Thursday, August 31, 2006

My Contribution To BlogDay 2006

Today is BlogDay, and my task is to highlight five new blogs that I've been keeping an eye on. I don't really know what constitutes "new" so I've chosen five that were started within the last year and show promise.

In no particular order:

I Eat Therefore I Am
The fascinating blog highlights cuisine from all over the world. The contributors review restaurants, discuss various dishes, post photographs, and occasionally share recipes. The informal style of the writing draws you in and makes you feel as though you were there with the reviewers, rather than with many restaurant reviews that are distant and come across as elitist.

I don't really know how to describe this blog except that it's primarily a photoblog of motherhood and suburbia (the good kind of suburbia that we see in Hollywood movies that are charming and sentimental). I just love to scroll through the archives and look at all the pictures, in much the same way as I enjoy reading Audi's Blog (*wave*), which I've had in my blogroll for a while and, I'm sure anyone who knows me would say, seems completely unrelated to things that are generally known to be of interest me. (No, my biological clock is not ticking. Shuddup.)

Tedibear's Den
I found this site recently via Blogger's wonderful, random, "Next Blog" function. I have a family member who is very interested in real-life scrapbooking so I found this site, which publishes virtual scrapbook-page designs/templates, very interesting, as I had never heard of "digital scrapping" before. The designs are wonderful and I'm sure each new release is a treat scrappers. Best of all - they're provided for free as high-res PNG files with relevant transparent areas (zipped to make them slightly smaller to download), although the service that is used for the downloads can be a bit tricky to work with.

A Kristian Service
Right. Slight cheating here because this blog has been going for almost a year, but I love to visit it and can't resist highlighting it for BlogDay. Kristian Antonelli is a "drawrerer" from London and this blog showcases his doodles, sketches, and a few finished works for our perusal. If you can't get enough, you might also want to have a look at "Kristianimator", a few postings of Kristian's sketches that have been animated.

Ramblings of a Single Mom
Last, but not least, Ramblings of a Single Mom. This blog is already well-known in the South African blogosphere but perhaps not yet elsewhere. I enjoy reading it because it comprises the "ramblings" of a fellow Capetonian (and I love Cape Town blogs) and it provides a slice of life in my own back yard that's very different to my life experiences.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The 11 O'Clock Phone Call From Hell

My office phone rings. It doesn't ring often, but when it does it's usually a wrong number, as people often misdial a number for the Peninsula Technicon and end up with me instead, which I'm sure is a disappointment, although I've had a few lovely chats.

I pick up the phone.

Me: "Hello, Mandy speaking."
Woman, who has the voice of a magazine editor or someone else very important: "Hello, can I speak to [name withheld], please?"
Me: "I'm sorry, you've got the wrong number."
Woman (in a highly-taken-aback manner): "Well, could you redirect the call to him, please?"
Me: "No, I'm saying you have the wrong number - I don't know anyone by that name here."
Woman (annoyed): "What magazine do you work for?"
Me: "[name of my magazine]"
Woman: "Well, [name withheld] works for [another magazine published by the company], so can you put me through to them." (Said in the tone of a demand, not a request.)
Me: ", can you hang on for a minute, please?"

I cover the mouthpiece of the phone and look frantically at a colleague, who pulls up the internal list we have that details contact information for pretty much everyone in the organisation (thousands of people).

Me (quietly, to colleague, but rather freaked out): "Is [the other magazine] in Cape Town, or Johannesburg?"
Colleague: "It's in Cape Town. Let me look...oh...there are no phone numbers...."
Me (still speaking quietly, slight quiver of fear in my voice): "Are they not listed?"
Colleague: "Yes, they are, there just aren't any phone numbers."
Me: "That's what I meant - they're in there, just without phone numbers?"
Colleague: "Yes."
Me (panicking): "Ok, thanks."
I return to the phone, apologise, and explain that we don't have the numbers...and realise that the phone is dead. She has hung up on me.

How f***ing rude can you be? I presume she phoned from outside the building and was incorrectly directed to my number. I think she assumed that I was a receptionist (I am not) and should have been more on the ball (and have everyone's phone number, ever), but even if I was a receptionist, you just don't speak to people in this manner. I'm sorry. I don't care how bad your day has been, you just don't treat complete strangers with such contempt.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Google Maps Updated To Include Cape Town

Great (and terrifying) news: Google Maps has finally been updated to include Cape Town (and, from what I understand it, the rest of South Africa).

When Google Maps was launched only a small area of Cape Town, extending from "below" about Milnerton in the north to Tokai in the South and the eastern side of Table Mountain in the west to approximately Bellville (if I remember correctly) in the east. Although this covered much of my neighbourhood and areas that I frequent, it didn't - oddly - cover the city centre, where I spend much of my day during the week and where most of the interesting places in Cape Town are to be found.

I had stopped checking months ago to see when the city might be added but, thankfully, I ran across this post at Times In New York today, indicating that Google Maps has now, finally, been updated.

Google Maps Cape Town

Above: Cape Town, South Africa, forever immortalised in Google Maps.

So now I can zoom in to my building, and every other building, in the city, and it's all totally unnerving. It's fun when it's a city that you don't live in (I have previously lost many working hours looking up sites in London, Paris, and Las Vegas, among other areas), but it's not so much fun when it's your own city. The photos also zoom in closer than they did before (I can make out details on my house that I couldn't previously see) so it's all very 21st-century stalker creepy.

Of course, one plus to all of this is that I can blog about the city, with pictures, without having to leave the comfort of my office. Instead, I can just use the spy-satellite imagery for good, instead of for its intended purpose, whatever that is (but we know it's for evil).

Now, A Showcase To Prove My Point (Both Of Them)

Rondebosch Common and The Red Cross Children's Hospital

Above: Rondebosch Common and the Red Cross Children's Hospital: here be creepy-crawlies and ill children.

(For more information on how you can help the hospital not run out of money visit The Children's Hospital Trust.)

Sea Point Main Road

Above: Sea Point Main Road (the one that's not the coastal road): here be prostitutes at night.

The V&A Waterfront

Above: The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront: here be German tourists (look for the people with moonbags, wearing floppy hats, shorts, and sandals in winter).

Disturbing, isn't it?

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Monday, August 21, 2006

It's Cheaper Than Electricity And Petrol

The following conversation happened so fast that I couldn't keep up, so apologies if it doesn't quite make sense, but I just had to share it because it's so incredibly South African.

One of my colleagues was asking us our (financial) opinion as to whether he should pay off his credit card first or first spend money erecting a fence around a new property he's bought in a rural area. He then mentioned about local livestock mowing the lawn, but if the fence is erected:

Colleague #1: "...we can't tell Marta to bring her sheep to mow the lawn..."
Me: "Are you serious?"
Colleague #1: "Yes! we found two goats in our yard on the weekend."
[Discussion about the random goats that appeared on the property and "mowed" the lawn and how that wouldn't have happened if they had the fence.]
Colleague #2: "It was so cool when the goats were roaming around there...."
Colleague #1: "Yes, and we can get 10 sheep for free to come and clean up, otherwise we are going to get the bill from the municipality every year about cleaning up our plot."
Colleague #3: "Is it sheep or goats?"
Colleague #2: "No...Marta at the post office - she has 10 sheep..."
Colleague #1: "...she's looking for a restaurant for them..."
Colleague #3: ", free lawnmower and manure?"


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Jacob Zuma Immortalised In Paint (Briefly)

I have an unwritten* rule regarding this blog and that is not - as far as is possible - to write about religion, politics, or whatever the third thing is. I'm supposed to focus on Cape Town, interspersed with the odd** life experience.

However, the "politics" and "Cape Town" concepts collided yesterday evening as I was on my way home. I am particularly interested in graffiti and noticed that the following had been stencilled on a construction and advertising barricade that surrounds the Mandela Rhodes Place development:

Stencilled image of Jacob Zuma

Above: The stencilled image of Jacob Zuma, which reads: "I am sweating like a rapist".

I am not going to go into the whole Jacob Zuma story (I had to use every ounce of restraint I had in order not to post about it while the rape trial was going on), except to say that the entire rape trial was a fiasco and a complete embarrassment to this country on a number of different levels. (The charges were, however, dismissed, and rightly so, I have to admit (in terms of legal reasoning), but this is one of my reasons for labelling it a fiasco, in that the accuser, due to childhood trauma, appeared psychologically unstable and should have been better evaluated, counselled, and prepared before this matter went to trial.)

(If you wish to learn more have a look at IOL's coverage of the trial and its aftermath or either the brief Wikipedia entry on the matter or the main Jacob Zuma entry.)

Wider-angle image of the Jacob Zuma stencil

Above: Some of the barricades surrounding the Mandela Rhodes Place development with the stencilled Jacob Zuma graffiti image.

I just thought that this particular piece of protest was highly amusing and interesting, especially since the trial concluded three months ago. (I put that down to African Time.)

*Yes, yes, I know. By writing about not writing about it I'm actually breaking the rule...

**Take that any way you like.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Pot Of Gold At The End Of The Rainbow

It's winter in Cape Town, which means erratic weather and (usually) lots of rain. Yesterday we went from slightly overcast to rain, to rain with sun, to sun, to overcast, to heavy rain, and then, finally, to more overcast in about nine hours. It makes it incredibly difficult to dress for the day because - between the TV weather broadcasts and predictions the night before, which are almost always wrong when it comes to the Cape region, and the actual weather, which reinvents itself every 30 minutes - you are usually either overdressed or underdressed when it comes to being warm and weatherproof versus freezing and damp (or one of many other unholy combinations).

(And don't get me started on the little man who controls the aircon for the entire building and who usually chooses to make it freezing when it's warm outside and freezing when it's cold outside, unless he's decided to make it rather warm when it's warm outside or - the pleasant exception to whatever rule he lives by - warm when it's cold outside.)

Yesterday, however, between bursts of weather erraticism, while the rain was on one mission and the clouds on another, we were treated to a brief display of beauty that spanned our entire view of the city: a magnificent rainbow.

Cape Town Rainbow

Cape Town Rainbow

Cape Town Rainbow

Above: The full span of yesterday's rainbow.

Cape Town Rainbow

Above: Closeup of the right-hand side of the rainbow.

I've included the closeup above for astute readers who may have noticed on the previous picture that the right-hand side of the rainbow deftly curves past the LG building and lands directly on the SARS* building. I'm not sure whether this is ominous or auspicious but, nevertheless, there you have it: irrefutable proof direct from the universe - Cape Town's equivalent of Fort Knox is most definitely somewhere in the SARS building.

*For any international readers, "SARS" stands for South African Revenue Service (the South African equivalent of the US's IRS) and not Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, although the symptoms are similar and we appreciate the irony.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Apartheid South Africa Immortalised In Cult Classic

Today I present some in-depth investigative journalism, and I'm quite excited. I was intending to post a little more about Cape Town since I've swayed away from that in recent times, but this opportunity presented itself yesterday and I just can't pass up the chance to post it here, since it's (almost) breaking news.

Last night etv broadcasted The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I had no intention of watching the movie but you know what happens - the beginning (20 minutes) is rather entertaining*...

I was arbing [*] around the house doing other things but stopped briefly to watch from the point when Brad and Janet arrive at the castle. The movie then launched into "The Time Warp" and during one almost split-second shot I noticed - to my great amazement - that what seemed to be a South Africa flag (the pre-1994 version, of course) had been placed in one of the dishes on the table holding the food that's on one side of the room.

Completely caught off guard, and with the moment gone, I had to know for certain. Out came my DVD special edition**, which I bought on one of my last few days on vacation last year in London, using "I still have some money left and I'm (once again) at HMV" money. As with many DVDs (and CDs) that I own, I hadn't even opened it yet - it was still in its shrink-wrapped plastic. I broke the seal, yanked out Disc One, stuck it in the DVD player and found the moment: 21:20 (in case you wish to check for yourself).

South African Flag

Above: The South African flag on display in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

You will notice, if you refer to this detailed document regarding the old South African flag, that it has actually been placed upside down in the pineapple. Whether or not this was by accident is beyond me (our new flag is very often flown upside down by mistake too).

South African Flag

Above: Closeup of the upside-down South African flag in a pineapple in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The funny thing is, of course, that this movie was banned in South Africa, soon after its initial theatrical release, for many years (and I think the first time it was broadcast on TV was in 1989).

*And, as it turns out, I know all the words.

**Don't be all shocked. I know you own it too, or at least the soundtrack album.

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