I recently achieved (very) mild internet fame. Here's how.

I'm part of this "community weblog" that basically anyone can sign up for. Its called Metafilter, and for various reasons its one of my very favorite places on the entire internets. Essentially, the way the site works is that any user can post a link to anything on the internet, given a few specific rules (it hasn't been posted before, etc.). Each user can only post one link every 24 hours, and the idea is that people should only post "the best of the web" (BOTW). So its a great way to find out about cool stuff on the internet you might have otherwise missed.

Anyway, the rather brilliant creator of this site is an internet / community moderating genius, he's written all these (basically) white papers on the subject, and he's started a few sister sites, the most successful of them being AskMetafilter.

AskMeFi is a site where, again, given a set of rules, any user can post a question for the community to answer - i.e. anyone can answer. The idea behind it is called "hive mentality" - basically the assumption that one of the other bees out there has dealt with my problem / query before, and you can usually get your question answered (questions can be about anything, as long as they're within the rules - not chatty, hypothetical, etc.). The questions work differently than the main page in that a user only gets one per week, instead of one per day.

Anyhow, AskMeFi has been so successful that it (basically) put Google Answers out of business (and I'm pretty sure that's still the only publicly-released venture they've ever shut down). Its a great site, very useful, and quite interesting.

Enter me. Yesterday some guy posts a question asking "Where do police / security dogs go when they are retired?" So I posted this answer (which I will copy-paste here for your convenience):

I used to work in Macy's Department Stores corporate offices (as a buyer, not a dog handler), above the Herald Square store in Manhattan. As the store is incredibly large (about 10 floors of retail space), they at one point had a problem with either a) homeless people hiding in the store for a warm place to sleep at night, b) would-be thieves hiding in the store waiting to plunder and then hopefully break their way out of the store after hours, or c) both.

So, naturally, they built a dog kennel on the roof. They keep about 4-5 retired police dogs (all german shepherds) up there and use them nightly for patrolling the store, after hours. I had more than a couple late nights in the office when most of the lights were out and people gone home, and I had to remind myself again and again - "they don't patrol the office floors, dummy."

I once ran into a guy on the service elevator taking a cart with bags of dog food on it up to the roof, and, being a dog lover, I started chatting him up. Turns out that his is a pretty lonely job up there on the roof, just him and the dogs, and he was more than happy to tell me all about them and invite me up for a visit.

Every once in a while I'd be driving by the store on the weekend, usually on the 35th street side, and I would see one or two of the dogs out there on the street with a handler, in the middle of the day. I'm not sure if they were using them to give the appearance of security for the sake of deterrence, or perhaps to chase down run-away shop lifters, or just giving the dogs a change of scenery.

So, that's one place some of them retire to.

Annnnnnnnnnyway...the front page of Metafilter, which probably gets about 1-200,000 visits / day (I have no idea and that's a completely random guess, but there are currently almost 63,000 registered members, so you do the extrapolating), has this "sidebar" - a column off to the left. The moderators sometimes post something they think is cool there, and then it gets a lot of visibility / hits that it otherwise wouldn't have gotten. Getting anything you wrote/did posted to the side-bar is something of an internet-nerd honor, so to speak - everyone "favorites" (tags) your answer, asks follow-on questions, etc....

Yeah so back on the fifth of November (remember, remember), I got side-barred on Metafilter.

So, yes, I am an internet nerd. And now I am a (very) mildly famous one.


(File under: things I won't be telling mom about.)

U.S. Consulate General, Johannesburg
Warden Message – November 27, 2007

This warden message is being issued to remind Americans that crime levels tend to increase during the holiday season. With that in mind, please review and put into practice the following security precautions. Please consult the Consular Information Sheet for South Africa at www.travel.state.gov for additional precautions.


Armed robbery of cash-in-transit vehicles and personnel occurs throughout South Africa, and peaks during December and January due to the increase in cash flow from commercial stores to banks. These attacks have also included incidents at major malls and in large grocery stores. Individuals should raise their level of situational awareness while in the vicinity of cash-in-transit vehicles, and to the extent possible avoid areas where they are located.

As an added note of caution, please be vigilant when using your Debit/Credit cards at ATMs. There have been several reports of ATM PIN thefts/ATM cloning schemes that result in multiple unauthorized cash withdrawals from personal accounts. If you need to use an ATM, first make sure no one is loitering in the area. Should someone offer to "help" you, leave the area immediately. Generally one should avoid using an ATM in a remote area.

Smash & Grabs/Carjacking:

Motorists are urged to be extremely cautious when approaching intersections and to hide bags, cell phones, and other valuables from view. Criminals are on the lookout for valuable items they can see through the car windows. Doors should be kept locked and windows rolled up at all times.

Crimes against property, such as carjacking, have often been accompanied by violent acts, including murder, when victims resist or are slow to respond to attackers’ demands. South Africa also has the highest incidence of reported rape in the world. Foreigners are not specifically targeted, but several have been the victims of rape. Victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical attention, including antiretroviral therapy against HIV/AIDS. Questions about how to receive such treatment should be directed to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

In Public Areas:

When in public, remain vigilant for signs of trouble. Before entering any establishment, scan the area for suspicious activity to avoid walking into a robbery in progress. Remember where the nearest fire exits and other avenues of escape are located. Avoid walking or driving near cash in-transit vans since they are frequently targeted by heavily armed gangs. If you hear shots fired, immediately get down on the ground. Do not try to investigate or intervene.

Registration with U.S. Consulates General:

We strongly recommend that you register your presence in South Africa with the nearest U.S. Consulate General via our registration site located at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions:

The U.S. Embassy is located at 877 Pretorius Street, Arcadia in Pretoria, telephone (27-12) 431-4000 (from South Africa 012-431-4000), fax (27-12) 431-5504 (from South Africa 012-431-5504). The U.S. Embassy web site is http://usembassy.state.gov/pretoria/.

The U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg provides consular services for Americans in the Pretoria area. The Consulate General in Johannesburg is located at No. 1 River Street (corner of River and Riviera Road), Killarney, Johannesburg telephone (27-11) 644-8000 (from South Africa 011-644-8000), fax (27-11) 646-6916 (from South Africa (011-646-6916). Its consular jurisdiction includes Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, NorthWest, and Free State provinces.

The Consulate General in Cape Town is located at the 2 Reddam Avenue, Westlake, Cape Town, telephone (27-21) 702-7300 (from South Africa 021-702-7300), fax (27-21) 702-7493 (from South Africa 021-702-7493). Its consular jurisdiction includes Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape provinces.

The Consulate General in Durban is located at the Old Mutual Building, 31st floor, 303 West Street, telephone (27-31) 305-7600 (from South Africa 031-305-7600), fax (27-31) 305-7691 (from South Africa 031-305-7691). Its consular jurisdiction includes KwaZulu-Natal Province.


(Retro- blogging)

Wonder- boom! A fitting name for a gate through which I was to make my first foray into the wonderful world of African safari. It was early September, almost 2 weeks after I got here, and Leslie and I drove up to Madikwe game park, which is situated in northern ZA, just south of the border with Botswana. And I would have gone to Botswana and had a coffee there with Brian and Jenny when they went at the end of the weekend, but I brilliantly left my passport at home. Smart, driving around a foreign country sans-passport. Go me.

But the trip was still great. We drove most of Saturday morning - I took a few pictures along the way, but the one thing my camera couldn't really capture were the literally hundreds of people we passed on the trip that were thumbing rides. Probably thousands is more accurate. Its just part of life here, they don't have cars, so they stand out in the African heat and try to get a ride. And here we zip past in our air-conditioned Toyota with an empty back row of seats. But you can't pull over and help them, because a) its not safe, b) it would be totally out of the ordinary and who knows how they might react to a white person doing that, and c) its not safe. People just don't do that here. Not one of the people we passed trying to get a ride was white. I resolved then and there on that drive that if I ever live here, I will own a pick-up truck, and I will give rides.

So, yeah. We arrived early afternoon at the gates to the park, and then took the poorly-kept dirt/rock road back to the particular resort that Jenny had booked us at. Saw a lot of stuff on the way in - the first wild thing I saw up close was the springbok, fittingly, followed soon by a kudu, up real close.

Then a joey, standing right by the road.

Then some zebra (I've learned its properly pronounced "zeb-ra" not "zeeb-ra"). Then we were at the lodge, and Brian and Jenny pulled in a couple minutes after us, in the ugliest car in the whole of ZA.

We were greeted with moist towels and champagne (or juice, I can't remember which), had a nice light lunch of fish cakes and salad, settled into our rooms (which were extravagantly 5-star African bush-lodge awesome), and marveled over what is my new favorite thing that I will have someday - a shower that opens via sliding glass door out onto the deck with an incredible view. So its kind of like showering outside, except you're enclosed enough by the way the building is designed to have sufficient privacy. If you don't mind some animals watching you bathe.

Checked out the pool and the view of the valley a bit, and then it was time for our first eveing game drive.

This is basically what I saw for the majority of the gamedrive. This is basically what you see for the majority of any gamedrive - the rest of the people in the Land Rover in front of you (if you're smart enough to sit in the highest row, in the back, where you will get the best pictures and also run the risk of being gored to death through the seat by an angry elephant tusk, which I later came to find happened a couple weeks before we got there to some poor dude), and the general landscape. Actually most of the time you're searching the landscape for animals, but it takes a while to find some.

This was our guide. He is holding a piece of crap and explaining the wonderful world of the dung beetle to us. He was very knowledgeable about the terrain, wildlife, plantlife, and everything else, right down to the crap.

The first thing of any significance (read: not springbok) that we saw was a crazy looking bird (that's its actual, real, scientific name, I kid you not).

Then we pulled up right next to a family of lions. Because, apparently, this is what people do every day in places like this. I was sitting, literally, 5 feet away from a small pride of wild lion. Me: wow. Lion: yawn. Needless to say we took a lot of pictures / footage. That was pretty much the high point of day one, and the trip so far, for that matter.

This is him about to pounce and devour us as we lie twitching and screaming in pools of our own blood. Or yawning. You decide.

MMMbeeeer. Or, as they call it on safari, a "sun- downer." I still call it MMMbeeeer.

Dinner was tres awesome, as the French say, and I will allow it to speak for itself:

There was one couple off having dinner in a secluded area of their own, they were on honeymoon or it was the wife's birthday or some such nonsense, but anyway it meant that after dessert we were treated to some real live tribal singing from the local kids who worked the kitchen / tables, which was pretty neat. I caught some of it on my camera's video function, but the light was pretty poor. Then we sat out on our deck and saw stars I've probably never seen before that night. That was a nice evening.

WAKE UP ITS MORNING ALREADY. Time for morning game drive. Now its me doing the yawning, but only until we cruise up next to mother elephant and her extended family. She looked not very happy with us, but didn't make signs of a charge, so we got some good shots. There were maybe 30 of them or so altogether, and unlike how you normally find elephant (eating, eating, and then stopping to eat, after which they eat some more), these guys were on a mission for something or other - we followed them for a few km across the plain, maybe they were headed to water, we never found out because we ran into another family of lions that had just finished a delightful breakfast of wildebeest.

Hi I'm a wildebeest.

Hi, we're lions. That red stuff around our mouths? That's the wildebeest.

Saw a few more zebs, wildes, joeys, and other stuff on the way back but nothing much new. Once back we had a late, oboxiously large breakfast - basically they serve you all this food - cereals, muffins, meats, cheeses, fruits - and then they come out and ask you what you'd like for breakfast - eggs, omlette, ham, toast, fried tomato, etc..

So you can get some idea of the main lodge...

Where we ate

Stairs to main lobby

One of the decks

Stairs up to the pool

Another deck

Then it was time to pack up and go. On our way out of the park, we came RIGHT up on a family of elephant trying to find some shade in the trees next to the road. I mean we were very close, but they didn't seem to mind, probably because it was too darn hot to be chasing away any smallish shiny silver human mover things.

I drove Leslie to JNB where she hopped on her flight back to the states, and then I was alone here in SA, which was an interesting feeling. Brian and Jenny, meanwhile, drove up to the Botswana border, had coffee in Botswana, and then drove back to their place in Joburg.

But at least I didn't have to bribe the police after being caught speeding.

(Editor's note: I've been going through all kinds of hell and high water trying to get this stupid spacing right on posts with pictures lately so that it actually appears half decent in FireFox. Need to figure out a way around that, but in the meantime, if the post looks all funky to you, its probably b/c you're viewing via Internet Explorer. Which is your loss.)

(Here's another new theme I'm kicking off here on the blog, similar to retroblogging. This one will be known as "story time." You get the idea. Might be real, might be fake, but most likely, its the former. And for these first few ones I have in mind, they're most likely an adaptation of an email or IM conversation I've had recently. You'll know its story time, because it will start with "It is now time to talk about...", which happens to be my favorite way to start any story. Enjoy.)

It is now time to talk about the hallucinations.

I'm on a malaria medication whilst here in Africa, you don't need it for most of South Africa (except Kruger park, where it is carried prolifically by the M.O.U.S.'s, or Mosquitos of Unusual Size, as they are known here. Seriously, Brian and I saw one eating a bee. A BEE.). Anyway, you do need it for much of the rest of Africa, like Kenya, and Zambia, both of which I've spent time in recently and still have to blog about.

So, the medication. First off let's point out that it won't prevent you from getting malaria. Only copius amounts of deet and running faster than the bugs can fly will do that. So there's that. It does lessen the effects of the disease, if you get it, which some locals argue might take you longer to realize you actually have it, which is detrimental, if you don't get to the doc sooner rather than later, to get tested and treated if in fact you do have it.

But everybody takes it, so, whatever. Basically there's two types, the once-a-week-you-might-have-hallucinations-type or the once-daily-other-probably-less-noticeable-side-effects-one (no hallucinations with that one). Shakespeare said "Know thyself," (although I once had a friend try to tell me it came from the Bible), and, well, having my horrible memory, taking a pill every day for a month and a half just isn't going to happen. I'm lucky enough to remember to take the thing once a week. Well, no, I'm not even that lucky, as you'll see shortly. Maybe its because there's no such thing as luck.

Early on, however, this malaria med had not been too hard to remember, because every Saturday night was hallucination night! Yay. Pass the popcorn. The first time I was supposed to take it before leaving for my London / Nairobi trip, both of which I've spent time in recently and still have to blog about. But I forgot. So I found myself debating whether or not to take it on the flight up to London (an overnight flight), but I very smartly didn't. Having my first dose at 37,000 feet over western Africa probably would have ended not very well, and by "not very well" I mean "in a London prison."

The first one in London actually wasn't that exciting. I was exhausted from the trip and my first day in London, so a couple of vodka cranberries and the pill and I was out for the night. There may have been some minor Mary Poppins related stuff (the animated part, in particular, also Dick Van Dyke dancing in that stupid outfit) in my dreams, but that's about it. Pretty tame.

The next week I was back in SA, after the brief trip to Kenya, and there were some pretty intense thunderstorms. And by "pretty intense" I mean "the worst I've ever heard in my life." Put the midwest ones I heard as a kid to shame. That was, suffice to say, a long night. I probably had about 60 dreams of nuclear holocaust, most of them beginning with me fleeing a glowing, flattened Manhattan in the background as my skin started to fall off.

The following week, I'm happy to report, was much worse, however, because it was just windy, and I had left the kitchen windows open. That's not so bad. Unless the kitchen windows have those thin-metal blinds, and the wind keeps banging them around all night long. And you're living in a country that has bars on all the doors and windows and you're inside a complex with a security guard and walls and electric fences at the top of the walls, and you regularly hear stories of break-ins and robberies and hi-jackings and whatnot. So that night I was up at least 3-4 times, in my shorts, ready to kill the non-existant-villans who were breaking in, with my flashlight, before I figured out that it was the wind. Each time, lights on in the whole place, search it for bad guys, ready for them to pop out of every closet, and then somehow I turn off the lights and go back to bed without thinking to close the window. I wasn't thinking very clearly.

Then, the 4th week, no weather, I figure I'm set. No nuclear bombs going off nearby because the weather is nice out, no people breaking in because the kitchen window is now closed, I'm going to finally have some more peaceful hallucinations.

No, instead, I get scorpions shooting across the floor. I had forgotton about the insect / spider problem here - they're bigger and they're more a part of everyday life, shall we say. So that's what the brain went with that night. Took me a while to get from the couch to bed, where I slept on top of the covers.

I've learned that London was the best idea. Now I won't have this pill with less than a little wine in me first, so I know I'm gonna crash immediately.

Last week wasn't too bad, nothing that I particularly remembered the next morning, although I was due for another one this past weekend and I've forgotten it for 3 straight nights now, so tonight is the night.

Not sure why I couldn't get the fun trippy mushroom hallucinations - not that I'd know what they're like - but I'd imagine recreational drugs make you see happier things. I certainly don't see happy things. Mine seem to be mainly related to stuff that you should naturally have a healthy fear of: anger-of-God thunderstorms (and/or nuclear war), break-ins, and the pervasive spider problem. Apparently, though, after I deal with it the first time, I'm fairly certain my brain can cancel it out for next time, seeing as I haven't had any repetition.

Maybe tonight I'll get ones about having to write a deliverable about a subject I have no experience on. Because there's been some of *that* going on lately, too.


I have, somewhat recently, come to the rather clear realization that I have a fairly textbook case of introversion. That is to say: I am an introvert. (I say that in the same manner I might had I just stood up in a big empty church basement with a group of 20 other people sitting in a circle holding styrofoam coffee cups - "Hi, my name is David…and I am an introvert.")

I have yet to conclude whether it is a good thing, a bad thing, or perhaps some of both. I think the most likely conclusion, however, is that it is in fact, none of the above. Its just a thing.

There is a day that I remember - a few years ago at most - that for me, is the best illustration I can possibly conjure to describe how I best relate to people. If a person (any person) could understand how and why I felt it was a such great day, I think they would, perhaps, "get" me a little better. And I think a lot of people do not "get" me - this is the typical claim of the introvert. We don't feel "got," and its usually not a good feeling.

It was while I was still living in the NYC area, a surprisingly warm weekend in the middle of winter. My friend Rebecca had come up from Virginia or Philly or wherever it was she was living at the time, and she had her aunt and sister with her. I don't remember where they were staying, but I do remember heading out for beers in Union Square with them on the Friday evening, at the Heartland Brewery. I got the coolest picture on my phone of Sarah, Rebecca's sister, drinking a beer (she was underage, so it screamed of scandal and I swore I would send it to her parents). It was just a really nice evening. It was right about the time that Rebecca and I were realizing what a great friendship we really had. We were friends - and only that - but just that, all the same.

The next morning, Saturday, Sarah and the aunt were off to do the touristy bits of the city, and Rebecca just wanted to hang out. Which is what I enjoy most and am most likely to be found doing on any lazy winter Saturday - just hanging out.

I remember it was warm enough that we had the door to the roof deck open and the sun was filling the apartment. I remember that Rebecca was reading something, likely a book, and I was busy cleaning up my messy desk and goofing around on the internet.

I wish I could remember the rest of the details, because it really is one of my favorite days that I can remember, but I can't - and I actually am glad, in a way, that I can't. The details don't matter here so much as the emotional memory I have of that day: I was at peace. I was busying myself with minor things, stumbling upon things forgotten, allowing the mind to mull over the week before or ahead. I was taking time for the brain to do an internal audit of sorts. A defrag. A disk cleanup.

It wasn't that either of us were doing nothing at all, although we both might very well have been, at some point. It was that regardless of what we were or were not doing, there was not the slightest perceived need for communication about the doing or lack thereof. There was just peaceful quiet.

But not the peaceful quiet that comes when you are totally alone. That can be a good (wonderful, even) peaceful quiet. I crave those peaceful quiets, from time to time. I crave them in small ways, daily - when the brain knows its time to shut down the computer and go forage for food. I crave them in big ways, often - when I've had wonderful weekend with friends, but its just time to go back to my home. These peaceful quiets are good, and necessary, and exactly what I am not talking about here.

We had the peaceful quiet of the presence of another person in that same state of repose.


There's something about presence.

I am sure this occurs within marriages, and although I wouldn't know, I would hopefully speculate. But this, I do know, can happen amongst friends. Yet it hasn't happened to me much, which is why that day stands out. I have had other occasions, but I've found that very few people in my life can understand the unique pleasure that comes out of so many contiguous moments being shared, and perhaps even relished, in silence.


There's something about that too.

Do you know those people who can't sit at home without having the television or stereo on - some form of background noise even if they aren't dedicating themselves fully to the medium at the moment? I don't intend to vilify - I've been that person myself at times, but you know what I'm intimating - that constant need for aural stimulation. The car radio must be on, even if low; the television providing some din of life in from the corner of the room, combined with the soothing high-pitched electronic buzz that our generation has come to accept as a very real and necessary part of life. It is noise for noise sake - it is the absence of silence.

We've been stimulated, as it were, to the point that we can't stand *not* to be stimulated. The lack of it causes us to seek it out - we turn on the internet or reach for our cell phone or even for the latest magazine - something to focus our brain on so that we don't have to face the horror of focusing it on nothing, and perhaps hearing the ripples what lies beneath the surface.

And this is how we cut ourselves off from our own spirit. As long as we can keep the brain occupied, there's no time for reflection or introspection, no time for self examination or perhaps critique, and thus no opportunity for spiritual and mental growth. Instead you just stay there in your perpetual state of placated dormancy (not altogether unlike the humans in The Matrix, if a pop-culture reference isn't too ironic at this point).

There is something about being able to return to silence - and we do so very much have to return to it. The world we live in is structured primarily around the absence of it, and so we must make the conscious journey to those times and places where things stop speaking to our brain and it can deal with itself on its own. There is something about those times that makes them so very peaceful - even in those times where the reflection might bring up some past hurt or wrong that needs to be dealt with - even then, there is the underlying peace that, finally, it is being acknowledged. There is peace in the silence.

Its that beautiful peace, when combined with the wonderful presence of another person sharing it - that is my perfect day. There is no need for words, just the implied trust and comfort in the mutual understanding of the relationship with the other person, regardless of its contexts. A "poignant form of intimacy," as a friend once put it.

I've had many moments of personal reflection on my own, over the years - some pleasant, and some not so enjoyable - but what have been fewer and further between are the instances in which I shared the experience with other persons. I had it with a friend on a long road trip to see my sister and a football game - time to just watch the scenery roll by and think. It happened with another while she cooked us a Sunday meal and I enjoyed my book in the sun. And with another in a canoe we shared floating through silent river valleys. I can think of a couple of friends who have, at the best of moments, looked at me with a smile that says more than words could, and yet is free from the need of them, at the same time.

This is how I best relate to people. When I can be with you and not feel a need for words, or at least very few of them, I am at peace.

I wouldn't argue on behalf of introverts - that they are able to more easily reach this state of quiet repose, or that they are better in some way because of their awareness of it. Rather, I'd simply offer that the typical introvert senses a need for this more deeply - perhaps not even consciously, but often we find ourselves longing for those environments where the quiet can be bathed in. In fact, sometimes, the situations that prevent the comfort of quiet very often can become stressful for us.

And, as much as I'd like it to be the answer, I don't think requiring everyone else to understand and pander to how I'm psychologically structured is the correct response here. While I do believe that society at large does need to be more sensitive to much of the aforementioned, the pessimistic part of me doesn't expect people to change much. So, here are a few things I've been trying to implement in my life in order to mitigate some of the challenges that introversion often fosters:

1. Eye contact. I've been trying to use it more frequently in conversations with people to help them feel acknowledged. Further, I've been playing around with this in the context of what I'll term "experimenting." Its interesting to hold a person's gaze until they look away. It changes the dynamics of a situation - be it the gas station attendant, a co-worker, or a girl at a bar. Its something that takes concerted effort, but I am making it, when I remember to.

2. Small talk. I have always, and likely always will, have a severe distaste for small talk. I do not feel the need to state the obvious, repeatedly, every day. To talk about the weather when every human with the basic functioning senses already knows what the freaking weather is like. BUT...many people find small talk to be the lubrication of conversation - the initial part of connecting with other people that will eventually allow you to open into the deeper things. And, so, I've been working on this too - voicing thoughts that I normally would have just let slip by without a word spoken. Trying to compliment things I admire. Trying to find interesting things to share in the monotony of the day. I am working on all these and more.

3. Being more up-front about who I am. Like this post for example.

4. Asking questions. Questions that I might not really be curious about, but trying to develop a genuine interest in the little things about other people. Questions that encourage other people to open up about who they are and what cooks their bacon. Questions that take the focus off of me and helps me to more genuinely care about others.

So, this is where I'm at. Its a growing, evolving thing, but at least now I'm beginning to see it for what it is. Take this post, itself, for example. I've had it mostly written for over a month now. I've been reading articles and writing in discussion forums and getting lots of good input on the topic from friends and strangers alike, but I haven't felt like the post was quite ready, because it feels I learn something new (even if its small) almost every day, that applies to this situation that I will refer to as "life."

I've been thinking of this as my "Introvert's Manifesto." But it just can't be that, because once I post this, I'm going to go out and spend an evening mostly alone, and then a day following with friends and co-workers, and I'm going to realize something else about how I and they approach the world, and how that's different, and how that's ok. This post can never be what I want it to be. I'll never really be able to communicate exactly what I'm trying to say here, at least not in this life. And that's fine.

Sometimes, when you're down in the count, its just a really comforting thing to stop and realize that you get to play in the game.


The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.- H. W. Westermayer

It would seem that the ingratitude, whereby a subsequent sin causes the return of sins previously forgiven, is a special sin. For, the giving of thanks belongs to counter passion, which is a necessary condition of justice. But justice is a special virtue. Therefore this ingratitude is a special sin. Thanksgiving is a special virtue. But ingratitude is opposed to thanksgiving. Therefore ingratitude is a special sin. - Thomas Aquinas

Once, when my feet were bare, and I had not the means of obtaining shoes I came to the chief of Kufah in a state of much dejection, and saw there a man who had no feet. I returned thanks to God and acknowledged his mercies, and endured my want of shoes with patience. - Sadi

Buenas turkeys and happy thanksgiving, folks.


Haven't been able to get around to any decent blogging time lately and there certainly won't be any time before Saturday as I'm fully booked between now and then, unless I get a few minutes to put the finishing touches on the introvert's manifesto that I've mentioned previously.

Work has been going well, albeit a little behind schedule. I'm wrapping up my first deliverable and starting my second this week, and will definitely have to pick up the slack with this second one and knock it out a bit faster than originally planned, which won't be easy, as this will the more difficult one to write.

Its cool to be working so hard for a client that I daily wish I could do even better for. I could get used to this.

My new roommate and the consultant working on our project, Paul, showed up this week. We won't be rooming together til the end of the month, and until then I'm still in my own place with the deck that I will miss having. Turns out I didn't lose my apartment-with-great-deck karma when I came here. Actually, the one at the place Paul and I will be sharing isn't half bad either. Actually, we have two at the new place...

Zambia was pretty cool, the week before last. I'll be writing about that once I get the pictures up, etc.. Which, if we work chronologically, won't happen until after I've blogged Medikwe, Cape Town, and Kruger. Oy.

I was pretty sick the weekend after we got back from Zambia and thought it might be Malaria from Kruger or a really bad strain from Zambia, but the first test came back negative and I was feeling better a day or two later. Not sure what that was about.

I've been back on the running horse, pretty regularly - have been getting in 5 miles a weekday, but I figure that's close enough to what I was at before, given that I'm running at 5k feet higher than I was back in the states. It makes a significant difference, especially given that my route now is pretty much 100% hills. Its also a social experience here - there are a ton of bikers and a handful of other runners out from 5:30-6:30am, which is usually about when I'm running. The sun comes up at 5 here - wakes you up pretty dang early. Anyway, the foot is feeling better, and I'm enjoying being out again. And I met one of my neighbors last night, she's pretty cool and invited me to check out her running group, so now I have friends to run with, hopefully. She said they do 18-kilo time trials on weekends - 11 miles sounds just about right to me.

What else? Tomorrow is dinner with Gib, the guy who leads the entire Accenture Developing Partnerships group. I was in charge of picking the location, so we're going with the Butcher Shop, which is supposed to be the best steakhouse in Joburg. Looking forward to that.

Thursday Tracy (the other manager here on the project with me) and I are headed to the Webb's for a Thanksgiving dinner that evening. David Webb is one of the pastors of the Every Nations church I've been attending down in Joburg, and he and his wife invited us to spend the evening with them and a whole bunch of other Americans they are having over that night. They're from Virginia originally, I think.

Friday our client, Gerard, has invited us - Tracy, Paul, and I over to his family's place for a little impromptu Thanksgiving celebration with them. Their daughter is in school in the states and has educated them on the holiday - and they seem keen to the idea.

Saturday I'm going to catch up on work and enjoy an evening to myself for a change. And maybe blog.

Its raining here in PTA again. Not one of the epic thunderstorms like before, but rainign all the same. Hope it lasts til morning so I can run in it, but given that's unlikely - it only rains at night here for some reason


I just booked flights home (woot). Will be in the states for almost a month - which is in a way great and also a bit of a bummer - I'm loving it over here, so I might try to fly back a little earlier. Anyway, here's the plan as it currently stands (read: ticketed).

12/11: Depart Joburg (JNB) in the evening. Fly northwest for 6,000 hours.

12/12: Arrive NYC (JFK) early morning. Hopefully grab a shower / change at somebody's place, maybe meet up with some peeps for lunch.

12/12: Depart NYC (LGA) mid-afternoon. Arrive Denver (DEN) mid-evening.

12/13-14: Work in DEN.

12/14: Depart DEN mid-evening. Arrive Sacramento (SMF) late evening.

12/14-27: Home in Cali.

12/27: Depart SMF early morning. Be delayed ridiculously in O'Hare, have flashbacks to previous project. Arrive NYC (EWR) early evening.

12/27-1/8: Kick it NYC style. Jason and Jules' wedding on the 28th. Hoping to get a standby flight back earlier than 1/8, but this is unlikely, so I will probably be working out of the NYO for a bit.

1/8: Depart JFK early evening. Fly southeast for 5,900 hours.

1/9: Arrive JNB early evening.

I love my job today.


Retro- blogging is a term that I invented (as far as I know) when I started reading Brian's blog posts about our weekend adventures that he was finally writing, a good deal after they happened. I am now commencing the same, and I'm using my Flickr photo sets, which can be found here, as a guide.

I first arrived in Joburg in the afternoon of August 20th - a Monday, and spent the following week working with Leslie at our offices in Brooklyn (yes, irony, I am working in a neighborhood called Brooklyn). Leslie was off to Kruger that weekend, and I stayed in town to settle down and get my bearings a bit. Friday night I packed a bag and headed down to Brian and Jen's place. Brian and I went out for dinner and then hit The Blues Room afterwards, where we experienced some incredible music thanks to the fact that it was SA's annual jazz / blues festifal.

The next morning we woke up and headed for Soweto - the SOuth WEst TOwnships of Joburg, hence the name. Apparently the clever naming conventions for certain parts of cities isn't germain solely to Europe and the northeastern US. Soweto is where the Apartheid museum is. You might think you don't know any Afrikaans, but the entire world knows one Afrikaans word: apartheid.

The first thing that struck me when we drove up was how very empty the parking lot was. That was my first realization that Johannesburg, for all intents and purposes, is not really that much of a tourist town. The foreigners I've met here by in large part, so far, have been like me - here for work. The city simply does not have a tourism draw like Cape Town. 10AM on a Saturday morning and not more than a couple dozen cars in the parking lot. Sad, in a way, but at least we would have the museum to ourselves.

The tickets (you either got a white or a black one) determined which door you got to go in, and what you got to see upon entering. We were able to come back to the start of each, but it was an interesting design for the entrance. And the interesting design wouldn't end there - practicaly the entire museum was extremely well thought out - architecturally, aesthetically, artistically. When I got home I researched it a little and found that the design was undertaken by a consortium of architects, and the exhibits were similarly fashioned - by teams of curators, filmmakers, historians and designers. The whole museum, although it operates in a not-for-profit manner, was originally built by a private consortium as part of their bid to build the casino / theme park that sits across the parking lot from the museum.

I think the pictures say a lot, although I feel like I only got a fraction of the museum captured in them. It was a detailed, mostly dismal walk through the history of this nation, from its societal origins, to its dramatic shifts, to the mining societies and the following years of oppression. It began with the smack in the face of what life in the worst times - not too long ago - was really like: separate entrances, the endless signs, the quotes that simply shocked you at what passed for "normal" at the time. The word "classification" took on a whole new meaning.

Once through the entrance, the museum essentially did a flash-back to the roots of the people of South Africa, black, white, and "coloured" as they term it here - you're either one of the first two, or you are something else (a mix, or another race entirely). It didn't take long to move through the history of the country into the more modern times, when things truly started to spiral (not to gloss over the fact that the more ancient history wasn't a bowl of cherries either, of course).

Some of the worst parts of the earlier clashes of the 20th century were well documented, at least photo- graphically speaking. There was an incredible array of thoughtful, poignant photography of the strife and the people behind it. I recall being simultaneously shocked by the depravity that men (mainly of my own skin tone) would sink to, and deeply impressed by those rare white individuals who were willing to stand with the resistance and refuse to quietly accept the status quo of the time. I don't diminish the struggles that the black man has had in South Africa, but I can't, at the same time, imagine how alone those very few white men - who were fighting against "their own," after a fashion - must have felt.

One of the really gripping things about the experience was the transition from black and white stills to black and white video, to color video. Watching and listening to this piece of history in the same media that I would go home and watch the news on that very same evening was a definite gut check - the turmoil and turn-around that has happened here occurred, in large part, during my lifetime. The wounds are still fresh.

It was an emotional experience. It makes you question yourself and fear what your own sinful nature is capable of.


So I've actually been working on some posts but for various reasons haven't been able to get any of them to completion stage (complex material, lack of sufficient bandwith on the internet connection, etc.). Hope very soon to have some stuff up on my first few trips since getting here, but I'm off to Zambia for the next 3 days for work, and have no idea what connectivity there will be like. If not before then, it'll happen this weekend...