Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Google Expanding Africa Presence

Interesting news bit from techcrunch. It's almost impossible not to see Africa as a land just waiting to be exploited by big businesses in search of new markets and cheap labor once you've been to a place like India where that's been happening for several years now. This could be exciting and a good opportunity to go to beautiful Africa for western IT people.

I wrote a longer post on the topic of IT in Africa and India just about a month ago.

Community Supported Agriculture

From a colleague: Local Harvest. I think this is a great idea. You can search for a farm near you and commit to support it and in return you get a share of the crops for your kitchen.

Friday, January 04, 2008

How Long Until Africa is the Next India (with respect to offshore IT)

While I was in India I started to wonder when and where big corporations would take their businesses next in their on-going and global quest to increase revenues and exploit cheap skilled labor. Africa is the next obvious choice after India and China.

The cost of skilled labor has been going up around 15% year in India. The cost of land and labor is only increasing currently as demand by global businesses increases. As businesses in the high technology sector open doors and employ more Indians in skilled jobs, India's middle class grows and western ideas, fashions and expectations about salary and material comforts take hold in people's minds. Competition increases for good employees. Right now, India's job market in IT is very strong, very good for job hunters. India in particular has enticed foreign companies to set up shop there (Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh being a prime example) by giving away land and tax breaks. But those benefits don't and won't last forever as foreign companies become more invested and dependent and are expected to contribute (taxes), sooner or later, as whatever "jobs for land" or other deals they cut when getting in the door come to maturity.

Africa seems like the obvious next choice. It's a huge continent with a lot of resources and potential, including, eventually, cheap skilled labor of the sort that has caused a Hi Tech boom in India the past several years. When I was in Frankfurt's airport (a major hub for international flights) on a layover between India and the US I had interesting conversations with several people as I drank some Feni (cashew liquor) from Goa that had been gifted to me in India but that western travel restrictions prohibited me from carrying past Frankfurt. Two of the people I talked with were returning from business in Africa. One of them, a Portuguese in his 60s, said to me that Africa was "like a woman with no panties," ripe for the taking. Africa has almost a billion people and some 46 countries. It's huge, it's there, it's inevitable. Send me, I'll go, I'm ready. ;-)

A news article about Kenya's recent post-election riots caught my eye tonight and prompted me to write this, which had been on my mind for a while. This quote from the end of the brief article is interesting because it makes an observation about Africa progressing (a huge generalization, I know) in some telling ways:

"This is Africa," many people have told me, Africans and non-Africans. But what they overlook is that this nation blew up so much precisely because Africa is changing. Ten years ago, bolstering a candidate's results by a few percentage points would have been no big thing. In fact, 20 years ago, an 85% result for the incumbent would have been de rigueur. Today, there are more stringent regulations; more Kenyans know their rights; more monitors were at the polls; Kenya's media coverage was extensive; digital media are accelerating the distribution of information; and many people have cellphones with which they can pass on information.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Single One Year

Remarkably, it has been one year plus a couple of months since I've been in any romantic relationship. After divorce I dated sporadically until I realized nothing would replace the life that ended with my divorce.

So I got out of dating and worrying about dating and worked hard to keep myself out, focused on me and my goals, actions, feelings, family, on now, on relationship grist I've harvested from a six year marriage and three or four short-lived relationships before and after it.

Now I am in such a different, better place in my life. It's my life, for one, my stuff, my problems, my solutions, my life to live as I choose until I am dead. No one else is cuddling me at night (except my two cats) but neither is anyone else in my life inhibiting my freedom, demanding my attention or disappointed in my inability to provide happiness and security for them.

So I think it's good. It may not last. But it is good, has been good. I owe gratitude to the universe. I am fortunate in so many ways. I hope you are too.

Back from India

Scott on bench in front of Taj Mahal, Agra, India
I realized a goal and desire I've had for a long time, which was to travel to India and experience the culture and people and land.

For the past few years I had been hoping and planning a trip to India - several near opportunities and sensible plans were considered. The two most stubborn obstacles were constraints on money and time away from work. I figured all along that the most I could possibly hope to do would be three weeks in India, using all of my vacation time and a rather large budget.

So I wound up being able to go through my job and career. My employer happened to have a need for someone to go to India to work with the technical team there. I came along to fill another role onshore, in America, but soon became aware of the opportunity to work in India. I made sure my boss knew I was willing and interested. A few months later I was on a plane, in business class no less, on an international flight from Boston, USA to Hyderabad, India via Frankfurt, Germany.

I wound up staying in India not for three weeks, but three months.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Melody Starr Derosia-Waters

In case anyone ever searches the Web for this name, I want them to find something nice.

Melody Starr Waters, or Melody Starr Derosia-Waters, was a good friend of mine a long time ago. She was killed in 1991, on January 11. She's been on my mind for the past 16 years.

Melody was beautiful, inside and out. No kidding. She was tall for a young woman, kind of big-boned, naturally blonde and very pretty.

Melody was a seeker. She was a hitch-hiker. She was a runaway. She was a Deadhead. She was a sister; she had a brother. I never met him but I know she loved him because she only spoke well of him and I heard her talk to him on the phone once shortly before she was supposed to go home to West Virginia.

She had an ex-boyfriend that she spoke well of. I think his name was Jay. He was in West Virginia. She told me about him shortly after I first met her.

I'm not sure what else to say about her right now. But there's a start.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Get Well Soon, Roger

Film critic Roger Ebert getting better. It would be wonderful to see him well and doing his show and reviews again.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Vergil and the Vet

Vergil had to see the vet yesterday because he was taking a very long time in the litter box. So long that I kept an eye on him while I was walking around the kitchen and house doing chores and he didn't budge for a good 10 minutes. Nothing happened and he finally gave up and sat to licking himself. I knew I better call the vet. I don't want my good boy to die from a burst bladder. I know someone whose cat died that way.

I have two great big cats. Both male. They are "my boys" as I call them. One, Ziggy, is black, going on thirteen, born in Georgia and adopted from an expecting couple in Michigan when he was four years old (also adopted Ziggy's cohort, Spot, who was killed by a car, I think, a few years later). The other is a red mackerel tabby named Vergil, born in a barn in New Hampshire and adopted when he was about six weeks old. I've had him going on six years.

I had to take Ziggy to the vet earlier this year because of a tooth that fell out and got lodged upside down in his gums. Neither I or Ziggy had any idea what was going on there. He kept trying to paw something out of his mouth and falling on his face when he tried. That turned out to be a simple fix. Vergil had to go last year one time because of a life-threatening bladder blockage. That's why I took him last night as soon as I saw signs of his having trouble going in the litter box.

The vet said Vergil didn't feel constipated and she was able to force him to urinate. So I got some anti-inflammatory pain reliever to give him and they took a urine sample to send away for testing. He might have an infection or something. We'll see. The urine test cost me $129! And I thought it was kind of extravagant of me to buy a new $80 DVD player the day before because my old one was shot. Ha ha.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day, 2007

For me, this Valentine's Day marks the second anniversary of closing the purchase of my townhouse in Saxonville. A couple months later I moved in, after selling my house across town.

A couple years ago I was dating several women around this time. I had just had a divorce hearing a month before. Last year at this time I was in an on-and-off again relationship with an older woman. That came to an end last fall and I haven't dated since.

Today I got an email from a friend in Oklahoma whom I met through this blog just over 2 years ago. She flew out here to meet me and I flew there once to spend some time with her. We've stayed friends.

I started reading Cormac McCarthy last year around May. I've read most of his books now. I live 5 minutes walking distance from a library branch. They have a good selection of books, movies, tapes and CDs for a small branch. They only have three Cormac McCarthy books on hand, though. Doesn't matter. I don't mind buying McCarthy's books if I have to. But yesterday I picked up the third one I knew they had, which is "Cities of the Plain," the third in McCarthy's so-called "Border Trilogy" (referring literally to the border between the United States and Mexico, and figuratively between law and lawlessness, light and dark, wild and tame, etc.). I loved "All the Pretty Horses" and its prequel "The Crossing." I'm really looking forward to the sequel, wondering how McCarthy is going to expand and conclude the stories of John and Billy.

Valentine's Day really means nothing if you're not in a relationship. It's just another day. The first two years after divorce were hard but this one's easier by far. Just another day.