30 09 2010

…it’s that way.

Told you...

Or this (read: my) way, since I find myself in that state of fuzzy feelings that induces smiling and positive thoughts that are enough to make the corners of a pessimist’s mouth twitch (whether in almost succumbing to my infectious charm or bestowing upon me a mocking, scowling expression filled with disdain, you be the judge of that).

To quote Mort Rainey from SECRET WINDOW: “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t on the verge of doing Snoopy dances”.

Such a happy little head!

So what has got me all smiley and cheery, you ask? If I wanted to act all philosophical, I could simply answer ‘life’. The sun is shining, the weather is nice, the sunsets are amazing, I have a wonderful family and better-than-I-could-have-hoped-for Significant Other, my cat provides me with oodles of joy, I have a job I’m enjoying, we have an apartment to live in… in general, many good things in life people don’t take notice of often enough that make it grand. I myself am prone to occasional bout of doubt, depression, low self-esteem, worrying/ stressing and just feeling ‘off’, as if nothing is right… but, honestly, in my life, the great things far outweigh those that make me head on a mini downwards spiral now and again.

So yes, people, I haz a happee…

”]…for a very, very good reason: looks like we’re going to be able to go to Scotland for our honeymoon!! (Let the Lily-and-Marshall-ness continue!) Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen… Castles, culture, food, museums… two weeks in Spring time, with maximum temperatures reaching about 18 degrees Celsius. Yip, Scotland is my kind of place…


To ‘celebrate’ the fact that I’ve  been working with a travel agent for a while (a pretty d*mn efficient one, what a wonderful woman) and that we’re going overseas, as well as for the lesser fact that my Significant Other had received his salary, we had take-out last night: pizza. I usually make my own pizzas at the apartment, yet my S.O. (a) was in the mood for large, thick base pizzas, and (b) wanted to save me the trouble of preparing a meal since I worked non-stop yesterday, not even taking a break at lunch time.

(Unfortunately, I had change with me today and decided to ‘continue’ the celebratory mood by purchasing the last Tempo at our vending machine. Headache + chocolate = recipe for disaster… still trying to decide whether or not it was worth it…)

At least it'll give me energy! (...right?)

To further boost my mood, when I had a meeting with my mentor this morning, she asked me what my plans are for next year, then started singing my praises and said she hopes I consider applying for available positions here (even if it’s not in her department, though she’d preferably like to keep me there).

Here I am: living and loving it up, even though there is much to do, things to worry about, and only a certain amount of time before things start looking bleak again. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy myself…

…and if I can’t help you to feel the same, maybe we should find an alternative:

Alternative to inducing happiness.


Sum. Ass.

28 09 2010

I’ve been working with the (CAPS) documents for the new curriculum for quite some time now. As such, when I want to make notes for myself, I use a sort of shorthand and abbreviations, just to save myself some time on little things. That said, this morning I was looking at assessments for the speaking division of what the learners must do, and every time I came across the words “summative assessment”, I simply shortened it to “Sum. Ass.”

Maybe a little bit funny, when you read it out of content (which is what actually makes it funny, I suppose) – yet today, I’m feeling like some ass… the donkey kind, not the kind you sit on (if you’re familiar with my writing, you’ll know that I’d type “arse” if I meant your  behind).

I keep giving myself paper cuts here at work. I don’t know how I do it, but when I look, there’s another. What really makes me feel stupid is the fact that (a) they usually happen between the tip of my finger and the lower knuckle (although, most frequently, they land up right below my cuticle – as stated, I don’t know how, so don’t ask), and (b) I tend to land these paper cuts on the same places!!

Some ass I’m making of myself… Luckily I’m not a bleeder, otherwise the headline “Work kills: death by paper cut in office” would be quite fitting.

Another way I’m feeling like some (kind of) ass, is the fact that now I have to beg plead ask my friends (and now you, dear blog readers) to vote for my short story on the South African Writers page on Facebook. I suppose it’s no big deal – just a 500 word short story, 14 entrants, and the prize up for grabs is a book. Although I would love all my friends to be enthusiastic about my writing and read what I have to offer, it still feels pretty foolish asking them – very nicely, I’ll admit, although I haven’t bribed offered them money… yet… – to vote for my story. I don’t want them to feel obligated to do that… although some interest would be appreciated. Haven’t you ever felt stupid asking people to vote/ sign up for something? It’s a little cry of, ‘please, I’m desperate, help make me feel I have talent/ that I’m doing something worth while, oh pretty pretty please’…

And, as I said, all of this to win a book. Not get the story published (although that would have been pretty awesome) or some such thing. Just the satisfaction that the majority of readers enjoyed what you had to offer and consequently gave you their vote (read: approval)… But if you ask your friends to vote for you, how is that getting you anywhere? Wouldn’t you want the approval of a greater group, of those who don’t know you and don’t simply indulge you so as to prove their friendship and loyalty to you? *sigh* These questions are enough to drive one crazy…

Oh, and I think I’m going to make (some) ass of myself on Saturday when I go to the Bridal Expo at the CTICC. I’ve already got mostly everything planned, going for a trial for my hair and make-up soon enough, so all I need is a DJ (we have almost ten we can phone, which means that isn’t an issue, really). The only reason I want to go is out of curiosity… And oh, don’t brides-to-be at these expos always seem to make asses of themselves? Hunting desperately for what they want (which, many times, they are unsure of to begin with), being swayed by people with pretty pictures and ‘good deals’, taking part in the frenzy of happiness and love which brings in a lot of money to the vendors, the high-pink colour in their excited cheeks… and dragging whoever was unlucky enough to agree to go with them around for hours on end… What’s not to seem foolish?

I think I’ll just go quietly about my business, take a turn around the stalls (while trying not to look like a crazy/ desperate/ infatuated/ over-eager bride), then make a beeline out of there.

I just think this trip might depress me enough to go to Limnos Bakery and have some of their wicked (high-caloried) treats… which, if sweet indulgences continue, will lead people to say on my wedding day (upon seeing me in my dress): “Wow, she sure does have some arse on her!”

Now that's making an arse of yourself!

Licence to thrill

23 09 2010

While on my way to work this morning, I noticed that the car in front of us (my Significant Other and myself) had a personalized number/ licence plate, which read PEACE 1. Nice little message for people reading it – perhaps a bid to get people to believe that you are a peaceful person or believe/ hope for peace – but sometimes I wonder what’s the use of this personalized bit of plastic/ metal/ whatever number plates are made of.

Personalized plates don’t come cheap, after all, although some of them are amusing to read. It’s like that joke about the snail that got himself a car with a number plate that read S-CAR, and whenever he went speeding by people, they would say, “Wow, would you look at that S-Car go!” Corny, I know, and not necessarily amusing, but you get what I’m driving at (no pun intended).

My cousin has a sexy little black car (convertible? I know you can let the top down) with a licence plate that reads MASCARA. Suitable, since the car is such a dark black colour, almost sashaying down the road, blinking it’s headlights like a wink once those indicators come on. My cousin is an absolutely gorgeous person (physically), lovely on the inside, quite short, and just as confident as mascara makes some girls feel after application (or even the notion of ever having a car like hers).

A friend of mine’s licence plate reads PH0EN1X – a nickname/ avatar he uses whenever he’s playing games (WoW, Starcraft II, etc.) A phoenix is a quite powerful symbol – a majestic creature who, at its death, bursts into flames, only to be reborn out of the ashes. A survivor. Arguably the greatest of mythological creatures. It is a symbol of rebirth, immortality and renewal –something man can only dream of, though this does not mean that he doesn’t strive towards it. Man. A generalization for mankind, but it most cases in both history and mythology, it is men who seek out power or who hold positions of power, thus it would be man (literally) who seeks the power and companionship of the phoenix – the fire bird, the greatest and leader of other birds… Which is why I find it interesting (though I’m not saying that this is what my friend aimed it) that this friend of mine whose licence plate reads PH0EN1X is male. Ever striving towards greater (and the greatest of) things…?

You get licence plates with people’s names/ nicknames, company names, abstract things (love, peace, serenity), even stupid things that are related to sports or what I would assume to be inside-jokes. Still, it’s that person’s licence plate, so whatever puts salsa on his/ her enchilada, I so go for it – make it as spicy as you want.

This, of course, leads me to wonder what I would choose, if given the opportunity of having a personalized plates. What would best describe me? What do I want other people to think of me? Should I try to be witty, sarcastic, honest, playful… or simply opt for my name and have done with it? I absolutely love cats, yet I’m not too sure how mentioning that on the plates would really be effective/ cute/ sane.

So I think, if I had to ‘get me one of those’, I’d have to opt for my one nickname: DONSIE. For those of you who don’t understand Afrikaans, a “donsie” is like a small, soft feather – almost a bit of fluff, really, the very soft downy feathers you find blowing into your house sometimes. Apparently this nickname is to show how cute, soft, and teeny-tiny I am – so small, in fact, that the slightest breeze endangers me of being blown away. It might sound silly, but I really like it 🙂

If you had a licence to thrill (no, not that kind of licence, and nothing like James Bond), what would yours read?

Heritage Day (24 September)

20 09 2010

Last week wasn’t all that bad – I don’t really have bad weeks here, since I have no complaints regarding the company I work at. I even found a post-it with smileys on my desk on Friday (I have a small post-it against my screen that says ‘Smile’, so I suppose whoever the person was, he/she complied). The weekend saw me spending time with the parentals, my older sister and (of course) my Significant Other. Just another weekend in this fast-moving year.

I hope you’re weeks are as pleasant as mine. And if they’re not, at least this week will be a short one – for us here in South Africa, that is. Friday sees us celebrating Heritage Day, also known as and commonly referred to by South Africans as Braai (Barbeque) Day, and thus a public holiday which gives us a three-day weekend to look forward to. If you’re in school, you’re even luckier, since Thursday sees the commencement of the school holidays – a week and a half’s reprieve.

Now, many people don’t know where Heritage Day comes from. What it’s about is a no brainer: a day on which we celebrate our rich, diverse cultural heritage – language, foods, the landscape, our history – and come together as a nation to show that, although we have varied cultures within our land, we as a nation can stand together and celebrate as one entity – an entity proud of our country and what we can (have) achieve(d).

On a more historical, factual note, in explanation of how Heritage Day came about, Wikipedia supplies the following background information:

In KwaZulu-Natal, the 24th of September was known as Shaka Day, in commemoration of the Zulu King Shaka. Shaka was the legendary Zulu King who played an important role in uniting disparate Zulu clans into a cohesive nation. The Public Holidays Bill presented to the Parliament of South Africa at the time did not have the 24th of September included on the list of proposed public holidays. As a result of this exclusion, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a South African political party with a large Zulu membership, objected to the bill. Parliament and the IFP reached a compromise and the day was given its present title and seen as a public holiday.

The article goes on to state:

South Africans celebrate Heritage Day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day. In 2005, a media campaign sought to “re-brand” the holiday as National Braai Day, in recognition of the South African culinary tradition of holding informal backyard barbecues, or braais. […] At the end of 2007 National Braai Day changed its name to Braai4Heritage and the initiative received the endorsement of South Africa’s National Heritage Council (NHC).

I’m proud of my heritage. I may not agree with many things that have happened in the past or some of the things that are happening now – when the sh*t hits the fan and things get out of whack, I hope I’ll have my passport ready to get the hell out of here – but I do love my country: the landscape, the sunsets, Afrikaans, the odd mix of people and their ways, the bushveld/wilderness, and probably many other things I cannot think of right now…

So have a good week, everyone, and to all my South African friends/readers: may the extra day off be used to have a pleasant day with family and friends, and may you remember that even though things look bleak sometimes (or should that be ‘most times’?), we do live in a wonderful country.

Big sisters and goodie bags

17 09 2010

Don’t you just love big sisters?

Even if you don’t have one, the connotations link to such a person is wonderful. You have someone who is loving, caring and nurturing (like a second mom), someone you can look up to, a person you can usually talk to about anything – you can even run crying, if you want to – and someone you would love to be like someday (helping you with your homework, watching TV with you, playing games and standing up for you? Who could ask for someone better?!)

My older sister is the best. We’ve had many a hissing, spitting cat-fight, ones that left me in tears and never wanting to speak to her ever again – but here I am now, aged 23 (and almost a half), being able to put things that irk me aside and even being her maid of honour at her wedding in April. I’m the one she comes to for advice, I’m the one she e-mails every morning and to shoot the (proverbial) sh*t with… and if you do want to mope and gripe about something, why not with someone who shares your genes?

There are times when we get into the most random e-mail conversations. Like Wednesday, for example, when we – as typical females, I suppose – talked about what goodies we like: sweeties, cookies, chocolate and crisps/ chips. Needless to say, this is accompanied with the I’m-not-supposed-to-it-that-since-it-has-so-many-kilojoules-and-I-already-feel/look-so-fat dialogue, but still, one can do worse than talking about these things and reminiscing on old times… Like giving in to indulgence and purchasing the treats you like/crave/want/need.

So last night, while I was sitting on my bed and reading through some research I’ve done for my  mini-thesis, my older sister sends me a text message to ask if I’m at the apartment, since she herself was on the way home and wanted to pop in to say hullo. Happy that she wanted to come over, I promised to make her a cup of coffee/tea… and upon her arrival, I was handed this:

A goodie bag. The types she made me while I was still at university and needed a few ‘pick-me-ups’ to snack on while studying/ doing assignments. God, how I loved having biscotti with my coffee… now I don’t even drink coffee anymore… Perhaps I should take up the habit again, though I’m not sure how my body will respond after 9 months of coffee-abstinance…

And now I suppose you’re wondering about the contents of the bag, hmm?

So, sooo many treats! It’s like Halloween (not that we celebrate it here), only early – plus I didn’t even have to go trick-or-treatin’ for the spoils! Lays lightly salted crisps/chips, Jolly Jammers (cookies), Wilson’s toffees, Sparkles, Maynards soft fruity chews, jelly tots and two KitKats – one a regular, the other the new KitKat Dark. I felt so spoilt… and I’m loving it!! 😉 The only thing I need to worry about now is my waistline – this is no time to over-indulge, especially since too much of a good thing is bad for you (and a lot of sugar is actually unhealthy)… plus I need to fit into a wedding dress in just under eight months.

Thus I would like to thank my older sister (I know you’re reading this!) for the e-mails, the support, the love – and the treats, of course. You’re pretty awesome, sis, and I love you very much 🙂

Guess now it’s my turn to treat her – screw her diet. If it goes for me, it goes for her, too! (Speaking of which, I really need to start exercising… yet that is something I still dread doing at a gym. Gym mat and weights for the apartment, anyone?)

And if my older sisters is training and, consequentially, on a diet, I’ll just have to put together a goodie bag for my younger sister – this big sis has yet to deliver!! (Does a tin full of home-baked cookies count?…)

Why I haven’t been blogging…

15 09 2010

There’s no really good reason why I haven’t been blogging this week… though of course I can think of a few (yes, they’re inconsequential).

I spent Monday in a day-long commissioning meeting, a nine to four timespan of listening to proposals and not really knowing what’s going on (though it was interesting, getting a look at that part of the industry). Upon getting home I was feeling more than a little bit brain-dead, so blogging was out of the question. I didn’t think my readers would be interested in my day’s activities, anyway.

Maybe I should try to lead a more interesting life…

I did, however, take the time to continue reading ON WRITING, a book on the craft by Stephen King, which is the last book I needed to complete my collection (yes, I feel pretty smug about that). I ended up doing some writing on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, which left me feeling pretty good. The writer’s block is starting to fade… and if it keeps me from blogging for an evening or two, I guess I’m all right with that.

Meeting, reading and writing. Those are three reasons.

Working, cooking, sleeping and playing with my cat are trivial matters, thus I won’t count them among my reasons-for-not-blogging. But there is one particular reason that stands out above all the rest, and it’s starting to become a mild obsession.

I fell in love with a web comic.

Lately I stumbled upon a link for the webcomic XKCD – I’ve heard of it before, of course, and seen some of the pics, but I never bothered to check out there sight… until recently… and now it’s taking up most of my time. Well, ‘most’ is probably an overstatement – but the fact of the matter is, when I get home from work and check my e-mails (along everyone’s Facebook statuses of the entire day), I open up XKCD and start reading random comics until I have to prepare supper… then again when my Significant Other is playing Starcraft II… and perhaps one or two more before I go to bed. You’d think that by now I’ve been through all of them, yet I do other things while reading the comics, too (like going on Facebook, reading blogs, playing with my cat, etc. etc.)

XKCD is “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language” – most stuff of which I get (even though the math is a bit over my head, I still manage to find it humorous).

I’ve found a comic that describes my Significant Other:

One that has to do with LOLcats:

And one that depicts what I’d like to do with smart alecs who don’t know how to use language:

So forgive me, dear readers, for not blogging on Monday or Tuesday (or as frequently as I would like for the last few weeks). Another reason I am more hesitant to mention for not blogging is that I don’t know what to blog about (or, at least, what you would like me to blog about). Whenever I have a good idea for one, I’m usually busy and don’t have a scrap of paper closeby to jot it down.

But I’ll try to be more diligent this week. I just hope that my blog ideas don’t get mixed up in my short story draft – things could get pretty interesting from there…

New curriculum (and some teacher appreciation)

10 09 2010

I’m really glad I’m not a teacher.

Or a student at school level, for that matter.

Lately I’ve been spending quite a bit of my time developing a Language Teaching Approaches document for OUP. While everything I’ve read up on is interesting and useful, I now know more about these ‘issues’ and methods than I ever thought I would want to.

So, the Department of Education has seen it fit to change the curriculum. Out with the old, in with the new. We need to focus on basic literacy and numeracy skills. We need to get the children to build up their knowledge…

And we (‘we’ meaning ‘me’) should ask the important question: wasn’t this done before?!

The whole point of going to school is to gain and broaden your knowledge, of learning and applying skills, and at a very fundamental level to focus on literacy (as well as the importance of language and communication). But no, now we hear that the previous curriculum was lacking, that basic skills aren’t being developed (here I might add ‘fully’ or ‘sufficiently’/ ‘satisfactorily’, if I were them). First the one system was ‘bad/wrong’, and had to be changed to a new curriculum, which I was subjected to for a few years before – thankfully – going on to the 10th grade and continuing high school ‘normally’, i.e. by taking subjects and working hard, not being subjected to strict curriculum criteria and borders.

Now I work at a publisher who has been named the best education (and academic!) publisher at the Sefika awards, and I am in the lucky (yes, that’s sarcasm) position of having to deal with all this new curriculum BS. When I started here almost two months ago (give or take two days), I began developing a Language Strategy we could use to approach our future (school) books, although of course I couldn’t finalize it until the new CAPS documents became available. The same with this Language Teaching Approaches document: I did a lot of research and read up on things, working with the NCS documents in the interim, until the CAPS documents were finally available this week (though only at the end of it). Not really anything outstandingly new or different, although of course perhaps I wouldn’t be able to tell since I’m not a teacher.

But still, I have to ask: what have the teachers been doing up until now, if not trying to help the learners to develop their skills and climb the educational ladder to success?

My mum is a teacher, and she works extremely hard. She does her own lesson planning, compiles the modules the children have to work with, sits until what time at night to mark and assess their work… and then people say teachers are so lucky to have four holidays a year… *pffft* Teachers work their arses off, people! They don’t really even have holidays! They have things to assess, planning to do, workshops to attend… and whatever else is expected of them. During short holidays they can only spare a day or two to relax, then it’s back to work. During longer holidays, they do get more of a breather, though of course they still have to plan things, ensure that documents meet certain criteria, etc. etc. ad infinitum. See where this is going?

It becomes even worse now that there are curriculum changes, because meetings need to be arranged to have planning sessions and discussions, but none of that can happen until more information becomes available – and yes, it’s available now, but schools close in two weeks time (here in the Western Cape, at least, that much I know), and one cannot expect teachers to have long meetings during a supposed ‘holiday’ when they have other work to do… so when must it be done/ take place? After school, for an hour or two, sometimes even longer – and when you get home then, you still have marking to do, your daily planning to check… and what about your family?

Teachers should be treasured, but a lot of students don’t seem to appreciate the fact that their educators do so much in able to help them reap the benefits.

That’s why I get so frustrated when I hear about strikes taking place. The last public sector strike (which includes teachers) lasted nearly a month – all because they wanted 1,6% more than the government was offering them!! *shake head in disbelief* Teachers didn’t go to their schools for weeks, and what happens now? Because 80% of the teachers weren’t at the schools to educate the learners – this is in Gauteng – the children now have to go to school until 7 PM to enable them to catch up with all the work they missed out on. And whose fault is it? Yes, the teachers. Because of their stubbornness, they as well as the learners must now suffer. I understand that teachers don’t make the best salaries (I know), but really – 1,6% and a R200/300 housing allowance extra? Was that worth dragging the name of education through the mud?

I don’t think so.

But that’s probably enough of a rant. It’s ironic that I’m working at a schools publisher, because my Significant Other (and my mother) encouraged me not to go into teaching – I’m too soft for it, anyway – and now look where I find myself. At least I’m dealing with students from a distance. I only hope that my contributions here will help the wider schooling public, and help the new curriculum along.