Friday, May 09, 2008

Howdy.
Last night Ryan, Jamie, Nicole, and I went to Cypress Grill over on William Cannon. Cypress Grill makes some pretty good cajun food. I used to go there quite a bit a couple of years ago with Mandy and Jeff, often accompanied by our other neighbors, Kate and Judy. Well, time rolls on (Jeff's gone and Kate and Judy are no longer together), but Cypress Grill still has some pretty good food, and a friendly staff. Last night they even had a little three piece zydeco group kind of quietly playing some tunes over by the bar. Anyway, I like that place. Good etoufee.

I haven't really watched any professional basketball this year, and I'm not sure that I'm going to start now, but it's interesting to note that the Spurs are still showing signs of life during the playoffs. We had talked about them a bit on the way to dinner last night, with Ryan and Jamie telling me that things weren't looking very good for them in this matchup against the Hornets, but I guess the Spurs managed to win one in San Antonio last night. I know that people get tired of them (to be honest, they would probably drive me nuts if I hadn't been cheering for them since my first year of college), but it's just really hard to ever count the Spurs out during the playoffs. They've got a lot of talent, a lot of patience, and they're just used to being there (in the playoffs, that is). Anyway, it would be pretty cool for New Orleans to win a championship, but I gotta support the good ol' Spurs. Sounds like Ginobli and Parker are en fuego.

And I guess there's fighting going on in Lebanon. I don't really understand the positions of the two clashing sides, but apparently Hezbollah is angry because (among other reasons) the government declared that it couldn't have its own phone/communications network. As I said, I don't really understand the conflict, but it's a shame to see images of fighting in Beirut on the TV. It seems like throughout much of my childhood (at least throughout the eighties) that Beirut was constantly a combat zone (Lebanon was undergoing a civil war from 1975-1990), and the images of blasted out buildings and guerrilla fighting in the street sort of made the name Beirut synonymous with "war-torn hellhole" while I was growing up. Anyway, things seemed to have stabilized over the last decade and a half or so, and I had even seen some news coverage that made more recent Beirut look like a decent place. But now they're back to blowing each other up. (sigh)

And in the attempt to provide a more positive, uplifting topic of conversation on the blog, I think it's kind of cool to note that a "retired" Canadian business exec named Howard Weinstein has started up a little company that's producing inexpensive, solar-powered hearing aids for use in Africa. Apparently the normal cost of purchasing hearing aids, and then, just as importantly, the cost of continuing to buy batteries for them, has made hearing aids cost prohibitive for a lot of people in Africa. Weinstein is working his way around these problems, coming up with inexpensive hearing aids with batteries that can be recharged through the use of conventional wall sockets or solar power. Part of the strategy of Weinstein's nonprofit business involves the use of deaf people in the actual construction of the hearing aids. Weinstein has found that many deaf people, already trained in the somewhat complicated use of sign language, are quite dexterous and have proven adept at manipulating the tiny parts used in constructing the hearing aids. He hopes to employ about 1,000 deaf employess over the next 3 to 5 years, with operations not only in Africa, but in South America and India as well.
I find it fascinating that so many different innovations have been coming out of Africa over the last few years as entrepeneurs and humanitarians work to find low cost solutions that might vastly improve the quality of life for many impoverished African people (things like water rollers, water purification straws, solar-powered computers, and highly nutiritious, low cost food supplements, to name a few). It's kind of heartening.

Well, that's it for now. Hope you have a good weekend if I don't catch up with you again.

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