Archive for April, 2007

It is well Wörth it: pig guts and sauerkraut

April 30, 2007

So how about this for a whacky coincidence, although I am not sure that is the correct word, but I´ll leave you to decide?

The project I am on here in Stuttgart is at the worldwide headquarters of a well-known vehicle manufacturer. I am specifically looking at the trucking division. After a week of analysis with no truck in sight, I went to visit our friends Henk and Ariane. Now I met Henk 12 years ago at an academic conference in Cape Town, and I remember him telling me about growing up in a small town, and also how he worked in the factory nearby after finishing high school. So imagine my surprise when we visit his small town and the trucks are made there, in Wörth!

This is something to contemplate, jah?

I drank a lot of beer, which is very gut here in Germany, jah. And on Sunday we went for lunch at the German wine route, where I ate pig gut and liver with wurst und kartoffel und sauerkraut. Incidentally, I found out that is where the term Kraut emanates from. We drove into France: no one is there to check passports anymore. The little towns in Alsace were very quiet.

For the last word (actually the last thousand words), here are Ariana and Audrey:

audrey_und_ariana.jpg

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There must be a Rod

April 27, 2007

because here I am, in Stuttgart.

Two miracles in two days; First Miracle was getting my passport on Thursday of last week. This after it being ready on Tuesday, but then me not being smart and fast enough to stop my contact from taking it to the Post Office for delivery. I thought I was a goner. But luckily there was no need for a miracle at this stage, because it somehow landed up with SkyNet, the courier company that is less than a kilometre from my house. The Second Miracle was getting a visa by Friday of last week. The German embassy staff member was a bit shocked, but I explained it all away by saying that Home Affairs had only delivered that day. That seems to settle all arguments.

I am quite chuffed with my getting-things-done-ability. The first day at work here was also most productive, as I was able to solve the conceptual problem quite quickly, and one of the team members was able to produce a provisional solution by the end of the day. But that, as they say, is none of your business, Dear Reader.

My Passport is ready!

April 17, 2007

Can you believe it??????
Believe it because it’s true!!!!!

From Monday, 2 April to Tuesday 17 April, a period that included 2 public holidays, thereby leaving only 10 working days, my application was dispatched (eventually) from Bellville, after waiting at Wynberg for 7 of those days, onwards to Pretoria, where fingerprints were verified, and the document printed. In the parlance of the department, I moved from a 5 to a 7 to a 12.

My contact deserves a medal. I want to send her something like a gift voucher, but I am unsure of the protocol regarding gifts. Would it be deemed an act of corruption? I think I will send flowers. Big, beautiful flowers.

Let’s not jump the gun on Virginia Tech

April 17, 2007

I bought The Beatles’ White Album recently. One of my favourite songs is “Dear Prudence”. Makes me wish I had a girlfriend of that name:)

They also sing “Happiness is a warm gun.” Whatever were they thinking?
Maybe the thoughts of the madmen who take to killing innocent civilians, like at the college campus in the US. The lyrics include the verse: “Mother Superior jumped the gun…”

Another piece of music came to mind when I read the report in the Mail&Guardian cataloguing the major shootings in the US:

“January 1979: In San Diego, California Brenda Spencer (17) killed two adults and injured eight children, famously saying she did it because “I don’t like Mondays.”

That is the inspiration for the song by the group led by Bob Geldof, ain’t it?

In the same report, the gun lobbyists said:

Advocates of gun ownership rights saw Monday’s massacre as evidence of the need to relax gun laws rather than tighten them.

“All the school shootings that have ended abruptly in the last 10 years were stopped because a law-abiding citizen — a potential victim — had a gun,” said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.

“The latest school shooting at Virginia Tech demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone law which leaves the nation’s schools at the mercy of madmen.”

I could be persuaded by this. But then I think of that great argument (was it by Socrates:)? which asks,
“What came first, the chicken or the egg?”

If there were no guns available, then crazy gunmen would not get access to them, right?
But that is naive, I suppose. Yet it is where the argument must start, right?

The other extreme of everyone carrying a gun, like we all carry cellphones, (Maybe Nokia should start partnering with Smith& Wesson.) does not prevent shootings. In that case, the gunman would be stopped sooner. So they get to kill 4 people before they are shot. But wouldn’t they just get smarter about how they go about killing people? Instead of just walking into a room shooting, they plant a bomb.

Either way, I don’t think there is a way to stop crazy people from killing.

My Pretoria contact has to catch the bus – 16h02

April 12, 2007

And there I ws thinking she was high-up:)

But nevermind, she is a star for me. She kicked Wynberg’s ass, and they have sent it to the Bellville office. She promised me earlier that it will be no problem for her to have the application completed in a few days. I told her I was leaving next Thursday. She did not even blink. (Oooh! makes me want to have her babies:)

Now I can close the window, at least for today.

The system is back online – 14h34

April 12, 2007

Glory be! I can take one step back from the ledge…

But wait! They can’t see if my details have been properly captured.

Capturing machine is not online – 11h45.

April 12, 2007

Just counting down the stages to my leap from the third floor…

Affairs of the Home

April 12, 2007

All of a sudden I get this interest from a client in Germany. Goodness knows why they need this African from down at the bottom of the continent. NOW! As someone so supportively suggested, why didn’t they just get a Czech?

The brief is so brief, I am still wondering what it is that I am going to do. Assuming, of course, that I get there.  They are expecting me there on Monday, 16 April. The business cards have been printed, they have my cellphone & car ready…Scary, isn’t it? Or dare I say ‘Scary, aren’t they’? I don’t have the heart to tell them that I am waiting in hope for some word from Home Affairs about my passport application.

Is there a better way to torture a person? Maybe we should ship the Guantenamo Bay inmates here.

I called the office where I made the application. Promises were made by Mrs. M. on Tuesday to capture the documents, and then to send on to Pretoria. I phoned back on Wednesday morning, afternoon about twenty times, only to get through and be told that Mrs. M. was not in the office and had been called to another branch. It was suggested that I call back first thing this morning to catch her in case she had to do the same thing. Guess what? She is not there today because she is off sick!

Man, oh man, I was going to write a letter to the newspapers expressing my great satisfaction with the department’s handling of the situation. Unfortunately, the pen is out of ink on that one.

I must be mad, expecting a bureaucracy to suddenly come to life, especially over the Easter period. But hey! isn’t this the time for resurrection?

Sugar Mountain High XIII

April 10, 2007

It was not a bright summer’s day when Elmo had his head chopped off in a ceremony off-limits to all but a few. But I believe he died that day I found him. He was no longer conscious, and did not regain his senses ever again. It was an overdose of The Rush: that’s how we would describe it in modern terms.

The only outward sign that he was still alive was the trail of saliva running from his mouth. So he was fated to meet the end that he had designed for his tormentor and victim, Willie. They say that life moves in circles, which is not to be confused with the Circle of Life. But the circles are rather odd, don’t you think? Perhaps they are not circles after all, but epicycles, those figures which seemed to the ancient Greeks to explain the motions in the heavens.

I don’t know that I believe in Heaven. There is only the now. There is not even a past life, let alone an infinite future one.

I learned to manage The Rush, and now that it is so easily available commercially, if only because I have left the shelter of my childhood, I see many who have not. They have become bloated and prone to disease because of it’s misuse; their indulgence of it. I have seen what it can do, what it did to me, to Elmo. I lost my love, did I tell you? And Elmo lost his life. Is that not enough to make them stop? How many more lives will be lost, bodies wasted before we all say no to The Rush?

The Rush of Sugar…