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Winefarms

I have to mention this.

After Stellenbosch, we carried on through to Worcester, where some friends of ours have a wine farm, where we stayed for dinner.

I picked my own supper! When we got there, Edmund was just popping down to the river to check the water level, so he gave us a bowl each and led us down to the fields where we grabbed some tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, etc etc, as well as all the grapes we could eat. And with the supper we had wine made by him, with cheese and olives, grown on his own farm! It was awesome. And this is not some crappy plonk wine, this is awesome export quality stuff. Even better than Tassies.

And here's the thing. After supper, he showed us his brandy still. He makes brandy, see. And he showed us where he distills the wine, and where it goes, and how it works. Then he took us through to the back room, where the brandy is casked. These are huge wooden casks, like you see in movies and suchlike - they can hold 600 litres each. And there were 140 of them in the room! Some of them were almost ten years old, I believe. And the brandy was amazing, too, not your Klipdrift that you drink with your Kola. The final thing was that when the brandy is made, it comes out at 70% alcohol. They have to water it down about half-half before they can sell it. So, I was standing in a room with 140 barrels of 600 litres of 70% brandy. That comes to 168000 litres of sellable brandy, or 224000 bottles of brandy, that I was looking at.

Stellenbosch Preparations

On Monday, I went down to Stellenbosch. I popped in at Adept and saw Gideon and Jac. They didn't have the contract ready yet, so no signage has been done, but I did get to speak to them about This and That. My thesis is due in on the 15th of February, but they want me there on the 1st of February. Obviously I am trying my damnedest to get it done as soon as possible, but I'm a bit worried that I won't have it done by the time they want me there. I'm going to keep them updated on my progress, however, and we'll see how things go. I really don't want to rush the last part of the thesis, though. That would suck.

Better news, however: I have found a place to live in Stellenbosch. We had a look at a few flats and suchlike, and I realised that I am most definitely Not A Flat Person. Don't like 'em. Horrible bare clinical prison-type items. Sies. Anyway, I've found a room in a house. It's just under 2km from where Adept are now (although they're moving, although they're not sure where to), so easily walkable, and the walk is straight through the pretty part of campus, anyway. I'm living with a lady and her son and his four friends, who are in second year at Stellenbosch University. So, at least I'm living with people. They're male people, admittedly, but better than nothing. It's a very nice house - large room, got a swimming pool and a braai and a TV with DSTV and all that. It's also much cheaper than the flats were, and includes lights and water in the rent, bo. The only drawback (apart from the unknown factor of the digsmates) is that there is no laundry in the house, so I'll have to find a laundromat or something.

New Years

My New Years was... different. I was going to spend it with Claire and Adeline, but the former was sick and the latter was working, and it didn't pan out, so Kalen and I went with his girlfriend Meg to one of her workmates houses for cocktails, and then to Stones for a few drinks, and then to a party in Camps Bay.

Now, this Camps Bay party was on 53 Victoria Drive, but none of us had ever been there. We were going to meet Adele, another friend of Meg's. We finally found the road, and found number 53, and found parking closish, and went and rang the bell on the door. The door opened, we went in, got introduced to everybody, shown where the drinks were, and so on. It was a great party. After about a while, however, we realised that we didn't know a single soul there, and that Adele wasn't there either. After some enquiry, we discovered that we were at 53 Bantry Bay, and that our party was some little way down the road. So eventually, we left, and went to the real party, where Kalen got drunk and tried to tell his toast joke.

I still think the first party was better.

Return from the Cape

I returned from Capetown yesterday, flying with Kulula once more. I tell you, they have different jokes every single time.

Capetown was okay. It wasn't bad. It wasn't fantastic, but I enjoyed myself there. It was nice to see my family again, as well as various Capetown friends. And I even managed to get a good chunk of writeup done. Gaby kept me entertained with SMSes, and Knoppix was my saviour as far as software was concerned. Fatboy Slim was essential.

I climbed Lion's Head last week, and Table Mountain this week, with Viktoria, and I can still feel the throbbing heat of sunburn on the back of my neck. But I got all the way to the top, right across, and all the way down. That makes me officially Hardcore (tm). Viktoria didn't even break a sweat or lose her breath, damn her.

Update: There are now photos.

Christmas was okay. I got two coffee filters.

And now it's just thesis thesis thesis.

In Cape Town

Well, Cape Town has been fairly uneventful really. Apart from reading five books, drinking some wine, and going out to play pool once, I've done nothing but spend masses of money SMSing hippies and TDMFs. Oh, and I watched the Animatrix.

I went to try to find Daniel Schroeder, and g'damn but the Maths Department is a maze. I swear it was designed by M.C.Escher himself. Like, you walk around for half an hour, and suddenly realise you're on a different floor, even though you've been up the same number of staircases you went down. And the exit is, of course, on the second floor, not the first floor. I did find Daniel's office, but he wasn't there. I went back once or twice, to see if he'd returned - a complicated process of going all the way along the one corridor, out, round, up, down, back up, through, behind, round, and along - but he hadn't. It was only on the last time that I went to his door that I realised that there was a hidden staircase that led straight there. I swear if I'd turned and tried walking along the wall I would have found a whole extra set of rooms, or something.

I did pop into the Compsci Department and found Matthew West (aka Lonewolf).

Oooh, I lied - I have done one thing of note in Cape Town. I went to visit Frogfoot, and met Abraham and Johann. It's actually an awesome place - I think I'd enjoy working there. They do lots of embedded stuff, and are almost as rabid and fundamentalist about what platform they use to do things as I am. Unfortunately, as soon as I set foot on the premises, the power died, so when they took me on tour to show me the data center and the satellite dishes and whatnot, we had to grope around in the dark a lot. It came back eventually, and we finished the tour.

I'm currently sitting in an office in the Red Cross Children's Hospital - my uncle's office, to be precise. Being in a hospital is weird. I think I've watched too much Scrubs. I searched for a janitor everywhere, but to no avail. I'm supposed to be doing more writeup but, as usual, it's going fairly slowly. At least I've managed to get hold of the articles and papers that I did before, that I need.

I don't know when I'll next have connectivity - various people have offered, but Cape Town is big, and I am small, and I do not have my own transport.

Back to the Cape

I leave tomorrow for Cape Town again. I am taking with me what I'll need to work while I'm there:

  • My writeup so far
  • My sourcecode
  • A Knoppix CD in case I can't find any Linux machines
  • Four Fatboy Slim albums
That should keep me going. Daniel Schroder has offered me a login to the Astronomy lab at UCT (at the top of the Maths department), which has ssh, lyx, bandwidth, etc, everything I'll need to be productive. The only trouble is I can't wander in there at any hour of the day. Alf has tried/is trying to get hold of a laptop for me, but without much luck, thanks to Yogan. That punk.

I'm looking forward to going to Cape Town - there's nobody really left in Grahamstown, even my hippies have disappeared in a cloud of smoke (literally). I'm going to go visit Frogfoot, and pop down to Stellenbosch to put my 'X' on Adept's piece of paper, and so on.

Anyway, there won't be much activity on this blog till I get back. Doncha know.

Progress in all regards

I completed the basic structure for my final thesis write-up a few days ago, and have now begun gradually fleshing it out, filling in the chapters, and suchlike.

I'm actually really pleased with the whole thing. Several of the chapters are actually things I'm really looking forward to writing about, and will enjoy it. The only one I'm a bit trepidatious (awesome word) about is Chapter 2 - "Related Work". Literature Surveys are for pansies and foreigners. Or something. It won't actually be that difficult - I already have several things in mind to write about. But it won't be fun.

So, in summary, the thesis is actually going pretty well. In spite of everything that everybody (me especially) has said.

I also got an official job offer for next year. A slight hiccup might arise from the fact that thesis progress aside, politics and red tape and suchlike might mean that I can only finish the thesis a week or two into February, and so won't be able to start work in the beginning of February. We shall see how that turns out, though.

LyX and layouts

As a quick side-note, Shaun Bangay's LyX style sheets and class files for Rhodes theses and whatnots, are very useful, very easy to install, and make writing up theses much easier.

Driving me crazy

Well, I've booked another driving test. On the 25th of January, nogal. I don't know why Nigerian 419ers bother with all that email stuff, when they could just charge people money for failing tests.

Also, I tried to collect Noodle's license for her, but they still don't have it. Bureaucracy se ma.

A Saffie (to be continued...)

As covered a month ago and two months ago, I am trying to get South African citizenship. I just went back ("6 to 8 weeks"), and they still had no reply from Pretoria. They're going to phone 'em, and then they're going to phone me. I wait with bated breath.

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