Tuesday, 27 November 2007

He never gets tired of that joke...

Ok, I'm back from my two week virtual vacation. My girlfriend, Kristen, came to visit from New York, and we had a great time while I was totally offline. I will discuss (with visual aids) the fun time we had at length (out of the gutter, you dirty minds!), but not in this post - here I must describe the car I just looked at.

As you may recall, my POS car was stolen almost a month ago. It continues to be stolen, and I continue to have no car (caveat: I have rented a really cheap hire car, so not to worry that I have no mode of transport). So today I went to test drive this old beamer down on campus. The car seemed pretty cool, although it's pretty old, but that pales in comparison to the dude's name:

Luke Lee Skywalker.

I shit you not. The guy even showed me his passport, which he had ready, I assume because no one ever believes him.

The force is strong with this one...

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Political virus

Now this is seriously screwed up. Thabo Mbeki, the president of SA - a country with one of the highest (if not the highest) concentration of AIDS suffers - has not, and continues not to, believe in the AIDS virus. More specifically, he does not believe that HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, and is particularly against the drugs that have been created to combat the symptoms. "...from the reading he had done ... it was unclear what the cause of the Aids epidemic was." If I were to spend a day or two reading over the evidence, I'm sure I wouldn't be 100% sure of anything either - the science is non-trivial, but that doesn't mean that it's not right! Please! As it says at the end of the article, his Minister of Health (who, by the way, has also quite recently been in a huge scandal because her drunken, thieving past) also doesn't believe in the HIV/AIDS link, and has suggested beetroot as a cure for AIDS symptoms. Seriously? The freaking Minister of Health?!? And notably, the Deputy Minister of Health was just recently fired on trumped up corruption charges, but from what I can tell, it was really because she disagreed with Mbeki's viewpoints.

Ok, this is old news - Mbeki has been known for years to hold this belief. And world outrage at it has forced him to publicly disavow such statements. But, at least according to this book by Mark Gevisser, he still privately very much thinks the same way. If it weren't so f*@&ed up, it would be funny...

And by the way, from what I understand about the main presidential challenger for the upcoming election (in December), Jacob Zuma, he is far, far worse, on many issues. I've already met at least one very proud South African dude who's said that if Zuma gets elected, he's leaving the country.

Welcome to enlightened Africa...

Monday, 5 November 2007

Full circle, or: So you thought no one wanted my car?

Well, it's finally happened - crime has struck our idyllic village of Cape Town, ZA - my beautiful, angelic car was stolen last night. I was out in Observatory (a neighborhood - quite sketchy, apparently - near UCT) having dinner with some people from the department, and welcoming our new postdoc. Actually, it was an extremely enjoyable and engaging dinner, filled with discussions of why religion should be stamped out vs. why religion is an ok thing. I wonder who brought that up...

Anyway, after dinner, we all piled out of the restaurant laughing and joking in a jovial mood, I went to open the door to my car, and low and behold, it's just empty air. No car to be seen anywhere. Shit. So we called the police, they came and took down my car details, and told me I had to take my vehicle registration papers to the cop shop (actually, they seemed shocked and annoyed that I didn't have them on me), but they said I could do it the next day. And man, I just wanted to get home and crash. Annoyed. So I get a ride back to Jeff and Amanda's place (since I'm still puppysitting) and come to the realization that I had left the keys to their house in the car. Double shit. Luckily Amanda's mom, Sheina (who was supposed to leave that day for England) was home, and she let me in and gave me a spare set of keys. Ugh. So I got in, was slobbered on by the puppy, and had a few whiskey's with Sheina before heading to bed.

Actually, at the time, I was really more amused and gratified than depressed. For those dedicated CTP followers, you'll know what a pain in my ass this car has been, and this is an opportunity to get the insurance (yes, it is insured) and start over with a new(er) car. But I woke up this morning feeling pretty shitty about the whole thing, which I guess is understandable.

The funny thing was when the cops came to take down my details. They were writing down stuff, and this car dude comes running over and tells them that the dudes who stole my car just mugged some lady down the street and was running away. He was yelling at them that they must go off and chase these dudes. The cops were just like, "yeah yeah, we need to take this guys info first," and waved him away. Five minutes later, they finished writing "white 1993 Citigolf" and slllllooooooooowwwwlllllly drove away to chase after these guys. Of course, before they left, they were threatening to throw the car dude in jail because he hadn't protected my car properly. Funnily enough, they didn't catch the dudes.


So finally, I got to go to a Halloween party! Saturday, my friend Renee tells me that a friend of a friend of a friend (etc.) is having an Elagently Dead party, and do I want to come. It was TOTALLY a kick-ass party! I dressed up as... well, basically something dead in talcum powder and eyeliner

(oh yeah, and I accidentally shaved my head - actually, prior to even knowing about the party, but it worked out quite well). Anyway, so we go to this party, where neither of us know anyone (and the one person she did know left quite quickly). However, everyone was super friendly, and most people were dressed up really well - including Louis IV and Marie Antoinette, vampire chick, Julius Cesar (with a band-aid on his back), Gomez and Morticia Addam, and Death.

And let me tell you, Death was by FAR the hit of the party. Because he came in completely covered, and no one knew who he was (there was a lot of, "hey, do you know who's friend he is?"). And he was dead silent (ha ha) the whole time. People would try to talk to him, or mess with his scythe (which was NOT made of plastic) and he would just stare at you from behind his masked hood. Every once in a while, he would glide away without saying anything. People totally started to get creeped out, which eventually led to a cornucopia of screaming (mostly from vampire chick) and general freaking out. Seriously, this dude didn't say anything or drink anything (much more difficult) for HOURS. At one point, he completely disappeared for ages, and everyone was totally flipping out about where he'd gone. Then one girl went looking for him in someone's bedroom closet, ripping it open to see (he wasn't there) and then turned to come back and looked behind the door she'd just gone through, and screamed her head off (he WAS there). It was awesome.

In the end, it turned out that Death was someone that the apartment dwellers vaguely knew, and they'd hired him to come to the party and freak people out. It was absolutely brilliant.

Back to school...

... to prove to Mishka that I'm no fool...

So I started puppysitting this weekend for Jeff, since he is out of town for about a week and a half. I gotta tell you, it's not easy... puppies are a lot of work and energy. And they do not like to do what you tell them. So I took her to puppy class. Which was quite fun, and Jan - the trainer - is totally a doggy genius.

However, while I had been so proud of myself for remembering all the tools of the doggy training trade, the one thing I DID forget was the leash. And that's essential, especially with all those other dogs around that get her so excited that she's constantly trying to play. So what to do, I asked myself. Jan had no extra leash, so I could either go home... or use my belt! Genius! And it worked quite well as a leash, too. Where it failed was continuing to work as a belt, and as my jeans were a size too big or so, they were having a hell of a time staying on my ass. Which turned out to be quite amusing for most of the class, and only slightly embarrassing for me. There did happen to be a super hot chick there with a rottweiler who was surely chuckling at my expense (the hotchick, not the rottweiler - I don't think he gave a damn), but it was all in good fun. I don't think I'll forget the leash next time, though...

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Screw you, creationist

I just have to include this brilliant quote of Dawkins mocking the attitude of "Intelligent Design" proponents: "Dear Scientist, don't work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries, for we can use them. Don't squander precious ignorance by researching it away."

So freaking true.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Ding-dong, trick-or-treat!

Last night, I went with Jeff to take Amanda's niece and nephew (Kayla and Jaimie) trick-or-treating. Let me tell you - they are something else, those kids. Kayla was a witch (but, as Jeff said, what did was she dressed as for Halloween?) and Jaimie was a skeleton. Let me first just say that they are adorable kids. And as a skeleton, Jaime was running around with all sorts of toys that had nothing to do with skeletons (fake saw, hammer, and drill). Adorable.

Anyway, they were probably the WORST trick-or-treaters I've ever seen. We rushed by house after house, not stopping at any of them, even the ones that had Halloween balloons out, so you knew they were open for business. Jeff and I kept trying to get the kids to stop and ring some doorbells, but Kayla HAD to get to her friend's house for trick-or-treating, which was like 6 blocks away, straight up the mountain. On the way, we finally stop at one house where they were outside handing out candy, they grabbed a piece of candy and continued walking. "So how much further is your friend's house, Kayla?" "That was it." So all that rushing about, ignoring the bountiful houses along the way, and she didn't even say a word, or spend more than a minute at the house. Weird! [We found out later, when we got the kids back home, that this "friend" of Kayla's one someone she'd had a HUGE blowout fight with the day before. So it seems like this was more of a military reconnaissance mission than visiting a friend.]

By far the most amusing part of the night was when we stopped at one house from which some other trick-or-treaters were emerging. As we pitch up to the doorway, out pops the mom and dad, along with two kids who are absolutely BUTT naked. And we're not talking 1 year olds here - the boy had to be at least 7 or so - old enough to have some shame, for goodness sake! Anyway, this kid was even the one holding the bowl of candy, with his ding-dong dangling right over the prizes! Kayla and Jaime had to reach into the bowl and actually avoid this kids weiner! It was the oddest thing. Especially with the kid's dad standing right there making comments like, "Make sure you don't whizz in the candy bowl!" and "Hey kids, why don't you grab that nice pink lollipop." Bizzaro.

Anyway, we were wandering around the neighborhood for close to an hour, and the kids got a woefully small amount of loot. They really didn't even seem particularly excited about getting candy, or being dressed up, or interacting with other Halloweeners. I swear, when I was a kid, Halloween was probably my favorite holiday. My impression is that it's not really that huge a tradition here - Jeff said he never did it when he was growing up (they just a braai instead). Too bad, then - what a waste of a good opportunity for candy-greediness!