30th Birthday

It was my 30th Birthday on Friday, my fourth birthday in Liberia. It was also the day the Congress for Democratic Change(CDC) had their march on Monrovia. I wish they had called me first, it made it hard for people to meet up with me for dinner.

I was pretty impressed with the order of the CDC march. It certainly disrupted traffic, but the police were doing a good job keeping things moving and stopping the marchers to let you turn and stuff. The marchers also seemed pretty orderly. I didn’t hear of incidents of misbehavior. I look forward to seeing how the Unity Party march goes on Sunday. Hopefully it will be just as smooth.

For my birthday I met up with a bunch of friends at Sajj restaurant in Sinkor. When I walked in the manager recognized me and said, “I hear it’s your birthday.” I love that about Liberia. Where else would you walk into a restaurant and some how they know it’s your birthday. It’ll be a while before I have this happen to me in Denver. A lot of my old friends form Liberia where back for the elections. It was really cool to see all of them.

Sajj has also installed a dance floor and had salsa dancing going on. It was really cool. It reminded me of La Noche, just less sketchy.

 

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Liberian Election Stuff

So it’s late, and thus, this will be short, but I want to share some scans and pictures I have of Liberian election stuff I have. First a couple list of contact info. This is a list of the political parties taking part in the Liberia 2011 elections: Political-Parties-of-Liberia-Contact-info-2011-10-06. Then I also have the contact info of all the election magistrates: Election-magistrate-offices-Liberia-2011-10-05.

Finally, here are some pictures of the “how to guides” for the elections… toward the botton of the page. http://johnetherton.com/gallery/index.php/2011/October/2011-10-06.  Oh, and at the very bottom are some crazy pictures of the women at Air Field prostrating themselves in the dirt as they pray for God to help Ellen get re-elected. It’s a bit more humbling than a bunch of white people in a stadium praying for God to help a presidential candidate, but I still question if this is the most effective use of prayer.

Later,

John.

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Liberia day 2 – Passes

Second day in Liberia, today we received our official election observer passes. Check’em out. Pretty cool. They came with that nifty binder, a hat (pictured), a t-shirt (not pictured) and a copy of the constitution. I bet American election observers don’t get all of that cool stuff. Not half bad Liberia. I will wear them with pride.

I’m sure these items will quickly become collectors items. Maybe even duplicates will be printed by the Franklin Mint. I just feel honored to have an original.

 

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Liberian Campaign Signs


Here’s a sampling of Liberian campaign signs that I saw on my drive home today. I’m back in Liberia for two weeks to help out the Ushahidi Liberia team as they help other monitor and track the electoral process here.

Some of the pictures of President Sirleaf are a little less than flattering, so I wonder if she did not approve all of the signs people have put up on her behalf. I do like how her signs use lots of Liberian English. I’m also curious what the 2 squares are that look like place holders for a missing image on some of her signs.

The sign for Edwin Snowe for the House of Representatives is memorable for its pun that your probably more likely to get if your from a slightly colder climate, but I got it, and I’m thankful for that.

Later,

John.
Link to high rest image gallery

 

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Blog Post at Ushahidi.com on SMS in Liberia

I had the opportunity to guest write a blog post on the Ushahidi blog were I talked about the issues and solutions we encountered while using SMS in Liberia. Liberia’s infrastructure was greatly weakened by the civil war there, and though they have come a long way, it still requires some ingenuity to setup reliable services. I give the details of the problems we ran into, the solutions we came up with, and the iterations that finally brought us to a point where we could reliably forward SMS traffic to our servers running Ushahidi.

You can find the post here: http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2011/09/14/sms-and-liberia-a-love-story/

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Meet iLab Liberia

Hey, this is a re-posting of a blog entry by Kate Cummings about the iLab Liberia. iLab is a computer lab that Kate and I founded in Liberia with the aim of providing a user experience similar to what we enjoy in the US, and other wired countries, to encourage the use of ICTs in sharing and organizing information in Liberia:

iLab Liberia, a project of the Ushahidi Liberia team, has been bustling since it opened this May.  iLab has become Liberia’s go-to resource center for local IT professionals, a training ground in open source software and has been known to throw a pretty mean mapping party.
We’ve told you a bit about iLab on this blog before, but now we have a visual aid to better introduce ourselves.  We started the space as a way to train people in the Ushahidi platform with adequate connectivity and equipment, and now we’re holding FOSS trainings for the Liberian legislature and serving as the data entry hub for national Elections Coordinating Committee. So many good and unexpected things start with a tool that serves to connect, and to ask people – what is your story?  Now we are asking, who is your community? And we get to be part of the answer.  It’s an exciting time to be in Liberia – with a presidential election next month, broadband Internet   landing offshore in 2012 and increasing overlaps between Liberia’s  development and tech communities.  We hope you’ll take a look at our video to learn more about what iLab is doing to promote IT access and innovation in Liberia.

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Marshall Mesa – Mountain Biking

My first visit to Marshall Mesa was tragic. My beloved 2005 Specialized Enduro had her rear derailleur screw holes ripped out by a fault link in the chain. Sadly, this little injury meant that a derailleur could no longer fit on the frame, and thus the bike was finished. So after finding a 2010 Specialized Pitch on clearance I returned to Marshall Mesa undaunted.

The trail was great. A little up hill, a flat section, and then some fantastic flowing downhill. There was a section with some technical steps, and I’m told beyond that was a place with some drops, but I never made it that far. So far this place is one of my favorite tracks. The Pitch was awesome. Soaked up everything and moved like a champ.

Marshall Mesa KML File

On Saturday I went to the Barnum Bike Park. Located at 8th Ave and Knox Court this place has a terrific location. They also had a lot of really good jumps for all levels of rider. Which I loved because I’m not yet at the point of flying off an 8 foot jump with a 10 foot gap and then another 8 foot ramp to land on. I’m more of the 4 foot table top sort of guy. If you’re in Denver and don’t want to drive forever to do some biking off of the asphalt I strongly suggest you check it out.

Barnum Bike Course KML File

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Mountain Biking Green Mountain

Today I went mountain biking at Green Mountain with some people from the Lakewood Mountain Biking Meet Up group. It’s a short 26 minute, or so, drive from my place. Things like that always bias me towards liking a place. It sure beats driving an hour to some of the other places around Denver. The ride started at 6:15pm, so I didn’t have time to check out the whole mountain before the sun set.

Elevation Profile
GPX File

The part of the mountain that I did check out was pretty cool. We started off with a shallow up hill for 3 miles, and then had a pretty steady up hill for 2 miles, followed by a steep, for me, downhill for 2 miles. I have to say it was more long ups and steep downs then I like. I’d rather some flowing ups and downs then long ups and long downs.

I also think I need to get better at going fast downhill, most of the group was able to fly down the hills a lot faster than me. I did learn that I had my tires inflated way more than some other people in the group. This could account for the bounciness when going down hill.

At any rate, Green Mountain, was a good ride, that tested my skills, and worked me out pretty well. I’m sure I’ll be back.

John.

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Golden Bike Park

I check out the Golden Bike Park a week ago. It’s pretty cool. I was definitely a little in over my head. The jumps and such were pretty big. After riding around for 20 minutes trying to find the bike park, I met two teenagers at the top who were way better than me.After 4 or 5 runs I was getting a lot better, but still far from flying through the air.

Elevation Profile
GPX File

One of the cool parts was the pump track. A pump track is a circular track that’s setup so that instead of pedaling,  you pump your bike up and down, by throwing your weight around, to keep your momentum. I really liked it.

There were some small little jumps that were alright, but the big jumps were a lot more fun. I think I’m a little too used to bunny hopping curbs and such, and not speeding over a real jump. Either way it was a lot of fun. It’s cool that there’s a place like that so close by.

John.

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Boulder Lake Camping

In this installment of the adventures of Carrie and John we head to Boulder Lake. We were joined by another adventurous couple, Rachel and Zach, and then the non-couple of Rachel and Katie. As you can see from the picture on the left. Boulder Lake is beautiful, like a postcard. This was also my first trip out with my new circular polerizer, I think it was a good investment.

It was a little tricky finding the trail head. You actually have to leave the paved road, which obviously I loved. Big Red finally got to stretch her legs. The important thing is to just keep going on the dirt road. Don’t stop until the road dead ends.

KML File

The biggest tip of this trip is to bring mosquito spray, lots of it. Also, after way over packing on my Bison Peak trip I decide to shed all the unnecessary weight, which included my rain pants, and of course, then it rains and I wish I had them. This was also my first trip with my new Osprey Talon 44 pack. All my friends on the Bison Peak trip had smaller light weight packs and I was jealous, so I bought one, and I loved it. The foam hip belt was comfortable and the space was perfect. My only complaint was the frame didn’t seem to be tall enough for the straps to clear my shoulders, but had I gotten the next larger size the hip belt would have been too lose. That’s what you get for having a non-standard height to width ratio. That’s Carrie and I on the left over a stream. There were some really pretty streams that I wish we had, had the time to explorer.

As an added bonus we had an unexpected wildlife encounter. As we were hiking we out we stumbled upon this Moose. He just watched us for a minute then returned to munching on the undergrowth.

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