Battling to find a job?

With South Africa’s unemployment rate at an 11-year high, it is easy to blame everything except yourself. South Africa’s economy only grew 1,5% in 2014 because of labour strikes in the mining sector and the dark looming cloud we call Eskom. Government uses our tax money to bail out ‘Mordor’ around every corner, and in turn they keep on hiking tariffs and crippling businesses with power cuts.

But for a lot of you, this is not the reason you are unemployed…

Economists say the rate of unemployment amongst people under 25 years of age, is more than 50%.

This should make things very clear to everyone.  In the past, it has been seen time and time again, in the economic downfalls of many other developed nations, that an entitlement attitude can be the force that drives a nation to economic desperation.

So we are pretty much surrounded by kids who were raised to think they are somehow special – irrespective of their actual accomplishments. Instead of parents perpetuating a sense of hard work and pride in self-progress, we now have a thicket of Numpties.

Here are 5 general traits of an entitled Numpty:

  1. Demand respect instead of proving their worth through positive actions
  2. Demand rewards that aren’t in line with their actual ability and effort levels
  3. No responsibility – Strong resistance toward accepting negative feedback & Blame evasion
  4. Narcissist – Inflated view of themselves
  5. Arrogant

If this is you… You need all the help you can get. Here are some doable tips to help you get and keep that job:

  1. SHOW UP TO the interview – Not a lot of you guys do this part… It’s shocking.
  2. Seriously SHOW UP – and if you get this job – keep on SHOWING UP on time, every time
  3. Make sure you understand what they expect from you
  4. Make sure you can actually do this. “I’m doing my best” and failing to do your job is insufficient. “Do or do not, there is no try…” – Yoda
  5. Do exactly what is expected from you during the time they pay you to be there
  6. There is no negotiation – I know it feels like prostitution, but this is the business agreement you signed. You work for (x) hours – They pay you for (x) hours. Don Draper said it best!
  7. Do more – If you want to BE the person society made you to believe you are, by inflating your tiny ego, you need to excel above the thicket of numpties around you. It’s not hard, they’re all busy doing nothing, and expecting everything for it.
  8. Listen to feedback. Good or Bad, feedback is your map to improve on the status quo
  9. Think before you speak. Only use your voice if you could add value to a situation.
  10. No excuses – Own up to your failures. Learn from it.

It is really easy to blame everything except yourself. I think a little tip for all of us is to stop the blame game. I agree, everyday feels like a Cell C Dog Ad, but moaning really doesn’t add value to any situation.

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DIY stairway to heaven

Staying on top of a hill means you have beautiful sunsets and views of rolling hills that never end…

It also means a loop-run from home ends in tears or swearing, and your yard is gardening hell. We have a three-tier backyard. Getting from the first tier to the second involves planning, hiking shoes and is not recommended for people over 65.

Tier two is the perfect size for a nice thatch lapa and a pool, so we decided to improve accessibility by building flight of stairs.

We weren’t too sure about the structural integrity of the embankment, so we decided to use concrete to build our stairs. With some advice from my handy dad, we decided our stairs should be a comfortable 29mm(h) x 29mm(w) at 45º with a landing or two every five steps. This would give us enough freedom to not cast the whole thing in one batch, but rather do it in sections using the same frame.

We would build a reusable wood frame that we would assemble, cast concrete, disassemble and repeat till the stairs reached the top.

I drew up some plans. We wanted to work out what the least amount of treated super-plywood sheets were that we had to buy.

12We headed to Timbercity and we asked them politely to give us four treated super-plywood sheets, pre-cut into the sizes above, and delivered to our home.

This took quite some time as they had a Christmas/New years backlog.

The wood arrived on Friday while we were attending a wedding. Saturday morning we got started.

3456We finished the frames and we decided to move them to the garden the following morning as it started to rain.

Moving these frames from the 1st floor to our garden was going to be a task as they were bulky and heavy. While we were deciding if we were going to disassemble the frames or not, we discovered that the rain had damaged one of our panels.

This was in fact not treated wood like we politely requested. If we should pour concrete onto these frames, the water would damage them. Our stairs would need a lot of finishing as it would be wrinkled and we would have to throw away the wood after using it only once. We were stressed. A week earlier we had organised two guys to come and help with the concrete on Monday. It was now Sunday.

I eagerly volunteered to go back to Timbercity as I wanted to give them a piece of my mind. My husband said he would start disassembling the frames and carry all the wood downstairs to the garden.

Timbercity was obviously closed because it was Sunday.

I went to the hardware store, and they suggested I use varnish. It would’ve costed an arm and a leg, so I decided to phone handy dad again. He suggested Creosote. The hardware store guy told me it would take 3 days to dry.

I decided that Builders Warehouse was my last hope. A guy there suggested that carbolineum was the answer to all my problems.

7Carbolineum is a blend of creasote and coal-tar. It smells like the stuff they used to make our roads from and is sticky as hell.

89The husband assembled all the parts and we started painting. We even got a friend to help us out.

101113It felt like 45ºC, but the man at Builders assured me that the hot, sunny weather would help our cause.

The beer, I assured everyone, would help for the sunstroke.

12So Monday the concrete started flowing:

15

14Tuesday it continued but it rained out:

16

14Wednesday:

1920Eventually it ended up here:

IMG_0055We’re still not done… 😉

2012 ended, and the world did not.

My husband bought a house at an auction in December 2011. Coming from a townhouse everything scaled up. More packing space, more yard/garden, more entertainment areas and obviously more problems.

Here is a small collection of new house problems we encountered:

Problem #1 Security (electronic)
If there is anything you need to know about a Paradox alarm system, my husband will reluctantly assist. Alarm system knowledge can not be read in a manual or online, it is an elite skill passed on from one alarm expert to another. A few false alarms at 3 o’clock in the morning will also teach you a thing or two.

Problem #2 Security (biological)
We had to erect several new fences, not to keep the bad-guys out, but to keep our dogs in. It seems our dogs thought more yard/garden meant no fences.

Problem #3 Old Faithful
Our 200L 19-something geyser decided to burst, leaving our bathroom ceiling looking like we were meth-cooks hiding bodies. Old faithful also flooded my bedroom and ate up my OUTbonus (Receive 10% of your insurance premiums back after three claim-free years). I had two weeks left before that puppy paid out.

Problem #4 Traffic
My new house is 35km from where I work. I total 70km of Joburg traffic every day.

Problem #5 No more holidays
Obviously when you invest in a house, all your pennies go towards your new home. No more scuba diving in Sodwana, No more visits to the Kruger. The new house clipped my wings.

Out of new house problem #5 a hobby was born – 2012 was the year I started running…
Endomondo

I have never been a runner. I did not do track in school and I did not run for fun. I felt running was for stupid people. Those people who ran in the rain, or on the coldest of winter mornings were just plain dumb. Even though I bashed it, I knew it was the fastest way to get fit.

I was convinced that I couldn’t run. Every time I had tried to run, I would end up looking like a red, huffing fool after a few hundred meters. I believed you had to be born to run… until I read a book by Christopher McDougall – Born to Run. (Thanks Stephen)

It was mid March, and I decided that I wanted to get fit (Nothing serious, just less wobbly) and out of the house.

I put on an old pair of trainers that I had bought in 2003, a t-shirt and some grey melange track pants. I was NOT looking the part, I was not feeling the part, and after completing 1,2km I felt like dying. I coughed for two hours afterwards and I was in a tremendous amount of pain for two days. I attempted that same route twice a week until I got flu in May. Something very weird happened – I was afraid that I would lose my fitness level. I wasn’t loving running yet, but that 1,2km wasn’t killing me anymore.

June came, and a friend of mine entered a group of us into the 5km Rhino Relay. I was by no means ready for this, but went anyway. I sucked… A LOT! But I finished and got a medal. (Thanks Candice & Mari)

The medal made me happy, and I told the runner folks at work about it. One of them suggested I do a trail run at Palindaba. They sold it as a 5km run, that was less commercial than the road runs. It would be fun they said… (Thanks Stephen)

Again, I NEARLY DIED. 6,78km of steep rocky hell.

But oh, the beauty! Spectacular seamless views of pure South African nature. I felt free. This is where my love of running started. I bought a pair of New Balance 310 trail shoes, a pair of serious tights and started training for more trails.

I finished 9 trail runs after that. After every trail I felt even more motivated to ‘up’ the kilometers. The warm hills made me want to sing like Julie Andrews. The refreshing cold streams, the wild flowers and the wild animals made me feel like I had my wings back.

November came, and the inevitable big question popped up. The one beginner-runner question to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them: “When may I call myself a runner, because I don’t feel like I deserve to do that yet.” Someone convinced me I had to run a half marathon, and a few days later I was entered into the Dis-Chem Half Marathon. (Thanks Stephen & Richie)

I totaled 110km in December. I’m training for something that is 20 times as far as I thought I would ever run or need to run. I am now one of those ‘stupid’ people that run in the rain. I hate saying that I do not have time for things, but being a mom and wife, working 35km away from home, I seriously do not have time to join a running club. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do my short runs at one of the companies I work for. (Thanks World of Golf)

This is 2013. I’m scared. I don’t know if I’m ready for a 21,7km road race. It sure is a heck of a far distance to run away from new house problems. ;P

Olympics 2012 – The most antiviral thing in the world.

Olympics 2012

As a South African, I was close to tears with utter excitement when Chad le Clos, stunned Michael Phelps in the 200-metre butterfly to win Olympic gold by 0.05 seconds. It was a moment that South Africans could watch over and over again. I wanted to share this moment with my dad. He had predicted the South African swimmers would fair well in the Olympics, and I thought he might appreciate Chad’s victory even more than I did.

Sharing information in today’s age is usually a click away. But I, and most probably a heap of other people in the world accessing the BBC, NBC or any Olympic streaming website, was fairly annoyed by the following message: “Cannot play media. Sorry, this media is not available in your territory.”

The BBC is not allowed, The Guardian reports, to broadcast “anything online outside the UK from the Olympic Park or other Olympic venues.” That includes radio shows broadcast from these venues. I thought the BBC was global news brand? Well clearly not: “As the official Olympic Broadcaster in the UK, the BBC geo-blocks its online content, so that video and audio streams are not available to audiences outside the UK.”

TechCrunch had an interesting post on how the sales of UK VPN’s spiked just before the Olympics kicked off. For all the normal, less technically inclined people out there, a VPN would give you a UK IP address and with that, users can visit the BBC’s site, as if they were in the UK. All the online Olympic goodness would be just a click away.

My initial shock and horror, when I got denied access to a video of our medal winner, most probably occurred because I am a bit of an information brat. South Africa has fairly loose media morals, we don’t restrict internet activity like China, Iran, North Korea and the Emirates. The online-world and its wealth of information, is available to all with internet access. I started investigating other media locations. YouTube was filled with Olympic videos that had been removed because they violated copyright.

The more time I spent on finding a videoclip of our brand new Olympic rock star Chad le Clos, the more apparent it became that the IOC had paid a lot of people, to make sure the 2012 Olympics the most antiviral thing on the internet.

I find this so unusual, and completely counter productive. I don’t think the IOC will lose a tremendous amount of money by streaming a time delayed channel or two somewhere. One up! They can make even more money by selling ad-space on their delayed streaming channels. Something like this YouTube channel would be great, if it wasn’t geo-blocked.

Am I the only one totally confused by the logic in geo-blocking an event as big as the Olympics?

20 of my favourite Beatles songs

Beatles - Inge Malan

Someone asked me the other day what my favourite Beatles song was. Picking a favourite Beatles song to me, is like picking a favourite colour, near impossible. I find too many variables in both situations, like application and emotion. I told this someone I would give them a list of my top 20, and wow, this still proved tricky. I have 5+ songs on reserves that didn’t make the cut, that’s haunting me… Anyhoo here goes:

For No One
(Revolver)
Fool on the hill (Magical Mystery Tour)
Let it Be (Let it be)
Drive my car (Rubber Soul)
Here There and Everywhere (Revolver)
I want you (Abbey Road)
Michelle (Rubber Soul)
Hey Jude (Hey Jude)
I’m only sleeping (Revolver)
Come together (Abbey Road)
Across the universe (Let it Be)
Something (Abbey Road)
Norwegian wood (Rubber Soul)
Blackbird (The White Album)
Girl (Rubber Soul)
Tomorrow Never Knows (Revolver)
Eleanor Rigby (Revolver)
Because (Abbey Road)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The White Album)
Yesterday (Help)

Any guesses on my 5 reserve songs?

Do you believe in talent?

Pure Talent

So, I’ve heard a few motivational speakers in my life, or read the odd motivational blog on “how to be a great manager.” And I have found that they have a few theories that I don’t quite agree with. One of them really irks me…

They have this thing that they preach, which goes something like this: “We are all born equal.” Genetics or talent does not exist and has no effect on success. Everyone can be a professional athlete if they choose to do so.”

I don’t know if they’re inspired by the Declaration of Independence – “All men are created equal” (Which I think is fair when you’re talking about basic “human rights” or the law), or if they’re preaching a false sense of equality as a security blanket for stupid people, because a positive outlook improves productivity and stimulates the part of you that wants to succeed?

Surely all this ego-stroking would make people inflate their self value. And if everyone is special and equal… surely no-one is really special then?

Are we born with talent or do we eschew the averaging effects of socialisation and hang onto that which we all are given? If Inborn talent is a real thing, and the effects of education is real too, surely the key, then, is to know your own talent and then milk it for all that it’s worth. Right?

Are we afraid of excelling, or are we afraid of insulting people by having a genetic advantage in/on certain things? I do not mean this in a generalising/racist, dodgy kind of way. I believe some people are born with business skills, some people are born athletes, some people are born artists. I believe your life is made up of choices. You can do anything you put your mind to, but if it is not one of your talents, you will not necessarily be the best at it.

Do you believe in talent?