Experiencing Technical Difficulties (resonant) wrote,
Experiencing Technical Difficulties
resonant

Meh

I've been in a generally bad mood for the past few weeks. Negative, pessimistic, foul-tempered. Since I had nothing better to do, I worked until 9 PM Friday night, then left when I realized I was sending out snarky, rude e-mails to co-workers. I came home, and them slept until 5:30 PM Saturday. Accomplished nothing, and slept again until it was time to teach my student at 1:30 PM Sunday afternoon.

Despite the sleep, I'm still grumpy.

I went to a seminar given by "Engineers Without Borders" after work tonight. That really depressed me. Instead of working on interesting engineering projects to improve the lives of people in developing countries, EWB has changed its focus to work on politics, so government officials make better decisions. The example given was that in Malawi, 40% of the water pumps in villages are broken, so EWB is going to get politicians to reallocate non-existent money to hire mechanics to fix the pumps. In my opinion, EWB should instead focus on designing and manufacturing sturdy, easy-to-maintain pumps that don't keep breaking[1]. EWB is organizing a conference for 700 people in January, at $1200 per person (plus hotel and airfare and meals), to discuss the best way to provide water to Malawi. The fees for the conference exceed the total annual cost of Malawi's borehole maintenance program.

At the seminar, we formed several small groups to discuss topics. At the end of the seminar, one of the group members wished me well, and hoped that my life would suck less in the future. I didn't realize I was that grumpy.

Edit: [1] The most common model of hand pump used in Malawi, the AfriDev Deep Well Hand Pump, has PLASTIC bushings and valves. It might be interesting to try using sintered bronze bushings to see if the slightly higher cost would keep the pumps from breaking down so much.
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