The Devil’s Footpath

I couldn’t find anything on the tiny country of Andorra, which is nestled inbetween France and Spain, so I decided to move on to the next country on the list: Angola.  Unfortunately, this didn’t have much either.  I did manage to find a good documentary from 2004 called The Devil’s Footpath, in which a 22 year old Kenyan law student travels through six countries in Africa, Angola being one of them.  The student, named June, is trying to decide whether to become one of the many educated Africans who leave their continent for better opportunities abroad, or whether to stay and see what she can do at home.

Her first stop is Cairo, Egypt.  Here, she goes to a travel agent to book her flights for the rest of her trip, only to discover that there are very few commercial flights between African countries, and none to the dangerous regions she’s interested in.  She’ll have to travel by hitching a ride with aid agencies.  While out and about in Cairo, she is assigned a government ‘minder,’ who follows her around everywhere, telling her where she can and can’t go, and who she can and can’t talk to.  She wanted to speak to some students at the University of Cairo, to get their take on life in Egypt, but is told that she can only speak to the wealthy students at the American University.  Yet even these rich, well-connected kids are afraid to speak their minds or show any opposition to the government, for fear of being jailed or killed.  June managed to ditch her minder to meet up with a young woman who attended a peaceful anti-government demonstration and was arrested.  The woman was beaten by the soldiers, and threatened with rape and torture.  All because she attended a peaceful protest.

June’s next stop is southern Sudan, which she reaches by flying in with UNICEF.  Sudan has been ravaged by a 30+ year war between the Islamic government in the north and the Christian tribes of the south.  However, locals say that it’s oil, not religion, which is fueling the conflict.  All the oil fields are in the south, you see, but it’s the north which receives all the revenue.  The government doesn’t differentiate between rebels and civilians; if you live in the south, you’re considered a rebel and will be killed at the first opportunity.  The only medical aid received in the south comes from UNICEF, and only when the area is deemed “stable.”  These people have no schools, unsurprisingly.  The children meet under a tree, learning how to read from small booklets and using a crude blackboard.  All of them want to be either pilots, doctors, or teachers, because these are the only people outside of their community who they interact with.  However, the future doesn’t look very bright for them, because as intelligent as they are, their government will do all it can to suppress them.

Her third stop is the Congo, which she reaches with the aid of UN peacekeepers.  The peacekeepers arrived in June 2003, officially stopping the violence which had killed over 4.5 million civilians in the previous 5 years.  However, conflict still exists in some parts of the country.  June goes to the Internally Displaced People’s camp, where over 13,000 war refugees live.  Within the first five minutes, a man threatens to slit her throat and eat her flesh, but then she finds more friendly people.  They live like animals, with dirty water, an inconsistent food supply, and ragged tents which barely pass for shelter and provide no protection from the cold night air.  All while the government officials who caused this ride about in limousines and are treated like celebrities when they visit other countries.  June then goes to see a gold mine.  She has to wear a helmet and bullet proof vest during the drive because of the lawless gangs roaming the countryside.  While at the mine, she meets a young boy who saw his parents killed by the militia and survived a machete attack himself.  The scars are clearly visible and the trauma has rendered him mute.  The only thing that makes him smile is seeing birds fly.

June’s fourth stop is Angola.  Angola is the 2nd largest oil exporter in Africa, with much of the oil coming from the region of Cabinda.  Cabinda–which is geographically separated from the rest of Angola–was a “gift” from the Portuguese when Angola won it’s independence in 1975.  June flies in to Cabinda with Chevron-Texaco and visits one of their oil rigs.  She learns that the Cabindans want independence, and the Angolan government responded by inundating the area with soldiers, many of whom are enlisted by force.  June meets a woman who was captured by a group of these soldiers as she was walking home one night.  Her companion refused to cooperate and was killed, while she was gang-raped repeatedly.  Yet should she have reported it to the police, they would have taken the soldiers’ side.

Her fifth stop is Namibia, specifically the Caprivi strip.  In 1999 in a bid for independence, the Caprivi Liberation Army attacked government soldiers.  300 leaders and members were arrested.  All were tortured. At the time of this documentary, 100 were still languishing in jail, awaiting trial.  Caprivi has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the entire world.  50% of the population is infected, yet for mostly superstitious reasons, the people don’t use condoms.  A Red Cross volunteer tells June that 83% of people go to a witch doctor before they go to the hospital.  Imelda, the head witch doctor, admits to lying and cheating her patients.  Even if she knows that they’re infected with HIV, she’ll lie and say that they are “sick with demons,” and will charge a month’s wages to perform an exorcism.

June’s sixth, and last, stop is South Africa.  She arrives in Johannesburg.  Although Apartheid had ended 10 years before she came, the transition to democracy was still struggling and there was a strong divide between rich and poor.  Still, aside from Cairo, it was the most developed place she had seen in Africa.  They even had a shopping mall which looked like it could have been American or European.  She visits a gold mine–mining is the main reason that South Africa has managed to become one of the most developed countries in Africa.  Though natural resources are rich everywhere, not every country has the ability to take advantage of them.  June meets Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, who tells her that bright minds should go abroad.  They should learn and experience the world, but then come back and help Africa.  This is the only way Africa can continue to develop, he says.

June travels from Johannesburg to Capetown, where she decides that she, like many educated Africans, is going to leave the continent, to complete her education, if nothing else.  It is up to the governments, she says, to stop the brain drain and make Africa into a blooming economy that will afford its best and brightest the opportunities they deserve.

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Quiet Success

So, M suggested yesterday that I should ask for a raise from LJB.  On the one hand, yeah, I should.  But on the other, he just gave me a large bonus before Christmas, a raise not too long before that, and last year he gave me a small bonus after busy season(which I kind of expect again this year), so I’d feel like I’m taking advantage.  And I would feel bad getting a raise, then looking for a new job come April.  But also, I don’t necessarily like asking for raises out of the blue.  I am a business major after all, and in most companies you get a yearly or biyearly review, during which time you’re expected to ask for a raise.  Granted, LJB’s office isn’t like that, but I’m still kind of stuck in that mindset.  Also, I feel like I shouldn’t have to ask for a raise.  If I do my job and do it well, a raise every so often should be the standard.  Is that going to happen everywhere?  No, but it’s a nice thought and I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

On the note of thinking that I shouldn’t have to ask for a raise, I’m a firm believer in quiet success, quiet excellence.  Be the best of the best at what you do, but don’t flaunt it.  The people you work close to and your bosses will know it without a word from you, and they’re the only ones who need to know.  Others who interact with you will discover it shortly, all without you acting like a desperate salesperson selling yourself to anyone and everyone who will listen.

Take this girl in one of my management classes this semester.  The prof had us pair up and do an interview type thing so that we could introduce our partner to the class.  The questions were: name, major, fav TV show, how you get your news, last non-school book, passion, and a trait of a good citizen.  Well, using these questions, this girl got her partner to introduce her as the Swedish girl who holds 12 records in swimming, speaks 5 languages, has been to 60 countries, and who doesn’t watch TV, because that’s time she could be spending educating herself or increasing her swimming skills, blah blah blah.  To me, this is just obnoxious.  Yes, it’s great that she speaks 5 languages and has been to 60 countries.  Most people, myself included, are probably jealous of that.  And good for her for being so good at swimming.  But why the need to inform the class of how “great” and “worldly” you are during an exercise that was just meant to tell us some basic things?  To me, this need for everyone to know that in your mind, you’re “the best,” just screams attention whore, which is just oh so unattractive.

Shaving=conformity=bad????

So I stumbled on this article on yahoo about shaving “down there”–don’t ask how I got to it, I don’t even know–but I was bored so I read some of the comments and was super surprised, to say the least.  There were sooooo many commenters who were saying that not only should you not wax, trim, or shave “down there,” but you shouldn’t shave anywhere because hair is sexy and no hair is unnatural.  Most of those comments were from women, but a decent number were from men too!

A common belief among these people was that anyone who shaves is a conformist who’s been brainwashed by the media to think that no hair is sexy.  Hate to break it to them, but hardly anyone wants to look at, let alone have sex with, a gorilla.  Personally, I like to keep it clear from the neck down, because I find most body hair to be completely gross.  I know not everyone hates it as much as I do, but how anyone can just let it go with no maintenance is beyond me!  At least shave your legs and underarms if nothing else, and trim your bikini for both cosmetic and hygienic reasons.  What guy wants to go down on a girl with a forest (and vice-versa while we’re considering it)?  Seriously, these au-natural people are sooooo weird!

Shoot me now

Before I start, let me just say two things:  1) Even though it’s that time of the month, this is not the hormones talking; 2) This is not in the heat of the moment, I’ve had this little post written in my head for a few hours.  If anything, it’ll probably be way simmered down from the original.

I hate my job.  Fact.  And it takes a lot for me to say that.  No, it’s not the stress of busy season.  For one thing, it’s not that much work and it’s not that stressful.  For another, I handle stress fairly well.  I mean, I once had to help lead the evacuation of 1200 + angry, unhappy people on the opening night of Spider Man 3 without batting an eye.  In fact, we all joked about it as it was happening.  So let me just run down a list of things I hate, or at least strongly dislike:

1.  I hate the boss who likes to micromanage every aspect of my job (actually, he likes to micromanage everything, but I really feel it during this time of year).  He slows things down to a snail’s pace, and then they all wonder why we have to stay late and come in on weekends!  I really want to yell at him to leave me alone and let me do my job!  I don’t need “help” matching or copying.  In fact, I’d do it at least three times faster if you didn’t help!

2.  I hate the jackass pervert in the back corner for reasons that should be evident given what I choose to call him.  Luckily I don’t have to work with him all that much, and sometimes he acts like a normal, decent human being, but then right when you start to not dread having to go into his office, he reverts back to his old self.

3.  I hate the disorganized, angry man in the office next to the pervert.  I don’t care that he just got a divorce, suck it up and stop being such an impossible dick!

4.  I hate the arrogant jerk in the front office.  Of all the lawyers, I hate him the least, but he’s really started to get to me lately.  I hate that he openly screws around a lot of the time, but when he does have something he wants done, he makes it seem like the top, top, top priority and gets annoyed if you don’t do it right then, but when you do do it right then, he blows you off for hours, if not days.  I hate how he constantly puts down people not from NY (even though he’s not from NY either!).  And I don’t mean a lighthearted joke once in a while, I mean a serious, snide remark almost every single day.

5.  I hate (well, maybe just dislike) the girl in the middle who doesn’t show up more often than she does, which leaves me saddled with her work because I’m LJB’s go-to person when it comes to things on her desk.  And I hate how she acts like a helpless ditz when she is here.

6.  I hate the two “martyrs” of the office.  Seriously, grow the hell up and get over it.

7.  Last, but not least, I hate what we do.  It’s pointless.  Like most everyone else, I work harder and do better if I like what I do, and what the company itself does.  Reducing property taxes is pointless.  Well, I’m sure LJB and the clients don’t see it that way, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s pointless.   I suppose you could argue that Edward Jones, where I want to work, is also pointless—I don’t think so, but it could be argued—but at least I like finance and business.

Wow….that was actually way more tame than I planned…..in my head almost every other word was the f word lol.  Even though I hate it, I’m not about to leave, because I get awesome paychecks this time of year and get great flexibility, but that doesn’t really make it any less frustrating.

I know I haven’t exactly been the easiest person to work with the past week.  I’ve been rather snippy with some people (mainly JChin and SJG, both of whom deserved it in my mind), and have had to actively curb my attitude with LJB and even Marc.  The others, like E, JTran, AC, G, and Jel, I don’t think I’ve been short with, because they don’t bother me, but I think it’s been pretty clear that I’m not in the best of moods.  I could just write it off as PMSing, but it’s really because this week was pretty much my breaking point.  I think I handled it fairly well—hey, I could have totally flipped out on JChin and told her everything I think, or quit, or something drastic like that—but I’m still counting down the days until I don’t have to work here anymore.

TDIP

Setting the world of haute couture alight at the On Aura Tout Vu fashion show in Paris

Cat fight

Just to bring EK up to speed….JChin and I are not exactly on speaking terms anymore….and I’m oddly okay with that.

Long story short, LJB asked me to tell JChin something, when I did she snapped at me, I snapped back and called her out on being so bitchy during the busy season, she tried to justify it by saying that ” of course she is, because other people aren’t doing anything and she gets everything,” then I stated that she’s not the only one in the office who does work and stalked off.  Yeah….great day yesterday lol.

Honestly, I totally saw this coming.  My relationship with JChin has been shaky for a while.  I was sick and tired of hearing her complain about the drama in her life which she starts (though she always claims she’s 100% innocent), and her martyr complex, and her immaturity, and her lack of motivation and Idk….a bunch of other stuff.  You can’t be friends with everyone, and the two of us gave it a shot and it didn’t work out.  Life goes on.

But then AC and I were talking during the hockey game, and apparently JChin thinks that I’m closed-minded and judgmental, especially about the smoking thing.  I’ll be the first to admit that I can be closed-minded and judgmental about certain things, but the smoking thing was like a running joke, which I actually haven’t used in a few months, because a few months ago is when I started to stop caring if this relationship fizzled out.  If she wants to kill herself with nicotine, what do I care? As far as judging her, yeah, I suppose I do, because I do judge people who do things which I consider to be completely naive, stupid, or illogical.  If I can see your point of view and understand why you did what you did, that’s one thing, but if I can’t, I just…can’t.  Whether or not the action really is naive, stupid, or illogical is another matter entirely, and one in which every person will probably have a different view.  Personally, I believe everyone judges.  I mean, we all know what we think is the “right” way to do/think/act–we wouldn’t do or believe what we do if we didn’t think other choices were wrong, after all.   I guess it’s really just a matter of how much you let it show.

AC also said that JChin doesn’t really like people who “challenge” her, and I can see that.  I think AC is the only person, until me, with less seniority than JChin who has snapped at her.  I could tell she was all freaking out when I did, but honestly, someone’s gotta tell that girl that just because she can’t handle stress doesn’t mean the rest of the office should be her personal punching bag.  The fact that no one’s really stood up to her before when it comes to this is probably why she’s so bad.

Anyway, at the moment we’re civil, though she was unnecessarily snappy with me after I sent an email informing of a personnel change with one of our larger clients to the three other girls who were calling to get apps back (and I was a bit unnecessarily snappy back….).  Why she needs to do that, who knows, but as long as we don’t talk too much, it’s fine.  I’m content to keep it that way, but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what happens 😉

Blah blah blah

I don’t know what it is about Ke$ha, but her songs are just so damn catchy!  I was rather indifferent towards both Tik Tok and this one when I first heard them, but they’re the kinds of songs that worm their way into your brain and can’t be removed, no matter what you do.  I don’t know how she does it, but it’s pure evil genius.