Body … Built!

Nichelle with her trophy at the 2009 Granite State Open Bodybuilding Championship
Nichelle with her trophy at the 2009 Granite State Open Bodybuilding Championship

Amidst a very busy Saturday, Nichelle competed in the 2009 Granite State Bodybuilding Championship in Dover, N.H. We were amazed by how much she’s improved since her last competition. I was particularly impressed with her onstage presence … she didn’t appear nervous at all, and performed her solo routine perfectly, despite having her toes cramp up.

Nichelle rocks! (And even though she can kill me with her pinkie, I’m saying it because it’s true.)

Charlie Dunn took far better pictures than I could have. We’ll post more when we get those.

This is why we never argue at home.

My [Computerized] Workspace

For those of you who have wondered what my electronic workspace (and day) look like.
For those of you who have wondered what my electronic workspace (and day) look like.

This is what my workspace typically looks like. It’s spread across two monitors, each running at a resolution of 1280 x 1024. (Click through to see it at full resolution.)

Wanted: 597 Ghanian Cedis ($409)

Originally Posted on August 31, 2009:

Quite some time ago, I started corresponding electronically with a young man in Tamale, Ghana, who wanted to expand his horizons and get to know people from around the world. This was possible via a computer center that the local embassy provides.

A high school graduate with decent grades, Amin desperately wanted to attend university. However, financially, this was out of the question for his family. A less attractive but still reasonable option was the Tamale Polytechnic school. Several months after we’d started communicating, he asked if I could help pay the tuition for the polytechnic, which costs about $650 for the three-year program. Tuition has to be paid up front.

Amin Issah, Ghana
Amin Issah, Ghana

There are a couple of things to bear in mind here: Americans have the reputation for being extremely wealthy the world over. In Mexico, for example, we are often stereotyped as having montañas de oro (mountains of gold). The other thing to remember is that Ghana is well known as one of the centers of internet fraud, especially so called “friendship” scams. I did a lot of investigation to see if everything was on the up-and-up, which is difficult in a developing country. I quickly came to learn how much I depend on the Internet for verifying just about everything, and this was impossible for much of Ghana’s infrastructure. I even called to see if I could pay the school directly, and it cannot be done.

But, other than due diligence, I had no reason to distrust Amin, and his work for the past six months has completely borne out my trust. I also felt this would be a good way to show the love of Christ in an unexpected and unanticipated way.sowever, I simply couldn’t afford to help him out completely. But he did have an uncle who was willing to foot half the bill, and I had some extra cash I could put into the second half. Amin has completed one semester at T’Poly, as it’s sometimes called, and managed to get all As and Bs. (I told him I expected As next semester.) Partway through I sent enough cash to cover a bicycle so he could get to the school and back for early classes (hitchhiking was unreliable, and the school is about 20km from his house). However, his grades were good enough for him to get chosen for a short, special field program in Navrongo, about 5 hours away by bus.

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His work in the field program was evaluated well enough, and he has been offered an entry into the Land Management and Real Estate baccalaureate program at the University for Development Studies in Tamale.

To do this, he needs 597 GHC (Ghanian Cedis), about $409 by September 1. This isn’t that much money, except when compared to what I actually have at the moment.

Until now, I haven’t even told people about this unusual missions project, opting to see quietly and unobtrusively how God would work. Now I believe it is time to project this to a larger audience, who also might be able to help.

Update (September 3, 2009):

I was finally able to get through by phone to the University office in Tamale … and they confirmed that Amin was on the acceptance list as a Freshman student in the program. (I already had scans of his acceptance letter, so this was just a formality.)

I’ve received a couple of generous donations from our at-work small group Bible study that helped immensely with the money I sent to Amin mid-day yesterday. Ghana is on GMT, so it was nearly closing time when he got to the bank. There were many students there trying to do the same thing … so he was able to get the Western Union transfer and have the bank keep it to avoid carrying around such a large sum of money, but he wasn’t able to pay his tuition until this morning.

Payment Receipt for Amin's Tuition

Amin wanted me to pass this along to you all: GOD help them tooo when they in a bondage like how i was and u all came together and resqued me through the powers of GOD. (His spelling is usually excellent; he obviously in a hurry.)

Amin leaves on Saturday to take up residence at the university in the city of Wa. He’ll complete the on-site admissions process on Monday. After that, he will need to pay his residence fees and medical fees, about another $175.

He is very excited and very grateful for our help.

I am grateful as well—the contributions made so far are a big difference for me. (Of course, I’ll be happy to accept further donations.)

My Little Personal Trainer

NaNi often makes sure that I stick to my diet, “No cheating, Dad,” and helps encourage me when exercising. (Nichelle sets the diet and the overall schedule; you should consider using her if you need a very reasonably priced personal fitness trainer.)

Last night NaNi rode her bike with me while I ran two miles, as she often does.

NaNi - My Little Personal Trainer
NaNi - My Little Personal Trainer

Everyone really enjoyed seeing her out riding, with me running along right behind her. I got comments like, “She’ll make sure you keep your speed up,” and everyone we passed greeted us with big grins.

On the final block of the two miles, I sprinted ahead of her. As I passed her, she called out, “Now, that’s what I like to see!”

What a kid.

Star Trek XI

I’ll describe Star Trek Zero in one word, the same word I uttered repeatedly throughout the film: Wow!

Lieutenant Wilcox, USS Reliant, with an unidentified Orion Slave Girl.

Last night at 9:50 we went to Hooksett Cinemagic to see the film in digital iMax (yes, that’s iMax with digital video … quite an experience, as we’d seen with Monsters vs. Aliens a few weeks ago). A bunch of people from church were also there (including, of course, the Dunn family all in costume). However, the iMax was having projector problems. So, we got to see Trek in digital, and have free passes to return to the iMax whenever we like.

Without offering any spoilers, I’ll just say that J.J. Abrams lived up to the storytelling and adventure I expected. There are elements of things we’ve seen before in Star Trek storytelling (indeed, it would be hard to find something that hadn’t been tried over the years), but rarely are they executed with such fine attention to drama, detail, and humor.

NaNi the Droll

A couple of days ago, Naomi said, “Dad, I made this for you!”

Naomi's whimsical airplane drawing.
Naomi’s “Whimsical” Drawing—Click to see full detail.

Inspired by Hook, Naomi drew people parachuting from a burning airplane. Guess who doesn’t have a parachute? (I love the little frown face she put on me.)

That’s one sarcastic kid we’re raising.

School Fashion: Look What Kids Are Wearing These Days

This is “spirit week” at the Academy for Science and Design, where Isaac attends. Today’s theme was, “Famous People.” He relished the opportunity to develop, with Nichelle’s help, this slightly disturbing costume.

Can you believe what kids are wearing to school these days?

A magic trick? Well, let me show you, I’ll make this pencil disappear!

Isaac as “The Joker,” complete with prosthetic makeup.

Turns out Isaac’s costume was voted best for the day!

Naomi’s Improv Ballet

NaNi (now age 5), loves to dance. After her ballet class, while another group was rehearsing for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” she improvised this.

Toward the end you can see her looking into the studio room to see what the older students are doing in their rehearsal.

Naomi studies Ballet at Gate City Ballet, in Nashua, N.H.