Friday, May 29, 2009

Ciao again, Pretoria

Between the Bat Cave and my family's hideout, I think that Pretoria has been my longest stay in one location this entire year. Although I tend to dwell in favourite spots for at least a week or two at a time (read: Cape Town and Grahamstown), it seems that I've inadvertently nearly clocked the full month of May in Gauteng. Blast it all!

The past two weeks have seen me entertained by several clutches of the greater Joubert clan: many thanks to the family, and it was good to see y'all again. I look back fondly on all the great memories I've formed with this particular visit.

Wimpy lunch with the cousins.

Mimmo's dinner – ahhh, the atmosphere!

Sunday lunch at my aunt's place.

I love food.

But now I'm just allowing my mind to wander too far into the realm of nostalgia and self-indulgence. Instead, here's a picture of my aunt's dog.

My aunt's dog hates me.

Hatred. Seriously.

I've not been this creeped out by an animal since seeing that super-creepy dog in Plet. Canine eyes have a way of burrowing into your soul, seriously. And when a dog has it in for you (not the world, not people in general, not even anybody else in the room. Just you), there's little you can do about it.

My aunt's dog hates me, won't go near me and won't let me touch it. It growls at me on a near-constant basis -- kinda like a revving Lancer. If that fateful Sunday gathering was in a movie, the audience would immediately be able to identify me as "the bad guy" cos the animals hate me. Gee whiz.

And, yeah, that's it for now. Just a quickie: I've been procrastinating a whole bunch this week and now need to get myself sorted for a Baz Bus shuttle tomorrow (didn't think I'd use these guys again, but go figure: turns out that they really are cheaper on multi-stops than a public bus would be, and they go door to door anyway).

Depending on how things turn out, I'll either be in the Drakensberg or Joburg tomorrow night. It's all very complicated and last-minute, so don't ask.

Catch y'all in 24 hours.


This blog post was supposed to go up yesterday. I swear it. But then, halfway through my evening, my Internet died and refused to start up again. I thought that this was typical cellphone failure until I got an SMS five minutes afterwards that cheerfully told me I was screwed for net cap. But that's just the beginning of this grand tale of woe and deceit.

Let me give you a quick run-down of cellphone pre-paid Internet. When you get a non-contract phone with, say, Vodacom, you usually have the opportunity to use it as a make-do modem to access the Internet on your computer. The typical pre-paid tariff is about R2 a megabyte. This is effing steep, and is not to be used unless, say, there's a crazy guy with an axe behind you demanding that you log onto the Internet by any means necessary (in which case you open up your closest instant messenger app and give your online buddies a “help me please” code signal).

Fortunately, one has the opportunity to purchase Internet data bundles, and the more data you purchase at once, the cheaper it is per megabyte. I typically pay about 30c per meg, which still isn't great compared to a regular land line, but suits me well enough as long as I exercise some restraint. When you run out of data on your bundle, you go back to R2 per meg and that eats into your regular cellphone airtime.

Right, so, with that explanation down: I top up my cellphone airtime using Internet banking. I top up my Internet bundles using spare airtime. This is a very elegant solution which can sometimes go horribly, horribly wrong. When I'm surfing the net with my cellphone, SMS messages often don't come through until I log off. This is dangerous when, say, your “low bandwidth” warnings for Internet data bundles are sent – lo and behold – via SMS. When my Internet cut out at about 11pm last night, I immediately received four SMS messages from Vodacom.

The first one registered as being sent at about 7pm, warning me that I had less than 4 megabytes left on my bundle. The second one was sent half an hour later, telling me that my data bundle had been exhausted, and that I WAS NOW BEING CHARGED R2 PER MEGABYTE. The third was sent later, warning me that I was using up all of my cellphone's airtime on the Internet.
The fourth and final message: “YOU F**KING IDIOT! YOUR MONEY IS ALL GONE!” Not in those words exactly, but that's kinda how I felt at the time.

So in summary, I simultaneously lost all Internet and cellphone access at a really inconvenient time last night because the only system of warning that I could receive was, ironically enough, disabled by the very use of the device which warranted the warning in the first place. To top it off, I recharged my cell's airtime with about R70 yesterday afternoon, and it all got chowed by the Internet in one evening. Suffice it to say, Vodacom and I are no longer on speaking terms.

End rant.

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