"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Thursday, May 27, 2004 I've discovered there is a difference between a converter and an adapter -- and, to get my computer, etc., to work in Ghana I need both.
An adapter "adapts" the plug with the plug design that will fit into a wall in Accra. A converter converts the flow of electricity that comes out of that outlet to the level that will allow the computer or whatever to function properly without blowing up.
The adapter allows you to access the electrical system. The converter allows you to use it without damaging yourself.
Seems to me, that's a pretty cool image for travel. When we're traveling, we have to adapt to access the culture. For one thing, if I stay on St. Louis time, my sleep schedule will seriously cut into my ability to hang out with people. If I eat nothing but power bars, I'll never get to experience local food. You get the idea.
But we also need to have ways to participate in the culture without damaging ourselves. I'm not just talking about anti-malarial medication, but being able to internally translate the experience into images and languages that allow us to process it.
But it also seems to me that this analogy breaks down pretty quickly. The converter is essentially a barrier -- a membrane through which some, but not all, of the energy is allowed to pass through. SOmetimes that's good and necessary, but there are other times when we travel -- whether it is around the world or into a conversation with someone unlike us -- that we need to take the risk of plugging in without using the converter. To take the risk that something can happen to us that can't happen to pieces of electronics -- that WE could be converted, changed in some way, significant or not.
I'm going to Ghana with a bag full of adapters and converters -- both for my computer and camcorder and for me. And I'm beginning to wonder if the biggest challenge isn't going to be figuring out when to use them and when to toss them away.
| Mike at 5/27/2004 03:59:00 PM
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."