Chuck Norris wears a gun only to hand it to the enemy and beat him with it.

Holiday versus Christmas

There has been some debate lately over the usage of the phrase Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings versus Merry Christmas with one church going so far as to sponsor a website to call businesses out on their lack of Christmas decorations and so-called spirit.  I mean really people, this is why outsiders hate Christians and by association, Americans.  For one, aren't there more important things going on in the world to care about, like starving children living on the brink of war/genocide/death throughout the world that will never know over-commercialized event you are complaining about?  And more importantly, didn't Jesus teach us to be inclusive and loving of all people?  What's the matter with respecting the fact that Christmas is not the only religious holiday celebrated this time of  year?

In fact, Christianity isn't even the oldest religion observing a significant holiday this month.  And for that matter, Christmas day was chosen for its connection to pagan traditions connected to solstice and feasts to the dead rather than the actual birth date of Christ.  The origins of many so-called Christmas traditions associated with the holiday are in fact rooted in paganism and not historical Christianity including: evergreen trees, stockings, yule logs, and more.

Indeed, Jesus may be the reason for YOUR season, but for much of the world he is not the reason for their festivities and just because they're different than your own and what you know, these holidays should not be looked down upon as second-rate.  In the US people usually think of Hanukkah as the "other" holiday celebrated in December, however many world religions consider this a holy time of year.  Other religious holidays being celebrated in December 2010 include:

Hanukkah- Judaism

Hijra- Islam New Year

Bodhi Day (Rohatsu)- Buddhism
Immaculate Conception of Mary- Catholicism

Ashura- Islam

Posadas Navidenas- Hispanic Christmas

Yule- Wicca/Pagan Northern hemisphere
Litha- Wicca/Pagan Southern hemisphere
Yule- Christianity

Feast of the Holy Family- Catholicism
Death of Prophet Zarathushtra- Zoroastrianism

Holy Innocents- sects of Protestantism

Watch Night- sects of Protestantism

Now for the Who

Well since I now have a "real" job (as some friends like to put it....consulting apparently doesn't count); I'm getting ready for the leaving the continent again part.  As you know, I am going to be raising funds for a rainwater project, GHARP, in Kenya.  What I didn't mention is that the position is supported by an umbrella organization, Skillshare International.

Skillshare supports development workers in partner organizations across Europe, Africa, and Asia.  While the partner organization is the key implementer of their projects; Skillshare supervises monitoring and evaluation as well as financial management. This is a huge commitment for the organization; in 2009-10 they supported 113 development workers throughout the world.  Funding not only provides living expenses for the workers but most importantly funds important programming such as: reducing gender-based violence, supporting rural livelihoods, creating a human rights culture, enhancing community capacity for self-development, empowering youth, and improving the lives of people living with disabilities, just to name a few.

So while I'm off doing the boring stuff (physicals, dental appointments, and packing) take a minute and check out my Just Giving page and help me raise £500 to support this great organization.  If you're still looking for a great Christmas gift, look no further, 'tis the season to give the gift that gives back to those less fortunate.

Photo credit: www.Skillshare.org

Stay tuned!  Plans are in the works for another fun opportunity to show your support while eating, drinking, and being merry this holiday season.  And, if you want to make things more interesting, leave me a suggestion in the comments section of what I can do to show all of my loyal friends and donors my appreciation for every £100 raised toward my goal of £500 (approximately $780).  Keep it classy, people; this will be performed in a public, child-friendly arena.

A New Start in a Familiar Place

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." Douglas Adams

So for those of you who haven't heard the news, I am headed back to Africa.  No definite return date yet, but I will be in Nairobi sometime in January.  As you know, I took a job last January that moved me to Kenya to support their Sudan office.  This new opportunity as a Fundraising Officer with the Greater Horn of Africa Rainwater Partnership- Kenya Rainwater Association will bring me back to Kenya, a place I grew to love over the eight months I spent there this year.  

Don't get me wrong; it's not that I haven't loved my time back in Dallas catching up with friends and family and going to charity events and holiday parties, but I am very much looking forward to returning to Nairobi.  I know most of you think I'm crazy; why would I give up Tex Mex, culture, and First World living for a low paying job in Africa?  So to help you understand, here are just the top two of many reasons I decided not to stay Stateside: 1) Yes, there are a lot of issues that need to be worked on at home, but there are many people who are willing and enjoy working for nonprofits.  However, how many of those people want to move across the world to do it?  I think that those of us who are willing to do so should do everything we can to get over there and get working.  There's a lot to do and many, many people who need our help.  2) Nairobi is a great place to live (minus the pollution and crime; which, don't lie to yourself, is everywhere).  It is metropolitan and has the perks of big city living (sushi, anyone?) while being just a hop, skip, and a jump from "real" Africa.  I love being able to hop in the car and drive an hour or two away from town to experience nature and animals that many people will never get to see in their lifetime.