Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Review

Wowee. Last working day of 2011. By chance yesterday I happened to read this blog post from the Last Working Week of 2010. Haha, I finished with quite a sense of achievement for 2011, to be honest. The biggest thing I wanted to do this year was to find myself a home. And I did! I mean there were twists and turns and for at least a couple of months I thought I'd be living back in Cape Town by the end of November. But life happens and I'm still up here in Joburg and finishing this year on quite a high.

I have a boyfriend who I absolutely adore. I went on an amazing holiday to Russia & China. I held a baby Panda Bear, I walked on the Great Wall and I saw the Terracotta Army. I traveled a lot more than that this year too. A week in Cape Town in Feb, a week in Botswana in August, and many weekends away :) And most surprisingly of all, I bought and moved into my very own home. See, some amazing highlights right there!

I've seen this on a few blogs and rather like it so am going to adopt it for myself (with a few minor changes) :) I think it'll be quite a nice tradition.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Quite a few things ... Hold a baby Panda Bear, buy my very own home. I'm sure there are loads more!

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Um, I don't think so.

3. Did anyone close to you die?
Don't think so either. Wow, it is hard to remember for a whole year!

4. Did anyone close to you get married?
Yes, @zoosev

5. What countries did you visit?
Russia, Mongolia, China and Botswana.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Can't think of anything here, 2011 has been quite an amazing year.

7. What date, from 2011, will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Quite a few, really: 26 April, which was my 31st birthday, spent alone in Moscow. 12 May, when I held a baby Panda Bear. 17 May, the day I got back from my holiday and officially got myself a new boyf ;)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Definitely buying my own home!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Tricky. It was a rough year work-wise with the merger. Apparently I'm initimidating in the office. I just have very high expectations of other people, I think. So probably that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major or memorable. Oh wait, I did get tonsilitis for the very first time!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A whole house, obviously. Haha. The other thing I'm rather crazy about at the moment is my garden bench tho :) Oh, and my giant TV.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
The Trucker. Wow, he has had some stellar moments, from taking my car to be panel-beaten to buying me groceries on my return from holiday to organising a long weekend away and so many little things. 

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Um, hard to say really. No one in particular springs to mind

14. Where did most of your money go?
Holidays & Houses ;)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Holidays and Houses ... hahaha.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Tricky. Maybe Martin Solvieg's Hello. The whole Florence & the Machine Lungs album?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? I think probably happier. At very least I have more to be happy about :)
Thinner or fatter? roughly the same, I'd guess
Richer or poorer? Poorer, but Xmas bonuses & gifts are doing a lot to restore the balance of the very expensive house-buying process! At the end of last year, I also had a whole bunch of my savings allocated to my Russia & China trip ...

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Nothing really.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Doubted & Questioned myself. This self-confidence thing needs a boost, although it does fluctuate. As I write this I'm still riding a blissful warm & fuzzy high (which does have moments of doubt, but they're easier to ignore when feeling so upbeat about life!)

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
In the traditional way, at our beach cottage in Cape Town, with my awesome extended family.

21. How will you be spending New Year?
Back in Jozi, with The Trucker.

22. Did you fall in love in 2011?
It looks like I may have ;)

23. How many one-night stands?
None, how impressive am I? Actually I've only kissed 2 boys this year.

24. What was your favourite TV programme ?
Sheesh. This one is tricky, I tend to have a good stable of shows I watch, but some new ones have been added. I like Body of Proof. And was sorry they cancelled the Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour.

25. What did you want and get?
I'm guessing this is an obvious one ... my home :)

26. What did you want and not get?
More leave days? Haha.

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31 in Moscow, Russia ... all on my own. Not the smartest move on my part. I thought it'd be fine, but it wasn't great at all. Being away from everyone I know on my birthday is not a mistake I'll make again.

28. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Gotta be the same old favs, Robert Downey Jnr & Eric Dane :) *swoon*

29. Who did you miss?
My mom. Always, being far away all the time is hard.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nearly there

Just a day & a half of work to get thru and then it's Xmas break. I can't wait, I'm flying down to CT on Friday evening :) Pity that The Trucker won't be joining me this time :(

On Monday I got so annoyed at work. Last week I ordered part of The Trucker's Xmas pressie online from YuppieChef. And I ordered myself some Springleap shirts. So when they sent me an email saying my order was being dispatched, I emailed the office reception to let them know I was expecting 2 packages, who the were from and the fact that since I'd ordered the YuppieChef one as a gift, it might come addressed to The Trucker, but it was, in fact, for me. And could they please sign for them and keep them for me if they arrived last Thursday while I was on leave. I said all this. I asked them later in the day (last Tuesday) if they'd both (our 2 receptionists) seen my email. Yes, yes.

On Wednesday before I left for the day (having seen that the tracking site said my YuppieChef order had been scanned out for delivery that morning), I checked with them again if anything had arrived. Nope, nothing yet.

So on Monday, when the status on the tracking site is still scanned out for delivery, I'm confused. I call reception. Nope there was nothing there for me. So I called the tracking company. Who eventually called me back to tell me that Receptionist One had signed for it last Wednesday at 9am (while I was actually in the freaking office!!) and they could send me a scan of the waybill to prove it. Mkay, yes, send away. Now, on Monday, Receptionist One is off on leave and not answering her phone ... or sms since I have yet to hear back from her still!! So I spent my morning trying to track down this package.

She'd sent it to our Cape Town office where someone with the same name (although spelt differently) as The Trucker works. OMG I was so angry! Luckily our CT office overnight couriered it back to me unopened (the guy in CT is already on leave and none the wiser). So yes. Annoying!

Anyway, on Monday evening I got take-out Chinese (after 40mins of waiting ... I know there were 3 orders ahead of mine, but seriously! Won't be going back there in a hurry) went over to The Truckers. We started watching Grimm then had a brief work-related excursion to go meet one of the trucks. And then it was pretty much time for bed. A truly uneventful evening, which did not feel like the relaxing-on-the-couch one I had in mind.

On Tuesday evening I went to @jarredcinman's for dinner. Was a lovely evening :) And then last night it was off to Gourmet Garage for dinner with The Trucker, CollegeInstructor and @Toxic_Mouse. Yumyum, have not had chili-cheese fries and a peanut butter burger in ages. We rolled out of there tho (as is tradition). Too much food. But so good :) Was another lovely evening.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Wish List

Mkay, it is probably too late, but I feel it is time to do a Gift Wish List (hey, I have a bday in 4 months too! Haha). I'm feeling like a terrible girlf because The Trucker came up with a list a mile long in a brief shopping trip 2 weeks ago which has made him easy as pie to shop for :) Me, I'm being difficult :P I can't think of anything really. I mean there is loads I want but none of it seems Xmas appropriate. It's all stuff I'll eventually (probably) get round to buying for myself. It's practical sort of stuff. It's boring. (Or it's impossible) So anyway, I was browsing thru my lists of previous birthday (surprisingly few) and xmas (none) wish lists and figured I should make another for the next time I get asked. I mean that is one of my favourite things about having a blog ... that there is a record of stuff ;) Haha.

So here it is, in no particular order whatsoever. Some stuff is still from an old list (which I haven't managed to get yet, but I was amazed at how well I've actually done).

1. Lady of Abu Simbel by Christian Jacq
I still need this one book to complete my collection of the Ramses series. But because I'm fussy, it has to be a matching cover to the 4 I already own. So to make things simpler, I've now tracked down the actual ISBN Number of the cover I want (published by Simon & Schuster in 1998): 9780684821221.

2. A gladtobeagirl necklace from Collect Jewellery
Not sure if they still make their custom-text necklaces actually, have mailed them to find out :) But yes, I definitely still want this one!

3. Random Kitchen Paraphenalia
I need oven gloves ... I have since I left Varen's house in January 2010. Clearly this is not urgent. But I still need them. But, again, I'm fussy. And I can't decide about plain old simple material ones (but with a cool material!) or those new fancy silicon ones. I need a new electric beater ... Hand mixing is doable but less than ideal! And I want at least 6 champagne glasses (although I have no space in my current kitchen for them ... but that will come). I'm sure there is more here ... my Blender broke before I moved (or rather I noticed it had broken when I last tried making Nam-Jim Chicken), but that's far less urgent. And I can't decide if the jug one or hand-blender is better. Thoughts?

4. DNA Mapping
Okay, I know this is totally peculiar, but I'll probably never buy it for myself and I've wanted to do it for years now (originally the National Geographic Genographinc project, but now there are so many more options out there so who knows which is best these days!) I'm definitely more into the mitochondrial & y-chromosome ancestor tracking than the health/physical stuff I've also seen, but I think it's all fascinating & interesting. Weird, I know. But I guess if you're looking for that unique niche of something I really want but am unlikely to ever get round to getting for myself, this is the one.

5. New Bedding
Yawn. Boring, I know. But I've been looking since I moved (okay, only 2 months, I know), and I've found nothing that grabs me. I absolutely *adore* the bedding I bought last year when I got my gorgeous 4 poster bed. And I did love my old duvet set when I originally got it (probably about 3 years ago or more), but it is faded and the buttons have popped off and it's time for something new. I am now considering a plain white duvet cover with a bright sheet and then 2 white pillow cases with the other 2 pillow cases matching the mad sheet colour.

6. Bedside Tables
Yup, haven't had these in years! But they do kinda finish a room off ... and it's nice to have a drawer or two to hide things away in or a counter top for a glass of water. I have spotted these that I rather like (from DeraKera, same as my bed) ... but there are no prices on their website. I've mailed them and asked for the prices & if they have stock. Maybe I'll get lucky and get these for myself in Jan :) Am a little worried the wood may not match the bed tho. They will definitely need to be seen in real life first! (Oh, and yes, I'd still absolutely love that big silver cat from DeraKera too ... for my keys ;) )

7. Noise Cancelling Headphones
Okay these are another one I'm unlikely to buy for myself ... not because I don't use my little iPod earphones daily at work, but rather because I am not sure I could justify the expense. And although I do occasionally wish for them in my open-plan office, I'm not sure I'm the head phone sort. I'm definitely much more the teeny hide-away earphone sort. Although my ears do sometimes get tired & sore wearing those iPod ones. Perhaps these B&W C5's would suit my requirements? Can you even get them in SA?

8. New Birkenstocks
No, no, I'm not a hippy. But I do like my Birkenstocks. The current pair I have, I bought, probably, about 6 years ago. I almost bought myself some brand spanking new white ones (which is the colour I currently own) while in China, but I decided not to. Now I wish I had. Mine are starting to separate. And I'd guess nothing is more hippy than owning Birkenstocks in the first place, except maybe owning such old ones that are falling apart ... Hahaha. Another boring one ... and one I'm definitely likely to buy for myself in the next 6 months, I'd guess.

9. iPod Speaker
Oh, and while we're wishing ... This is another one of those things that I'd like but I dunno how much I'd use, but it'd be nice to have, but I'd probably never be able to justify the expense to buy it for myself. The problem here is that the only iPod speaker I've ever seen that I actually like (because I have a love-hate relationship with sound-systems and alien speakers in the lounge anyway) is the tall column one. Of which there is currently only 1 option available in SA that I've seen ... and I don't know how in love with that specific one I am. See, I'm about speaker subtlety and aesthetics (which I know are all matter of opinion anyway).

10. Cowboy Hat
Oh yes. I've been looking for one of these for at least a year now ... probably longer (but I tend to forget to keep on the lookout). A friend of mine has an absolutely awesome one which I adore ... and I can not seem to find one in any shop that I get that gut feel about. There's always something wrong. So yeah, I want a nice straw cowboy hat. But this is another I need to see it to know kinda things. Or, maybe it's a someone buys it and I have no choice and no comparison so I love it anyway kinda things ... who can tell, really.

See, fussy. And most of these things are probably far too expensive anyway ... but at least now I have a list for when I go shopping for myself next year - haha ;)

Them by Jon Ronson

Them: Adventures with Extremists is a romp into the heart of darkness involving 12-foot lizard-men, PR-conscious Ku Klux Klansmen, Ian Paisley, Hollywood limousines, the legend of Ruby Ridge, Noam Chomsky, a harem of kidnapped sex slaves, David Icke, and Nicolae Ceausescu's shoes. While Jon Ronson attemps to locate the secret room, he is chased by men in dark glasses, unmasked as a Jew in the middle of a Jihad training camp, and witnesses CEOs and leading politicians undertake a bizarre pagan owl ritual in the forests of Northern California. He also learns some alarming things about the looking-glass world of them and us. Are the extremists right? Or has he become one of Them? This is a fascinating investigation into extremists of every stripe.

I thought this sounded interesting. It kinda was. I dunno, it's not an easy read. Some bits I found more interesting than others. Needless to say there are some people with some very strange beliefs in the world.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dive 2011

So on Wednesday afternoon, around 4pm we were supposed to be heading off to our overnight stop in Pongola. As seems to be tradition with the Pajero, we departed a good 2hrs late. But we were off, The Trucker, me, @Toxic_Mouse and another couple. Which means we only arrived in Pongola at around 01:30 on Thursday morning. The lengthy drive was slowed by some tedious stop-go's and, of course, dinner.

But the Dive Inn was accommodating and opened up for us and we got a good night's sleep (thank goodness for aircon!). We started the morning with a breakfast stop in Pongola's Wimpy and then it was straight thru to Sodwana, with a quick stop for a few snack provisions and booze in Mbazwana.

I won't lie, The Trucker organised us some awesome accommodation at Mseni Lodge. It was inside the reserve / National Park (which was mostly awesome, up until we tried to leave on Sunday, but more on that later). It has a path onto the beach (not the dive-beach, the beach on the other side of the point, which is gorgeous and un-touched and mostly completely private). And we had a lovely little self-catering chalet to ourselves. Was fantastic and I'd highly recommend it :) It made for the perfect base for the weekend.

On Thursday when we arrived we settled in and took a stroll down to the beach (we were literally the only people in sight!) and went for a swim (shoo, the waves & current were pretty rough!). And then a dip in the pool to de-salt ;) The water was all fantastically warm!

We went for a drink at the Lodge Restaurant. Let me just warn you, do not order their Nacho's. We were quite unimpressed with the R50 meal that couldn't have been more than a tiny bag of Doritos with some melted cheese. Barely enough for the 5 of us to share!

After that we headed back to our chalet and had a surreal experience with a baby Bushbaby. The Monkeys came past our chalet stealing a box of biscuits and a bag of sugar (we'd forgotten that we'd left the kitchen window open while we were sitting chatting on the balcony). So we were chasing them away and suddenly I saw something that wasn't a Vervet. It was a Bushbaby. Now I've never really seen more than the eyes of one of these at night (I would guess most people hadn't). But clearly the monkey troop coming thru was bothering this one. Turns out it was a Mommy Bushbaby because very quickly after I spotted her we could hear her babies. And then we could see them (I saw 2 running on the ground). We assume trying desperately to get away from the monkeys. We scared off the monkeys (not very far, they still kept trying their luck). And the Mom disappeared ... but there was one Bushbaby left behind crying it's heart out. Now this was just encouraging the monkeys who were definitely trying to get at it. It was breaking my heart. Obviously it was trying to tell it's Mom where it was and to come get it but with the monkeys around she wasn't coming near (I assume she managed to save at least one of her little ones).

Anyway, the baby came towards us, close enough that it actually bit me (I was trying to pick it up and take it ... where?). It didn't break skin, it's teeth were no where near strong enough. Poor thing was terrified. We watched it in the tree (which it climbed up off the floor) and scared off the monkeys as long as we could. We did hear the mother again but never saw her. We eventually had to go for our dive-briefing at 6pm so have no idea what happened to the poor little guy ... he wasn't there when we got back later. *sob* I'm choosing to believe it's mother came and got him. #sigh at Nature.

Anyway. We had our dive briefing. We dived with Amoray this weekend. The best part of the whole thing: It was just our group (3 of us for the most part) diving all weekend alone with them .. .except for our very last dive on Saturday. How divine is that? It really was :)

And then we decided to have dinner at the Lodge Restaurant (even after our poor Nacho's experience earlier). But we ate well, once you get over the pricing. Good prawns, not so great calamari. Apparently the steak was good too :)

We were up and at the parking lot, ready for our first dive at 7am on Friday morning. The Trucker is definitely the best boyf dive-partner I've had :) And we had awesome dives. Lots of turtles on the first dive (which I love!). No sharks at all (I'm totally okay with that). So serious surge & current in the water tho. But the Sodwana reefs are quite lovely coral-wise. Our last dive was the least impressive fish-wise but the corals were gorgeous. We mostly dived 2mile but on Saturday's first dive we headed out to 5mile and did Ribbon. And we got to see the blue&yellow Ribbon Eel :) The diving was good. It was nice to dive again after so long. But I think I dived as much as I needed. This is never going to be something I could spend a week doing.

Mostly the rest of the weekend was spent napping (sheesh I was exhausted by the diving), walking on the gorgeous dunes at the beach, swimming and relaxing (I read a lot less than I thought I would). And then eating out. On Friday night we went to The Lighthouse which, honestly, made one of the best pizza's I've ever had. It was amazing! The base was so so so thin (imagine a tortilla?). I had the Aubergine and Haloumi one and it was delish. Seriously, eat here.

On Saturday night we were going to braai but it just seemed like too much effort, so instead we went to The Sodwana Bay Lodge Restaurant called Leatherbacks. I wasn't terribly impressed by this place, honestly. I had their sole which was nice enough tho.

And then on Sunday morning we were up and packed and ready to leave our little chalet at 07:30am. We planned to stop and have breakfast at the Wimpy in Pongola again. All plans were thwarted as we arrived at the little area next to the petrol pumps and shop in the Park. The place was gridlocked. No one knew yet what was going on exactly, but slowly the story unfolded.

See, usually (apparently) you can drive your big ol' 4x4 right onto the beach sand here at Sodwana (apparently these people have been doing it for the 16 - 26 years they've been coming here year after year). And this year the government has clamped down and told the Parks Board to limit it and enforce a new system that allows only 200 vehicles onto the beach per day. We made a vague attempt to get one on Thursday afternoon (you have to get one between 16h00 and 18h00 for the following day). But decided that queuing wasn't on our holiday agenda and we didn't really need to take our Pajero right to the Dive Set-up Area. So we gave the permit a skip and enjoyed the rest of our weekend.

Clearly tho, the rest of the arriving holiday crowd was less than impressed by this new system tho and 2 cars decided to blockade the entire Park (since there is only 1 road in and out, this was not as tricky as one might think). And no one was going anywhere.

Sucked for the people stuck on the other side trying to start their holidays. Sucked for those of us trying to leave and get back home. Did not suck for those people here for the next 3 weeks who just took their cars and boats back to their camp sites and walked to the beach instead. I gather the diving was pretty much cancelled too tho (Amoray stores their boats at Mseni so couldn't get them out either, I expect more dive companies were affected similarly).

So anyway, these people just ended up annoying us completely. We had breakfast at Mseni Lodge Restaurant instead ... meh. We waited around some more. We went for a swim in the Pool (much needed). We tried to find alternate routes out of the Park.

It was a big fat giant waste of time. They didn't win. In fact they achieved very little in the grand scheme of things and the way it sounded they were planning on barricading the beach this morning from 4am too. Well, I guess everyone likes to spend their holidays differently :P I won't lie, I've never much understood striking. This was just dumb in my opinion. I mean sure if you want to protest against something you believe in, go right ahead. But I don't care one bit about your beach permits (in fact, if I'm honest, I don't think any of you should be allowed on the beach at all actually - except perhaps people launching boats but who knows?) so why are you forcing me into your protest. You are not making friends here.

The cars who blocked the road were both very distinct (one with company branding even! Yes, you, Gawie Steyn, Manager at and we got their license numbers. I gather tho that there was quite a lot of support for their cause ... but I still kinda hope that the Parks Board bans both of them for 10years at least. (UPDATE 21Dec2011: Here's an article from the news yesterday, seems things got even more crazy after we left!)

So yes, a very annoying morning but we finally exited the Park at 13h15 and The Trucker got us home just after 9pm.

And now to survive another week of work ... thank goodness I had a really lovely long weekend :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

We Made It

Whoohoo, this afternoon we're heading off to Sodwana till Sunday. Yay. Mini-break. Diving. Can't wait :) Just gotta survive today at work. Which will hopefully be easy ... it has been nice and quiet this week so far.

Monday night I had a quiet night at home with Series. Yesterday was our last SCM for 2011. Wow, this year is practically over!

And the best news of all? I managed to get thru yesterday without a break-up. Haha. I wasn't really worried ... ask me again if The Trucker & I are still together in 2013 tho, when 13 December will fall at roughly the 2.5 year mark. Then I will be a little nervous ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Feeling the Love

Another Monday, but this morning I'm still in a good mood. I've been in a good mood since Thursday morning! All filled with the warm & fuzzies inside, it is awesome :) Haha.

So, Thursday evening was quiet, The Trucker came over and we got Luca's salad for dinner (after all the Xmas eating last week). And watched some series and just generally had a relaxed evening :)

On Friday we were supposed to go to drinks with some friends but the weather was all miserable and just made us wanna stay in on the couch and watch tv (which we did). Toasted sarmies for dinner and movies. Sometimes that's exactly what you need ;)

We started with In Time. I'd heard that this was good from a friend, but we were obviously unsure what with JT headlining the cast. But the concept really was very cool :) I'd recommend watching it just for that.

Next up we watched Cowboys and Aliens. I got a little more interested when I saw it had Daniel Craig but jees, it was a total yawn-fest. In fact I think I did actually fall asleep at one point. The Trucker enjoyed it, apparently. So maybe don't take my word for it?

Apparently the fact that Thirteen starred in both of these movies was pure fluke, but I have my doubts ;) Haha.

On Saturday we started with breakfast with the crowd we're off to Sodwana with on Wednesday evening. Can I just say how amazing it is to have a boyfriend who actually organises stuff. Like says "Hey let's go diving on that long weekend" and even tho you never mention it again (seriously, I thought it would just fade into nothingness and be forgotten ...), it all gets organised. I'm still surprised, but very happy :) Breakfast was good and I started to really get excited for the long weekend.

And then it was off to get all our Xmas shopping done. Cause now that we're away for the long weekend, this was our last chance before I head off to Cape Town to get everything bought. I am so pleased that The Trucker is like me about gifts: Tell me what you want and I'll get it for you. Sigh, such relief. I was really worried he would want surprise and intrigue. I am not into that for gifting. I want to buy someone something that I know that they want (which I did because it was something I remembered him mentioning he wanted months ago, but he'd forgotten. But in my book it definitely requires asking to make sure he still wants it!). Also, I want to receive something I want, not something I have to fake a smile at and think to myself now what on earth do I do with this dust-catcher :P Practical all the way ;) Haha. Although I don't think I have been very helpful to him since I have been doing so much of my own shopping for the house lately.

Anyway, we got a lot done, stopped to share a waffle at Milky Lane (love doing that!) and then went home to recover from the mall-chaos. I fell asleep while he watched Team America again. This was a surprise since he's usually the one who naps. Haha.

We had a very similar evening to Friday but with delish home-made pizzas for dinner cause we had to be up and at the dive-pool at 8:30am for a quick refresher. Am so glad we did that. And The Trucker surprised me yet again. I always kinda expect that a more advanced diver will get annoyed when paired with a weaker one (because I dive so seldomly). But he didn't he was amazing and helpful. (Can you tell that I'm feeling quite gushy about this lovely boy at the moment? Haha).

So now I am even more excited about going diving again. Haven't been since Zanzibar in 2009! And before that, I think it was Mozambique in 2007 (which was the last time I actually wore my wet suit!!). Yip, I average one dive trip every 2 years ;)

After some much needed breakfast, it was off to finish the Xmas shopping and then home for a nap. And then some quick baking of my spinach & feta pie (again) for another Xmas dinner, this time at DJMike's. They had 18 people over and the food & decor was amazing. Was a really lovely evening.

And now we really do begin the end-of-year slide ... 3 working days till it's off to Sodwana with The Trucker & friends. And then a mere 7.5 working days till I'm off to CT for Xmas with the family. It's gonna fly past!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Missing & Murdered by Alan G Morris

What can human bones tell us of a person's life, or even death? How can information from bones solve mysteries both modern and ancient? And what makes the study of skeletonised human remains so imperative in southern Africa? The answers to these and other questions are contained in Missing & murdered, which lays bare the fascinating world of forensic anthropology. As the popularity of TV programmes such as the CSI trilogy and Silent Witness attests, people are fascinated by forensic science as a means of solving crimes, and in this book Alan G. Morris follows the pathway into forensics via the fields of anthropology and anatomy. He makes the practice of forensic anthropology, the skills base of skeletal biology and the study of archaeological skeletons hugely accessible to the layperson in a series of fascinating cases, from muti murders and political killings to the work of the Missing persons task team.

I really quite enjoyed this. Especially after Byleveld and Catch Me a Killer ... I think this is a good read if you are considering studying something like this because it is very clear just how romanticised the TV versions we get exposed to actually are. It is so refreshing to read the true-life versions, and even more so the ones that are happening on our doorstep.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Must Catch-up

Wow, so much to catch up on. We had absolutely no internet at work for the day yesterday. I eventually left to go home at about 14h30, which was fantastic. Got to gym at 3pm (blissfully empty!) and then did some work from home via 3g a little later.

Work has had some other major annoyances lately, in the form of my computer. I was running Linux, but was having connectivity and speed issues and since our IT department doesn't have any Linux experts, they recommended a move to Windows. So I agreed.

The setup my "new" Windows PC and I switched over about 2 weeks ago. Notice that "new" is in quotes. They don't buy new computers here, they all just get recycled. And so I spent nearly a day installing and getting my Windows environment working. About a week later (last Friday), I complained about how slowly my computer was running again and programs were crashing. I had 3Gb of RAM running Windows 64bit. So we shut down and put in some more RAM. The computer never restarted. Even swapping in the old RAM again wouldn't get it working.

Eventually they did a Windows restore (or something) and basically it went back to "the last known working configuration" which basically wiped all my installed programs. #sigh. They took that computer away and gave me another recycled one. This one still had the previous owners applications & files on it. They apparently couldn't format it yet because of licensing issues.

Anyhoo, toys were thrown and my bosses demanded a new machine. Apparently in the next financial year (March). In the meantime tho, I spent half of Tuesday uninstalling and reinstalling this second 2nd hand computer so that I could actually get some work done. Only to hear that on Tuesday evening it's be formatted again because this one actually was only running Windows 32bit with 3Gb of RAM .... It was about here that I really lost my sense of humour about everything.

Yesterday I arrived to find my computer wiped clean with only Outlook installed. And no internet. I managed to steal installers from other people's downloads folder and am pretty much set up today. But sheesh, if I ever have to install another thing, I may scream! Haha. It has been a long and unproductive couple of days.

But socially life has been busybusybusy! On Monday evening I had some blogging friends over for an end-of-year dinner. One of those collaboration dinners where everyone brings a dish. And I got to show off my new house :) The dining room table in it's spot outside is so awesome, I am so thrilled!

Anyway, Doodles brought starters, which were delish! Parma Ham, Brie, fig and rocket skewers with balsamic reduction drizzle. Seriously, it was so tasty! I made a giant pan of Chili&Garlic Prawns in a Tomato sauce. I hadn't made it before (which always makes me nervous when cooking for lots of people!), but it turned out pretty well :) I'd make it again. Louisa made us an enormous chicken pie, which was so yummy :) And Arkwife brought us some pasta salad ... her daughter came along for the evening and was such a darling. Seriously this child is too gorgeous! Ruby Letters was in charge of dessert and made us peppermint fridge tart. Yummy. And to wash it all down, in blog girls tradition, there was plenty of champagne! Angels Mind & Jackson's Mom ... you two were missed!

We also did Secret Santa, which was great fun. And I got Louisa's gift, which was a lovely hand knitted scarf :) It'll sadly have to wait for winter tho ...

On Tuesday night it was our annual SCM Year End Dinner. Wow and again, another contribution dinner where we were spoilt for choice! I made my spinach & feta free-form pie (which people seemed to really like :) ) and we ate lamb and gammon with roast potatoes, peas & carrots. There was bread and gravy. Starters and dessert with some KFC on the side (and excellent application by @Kath_Forrest who was in charge of "poultry" for the evening - haha!). And plenty of red wine. It was made even more awesome because the Trucker finally came along to an SCM Dinner :)

Last night was our new Book Club's Year End Dinner. @WhizBangLouLou went all out on the food, with roast chicken, roast potatoes, divine roast courgettes & carrots with rice and gravy too! We also did a secret santa :) And, of course there was dessert, *and* mini Lindt reindeer!

What a great week it has been. Seriously, I woke up in an absolutely awesome mood this morning. Even tho there was no power. Life is good today. Oh, and there is internet ;) Haha.

Monday, December 05, 2011


On Wednesday evening I went to dinner at Koi for @tfrayne's farewell ... It was quite a lovely evening marred only by Koi's lack of service. It took more than half an hour after asking for the bill to get it, pay for it and get on my way. And then I got a nice surprise, The Trucker came over after his evening out :)

Urgh. On Friday morning I got to work to discover my newly installed computer would not switch on. After IT spent 2.5hrs trying to get it sorted, we gave up. I worked on someone else's machine and they whisked my computer away. This morning I'm using another recycled machine and they are ordering me a brand new one. Sadly tho it does mean yet another day spent installing the requisite software and setting up my machine ... temporarily :P This does not make for a good Monday.

On Friday at around midday we headed out for our office year-end function. In true big-corporate style (since that appears to be what we've become, much to my dismay), we had a proper team-building type event with an Amazing Race at the Johannesburg Zoo. Urgh. Not my favourite way to spend an afternoon. Obstacle courses and traipsing all across the zoo in the heat with nothing to drink didn't put people in very good moods.

That was followed by drinks with everyone's partners at Pimento in Illovo. I was very glad that The Trucker came thru. Things have been going really well with him this week :) Aside from one minor hiccup on Sunday morning that was cleared up pretty quickly ... except for the looming prediction from him that we are very different people and that this is hard work (which I already know). For now tho, things are going nicely.

On Saturday The Trucker helped his sister move, she & his 9yr old niece will now be living with him (long story). And I got lots of much needed shopping done. Sadly, aside for 2 Secret Santa gifts, none of it was Xmas shopping yet :( I had my fill of malls on Saturday tho, so am dreading the shopping I will have to do shortly! Especially since I am so out of ideas :(

They didn't finish moving till after 7pm, so I took some Indian food round and we all had an early night. On Sunday The Trucker and I went for breakfast at Nino's in Cresta and then did even more shopping. Finally got the curtain rods I need for the lounge and I got cushions for the bench this weekend too :) Then after I cleaned the bunny hutch and The Trucker had a nap we headed to the Rosebank Market where I got the 3 remaining frames I need (just gotta get 2 photos reprinted for them now) and a contact to do the board-mounting in the new year (yippee!). And then it was off to Zoo Lake for some lunch and to watch The Trucker's LSM team play their final.

After that I went home and finished off one of the Xmas presents Mom & I are planning for the family and later The Trucker came over and we watched series.

It was a good weekend :) I have yet another busy week ahead with plenty of food ... such is the Christmas Social Schedule.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Is It Coz I'm Black? By Ndumiso Ngcobo

The urban Zulu warrior, Ndumiso Ngcobo, returns to aim his streetwise eye at a fresh range of typically South African characters and social issues, including obvious targets such as Jacob Zuma and xenophobia, and classic Ngcobo subject matter such as his coloured cousins, black-on-black relationships and Benoni Afrikaners. The result is another collection of laser-sharp commentary on this wonderful Rainbow Nation of ours, with no regard for political correctness or sacred cows of any size, shape or form – South African satire at its best.

I read this on the flight to Cape Town and back. It took me a while to get into  it. The Trucker thinks it's hysterical. It wasn't laugh out loud funny to me. I find Ngcobo very difficult to read ... it's like he's trying to be verbose to be funnier. Which didn't work for me, honestly. Otherwise tho, I did enjoy it once I go to sit down and read solidly for a while (a page here and there is not the way to read this book).

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