EKSTEEN BLABBER http://eksteens.co.za Thu, 23 Aug 2018 07:30:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.9 Enhanced ICT Vendor management http://eksteens.co.za/?p=70 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=70#respond Thu, 23 Aug 2018 07:11:37 +0000 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=70 You’ve issued a tender (or RFP) and have gone to great trouble to evaluate the responses, negotiated the best deal and signed a watertight contract.

For the next three years everything is sorted and you only have to worry about extending the contract or re-issuing the tender in about 33 months’ time, right?

Wrong!

If you are part of a large corporate making use of multiple suppliers of a wide range of products and services, your problems may have just begun.

There are a number of factors to consider and some interventions required to ensure your vendors are managed adequately.  Risk logs, a central repository for documents and reports, RACI charts, liaison with your legal department and a balanced scorecard are just a few of the things that immediately come to mind.

A balanced scorecard, for example, should not just be a measure of operational efficiency, but to be really deemed balanced it should contain feedback and ratings from business as well.  Keep it IT-centric and you may run the risk of your service providers presenting green scorecards every month/quarter, while the business units you are supporting are bitterly disappointed with the service they are receiving.

One way to contain your exposure is through a well-managed risk log, one of the most important tools to help guarantee a long term relationship by addressing possible problems and shortcomings and preventing any nasty surprises over the duration of a contract.

One of the biggest areas of concern for the average IT department is the slow turnaround of the approval of contract documents by the organisation’s legal department.  This clearly presents a huge risk to many businesses, but all is not lost.  By bringing an experienced person on board who understands legalese and is able to, over time, build a trust relationship with your legal department, this process can be speeded up considerably.

The whole vendor governance process therefore brings all of the above together and incorporates many activities to contribute towards a successful ICT division with a well-managed vendor environment.  By establishing and implementing standards for risk logs, vendor portals, balanced scorecards, reports, communication & escalation matrices, agreed roles & responsibilities, and pre-arranged activities like meetings and reviews, everyone knows what is expected of him/her and what he/she can expect from everyone else.

Remove the assumptions by introducing order and certainties and things won’t fall through the cracks anymore.

In fact, you will be surprised at how your relationships with your vendors can be put on a new level and what (almost unexpected) higher levels of service delivery you will experience from them.

Are you worried that you are not getting the best out of your vendors?  Maybe it is time to bring in a consultant.  Contact me.  I can help.

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Experience Cannot Be Bought http://eksteens.co.za/?p=67 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=67#respond Fri, 01 Sep 2017 08:36:53 +0000 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=67 Experience cannot be bought.

Cliché? Maybe, but it still rings true.

It is quite understandable that organisations want to employ young(er) people with new ideas, lots of energy and the drive to want to change the world. Not only is this quite understandable, it actually makes a lot of sense. After all, old(er) people are often stuck in their ways and may find it difficult to accept change.

However, I suggest it would be a mistake for organisations to lose sight of all the experience and knowledge that more experienced employees possess and the contribution they could make towards the development of younger ones.

Let me use the area of tenders/RFPs for example. Apart from the fact that the professional look and feel (or not) of such a document will have a profound effect on how your prospective clients will perceive your offer, the evaluation portion of the process is a real minefield of legal and technical issues. And this is where experience could really make a difference.

Somebody who has been involved in this process, either on the vendor or the client’s side – or even better, both – could contribute hugely towards a successful procurement process, right up to contract and SLA negotiations.

If you are a client who is requesting a proposal or tender from a supplier, you should consider using people with experience to assist you with the writing of the request as well as the evaluation thereof.

On the other hand, if you are a service provider, an experienced person’s contribution towards your proposal or tender could be invaluable.

At the same time you could contract this person to train or mentor inexperienced employees so that your organisation could possibly handle the process unaided in future.

I rate myself as one of the “experienced” group. Try us. You will be pleasantly surprised with the value we could add.

 

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Dit Breek My Hart!!! http://eksteens.co.za/?p=1 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=1#respond Wed, 30 Aug 2017 11:40:10 +0000 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=1 [English version coming soon, I hope…]

Oor die jare was daar verkeie kolomme in tydskrifte wat aan die eensames se behoeftes probeer voldoen het.

Onthou jy dalk Die Opsitkers? In die Landbouweekblad, as ek dit nie mis het nie. En vir al wat ek weet bestaan dit nog steeds. Hoekie vir Eensames? Was dit in die Huisgenoot? Ek is nou nie meer seker nie.

Deesdae moet daar egter vir die nuwe generasie voorsiening gemaak word en aanlyn advertensies is dus aan die orde van die dag. So val my oog dan ook daagliks op Kom ons Kliek terwyl ek Netwerk24 se artikels lees.

Oor die fotos wil ek nie kommentaar lewer nie. Jy kan nie help hoe jy geskape is nie en smaak verkil in elk geval – beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Jy kón darem bietjie moeite doen met jou kleredrag, haarstyl en algemene voorkoms, maar kom ons los dit ook maar daar.

Dis net ongelooflik hoe baie ‘n mens kan (of probeer) aflei uit die vier reëltjies wat onder jou naam en langs jou foto verskyn. Die idee is dat jy net genoeg moet sê om aandag te trek sodat ‘n moontlike belangstellende na jou profiel wil gaan kyk.

Laat my toe om so ‘n paar afleidings te maak.

Dis natuurlik belangrik dat jy die regte (by)naam vir jouself kies. Dit moet aandag trek, interessant wees, maar nie ander afskrik nie. Party mense, meestal ouens, gebruik sommer ‘n naam. Dit is dalk nie sy regte naam nie, maar klink vir my tog meer opreg as die uitgedinkte goed.

Naampies soos Duifie, Liefie, Skattie, Engeltjie, ensovoorts, gevolg deur een of ander ou nommertjie – byvoorbeeld 24, terwyl die fototjie duidelik wys jy is aan die verkeerde kant van 40 – val weer so reg in die kraal van die sogenaamde romantiese Afrikanertjies wat nie kan help om verkleinwoordjies vir elke dingetjie te gebruikies nie. (Wag eers, ek moet gou hardloop. Die natuur roep!)

My raad is dat jy maar baie versigtig moet wees vir die naam wat jy jouself toeken. Mense soos ek – een daar is baie van ons – besluit binne ‘n breuk van ‘n sekonde wat die naam vir ons beteken. As daar iets soos “hond” of “crazy” or “mal” in die naam is, laat dit my aan iemand dink wat jou gaan agterna jaag en dalk uiteindelik bykom – soos in byt, natuurlik!

Waag jy om ‘n dame te wees en “By” of “Bytjie” in jou naam te hê, moet jy verwag ek gaan dink aan heerlike soet heuning. O, en ek gaan dalk skrikkerig wees om jou vas te druk; netnou reageer jy ook soos ‘n by! Aan die ander kant,… aag nee, daar gaan ek al weer.

Oë regs na die +/- 25 woorde waarmee mense hulleself beskryf.

Jy moet verstaan, hierdie is gratis advertensies vir mense wat vriendskappe of maats soek. As ‘n ou dit dus baie duidelik stel dat hy daarna uitsien “om ‘n hegte vrienskap aan te koop”, begin ek wonder of hy nie by die verkeerde plek soek nie. Geld tel nie hier nie. En dan wil hy dit doen “voor enige gevorderde opsies”? Ek weet darem nie so lekker nie.

‘n Ander ou noem pertinent dat hy “hou van die lewe”. Ek sou dink meeste van ons is op daai blaadjie, ou bul. Soos ‘n bekende persoon (wie se naam ek nou vergeet het) eendag gesê het: “die lewe mag dalk moelik wees, tot jy aan die alternatief dink.”

Wat dink jy bedoel ‘n man as sy opening sin sê “ek het regtig baie om te gee”? As ek ‘n dame was hardloop ek ‘n myl (of ‘n kilometer of twee). Ek sal nooit seker wees of dit ‘n fisiese dreigement is nie; of wil hy my dalk net versmoor met liefde en aandag? Ek sal te bang wees om uit te vind. Dié man sal wel moontlik werk vir die dame wat blykbaar “stil en teruggetrokke dinge bekyk het, maar ek wil dit nou verander en myself blootstel”. A match made in heaven?

Hoe de hel ferwag jei om ‘n mysie (of man) te oortyg dat jy ernstig is is jy nie eers die heel bysieks van spel kan regkrei nie. Ek meen, as dit vir jou belangrik is dat die persoon “moed met ander kan komenkeer” en dat “omstandag heede” nie saak maak nie, dink ek jy sit klaar met ‘n moerse challenge nog voor jy hom/haar ontmoet (ontmoed?) het.

Wat van hierdie beskrywing van ‘n ideale pasmaat? “Iemand wat lus is om saam fiets te ry – langs my, agterop my fiets of selfs te help stoot”. Desperate mense, of is dit maar net ek?

En party ouens is net plein onseker wat vir hulle die belangrikste in hulle lewens is, al noem hulle ook een of twee keer wat (of wie) eerste kom. Maar wat vir ‘n waarskuwing is dit: “Jy moet nie bang wees vir bietjie konflik en Skrif studie nie”. Hoe nou? Beteken dit jy verwag ons gaan elke keer eers baklei oor wat ons gaan lees voor ons die studie doen? Ek voorspel dit gaan lank vat voordat ons ons geskilletjies opgelos gaan kry, want jy stel dit baie duidelik: “Aanhouer wen. Vind die res self uit.” Good luck, girl! Eerder jy as ek.

Mag ek tog nooit nodig hê om so ‘n advertense te plaas nie. Vat my na ‘n kroeg toe, gee vir my ‘n bierbril en ek behoort OK te wees.

 

As ek nie regkom nie, het ek mos ‘n ingeboude backup opsie – of dalk het ek geld om vir my ‘n “vrienskap aan te koop”. Solank ek net veilig is.

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Sixty? Sixty! http://eksteens.co.za/?p=11 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=11#respond Fri, 04 Aug 2017 12:41:47 +0000 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=11 Sixty is just a number. So “they” say.

6-0. Eight more before I’ll be forced to turn around.

The amazing thing is I feel no different than I felt yesterday or even 3 653 days ago. (Ten years, three leap years – stop calculating!). I will admit that some joints seem to be nearing the end of their useful life and now need daily maintenance. On the positive side, though, all the important bits are still working. (Go on, ask her.)

Looking back is not something I often do, except to reflect on the good times and amazing memories scattered through the past six decades. The not-so-good ones I tend to ignore, although some memories will forever refuse to be erased.

Blessed with and surrounded by an amazing group of people – family, relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintances – I have enjoyed the past thirty-nine years* tremendously. I have been privileged to share the roller coaster ride of life with so many people, many of whose names and faces I have probably forgotten by now. Nonetheless, it would not have been the same without any one of them.

Who knows what’s in stall for me for the next 60, or however long is left. I honestly cannot see myself changing my life or lifestyle soon. I am still enjoying working and hope to continue until I have had enough. My sporting activities have already been scaled down because of the previously mentioned joint problem, but could theoretically stay at this level for many decades to come.

So, on with life – it is there to be enjoyed! And the party better be damn good tonight, boys.

 

(*In case you wondered, I am celebrating the 39th anniversary of my 21st, the best birthday I probably ever had.)

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The Power of the Label http://eksteens.co.za/?p=15 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=15#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 13:03:05 +0000 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=15 Isn’t it just amazing what effect the label on a product can have on one’s desire to own or use it (or not)?

I have been noticing a bluish round container in my bathroom for many moons and have always wondered about the magic contained within. So I took a closer look at the top label and was pleasantly surprised with what this product supposedly offered.

Firstly it claims to be “balancing”. Surely this is a must-have for those individuals regularly over-indulging in methanol-infused liquids, these days made from some of the strangest fruits and plants conceivable. Imagine an officer on duty asks you to walk on the white line to check your level of inebriation. How comforting to know that this is one test you will easily pass.

Should you, by some horrible stroke of bad luck, lose your balance and fall over, you have nothing to worry about. This product also promises to be “uplifting”. Quite useful, yes?

On the other hand, if you do fail the breathalyser test and said officer insists on giving you a pair of iron bangles before escorting you to your very small overnight room, maybe your spirits rather than your body require the “uplifting”. A long weekend all by yourself in a cold 3X3 could be very depressing, I believe.

Now that I think about it I realise there is of course the possibility that I am completely misunderstanding this “uplifting” thing. Does it perhaps refer to the power it may have of reviving some sagging body parts? Now, wouldn’t THAT be a real morale booster?

I carry on reading
.
The label further invites me to “get that feeling”. Without any hint of what feelings I am supposed to be getting, my two-track mind – don’t ask! – sets off on a wonderful road trip past all the possible emotions I could be experiencing. In my wildest dreams the possibilities are endless, but eventually I give up. No matter how hard I try, I cannot reach a conclusion on which feeling to get.

Is this stuff edible, I wonder? According to WordWeb the name suggests it is “an ice containing no milk but having a mushy consistency; usually made from fruit juice”. Sounds delicious, but I am not yet ready to taste it for myself.

Then I notice the proverbial elephant in the room. Right in front of me, in big bold letters, it says BODY BUTTER. And the light came on for me.

So, darling, do not believe everything you see on a label. These companies exaggerate quite a lot.

But please go ahead and use that “butter”.

 

I am in the mood for a sandwich anyway.

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Up the Pole http://eksteens.co.za/?p=18 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=18#respond Sat, 13 May 2017 19:46:25 +0000 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=18 No, this is NOT a crude reference to pregnancy!

Do you read the newspaper posters stuck on telephone or power poles every day? Did one or more of them ever convince you to buy the paper to read the story?

I have made a conscious decision that I will not buy a newspaper based on the content on a poster somewhere on the street. Not only are these posters often misleading, the rest of the newspaper content is generally so depressing that I end up feeling like cutting my wrists.

So I have come up with an alternative: I read the poster and then make up my own story behind it.

Confused? Join me on my ride through the news no paper ever dares report…

CATCH A JOB TODAY

The Cape Hunt and Polo Club – tired of all the criticism aimed at their laidback lifestyle of the rich & famous and the fact that their horses do all the work while they have become lard asses – recently decided to launch a new sport.

At about the same time the department of Correctional Services were discussing plans to give their inmates some more exercise without being accused of inhumanity or, God forbid!, infringing on the constitutional rights of criminals.

The best part of this coincidence is that the chief warden of Pollsmoor is also a member of the CH&PC, so the two ideas converged.

From about two months ago a large piece of open land opposite the prison was rented on a weekly basis by the said department to be used as an exercise yard for their inpatients. The field covers more than 100 hectares, thus allowing the cons plenty of space to run around in.

Of course it is impractical to allow every inmate out of prison every week, so it was decided to do it in groups, in alphabetical order.

The “hunt” section of the CH&PC jumped at the opportunity to leave their steeds at home and instead chase after and catch real live human beings for a change. Thus the sport of CRAP (Chasing and Re-Arresting of Prisoners) began.

Today the group of inmates with names starting with the letters “I” to “P” will be given the opportunity to roam the practise field. The members of the hunt club will arrive 30 minutes later and be given the opportunity to have their weekly CRAP and earn points for every trophy captured. As usual, through a completely random draw, one name was picked which will earn the lucky capturer 10 bonus points and give him/her the chance to earn the title of “Crapper of the Day”.

You guessed it: today’s lucky name drawn is “Job”, hence the poster advertising the opportunity to “CATCH A JOB TODAY”!

My less imaginative colleagues have suggested that the Daily Voice may only have been promoting a Career insert in their paper today, but of course you and I know better…

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Facebook: Enough already! http://eksteens.co.za/?p=21 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=21#respond Mon, 03 Mar 2008 19:27:28 +0000 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=21 It had to come. It was just a matter of time.

Some months ago I received an invitation out of the blue from a “long lost friend” of mine: “Please be my Facebook friend.”

What could I lose? I had heard so much about this so-called virtual social phenomenon that it sounded like the right thing to do.

So I accepted.

Boy, oh boy, was that a mistake.

For the past number of months my Facebook circle of friends had grown to quite a group. Problem was, half of then I knew well – we were friends or colleagues or related – but the other half came out of nowhere. To this day I still haven’t found out how some of them found my e-mail address, let alone became my “friends”.

I will admit though, it was fun for a while. I received the most interesting invitations, quizzes, hugs, crushes and a zillion other applications.

I still do not understand quite why I decided to join Facebook, though. I have a personal contacts database that now contains over 4 600 names and numbers. Why did I think I needed a social network to meet more “friends”?

My biggest problem was this: in order to add any of the applications (or see the results of any test I took) I had to invite twenty other friends to do the same. If this isn’t viral marketing I don’t know what is. It may have been OK if I was required to invite at least one other person to take the same test or receive the same gift/hug/invitation/whatever, but to do it for 20 persons every time was too much to ask. I assumed my “friends” would only have ended up as pissed off as I was.

Please understand that I wasn’t consumed by Facebook and could never have been called a Facebook addict. It did not actually take up a lot of my time. Hell, I did not even answer the questionnaire to check whether I was addicted, nor did I join the group against forwarding messages to 20 others. It’s just the annoyance factor that got to me, man.

I am beginning to understand why my kids and their friends spend hours and hours in front of the PC every week. I now also understand why my broadband bandwidth – which I acquired for business purposes – are used up by the 10th of every month.

So today I did the one thing I have been threatening to do for a long time.

I signed on to Facebook.

I clicked on the “Account” tab at the top of the page.

And then I got REALLY brave. I clicked on “Deactivate Account”.

As expected a screen popped up with a number of possibilities to choose from to indicate why I am deactivating my account. And not surprisingly, each option I tried had another pop-up explaining why this should not be a problem, how it could be overcome, et cetera, et cetera.

I cannot quite explain the relief I felt after confirming that I really, REALLY, do not want to be a Facebook member anymore. Of course, and no surprise here either, I was duly informed that I could come back anytime. My account would still exist and would merely be reactivated. Fat chance!

I dare you to try it. The feeling is quite liberating!

Now back to normality. I am looking forward to spending some quality time on useful things again.

[2017: Nine years later I am back? Go figure!]

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Valentine, Schmalentine! http://eksteens.co.za/?p=24 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=24#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2008 05:19:54 +0000 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=24 O M G! It is THAT time of the year again!

Everywhere I go I see red ribbons, red balloons, red roses, red underwear. (OK, I’ll withdraw the last one – I don’t actually mind red underwear). Every radio station I tune to has some form of competition on, normally something along the lines of “show us how much you love your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/spouse/spouse equivalent/partner/stukkie/skelmpie/whatever and you could win big prizes.

It is quite obvious to me that retailers are exploiting to the max what is supposed to be a romantic day. What is even more obvious is that every second fool is falling for it.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not advocating that Valentine’s Day be ignored, but I must acknowledge that the way it is being celebrated in general has a painful effect on my rectal muscles.

On the other hand, if I had my way I would ban Valentine’s Day, mother’s day, father’s day, Easter as well as Christmas tomorrow. Not for any religious or political reasons, of course, but I will ban all businesses from using and abusing these special events to suit their pockets.

If I am pushed and have to keep at least one of them it would be father’s day, I think. But then again, I might be ever so slightly biased.

For decades now I have watched in horror as retailers, restaurants and other businesses go from bad to worse year after year in an effort to fleece the average consumer out of some hard-earned cash that could have been put to much better use. And as I have already mentioned, it concerns me that consumers allow this to happen to them.

Obviously I write from a male point of view, so I will understand if you accuse me of being one-sided on the matter. But come on boys, are we not the ones that are being pushed to the limit by advertisements as well as a few – or sometimes a lot of – well-timed hints from the female of the species? After all, how are you going to feel when you find out that ALL her friends got flowers, cards, chocolates, gifts and jewellery, but she was SO embarrassed because she had nothing to show on the 14th of February?

It’s this guilt trip, man. Women are masters at making you out to be the villain when in fact you may be the only sane one on the block. Who on earth wants to fork out three to four times the normal price for a bunch of flowers on one day of the year when the same amount could have bought you forgiveness or even a good time three or four times during the year?

It’s just not fair, I tell you!

My advice? Do the sensible thing. Discuss it with her and come to an agreement that neither of you are into this commercialism thing and will therefore not spend any money on presents for each other.

Then, while she is not watching, go out, buy the most expensive flower arrangement you can afford, get some chocolates and book a table in a restaurant. It may be the only way to save your relationship (or even your life).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Power to the people, by the people. http://eksteens.co.za/?p=27 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=27#respond Wed, 23 Jan 2008 04:54:27 +0000 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=27 For years now I have been contemplating the worldwide energy problem.

OK, let’s be honest here for a second. I have been reading articles written by people who were contemplating the worldwide energy problem.

On the one hand we are slowly but surely running out of fossil fuels like coal and oil. On the other hand – and this is the bit that concerns me most – we are fast running out of money to afford to pay OPEC for their oil.

For the past eight months I have been convinced that Angola has worse electricity problems than South Africa, but I am beginning to change my mind. From reports back home it would seem that things are spiralling out of control.

And then the answer hit me: NATURAL ENERGY! It is in abundance all around us and all we need is some simple, yet ingenious technology to harness it. Who needs Eskom when the answer is right here under our noses?

Allow me to give you four perfectly good examples.

Wave power
With all the electrical, political, economical and other problems hitting our country on a regular basis, I sense that collectively we are experiencing wave after wave of despondency sweeping through the nation.

It is a well-known fact that the movement of the ocean’s waves is a consistent, non-stop supply of energy and a number of countries are already trying to utilise this source.

Now all we need is for some clever psychological engineer – do they exist? No? Train them! – to develop a method for us to harness the emotional tsunamis hitting us day after day.

The ‘wave after wave” of passion often coming from bedrooms or the backseats of cars may be even more powerful, but I guess privacy problems will put a stop to this idea.

Pedal power
It seems that every second person I speak to these days has joined a gym. Here’s the interesting thing: they are not going there to do circuit training. Nor do they do aerobics – it is SO nineties, dahling! No, the “in” thing these days is spinning. Yes, the act of sitting on an imitation bicycle and peddling your way to nowhere for half an hour or more.

I cannot for the life of me understand why this is so popular. If you really want to go cycling, why not buy yourself a real bicycle and get out there in the fresh air, man! (Just watch out for those crazy taxis sharing the road with you.)

While it lasts, though, put all this spinning to good use, I say. Connect dynamos to these imitation bikes and voila! Thousands of people are generating power to heat up my water for my early morning shower.

I do understand that this may be a short-lived supply, but at least during January every year there are lots of nutters attempting to live up to their new year’s resolutions.

Gas power
Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. But the gas I am talking about is not the type that gets pumped up from the deep bowels of the earth. What I am talking about is there for the taking – it is abundant and it is free.

Have you ever been to parliament or watched parliamentary debates on TV? Have you heard politicians being interviewed? Corporate leaders informing us how they are fighting for the consumer? Al Gore and a myriad of organisational spokespersons going on and on about global warming and how we should “act now” to prevent future disasters?

Do you get my drift? There is so much hot air being released into the atmosphere every minute of the day, I am sure it has enough energy-producing capability to provide power to keep most industries going for many hours a day.

Now, if we can only find an easy way to capture this energy source and store it in high pressure tanks, many of our problems will be solved.

Solar power
OK, you don’t have to tell me. I know solar power has been around for a number of years now and maybe it will be more affordable in the not too distant future.

What does concern me though is that solar power depends on the sun actually shining, the longer the better. In some places on earth this poses a problem, since overcast conditions are the order of the day for most of the year.

I do, however, have a solution that is not dependent on the sun to generate energy.

I know a lot of people – and I am sure you do too – who seem to believe that they are Mr or Ms know-it-all. They do such a brilliant job in their companies or environments, corporations and communities would not survive without their contributions. You know the type? These are the individuals who are commonly referred to as the ones “who think the sun shines out of their asses.”

Well, why don’t we utilise this characteristic? Let them all drop their pants and stand with their backsides facing solar panels while discussing their own good traits with one another. Can you see the picture? A 24-hour supply of natural light, whether the sun is actually shining or not.

So there you are. A simple solution to a simple problem

Just a word of warning: If you steal any of my ideas and actually implement it, I demand my share of the royalties.

Fair is fair!

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My one left ball http://eksteens.co.za/?p=46 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=46#respond Mon, 14 Jan 2008 00:04:33 +0000 http://eksteens.co.za/?p=46 I’ll give my one left ball for some clean undies!

That is how strongly I felt about my problem a few weeks ago.

Let me sketch the situation.

One fine Sunday I left Cape Town for Luanda, Angola, flying via Windhoek.

I boarded in Cape Town with a lot of trepidation: I was waitlisted on the Windhoek-Luanda leg of the journey. What the hell would I do if I could not get on the flight?

Well, “all’s well that ends well”, I always say. So when I got to Windhoek and ended up in the first ten of the queue, I started feeling a bit more optimistic. (You must understand that I have heard so many stories about full flights this time of the year, I was seriously worried about not making it to Luanda on time.)

Eventually I got to the front of the queue. Lo and behold, I actually got issued a boarding pass. I immediately felt a lot better – I was going to be on the next flight out of there!

Then the first bit of bad news hit me: My luggage wasn’t booked through to Luanda. I had to go and collect it on the carousel and book it in for the next flight. Twenty minutes later all was said and done and I could eventually sit back and enjoy a coffee and a cigarette (which I hadn’t had since six hours before when I entered through check-in in Cape Town!).

More than two hours later we were eventually allowed to board the plane. In the end we left 2½ hours after the scheduled take-off time.

Upon arriving in Luanda I proceeded through immigration – a painful process all by itself – and went to the arrivals hall, only to be hit by the second bit of bad news that “your luggage was left in Windhoek.”

When I eventually arrived at the Luanda residence from the airport I started taking stock of the situation and how I was going to cope. Not only did I not have any clean clothes or toiletries with me, my luggage contained about 20kg of stuff that the team urgently needed to complete some projects.

A colleague offered to lend me some underpants, but I politely declined. I found out that he only buys G-strings and I suspected he wears them the wrong way round!

An hour and a brandy or two later I started to relax. The situation was not entirely as bleak as it first seemed. There were two clean shirts and some underpants and socks I left at the house on my last trip here. I could also go to the shop around the corner and buy the basics, so maybe I was going to survive after all.

A day and countless phone calls and e-mails – all unanswered – to every possible e-mail address on the airline’s website later, all that happened was that I got more and more frustrated by the minute. By then I had also learned the Angolan way of handling problems: There is nothing I can do about it, so why bother!

On Tuesday morning I woke up, only to discover that we had no running water. It transpired that our water tank was empty and the security guards never checked the level, so we had no advance warning that this was going to happen. The driver was immediately dispatched to go searching for a water tanker and five hour later the situation was resolved.

With some primitive tools I started fitting and fixing a few basic things in the house. Just when I sat back to relax the power went off. No problem, I thought, we had a generator. Ten minutes later there was still no electricity and I discovered that someone came in to do maintenance on the generator the previous day and since then it hadn’t worked. If only someone had informed me I could have had something done about it, but I guess the language barrier made it too difficult for the guys.

By one o’clock in the morning the power came on again and I looked forward to a productive tomorrow.

I got in the car to go and do some shopping, only to discover that the air conditioner wasn’t working. It was 38oC outside, the humidity was close to 100% and I had no way of cooling down! How bad can it still get?

Four days after my arrival in Luanda there was still no sign of my luggage. By then I was just hoping that it would get there before I left again the next week.

Frustration, desperation, anger – mention the emotion and I probably experienced it that week.

But hey, Africa is not for sissies.

“Kyk noord en f*k voort” (look north and go forth) is the motto I was going to adopt for the remainder of my stay. After that I was going to return to South Africa for a nice long break that I was really looking forward to.

By Friday I really got a bit desperate. I had an important workshop to run for the customer management team and I had nothing to wear. And this was not a “woman-thing” – I mean it literally! With a little bit of English and the odd Portuguese word I eventually managed to get the driver to understand that I needed to buy clothes.

“Fortunately” it only took 4½ hours to find pants that fitted me and I managed to get back to the residence five minutes before the workshop was due to start.

I am happy to say that all went well and five hours and a tipple or two later I felt a lot better. I had a nice steak on the gas braai and the company of some colleagues to look forward to.

Saturday afternoon, almost exactly six days to the hour since my arrival, I received a phone call from Camilo, our protocol (meet-and-greet) guy. My luggage had arrived and he was on his way to deliver it!

At least I felt fairly fresh when I checked in for my flight home on Monday morning. Hey, I was wearing fresh clothes and even had a shave over the weekend.

I did learn my lesson, though. I left enough stuff at the residence to survive for a week, just in case this happens to me again!

Happy holidays.

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