Scott Hanselman

South Africa 2008 - African Math and Just Now

December 24, '08 Comments [42] Posted in Africa
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I've decided the one thing I just will never get used to is the (relative) inaccuracy used in numbers around here. This is likely because I'm an American, but more likely that I'm a programmer. Could be a little of both.

There's the lateness thing, first. The level of relaxation, nay, apathy, around being somewhere on time is driving me batsh*t crazy. Seriously. If someone says to be out the door at 10am, and 2:30pm finds you getting into your car, you've got a problem. How hard is it to stand up, pick up your keys, get in your car and drive away.

I can get up from a dead sleep, shower and be in the car in 15 minutes. I'm lucky if this house is out the door by 1 or 2 in the afternoon. I was up at 8am this morning. These people didn't get in the car until 3:15pm to do the day's errands. Really.

At first I thought it was just basic lateness as many folks around here talk about African Time. Actually, most non-Western, even non-American groups, I have found to be really chill about time. But around here, it's out of control.

And not just time. All numbers. Here's some actual examples just from today.

How far is it?

Maybe 15 minutes. Like 7k.

Actual Time/Distance: 65 minutes and 50k.

How long will it take?

Really, 2 hours tops.

Actual Time: 4.5 hours.

When will he be waiting?

11 sharp.

Actual Time: 1:30pm

How many people are coming?

Like, maybe 20.

Actual Count: 55 and uncounted children.

How much petrol (gas) do we have?

We're totally cool. Piles. Really.

Actual Gas: Turns out "E" doesn't mean enough.

When do they close?

They're always open. Maybe they close at 8 or 9. It varies, they are flexible.

Actual Closing Time: 6pm sharp. Doors close, and metal walls slam shut hiding the building.

It's so bad it's comical. I can't write this stuff. It'll be a sweet wondrous miracle if we don't miss our plane home. The scary part is that I had to lie and say it's an hour earlier than it is, and that still might not be enough. I may need to say it's another day.

(Yes, I realize I'm in another country, Yes, I realize I'm time obsessed, Yes, I know I need to be tolerate, yada yada yada. Still, I reserve the right to ridicule the culture I've married into and I reserve the right to tell my wife things like "and this is why your continent is screwed up." It's all in good fun, so poop on you. ;P )

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 - 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:

CIMG8576 CIMG8543 CIMG8566

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.

CIMG8491 CIMG8478 

CIMG8482 CIMG8488

 

CIMG8480

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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As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

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