And… an explanation

You’re probably wondering why this blog went very quiet. Here’s why.

I had a lot of issues in my personal life; a noteworthy one being a certain Office Freak – for those who post on my forum, see me personally, communicate with me over GTalk or IRC, I need say no more. For those who don’t, let’s just say that this person made every day of my job living hell. That’s all that needs to be said. Fortunately, at the end of last year, we did an office reshuffle and I got given two absolutely awesome people to share a new office with, so I’m really happy about that – I do feel sorry for the new people who have to share the office with The Freak. I do still keep a convenient stash of death metal in my office for occasions when it gets lost and wanders in; fortunately I’ve never had to use them this year as I have the impression that he’s somewhat scared of me now owing to how often I played those CDs at full blast last year. It takes a lot for me to take the trance CD out and replace it with the death metal one, so you can imagine the near constant frustration that I endured.

Well, here’s hoping that it gets fired soon enough, because it doesn’t do any work.

The other reason is one of time – between work, my church band and related activities, and looking after three forums in what spare time remains, I didn’t have much time for anything else. It’s not as bad as it was previously, but things are still pretty hectic – I really need to take time out and decide what’s important to me and what I should rather stop doing. Also, the whole mess with CTI didn’t exactly help either.

That being said, I believe that this blog of mine has been sorely neglected, and I really need to start posting more stuff on here.

Where art thou blog?

So, you’re probably wondering what’s happened to me, given my recent lack of activity here. I’m still alive; just got things taking up my time (*cough* World of Warcraft). 🙂

I’m finally done with the hellhole called CTI. Not sure if I passed everything, and to be brutally honest, given the pathetic way that my course was administered I don’t really care. I’m staying well clear now – if I want some more stuff to put on the CV, I’ll look into some Microsoft certifications (someone at my chuch is a trainer, so I have a good contact in that regard).

Then, PCF has been taking a lot of my time away from me as well. I was asked to take over the management of their forums, and started this in the middle of June. Due to some pretty nasty forum issues, it was decided to switch to phpBB 3 – as their database is huge (13,000 users, 1,000,000 posts – you do the maths), it took me all of a weekend to do. The users seem to like it though – yeah, you’ll always get the odd few who bitch and moan, but in general people were happy. Ettienne gave me the best feedback. 😉

I’m also more involved with the FRAG LAN again. You may recall me leaving entirely; however, they experienced website issues and asked me to come back to manage their website, which I agreed to. With CTI now a horrible thing of the past, I’m able to become more involved again. At the event at the beginning of September, I ended up doing the background music as Brendan (who does it normally) has matric exams to contend with. Long story short, all ~200 gamers were treated to a four hour live trance mix, which they actually quite liked. The plan now is for Brendan and myself to alternate throughout the weekend – as I do trance and Brendan does metal, that will give everyone some decent variety throughout the weekend; the problem that both of us have is that we’re too centred on one particular genre, which is fine for us, but not for the gamers.

I’m busy planning my year-end trips to other parts of the country – depending if Little Annoying Sister finds a flat to move into (aka Free Accomodation), I’ll be in Cape Town for a week in January next year. I’ll also be in CPT in May, as it’s Little Annoying Sister’s 21st birthday. So, those of you who want to catch up with me, those are your opportunities. I’m also thinking of making the effort to pop over to Johannesburg for a weekend to catch up with the PCF users in that part of the world – they’re a really great bunch of people. I just need to find someone who can let me crash over and take me around the place; kulula will do a great job of getting me there and back. (No, I can’t drive up myself – I don’t have my own car.)

OK, I think I’ve said enough. I’ll try to remember to check back in sometime soon. 🙂

Devil frog!

OK, so we know that the time of the dinosaurs must have been a pretty rough time to live. To say nothing of the carnivorous dinosaurs themselves, you had to deal with plenty of air and sea predators as well. As Gollum would say, “nassssty place, precioussss”.

Well, it seems like even the frogs were nasty buggers back then as well:

It was the biggest, baddest, meanest froggy ever to have hopped on Earth.

Scientists on Monday announced the discovery in north-western Madagascar of a bulky amphibian dubbed the “devil frog” that lived 65 million to 70 million years ago and was so nasty it may have eaten newborn dinosaurs.

This brute was larger than any frog living today and may be the biggest frog ever to have existed, according to paleontologist David Krause of Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York, one of the scientists who found the remains.

Rest of article

Well, although that frog is no longer around (thankfully), one now begins to understand why some African cultures have an irrational fear of frogs… 😉

Christmas

I’m probably going to get a lot of flak from the non-Christians, and maybe even the non-Catholics who read my blog. But what the heck. 😛

Ettienne, in his latest entry, believes that Christmas is a total waste of time. He states the following:

Many people don’t know this… but Christmas was originally a PAGAN festival. That’s right. When Christmas was first created, it was a festival in which public nudity and being drunk, gambling, etc etc etc was what was done. December 25th was a day on which many different gods were worshiped, gods like Elah-Gabal, a Syrian sun god, and Thor, the God of Thunder.

Christmas was never celebrated by Christians, ever, until eventually, in the year 379, the Catholics decided “Hey, how about we chuck Jesus’ birthday in with all these other pagan gods?!”.

There’s a reason why the early Church decided to have Christmas on December 25th, which I found after doing some research. No, it’s not the reason that Ett thinks, although it’s also not the actual birth date of Jesus (I doubt that there are birth records that far back, even within the Roman empire). This article explains the choice of date:

In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.

If that was indeed the intent, no doubt it has been a great success, as Christianity is now the dominant religion in the world today. The article that I linked to earlier mentions that some pagan traditions still continue today; this should in no way detract from the religious aspect of Christmas.

The article doesn’t mention of the giving of gifts to each other, but I remember reading somewhere ages ago that this was done to remind us of the gift of Jesus. Unfortunately, commercialisation has taken this way too far now. I’m not going to go into too much detail on this; I’m sure we all know it. After all, we all see it at this time of year. If you’re really interested, this Wikipedia article details how the religious aspects of Christmas are slowly being degraded by secular, commercial aspects. Maybe we’re just coming full circle from 350 A.D. – regardless, if you’re a Christian, it makes for some pretty depressing reading.

But it’s definitely not the fault of us Catholics. To be quite honest with my loyal blog readers, I’m getting rather sick and tired of my faith being constantly attacked, even by fellow Christians. Mass media isn’t helping either – just look at movies like “The Da Vinci Code”, and more recently “The Golden Compass”, both of which attack the Catholic Church. (Admittedly, they toned it down in the latter movie from the book from which it was adapted, but it doesn’t make it any less worrying.) In particular, I’m really concerned about other Christian groups attacking us. One person that I know ended up at a charismatic church for a while, and I was told that said church (or, at least one of it’s members) was distributing material attacking the Catholic Church. This is just plain not acceptable. We’re all Christians. We all worship the same God. We should be united – not divided.

But enough of that litte rant, and back to Christmas. Don’t ignore it. But if you’re Christian, then put the emphasis into the religious aspect of the whole occasion. As some local churches are saying, “Put ‘Christ’ back into ‘Christmas'”. It’s something that my family does extremely well, and if you’re Christian and reading this, try doing the same. You’ll get so much out of this “pagan festival” this way.

 EDIT: Seems like my shamless copying and pasting from other sources created a Javascript error on this page. Hopefully it’s fixed now.

A door closes

I finally made a decision that I really should have made a few months ago – the decision to leave the FRAG LAN core admin team. Due to the fact that most of my free time and financial resources these days is going towards my part-time studies, I felt that I could no longer contribute to the team, and the others on the team felt the same way. I believe that my decision to step down was the best thing for both myself and for the event itself.

Initially, I was going to leave completely; however, I’ve been asked to continue looking after the website – I suppose that the only real reason for this is that I’m the only one on the team who knows Joomla and phpBB 3 inside out. I’ve agreed to this, but I won’t be doing this indefinitely. Ideally, I’d like to train someone up on the FRAG website, and eventually be in the position to say “it’s yours now; do with it as you please”. I’m teaching one of the team members how Joomla works, and another how phpBB 3 works – neither of them are particularly challenging if you’re willing to learn.

I’m currently negotiating with the remaining core team as to them buying out the assets that I contributed towards the event (a server and some networking stuff). I have been given the opportunity to buy back into the event when I want to; however, I doubt that I’ll take this up. Firstly, I probably won’t be in a position to do this for at least another year, maybe more. Secondly, by the time I’m in a position to do so, I probably would have decided to move on. Thirdly (and this is totally personal), I may not even be gaming for much longer, given my growing discontent with Windows and the fact that the latest editions of Ubuntu are looking very, very tempting…

In a way, I’m sorry I had to stop this, particularly as I was one of the people who got the event rolling in the first place. At least I’ll now be able to concentrate on the things that need concentrating on.

Save the world! Drink less water!

This was published in the “letters to the editor” section of the Sunday Tribune this morning:

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is really misguiding us on how to solve the current water shortage crisis.

The best way for us to save water, which is essential to our future, is that we stop eating meat completely. Animals raised for food consume and waste huge amounts of water for our flesh-eating needs, and just advocating such acts is not morally justifiable.

According to a recent pamphlet brought out by Animal Rights Africa concerning the fight against global warming and how veganism is the best option to fight it, “Raising animals for food consumes more than half of all the water used in the world. It takes 11 365 litres of water to produce a kilogram of meat but only 272 litres to produce a kilogram of wheat.”

The department should have at the top of its list on “how to save water 101”, a “going vegan strategy for all”, and not a “don’t water your lawn too much” or “don’t take too long showers”, because that is absurd.

As Africans we’re being hit hardest by global warming. Why not be at the forefront of fighting it, by abstaining from consuming animal products completely?

Van Zijl Loots
Cape Town

In my humble opinion, Van Zijl Loots is a nutcase and an idiot. He’s probably the sort of person that would feed a newborn baby soya milk and apple juice.

The figures that are mentioned in this letter appear to be nothing more than sensationalist propaganda. Granted, it’s estimated that ~70% of the world’s water is used for agricultural purposes (source), but it’s probably mainly irrigation. We need that water to grow the kilogram of wheat. Cows just eat grass, which grows naturally. Wheat doesn’t grow naturally in a lot of places, it needs that irrigation. I haven’t researched the stated water consumption figures myself, but they do seem grossly exaggerated to me.

Another argument to consider is land usage and diet, and how they relate to each other. Take a drive through the Free State and you’ll see mielie fields as far as the eye can see. Now, consider the possibility of the entire population of South Africa going vegan. You’re going to need a whole lot more mielie fields to feed everyone, and considering that you get more energy out of meat than out of plants, you may not have enough room (especially if you live in a country like ours and bring land redistribution into the equation). It’s the same reason why more cars don’t run on renewable energy sources such as ethanol (as seen in The Amazing Race a few weeks back); greedy oil companies aside, there’s just not enough room to grow all that sugar cane and feed everyone on this planet at the same time.

And as far as this nutcase’s extreme beliefs go – if someone wants to eat meat, tough. Get over it.

How to survive a week on your own.

I present to you: Ron’s Survival Guide. To be used when the rest of the family is away in Cape Town.

  1. Make sure you have food that’s of the “put it in the microwave for five minutes” variety. Particularly if you can’t cook.
  2. Make sure you have some new trance livesets to listen to.
  3. Rent out some good films.
  4. Invite three of your friends over for a LAN at your place when it gets too lonely and too boring.
  5. Make sure that the dogs aren’t too much of a nuisance when aforementioned friends come over.
  6. If you’re really lucky, Telkom will pay you a surprise visit to check the local phone lines for ADSL connectivity. (As a follow-up, I phoned them this morning, and they still say that they’ll do the installation on the 18th.)
  7. There was a #7, but I’ve forgotten it now.

Why is Telkom so useless?

This is the sad story of trying to get ADSL…

My ADSL was ordered on the January 7th – the closest date to my return from Australia that I could get to a Telkom store. (Was told that actually physically going to a store was a better alternative to ordering over the phone or online). After giving them a few weeks, I phoned their call centre on the 29th (last week Monday) and was told that it would be installed on February 3rd and that a technician would call me later in the week to confirm a time to do the installation. So, I’m thinking “OK, great!” – but the week goes past and I hear nothing. I called them again last Friday (was planning to call them the day before, but that was the day that I was sick) and was now told “no installation date has been set”! So, I went from having an installation date to not having one. Typical bastards. On Monday this week (the day that my ADSL was originally scheduled to be installed), I phone their useless call centre again, just to see what was going on, and I got the same excuse.

Right, I thought. Flame time.

Off I went to Hellopeter and left a complaint. The Telkom staff that actually know what goes on (I’m surprised such people exist) read those comments and respond to them, and sure enough they phoned me up, promising to find out what the problem was. Not too long after that, I get their excuse – they apparently needed to upgrade the infrastructure in Kloof (and I have noticed some Telkom vehicles in the area around my place lately, so they were obviously doing something). After another call to their call centre this morning (and spending 15 minutes on hold listening to their rubbish canned music), I was told that the estimated time for installation is now the 18th.

Now, why couldn’t they have told me that they needed to upgrade their infrastructure in the first place? And why couldn’t their call centre tell me what I needed to know? Seems like it’s a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Telkom is so useless, it’s almost like they WANT to go out of business when Neotel starts up.

I’m hoping that they’ll keep their promises this time, but then again, this is Telkom that we’re dealing with. My friend Craig has also ordered ADSL at his place in Glenwood about three weeks after my order was placed; at this rate he’ll have his before I get mine.

I’ll keep you all posted as to further developments.

age++;

On Sunday I turn 22.

Since I won’t be around on Sunday to post this (the joys of still having 56K at home, which is practically unusable), I’ll get this off my back now. As per tradition, here’s “On This Day” for January 21.

Events

1785 – Chippewa, Delaware, Ottawa, and Wyandot Indians signed the treaty of Fort McIntosh, ceding present-day Ohio to the United States.
1861 – The future president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, and four other Southerners resigned from the U.S. Senate.
1908 – New York City prohibited women from smoking in public.
1950 – Former State Department official Alger Hiss, accused of being part of a Communist spy ring, was found guilty of lying to a grand jury.
1954 – The USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, was launched at Groton, Connecticut.
1976 – The first supersonic Concordes with commercial passengers simultaneously took off from London’s Heathrow and the Paris Orly airports.
1977 – President Jimmy Carter pardoned almost all Vietnam War draft evaders.
1998 – President Bill Clinton angrily denied reports he’d had an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and had tried to get her to lie about it.
2003 – The U.S. Census Bureau announced that Hispanics had surpassed blacks as America’s largest minority group.

Births

1738 – Ethan Allen, American soldier, frontiersman.
1813 – John Fremont, American mapmaker.
1824 – Stonewall (Thomas) Jackson, famous Confederate General of the Civil War.
1884 – Roger Nash Baldwin, American founder of the American Civil Liberties Union.
1905 – Christian Dior, French fashion designer.
1925 – Benny Hill, British comedian.
1927 – Telly Savalas, American Emmy Award-winning actor.
1940 – Jack Nicklaus, American golf champion.
1941 – Placido Domingo, Spanish operatic tenor.
1957 – Geena Davis, American film actress.

Deaths

1793 – King Louis XVI executed by guillotine in the Place de la Revolution in Paris, one day after being convicted of conspiracy with foreign powers and sentenced to death by the French National Convention.
1950 – George Orwell (pseudonym for Eric Arthur Blair), Indian-born British novelist and essayist.
1959 – Cecil B. de Mille, American film maker.
1997 – “Colonel” Tom Parker (born Andreas Cornelius van Kuijk), manager of Elvis Presley.
2002 – Peggy Lee (born Norma Dolores Engstrom), popular singer, songwriter, and film actress.