Wild animals are wild

Over the past two weeks a number of wild animals have made South Africans a little nervous.

There is a baboon loose in the South of Johannesburg. He’s been running around for about two weeks and he is skilfully avoiding capture. Each time animal control gets to the last place the creature was seen, they can’t find him.

This guy could so easily be mistaken for a local. (Photo from davidboni on Flickr)

And the latest news I saw this morning suggests you avoid eye contact with a baboon and apparently their teeth are longer than those of a lion.

So that is pretty scary.

And two weeks ago a pair of hyenas got loose in Kwazulu Natal. Hyenas are nothing more than oversized, scavenging, smelly dogs with powerful jaws to eat rotting carcasses. And they are funny looking.

Do now be fooled by the slanting back, these things can outrun lions in a pinch. Ironically, they do not hunt. (Photo from cowboys006 in Flickr)

This frightened a lot of people. And I can understand why, because hyenas are huge and eat pretty much anything. A bit like baboons.

So who can blame these wild animals from wanting to feast on the vast amount of food South Africans throw away.

They haven’t caught the baboon and it is considered dangerous. And the hyenas have since vanished – they probably lost interest in processed food and veggie off cuts.

Imagine a world where this kind of signage replaces street pole ads (Picture from ellengartland on Flickr)

But what really excited me about all this is that in about six to eight years there will be wonderful urban legends about a wild child that was found on the outskirts of some town, naked, filthy and unable to speak – raised by wild animals.

Wild animals are wild

Learning about animals

Youtube is a great source of educational videos. When you sift through all the stupid cat videos and the clips of teenage boys getting knocked in the balls, you can learn stuff.

Today, I found out that Honey Badgers just don’t give a shit. And I learnt that they are super tough and we should consider using them as tyres (if anything can survive a pothole, it’s the honey badger). Watch this video to find out more about this wonderful creature:

After that I took a easily linked trip to Tasmania to learn about Satan’s Best Friend the Tasmanian Devils. They are super tough on the inside and all I really learnt is that they are disgusting and eat anything.

But I do have a little crush developing on the Randall narrator. I think he’s funny. And that, besides him being tall, is the main reason why I have the hots for Jeremy Clarkson.

Learning about animals

To go or not to go? My High School Reunion (10 Years Later)

So it turns out I have been out of high school for about a decade now. That means, in 2012 the popular kids will be trying to get us all together for a reunion. I am very undecided about attending this event – leaning more towards “Pass, thank you very much”. I am still friends with the people I like and I don’t particularly care much about the rest. There is a reason why I have never spoken to them, and I really doubt I’ll be starting at the reunion.

I can see it now, 104 class of 2002 adults, standing around awkwardly and talking about the good old days that were actually awful. I hated high school. Worst time of my life, without a doubt. I spent my last year drinking and smoking pot just to make time pass and I could go to university. Just thinking about it makes me angry and frustrated.

Photo from jdmac020 on Flickr

But thanks to Facebook there is now a group and everyone has been added to it. I couldn’t help myself by go through the list and see what I have missed and this is what I picked up from the profile pictures (I don’t need to mention names).

Some there is a guy that likes fishing. At least, I’m guessing he does. His profile picture is of him in a bad hat, with a rather average looking fish. His girlfriend is sitting in the background. I guess he has money now.

There is also a girl that is on her (at least) second marriage. At least I am assuming that the guy that I do not know with her and the baby between them is her husband. She used to preach abstinence. But maybe she hired the baby and a guy just for this year so that she can fit in? She should have thought about changing her surname, because now she just looks a little slutty.

There are lots and lots of babies.

A couple of guys have turned into super cars.

A lot of people are married and a lot of people still drink a lot.

One of my favourite pictures is of a guy that took his own profile picture. And you can see his arm – so it looks like one of those slutty teenage pictures kids these days take to try and look sex. Instead they just look like they have big and ugly heads. Including this guy.

And there are a LOT of people that I didn’t even know I went to school with.

Looks like it’s going to be a GREAT party.

While the two minutes I spent looking over everyone was vaguely entertaining, I just feel painfully bored. And it’s pretty much exactly the same way I felt back at high school and it’s the feeling that went away when I got out of that town.

And no, I am not stupid, I know that I am Facebook friends with the primary person responsible for planning the reunion. And I will post this to my profile, fully aware that anyone can now read it. And I don’t really care much if I lose my invite.

Middle Finger
Photo from Yasmeeeeeeen on Flickr

I only want to go so that I can blog about it.

To go or not to go? My High School Reunion (10 Years Later)

A Weekend in ‘The States’

The Free State is a very special place. It’s always pretty and the air is fresh. Just because I don’t live there anymore doesn’t mean I don’t still think of it as home. And things happen there that just aren’t possible anywhere else. And a lot of unusual things can happen in just a few days.

For example, I went to the bank. This could happen anywhere in the world. But only in a small Free State town do they let you take out your phone and use it. While waiting in line, I checked and responded to my e-mails, then I logged on to Facebook and spent about five minutes doing pointless social networking and no one stopped me. In fact, most people were doing the same thing to pass time. Some guy even called two of his friends to arrange a braai for that evening.

This is why they should provide reading material in banks. Braai could be code for “there’s an old lady with 10k leaving now, mug her” or “the security guard is outside smoking, bring in the guns”. But besides the obvious security risks, waiting in line is boring. So to all bank managers out there – buy some magazines. To the bank managers in the Free State, there are magazines besides Farmers Weekly and the Afrikaans version.

And just like that, the world will be a happier place. Women can learn how to cook awesome meals and men can learn sex tips. Or women can read about the specs on a VW Golf and men can catch up on the latest fashion. The point is, banking could also become a learning experience and men and women would have more to talk about and more to do. Aggression and frustration levels will go down because we’ll all agitate less waiting to make a deposit. Once this catches on, we’ll talk about seating. Seriously, I already have a flawless system in place.

Also, in Bethlehem, they still have parking meters and I always forget to drop a coin in. I was sitting in my car, writing out a shopping list, when a traffic official walked by. He stopped at my meter and looked at the flashing screen. He then looked up and saw me sitting in my car, gave me a smile and waved. He then continued on his leisurely stroll, looking a meters and not writing out tickets. I drove past him again later in the morning, he was still just being a nice guy and I got another wave.

Of course, not all encounters with traffic officers are pleasant in the Free State. I was pulled over once and the cop wouldn’t return my licence to me until I agreed to have dinner with him. And I’m often asked if I’m transporting drugs. My best friend has been chased by the police because they thought she was a dealer (Yvette, I keep telling you, short girls in big cars arouse suspicion – but don’t sell the Hilux, it’s just too convenient).

And in the Free State you can sometimes just get really lucky. Really randomly lucky. On my return to civilisation I had some car trouble. The battery light came on, making me panic, so I stopped at the nearest garage in a one horse town 10km down the road. I asked the petrol attendant to have a look at my engine, because men just know these things.

He suggested my alternator was broken which made my heart stop. Then he looked around a little bit more and told me that I no longer had a fanbelt.

It was a public holiday. I had work the next day. I anticipated a crisis.

But no, around the corner was a shop that sold spares. And fresh milk in coke bottles. But more importantly, brand new fanbelts on a public holiday. So I returned to my car and asked my new friend, Joseph, if he could fix it. He said no, he didn’t have tools, but he got straight on to his phone and called Lucky who was there in ten minutes. Another ten minutes later and I was on my way back to the city. The whole thing cost me R50.

The Free State is lovely. In small doses. The food is good and it’s quiet even if nothing really exciting ever happens there, it’s a great place to get away from it all and it is entertaining. And there are men called Joseph who will help you out simply because they can.

Check it out some time. But take a book. Unless you like walking or heavy drinking you may find yourself at a loose end.

A Weekend in ‘The States’

Everyone has Something to Say About Taxis

Everyone that drives in Johannesburg has something to say about taxis. Granted, there are many things to remark on and the general consensus is that we hate them.

But this morning I started thinking about what it must be like to be a taxi driver.

Firstly, you need to be irrationally fearless. It has to take guts to drive a vehicle held together by chewing gum and masking tape down a highway, even if the top speed is only 75km/h. And there must be bravery involved in never using your indicator and braking suddenly. I hate braking suddenly; I’m always worried some BMW X5 goes up my car’s ass, forcing her nose into the back of the truck in front of me. These are not happy moments and my brakes work a lot better than those on a taxi.

And what about the fact that everyone around you hates you? It can’t be fun to have strangers, who don’t even know your name, swear at you from the moment you start work until you knock off. The only people you interact with are your passengers, and they only do this because they are dependent on you to get them around. This can’t do much for your self-esteem.

South Africa Taxi
And there is no aircon either

Then comes job satisfaction. I imagine taxi bosses that look like Jabba the Hutt and probably behave in much the same way. Room for growth is limited to a change in route and if you don’t make your target you are likely to lose a testicle. There is only one perk of the job, hawkers don’t harass you to buy sunglasses when you clearly have a pair already and no one asks you for money at an intersection, but if you’re any good at what you do, you’ve jumped the light.

If you really think about it, it’s a really dangerous job and there are no benefits. These guys transport a huge chunk of the South African population, and I don’t know if many people thank them. I think they work under a lot of pressure and do okay considering the conditions they find themselves in. They drive the way they do because they are frightened half to death and probably haven’t had a hug in ages.

I’m not going to go around hugging taxi drivers and I’m still going to stay as far away from them as possible. But they are people, and if you really think about it, their lives really suck.

Everyone has Something to Say About Taxis

Walking the Dog

My housemate’s girlfriend has a Staffordshire Terrier. It has the ridiculous name of Le Reeche, looks a bit like a frog and is one of the primary causes of global warming.  This little dog produces so much wind, I often consider not feeding her to make it stop. And since I take care of Le Reeche when my housemate and her owner go away, I could actually do something about climate change.

I feed her anyway and on a Sunday evening I take her out for a bit of exercise.

Dog Walking
Walk me! It's the right thing to do.

Le Reeche is quite an old dog, but she’s a very enthusiastic walker. She motors ahead of me, strutting like only a Staffy can and ignores everything around her. She doesn’t stop to sniff shrubs or trees, she just waddles along ahead of me and this causes a serious problem. Exercise generates doggy gas. And since I’m in her slipstream, it’s difficult to escape.

When I said she is a major greenhouse gas contributor, I was not fooling around. If she lets one rip, it finds its way into the next room. It’s so bad that I am frightened to light a match anywhere near her in case it causes an explosion. Gas masks should be standard issue around this dog.

I was grateful when she lost her initial enthusiasm and energy and settled down to walk next to me. I kept the pace brisk to avoid any further encounters with her potent emissions and felt sorry for anything downwind of her.

Since I was no longer struggling to find breathable air I noticed something else: there are many dogs in the neighbourhood and I haven’t seen or heard them before.

And each and every one of these dogs finds a stranger walking a dog very suspicious. So not only does walking Le Reeche damage the ozone layer, it also destroys an otherwise peaceful evening. I was hoping for a relaxing stroll, but just ended up feeling guilty.

What I find strange is that these dogs never bark at me in the morning when I go running. I don’t know if they are the type to sleep in or what, but surely someone running past at 05:30am is a greater threat than someone walking past, with a dog, in the late afternoon? I don’t hang out in crime circles, but I’m pretty sure burglars don’t take their pets with them when they rob a house.

Another thing I noticed is that people are terrified of Le Reeche. When they see her coming they move to the other side of the road. If they have dogs, they tighten the leashes and move to the other side of the road. Speeding cars move to the other side of the road.

I think this is fantastic, and I might take her with me the next time I go to the bank.

Not as dangerous as it seems

And yes, I am aware that her breed has a bad reputation, but I honestly feel they should warn people of the old-age-emissions before they scare them with jaw-locking horror stories. Le Reeche is honestly not interested in eating your Schnauzer.

I think she has it in for polar bears though. And after this weekend I know she is more than capable of making them extinct.

Walking the Dog