Archive for the ‘Soapbox’ Category

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And we’re all wearing black again?

26 October , 2017

So if you haven’t spent all of yesterday and today under a rock, you would know by now that there has been a call to “action” for everyone to wear black on Monday as a sign of protest againt all the recent farm murders.

I have in the past thrown my wardrobe in with similar worthy causes, see below:

So I don’t mind wearing black for this at all. In fact I am already wearing black now, and I’ll keep wearing it till Monday and beyond if it helps.

Will it help? No, it won’t. Will it make it worse? Also not. So I’ll go along with it.

Why does it feel like I’m attending the funeral of my country one wear-black-protest at a time?

I had a very disturbing dream earlier this week about a home invasion by the way. This is not new for me. I don’t remember dreams often but when I do they are usually about me protecting my loved ones from skollies (well either that, or flying with super powers – love those dreams!).

In this dream I was alone however. Four guys somehow broke into the house while I was working and had my earphones on. I didn’t specifically see what happened to three of them in my dream…but I do remember that I ended them with a bread knife and followed the fourth guy outside. He shot me, the asshole! And then I pressed the SOS emergency thing on my phone. Haha, probably should have done that sooner? Right? Anyway in my dream, #notavampire and my dad rocked up at the same time to my SOS. However since they’ve never met it was kind of crucial that I explain what the actual threat was. Skollie number 4 had scampered over the wall with only minor bread knife flesh wounds and I was busy painting the driveway red and starting to see spots.

At this point I passed out from blood loss in the dream and woke up from heart pulputations in the real world. Read into that what you want to. 😉

Anyway, never mind my fucked up dream where taking a bread knife to a gun fight actually seemed like a great move. It’s not. Seriously, if that’s all you have – try your best, but don’t make it your go to move. 

What I guess the point is that as dreams go, it’s not that far fetched. We have had armed robberies and home invasions up and down this street in almost every house but this one. My brother has been in multiple armed robberies (remember this?).

So I’ll wear the black on Monday. One day it may very well be for my own funeral or yours… I don’t see this getting better. And I don’t see a way out for me and my family (even if we wanted to go, which we don’t). 

We may get taken out…but we won’t go quietly. And until that day we’ll wear black when called to as the armchair activists we are.

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No…I’m not dead

14 September , 2016

There is actually so much that needs writing, but you know…if I’m not writing it, there’s probably a pretty good reason for it.

Today however, I do have something fit for sharing though: parenting hacks!

It’s been quite a ride, changing from a one parent one child household to a two parent three children one. Especially since we only have time share on two and when they’re not here there is obviously a whole other set of rules in their other house with their other parent, that we have no control over. Add to that, that we never actually know when they’ll be here – it gets kind of crazy.

It got to a stage where I felt like a hostage in my own house, cause these babies really bring out the worst in each other sometimes. Of course when you only have timeshare on the fruits of your loins, you don’t always want to be disciplining them and laying down the law…I mean really, who doesn’t want to be the fun parent?! But when it’s a free for all chaos spectacular…no one really ends up having fun. Well I know I wan’t having any.

We needed an action plan that would entail a lot less of me screaming like a banshee and bringing the thunder, and a lot less chaos!

I don’t know about you, but I have always found comfort in a good list. So that’s what we have now…sort of. 

Behold our magic white board on display in the playroom. On the left we have the hooligans listed by age. On a Wednesday each of them get credited with R20. Each time they break a rule (listed on the right), they lose R2. On the next Wednesday they get paid out the balance as a good behaviour bonus.

Occasionally we also have reward challenges to encourage something we want. As you can see, for instance, they’re all on R22 at the moment. They earned R1 each for picking up dog droppings, and then another R1 each for trying and eating all their dinner, which was something new (beef stroganoff). Next to their names you can see their previous Wednesday scores. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how much sanity this has brought to our home! Worst/best case scenario R240 a month between the three of them…money well spent!

Next up…we all had our hands in our hair about missing hair brushes. Specifically Miss Erin’s. She has about 7 in and around the house, but because she likes to stroll and brush they end up nowhere to be founds when you need them, all the time.

Solution: we tied one to the bathroom door handle. It’s been there for about a month and a half now. 

This has made mornings much more pleasant!

Mealtimes are a general pain in the ass. I want to take our kids to a place where kids get one bowl of porridge a day and are happy and thankful about it. They all seem to think we run a restaurant!

Nicola is the only one of the three that eats vegetables, but she doesn’t eat anything with sauce or gravy. She won’t even look at jam of marmite. Scott seems to only eat yogurt, chips or bread at the moment…occasionally burny chips or chicken nuggets, and is more than happy to have only a big cup of oros for a meal, followed up by half a million half cups of hot chocolate. He will wake up everyone screaming at 2am for his next fix and no amount of discipline will make him desist once he has his mind set on it. Erin loves chicken steakletts, chicken nuggets and fish fingers, and chips. She doesn’t eat banana or anything strawberry flavoured. And other than apples the only other fruit she’ll have is red grapes. Also lots and lots of chocolate nesquick.

So we are piloting a new meal plan, because quite frankly we’re sick and tired of tip toeing the line between all their fusses. 

We came up with a list of things we think are suitable for dinners (all to be had with at least one vegetable of our choice – not written, but expressly noted). Each baby got a day to pick, Nicola got two because she’s here all the time. Steve and I got the weekend days. On Thursdays we are usually at my folks, or we’ll get take aways. 

They could pick off the list for their days. There will only be one meal cooked and eaten. Anyone who doesn’t eat the food will lose money on the board (I still have to add this rule), also they will not be getting anything else. 

I really hope this works. So far so good though. They were very enthusiastic about compiling the list and everyone ate what we made tonight. It’s a good start! 

What handy parenting tricks do you have up your sleeves? Tell meeeeeeee….please. Also clue me in on the reason why you came up with it to begin with if you can.

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Rant…or RANT if you prefer

18 August , 2016

So, it’s come to my attention that my driver’s license needs urgent renewing. Let me just start off my tangent by reminding everone that once upon a time in the not too distant past, once you had your licence it was a done deal unless a court took it away from you for driving like an asshole, or someone liberated your ID book in a robbery.

Then they whipped it out of the ID book and on to a card…that had to be renewed every 5 years. 

And so off I go to the licencing department to go spend a day in the queue, as you do. (That was yesterday). 

My wait was short though, since apparently NOW the new and improved thing is that you have to have a proof of residence to renew. 

Explain this to me though. Where is the logic? You should strongly suspect that I’m not going to be at home when I renew my licence…since I’ll be driving around with it in a legal manner, right? 

Also, side rant, what the fuck is the point of this proof of residence business anyhoo?! It is the BANE of my existence in all things admin. As I understand it, the original purpose was to crack down on terrorism and scammers…I think we can all agree that in this regard it has been a monumental fail. 

Also, I have a really hard time proving my residence because a rental agreement doesn’t count, the utilities bill is in the landlord’s name and all my own accounts arrive at my house via email…yet someone who lives between two pieces of corrugated iron and an election poster will still manage to open accounts and do all manner of admin things without even having a street address or utilities. 

I have come to the conclusion that the whole requirement has been designed with the exclusive purpose of pissing people off and wasting their time. So mission accomplished I guess.

Right, so back to the licensing bit. I left (yesterday) in a huff. Got a utilities bill with a letter saying I stay there, and back into the fray I go. Second day in a row.

Only, still no joy. First off you also need a copy of your ID. You know, the one that now doesn’t have anything to do with your licence anymore. And NO, they can’t just make one if they need it. 

No problem. Some guy has set up a caravan with a copier outside. R6 a copy…only he hasn’t got paper. Eventually someone in a taxi delivers 10 pages and we’re good to go, right? Right?!

Wrong. Nope, proof of residence rejected. It has to have a sworn statement attached, and probably needs to be kissed by a unicorn too – who knows?!

So I did actually say, “Fuck this shit!” this time round, and if someone pulls me over for being unlicensed I might unleash a storm of papercuts on them with my invalid proof of residence and R6 ID copy. After two days at the licensing office I am now in an extremely foul mood about this.

To add insult to injury, as you walk out of the door, there are at least 10 shifty looking characters who swear high and low that they can get you in and out and licensed in 10 minutes, with no supporting documentation…for R300. They’ll drop down to R150 if you don’t look keen. If you still don’t want to bribe your way through the bullshit…they’ll settle for a cigarette to stop traffic for you so that you can get out.

I didn’t go for it. *sigh* I guess I’m in for another day’s queueing once I get a sworn statement. 

Grrrrrrrrrrr…..

PS! I see IDs are also going the card way now, so you can imagine how delightful this is going to be in future.

PPS! Whichever political party promises to abolish this proof of residence bullshit will get my vote in the next round of elections. I am so over it. Really!

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And so it begins

15 April , 2014

Oh my word, I am so tired! If I make it through today without a nap behind my table I deserve some sort of medal…preferably made of chocolate (and laced with coffee).

Today is the big day for enrolments for Grade R (I think this is for all Gauteng schools? But definitely for the school I picked). I have been stalking the chosen one for yeeeears. I’m not even exagerating. In the year that Nicola turned two I phoned them to ask if I could put her on a waiting list, and the teacher laughed and laughed…and laughed some more. I had to give her a few minutes to calm down before she could tell me no, not yet.

Since mid last year I have been religiously stalking their website for any news, and then in about May the site stopped updating (apparently their web developer has passed away without leaving behind the password so their website is now useless). From about February I have phoned them for news at least every two weeks or so. Last week Monday the forms became available (at bloody last) and I was their almost as soon as they opened the gates. So I knew, today was going to be the make or break day.

For those not familiar with the way it’s now done around here, let me explain. The department of education releases randomly a date (that date for this year now being today) on which all new enrolments for Grade R and Grade 1 can begin. No school is allowed to take enrolments before and on the day and thereafter the school has to allocate numbers to prospective students based on when their forms are recieved. There is usually an A list and a B list determined on the official feeder area of the school. Each school has their magic number of new entries that they will accept or have capacity for, and you will then make it to either the A-list, the A waiting list, or the B list depending on where you live/work and how quickly you got the form to them. By the end of May the school has to let everyone know if they made it or not, and those who didn’t make it will be allocated to other schools where they have capacity and you do not get a say in the matter after that.

If you get through all these hoops for Grade R, then you still have to go through it again for Grade 1…thereafter I’ve heard you can just renew, and you don’t have to join queues with stacks of paperwork at ungodly hours to get your kid educated anymore.

A yes…I forgot to mention the paperwork. For the first round (today) you have a one page document to complete, to which you must attach a proof of residence, a certified copy of your child’s birth certificate, copy of the immunisation card, and a letter from your employer on an official company letterhead. This is just to get that magical number on the list, your child isn’t actually enrolled yet. In November you get to do this again with the same paperwork (refereshed obviously) and fill in a 28 page enrollment form, also there are additional docs needed (of course). I think it might be easier to buy a house than to get your child in a school of your choice, If you’re missing even one document you get bumped to the B-list automatically.

So, you know…no pressure. 😉

Yesterday when I picked Nicola up from school she was having a little panic about big school, so I asked her if she wanted to go and have a look at it. When we drove past there where HUNDREDS of cars there and I thought to myself FUCK! All these people are already in the queue. So we rushed over to my folks, I wolfed down dinner and packed some overnight things for waiting in the queue and hightailed it back to the school. Luckily my panic was for nothing, because they were actually busy with a parent-teacher evening! I found a teacher smoking skelm behind the bleachers and he explained…after he laughed and laughed, and laughed some more of course. I must have been quite a sight with my camp chair, blanky, big flask and book to read. At least I got to sleep a few hours – cause on top of all this excitement I am actually feeling pretty shitty, so the beginnings of flu in a camping chair outside overnight wasn’t exactly my top choice for the evening.

I got up early (my oringinal plan) and was there by 05:00, and let me tell you I was not the first by a long shot! Apparently some people were there from just before midnight-ish. Even so, I felt like all was not lost and that I had a decent enough spot in the queue. I fell in line, and started making friends with the stangers around me.

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Here are the people in front of me, all 30 of them…

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Officially the whole thing only opened at 06:00. These are some of the people behind me. By the time I was done there were at least another 100 or so there. I ended up getting on so well with the guy behind me, that we exchanged numbers so that we could arrange a party for our next queue experience, and to share news if we got any. The woman in front of me was a bit stiff-upper-lip, so I didn’t chat too much with her though.

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Ta-dah! 😀 This is what I got for my hour and a half in the queue. It’s a very slow moving queue. You get to the first check point and you first have to show them your street on a map…this gets you sorted into either the A queue or the B queue. Next check point is a document and certification check point, this gets you a nice red check mark on your form (or not, in which case you get to change queues). And then the last point is where you get the number and they write down your child’s name on the list and you have to sign.

Extremely competitive, isn’t it? And these are not private schools by the way – I believe with some of those you have to get on a waiting list as soon as you find out you’re pregnant just to get in. Is it just me, or do we not have enough good quality schools in JHB? O_o

Oh well, all this standing around is good practice for voting day too. 7th of May is just around the corner, which will be my next big queue experience. *shrug*

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Self defence

18 February , 2013

So in the aftermath of all the recent violent and very bad news I have decided to do a post on self defence. If you really want to be “aware” of something, be aware of this.

I’ve been for a few courses, as I mentioned before, some were better than others. As a bit of refresher to myself I googled the hell out of this subject matter in order firstly to see what was out there about at the moment, and secondly to compile a list of tips for you or words of wisdom on things and theories I agree with (some of it is just downright stupid if you ask me, so I’m only posting the things I believe to be useful and/or true. I’ve kind of jumbled them together by category, even if it doesn’t make for the most elequent paragraphs in the world.

Use it…don’t use it…*shrug*

  1. Attitude: Begin by asking yourself if you have the right attitude for defending yourself – if it comes down to your life or your attacker’s, will you be able to kill someone? If not, then rather don’t fight back.
  2. The objective is to survive, not to win – so if you get a gap to run, do it. A moving target is harder to hit.
  3. Stay calm – remember he/she is not the only one fighting and you can hurt him/her too. Taking a few shots is not the end of the world – regain your composure and get back in there. Staying cool under pressure is more important for self-defence than being physically fit and technically skilled. If you can’t control your mind, what can you control?
  4. Fighting: Don’t stop hitting until you’re SURE he/she is incapacitated completely. There are no rules – go for anything you can including hair, eyes, pinching, biting, groin. If you feel threatened, hit first – make him/her defend him/her-self. He/she won’t be used to it and you’ll have the element of surprise. Close the distance – if you’re too close for him/her to strike you, you can’t get hurt. Then use close range punches, knees, elbows and such to take him/her out. Strike through the target – 6 inches past. Don’t pull back too quickly once you’ve punched. Overloading – several strikes at the same target is great. Hit with the “heel” of your palm, not your fist. Throat hitting – this can cause serious permanent damage and even result in death. Don’t practice this at full strength, keep that for the real deal.
  5. Ideal self defence weapons are those that are legal to carry everywhere, do not attract attentions, are simple to use and do not require practice – example umbrellas or pens (pens are great! Keep one in every room!). Every stick has two ends – the weapon of attack in his/her hands may become the weapon of defence in your own hands. A tactical flashlight can blind and disorientate someone for a few seconds. The only dangerous area around a gun is the one spot right in front of the muzzle.
  6. Precautions/Preparations: If you can, have a “safe” room in your house with a separate prepaid cellphone hidden in it. Walk with confidence – random victims are picked according to body language. Warn your children – adults do not need to ask children for help. Most altercations go to the ground at some point – don’t ignore it or be afraid of fighting on the ground. At some point your assailant is going to need to let go with at least one hand somewhere to undo clothing – use this to your advantage if you haven’t been able to get the upper hand before that point. Sudden intense burst of energy on a one handed attacker might just give you the edge you need. If you hurt your attacker to the point where he/she bleeds on you, make sure to get a course of ARV treatment after. If you are bitten, you may need antibiotics afterward

I found a free download with pretty pictures in it online for some ideas on moves. Personally I don’t know how much that’s worth, because if the time comes that you are attacked all that needs to happen in split seconds. If you’re not practising these things regularly you will just freak yourself out by trying to remember the right sequence of moves at the right time.  (Email me if you want a copy anyway – can’t seem to get it to upload here).

So I’ve taken the liberty of pinching someone’s person shaped picture online and adding some targets that I think is much more useful. Go for what you can with what you have when it happens. I hope that helps, and mostly I hope you never need it.

WeaponsWeakspots

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Bleak…in black

13 February , 2013

I am feeling so bleak today that I’m not even going to post this ramble with a photo (and you know how much I like doing that – even when they’re unrelated). Read the rest of this entry ?

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Rambling, and lots of it

8 October , 2012

These photos were taken a few weeks ago when we had a picnic at Delta Park with Melinda and her family. It really is a lovely park, and it was great to finally meet them! 🙂

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Now for the rambling I promised. Since I need to post a massive update, I’ve come up with a few sub headings to help me get through it sensibly, here we go:

Three critter chaos

My dad is my hero, just so you know. On Wednesday last week we went home after dinner at my folks, and my dad drove with us to make sure we got home safe like he always does. He ended up protecting us not from would-be criminals but from a battalion of spiders! There was a rain spider as big as my hand on the wall next to the front door (which my dad sorted out with repeated whacks of a broom) – you know it’s a big one when it casts a shadow in the headlights! If that was all I would have already been super grateful but he killed another two for us before he left, one on the door frame and one on the ceiling inside.

Rain spiders…actually any spiders…*shudder* I really hate them.

Traffic musings

As you know I’ve been on a merry go round of training courses lately. Thursday I had to bail on one course in JHB CBD to attend another one in Melrose Arch. This is all good and well, but I don’t have any sense of direction and I am not even slightly familiar with Melrose Arch.

They gave me a landmark as part of the directions and my GPS seemed to know where that was so I aimed it accordingly. Alas, the people of Garmin seem to think that Moyo’s in Melrose is located in Sandton City so I got lost and ended up being late.

While all of this was going on I also happened to notice that Fourways and Sandton have the worst traffic I have ever seen, especially if you keep in mind that it was school holidays – which usually trims my travel time down considerably!

Also, all this was done with no background music in the car, which didn’t help at all. Nicola jumped on the speakers a few weeks ago and they stopped working altogether. When it gets really tense I sometimes put something on with my phone, but not 2 hours worth…I do still need the battery for other things as well.

Definitely sticking that on my to-do list to sort out at some point in the near future.

And lastly, I thought about a new saying that makes much more sense to me than the existing one I mangled in the process. Instead of saying, “Between a rock and a hard place.” wouldn’t it be more relevant these days going with something along the lines of, “Between a pedestrian and a pothole.”? I haven’t been near any impressive rocks lately but I see many impressive potholes every day. In fact, I swear there’s one on my regular route that looks exactly like a silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s head, and another that is sprouting a magnificent piece of lawn (they had a potted plant in it late last year, but someone stole it).

Thoughts on Training

Some of the training has been quite significant and some not so much. That’s to be expected I guess?

Now I don’t consider myself a particularly angry person (I used to be and I may still have the odd moment here and there, but I’m practically zen about most things in comparison to how I used to be), but I’ve come to the conclusion that most people might consider me to have no or very little EQ. And I’m okay with that, it appears that I consider most people to be yellow bellied pansies when it comes to conflict and stress situations. And truth be told I may be more of a neat little self contained and self sufficient unit than the currently popular team player sort, but I will play for the team as hard as I can when I respect it (or they happen to be headed in the same direction I am).  

Furthermore I was accused of setting someone up to fail from one of the examples I provided in the stress management course. I am sorry, but if you have a qualification to do what you do, and which would imply that you have at least 7500 hours of experience doing it before I even laid eyes on you the first time, and you still can’t do even the very basic bits of it – I’m not the one who’s been doing the setting up here (I had very distinct Atlas Shrugged feelings when this came up to be honest).

Anyhoo, I am done arguing with my particular example because I’ve come to the conclusion that this person is not being lazy or negligent, they actually just can’t do better – so it would be setting myself up for failure to try and beat water out of that rock, plus is would be needlessly unpleasant for them too, with no prospect of results (doesn’t sound win-win to me at all, if you’re in to that kind of lingo). At the same time I have no intention of baby-ing them along either.

 I am not letting it go, I have let it go – and now I plan to make myself comfortable while watching other people who have to carry the dead weight sort out the problem.

The very “serious” injury

We had a lovely visit with a dear old friend of mine yesterday, and at some point Nicola swan dived off a step by accident. There were a few tears but nothing dramatic and I managed to distract her fairly quickly so I thought that might be the end of the matter.

Not so.

When I took her to go and put her swimsuit on I noticed that she had a scrape on her elbow and innocently asked if this was from the fall. Now that was a rookie mistake that I will not be making again. She wasn’t even aware of it until I showed her and then the waterworks really started!

Ointment, disinfectant, ointment, disinfectant, ointment later…still upset. Eventually I managed to coax her into the pool and after she relaxed she fell asleep in my arms right in the water. She slept like a champ but once she woke up there was more drama round this scrape and more ointment of course.

We got home, and we needed to put on another three layers of stuff before she eventually settled down to sleep.

At roughly 1:00am this morning she woke up and saw it again and all hell broke loose. Three layers later and still no noticeable sign of calming down on the horizon I offered to put a princess plaster on it (thinking out of sight, out of mind) but she was having none of that. Eventually I talked her into a bandage…all the way from her wrist to her shoulder, for a scuff on her elbow.  *roll eyes*

And I managed very little sleep after this because I cannot simply turn over and get back to it like some people, so I ended up reading until almost 4:00am this morning before I managed to sleep again. *yawn*

Seriously, I can’t remember ever being that traumatised about a scuff – and I half-near killed myself a couple of times as a child. My mom might recall one specific incident where I had a giant gaping hole in my leg from roller skating and impaling myself on a bakkie’s canopy hook trying to break my momentum…that ended up missing a major artery with a few millimetres and I needed 18 stitches to hold my muscles and skin together again…but in the car on the way to the doctor’s office I was trying to dissect my previously unseen innards while I had the chance. I remember being a bit miffed that nerves were too small to see with the naked eye, but I managed to see the three layers of the skin, fat cells, and veins no problem at all.

I am not suggesting that Nicola have a major injury to put some perspective out there, but that level of drama for a scuffed elbow is a bit over the top in my opinion. We’ll write it off to being tired, a little under the weather, and not yet three years old. One thing’s for sure, she’ll have to toughen up a bit or really start paying attention to where she’s going! 😉

Poor baby, I do really feel sorry for her – but there’s not a lot I can do to make it better. I have a strong suspicion that I’ll be bandaging that arm up until the scab eventually falls off.

Congats if you made it through my ramble in one piece! I do actually feel a lot better after managing to get all of that off my chest. Hope you have an excellent week ahead!