Thursday, 30 April 2009

After ten weeks of torture, Telkom gave to me...

My ADSL is working at home! This, friends (and random lurkers) is cause to celebrate. So TSC and I are heading to a new restaurant this evening for a dinner date. Tomorrow is a public holida, so we plan to sleep in late too. Yay!

In other words, despite the fact that my email still will not let me send anything at work, which is impeding any progress (I don't understand how it can receive but not send), and certain people are driving me up the wall as quickly as Malema can run his mouth off, I am choosing to look at all the lekker (nice) things in my life and smile.

Here are some more things that make me grin:
  • When I went for a brisk walk this morning, my cat tried to follow me. She really is like a dog, bless her little furry soul.
  • I have ADSL access at home. Yes, that is definitely worth repeating!
  • Cadbury's has brought out a new limited edition chocolate range including the like of a Fudge and Biscuit bar and one called Orange and Almonds. Super yum!
  • Tomorrow is pay day, so I can hopefully get my mom something nice for mothers day, have my two warm coats dry-cleaned in time for the cold weather and get my favourite winter boots reheeled.
  • I got a new freelance client and her business is really interesting (she wants me to re-write her online copy), so I have a fun job lined up in between all the rubbish ones.
  • TSC's parents sent us a load of lamb from the farm yesterday, so our freezer is nice and full, which hopefully will translate into slightly fuller pockets.
  • My winter crops (peas, more carrots, spinach, cabbage, radishes and pak choi) are doing well in the veggie garden and I have a recipe for mint jelly that I want to try this weekend.
  • Now that I have internet access, I can get started doing some serious catching up on blog reading.

What's making you smile?

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


I would appreciate it if you have any of the answers...

  • What should I get my mom for Mother's Day?
  • If I used my modem to connect to the net at my folks house, why won't it work at my house if my line really is ADSL-ready (Telkom says it is)?
  • Why do our office technology issues just get worse (yesterday we had no electricity the entire day)?
  • What would you ask Jacob Zuma, South Africa's soon-to-be president, if you had a face-to-face chat with him?
  • What's the best thing about winter?
  • Are there any good books I should be reading?
  • If you're South Africa, did you vote last week? And if not, why not?
  • What's the nicest compliment you've ever been given?

Friday, 24 April 2009

Bits and bobs on books and politics

April, in South Africa, is a total write off in terms of work. We have two public holidays for the Easter weekend, then this year Wednesday 22 April was national election day. Then there's 27 April, which is Freedom Day, and 1 May, which is Workers Day (yes, next week is a three-day week here).

In other words, we've not had one full work week in April. Crazy! And cool in some ways... frustrating in others.

I would LOVE to be going away for the long weekend, or taking the three working days off for a mini holiday as my boss is done. Alas, money is always an issue and it's not going to happen. But, seeing winter has just hit Joburg with force, I will take comfort next to our fireplace (the first time we've had one of our own) and in a glass of good red wine with TSC. Nice...

In other news, I don't usually do book reviews on my blog, but I've just finished Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier. Have any of you read it? If so, how did you find it?

Summary: Raimund Gregorious - Mundus, as his students affectionately call him - is a predictable character. A bookish Latin professor, well-respected, perhaps a little boring. One stormy morning, he encounters a beautiful, distraught Portuguese woman in a red leather coat...Later that day Raimund will realise: that moment changed everything. All of a sudden, nothing in his life feels right. His restlessness is fuelled further when he happens to find a book by a little-known Portuguese writer, Amadeo de Prado. The appearance of the mysterious woman, and Prado's prescient words, all seem to tell him the same thing: that he must leave everything behind.And so, early the next morning, he packs a bag and boards the night train to Lisbon on a restless journey across Europe and deep within himself in the hope of discovering somewhere, someone, who makes him feel alive and connected to himself and the world once more. Night Train to Lisbon is a richly told novel of ideas which will haunt readers with its depth and artistic beauty.

I fought with this book from the first page. I started off thinking it was brilliant. Then I got irritated by the bad typesetting (the spaces between words get dropped increasingly frequently as the book goes on). For someone who habitually reads with a pencil in hand to correct spelling and grammar mistakes (I know you're probably laughing as you think about all the typos on this blog), it was infuriating.
I wonder if the translation is as good as the original German? I found that the book grabbed me in places so that I couldn't put it down. Then it lost me completely in others and I wondered what on earth it was all about.
Nearing the end of the book, I decided I liked it. A lot. But then it finished. I can't say it ended, because usually there's some marker to denote an ending, whether it's a happy or a sad one. This book just stopped. And then I asked whether it had been worth reading through that much bad typesetting. And I still can't give myself an answer.
In still other news (yes, I am attempting to catch up on all the things I've wanted to post about), I voted for the first time on Wednesday. I was at varsity during the last elections and wasn't able to register in my home town.
Voting was very much less exciting than one dreams as a small child. The reality is that we stood in a line for an hour and a half and marvelled at how open to corruption the system could be. But at least I have my purple-stained thumb to prove that I did my bit. Now we sit back and wait for the final count, for all the numbers matter.
We know what the results will be - ANC will rule. JZ will be president. And SA will enjoy some more political fun and games as the new prez tries to decide which of his wives should be first lady.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

It finally happened to me!

Yesterday I got a phone call from a nice man named David. He asked me if I remembered entering a competition to win a Ford Fiesta. I said I had no recollection of doing so, but seeing I enter loads of competitions, it was possible.

My name had been put into the draw for the grand prize, he said. That was nice, I said. I was guaranteed to win the Ford Fiesta, a week away for two or some other awesome-sounding prize, he said. That was also nice I said.

I must come in with my ID book and be at the draw, he said. When? Wednesday (national election day here in South Africa). Where? Central Office Park, Midrand. What time? 2pm.

Then he said, "bring lots of friends."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because they might win spot prizes," he said.

"Uh huh," said I, unconvinced.

He then asked for my surname, my occupation and the names of the friends I would be bringing. I waited for him to give himself away by asking for my bank details or similar. Surprisingly, he didn't. But...

"Can you spell the name of your company for me - I didn't catch it," I said.


"And can I have a phone number to call, in case I get lost?" I asked.

"073 126 3448."

"You don't have a land line?"


"I see."

David then told me that someone else would call me with directions to Central Office Park, Midrand and ended the conversation.

So I Googled Talk-a-line. This is what I found.

A few minutes later, one of David's colleagues (who obviously had access to the same database) called me.

"Good afternoon... my name is so-and-so from Talk-a-line... Do you remember entering a competition to win a Ford Fiesta a few months ago?... blah blah blah..."

"Hello so-and-so. Your friend David just called me, actually. *pause, for effect* He told me I must be at Central Office Park in Midrand with my reference number J526 on Wednesday to collect my prize."

"That's correct, ma'am."

*longer pause (more effect?)*

"Uh huh. So I Googled you guys and I see that you're going to try to sell me timeshare for Quality Vacation Club. So I won't be there."

"Thank you. Bye."

Score: Tamara one, telemarketers zero.

For all of you who haven't heard of the Quality Vacation Club (QVC) consider that customer service site lists 51 postive comments versus 118 negative complaints about the company. Consider also that SA blogger Donn Edwards was sued for almost half a million rand for defamation by QVC after posting about the win a car competition, which he called a "scam". The case was eventually settled out of court.

Some bloggers pointed out that the whole court saga actually caused more bad media coverage for QVC than any blog post about the company could have on its own. Others speculated that perhaps QVC would learn from the public's reaction and stop using their "deceptive" marketing tactics to lure people to sales presentations. But this seems not to be the case... They are still calling and telling gullible South Africans they've won a prize.

I know I'm very behind the times with this whole issue (the Donn Edwards case caused a media ruckus late last year), but it's the first time I've had the call and there are always people out there who need to be made aware. So, if you are willing to sit through timeshare presentations and know that you won't win a car but will get a weekend away at one of QVCs destinations (terms and conditions apply, of course), feel free. But if like me you'd rather save yourself the time and trouble, tell a telemarketer where to get off today.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Ridiculous, absurd and irritatingly true

Directly after typing my last post on Wednesday, my PC crashed. The IT goons picked it up and only returned it to me today.

Without my wireless card, which they forgot, so I still had no internet or email access. Eventually, they brought the card across and the PC seemed to be in working order. The IT goons left.

My PC froze. I rebooted it.

It froze again.

It is now letting me post. I'm assuming it will freeze again in 40 minutes (this seems to be the length of its concentration span).

I don't think I can go on like this. I want to scream.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Assorted nonsense

Yes. I'm back again. Hopefully for good now. My stupid PC has been driving me mental the past few days... Have been able to receive email but not send it and get online but not post. The I-kinda-have-internet-but-not-really is actually more irritating than not having it at all I have decided.

But today, mercifully, technology has not yet tried to thwart my evil (or other) plans and I am coming to you live from my new desk in my new office on our new ADSL line. Can I get a cheer?

I have been so frustrated by the fact that I've been unable to blog over the past while and I've realised that it really is therapy for me. In fact, it's more effective than a few shrinks I've seen in my time.

Now I don't have much time because I am super behind in my work (having not had phone lines the past week and having not been able to send emails to my clients to even tell them we have no phone lines), but I'd love t0 hear how your Easter weekend was.

Mine was great. So nice to have TSC back again! We spent Saturday at the Rhino and Lion Park with our friend from Britain and his lovely fiancee and made them potjiekos for supper. We nearly didn't get them to the airport on time that evening due to a huge accident on the freeway. They were the last people on the plane as we sprinted (NOT an exaggeration) through the almost deserted airport.

Sunday was spent with the family who seemed to enjoy lunch at our house. Monday we chilled and finally finished making our path through the veggie garden. Now it's time to start planting winter crops. Can't wait to have peas out my own little patch ;-)

I'm off to catch up on a bit of blog reading in between my piled up work. I leave you with a few shots of what I got up to during my extended time away from posting...

Making jewellery!

*Having just written how nice it is to have working technology, my PC just froze twice on me and had to be rebooted each time. Nice. Not.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Yay for iburst. Kind of.

I finally have internet access from my own PC, which makes me much less grumpy and far more inclined to blog. We're operating off a wireless system (iburst) until Hellkom can sort out DSL for us, so our internet is very, very slow (low signal here), but at least it's working.

I'm back to blog reading. And can I just say... good grief, but you people post a lot! Some of my regular reads have posted 36 times since I've been away. That's an average of two and a bit times per day. Jeepers! You have time.

Me, on the other hand... I have spent the last couple of days going through potential post ideas in my head. You know how things happen and you think, "I'm so going to blog about that"? Well, now that I'm here, I can't remember any of those ideas. Go figure.

The thoughts in my head at present are as follows:

  • TSC gets back from a week away tomorrow! I can't wait! It's the longest we've been apart in our two and a bit years of marriage. The first few days were fine, but it's enough now.

  • What am I going to cook for Easter Sunday lunch? I've invited my family over to uor house and they're all so damn fussy. The safest option is probably a roast.

  • I loathe strapless bras. I'm wearing a strapless dress today and I keep having to hitch the damn thing up. Grrr! No wonder I hardly ever wear this thing.

  • My eye is still smarting. I managed to squirt myself in the right eye with grapefruit juice as I tried to spear the fruit this morning. Why does this always happen to me? And why always in the eye? Grapefruits are probably not worth the effort, IMO.

  • This is the second bullet point post in two days. Not very good writing, I know. But then again, two posts in two days is impressive after two weeks of absence, so I will forgive myself.

What are you guys up to for Easter? You're probably all heading off for exotic holiday destinations, aren't you? Sigh... I wish I was...

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

She lives (although her technology doesn't)!

I am not dead, in case you were wondering. Please excuse my long absence from the blogosphere. It was due entirely to happenings outside of my control, namely:

  • Despite every effort at flu prevention, I ended up getting sick after all. Flu plus a nasty ear infection and impressively disgusting sinusitis meant that I was confined to bed for a couple of days. Seeing Hellkom STILL hasn't sorted out my DSL at home (7 weeks now since I ordered it), I had no internet. Hence no blogging.
  • We moved offices. And I still don't have access to my own work email or internet connection, more than a week later. Hugely frustrating. Hellkom, the devil of an IT guy and various other evil forces have conspired to keep me unconnected from my beloved intertubes. I am currently writing from a colleague's PC. Yes, every other person in the office is hooked up, except me. NOW do you believe me that technology hates me?
  • TSC is away for a varsity practical week, so I have been in hibernation, enjoying my own company and not really communicating with anyone other than the voices inside my head.
  • Aliens abducted me and removed the part of my brain that blogs, leaving me without anything worthy of writing.

Ok, so I made the last one up. Partly.

But just so you know... I am alive. In the same way that the hopes of the Azanian Peoples Organisation of winning the upcoming national elections are alive... Not really.

This has proven one thing to me. There is life away from the intertubes. It's just not that exciting ;-)

I will try to blog again soon. Hopefully I get internet access on my own computer this week. And once that happens, I will begin the slow task of trying to catch up on all my blog-reading.