Wednesday, 25 July 2012
(Interestingly, when I googled it, the British version of this ad came up - and, amazingly, it's frame for frame the same as the South African version. So someone, somewhere, thinks this concept works well enough to translate it exactly into another culture, and torture an entire other consumer market with it. In god's name, who pays that person's salary?!)
Sunday, 15 July 2012
I never answer my landline any more because it's almost always someone trying to sell me something I don't want and probably can't afford.* But for now-redundant reasons, I have a second phone, which is connected to my ADSL line. I actually had four phones operating off two separate lines at one (pre-cellphone) stage - a guard against Telkom's near-legendary incompetence, when I always needed a working line to be able to get work through on deadline.
So on Friday, in a moment of dizziness, when the second phone rang, I answered it. The woman on the other end told me, in a very heavy Indian accent, that her name was Jaycee, and she was phoning on behalf of Win Solutions, and that they'd received several error messages about 'junk files' in my computer, and could I take a few minutes to go through a series of steps with her to clear these?
Several very loud warning bells went off. First, Jaycee's thick Indian accent on its own didn't worry me unduly, but her accent combined with a distinct delay on the line did; and, second, Jaycee seemed to have a disturbing lack of technical knowledge about how a computer actually works. 'I'm busy at the moment,' I said. 'Give me your number and I'll call you back.' She was clearly not thrilled with this idea, but finally - reluctantly and slowly, and obviously reading from something - gave me the number 021 813 9719.
I used my non-ADSL landline to call the number. As I expected, the ringtone was unusual, and I heard the call being rerouted. Another woman, also with a heavy Indian accent, answered. When I asked to speak to Jaycee, she asked me for my name and number, and said Jaycee would call me back. I gave her my name and cellphone number. About 10 seconds later, Jaycee called me back - on my ADSL line.
'Look, I'm really busy at the moment,' I said, 'but I'll write down the steps you give me, and go through them a bit later to clear my computer of the junk files.'
By this time Jaycee had had just about enough of me and my unwillingness to allow her to schnaffle all my passwords and confidential personal details, steal my identity and rob me blind. 'We don't work like that,' she told me snippily.
'What's your company's website address?' I asked.
There was a telling pause before Jaycee said, 'Just google ''pc care experts'' and you'll find us. In the meantime, press ''control'' and the Windows button at the same time, and--'
While pretending to do this (poor Jaycee! she must have been thrilled at the prospect of duping yet another stupid consumer), I did google 'pc care experts' and - surprise! - found their account had been suspended.
'Sorry, Jaycee, I'm just too busy to do this right now,' I said. 'I'll get back to you when I've got some time.'
Jaycee wasn't happy at all. 'If your computer crashes, it'll be your own fault,' she growled, before disconnecting.
I belong to a big online newsgroup, and I immediately put out a warning to its hundreds of members. A colleague, Georgina, hit the nail on the head when she responded, 'I would never fall for this kind of scam, but I know my parents-in-law probably would.' This is what's so insidious about these things: for every 10 people who know they're being scammed, at least one won't, and will unknowingly allow thieves remote access to their computers and everything in them.
* Spammers are currently have a field-day with my landline and cellphone, and the only reason I can find for this is the large loan I recently took out with Toyota Financial Services (underwritten by FNB). I filled in the usual kajillion forms, and declined to put my email address on any of them for the specific reason that I didn't want my inbox to be inundated with spam. I did, however, provide both my landline and cellphone numbers, and for the last two weeks have received up to 10 unsolicited sales calls a day on each. It makes me never want to buy anything ever again.
|After - a new sitting space with a real sofa and comfy chairs.|
|Before - small and cramped.|
|A much bigger space for the dining table.|
For some reason I couldn't at first work out, the new little sitting room has a 'London' feel - then I realised it's because the window looks directly onto the street. Paul confirmed this - his first impression, he said, was that it felt 'European'. (Thanks to Paul and Terry for so enthusiastically helping me roof-wet the new space - and to Terry's clock for informing us that it was well past 4am when we began to think of calling it a night!)
|Another cracker gift from Terry - |
a replica station clock.
|Bedroom after (with new window).|
|Spare room before.|
Friday, 6 July 2012
loved this post (thanks, Jenny, for forwarding it) about the demise of Joburg’s
- Vroetel: another fantastic Afrikaans word, and so much nicer than the coy and cringe-inducing ‘heavy petting’.
long ago given up complaining about my bank – or any bank. They’re all as bad
as each other. Regardless of their adspeak, they’re in it to make money, and
that’s the bottom line.
Thursday, 5 July 2012
As we slope into the fourth week of my latest home-improvement project, I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever be able to reclaim my space. The joy of discovering that under the ghastly wall-to-wall carpets were original Oregon pine floors in such good condition that all they required to make them studendous was a light sanding and a couple of coats of sealant was considerably cooled this morning when I woke to near-zero temperatures in a house where the simple act of walking to the bathroom requires stepping over several piles of stuff. And, of course, because there's paint drying practically everywhere, doors and windows must stay open - which makes for a Very Chilly indoor environment.
I took these pictures this morning.
Posted by Tracey at Thursday, July 05, 2012
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
you know that Charles Darwin visited the western Cape during his Beagle voyage
and wrote quite extensively about our ‘botany, zoology, geography, environmental
aesthetics, economy, urban planning and transportation systems’? I didn’t, and
thanks to Ryno for providing this information, from the November/December 2009
South African Journal of Science.
Thursday, 28 June 2012
|View of east side of ballrooms-sized |
spare bedroom (before)
As everyone knows, the God of Renovations requires that every step is fraught with unexpected and usually costly hurdles, and in this case it was discovering that the outer wall was thick enough to withstand, well, over a hundred years of Cape winter storms. So knocking through it took hours longer than we thought it would, and the window ended up framing a very deep recess - which actually wasn't a bad thing, as I've got a local ironmonger to fashion a sturdy set of burglar bars that we can now sink into the outer wall itself with plenty of space left over for the windows to open.
|The window is placed|
My mother, who was born near Glasgow in Scotland and spoke with a thick Scots accent until she died, in spite of having spent her entire adult life in South Africa, also often likened our house at the weekend - with its multitudes of hangers-on - to 'Sucky-Hall Street'. It wasn't until I visited Glasgow when I was in my teens that I realised she was referring to Sauchiehall Street, which is the main shopping street in Glasgow's city centre. My mom used lots of other Scots expressions that we, her kids, took as completely natural, but which confused and entertained our friends - 'piece' for sandwich, 'messages' for errands, 'smirry rain' for light soaking rain, 'gloaming' for dusk...
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
|Living room (from kitchen area), before|
|Living room (from kitchen area), with wall removed|
|West side of ballroom-sized bedroom, before|
|West side of bedroom, with wall removed|
|Drywall framework up (from existing living area)|
|Bedroom-side drywall panels in (same view)|
Yesterday, my incomparable handyman, Lood Erasmus of Fluksnuts, cheered me up considerably when he showed me the industrial glue he was using to fix the drywall panels in place. It’s called Sticks Like Shit.
Saturday, 16 June 2012
This is The Furry Monster, with a brim added. I love it in the way any mother would love a slightly backward child.
1. Always take the pic from above.
- 2. Always purse your lips slightly.
3. Always look away from the camera.
* Obies: curdling the cockles of your stomach
Thursday, 14 June 2012
been a great week where technology is concerned out here in the country. A
series of power cuts on Tuesday – the first really bone-cold day of winter –
reminded us just how fragile is Eskom’s grip on the grid, and doesn’t bode well
for the chilly months to come. And a concurrent ‘network failure’ on Telkom’s
part didn’t exactly inspire confidence either.
Saturday, 9 June 2012
But the most fun I've had was knitting a jersey for Athens, Jill's little dachshund. (Jill is the creative genius behind my gorgeous garden mosaics, here and here.) I used the same furry wool as for the black jacket, and had to guess at the shape and size (because I knitted it without having Athens around to measure), so it was a hit-and-miss affair, but luck was with me, and it fits Athens perfectly. She looks like royalty in it, and we agree that a string of pearls would be just the thing to round it off. (I love this picture of her modelling her jersey, with her tail wagging so fast that it's a blur.)
Thursday, 31 May 2012
|Me, Terry and Andy in Rondebosch East, 1985|
He told me that he'd invited a third person - an old friend of his - to join us for a prawn-dinner blowout at the Seaforth in Simons Town, and put his considerable sales skills to good use in persuading me that it was a good idea - I wasn't keen on meeting someone new. So I really was blown away when our old housemate, Andy, turned up.
|Terry, me and Andy, Simons Town, 2012|
Posted by Tracey at Thursday, May 31, 2012
Sunday, 27 May 2012
and I were talking about our childhoods the other day, and he related two stories his mother used to tell him that made my hair stand on end and my arse
drop off I laughed so much.
Posted by Tracey at Sunday, May 27, 2012
so enjoyed my new garden during the past year. It’s been amazing watching how
things have grown and changed, and although all the hedges have yet to fill in, the beds have grown gorgeously and the lippia lawns are green and lush.
Last spring was a real joy, when many of the indigenous plants flowered, and every morning was a pantomime of birds and bugs. ‘The ruin’, which was once the maids’ quarters, and now houses garden tools in what was once the ‘bedroom’ (and truly the mind boggles, because it’s barely big enough to turn around in) and chickens in what was the bucket-loo, really came into its own, its enveloping creeper changing seemingly overnight from bare sticks into a plushly verdant cover.
It was while the ruin was hidden by this luxurious pelt of leaves that sculptor Loni Drager created the most amazing set of five wooden squashes to sit atop the roof. (For those unfamiliar with South African rural Karoo scenes, it’s common for pumpkins, which are very heavy for their size, to be used to hold down the sheets of corrugated iron that in many places serve as shelter; and this doubles as storage, as pumpkin skins are incredibly thick and hard, and the squash can be left up on the roof until it’s required for the table.)
Thursday, 24 May 2012
I worked in the city this week, standing
up under bright lights in front of a conference-room full of people, sharing
the fruits of my long experience as a writer. It’s a pity that the fruits of my
long experience as an appalling dresser accompanied me to Cape Town too.
This happened partly because I got dressed in the dark, but also because I seldom put much thought into what I wear, as long as it’s clean and doesn’t have too many holes in it. I suppose it doesn’t help that I’m a huge fan of bright colours and patterns.
Once, many years ago, when I was a teenager and only just embarking on a long career as an appalling dresser, I was waiting in line at a fastfood joint when a gang of older boys (probably university students) suddenly materialised around me and enthusiastically invited me to a Bad Taste Party. I thanked them and declined politely. When I got home and told my sister what had happened, she gently led me to a full-length mirror and asked me to have a close look at what I was wearing. I can’t (of course) recall the exact garments, but I do remember realising that the joke was on me. (As my daughter often points out, I live in an irony-free zone.)
Another time, when I was travelling overseas, somebody in a pub asked me if I was a struggling art student. When I said no, he asked, ‘Why are you dressed like that, then?’
A more recent sartorial misstep resulted in a bergie in Malmesbury declining to beg from me on the grounds that I quite evidently couldn’t afford to give him anything.
And now I’m moving into even more sartorially fabulous territory: I’ve taken up knitting again for the first time in over 20 years and I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s actually an incredibly boring and repetitive pastime but by the same token really hard to think of anything to do that’s more Zen.
When I last knitted, it was during the years I caught the train from Lansdowne to the city for work, and I gainfully employed myself during the 20-minute journey by knitting obsessively. I mainly made jerseys and tanks for my then-husband who, fortuitously, was colour-blind. He loved them, and it’s fair to say that they did turn heads.
My late sainted mother was an inveterate knitter, and made many darling jerseys for her large band of grandchildren. They adored them, of course, but they would almost inevitably unravel after a couple of washes, and I always wondered how she managed to drop so many stitches.
Now I know. She knitted while she watched TV at night. While this may be perceived as an exercise in multitasking, it clearly wasn’t a successful one. And, since beginning knitting myself at night in front of the TV, I’ve discovered that it’s actually a lose-lose situation: not only do you drop stitches like Zuma drops his pants, you quickly lose the plot of the programme you’re supposedly watching. Which, for me, isn’t actually a problem at all, thanks to DStv’s habit of endlessly repeating everything it ever flights – I know I’ll finally work out what’s going on in CSI:Miami after I’ve seen it four times.
I’ve just finished knitting the world’s most hideous gilet, a garishly multicoloured gem that I know is going to invite caustic comment for years to come. And I’ve started on another one, which I’m making out of a curiously fluffy wool, the texture of which makes it difficult to see the individual stitches. But I’m knitting it while I watch TV at night, so that doesn’t matter.
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
I’ve been passionate
about cooking for so long that I often forget that there was a time when I
didn’t know how to boil an egg*.
Monday, 21 May 2012
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
‘Hi, I’m coming to
Cape Town tomorrow…’
Posted by Tracey at Wednesday, May 02, 2012