Monday, April 7, 2008

UPDATE - April 8, 2008

April 8, 2008


  1. Brother, entrepreneur-on-the-rise, received a job
  2. Sister, computer IT expert-turned project manager, received a few job offers and one really nice one
  3. Deidra (legal expert and virtuosic violinist) got a great new job in Chicago
  4. Cheryl, a maturing woman (so proud), stepped out, quit her job, and moved to Hawaii enlisting in a school “for the nations” and she’s raised over $3k so far

Heyyyyy, guys. This is Victor. “Howzit?” SA shorthand for “How’s it?” SA English for “How’s it going?” News, news, news. Not much really going on here, but here’s an update.

First, I don’t think I am depressed. That was an April Fools joke. I have felt bad in the past for doing an April Fool’s Joke that plays on another person, so I decided to do one on myself and avoid the embarrassment or feelings of foolishness on the part of the other person. Fewer people get concerned judging by the responses. But thank you for those who were concerned. Interestingly enough, I found out that I am depressed or so some have told me. So thanks for the psychoanalysis; it’s always good to know. Additionally, someone diagnosed me with hemorrhoids!! And all from a distance. I had better get to a doctor and quick!! I’ll call tomorrow.

Actually I am physically sick. Ryan, my roommate who lives in his bedroom and eats in his bedroom, may actually have a good idea. Since he doesn’t live in the living room and eat in the dining room it’s harder for him to catch any sicknesses. So Radesh (Anna’s boyfriend, something like a 4th roommate) has been staying over a lot more. Usually they rotate places, but he moved to a new place. And for some reason he’s been here straight for over a week. The point is that he was sick with what he called (or Anna called) the “flu.” Anna then got it. And I felt something happening to me yesterday, strangely. And today it’s hit full force. I had graded tests to turn in by 9 AM so I had to go in. I also start lecturing a course this week and start lecturing another course in two weeks. I’m about 100 pages behind in my study-review for the course (I’ve been trying to read an 800 refresher book on the stuff that I must lecture). So I have something, but can fake it pretty well, when I feel like it.

Sometimes I have those moments where I don’t want to send these because of bad responses, but I am a bit too courageous. So that never happens. I do delay them sometimes because it delays the responses. A quick note. I am a student here. I may help lecture and do other things but my fellowship dollars are not taxed because of that. So I don’t earn the top rand like the jobs of the SA elite. But I’m quite fine. The car I have is average compared to all those of my friends. Used cars are common among students. And it should be fine, as well. There’s no disgrace in it. I am not saying I am not a researcher or fellow. I am those things as well. But I am a student also, at least in a sense.

I still haven’t picked up the car. The process is slow. I at least went ahead and registered the tracker (GPS) service and got insurance. Here there are only three kinds—third party, third party fire and theft, and comprehensive. I got the cheapest because the car is cheap plus I have a tracker which means there’s no need for fire and theft. The tracking doesn’t work if the car leaves the country but hopefully it won’t be stolen while I’m right at the border and thus give the police enough time to get it.

Someone gave me a ride to a wonderful concert at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens by the UCT Orchestra. It was a RAG event. RAG is the fundraising arm of ShortCo which is a student philanthropy-community service group. RAG primarily gets its dollars by dubious means though (getting people dangerously drunk). So it was nice to see a nice event where people could picnic, eat cheese and wine, and enjoy music. I don’t know how you eat wine. They had a battle of the bands contest at UCT and the winner was allowed to open this event. Then they had the more established band Plush, who I believe came out of UCT (the members were former students). They have a great following because the students knew the words. The AMAZING thing was that the orchestra conductor picked three songs (or an arranger/orchestrator –I wish they had asked me) and they orchestrated it. Now, imagine it. You are an artist. You singing your heart out and rocking your song to tons of fans who are singing your words and you have an orchestra behind you intensifying the emotion of the song! WHAT! I wish you could have seen it. It was truly beautiful to watch the performance and the interaction and relation between the band (especially the singer) with the crowd and the orchestra. Magic. Then the the orchestra brought out the BALA Brothers. One is a famous R&B singer with a ring-stud going through his bottom lip. The 2nd has gone in and out of R&B and gospel and something else. The third is not known well but all three were part of the best boy choir in SA, the Drakensburg (I am messing the name up) Boy Choir. They had beautiful voices and reminded one of “Three Mo’ Tenors.” If you don’t know the group, look them up. They’re excellent. Though I think their popular songs are still sung a little too operatically. Neeki, my gifted friend, who looks up to them actually sings with more versatility. He has an amazing ability to just plain sing not to mention slow down or speed up his vibrato and sing any style you want without infusing R&B into everything.

Anyway, when the Bala Brothers sang certain songs the crowd went WILD. The stormed the stage especially for the opening song to Lion King and for “Circle of Life.” Apparently the opening theme song to Lion King was written by a South African whose rights were smartly acquired by an American, so it has some deep sentiments for South Africans. Lion King is like THEIR play/musical/songs. And the opening number is in Zulu though the some of the names of the animals are in Swahili, I think. It’s not a recognizable South African language to me (Mufasa, Simba, etc.). The UCT Choir also sang with the orchestra. The Bala Brothers even did Josh Grobin. And they had some soprano that sang the Queen of the Night Aria and totally went out of character and shook her head from side to side (in an “attitude” way) as she did the high notes to show off). She came back and sang with the Bala Brothers. Good time. Wish you were there.

Also, I was dropped from my play. Many people will say it’s my fault, so no need to say that. But I’ll quickly explain. I’m used to getting/knowing the dates of the performance before auditioning and even knowing the rehearsal schedule (or at least giving the director my time conflicts). If the director or casting person doesn’t ask for your availability it usually means they will work with the actors on the schedule. This is, at the least, true of university performances. Well, I was cast and had no idea when this would play or if I would be in town. Moreover, they set the first rehearsal without asking if people were available. I had a night test that day (the course for which I’m a TA) and had TA duties which did not end when the students left. There was multiple counting, taking the test scripts to the convenor’s office, dividing them up, a meeting, instructions. Anyway, by the time I could have gotten to Hidding campus (and I do not have a car) I would have missed the rehearsal (or maybe had 15 minutes left). I could have gotten there earlier, but I did not want to pay hundreds of rand just to go to a rehearsal because it was set during a test (there is public transportation there earlier in the day). Point being they thought I dropped it and didn’t bother contacting me. I told the director let me know the results of the meeting a week ago Friday (before the first rehearsal a week ago Monday (today)) and I even e-mailed my availability. The director went to university in the US and so she checks her e-mail like an American. She never got back to me. We communicated on Friday because I contacted her to find out what happened, when the next rehearsal was, and why no one has gotten back to me. By the time I made contact she said they thought I had quit and it’s too late because they have had 1 week’s worth of rehearsals. Oh well.


There has been drama at home. The brothel that borders our back yard on a parallel street was connected to a murder. Anna says that when the police raided it, perhaps they switched illegal activities. Anyway, the murderers were in that neighboring house (though they got the victim in another part of Cape Town). So they place had tons of police forensically investigating the scene of the murderers’ home or HQ to get evidence to indict them. My roommate Ryan may not have heard about it because when we were talking about it he wasn’t there.

Because I don’t see Ryan much, when he invited me to hang out with him I decided to do so. He and his friends went to a place called Galaxy Friday night and I joined. It’s a place for young people to hang out at night. Often times they have music playing or a DJ. They may even have live music. It’s just like any place in the states. South Africans seem to know American songs even better than Americans. It’s in the Cape Flats (that tough neighborhood I’ve mentioned before), so most of the people were coloured. Even the black people were coloured (I wonder if you understand that comment, but I got fooled many times). I was the only black black person there (well one of the only few).

I eventually went upstairs and fell asleep on a couch. I was woken up by a phone call saying they were outside.

Saturday Ryan and his friends went to Mzoli’s. It’s a famous meat place in a township named Gugulethu. Jeannie and Haley have gone there though I bet Jeannie didn’t eat the meat. But she might be one of those down-low carnivores. I’m currently an undercover vegetarian (if someone is reporting what they read here to my mom, that means I DO eat meat. Thank you very much). Anyway, I had a leader’s breakfast at church with Michael Ramsden, a world famous apologetic professor/philosopher. He’s from the UK. He’s friends with Ravi Zacharias (Ramsden works for the Zacharias Trust and is a lecturer in Oxford at Wycliffe Hall). He did (spoke at) a ticketed supper (you had to pay for the food) on Wednesday, a Saturday morning leader’s breakfast, and Sunday morning and Sunday night service at church. It was good, and I enjoyed it, though he speaks extremely quickly. I wonder if you know.

Next, my church is bringing David Brock, a world-famous astronomer. The cool thing is that he is actually a professor of computational and applied mathematics. But he’s called an astronomer. It’s like some of my earliest e-mails when I was answering people’s question of why I can do medical research or chemical work or civil work or really most things. And here is a guy with a founding in computational and applied mathematics (similar to part of my background) who applies it to astronomy. Louis Giglio used David’s pictures for his DVD message entitled “Indescribable” which uses Chris Tomlin’s song. This video is very big in South African (Christian circles at least). So people are excited to meet the scientist who gave Louis the pictures. In fact, the kids that I work with will be in “big” church (instead of children’s church) to listen and see the cool pictures and hear the cool talk.

I actually love my church, did I tell you? We have a legal clinic, a health clinic, a women’s program, a sewing project in the township, a “think twice” program with teens and sex, a HIV/AIDS and pregnancy counseling program (me!), etc. It goes on and on. They are in the community, and it’s not because the programs are set up and so people just fill in. Those programs are there because of the hearts of the people in that community (Jubilee Community Center is the name of the church) who started those programs from nothing. And new ones are still starting.

I told you that I went to the students and 20’s camp. Well, I was just asked to go to the Blitz (Grades 4-7 group at my church) camp. They are also getting ready to transfer the HIV/AIDS counseling to Jubilee (it happens somewhere else) and staff it with Jubilee members. So they are trying to get people (especially guys; we need guys) to take these two counseling courses which certify you to do the work. The first is 4 straight full days. The second is every Wednesday from the end of April through early/mid August (save a few Wednesdays in July). Both present problems for me because of teaching and TA duties. So I’m trying to get around it. You have to have daytime availability to work/volunteer during the day. I’m SUPER excited about it, even if I can’t do it. You see, primarily I don’t see myself here doing work at the University. I see my holistic contribution to the SA community I have been placed. And this is a HUGE part of it. Moreover, I get to mingle the social and scientific work on AIDS. That is a beautiful relation, so that the science isn’t removed from the society. And honestly we just need it. I love my church.

I also love how the pastor (we are around the same age) has a heart that follows God. He actually has us pray for the plight of people, especially Zimbabwe. He has a special place for Zimbabwe.


Prepare yourself for a crisis. The election was a week ago Saturday and still, today, the results have not been released for the presidential race. This can only mean one thing. Mugabe did not win 50%, and he’s holding the results and as they are modified. There are two ways in which Mugabe received below 50% of the vote. Either, no one received 50% of the vote, in which case the Zim constitution dictates a run-off between the two recipients of the largest percentages of the vote; or Tsvangirai won more than 50%. I now believe, after waiting this long, it is the most probably the latter.

Originally the MDC declared victory in the presidential race, but Tsvangirai retracted that and wanted to wait to see the results. His party has won a majority of the parliamentary seats. And now we await the presidential results. The Zim Election Support Network projected (statistically based on sample) 49% for Tsvangirai. Other groups have projected 50+%!

When the results are finally released, for Mugabe to have over 50% of the vote (and therefore win) would be blatant rigging. So I think when it is released, it will probably show no one winning with over 50% which would lead to a run-off. It’s rumored that even Mugabe supporters are urging him to concede. It’s possible that he might do a kind of power-sharing concession through a super-close run-off. I don’t know. But it’s all very interesting.

You see with all rigging Mugabe didn’t reign. Yes, there were concerns raised over extra (3 million) ballot papers printed, 8500 voters registered whose addresses were empty lots, and that Western journalists and monitors were not allowed (only African ones—I didn’t apply in time). But honestly, there wasn’t as much rigging as normal. The public posting of results was a huge help. It’s harder to change the tally or count of the votes after (or while) the votes tallies are delivered from outlying polling stations to city centers because the results have already been posted! It was much more peaceful than before. This might be due to Mugabe’s weakening image and hold since his country is socioeconomically sinking.

Right now, the Supreme Court is considering forcing a release on the presidential results (after the electoral commission was challenging the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction). The court should have a decision by tomorrow.

Mugabe is invading white-owned farms right now. I shouldn’t say that; Mugabe supporters are doing this but it seems to be coordinated by someone higher up (as soon as police remove the invaders they are doing it again within a few hours). 15 properties have been invaded so far. I’ve also heard 27. Mugabe accuses the MDC (opposite party) of wanting to hand back farms to whites.


Mbeki, the president (ZA), has sent emissaries into Zim to help with the situation and urge Mugabe to do right. Mbeki was also speaking before a London crowd (this weekend or today) saying Africans are ready to move forward and take their fate into their own hands. He spoke about Zimbabwe and the issues with the ANC in post-apartheid transition. Nothing eye-opening. He did however make the comment that I said about ANC being the liberation party and people still choosing it without it proving itself in governance. I didn’t realize others thought the same thing. I actually said it before I heard anyone say it. But it’s rather obvious.

I told you back in February of an actress one of the top three soap operas here. She died in a car accident. The reason it’s again relevant is that they have JUST gotten to the episodes they were filming when this happened. I thought maybe the writers would think it too sensitive to write her death in the show, but they did it. I believe this reflects the commonality of death here, moreso than in the US; remember this. It’s important to understanding the culture here.

I have to go and speak to some kids who get pregnant to receive money from the government. And you know this because I’ve said this before. But there are people who contract AIDS to get money from the government. Can you imagine? I mean, really, sit and think about what that means about the perception of AIDS and death here. AIDS is so strong and prevalent that it’s weakened, if you can understand the paradox. It’s the paradoxical paradigm from which we must construct an exit in dialogue, in counseling, in life. And it’s a day-to-day battle.

And so the tv show writers made the character of the dead actress take a sudden ski trip during which she died. Now, the best actors are ones who are not acting (pretending), they are being, doing, feeling. It’s a strange phenomenon to watch actors’ characters who are dealing with the death of a character AT THE SAME TIME the actual actors are dealing with the death of the actor who played the dead character. These people are not acting. It’s some of the best acting I’ve seen on the show. It has caused real drama without the writers’ intention. But it came at the cost of a price that would be quickly reversed if it could. It’s very strange and real. And though it may be inappropriate to say, the acting is magical—mesmerizing. Yeah, forget magical. It’s mesmerizing. Magical is inappropriate. The woman was super talented and a high class act who was actual different from her character. She was around my age.

There are claims of price fixing here in South Africa. It’s not the largest issue going on, but one that comes to mind is the illegal cigarette industry. You may not believe me, but 10 million cigarettes are sold illegally everyday. This represents about 20% of the SA cigarette industry. Police actually conduct raids on cigarette traders who bring counterfeit cigarettes into the country. Supposedly something like one out of every three exported cigarettes disappears into the illegal market. SA wants to tighten control at the entry points (borders and airports and ports) through Customs, but there simply isn’t enough manpower to check every box for counterfeit cigarettes. Can you tell if a cigarette is counterfeit?

One of the guys in my life group thinks are community is counterfeit. His experience at UCT coming from Venda-land in Limpopo has been interesting. If you go into one of the dorms and then go to the dining hall, you will see all the white students at their long table, then all the coloureds at their part of their table and Indians on the other part, and blacks on their table. He and his friends decided to try to mix it up the voluntary post-apartheid segregation, but when he did he was never really accepted by the whites. They would ignore him for a long time. Eventually one or two would talk to him (even though the rest of his black friends stopped trying the integration game). And really he had a connection with these guys since they were doing the same course (program, major) and he shared a class with another guy. He even joined their church (my church) though very countercultural from his Zionist church in SA. But they have never truly included him in jokes or deep vulnerable conversation. In fact when they decided to move out of the dorms for their 3rd or 4th years (depending on which one you are talking about—mixed group), they did not ask him. So he had to deal on his own. He went to Forest Hill where I was offered as a second temporary place. He latched on to me when I came because he thinks I’m interesting as a Black person and people he has considered his friends aren’t very friendly. So he has trouble with reaching out to people who do not reach back. And he asks me tough questions like “what should I do?”

It’s a sad story, and for brevity, I am not doing it justice. But I see this type of thing a lot. Perhaps it’s what people meant that I was actually depressed. When I am TA’ing I am saddened, saddened by the number of student totally underprepared for this course, the blatant flippancy with which the convenor honestly lays claim to the fact that many of the Blacks will fail, and the helplessness in the eyes of some. I want to help as many as I can. One girl pays me. Jeannie thought I should mention Haley in every other sentence because she thinks I’m flirtatious. I didn’t follow her advice at all, and it has been good. She has needed the help and there are many more.

I’m saddened by the fact that anyone can, in fact, have the audacity to say I live poorly. I live above the standard of the median-income person in South Africa. Yes, things here are cheaper when you translate it through the exchange rate. But in terms of purchasing power and the standard of living, most things here take a bigger chunk of the SA median monthly or yearly income then the chunk taken by the same item from the US average/mean monthly or yearly income. When I drive a car in SA, I’m an anomaly, though I forget about that. If it’s not nice, then it’s cool. But if it’s a nice car, something’s wrong. This is true for any car at UCT. The black students, on the whole, don’t have cars, while the white ones do. At my church, the white students and adults give lifts/rides to the black students and me. I don’t mind it. I appreciate it. But it’s laughable when someone says I’m poor. They don’t know South Africa nor my life.

So every moment I get to be with the people, living, talking, exploring—I embrace. I don’t mind walking, taking the taxi, taking the bus. I have many white people that ask me “so, what’s it like? . . . . .taking the bus or taking the taxi?” When I was first asked, I didn’t understand the question. Was it a super foreign, special experience that warranted explanation? Perhaps. Though once they know I’m American, I’m viewed differently. That’s why I don’t like to declare it or let it be known. Though I don’t do a fully South African accent. I actually let the accent happen naturally or transform naturally. So you can still hear the American twang sometimes. But the other day someone asked me a question and I said (without thinking) “Yeeee-eys” instead of “Y-eh-s.” It was very natural.

Ok, I’m rambling a bit. I want to tell you about the refugee situation here and the transforming view on Obama, but I will save it for another time. Right now, enjoy your Monday and I hope you have a restful sleep, as restful as the one I get from doing hot, sweaty yoga (bikram yoga). I didn’t know it can make you sore, but it works my body like a wringed-out towel. The sessions are good and nice, and I’m enjoying the student discounted trial period.

I’m going to try and find a friend who is in town. It’s strange, I haven’t had a friend come to CT to see me, but I have high movers and shakers who happen to be in town who try to see me while here. And another one, a really good friend, a little brother of mine, is here. He’s about to finish medical school!!! YAYyyyyy PHIL!!




Wednesday, April 2, 2008

UPDATE April 1, 2008

April 1, 2008

Theory of Thickness Vibrator on Rayleigh-Love and Bishop Model

This is the title of one of the papers presented at a conference I just attended. It was quite boring.

Hi, this is Victor. This will be an impersonal e-mail as I’m clinically depressed (diagnosed this week after a third doctor’s visit this morning). The e-mail will seem personal but will be impersonal. I’ve considered not sending these out many times or taking a break from weekly posts for various reasons.

It’s strange. I (Shane Claiborne first said this in my hearing) have never figured out how to live life without hurting people. I, myself, have gotten over most of those things so that I don’t get hurt by things because I understand that there are just things or events or things that don’t matter. For some reason I communicate with people more than they communicate with me, I send more e-mails than I receive (some don’t respond), I am asked to pray for more situations than I am updated (which sometimes makes you not want to help and pray if you’re not going to be told the status/update). Sometimes you just want people to be and not analyze, just be and live and love.

If you see me I walk with a limp. Part of it came from a wound from YES but I was asked to forgive. And I did. And there were other wounds which I was asked to forgive. But others have more trouble with that or have more to forgive. So it’s hard to live life when people don’t practice forgiveness like you are practicing. I once told a girl she stunk really hard. And I thought she was going to thank me. Instead she hated me for 7+ years. The funny thing is that my nose problems and allergies prevented me from ever smelling her odor in the first place; I was the only person who didn’t experientially know she stunk. I simply was trying to help because everyone (including her “close friends”) talked behind her back. I have an essay about it. You should read it sometime.

This is a blog of my friends A(u)dri and Brian. They are in Joburg working as missionaries. I put the link because I want you to see Carla and Adri all dolled up (they look very elegant and beautiful even though I haven’t met Carla). AND look at the picture of the Zulu wedding. I’m very jealous. I have been invited to 2 weddings here in Cape Town so far, but they are all “white people” weddings (“white wedding” means white dress church wedding).

And this is a picture that Anna (landlord/lady/housemate) sent me. She would marry Obama if he proposed.

Additionally, I’ve been told that I mentioned getting a mobile but didn’t include the number, so I’ve added the number at the end of the e-mail/blog. I even spent last week getting a car really quickly. So it’s strange; I’m back in the world I left. No more walking around without a watch, car, mobile phone. Now I have them all (my mobile phone is my watch) and I have all the payments I missed before—mobile payment, normal phone payment (paying more total money now for phone usage, the mobile does not make the bill go down), car insurance, car tracker service. In fact there are so many fees associated with the car—registration fee, licensing fee, roadworthy test fee, initial insurance fee, etc.—that I should have offered a lower price. As it is I bought it for something around $2k in USD. Strangely enough this 80’s Honda has an immobilizer (something that must be disarmed in order for the car to start), a gear lock (like a steering wheel jack but for the stick of the stick-shift), an alarm, and a tracker (if the car is stolen they can track it’s location if you armed the tracker when you got out of the car). So it’s apparently overkill South Africans tell me. And the tracker the previous owner had on the car is not free as I thought. I must pay for this service monthly. It does reduce my insurance payment, though. We’ll see by how much. I got the car through the mechanic at UCT who also sells cars for students who are leaving or have left. He’s nice because he’s honest and will tell you if the car is bad or not and if he would drive it. The only problem is that he’s busy and sometimes the queuing priority is hard to determine. You might be in the office but someone can come in and trump you. So actually getting the car to go through a roadworthy test and getting the paperwork done (I’ve finished my end) is taking a long while. Maybe he’ll be in tomorrow when I check again (Thursday). We’ll see. I agreed to take it while I was away at the conference. It’s a good car and will take care of Haley while here (she won’t take it though; I don’t need a car here in Cape Town).

So I have been running around all week last week and this weekend. I’m finally home and able to write an update. I had a holiday on Easter Monday, then a conference most of the week and then a jazz Festival and a Church (students and 20’s) camp [their word for retreat]. So I have been busy. I’ll tell you about it.


The actual name is SACAM – South African Conference on Computational and Applied Mechanics.

People ask me how the conference went and I don’t know what to tell them. Perhaps that’s what you do when someone goes to an event; you ask how the event was. But I don’t like my normal conferences in my field. They are mostly field with elder white males—not enough minorities and not enough women. Here there is not enough of the majority. I prefer student conferences or minority (USA) student conferences.

For the big name it had, I was disappointed. I think there is a dearth of math and science and technology research in South Africa. And I’m helping to build up such infrastructure while here. I just thought it would be larger, better attended. It was also strange that many speakers didn’t show up for their appointed times. Very strange. Maybe 25% of the people didn’t show up. I was shocked.

The best part of the conference was the big gala on Wednesday night. Because the organizers couldn’t find any place else, we had it at the 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa. This is a place I would like to send every girl friend I know including my sister and mom. If you’ve looked at my pictures you’ve seen the 12 Apostles mountain range. There is a rule here in Cape Town that says you cannot build anything (nothing commercial or residential) beneath this mountain range on the road or in that area. Apparently this hotel and spa must have been built there before it took effect. So it’s on an isolated strip of beach and cliffs on the West coast of Cape Town (south of Camp’s Bay [our Venice Beach] and Table Mountain). It’s very fancy, and I’ve always wanted to go there and see it. The view is utterly spectacular. The sunsets are amazing. I saw shades of sunsets and stages of sunsets that I have never viewed in my life. If Cape Town is the most beautiful city in the world, then 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa is one of the most beautiful locations in the world. And you can eat your food (as we did) with that entire full view before us with our open dining arrangement.

It was nice to be able to be at the waterfront for most of the week. I was able to get to know Sam, a master’s student in my lab, better. She may be working on biomedical fluid-structure interaction which means I could help her with her project. She’s a nice girl. She found out I was a Christian (but I already knew that :D as well as the fact that she was). That excited her. She needs a ballroom dancing partner and she and another masters student in the lab, Helen, want me to join them for her hot yoga classes (I know there’s an actual title for it). If you’re a Christian reading this and feel I’m sinning, I’m doing Christian yoga. My mom has the DVD. You can contact her.


This girl Sam took me to a friend’s house. Sam recently became a Christian and was searching for a church. Along the way, she stopped at one of the two churches I attend (not the one I’m serving in). It was a friend from this church (Church-on-Main) that we went to see. Sam took me there on the way home (she was giving me a lift fro and to the conference each day).

Well, I WISH I had been part of this project, but her friend Dinay is part of a group of 8 people doing something called “intentional community.” They bought a house in which no one has a single room. Everyone shares a room with another roommate, so there are 4 bedrooms. It’s three floors with three living spaces and a kitchen on the first floor. It’s in a Muslim area of Cape Town called Bo Kaap (on the bottom slopes of Signal Hill). They agree to move in together, live in an undesirable neighborhood, live together, share everything, and change their community for the better.

I was actually was part of a community just like this though they might not claim me. I had jazz band rehearsals on Mondays when we had dinners. And then my church band had rehearsal on the same every-other-Thursday that we had our community meetings. We were going to move into a place all together in say 3rd ward or 5th ward or something like that. And we were going to do communal gardening. There was some allowance for people who had different preferences like newlyweds who were not yet ready to live with other people. So we allowed for people to live next door just as long as we were close and could come together for meals. And we would love—love everyone, love the kids in the neighborhood, love each other, love in sharing, love in relating, love in communicating, just love. And we would change our neighborhoods.

This was all inspired by wanting to study how the 1st century church in Acts (Antioch) lived and acted. They shared everything they had and there was no one needy among them. It was great. And the book that most of us read was called Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. If you can read this book, I recommend it. I actually gifted it to a friend (the beautiful Audrey McKim) and you can ask her how it is.

The funny thing is that Shane would be SOO surprised that it is having an impact in South Africa. He knows it’s marketed here, but who knew it was taking root. Actually two people in the house are married. I know the guy better than the woman. His name is Morgan and he works for Ambassadors in Sports. They send Christian Sports guys all around the world to do sports work. But he’s part of the actual guys who specifically play on teams around the world. So he was sent down to South Africa and he arrived 1 year before me. It took him 5 months, but he got onto a South Africa soccer team. And now he’s doing great work with them while playing. It was Morgan who was reading the book. And at the time a guy from church needed a place to stay. Morgan told the guy that the guy could stay with Morgan and his wife (they had extra room). And he let the guy read his (Morgan’s) book by Shane. And they both started talking. They talked to a few more people at church and oila! They moved into this place 3 weeks ago. It’s really amazing that they just did it. It’s great. They all have different reasons. Some want to be a positive force in the community. Some just want to leave and retreat from the materialistic society (they car pool and share food and resources) we live (white South Africans speak of their society as Western—Western society, the Western church, Western governments). So it’s really a great experience, and an honest struggle for Dinay who is not used to all this sharing. So funny compared to my current place which is kind of communal. We all live together and have veggies and spices growing in the back with three chickens. But we don’t share food (my section of the fridge was the largest but the delimiters were moved so that they are all even now and people often put things in my section of the fridge). We don’t even just split the phone bill; we must go through it line-by-line which is crazy, of course, because no one knows who made that random call 3 and a half weeks ago. So it’s funny. I am often invited to events. On Easter we had a braii with Bianca and her sister Lamise and a friend (they all three have cerebral palsy). It was the first time that I experienced Bianca understanding what I was saying. I’ve always heard that she can understand all you say but I’ve never seen it. But it’s true, she just can’t speak many words herself. So we have a sense of community here; we rarely eat together though. This is because I’ve been instructed by authorities not to be a vegetarian because I wasn’t getting enough protein but Anna is a vegetarian.

The funnier thing about Shane’s thoughts and the book is that if you told any African/South American/Asian/Eastern European his intentional community thoughts, they would tell you “big deal!” This is done all around the world on a daily basis and has been done for thousands of years. It’s only new or radical in the “Western” world. But we’ve been doing it for years. And I agree it’s the best way to live. Very cool to meet this wonderful, warm, and caring/sharing group of people who opened their home to me for an evening. One is an editor who may help me with a project. And she’s actually perfectly suited to help.


Very cool. The thing about a jazz fest is that it is a festival. Now, I know that much jazz music is done for a cool intelligent audience who is sitting down bobbing their heads. But I really appreciated the artists who didn’t do that for standing outdoor audiences. It really called for dance music. So those who gave us jazz while giving dance music were best in my opinion. The others I didn’t appreciate that much (unless they had an indoor venue with chairs).

My favorite performances were those by artists who fused South African music with Jazz music. That was what I was looking for. It was more important for me to see that than the international acts (Gerald Albright, Sergio Mendez, Hiromi, etc.).

But lastly, I did see Hiromi who I had always heard. She’s won lots of awards but I have never seen her when she was in my city (just missed her) or when she was on the radio (just missed her but heard the dj announcing that was her on the last song). And so I wanted to see what the fuss was about. She’s excellent and worth more than the fuss. She’s amazingly versatile—going from rag and stride piano to blues to Latin (her Latin could have a little more salsa to it) to whatever weird melodically atonal music she wants to do. I also liked her because her music is weird but it doesn’t turn you off. Have you ever been to those jazz performances where the entire performance or album from which the performance comes is atonal music? Or it’s acid jazz? It’s like those a-corn candies we got for Halloween. You can only eat a little at a time because after awhile you’re going to get sick. It’s the same with that type of jazz. You can’t take too much of it. But she seemed to give nice melodies to her atonal music. If that’s paradoxical let’s say that her songs often did not have a static key center but she kept it understandable. The most amazing part is when she did a piano solo on Gershwin’s “I’ve Got Rhythm” (I believe) doing it in a reminiscent way to Mozart’s Variations on Twinkle Little Star that he wrote when he was 12. She kept varying it and playing it again and again. But she made her fingers fly completely fly and she didn’t think about it at all. She just made weird faces as she flew into right-brained mode. She played in a style reminiscent of Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson if you know them. All I could say was wow. She has a good band. I told the drummer that after the performance. I didn’t see the rest of them.


So I had decided not to go to the jazz fest all weekend because there was this retreat out of town in Simonstown. And the only reason I wanted to go was to invest in the lives of the people of this church and some of my cell group members (this is Jubilee church the one in which I work/serve). So I went on Saturday morning since I missed the bus which picked everyone up on Friday since I was at the conference. This also let me go to the festival Friday night.

It was a good time of just getting to know a few more people. They still are not very good at mingling. But it was nice. There were even people there from other churches. So we had a good time. And some people experienced renewal and refreshing as they felt loved by others and just had a time of rest and relaxation. I was able to play volleyball for the first time in a year. And there was a swimming pool. I got to hang out with an pray for some good friends—Werner, Harrison, Ross, Michi, Leana, Bronwyn, Brendan, Thuli, Ross, Sarah, etc. So some of the actors in the church want to come check out my play but I don’t even know if it’s happening. They might cut me from it because they scheduled the first rehearsal when I was busy and had a test. And they haven’t gotten back to me about when the next one is. So it’s a very different theatre culture here.

The best part of the camp for me was when I went out with Leana, Brendan, and Megan to watch the moonrise. Have you ever done that? Well we did. It rose at around midnight on Saturday night. It was gorgeous. We really went to look at the stars, and they were brilliant. If you ever looked at that map of the world that I sent a few months back, you’ll notice most of Africa is black. There is a dot at Cape Town, but you can see more stars in Cape Town than in any large city in the US. You can even stand at the top of Table Mountain at night and see MANY stars. So you don’t have to go very far out since it’s a small city and there isn’t a vast amount of light pollution in the surrounding region. So in Simonstown maybe 30 minutes from the center of Cape Town, you could see TONS of stars. Over here people first notice Orion like kids in the States notice the Big Dipper. They also know the Southern Cross. And you could see them both. You could see the curved signs of the Zodiac sweeping through the sky upside down. It’s great. You could see the Milky Way Belt. It was fabulous. I tried to wake up in the morning to catch the moonset, but I actually think I was up early enough but it wasn’t visible in the sky (sometimes you cannot see it). But I did catch the sunrise (which I think was before the moonset that day), and it was spectacular rising above the mountains as we have mountains everywhere. It was a wonderful break and weekend.


And now I’m back thrust into the mix of politics around the world. Mugabe said (according to a friend as I didn’t hear him say this) that if he lost he would not concede anything. He also said what happened in Kenya won’t happen in Zim if he does win.

Well, the government is not releasing the results of every region even though the election was Saturday. Some observers say it was fair. But it appears that Mugabe did not win the required 50% so we’ll see. In my opinion, if he will win it will be do a run-off. I think his voting base plus his rigged voting base isn’t enough to reach the 50%. But we’ll see. South African is trying to put pressure on the UK to step in that this delay of results release is ridiculous.

I usually only focus on Africa because I’m operating under the assumption that you don’t get much African news, at least not as much as we get, but a friend brought to my attention the situation in Taiwan. It happened right before I was notified by the Economist of the event. Taiwan voted and elected its first nationalist president (as opposed to a democratic progressive president) who supports stronger ties to China. I think this is mostly due to the past 8 years of bad rule by Chen. Ma Ying-jeou (new president) will be replacing Chen Shui-ban (who made it hard for Hsieu the succeeding democratic progressive party candidate, similar to Bush making it hard for McCain to win the presidency). Ma wants to increase trade in general and with China, open up transportation routes between Chin and Taiwan, increase the service sector in tourism, health, and finance. He wants to reopen dialogue with China and get a new peace treaty between the two, one of “mutual non-denial” as he calls it. Regardless of which party is in power, I think it’s good to move in the direction of recognition and peaceful relations with China. We’ll see how he does.

In other African news, the head of Botswana stepped down (after 20 years) for a new successor. It's one of the top 3 least populated countries (I believe this is measured by population density).



I saw this because I was with a friend who didn’t want to see Chicago the musical nor Juno the movie. This ended up being good to me. I enjoyed it. The ogres were BIG!


I’m reading a book called Poems for Refugees in which different people chose poems that spoke to them to be included in this collection. Well, I happened to be watching Bowling for Columbine trying to see the one-sidedness that people complain about with Moore’s films. And I was watching this segment on some of the US-backed coups, assassinations, wars, etc. And to my own knowledge and research every single one he had was true. In fact there are many more. He didn’t present the reasons for each or the context of course. But that assumes that you might feel the context or reasons might justify those things. And that’s possible I suppose. The pattern, though, is overwhelming and speaks volumes. I think it’s a power position phenomenon and would happen with any country that was in power as a superpower. It tends to corrupt. These things seem to be independent of current rulers.

But the interesting thing is that movie supported what I’ve seen of these big power-nations fueling wars on the one hand by selling arms to countries and then fighting for peace on the other hand (China, US, France, UK, Russia, etc.). Currently I believe the actions are diametrically opposed. And these superpowers really do cause and enable wars further in the future because of the proliferation of general arms. It seems that, invariably, wars are fought between people who received arms from superpowers or are superpowers themselves. Enemies change, come, and go. And this phenomenon arms them all. But I stumbled on this poem in this book.


How shall we defeat The Enemy?

We shall defeat The Enemy by making alliances.

Who shall we make alliances with?

With people in whose interests it is, to be enemies with The Enemy.

How shall we win alliances with these people?

We shall win an alliance with these people by giving them money and arms.

And after that?

They will help us defeat The Enemy.

Has The Enemy got money and arms?


How did The Enemy get money and arms?

He was once someone in whose interests it was, to be enemies with our enemy.

Which enemy was this?

Someone in whose interests it had once been, to be enemies with an enemy.

Michael Rosen, 2001




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