Scott Hanselman

Healing...emotionally and physically

May 1, '04 Comments [1] Posted in Musings
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Everyone knows that men want to 'fix' stuff while women need to talk about it.  When bad things happen, death and the like, often women converge on the house to console while men tend to go 'into their cave.'  That cave might be a BBQ, the garage, or a computer.

So, during this difficult time, I felt the need to fix.  It's how I cope.  While we were in Zim burying Mo's father, a series of documents and photographs appeared from various relatives.  These photos were pretty messed up.  A few were in pieces, yellowed, dry and cracked.  I've been jetlagged with the darned east-to-west lag that makes you get up at 4am still tired, so I scanned and started working.

Here's the results.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The 2004 Africa Trip in Pictures

April 30, '04 Comments [6] Posted in NDC | Africa
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I'm up...actually I was up at 5am.  Can't sleep, so why not post some pictures now that we're home and I've got 3Mbps of bandwidth. :)  We went to a mall called Cresta in South Africa to find an internet cafe.  It appeared that 14 machines in this particular cafe were sharing one 128kbps ISDN line.  Ouch.  Needless to say, Oddpost was unusable, so posting to the blog was unlikely to happen.  Additionally, I didn't have any GPRS support for my Blackberry. :(  So much for the world phone.  It worked in Spain and South Africa (GSM) but was useless in Morocco and Zimbabwe.

I know posting personal pics of trips and such is gratuitous, but it's my family, eh? :) Either way, I hope you find it all interesting.


We stayed with my brother-in-law Vusi at a 'Cluster Home' in Johannesburg.  The most striking thing to me about South Africa is the pervasive and in-your-face security.  EVERYONE has a fence.  And not a white-picket fence, but a concertina razor wire electrified fence.  Security is a HUGE industry.  Automatic doors, alarms, motion detectors.  One of the most interesting and obvious things is that every parking lot has a number of guards.  We went to Makro (Costco) and there were over two dozen security guards watching the cars.  They also help you back out of your spot and you tip them 2 Rand.  The mall itself also has at least a dozen guards.  This is odd since I have only ever seen ONE guard at a mall in the states, and he was guarding Santa.

This is a typical breakfast for the family.  That's beans, eggs and liver.  The Diet Coke (Coke Light) is mine. :)

This is Mañana (tommorow).  Mo and I had the pleasure of naming her.  However, everyone calls her uFatty - she's 18 months old.

This is Mo's Mom when we all took the family out to the Market Theater for dinner.  She works very hard and she deserves everything.  She's raised seven kids and raised them well.

This is a wholesale meat market where we picked up a few hundred Rands worth of Lamb and Beef.  You have to buy in bulk or you'd go broke.  They cut the meat in front of you.  Not sure if it'd pass U.S. Health Standards, but then again, does it matter?

I discovered this picture when I was uploading the photos.  Apparently younger brother Bongani got ahold of the camera and wanted to take a look at himself.  This photo just makes me laugh, as Bongani doesn't typically smile.  Looks like he's a closet goofball. :)

Not only is there a 'Portland Store' which is hilarious to me, there's also an 'Oregon Market.'  Madness! 

After we left South Africa in a rush we went to Lower Gweru.  Here is the beginning of uNki's grave.

Hundreds of people came from all over to see him honored.  Many spoke and addressed the crowd.  It was a full day's event.  Many of the women sang in a choir for the entire day.

In Bulawayo, there's a rural school that Mo's Mom has taught at for the last 20 years.  Mollar has worked her company to help support the school remotely.  Through their donations and hard work, they've build toilets, a school office and new classrooms.  The next step is getting electricity and running water to the school.

Here's a few happy ones to end on.

As we look towards tomorrow...

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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And miles to go before I sleep...

April 30, '04 Comments [3] Posted in NDC | Africa
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There is a strange, almost meditative (zen-like?) state that can only be reached by the unique combination of extreme travel, extreme jetlag, and extreme emotional distress. 

I'm on a flight from Chicago to Portland with my wife.  We have been the road for the better part of the last month.  First, the NDC in Morocco, then a few weeks in South Africa. 

However, the vacation took a turn.  We received a 3am call that Mollar's dad had another stroke (he had one 8 months ago) in Lower Gweru, Zimbabwe.  We struggled with flights, rentals, borrowed cars, car repairs, and packing.  We set off but he died suddenly, exactly one day before we arrived.  He was 59, and is survived by 9 children.  We arrived in Bulawayo and immediately got off the plane and started driving in brother Vusimuzi's Mazda 323 the three hours from !Bulawayo to Gweru (he drove up twelve hours from Joburg, while we used air tickets for Bulawayo).  We worked all day and all night to find a coffin and prepare the body.  We looked at every coffin in that tiny town and ended up having one driven in late at night from another town for about 2 million (!) Zim Dollars.  I carried the Z$2M in a series of hidden pouches filled with 10- and 20-thousand dollar bearer cheques; the largest denomination bill is only Z$1000.  The rate money is exchanged on the “parallel” market is now 1:5200.  It was 1:305 when we were in Zim two years ago.  They have the highest inflation in the world at about 600% per year.  We secured the coffin at about 8pm and continued driving east four more hours to Harare to get older sister Felicia, whow flew in from Arusha via Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi.  Then we slept from midnight to 4am at a friend's in the high density cluster homes of Harare's suburbs and set off before dawn to drive back to Gweru for the 10am funeral in the bush, on Mo's father's “homestead” in Lower Gweru.  Lower Gweru is about 100km outside the small town of Gweru, which itself is between Bulawayo and Harare (which is kind of the “Aberdeen, Washington” that splits Portland and Seattle” if you get my drift).  We drive on tar for a while then it's all dirt, then potholes and rocks.  The rocks shred the cars exhaust and underbody and we'll deal with that later.

We get out to “ekaya” - home - and see th small hut that he lived in.  He raised cows, had a Maize field until his stroke.  There's no power, water, or cell phone coverage.  (There's also not a white guy for a few hundred miles, save me.)  But, my little bit of Ndebele and Mollar's family's kindness put me at ease.  I'm “mkwenyanna” - the son-in-law - and I'm interloping here.  There is a heated debate with the family and the “headman” and “chief” about where to bury the body.  It's entirely in Ndebele and I get every 3rd or 4th word, so I hear “blah blah we will go blah blah white man blah blah then we eat.”

This lasts about 4 hours before a decision is made.  People from all over the countryside have gathered, as he was a very kind and well-loved man.  The headman's count was 753 people.  Then we buried him.

We drove 4 hours back to Bulawayo, which was hosting the Zimababwe International Trade Fair, and as we arrived at the airport we heard drumming and singing as a throng (literally a throng) of people tried to push through that airport's single metal detector.  Turns out President Rober Mugabe (number 4 on Time Magazine's dictactor list after Quadafi, Saddam and the president of Equatorial Guinea.  Why we invaded Iraq but allow Fidel, Bob, Momar and these other guy's is beyond me) was arriving.  We jetted away literally as Bob's (Mugabe) private plane was being escorted in by a miltary escort. 

After the drive, we flew 2 hours to Joburg - 4 hour layover - then 11 hours to Madrid - 5 hour layover - then 10.5 hours to Chicago - 2 hour layover and 2 hours in immigration anbd customs - and now a final 4 hour Chicago to Portland flight that is one hour late, before we drive the final hour to home in NW Portland.

I'm so tired I'm on autopilot.  I'm literally subsisting on pure momentum (and presumably stored glucagon).  I'm healthy though; lost about 10-15 pounds eating and living as one does when one's income (avg. per capita) is US$100-US$300 a month. 
Americans have no idea how “good” they have it.  We paid about US$5 a gallon for gas while we were there - remeber the per capita...that's not exageration.  Walking, car sharing, emergency taxis (VW buses filled with 15+ people) are the mode of transport.  Queuing for petrol for hours.

I'll post pics of the trip as well as some interesting linguistic observations on the differences between isiZulu and isiNdebele, as well as our experiences as an interracial couple in South Africa on the 10 year anniversarry of their free elections. 

Then we'll return this blog to its regularly scheduled programming.

...and miles to go before I sleep. 
--------------------------
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Now...South Africa

April 18, '04 Comments [3] Posted in NDC | Africa
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We're here Jo-burg, South Africa.  Mo's mom Khanye and sister Zandile have taken the bus down from Zimbabwe to hang out with us.  The house is PACKED.  We've also got brothers Vusi, Bongani, and Senlot, not to mention Vusi's fiancee Philele.  Also present is the cutest baby ever, Manana.

Here's Philele, Manana, and Vusi.  Mo is in the kitchen in the back, doing the dishes.  It's traditional for guests to help out.

The connection at this cafe is ridiculously slow, so I'll have to write and upload later.

Here's Za at the Airport as we're walking to the car.

Manana is alergic to something in the garden, so she's smeared with lotion. :)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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More Magic in Morocco at the NDC

April 14, '04 Comments [3] Posted in Corillian | NDC | ASP.NET | DasBlog | Internationalization | Speaking | Africa
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The conference's second, day was today, with my session présentée en anglais, avec traduction simultanée by U.N. Certified Translators.  My translators were very nice and very good.  I met with them beforehand and we discussed a glossary of terms, agreed on a few things, then began.  I really recommend meeting your translator if you ever find yourself in a real-time situation.  They are truly your voice, and they speak for you.  Why not meet your voice and see what they have to say? :)

After my talk on Internationalization (i18n) in ASP.NET, Mo and I hung out with our wonderful new friend Rachid from Algeria.  Rachid Berkani Ingénieur développement à Cogitar en Algérie, Depuis plus de 10 ans comme développeur et chef de projet dans le développement et intégration d’applications and is a very kind person as well!  We had a very long walk and talk, and visited the Hassan II Mosque again (we drove by before) and walked around it.  It was afternoon prayer, and as non-Muslims we stayed out of the way.  Visiting hours are in the morning.

You literally have to see it to believe it.  It's immense, and it's half built on the sea, and half on land.

The Mosque juts out of the port and is largely over the water.

There is no picture I could show you that would accurately express the scope of this.

There is a man to the left of this side - that might help give a sense of scale.  This is one of the small fountains to the left of the Mosque.

Here is the pool where we had lunch, outside the Hyatt's conference center.  The conference center, and the entire conference is pure class.  Lunch, while crowed, was very good.

Here is Ingo, Clemens and myself.  Sadly while I share German/Austrian ancestry with these gentlemen, I did not inherit this thing called "cool."

The conference rooms are nice; here's the Moroccan Minister of Education speaking to the group.

We were also blessed enough to go to dinner at Malek's Parents' house.  If you can call it a house; it's beautifully decorated palace.  The food topped Chez Ali - it was plentiful and wonderful and truly authentic.  His parents were very gracious hosts and incredibly thoughtful.

Here's Pat and Clemens, Stephen Forte, Ingo Rammer, Malek, and Yann Faure.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.