Surprise and disappointment

If you know me at all you’d know I’m a sucker for free things. Save for a few horribly inhumane things, there is very little I wouldn’t do for freebies. There is just something about them that escalates my utility to disproportionally high places.

Last week I got a collection slip in my mail. I had no idea what it could be as I hadn’t ordered anything and was a bit short on pen-pals. Nevertheless, I was hoping for something grand.

I made my way to the post office yesterday and eagerly awaited my package… The lady came back with a padded envelope. It was big enough to hold nice things, so I remained hopeful. On opening it I saw:

1) an old instruction manual for a microwave
2) spare keys
3) letter with bad handwriting

Turned out my friend Ash (who lived in my flat before me) was going through old boxes and thought the items mentioned above might be useful to me. Never mind that I changed the locks in March last year and had been using the microwave without trouble for almost 2 years.

But thank you, Ash. For the disappointment. It was sweet of you.

The List

I have a list. A list of all the qualities I look for in a boyfriend. In recent months, I’ve compromised it quite a bit. I got sick of people accusing me of being picky and decided to take on a “why not?” approach. They all start off great. Full of promise. But sooner or later, the happiness fades and I am painfully reminded of why I have a list in the first place.

It’s not enough to have love and passion. They fuel the beginning but it is dedication and compatibility that carry a relationship through. Take the cater-waiter for example. Sure, he was good looking but it didn’t take me long to realize we had nothing in common. He had no ambition, no future career prospects. He spoke about music and art, of which I had little interest. His most recent achievement was getting the best waiter award at his catering company. Lesson #1: It’s not about looks. He must be nerdy.

Then there was the smoker. He never lit up in my presence but the stench remained. Kissing a smoker was not pleasant… especially a plus-sized one. While it was purely a lifestyle choice and not a reflection on the caliber of the individual, I do feel quite strongly about taking care of one’s health. Lesson #2: Non-smokers only. Flabby bits are discouraged too.

The most recent one was the closest to the list, yet he was also the furthest. Driving 40km to see him was a mission and eventually it dwindled down to meeting once every 2 or 3 weeks. Having someone I can’t be with is worse than not having anyone at all. Lesson #3: Must live within a 20km radius and be willing to spend time with me.

The next person who teases me about my list will be ignored. It’s there for a reason and I should have stuck to it from the beginning.

Core Skills 2 – Sports Evening

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to finish documenting the awesomeness that was CS II; oh well, better late than never :)

Four days into our amazing adventure and more people have started showing signs of a sore throat and a runny nose. I managed to procure some meds and was determined to tough it our despite the fact that my body desperately craved detox and rest. Lectures finished early and we were given the afternoon to ourselves. What a treat!

Seeing as it was a ‘sport’ themed day, two lovely ladies from the Cape Town office (Jess and Natalie) thought it would be rad to make us t-shirts. They ran the whole thing from start to finish; from buying and painting the shirts to handing them out at breakfast… Their efforts got them the Chairman’s Values award and it was absolutely well deserved. We got to piggy-back on their creativeness and looked dashing in our matching EY shirts ;)

Image

After lunch, everyone made their way to Fields of Legend, where the organisers have set up various activities, from obstacle courses to human foosball. Oh, and the winning team from the previous two days’ games got to go on a much desired helicopter flip. I was a little green with envy :p

Image

There was also a photobooth set up at the dinner venue. Being a sucker for poses, I just *had* to queue for the snap shots.

P.S. Did I mention I also went on a Big Five game drive? ;)

You like me just the way I am

Movie night with the girls and we unanimously decided to rent Bridget Jone’s Diary, because, well – who wouldn’t want to re-watch a classic chick flick about a foreveralone.jpg girl with huge knickers and an adorable English accent? It’s been a while since I last watched it, and as each scene reeled in, I began to correlate bits of the film with my own life – and came to the conclusion that I was JUST like Bridget Jones, minus a few pounds. Oh, I neither smoke like a chimney nor drink like a fish but I DO have a crazy mother who, just over a year ago, gave me “permission” to start dating and is now hinting at a husband and babies. Wtf? (She happens to love pickles too.)

I go through these phases – they pretty much oscillate between “I’m no good with this, I’m such a loser” to “Something needs to be changed, I have to be better and make myself more marketable” back to “Fuck this, maybe it’s just not meant to be”. I often use poetry to channel these internal conflicts, much like Bridget and her diary. Except her writing is funnier but I get points for using couplets.

I can’t say I’ve ever fantasized about my boss, but I do pull off the short miniskirt remarkably well. I also have undies with cotton candy clouded patterns that are surprisingly comfy but probably not appropriate for date nights. Not that my dates ever reach that stage where it becomes relevant – so I guess I’m a less slutty version of Bridget Jones. Nevertheless, despite numerous failures, the attempt at finding a nice, sensible boyfriend continues – AND I HAVE A LIST TOO! In addition to not forming romantic attachments with “alcoholics, workaholics, commitment-phobics, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional fuckwits, or perverts”, I shall also endeavour to get myself a computer geek who’s funny, a good height, and English-speaking.

Have I mentioned I absolutely fail at cooking? I’ve never done something as bad as making BLUE SOUP but I did struggle to use a microwave at work last week – because that thing was bloody ancient! There wasn’t a numerical pad for me to punch in the time, only a “+10” button which I assumed meant “plus 10 seconds”, except the increments weren’t working. (The timer was frozen at 29 seconds and I wanted to warm my food for 2 minutes.) So, I called my friend who marched in, pushed the “start” button and marched off, before I could tell him that that wasn’t what I wanted to do! Now everyone on the team thinks I’m a dud Asian for not thinking to press Start. (Inb4made-in-China-jokes)

I know I’m pretty messed up in that I have “ridiculous” expectations (frankly I think they are quite reasonable), but these expectations are part of who I am and I’m not going to settle for anything short of a Mr Darcy: Someone who likes me just the way I am.

OH! Forgot to mention, I have this foot-in-mouth disease where I say things before they get filtered by the brain. I think it makes me more loveable, really.

Why I need a computer geek boyfriend

For the past week or so, I’ve been battling to resolve a particular computer-related problem. Long story short, there was a fora that I could connect to from home (in Kimberley) but not when I’m in Cape Town. I know the site is working as I could use a proxy server to connect to it, but proxy servers generally don’t have Java enabled, and I need Java for that site.

Anyways, I phoned my ISP and their tech-support didn’t know what was wrong (no surprise there). I could ping and tracert it but i just couldn’t access it from a browser. I asked the geeks on IRC and they couldn’t give me a workable solution either. I googled around a bit and went as far as to spoof my MAC address, hoping it would help… (I think the problem lied with my IP being blocked by the server?)

Eventually, after numerous laments on almost every channel I idled in, my friend gr3y came up with an answer. He helped me set up a SOCKS proxy so now I’m tunneling all the traffic via an US based server, and it worked!!! <3 him to bits.

I have a car! =D

Whew, what an arduous process it has been. Between finding the “right” car, getting finance, and dealing with sneaky salesmen, this experience has left me slightly overwhelmed and a little more wary of The Real World.


I have always wanted to drive an automatic, but they’re quite difficult to come by. I was on a limited budget so the only two viable options were the Polo Vivo 1.4 Trendline Tiptronic or the Kia Picanto EX and both were out of stock. In the end, I settled for a Polo Vivo 1.4 Trendline (manual), and figured I should get an automatic once I’m comfortable with driving stick.


I went to the dealership to get a quote and it was much more than anticipated. It turned out that

1) The salesman had given me the “Dealership Price” for the optional extras (central locking, alarm and radio) as opposed to the “Factory Price”. The difference was significant so I requested him to give me the factory-installed price, which he did.

2) The cost for the service plan was different to what was shown on the VW website. The salesman claimed the website listed the VAT-exclusive price for the service plan… except the website had clearly said “All prices are VAT inclusive”. It came to be R2000 more.

3) He also charged me ~R3000 for “admin” fees, which I thought was a bit much so I decided to buy the car in Kimberley rather. (Funny enough, shortly after I left, he emailed me with a sweet “Let me know if things don’t come right in Kimberley. I can even get you a better deal…) Ha! I have a strong dislike for dubious personalities so I wasn’t going to give him my money, just on principle.

The salesman in Kimberley had agreed to match the discount that was offered to me by the dealer in Cape Town, and he was willing to charge me R1500 for admin and related costs. I thought, GREAT!  I can get my car the first week of Jan! Except… none of the banks were willing to give me finance because I had no credit history and my contract with E&Y was only 3 years so a 5 year finance period was out of the question. If I were to do it over 3 years then the monthly repayments would have become unaffordable. (Article clerks earn surprisingly little for the amount of work that’s expected of us AND the firms get a nice R30 000 deduction per article clerk per year with an additional R50 000 deduction on completion of the training contract. You’d think they’d be more generous but nooooo!)

In the end I had to get it under my mom’s name and Wesbank was willing to finance it over 72 months. At that point, I was getting rather desperate so I didn’t negotiate a better interest rate – I just accepted the terms. When I went to fetch my car, I was told the red one (which was what I was quoted on) was not available but I could have the silver leaf one instead. Okay, whatever – a car is a car right? After my mom had signed the paper work, I discovered the invoice they sent to the bank was different to the quote that was given to me. WTF? Isn’t this all kinds of illegal? Maybe not, but it’s definitely unethical. How could they quote me one price then charge the bank another WITHOUT TELLING ME?

As it turned out, they had left out the service plan and the rationalization was that the silver leaf car came with a metallic colour as well as 14″ mags – both of which I didn’t need or want – and that was the set-off. The dude, let’s call him Mark, made up some crap excuse about how if he had included the service plan the car would have become unaffordable… except my mom was the applicant now, not me. There would be little reason for the bank to reject the application.

After threatening not to buy the car from them they eventually agreed to add the service plan, as per the original quote. To top it off, the dude made me give him a 10/10 for his performance rating. What a cheek.


Spot the Scammer


I spent the last couple of weeks apartment hunting and it was a rather gruesome exercise. I wanted a place close to work so I wouldn’t have to sit in traffic every day. Unfortunately the CBD isn’t the cheapest area around so finding the “right” apartment has been difficult. I scourged Gumtree multiple times a day to no avail until one ad caught my attention. I emailed the poster and received a response soon after. In retrospect, there were so many signs in that email that screamed “scam!” that I should have been aware of, but because I was so eager on finding a place I let my hopefulness over-ride my cynicism.


1. When I opened the email, the first thing I noticed was the poor grammar. Even my mom can draft together something better than that and her English is mediocre at best.


2. He claimed to be a British citizen, yet his grammar reflected that of a 5th grader. The email was extremely detailed, yet he couldn’t be bothered to run spell-check?

3. Most scammers do a thing I like to call “emotional arbitrage”. They weave up a soppy story which normally involves death and a inheritance, and they use that as leverage. When we see something we want, we tend to over-rationalize even when at the back of our minds we know that it’s simply too good to be true. I wanted to find an apartment so badly that I wanted to believe he was genuinely doing it for his father and that maybe he really was a good guy without a profit motive.

4. The average rate for a low-end 2-bedroom apartment in that area is about R6k – R7k, yet he only asked for R4k. The email came with a set of pictures which showed a decent sized apartment with nice furnishings which would have gone for R9k in an arms-length agreement.

5. As an internet friend pointed out, the “posting the keys” part sounded like complete bullshit. The fact that he wasn’t physically present in SA and he didn’t do this via an agency just didn’t compute.


Later on, he emailed me an application form which, as before, was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. However, the author of the document was something other than the name he proclaimed to be.


He didn’t ask for money; instead, he wanted my photo and all my details. Identity theft much? Needless to say I put him on my blocked list.

Breathe In, Breathe Out

The past couple of days have been hellishly stressful (I know this because my elbows have flared up again). Waiting for the exam results is definitely not a ride in the park. Luckily, the wait is over AND I PASSED EVERYTHING WOOT WOOT! I am now officially done with university (for the time being :P) and it feels great.

Next on the agenda:

* Find an apartment for next year
* Attend the Board Course
* Prepare for Boards
* Write the Boards
* Work
* Get a puppy
* Get a bf
* Start exercising
* Write more
* Buy a kindle so that I can start reading something other than my text books

FML

FML: a simple, three lettered acronym that became popularized not so long ago. I’ve never used it to describe my life/situation because I feel it should be reserved for something serious, like cancer or male pattern baldness. Luckily I don’t have either of those. I get a little judgmental when I see people complain about a generic first-world problem and then say “FML”. It makes me want to yell at them and go “Hello?! Stop yapping about your BBMs not delivering – at least you have a smart-phone (albeit a very shitty one). I’m still stuck here with a 4 year old Samsung that’s become a favourite amongst beggars… you don’t see me go ‘FML’ all the time.” — The point is, even with all the random craziness that goes on in my life (such as my flatmate throwing cat litter in the toilet and then in the bathtub) life is still pretty sweet in general. It’s when too many things go wrong all at once that makes me feel deflated and dejected enough to say “FML”.

A couple of days ago, I went for a vitamin B injection because I’d been feeling really tired. The injection gave me a nice energy boost; unfortunately, it also gave me an allergic reaction. Apparently, I’m one of those “rare” cases who develop hive-like rashes upon receiving a vitamin B injection – most people take vitamin B to stop their rash from appearing. Go figure. I have never been allergic to anything before this, so it came as a nasty surprise. My exams start next week and I am freaking out. It’s pretty difficult to study when I’m scratching myself to death, and it would really suck if I have to repeat my honours year. — Anyways, to combat the itchiness, I’ve gone back to taking antihistamines. They help to a certain degree, except they also make me sleepy which is bloody ironic because sleepiness was the reason I went for the vit B injection in the first place.

Between visits to the nurse, waiting for the nurse, visits to the chemist, and time spent dozing away, I have now arrived at the same point where I started, plus the rash minus the cash. Fantastic. If I fail the year, I think I might have to go eat a puppy, or something.

I don't know what that pink gooey stuff is but it looks gross.

 

Edit: Just my luck. Still 2 exams left and my filling decides not to stay attached to my molar anymore. Sigh.

Haemoglobin

I’ve heard this word uttered plenty of times – on Grey’s Anatomy, on House, and in primary school we used to have competitions to see who could say it the fastest – but I never really knew what they were (or did) until a couple of days ago.

I had been feeling exhausted for quite some time – The kind of exhaustion that would knock me out for hours because my body was too useless to do anything other than sleep. It didn’t affect life so much because my lectures started at 2pm so an early morning nap was a luxury I willingly took. Unfortunately, now that exams are just around the corner, I can no longer afford to take leisurely snoozes whenever I like. The tiredness really hampered my study routine so I decided some medical intervention was needed.

I went to the school nurse who did a finger-prick test which revealed my low haemoglobin count (1.5 mg lower than the minimum threshold for an adult female to be exact). Basically, I lack sufficient “iron-containing protein attached to red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body”. Apparently anaemia is common among females and a healthy dose of vitamin B12 is all that’s needed.

Now, I’ve been told horror stories about the vitamin B injection. Even the nurse warned me how she’d seen grown men squirm before the needle. Well, frankly, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. The injection itself wasn’t painful at all, and sure, the vitamin B burned a little but it was hardly something worth moaning about. Pfft.

Oh, and I got some cortisone cream for my elbows and they seem to be working (yay!).