Monday, January 30, 2006

Sick Sunday

One strange Sunday. Beatiful weather, really hot and wanted to do a number of things. BUT wake up with an extremely sore stomach (could hardly even touch it) that did not go away until afternoon and THEN I get a fever and start shivering/sweating.

Brilliant. Spent the day watching A1 motor-racing in Durban on TV, had no energy whatsoever and had full time problems stopping Eric from jumping on my tummy as he normally will do given a chance.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

National ID

Those who have, over the years, followed my meetings with the bureaucracy of different African countries in general and Zimbabwe in particular know that it is many times a daunting and very timeconsuming business. Like getting a birth-certificate for Eric, that took a few days of waiting in queues and running around. Getting a passport is more of a Kafka-like black farce and loads of patience is a must.

Because of this and other reasons I have never bothered to try and get a Zimbabwe national ID, something a resident is supposed to have if you have been living here more than 1 year. The last 2 times I have been to Immigration to renew my residence-stamp they have been "pestering" me over this so I have had on my "to-do" list for some time now.

So when a friend told me he had applied and it took no longer than around 20 minutes I had to try myself and see if this was really true!

It turns out that Registrar General (who handles these issues) have opened satellite offices here and there in Harare, one of these being a small cabin behind the City of Harare offices in Mount Pleasant. Very few seem to have realised this option. I went there with 2 copies of residence permit, 2 copies of passport "photo page" and Z$ 5000. It took like 15 minutes to fill in the form, get a receipt, do my fingerprints (yep) and take photos (they do this).

And now I have an id-number! In about 3 weeks I should get my "paper-id". After that one is supposed to get a metal-id (virtually indestructible) but how long that might take is a completely different story altogether...

Friday, January 20, 2006


Thank God it's Friday! And the sun is actually shining, it feels like it is the first time in ages. I was getting afraid the frogs in our garden were going to drown soon if the rains did not hold up soon.

Of course rain is good and this is the rainy season but it has absolutely been too much of late. Things like the traffic lights (robots in Zim English) stop working and there seems to be no spare parts to fix them. Makes driving to and from town during rush-hours extra fun.

Well, I am gonna call it quits and leave early. Off to the gym and later a bit of "odd jobs" at home, hopefully a couple of drinks with friends when the evening sets in. Wish you all a nice weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

An evening at work and KDE

Just spending time in an office trying to sort a troublesome download-and-installation problem. These things are not so easy when you live in a country where "broadband" access means a leased 128k link shared by a LAN. Not to mention that since all ISPs are forced to use TelOne (the government phone network provider) international links ALL of them go down when TelOne has a problem. Which is at least a couple of times a day. Good for the country's development, yes or no? Make your own opinion, I know mine.

Nevertheless, now we are only a few in the office and most other users have also left work so speed is picking up and my rather massive upgrade of Kubuntu/KDE Linux seems to be over in an hour or so. Then I plan to leave that experiment in a (hopefully) stable version for a while and work on a software I am coding in Windows. Just wanted this "sidekick" sorted first so I can concentrate.

The idea of spending time setting up a Linux in a LAN here is of course mainly to see how it works for normal office work and how "average" users will react. The idea of Open Source and Free software is of course very attractive in a poor and developing country. NOT having to fork out hundreds of USD with every PC for software or run pirat copies should be something that really has a future here.

If you are interested in how KDE looks check here

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Reality" shows

Among the most stupid things often shown on TV these days are so-called Reality shows. The only thing more stupid I can think of is american "wrestling"...

I have never understood the fascination for shows like "Big Brother" or "Survivor" (the later can be interesting in the "tasks"-section though) and lately the most absurd ideas are made into "shows". "Fear Factor" seems to be a lot about eating the yuckiest stuff (live worms, goats eyes etc) and I hear that in Prague they now have a "Big Brother"-show with the gorillas in their zoo. Duh?

The other day we watched Missy Elliots' own take on this. 13 rap or r'n'b wannabees are subjected to "tasks" and then one is voted out. I can tell you I heard more lousy rap and "yo bro watsup" than I need for the rest of this year. Not to mention watching the rather short and plump Missy herself constantly sucking on lollipops whenever she was on camera.

Did I mention "Cheaters"? This guy who tries out like he is some understanding man doing people a favour will spy on the partner of whoever thinks they are being cheated on and then follows, of course, nasty confrontations with either furious or crying people. Sick if you ask me.

To quote Nick Cave "People they aint no good" - and TV seems to attract our worst emotions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Burglars in the neighbourhood...

What a way to start the new year for our next door neighbours! Last Thursday some time after midnight we were awakened by screams, shouts and lots of noise. In all honesty I thought they had a bad domestic fight but I was very wrong.

It turned out that 2 guys armed with iron bars had managed to get into the house using a "flapdoor" for their dogs and cats. They normally lock this at bedtime but just happened to sit up late and had left it open.

To force the man in the house to open the safe they beat him with the iron bars, this being some of the shouts and screams we heard. They got away with money, cellphones and cameras.

Since I know how it feels to have armed intruders in your house I feel really bad I didn't react and check it up but the problem is that some years ago they had some really loud arguments...

I have never understood though how they think about security. No alarm, no guards and a very unsecure "see-through" old gate. Dogs scare many people but a lot of people don't give a damn and most dogs then back off actually.

Next day we tested our alarm only to find out that our "panic-buttons" that saved us that time were not working... the company recommends testing the alarm weekly and we will definitely increase our frequency.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hard year on the planet

Loudon Wainwright III once wrote a song called "Another hard day on the planet" (correct me if I am wrong someone) and when I reflect more on 2005 it sure seems to have been "another hard year on the planet".

From what I remember and can read more conflicts than ever either continues or refuse to die. A lot of these are connected to what used to be called the "north-south"-problem or in short the underlying conflicts between have and have-not. As an added dimension over the last few years we have the religious dimension and the seemingly increasing terrorism.

On top of that I can not remember any year that have been so clearly marred by natural disasters, one after the other. It seems our way of wasteful living is finally catching up with us. Many years ago (1976) the artist duo Godley/Creme of 10cc released a 3LP called "Consequenses", in many parts rather unlistenable but interesting. It dealt with the concept that Earth would hit back on humanity using natural disasters and I am asking if they were not simply ahead of their time?

It is thoughts like these that sometimes makes me wonder what on Earth(?) or maybe what kind of Earth we are bringing our kids up to live in.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Year

So 2006 has started "for real" with the first official working day. It feels good to be back after a relaxing break (though Xmas has a tendency to be rather hectic for a day or two). We certainly all hope this year will be a better one than last that was quite stressful in many ways - though not necessarily on a personal or family-level.

Not much to say really but thanks all for nice xmas- and new years-greetings via mail and sms and Compliments of the New Year!