Thursday, January 21, 2010

How to make yourself smarter, for dummies

I have always admired my husband for being a hive of what I call "useless information". He always seems to know something about everything, from the history of most countries, to the inner workings of computers - topics that the average person (read: me) would have to research or seek help on.

And this makes me jealous.

I want to know useless information! I want to appear to be the smart one in conversations, rather than the one making silent mental notes to read up on Abraham Lincoln upon hearing his name to find out just what made him so special.

And so I have made a New Year's resolution. I have decided to research at least two topics of interest a week in an attempt to broaden my general knowledge base and give me the upper hand in intelligent conversations.

I'm starting with Abe Lincoln (who apparently detested being called "Abe"). I always knew that he was an American president; what I did not know is that he was the first American president to be assassinated and was responsible for the abolishment of slavery in the States. Mmmm ... so that's what made him famous!

I have a feeling I'm going to stick this resolution out. If all goes according to plan, I would have researched 98 topics by the end of the year (bearing in mind that I've already missed out on three weeks). Ask me this time next year what my favourite website is and I imagine it will be Wikipedia, and not Facebook!

Next research topic: the Berlin Wall!

Friday, January 15, 2010

If there was ever a time to bite your tongue...

I receive a daily newsletter from back home, purely because I want to keep up with the goings on in my home country. It's usually pretty standard: crime, car accidents, corrupt officials, police abuse, electricity prices, etc.

However, this morning's newsletter left me absolutely gob-smacked. Under the "most read" section was an article on a school in Port Elizabeth that was held up by thugs, who made off with a substantial amount of cash - the day's takings in school fees.

For starters, I want to know why this story was in the "most read" section, rather than the "news you should know" or "top stories" sections? Has South Africa become that much accustomed to violent crime that incidents of terrorists waltzing into schools with loaded guns are only afforded a mere mention?

This is not the source of my shock, however. A very smart police captain was quoted as saying, "I can't divulge the amount of money because criminals will now know they can make easy money from schools." Who says that?! Well done, Captain Rheeder, you didn't need to divulge the amount, you just single-handedly made every school in the country vulnerable to attack. You should be downplaying the amount or, better yet, not even mentioning the money!

Is it not enough that thugs have taken away our children's right to play in parks and streets without fear?

Now, thanks to poorly-chosen words, criminals have education by the throat also. Way to go, Captain.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I suck at this

I have come to the realisation that I am terrible at keeping a blog. My mind is full of topics to write about, but when I actually sit down to write about them, they suddenly sound silly. Abraham Lincoln was wise when he said, "Tis better to be silent and to be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."

So, I thought of turning my blog into a sort of online diary, but it would be selfish exposing readers to my mindless diatribes about trying to find Wellies that actually fit and look cool at the same time, or about my attempts to lose weight and get fit ... using the Wii.

Then again, my ramblings might be amusing to some of you, so I guess I'll never know unless I try. Behold, dear readers, part one of my blog-turned-diary. I expect comments. Lots of them. Good and bad.

I am sad to report that my hopes for studying further in the UK have been dashed. The procrastinatory (yes, I know that's not a word) side of my personality saw to it that I left it too late to book the photography course I was so keen on and all the spaces were taken up. Strike one.

Not to worry, I have the Indesign course to fall back on, which is more important and relevant to my career aspirations anyway. This time I made sure I called well in advance to secure my seat. "I'm sorry," said the lady on the other end of the line, "but that course has been cancelled due to a lack of interest." Great. I'm being punished for being lax in booking the photography course. Strike two.

Hmmmm....well, there's always the web design course. Not my first choice, but something that will still look good on my CV, right? Wrong. Turns out that this course is out of my price range so that idea was shelved. Strike three and you're out.

I wonder if future employers will hold it against me that I will not have worked in my field for nine months by the time I get home and start looking again?