Full Flavour Behaviour!

I'm boring, I eat pies, I'm going to Johannesburg
lunchtime, jan 28th

You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m more of a geek than a diary-writer, and to a large extent you’d be right. Here I am, poring over the 197 lines of diary.py (or, at present, 403 lines of agency.php, not including the 50 lines of Javascript I ripped off from javascript-fx) but I can’t even spare five minutes to throw a similar amount of English back at my massed audience. Ironically, of course, I write what like I can and you’ll pretty much get what I’m on about, whereas PHP falls over itself in its anxious desperation to spot where you’ve left out one single character. Never mind, of course, that its syntax proofer spots the error, identifies what it’s supposed to say and admits that it is in no way ambiguous.. but it’s still wrong, so you have to go and fix it. (HTML is the opposite, of course; most browsers will accept the most outrageously crap and meaningless code and do something with it. This isn’t at all irritating until it ends up masking errors in server-side scripts that output HTML) English, surely, is faster, easier, more natural to the fingers (debatable, actually.. all a matter of practice and how recent it was) and appreciated at a closer level to its originator.. yet somehow, it isn’t.

I can code after a sleepless night, I can code on coffee, I can even (as several long-suffering users of AIM have found out) make a reasonable attempt at coding while under the influence of alcohol. In all of these situations, however, my linguistic capabilities are hugely diminished; mainly, I think, because I simply can’t be bothered. Rigid syntax may be irritating at first, but at least expressing yourself precisely takes very little effort. Wow, why don’t all these American teenagers just learn to speak Java?

I’ve managed to kick my King Pie addiction, largely by going to Pie City, which is a lot closer and has the other advantage that they charge a flat rate of E4.50 a pie. King have an irritatingly complex pricing system, which is compounded by meal deals that promise, “2 + can of drink = 5% off” – nothing to get excited about when your bill is under E13 to start with, and not enough to bother doing the sums for yourself. It’s just too much to halve as well as divide by ten. No, City are right on the ball on this one. They do a “tasty twelve” pies for E50, I think, although I’ve never been hungry enough to take advantage of the offer. Mind you..

The only bad thing about them is their little paper bags. Don’t get me wrong; they are very functional, they soak up little patches of grease in the expected fashion, and they deposit blue ink on your fingers exactly as you would expect. The problem is that they have a legend printed on the back for decoding the pie flavour symbols. Sound reasonable enough? I suppose it is. However, firstly, these symbols are not marked before your pie is put into the bag. Neither are these symbols in evidence anywhere else in the shop or, I might add, in any other Pie City in Mbabane. Secondly (oh, I’m just warming up) the symbols have no rhyme or reason to them. I’ll give you an example. Cheese Puff is a rectangle with a thunderbolt through it (for some reason) and a spinach and cheese is a circle with a thunderbolt. Spot the theme? Wrong! Russian and cheese has no thunderbolt, plain cheese is a circle with a square in it and salami and cheese is a circle with a triangle. Or how about the hexagons? With a square, it's mutton curry. With a circle it's vegetable curry. With a semicircle? Vegetable cheese. AAAAARGH.

I’ve got nothing against symbols; in fact I rather like non-verbal representation as it is much quicker at transmitting small amounts of specific information, especially subtly different information that must be differentiated clearly (e.g. the difference between a cheese and mushroom and a chicken and mushroom pie. Wars have begun over smaller differences.. and yet they look identical on the outside) but this haphazard allocation of random symbols to the flavours only serves to provide a huge bulk of incoherent crap that must be learned by rote by all staff.. except, of course, it isn’t, the scheme isn’t implemented and the only sign it ever existed is the sad and ignored legend on the back of my pie bag. Imagine how quickly they could serve people, swap orders and generally pie-juggle behind that vinyl counter if they could only have a symbol system that allowed them to decode a set number of basic symbols, combined into more complex yet beautifully easy-to-identify characters..


Sorry, drifted off there.

Andy spotted a beautiful 1978 Mercedes 450SL outside the pawn shop; I asked and they said they were asking E25,000 but there had been a lot of interest. I left. I’ve had an offer for the 280 but it was only 10K and it was without the knowledge that there aren’t any papers for it. I must get to Johannesburg sometime and sort that out but it’s not easy to organize an entire day off work. God, listen to me. Anyway, I only mention all of this because it struck me how outrageous it would be to turn 23 and already own my second Mercedes-Benz. I did manage, since I mentioned it last, to replace that squeaky fan belt. Well, to pay Carlos’ boys to do it, anyway. The steering is now much smoother as well; I think I loosened the belt for it rather than damaging the pump.. which is a very good thing. What is less good is the discovery of mouse excreta in the passenger footwell. I replaced it with poison. Before anyone gets too excited, bear in mind that there isn’t anywhere that, thanks to rust, disintegrating stitching and loose bolts, the mouse can die without being readily retrieved. I found that you can drop a crisp through the floor of the boot yesterday..

Going to Johannesburg on Saturday morning for my Grandmother’s 88th birthday. My nerves. I’ll have to think of a funky gift (the Golf?). If anyone wants to inundate me with SMS messages (which will get through there, as opposed to SD where they don’t) the number is on the front page of the site, in an alert box where it won’t get nabbed by search engines.

Well, that’s all you’re getting for now, I’ve got a few things left to do this afternoon. Pictures coming, along with a scan of an offending pie bag.

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