adrian is rad


crowded pool

Filed under: — adrian @ 9:36 am

Long Street Baths, the pool I use, is open 7am-7pm, which doesn’t leave a lot of time to swim outside of work hours. During work hours it’s gloriously empty, but whenever I’ve tried going before or after, it’s crowded.

Tonight it was packed. Actually, it was so packed that it was interesting. There were enough swimmers that if everyone stopped at the same end of the pool, there wouldn’t be enough space for everyone to stand at the wall. The system depended on at least some people moving. Similarly if everyone was swimming at the same time, there’d be collisions.

I’m sure there are systems or parts of systems like this in real life. Bus garages, perhaps, that don’t have enough spots for all the buses to be parked at once. Or delivery systems (UPS, trucking, etc). Can you think of any others?

Anyway, just something that made me think.


as the old saying goes, if you liked it you should have put a ring on it

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:17 am

This ad is on SA TV quite a bit. I think it’s pretty funny. What’s funnier than a guy dancing to “Single Ladies”?

There’s also the flash dance version of “Single Ladies” if you like that sort of thing. (And that reminds me of the Belgian train station version of a Sound of Music.)

And another ad that I always laugh at is this one that’s on here as well as US TV:


odds and ends pt 47

Filed under: — adrian @ 3:10 am

One funny phrase here is boerewors curtain. It’s a play off of boerewors (SAan sausage) and Iron/ Bamboo Curtain-type boundaries. Afrikaaners live beyond the boerewors curtain.

I started working last week. I won’t really say much more about that.

My route to work goes past the containerized shipping port of Cape Town. I love working ports–they have great, huge machinery moving all these building blocks filled with stuff around. Some day I’ll have to plan some extra time to explore the area around the port. The other thing I find interesting about containerized shipping is that it’s such a sign of the modern times–fast, efficient, standardized–but at the same time, they’re just steel containers that could easily have been made a hundred years ago.

One thing I find frustrating is that despite a lot of roads having numeric names, (it seems) locals give directions almost exclusively by street names. But sometimes street change names often and in such cases the numeric name seems particularly appropriate. For instance, in about 1km, De Waal Dr becomes Mill St becomes Anandale St becomes Orange St becomes Buitensingel St.; all the while it’s simply called M3. Yet people will still tell me to take ‘De Waal Drive’ and if I happen to get on the street where it’s called, say, Orange, I’m simply out of luck for sign posting.

Update: Did you know that LA is the busiest US container port but it’s only 13th worldwide? And did you know Savannah is a busier port than Oakland?


four interesting articles about football

Filed under: — adrian @ 10:26 am

I recently read a few interesting articles about football and I thought I’d share.

Chuck Klosterman writes about how football has succeeding by being the most liberal sport but winning over America by appearing to be conservative. I don’t know if he’s right but he is pretty entertaining.

My wife is awesome, but she hates football (as wives are wont to do). Every game seems the same to her. I will be watching a contest between Kent State and Eastern Michigan on a random Thursday night, and she will say, “Go ahead and watch that game. I will just sit here and read this magazine featuring a plus-sized black female TV personality from Chicago.” Two days later, Georgia will be playing LSU for the SEC championship. Now she will want to rent Scenes from a Marriage.

Michael Lewis writes about how the place kicker has no upsides, with even one big miss ruining a career.

The same author also writes about Coach Mike Leach and his crazy pass-heavy Texas Tech offense. Michael Lewis is the sort that likes finding people breaking the ‘rules’ and still winning and here’s another example.

To prepare his receivers’ ankles and knees for the unusual punishment of his nonstop-running offense, Leach has installed a 40-yard-long sand pit on his practice field; slogging through the sand, he says, strengthens the receivers’ joints. And when they finish sprinting, they move to Leach’s tennis-ball bazookas. A year of catching tiny fuzzy balls fired at their chests at 60 m.p.h. has turned many young men who got to Texas Tech with hands of stone into glue-fingered receivers.

Finally, there’s an old Sports Illustrated article about a beareded, long-haired barefoot punter in the 1970s. It’s a pretty entertaining read just for the player talking about the Establishment, man.

In other football news, the Steelers seem to have played a little better after starting out 1-2. They still don’t seem as solid as they did last year (particularly defensively), but I’m liking that the offensive line looks decent for once and that Mendenhall is getting some carries. I also like the irony that is our kick returner getting credited for tackles on opposing kick returners. That’s fun.


the last few days are travels

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:07 pm

As I mentioned last week I had a few days of traveling coming up. My weekend in Hermanus was pretty great. My cousin invited me out to his cottage out there. I met him and his wife at a restaurant in the cliffside by the water’s edge. While we ate some delicious seafood, whales swam past, one even breached a few times. Otherwise there were good times hanging out, watching some rugby (both Currie Cup semi-finals were Saturday–my cousin’s team won but “my” team lost), and generally relaxing.

overberg sunset
sunset near Hermanus

On my cousin’s recommendation, I took the scenic route on the way home. The R44 through the Overberg region runs along the coast for a dozen or two kilometers and is a spectacular drive, with the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. I don’t think I’ve been on such a beautiful drive since I went along the Chingshui Cliffs in Taiwan.

the R44 along the coast in the Overberg region

On Thursday I met my uncle in Stellenbosch for some breakfast and we had a nice time. Afterwards I spent a couple hours wandering around the quaint and historic town. It has a lot of lovely buildings in the Cape Dutch style. The drive there and back was also nice, winding through the old vineyards of the region.

a Cape Dutch-style church in Stellenbosch


the honorable member that asked the question needs to get his head checked

Filed under: — adrian @ 10:26 am

on my street earlier in the week

I watched part of a debate in Parliament today. It was pretty interesting. Members of Parliament were asking ministers questions. The Ministers of Justice, Police, Correctional Services, Home Affairs and International Relations were all there and answered questions while I was there. There were some light-hearted moments, but there were also some contentious ones as well, particularly ones between the Minister of Justice and members of the DA, during which the above quote was said.

I should note that I had to go through four metal detectors to get to the public gallery of the assembly, but my belt buckle made at least two of them go off; they waved me through all four.

lonely chair
in Salt River

This week has been a bit all-over-the-place. Yesterday I went to the SA National Gallery. It was pretty good and it cost $2 to get in. What’s the last time you’ve been to a museum for $2? Even the Pez Museum in Burlingame is $3! My one complaint about the museum is that there’s too much British stuff–lots of old portraits of generals and things from the 18th and 19th century. Why have portraits of an army someone whooped? (Also, there’s plenty better art from that and other time periods.)

On Sunday I went to the Long Street Baths (where I’ve been swimming) and went to their Turkish baths. I spent two hours in the sauna, steam room, cold plunge pool, etc. Wow that’s so ridiculously relaxing.

in Observatory

Some family is in town, or at least in the area. I’m heading to Stellenbosch tomorrow to see my uncle from the UK and over the weekend I’m heading to Hermanus, where my cousin will be. He and his wife have a cottage there that they’ll be at briefly. I haven’t been to Stellenbosch or Hermanus since 2004, I believe, so it’ll be a nice time.

I saw Welcome to the Sticks the other day. It’s one of those fascicle French films, with some really funny moments. Basically the main character attempts to land a transfer to the Riviera by pretending to be disabled. Instead he’s found out and is transfer to the dreaded North instead. Thinking she won’t be able to handle the depressing North, his wife stays behind. The main guy ends up enjoying it, but when he tries to tell his wife this, she doesn’t believe him, so he lies and says its horrible. This seems to make her happy. Everything’s fine, until she decides to visit. Apparently it’s the most successful French film of all time? It’s a bit strange to me that that’s the case.


the boy who built a windmill

Filed under: — adrian @ 2:24 pm
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
William Kamkwamba
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Ron Paul Interview

Talk about Afrigadget,

You can buy the book here, William Kamkwamba, who was then about 14, made a windmill to provide power for his family based on a picture in a library book. A pretty good interview with him above.

(Kamkwamba is now in school in Jo’burg.)


Ride of 200 Miles over Mountains of Basutoland: South African’s Adventurous Holiday by A. Milne

Filed under: — adrian @ 7:08 am

This article was written by my grandfather, Alec Milne, chronicling a horse trip across Lesotho in 1936. It’s a long but fascinating article. The photocopy of the article I have has lost all definition in the graphic and three photos that accompany it, so I have supplemented it with ones that did not run with the original story. I’ve tried to preserve the original spelling and style wherever possible. The links, obviously, are not original and have been added to add clarity to those not familiar with some particulars.

The Star, Johannesburg, Transvaal, May 16, 1936

"Trek" in Basutoland

To reach the South Coast of Natal from Wepener, in the south-east of the Free State, the author of this article decided to avoid the long circuitous train journey and ride over the mountains of Basutoland to Matatiele. He gives an entertaining account of his adventurous journey.

When my fortnight’s leave was drawing near and I had decided that it should be spent on the Natal South Coast, I rebelled at the thought of the slow, circuitous train journey. Some memory, more exsiting and interesting must be brought back to cheer my daily toil in the little town of Wepener. A nebulous idea began to take definite shape. Between Wepener and Natal lies the mountainous Protectorate of Basutoland, the very roof of South Africa. I would ride over the mountains to Matatiele. Once the idea had been defined, nothing could change my purpose; over the mountains I would go.

“Madness,” laughed my friends when I outlined my scheme. “Hair-brained,” they muttered when I showed no signs of relenting. As I am well versed in Sesuto and have a good knowledge of the journey I proposed to undertake, I was not disposed to listen to these croakings.

View Ride of 200 Miles over Mountains of Basutoland: South African’s Adventurous Holiday in a larger map

A glance at a map will show you the extent of the task I set myself. Find Wepener in the south-easern part of the Free State, and Matatiele in the extreme north-eastern section of the Cape. Then draw a line between the two straight across Basutoland and you will have a rough idea of the route. You will see that two mountain ranges, the Malutis and the Drakensberg, lay between me and my objective. That is easily read from the map, but unless you are acquainted with the country or are gifted with vivid imagination you will have no conception of the endless succession of precipitous descents and ascents by dizzy paths offering foothold to only a sturdy Basuto pony.



two months

Filed under: — adrian @ 8:51 am

Yesterday marked two months since I arrived here. Someone asked the best and worst parts so far and both of those are pretty easy. Best: my time in Ingwavuma. Worst: there have been some lonely times.

I took some short videos in Ingwavuma and I was going through them today and what strikes me about them is that they’re so quiet. I commented on the stillness at the time, but I’m struck by how quiet the area is.

I found a German deli here. I’m pretty happy about that. I had a bauernbratwurst with kraut for lunch for pretty cheap. I also grabbed some spaetzle*, kielbasi (“colbassa”) and Bavarian sweet mustard to take home. Some meal later this week is going to be great.

clifton 4
Clifton beach, #4

The weather has been quite inconsistent. One day may be almost summer-like, the next rainy and cool. I guess that’s autumn spring for you.

Today is one of the cool and rainy days, but Saturday was the first full on summer day. Everyone flocked to the beaches and I chose Clifton Beach #4, which is nestled between some boulders on the Atlantic coast side. I’d been to some around there before but never to that one and it’s quite a well known one. It was gorgeous and I spent a couple hours reading and people watching.

I found out today that the pool I’ve been swimming in is closed to men on Tuesdays from 10a to 2p. It didn’t take long for it to occur to me why: there’s a significant Muslim population in the area and customs dictate women shouldn’t show skin to strange men.

I got to watch my first Steelers game of the season yesterday, on tape delay from Sunday night. It was a good game (they won) but it was a bit too exciting with a close-to-comeback by the wrong team. But it was good to see a game again–I’ve been reading recaps and looking at stats after each game, but something like Mendenhall 165 yards on 29 carries, 2 TDs is a lot different from seeing how he cuts and how the line is playing and all that.

I’ve been devouring books since I got here. I think I’ve finished four: Long Walk to Freedom, Prayer for Owen Meany, Plains of Camdeboo, and Playing the Enemy and now I’m a chunk into One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest.

*Yay for Schwabens.


two views of the South: Jean Ritchie’s Singing Family of the Cumberlands and Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories

Filed under: — adrian @ 7:00 am

A couple months ago I read two books in a row with different views of the American South and I’ve been meaning to review them together.

The first was Singing Family of the Cumberlands by Jean Ritchie. It was a recommended book for a class I took in the fall of 2002 and I’m glad I finally decided to read it.

Jean Ritchie was the youngest of thirteen children, growing up in Viper, Kentucky, in the Appalachian Mountains. Her family was well known–and well documented–for singing ballads, in the Anglo-American folk tradition. That is to say, they sang ballads that came over with English, Scottish and Irish settlers and could still be found on both sides of the Atlantic. The best documented of these were the Child Ballads, but that could take up a whole lot more space if I decided to talk about those.

Written in 1955, the book is a memoir of her childhood. As fascinating as her descriptions of growing up in the early part of the 20th century in an isolated part of the Appalachians are–and they are–what really makes this book special is the songs. Interspersed in the book are transcriptions of the ballads. Say there’s a vignette about learning a particular song around a fireplace on Christmas. Well, the song is there in the book, both music and words, if you want to sing along.

The writing is wonderful and evocative, too. She immediately sets quite conversational tone and it feels like she’s telling you her family stories from the armchair next to you. In that sense, it reminds me a lot of Cash by Johnny Cash. The stories of her childhood, drenched in music, of course, cover the gambit: the rough times, the hard work, and the good times. Overall there is a bit of rose-colored glasses for the simple old times, but she also doesn’t the reader from hearing about the hard times.

If you have any interest in Appalachian music or culture, I’d recommend this book. You can pick it up at amazon.

After having some of my favorite songwriters refer to Flannery O’Connor–particularly Sufjan Stevens and David Bazan–I decided I’d read some of her works.

If you’re unfamiliar with her writing, she was a classic Southern Gothic writer, writing stories of the South with dark, twisted characters and plots. The stories are written in a dense prose and some take quite a bit of effort to wade through, but the best among them are quite amazing stories. She really sucked me in to the lives and worlds of her characters and even when I saw a hint of the outcome, I still enjoyed reading it.

She’s also known as a Catholic writer, but more often than not, if religion enters the story at all, it’s much more ambiguous or complex than one might expect from someone so well known to be writing from a religious point of view.

She died quite young and the complete short stories covers a lot of her output. Besides the stories, she only wrote two novels. And with anything complete you get not only the greatest hits, but the stuff in between and the warm-up in the beginning. If I had to do it over, I might start with a selection of her short stories, but if you’re a completest, this is for you.

You can also pick this one up from amazon.

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