Friday, January 25, 2008


Every time I fill up at the petrol station, the attendants (there’s no self-service here, so it’s like back in the 70’s or earlier) do a strange thing from a US perspective. When the petrol (gas) reaches a certain point the pump naturally stops. Well, it’s happened twice that I have asked for R200 of petrol, and the the pump clicks off around R150. And then this is what the attendant does. He lifts the nozzle so the petrol doesn’t go inside it or fill it while it is filling the tank (like using a garden hose to fill a inflatable pool while pulling the garden hose up so the standing water doesn’t go inside the hose because that’s the signal to shut it off). They fill the gas and keep lifting the nozzle higher and higher. I, of course, from an American perspective am horrified. I try to keep my peace, but finally tell the guy it’s ok (they are obviously trying to fit R200 worth of petrol into the tank or as close to it as they can). Strange. So there are not warnings of topping off problems here. Today (Thursday) I finally asked for a fill-up (I wasn’t sure you could say that as I haven’t heard anyone do that), and the attendant did the same thing. I was going to let him go and do it as much as it wanted, but after about R250 worth of petrol, I had to stop him.

I’ve heard that my response last e-mail due to criticism about Jeannie and Haley met with more as words about Jeannie were only that she had brilliant friends. So let me address that in a very simple factual way. She’s excited about life and what she is doing (here in SA she’s like a kid in a candy store and everything is novel). She is ready to engage in the community and do good work (she has wonderful service work planned that I shall not unduly reveal). Her zest for life is contagious as she infects those around her (not me, I was called heavy and depressing this week). She is committed (she ran an entire fundraiser for my Ghana kids in Austin with no actual reason, motivation, or impetus other than love). She is inspired (she wanted to join us in our work in Ghana and wanted to do whatever she could to help and come; she even left with no job security or promise to receive her old job back). I’m tired.

I’m again dealing with power outages. Some call it rolling. I call it spot-outages. I went to the post office to pick up a package in the dark. Thankfully the two attendants had candles. They were nice. My university even lost power on Wednesday for 2 and a half hours. In fact, we’re slated for power outages anytime between 10 and 12 and 18:00 and 20:30 each day (the put the percentage chance that it will happen on the web). So you are highly discouraged from using the lifts at the university during those times because if you’re caught there when they cut it, you’re stuck. Do you see why I’m surprised we are hosting the World Cup in 2010. I’m sure they’ll work something out. Funny, when electricity usage is high and they place the meter on TV, they tell you to turn everything off except the light and the TV. I always laugh at that. Why not tell the person to turn off the TV or why not cut power to TV stations, especially government ones? Just thoughts.

Here, you can citizen rights through a relationship visa. The reason I think it’s novel and good, is that it decreases the motivation to get married just to get a green card or visa. And so South Africa decreases the contribution to the divorce rate from citizenship seekers.

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