Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just an average day at my desk

Slow afternoon. Oooh, I have yoghurt still to be eaten!
Yay, that'll get me through the rest of the day.

Go to kitchen, collect spoon. Come back to desk. Sit down. Look at spoon, ponder what that's about. Oh yes, yoghurt... Yay!

Go back to kitchen, collect yoghurt, which will complement the already-collected spoon nicely.

Open yoghurt. Mmmmm... mmmmman-gooooo. I like.

Lick spoon, stare at computer screen, put spoon down into little single serving yoghurt. Start typing.. it's what I do.

Aw, shit.

Massive spoon has tipped out of teeny-weeny container, splaying massive spoonful of yoghurt in trajectory. Mess. Grab handy wet wipes for this very purpose (never one to be called a slow learner).

Clean up operation complete. Or so I thought...

See, this is where it gets a little blurry. Some how, in the midst of all of this, I must've absent-mindedly scratched my ear. Because I now have yoghurt in my hair, and in my ear. Which appears to have been a lot easier to do than it has been to undo.

I've heard yoghurt is good for the skin.

I have a very healthy right ear now.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

If there was one thing I could do without in the office... would be awkward birthday gatherings. God, I hate them.

The general rule seems to be that the birthday person should provide cakes or snacks for the office community. I think this is rotten, stinking rule. Not only are you being forced to share your birthday with people you don't care about, and haven't selected to spend most of your waking hours with, but you also have to pay up and force them to "celebrate" with you. Urgh. Just so you all stand around awkwardly, as you patiently tell every person as they arrive what you did/are doing for your birthday, what presents you got and how old you are. And then... once you've run out of those topics and the cake is all but consumed... everyone inspects their fingernails to avoid eye contact, there are a few nervous smiles at nothing in particular and eventually someone mumbles something about those invoices not filing themselves and you are released from the horrific social torture.

And there is always one persistent pain-in-the-ass who insists on forcing a painful and listless "haaap-peeee-buuuuurth-day-to-yoooooooou," out of the audience. And then you all have to either sing along (I don't. I refuse point blank) or wait with a grimace until it's over.

To make the torture even worse, some offices expect co workers to put together a collection for an insincere, but well-meant, gift. Which you probably don't want, and wouldn't have chosen. In these circumstances, I feel inclined to say (and have actually done so in the past - but people thought I was joking): how about I not bring any food, and you don't buy me a present, and we just call it quits?

I sat through this actual conversation at an awkward birthday gathering. To avoid naming names, I'm going with the characters from the US Office series. Which is quite apt anyway. Sometimes I really do think I am living The Office. I wish I had a camera to pull faces at...

[To set the scene, we had just gotten to the point of awkward silence, nervous smiles and inspecting under nails to avoid eye contact]

Birthday Boy:
Is it really sad that the first person to wish me happy birthday this morning was my divorce lawyer?
Jim: Yes.
Phyllis: Hey, come on - cheer up. It's your birthday!
Birthday boy: It's my birthday and I'll whine it I want to. [Mild tittering. That was almost a joke... awkwardness slightly less palpable. Maybe this isn't so bad?]
Dwight: It's his birthday and he'll wank if he wants to!

End scene. What the hell do you say after that?

I can understand why corporate bigwigs and HR would think it's a lovely concept. What a motivating idea, getting to know your team mates and other departments a bit better - without out it having anything to do with expenses! But, gawd, I hate the birthday burden.... so much that I am seriously concerned that one day I am going to actually vocalise my thoughts. You know, instead of saying, "well, thank you for the cake - enjoy the rest of the day"... I'm going to say, "Well, I can't be asked to pretend to care anymore. And I hate apple crumble." Or more succinctly, simply screaming incoherently while mashing cake into my face and hair. And then running out of the room.

I know of an employer that gives staff the day off on their birthday. Now THAT is motivating. It's not disruptive, everyone else just gets on with a usual productive day without having to pretend to want someone else's cake choice. The birthday person gets to spend it how he or she actually wants to spend it, instead of having to pretend that they actually like their colleagues.

*Disclaimer: I know that there are actually environments where the birthday gathering is not an awkward affair. I have worked in such environments, where it is actually fun to get away from your desk and have a little social natter over cake and a scone. Sadly these are the exception and for the most part, I would prefer not to have to deal with birthday obligations at work.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I've grown quite addicted to Google Wave. You know that little hoojamagiggy-option that allows you to search the interweb in "real time"... i.e. Google it, but get updates pushed through as they are uploaded. So you get news websites, and blogs and Facebook and Twatter status updates as they become available.

I don't sit on it all day, but if I see a news story that is happening NOW then I'll set that up as a search and basically follow commentaries and news stories or eye witness reports as they happen. As you can imagine, there is a lot of brain saturating excrement to wade through, but I think this is actually what keeps me enthralled. It's the best way to watch the stream of consciousness from The Sheeple.

I've done this for the little mini-earthquake in LA; to follow the recent - and bloody - Kyrgyzstan overthrow (Internet may have been shut down, but people were still tweeting in the country from their mobiles, another example of how governments are struggling to contain knowledge flow); as the Thai situation became more and more restless; ET's funeral... (very disappointing results - the most interesting tweet was Philip De Wet pointing out that a small group of young (black) children managed to throw a total of precisely two insults before being chased away by (black) police. Sheesh, if we can't put together a serious race war, how are we ever going to get a solid bureaucracy set up?) End parenthesis. Where was I going with this? Oh yes. So Google Wave. Today I am following the volcanic eruptions in Iceland.... just to be sure I knew AS SOON AS the island went under. Because I'm a self-proclaimed curtain-twitcher. If there's something to watch, I wanna see. Even if it means living vicariously through the interweb updates. Ag man, relax, I do have a point here somewhere....

As I said, the updates are sometimes newsy (CNN, BBC, News24 links) but most of the time they're just Twatters doing what they do best. So "Iceland volcano" has allowed me to peruse some of the following perspicacious pearlers:

- GLOBAL WARNING: Earthquake n China Volcano n Iceland. This is n the last 48hrs

- Our world is falling apart: Earthquake in China & Volcano in Iceland. First Lady Michelle Obama in Mexico. Explosions in Baghdad.*sigh*

- Cyclone in India, Volcano erupts in Iceland, 6.9 quake in China....what's next!? Seriously? <--crazy br="">
- Earthquake in China, cyclone in India & volcano erruption in Iceland? WTF.... 2012.
We do love a bit of spice, don't we? My favourite from that selection is the one that mentions Michelle Obama. In Mexico. With all the other global catastrophes. Overlooking the fact that I cannot find any tangible link why she should be included in a doomsday update, she's actually in Haiti. Was that meant to be the connection? Because they are noticeably different countries. I know they're both south from where you most likely are, but one is a devastated little island, the other is quite close, on the same continent and pretty much hinged to your country... oh, never mind.

Here's my theory (I told you there was a point here somewhere) ... because of social media like Twitter, and Google and Facebook and general increasing connectivity, we are more likely to hear about these things as and when they happen. So yes, it's going to feel so much more dramatic. Kind of like being at the scene of an accident, as opposed to hearing about it in a conversation. Also, it's no secret that our population is exploding exponentially in every corner of the world. So shock statistics that we hear so regularly shouldn't really be that shocking. I think that earthquakes and floods and landslides and viruses etc etc aren't necessarily getting more lethal - but more people are dying each time BECAUSE THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE TO DIE. Surely this is an obvious correlation?

At random (okay, my year of birth, so maybe not so random), I tried to look up a few examples of "big" happenings around the world in 1981. A quick search (not via Google Wave) produced this :

- Two major earthquakes (in Japan and Greece, about a month apart)
- Two devastating tornados (across the US, one month apart)
- Four major fires across Europe, the UK and India.
- Seven air traffic incidents, including commercial plane crashes and hijackings.
- Six shipwrecks, two train disasters, several celebs of various nationalities dying in car accidents, and a mine explosion in Tennessee.
- Political upheaval in Peru, the Iran-Iraq War, strikes and hunger demonstrations in Poland, unrelated riots in Hong Kong, Liverpool, Brixton and in several places in South Africa.
- I was born.

Without internet and our immediate news/shock reporting, most people will have only learnt about these events - if at all - in bits and pieces (or 20-something years later). If not, one might well have been forgiven for thinking that we were living in a crazy, crazy world that was surely going to spin off its own axis at any given moment. Back in early 80s.

Friday, April 09, 2010

TGIF... yesterday

I spent the whole of yesterday thinking it was Friday. The realisation - when it finally happened at 4.30 PM - assaulted me like the full frontal vision of a flasher in a playground. It was not pretty. I had even written a post about it being TGIF, which it was not. I lost interest after that.

How messed up can my calendar-clock be... especially as it's been a short week anyway. I spent the whole of Tuesday thinking it was Monday, and then spent the whole of Thursday thinking it was Friday. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Alien abduction. It's the only realistic explanation for my confusion.

Ag man, what a shutty week to not be in SA. I feel so left out. No one's threatened to touch any one on a Dutch TV studio. And no one's petulantly thrown any journalist out for asking questions at a press conference (serious thought though: why didn't the other journos show any solidarity? There must be more to this story than what we're seeing on youtube).

However, I do get the impression that there's actually a lot more happening in South Africa, when viewed from the outside. Does that make any sense? Let me try to explain... Some of the UK and Dutch press are merrily flinging poep about how the SA situation is so much more violent and volatile now that ET has been killed. But yet, despite this, people living in South Africa (outside of Ventersdorp) are not preparing for the onslaught of a race war. I spoke to a friend earlier today when she was at the shops and was horrified to learn that she was not stocking up on tinned goods. How will she survive when the country implodes?

To my friends and family living in SA - did you know that you are currently living through increased turbulence and violence? No, really.... stop going about your daily lives and pay attention. What do you mean all skin colours are still mixing and using the same entrances and facilities?? Clearly you are not aware that the English football team have been personally threatened with machetes when they arrive next month? Yes, that's right. It's not about you, or He Who Shall Not Be Named, or the Only White Baboons. It's about the England fans and players. They are the real targets here. Also, Dutch supporters have been warned not to wear orange as this will draw attention to them as 'tourist boers'. Because the fanny packs, black socks and jesus-sandals won't do enough to highlight that.

Fortunately, the papers conveying these messages are not exactly known for their political analysis. They are more readily known for their page three models (top-heavy plain Janes, without a concern for modesty). So readers of such papers aren't likely to be going to the World Cup anyway, as they don't have passports and can't be asked to relocate their caravans.

Okay. I said I was going to step away from the politics. But I can't.
It's too entertaining.

And as for that petty Visagie/eNews performance... Only in South Africa can a racially and culturally charged incident become a joke - and a dance remix - in under 24 hours. The term, "too soon for jokes" holds no weight when it comes to idiotic statements and bumbling buffoons of all shapes and colours. This is a splendid thing, because it means that (despite what we might bitch and moan about) we do actually enjoy freedom of speech in SA.

Puerile politicking aside, we do make me proud sometimes.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010



Stepping away from politics. It's hard to do... I have so much more shout about, but unfortunately I can't type any louder than the gazillion idiots who are merrily declaring that South Africa is the most unstable country. Ever. Apparently, we are the only country to EVER suffer from political tension, and crime, and high-profile people doing stupid things and possibly being targeted for the trouble they cause. And because we are the first - and only - country to ever be inflicted by wounds of the past and subsequent differing points of view, the whole nation is clearly going to implode in the next few weeks (oddly enough, this hasn't happened yet, despite this doom being declared with certainty on a monthly basis). On the bright side, such implosion would spare SA from enduring the apocalyptic crisis that the world is going to experience in two years time.

Anyway. While ET was inadvertently making the wrong kind of headlines this weekend, I was in the UK moors with Mills and his siblings. I feel I need to educate you all on what it means to spend Easter with the Mill-family.

Step 1:
Argue about where you are going to spend Easter. This has to be somewhere where you haven't been before. It does not matter if it is in the house next door to the house from last year, you cannot revisit a location.

Step 2:
Once suitable accommodation is found, Easter Eggs must be purchased. This is not a simple case of one egg, one mouth. There are various categories of egg entry to be considered. The first is the Most Impressive. This is normally a collaboration of one ostentatiously large egg, with a selection of fine chocolates in a basket the size of a shoe box. Bonus points are awarded if the giant eggs are individually labeled, with the recipient's name hand-painted in icing. The second category is Quantity Over Quality. This entails sourcing the smallest - but most numerous - eggs commercially available (these will then be hidden individually). Shopping completed, the eggs must be transported with care to their final destination. Breaking eggs en route is considered sacrilege and will be result in a loss of status at the family gathering.

Step 3:
Set aside at least one full evening before Easter Sunday to coordinate the rules and allocate hiding areas for the Mills' Annual Yolk Hunting Easter Madness (MAYHEM). The first and most prominent rule of MAYHEM is to take MAYHEM seriously. Jokers and non-Mill family members who do not demonstrate the expected reverence for the occasion are not welcome or appreciated.

Step 4:
Once each couple has been allocated their hiding location (i.e. one pair will have the kitchen and garden, the next will have lounge and driveway etc), the pairs divvy up their collection of eggs and hide them for the various seekers. There are no rules as to where eggs can be hidden. Removing light bulbs from ceiling fittings and replacing them with appropriate sized eggs is accepted - and applauded. Curtain linings, dustbins, vacuum bags and full baby bottles are also on the list of approved (and used) locations.

Note: Attempting to peek at another couple's location prior to hunting is NOT appreciated, and will result in severe reprimands.

Step 5:
Eggs hidden. Now everyone must gather to listen - and pay close attention - to what they must each look for. Serious participants will have pen and paper ready to take notes. "Koekie - you are looking for nine thumbnail-sized eggs, three have white wrapping, three are red and three are black. You are also looking for two bunnies - one with gold foil, one with green. You must also find seven Milka eggs, about the size of your pinky nail. Mills- you are looking for nine thumbnail eggs (two white, five red and two black). Your two bunnies are in gold foil and red foil. You have five Milka chocolates and one marshmellow egg...." Each couple will do the same respectively for their recipients.


The hunting can begin. Shoving, tripping and snatching are allowed but considered unsporting if done to small children.

I generally just grab whatever I see and stash it all away like a rabid squirrel, whether I'm supposed to find it or not. That's how we did it in my family and old habits die hard. I also find it comes in handy at the end, because I have tons of leverage to barter with. This is considered good game strategy by non-Mill family members, but is not appreciated by MAYHEM founders.

Every event will end with a MAYHEM audit to check that each participant has in fact collected the correct number - and colour - of eggs. This audit is also used to tally how many eggs are still outstanding.

Eating eggs before the final audit is completed is frowned upon, as consumption of Easter Eggs is not the MAYHEM objective. If all Easter Eggs are found and accounted for, the MAYHEM event is deemed a monumental failure by true participants.

The ultimate goal of MAYHEM is to hide the eggs so well that the only chance of them being uncovered will be during a future spring clean, or archeological dig.

MAYHEM. The True Easter Spirit.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Another one to add to the list

To reference a former Apartheid Minister (Jimmy Kruger), the death of Terre'blanche "leaves me cold". As of this weekend, the man has been added to my Why are we still giving these idiots free press? list. I had a similar reaction to the major hoopla around the death of Michael Jackson. I know they were in no way comparable during their lifetimes (other than the fact that both had an unhealthy fixation on being whiter-than-white), but as far as I'm concerned they were both pathetic and pitiful characters, years if not decades, before they died.

I am not glad that he's dead, not by any means. I genuinely don't care. It's a horrible story, but the fact that he was "hacked to death" seems blatantly obvious that this was not in retaliation to He Who Shall Not Be Named singing out-dated resistance songs. This was a personal vendetta, and let's be honest... ET wasn't one for making cross-cultural friends, was he?

Despite the fact that the Dutch press are still incorrectly reporting that "Blank Zuid Afrika wil moord wreken" (White South Africa wants to avenge murder), I'm glad to see that the actual revenge call has been retracted by the AWB* (are these people still clinging onto this whole ideal? I thought they had fizzled into nothingness). The headline was in the Metro Nieuws this morning and for a moment I couldn't read further, due to the pulsating red that had clouded my vision. Being a blank Zuid Afrikaanse myself, I had to take a few lustrating breaths to refrain from screaming out loud. It was a small taste of how Muslims must feel every time they see a headline implying that Islam equals terrorism. Do. Not. Generalise. I am not one of THEM.

I'm not saying that the murder should be ignored. It must be investigated and I genuinely hope that justice is served. But there is a page on the BBC allowing readers to have their say on whether ET's death will "lead to further instability" in SA, and there seem to be a lot of people on the interweb who do actually think this could well be the case. I really think this is giving a sad old bigot too much credit. says it best (as they usually do): Outpouring of apathy as 49 non-neo-Nazi South Africans also murdered.
Allemachtig, please don't turn him into a martyr. He didn't die fighting for a fascist and out-dated cause. More likely, he was killed because he was a mean bastard of an employer. There's a substantial difference.

*Alleen Wit Bobbejaans