The last month and a half seems to have passed really quickly. I’ve been super busy, as I always seem to be at this time of the year. It’s always good to have something to do and to be a part of something, but I’ll be happy to sleep in past 4:30am in the next few weeks.

My computer was killed by water, but thankfully I still have my net book so I’m not totally crippled. The only problem is that the net book has its own issues and so it really doesn’t fill the gap of the Mac that drowned. It has a broken keyboard and so it makes typing difficult to say the least. I managed to track down a QWERTY keyboard and adapter to plug into it so that I could theoretically type like a normal person again. However, that would be too simple if that really worked. Turns out that the external keyboard only works from time to time and I’m still forced to use the broken keyboard on the net book. However, I’m better off with the external plugged in because I can use the numbers and shift key from it. However, I still can’t be excited about anything just quite yet – the exclamation point doesn’t work.

So as I type anything, or this blog, I am typing on two keyboards just so that I can express clearly what’s been going on in my life. It’s when I think about things like this that I realize I’ve come a long way in the past two and a half years and I’m not really sure if much or anything can slow me down.

The nurseries are slowly coming to a halt. I am still collecting seeds, and finally came across some Ebony and Foraha seeds. Of course, Ebony, is a great hardwood, and then Foraha produces an oil or sap that can fight cancer; so they are both highly sought after trees to plant or sell.

The Matsobe nursery has come just shy of 6,000 plastic pots. However, because some seeds didn’t grow and some seedlings have died, we are still filling in the gaps. They have clearly been getting bogged down with work and the quality of their work has plummeted a bit in the past few weeks so I think stopping for a few weeks will do them some good. I hope by the end of January to have all of those plastic pots filled with seedlings so there are no gaps and we can really start planting.

The Ambodivohitra nursery seems to be trucking along steadily as well. I still need to do a massive rearranging of their nursery as well to see what isn’t growing and what has died. However, they are at around 3,200 plastic pots for their nursery. They still seem eager to work and plant seeds, so I think we should be able to get around 5,000 plastic pots total out of them after the holidays. With all of the plastic pots filled with soil and seeds that should be a lot of trees, and more then I expected or projected for them.

The Andapa nursery has finished planting and I couldn’t be happier. It was really great working with the students, but it was a lot of work to make sure that everything went smoothly. Altogether, we worked with 10 schools and 293 students from high schools and middle schools in Andapa to plant 2,500 plastic pots. The students really did seem to enjoy everything and they got to learn a little bit of English, learn how to plant seeds and build a tree nursery and be told, yet again and again, the importance of planting trees and thinking about the future. The students that planted later were really excited because they got to see the trees grow from the earlier student visits and so I think they had more confidence in their planting and my instruction. I’m going to be really excited to see their faces in February, when they see that all of the seeds have grown and we give them half the trees. The other half will be planted in Antanetiambo Nature Reserve.

As we take a break for the holidays we’ve planted over 10,000 plastic pots worth of seeds between the three nurseries and should be able to exceed our original projection of 11,000 trees. Amazing that we have done everything so far on just about five hundred dollars and nobody seems to hate me or anything. I really hope that someone makes an effort to continue this project after I’m gone.

We have been cutting down weeds in the Reserve so that we can start to plant. We have a bunch of seedlings that were bought in Sambava that really need to be planted. We have had two days of hard rain recently, so planting might be feasible in the next few days. I hope to have the 800 seedlings planted before the end of this month. It really depends on the water situation, because the rains have been really late.

I dug a canal with the guardian for the fish farm. He was worried that when the rain does come the stream might rise and wash out the sides of the fish farm. We spent one morning digging pretty hard so that if the water does rise it will go into the canal and not touch the sides of the pond. I hope that the canal never needs to be used, but at least it is finished so if flooding does happen we won’t be too late.

My biggest task at the moment is to try and figure out how to make this fish farm sustainable. A lot of money is being poured into it, but we haven’t made any money from it. We have a lot of costs in food and salary for the guardian, but there is a possibility that we can figure something out. We should have around 20 ducks there in the next month to help give us a little bit of income generation. The most important thing is that we need to know how many kilograms of fish we can get each year and then figure out a raising cycle for the ducks that we can sell eggs and grown ducks without ever being at a loss. I think a few major things might have to change, but we have time to figure it all out and really see what happens.

Litchi season is coming to a close and I think it is for the best. I have been eating more than a healthy amount of litchis and I think it is best that there time passes. I can’t even imagine a world wear litchis were ripe all year around. I think I would have to go to a counseling group because I wouldn’t be able to stop eating litchis.

My puppy, Obama is still doing well. He’s getting bigger and the jerk little kids seem like they don’t want to piss me off so they haven’t been torturing him anymore. As he gets bigger he seems happier and happier. I think it was a good thing that I got him early only because his mother had quit giving milk, so he might have died. But he was so small to begin with that I really think he had a rough first few weeks at my house. Now, he seems quite settled and is running all over the place and chewing on way more things than I would like.

It’s December again [in case you didn’t know]. I was riding my bike the other day and I was thinking, wow, this is a really bad day. It seems like every idiot has come out today and decided to shout some unnecessary comment at me while I ride my bike. As I thought about it more, I remembered the past two years and realized that at this time last year and the year before I had the same issues. I really don’t know what it is, but this time of year really does change some people’s personalities. I don’t know if it weather, money, work or some other factor, but the number of jerks that I come in contact with on a daily or weekly basis is always high in December. Merry Christmas?

However rude these Malagasy people can be, I’m at least thankful that many Malagasy people don’t own guns. When I heard about the tragedy that happened in Newton, CT I was extremely saddened and surprised. It’s clear that our country, yes, I’m in Madagascar, but I’m still American, needs to do something in order to stop mass killings and any murder for that matter from happening.

I will be disgusted if the American Government doesn’t do anything after the Newton, CT shooting. These types of mass killings just seem to be more and more common and we need to make some change in order to stop them from continuing. I don’t think that any American should let the public or our Government walk away from this event without trying some major change. If we are wrong, then so what? At least we tried. But it is just shameful to sit around and do nothing.

The majority of the arguments have been for gun control and mental health care. If that’s the case, then I really think we need to get onto something. I hate it when people say there is a problem, but don’t offer any possible solutions, so here we go…

Gun control. I have lots of friends who own guns. I shot guns as a child and absolutely loved it. I think that guns can be fun and if used properly, there is no problem in having them. I think it is absolutely necessary for police and military to have access to firearms. I do not think it is necessary for the greater public to have such easy access. People should still be able to carry guns, as is there constitutional right and because to many people would cause a fuss if we banned guns. However, we can limit those who have access to guns.
The majority of my friends who have guns are somewhat educated. That’s a good thing. I think we should limit gun ownership to those that have a minimum of an AA degree. If you haven’t put in those extra two years after high school, well, then, I guess you’re going to have to use a sling shot until you can master statistics. But seriously, the more educated a person is, the better decisions they make and more importantly, they are more marketable for job opportunities. If they have a job, they might have a more stable way of living and be able to avoid some of the circumstances that could occur from simply being unemployed and having no money. Furthermore, they will be easier to track should they prove a problem in the future.

As far as Mental Health concerns, I completely agree that people need better access to mental health care. I also know, as I was a Psychology Major, that psychology is a very popular major across the country in many Colleges and Universities. I also know that a lot of people with this major get degrees but might not get jobs. If all the gun owners in the world were required to past a mental health exam every year then it would provide jobs for those people and make sure that the majority of people who own a gun legally are somewhat sane.

So that’s my two cents. But why should we worry that much anyway? I’m pretty sure that even half way around the world in Madagascar I’ve been told that the world is going to end on Friday. I wonder if I should cancel my plans for Saturday…

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