kvesh-chuns for this Friday

29 01 10

My lunch today is leftover crumbed chicken breast and salad. I’m eating the chicken component with a plastic knife out of a soup cup. Why? Because my company has about six plates and 10 forks, all of which are lying in a dirty heap in a bucket next to the sink. I am therefore using the knife both as a sawing device and a spear, which is probably a good thing as the time taken to do both with the same utensil will probably result in my taking 20 minutes to eat the meal and perhaps feel fuller, thereby leaving me to eat less. Or so the theory goes.

A two-metre tall, steroid-infused cage fighter with a cattle prod would not be able to convince me to put my hand in that manky bucket and wash a fork and plate for my own use. Thus, I have decided to buy myself my own plate and cutlery which I shall keep safely stored in my drawer. Or perhaps a set of paper plates.

Why have less than half the number of plates required for the complement of staff? And on that note, why do many waiters see fit to give a table of four people only three sweets with the bill? Do they want to see if this causes a fight? Or if people take turns sucking the foul-tasting pseudo-mint confectionary?

And while I’m asking questions, I can’t help giggling every time I read about the hilariously badly named Ipad. This was a fun article about the new computer’s moniker. Why oh why?!

And now, something weird to leave you with this Friday:



On insulting one’s target market…

28 01 10

I spotted this in a Korean/Japanese/Chinese Supermarket this week (no, I’m not confused, it was all three of those supermarkets combined). A weight loss product called ‘Flying Elephant’.That is badly thought-out branding.
Does it mean one can only lose weight when elephants are able to fly?

Sense of Humour Failure

26 01 10

One of the saving graces in an office filled with dullards is when one realises that one of the drones can be messed with owing to his/her lack of a sense of humour. This is an email exchange between my friend and precisely such an individual.

First email:

From: Dense Colleague
Sent: 09:45 AM
To: All Users
Subject: Handy Man

Hello All

I am going to be calling in a handy man soon to do a few bits ‘n bobs around the office, such as:

Installing a wall clock in the cappuccino bar area

Putting up the Labour Notice Acts (framed versions) in the kitchen

Certificates to be hung in ****’s office.

Does anyone have anything else that needs doing? Please let me know by the end of this week.

Thank you


Dense Colleague

Second email:

From: My friend

Sent: 09:53 AM

To: Dense Colleague

Subject: RE: Handy Man

Will he be able to take a look at my car? It makes a funny noise when I turn left, and turning up the radio’s volume doesn’t seem to make it go away entirely. Also, I’ll bring in my toaster, which always burns the toast, no matter what the setting. This wastes a lot of my time in the morning, as you can imagine. I’ll ask my friends and family to let me know about broken appliances and the like, so I’ll keep you posted on this.

Thanking you again for arranging this.

Third email:

From: Dense Colleague

Sent: 10:03 AM

To: My friend

Subject: RE: Handy Man

Hi (my friend)

Please note that the handy man will only be taking a look at office equipment, etc. I’ll pass his details along to you so that you can make the necessary arrangements to have your toaster looked at. I’m not sure whether he would be able to help you with your car though.

Thank you

Dense Colleague

“I’m not sure whether he would be able to help you with your car though“ … HA HA HA HA. Because my friend clearly wishes to remain employed by this company, he neglected to mess with his humorless colleague any further. Man, that must have taken restraint.

Moanday again

25 01 10

Today, work was not a joy to the same degree that a Dan Brown novel is not a Pulitzer Prize contender. But enough about that…

Saturday night was an enjoyable eve out apart from a slight problem with the restaurant’s food stock. The problem was that it didn’t have any.

Ok, slight exaggeration, but after the waiter informed my table that the restaurant was out of a list of around 10 dishes, I had to ask why this was so. “Oh, we had a big night last night” was the waiter’s answer.

I see.

Perhaps it’s silly of me to expect restaurants to be able to cope with ‘big nights’ in terms of available ingredients. Ah well. What did amuse me was the announcement that because there was no avocado, they’d be substituting avo with mango in all (three and a half) available dishes.

Mango Ritz?

Mango guacamole?

Mango with salt and vingegar?

I’ve been watching Seinfeld series one and two again and am just loving it. The Chinese Restaurant episode has to be right up there with Best Sitcom Episode ever.

Ok, I’m leaving now to see if Mary the Cleaner has panicked because there is no water in my abode and left wet washing to rot in my bath.

Measurement Software 1.0

22 01 10

Today I was alerted to an extra special kind of software that I’m sure must have ghost hunters wetting their underpants with excitement. Paranormal Phenomena Activities 1.0 allows one to ‘record your paranormal activities to keep track of your progress’.

The rest of the blurb reads as follows:

"Every time you have a past life regression or try to astral project, record that information on a database to know how you are improving in the different techniques. Print a report of all your astral projections for example to know what you are doing well and what not. In additon, there is another module in the software to store remote viewing predictions. Maybe you listen to a prediction for something that will happen in three years. Recording that information in this application will allow you to check if the predictions were correct, otherwise you will forget about all the predictions you may here. A report can be printed showing all the predictions for a certain year to be able to control all the predictions and mark each one of the predictions as succesful or failure. If you are looking for a good training on remote viewing, you can evaluate different companies based on the predictions they make, and their success rate.”

To summarise: buy this expensive software to keep track of your loony possible-future life instead of writing it down in a diary which would cost you R5 for a pen and R20 for a notebook.

If people will buy software to record their paranormal activities, I reckon that with the help of a ‘developer’ (if by ‘developer’ I mean a person who can write code like Excel but without all the complicated bits), I can make a killing on software for the following scenarios:

Gym Avoider 1.0

Record instances in which you promise to get to the gym but actually go home, lie in a melted pile of chocolate and gorge. Print a report of all your excuses valid reasons for electing not to sweat. Added extra: drop-down list of excuses valid reasons to select from if you’re too lazy to think up a reason for your gym avoidance and consequent decent into morbid obesity, such as ‘had to feed the cat/dog/baby’; ‘had to check if Ridge and Brooke broke up’; ‘had to remove ice from the freezer with a toothpick’.

Horoscope Predictor 1.0

Record instances in which your daily horoscope has proven correct, or the degree to which it has gone badly awry. An example of the latter scenario may involve the horoscope prediction that you would come into money but the reality was that you fell into a manhole when walking home from the hospital after losing your thumb tip in an incident with the office guillotine. Print a report of all your successfully realised fortunes (no more than one report per decade allowed).

Psychological Breakdown Tracker 1.0

Record instances in which your sanity has been severely tested and where ‘acting out’ incidents have followed, and possible ensuing jail/psychological rehab time. Measure your level of breakdown through a handy drop-down list of symptoms assigned values from 1 to 10 (the most crazy being 10), e.g. quoting Samuel L. Jackson in ‘Pulp Fiction’ when your boss asks you to clean the toilet would score about a 5. For best results, use Psychological Breakdown Tracker 1.0 in conjunction with Boss Bastardness 1.0.

Broken Political Promises Calculator 1.0

Record instances in which your government representatives have made promises and not delivered, and establish the probability of their future promises never being met. Select from a drop-down list of categories of broken promises including, among others, housing, independent governance, independence of the judiciary, and the banning of ruling party members with an IQ of less than 90.

I do hope my software ideas will come to fruition. A world of dubious measurement awaits!

Reality Check

19 01 10

Haiti, in particular Port-au-Prince, is up shit creek, to put it crassly. Every day is certainly an unimaginable horror for the poor residents of this broken city; I cannot imagine it.

And as surely as you will find a celebrity speaking out at a Hollywood awards show about how devastated she/he feels about those affected by a natural disaster, you will encounter individuals imploring those of us spared the horror to be thankful for what we have in our own lives. More than that, these people urge us to put into perspective the problems we encounter on a day-to-day basis in our own countries.

702 Talk Radio presenter, John Robbie, is just the latest of these ‘social commentators’ to do so. Yesterday, he remarked “how lucky we are” in South Africa where “we sit and we moan and complain and whinge" about potholes, call centres, Julius Malema etc. He said that this is a ‘reality check’ for us.

Is it not disingenuous to believe that when presented with the unlivable conditions in which the victims of a disaster of this scale must survive, we must reflect on our own good fortune? Do we really have to be extra grateful for what we have because others’ lives are destroyed?

I know I live a good life in South Africa, by and large. I live in a nice flat, eat nice food, do nice things for entertainment, go to nice places, and more.

My life is nice and it is so for two reasons: I got a good start in life, thanks to my parents, who could afford to send me to school and to university, feed me nutritiously, clothe me well, and pay for hockey sticks, squash rackets and piano lessons. The other reason my life is nice is because I work hard to keep it that way. I try to do my job well enough that I don’t become unemployed; I pay my bond, levy, medical insurance, rates and taxes. I try interact with people with a level of decency I hope would be reciprocated.

There are, however, other reasons my life is nice:

I constantly look around me when I am driving anywhere to ensure that I’m not being followed in order to hijacked/killed for my possessions, as regularly happens in South Africa.

I don’t walk around anywhere at night for the same reason mentioned above.

I accept that police will not come out if I call them for anything less than the report of murder.

I ignore the nagging and valid concern that at any moment, electricity might become too pricy and too scarce a commodity to gain access to.

I rarely ponder the implications of the unrealistically early implementation of a National Health Insurance scheme when it has neither the resources nor the capacity to function in place of private health.

I choose not to interrogate the plummeting level of education and the accompanying scarce skills shortage in my country.

I forget that millions of my country’s inhabitants live in shacks with no basic sanitation, and really have no prospects for a better life.

This willingness not to think too much makes my life nice. I certainly don’t need inane urging by John Robbie to think how much worse it could be. I know that people starve in my country every day, and die of illnesses that could be treated in places with better access to health care.

This kind of gratefulness we’re told we should feel lasts around a day – then what? Feeling sorrow for the desperate people of Haiti does not have to overshadow the enormous problems South Africa faces. Perhaps a call centre that does work or a road sans potholes will foster positive sentiment, and maybe that’s a start. Perhaps I’m just naïve.

Moneyweb has published a good article on the issue of donations for poor countries in crisis. Provocatively titled “Don’t give money to Haiti”, this article is worth a read.

Neighbourly Denise

15 01 10

Last night my neighbour of about a year and a half banged on my door at 21:00 and asked to set up a time so that we could properly get to know each other. I think this was prompted by two incidents: the first occurred about two months ago when she reintroduced herself to me and I informed her that I knew who she was and knew her name (Denise) as I happened to meet her on the very day she moved into her flat. She was thrown by this, evidently. The second incident might be the fact that another neighbour I never knew died in his flat a couple of weeks ago, apparently.

Thus Denise’s appearance, although fairly intrusive owing to the fact that I was already lounging in my pyjamas which are not what one might consider decent attire, was not as unexpected as what I think were bonking noises emanating from my old-ish upstairs neighbour and his wife.

Denise wanted me to come over for tea on Sunday. I was able to come up with a frantic but thankfully truthful excuse for not being able to make it this week, but it seems I can’t get out of next week’s arrangement – she all but made me sign a declaration of intent to prove that I would partake in some Five Roses or Earl Grey with her next Sunday, and seriously looked on the verge of tears throughout the conversation – granted, she had just been to gym and was sweating like a beast, so perhaps she was just trying to catch her breath. Her parting words were, “Here’s my business card, please email me to confirm so that if our houses burn down we know who each other is.”

I can’t help suspecting that she’s an arsonist now. Christ, if this turns into a “Can I borrow a cup o’ brown sugar and how about a chat?” kind of relationship, I might pretend to have died in my flat.


The things people do to try pretty up otherwise unattractive buildings and landscape. I spotted this sad little fountain at a petrol station as I drove home last night. Unfortunately, it makes it seem all the more sad that the fountain was meant to add some attractiveness to the general environment but really just ended up looking misplaced and absurd to me.