March 23, 2005


Hello blawg fans. What's happening? The Fun Zone is tired and today the Fun Zone says that writing feels like work. However, a number of the great writers say that writing is work and that on the days it feels like work, you must continue. Thus, weary of heart and feeble of mind, I press on.

"Egotripper" identify yourself! "Egotripper" is the tag name of the fourth or fifth person to comment on this blog. "Egotripper" responded to a very specific piece of information, information that only someone in Ethiopia having witnessed the same television serial drama I did would have known (unless he/she was making stuff up). Out with you! Or, in with you; I'm kind of neutral.

Things here go well. This short rainy season has been less than expected. There have definitely been a few rainy days, but all in all, pretty calm. Yesterday was a big celebration in my behalf. As I requested, a few friends, my wife, and brother-in-law all gathered at my favorite Chinese restaurant for an evening of culinary delight. Only seven of us, but it was really enjoyable. Lots of wine, beer, cake, and, of course, Chinese food. I think we were the only guests in the restaurant, making the service even better, and we just kind of soaked the evening up.

There was a lot of talk about pirated DVDs - where to get the best ones, people's experiences in seeing poor pirated films where a shadow walks across the screen or the person sitting next to the cameraman coughs. I think the majority felt, however, that pirated DVDs were the wave of the future. One of my friends reported a funny anecdote about how the day "Fareignheit 9/11" was released in theatres in the U.S., it was available here on the streets of Addis.

That's not to say I'm a complete fan of piracy. Writers, directors, actors, theatre owners, etc., have to make their money. And they do - loads of it. If, after the fact, bootlegged copies show up in Africa, Asia - well, actually anywhere outside of the U.S. and Europe, I don't really have a problem with that. To be honest, it's the only way those movies could ever be seen here because, outside of the Sheraton crowd, I don't think there are many people who would pay 80 Birr for a movie (more like 3).

I don't know what else to report. I'm learning a database program (Access) for a project that's coming up. I've used Access a number of times, but I've never really gone through a tutorial methodically - I'm picking up a lot of extra stuff and now, at about page 100, the tutorial is really starting to stretch me. It's funny, but I really like these databases and programming. Sometimes, I convert the language to simple text formats to look at the algorithems and I get excited. I can't wait to learn more. Next up is hopefully a stronger grasp of SQL. I will definitely keep you informed of this riveting subject.

I do know what else to report. I just remembered what I spent the bulk of yesterday morning doing. Right now, I have some machinery sitting in the air cargo customs at Bole Airport. It's machinery for my investment activities (don't be fooled - it's nothing big). Anyway, it's sitting there. According to the Investment Proclamation, as an investor I am entitled to the duty-free import of capital goods required for my business. Unfortunately, that national-level directive doesn't seem to have been communicated clearly throughout the ranks and, as a result, I've been on a bureaucratic merri-go-round for the past week.

It started after the Ministry of Revenue. I'd gotten a sealed letter from the ministry to be presented to the customs authority exempting me from duty on my particular good. However, when I approached a transitor (public/private agents that move goods into and out of customs [to prevent fraud]), he said I needed a tax identification number. That set off a series of office visits which culminated in my brother-in-law's and my second visit to the subcity administration to register our business in order to obtain a tax number.

I am not kidding - when I went to the subcity yesterday, I was literally shopped around to 7 different offices. One person said, "No, you've got to go here". We went there. They said, "No, you've got to go here" and on and on. Finally, we completed the circle and ended up back with our first guy who, by the way, had told us the previous day to return with certain documents to his office and that our request would be processed. Something must have happened overnight because when we saw him yesterday, he said we wouldn't be able to get what we wanted from him. Oii veiy (how do you spell that?).

Things culminated yesterday in me leaving my brother-in-law at the Federal Ministry of Trade who informed us that, in fact, the people at the subcity and the transitor were both incorrect and that they'd been receiving a number of inquiries similar to ours from investors. Oii veiy! Well, I think it's cleared up now. My brother-in-law should be currently meeting with a transitor and the subcity administration to make the final arrangements. Hopefully, I'll have my equipment within the next few days.

By the way, here's a short bit I wrote a couple of days ago - to me, it has the same type of humour as the donkey incident, albeit in a different context. Enjoy:

I didn’t plan to write again today – it just kind of happened. It happened because I should record this story right now while I’m still mad. My brother-in-law – what was he thinking?! The guy has a perfectly normal, actually intelligent brain, that seems to get used about 1/3 of the time.

We were continuing driving lessons, having returned from the morning’s errands. We were pulling into our driveway. Our driveway is enclosed behind a fence that sits directly over the street. We’ve included a small incline to assist the car in getting into the drive without grounding out. At the end of the incline, which is maybe 1.5 meters wide, sits our metal door.

I’d seen my brother-in-law get close to the door on a number of occasions when pulling into the drive. Usually, we turn the car in so that the hood is right in front of the door, facing the house, and then honk the horn to alert our domestic assistant to open the door. It’s important to put the car directly facing the house so that the honk goes into our house, rather than into the surrounding neighborhood, and so that our assistant, who is sometimes hard of hearing, knows we’ve arrived. It’s a delicate art, and one that my brother-in-law has not yet mastered.

Like I said, I’d seen him get close a number of times and I’d warned him, but he always tells me to be quiet when he’s driving because I make him nervous and then the car dies. While I’m sure this is partly true, there have been a few times when my keeping quiet would have meant a) hitting a pedestrian, b) letting the car run into a wall, or c) hitting a pedestrian into a wall. Today, I didn’t even have time to say anything. As he made the turn towards our drive, the front wheels got up onto the incline and then the car jumped forward.

Our gate flew open like saloon doors. The guard across the street came running. Our domestic assistant looked out at us with agitation and confusion (thankfully nobody was behind the doors). I just kind of put my head down. I didn’t even know what to say. Lecturing was not going to help. All I could say was, “I don’t even know what to say”. That was it. There was a time when I might have thought a line like that a little too dramatic or guilt-tripping, but really, it was the only appropriate thing at the time. I couldn’t help but smile when I was out of sight, because, if you think about it, it’s darn funny, but more than anything, the guy needs to allow a little more oxygen into the grey matter. Well, I’m off to work. Ciao.


Blogger ladystroll said...

egotripper aka tsegasaurus was pure legend in canada

8:42 PM  
Blogger tsegasaurus said...

'was' a legend. i now reside in addis ababa, hence watch ETV, hence post a comment on your blog about a particular show both of us happned to watch.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Couch Potato said...

Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

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