Scott Hanselman

South Africa 2008 - Christmas Eve Eve Lightning Storm

December 23, '08 Comments [13] Posted in Africa
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In Oregon where I am from, the weather tends to be very mild. It's basically meh and 60F/15C most of the year. It's NOT a place of extreme anything. Except maybe hayfever/allergies.

Down here in Africa, it's extreme. It's as if God himself is showing off. It was very hot today, but tonight it's rained and thundered and lightening like someone was pissed. Here's a few shots with a super slow super cheap Casio Exilim Z750 out the window:

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I took 150 shots of blackness, one after the other, before I got these. I still don't feel like I nailed it, but the first one is pretty sweet.

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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South Africa 2008 - Johannesburg Zoo

December 23, '08 Comments [8] Posted in Africa
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We drove to the Joburg Zoo today. I had VERY low expectations for a couple of reasons, most of which were not rational in retrospect. My mom was a zookeeper at the Washington Park Zoo for years, working with elephants and birds of prey. We are members to the zoo and we go all the time. We also visit zoos when we go to other cities.

We've also been to Chipangali in Zimbabwe and it was really run down. One of the mistakes I've made on this trip is assuming that things in Zim relate in any way to things in South Africa. Zim as I know it is gone, and South Africa is more developed every time I visit. I won't underestimate this country again.

This is a REALLY cool zoo. I'd say even the best zoo I've ever visited, including the San Diego zoo. It's massive beyond reason for a city zoo. You can even rent a little cart and drive around as walking will take all day. We spent 5 hours there and didn't scratch the surface. The size of the fences are really small, which is a treat as you can get REALLY close to the animals. We were all of ten feet from a giraffe.

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I'd really recommend you not miss it if you are in Joburg.

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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Hanselminutes Podcast 143 - Week Two in South Africa - Victor

December 23, '08 Comments [1] Posted in Africa | Podcast
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My one-hundred-and-forty-third podcast is up. Scott's on holiday in South Africa with his family this month. Rather than doing repeats or "best of" shows, Scott's doing man-on-the-street interviews and uploading them over cell phone. In this episode, Scott talks to Victor, a lawyer and lecturer at the University of Lesotho with a specialization in Women's legal issues.

NOTE: I had a heck of a time uploading this episode over the 3G cell phone so that it why it's late, but it was still recorded earlier this month, hence "week two."

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Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

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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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South Africa 2008 - Relative Fakery

December 22, '08 Comments [14] Posted in Africa
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I wasn't going to write about this but my brother-in-law suggested it. This is likely less about Africa and more about life. I have a fatal flaw, my wife says, and that is that I am the same person everywhere. South Africa or Malaysia or Europe, I'm the same dude. Different language or accent, but the same general idiocy reigns.

My wife, on the other hand, has good sense and, what's it called, social abilities? I assume everyone is my friend and shake hands and kiss babies all day. Ignorance is bliss, it seems.

On the trip there's an endless supply of not just cousins, but third cousins, and "are you my cousins" and even a few "who are you exactly?" I love a parade. However, I also smile and wave like it's a parade. I assume since they all came over to see us that they are genuinely interested in how we are. I also tend to assume that they are also happy, healthy and content people like us.

Turns out that all relatives are not created equal. Wish I'd gotten the memo. There is apparently theses things called envy and posturing I am not familiar with. Some couples come in two cars, for example. I, of course, notice this, but meh, right? They probably came from work. Oh no, we are meant to see that they have two cars.

Watches are dusted off and worn, diamond rings are polished, shirts are ironed. They've come to see mkhwenyana, the white American son-in-law and their long lost sister/cousin/auntie who is, it seams, a hybrid freakish part-African, part-American.

Again, I can't stress my level of cluelessness. There's apathy, and then there's profound ignorance. I have the ignorance level of a 2-dimensional being on a plane in 3-D space. I am not just missing dimensions, but I'm having trouble conceiving of them.

Why haven't you called? Why don't you write or email? What a bad son in law you are!

Um, because we've only just met?

What is America like?

Pretty much like this, except you're not basting and there's fewer electric razor fences.

No, really, I hear America is the land of opportunity.

I think the world is the land of opportunity, myself. You guys have the same stuff we do. Honest.

Listen to mkwenyanna! He says South Africa has the same stuff the states does. Nonsense. Let me see your digital camera. Is that an iPhone?

My wife is able to navigate this conversational minefield while not only staying classy, but also acting as a balm on decade-old sore egos. She also reminds people that it is possible to be from America and still be broke. And we are. We DID fly here, you know?

Turns out "our presence is your gift" doesn't translate well into my broken-Zulu. ;P

I'll remember that next time. Going on 10 years of marriage, and I'll figure all this out if it kills me.

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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South Africa 2008 - Being Away from Home for a Long Time

December 22, '08 Comments [7] Posted in Africa
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CIMG8307 Here in Joburg it is the holiday season and it is body temperature outside. By that I mean it's 37C/98.6F. That's insane. And it's wet sticky can't sleep no AC and there's bugs hot, not just regular hot. I recommend everyone experience it.

Back home in Oregon, there is two FEET of snow in my front year and it's a balmy -5C/23F, just like I like it. Shorts weather, you know. ;) Apparently the PDX airport is utter chaos, totally frozen. The flight we are taking from Amsterdam has been cancelled or rerouted for days. Should be worked out by the time we get back and we'll literally miss all the excitement as if it didn't happen.

However, we've been away so long (almost a month) that I am starting to forget stuff about home. Sounds silly, but it's true. I hate the heat, but I am getting used to it. I'm drinking water from the tap. I'm driving around Joburg at 1am on the left side of the road and not finding it odd. I bought 20R worth of coat hangers while waiting at a red robot and didn't giggle when folks rolled their R's while saying red robot. I'm asking for brown bread rather than wheat, and amanzi still, rather than bottled water. We're eating sadza or pap and not complaining.

It's nice to visit somewhere for a week or five days, but let me tell you as someone who's done it many times, somewhere around a month your brain starts to say "Hm, maybe this guy isn't going home. Maybe he is home."

You start to figure out where to buy bread and milk, you get connected, you fill up your tank, you learn the footpath shortcuts, you walk home from the mall in the dark. You're not a native by any stretch, but you've found direction and momentum.

You start to figure, "ok, I guess folks CAN live like this."

Now, to be clear, this is the same when going from Oregon to South Africa as it is going from Oregon to, say, California, or from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Moving is moving and everyone has a tushy, as I tell my son. Folks aren't THAT different. This experience is the very essence of travel.

It's an important reminder to be and my family that, (from an American point of view) that there are people in the world that will never come to the US, don't want to come to the US, don't live like folks in the US and aren't interested in the US. Everyone has a different way of doing things and if it works for them, good for them. Seems obvious, but it is surprisingly un-obvious for folks. (This of course, also works if you replace American/US with your country. ;) ) Get your kids out of town, in a tent, at a boma, on a camel and eating tripe. Have them walk 3km barefoot at noon without complaint. Put them in a situation where they are the only white/black/brown/yellow person in a room of folks that aren't. Now, do that for more than a month if you can. South Africa is a nice place to start and I recommend you travel here and check it out. We have a blast every time we go. I wouldn't be out of passport pages if it wasn't true. I am just bummed with didn't make it to Lesotho this time.

Anyway, just as I get start getting used to things, it's time to go. Just another week or so and we'll be packing up.

I want to say Thanks Again to Mario and Tina for loaning me this modem and showing me how to buy minutes/megabytes.

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.