Category Archives: My Life

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER vs Airbus A340-300

To be fair, the ‘vs’ in this post title is completely misleading – but it just so happens that I’ll be experiencing both the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER and the Emirates Airbus A340-300 on my trip from Cape Town to Japan and back again (with stop-over in Dubai) – which kicks off this morning I might add!

Both planes came out in the early 1990s and both carry more or less the same amount of people, so it will be interesting to compare the flights across the two. Three out of the four legs of the journey will take place on the slightly more modern Boeing 777-300ER, though when I remember that each leg is roughly 10 hours in length, my excitement for these flights diminishes ever so slightly. (That’s a lot of flying to NOT particularly be looking forward to.)

Still, the Emirates in-flight entertainment system looks promising, so hopefully the time goes by faster than what I’m dreading…

Boeing 777-300ER

The Boeing 777 is a family of long-range wide-body twin-engine jet airliners developed and manufactured by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It is the world’s largest twinjet and has a typical seating capacity for 314 to 451 passengers, with a range of 5,235 to 9,380 nautical miles (9,695 to 17,372 km). Commonly referred to as the “Triple Seven”, its distinguishing features include the largest-diameter turbofan engines of any aircraft, six wheels on each main landing gear, a circular fuselage cross-section, and a blade-shaped tail cone. Developed in consultation with eight major airlines, the 777 was designed to replace older wide-body airliners and bridge the capacity difference between Boeing’s 767 and 747. As Boeing’s first fly-by-wire airliner, it has computer-mediated controls; it is also the first entirely computer-aided designed commercial aircraft.

The 777-300ER (“ER” for Extended Range) is the C-market version of the -300. It features raked and extended wingtips, a wing aspect ratio of 9.0, a new main landing gear, reinforced nose gear, and extra fuel tanks. It also has a strengthened fuselage, wings, empennage, and engine attachments. The -300ER is powered by the GE90-115B turbofan, which is the world’s most powerful jet engine in service, with a maximum thrust of 115,300 lbf (513 kN). Its maximum range is 7,825 nautical miles (14,492 km), made possible by higher MTOW and increased fuel capacity. The -300ER can fly approximately 34 percent farther than the -300 with a full load of passengers and cargo. Following flight testing, aerodynamics refinements have reduced fuel burn by an additional 1.4 percent.

Produced: 1993–present
Number built: 1,212 through June 2014
Unit cost: 777-300ER: US$320.2 million

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_777#777-300ER

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER

Airbus A340-300

The Airbus A340 is a long-range four-engine wide-body commercial passenger jet airliner. It was developed and produced by Airbus, a consortium of European aerospace companies, which is a subsidiary of Airbus Group (which was previously known as EADS). The A340 was assembled at Toulouse, France. It seats up to 375 passengers in the standard variants and 440 in the stretched -600 series. Depending on the model, it has a range of between 6,700 to 9,000 nautical miles (12,400 to 16,700 km). It is similar in design to the twin-engined A330 with which it was concurrently designed. Its distinguishing features are four high-bypass turbofan engines and three-bogie main landing gear.

The A340-300 flies 295 passengers in a typical three-class cabin layout over 6,700 nautical miles (12,400 km). This is the initial version, having flown on 25 October 1991, and entered service with Lufthansa and Air France in March 1993. It is powered by four CFMI CFM56-5C engines and uses the Honeywell 331–350[A] APU, similar to the -200. Its closest competitor is the Boeing 777-200ER.

The A340-300E, often mislabelled as A340-300X, has an increased MTOW of up to 275 tonnes (606,000 lb) and is powered by the more powerful 34,000 lbf (150 kN) thrust CFMI CFM56-5C4 engines. Typical range with 295 passengers is between 7,200 to 7,400 nautical miles (13,300 to 13,700 km).

Produced: 1991–2011
Number built: 377
Unit cost: A340-300: US$238.0 million

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A340#A340-300

Emirates Airbus A340-300

(In case you are wondering just why I am so excited by this flight prospect, please take into account my love for planes and the fact that I have never ever flown overseas in my life before. That’s 34 years of looking up at the sky and marveling at these metal beasts of burden!)

I Lost Jessica.

I’m not making a very big deal out of this, or at least wasn’t at the time, but in truth it really is a big deal. You see, today I lost Jess. I did not know where my daughter was and it was scary as heck. At the time I was calm and collected, but looking back at it now, it was scary as hell.

And it could have ended much worse.

The stupid part is that all of it was down to a very basic parenting mistake quite frankly – I should, and do, know better. Parenting 101. But mistakes do happen and today a very big one was made.

With Chantelle working, I was left on kid duty for the day, and still needing things for my upcoming trip to Japan, I bundled Emily and Jessica into the car and headed off to Somerset Mall. With Emily in her pram, and Jessica holding my hand, we entered Pick ‘n Pay and made our way through a very busy store (payday weekend) down to the furthest corner which houses the clothing section.

Together Jessica and I browsed through the t-shirts and loaded up the pram with a few new ones which she helped me pull out. Then I stopped to have a quick look at the shorts because the only pair of shorts that I currently possess has a great big hole in the crotch area and I’m having huge difficulties in sourcing shorts big enough to fit my large posterior and tree trunk legs. One pair in particular looked quite promising.

Meanwhile, bored, Jessica had taken to climbing up and down the staff ladder and was happily busy entertaining herself in the clothing area.

I asked for access to the fitting cubicle and pulled Emily, pram and all inside. I looked to my side and saw Jessica still happily playing on the ladder. I told her that Emily and I were going inside, and when she is finished she must come here to me. I closed the door and started changing pants.

All of a sudden I hear Jess’ voice crying “Daddy, daddy, where are you?!?”, and recognizing that the voice was travelling away from the area at a very fast pace, I basically flung open the door, pulled up my pants, grabbed Emily’s pram and started searching. Soon I had a number of ladies that were in the area helping me with my search (it is a very large store), and whilst they combed down the aisles, I headed straight down the line of tills, loudly bellowing “Jessica!” down each and every aisle that I passed.

As I reached the entrance of the store, one of the ladies who was helping me look down the aisles, caught my eye gestured that she had spotted Jess, and I won’t lie, my heart skipped a beat when I turned at the entrance to spot a quivering, sobbing Jessica sitting at the manager’s desk in the front of the store.

I swooped in and picked up my frantic little girl, giving her the biggest bear hug that you can imagine.

Twenty seconds later, with a packet of Nik Naks now in her possession, and no more tears in sight, we were walking back towards the clothing section, hand firmly in hand.

(For the record, this time Emily, Emily’s pram, Jessica, and I all squeezed into the cubicle together. The shorts didn’t fit.)

jessica lotter eating mcdonalds chocolate sundae ice cream

A lesson learned indeed.

Princess of Hand-Me-Downs

Shame, if being the second child is already so sucky compared to being the firstborn, I would hate to know what it feels like to come third!

Emily is without a doubt the Princess of Hand-Me-Downs, not a title to be proud of mind you. Eight months she has been with us already, and do you know how many new toys we’ve bought for her in all of those eight months?

Zero.

Zip, zilch, nada.

Quite frankly (from our point of view) she can make do with all of Jessica’s old baby toys and whatever other colourful piece of plastic that catches her eye and won’t cause her to choke. It’s quite shameful actually, but other than clothes, dummies and baby bottles, there isn’t very much else that we’ve bought brand new for her. (And to be honest, if we hadn’t given away 99% of Jessica’s baby clothes to worthy causes over the years before the arrival of Emily, she’d probably be living in those as well!)

If it wasn’t shameful enough, in terms of photos taken with the digital camera (best quality) as opposed to just quick shots with the phone camera (okay quality)? Pretty close to zero as well.

It gets worse though. Number of Emily photos up on display in the house?

Big fat zero.

So Emily Lötter, Princess of Hand-Me-Downs, without a doubt. Shame, no matter how adorable and more cute you might be than the firstborn as a baby, being the second seriously sucks!

baby emily lotter eating a lemon

Overwhelmed and Underpaid

Spotted this Dilbert cartoon from Scott Adams the other day and it kind of resonated with me and the way I am feeling regarding work at the moment.

dilbert on having too many projects

To put it lightly, I’m tired. I’m stressed and I’m tired. I’m tired of being responsible for everything, I’m tired of running everything, I’m tired of having to implement, maintain and monitor everything at work. Never enough resources, too many bent and broken promises and agreements, and too little focus.

I’m tired, and probably very near the end of my lengthy journey within the current environment.

I take solace in the fact that I’ve restructured my week to now work 80% of the time from my Gordon’s Bay home office in order to spend more time with the family. The truth however is that I now end up putting more time into work instead of less because of the more flexible working arrangement.

Perhaps this imminent two week complete break from my job responsibilities will lift my spirit and revitalize my working soul, perhaps, but for now it is a simple fact that I am stressed and that I am tired, and in all likelihood, need some change.

Back to Work She Goes

Having two kids is expensive. It doesn’t have to be of course – you could just dress them in newspapers and toiletpaper – but needless to say we prefer to be able to give them a little more in life.

Sadly, Chantelle’s Cupcakery hasn’t recovered very well following the loss of the Sacred Ground supplier contract as well as our withdrawal from the food market circuit, and saddled with the heavy debt incurred during the disastrous Stellenbosch Christmas Market debacle at the end of last year (don’t ask, but thanks to poor planning on the event organisers’ part, it was a complete and utter fail) –  so needless to say, things have been pretty tight in terms of the Lötter household finances this year.

So much so that Chantelle has finally had her hand forced and has re-entered the job fray, joining up with her old employers Gordon’s Beach Lodge as a part time guest house manager for them (Hello Andy!).

So it is back to the horrible notion of morning and evening shift work, not to mention working over weekends, but what has to be done, has to be done. It just means that I need to up my Daddy skills – looking after one little girl is a breeze. Looking after one little girl and a baby by yourself – not so much.

Anyway, for Chantelle’s Cupcakery it is business as usual (wedding cakes, birthday cakes, cupcakes), but at least now we are guaranteed a little more stable of an income to make up for those times when everyone in the area appears to be on some or other diet…

gordon's beach lodge

Sadly, 5 Country Mews is now off the Market

Back in April I announced that we had put our house up for sale and were indeed very excited at the prospect of moving back to Bellville. Six months later, cap in hand, I’m back to announce that in the end, the house failed to sell (in fact, interest was very, very low), and given our current poor financial state of affairs, we’ve had to contact Len and instruct him to withdraw the house from the market completely.

It’s maddening and saddening at the same time – I thought the house would sell pretty quickly, but at the same time, perhaps it was just as well that it didn’t, because quite frankly Chantelle’s little business isn’t doing nearly as well as what we had hoped it would (more on that later).

Still, it’s not to say that we won’t try again, once our position has stabilized and we have a little more money in the bank we will definitely restart the process – but for now we’re back to being full time Gordon’s Bay residents.

Ending off on a positive spin, at least now Emily will be getting plenty of glorious beach time this coming Summer season then!

5 country mews home

And Sometimes even Trained Mommies get it wrong! Part II

Almost exactly three years ago, Chantelle gnashed her teeth and threw her arms up into the air in exasperation after turning all of baby Jess’ clothes pink thanks to an errant red baby tracksuit pants that was in the wash.

This time around, all of baby Emily’s clothing is now blue (plus our bathroom mat), thanks to an errant navy blue baby pants that was in the washing machine.

Luckily, Emily happens to look cute no matter what she wears! :)

Oh, and just because our baby-toothed, solid food munching Emily doesn’t get all that much exposure on this here blog these days, here are a couple of photos of her chilling at the Baby Steps creche:

emily lotter at baby steps

emily lotter in her cot at baby steps

emily lotter with the other babies at baby steps

See, cute as a button, isn’t she?

(Extra note: Baby Steps is using preschool2me to provide us with daily reports these days, which means that we get treated to a new photo of Emily in her now natural habitat each and every day. Much more fun that the boring old book they used back in Jess’ time!)

The Second Court Summons lands at Country Mews

wooden-judge-hammer-gavelHaving bought our house back in 2010, it only took two years for the first court summons for one of the previous owners, Blanche Smit, to arrive. Par for the course, it’s taken another two years for the next court summons to arrive for our dear Ms B. Smit.

First time around it was Nedbank going after her, this time around it is Standard Bank. As with the last incident, I flat out refused to accept the documents that the Sheriff dropped off at our home, but as is the rules, he left it here anyway.

Two things that annoy me. One, the summons dropped off mentions that the first attempt was delivered here via registered post. It wasn’t, which then begs the question – just how reliable is registered post from the Post Office? Two, it was relatively simple for Chantelle to hop onto FaceBook and find Blanche Smit – surely the law firm handling this could achieve this as well? Heck, they have her ID number, surely they should be able to hold of her? (Looks like she just got married. I suspect the new hubby could be in for a bit of a shock when all of this does eventually catch up to her).

Anyway, in the hopes that a letter might get the lawyers to stop sending stuff to my home, I fired off this mail:

To whom it may concern,

With regards to the matter [5120570201379886] [NA078974], the court summons for Ms B Smit has been delivered by the Sheriff to an address where she is no longer present, and as such this summons has not being accepted by the current owners of the aforementioned address.

I, Craig Lotter, purchased the property at 5 Country Mews, Olienhout Road, Gordon’s Bay in 2010 from Michael Pottage and Blanche Smit. I do not know where either of them currently reside, but considering that I can find them with relative ease on Facebook, I’m sure that you could too.

Also, the summons was delivered to my address by the Sheriff, with an attachment saying that it had previously been delivered here via registered post. This is wrong as no such registered post was ever received here. Something also worth checking up with the Post Office.

Please detach the address of 5 Country Mews from the particulars of B. Smit as I am tired of getting notices related to her foolish and dishonest actions.

Regards,
Craig Lötter

Futile I realise, but satisfactory in a small way.

[UPDATE 2014-08-21]
Less futile than I thought. Received this in my inbox this morning:

Good day Sir,

Thank you for your advises herein and the inconvenience suffered by you.

Kindly note that we have removed your physical address from our systems.

We trust that you find the above information satisfactory to you.

Have to say, I’m impressed.

A Lotter Updates to Be Made

It has been a really, really long time since I dropped a personal post down in these pages. I don’t really have any usable excuse – two little girls keeps you pretty busy, and after a long day of desk-bound keyboard bashing work, followed by play time, supper time, and finally bed time, means that come the few hours before bed, I’d much rather do something else than spend even more time behind the keyboard. Still, it has been a long time and well, there’s loads of updates to deliver I guess.

jessica lotter

On Jessica, she’s absolutely flourishing at Vergeet-My-Nie playschool, turning into a real little girl who loves to play with her Barbies, has a fixation with all things My Little Pony, is fascinated by Teen Titans Go!, and is thoroughly enjoying her weekly ballet lesson. Make no mistake, she can get grumpy and tends to cry a lot if things don’t go her way, but that normalcy aside, she really is a little darling.

The bike riding isn’t really coming along, but that’s partly our fault – we don’t really practice very often with her. She still plays with the girls in the complex though, and I’ll often come home to find a small gaggle of girls having overrun the place!

Sadly, she has a cavity in her one tooth (confirmed by the dentist) which will have to be fixed sooner than later, but man, dentistry is expensive! Also, she’s inherited my overbite, meaning braces will most certainly be staring her down come her teenage future. Sigh.

emily lotter

Emily is just plain adorable! She smiles at anything and everything, and now that she has finally outgrown her bad reflux, she’s much, much easier for me to love even more (it grated me that every time I used to pick her up, she’d throw up on me. Sigh, the pleasures of being a daddy I suppose). Anyway, she now spends her days at Baby Steps creche (where Jess went), and it’s nice to see how well she is progressing in comparison to Jess at her age – Emily can sit independently (with pillows packer around her for just in case!), has been holding her own bottle during feeds for ages now, is eating solids like sweet potato and butternut, and has two nice and sharp, protruding teeth in her bottom jaw. (Funny, because she seems to take great pleasure in taking a nip at Chantelle’s nipple every now and then during breastfeeding!)

Oh, and you should see how she flaps her arms and legs and squeals in delight whenever she spots Chantelle for the first time in a little while! Too adorable for words! :)

(On the breastfeeding note, I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be able to live with that incessant groaning noise that Chantelle’s breast pump makes during her daily milk expression sessions! Still, it is a lot cheaper than formula, so I guess I can’t complain that much…)

chantelle lotter

Chantelle is keeping pretty busy, she successfully completed her wedding cake course presented by Angie Boyd of Vanilla House fame, and aside from being the primary caregiver of Emily and Jess outside of work hours, she is still keeping her little baking venture in the form of Chantelle’s Cupcakery alive and well.

Also, she’s joined an informal walking club here in Gordon’s Bay, and now quite happily does a handful of 7+ km walks every week!

On the baking business front, sadly it must be said that Chantelle’s Cupcakery is struggling somewhat in terms of finances. As it turns out, trading at the markets just isn’t so financially viable when it comes to cakes and cupcakes, and in addition to losing that business, the big contract with Sacred Ground deli was ended, picked up again, and then finally ended for good from their side, meaning a big income blow there as well.

Also, believe it or not, there is a lot of baking competition here in Gordon’s Bay, and it would seem that the local market just isn’t the right fit for what Chantelle does. Nevertheless, we do have some plans up our sleeves, and of course, a change of market may go a long way in turning things around financially. All that said and done, the good news is that Chantelle is already starting to see some traction on the wedding cake front – which is of course exciting news for the business.

craig lotter

As for me, on the work front I’m still battling as a DevOp/Team Manager on the Touchwork front, a task made harder by the recent loss of my senior development resource to takealot.com – honestly, I’ve been on this front for a while now, and I have to say, I’m beginning to tire of it.

Boring work stuff aside though, this year thus far has been pretty good in terms of family getaways (a good thing, because I enjoy getting away from the house) – and is about to get EVEN better for me with the “two brothers travel to Japan” adventure looming up just around the corner! (More of which I’ll detail in a separate post, promise.)

As I said at the start of this post though, two little girls tends to keep one pretty busy, meaning still no extramural activities for me (bad), and unfortunately this blasted dark all the time Winter mornings and evenings has meant a complete stall of exercise (even worse). Sigh.

I have interestingly enough being gaming a fair bit again, interesting because I had kind of gone off gaming, but obviously it’s a hobby good enough to fill that little hole left by the rather diminished social life I lead at the moment. On a different interests’ front, sadly, outside of the more mature DC animated movies which I still pick up and watch without fail, my love for animated fare hasn’t returned – meaning that I guess have to now accept the inevitable fact that I have matured to a point where I can no longer watch kiddies television and gain enjoyment from it. Sad. (That said, I am currently enjoying watching Teen Titans Go! with Jessica. It makes me chuckle. Don’t judge.)

Asset news? Well one positive is that our 2010 Hyundai Getz is almost completely paid off, in just less than two years before the original signed repayment term ends. This is of course great news in terms of interest saved and even better because of the incoming boost to our monthly finances once that monthly car repayment debit is no more. (Important because as mentioned earlier, Chantelle’s business that is not performing well for a while now).

On the moving back to Bellville front – sadly our house still hasn’t been sold, and it has to be said, we’re not seeing much foot traffic in the form of potential buyers at the moment. It could be that winter has chased everyone away, but the reality is that the property just isn’t proving popular with buyers, much to the bewilderment of Len our property agent in charge of selling the house. Hopefully spring/summer will heat things up again, but Chantelle and I have pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that we’ll be in Gordon’s Bay for much of this year after all, so much so that I even went and put back up all the baking/braai room shelving that I had taken down in order to sell the house! (A project that takes the better part of a day I’ll have you know.)

Anyway, so that’s pretty much all the updates I think that needed to be given, meaning the only thing still to do is play catch up on all the photo galleries I avoided posting over the last couple of months!

craig, chantelle, jessica and emily lotter

(Eventually. This post took ages to churn out I’ll have you know!)

For Sale: 20″ Samsung SyncMaster SA300 LED PC Monitor – R650

Please note that this item has since been sold and is no longer available for purchase.

Having moved the household all onto laptops now, I no longer have a need for my standalone monitors, which means that for a measly R650, you can now be the proud owner of a nifty black 20″ Samsung SyncMaster SA300 LED PC Monitor – in perfect working condition and a great, shiny addition to your home workspace.

Ultra thin and lightweight, the SA300 monitor impresses with its clarity and brightness, with an unbelievably wide viewing angle that basically allows you to see what is being displayed on the screen no matter which angle you approach it from! According to its stats it is hugely power efficient, and like I mentioned before, Samsung’s dynamic contrast technology results in some of the brightest and most clear images that you can imagine for something NOT running in HD. It is in a widescreen format with suggested resolution running at 1600×900. Supports both D-SUB/VGA or DVI connectors, with both power cable and VGA display cable included.

For Sale 20 inch Samsung SyncMaster SA300 LED PC Monitor 1

Area of sale: Gordon’s Bay, South Africa