Kenya’s transportation system – Waiyaki way Star bus – Cheap is expensive.

For those not familiar with Kenya’s transport system, it is highly dominated by the private sector. On paper, this business is one of the most lucrative to indulge in. The numbers leave you on the edge as successful business owners openly share their per day returns. The vehicles I am referring to carry a maximum of 33 people who pay to get to their various destinations.
Having lived along Waiyaki way for almost a decade, I have seen different 33 seaters dominate the route. We call them matatus. From the common Star bus came Metro trans which later split* to Super Metro. The latter two transport matatus joined the route as the towns from Nairobi to the last stage – which is Kikuyu Town – expanded and grew.
Needless to say, Star bus has been dominating the route from the late 1990s.
This article primarily targets Star bus’ peculiar habits of late and during the off-peak hours. During peak hours all these matatus behave the same. Either because of the presence of traffic police or crowded roads as people drive to work.

Pricing

Star bus are less expensive than other transport matatus. They will cost Ten Kenya shillings cheaper than their competitors. For this reason, the touts get the illusion that you must board their vehicles. Once you do, you are bond to wait for a very long time as they try to convince another customer to board. If you board, do not be in a hurry.

Time

The average time of any public transport from one stage – Kinoo* – to the City Center is around half an hour.
Assuming you board from Kinoo. There are 15 common stages matatus use as a pick up or drop off points.
1.87
2. Uthiru
3. Kwa miti
4. Mountain
5. Kangemi
6. Waroko
7. ABC
8. Safaricom
9. Brookside
10. St Mark
11. Sarit
12. Westlands
13. Chiromo
14. Town University way or Town, Ngara
15. Nairobi City Center.
Average time spent on each stage is roughly 3 mins or less to call for commuters to fill empty seats. If the vehicle is full, it takes less time since it only drops people who have arrived at their destined stage. So, as you approach the city center, most matatus go dropping people and reach the city center almost empty.
This is rarely the case for Star Bus. These 15 stages can be broken down to even 20. Both the driver and the tout have this working code of stopping at every stage whether or not their vehicle is full.
Hell has no fury if you board it when almost empty. They will stop at every stage. A parking spot will be converted to a stage. They will stop where there is a group of people and ask them if they are going, yet they found them standing and talking amongst each other. When the driver thinks he can stop, he will. If the tout decides he can stop the vehicle for the sake of it, he will stop.

Stage habits

Every stage has a common design. Vehicles should park on the left and should be within the curve of the stage but not Star bus. A star bus driver will park at the entry edge of every stage without failure. This leaves the rest of the stage wide open.
This habit will always create unnecessary traffic. Hooting to the driver only makes matters worse. He will look at you from the side mirror and look at his tout from the other side mirror. If the driver notices no one is boarding he will hoot back. If you insist on hooting, he will only step on the accelerator, remove smoke from the exhaust and remain the same spot until he sees the boys in uniform -traffic police.
One of the most annoying stage habits is when the tout goes to talk to other touts or when the driver stops on an empty stage filled with other touts only to either change drivers or yell at each other all at the expense of your time.
In summary, if you are in no rush to reach the city center or don’t mind listening to either Classic 105 FM or same old good reggae vibes then these matatus are ideal for you. If you are for some reason tired, want a quick nap on your way to the city center then you will not go wrong with these matatus.
All the information shared above is from observation and is very common during off peaks times from 9 am onwards. It also relates to a one-way journey to the city center. On your way back is another story you may want to look forward to it all together.
*they did so sometime in 2014 although there is a need for clarification.
*Kinoo is small town located along Waiyaki way

Agriculture – Will vertical bag farming create adequate food for urban dwellers?

As we continue to meet housing demand in Kenya, we tend to sacrifice fertile land that could be used for agriculture. Devolution has tried to mitigate urban-rural migration by bringing development resources to the doorstep of rural dwellers. This is evident as you cannot miss a developing apartment as you walk around. The government has restricted development of real estates in coffee growing areas but even with this measure in place, land generally is becoming a scarce resource especially land fertile to sustain agriculture.

In order to keep the land green, urban dwellers are faced with the challenge to do so. Planting flowers in pots, strawberries in troughs and vegetables in sacks has been a way to curb this problem. But how can one go full commercial scale with this kind of solution?

Vertical bags has really hit the market well although it has been there before, what has taken people a storm is the materials used for the bags. It started sometime back with thick, black, polyethylene bags being filled with fertile soil that is mixed with manure and fertilizer. Holes were poked on the side of the bags where seedlings could be planted, watered and they would germinate. Depending on the size of the bag, one would have a good harvest from one bag.

RealIpm consultant Kamotho Ndegwa introduced the net vertical bags to an interested customer who has an eighth of an acre land. The land has 4 houses so there is very little space which got my attention of how he would deploy this method. f357bafa-5e15-4191-81f2-119281ccb660

Upon further inquiring he said it only takes 10 bags that are filled with fertile soil to represent quarter an acre. Doing the math this could mean it can take 50 of them to have a half an acre. The filling of these bags with soil is no laughing matter. It will entail lots of effort and time but when filled to capacity, it is rewarding.

Plants that do well are spinach, kale, cucumber, and other vegetables. It only takes 3 weeks to see results and it is not labor intensive as compared to planting the same quantity on a quarter acre land for example. This means you use less manpower for the weeding, watering, planting and even harvesting. These bags do consume some considerable amount of water which should sip all the way down to the bag or at least 90% of the bag should have water. Poking the side holes is to confirm how dry the bag is. This should tell you how much water is needed.9f4585e6-a4f3-48ed-9384-2ea5ddf99210

Weeding the bags is simple. The one thing I liked about the bags is the simplicity of usage. Digging has never been my cup of tea. I find the bending quite exhausting but now I find it convenient and very practical.

Trendmill – What to consider before purchasing your preferred trend mill.

It takes a considerable amount of research to get the most effective trend mill machine to work with. One of the main considerations besides cost is the durability. When talking with a sales person, it is good to ask what components are covered under warranty. Nowadays, bigger is not better as has been the case in the past. For example, any 2.0 HP motor is practically good for any user. Let’s say you find a machine with a large motor, and later find out it has a poor cooling mechanism. This will quicken the wear and tear and hold very little value for your money.

Helpful questions that strengthen a trend mill purchase.

Commercial or home use.

Home use trend mills will tend to be used by fewer people as compared to commercial trend mills. Commercial trend mills are common in fitness gyms. Most trend mill buyers will prefer to use it at home with other family members.

Goals.

It is best to consider the fact that when you buy one, you will not be the sole user. To avoid this common mistake, it is advisable to estimate the common users and their weights. This makes you avoid buying a low-quality machine that will outrun its usefulness quick.

Ease of use.

A trend mill that is easy to maneuver around with buttons that are easy to control gives confidence to the user. A red button for stop, a green button for go is as easy as it gets. Safety goes hand in hand with this as you want a trend mill that you can run or walk comfortably without the handles disrupting your movements. The trend mill’s ergonomics should enhance your workout period and not disrupt it. The best way is to get to the store and test it yourself.

Online purchase or store?

Most trend mill information is found online. This will mean looking for brand names, cost differences from one store to another, and much more. Top brands tend to advertise their products which are also found near your gym for instance. Facebook collects user feedback which should be a great source of information. Even if purchasing online is relatively less costly, it is worth considering if you can assemble the equipment upon arrival. As much as you would like to test an equipment, try finding a similar trend mill that you want at a friend’s place or a gym. If you go to a store, be prepared to test the equipment for a good 10-15 minutes.

Some Common trend mill features.

Trend mills tend to have an incline feature to it. This is useful especially when testing it. Among other features are; speed, time elapsed, and distance.
A good trend mill will have the ability to separate or distinguish different users. This is highly motivating especially if competing with each other.
A heart rate monitor is available to measure your cardiovascular and as your fat burning profile. These are great ways to keep track of your improvements because there is nothing as motivating as progressive growth.

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Dior Sauvage – The ladies choice

Dior Sauvage is one of those perfumes that attracts attention that you never really asked for. I am cueing at the supermarket and there are two ladies behind me who keep giggling. This gets my attention so I turn back to see both of them staring at me. The moment my eyes locked with one of them (or was it both), they “pretended” to be shy but a minute later I get a tap on my shoulder. One of them asks what cologne I am wearing and my response is a blank face (just for a sec; trying to recall the name). A quick shake and the response is Dior Sauvage (with the proper pronunciation it is a bonus). Later on, I was beating my head on the wall as to why I didn’t get any of their contacts – cliche?

Sauvage was released in 2015. There are too many negative critics about the cologne and the main reason is that it comes from the Christian Dior family. They are known to have a really strong, masculine perfume class but this one does not really deliver the strength as compared to its family Dior. The nose behind this is no other than Francois Demachy.

Unique characteristics of Sauvage Dior

Metallic.

This is very synthetic but you will feel the metallic taste ringing behind your mind. Not so much but evident enough for you to accept it as it fades. It could be the presence of ambroxan but you will notice a metallic taste to it.

Peppery

This is the component that gives that warm buzz once you inhale it. It is a very delicate balance felt in the blend which really gets your attention as you inhale it. it is one of the top notes once you apply it on your skin.

Cold

Have you ever used one of those lotions that give you a chill? This cologne gives you that effect as you spray it on your skin. It is quite refreshing, especially during hot days or mornings.

Fruity

We are looking at pepper (pink pepper and Sichuan Pepper), lavender, Geranium, Patchouli, Vetiver, elemi and Geranium. These act as the middle notes. Middle notes are what remains after the top notes have started fading.

 Base Notes

We are looking at cedar, ambroxan, and Labdanum. These stay after a while which gives Dior Sauvage that longevity that is one common report users say.

Shape and size

Dior Sauvage has a magnetic top to it that only sticks once the magnetic fields attract each other hence that “click” sound when it locks. It comes in 100ml or 6ml depending on your preference. Its case has a nice butterfly logo to it which gives it that unique stamp of originality.

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In summary Dior Sauvage has a long longevity, very attractive to the opposite sex and does not disappoint if worn during dates or evenings. It is however very basic which means once you wear it, you will get tired of it fast but after a week, you will want it back on. It gives a push and pull effect is what makes people buy it and not get tired of wearing it. It is very good for a social gathering – parties, outdoor meetings and evening getaways.

Rumpelstiltskin. The Modern day employees’ twist.

If that name gave you trouble pronouncing it when young then you are not alone. To date, I rather just call him/it Rump. This is a tale of a father who “carelessly” used to brag about her daughter and what she was capable of doing like removing bunnies from a hat, to making a frog sing angelically. Needless to digress allow me to relate this tale accordingly without any emphasis on gender but since the tale was told as the daughter being, well, a female, so let’s stick to this ideology even though the emphasis can relate to both male or female.

She had a father who couldn’t keep his mouth shut. A typical dreamer, a very optimistic one to add who viewed his daughter as the sun that warmed the deep waters, typical of any father’s pride of their children although this one really knew how to stretch the yard. His audience, however, had a different opinion. Either she could do a lot of nothing apart from looking pretty or she was one hell of a work bee but from the neighbors’ response (the audience) it was rather obvious she was no work bee.

The father religiously (I assume) stood on the corner of the hood and do his bragging ritual about her while nobody could give two cares in the world but on this very day a stranger listened and went to tell the king how there is this girl who could change straw to gold. That was the story of the day. I can only imagine what other stories he told about her but hey, it’s none of my business!!

This story reminded me of a friend of mine (let us call her Rachel) who typically could scan through your CV and pick a few things and if she found a job opening related to what you do, she could quickly make your CV her own and recite it till she owned it like a borrowed sweater.

After the king summoned for her, she went to the king’s palace where she was given a room filled with straw. The king ordered her to change the straws to gold or else face excecution. The king could not afford to look bad.

On this very day, she recited the “wrong” CV for a job that required some management skills which came with an average package if she could bring in the numbers. After doing a wonderful presentation she got hired and it was time to measure words for deeds. I knew she knew nothing in those lines but I just had to grab the best seat in the house and watch how this would spin out just for fun.

Month one was heading to a close where a dwarf in the office spotted her agony, promising her to change straws to gold if only he (imp or dwarf) had something in exchange which for sure she had something. Clients started streaming her direction as the dwarf disappeared behind scenes, doing what he does best. Numbers looked really good and so did her paycheck. She had hit her quarterly target by month two all thanks to

Clients started streaming her direction as the dwarf disappeared behind scenes, doing what he does best. Numbers looked really good and so did her paycheck. She had hit her quarterly target by month two all thanks to dwarfy.

She has given up all hope until an imp-like creature appears in the room and spins the straw into gold for her in return for her necklace (since he only comes to people seeking a deal/trade). When the king takes the girl, on the next morning, to a larger room filled with straw to repeat the feat, the imp spins in return for the girl’s ring. On the third day, when the girl has been taken to an even larger room with straw and told by the king that he will marry her if she can fill this room with gold or kill her if she cannot, the girl has nothing left with which to pay the strange creature. He extracts from her a promise that her firstborn child will be given to him, and spins the room full of gold a final time.

Source from Rumpelstiltskin story

Time flies, Rachel is confirmed to join the firm and its heading to the end of one year where the employee of the year award goes to yours truly, Rachel, of which she takes it with so much joy and pride, of course giving that one minute vote of thanks of all her hard work and determination. The dwarf listens but he doesn’t care cause he already struck a deal.

Due to her impressive record, she is promoted to management, no longer doing the donkey work but hovering around the office floor drinking tea and looking at reports, demanding meetings and going for “training”.

Afterward, she moves to a new apartment, gets a bigger car and now seats with the elite, even forgetting the deal she made with her dwarf that if she got her promotion, she could move him to become her very own Personal Assistant (PA). A very sweet spot to move strings with nobody ever pointing a finger at you.rumpel
ImageSource: Monsters & Creatures Wiki

 

 

 

 

As the story goes, she did not deliver and as “sneaky” as Rump thought he was he decided to give Rachel a test, failure to which he could expose all there is to her. After thinking and thinking over and over again what to do, she decided to almost give up until she discovered that she is way up there to be threatened by a worm and that is how the little man lost his job, career and almost his life.

Robert now scouts around doing odd jobs. Cleaning leftovers, dusting old machines, at times when very lucky gets to clean the boss office where he now works for another small sized company. He lives to tell his peers how he helped Rachel but no one believes cause clearly, she is way above her cloud that even the mention of her name can land you in trouble.

Such is life!!

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When Do You Wear a Cologne?

It is a weekend, finalizing on the week’s jumble with a decision to either chill out and close business early as the lazy mood kicks in with just a little excitement to take the evening a notch higher and surely without fail, there comes that one phone call which ultimately drops your guard and in a split second you are there jumping in the shower, hitting your favorite playlist, spinning around as the warm water drops hit your skin.

It’s at this point the what to wear question pops up which ultimately gets you to that state of confusion of what to match with what. For a guy sometimes it also get’s tricky but guys know what will pump the mood and it all falls down to how fresh your aroma is. That is key when choosing a fragrance.

Case in point, you are heading out with friends and you want to keep the freshness on you which is not too loud but with just enough tone on your skin, will leave a lasting image to whoever you would like to impress that particular time.

Most Eau de Toilette wear out in a few hours (two hours at most) leaving you worse than you even started so wearing one is paramount to how the evening can end up of which you may want to end it on a light note, sending a fruity citrus touch, in the beginning, a soft tone of wood and marine wear as time goes on and an amber, musk, spice feel at the end of the smashing night out.

dunhilldisureblueedtManhattan Worldwide Perfumes Inc

Some Desire Blue Colognes last much longer than others

People with dry skin usually find their Desire Blue Cologne holding time shorter than those with oily skin because oily skin has more natural moisture to hold in the fragrance. PH levels (amount of acidity in our skin) also vary slightly from person to person. Our individual levels of PH will determine how each ingredient in Desire Blue will react.

Source: http://www.myperfumesource.com/MDESIREBLUEPAGE.htm

Known for its citric scent and oceanic smear, it is most worn during the day during a summer warm day since it blends very well with oily skin which holds its fragrance for a long time. The longevity of Dunhill Desire Blue is what has kept it up the ladder for a very long time keeping in mind it first came to scene in the early years of 2000. (2002).

It may not do so well in an enclosed environment though so wearing it to the office during those meetings would not be a recommended fix as it will clash with the mood of the day since it is a more lively or loud perfume so be careful applying too much which may work against you.

Yes, I hate the smell of orange blossom with a passion, and Desire Blue contains A LOT of orange blossom, but for some reason it works. I am amazed that I actually like this fragrance, with its soapy sweet smell and blue color. Stuff like this is usually my idea of hell.
The reason this is so good is because everything is blended tastefully and not heavy-handedly, and the resulting smell is so uplifting and cheerful, I can’t resist it. This is NOT an aquatic fragrance. It contains an aquatic note, but it’s in the background, tastefully added and blended so as to merely give lightness and lift to the soapy sweetness of the orange blossom. It truly is a flanker of Desire For Man, only lighter and less sweet. Desire Blue also has a strong green smell, and added to the sweetness, it ends up smelling a lot like Greenbriar by Caswell-Massey, another good fragrance I have.
Desire Blue may not be unique at all, but it has a smell that puts a smile on my face. How can I not give it a positive rating?

Rating from shamu1

Reviews of Desire Blue by Dunhill from Basenotes

Locally (Kenya), it is priced for about Ksh 7000 depending on where you shop but it’s around that figure. I personally picked it up during this hot season and also to experiment what Dunhill has to offer. Who knows, I may pick the Dunhill Icon or Dunhill London. Until then, I picked the below review for Dunhill Icon.
Stay tuned, enjoy!!

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Technology and Homes, The Smart Homes.

There is a lot to the name “smart” that seems to contradict with the word home. How can a home be smart, you ask. Well, take this scenario; you are in a matatu (public transport) and all over sudden you get held up in traffic knowing very well you left early, drew your curtains open, switched off all lights and have no idea whether the thermal kit is on or off and if either how could you tell?

You decide to grab your phone, enter the home app and start drawing curtains shut and lighting the sitting room to indicate to any potential tom peep that you are within and while at it, you may decide to put on some cool classic music to usher you in after a long day.

A smart home is equipped with devices that are connected through your home network giving you the ability to easily automate home security, entertainment, lighting and other systems.

Video by Consumer Technology Association

Such is what is referred to as use of a smart home/apartment. The ability to control your own home from outside as if you were within. This is not only a happy pill for the “forever alone” guys and techies, it applies to family as well.

Homework time is homework time. Good times were when you knew your folks would be late and you would camp in front of the television all you want. This time round, a parent can monitor and switch off the television or appliances to keep children within the scope of doing what they should do at the appointed time.

How Smart Homes Work

Any device in your home that uses electricity can be put on your home network and at your command. Whether you give that command by voice, remote control, tablet or smartphone, the home reacts. Most applications relate to lighting, home security, home theater and entertainment, and thermostat regulation.

HOME & GARDEN by MOLLY EDMONDS & NATHAN CHANDLER   

The technicalities of the products shown in the video below are all available on Amazon. Naming them one by one is what will be out of content here but as stated above the most common appliances are simply configured to synchronize under one platform which is your mobile device or tablet.

Most companies are making their appliances smart ready be it an automatic coffee maker, washing machine, fridge, televisions, light bulbs and much more. This feature (smart ready) will be key in the future when shopping for an appliance.

Security is a big concern and a common question is or will be “who will keep maintaining all the equipment in case of failure?” This will spin a whole new level of employment and if taken seriously, Kenya specifically could ripe good benefits from these opportunities.

Speaking of Kenya, there are apartments ready that have taken up this technology, branding the apartments as smart homes. The apartments located in Kileleshwa, Nairobi, Kenya are the famous Signature Apartments.

signature-apartments
Image Credit: Signatureofkenya.com

Commercially speaking, this seems like an expensive endeavor but value comes with a price. However, one can make their home smart if you purchase items such as the Samsung SmartThings which is a hub that connects the entire house through WiFi giving room for other gadgets to connect to it as it connects to your phone or tablet.

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Image Source: https://www.smartthings.com/

Most families are able to purchase smart home products, but that doesn’t mean it won’t leave a dent in your wallet. You can purchase the products one at a time and it won’t seem like too much, $50 here, $300 there, but by the time you have the smart home system you want, you will likely have spent a larger sum than you would have if you had purchased non-smart products.

RegencyHomes

Cost is a two edge sword with its own advantage of savings in the long run. Electricity may seem an issue from a distance but with the use of solar panel energy, it is not much of an issue keeping in mind the availability of backup generators.

When it comes to security, it is recommended you use strong passwords so no one can enter your home security. The password should be a mix of character and preferably long to avoid hackers.

Conclusion

Smart homes do not necessarily have to look out of the ordinary. Smartness comes with the inside. People connecting with the house from and out of the house. A shower head that plays your favorite music, voice recorgnition when going to sleep (Say goodnight and all lights go off kind of thing), ring door with CCTV to see who is at the door and much more. For the voice recognition, just don’t have an argument with your spouse and call out key words to trigger sensors.
The below video is a snippet of signature apartments which is only 15 min long. After that, the content therein the video is beyond the schope of this article. Enjoy!

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