Picture time. Who wants to read what I have to type when they could be looking at pictures instead, right?

In the spirit of truly catching up, I'm going to rewind 2+ months to when I was still in the US, and still had a cell phone with a camera in it. What follows are a few selections from the stuff I saw in the past year or so that I may or may not have remembered to document for blog purposes.

Once I run through these, I'll start going through my flickr sets (to date) and begin putting together some recaps on what I've done so far...more to follow soon.

This is from the night before I left the states (we are working in reverse chronological order here, fyi). Peter, Jonny, and I went to see Rage Against The Machine playing one of their 4 reunion shows, in the McCovey Cove parking lot in San Fran. It was pretty much one of the coolest nights of my life. We got Taco Bell, I slept for 2 hours, then we got up and Peter took me to the airport and I came to South Africa. Best weekend ever.

This was on the BART platform heading into town for the show. It reminded me of NYC (where I've taken similar pictures), but it also had that out-in-the open BART station feel. Whenever I have a bad day I try to remind myself that I sleep in a bed.

Robbie and I went up to Mossy and Grandie's place during my last week home and Mossy cooked my FAVORITE. Yums.

I took this on what I honestly hope was my last trip through security at O'Hare International, ever. I had just gotten through another retarded wait in the priority security line, which is a joke in and of itself. But this was just too classic TSA to pass up. I was kind of afraid I would get nailed by security or the cops for taking pictures of them, but I went for it anyway. What you are looking at is TSA rookies, studying. Not in a classroom, no, they are flipping non-chalantly through their training manuals, at makeshift metal desks, in the middle of the busy O'Hare terminal 3. Wow.

Now we're back to pre-leaving-NYC. Suin and I somehow got into a mostly-empty Waverly Inn, on a Friday night, no less. Still not sure how that happened, but as you can see, we battled the Australian Tiger Prawns, and won.

I wish this one had turned out. It was so typical of Hoboken. It was one of those bar sidewalk signs advertising the specials inside. What was special about this one is that it pointed out that it was the anniversary of Alcoholics Annonymous, and then listed the drink specials they were offering to celebrate that fact.

There's a lot of great architecture in NYC, but this fuse of old/new construction, at 15th and 9th, is pretty much my favorite.

The marketing major in me loved this ad campaign on the sides of NYC's buses this past summer.

The appropriately French french onion soup that Tank ordered when we went to Tartine, the Monday after Memorial Day. We hung out in the village all day and I was reminded how much I love Manhattan.

If Cregan plays his cards right, Titus will be the next Tiger Woods and he'll be set for retirement (and maybe I can get good seats at the Open?). He's pretty much the coolest kid in Hoboken, I can't wait to get back and hang with the fam.

Typical NYC straightforwardness.


So the town where I'm actually based here in South Africa is called Pretoria. Its the executive (administrative) capital of the country (Cape Town is the legislative capital, Bloemfontein is the judicial capital). Its situated in the same province as Johannesburg, about 50-some kilometers north of it. Gauteng is the smallest province in ZA, and it is also the highest populated (roughly 10 mil?), and the best. They're fairly proud of their provinces here, which is kind of cool. (and no, I still haven't bothered asking why its abbreviated Zed-A)

Pretoria is situated in the highveld - well on the edge of it and the bushveld. The highveld is a high (surprise!) plateau area in ZA about the size of Belgium, and Johannesburg is also situated on it. I think Johannesburg is at about the same height above sea level as Denver, and Pretoria's at roughly the same height.

While its got less to see and do than a Johannesburg, based simply on its smaller size, it still feels fairly large and has quite a number of varying neighborhoods to be explored. I'm staying in the nicest one I've seen, to date, which is a blessing indeed - in a complex on a hill on the far western side of Pretoria, and the neighborhood is called Waterkloof Ridge. There are a lot of Jacarandas in the neighborhood, which makes it quite pretty - Pretoria is called the Jacaranda City, in fact, named for the trees that for a few weeks every year have the most amazing purple blossoms you could imagine (pictures on my flickr, soon). They are out in full force right now, so it is cool to be here for that.

Even in the nicest neighborhoods, however, all of the apartments / condos / houses / what have you are all situated within security complexes (read: surrounded by tall walls with electric fencing on the top - often with a night security guard at the front gates, etc.). And there are bars on every window and every door in your place, and that's just life here. You get home, you lock yourself in, until the next morning, when you let yourself out for the day. Its like a self-induced jail, but you just learn to deal with it.

That said it is quite a nice complex I'm in, and when I'm diligent I get out for a run in the morning on the hilltops above the city, which is pretty freaking cool. Still doing light runs because I haven't shaken the plantar fasciitis in the foot, which is now going on 3 months old. I should probably give it a name, since its like a part of me now. I think I will call it Rip. Rip, my foot pain. I miss my physical therapists.

The one big surprise I had about Joburg was that it is NOT a tourist destination. This first really hit me when Brian and I headed to the Apartheid museum - there weren't 25 cars in the parking lot, late on a Saturday morning. When people come to South Africa they go to Cape Town, or on safari. If they see Joburg at all, its only passing through the airport on their way to points elsewhere. And it really is a vibrant city, with much to offer (in a very South African way, mind you).

Pretoria seems a little more laid-back than Joburg. I feel more secure here - a little - not much - sense of less crime / more safety, but its not to be taken for granted. It doesn't feel so oppressively big that you could accidentally make a wrong turn and end up in the wrong neighborhood, whereas there are parts of Joburg where I have done just that. Pretoria feels manageable, which is a nice transition to the country. Not to say that I don't think I could handle Joburg - many people do it just fine...its just that I like it here. That's all.


April. Early April was the last time I got two blog posts out in as many days.

The shame.

Well, that streak is over now. What's next? More lists about posts that I'm claiming I'm going to write in the future, that's what. Its later than I had hoped to start blogging tonight so I'm not actually going to try to give one of these following topics the thought and effort that they deserve this evening, rather I'm going to preview-list them.

- The church in ZA (so far). Two things in particular I want to write about are the missional slant and an orthodoxy seemingly unaffected by western shifts of late (prophecy being one of the situational examples that comes to mind).

- Being here to witness how the country as a whole reacted to the Springboks' victory in the Rugby World Cup. It truly was the opportunity of a lifetime.

- The travel lifestyle and the lack of community it fosters. How I've dealt with that in the past, how I'm dealing with it now internationally.

- Book recaps on a few other ones I've finished recently.

- At least a couple of other things that I can't think of at the moment. I really need to start carrying the mini-notepad around with me again.


I am going to make (yet another?) attempt at returning to semi-regular blogging. I think weekly is an ambitious first goal.

And I do think this is actually a good time to give it a shot, now that I'm done with my first 2 months which involved some sort of travel almost every weekend. Which was fine, and in many cases awesome. I've been on 3 safaris, saw England, Kenya, and Tanzania for the first time, saw Cape Town and areas surrounding, and have gotten very familiar with Joburg (headed down there for my first official braai, after which I'll be watching the Springboks take the rugby world championship.

Also, I have a South Africa 2007 iRB rugby ball that my friend Carolien, who knows famous rugby players, is going to get signed by Brian Habana. Contingent on them winning tonight, it will become either the coolest thing I've gotten on my trip yet, or the second coolest (the lion's tooth from Masai is pretty freakin cool).

So, here's what I have planned in the near future of the now-undead blog. Let's hope.

- Finishing up a few of the drafts I've had sitting out there for months on end, including a quasi-book-report written when I finished "A Sacred Romance," and one of those list-of-things-i-like posts, which I just barely started back in May.

- Pictures from the trips. I'm going to try to pull out some of the best ones I've gotten from the trips so far, and perhaps get some brief synopses of said trips typed out as well. And link back to the flickr sets, for those who haven't seen them yet.

- Pictures from my cell phone, before I left the states. Kind of a reflection back on some of the good things I've missed since I left.

- The introvert's manifesto. More on this soon. I've been realizing a few things since I got here.

- Thoughts on ZA so far - which will probably turn into reasons why I really like it here.

I'm looking forward to a few weeks of settling down in Pretoria, catching up on local life, organizing the general disarray, catching up on my guitar and Afrikaans.