What I have been reading [Sept]

Slightly better September again – but I have fallen a lot more behind (5 books behind the plan according to the goodreads widget). Most of my reading is currently being done off my kindle which makes it marginally easier to read too. So here goes:

  1. Hell’s Corner – David Baldacci: Bought after stumbling on an ad on TV (the dangers of daytime TV I guess). Interesting read, especially given my long hiatus from reading spy-y books.
  2. Paradise – Toni Morrison:  My first Toni Morrison book. Loved the attention to detail – one I intend to re-read.
  3. Another Country – James Baldwin: Bought this off the Kindle store on an impulse. It does seem like I am being drawn to the books I read in my youth all over again…

Links: 30 Sept 2011

  1. Printing a car? Odd that the retards who comment on the Daily Mail jump right to dissing the Indians and Chinese in the comments.
  2. Facebook rejigs, again. Tips and tricks to keep things private
  3. Sex and Hygiene, an info-graphic.
  4. Home grown scam; preying on the desire to jet out of Nigeria by all means.
  5. A saddening tale of domestic violence. Where does all the love go? 😦
  6. There’s an app for that. iPhone meets sleep monitoring.
  7. Understanding the Nigerian ‘Middle Class’ – wonder why the earnings limits have been set between NGN75k to 100k – hardly significant earnings I reckon.
  8. Brain reading, quite literarily.
  9. The DTR, a guide via Boundless.
  10. Go out there and make babies. The case for more educated [and progressive] people having more children.

About Town: The Maritime Museum Edition

museum view

 

There is a distinct chill to the air. Surely the weakly warm sun is on its last legs – like a new born mother coaxed out of her bed too early,  smiling weakly for the photo opportunity,  keen to impress yet tired to her bone – and the prospect of yet another harsh winter is enough incentive for me to take advantage of the sunshine and get up and about.

The plan is to finally visit the Maritime Museum in town. Since I moved houses a month ago, my new route to walk takes me right past its granite-grey, blue-glassed facade, but it has never sufficiently tweaked my curiosity enough to lure me in. Having too much free time on my hands on Friday night, I find out [from Google] that it is actually a treasure trove of historical artefacts celebrating the city’s unique position as a small fishing outpost turned into Europe’s oil capital; that certainly piques my interest.

I grab my jacket early on Saturday – it is too early to wear a winter coat, but too cold to brave the weather un-protected nonetheless – and head out into town. At reception, I sign in and grab a tag that allows me take pictures and proceed to explore the building. What I find blows me away.

The centre piece of the building is a model of the Murchison Platform. Besides this centre piece there are odds and ends about: a recovered deck house, the lamp assembly from an old light house, records from the old shipping society, historical memorabilia related to fishing and an entire section dedicated to North Sea oil and gas. One of the more intriguing pieces (at least to me) was an explanation of the MET office shipping forecast. Many a night whilst hounded by insomnia,  I have lain in bed listening to the radio whilst it has been broadcast and wondered what the cryptic words meant.  Thanks to this, I imagine I will listen to the broadcast with a lot more understanding.

forecast_final

 

The final floor has a large window that looks outwards on to the harbour. That view alone, is worth all the trouble I may have gone through to get there. My one small surprise is the absence of any reference to the slave trade. Surely for a city that played a not insubstantial role in maritime trade, there must be some connection to the slave trade?

Links: 23 Sept 2011

  1. Will this father be prosecuted for defending his family against burglars?
  2. Reclaiming the Gentleman – The SBM approach.
  3. Even nature tears down first, before attempting to rebuild. The plus side to the Australian fires.
  4. A dastardly act, and using social media to hunt the bastards down: Sugarbelly’s blog post, an e-Petition and numerous Twitter mentions.
  5. How About We on the types of women to avoid.
  6. Eugene Cho muses on Troy Davis, the death penalty and what is an appropriate Christian response.
  7. An essay on travelling.
  8. Navigating the “You’re a great guy, but…..” talk.
  9. Looking for the perfect dating age gap? Six is it.
  10. The case for doodling.

The first day

…Of the last year. I suspect that today was my Newcastle moment; the day when my decision to head out to pastures new was taken. The UK is looking increasingly hostile ( I may be reading the comments section of the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph too much), but it certainly hasn’t helped that some drunk wanna-be pirate complete with an eye patch called me a f*ucking black bastard in broad day light in Aberdeen.  Even conversations at work occasionally centre around immigrants – mainly Poles, but surely its a short hop from Poles to Nigerians.

So, it looks like there will be another tweak to the 5 year plan – quit the UK in September 2012; complete my Materials & Metallurgy program in August 2013, and progress getting permanent residence status.

Marriage? I really don’t know. Ideally, Q4 2013 (after the kinks in the 5 year plan have been worked out) would make sense. There is though the small matter of not being in a relationship at the moment..

For a long time now, I have felt like needing to restart my life – even if I have to get in at the base of the Engineering ladder someplace else. Fingers crossed, here’s to hope!

Intermission: What a Bloke Wants

What a bloke wants:

    • Great conversation
    • An appreciation of the arts
    • A balanced Judeo-Christian worldview…
    • The same sense of long term direction..

And not having to travel half way around the world to get them….

Surely, not too much to ask for? Or is it?

Sigh…

An omen, or not?

 

forth bridge

I suspect it might be the vestigial memories of night bus journeys from Lagos to Abuja back in the day, but my favourite journeys over the last couple of years have been on trains – spotting a rainbow just outside Edinburgh on the way to a job interview in 2009, returning to the North East of England for a weekend of introspection in 2010 and being surprised by the breath taking beauty of a sun bathed Forth Road Bridge, in November no less! Something about watching the grey granite of built up areas segue into lush greenery, and blue clouds, usually leaves me a little awed.

All week I have been working at an offsite location – grateful for the chance to work at a much slower pace, and to take the train from my city to the smaller neighbour next door. On one of those days, I end up sitting next to a man dressed simply in a tee-shirt and pants, with a jacket bearing the logo of one of the behemoths of my industry on his arm. We strike up a conversation over tea. It turns out he used to work as a Reservoir Engineer at that company until two years ago when he quit to ‘follow his heart’; his heart being training emergency responders.

He says he earns a little less these days and it took a full year to complete the extra training he required. He adds though that he treasures the spare time he has –  which he spends volunteering and hanging around his children, as opposed to peering at 21′ monitors pretending to optimize reserve recoveries.

If I believed in omens, I would imagine that some fate orchestrated this meeting to remind me that nothing is too good to let go off to start anew; knowing myself I’d still probably leave it till late….

On tribal stereotypes

Being born on the campus of a Federal University in the ’80s, I grew up in what was a cultural multi-verse. On my street alone, one was as likely to run into a Pakistani anthropologist as a Cameroonian linguist, or a Scottish librarian for that matter. Over the course of growing up, these seemingly distinct cultures all bled into each other, till there was almost a multi-cultural sweet spot at the centre of it all.

At the top of my street lived a family of Bini people – if children from multiple wives each keen to advance the cause of their own mother could be termed a family. The middle son – a stocky bow-legged bloke we called Osas (short for a much longer name, seemingly cobbled together from an assortment of successive vowels) – was a classmate, and in time we grew close enough to pit our burgeoning table soccer skills against each other from time to time. Our table soccer sessions were often punctuated with half time entertainment – dodo fried from plantains pilfered from his mother’s pantry. On the day I failed to wipe oil from my mouth in a bid to beat RustGeek Snr home, I learned a most important lesson – delivered to the rhythm of Mother’s pankere on my backside – about relating with Bini people – they can ‘jazz’ you. Clearly, that we both ate the dodo paled in significance next to the fact that his father’s academic speciality was ‘African traditional religion’ and that from time to time white chalk and ogbono soup turned up at the junction of fifth and eighth streets!

A few houses away lived an unmarried Yoruba woman who I imagine was in her late thirties at the time. Legend had it, that she kept food for months in her freezer, and that she ate only out of saucers so small none of her little relatives lasted longer than a couple of months with her. She also happened to serve on the same chapel committee as did my parents, so this was one neighbour’s house Mother was willing to allow us play in. Each time, before we vanished out of her door headed to the Yoruba woman’s house, Mother would reiterate that by no means were we to eat in her house. On the odd occasion when a relative showed up to spend an extended holiday, we soon would get an earful of insults of all sorts delivered in rapid fire with her whiny, nasal voice. Whenever the tirade would start, Mother would smile knowingly and shake her head. Our neighbour was only behaving true to character; Mother believed that the Yoruba person’s gift of the garb expressed itself primarily in colourful, inventive cursing.

The Idoma woman who lived on 3rd street quickly garnered a reputation for being a sharp shooter. She held a PhD in biochemistry (I think) and was married to some Professor whose speciality was ceramic engineering. She had kept her maiden name, drank beer at the staff club and smoked like a chimney, becoming in the process a byword for the damage an overly liberal worldview wrought on young women. All three of her degrees were earned in Russia; it was claimed that she publicly averred that there was no God, something which was definitely not de-rigeur at that time. When the upturned lips and smiles of condescension were shared, word was that Idoma women took too much to beer.

Mother truly believed that no Ibo person could be trusted, and that they were cold hearted, cruel and were masters of deception on a scale beyond her comprehension. Her strong distaste was acquired after a particularly nasty smear campaign run by one of the Professors to unseat one of her allies as PTA chairman. The way the operation was run – almost like a CIA black op in its secrecy and ultimate success left my mother scarred for life. It also didn’t help that my Uncle Fred’s Ibo wife purportedly locked out her mother in-law over a minor dispute. Said mother in-law was reported to have said reconciliation with her would be over her dead body.

Laila lived on Sixth Street, all the way across the quarters and she was only in town for three years. Her last act was to headline the school’s end of year presentation with a dance so sensual and pliant in its execution that the consensus was that she was either mammy water in the flesh or possessed of some serpentine deity. My friend K whose father owned the Kurt Koch book ‘Demons and demonology’ swore by his dead grandmother that a whole chapter in the book was devoted to that very dance routine.

In retrospect, these stereotypes were merely an instinctive coping mechanism my mother evolved as a means of keeping her brood of overly inquisitive children, and quite a few cousins together.  I suspect there were quite a few stereotypes around my mother too; after all she had a reputation for being hard as nails.