Archive for March, 2010

Mixing up a hullabaloo

MP, Geek, DJ take your pick!

Having added a music feature to Social Seychelles, I decided to waste yet more time downloading free open source software Audacity so that the other one and I could spend a Saturday night hard drinking, hard smoking and mixing tunes man. Well, the other one did the donkey work, I advised from the sofa and did the hard work thinking of DJ names – as I have previously said, this is critical. My current little known DJ name, DJ Mashed Potato (don’t ask) was discarded on account of there being two of us (DJ Mashed Potato and Gravy – I don’t think so). After a wide ranging internet search we came up with DJs Hulla & Baloo. You heard it here first.

It’s at this point our parents and friends sigh and suggest perhaps we need to think about having kids.

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Social Seychelles serfdom

it's my logo!

Nurturing the inner geek, I’ve been playing around awhile with Social Seychelles, creating a logo using a site online (not great but did the trick), adding features, developing the look, feel and tone of the site and writing content, such as the community guidelines. Having managed a couple of similar projects in the UK, I’m comfortable with what needs to be done but needed a few guinea pigs to test it out.

I invited a select few people and asked each to invite two other people to join,aiming for between 10-20 trial members. Unsurprisingly, as previous experience has borne out, you get a couple of enthusiastic people who do a good job, a few who mosy about but do little and others that don’t bother at all. Of course, the whole world should be interested in what I’m doing I know that but etiquette demanded that I didn’t go round poking people with a big stick demanding to know WHY THEY HAVEN’T JOINED? Instead, I simmered away quietly, making note to self about who to mention and who not to when I’m famous and being interviewed by Piers Morgan (the PR will tell me to do it even if I don’t want to).

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Cheese or pie?

History: What colour was Christopher Columbus’s hair?

I see, another searing, incisive question worthy of debate. Shall I base my answer on knowledge or just take a blind guess, and if I’m really clever make a stereotyped assumption based on his nationality?

[Answer: Blond. Who’d have thought that eh? Eh?]

Arts and Literature: Who continued reading ‘My Pet Goat’ after being told about the World Trade Center attacks?

Note category: Arts and Literature – er not history then? Maybe I’m missing something, is My Pet Goat a 20th century literature classic? Perhaps the person reading was a man of letters or of culture perhaps? Or was ‘My Pet Goat’  the forerunner to a military craze to stare at goats? Whatever, what a great way to categorise a question, it involved reading therefore it must be arts and literature.

How about this then?

Who sang the 1980’s hit, Hungry like the Wolf?

File in Geography.

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Six months Seychelles watershed

The view just down the road!

Half a year it’s been since I arrived on Seychelles shores so I thought it about high time that I reflected seriously upon how life has changed for me rather than pontificate about what animal I’d like to be if I was reincarnated or the paucity of questions in the 2004 edition of Trivial Pursuit.

Without doubt, I miss London a lot less than I thought I would, like hardly at all. Do I want to be doing the same commute I was doing for near on 12 years? No. Do I care less about X Factor, Cheryl Cole, Jordan or Sienna and Jude’s love life? No. Is the i-phone changing my life so much that I can’t remember how I ever coped without it? No. Do I miss my local pubs? No. Do I miss the routine that was my life? God no.

True it was time for change (I seem to work on a five year cycle) but I am amazed that I’ve settled into a place with barely 80,000 people, having always been a city girl. I don’t mind as much as I thought I would bumping into people all the time and the grapevine that inevitably results. Having met people from outside the other one’s network has been good though and I think our strategy of trying to get away in the holidays to experience life in more than just the one lane (it doesn’t have to be fast!) is a sound one. It can feel claustrophobic sometimes and there is routine here too, but when that includes visiting beautiful beaches and the Indian Ocean, it’s hard to complain.

I think the thing that gets to me most, is the difficulty in getting around and how this affects our social life. There’s no public transport after about 6pm, taxis are expensive (with some drivers not always that sober) and people live in scattered locations around the island. Driving at night is not easy, poor lighting, roadside ditches, drunk and reckless drivers (some people deciding to overtake only when they know that there is oncoming traffic!) and an inability to dip headlights from full beam. Never mind the perilously steep driveways to get to a lot of places (I say all this it’s the other one bless who does the driving!)

It’s of course luxurious not to have the stress or routine of a 9-5 job and I’m busy with this blog, Social Seychelles and dreaming up ideas for employment but doing something that could earn me money would be nice!

So I reckon on the scale of 1 to 10. Life here rates about a 7. Might creep up if I get an interesting job and money!

Would I want to be back in London? Not in a heartbeat.

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Discovering my inner geek

Given my astounding success inserting a break with HTML and what appears to be an emerging inner geek, I can’t help but think What If?

What if I’d decided to pursue a career in computing instead?

No, don’t choke those of you who know me…there are some positive signs.

Like severe Buffy and Big Bang Theory fandom, liking Chuck who’s just Seth from OC*, lovin the original Star Wars trilogy, early success at Pac Man and the Rubiks Cube, earnest discussions about the meaning of Terminator and Donnie Darko and the fact that often no-one understands what I say (not I fear due to my ‘off the scale’ intelligence). I also sit for hours on the internet and spend just as much time tinkering with Ning.

It could have been my dream career…except…

I never went near dungeons and dragons.
It took me years to know that HAL was a riff on IBM.
I missed the point of Tron.**

And I don’t even have Windows 7 yet.

This leads me to conclude with Spock-like logic that I’m a wannabee while real geeks, being figures to which I aspire, are way cooler than me. Pigs in space.

For the ranks of the uncool, there’s only clear calling. I ‘ll say it again, I should have become an MP.

*Not surprising as Josh Schwartz wrote both.
** Have just found out that there’s a new Tron for 2010! Finger on pulse without even knowing – maybe there’s hope afterall!

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and on the tenth day she worked out HTML, well the tiniest fraction

I like to try and keep up to date with the digital world out there but it’s difficult in a place where spotting an i-phone is as likely as meeting a Giant Panda at the bus stop with Twitter, his blue fin tuna friend. Reading as I do a few sites like mashable, I found an article about developing social networks. Exploring further with time to spare and no-one to speak to (intro violins…), I suddenly found myself setting up a Ning dummy site called Social Seychelles. I didn’t even struggle over the name (this being a very onerous and important task I feel – I mean while researching places to stay in South Africa I came across two hotels called Xanadu and the Blue Oyster – I mean stay there, really? Ok, maybe it’s just me).

So for the next 48 hours, I sat at the computer, putting together the site, muttering about how truly amazing the internet is while the other one tried unsuccessfully to remind me that outside was one of the most amazingly beautiful places in the world. Tough mister, I just worked out how to insert a break in HTML*

* This really isn’t that impressive.

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By midday the next day, the landlord has bought and fitted our new water boiler leading me to ponder the conundrum of why it is boilers seem much easier to buy here than fresh mushrooms?

The washing machine was also fixed for a problem we didn’t even know it had, it having overflowed while we were out. So for the second time in 24 hours, I stuck it to RoSPA and spread water around the house with the mop – extreme living in the Seychelles.

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Rear end troubles

Leaving behind our cold water woes, we headed for Beau Vallon for an exciting evening in our Seychelles calendar – an invite to someone’s house, where I’d been the person invited. Nothing to do with school whatsoever – released from the dependent shackles oh yes! Except, the other one was driving and it was dark and raining, and he likes moaning about it, it worryingly reaching a peak when behind the wheel he complained that he couldn’t see. Comforting.

Can you read the top row? She asked the other one innocently

It got worse.

Turning right into the road (well driveway) we needed to take, with the darkness and rain and steep hill, the car struggled to get up. Deciding to reverse, we started back to find another car had turned in behind us. Trying to steer to allow them to sidle past, the other one yelped at me to check my side of the road, at which point the car behind beeped us urgently and I yelped that perhaps he really should stop reversing. Too late. In the darkness, it had been difficult to see that the left side of the road fell to a drop. I had to jump about half a metre out the car, you see the back left wheel was hanging over the sodding edge.

So the bloke behind got out of his car. Another bloke came out of his house. Help was shouted in Creole, useless as we’re useless uncomprehending expats. The other one tried to rev the car forward, smoke rising, till eventually the two blokes together pushed the car and thankfully it came unstuck.

To add to our rubbish day, the people behind were going the same place (one of the girls was from Alliance Francaise) and so it was a bit embarrassing plus the other one was all a fluster. On arrival at ‘A’s I made a beeline for the fridge and a cold beer.

The evening turned out good though. Lovely food, drink and company; ‘A’ had made a real effort. We got home in one piece too. Now I just think that the other one really should have his eyes tested. Ironic, A is an optometrist. Must mention next time I see her.

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I'd have been sitting on a goldmine if it was these kind of leeks.

Listening to the other one’s jibber jabber, him having called me with nothing much to say (I expect just a thinly veiled excuse to check I’d fed and watered myself like some forlorn Tamogochi, stuck as I am to the internet these days) I felt a small splash on my shoulder. Then a few more. Seeing as last I knew our house had a roof this was a little troubling. In what seems to be perfectly reasonable 21st century behaviour, I secured the safety of my laptop first. Then I set out like truffle hunting pig to check out the problem. My quest took me to the loft upstairs where I identified what I think is technically called a drip drip sound. Time waiting for no man, I despatched myself next door to the landlord’s house to report my discovery only to find on my return that perhaps I’d been a little understated in my explanation. Water was pouring from the roof, through the light fitting, through the floorboards down to the living room. It’s like I never left Manchester.

I’d say I hurried about trying to find lots of things to capture water with, except we don’t have that many things. Our bin became a bucket (though really it’s a bucket pretending to be a bin), I lobbed the top off an empty 5L bottle of water and grabbed our three saucepans. I then went round the house with a mop, a useless exercise seeing as I was just spreading the water everywhere, turning our house into a death trap that would cause RoSPA (the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) to weep.

The other one turned up soon after, the leaks adding to his miserable day of forgetting his PIN number, having his card taken by the ATM and finding two massive cockroaches in the car boot where he’d stashed our food. I mopped round him while he de-stressed with a fag (nothing like prioritisation) and the landlord arrived, doing a better truffle impression than me, discovering that the water boiler had rusted through and we needed a new one. So it was hello cold water – at least we’re in the Seychelles and not London right now…

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Start/finish line by the beach!

I was never gonna be a contender but the other one having decided to run 10km in the Seychelles Eco Healing Marathon and get (or wake me) up at 5.30am on a Sunday morning – well, why should he have had all the fun? (some might think that flawed logic I admit). So where in London I’d think myself successful if I dragged my sorry ass out of bed by 10.00, here in the Seychelles by that time I’d have been to the paper shop and back at least 50 times (if there were such things as Sunday papers and paper shops).

7.00am and still rubbing the sleep from my eyes and waking up to the realisation that I was about to run 10km (never before attempted) the starter gun went off, surprisingly on time. Off first were the proper marathon runners, followed by the half marathon-ers followed by 10k runners and 10k walkers.

The race started at Beau Vallon, curved round to Bel Ombre, back to Beau Vallon and then over to the Hilton near Glacis for the 10k. I recall someone saying there weren’t many hills- they didn’t know what they were talking about clearly. As I was overtaken by small boys who looked about eight, I began to worry. It was time for my secret weapon- my MP3 player.

Originally intended to give me much needed go faster stripes, it seems the MP3 morphed instead into an instrument of torture exposing fellow runners to a heady mix of bad singing in between ragged attempts to breathe. Still I couldn’t hear myself so that was ok.

The first 5km was not too bad, it was the second half, with the sun and humidity increasing that I found difficult. My goal and the other one’s was to try and run the whole 10km and not walk at any point, causing the very sensible people walking up the steep hills to look at us with some concern – though I’m not sure at one point a walking becomes a run, my status being indeterminate.

Having turned at the Hilton to head back into Beau Vallon, I did fleetingly enjoy the wonderful views of the coastline before plunging back into the pain of keeping going. The last couple of km I really started to feel it but was determined to sprint last few metres once the finishing line came into sight. Much to my annoyance, having summoned up the energy for an all out burst of running (humour me), some young punk kid just in front of me, about ten years old, saw me and started legging it. She pulled away, too far for me to trip her up dammit, so I had the glory of finishing the race heaving like a knackered thing while the little nipper, barely breaking a sweat, whupped my ass showing how it should be done. Still I made it in 1hr.10 – woo hoo, pat on the back me.

By far the best thing about the run – no not the achievement, the medal or the free t-shirt or even the free Kinder bar afterwards – was stripping down to swimmers, limping down to the beach, washing off the sweat and floating away my aches and pains idling in the Indian Ocean. Nothing beats that.

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