Saturday, 13 September 2008

Kloof's proper spelling?

There is a suburb in Durban called Kloof. It is the Afrikaans word for cliff but it is pronounced cloof and not at all like the Afrikaans pronounciation.
In fact a few years ago I stayed with a good friend of mine at his inlaws in Kloof and on a supply run to the local Spar we were calling it by its Afrikaans name and the locals were starting to organise a lynching party.
The wine is quite nice, smooth and refreshing. I picked up some pepper on the nose and a good fruity flavour. Don't quote me on the flavours or the aromas, I usually get the opposite of the labels.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Godzilla, Goldy and Anon

Two are named, one pending naming and there is a strong possibility of another assisted de-shelling tonight.

Update (12/09/2008): Godzilla, Goldy, Pop and Le Petite are doing well.

Monday, 08 September 2008

Chiclets, incubators and brooders

Claire's Dad came back from the farm on Monday just in time to help me fire the builder that has destroyed the last 9 months of my life but this is a happy post and the sad post is here.

In the rush to get to the house in time to meet with the ex-builder about 9 Bantam chicken eggs where dropped in Claire's hands and she was told to get the incubator working and put the eggs in as soon as possible as they were loosing temperature due to the effectiveness of the Discovery 3's aircon and a 4 hour drive from the farm.

Claire's panic and worry and general affection and love for all animals won the day and on Monday we got two chics out of their eggs (1 was a caesarian type affair, but it is breathing and alive and so it counts).

We knocked up a brooder (pic) to keep the little things warm and safe from the pride of savage domestic cats and they seem to be doing well.

And no we are not allowed to eat them. Claire is thinking of names for them...

Update (10/09/2008): We now have 3 chiclets. The first born is called Godzilla (my name for it as it rampaged over the other eggs when he hatched), but his real name is Churchill. Number 2 and 3 are as yet unchristened.

The Builder is fired!

Claire and I signed an offer to purchase our house in March last year, in May the owner finally got this tenants (squatters) out the house was transferred into our names. The house after a few years of abuse needed a renovation and Claire needed a studio for her business so we bought it as a fixer upper to get exactly what we wanted in a home. Market conditions as the time saw house prices increasing nearly daily and the entry level houses were getting more and more expensive and needing more and more work. We bought 167 with grand plans, which are still grand, just delayed.

Then we started looking for a builder. Most of the builders I interviewed never bothered to quote, obviously they had too much work and my project was not valuable enough. Of the few who did quote, most thumb sucked a number and said we can do it for that. When I asked for a breakdown of the costs (so I can prioritise) they never came back to me, I am guessing that they didn't really know what they were doing and that were sure that they could make a profit for the amount they wanted to charge.

George Schutte, of Massgro Construction cc, started off great. An itemised quote came in, breaking down all the work on all the parts of the house. It was in detail down to the number of hours needed to dig the foundation trench. Price wasn't bad, bit of quote adjusting and time to check references.

References where great, quality of work was good (not for me), completed on time (not for me) and he done a lot of well known brands (Primi, Newscafe) in SA through S&V Construction. Great stuff, things are looking good. We sign the contract.

Work was scheduled to take 3 months and to start late December just before shutdown. End of March was the date we could move in. Wrong! To cut this short and save my forearms from another breakout of RSI, the main points are bulleted below:
  • He never had materials on site.
  • He never supervised the labourers:
    • windows went in upside down
    • ceilings like a gentle rolling ocean
    • cornices like a roller coaster
    • plaster work like a hail damaged shed
    • poor structural work
    • etc.
  • He never had tools on site.
  • A big team was coming through tomorrow to finish and fix and sort it out x 34325748975 times.
  • He never kept promises.
  • Regularly would not return my calls, for weeks.
  • Hired contractors who where useless. My beautiful wooden doors are scared!
  • Lied about cash flow problems - sent me his suppliers bills to pay.
We eventually offered to help by getting the materials ourself and taking it off the contract price, we supported him through tough times of his mentor drowning, his dad dying and his kids being in involved in the Ashley Callie (Link2) accident.

We did everything on our side, including breaking the cardinal rule and giving him a bit extra cash in front of his progress payment (not to much lost, but enough to piss me off) but George kept breaking promises, his workers doing things wrong and generally setting us back and keeping us living with the Parents-in-Law.

Overall, DO NOT USE George Schutte at Massgro Construction. Sportsman's Warehouse - beware - you may not get your new store. Looking back, I should have seen it coming, but so sue me for trying to believe in the good in all people.

This has not dampened my renovation spirits, but next time I'll back myself to supervise and organise it all myself. Self-reliance and confidence in oneself is a great strength and asset, but man I would so like to say just once: "that if you want something done right, <insert name here> will do it".

Wednesday, 03 September 2008

Paraolympics C*ck up

It is days like today that I really hate (am embarrassed) our country. The South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) have really screwed up. Our Athletes have no kit to train in, no water and no support.

The short of it:
  • Administrators and SASCOC officials fly business class, athletes fly cattle - one or the other no one is more special, although I am pretty sure that the athletes take precedence (forgetting the disabled bit)?
  • The team has no kit - it is only been sent 2 days after the team left SA. The organisers say that the athletes can use their own kit for training, but if you are getting supplied kit why take your own, especially if you where told it would arrive on time.
  • The attitude - When asked for comment about the situation, SASCOC just said that Oscar "the blade runner" Pistorius should have been talking to the media because he signed a contract. What kind of a comment is that? What kind of an attitude is that?
SASCOC must support the athletes and listen to them and ensure that they get what they need to do us proud at the Olympics. I have deliberately said Olympics to cover both the Para and Standard(?) events as SASCOC is about politics and government interfering and providing a vehicle for people to inflate their egos, rack up frequent flyer miles and generally look after their new BMW M3 acquisition strategy as opposed to serving the people that got them employed in the first place.

Read the full article from The Star here.

This leads to another rant of mine: South Africans (less a few) do not know how to put a "customer" first. SA company's don't get it - well there are two that I have come across that get it right (outsurance and equinox). Generally we are all about my problems are your problems and your problems are your problems, but that is enough on this rant for now - otherwise I won't get any work done today.

Monday, 01 September 2008

Coachman's Inn Recycles (the wrong way)

Saturday we had the family around for a farewell lunch for Claire's youngest brother how is off to Switzerland to study something about epigenetics and RNA and a whole lot of other words that I am sure he made up on the spot to tease us.

One of the cousins attempted to work at the Coachman's Inn, a well known and (was) a very good restaurant, as a waiter. He was telling us about the way the restaurant was run and how whilst it looks calm and well run it is indeed like a duck on stormy water (furious paddling below the surface). The waiters are not paid, but only get their tips (which I can agree with), but the establishment takes 15% of their total takings per night (I don't agree with). The way that the waiters are led borders on abusive and apparently the average time a new staff member can endure is about 1 1/2 months.

The restaurant also does not have a head chef and whilst I suppose this is not a hindrance, it does explain why the menu and the specials (come to think about it)have been the same each time I have been there in the last year and a half.

The above, whilst concerning is not at all what really annoys me, or as I like to put it, grates my chicken. The Coachmans is a relative up market place and definitely a place that you take your to be parents-in-law or a potential new significant other to impress them and the last thing you want is to be eating recycled vegetables. The kitchen staff will apparently just move vegetables that have not been eaten from a plate coming back from the floor to a new plate that is going out to the floor. YUCK! I don't want someone else's leftovers. The cousin was saying that any left over spinach or roast potatoes or other veg would be scooped into an outgoing plate. I am paying a substantial amount for my meal and I want my own new cooked veggies!

I will not be going back to Coachmans again, ever.