Stress Free Christmas Shopping

After all these years, I think I’ve found the way to do it. And while it might ruin the chances of a repeat performance for me next year, I’m willing to share my new found knowledge with you, my loyal reader.

You’ll need a few things to make this work well:

Firstly, you need to not be at work. Obviously, you need to have a job in order to have money to pay for things, but you don’t want to be at work on this particular day. That said, you do need it to be a normal working day for everyone else. I used Monday 20th December.
Secondly, you don’t want to have any children with you. For this purpose, we used Poliswa. Trained in the art of looking after our kids, she did an admirable job of doing just that all day (plus all the washing, ironing, cleaning etc etc etc). The woman is a dynamo.
Thirdly, pick your venue carefully. It must have all the shops you need, but as few as possible of the ones that other people need. This rules Anal Walk out completely, because while it has three shops that you need, it also has 7,613 of the ones that you don’t. This 0.394% useful shop ratio (USR) is completely rubbish. Cavendish is full of Southern Suburbs tannies (even more so than usual) which is extremely unpleasant and you need to remortgage your house to afford parking there.

You should probably head for a smaller mall, like the V&A Waterfront, which Capetonians avoid throughout December because they think it’s going to be hugely busy with tourists, but which in actual fact is ever so quiet: all the Vaalies are doing the boat trips because they’ve never seen the sea before, and all the Europeans are stuck in a snowdrift in Heathrow, Amsterdam or Frankfurt.
The V&A also has Meloncino, which is a great place to stop for lunch and an even greater place to stop between 4-6pm, when all cocktails are half-price. The service is excellent, the food is excellent and the views are none too poor:

Panorama via Photaf for Android

And then just go for it, safe in the knowledge that there will always be a draught Peroni or Strawberry Daiquiri waiting for you should you need a break. Or – if you need sustenance on the fly – a small Lindt chocolate reindeer.

We left home at 8am and returned at 6pm. Parking was R10, all our was shopping done and surprisingly we were still talking to one another and actually rather relaxed (if a little jaded). Neither of us is quite sure how or what happened, but we will be trying it again next year.

I might actually test drive the beer and cocktail bit each month. Just to get it exactly right.
Planning is everything.

The Soutpiel conundrum

I get called a lot of names because of this blog. Some are nice, but probably most are not. The less pleasant ones dribble limply into the metaphorical pond, like water off a duck’s back. But there’s one which is fairly regularly used each and every time I make any criticism of South Africa (that being both my home and the country where I pay my taxes) or anything or anyone South African.
That insult is “Soutpiel” – usually abbreviated to “Soutie”.
And it reared its ugly head again after the Zuma v Zapiro post yesterday.

The term is almost exclusively used in a derogatory manner, but when I actually looked up (or asked someone, can’t remember) what it meant several years ago, I almost burst out laughing.
A quick look at the wonderfully-titled Wikipedia page “Alternative names for the British”, tells us:

Another common term in South Africa used mostly by the Afrikaans is Soutie or Sout Piel. This is from the concept that the Brits have one leg in Britain and one leg in South Africa, leaving the penis hanging in the salt water. Sout Piel means Salt Penis (or rather “dick”). However, this term refers more specifically to British people who have settled in South Africa, as they are more likely to be imagined as having one foot in each country than a Briton who is simply visiting as a tourist.

Is that really the best that you can do?

Let’s look at the logistics of this. The distance from South Africa to the UK is about 6000 miles. Don’t ask me how I know that off the top of my head. It’s just a unique talent I have around memorising numbers.
Thus, in calling me a Soutie, you are inferring that when I stand, my feet are about 9656km apart. A ludicrous suggestion, I know, but this is your mind at work here, not mine.
And then, let’s suppose that in standing firm, one foot in Cape Town – possibly Greenmarket Square, I don’t know – and the other in Sheffield at the top of Fargate (next to the Yorkshire Bank), my legs are each at a sturdy, safe angle of 60° to the ground. In your mind, you now have a massive, massive equilateral triangle.
My legs are each stretching 9656km into the sky.
To put that in perspective, the International Space Station is orbiting around my ankles.

Your mind, remember?

The next bit might not be so nice to imagine – depending on how you like to butter your bread – it’s my “piel” and it is – for geometric purposes you understand – descending directly from the apex of the huge triangle created by my legs and the surface of the earth, which I have conveniently assumed is flat. The eagle-eyed mathematicians among you (those that haven’t fainted at the sheer scale and might of what stands before you) have just realised that we now have a right-angled triangle and we can bring our friend Mr Pythagoras into play, theorem in hand.

I hope that you can all remember that Mr P told us that:

(Piel² + 4828²) = 9656²

Which I will helpfully rearrange and solve for you using just a simple pen, an ordinary sheet of A4 paper and a Casio fx-85WA calculator.

To sum up, what you are telling me when you call me a “Soutie”, what you are saying is that
my member is 8363.341km long.
But, you know what they say: “size isn’t important”.  That’s what they tell you, isn’t it? Hmm?


But that’s not all.

While we’ve had a long, hard (careful now) examination of the “piel” portion of the word, there’s still this issue over where my prodigious organ is dangling and getting salty.
There is no ocean between Cape Town and Sheffield. Your only briny options are the horizontal slivers of the Mediterrenean and the English Channel. And my mighty manhood isn’t landing anywhere near either of them.

In fact, consulting any accurate map or globe will show you that it actually comes to rest somewhere close to the city of Tahoua in sandy, landlocked Niger, where it would probably nestle happily amongst the population of just under 100000 and be used as some religious monument or record-breaking sundial.
The closest you come to any saltiness is the fact that gypsum and phosphates are mined in the area.
It sounds like Brakpan. Not great.

So next time you want to come up with a first class insult to put me firmly in my place, I would steer clear of “Soutie”,  if I were you.

It really doesn’t work.

Five stars

When it comes to catching on to social media and the internet as a marketing tool, I think it’s fair to say that some of the more traditional industries have been a little behind the curve. I’d include wine-making in that category, but it does seem that some SA wineries are beginning to realise not just what to do with social media, but how to do it and how to do it right – as demonstrated in this short video released by the Klein Constantia vineyard just down the road from chez 6000:

True – there are still a few signs of naivety: leaving the video title as “kc master.mp4” is a little amateur, for example. But it’s a good effort, it’s well made, it’s fun and shows that even after 321 years, there’s still room for innovation.
And that’s impressive.

Oh – and they’re not bad at making damn good wine, either.
Fine work all round.

How to fix the download unsuccessful error on Android Market

A techie post on 6000 miles…? Surely not?
But yes – and I have my reasons. Read on.

I’m loving my Android-powered Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 phone: it’s fun, it’s useful, it’s damn good looking and Android is very stable compared with previous operating systems I have used.
However, I recently discovered an issue with the Android Market which manifested with the error: “Download Unsuccessful”.

I still don’t know what caused it, but it not only meant that I couldn’t add new applications to my flock (what is the collective noun for applications?), but also that I couldn’t update the applications I already had.
This was a problem.

I searched the internet for a solution and found several hundred, none of which actually worked. Running out of ideas and a full on, no holds barred, stick that in your pipe and smoke it factory reset seemed to be my only option.
However, through cleverly managing to stick two failed suggestions together I seem to have come up with a simple fix for the download unsuccessful problem, which I’m putting on here to help others and also so I can go back to it when this happens again.

Which it might.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select Applications.
  3. Select Manage Applications.
  4. Select Market.
  5. Select Clear cache.
  6. Press the back button (takes you back to list of installed applications)
  7. Select Download Manager.
  8. Select Clear data.
  9. You should now be able to download successfully from the Market.

Obviously, this worked on my X10, but I think that these are fairly basic/standard functions for Android phones, so I see no reason it shouldn’t work on yours as well.

If you use this fix – whether it works for you or not – please leave a comment with your phone details so others can learn from your experience.