Friday, 27 December 2013

Facebook Files - Local Events

Having dealt in a skittish sort of way with some of my facebook postings this year concerning international affairs I thought I’d finish this sorry story by recounting some more local postings, peppered with random photographs - 

Snail fit for a main course . . .
Man’s best friend; after Yorick the Cat, 
Hamlet the Dog, and Susan the Goldfish
 - I give you Garry the Ghecko! Highly 
trained Mozzi catcher - non-toxic and 
you don't have to light his coil every night.

Work and more Work
I really do try not to impose work related issues on my facebook page. Why should my mundane issues be any more interesting than anyone else’s? But just occasionally the daily grind, the quotidian plod yields a nugget or two of humour – usually self depreciating of course!

Some days into a fairly dense legal proceeding the 95 or so handwritten pages of notes is testament to the weight of the matter. One of the Attorneys remarked that I am writing in shorthand. “No, not really,” I said modestly, “I just write fast & shorten a word or two here and there.” But on checking my notes I find that I have written in shorthand - but I’m buggered if I know what system I’ve used . . . or who is going to decipher it . . .

I consider myself to be very lucky. As Consultants we deal with a very broad range of projects - in a very broad range of roles. I recently had an enjoyable eight or so days traversing the country in connection with a national housing project. Aside from a Ugandan colleague I was the only non-Swazi on this expedition. One incident prompted the following necessarily long (and admittedly self absorbed) post -

So there I was visiting a rural police station with colleagues to inspect potential development sites.

The station commander introduced himself with excessive politeness by saying “My name is Crocodile – I like to explain my name to non-Swazis.” “Ah Babe Ngwenya,” I responded, quick as a flash and very pleased with myself. “Very pleased to meet you.” My colleagues and the accompanying Top Cop from HQ all grinned, and I thought were almost on the point of applauding my grasp of siSwati, the lack of which had been the subject of some earlier discussion.

Mr. Ngwenya’s two i/c stepped forward and introduced herself. “And I am Mrs. Zebra.” Nonplussed and temporarily speechless my mind went blank until I finally stammered through the ensuing laughter - “Good Morning Make Zebra.”

Hoist once again by my own petard!

I did manage to make a recovery on leaving by saying to Mrs. Zebra "Sala kahle Make Dube." My new found knowledge courtesy of a soto voce briefing from Mr. Crocodile

Nkoyoyo Sunset - from the album
"African Skies"
In contrast to “hard” development issues we also deal with the “softer” social issues, like telling potentially affected people about projects.

It’s been a funny sort of a day. Facilitated a Scoping Meeting this morning. 100 + community members attended. My words of wisdom were translated into siSwati by my colleague JB. I can usually judge the “pause place” to allow for translation, but at the end of one particularly convoluted explanation JB looked at me and said with a grin, “Steve - what was the last thing you said?” and I said “I can’t remember.” He laughed at me, and I laughed at him, and the expectant audience laughed at both of us. I do like this sort of work!

This post was reacted to by Bheki Makhubu who posted the following wonderful nugget -  

Reminds me of a story I have heard of King Sobhuza II speaking to the nation at the national kraal in siSwati and his words translated into English. At one point when the interpreter had spoken, the king leaned towards him and said "angikasho njalo", which means "I didn't say that."

This next posting falls quite neatly into the grumpy old man category and I’m slightly ashamed to include it here, and am equally ashamed to admit that it is true.

Sometime ago I put a box by my office door with a notice over it saying "Please deposit guns and cell phones and retrieve on leaving." The gun threat has receded but other people's cell phones continue to pollute my space. Am I a lone voice? Oh - and I had to take the notice down because people stopped visiting me . . . . .

Of course one is not just a worked in the infrastructure development sector but also a citizen and consumer.

Open letter to the Mbabane City maintenance department: - Dear Mr. Shongwe, as a resident of our fair city I would like to applaud your departments efforts in dealing with all the pot-holes that have popped up following the recent rains; however I do have a question. Why is it that while the vast proportion of potholes are either round or oval, the repairs and patches are always square or oblong? Yours etc….. PS I do hope you respond favourably to my recent friend request.

Pot-holes on the Komati River 

That Other Social Networking Device . . .
In a sort of desperate dream-world I decided to really fling myself out there and sign up to Twitter. Anything for a bit of self advertisement

Okay - I give up! Some time ago I signed up on (to?) Twitter. (Are you allowed to talk about twitter on facebook?). After a couple of months I still don't know what the point is. What do you do? What information are you supposed to get? How do you connect with - and who? And I don't understand the few tweets I've looked at. Am I completely alone in this morass of ignorance - this (apparently) quagmire? And why are 5 people following me and I've done nothing (and I don't know them!) (1/7/2013)

I did get some responses to this pathetic cry for help, principally along the lines of “don’t waste your time with things that are clearly well beyond your meagre intellect.”

So I just received an email from a nice chap (I assume - both the chapiness and the niceness) saying I'd been mentioned in a twitter conversation, which is jolly nice. But the extent of the "mention" is - @SmitchSteve together with a whole list of other similar @so-andso's and no explanatory text.
So –
·         WTF?
·         What am I expected to do?
·         What is it telling me?
·         Am I doomed to be a mere "@" and never a "#"?
·         Is this my planet?
I need help from at least - xxxxyy & sympathy from yyyxxxxy, and anyone else who can be bothered! (27/9/2013)

. . . and Adverts . . .
There is something about the web that induces an asinine fog in advertisement copywriters, or perhaps it is just that anyone can now do it? Either way it’s a rich source that needs to be mined sometime.

I’ve just come across this daft triumphalist piece of advertising on the web page of a well known software supplier:– “HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE, ENGINEERED TO WORK TOGETHER” Isn’t this a bit like saying – “TOOTH BRUSHES – GOOD FOR TEETH” Or, “CARS – FOR DRIVING FORWARDS ON ROADS” Or, . . . . . . . . (25/6/2013)

Mind you the fault often lies with the reader . . .

So I had clicked on an interesting advertorial, and then forgot about it until I got round to looking at the url at the top of the screen but could not for the life of me remember what I had clicked on – until I opened it and then remembered that it was about spotting five signs that you will suffer from Alzheimer’s. I didn’t read any further to discover what the other four were. (13/8/2013)

Starting price for green beans - E3. Managed
to negotiate it up to E6. Always
prided myself on my bargaining skills
. . .  and Blogging . . .
Back the nub of all this – writing! I receive an inordinate number of anonymous comments that the blogging platform is good enough to filter out – but I do sometimes read them and particularly liked this one which I reported on-

A recent response to my blog -

"You really make it appear really easy with your presentation but I to find this topic
to be actually one thing that I feel I might by no means understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I'm looking forward on your subsequent submit, I'll attempt to get the cling of it!"

On the face of it a little odd but quite nice - except that the posting in question was another whimsical piece about my cat - not exactly intellectually challenging - and the comment ended with an invitation to a web page about penis enlargement cream. My battered confidence has taken a turn for the worse . . . , but I am clinging to it . . .

Finally, just occasionally, out of the blue comes a bolt of hope.

I was at Waterford Kamhlaba School on the day of the celebration of 50 years in existence and bumped into this chap while I was making coffee for myself in the Development Office, and he said to me: –

“Are you from the BBC?” To which I replied, quick as a flash, “No, not really, at the moment . . .. Why? Who are you from?” (Clever hey?) And he said, “I’m from the Guardian.” To which I said, ...“Oh Gosh! I was brought up on the Guardian. Swaddled in old editions as a babe in arms I was during cold winter nights to keep me warm in my Parents hovel; that was after they’d burnt all the furniture of course.”

“Goodness me he exclaimed – there’s obviously a short story there; maybe even a blog article”! “Funny you should say that,” I gasped at the sheer audacity of the idea, “Aside from being a boring old Quantity Surveyor I happen to be a serial and obsessive blogger.” “Well Gosh”, he rejoined. “Tell you what – anything you write I guarantee I will get published in the Guardian.” “Wow!”, I said. That’s awfully decent of you.” “Not a bit of it old chap,” he said with a grin, unfolded his wings, and lifted off towards the squash courts . . . . . . ., and then I woke up.

But I live in perpetual, if not a little misguided hope.

Yorick woke up this morning to glorious 
sunlight,and thought "God-wot, I seem to have 
missed last Saturday! I'll just hang around until the next one."
Yorick woke up this morning and said "Morning? 
What's good about it? Its wet, windy and cold. 
Forsooth - I'll wait for Saturday."

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