31 March 2008
It was another beautiful day in the Bay on Sunday and after a pleasant lunch; Sue and I decided to take a walk through St Georges Park. It is a really beautiful park and well worth a visit, but because of frequent muggings many people don’t go there any more. When we do, we take precautions – like taking pepper spray with us. As luck would have it, K left hers in the car, so Suzi-k and I were both armed and ready for our walk.
There were a number of families picnicking and having fun in the park and it was nice to know that we were not alone.
We came across a pair of rats at the fish pod, which were scavenging bread that had been left behind by a family that had been feeding the fish. They did not wait around long enough to be photographed so there were not any really worthwhile photos.
It was not long before we noticed that there were rats, of the two legged variety, wandering around as well. Young guys, eyeing people out; looking for easy pickings; walking up and down the paths with a purpose. They could have been innocent people out for a stroll, but when two of them, coming from opposite directions, started a pincer movement towards us, it confirmed our suspicions. We formed a laager kept a beady eye on them and took a different path. They then changed direction to intercept us, from different sides, where the paths converged ahead. It was then that we noticed another group waiting at the end of our path, so we did a quick about turn and headed up the main path, with our pepper spray visible.
As a couple in their mid fifties we could have been an easy target, if we had not been alert and armed with pepper spray.
This brings me to the question of why the Department of Justice is now proposing laws to make life easier for the criminals. They now want to make it illegal for citizens to carry non lethal weapons, like pepper spray, on their person.
I can see the need to place restrictions on the carrying of weapons, but then at least do it in a way that ensures that it is done in a controlled and responsible manner. Don’t turn law abiding citizens into criminals, when all they want to do is live a normal life without the fear of being robbed or attacked, and to be able to protect themselves in a crime ridden country. Does this mean that all our politicians are also going to get their bevy of body guards to ditch their side arms – I think not?
I decided to see what the Constitution had to say about my right to protect myself and my family. Alas there is nothing. Constitutionally we have the right “to be free from all forms of violence”, but there is no right for us to protect ourselves from any form of violence.
When our complex was burgled in October 2006, the police said I should never have admitted to the fact that I had hit the burglar with a broom, because he could now lay a charge of assault against me. Hmmmmmmm, even though he had attempted to stab me, and would have done so, had I not beat a strategic withdrawal. Oops, let’s not forget that he has the right “to be free from all forms of violence”, so even though he would have had no compunction in killing his victim, the victim must not retaliate? Not this victim.
What about other incidents in our neighbourhood, which show the utter lack of conscience of these criminals? The woman who was beaten senseless with a plank and then raped on the sidewalk; or the woman who was shot is her driveway, because the robbers thought she was in possession of a large sum of cash; or the patrons who were robbed at gunpoint, while having a drink at a local watering hole; or the women who were robbed by a rifle wielding thug outside their home in broad day light……the list is endless.
What must we do? Sit back and wait for the police to arrive? The last time I called them when I saw a crime being committed, they never arrived.
Incidentally by far the longest section in the Bill of Rights is section 35 “Arrested, detained and accused persons” - the one dealing with the rights of criminals. Pity there is not a similar clause dealing with the rights of the victims, because there are a lot more victims then there are criminals.
I have no intention of relinquishing my pepper spray, until such time as the justice system can guarantee my right, “to be free from all forms of violence”. So "rats" beware.
30 March 2008
Pa's idea of camping was to rough it. Accommodation was usually a bucksail spread on the ground and folded in half, and everyone would stretch out under it, like sardines in a can, on the hard ground enduring a miserable night. The "lucky" ones got to sleep on the car seats.
One day he came home with an old army surplus canvas bell tent, which was used on family camping trips for many years, until it eventually rotted away. That was the only luxuary - we still all slept on the ground, or as kids in the back of the old Bedford van. Lighting came from an old tilly lamp, so when it got dark there was nothing to do, but go to bed
He was a real "do it yourselfer". The old 1948 Bedford was dragged home, one day minus an engine. No problem for him. He removed the engine from his Vanguard and hey presto we had a bigger vehicle. Did I say no problem. Servicing cars was never high on his agenda, so we never went on a holiday, without a breakdown. Somehow he always got it going, with a lot of swearing and cursing and sometimes with the help of some wire, removed from a farmers fence.
Then came the caravaning phase. He decided to build his own. The six berth caravan was a labour of love - it was not a thing of beauty, but on the inside it was luxurious and comfortable. The stove fridge and lights were all powered by gas. We each had our own drawer - every last detail was attended to. Or so we thought. He even bought a new car, a Rover 105R, to tow it - a nice car but not exactly ideal for a family of six..
I will never forget that first holiday in 1965.
We had not travelled more than 25 kilometres, when I saw the car being overtaken by wheel. It was quite spectacular, it suddenly veered off at an angle, shot up the stay wire of a telephone pole, flew off and disappeared in the bush. It was the left side wheel of the caravan. When the wheel was eventually found, replacement wheel nuts were taken from the car and the other caravan wheel. And off we went.
Not long after that we had the first of about 10 flat tyres on the trip. The tyres were old retreads that had seen better days and would have been more at home in a scrapyard. Mother became quite adept at repairing roadside punctures.
Then night fell. Pa never got round to painting the bright silver aluminiun skin of the caravan. For oncoming motorists it was probably like driving towards a big mirror. Of course when they flashed their lights or turned on their brights, it became worse for them. Oh what "fun".
On our first day we reached Parys in the Freestate, where we set up camp. What excitement our first night in the caravan. Then the rain came down. Pa had not sealed the windows, so it was not long before all our beds were soaked - the tent seemed like a much better prospect then. The result was that the fabric got mouldy and the inside plywood walls warped.
On the bright side that was the first holiday without a car breakdown. But, it did get stuck in the mud. On the way home pa decided he was too tired to drive, so he pulled off onto the shoulder of the road. And as luck would have it, the rains came down and the next morning we were bogged down in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately a fellow in a Land Rover came to our assistance and pulled us out, much to pa's embarrassment.
That was our first and last camping caravanning trip - after that it became a spare room. If that does not put you off camping, then nothing will.
I am not totally negative - we have camped twice in the past three years. Our tent is big enough to hold Boswell's Circus and I am still wondering what possessed us to buy it. It is a mission to erect, but we have found that campers are a helpful bunch and whenever they see us struggling to put it up, someone will give us a hand.
And we have lot's of good camping equipment. The only problem now is that whenever I want to buy more Sue says, "For goodnes sake, let go camping first before you buy any more equipment".
Watch this space for more camping adventures.
26 March 2008
24 March 2008
You can check out some more pics of this little guy at St Francis Daily Photo.
21 March 2008
Their pronouncements have been proved to be less than truthful on more than one occasion. The first one being the stuck record, which for many months said we did not have an energy crisis. Only when the country was plunged into darkness for the umpteenth time did they admit it.
The other tune is, “The days of cheap electricity are over for South Africans”. Whoever said our electricity was cheap in the first place.
What they are rally saying is that we must pay more get Eskom out of the situation, their gross incompetence and mismanagement of the electricity supply, has put us into.
What about the other tune - “South Africa has the cheapest electricity in the world; it is time our prices came in line with world prices”. Maybe that is not so surprising, since we have amongst the biggest coal reserves in the world, which are on the doorsteps of the big coal fired power stations.
This is the same sort of logic that would say that the people of Saudi Arabia pay too little for their petrol and should start paying the same price as motorists do in London.
When Eskom took their “well conceived” decision to cut the power to the mines, they said it was because there was not enough electricity to go around. The real reason was that they supplied more power to our neighbours in January and therefore had to cut power to South African users.
The result of this act of stupidity was that the Rand took a tumble and never recovered – that has also had repercussions for the whole economy. There was a knock on effect on commodity prices that are linked to the dollar. This includes petrol, maize, wheat, coal, etc etc. And of course the inflation rate jumped ahead like a runner from the starting blocks.
On 17 February I wrote, “Given the fact that Eskom’s appeal to consumers to achieve a 10% reduction in power consumption, has been exceeded, it means that income wise they will be back to square one – do the maths. So where will the money for capital projects come from now? What will the next surprise be?”
Here we have it, Eskom is now calling for a 53% increase in the price of electricity – oh yes 53%. And it is supported by the government. This just reinforces my belief that those who are managing our electricity supply are grossly incompetent. How can you get your projections so wrong, that you go from a demand for an 18% increase to one of 53%?
They have said that one of the reasons is because the price of fuel and coal has risen, a factor to which Eskom’s poor performance has significantly contributed.
The reality is that consumers were asked to save 10% on their electricity consumption, which they did and are now to be penalized with higher prices.
What about the Eskom spokeman who made the claim on the radio last night that by increasing the price of electricity by 53%, they would benefit the economy as a whole and that this would result in growth. You see, our electricity is so cheap that it is not attractive for the private sector to invest in the electricity supply business. Give me a break! Eskom has the monopoly, there are other barriers to entry that far outweigh the cost of putting up new power generation facilities.
In the real business world you can’t come up with a bunch of feeble arguments to push up your prices by 53% - if you did, your business will shut down in no time at all. If you get into a crisis then you manage it in a way that ensures that the business remains a player in the market place. This happens through sound leadership - you cut costs, you innovate, you plan properly and execute your decisions effectively. In other words apply logic and sound management and business principles. I guess this does not apply to a monopoly.
A private sector executive who ran his business the same way Eskom is being run, would have been without a job a long time ago and would certainly not have been paid a fat bonus.
17 March 2008
Our gate posts have since lost the flaming jars. They were not our choice and came with the house. One day by mutual agreement Suzi-k and I decided they had to go. A sixteen pound hammer was all it took - the rest as they say, is history.
15 March 2008
13 March 2008
10 March 2008
09 March 2008
07 March 2008
06 March 2008
It is almost 30 years ago that Elvis died - yet his memory lives on. I still enjoy his music, but I cannot understand this type of "hero" worship, but then I guess it is our differences that add spice to life.
Any other Elvis fans out there?
05 March 2008
This is not angled parking.
This heap of scrap should not even be on the roads.
Novel substitute for a handbrake - at the risk of how many lives though!
04 March 2008
Picture this scenario. You arrive at the shopping centre parking lot and it is full. You drive up and down the aisles and eventually, with great delight you spot an empty parking bay. You surge forward, to get there before any other driver with similar ideas, carefully avoiding shoppers and their trolleys. When you arrive your hopes are dashed, because some peanut has parked across the line and is effectively taking up two parking bays. And so the search continues........ Or, what I like to do if there is still enough space to squeeze in, is to park as close to the offending car as possible, so that the driver has to climb in through the passenger door.
What is it about such drivers? Are they incapable of seeing that they are occupying two parking bays? Or is it just plain selfishness? Add personalised number plates to the equation......well, what more can I say........I rest my case. ...
02 March 2008
I first noticed the male and knew that there would be a female nearby, because of his behaviour, which is to lead intruders away. Plovers nest in the open and the female will sit on her eggs until the absolute last moment. They usually produce two to three young and both the male and the female will rear them.
If you get too close, she will "scream" at you and if you drive her from her nest she will attack. By the way I did not drive her from her nest and kept at a respectable distance from her.