Some good service

Sadly, SA is not noted for its customer service. Or rather, it is, but not in a good way. That’s why when I have some good customer service, I like to tell people about it. And this week has been a revelation in what other countries would call “service”, but what we here in SA call “fantastic service”. These companies should be celebrated and rewarded. I will do the celebration bit here, you sort out the rewards bit by doing business with them.
Companies must adapt or die. As this unnatural form of natural selection proceeds, so poor customer service will die out like the dinosaurs (but without massive meteorite involvement) and good customer service will evolve to be the dominant species.

Hi-Q Wynberg
After my op, I wasn’t allowed to drive for a while. And when I did want to drive, my car wouldn’t start. Even trying  to jump-start it via its big sister didn’t work and I deduced that it needed a new battery. Cue a call to Andre (021) 761 7063, who did exactly what he said he would, exactly when he said he would and got me back on the road.

Having decided that we needed to save money on electricity (who doesn’t?), we turned to Geyerwise for assistance. They got one of their distributors – Leon from Geysol (076 036 0623) – to pop around and fit our unit for us. One prompt, fast, friendly, helpful and clean job later, we are saving money on our electricity. How much, I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know. I’m hoping that the unit will pay for itself inside three months. After that, it’s pure saving goodness.

ADM Home Appliances
With two kids and an annual Cape Town winter, a tumble dryer is a luxury necessity. And it’s only when it goes wrong that you realise how much you rely on it. Not so much yesterday, with its 29.5°C temperatures – more on days like today with its 29.5mm+ of rain.
Ours went badly wrong last Friday and so we called in Deen from ADM Home Appliances on (021) 797 2321. He came, he saw, he took the machine away, he gave us a quote, he fixed the machine and he brought the machine back. What’s not to like?

Pool Doctor
Ironically right next door to my friends at Hi-Q (see above), Pool Doctor (021) 761 9121 dropped in right when they said they would to sort out my leaking pump. Then they sorted out the leaking pump and my pool is looking ready for summer already. This seemed like such a good idea in yesterday’s sun. Today, I’m going to see how the overflow works.

So, if you need bits for your car, to save money on your electricity bill, an appliance repaired or your pool sorted out – please give these guys a call and do your bit to promote decent customer service.

The Plan To End All Plans

Or so they say…

Incoming from the 6000 miles… hosting company far, far away – via The Guru:

Server: walter
Plan: The Plan To End All Plans + Turbo Package

We are scheduling maintenance for your server (Walter) on September 8,
2011 between 4:00am and 7:00am CDT in order to switch from the
standard MySQL to Percona – an improved version of MySQL. The process
will take at least 15 minutes and involves shutting down MySQL,
installing Percona, and starting Percona. During this time, anything
that requires a MySQL database will be unavailable. Examples include
WordPress, Drupal, and similar script applications. Websites that do
not utilize a database, email, and ftp will remain online and
operational during this maintenance.

While this maintenance can sound worrisome, fear not! This change will
not negatively impact your websites! In fact, database performance
should actually increase! Additionally, Percona allows us to view
statistics on a user by user basis which in turn will allow us to
better identify those users abusing resources. This alone will help us
to provide a more stable server for everyone involved.

Basically, at first glance, it seems like it’s just a quick heads up about a bit of server downtime for an upgrade, but apparently there’s so much more to it than that. The “The Plan To End All Plans” label suggests that the installation of this Percona thing (which I think is a small town in central Italy), is the biggest, best and indeed, ultimate attempt to increases database performance, detect abusing users and provide greater server stability on “Walter”.

The upshot of naming it thus does, however, create some concerns. If I should find that my database performance is not increased to my satisfaction, then there’s actually no point in my hanging around and waiting for the next upgrade  – this, after all, is The Plan To End All Plans. There is no plan after this.
If I am dying, post-upgrade, for better server stability than I am getting – I should go elsewhere. After The Plan To End All Plans, there are, by definition, no further plans to improve my user experience.

Of course, on the flip side, should I be an abusing user (wittingly or not), and my user abuse is unidentified, even after The Plan To End All Plans, then I’m home free. After all, if the local Carabinieri are unable to detect my naughtiness now, they never will be. There are no further plans after The Plan To End All Plans. This is it – the final throw of the dice.

All in all, it seems to suggest that once we’re all done here, I will be stuck with a hosting package which will never be upgraded again; and while it may be fitted with a Turbo Package and a Tuscan conurbation, even when a new, improved Turbo Package and a town with more residents, charming houses and fantastic cuisine comes along, given that the final dice is to be thrown between 4:00am and 7:00am CDT September 8 2011, those things will pass me by.

Of course, in the meantime, before those improvements aren’t made, 6000 miles… will be the ultimate display of rocket-fuelled, Turbo Package-charged, database-refined wonder.
It will be The Blog To End All Blogs (again).

Although we might not be around for 15 minutes around lunchtime tomorrow.

You have been warned.

Post-op thoughts

And so here I sit/slump/lie, mildly drugged, with several holes in my abdomen.

I’ve been out of hospital for a couple of days now and I’m making my way along the road to recovery. The op went well and I’m under doctor’s orders to take it easy. As he said, I can eat what I want, drink what I want and do what I want, but if he sees me before the scheduled follow-up appointment, then he’ll know that I have no common sense.
“The operation may be routine,” he told me when I first saw him, “but it should not be underestimated.”
A bit like life really. But he was right. While I was in and out of theatre within the prescribed 90 minutes, things went badly wrong for the patient across the ward from me – a nice older gent who had been doing the Cape Times crossword with his wife before I went in – who was having the same op with the same surgeon immediately after me.  He ended up in the High Care unit after 3 (4?) hours of surgery and had to go back under the knife the following day to attempt to rectify matters. I’m sad to say that I have no idea how things went. I’ll make a point to ask when I see the doc again.

Immediately after coming out of theatre, I was plied with morphine. I have a vague recollection of the nurse asking me if I was in pain. I was. She slipped some morphine into me and asked again. I seem to remember telling her that yes, it still hurt and she gave me some more. Things were going quite nicely at this point, and it seemed that I had quickly worked out an excellent system for legally obtaining copious amounts of opiates by just giving an affirmative single word answer. However, it rapidly fell apart when I missed her next question as I was too busy watching the huge gerbils chasing each other excitedly around the walls of the ward.

Sadly(?) I’m not on anything quite so strong now and my bedroom is a gerbil-free zone. But everything is still a bit fuzzy and though I have proof-read this post about 74 times already, I keep finding errors and those are the errors that I have found. Apologies for any that I have missed.

And so this is me for the moment, still a bit slow and a bit sore, having now learnt that you use your abdominal muscles for absolutely everything you do. Breathing, laughing, coughing, walking, any sort of movement whatsoever, sit-ups (OK, I knew that one already), dancing, abseiling… absolutely everything. I have tried to cut down on my painkillers already, but it’s not an option yet, and now my wife has asked me to do the shopping (online – no driving for 10 days).
It could yield some interesting  – but I hope at least entertaining – results.

I’ll let you know.


As this post publishes itself (via the magic of WordPress), I will – if all is going according to plan – be lying on a bed in an operating theatre in a hospital deep in the Southern Suburbs (no, not that one – I want a decent chance of survival) with a highly accomplished and highly expensive surgeon delving inside me like they do on Grey’s Anatomy.
I’m not particularly looking forward to this. My last “proper” op was when I was 7.
The aim of this one from my point of view is twofold: it will hopefully sort out the medical issues I have had recently and it will give me a chance to flirt with the nurses on the recovery ward.
In addition, I’ll be handily placed for the local A&E department when my wife reads this.

Pre-posting this is a bit of a risk: previous pre-posts about big events backfired spectacularly. I can only hope that that incident was a one-off. I can’t afford similar disasters with today’s operation.
Although the thought has occurred to me that it would be unlikely to be cancelled because of heavy snowfall.

Anyway, I digress. Often. And this time it’s probably because of pre-op nerves. See, much like when one reads a newspaper story about an event that one witnessed and one  realises just how inaccurate the papers are, so it is with being a patient in a hospital when one has, for much of one’s life, worked in and around the medical profession. That smooth veneer of cleanliness, knowledge, professionalism and caring that you see as an outsider actually often covers a multitude of sins. I would prefer to be ignorant of these things for the next few days.
Indeed, the run up to this op has been plagued by poor service, misdiagnoses and ineptitude at virtually every step. It doesn’t fill me with confidence.

Still, it should all be plain sailing as long as the bloke with the knife has had his morning coffee (maybe the pre-op nil-by-mouth thing goes for surgeons as well).

All being well (but most especially me) I should be back blogging “soon”.
Maybe  even sooner than that if I manage a couple more pre-posts before Thursday today.
You’ll never know the difference.

Old pics of Cape Town

Look what  found on flickr: the Bygone Cape Town Set by user Etiennedup, who says:

A while ago I looked for some sixties and seventies photos of Cape Town on the Net. To my amazement I could not readily find any.
Having spent some of my most memorable times in the Mother city, I undertook to do something about it, and what you see here is part of an ongoing project to share some of the images of bygone Cape Town. I start off with eleven photos of of Cape Town that must count amongst the earliest known colour images taken of the city. Also included are early post cards and b/w photos. Shall be adding more……..

He may have started with 11, but he’s now amassed 814, with almost 94,000 views at the time of writing. Wow.

There’s plenty of interesting stuff in there and it’s great for a good browse if you have a spare half hour (or more) (or less).
My particular favourite is this one of the S.A. Seafarer not faring ever so well in the S.A. Sea back in 1966.

My mother-in-law – who was living in Mouille Point at that time – was part of the crowd that watched the vessel being smashed onto the rocks. Or so she says anyway: I don’t see her there.

You might like to compare and contrast this image with the one here to see how things have changed over the past 45 years. Use the Green Point lighthouse as a reference point – it’s the red and white diagonally-striped building.
(Or, if you’re looking at the photo above, the grey and white diagonally-striped building.)

In both cases, it has a big, bright, rotating light on the top of it.

Not that that did the S.A. Seafarer much good.