adrian is rad


off for a few weeks

Filed under: — adrian @ 2:56 pm

The day’s come and gone and I haven’t made any mention of my annual charitable giving. I’m not donating money this year, at least not yet. I will be returning to Ingwavuma, in rural Zululand for a couple weeks this time.

A family friend works there for an NGO and I’ll be helping out with the Children’s Radio Project through that organization. As you may have guessed, I was tapped for this because I am/ was a radio star.

I’ll be returning to Cape Town on September 18 via either St. Lucia or Hluhluwe plus Durban.

I have my malaria pills, bug spray, sun block, and a charged camera with an empty memory card. Bucket showers, here I come.

I’ll probably have intermittent internet up there, so I might not be posting a lot. Feel free to email me in the meantime to get the scoop.


the small stuff

Filed under: — adrian @ 5:11 am

As interesting as the South African accent is to me, what’s more peculiar is the differences in cadence and intonation. At the ends of sentences when Americans–non-Valley Girl-influenced Americans, that is–drop their tone quite a bit, South Africans will often dip a little and then level off again. I spoke with an American who’s been here for a few years the other day and I didn’t realize for a few minutes that she was American because she’s taken on these intonation and cadence traits, though her accent is straight American.

Apparently, I have a thick accent. There are people who don’t always have an easy time understanding me here. That seems strange to me. I feel I speak rather plainly, though I do mumble sometimes.

They call traffic lights “robots” here, officially even; there are times when you’re approaching a light and the road is painted ‘ROBOT’.

The people I’m staying with have six cats. They also fill three bird feeders and spread more birdseed on the driveway daily. And somehow they’re dismayed when one of the cats goes after a bird.

The Gatsby, the Cape Town sandwich, has fries on it. See here for an example. Pittsburghers will know why I’m mentioning this.

The fruits and juices here are great, as are the chocolates and candies. The selection and quality of beer is lacking, but the hard cider is the best I’ve had.

People here refer to the “city bowl suburbs”. Those places are right in the city to me. It’s approximately equivalent to calling the Mission a suburb in SF or the Back Bay a suburb in Boston or Chelsea a suburb in NYC.


three day weekend

Filed under: — adrian @ 1:54 pm

When you’re not working, any weekend can be a three day weekend[1]. I decided this would be in–Saturday through Monday. It was a good one. Really good.

three girls in Khayelitsha


Saturday I did not expect. A friend of a friend asked me to help with a podcast that she helps with at a school in Khayelitsha. (She wanted my help because of all my experience in radio.) I helped with it; that was pretty good but rather straight forward. Then, it turns out, one students’ mom was performing a sangoma ceremony so we went as unannounced (but invited) guests. I’d been to a sangoma ceremony before on a township tour, but that this was genuine–that it was not done for tourists was special. Twenty, thirty people packed into a tiny house watching, singing, clapping, dancing during the ceremony.

After that, a kid of my parents’ friends was having a birthday party and I went. I met some cool people, chatted, had a couple drinks and some good food. I may have someone to watch some NFL with and some other people to play pub trivia with now, so that’s good.

Cape Town CBD plus Green Point (stadium, in construction, at left)


Sunday was clear–crystal clear blue skies–and warm for the first time in a while, so that meant going up Table Mountain by foot. After parking mid-morning, it was a beautiful but strenuous hike up. It’s just about straight up for 3km straight. There are more stairs (made of rocks) than switchbacks and it’s step after step, one foot in front of the others. At the top it was gorgeous, as always, but I think some of the best parts are on the hike up. I meant to take the cable way down, but the high winds forced its closure for the day, so hiking back down was the option and that’s what I did. I still ache…

the Atlantic plus wildflowers


Monday I went to the Postberg peninsula in the West Coast National Park[2] to see the wild flowers. The trip up there was wonderful: the R27–the West Coast Road as they call it–goes from city to nothing very quickly. It’s a dead straight shot with no buildings and nothing but plains and a glimpse of the ocean for most of it.

The national park itself is fairly plain, but it has nice unspoiled beaches and lagoons. The peninsula was filled abundantly with wildflowers of yellows, whites, oranges and purples. It was really beautiful and worth the day trip.

I didn’t really plan for a three day weekend or really any of this, but that’s how it turned out. Pretty nice, I have to say.

[1] It could be argued that it’s always the weekend in such cases, but I feel like that would require always doing weekend activities.

[2] Can you believe I got a card that will get me into every national park for a year for ~$30?? Ridiculous!


10 years on…

Filed under: — adrian @ 2:09 pm

August 19, 1999. People celebrate anniversaries of graduations, but that date changed my life far more than the graduation three months before. It was the day I left for college.

My mom had taken me to the airport and my friend Mike met me at the gate—remember when you could still go to the gate to see someone off? I’m still not sure why but in those days Mike loved going to the airport so I told him when my flight was thinking he might come. He did. (Thanks, Mike.) As the gate attendant took my boarding pass for that US Air Pittsburgh-Boston and I looked back at Mom and Mike, I didn’t cry; my eyes didn’t well up. I didn’t know how to cry in those days. It was another six months before I learned again.

But I was frightened. I knew I wouldn’t be a big fish in a small pond anymore. I had no idea what size body of water was coming or anything else.

It wasn’t the ten years I imagined it’d be, but it’s been good. I’ve lived all over the place. I’ve had great opportunities. I’ve met lots of great people and made great friends. I’ve worked on interesting projects. I gained and lost confidence so many times I can’t remember. I’ve gone through phases and hobbies and crushes and and and…

secret weekend in san francisco

Filed under: — adrian @ 10:16 am

There was a weekend. It was secret. Well, it was not really meant to be secret, but it turned out to be. It was between moving out of my apartment in San Francisco and before boarding a plane for London and then on to Cape Town. I’d planned everything—two, three social engagements a day in addition to packing and shipping—for before I moved out so after was a quiet weekend. A secret.

A trip to the post office. I’d forgotten to mail two things the previous day. The bus #22 took me there and returned with me. Even when jam-packed, there’s something peaceful about the bus.

A lunch and beer with my roommate at a favorite set of places. Well, I guess we weren’t roommates anymore by that point, but we’d been roommates so long–longer than you’d rightfully guess—I’ll probably always refer to him as my roommate, not as some cute familiar term, but because that’s what he is: of course he’s my roommate.

Blog. Writing the last two posts for my music blog. They were hard words to write; I wanted them to be all right.

A long walk—with a portable toilet in the street!—and ice cream for dinner. It was only a couple miles, I’m sure, but it felt like we were walking for a long time. As dusk settled on the city, we walked in zig-zags across the Mission, freshly my former neighborhood, toward a ice cream place I’d meant to try, but hadn’t had a chance. Walking down 22nd St. there was something odd as we crossed Shotwell. It was a portable toilet right in the middle of the street. Drivers executing their three point turns were obviously as confused as I was as to why it was there. And shortly afterward: “What time does it close?” “9. We’d better hurry!” We did. Fudgcicle ice cream was the reward. So smooth and creamy.

Wine and a bad movie. Zoolander is either one of the dumbest funny movies or funniest dumb moves outside of Super Troopers. Splitting a bottle of South African wine, left over from my just moved out-of apartment, during it was nice, too, but nothing better than good company.

Italian mob movie with doves, robes and lots of blood. Not really. Not at all, in fact. But the stones and echoes and space and ceremonious nature of St. Ignatius always makes me think the dove/ gunfight scene of a Mafia movie is nearly upon me.

Saigon and New Orleans and California. Possibly the best $3 sandwich in San Francisco or even the US has carrots and cilantro and other delicious spices and it is from a hole in the wall Vietnamese sandwich shop in the Tenderloin. Even on a Sunday afternoon the line is out the door. Then was the issue of streetcars. I’d never ridden three of the best and there are two I still haven’t ridden: boat tram and the Zurich, but in almost a whole afternoon of riding, I did get to ride on < a href="">a streetcar named desire, which was fantastic. And if you ride all the way to Fishermen’s Wharf—let’s say this better—if you ride all the way to Fishermen’s Wharf on your last day in America, why not go to In N Out and get something. A milkshake and fries will do…

As they say, only in San Francisco. That is to say, Indian pizza. Better than I would have expected the first time and as good each additional time, my last proper meal in San Francisco was also at the place I’ve probably been more than any other, besides possibly, the taqueria.

And why do I remember just about every detail of this secret weekend? Well, for the above, and because it was the last weekend but also for some reasons I’ll keep for myself. After all, it is a secret weekend.



Filed under: — adrian @ 10:36 am

The keys to the car I’ve been driving don’t make a lot of sense but I think I’ve figured them out:

key #1, aka “ignition key” works in:

  • ignition
  • front passenger door
  • trunk
  • gas cap

key #2, aka “other key” works in:

  • driver door which operates the power locks for all doors except the front passenger door

Perfectly intuitive, right?


The require readings of 21L.002

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:43 am

I was thinking about this yesterday. The require readings for 21L.002: Foundations of Western Culture II were pretty tremendously varied and interesting.

When I took it, they were:

  • Bernardino, Fray The War of Conquest: How It Was Waged Here in Mexico
  • Blake, William Songs of Innocence and Experience
  • Card, Orson Scott Ender’s Game
  • Card, Orson Scott Speaker for the Dead
  • Machiavelli, Nicolo The Prince
  • Ondaatje, Michael Anil’s Ghost
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Voltaire, Francois-Marie Candide
  • Whitman, Walt Civil War Poetry and Prose
  • Williams, Helen Maria Letters Written in France

And selected parts of:

  • Cortes, Hernan Letters from Mexico
  • Levinson, Sanford Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies
  • Lowell, Robert “For the Union Dead”
  • Walcott, Derek “A Far Cry from Africa,” “Ruins of a Great House,” and “Season of Phantasmal Peace”

What a ridiculous range of stuff! I’m glad I took it.

everything and nothing

Filed under: — adrian @ 1:22 am

I’ve been up to everything and nothing over the past few days.

With opening a bank account last week, logistical issues haven’t been as much of a constant concern. There’s still plenty up in the air, to be sure.

Colorful houses in Bo Kaap

I’ve been trying to decide where in the city to live. I’ve taken to walking around all the different neighborhoods I was thinking of living in: Gardens, Tamboerskloof, Bo Kaap, De Waterkant, Green Point, Sea Point, Woodstock, Observatory. I’m mostly concentrating on Gardens, Tamboerskloof and Sea Point now, but I’ve been meaning to take another look at Woodstock. Here’s a map that shows the different areas of town, if you’re curious.

the Sea Point pool and Atlantic Ocean

Driving around has been a bit of a challenge. The left-hand driving isn’t hard, but the roads are narrow and winding and one-way streets abound. In perhaps the most extreme case of it since Pittsburgh, I think Cape Town is really a city you need to drive around a lot before you know how to get around. I know the arteries and areas so I can get close to where I want to go, but once I get close, wrong turns seem to have some odd attraction to me. The sign posting also leaves a lot to be desired.

Boats in Kalk Bay, False Bay

I spent a little bit of Friday and most of Saturday down on the False Bay side of things. The towns there have a lot of charm to them. Little fishing harbors, that despite expectations of being tourist traps are still genuine fishing harbors, and towns nestled between the mountains and the sea. Kalk Bay has quite of bit of charm to it and has at least a couple great restaurants. Saturday, I spent with a family friend down in Simon’s Town. Drinking rooibos on the porch overlooking the naval base and bay while the sunset was nice. So peaceful.

The naval shipyard in Simon’s Town

While down there, the friend also drove me around that end of the Cape Peninsula. We stopped at a place called Imhoff, which probably started as a trading post/ farm shop, but has since added camel rides, a nursery, a snake zoo, and recycling center. We went to the snake zoo–wow there were a lot of snakes there and plenty of them were highly venomous. Pretty cool, but every time you came across a cage without a snake, you sort of checked around your feet to make sure it hadn’t escaped. Imhoff reminded me of the places you find in the West of the US on secondary highways–tourist stops that keep added unrelated attractions and businesses to try to get people to stop.

I figured out how to turn on the radio in the old beast of a car I’ve been driving and I kind of like radio here. I’ll just turn the knob till I find something interesting. A couple days ago I listened to about fifteen minutes of Islamic sing-chanting, which is something I was introduced to in a world music class and have only really heard one other time, in Jakarta. I have a bit of a soft spot for the heavily Muslim Cape Malays, who were probably the target audience for this broadcast. Yesterday I listened to some Indian ragas on the radio. They were pretty traditional and wonderful and even included some shehnai or the South Indian equivalent.

Some people answer phones here funny, giving the phone number first. “Eight two four eight one six two, hello!” I haven’t noticed this widely but at least a few families do it. I suppose it helps let the caller know if they’ve dialed the wrong number immediately.


ten tallest US statues

Filed under: — adrian @ 8:50 am

According to wikipedia’s list of statues by height:

  1. Statue of Liberty depicting Lady Liberty. Located in Liberty Island, New York, it stands 46 m (151 ft) tall.
  2. Our Lady of the Rockies depicting Mary. Located in Butte, Montana, it stands 27 m (88.6 ft) tall
  3. Golden Driller depicting an oilman. Located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it stands 23 m (75 ft) tall.
  4. Tribute to Courage depicting Sam Houston. Located in Huntsville, Texas it stands 20.5 m (67 ft) tall.
  5. Dallas Zoo’s giraffe statue depicting a giraffe. Located in Dallas, Texas it stands 20.5 m (67 ft) tall.
  6. Christ of the Ozarks depicting Jesus. Located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, it stands 20 m (65.5 ft) tall.
  7. King of Kings depicting Jesus. Located in Monroe, Ohio it stands 19m (62 ft) tall
  8. Praying Hands depicting praying hands. Located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it stands 18.2 m (60 ft) tall.
  9. Vulcan statue depicting a Vulcan (mythology). Located in Birmingham, Alabama, it stands 17.1 m (56 ft) tall.
  10. Jolly Green Giant depicting Jolly Green Giant. Located in Blue Earth, Minnesota it stands 16 m (52.5ft) tall.

Not a very impressive list, I think. I mean, the Jolly Green Giant and a statue of a giraffe are within our top ten?

Absolutely ridiculous is the planned and partially completed Crazy Horse Memorial Statue, which when/ if completed will stand at 172m, placing it as the largest statue in the world. Then again, it was started in 1948 and the designer died in 1982 so who knows if it will ever be finished.


order of difficulty

Filed under: — adrian @ 2:05 pm

In order of mental energy required to start, from least to most:

  • email to a friend or acquaintance
  • phone call to friend or acquaintance
  • email to someone I don’t know
  • calling someone I don’t know, but is expecting me to call
  • cold calling someone I don’t know

This list is not comprehensive.


cats cats cats

Filed under: — adrian @ 5:00 am

Mellie on top of the fridge

The people I’m staying with have six cats: Timmy, Jack, Fudge, Mellie, Amber and Robbie (the robber). And they spoil them like you wouldn’t believe. Each, naturally, has its own personality, food preferences and spots around the houses they like to sit.




I’ve never had a good poker face

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:01 am

The other day I had lunch at a nice pub/restaurant in Old Wynberg. A family friend had taken me there after our long wait at the Dept of Home Affairs. One of the specials was Thai chicken lasagna. It sounded interesting so I ordered it [1].

Me: This reminds of this Thai chicken pizza a friend made a few weeks ago. She made a peanut sauce instead of a tomato sauce and put cilantro and stuff on top. It was really good.

Family friend: Your mom mentioned you met a girl before you left.

Me, mostly to myself: Was it that obvious?

[1] It was both quite interesting and quite good. Who woulda thought?

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