31 December 2010
13 October 2010
so these last few months were fraught with fun drama, as i sorted myself through my mother's hoardy house and found out that if i never wanted to work again, i don't have to.
but now i'm back in south africa. i treated myself to flying business class on british airways, and their departure lounge in philadelphia, and arrivals and departure lounges in terminal 5 at london heathrow were just... spectacular.
i ended up with a free southern african flight on BA, just getting here, as i received 15,000 extra miles because my entertainment system wasn't working well. 15k miles, plus the 14.5k i got for just flying here = more than enough for a round trip flight to, oh, vic falls or harare if i so desired.
i'm heading to brazil for new years, tenatively speaking. i might change my mind and only go to zim or mauritius, but who knows -- i actually think i want to party it up in brazil. i haven't been there since 2000, and it's about time. that said, i'm going to get clobbered by the exchange rate -- in 2000, it was nearly 4 reais to the dollar; at the moment, it's R$1,66 to the dollar. ouch!
i'm in a new posh flat in the city center, one that used to be offices. to that end, it is fully wired with cat5, which means that my computers don't have to live anywhere near my router. the cross street is strand street, and because i've lived in london, "i live on the strand" has already come out of my mouth more than once. oops. it's going to be pretty painful when i go to renew my lease, as the exchange rate is looking like it will be 10% worse than what it is now, and my rent will go up 10%. bah. time to start saving now.
over the next few days i'll post about a fun customs-related issue i'm having, and how it's being resolved.
but yes, i am in fact back home. yup, home.
23 June 2010
26 May 2010
two days after my last entry, i received a telephone call from my aunt, saying my mother was sick, but they didn't say how bad. now we know. stage 4 bladder cancer. uncool. basically, they are thinking she is waiting for me to get there so she can go to the next plane.
anyway, money being a joke at the moment, not to mention the cost of airfare having gone up something around 50 percent since the last time i actually *paid* for a transatlantic flight [late 2004], i needed to buy the miles in order to make this flight happen. when i finally got that right, i booked a flight on award travel.
now, fly-brother HATES HATES HATES american airlines, one of the two leading carriers in oneworld. but he concedes that they have the easiest accrual and redemption methods of all the mileage programs and also the most partners. do you see on my previous post, my flight memory? most of those were done on BA [heathrow is in fact my most visited airport]; there is an occasional flight across the atlantic on aa, and one on iberia.
anyway, i've done two award trips between the united states and africa. it's nice. [it's also 75,000 miles in the cheap seats, if you wanted to know.]
one of the nice things about things about oneworld is that you can redeem miles for a one-way flight using half of the miles as for a round trip. ergo, instead of 75k for a round-trip flight, this only costs me 37.5 for a one-way flight. schweet.
so anyway, i've just flown the cape town to joburg leg of this journey, and in an hour i fly the joburg to madrid leg, have a five-hour layover there, and fly to chicago, spend the night in chicago with my cousin, and then in the morning i fly from chicago to philadelphia, where my aunt picks me up and drives me to harrisburg.
[ugh. harrisburg, pennsylvania. if you've ever been there, you would know why i have been living for the past five years in the city that is, basically, in terms of flight time as far as you can get away from there and still be on planet earth. ]
i'm currently sitting in johannesburg airport. unlike harare, it does not have free wi-fi. [harare's wifi is some of the best airport wifi ever. and it's FREE.] airports company south africa [ACSA] is a beast when it comes to airport wi-fi. if you do the time-based wi-fi, it's R50 for one hour, R100 for two hours, and R150 for four hours. eww. that's nasty. the way aournd it, depending on your usage in airports is to get the bandwidth-based option. if you meticulously watch your bandwidth -- and if you are resident in south africa, you tend to do so -- you would know that by far the best option is the R100 for 250MB for which you have 30 days to use up.
this morning, cape town airport was pretty fly. i hadn't been in it since november 2008, so i hadn't seen the finished product yet. it is really fly. it will give a good impression to foreign tourists landing there, i will say that. [of course, it's surrounded by shantytowns, like GIG, so take that with a grain of salt.]
i'm sitting in joburg airport and the best thing about this upgrade is that you no longer have to GO OUTSIDE to walk from the domestic to the international terminals. this is something that is absolutely fantastic. it doesn't look like you need to do that in cape town either. given that joburg in the winter is freezing, and cape town is 10 degrees C/50 degrees F with gale force winds and rain to match... this is excellent.
so i give these two airports hmmm.... marks out of 10, tambo gets 9. it would have gotten 10 if the gautrain were running -- it doesn't start doing so until two days before the world cup. cape town gets an 8.5, because it doesn't have train service to the airport, just high-speed bus. i was originally thinking of giving it only an 8 out of 10, but on match days during the world cup, if you have a ticket in your possession, the high-speed bus to town is free. yeah, that touch is really cute.
i may make another post after check in. for reasons i'd rather not go into now, checkin is going to be quite taxing and i want to talk about it AFTER it happens.
20 April 2010
30 March 2010
many black south africans -- and a few black americans who i know that live here -- get on my case on my ability to speak afrikaans. it's not a particularly difficult language unlike, say, xhosa with its 15 noun classes, or sotho with its highly tonal and contextual meanings. don't get me wrong, i can read xhosa [and by default zulu, since they are as mutually intelligible as, say, iberian spanish and iberian portuguese] and still get the meaning. it's not a problem. but for speech and gossip, i don't have a problem with speaking afrikaans. at all.
[two major, major caveats here -- the first is that i could speak in dutch reasonably well due to my creche and my post-18 exploits in dutch-speaking places; the second is my stepson is afrikaans-first-language, and his grandmother doesn't speak english at all. so if i want to talk to her, ek moet met haar in afrikaans praat.]
one of the main things i like about afrikaans is that it's the lone "new" language from a dutch colony that is based on dutch -- papamiento and srinantongo are both based on iberian languages; the former from iberian languages and west african ones, the latter iberian languages plus west african plus bahasa. both languages have a lot of dutch words, but it's largely because they still go to school in dutch. conversely, afrikaans speakers don't go to school in dutch, and only see the language in place names and old bibles. but an afrikaans speaker can largely understand dutch, although the other way around is somewhat problematic.
two things that i often say to people who are afrikaans first language who think that dutch comes from afrikaans and not the other way around [and, christ, south africans are worse than americans and almost as bad as the chinese when it comes to thinking the world revolves around them] are that a) to a dutch person, afrikaans is like listening to obasanjo speak english and b) afrikaans was the slave language; it was called "koshuis nederlands" [kitchen dutch] for a reason.
both of these, while true, are not very welcome views here. oh well.
here's a tip for afrikaans -- if you know the dutch word for something, you can probably craft together afrikaans from breaking it in half, taking out some of the consonants, and/or turning "z" into "s" and "ij" into "y". you'll then be halfway there. seriously.
english - dutch - afrikaans
he - hij - hy
his - zijn - sy*
she - zij - sy*
her - haar - haar
company - maatschappij - maatskappy
to give - geven - gee
to know - kennen/weten - ken/weet
to stay - blijven - bly
to write - schrijven - skryf
*why yes, you do need context for this in afrikaans. the clue is, of course, that for "sy" meaning "his" the next word is almost always a noun; for "sy" meaning "she" the next word is almost always a verb.
there are a lot of words that come from bahasa in afrikaans as well, the most notable being "baie" meaning "a lot" or "very [much]" -- in dutch one would use "heel" or "veel"; in bahasa it's banyak.
the letter "g" as well as the digraph "ch" is the same as "ch" such as bach in german or loch in scottish ... which means you are looking for somewhere to spit after you have said the word for canal, which is "gracht" [it's the same word in dutch, and you see street names ending with -gracht in both the southwestern cape as well as in other dutch-speaking places].
the letter g had me thinking about writing this post today. i had to go to town to sort some mess that telkom did me this morning, and one of the first signs you see on the taxi rank when you get to central cape town is --
geen ingang sonder magtiging [unauthorized entry prohibited; literally "no entry without permission"]
that's 4 times you go "g" ... bah.
and given that "ge-" is one of the four ways one makes a past tense in afrikaans, you hear it a lot. the other three ways to make a past tense are "be-", "ver-" or you leave it alone if the base verb starts with "ge-" "be-" or "ver-" such as gebruik [to use], betaal [to pay], or vergeet [to forget].
xhosa/zulu are also a lot more fun [not]. the whole EVERYTHING MUST AGREE thing is really annoying. that said, i've noticed a lot in *spoken* xhosa [and also zulu], there is less agreement than one would expect. i've heard people say that it's the effect of english on the language, but personally the jury is still out.
for me, the main problem is for possessive adjectives --
-ami for my
-akho for your
-akhe for his/hers/its
-ethu for our
-enu for your [pl]
-abo for their
the dash means that the first letter is indicated by the class of noun -- and remember, there are 15 classes of noun.
the short version is that for the classes that start with "u" for both animate and inanimate nouns, the first letter is "w" --
umsebenzi wakho [your job]
ugogo wakhe [his granny]
umshini wethu [our machine]
ukukhula wami [my childhood; contextually, this is more like "the time while i was growing up"]
and the classes that start with "i" singular nouns start with "y" or "z" depending on accent for animate objects, and with "l" for inanimate objects --
impundu zami [my butt]
itjommie yakhe [her friend]
igugu lethu [our pride] -- hence, gugulethu
igama lakhe [his name]
it's stressful trying to get right. and that's just for possessive adjectives. what about, you know, in a sentence that says "these flowers are green" or somesuch. in english green doesn't have to agree with flowers in number [and/or gender], but in most other languages, of course, it does, and this is no exception. the wikipedia article on the xhosa language explains it better than i can.
now, this is largely a vocab issue because kirundi, kikongo, kimbundu and kiswahili all do this to an extent, really. that said, trying to do it while getting the 18 click sounds right on top of it is lots of fun, let me tell you.
that said, because this is cape town, i don't live in a place with a lot of xhosa speakers; most of the black people who live close to the city center are from other parts of africa. this is in part due to the forced removals in the 60s, and also, frankly, people not being able to afford to live centrally. [it's kind of expensive to do if you're not living five people to a house].
i think i'll stop there because i want some sleep.
17 March 2010
one of them asked me to walk him home, as the metered cabs were acting stupid, since the cape argus main race was on sunday morning, and they were asking R50 for R20 and R30 fares.
so i walked him home to sea point, and then went to watch the setup for the finish line of the cape argus race.
as i left beach road -- the race ends along the boardwalk -- to get a minibus taxi to go home, i was stopped by a policeman. i got 20 questions as to why i was there. "this is a known drug dealing area," they say. i don't think they were prepared for my response: i know, but i figured with the bike race setting up, the dealers wouldn't be out in full force like they usually are.
me 1, bacon 0
so the cop says, still not turning down his blue lights, which are blinding me, "we're allowed to do a stop and search. can i search you?" me: i would prefer if you didn't, but if you feel you must. that's right, i did say i don't want you do fucking search me.
me 2, bacon 1 [he did in fact search me]
inside my wallet he found my old uwc identification. i kept it for reasons like this. and it led to a few questions about how long i've been in the country and stuff. i told him five years on and off, waving that american accent around like the weatherman on e-news.
he asked me what nationality i was, and i told him american. i then said, "you know, i know i look nigerian. i'm pretty sure that's where we got on the boat a couple of hundred years ago. even nigerians speak to me in nigerian languages, so it's not just you. but i really hope you're not going to be like this to foreign africans during the world cup." the look on his face: priceless.
me 3, bacon 1
it's going to be really fucking interesting during the world cup. cameroon has a game here, and england, france, portugal, as well as holland -- cameroon's opponent in the game here -- all have substantial black followings, many of whom live in africa or the diaspora.
it's going to be real interesting. watch this space.
09 March 2010
08 March 2010
04 March 2010
24 February 2010
every so often, there's someone who write a something about the lack of "racial transformation" in cape town. after a while, it gets tired and annoying because, well, the black south africans with money are not putting it where their mouth is, and the non-black ones aren't going to put up their money to do it until the black people go first. that's pretty much the real reason.
in today's episode, we have ryland fisher asking why there are few streets in the cape town city centre named for anti-apartheid figures? of course, there's the normal pro- and anti- cape town crowds have given out their R0.02 about the whole thing. one person actually has a good point in this thread: most central cape town streets are neutrally named -- strand [beach], long, loop, bree [broad], buitenkant [outer bank], buitengracht [outer canal]. riebeeck? not so major. darling? not really. adderley street is about the only "major" street named for a person in the city center, and even the lower end of that street has its original name of heerengracht.
granted, there are streets in the city center which are named after prominent afrikaner nationalists: henrik verwoerd, df malan, hans strydom -- but their location in the city center is pretty much reduced to the foreshore -- which is reclaimed land that in reality are basically used for highway on-/off-ramps and parking lots. if you come into cape town via train or most bus routes, you don't even see these streets -- much like most people don't see the streets in the townships named for struggle vets. if you come in via minibus taxi, you do have do deal with oswald parow. but cape town is unique in south africa in that most people do *not* come to the city center via minibus taxi, but by bus and train.
the comments have quickly deteriorated into the normal "cape town is racist" slugfest. this gets really annoying. i really hate defending cape town on this subject. i don't exactly defend cape town, i don't think -- i point out the blinders of the "cape town sucks" crowd in what they say.
what they want to say is "xhosas aren't well-represented in the heartbeat of cape town." and that's a very true statement. but instead they say "africans" meaning "all black people" and that is very thoroughly wrong. most foreign blacks in cape town live fairly centrally here. as a result, most nights you're more likely to hear yoruba or kimbundu or swahili than you are to hear xhosa or zulu or sesotho.
but of course, foreign black people don't count -- and that is what annoys me about any thread regarding the lack of black "representation" in cape town.
click on that link and you'll see my comment. cape town [and the country] have much bigger fish to fry rather than the name of a street. someone will ultimately bring up "dignity" and i will pre-emptively respond with "which gives a person more dignity? living on a street named for someone who died in the struggle or working and eating every day?"
15 February 2010
so there has been an incredible amount of fail since i last posted, much of it having to do with the president and his state of the nation address, but a few other things related to the franco-german axis's complete lack of desire to prop up the euro by saving greece.
they will end up saving greece, because letting it go down the tubes will mean that the euro will take a nasty knock, which would be great for me, money-wise, as the rand will take a knock right along with it. bah.
so, back to mzansi. last thursday -- the 20th anniversary of mandela's release from prison -- the president made his state of the nation address. while his wives were there, his girlfriends and babymamas were not.
the speech he made was typical campaign-speech and had nothing really to write home about. if he tries to enact half of these things, i should really have no trouble getting a teaching gig here once i get my certs in order. if i were still to have this house, i would have no problem teaching in du noon informal settlement [it would be an easy commute]. from almost anywhere in cape town that i'm willing to live, there are no schools in easy commuting distance with large EFL populations.
oh, wait. there's langa. i suppose i could make that happen. reverse commute, too, if i lived in town [which i would]. langa is also doable from here, in a stretch. hm.
anyway, the president really struggled reading in english. i nearly mentioned this on crackbook but chose not to. my thought: okay, it's not his first or second language, i should give him a break. and then he read a bit in sotho. same thing. and then he was reading in zulu. oh, god, this man is really illiterate. when he gives extemporaneous speeches in zulu, he's actually quite inspiring. but actually reading from prepared text? i was actually embarrassed for him. eish.
it makes me want to make sure that people here read and write well that much more.
but we'll see. after earnings season is done, i should have some downtime, even though i'm working on getting more clients now in an attempt to have less downtime. but i definitely need to crank out this TEFL cert so i can get in the classroom.
07 February 2010
*translation: our sex machine
that's the title of a blogpost on thoughtleader.co.za -- and it refers to our philandering president. or rather, the philandering south african president. he's not my president; i can't vote for him (and wouldn't even if i could).
now, jacob zuma has three current wives, and has paid lobola [bride price] for at least two other women. there were two other women who were once married to him: one of them is the current home affairs minister, who divorced him; the other one killed herself to get away from him (if the context of her suicide note is to be believed).
he also had 19 children, some of whom are from his wives; others are from miscellaneous other women, including the sister of the first judge who was to preside over his rape trial (the judge recused himself) -- and an insider says that there are many, many more out there, including a zimbabwean born while zuma was in exile in mozambique who is trying to get to the family compound but the police aren't having it, even though the police themselves say that he looks just like the prez (the poor bastard; zuma is not easy on the eyes).
we now have an admission from the president that he has recently fathered yet another child -- this one from the daughter of the head of the world cup local organizing committee, who is allegedly one of his closest friends. um, ew? having sex with the child of one of your oldest, closest friends is... nasty.
this is a man who had unprotected sex with a woman who was hiv+ [oh yes, he knew] and took a shower to wash off the aids. his words.
oh yeah, he was the president of the aids strategy council at the time. oops.
anyway, he's finally paid damages to the khoza family. isn't that grand of him?
how about he keeps his dick in his pants and runs the country? apparently that is too much to ask for.
03 February 2010
i was supposed to have left this place a few days ago, but since i didn't --- i've lived in this place for five years, as of today.
a lot of stuff is going absolutely wrong [starting with no longer having internet access at home, so i can't update the way i want to], but i'll try to find the time to update properly when i can get this all sorted out.
but, man. five years. eish.