Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Long drive home

Thats what it should have been.
It just occurred to me that I should stop drinking till late or buy my own car. Now we know none of those is going to happen soon.
One aJamaa has been doing the greatest service known to a fellow jamaa. Driving the guy home when he is high (okay, I mean the guy being driven, but usually both of them are high; not that you notice with aJamaa). I guess that is why I shall miss this service. I wouldn't trust anyone else driving me home (taxis are exempt). Hurry back dude.

My New Hobby

As aJamaa was driving me to a previously mentioned goat eating, I informed him of my latest hobby, not that I often have hobbies.
This is a hobby anyone can pick up, if you aren't already doing it.
Have you noticed the paintings at the back of most mathrees. Yup. My favourite pastime (and it helps to have one in all these traffic jams nowadays) is to try and figure out who the painter was trying to represent on the mathree. Some are quite hilarious as in the guy actually gives a name, but you KNOW that is not who he says it is.

Thaz about it. Pick up a hobby, share, maybe I can pick up yours once this one loses its shine.

Monday, May 29, 2006

the send off.

We are outside the house, there is a nice fire going. Parts of one unfortunate goat are turning brown over the said fire. There are 5 introverteds. The rest are medical doctors.
No one is 30 yet. Most, infact, are very far from it. Yet in this bunch, there are some people who can cut out your liver, juggle it with their hands as one Michuki can do, and sew it back in. A very chilling thought.

A very smart bunch. Professional.

Beers are passed around as people make small conversation. Two lovely ladies join the party and make way to where the action is. Introductions are made all round.

After a short while, I hear one lady ask our gracious host:
Where are all these guys' girlfriends?
The host replies that it is a sort of a boys night out. Which is the truth, but it is not complete.

The question reverberates in my head. It occurs to me, that no one is in a steady relationship here. The lady who asked the question has some serious insight. There are no girlfriends to speak of. Perhaps only women whose relationships to the people at the party cannot be easily defined. Perhaps, it seems odd to the inquirer that we can have a party and not be bothered to string some sort of girlfriend along, or worse, that there are no girlfriends at all.

With no one making a move on the girls (or so it seemed), conversation became very lively. Time just flew by. 4 years ago, there is a possibility that a phenomenon called 'race conditions' would have occurred; By the time I left, no numbers were requested. None were given.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Smelling the flowers

I find myself wishing for the end of the week at the beginning of it. Longing for the end of the day in the morning. Wanting instant gratification. Wishing to get over my addiction[s] without going through any temptations.

Rushing rather than going through things. Completely escaping things when I can. However, it dawned on me that I should be embracing and savouring all my experiences. Good and bad. Happy and not so. Take time and smell the flowers.

After all, we are here but for a short while. Better to make the most of it. As one wise man said, eat, drink and enjoy.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Frame-4 software

I remember a lecturer [during a distributed systems class, or was it object oriented programming, I can't remember which. But it was a certain resolute lady] speaking about 'industrial strength' software and me wondering what that was. The image I had then was of software that runs nuclear plants but was not sure whether such software was written in 'normal' code or some unpublished, esoteric C statements.

After campus, I was fortunate to work in a development team which worked on a relatively high profile, 'industrial' product. Given, it was a VB app and far from the ASM, embedded systems I have pictured as qualifying to be industrial, but it was one of the better systems I'd seen.

I then went to a non-ISV and got a glimpse of in-house software. The design team at my then previous employer would be mortified. There's one system which has a matrix of like 100 independent textboxes, rather than have a more natural grid. In another system, the about box has a label with the time on it. Problem is, the time is static, in like a 16pt comic font, and in purple. I just used to shake my head in amazement, but nobody else seemed to notice or be bothered. Users were probably told that's the system from IT. Take it or leave it. In another system, error messages are reported as message boxes - MsgBox Err.Description. I kept asking whether the messages were for the user or the programmer, and hence whether the system was for users or the programmer. We all do debugging by messagebox, or by printf, but surely. The logic is that the user can take a screenshot with the error so that the programmer can fix the error more easily. Users aren't very good people but still...

I figured all that was ok, given this was 'in-house' software. The other day I was shown a 3rd party system. This system reminded me of the first programming projects we did. First thing that caught my eye was the default VB icon for forms. Then the forms themselves. Like 10 frames per form, with at least 3 different colours for the frames. Dark green. Dark blue. One orange frame caught my attention. It's caption was 'Frame 4'. Again, I felt like I was the only one who noticed, or who was feeling any pain. Or embarassment. Not that I'm a good designer and UI is hard, but surely. It would be a lot easier to leave the controls with their default colours. It's also a lot easier to leave buttons as their default size rather than make them half the size of a form, ostensibly to use up some empty space on part of the form. And this system was purchased. Bought. Money was actually given to some people for it. Amazing.

I've never considered writing commercial applications for fear that they wouldn't be good enough [and the support nightmare]. I know I'm not the best programmer around, but as Jeff once put it, it's not my job to be better than anyone else. Just better than I was last year. How people get away with such things is a mystery, but I hope I'm responsible and good enough not to write Frame-4 software.

More of a good-woman

When you have a good-woman in your life, treat her right,
Treat her like a lady...

A good-woman deserve a good-man,
Someone she can love...

Make her feel beautiful,
Make her feel nothing less,
You got to be true to her,
And let time do the rest...

Treat her like a lady,
Treat her like a queen...

A good-woman can make you feel stronger,
She will stand by your side,
You won't have to be lonely much longer,
A good-woman can make you feel like you can conquer,
She will make you feel like you can do anything

More snippets garnered.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

No Free Lunch.

For the longest time I have held this unshakeable belief that one of the most dangerous things to do is to live with a woman under the same roof and that woman is not:
your mother
your sister
your 150% platonic friend (* terms and conditions apply) and secondly, you do not have any intention to marry the woman.
Yet many men go right ahead and do it. They enjoy the sex. They appreciate when the flat is clean, orderly and warm. They dorn the excellently pressed clothes and accept the complements from other women with the most natural of ease.
Pose a difficult question, for instance: Hey Kwamboka Sir, how is life with Sally? Are you taking it serious?
He goes blank because most men completely refuse to see past next week as far as affairs and relationships are concerned. They will take life as it comes, get laid on a daily basis, assuming the entire time that she is a stop-gap screw measure before the intended Queen of Sheba descends from heaven for a bride. They hope, stupidly, that an unhappy circumstance will shuffle her along and out of his life.

It is at the crest of the fun that Fate, sadistic and unforgiving, calls for the curtain. The show is then truly and irreversibly over.
I have never known my young friend to smoke. He was lighting up his third cigarette in as many minutes. Jumbled, incoherent sentences come out of his mouth. All he was able to say was "She can't be pregnant. No way!".

Cynic and sometimes male-centric as I am, I could not find it within me to pity this guy. This is something we had argued about. Share a bed with your girlfriend for six months, drink a lot within those six months and you will very likely ***k without a cd. Many times. Women's reproductive cycles can be consistent, but, to the best of my knowledge, never been confirmed to be a sure, precise thing.
The whole setup needs just one reckless mistake and it goes up like fireworks.

So I have been called, in a capacity to offer advice, as well as financial assistance so that the man can make good his escape from his pregnant girlfriend. As for advice, I offered that a long time ago and it was not heeded. Money? The man will just have to face the music.

No free lunch.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


adj. Safinity - From the root word, Safin. Tendency to get worked up and generally feel sorry for yourself when things aren't going your way. Usually accompanied by throwing or otherwise breaking things.

Monday, May 15, 2006

New beginnings

The year is already half way gone. I'm still convinced time is moving faster than it did when we were growing up. It's been a year of turmoil and upheaval. Socially. Mentally. I'm at my 3rd job this year. Depression. Disillusionment.

A new half-year beckons. New things. New experiences. New ways of thinking. New people. New life.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Big Panties... x4

I undertook a wardrobe overhaul the other day. Shopping generally isn't a pleasant experience for me and this was no different. It had to be done though so I picked out what I needed and headed to the cashier to pay.

The POS swipe thingy must have not been working [or there was none. I can't remember] so the guy goes ahead and keys in the stock code on one of the items in my basket. I stand there trying to do the math for my purchases. I typically try to figure out if I have enough cash for a possible upper limit rather than do the exact sum. I've never been good at that mental math thing. Even when I do mental calculations, I visualize myself actually doing the calculations as I would in the flesh, without those addition/subtraction/multiplication tricks. This is actually quite similar to the way I used to read [and remember] stuff for exams. I would remember that a certain piece of information was on the bottom left of some page. The actual content would then follow. I think I've joked a couple of times that it's like having a jpeg of the page, then magnifying it to read its contents. Worked for me.

Anyway. I've just been trying to say that I was standing there holding my wallet, waiting for the total to show up on the till. So the guy punches in this particular code and is about to move on when both of us stop. Mentally at least. We both stare at the display. The last item says "Big Panties". I would normally laugh at such a situation, but that wasn't happening. I guess if it showed "Panties" that would be ok and quite laughable, but Big Panties! What are those!

The cashier frantically gesticulates at someone to come over. Apparently, it's a supervisor of some sort who has to enter a password to allow this guy to alter the bill. All this time I'm squirming uncomfortably. I dare not look at the person next in line, or think about what [s]he may be thinking. I stare firmly at the screen, and my 4 Big Panties.

I came across the receipt yesterday, and sure enough "Big Panties 4@ 200" had been added then subtracted from my bill. This time though, it brought a smile to my face.

In search of good conduct

What trauma.

I went in search of a certificate of good conduct yesterday. I'd been told one should go to the CID HQs or something so I headed to Kilimani, only to be told they'd moved to Muthaiga. A 44 and a long walk later, I arrive at the place. There's a queue outside the first building you see so I join it, like the guy who'd been walking ahead of me. I ask, in a rather hesitant manner and not to anyone in particular, if I'm in the right queue. "It has to be", comes a reply.

The queue leads up to the side of the building, where 2 people take payment and furnish receipts through a couple of windows. I start wondering whether this is how the architect intended this particular part of the complex to be used. It look so natural. Anyway. Traumatic thought number 1: That lady on the other side of the window writes receipts all day long. I wonder how many receipt books she fills.

After you get your receipt, apparently you go over to a kiosk in the vicinity to make a copy of your ID and the just issued receipt. Again my mind starts to wonder. There's a copier in that kiosk? What happens if there's a blackout, as is frequent these days with the rains. Wait. Does the kiosk have power or is it some car-battery type operation. It's a coca-cola kiosk!

I go to the shop. There are, in fact, 2 copiers. Some sodas, toilet paper and cigarettes [Kings pekee]. That's all. We hold out our IDs and receipts to the guy in the shop. He takes 5 sets at a time and does his thing. He works the copiers in enviable harmony. A maestro.

I leave the kiosk and follow yet another guy to the next step of this amazing process. There are no directions or enquiry desks so your best bet is to follow the guy in front of you. We head down to what seems like an underground parking lot. Indeed I can see a couple of cars parked on one side. I turn right and am immediately struck by what I see. A mass of humanity. Hussle and bustle. Melee. I don't know how to describe that scene. All I could do was smile.

The rest of the parking area has been converted into a huge office, open plan of course. There are desks to the far end and some towards the side. At one of these desks on the side, a guy is writing furiously into some thick book details from a heap of forms he has. The book is huge. It's new. He's on the first few pages. I wonder how long it took him to fill the last one. I imagine that he's writing names but can't figure out why.

The rest of the space in this underground office is taken up by seats, neatly arranged in rows. Periodically, people keep standing, moving to other seats, sitting, then standing again... I ask someone next to me in disbelief. "Is this a queue?". I can't help but feel silly as I join this queue, moving from one seat to the next like a more predictable form of musical chairs. I'm thankful there are seats though. We are like 50 guys in here.

I get to one of the desks where fingerprints are being taken. Mine are probably fingers number 15,880 today. As the lady presses my fingers onto the designated areas on some form, I wonder how they do fingerprint analysis or comparison. I can't even imagine how they'll do it, and figure out that I'm not a fugitive.

Finally, I hand in the paraphernalia in my possession to yet another guy. This one proceeds to stamp each of the 4 pieces of paper I have. He stamps every piece of paper everyone has. All day. Stamping away.

I leave the place shaking my head. Wondering how this process even works because there were people who'd come to collect their certificates, and actually got them. One guy told me it was his 7th time there. I felt for him. I felt for everyone involved in this whole process.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

To be short and unloved.

To be rejected by a woman, deeply wounds a man's pride. The line you hear "rejected by a
woman is normal, you get used to it" is crap. It does not matter to the man that he
probably is very unqualified. Infact, the act of rejection of a man by a woman, sometimes reduces the art of wooing a woman, to a science. Science is a logical, methodical and strict discipline that has no space for emotion or feeling. Things that go to show character like smiling, warmth, courtesy are reduced to scripts that execute automatically when a woman who raises certain flags is sighted. At one point, a man will find at least one woman who is agreeable. Constant rejection though, reduces men to wrecks. I digress.

I cannot pretend to completely understand why humans are so obsessed with beauty and appeal to the opposite sex. There are things in life that are much more important, for instance God (not that I obey or even listen to Him), good health, peace of mind, happiness. Unfortunately, this is a phenomenon that is here to stay. Therefore, if there are people who feel shortchanged in this order of things, it is short men. Really short men.

I have one such friend. What he lacks in height he makes for in other talents, like bravery (in terms of approaching women) that borders on the insane. So this guy wants a really hot chic. Tall (that means taller than me). The probability of him getting her is just as good as finding one million shillings on Kimathi street. The guy simply refuses to give up. His subtle hints are ignored. His direct requests for a date are politely but firmly turned down. She will not give him a chance.

One approach fails so another must be employed. This is where I get called in. I am reluctant, but a morbid curiosity overcomes me and I allow myself to be pulled into this mess. I have a cordial, fuzzy relationship with said hot chic. This is because I can be quite handy when some small personal assignment must be done, for instance, writing a small visual basic program for an IT course project, and whoever is asking is a beautiful woman. Obviously, after completing such odious tasks, the lady cannot refuse my request for a drink, mainly because another assignment might arise in the future and my excellent services required again, and secondly, I am a timid go-placidly-amid-the-noise-and-haste kind of guy. So, we go for a drink and the stage is set......
So what do I tell the lady? Subterfuge. The "Pretender" drill comes into play. I tell her that I am very interested in her very beautiful lady supervisor and I want to enlist her help! Of course she can't believe it (precisely because I am hardly qualified) but I pull such a serious face that she is totally surprised by the import of it. Naturally, the conversation becomes so lively that it does not seem odd when my friend "happens" by chance to enter the place accompanied by another woman, notice me and get very thrilled. Through an imperceptible nod I acknowledge to my friend: I brought her here. Ball in your court. (My presence will buy him at least an hour with the lady, something he had failed to achieve by himself. In return, there will be many beers to buy. I don't come cheap).

He rubs his hands apprehensively in readiness for battle. I immediately engage the other chic in conversation for about a minute then take a break to the loo. This gives my guy the opportunity to break the ice. Nature is very accomodating, like I said earlier. It just happens that my short friend is very funny and in short order he has everybody laughing. The chic cannot contain herself and she is slapping him wickedly on the back. Everything is easy now. This is the
all-important break that was needed. The lady must establish that she is dealing with nice guys here. The guy must maintain a prolonged conversation with her, after which my presence and mediation will not be required.

With a short nod he indicates to me that he is ready to dip into very deep waters and therefore I should get the other chic, and myself, out of the way. I politely request the lady to indulge me in one of the more cumbersome apsects of a date which is called dancing. Of course my dancing partner is in the loop and we would stay on our feet for quite a long time and only return briefly for punctuation effect.

We were never very far. From time to time I would turn to see how Danny DeVito was
faring. There was no laughter now. The mood was sombre. The chic must have figured I had
set her up.

After a moment, the chic held the guy's cheek, looked at him with utmost pity, and mumbled something. The guy's face fell.
That very act, if not coming from one's mother, sister or genuine friend, is one of the most demeaning thing that can be done to a man by a woman he desires romantically.

In effect, it is a statement that said: You are not going anywhere with me, tiny man.

She got on her feet a short while after. She mumbled a curt "I have to go" to me on her
way out.

I advised my friend to stop hurting himself.

The chic later asked me if I had set her up. I told her that I hadn't, but since he happened by, and I knew he was so interested in her, I decided to move away. It was the truth, only that it was not the whole truth.

Her supervisor looks at me in a manner that suggests...why don't you try me and see if you are going to get anywhere at all.

What a complicated life.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The injustice of England squad selection(s)

The provisional English squad to the World Cup was announced the other day. An interesting squad overall. One of the strongest teams they've had to take to a world cup in a while. The fact that one 'calamity' James is still their second choice keeper is an indicator that there is still a lack of talent in certain areas. Or perennial selection politics.

Theo Walcott gets the nod ahead of guys like Defoe and Darren Bent. Sven says it's the feeling the kid gives him. For me, it's another chapter in the sad story of numerous potential England internationals. Walcott hasn't played a singe premier league game. Bent has scored 18 odd goals in the league. Reminds me of the time Kevin Phillips was scoring goals left, right and centre but just wasn't fancied in an England shirt. Perhaps if he was playing for a bigger club. Would Crouch have gotten a cap if he was still as Southampton, or Heskey if he'd stayed at Leicester. I don't think so.

Owen doesn't have the pace or finishing he used to. Rooney may not play at all. Crouch doesn't exactly score many goals. Walcott has only been playing for the reserves. And they [still] hope to win the thing.


So I'm at home this past Saturday night, waiting for the weekend movie(s) while reading a copy of True Love. Yeah.

I'm really enjoy watching several movies simultaneously. Or is that concurrently. Flipping between channels. Knowing the title of the movie I'm about to watch also bears a rather disproportionate amount of importance to me and affects my enjoyment of the movie. I guess it's akin to missing the first corner of a F1 race.

Anyway, The NTV movies starts first and there's a parental guidance/rating bit before the movie. I'm impressed that they're rating movies but am a bit taken aback by this particular one. R18 SNVL. Aii. It's like 9:40 pm. Even satellite TV shows movies with such ratings in the dead middle of night. The only movie I've seen with a more restricted rating is... Well porn doesn't have a rating. I sit up in part apprehension, part excitement.

As it is, the movie was some strange, 80s, hippie, spy movie which I hardly understood. There was a scene where a guy actually set a swimming pool on fire! Or attempted to. No gratuitous sex or nudity of any kind. Who rated this moview. Ok. To be fair to the guy/gal, they cut off at least one scene that seemed headed to show some skin. I'm not for prime time nudity, but what's the point of the rating if the movie won't live up to it. The problem with crying wolf is that nobody will take you seriously when you actually say the truth. Even the Violence and Language was barely PG, let alone the non-existent Sex or Nudity.

Perhaps I'm too deep in the gutter. You're more likely to see some R18 stuff on a Saturday night on the streets of Nairobi rather than on the telly. A reason to get out of the house if I ever needed one.

Real time blogging

One of the symptoms in the "You know you're addicted to blogging when..." series is that you think of everything in terms of a blog entry. As an event happens, you see yourself blogging about it. I even go to the extent of writing the post in my head.

This got me thinking, of how it would be if my mind was connected to the blogosphere and every one of these times when a post forms in my head, it's relayed in real time, perhaps to this blog. I'm into sci-fi stuff so the idea is really exciting, but apart from the tech-appeal, it would be interesting, for me also, to see the outcome of such real time blogging. I'd probably come out as a slightly insane perv with myriads of issues. Wouldn't be much of a surprise then.

A good-woman

A good-woman can make you feel stronger,
She will stand by your side,
You won't have to be lonely much longer,
A good-woman can make you feel like you can conquer...

That's all the lyrics I managed to write down from a really nice song I heard yesterday.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Analysis paralysis

I came across this phrase as I was reading some software development article. Must have been a blog entry. Everything is in blog form these days. The phrase depicts a common scenario where user requirements are gathered and a system designed to death almost. Great big specifications are done but actual code never gets written. Apparently there's a wikipedia entry for it.

Bottom line. At some point, you just have to get on with it. It's all well and good to read about life coping skils, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and transcendental meditation. You can lock yourself away contemplating the purpose of life. Concepts like fairness and justice. The reason for suffering. Only for so long.

I have to start living, as difficult as it is and as unprepared as I feel. Let go. Say little. Think even less. Put down the baggage. The circumspection. Introspection. Lay my deficiencies bare. Take the heat. Feel the heat. Do what I'm here to do. Lord, give me strength.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

KES 10,000 for make up?

I've just had a peek at an excel file with a guy's wedding budget. I was initially surprised to see make up as a line item. And 10K? For one day? 500,000 for a total wedding budget isn't that far fetched. Scary stuff.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's been a while

It's been a while since I did anything remotely insane.

So I leave the office yesterday, as usual running out when the clock strikes 5. Am I the only one who has a reminder on Outlook to "Go home!"? There's a company bus that ferrys guys to town but I alight mid way and catch a mat home. There are other people who do something similar, who live in the same direction as I do. As I'm walking to the bus stop with a pal of mine, we get to chatting with some 2 lovely ladies who've also just gotten off the bus. Walking with a chic magnet has its benefits. Invariably, these fly, young women are in customer service. That must be the criteria they were using to hire. [I'm waiting for 0.5's post on the same]

Anyway. Introductions are done followed by the usual chitchat about the weekend and how I spotted one of them at Psys on saturday. At the stage there's the usual scrum to get into mats and one of my new acquaintances and I get a mat with space, but not seated adjacent to each other. It's a bit of an anticlimax not being able to talk to her on the way home. We finally get to her stop. She makes to alight. This is it. This is also my stop. Who knew. She's a bit surprised that I'm getting off at the same place she is. She's never seen me in the neighbourhood. Well, I don't live in her neighbourhood. My stop was way way back. "I just had to get your number". I've not seen that look in ages. Utter and complete shock. She immediately told me to stop with the mind games. What mind games. I don't do mind games.

After a couple of metres and her insistence that I was in that part of the world to see someone else, she composed herself and offered her email address. Some time back, I would have taken that and ran. Not today. Not with her. Not with that smile. It's all or nothing. I don't take rejection that personally anymore and have generally become more pragmatic about things. It's ok if she doesn't give out her number to any and all guys who ask, but ask I had to. I may not get another chance. After some hesitation, she created an entry for herself in my phone book.

In the end, we got talking. For quite a while actually. I'd intended on passing by 0.5's place seeing as I was in his neighbourhood, but I got carried away. I was shaking with excitement. Literally. As I always do. If she asked, I could always blame the cold. It's been a while since I had such a big smile on my face. Since I felt excitement run in my veins.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Of power naps and non-conformity

It's after lunch. My eyes are droopy. My head is doing an elaborate dance. My mind is fighting a losing battle to stay awake.

At my previous job, I used to set aside like 15 mins to nap. I tried to impress upon anyone who asked about the power and benefit of napping, but they all just thought I was a somewhat mentally unstable guy with narcolepsy. I happen to believe in the powers of sleep and relaxation. I remember when doing my final year project in campus being completely stumped by bugs in the evening and getting such enlightenment the next day that I would often wonder what I was thinking the previous evening. The difference in thought was absolutely astounding. Given, a lot of the difficulties I faced where due to pointers and recursion but I have always believed sleep performs some kind of background processing. I even infected my roommates with the habit of reading in bed. I've never subscribed to the idea of being uncomfortable so as to read and understand things. None of that feet in cold water, coffee to repress sleep, seat on a hard chair stuff. I read in bed, with music playing, and if I fall asleep, as I always did, then the stuff I'm reading is still absorbed. By osmosis.

In the wonderful world of the office though, things aren't quite as straight forward and I can't even try to convince my boss of these theories of mine. Instead, I have to struggle against my instincts to take a couple of those 40 winks. I have to pretend to be doing something useful when I can hardly make out what is on the screen. I'm reminded of a scene from a Japanese office where everyone is doing yoga/meditation/relaxation exercises. Traditional ways of thinking would regard such things as a waste of company time. I would be a much more productive, happy, relaxed employee if I could take 15 mins and do just that, without everyone looking at me funny and my boss giving me a warning letter.

ps: I thought getting paid to do nothing would be a good thing. It's not. Doing nothing is hard.