Monday, May 29, 2006

Save the Planet!

Am I the only one who finds the disclaimer at the end of this little item a tad disturbing?

(Ah go on, read it - it's not very long, I promise!)

Granted, I haven't done much investigation into this at all - I just happened upon it today - but I just love the way they put it, something like this:

"Install our software because we're telling you it'll help Mother Earth. You won't see what it's doing, but it will do something - namely collect certain data from you PC - and when it's done it will send the information back to us without you even knowing.
PS we can't be held responsible if it crashes your computer or accidentally bankrupts your company."

Ahem. I'm sure our IT Security people would love it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I know what we're doing this Summer

We've booked our next holiday in the form of ferry tickets from Ireland to Cherbourg in France. Come August, Hubby and I will saddle up the Bluebird of Happiness, put her on a Ferry and go for a little drive.

Two weeks and more than 3000 kilometers later we will have visited 7 countries: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and back through France.

This is more-or-less our proposed route - the White line with the red dots on it. I got this messing around on Google Earth. It is very much a first draft and will be refined a LOT to cut down on mileage and ensure we have enough fuel stops.
We have a full set of panniers so there should be more than enough packing space (the wife of the guy we bought it from assured me one can fit 12 pairs of shoes in one of them), but they are bound to mess with the aerodynamics a bit. That, and the extra weight, will no doubt play havoc with fuel consumption.

But oh boy are we gonna have fun!!! If ever a vehicle was destined for the Autobahn, this is it :-)

So far, the plan is to take it slow the first day and see a bit of Normandy. Hubby is very interested in WW2 stuff so he wants to see the beaches there. I have a more personal mission in the area. My father was born there, and my great-aunt (who also happens to be my Godmother) still lives in a small town in the region. I need to find out if someone in her family speaks English, because I'd love to visit her. Last time I saw her I was a kid, and I know she doesn't speak English any more than I can speak French.

After that, we have friends to visit in Rotterdam, then it's down to the Black Forest region of Germany, where the other side of my father's family is from.

Those are the only Definites so far, so if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or drop me an email (under the Flickr box in the sidebar).

It's all very exciting, so no doubt you'll be hearing plenty more about it closer to the time.

Monday, May 22, 2006

why did I take it?

No, I haven't turned into a thief. I'm talking about this photo: Now before you go and get all philosophical, the answer is not that deep. In fact, it's almost rhetorical.
Because I felt like it, that's why.

I went outside to have a cigarette (Yes, I know. Let it go.) and I just felt like it. That plastic bucket thing has been in that very spot since we first moved in two years ago. It was there when we arrived and it will be there when we leave. I don't know why I never bothered to throw it out. Perhaps because it isn't mine?
Anyway, I just thought the ivy looked cool on the wall and taking photos makes me happy so clickety-click and there you go.

Here's another one I tried to take of a raindrop in between showers yesterday: I'll keep trying on that one because it's not quite what I had in mind. Don't you just love digital photography?! I can take as many pictures as I like and the results are instant and don't cost anything.
Can you tell I have nothing of interest to say today?
Perhaps I'll try again tomorrow.

Friday, May 19, 2006

State of Fear

I've been fighting off a cold this week - it's been a losing battle. Today is my 3rd day at home. On the bright side, it's Friday which means I still have another 2 days off after today before I have to go back to work. Now to get better so that I can enjoy them...

But I'm not here to complain today. One good thing about the time off is that it gave me time to read a book. A novel. An entire novel. Something I haven't done for a while, despite the fact that I have always loved reading.
The novel in question is "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton. Great writer. He gave us "Prey" and "ER" - really, what more could we ask for?

I found it in my bookshelf and had no idea how it got there until my li'l sister owned up to having left it there the last time she visited. She does that - brings over books she's read and sneakily leaves them behind because she doesn't have space for them in her own bookshelf. She was recently saying that her bookshelf was so full that she was considering moving to a bigger apartment. Most people would just buy another bookshelf, but hey, nobody ever accused my li'l Sister of being like most people. Reminded me a bit of a fellow blogger (no names mentioned) who was considering moving because her bookshelf was getting dusty. Or of Hubby, for that matter, who bought a new car once because the old one needed a wash. See? My li'l Sis is not alone in her, uh, eccentricities.

Enough about that though, back to "State of Fear"...
(Is it just me or am I taking a very roundabout route to get to the point here? Must be 'cos of all the cotton-wool inside my head.)
I'm trying to fathom why this book hasn't made headlines the way the Da Vinci Code did.
OK, they're about two totally different subjects but both are of global interest.
We all know about the Da Vinci Code, so let me tell you about State of Fear. It's about Global Warming. Or rather, the lack thereof. Yes, that's right - if the facts and references quoted in State of Fear are to be believed, then it turns out we've been panicking for nothing because Global Warming is a myth. Bummer, and here I thought Summers in Ireland might improve over time.

Am I the only one who thinks this is possibly even more news-worthy than any of the revalations in the Da Vinci Code? I mean yes, I really enjoyed that book. It was very thought-provoking. Dan Brown very, very cleverly took a bunch of facts and references and wove them together to make up a story... the operative phrase here being "make up". The thing is, it is fiction. I find it slightly amusing that it has been taken up by various people as being fact and thus caused such an outcry.

OK, so State of Fear is fiction too, only... Crichton is not trying to sell the story part as fact. The part I found disturbing are the facts stated - if they are accurate, that is, and if they're not then this post is completely pointless. For argument's sake then, let's assume they are correct. Antarctica is not melting. The earth is not getting hotter. In some places it's actually getting colder. Blah blah blah - I'm not a scientist and my head is too stuffy to go into details here but why has this stuff been left out of the news? Because good news doesn't sell as well as bad news? Because governments function better when the general population is afraid of something that they believe the government can do something about? Communism, terrorism, global warming... hoo boy this could turn into quite an interesting discussion, no?

I tell you why this has my knickers in a twist: Because I don't like being misled. Every day the newspapers tell you something else has been found that will kill you or make you sick. I must've been about 14 when I read an article saying it had been discovered that eating potato skins can give you cancer. That was when I stopped believing them. If 'they' are to be believed, we should all be dead already. This is the thing that annoys me - we are fed all sorts of information every day by the media. Scary stuff, about all the things that could go wrong. But they never make as big a deal about the good stuff... or in this case, after scaring the crap out of everyone for decades about Global Warming, is it true that oops! Someone made a mistake and it isn't really a problem?
Well thanks for telling us.

In short: I recommend this book. I found it a bit difficult to get into in the beginning for some reason but it turned into a pretty good book and very thought provoking. Oh and if anyone reads it and has the energy to check out the references in it, let me know what you think. Maybe we should start a revolution...

And if this subject interests you at all, check out what the author has to say about this whole thing.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

LoriNFlorida : Exposed!

The trouble with Lori is that I can't read her blog at work because I never know when the page is going to open with a picture of a half-naked man - or woman, for that matter - staring at me, leading the people who work with me to believe I browse porn in my spare time. 'Cos she does appreciate good-looking guys & gals.

However, do not be misled!! LoriNFlorida is not a porn site! She's just a little unpredictable, that's all :-)
Chances are just as good that her picture of the day will be a bunny rabbit or a pretty flower, or even an uncooked turkey.

The thing is, you just never know what she's going to say or do next, and I believe that is her 'hook' - the thing that keeps her regular readers coming back again and again.

Lori lives in Florida, which is where she will tell you she belongs. You see, her name is in it, and that's how her blog got its name: Lori in Florida. Clever, yes?!

The TwinsIncidentally, she has a twin sister: yep, Lori is BeadinggalInMS's evil twin. Although they share a sense of humour and mischievous nature, you may find if you read both blogs regularly that you'll sometimes wonder if the 2 of them are even related. It's like they are the same, only different.
I guess that what twins are about.

Lori asked me last week if it was too late to be interviewed. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, feel free to check out my own interview. Now technically, it probably is too late, but since Lori asked me so nicely, I figured I'd do some delving into her blog archives and see what questions I could come up with.

Perhaps I should state here, though, that this line here:

is the official deadline :) My short career as an interviewer will officially end at the bottom of this post.

So let's see if I can go out with a bang...

Question 1:
Lori, you often refer to yourself as the "Evil Twin" and I must admit, I would guess that you would be the naughtier out of you and Linda. Is this really true, and if so, have you always been 'the naughty one'?

Question 2:
Same subject, different question: How much has this "Evil Twin" label influenced your behaviour as you grew up and even now, as an adult? Is it a reputation you want to live up to?

Question 3:
I've been browsing through your archives trying to find something to jog my memory to ask you a really good question but I've noticed something; Although you've put up a lot of posts you've managed to keep your blog from being really personal. We know you love chocolate and kisses, we know what gets you ranting... but we don't know what makes you tick. So Lori, my third question is this: What makes you tick? What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?

Question 4:
What did you want to be when you grew up and how different is your life now to what you imagined it would be? Would you change much?

Question 5:
Your luv almost picked the winning Lotto numbers last year. What would you do if you guys actually won $6 million?

Lori thanks for playing, I'm looking forward to reading your answers, the way I look forward to reading all your posts. The way you tell the stories about your mad dogs Scooby Doo and Chico Loco and your son ("The Copyright Police") is incredibly funny and entertaining, you have me laughing out loud and reading some of your stuff out loud to Hubby sometimes because he wants to know what's got me laughing so much. Keep up the good work - you are a spot of sunshine in Blogland!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Dear Mom...

For the Saturday mornings when we'd go shopping, just the 2 of us, and end up at BJ's pantry for waffles. I'd have creme soda and you'd have coffee. I loved those times when I had you all to myself...

For the time you spent with me, teaching me the secrets and joys of sewing...

For making supper for us, night after night, without complaining even though you must have been tired after work, and for not flipping out when you heard "What's for supper?" for the millionth time...

For making me the green satin dress I wanted for my Matric Farewell dance when you realised how badly I wanted it, even though it was a frivolous expense we could probably have done without at the time...

For making piles of tuna mayonnaise snackwiches for us and all the friends who always seemed to gravitate to our house over weekends and after school...

For being the kind of mother our friends called "Mom"...

For listening to my heart when I came home that night and told you, "I've met a guy", even though you were cross with me for being so late because I hadn't packed for my trip to Jo'burg...

For encouraging me to move overseas and make a life for myself even though it meant leaving you...

For sending a tin of home-baked crunchies to us halfway across the world...

For taking care of us through what must have been the hardest time of your life, for showing us the good in the world, and for loving us no matter what...


You are everything a mother could be, and more.

Happy Mother's Day!

I love you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

well, since you asked...

Spookie tagged me. I thought it would just be plain rude not to do it, so here are my 6 Things...

1. When I was in the market for some new music a while back, I bought a Daniel Powter CD, just because everyone else was buying the James Blunt CD which was released around the same time.

2. I'm beginning to think I'm going off alcohol completely. Not that I was ever a complete lush, but I've been known to give it a good rev on occasion - but I actually don't enjoy it anymore. At all. It makes me feel crappy and the only reason I take a drink now is because it really sux to be the only sober person in a crowd of merries. As a result I don't often go out these days. A teetotaller in Ireland is a rare animal indeed.

3. I love to browse dresses in shops - evening dresses such as ballgowns and cocktail dresses, specifically. I love to see the detail on them, how they were made, feel the fabric... and then it makes me want to sew. Many a class was spent designing evening-wear when I was at school. And yes, I love to watch the Acadamy Awards just to see the beautiful dresses.

4. I often wish we lived in a world before civilization. A 'Clan of the Cave Bear' sort of society, if you like. A world with no ugly buildings, no pollution, no roads, no plastic and no rubber, one where animals roam free and people hunt and gather to survive. I would happily give up my creature comforts to live in such a world - yes, even Blogging and flush toilets!

5. I would miss shoes, though.

6. I got a quote for house insurance yesterday and one piece of information on it leapt off the page at me... "Age at next birthday = 35".
I'm still trying to figure out when that happened. Because really, there is just no way I can kid myself that I'm a, well, kid anymore. Not with the big three-five staring at me in black and white. I'll let you know how I feel about that when I figure it out, ok?

I'm not going to tell you how long it took for me to come up with 6 things to tell you. It's quite pathetic actually. And she aspires to be a writer?! Hah!

Oh heck, I'm supposed to tag people now. Run and hide, people, run and hide...
Actually I'm not going to tag anyone for a change. My blogging is so erratic at the moment that I probably wouldn't get round to checking the tagees (is that a word?) for ages, so feel free to tag yourselves. It's a great way to fill a blank post when you run out of ideas ;)

Monday, May 08, 2006

one sunday in springtime

Yesterday morning, just before I woke up, I dreamt I was trying to bake a milk tart. This is odd for a couple of reasons: Firstly, because I Do Not Bake. Ever. Secondly, in the dream I wasn't getting very far because I had every single bowl that I own spread out on the kitchen counter, and I kept putting the ingredients in the wrong bowl - yep, each ingredient in a separate bowl. It was terribly frustrating and let me tell you, it ain't easy to mix dough in a colander. Maybe that's why I don't bake.
And... then I woke up. Hubby went off to make coffee and called me out to the kitchen. Well lo and behold if the Baking Fairy hadn't been busy - I was greeted by the sight of two freshly made milk tarts cooling on the counter. The kitchen was spotless and Cinderella was missing in action. Not to worry - she reappeared a little later with the smug look on her face of someone who had risen early and baked two lovely looking milk tarts. Tee hee! I'd show you a photo but the crumbs that are left don't really make for a good picture.

After breakfast I decided I wanted to go take a photograph in a particular spot, so Hubby and I went for a spin on the bike. Spring is turning to summer really quickly and the canopy of pink blossoms are rapidly falling to become a soft carpet. I took my pet frog out to enjoy the sunshine and the pretty flowers before they all disappear.
According to Hubby I earned a few odd looks taking this, lying down on my stomach in full biking gear :-)

We took the scenic route home and I had the best laugh I have had in a long time. On the way home we pulled up next to a guy in an Audi TT. As cars go, I confess this is one of my favourites. They're sleek, they're pretty, they're fast and they make a really nice growl when pressed.
Da Man in Da Audi was obviously keen to 'play'... he gave us a challenging Colgate smile and blipped his accelerator. This confused me a little because although he was in a pretty, sporty car, hubby and I were on this:

I'm guessing Da Man in Da Audi doesn't know too much about bikes.
Heh. Hehehe.
The lights turned green and the Audi pulled off with a squealing of tyres, the car's engine screaming and roaring.
Hubby gently turned up the throttle and waved goodbye, and we disappeared into the distance as though the poor man was looking for parking.

It was almost too much for me - THAT, my friends, is the very reason we bought a Blackbird! No - we don't 'dice' everything that moves. We don't need to. Just occasionally, for fun.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How would Lisa Simpson feel?

In my school days some people might have referred to me a something of a nerd. Not a geek, really, but I had braces on my teeth, frizzy hair, acne and really skinny legs.
Not that these are good reasons to be seen as a nerd, but add to all this that I always did my homework, never skipped classes and kept my grades up... you get the picture.
I was a 'B' student, although if I'd tried harder and put more effort in, I'm sure I could have been an 'A' student without too much trouble. I was just too lazy to bother. I did what I needed to do to get the grades I was comfortable with and that was all.

In junior school I was always ranked in the top 4 in my grade.
In high school I dropped down the ladder - mostly, I confess, because I didn't really care where I ranked, although I did get my Academic Colours before I graduated, something that made me very proud.

What I'm trying to say is that I am what you might call brainy. I have always been able to depend on my brainpower - even before I was aware of it. I can't think of a single situation where I haven't been one of the cleverest people around, or the best at my job. There may be a touch of over-achiever's syndrome here, but I don't see it as being full-of-myself. It's just fact. It's not bragging, it just is.

Or rather, it was...

You see, my boss - the guy who is 'mentoring' me in my fledgeling career as a DBA - is quite possibly the cleverest person I have ever met. I admire him for this and it's great to be able to ask him pretty much any question and know that he will be able to answer it and explain it.
The only trouble is, he makes me feel stupid.
Don't get me wrong - he doesn't treat me badly or talk down to me. Quite the opposite, in fact. He is extremely helpful and often encourages me and 'pats me on the back' for a job well done, so to speak.
And I know I am not stupid. I know I am still learning - I've been doing this job for maybe 8 months, whereas he's been doing it for 5 years, blah, blah, blah... still,
I Don't Like Not Being The Cleverest!

It's just a fact of life - he is much, much cleverer than I am and it p*sses me off like you would not believe! The worst part is, he's actually a nice person, and we get along really well so I can't even resent him for it.

Poor me.

Oh I say, I feel much better about the whole thing now that I've blabbed it to the world at large on the Internet. This blogging thing really is like therapy, isn't it?!
Thumbs Up

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ghostly stuff

Spookie started commenting on blogs months ago, but for a long time she was just a name: "Banquo". No link, no blog, just an anonymous commenter. And then one day POOF!! she magically transformed herself from Banquo to Spookie, took the plunge and opened her blog to the world. She calls it Just Me and her by-line reads "This is me. Just me, nothing fancy."

To her credit, she lives up to this. But "Just Me" in Spookie-speak is something quite unique. She sees the funny side of life and will tell you stories about the little things that happen every day, which will have you laughing out loud. Well, I do anyway and that's one of the things I like most about reading her blog. That, and she wrote me a poem once :)

Oh, and she takes really good photographs too. The ones she took on a recent holiday to Belfast (that's Belfast, SA, not Belfast, Ireland!) made me quite homesick for South Africa.

Did I mention she lives in Gauteng in SA?

Spookie is a mother and stepmother, sister, daughter and wife. She did a great job recently of posting a 100 Things About Me list so if you want to find out the details, just click the link. What you will find out is that she LOVES cats and she HATES people who can't pee straight, hehe!
[Pst! When doing an interview I have to say this is a very handy thing to be able to look at, so thanks, Spookie!]

That's right - she volunteered to be interviewed by me, so without further ado, Spookie, here are your questions:

Question 1:
It's proving quite difficult to come up with questions for you, because you're so open about yourself on your blog. You have a husband who makes you happy, children you adore and parents and siblings you obviously love dearly. You seem to be happy in yourself. In fact, you seem to have the perfect life - one you are completely content with. Is this an accurate reflection or do you have regrets, or things you would change if you could?

Question 2:
This sort of relates to question 1, but not quite... How did you picture your life as a grown-up when you were young? Is it very different now to what you wanted for yourself when you were a kid?

Question 3:
OK we've had one on the present and one on the past, so let's have one for the future. Do you envisage any big changes in your future? For want of a better phrase - where do you see yourself in 10 years' time?

Question 4:
You live in Centurion which is in Jo'burg if my geography doesn't deceive me. From my point of view - having lived out of the country for almost 5 years now - South Africa has changed enormously in recent years and is continuing to change rapidly. How do you feel about South Africa? Have the changes made a big impact on your life, and if so, in what way? Do you think circumstances will ever prompt you do make any major life changes like moving away from Gauteng, or even away from South Africa?

Question 5:
Ah, you thought you'd got away with it, didn't you? Yes, Spookie, it's The One You Don't Really Know If You Want To Answer. After lulling you into a false sense of security, I'm going to get personal. Because really, there's only one personal question I have to ask you: Will you tell us the story about how you met your husband? I know he was married when you met him and I know this causes you to feel guilty sometimes. You have also mentioned in one of your posts that your early relationship with your stepchildren was a bit difficult. How did they come to live with you? OK I know this is a multi-part question but it's all the same theme so I'm hoping you'll humour me.

And now you can breathe again. It's over, and you survived. But then, I think that's what you do. Now be a good girl and don't forget to post The Rules at the end of your answers on your blog ;-)