Friday, 30 April 2010


I was going to report how much better my ankle is, but I think I hurt it again last night :(

I have congenitally short achilles tendons, so they don't bend as much anyway, and sitting with my foot up and straight for a week probably hasn't helped. So I thought I'd try and stretch it. Gently, sitting down, just flexing and relaxing my foot.

Mistake. After being almost fully recovered I'm back to swelling. Steve and I carshare to work, and I usually drive because I drop him off first; this morning at a red light I made him switch with me because the strain of hovering over the break and fuel in traffic was making it hurt too much.

Well, poop.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

More progress!!

From: Karen Picton
Sent: 28 April 2010 03:33 PM
To: Brown, Jonica
Subject: RE: Your Simpsons Removals & Storage Ltd invoice 1295095 is attached in PDF format

Hi Jonica

I can confirm that I have advised our operations department to ship your goods on the next available container destined for SA.

Once you have made the arrangements to have the car collected please advise the date and the name of the persons collecting.

If I can be of any further assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact me.



Monday, 26 April 2010

Progress at last!

Look what I just emailed off. Will wonders never cease?

Why yes, that IS a form allowing Simpsons Ltd to ship our household effects (sans the car). Now I can get my stuff and Steve can continue to not sort out the car on his own time.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Moo's booboo

I sprained my ankle! I am feeling quite sorry for myself.

Steve and I were on our way out of the house on Wednesday evening to see a standup comedian with Leigh. On the way to the car I misstepped one of the steps leading to the garage and the next thing I knew I was on the garage floor wondering why I'm not crying and how much *serious* injuries must hurt.

Luckily Steve knows a thing or two about a sprain from all his football playing, so he helped me to the sofa where I lay down with my foot elevated, and he applied some ice packs and pressure. I insisted he go to the show though as I was just going to lie there all evening anyway. So after making sure I've got a blanket, some tea and the remote he went. The least fun bit of the evening was going to the loo, hopping on one leg up some steps and back.

I stayed home on Thursday and worked from home from the bed with the foot elevated; but I didn't get as much done as I'd have hoped because I hadn't organized a dial-in connection to work yet and there was only so much I could do working locally.

Last night, Steve brought the braai (bbq) up to the patio door in the bedroom and made a lovely dinner while I stayed on the bed, what a darling!

This morning the bruising was mostly gone although it was still swollen; getting dressed and ready was still a case of hopping along holding onto walls. A colleague of mine was going to bring some crutches this morning so I came to work, unfortunately he couldn't make it in. The lady at reception insisted on getting me the company wheelchair though! Talk about overkill.

I'm going to leave early-ish though since the office is deserted, and it's damn uncomfortable because when I don't elevate my foot it's swelling like a hippo's.

Here's looking forward to a weekend spent on the sofa with my foot in the air watching movie marathons!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Get well soon, Ouma!

We went down to Kroonstad this weekend to see my grandparents. They live about 2 to 2.5 hours away.

My grandmother had a tremendous fall the evening before her 70th birthday; at first she didn't want to go to hospital so she spent her birthday at home; but when she went to hospital the next day it became clear she had broken her shoulder AND hip!

They've replaced her hip, and if I'm not mistaken her shoulder ball-joint, and she's got all sorts of pins and stuff in - a four hour operation.

I am glad to report she's otherwise fine and in good health and good spirits. She'd come home on the Friday and we arrived on the Saturday. It was good to see them take it in their stride. It's got its practical problems but they seem to be handling it well.

I made some food they can easily stick in the microwave or oven (they don't have a Woolies food hall - gasp, horror!).

It was nice to see them, even under the circumstances and I am sure Ouma will only improve from here on.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

New Template

So, I'm still too lazy to customize the look of the blog (after all, I do web programming, not design).

However I think these colours are more readable. I still want to make the width of the blog entries themselves wider and dynamic but I'll have to have a proper look later; a quick search through the template's html for the word "width" and editing those values doesn't quite do what I want it to.

If you don't like it, feel free to leave a comment to that effect. I'm just playing around with it.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Curiouser and Curiouser

On Saturday night Steve and I went to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 3D. This post doesn’t contain much in the way of spoilers but if in doubt beware. I’ll try to add a heads up to parts that might contain anything remotely spoiley.

I did enjoy it; although I wanted it to be one of the best films ever and it wasn’t. Overall, I enjoyed it and it was an evening well spent, but it’s not one I’d insist you must see in the cinema; you can just as well wait for it to come on your satellite TV’s movie channel.


  • The Mad Hatter
    Needless to say, Johnny Depp was pretty damn awesome. However I don’t know what the hell he was on about half the time; maybe I should read some other commentaries before making a fool of myself but I would need to watch it again to see if he’s supposed to have a second (Scottish) personality that comes out when he’s stressed and he’s the one saying all that very weird very monologey stuff.
    His dance was just a little too un-Lewis Carroll-like for my liking, too, although as a special effect it was pretty seemless and cool.
  • The Red Queen
    A fun character to portray, I’m sure, but too one-dimensional to be able to do much with.
  • The White Queen
    When she talks to the dog for the first time she seems to change demeanor and I thought “ah she was just acting in that annoying way for her court’s benefit” but she never drops that very annoying wavey-wristey thing again that I noticed, and it got on my nerves terribly after a while.
  • Alice
    While in ... above-land? ... Alice annoyed me. I didn’t like nor particularly believe the character. When she is in Underland she’s a lot better and I liked the portrayal but one thing that continually bothered me was her lack of manners. She shunted everyone around, eg. Baneyard (or whatever, the dog) and never said please or thank you.
  • The Cheshire Cat
    He was just pretty damn cool, that’s all.
  • The Vorbal Sword
    Considering the way the Jabberwocky talks to it directly I would have preferred if there was some sort of inkling of personality or self-awareness or something, for it not to remain a completely inanimate object.
  • Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Pretty cool, enjoyed them.

Cool stuff
  • 3D
    The 3D was as cool as you’d expect 3D to be, no more, no less, but it did add to the whole emmersive experience. Especially when a story is about someone going into a totally new and very strange reality, it really enhances the effect.
  • The use of hearts
    Maybe this is more praise for Lewis Carroll than Tim Burton but I was struck by how hearts usually symbolise love and warmth. In the Red Queen’s castle etc though they were used so widely and yet were totally cold. Her lips, something usually warm and symbolic of sensuality, had a heart painted on them and instead of making them more warm and passionate, it made them thin and pinched and horrible. Her hair was red and wavey and heart-shaped but again although that description should conjour up a more pleasant mental image, it just made her look grotesque. The arches, the throne, the card soldiers; they all used hearts as their design inspiration but just made the whole place look more cold and daunting. I thought that was very well done.
  • The story line
    It’s been a long while since I’ve read either Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass but I don’t recall being disturbed by the deviations in the story(s). It was well explained as an older Alice deciding to follow her own path and not stick to what she’s “supposed’ to do, and in keeping with her character. A bit like the Star Trek trick, creating an alternative time-line that nods to the original story but isn’t limited by it.
  • The Cheshire Cat
    Did I mention that he was cool yet? The bit with the hat, especially.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Water, water everywhere...

So, what fun we've been having with our basic municipal services.

First the local council decided to work on the water pipes. Either they didn't tell anyone, or the letter went to the house's owner, but for about a week we never knew from one moment to the next if we'd have water. Including all Easter weekend; and most of the Sunday we had none. When my aunt Janet was staying over and I was cooking big lunch. Woohoo :-/

Then, week before last, the power kept tripping every 5 minutes. At first I tried just switching it on again. I got so annoyed the third time it switched off my computer mid-work that I broke my earphones. Then I tried unplugging different things that are likely to consume a lot of power in case it was a case of overloading. Nope, still tripping. So I flicked down all the switches and tried putting them back one by one and lo and behold, good news everyone, it's the geyser (boiler, for all you Brits).

So started our hot water fun. First I (overly optimistically?) thought it had to do with the water situation. Then I worried we'd burned out the element by unknowingly using hot water and then the water got switched off so it couldn't refill. Then I thought it had something to do with the absolutely torrential rain we were having - maybe something was leaking. And by then it was Easter weekend. So my poor aunt had to contend with no hot water on her visit, either. In fact, I showered at hers when I picked her up and dropped her off just to not have to have a shallow lukewarm bath using the kettle and a few saucepans every day.

But, as we say in Afrikaans (or more accurately in Dutch), het einde niet. On Saturday night, we woke up to the gurgling sound of the toilet refilling and Steve said "do you think we should worry about any taps being open?". I assured him no-one would be that silly. Then, on Sunday morning, my aunt woke me up. She'd cleaned up a lot of it because she didn't want to wake me too early but the kitchen sink tap had been open and she'd woken up to a flooded house. RAAAAGE. The kitchen, dining room and living room were flooded; the kitchen drawers were FULL of water; everything in kitchen drawers and cupboards were soaking (including hte manuals and warrantees for all appliances). I am just thankful she was there, it was a really unpleasant morning's work to dry up, clean up and just not burst into tears. But, all's well that ends well (although, I guess it'll only really be over when we see the water bill!!).

Back to the hot water problem, I waited until after Easter so we wouldn't have to worry about whether the owner is going to pay for a plumber to come out over a long weekend. This week, I got hold of the owner (he lives outside SA so it's not always that easy) and he said yes by all means get a plumber. The plumber took one look at the ceiling space and said no thanks, I don't want anything to do with it. The geyser had burst and is still under warrantee but it's wedged in under a tin/zink/metal roof, between huge supporting beams, and is much larger than the ceiling access trap.

So I called the manufacturer; luckily they agreed to come out and on a Saturday morning no less. On the plumber's advice though we didn't want to have to open up the roof, we'd rather have them enlarge the ceiling trap and pay to have that fixed (otherwise, apparently, you always end up with leaks in the roof). Today the guys show up, and determine there's no way you can get the tank out from the beams even if you break through some of the ceiling. Their advice is, I'll have to get hold of the owner again; get his home owner's insurance details; get them to agree to come open and close the roof, and then try to arrange the insurers AND the geyser company to come at the same time (while both of us have full time jobs). I was at the end of my tether at this point and ready to go through life known as Ol' Smelly, when Steve remembered the plumber had mentioned to him it was just one place the geyser was leaking all over the electronics. Luckily the technician was a nice guy and had a think, and realised they could remove the faulty part from the new geyser they'd brought and just replace that.

End of a long story (sorry about the ranty essay): we have hot water for the first time in almost two weeks. WOOHOO!! Now, I suppose, I'd better go shower and wash the dishes!!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Working Girl

So I started my new job on Tuesday (because Monday was Easter Monday) at Investment Solutions (a subsidiary of Alexander Forbes).

It has been really good so far. We work along more or less the scrum programming methodology, although not strictly. In short: work is divided into "sprints" which is a period (2 weeks, usually) in which you complete the tasks assigned to you by the Project Manager.

Tuesday they had a Sprint planning meeting (always occurs at the start of a sprint) and it was good to see how the whole thing worked and the team interacted. I didn't get assigned any real tasks and the system's architect had something urgent he had to finish before being able to tutor me into doing something useful.

So the result is that I've been using the time to read up on the project and company. Documents in my laptop bag I'm currently battling my way through:
  • Online Project Wiki (well, this one is obviously not in my laptop bag)
  • Functional Requirements Document (aka Spec) -222 pages
  • System Architecture document -70 pages
  • Build Process guide -53 pages
  • User Interface Design -39 pages
  • Design Guidelines and Coding Standards -82 pages

BUT the team is really nice and it's excitingly different to my previous job in its type of project and working methodology. Your tasks are all granular pieces of work that should take no more than 6 hours to finish; and you are required to do 6 hours of programming a day. You have to check code into the source control system at least once a day, and before that you have to make sure it compiles and all the unit tests work. What's nice is you work together with the Project Manager to work out what tasks you're to do in the next Sprint and how long you think they'll take. I'm not saying this or my old job is better or worse but it's very different so it's a good learning experience and that's always good for personal and professional growth.

Now I'm just itching to do some actual work so all the technical jargon I've read can start making some sort of practical sense.

On the practical side we've still got one car but my office is literally 5 minutes from Steve's and we work on flexy time so we've worked out a schedule that allows us to travel together. The very excellent upshot of which is, I finally get to control when Steve comes home! :D

More about our epic power and water problems next time.