Archive for General

End of April ramblings

Posted in Family, General with tags , , , on Friday, 1 May 2009 by Deems

So we’re in to the 5th month of 2009 – how did we get here so quickly? It was just the other day New Years day and look where we are now. People laugh at me when I say after January, six months of the year are gone!

April’s been a busy month, rushing to get my project at work launched (which we did last week) before going on leave. Perfectly timed, yes, since this week, in South Africa, this past Monday and tomorrow (erm, today), Friday, are public holidays – so a 9-days off for only 3 days worth of leave.

I’ve tried to do as little as possible on my time off, which includes sleeping in some mornings (after helping Dina with the kids) and just bumming about, checking my RSS feeds, posting a few blog posts and playing some CS.

Speaking of CS, you have the option to either play on a Counter Terrorist or Terrorist team – so, what does it say about me if I do better playing as a Terrorist (uh-oh, I said Terrorist 3 times already, make that 4, on my blog post – the FBI, CIA and Interpol will have a field day with me today)?

Rebecca, our youngest (almost 3) has been taking swimming lessons for a couple months now (they pick the kids up from the creche and take them for swimming lessons and bring them back) and I really wanted to see for myself what it was like and how she was handling it – she’s always excited about it when we ask her how it went. So I tagged along yesterday when they picked up the kids.

It’s quite an experience – but the kids all seem to thoroughly enjoy themselves. They all dash off to one end of the pool where the benches are and begin to strip – right down to their birthday-suits. Then they run off to the other side of the pool where two staff members help them get into their swimming costumes – shame has no place here! They then each wait their turn as 3 teachers in the pool take them for their lessons – the younger kids get individual attention and the older ones that can keep themselves afloat are taught in groups. It looked like so much fun, I found myself feeling a little envious. It’s a heated and indoor pool so they can teach the kids all year round, which makes for an excellent business. They teach the kids very early on what it’s like going completely underwater and getting to the side quickly to get out – in case they ever fall in – and it also helps getting rid of that fear of their head/face going in the water. Rebecca’s coming along nicely and we’re hoping to get a spot for Melissa our eldest (almost 7) soon as the space for the older kids was already full when we wanted to book her in too. For me, being able to swim is an important life-lesson, which I feel is a must for everyone.

Today I picked up Melissa after school and took her to her weekly ballroom/Latin dance classes and I was mighty impressed (and again a little envious). Melissa has taken to dancing just like she took to water when she first swam. She listens carefully to what her instructor, Andre says and she picks up the steps very quickly – that little sponge of a brain of hers absorbs almost everything and it amazes me at how many steps she remembers.

She went through a number of her dances (boogie, cha-cha, jive, tango, waltz, foxtrot, jazz, 2-step, box rumba)  today doing level 1 and 2 steps. She should be doing her level-2 exam in June or July and then she can start learning level 3 steps and work on her styling. We only got about half-way through level-3 steps when we gave up our contract so that Melissa could go and dance instead. Check out her previous match-dance if you’ve not seen it already which took place last year (and here were her results).

This evening I helped Dina with some “remodeling” in Rebecca’s room to make more practical cupboard space. Tomorrow should hopefully be a chilled and relaxing day since the grandparents picked up the kids this afternoon so at least we can sleep in tomorrow morning without worrying about the kids waking us up early. Saturday we’re going to do a little wine-tasting with friends, so we’re all looking forward to that which will be concluded with lunch at one of the wine-farms. Not sure yet what Sunday will bring. 

That is all 🙂

South African Revenue Service

Posted in General with tags , , , on Thursday, 15 January 2009 by Deems

tax-formsIt’s very seldom that praise is associated with a government office, but today is definitely one of those days. I’ve been filing my annual tax return electronically since it became available in South Africa a few years ago.

This year’s deadline for e-filing, is the 23rd of January 2009 for the 2008 tax year. So on Sunday morning I gathered together all my paperwork, my wife diligently helping sort out medical receipts, filled in what was still needed to on my electronic form and filed it. 

This morning, 3 full business days later, I received an SMS notifying me of an assessment on my tax return. I was pleasantly surprised that when I logged in my tax assessment had been completed and the money owed back to me would be deposited shortly. Now that’s impressive. SARS (no, not the disease) have come along way. Well done!

Now if only the guys that built the disasterous e-Natis System that the traffic department uses would learn a thing or two from the ones that built the e-filing system for SARS!

Why Vote?

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , on Friday, 14 November 2008 by Deems

Those that know me personally know I don’t usually get involved in things political but I thought I’d share the following with you.

We’ve all seen what has recently happend in the US with Barack Obama as the new president elect and the higher than normal number of voters going to the polls – even more impressive is the higher than normal number of new/young voters registering to vote.

Here in South Africa, things aren’t always peachy – we’ve got a ruling party that is losing key members to an opposing new party, Congress of The People, faster than you can say “CoPe”. and we’ve got our own General elections coming up in 2009. Those reading local newspapers or watching local TV stations know about the campaign to get people to register to vote and make sure they’re registered.

Nic Haralambous, from SA Rocks, has created a new website to highlight the issue about our own elections next year. Go and take a look for yourself. Want more info about how to register to vote or check you’re registered? Look no further.

MySpace – making the web uglier

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , , , , , on Monday, 27 October 2008 by Deems

<Rant>

You know, back in the early days of the Internet people were left to their own devices and added scrolling marquees, flashing text and TONS of animated GIFs to their pages to “spruce” (sic) them up. And as the Internet became more popular among more people, others too, who weren’t that technically (?) minded, wanted their own space on the Internet too – along came blogging tools and websites offering easy ways to publish your own content online. 

Even though I’ve had various personal, company and group-related websites up since the mid-90’s I’ve only been active on the blogosphere for the past 3 months, and I’m glad I did a little bit of research before starting – especially when it comes to picking a blogging-tool.

I initially was going to go with my own provider’s blogging tool but I didn’t like the templates, features or usability. The same applied to Blogger and MySpace (and boy was I warned about MySpace). I really thought the early days of ugly websites were gone by about 2000 but it seems MySpace has provided a platform for people to create ugly sites again (like they did when they first created and releases MS FrontPage). I’ve been to about a dozen or so MySpace pages of various people I’ve wanted to see profiles of and I’ve yet to see a decent looking page on that platform other than (maybe, at  stretch) the MySpace home page.

So then I finally settled on WordPress.com and looking back, I’m very happy I did.

</Rant>

New Look

Posted in General with tags , on Monday, 15 September 2008 by Deems

I was a little bored of the look of the default WordPress theme, so I’ve changed it. It’s still a “blue” theme but I think it looks better than the previous one. I’d still like to have a picture in the masthead but haven’t decided what to use, just yet.

Poll: 5 day or 4 day work week

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 26 August 2008 by Deems

Have you ever considered the possibility? And if so, which would you opt for? The normal 8 hours a day, 5 days a week to comprise your 40-hour work week with 2 days break inbetween or would you rather work an extra 2 hours each day for a 4 day week with a more balanced 3 day weekend?

 With the longer summers we have and mostly good weather I’d opt for the 4 day week. Less travelling into the city, means less congestion and less pollution and would save you money. Or would you make up the difference spending it on your day off?

 

Wouldn’t people just be more productive with those extra few hours to finish off tasks in the day, and be more refreshed on Monday morning after a 3 day break?