Saturday, 25 December 2010

Blogging by Numbers

When I started blogging in 2008 to keep my writing active, my first post was unwittingly an obituary of sorts to great friend “Never be the Same Again (A Tribute to Andrew Kataryeba)” on 10 March that year. Though it was not my intention to start on such a sad note, it was an incident which coincided with my decision to start a blog. When I checked the statistics (covering the whole time I have operated Tales from Abyssinia), this has remained the most viewed with 117 pageviews (up from 108 just two days ago).

The second most viewed post is “Now that Obama-mania is burning out, I can blog” (6 November 2008) with 80 pageviews. But what is unique with this particular post is that it was initially and intentionally left blank. It is only two days that I filled it with links to different stories and opinions I have written about [US President] Barack Obama. Then it had 75 pageviews and was in third place—since the ‘uplift’, it gained 5 more pageviews to make it second now.

“Housing in Uganda: Growing Pains of a Boom Sector” (28 May 2009) is in third place with 79 pageviews. This was first published as an feature article in The Manager, a short-lived weekly newspaper in Uganda where I was retained by the editors/proprietors to contribute a section called People and Power.

“Bob’s Story: Started Out Cryin’” (4 November 2009) in fourth position with 52 pageviews and “Unforgettable Fire: The Story of U2” (6 August 2010) in ninth with 19 pageviews are book reviews. While the former was published in The Daily Monitor/Saturday Monitor, I’m not sure about the latter though I submitted it for publication. Another review “African Reading Challenge: Capitalist Nigger, My First Review” (15 August 2008) has 27 pageviews in seventh position. It was for the African Reading Challenge which required every entrant to read at least six books either written by African or about Africa within that year and write reviews [Note: I read more than six but wrote only four reviews…I think I should honour this debt and write the two reviews soon…better late than never).

In fifth position is “An Excuse for Fewer Posts Thus Far” (14 July 2009) with 45 pageviews and in eighth is “Am I Mis-Educated?” (10 July 2008) with 21 pageviews are links to articles I found interesting enough to post on my blog.

“African Sexual Practice That Guarantees Female Orgasm” (21 December 2010) with 31 pageviews is the sixth most read post. It was inspired by an argument/discussion on Facebook that was sparked off by someone informing us (his Facebook friends) about a World Orgasm Day. Through this, anyone can download a journal article by a Dr. Bizimana on a sexual practice known as kunyanza and its merits in ensuring sexual satisifaction to both parties in a heterosexual setting, especially the females.

At number 10 with 19 pageviews is “Should Terrorism Have Been on the Agenda? Or Been Part of A.O.B?” (6 August 2010) was written as a commentary on the AU Summit, held in Kampala, Uganda, that was originally intended to focus on maternal/child health but overshadowed by the subject of terrorism due to the 7-11 bombings a month earlier.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: My Take

This post came about as I was responding to comments on a Facebook page. While the other was a spur of the moment thing, the one below is edited for spelling, grammar and correctness..and the relevant links included for further information.

What I gather is that DADT does not as such seclude gays and lesbians but requires them to be discreet about and not required to reveal their orientation (don't ask, don't tell). A kind of sweeping-it-under-the-rug (or is it rag?) thing. With the repealing of DADT, gays and lesbians can be open and free about their sexuality.

While I'm may not like homosexuality or lesbianism and consider it to be a bit deviant, I have to come to recognise that above all, human beings have inherent rights and the rest of us [who are anti-homo/lesbo] should not go ahead to persecute these people and make their lives uncomfortable. Because we also become guilty of something else, for instance, violation of someone's rights....remember that these people are our brothers and sisters in the perspective of universal humanity and at the level of interpersonal relations. However, I would recommend 'soft' approaches that have the effect of changing the orientation in cases where it can work, among others. Also, these homosexuals/lesbians should not act like pastors out to convert others into that way of life...after all, by design (biologically) we are heterosexual [take it or leave it].

But, in all, we have to agree that in Africa, it is going to be very hard to accept homosexuality or lesbianism as an alternative lifestyle or whatever label they may give it. It is important to note that even in the western world, gay rights is still an area where there is a lot of advocacy/activitism for acceptance...but what is working in their advantage (the gay rights activities/activists/advocates) is that they have grown in power and influence. Hence, the significant gains such as repealing DADT, ordination of gay clergy e.g. Robinson, gay marriages, and (closer to home) a stay on MP David Bahati's Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

African Sexual Practice That Guarantees Female Orgasm

Experts confirm that 70% of women do not achieve orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. But a sexual practice used in Burundi, Rwanda,the eastern D.R. Congo, western Uganda and western Tanzania is known for triggering female orgasms during heterosexual encounters. It is termed "kunyaza" in Rwanda and Burundi as referred to as "kachabali" in Uganda.“Kunyaza” is said to be so effective that most women do not only experience multiple orgasms but also ejaculation.

Dr. Nsekuye Bizimana presents this technique in a detailed and in depth manner to sexual health professionals (and in my opinion: all sexually active men and women) in two popular books Le Secret de l’amour à l’Africaine (Bizimana, 2008) and Une variante africaine de l’amour : Le kunyaza, technique sexuelle traditionnelle de déclenchement de l’orgasme féminin lors des rencontres hétérosexuelles (Bizimana, 2009). A journal article titled "Another way for lovemaking in Africa: Kunyaza, a traditional sexual technique for triggering female orgasm at heterosexual encounters" that expounds on this with illustrations can be downloaded from here

Monday, 20 December 2010

My Take on Ocampo's Kenya List

Below is my comment on a post by Jared Ombui, a Kenyan journalist, at his website about some of the reaction to ICC's Chief Prosecutor fingering six Kenyan politicians for their role in the post-election violence in 2007 and 2008.

Good observation. The debate is on because now the politicians realise that impunity is coming to an end….it is time African politicos realised that they can be held accountable for their actions even outside the borders of their countries. This is a good development for Kenya, especially in the light of the fact that the next elections are less than 2 years away. My country, Uganda, should also take note…as it was one of the first countries to refer cases to ICC (Joseph Kony and his lieutants)…the same long reach can be applied to those in power now who think they can’t be touched after 2011 elections. We’ll see

Sunday, 19 December 2010

How to Stop Procrastinating

by Susan Adams

Joseph R. Ferrari has spent his professional life studying procrastination. In 1985 as a student at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., he took a class called "Self-defeating Behaviors." He asked his teacher if procrastination had ever been studied in depth, and she said she thought so, but wasn't sure. He investigated and discovered that no one had taken a serious, thorough look at the subject, so he decided to tackle it himself.

Twenty-five years later, a Ph.D. in experimental psychology and dozens of academic studies and articles behind him, Ferrari is a psychology professor at DePaul University in Chicago, and has published a book titled Still Procrastinating? The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done.

Ferrari says everybody procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator. "A procrastinator is someone who habitually and consistently delays tasks," he explains. That's about 20% of the population, he says. His research has shown that the number holds around the world, in countries as far flung as Venezuela, Poland, Australia and Saudi Arabia. Hardcore procrastinators should read his book, he recommends, but they should also head straight to a therapist, preferably someone who practices cognitive behavioral therapy. "You can unlearn to do things," he explains.

For the rest of us, who engage in occasional delaying tactics, lateness or putting off until tomorrow what we know we should do today, Ferrari has lots of no-nonsense, research-tested suggestions. Though he thinks it's good to try to figure out why you postpone tasks--fear of failure, the myth that you work best under pressure--he believes in getting on with things.

For instance, keep a to-do list, and update it often. Set your priorities, and tackle the most urgent matters first. After the most pressing tasks, do the worst jobs next. Putting them off will just make your whole workload seem more impossible. Also, set realistic goals and deadlines.

Ferrari does not buy the notion that computers and cellphones make it harder for us to get work done. We just need to manage our technological distractions. Check your e-mail once an hour only, he advises. Don't follow up or answer an e-mail unless it's necessary. Don't open one when you don't have time to read it. Quickly delete messages to get them out of your inbox.

At work figure out who your most productive colleagues are, and team up with them. "Work in teams," he advises. "Surround yourself with non-procrastinators." Try modeling yourself after a colleague who gets a lot done. Ferrari points out that everyone loves flattery. Pull your highest-producing colleague aside and ask if you might shadow her for a time. She'll probably say yes.
Do stay on task. If you return from a meeting to an inbox full of requests, get done what you already needed to get done before dealing with all those new assignments.

Ferrari says that at work you need to pick your projects carefully. Many people feel compelled to get involved in all the big accounts or projects at their office, but if you stay focused and effectively manage the needs of a few select clients, the boss will be more impressed.

He is a stickler for punctuality. When I phoned him at 2:32 p.m. for an agreed-upon 2:30 interview, he sounded annoyed. "How are you?" I began. "I'm sitting here waiting for your call," he shot back. I quickly learned that he believes tolerating lateness encourages procrastinators. "I had an economics professor in college who would lock the door two minutes after class started," he told me with relish. "Students learned they had to get there on time."

"I'm a New Yorker," he explained. "I say, 'Get a life. Move it.'" When I asked him to elaborate, he continued: "My Italian grandmother had a saying: 'Some people, they won't get off the beach until their behind gets wet.'" He says that line is even better in Italian. But his final word is this: "Let procrastinators bottom out. Let them fail. Then they'll have the conversion experience."


Note from Tales from Abyssinia author: This is to help those who suffer from procrastination like me

Friday, 17 December 2010

Asamoah Gyan Deserved This Prize

London, 17 December 2010. Ghana and Sunderland striker, Asamoah Gyan, has been voted by football fans across the world as BBC African Footballer of the Year 2010. The results were announced live on BBC World Service’s flagship sports programme for Africa, Fast Track today.

The search for BBC African Footballer of the Year 2010 began on 15 November when fans were given a chance to choose their African football hero from a shortlist selected by experts from across the continent. The shortlist also included Gyan’s Ghana national team-mate, Andre 'Dede' Ayew (Marseille), Samuel Eto’o ( Cameroon and Inter Milan), and Ivorians, Yaya Toure ( Manchester City ) and Didier Drogba ( Chelsea ).

Votes were cast online at or via text messages. As public voting closed on 10 December 2010, Gyan emerged as the overwhelming choice of the fans, securing more than half the total number of online and text votes.

Check the website for details.


7 Deadly Sins of Small Meetings

by Mary Tomlinson and John Dreyer

All too often, board and committee meetings and leadership retreats feel more like a yearly visit to the dentist: No one really wants to go, the experience can be painful, and participants are frequently relieved when it's over. All of which undermine the retreat's original goals: time in a relaxing setting, the development of plans without constant distractions, and the strengthening of team relationships.

The culprits are the Seven Deadly Sins of small meetings. If you recognize and counter these demons with solutions for facilitating productive and energizing meetings, you can make your meeting valuable.

Lost in the ‘60s

Without a predetermined objective, participants come with their own agendas or none at all. Without a destination, the meeting goes nowhere.
Solution: Prioritize and determine the retreat's key objectives. During the months prior to the event, keep a list of what you want to accomplish, in order of most- to least-important, realizing that it may change. Set a date for announcing the objectives.

Eyes Are Bigger Than the Stomach

Too often, the plan is to try to do too much. Discussions wind up being short-circuited.
Solution: Reduce unrealistic expectations. Choose one to three objectives that can be thoroughly discussed in the time allotted. Allow ample time for determining the next steps and establishing an action timeline.

I Can't See Clearly Now

When your team isn't sure why it's showing up, some participants may shut down.
Solution: Communicate the topics, objectives, and goals of the retreat well in advance so that participants can come prepared for total involvement, with lively discussion and reasoned debate. Even if your retreat is for brainstorming, it will be more productive if your participants have brainstormed in advance.

Boss as Facilitator

With the boss as lead dog, participants tend to follow along and offer what they think is the “right” answer, rather than the best answer.
Solution: Bring in an experienced facilitator. Having someone with an outside perspective lead the group and ask hard questions makes it more likely that the team will delve deeper into discussions and come up with fresh ideas. But even with a facilitator, heed this caveat: The more the boss talks, the less everyone else will.

The Boss Assumes Too Much

Participants often carry their uncharted pecking orders and office-politics baggage to retreats.
Solution: Work with an objective third party to develop a pre-retreat survey that gives participants an equal voice, assures that all ideas are aired, and identifies what participants see as key issues and what they hope will come out of the meeting. With the survey results, the retreat can be customized to deal with real issues.

Peacekeeping Instead of Resolving

Fireworks typically fly among the more dynamic personalities who are firmly committed to their own ideas. The leader typically does not want to embarrass star performers, so he or she puts on the peacekeeping beret. Compromises seem to have been struck on key issues; everyone thinks decisions have been made, only to wonder later what they were.
Solution: Go into the meeting hoping for those fireworks. It's a sign of passion and creative energy. One method a facilitator might employ in this scenario is to discuss the topic with the leader and another top person prior to the retreat. The game plan: Each person takes an opposite position. At the retreat, each leader states his or her “rehearsed” position to begin the discussion, and then asks each of the others to weigh in.

Organizational Memory Loss

The deadliest sin of retreats is no follow-up. Bottom line: The organization missed out on growth opportunities and sent a deflationary message to participants.
Solution: The end of the retreat is really a beginning. A successful retreat serves as a medium that produces concepts, teambuilding, innovation, new programs, and growth. Before the retreat ends, state the next steps clearly, assign projects, and determine the follow-up timetable. Establish a communication plan for posting the progress of initiatives.