Another week down





So my knee is almost fully recovered! I must say at this point last week I was pretty concerned, and I took Monday completely off (didn’t hurt that the workout consisted of back squats which was certainly not in the cards), and my co-workers made fun of my limp (gee, thanks guys..). On Tuesday I went to the gym figuring that if anything hurt I wouldn’t do it, and amazingly nothing hurt! I was a little annoyed with myself because I wasn’t in the right mental space to try and lift more than my previous 1 rep max on press. Not sure why. On Wednesday I learned that I could shuffle along from side to side doing a handstand “walk” against the wall (and that 75 burpees actually makes me a bit sore the next day). Friday was a good day because I did get a new PR on power clean and I think I actually could have gone a little higher but we ran out of time. Then we did a workout called “Grace” which is 30 clean & jerks. The prescribed weight is 40kgs for women but our coaches wanted us to use a weight where we could finish the workout in less than 5 minutes so we used I think 60% of our power clean, which in my case was 29kgs. That was far too easy as I finished in 2:31 and didn’t even feel any significant pain until the last 7 or 8 reps.

But back to the knee: other than some small amount of pain when I climb down stairs sometimes I usually forget that I injured it at all. I am actually truly, truly amazed by this considering that I literally couldn’t walk just over a week ago and the slightest twisting of the knee caused excruciating pain. Well, I don’t care: I’m just glad to be better!

The work week was also very packed, as usual. I feel like I didn’t really get much of a chance to breathe, which isn’t good because according to one of my gym friends I need to breathe more because my muscles below my ribs are all incredibly tight (that’s one of the root causes of that foot pain I had a few weeks back).

Week 2 of incubation went better than the first week. Things are starting to fall into place but we also still have a lot of work to do. On Thursday we had what was actually a really great meeting where we spent a few hours talking about a lot of this new business in detail and settled on some core elements of what we want to do and what we want to outsource (pending the results of market research, due diligence, and other digging: we need to make sure that how we want to do things actually is achievable).

This week also brought a new intern here from Denmark for 7 weeks, another meeting with a design firm (this time accompanied by a tour of operations including their full-size mockup room in the back: think movie studio but for life-size representations of design work … very, very cool!), lots of construction of shacks in the Hub, kickstarting Purple Heart market research, some great marketing and branding discussions, and, I think, more clarity on my side about what needs to happen for a couple of our businesses. I still struggle a bit with the human side but then again who doesn’t?

And, because I feel the need to document this lest I forget I did indeed hear these words out of the mouth of my boss: “You can work with Ellie on that. She’s more competent than I am.” When I asked him if he would write that down and sign it he just laughed: so I suppose he still has plausible deniability. But he and two other members of the senior management team are out next week on holiday which means there was a lot of last-minute things to do before they left.

It was also a pretty busy week activity-wise. On Tuesday night I went out to see a documentary about the recent outbreak of violence in Hout Bay. This made me a bit ill; I don’t actually think the documentary was very balanced but nonetheless there was quite clearly some unnecessary police brutality and that is extremely … discomforting? Bad? Worrying? Maybe all of it?

Wednesday evening started off with me arriving 30 minutes late to a local (even Woodstock-based!) startup for what was supposed to be telling of stories from the dotcom days but instead we wound up talking about Google, the syndrome of “not invented here” and “’n Boer maak ‘n plan” (a farmer makes a plan, which I guess is a way of saying necessity is the mother of invention combined with a certain level of self-reliance). But in social enterprise and I can generalize a little bit to any smart startup, especially here where resources are tight: there is no time and no money for any of this and you have to be extremely pragmatic. Oh yeah and I chose this opportunity to engage in one of my 8 drinking sessions: we eventually made it over to the 27 dinner just in time to grab some of the last few chairs. The highlight of the presentations was a demo of Microsoft’s Kinetic game system. We are so on the road to virtual reality: this tech is pretty cool, it’s like Wii minus the controller where you just use your body to do whatever, and it seemed pretty smart at picking people up and translating their movements into on-screen action. Following this, the party moved on to the Woodstock Lounge. Good times, until I realized just exactly how late it was….

Thursday evening one of our co-workers who is only here for another two weeks before going back to Europe invited us for a bring & braai at his place on Clifton’s fourth beach. This was a pretty spectacular setting for a fun work evening! I learned that apparently you don’t get between a South African man and his braai (one of the new European interns apparently suggested that the men move some of the coals around and apparently all three of their jaws hit the floor … and I thought American men were picky about their BBQs!). At least these men managed to braai the meat quite well, and not overcook it! On this evening I wasn’t drinking (wasn’t in any shape for it anyway!), which in the words of one of my co-workers is “why there was still beer left” at the end of the evening. Ha.

Friday night a co-worker had a housewarming party, mainly on his balcony which I think is one of the best views of city bowl that I’ve seen. There were a lot of really interesting people there; I think the funniest thing was when one of them heard me talking to one of our interns from Germany and immediately broke in with: “Whoa! You’re foreign!” Well, indeed. I guess you just never know who you’re going to wind up meeting at a party! I wound up staying later than I anticipated talking and then the next morning I was absolutely racked with indecision … did I want to go and get in a workout at CCF or go to the Biscuit Mill? Eventually I decided on CrossFit because I didn’t really need anything from the market and I knew I would be drinking later in the day so best to assuage the guilt … the workout was fun and I must say I don’t think 5 minutes have ever felt quite so fast as when you’re trying to beat 160m prowler push! We did, though, we got to 180. Go team!

Next, I changed and drove to pick up my co-worker and some others in Khayelitsha before heading to a wedding in Stellenbosch. My goodness what a beautiful setting, and although this was a Western wedding I must say that African weddings are more fun than Western weddings because Western guests don’t spontaneously burst into song and start dancing at various times! Shame I didn’t know any of the words but how cool!

I was deeply relieved that the bar had a TV in it where I could watch the rugby. Unfortunately, the game (Western Province vs the Sharks from Durban) turned out to be a bit of a Province spanking so that was quite depressing. But that’s what wine is for! Unfortunately I was so depressed by the game that I ate an entire cupcake. Now this is not a huge catastrophe but when I crashed from the sugar high I crashed hard: I was meant to drive down to Tokai for a Halloween party. By the time I finally woke up (!!) it was already 11pm so I suppose that made me fashionably late! But it was still super fun, and I did meet some more really fun people. I was happy that they were all reasonably sober, and so interesting to talk to (drunk people can be a bit boring don’t you know).

I am also compelled to admit for the record that this is the first sports bet I can recall losing. Shame. Well, now I owe my co-worker a six-pack of beer, so I suppose it could be worse!

Today was relatively chill although I had intended to get more work done than I actually did… but I started off at yoga and finally noticed the amazing contrast of the green geranium leaves against the green wall. It’s amazing how often we look at things without actually seeing them. A bit later on I had lunch in Claremont at the house of the parents of a friend, then to his place in Newlands for some brainstorming and also checking what is apparently the oldest ginko tree in the Western Cape. I will say that this whole thing was a bit embarrassing when I was getting asked all of these questions about American history and I had no idea! You would think I would know if the Declaration of Independence was signed before or after the Revolutionary War (according to Wikipedia, the answer is neither, actually: it happened about a year after the war started). Or when it was exactly that we introduced term limits for President; my knowledge of American history is actually kind of shockingly bad!

Looking forward to the week ahead I think I will be able to get a lot done. Well, I’d better: there is a lot that needs to get done before I go off on my own vacation in two weeks, and I’m out of the office on Friday because we are going to Joburg. Only bummer about that is that the flights are going to make me fashionably late to a Guy Fawkes Day party in Bakoven. Shame to miss sunset from there but hey, I’m sure there will be other opportunities!

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