Port Elizabeth: The German Club Easter OX Braai 2014

german ox braaiFor 45 years the local German Club have brought the annual Oktoberfest to Port Elizabeth, and this year they would like to introduce the first German Easter Ox Braai to PE and the surrounding areas, as a nice additional event to the always popular Port Elizabeth Splash Festival which runs over more or less the same period.

This family day will start at 10:00 on the 20th April and end at 22:00. There will be a variety of entertainment for the kids and live music for the older crowd. There will be a whole ox on the spit as you would get at a southern German summer fair, to be served with potatoes, onions and of course, Bavarian cabbage salad.

The food will be served from 11:00 through to 21:00. The meal is included in the Entrance fee, which is R100 for adults and R50 for kids 12 and under.

For more information, contact either Thomas Fuchs or Peter Allan via e-mail at info@germanclub.co.za, or telephone on 0413672791.

And just a note, but if you are thinking of travelling down to Port Elizabeth for the Easter Weekend, then it might not be a bad idea to book your accommodation at the venerable Wild Coast Sun Hotel.

Why? Well…

Set on the rugged, beautiful and unspoiled beaches of the South Coast in the Eastern Cape, the Wild Coast Sun Resort and Casino is a popular Sun International destination offering exceptional Wild Coast accommodation.

Visitors are attracted to the Wild Coast Sun, not only for its natural splendour, but also for the fabulous facilities and world-class golf course that can be found at the venue. The Wild Coast Sun is set on 750 hectares of natural bush between the Mtamvuna and Mzamba Rivers with gorgeous accommodation overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Although it is in the Eastern Cape, it’s only a kilometre south of KwaZulu-Natal, so it receives a lot of support from local KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape residents.

In 2011, the Wild Coast Sun underwent a major refurbishment to improve the casino, restaurants and bars and introduce a new water park, Wild Waves.

This fine example of Wild Coast accommodation caters to a wide variety of different people, from tourists, to local day visitors, conference delegates and those just passing through.

And there you have it – sounds like a good plan to me!

wild coast sun hotel

Related Link: http://www.germanclub.co.za/files/Download/oxbraai.pdf

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Craig’s Thumb versus the Super Glue

alcolin super glueAnnoyingly, the insole of my Pitbull sandals, which are only a few months old, are pulling loose from the base of the shoe – both of them at the same time believe it or not! (Strong evidence to indicate either poor manufacturing or design for that matter).

Anyway, not a problem, as obviously I am well aware that super glue solves pretty much all problems (it’s an upgrade from Prestik, which I relied on heavily as a teenager). So on Saturday morning, with Chantelle out on her wedding cake course and Jessica and Emily under my supervision, I whipped out the old half empty tube of Alcolin super glue from my toolbox, grabbed the sandals and started judiciously applying super glue to the contact points where I was going to be putting the insoles back into place.

Sadly this half empty tube of super glue needed a fair bit of squeezing to get glue out, meaning of course it was a little on the messy side – and one particular spurt had some glue trailing down the rubber heel of the shoe.

Noting that patch would need cleaning a little later on and that I should avoid touching it at all cost, I happily continued on my glue spreading mission, and once completed, then proceeded to press the insole in, pushing firmly downwards while placing my thumb securely in the… wet patch of glue on the heel of the shoe.

Instant bonding.

The rubber of the shoe and the flesh of my thumb instantly became one. Much tugging and pulling yielding in little more than the threat of the skin being pulled wholesale off my finger, lead to increased panic, which of course meant instant squinting at the little tube to see what it offered in terms of advice for this very situation.

Acetone seemed a helpful hint, and so I and my shoe (firmly stuck to my thumb) went off to single-handedly rummage through my toolbox, finding a nice full bottle (lucky!) of acetone.

Generous amounts of acetone and lots of warm soapy water did eventually allow my finger, and chunks of rubber, to part ways with my shoe – without actually costing me any skin, which needless to say I was pretty grateful for.

Lesson of the day. Super glue and I should not be friends.

(And on a side note, at least my shoes insoles are now both sitting firm.)

Medical Aid Gap Cover: Pretty Useful After All

stratum benefits logoA couple of years ago, just after Chantelle and I had gotten married and were in the process of amalgamating all of our accounts, etc, Chantelle on the advice from her family had us sign up with Stratum Benefits through a broker.

Now essentially, Stratum provides medical aid gap cover, but because it sounds nicer and more important when they say it:

Dear medical aid member, it is important to understand that should you be admitted to hospital for any reason, there might be a difference between what the medical provider charges and what is actually paid by your medical aid. You will personally be liable for these shortfalls that could amount to THOUSANDS OF RANDS, as illustrated below.

Our products are designed to protect medical scheme members from the shortfalls which they may encounter when incurring medical expenses. The reality is that the portion of medical bills not covered by medical schemes have increased significantly in recent years. Inadequate cover could spell financial ruin for a family in the event of a long period of hospitalisation or other medical crisis. [...]

Yes, it is a little sensationalized, what with all those unnecessary CAPSLOCK instances, but it turns out that they really do provide a useful service, if you are at all inclined to end up in the hospital on more than just a few occasions.

Obviously our big hospital encounter was the recent(ish) birth of Emily at the Vergelegen MediClinic, and although everything went super smooth and we were thrilled with the level of service received from both Dr. La Grange and Dr. Blaine, the reality is that when the invoices arrived, both far exceeded the Discovery Health’s Medical Rate, pretty much by double.

Of course these were grudgingly paid, and of course, that left a rather large hole in our finances, which therefore makes it super pleasingly that, after a brief review period, Stratum has just gotten back to us with the following news:

Patient: Chantelle Louise Lotter         
Procedure: C-Section
Admission date:  2014-01-13
Doctor La Grange: R 6 788.00
Doctor Blaine: R 2 567.40
ClaimStatus: Assessed
Claim amount:   R‎ 9 355,40
Claim payment date: 2014-04-15

…which is of course a welcome sigh of relief for my rather stressed bank account.

So yay for medical aid gap cover then in other words.

Related Link: http://www.stratumbenefits.co.za/

Calling All Buyers: Our Home is now up for Sale!

So with our Homelink Estates agent Len Wilmot’s week long vacation now over and done with, pleasingly he kicked off the week by getting straight back into the saddle and putting our house officially up for sale.

We’ve listed the house at what I think is a very fair price (R835,000), and so now it is a simple matter to sit back and wait to see if there are any interested buyers lurking out here in the always beautiful Gordon’s Bay.

Of course, when I say sit back and wait, I do mean paint all the interior walls, keep the place spic-and-span, and of course whip the garden into the shape of its life – after all, we are now on show! ;)

Although I’m sure the listing appears in more than just a few places, here are the links to both the Property24 as well as the Homelink Estates web listings:

(I have to say that I was a little surprised to see that Len decided to include some old exterior shots of the place dating back to when he last sold the place – i.e. to us. Obviously the house is no longer that colour and the lavender bushes are no more, plus the garden is now a heck of a lot more established, so I’m not entirely sure why he thought that might be a good idea. I can for now only surmise that speed was of the essence to get our listing up and running, and as such, he used what he had before coming to take the official photos this morning…)

5 country mews water fountain

Right. Here’s to wishing ourselves luck then! :)

(P.S. Interesting fact – our neighbours across the road also happen to be selling their house at the moment! How’s that for coincidence?)

Introducing DKExpressions.co.za

Started in early 2013, dkexpressionsDKExpressions.co.za is the brainchild of one Dale Kopping, and while it started out as a humble personal blog for Dale and his camera to capture all the events he was attending, it has since blossomed into a proper go-to portal to get all the latest news of all the biggest and most entertaining events happening out and about South Africa.

In other words, you need info on a Music Events, Carnivals, Festivals, etc? Or simply don’t know what to do with your evenings and weekends? Or maybe just want free tickets to things? Well then, go check out DKExpressions.co.za, or alternatively hop onto their Twitter feed at @ExpressionsByDK.

In addition to all of that, DK Expressions is now also a full blown services company, services which include the likes of “Sales, Marketing, Media and PR”, “Social Media Networking & Management”, and even “Photography and Filming”.

So pretty much the whole hog in this brave new world of Social Media Marketing then…

dkexpressions-dale-kopping

Related Link: http://dkexpressions.co.za/

(Please note that this is a Sponsored Post.)

The Big Sell

Believe it or not, Yesterday marked the end of the sixth year that I’ve lived in the wonderful little coastal town of Gordon’s Bay. Six years of living close to the sea, but miles away from friends, family and work.

First Nagua Bay, and then Country Mews, Gordon’s Bay has certainly been a pleasure to live in, and certainly I enjoyed the friendships made during my training period with the Funakoshi Karate guys and girls, as well as the various people I came into contact with through Chantelle’s guest house work, not to mention the people living in the Country Mews complex itself.

5 country mews home

However, the time has now finally come where I need to fix at least two of the three long distance aspects of our life, and that means it is time to sell up here in Gordon’s Bay and move back to Bellville in order to be closer to our friends and family, a point that has become increasingly important to us and our young little family as we get older with each passing year.

So what does that mean?

Well, we’ve approached Len Wilmot of Homelink Estates to start the process of selling our home for us (we did in fact buy this house from him, which means he should be able to sell it again!), and once we get some movement on that front (it could take a couple of months of course), we’ll start packing up our belongings, store the baking equipment with Cheryl and Monty (who have a little more space now that Rob has moved out of the home), and then go on the property hunt to find something that we can either rent or buy, and will hopefully be big enough to accommodate the four of us!

So right now I am in the stage of getting the house all nice and shiny for potential buyers – which roughly translates to me having to remove all those shelves I’ve lovingly put up over the years for Chantelle’s Cupcakery business! :)

The journey of moving back to our home town of Bellville has now started, and although it won’t be quick, Chantelle and I are VERY excited (and a little lot nervous because we’re moving from a cheaper area to a more expensive area and am not entirely sure as to how exactly we’re going to afford this, though of course we’ll make a plan), and SERIOUSLY can’t wait to have little Jess and Emily be close to Ouma and Oupa, and Granny and Grandpa, and of course Chantelle and I to be closer to our longtime circle of friends.

And who knows, I might even be persuaded pick up the badminton racquet once I’m back in my old stomping grounds? ;)

Exciting times indeed!

Review: Argento Soma (2000)

argento soma anime dvdIn 2054, an unknown alien life form fell from the sky. The destruction began and the United Nations government was forced reorganise the army to oppose them and to defend the Earth. This combat action was dubbed ‘The first encounter action’. In 2059, after five years, the battle is still going on.

Takuto Kaneshiro is a young scientist, currently completing his studies at a prestigious aerospace university. His girlfriend, Maki Agata, is also a young scientist, currently working with Prof. Noguchi to decipher more about the mysterious aliens. Their current project is a gigantic alien iron life form that fell from the sky. They finally managed to piece the patchwork giant up again and now hope to resurrect it.

But the experiment to awaken Frank, or Extra-1 as the military designates it, goes horribly wrong. As the facility known as Morgue crumbles around his ears, Kaneshiro can only watch in horror as the monster Extra-1 crushes his beloved Maki and Prof. Noguchi.

Somehow Kaneshiro’s life is sparred, but he is left horribly scarred and disfigured. As he lies recovering in the hospital bed, a mysterious man with red-hair approaches him. The man proposes a deal. If he gave Kaneshiro the power to destroy Extra-1, will Kaneshiro become his tool? With hatred burning in his heart, Kaneshiro accepts the stranger’s offer. He awakes to find himself with a new face, a new name and a new identity. Ryu Soma.

He joins up with the elite military anti-alien task force known as Funeral. Using their advanced weaponary such as the Sarg Mecha and the Mistel carrier, Funeral wage a non-stop war against the alien menace. Ryu fights alongside them, but his only real opponent shall ever be Extra-1.

Argento Soma is a very stylish artistic anime title. The stories are well told, the use of imagery nicely done and the music nicely presented. The ideas being portrayed are interesting and so you feel that this series should be a good package. Unfortunately it isn’t. It’s not bad, but the pace at which the story unfolds is so badly handled that you find yourself wishing the series would end already, that is, if you have continued watching it so far.

As mentioned before the story is relatively interesting. Aliens have invaded Earth and the military have scrambled to stop them. A special division called Funeral is established, and utilizing advanced mecha and machinery, are in charge of stopping the alien incursions. A pathwork alien falls in their hands and becomes their tool against the aliens. However, the main character, Takuto Kaneshiro loses his girlfriend as well as a part of his face when they revive the patchwork alien, known as Extra-1. Kaneshiro, pushed by a mystery man, assumes a new identity of Ryu Soma and joins up with funeral. The story focuses on the hate relationship between the two and how this is eventually resolved. The character, alien and mecha designs are all first class and the storytelling is very well done, but the series is let down by horrible pacing.

The animation on Argento Soma is very nicely done, with movements being very fluid and realistic. The aliens take on the same feel as those in Neon Genesis Evangelion, something instantly recognizable to Evangelion fans. The music is atmospheric and the anime has a beautifully melodic opening track. However, the end track sounds kind of out of place, so I usually skip listening to it.

Overall, you can see that the director was trying his best to put forward a polished and artistic piece of work. It would have succeeded too, if it only hadn’t been for the poor story pacing. If you enjoy a good drama and some mecha action, then you might enjoy Argento Soma. Just don’t expect to watch the series all in one go though.

argento soma anime

(Historical Note: This was written back in August 2003. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argento_Soma

Packt Publishing celebrate 2000th Release with Buy 1 Get 1 Free Promotion!

packt publishing logoIf you are a software developer like me, then Packt is a pretty handy resource to be aware of – essentially a digital publisher specialising in tech-related books.

Anyway, they’ve just gone and released their 2000th title (they originally kicked things off back in 2004!), and to celebrate this milestone they’re launching a Buy One, Get One Free promotion across their entire range of eBooks.

The campaign begins on 18th March 2014 and will continue up until 26th Mar 2014.

Check it out at here.

packt publishing promotion

Press Release: Known for their extensive range of pragmatic IT ebooks, Packt Publishing are celebrating their 2000th book title ‘Learning Dart’ – and they want their customers to celebrate too.

To mark this milestone Packt Publishing will launch a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ offer across all eBooks on March 18th – for a limited period only.

‘Learning Dart’ was selected as a title and published by Packt earlier this year. As a project that aims to revolutionise a language as crucial as JavaScript, Dart is a great example of an emerging technology which aims to support the community and their requirement for constant improvement. The content itself explains how to develop apps using Dart and HTML5 in a model-driven and fast-paced approach, enabling developers to build more complex and high-performing web apps.

David Maclean, Managing Director explains “It’s not by chance that this book is our 2000th title. Our customers and community drive demand and it is our job to ensure that whatever they’re working on, Packt provides practical help and support.

At Packt we understand that sometimes our customers want to learn a new programming language pretty much from scratch, with little knowledge of similar language concepts. Other times our customers know a related language fairly well and therefore want a fast-paced primer that brings them up to a competent professional level quickly.
That’s what makes Packt different: all our books are specifically commissioned by category experts, based on intensive research of the technology and the key tasks.”

Since 2004, Packt Publishing has been providing practical IT-related information that enables everyone to learn and develop their IT knowledge, from novice to expert.

Packt is one of the most prolific and fast-growing tech book publishers in the world. Originally focused on open source software, Packt contributes back into the community paying a royalty on relevant books directly to open source projects. These projects have received over $400,000 as part of Packt’s Open Source Royalty Scheme to date.
Their books focus on practicality, recognising that readers are ultimately concerned with getting the job done. Packt’s digitally-focused business model allows them to quickly publish up-to-date books in very specific areas across a range of key categories – web development, game development, big data, application development, and more. Their commitment to providing a comprehensive range of titles has seen Packt publish 1054% more titles in 2013 than in 2006.

Erol Staveley, Publisher, says “Recent research shows that 88% of our customers are very satisfied with the service knowing that we offer a wide breadth of titles in a timely manner, and owing to the quality of service that they receive 94% of customers are willing to recommend Packt to friends and family. It’s great that we’ve hit such a significant milestone, and we want to continue delivering this fantastic content to our customers.”

Related Link: Packt’s Buy One, Get One Free Promotion

(Please note that this is a Sponsored Post.)

Cars.co.za reviews the Aston Martin Rapide S

Aston Martin’s iconic DB9 coupe is without a doubt a stunning beast. Which then means that by slapping on an extra two doors onto the car in order to produce a four-seater supercar, we should still be guaranteed just as stunning a beast, right?

Well thankfully, as the gorgeous Aston Martin Rapide S goes on to prove, we were pretty much right on the money.

Cars.co.za reviewer Ciro De Siena put together a great video review for this exotic supercar entry, slapping it on their always informative car reviews subsection of the site:

See?

The Aston Martin Rapide S is not the fastest supercar, nor the cheapest, nor the most practical, nor the most reliable, nor the most economical – and yet, nevertheless, it is still quite extraordinary.

aston martin rapide s sportscar black

Related Link: http://www.cars.co.za

(Please note that this is a Sponsored Post.)

Review: Golden Boy (1995)

golden boy anime 1Oe Kintaro, age 25. A professional wandering spirit, he withdrew from Tokyo University Law School before graduating, but only after he had already completed all the requirements for graduation. Ever since, he has travelled the highways and byways of Japan, trying out new jobs and positions, and learning about life to the fullest. Riding his favourite bike, the Mikazuki 5, he keeps moving forward, always on the lookout for new knowledge and adventure.

In tip top physical condition and sparkling mental health, his hobby is studying the world (and the girls) around him. And who knows, someday perhaps he may just be destined to save Japan – or even the world.

Or then again, maybe not.

Golden Boy is based on the manga written by Tatsuya Engawa (who even makes a cameo in episode 6). It is an extremely funny 6 part OVA that takes a look into the life of Kintaro Oe, a professional wandering spirit. Kintaro is a free spirit, moving from job to job whilst travelling throughout Japan on his trusty bicycle. Kintaro is a very bright, athletic and healthy boy, though one wouldn’t say so from watching his actions. Kintaro is a good man with a good heart and will go out of his way to help others without them even realising that he is helping them. Coming across as an idiot and a nobody, Kintaro uses this to his advantage to learn more about the world around him. All his experiences are jotted down in his trusty notebook, his crib notes for life. Kintaro’s only weakness is his eyes for beautiful girls. Kintaro is a bit of a pervert, who can’t stop thinking about sex and pretty girls. Although never doing anything about his perverted visions, Kintaro does have one strange vice – the weird obsession with hugging and drinking from the toilet that a pretty girl has used.

The OVA follows Kintaro through six of his adventures, all involving a host of pretty women. He works as a software house janitor, a noodle maker, a swimming instructor, a house boy, an election campaigner and even an animation production assistant. And in each job he finds some girl that needs his help – even if she doesn’t know it yet. The stories are all funny and charming, with one sitting on the edge of their seat to see how Kintaro resolves matters right at the last moment. The only problem with the series if there is one, is that the stories all follow fairly the same plot. Kintaro finds job, Kintaro sees girl, Girl has problems, Kintaro solves them before running off into the sunset. However, given that this is only a six-part series, it gets away with it just fine.

The animation for this title is excellent. The use of facial expressions to emphasize the humour couldn’t have been better done. Every time you see Kintaro doing or thinking something stupid you can’t help but laugh. The women are all sexy and well-proportioned and the action sequences are fluid and exciting. The colours look a bit washed out, but that may just be the copy I watched. The voice acting for both the Japanese and the English versions are good, though I must say that the English version brings across the blithering idiot character of Kintaro across far better than its Japanese counterpart. The opening sequence animation and score aren’t up to much though it must be said.

If you are looking for a good ecchi laugh, the Golden Boy will deliver. A truly funny anime, it is a must see for all serious guy otaku.

golden boy anime 2

(Historical Note: This was written back in October 2004. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Boy_(manga)