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.

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Wild animals are wild

Kick of the Week: Riaan Cruywagen

I’m on a serious Riaan Cruywagen kick at the moment. He is the Chuck Norris of South Africa. Actually, he is better than that – he doesn’t even believe in Chuck Norris. Regardless, he’s a talented news anchor and a South African icon.

So I did a little reading on the man and have established the following:
1. Riaan Cruywagen wasn’t born, he thought himself into existence.
2. When he was three Riaan Cruywagen successfully reinvented the wheel.
3. Riaan Cruywagen’s first job was tutoring Pythagoras.
4. Riaan Cruywagen is an accomplished author and poet – though, humble by nature, he chooses not to write under his own title but prefers to go by pseudonyms such as W. Whitman, E. Hemingway, Proust, JD Salinger and G Chaucer – amongst others.
5. Riaan Cruywagen is fluent in twenty seven of the eleven official languages.

This is what I call an impressive CV! You can find a full version on Coda’s website.

His latest work includes reading the news and promoting the 2011 Loerie’s. You can watch the excellent video right here.

Riaan Cruywagen is awesome.

Kick of the Week: Riaan Cruywagen

Winter – It’s Not That Bad

It’s still cold, but we all survived the mutant cold front and are stronger people for it.

I’m not going to lie – there will be cold fronts ahead and days where we all can’t feel our fingers and our cars won’t start in protest of the icy weather, but winter is really not that bad.

B
A representation of what happens in a cold front. I have no idea what it means.

The solstice has passed. That Pagans have partied. That means the days will get longer, the sun will warm us for a few moments longer each and every day moving forward. And even the most hardened night-owl will admit that the sun isn’t a half bad thing to have floating around in our solar system. And just think about that extra vitamin D you’ll be getting. This has various health benefits I honestly can’t be bothered to get into right now.

I'm feeling warmer already

We have passed winters peak and summer is on its way. Spring is around the corner, and everyone loves spring. So hang in there, and if you can’t, well, winter is not entirely terrible.

Just think about hot chocolate… Go get some, and then continue to read. It’s good, isn’t it? It’s making you feel warm right now. And it’s yummy.

Hmmmm

Winter means it’s okay to pick up a bit of weight. And this is natural and good, don’t fight it. Your body needs a bit of extra padding to survive. So there is less than zero reason to panic because of a few extra rolls. No one is going to make love above the covers for a while still, and if you have half a brain, you’re wearing enough clothing to hide the winter flab when you aren’t getting frisky.

In winter you get to enjoy soup. Soup is great and you can have it at any point in the year. But if you think about it for a few seconds, it’s not nearly as satisfying as when you have it in summer. Throw in a tasty slice of ciabatta or rye bread and you’ve got a healthy meal that not only warms your body, but is yummy too.

It's never the same in summer

Don’t even get me started on stews, casseroles and pasta bakes… These taste so much better when it’s freezing outside. So enjoy your food, go wild, eat chocolate… Being chunky can be solved by reading Cosmo or Women’s Health next month. They will have you bikini ready before you can say September.

If you aren’t working in education and are still doing the whole 9 to 5 thing, getting up is an achievement every single day. Getting out of the shower is about as fun as chewing on sandpaper, but if you have half a brain, your clothes are warming near the heater. So get smart and stop whining.

Getting into bed at the end of the day is now better than ever. And two days of every week you get to lie in and enjoy the toasty cosiness. Is there anything better? Yes, probably, but on those days there aren’t. And while you work, you have warm and lazy mornings to look forward to for an entire week. This is awesome, admit it.

And then there are movies in bed. It gets even better, because reading in bed becomes a refuge, something you look forward to because it’s warm and stimulating.

When it’s cold and no clients are hanging around your office, it’s okay to wear a blanket at your desk. This not only endears you to your colleagues (themed blankets even more so), but makes you feel like a Mexican. When you get over wanting Tequila, you get to experience a tiny part of a different culture. If you’re really brave, wear the blanket around your clients. They will probably admire your attitude and sensibility meaning more business in the long run.

Go get one

If all of the above are not enough for you, think about the balmy winter afternoons that we so often experience in South Africa. Don’t take them for granted. Go for a walk – you won’t sweat profusely. Lie in the sun – you won’t get sunburnt. For me, there is nothing nicer than being outside on a mild winter day. There are more of them than you realise too. You’re just too caught up feeling sorry for yourself to take advantage.

Every single snow flake is unique - and that is pretty impressive

Winter also means there is the chance of snow. In South Africa, snow is cool (until you play in it – then it’s just wet and cold). But snow is pretty, and filled with nitrogen or something, which is great for plants growing in spring. That means your steak will taste better and your soy products will have higher nutritional value. So winter is the foundation of happy dining in summer.

Snow = Better steak in summer

I don’t love winter. I just don’t mind it that much. And I’m done complaining and whining about how I have frostbite (no one believes me anyway). But being a human is about looking and moving forward. And that’s what we’re doing.

And in a few months we’ll be moaning about heat. And I’ll have something else to write about.

After winter comes spring and blossoms and hay fever.
Winter – It’s Not That Bad

2010 FIFA World Cup Opening Match

I am not a sport fan. In fact, I find sport mind-numbing and boring. I have watched South Africa play in the rugby World Cup twice now and I can’t remember a single thing from either game. All I can remember is who I was watching with, that I was desperately bored and that I drank heavily during the second one just to make the time pass.

From day to day, I couldn’t care less about who’s winning, what series is going on and I’m thoroughly indifferent to the tabloid news on the scandalous lives many athletes live.

But I am pleased that my country gets to host the FIFA 2010 World Cup. Until the vuvuzelas became the latest fashion accessory (really, folks, it looks dumb no matter what you are wearing) and someone told a bunch of fools to blow them each and every Friday. Or just for the heck of it at 2am. Then some genius got a great idea to make a noise for a whole hour during the week and spread the news across the country. I wanted to crawl under my desk and die that day. It’s no lie: vuvuzelas can make a grown woman cry and I did in agony. It is not a pleasant sound at all.

The atmosphere in South Africa at the moment is incredible. There are flags everywhere: on cars, on houses, offices… Any surface that can be plastered with a flag will have one on. And then there are those silly mirror socks that looked dumb two months ago, but now I want at least four. It’s all very beautiful.

Decorating the suburbs

I am proudly South African and the excitement soon got to me. It can’t not. On Friday, 11 June 2010 I was bouncing with anticipation (and it was a half day). I had been invited to a Fan Fest at the Continental Outdoor offices, just 8km from my office and I was looking forward to watching the opening ceremony and enjoying the beer fountain I imagined would be there waiting for me.

Just to be clear, South Africa literally shut down at 13:00 on kick off day. This meant that EVERYONE was going SOMEWHERE. And most of those people seemed to be going where I wanted to be. It took me an hour to drive 8km.

EVERYONE going SOMEWHERE

Being stuck in traffic has never been so cool. And the sound of vuvuzelas started to grown on me. Imagine bumper to bumper traffic, flags flying, incredible noise and so much joy that the air was electric with anticipation. I rolled down my window just to feel it.

Blowing vuvuzelas is awesome.

Sadly there wasn’t a beer fountain when I finally got to where I was going, but tubs of beer are the next best thing. Continental Outdoor definitely hooked us up. And I got a vuvuzela of my’ very own. I still can’t make it work though.

Beer bucket

However, there are other things you can do with your vuvuzela.

Why didn't I think of that?

Soccer is everywhere, even at work. There was a goal post outside with a tiny ring as a target. If you can kick the ball in, you win a hat. I gave it a shot, and missed. The ball almost went through backwards, which would have been great, but I don’t think it would have earned me a hat though.

Top right hand corner wins you a hat

The advertising manager of BMW owned it and walked away with two hats. She has mad ball skills and could consider a career move into coaching. That or she really likes hats.

Tracey Cownley

A group of people started kicking a ball around and I thought about that “Make da Circle Beeger” song. Every time I looked that way, there were more players. And everyone was wearing yellow. I don’t wear yellow. I wore green and gold, and some girl said it was a cute jacket, so I guess it’s acceptable dress for a match.

Beeger, beeger, beeger

Then it all started. Kick off, the big moment… And 30 seconds into the game I was bored. Justine and I started playing guess the age of the Mexican (12, 14, 52, 19) which is a lot of fun. It also kept our eyes on the screen, so when Tshabalala scored the first goal we were as dumbstruck as everyone else.

And then we started screaming. The entire country was screaming and vuvuzelas got a serious run for their money. There was dancing, and jumping, and hugs and wow… And I have my first sport memory. I will never forget that goal as long as I live. And Khune is a legend. The rest of the game is a bit of a blur. I was too worked up to focus much, but concentrating hard on the screen. It was unforgettable. It was awesome.

Happy fans united

So what if we drew the match? It was a great way to start this month of madness. And I had a fantastic time. I still know nothing about soccer and I probably won’t be learning too much more because I can’t really be bothered. But I plan on watching every Bafana Bafana game, and I won’t take my supporters bracelet off until it’s over and everyone has gone back home.

2010 FIFA World Cup Opening Match

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