Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is the window closed?

Yesterday Mary (who is here from England) Sean, Shannon, Jordan and I went to uShaka to go and see the amazing aquarium and to watch both the Seal and Dolphin shows! When we arrived the first thing we saw were some small sharks swimming around below us in a tank surrounded by very real looking rocks and - luckily - a fence! With a sign on it. No Swimming. Do you suppose people really need that sign? I digress.

So we entered the very real looking ghost ship which houses the aquarium and, after descending into its dark and murky depths, we came across 3 portholes through which we could see a colourful array of fish. I tried, in my excitement on her behalf, to lift Shannon up to the porthole... She squealed in dismay and wriggled til I dumped her unceremoniously on her feet a good metre from said porthole! Mary leant forward to show Shannon that she could get right up to the glass to see the fish and the sharks - which I think caused most of the dismay in the first place - and Shannon asked, in a very small voice: "Is the window closed?"

After establishing that the windows were indeed closed, Shannon was unstoppable! She wanted to see everything and to move on to the next thing to see if it was as good if not better than what she had already seen. And what a perfect day we had. I footled around with Jordan who slept fed and stared, bewildered, at the sea life, Sean took pictures and Mary and Shannon look at sea creatures, talked about sea creatures, claimed sea creatures (those are my Dolphins, hey Mary!) and got drenched by sea creatures.

We arrived at Seaworld at about 10am and saw all there was to see in the aquarium, watched the sharks being fed, watched a seal training session and then later a seal pantomime (!), and then to end off our perfect day we went to watch the dolphin show. Well Shannon was beside herself when she saw these beautiful mammals. She went from rigid to floppy to starring in wonder. Mary took Shannon down to the tank when the kiddies were called to get splashed and she squealed again (Shannon not Mary), this time in sheer delight and then dissolved into giggles! After all this activity we left Sea World at about 4pm wondering how anyone can fit in all the attractions there as well as going to the water park that weaves it's way through it! Shannon was so tired it was a bit like looking after a drunk person and she was fast asleep within about 10mins of getting in the car. All in all a perfect day. Thanks Mary! And thank goodness the windows were closed!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sucker for punishment!

I find running (read walking, as at this stage 30mins walking is tiring enough) on a treadmill exceptionally dull but, as it is the only option I have for consistent and worthwhile exercise, I'll take it. I spend the time engaged in 'useful' thinking. This is thinking that should have some positive impact on life in general. Useful Thinking, as it turns out, is not always a good thing. At least not when you think about deep and meaningful things that can impact one's life. In fact it can be down right dangerous!

It occurred to me a year and a half ago that in order to improve my lot and maybe make a difference to other peoples lives, I should start an education process that will take me 3 and then 1 and then 2 years (undergraduate, honours, masters) to complete which will qualify me, at least on paper, to help people with any number of psychological problems to overcome their issues. Me. Really. Now, I realise that I am only half way through the first stage but I am having a bit of a speed wobble. How will I ever know enough to be a bona fide psychologist. This speed wobble came about whilst walking on that dangerous thinking machine. The other thought that TDTM brought to my conscious is: what am I thinking that I am capable of doing such a thing? Degrees are for clever people who are usually intrinsically motivated and who have a highly efficient long term memory for storing and retreiving volumes of information pertaining to their career of choice. When I grow up I want to be one of those people, but for now I live in hope that no one will guess my secret and expose me as a bit of fraud! Damn TDTM!

As it turns out, my motivation and my need to engage in Useful Thought seems to have been too much for the old machine and it has had a speed wobble of its own. This means that it is lying in state with a number of parts missing, (Sean has those and I know not what they are or what they do, that is Sean's business!) unable to tempt me to think and certainly not letting me take that exercise that I have been highly motivated to undertake. So here I sit, not getting any fitter but feeling a good deal better about my education. Now, where's that Pilates DVD?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations

I recieved the following in an email not too long ago and I think the fact that I recieved it again this morning means it warrants some sort of permanence in my existence. I desperately want to be given the oportunity to use the well deserved title and hope that all you research associates, senior research associates, executive senior research associates and associate recearch assistants out there get the chance to use it too!


A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office, was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation.

She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

"What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job or are you just a ...?"

"Of course I have a job," snapped the woman.

"I'm a Mom."

"We don't list 'Mom' as an occupation, 'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like, "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar."

"What is your occupation?" she probed.

What made me say it??? I do not know. The words simply popped out. "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ballpoint pen frozen in midair and looked up as though she had not heard right.

I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written, in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn't) In the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family) and already have four credits (all daughters).. Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money."

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby) in the child development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another Mom." Motherhood!

What a glorious career!

Especially when there's a title on the door.

Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations"

And great grandmothers "Executive Senior Research Associates?"

I think so!!!

I also think it makes Aunts "Associate Research Assistants."

AMEN!!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Risk to National Security!

Jordan is 3 months old...already!...and I felt it about time I put some effort into acquiring official bits and pieces such as passports and British citizenship, only to discover he does not qualify because neither Sean nor I were born in England. He is a baby. How is it possible that a BABY can be denied citizenship that a parent is entitled to? Not to mention it is the ONLY citizenship that I am entitled to!

Here are the results of my quest for information on the next step:

ME:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a British person living in South Africa and my son has just been born here. I was not born in the UK and got my right to citizenship through my parents who were both born there. I have discovered that my son does not qualify for a British passport unless I register his birth before his first birthday. Please can you let me know what this involves, where I can find the forms and how much it will cost. Also, is it possible, and if so any easier or cheaper, for me to get someone in England to register his birth over there? My first child was born in England nearly 4 years ago and she, my husband and I all have British passports, so it is frustrating not being able to get one for my son!

I appreciate any information you can give me.

USEFUL ADVISOR:

Dear Sean

The child will not be eligible for a British passport unless you hold a Naturalization certificate, or can prove that you resided in the UK prior to his birth.Registration is no longer necessary.

ME:

Hi Barbara (I only know her name because it is in the email address)

What is a naturalization certificate and where do I get one from? What exactly do you need for me to prove that we were living in the UK?

Thank you
Jane

ADVISOR:

Dear Jane

Tax certificates, salary slips, utility bills etc proving you were living there for that period.

ME: (this time I decided to ask a lot of questions so she could just answer each oneand not have to think for herself)

Hi Barbara,

OK I can do that. Is there a form to fill in? Who do I show the proof to? Does it have to be all or any of the examples you gave? Can I email them? Do I have to do it before he is a certain age? How do I go about getting the passport once I have proved that I used to live in England? Can it be done from South Africa? How many months/years worth of proof do I need to show? Is there any other information I need to go ahead with this?

Thanks
Jane

ADVISOR: (I was a bit optimisitc it seems)

Dear Jane

These must accompany the application and send as much evidence as possible

ME:

OK Thanks
Jane

ADVISOR:

Only a pleasure

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What pleasure???? I knew more BEFORE she 'helped' me!

Other than this 'helpful' interaction I have spoken to a lady in Pretoria who has given me some different advice and looked at 3 govenment websites which also claim different things. This is what I have read/been told so far:

  • I must register his birth in the UK
  • That I cannot register his birth
  • That he must get a visa and live there for 3 years to qualify
  • That if I can prove that I have lived in England for 3 years he will qualify automatically
  • That my residence in the UK is irrelevant
  • That if I have a naturalisation certificate for my own birth he will qualify automatically
  • That I must apply before he is 12months old
  • That there is no time constraint
  • That I must apply before he is 18
Anyone else got any advice that might be a bit more useful... I would GREATLY appreciate it! Or is my 3 month old son a genuine risk to national security?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

AAAAGGGHH!

Right, I am on my soap box so beware!!!! Before I start ranting I would just like to mention that I LOVE living in South Africa, but that doesn't make it all OK!

We have appliances...electrical ones... that make life easier and more interesting in some ways, such as a microwave (mine can roast a chicken in 45 mins) and a TV, for those fleeting moments when there is something good to watch, among other things! Well, not any more! I lie, we still have them, they just don't work.

We are lucky, I am told, as we have a schedule to follow to know when we are going to be without power... how is that lucky? I pay my bill, I am therefore ENTITLED to power ALL THE TIME! AND I am entitled to working appliances...electrical ones...that are not blown up by a power surge when they switch it back on! I know, I know...unplug them! Not always possible for various reasons especially when you are out and they haven't mentioned that they are starting the schedule again!

The second complaint I have to make is to the weather man: please warn us when a HECTIC storm is going to be directly overhead targetting our house and specifically our modem, with the possible - thankfully failed - intention of frying Hubby to a charred crisp in the process. Yes, we have been cut off from the world for 4 DAYS!!! I nearly had a complete nervous breakdown!

Anyway, we at least have fixed the internet issue, now to find a new microwave and TV!

My third gripe of the day is that the petrol price is going up in double digits again tomorrow. This morning I topped up the just over a quater of a tank that I had used and what used to cost about R100 cost me R170 and tomorrow it will cost me EVEN MORE. Bread, which is a staple food for many of the poorer people in this wonderful country, cost around R5 last year, now costs nearly R8 per loaf! I am, in fact, going to refrain from ranting about the weakness of the rand as I have run out of Rescue Remedy!

I am told these are minor set backs and things are bound to improve, but surely this standard of living is no longer all it's cracked up to be! Surely somewhere else in the world we can find some of the good stuff South Africa has to offer without all the bad stuff... or is this just a case of greener grass in other pastures?

I remain torn!