Friday, January 28, 2005

Venn diagrams gone mad!

I like Venn diagrams. This one is funny, so I might not actually be completely alone in that opinion this time.

Also, on a completely different note, i found this article interesting.

And because because I feel this post should have some substance to it, I will say this: The sailing? It is harder than it looks. It's surprising how tired one can get doing a sport where you're sitting most of the time.

Bonus unexpected sailing skill: I am becoming an expert at righting a capsized Laser!

Bonus sailing-related blog prediction: In three to five weeks, I will be blogging about bilharzia .

Friday, January 21, 2005

The only thing we have to fear, is procrastination itself! (or something)

Back in the day when I was a poli sci student at Queen's I wrote an essay on JFK's inaugural speech for my Political Communications class. Apparently, I didn't do a very good job, as I was awarded a lowly 67%.(Well, okay actually 62%, including the penalty for handing it in late.) And while I will still maintain that my professor was blinded to my brilliance by an arbitrary dislike for me (or the fact that my term paper's thesis expressed my disagreement with his entire Masters thesis), I still find the topic interesting, and so enjoyed this article from Slate. Perhaps you would too.

Perhaps I should do some actual work this morning.

Also, two notes for current university students:
1) Just because your professor teaches his class with his newborn baby in a Snugly, does not mean that your professor is snugly himself.
2) Being brave enough to disagree with years of your professor's works will not earn you his respect.

P.S. From The "OH YEAH and I Almost Forgot" Files: Last week, on January 13th 2005, the one-year birthday of this very weblogcame and went without being noticed, even by me. So, Happy Birthday Blog!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Guess what?

No, guess!

I signed up for sailing lessons!

Along with my friend Karisia, i attended the first 'dry' lesson last night of the Victoria Nyanza Sailing Club's Beginners Sailing Course, held in the upstairs party room of a pub. I'm pretty excited - I've never really tried anything like sailing before, and I'm looking forward to maybe finding something that is technically called a 'sport' that I might actually enjoy participating in! Its an intensive course - in addition to three wednesday-evening 'theory classes', I will be spending all day saturday and sunday for the next two weekends on Lake Victoria attempting to learn how to make a Laser do what i tell it to do. Given how confusing I found last night's theory, I am simply hoping that I don't end up being the amongst the "one or two people per course who inevitably don't learn how to sail by the last day." So let's all cross our fingers shall we? Because if my past history of being able coordinate all my limbs with the operation of sporting equipment is any indication, things don't look too good!

That being said, it'll be an opportunity, no matter what, to meet 12 new people and to try something new. So wish me luck for this weekend, and hope that the rescue boat captain is alert!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

why oh why

Yesterday I was walking along Makerere Road towards my apartment, when I started laughing out loud at the cows that were running along the side of the street. I mean, cows aren't really a running kind of animal, you know? So when they DO run, its pretty damn funny. Kinda like short, bulky giraffes.

And then it occured to me that there is something very strange going on with my brain when it doesn't even occur to me to find it odd or incongruous to see COWS running down the STREET. At all.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

It's Little People day; plus a Quiz!

I took a trip from my normal home in the Land of Grown Ups today.

This morning, our housegirl, Nelly, brought her eldest son with her to work. At the age of 26, her eldest of five is 8 years old, and was very smartly dressed in jeans and a matching jean jacket. I gave him the free Shark Tale toy out of our box of Nutty O's, or whatever those replica HoneyNut Cheerios were called.

Then, on the way to work, my boda-boda driver stopped at his stage (the 'stage' is the place where him and is fellow drivers sit and wait for customers) to ask for change, since he knew he wouldn't be able to break the 10 000 shilling note I was going to pay him with. (The ride only costs 2500 shillings - about $1.70, Canadian.) One of the other drivers, The New Bald Guy With The Good Bike, was sitting holding a very little baby, which is somewhat unusual in a passenger-motorcycle driver. I got off, played with the baby for a minute, who turned out to be three months old but with at least 5 months worth of snot accumulation, and named Mohammed, which seemed like way too big a name for such a small person. Then I got back on the bike and sped off to work.

Now here comes the Quiz:

Who drooled all over my nice clean work blouse?
a) Nelly's son
b) New Bald Guy With The Good Bike's son
c) my boda-boda driver. (Incidentally, The Original Bald Guy with the Good Bike)

Leave your guess in the comments, a Ugandan stamp attached to a ugandan postcard goes to the winner!

Friday, January 07, 2005

counteracting, but not really

okay, so i sounded a little negative in my last post. But you have to understand, some days here a bit tough. The days that don't seem tough are often just days when you are feeling more resilient. The constant on-the-street harrassment, and being taken advantage of, and being used, and being ripped off - it doesn't mean anything but it builds up a bit after awhile, you know? Wow that sentence was way too long. 'Sorry' to the high school English teachers. And for the lack of capitalization at the beginning of this paragraph, and for starting this sentence with 'and'.

So anyway, I thought I'd counteract the negativity with things that I like.

- It is hot and sunny almost every day
- If i wasn't so cynical I'd think i was the world's most attractive woman
- I can get a manicure and a pedicure for a total of $7
- This morning when my bottle of moisturizer spilled, i was able to just leave it because my housegirl was coming today and she could clean it up
- The pineapple here is delicious

Okay, so i was going to add something about having a great job and unique experiences and like learning and stuff, but that would have ruined the "spoiled and superficial and maybe colonialistic" effect I was going for.

Over and out.

Monday, January 03, 2005


Last week (or was it the week before?) I ‘shadowed’ one of the company salesmen on his afternoon round of construction sites, as part of my research into the preparation of a marketing plan. Because the salesguy (Ronald) hadn’t called ahead, we only saw one actual customer, a man building a small retail complex. This customer, however, was seemingly quite impressed with my presence, and basically the sale was clinched on behalf of me standing there in all of my glorious whiteness.

Ronald was obviously pleased with this turn of events, and understood quite clearly that he had gotten a big sale due to my skin colour. His appreciation of this fact, however, did not translate into any greater appreciation of race relations, or indeed of my status as an actual human being. This was first displayed later that same afternoon, when he agreed with our taxi driver’s assertion that I wasn’t going to receive my change for our fares (both of which I’d paid for myself) because I am a muzungu. (Generally, when I’m out and about with a Ugandan, I’m substantially less vigilant about protecting myself from getting ripped off by other Ugandans, figuring that the person I am with will be a sufficient guard against being ripped off. Ronald proved to provide an exception to this hypothesis of behaviour.) I was pretty angry with Ronald, and let him know, and although I tried my best to explain why what he’d done wasn’t right, I could tell he didn’t really ‘get it’.

(Due to some more complex issues with the way the school system and unofficial caste system here works, subordinates will tend to just apologize and genuflect regardless of what is being said. So when you are speaking to someone (whether providing instructions, commendations, criticism or questions) over whom you have a bit of authority – as I did – there is really no way of knowing if your point has gotten through, because you will always get the same response - either ‘yes’ or ‘sorry’ – not matter what.)

About half an hour later, he asked if I could join him on some sales visits the following morning, since The Whiteness would be sure to continue to impress. I explained for the second time that the purpose of me shadowing him was to observe the sales process as naturally as possible, and not to influence it by pretending to be a corporate general manager or managing director, providing a fake authority and influence, as he’d fairly bluntly requested. I explained, fairly explicitly, that this was not appropriate. It also didn’t seem to dawn on him that the fact that he had authorized someone to rip me off only half an hour before might influence my decision.

This morning I received a phone call from Ronald while he was out in the field, again asking me to accompany him on sales calls. I asked him why I would do this, as it isn’t my job in any way shape or form to do sales calls or to authorize discounts and deals, the main reasons why a more senior manager would go to project site.

He replied that if I came it would really impress them, and he would get the sales. I explained that this wasn’t appropriate, that it wasn’t my job, that I had other things to do, etc. He explained again that seeing ‘a white’ would really be great, such a help, he would get the sale. He just wanted me to come and stand there being white to impress people. I could tell he had absolutely no idea there would be any reason why I’d say no to this, and he thought I just didn’t understand his request. Finally, after attempting to explain to him that it wasn’t fair to ask me to do this, that I wasn’t just some white-skinned toy or tool or puppet to be used, and that, besides, I have my own job to do, I told him to not ask me that again.

He still has no idea why, I could tell.

Sometimes, but just sometimes, I hate it here.

Happy 2005

New Years weekend went like this:

Friday, came home from work a bit early, napped, tried on 3 different outfits 4 times each, showered, dressed, met some friends for dinner at a Thai restaurant, proceeded to Rouge (a nightclub), went home at 4:30 a.m.

Saturday, slept in, lay on the couch reading for a couple hours, made a beaded necklace, got bored of beading&reading, went into town for a coffee, went home, proceeded to a friends house for pizza and a DVD, home and sleeping at 12 pm.

Sunday, got up, went with some friends to go lie by a pool, sunburned the right side of body only, went home, showered, met friends for dinner (Indian), and went to the late show of Oceans Twelve. Back home, to bed.

Is it sad that this could have happened in Toronto as easily as here in Kampala (minus the sunburn, of course), or is it nice and comforting that life can be relaxing/routine no matter where you are?

I'm not sure!