Yesterday we tried a bottle of Gôiya. As a wine, it wasn’t too bad. Not brilliant, but reasonable.
It is exported to the US market, and amusingly to me includes a Surgeon General’s warning about drinking while pregnant, or operating heavy machinery.
The real amusement is not the Surgeon General’s warning, but rather the marketing blurb on the back of the bottle. You may require your cynicism cap if, for some reason, you don’t keep it on at all times.

Gôiya means wine in the language of the San people. Their unique subsistence lifestyle, now under threat from the modern world, is the inspiration behind this wine.

WestCorp International, one of the largest single producers of wine in the Southern Hemisphere … [is] ideally situated to produce excellent red and white wines.

Piracy on the Lake of Zoo!

Sunday was a most curious day of inept piracy on the low fresh-waters of the Lake of Zoo.


Latter-day pirates, especially in landlocked provinces like Gauteng, are something of a rarity. In order to spot them, it is best to seek out bodies of water where boats and other watercraft may be found.
Zoo Lake may seem like an unlikely spot to find such miscreants, but in fact it is not. Numerous pirates converged on the Lake this Sunday past. I and my kitchen-wench were amongst them.


We dressed in the manner of pirates, and converged upon the lake. Or rather, the others dressed in the manner of pirates. We dressed in the manner of witches and daemons.
We set upon the boats and attempted to row. Herein lies the ineptitude of the pirate dressed in the manner of a daemon.
Rowing is all backwards, and counter to the intuition.

Yaaaaaaaaarrr! Curses!

Still, the pirate/daemon/witches eventually came to terms with the treachery of reverse-backward rowing tricks.

Alas! Witches and daemons are not pirates at heart, and partook of less rum than those who rampaged across the low fresh-waters, terrorising children and geese alike.
The rum turned the  pirates unruly, and they strayed from their noble cause of ransacking the lake of litter to ransacking fellow pirate/witch/daemon vessels of supplies. Witches lost hats. Daemons lost arcane powers of patience.


‘Twas verily a morning well spent, and had we witches and daemons been more inclined to drink, ‘twould a well spent afternoon have been too.



A small selection of Pirates of the Lake of Zoo

Dodgy Movie Reviews

Breaking my “don’t follow random links” rule has led me to an amusing film review, by the self-proclaimed Mister Peace.

In some ways it made me think of Dodgy Movie Review. Dodgy movies were examined. But unlike Dodgy Movie Review (where an attempt is made for objectivity, and dodginess is placed on a pedestal) Mister Peace is in fact warning us to stay the hell away from films he found to be appalling.

He attacks Boondock Saints with gusto (something Dodgy Movie Review may attempt to refute at some point), and reveals something about one of the actors that has changed my impression of the film a little.
This, however, is not Mister Peace’s main focus. Mostly, he just spouts off about whatever he finds amusing. He spouts off in an amusing fashion. I was so amused I added him to my Chinese Government Approved Reading List.

Ultimately, the whole purpose of this post is to see whether or not the custodian of Dodgy Movie Review will post a rebuttal.

Duplex Printing with Word

Here is the scenario. You have a document that is mostly portrait orientation. This is the normal state of affairs.
You want to insert a table, but it’s quite wide and you cannot easily squish it within the boundaries of the page. You insert a next page section break, via the Insert->Break menu. You set the page to landscape orientation via the File->Page Setup menu.
The table is quite long and spans several pages. At the end of the table you insert another next page break, set the new page to portrait orientation and go about your business.
All is well, until you press print.

You see, the problem is that Microsoft Word controls an evil empire of document-writer frustration. Word has lots of features, but if you actually try to use them, it gets annoyed with you. It doesn’t tell you it’s getting annoyed — it just does it on the sly.
You only find out that something is amiss when you attempt to print your document, and the pages arrange themselves in creative, novel ways, making the flow of the document confusing.
Is it art? Possibly.
Is it what the user wants? Certainly not.

To give Microsoft’s Office team some credit where it is due, Word 2003 does manage to print double-sided without any issues — as long as you don’t try to do anything too dynamic, such as mixing pages which have both landscape and portrait orientated pages. If all the pages are landscape — no issues. Likewise with portfolio orientated documents. However, cases (like the one above) occur where people would like to include both.
This eventuality seems to be have been something beyond the imagination of the Word designers.

I have suffered through a great deal of pain in order to give you this useful work-around to the annoying landscape/portrait orientation printing mix-up. I’ll avoid relating all of the pain, because if you googled in here, then you already know the pain and probably don’t want to relive it.

You made your mistake when you inserted a next page section break. The secret is to insert an odd page section break. In fact, it’s critical. And you need to insert on before and after the landscape orientated section.
If a landscape page prints on the reverse of a portrait page, everything will be screwed up. Inserting odd page section breaks is the only solution I’ve managed to come up with. It doesn’t solve the problem with page numbering (which will now be orientated with the landscape page — but you can’t have everything).

That should solve most of the issues, but when I implemented this I found that Word would often let me insert an odd page section break and then, once I’d moved on, automatically (and most unhelpfully) turn it into a next page section break. This didn’t improve my spirits. Especially since it would only come to my attention once I’d printed my 144 page document.
It took me ages to figure out why, and actually I still don’t know why it was doing that. I do know how to make it stop doing that, which ultimately gives us the same result — a document which prints as intended.
Here is how:
Make certain that for every section in your document, the section is set to start on an odd numbered page. Do this by clicking on a page of the section in the document, then clicking File->Page Setup.
On the window click the Layout tab, and select the Section start drop-down. Choose Odd page.

I hope that will ease your pain a little.


Yip. Our old friend, ad-watch, is resurrected today on a whim.

I bought myself an Aero Cappuccino. They’re cheaper than the mint one’s for some reason.
On the packaging, in a little text box, is written

Good to remember
Relaxing with AERO bubbles will help you unwind.

I think I should call Nestlé’s consumer services line and query the scientific validity of this bold claim.

Project Update

A month has elapsed since the last full update. I’ll try to keep this one more to the point.

As usual, a summary of the projects:

  1. Project A — Write the novel, “The Adventures of Commitment Man”
  2. Project B — Write 100 word stories for family and friends, and present them as gifts
  3. Play chess online
  4. Blog every day
  5. Take camera everywhere, and pretend to be a Japanese tourist

And then the success, or lack thereof:

  1. One month ago I had written 20,043 words. One month later I have written 20,043 words, leaving my progress this month at a very nice round number. I need to post more of those damned affirmations — or possibly just listen to them.
  2. As I happily announced in a mini-update on this topic, the stories in this batch were all written, but just needed to go through the quality control process.
    Quality Control suggested I alter one story, and rewrite another. I ended up rewriting both.
    Last month I had completed one story, written two that needed editing, and conceptualised another.
    I now have 5 completed stories to give as gifts, and an additional two stories to donate to charity.
    My progress is thus 6 stories completed this month. Applause

    1. In addition, four stories are printed and framed and ready to ship. The one still outstanding will be printed tomorrow. Thus, I require certain Canadian family members’ postal address.
    2. blah
  3. I played chess. If you find the screen-grab illegible, click it for the full-size version.finger halfhaggis
    The best way to see whether I’ve been playing much or not is to check whether the RD (rating deviation) score has become smaller. Smaller it is, the more accurate my rating is.
    To check whether or not I’ve been getting any better, look at the rating column. A higher rating indicates a better player.
    Actually, if you really really care — read the FICS FAQ
    And if you’re thinking “what the hell is crazyhouse/suicide/whatever?” look for it on this page.
    The results are:

    1. Played three blitz games — lost them all, which is probably why I only played three. Rating withers away another 57 points to a pathetic 1012
    2. Played six lightening games — kicked ass. rating rocketed up 260 points to 1485. Still a crap rating, but a marked improvement.
    3. Er. That’s it. But those are only the rated games. It is possible to play unrated games, but the server doesn’t keep track of them. I played quite a few unrated wild games, but honestly haven’t played too much recently. This chess thing needs a little attention.
  4. Number of posts since 6 May 2007 (not including this one): 17. That’s a 55% success rate. Whoopee! Applause
  5. Photos. Hmm. This counting photos thing is a little stupid, and I think I need to rather set photography projects. I’ve been pondering it a little, but nothing no solid ideas have yet coalesced. More on this in the future.
    I will reveal the number of photos taken in the past month though, just because:
    Total photos taken with the Pentax K100 is 962. That’s 198 in the month, which amounts to about 6 shots a day (down from over 12). I guess the enthusiasm might be wearing off a little. All the more reason to devise some photography projects, because I’d like to get better at it.

In summary I can say that I’ve had a generally good month, although the complete lack of progress on CMan is worrying. It is offset my the success on the 100 word gifts, so I’m not too disappointed with myself. Now that that batch is completed, any recreational writing I do (that isn’t blogging) will be commitment man. Perhaps I should rephrase the affirmations to reflect that. Make the affirmation smaller scale. “I will write the next 1000 words of a full-length novel” perhaps?
The success is in no small part due to my previous affirmation regarding following only useful links. Admittedly, some useless links have been followed, but considerably fewer than before. All techie and news sites have been relegated to the abyss. I hardly even feel tempted to investigate them any longer.

Stopping now before I have to add a Rambling Waffle tag.
Actually, that’s also something I did, since it was technically “blogging.” I gave the tags I use some thought, rejiggered them into broad categories, and tagged all of my posts appropriately (mostly). Which is why the rambling waffle tag now exists.
Really stopping now.

Cake Baking as a Metaphor for the Digging-Holes and Getting-Stuff-Out-of-the-Ground Industry

Google knows about this blog, and since what I intend to write now is work related and critical of certain entities, it may upset the relationship my company has with those certain entities.
Given the above, it is necessary to be a little cryptic and to make lavish use of metaphors. If you know me well enough, and know what my current job is, you’ll probably be able to figure out which entity I’m referring to.
If you don’t know me at all, you still may be able to. Perhaps the post title may be of assistance to you.

Let us pretend that I work in the baking industry. I don’t but, for the purposes of this tale of bureaucratic anal-retentiveness, I do.
The baking industry in South Africa is strictly regulated. If one wishes to bake a cake, one must fill out the necessary Cake Baking Application forms and submit them to the Department of Cakes and Confectioneries (DCC).
A number of items must accompany the application form:

  • The exact description of the place you wish to bake the cake, including a map, and deeds of ownership
  • A Cake Baking Recipe, detailing how you intend to go about baking the cake, including such details as:
    • ingredients to be used
    • equipment required
    • which chef you intend to use
    • how much cake you intend to bake
    • proof that you can afford to buy the ingredients
  • Details of the company which intends to bake the cake/s
  • The applicable application fee (either cash, or a cheque made out to the DCC)

Every province in the country has its own provincial DCC office. The one in Gauteng always checks the application forms, and all accompanying documentation and so forth within 30 minutes.
I spent 3 hours at the DCC in the Free State submitting a Cake Baking Application for a client. Having not submitted any applications in the Free State before, the extra 2.5 hours to lodge the application came as a gradual, but ultimately quite excruciating surprise.

At first, it seemed that things were going well. Shortly after my arrival at the DCC offices, a nice person came to look over the application.
At the Gauteng office, the nice person who takes the application from me usually just checks that everything required by the legislation and regulations for a Cake Baking Application is present in the application. If it is, she takes my application fee and bids me farewell. They never check whether or not it is all in order — just that it is there. The 14 days stipulated by the Cake and Confectioneries Baking Act is what is supposed to be used to check through all the details. The Gauteng office does it this way. The Free State office — not so.
The nice person, who afforded me a great deal of time with which to practise patience, looked at the provided map. She then proceeded to check that every aspect of the map was correct, and that everything described in the application form, and the applicable deeds of ownership all matched up with one another.
My client wanted to bake a lot of cake all over the place, so there were a lot of deeds to cross-reference with the information on the map. I discovered that I need more practice in patience. Quite a deal more.

Eventually, she finished going through the map and deeds. She’d found some problems. I negotiated that I send the corrections through via courier. She, to my relief, agreed that that would be acceptable.
After that I waited a long time while pretty much nothing happened. Or rather, to me it seemed that nothing happened, but in actual fact, gross inefficiency was under way. I thought everything was done and that I just needed to pay the application fee and go. Just under 2 hours had passed at this point, and so I was very keen to leave, but no-one wanted to take my R500.00. If I didn’t pay the fee, then they wouldn’t accept the application.
My enquiries as to why things were taking so long were met with cryptic responses, which with hindsight I managed to decrypt. They had to check that no-one else had applied to bake the same kind of cakes in the same area. Again — something that should be done within the 14 day period stipulated by the Act.
At the time I just tried to keep patient.

At some point nearing the 3 hour mark, a person who I had not yet met came through and informed me that they were very sorry, but they were having a problem with their system. It had just recently been upgraded, and the only person who knew how it worked was not in the office. They asked me if I might be able to help.
That’s right. They asked me to come and do their job for them. I really wished they’d asked earlier, because then I would’ve left the building after 2 hours and 10 minutes, instead of the 3 hours that I actually spent there.

I’m heading back there on Monday to withdraw the frigging application because the place we said we want to bake cake isn’t quite in the right place.
At this rate, I’ll have so much practice at patience I’ll reach Nirvana in almost no time.