Friday, July 23, 2010


I hope this battery lasts....

I've mentioned in previous posts that I went to more of a concentration camp than a high school. No really it was that bad. Can I hear a shout from all my Rongai Boys peeps. Apart from the usual high school "chores" all students in form 1&2 also had intensive farm duty. I'm talking about at least two hours every morning before breakfast, half day Saturdays, and at least 6 weeks over holidays! The work was not cosmetic either. We ate from the farm and the supervisors ensured it produced. The piggery for obvious reasons was considered the worst but personally I found cutting and chopping 160kg of Napier grass before breakfast for the cow unit far worse. Something far worse though was midwife duty. Apparently pigs need a lotof care when ... birthing... calving... pigling? So when a sow was in 'labour' form one's would take turn at night seeing that when the process began, it went smoothly.

Thus, one very cold, very dark night I was rudely woken at the witching hour to be informed that it was my turn. After persistent unsuccessful attempts by my midwife predecessor to get me to wake up, frustrated he groggily walked off leaving the hurricane lamp and a stern warning of what consequences I faced if I did not take up the baton. Blissfully in my half sleep state I shrugged it off and snuggled deeper into my blankets.

The domino effect was catastrophic! Enough be said that the sow piggled that night and 5 piglets died as there was no one to watch over it and guide the piggling.

I was made aware of this the next morning and now fully awake I remained in mortal fear of my punishment which I doubted would be any less than a suspension.

It was a cruel and stressful time as those days I seemed to move from crisis to crisis. If it wasn't still born piglets it was broken equipment in the lab, or contraband found in my locker. I would spend every day putting out new fires only for more to pop up. It seemed that I could never cut a break.

Strangely and fortunately this time I did get a break. The issue somehow never developed and up to this day I have no idea why but thank the gods nonetheless.

Running my own businesses my firefighting skills are well developed and I have learned to accept it and be positive. These days what might have seemed an insurmountable problem is seen as an opportunity, a business death blow is viewed as challenge. I don't win all the battles but they do keep me fresh, hungry, and energized.

That said, today I face what could be my greatest challenge yet and this time like with the piglings I could do with a break.

The battery lasted! Take that Android!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Curiouser and curiouser

Peer to peer sharing is the public enemy number one for anyone in the digital media industry. The ease at which someone can download movies, music, and software made significantly easier by high speed fibre-optic connections has eroded the earnings of producers and artists worldwide. I would love to say that I can throw the first stone, but sadly the lure of free stuff is too strong even for me. It is with this backdrop that I managed to watch a fairly good camera copy of the surprise early 2010 blockbuster Alice in Wonderland. I didn't expect too much, but once again Tim Burton pleasantly surprised me. Alice, based on Lewis Caroll's fabled children book has been updated for the modern audience and given extra pizazz by the always entertaining Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. Before this becomes a movie review, I'd just like to re-iterate one of Alice's quotes that deftly captures the topic of my post today: curiouser and curiouser.

This is how I describe some of the things I observe at my office building View Park Towers. Now, View Park Towers is a majestic looking building overlooking the John Gakuo revitalized central park, with its lush green lawns dotted with water fountains. Having been here nearly 5 years now, I can attest to the high-street atmosphere of the place and it is one of the selling points for our serviced offices at

The imposing view park towers

However, events in the past year have befuddled me, and I wait every day with anticipation on what new oddity I'll observe. Here I go through the top 3 I've seen so far.

1. Scanning People Entering the Building
Security of buildings in Nairobi has never been the same since the '98 bomb blast. Metal detectors and body scanners now are commonplace for most buildings. Unfortunately (at least at View Park) it seems that while the equipment was purchased, no training was given to the security guards on how to use them. Makes me think that the security company might have just thrown scanning in the pot to sweeten its proposal and win the tender.

Case in point, first of all the guards at the entrance will only scan you when their supervisor is present, or they are not tired or hungry. And even when they do scan, it is a laughable pass over a random part of your body. Nothing, not even an alarming beep from the machine will give them reason to do any further search. It really does nothing to my confidence when I think that someone with a suicide vest could easily enter the building.

Secondly is how they search vehicles entering the basement parking. Not only do the guards 'sell' empty lots to day parkers thus comprimising the building security but they have openly admitted to me that they have no clue what they are looking for when they pass a mirror under the car's body. They only check the boot when they are in the mood, and a practical joke (one day I put a poster written THIS IS BOMB on a gas cylinder) went flat because they didn't even get it!.

2. Turning off the water at 4:00 PM and on weekends

This is not only curious but downright ridiculous. Despite having a very high occupancy (with KEMU students occupying three entire floors of 30,000 SQ FT with about 1 student per 25 SQ feet) and most of these coming past 5 pm, the management sees it fit to turn off the water. The argument goes that if they left the water on some tenants (have previously) will leave their taps on and flood the place! This to me doesn't fly, I'm more likely to attribute some sort of rationing on this dry-tap-after-4pm business.

3. Placing a Security Guard in the VIP lift

Started only a week ago, I was very surprised to find a seat in the VIP lift with a very bored security guard on it. At first I thought he was there to help people press the lift buttons; but the absurdity of this and the languidness of the guard convinced me otherwise. On inquiry, I found that his job was to provide... ahem ... security. It seems that recently a lady was robbed of money while in the lift . Now, I sympathise with the victim but surely there must be a better way to provide security. Not only does the guard take up valuable space, but the process of his normal bodily functions compounded by being cooped up in a 5'x5' lift make riding the lift less than savoury, if you know what I mean. Placing a CCTV camera in the lift would be much more effective in preventing and arresting any crimes in the lift, it's also cheaper in the long run, and the now freed security guard can be used to turn off any taps left running at night.

UPDATE: 16/7/2010

While going through some archive blogs I found this even more impressive snapshot of View Park, that I took from Central Park. Enjoy

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The most underpriced real-estate in the world!

When we are young most of us dream of being rich and famous. I was no exception and I made sure I started working towards this early in my youth. I sold contraband, got three jobs, started a business, and did consultancy, trying to add up the shillings and cents to meet my goal. At some point though (especially after finishing college) I discovered that sometimes the goal was just getting by. The reason I'd wake up in the morning, get myself to the office, answer calls and emails, meet clients and suppliers, write reports and proposals, balance books, was just to make payroll and rent. And even when the money came, it didn't bring any satisfaction, after spending  16 hour days doing the same-old, same-old.

When my business finally gained stem I really thought I had escaped the rat race, but by settling back into a routine just to 'survive' I realized that all I had done was change lanes. To further drive home the futility of it all someone told me that the worst thing about a rat race, is that even when you win, you're still a rat.

..and being a rat, you might end up like my friend here 

Q: So how do you break out of the rat-race.
A: You make sure you never get into it in the first place.

Different folks have their way of ensuring that they do not slide into the monotony and repetition of the rat race. Today I'll share with you a method that will not only save you from a rodent's existence but can potentially make you very wealthy.

The secret is real-estate.

No, not that real-estate which is measured in acres and hectares and in Kenya has been acquired mainly through patronage, sycophancy, and grabbing. For many of us born after 1980 and with slim chances of inheritance, that type of real-estate (at least in sizeable quantities) remains a scarce commodity.

The real-estate I'm talking about is the that found on the World Wide Web. As we move into the future, the hot properties will be those in cyberspace, where instead of acres and hectares we measure value by eyeballs and clicks. The best thing about this real-estate is that it is available and accessible at a very low cost. A domain name usually costs under than a thousand shillings per year ($12.50) to register and hosting is not much more. From there you simply need to put up a property (website with content) and if your property is good you should start getting tenants (visitors and users).

So to escape my version of the rat-race, I have been amassing this 'space' and constructing all sorts of 'property' to get 'tenants'. And today I welcome you as tenants to my latest property Unlike most car sites, which either ask you to list your car for a fee or free and sell it for you, buys cars from Kenyans and pays instant cash. As a pioneering service, we hope to grow and learn with our tenants and inject some vibrancy into Kenya's used (reconditioned) cars market.

Welcome and enjoy your stay