Friday, 14 March 2014

Wilbur and Christian Smith

Wilbur and Christian Smith - When Families Fall Out

I've long wondered about the dysfunctional relationship renowned author Wilbur Smith had with his daughter Christian. Having read many of his novels, I found it surprising he'd only ever dedicated one book to Christian, the novel "Eagle in the Sky". Later I found that the dedication had changed in more recent editions...

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Going Green in South Africa

Becoming a Green Business in South Africa

photo of wind turbine in jeffreys bay south africa

There's a growing movement in Europe and the USA (my source markets) to support green business. It would be great to be able to say my business was green. A business doesn't have to produce their own green power to be green - they can buy it from a green utility.

With a relocation pending a few months away I'm looking at possible areas and what they offer. Business people usually look fo ra local market when deciding where to locate a business - the big question is often- will they be able to run a profitable business if located in Blikkiesdorp, or do they have to be in an area with enough potential customers.

In my case customers within 5km, 10km or even 500km are not vital to success. Mostly my customers are not even in SA. Which is rather handy if one wants to get out of the city life... What is important for my business is internet access and availability of electricity. That means there're a lot of possible locations available.

And it would be great to add the Green Business logo to my websites.

Being a Green Business in South Africa.


Eskom has started building wind farms - producing a fraction of the power supplied to the national grid. Not nearly enough to justify a claim a business uses green sourced power.
But what about this - locate the business in the area these wind farms are built. If the total power used in the area is less than that generated by the wind farms, one is basically living in a green area. Yes, it's twisting the idea a bit. It's a lot more honest than buying carbon credits and saying your business is green because it pays a tax to produce carbon which is really a ridiculous concept.

10 wind turbines came on-line in January this year. These already produce 23MW of electricity. Another 17 are built, awaiting commission. Eventually this wind farm will produce 138 MW from 60 turbines - enough to power 114 000 South African homes and reduce 420 000 tons of carbon emissions each year. 

That's 20% more capacity than required for all homes in the area where the wind farm is situated, Kouga district in the south Eastern Cape.

South Africa's first Green District! Well, the first one that can say their power use is green... Yes, The power is fed to the national grid; but its how you look at it that counts.

And here's another thought - Electricity gets to the closest consumption point first, so it goes to the grid - The district takes power from the same grid. The closest connection for consumption is Kouga district - voila - Kouga residents use more wind power than anyone else on the Eskom grid.


We Can Reduce Our Carbon Footprint.


Ideally we would like to live off the grid - at least as far as possible. Of course, needing the 'net means one is on the grid. But there are other ways to go off the grid. Generate your own power, supply your own water, grow your own food...

Not always a realistic option, at least not in SA. Home power generation is exorbitantly expensive, water is perhaps a bit easier with a borehole and rain water storage tanks.
But we can support wind power generation, make use of it. Wind turbines provide carbon free electricity from an inexhaustible source - the wind. Carbon footprint - none. Purists will argue building the thing produces carbon. Ja boet - it does - but compared to the amount of carbon used to produce 3MW of electricity it's none!

Monday, 16 December 2013

After Madiba - Time for Reflection

Madiba is Laid to Rest. Now it's Time to Respond to Detractors

Now that Nelson Mandela has ended his long walk to freedom forever, and started out on a new journey, it's more appropriate to start discussing some of the less auspicious things that took place over these last 10 days.

Of course, not everyone in South Africa today, or elsewhere in the world held Mandela in the same high regard as the majority. And certainly everyone has the right to their opinions, to voice them, to discuss them. At least here in South Africa they do. It's one of the things forming the framework of our constitution, one of the things Mandela gave his life to achieving.

Scattered among the many, many posts on blogs and in social media paying the authors' last respects to Madiba, were a shameful few that cannot be said to amount to more than biased hatred.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

To Leave South Africa

Leaving South Africa - Not an Easy Decision

What a hard decision to make. To leave or not to leave... It's not easy to decide to leave South Africa. In fact it's darn difficult. From some aspects the decision is easy, pack up and go. On some days I could jump up and say, I'm leaving. Yet  other times the lure of South Africa remains strong.

Opportunity Knocking

When opportunity comes knocking at the door one would think it's an easy choice to make. Go with the opportunity. And opportunity came knocking with the offer to move to the USA, not as a visitor, but a real legal work Visa.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Nightmare at Work

Having just completed a really awful project it's time to rant. Last month I was asked to quote for DTP services to set 32 magazine pages ready for printing. As the request came through an existing client appointed by the primary contractor as project manager, I agreed to undertake the job (I exited the publishing game a year ago). 

Inaccurate or Misleading Job Specification.

The provided information was sparse, so my quote was very specific; produce press-ready pdfs from DTP ready material supplied by (original) customer including approved text copy, images/photos/graphics and creative guide. Anything else was mentioned as extra costs e.g. design etc subject to artists quote per item, as per my standard terms of business.

Not mentioned to either my existing client, or myself was the need for weekly meetings with the company for whom the magazine is produced, Also not mentioned was the need to produce creative outlines for pre-approval, source and provide all magazine "theme" graphics, design logos and more...

Friday, 8 February 2013

Evil Wins When Good People Do Nothing

Evil will always triumph when good people stand by doing nothing. This is not an original idea (don't ask me who coined the phrase, but I know I read it somewhere), nevertheless it is as true today as it was when first stated.

graphic statement evil wins when good men do nothing with photo of albert einstein
As a species we love to chatter, meaningless, futile, sounds emanating from our mouths... We love to moan and complain, espouse the problems of the world. How often do we stand around while evil reigns around us? With our hands over our eyes, over our ears, over our mouths in a parody of the three monkeys 'See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil' Oh, yes, we love to talk! But we don't like to do anything, get involved. 

Maybe it's cowardice; we don't want to get harmed, move out of our comfort zone, put ourselves at risk... 'It's someone else's problem'. But what about that loved one, sibling, or even total stranger being harmed in our full knowledge, even maybe in our sight. No, it's not our problem, their are other people whose job it is to do something; the police, a social worker, just not me! Or maybe we just don't care!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cyclists! Move Over

Move Cyclists to the Other Side

In the interest of cycling safety, move cyclists to the other side of the road. Yes, I mean so they ride facing oncoming traffic! In my, not so humble, opinion this makes perfect sense. Cyclists riding on the right hand side of a road (in regions where vehicles drive on the left) can SEE approaching traffic, and take action easily to avoid danger.

It's been some years since I rode a bicycle (although I'm tempted to take it up again, it's just the traffic situation where I live that puts me off). Even back then, when there was little traffic where I lived, I preferred to ride on the wrong side of the road when possible. Of course the suburban streets were very quiet in those days, and ne'er a traffic cop was seen.

Cyclists Blind Spot

Cyclists riding on the same side of the road as powered vehicles have a blind spot. How many bicycles have rear view mirrors? The only way a bicycle rider can see traffic behind is to turn their heads, taking their eyes off the road ahead.