Social Trust Based Transactions in Tanzania

These are keys to my Lexus 4WD and my 3 bedroom apartment with a view of Mt Meru. I haven’t signed any papers so far. And hardly fronted any money.


  • 8am – I text a guy that rents out cars.
  • 10am – he shows up at my door, hands me the keys and leaves. I ask, when do I pay? He says you can pay me later.
  • 5pm – I grab $$ from an ATM and pay him, along with a copy of my passport.
  • Done.


  • 5pm I stop by to take a look at a house (along with many others)
  • 8am (next day) I decide that’s the one I want
  • 4pm I show up with my stuff and am handed a key to a just cleaned house. When do I pay you? He says: today I’m busy. Tomorrow I am going somewhere. How about the day after?
  • So I will pay him in 2 days.

In Tanzania, trust is important. Relationships matter. The system doesn’t require you to distrust each other. Social reputation systems, and people’s reliance on them, remove the friction (and extra cost) associated with doing things more formally.
Western systems, however, are more universal. Not relying as much on social systems means there’s less biase, better exception handling and more scale.
As technology-mediated reputation systems get better, successfully avoiding all their traps and pitfalls, we can expect more Tanzania style personal, human service at western style scale and access.

Tools for cat maintenance

I have had a cat for a few years and I use the following tools to help with cat maintenance:

Pet Feeder

Most cats are good at self regulating their meals. But many pet cats are often a little overweight. Some research shows that animals on slightly low calorie diets live longer. If you care to make sure you know how much your cat is eating and want to have better control on the diet and match it with it’s activity level, and you use dry kibbles anyway, then an automatic cat feeder is very useful. It also helps save a lot of time, there’s a more set routine for the cat, and you can be gone for a day or two and not worry about feeding the cat. I have tried lots of different feeders, and this one is the best so far.

Pet Fountain

Cat’s prefer drinking running water. They think stagnant, stationary water is unclean. Your cat is more likely to drink water from a fountain than from a dish. The leading cause of kidney issues in aging cats is caused due to not drinking enough water. So if you care about reducing the odds of kidney diseases in your cat, a pet fountain is a good investment. I have tried many different ones and found this one to be the best.

Turn around at Mt Baker summit

We attempted a late season climb of Mt Baker in Washington state. We were not experience enough to be just a two-person rope team – so that was kinda stupid. But we were quite risk averse in other ways. When we realized that the sun was beating quite hard and the snow bridges were beginning to melt, we decided it wasn’t safe to continue upwards. Given 80% of mountaineering accidents happen on the way down, we didn’t want to push our luck. Two other parties continued ascending and they did summit and also came back down safely. Different risk appetite, and luck.