Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Thank you Lord.

Good morning Lord and thank you for a brand new day. Today Lord I don't want to ask you for anything, instead I want to give you thanks and praise for all you've done for me over this year.
In the beginning of the year you gave me a job which I thoroughly enjoyed, well in the beginning anyway. I met lots of new people and some very pretty girls, It's a pity it went sour in the end.
Just a little later you gave me a new home, much more comfortable than what I had even though I really did enjoy where I was staying apart from the robbery and traffic.
In general I'd say I had a good year so, thank you Lord for loving me even when I didn't deserve it, Geoff.

Monday, December 05, 2016

You shall earn your bread by the sweat of your brow, not that of others.

Hello everyone.
I've been thinking about writing this blog post for some time now but have been going through some down moments. You see I'm now unemployed, again. Being unemployed doesn't bother me much but the way it came about does. Did you know that an employee doesn't leave their job but more often their manager. This morning, after a sleepless night, I was looking for an article on this same subject and came across this very interesting article about the reasons I myself had left my last  position of workshop manager; It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about—few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.
Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers. 9 Things that make good employees quit
I'll publish the whole article so you can see what happened rather than writing my own take on this in order to circumnavigate the possibility of a law suit. I will say this much though. I'm not a racist, ask any of my staff, If you try to have one of the general office workers micromanage me I will push back. As far as micromanagement is concerned, if you start doing that then you don't trust me so why am I here. I'm not lazy, I worked my butt off for them, at work before six thirty in the morning and every weekend. And the one thing I'm certainly not is a coward. The fact that I won't fire people who really need the income and are doing a great job doesn't mean I'm a coward but compassionate instead. And to finish off with; I have a life too and when I run out of dog food and cat food and even Geoff food then all I have to say is, "Shame on you." 
Here is the complete article. 1 
9 Things That Make Good Employees Quit

9 Things That Make Good Employees Quit

By Dr. Travis Bradberry
It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about—few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.
Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.
The sad thing is that this can easily be avoided. All that’s required is a new perspective and some extra effort on the manager’s part.
First, we need to understand the nine worst things that managers do that send good people packing.
1. They Overwork People
Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work your best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. Overworking good employees is perplexing; it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. New research from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of working more.
If you must increase how much work your talented employees are doing, you’d better increase their status as well. Talented employees will take on a bigger workload, but they won’t stay if their job suffocates them in the process. Raises, promotions, and title-changes are all acceptable ways to increase workload. If you simply increase workload because people are talented, without changing a thing, they will seek another job that gives them what they deserve.
2. They Don’t Recognize Contributions and Reward Good Work
It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will happen often if you’re doing it right.
3. They Don’t Care about Their Employees
More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts. Bosses who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. It’s impossible to work for someone eight-plus hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your production yield.
4. They Don’t Honor Their Commitments
Making promises to people places you on the fine line that lies between making them very happy and watching them walk out the door. When you uphold a commitment, you grow in the eyes of your employees because you prove yourself to be trustworthy and honorable (two very important qualities in a boss). But when you disregard your commitment, you come across as slimy, uncaring, and disrespectful. After all, if the boss doesn’t honor his or her commitments, why should everyone else?
5. They Hire and Promote the Wrong People
Good, hard-working employees want to work with like-minded professionals. When managers don’t do the hard work of hiring good people, it’s a major demotivator for those stuck working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even worse. When you work your tail off only to get passed over for a promotion that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top, it’s a massive insult. No wonder it makes good people leave.
6. They Don’t Let People Pursue Their Passions
Talented employees are passionate. Providing opportunities for them to pursue their passions improves their productivity and job satisfaction. But many managers want people to work within a little box. These managers fear that productivity will decline if they let people expand their focus and pursue their passions. This fear is unfounded. Studies show that people who are able to pursue their passions at work experience flow, a euphoric state of mind that is five times more productive than the norm.
7. They Fail to Develop People’s Skills
When managers are asked about their inattention to employees, they try to excuse themselves, using words such as “trust,” “autonomy,” and “empowerment.” This is complete nonsense. Good managers manage, no matter how talented the employee. They pay attention and are constantly listening and giving feedback.
Management may have a beginning, but it certainly has no end. When you have a talented employee, it’s up to you to keep finding areas in which they can improve to expand their skill set. The most talented employees want feedback—more so than the less talented ones—and it’s your job to keep it coming. If you don’t, your best people will grow bored and complacent.
8. They Fail to Engage Their Creativity
The most talented employees seek to improve everything they touch. If you take away their ability to change and improve things because you’re only comfortable with the status quo, this makes them hate their jobs. Caging up this innate desire to create not only limits them, it limits you.
9. They Fail to Challenge People Intellectually
Great bosses challenge their employees to accomplish things that seem inconceivable at first. Instead of setting mundane, incremental goals, they set lofty goals that push people out of their comfort zones. Then, good managers do everything in their power to help them succeed. When talented and intelligent people find themselves doing things that are too easy or boring, they seek other jobs that will challenge their intellects.
Bringing It All Together
If you want your best people to stay, you need to think carefully about how you treat them. While good employees are as tough as nails, their talent gives them an abundance of options. You need to make them want to work for you.
The inspiration for this article came from a piece authored by Mike Myatt.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.
Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart® the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries.
Dr. Bradberry is a LinkedIn Influencer and a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, The World Economic Forum, and The Huffington Post. He has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Fast Company, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.
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Thursday, November 10, 2016

American Election, Floods and just getting back on track.


What is left of the Democratic party campaign. Source.
Thank God the United States Of America election is finally over. You've cast your vote and there's no going back now. Hearing about their election all day on every news broadcast has been unbelievably boring. The mud slinging and derogatory rhetoric from both candidates has, in my opinion, been apalling.  The U S A is only a small country even though they have the most advanced weaponry and the biggest economy in the world. Small you say? Well yes, almost the whole of the U S A can fit into the Sahara desert which is only a small part of Africa, let alone the whole world. The landmass of the planet Earth is 510.072 million square kilometers, the U S A  has a land mass of only 9.629091 million square kilometers while the Sahara desert is 9.2 million square kilometers, but the impact of this election is being felt worldwide. Asian markets are plunging, the Dollar is also falling and stock markets all over the world are opening significantly lower. You thought Brexit had a bad effect on world markets, well this will be even bigger. Now all we are going to hear on the news will be about the world economy collapse, as if it hasn't already taken a major dive. It will probably be way less damaging than predicted, look what happened to the United kingdom and all the dooms day prophets, not much damage.
What has surprised me isn't the headway Mr Trump has made but the huge number of people wanting to immigrate to Canada to the point where Canada's immigration website has crashed. That came as a real surprise. Come To South Africa if you wish, you'll be welcome I'm sure. Anyway, enough about the America election, I'm in South Africa and that's where my heart lies.
Very scary place to be, in the water. Source

We had a flash flood yesterday afternoon in the East Rand where I live. Wow! I've never seen such a downpour in all my life. Looking out of the window at home I couldn't see further than a few meters, what a deluge. When I looked out of the kitchen window there was what looked like a river in the back garden, so much water from such a small area. I took a walk into my bedroom to look out of that window and the floor was all wet. Aargh! My home was being flooded. Outside in the laundry room the floor was under about two inches of water and this is where I store all my boxes of papers and such.
Today is cleanup day for me. I've spent way too much time following the elections in the U.S. and it's now time to get on with fixing my own life.
Have mercy oh Lord on the people of America and guide them back to You and Your ways. They really need Your help as do the people of Johannesburg and the east Rand. Thank you Lord for keeping me and my family safe yesterday, Geoff.
So much water falling from the sky.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mosquito madness.


Inside my home in Johannesburg. My picture.

I must tell you that I used to write a blog post almost every day but since I've moved to Johannesburg and become insanely busy that has dwindled to almost nothing. People here live to work while people in Cape Town work to live, the difference is astounding. Me I prefer to work to live, much better life style. I'm unemployed again, but when I say unemployed, I mean I don't have a boss anymore. I work from home and that's much more sane in my opinion. Anyway, I now have time to go to the supermarket, fix my car, take care of my animals and on top of that I now have time to write again. Thank you Lord.
The summer rains seem to have arrived at last. We've been having severe drought conditions here for a number of months with the dam levels reaching less than thirty percent. Of course water restrictions have been implemented but that does not imply they have been adhered to by everyone, in fact only the responsible home owners who take our environment and the well being of everyone into account tend to stop using water in any way possible. The fact that the rains have arrived hasn't changed anything very much with regard to water restrictions, not nearly enough rain has fallen so far.
Another thing that has arrived are higher temperatures and of course mosquitoes at night. Last night the temperature here in Johannesburg was about thirty degrees centigrade so sleeping under a duvet wasn't an option, just too hot and sweaty. I took the duvet out of the cover and laid back to get some shut eye and hey presto, BZZZZZZZZ.
Now I don't know how many people can get a decent nights sleep with just one mosquito dive bombing them, I cant. I got up and got the fan from the spare bedroom, set it up on the bedside cabinet and laid down to sleep again. This seemed to work but about five in the morning I woke up freezing. It seems that when one is sleeping you generate very little body heat, Having a fan blowing air across my head to chase the mosquitoes away just seemed to drain my body of whatever little heat was left, lesson learned.
This media frenzy about Zika virus being so big a world wide threat is, in my opinion, a load of cod's wallop. In one episode of the Big Bang Theory Bernadette, when asked about something or other, replies," We create a disease and the find a cure, that's how we make money. "Her character plays the role of a microbiology researcher at a pharmaceutical company. This sounds very much like what has happened with regards to the Zika virus scare, and who best to scare than pregnant young women who don't want deformed or different looking children. Zika has been in and around Africa for millennia and the effects only seem to be a slight headache and nothing much else. No Microcephaly. The fact that this scare came just before the Rio Olympics also rings loud bells in my head. Why?
One needs to realize that the whole food chain throughout the world depends on mosquitoes. Every frog, every freshwater fish, every fresh water carnivorous insect in the world depends on mosquito larvae so spraying everything, as they have been doing, is going to kill us all. Stop it!
This post has developed in a direction I was not expecting but it is about something I've been very worried about lately, the killing of the mosquitoes by spraying. You are going to kill us all, stupid people. I was going to write about what is going on all over the world right now but I suppose that's what happens when one sits down to write, you get side tracked, maybe by God as a message to the rest of the world.
I think my next post will have to be about the world state and what is happening. We'll see.
From me to you, May God bless you and keep you safe from whatever supposed threat you are afraid of. Jesus tells us that God loves us. Do you believe him?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sterkfontein Caves, a world heritage site.

A bronze sculpture at the exit to the Sterkfontein caves.
My picture.
Last week my friend Wynand came to stay with me while he was attending lectures at the university of Pretoria. He's an ear nose and throat surgeon and of course all doctors in this country have to undergo yearly medical upgrades. This, in my opinion, is not a bad thing at all. Anyway he was here from Monday night until Thursday night and it was fantastic having him here.
On Thursday he finished his lectures early and wanted to do something other than just sitting around talking. When he got here he asked how far the Sterkfontein caves were from here and how long it would take us to get there. Well it's about fifty kilometers or so but how long it'll take depends on traffic and how fast you drive. We decided to take a chance and go for it, the last tour group leaves at four pm so we had to rush.
Heading down into the Sterkfontein caves.
My picture.
We only arrived at two minutes after four after having gotten lost by following the sat-nav's directions but with a bit of running and haste we caught up to the tour group just as they were locking the gate. Phew.
Wynand is a big man and in his own words, "Unfit and fat too." I didn't think so but hey, I'm just me a skinny little man. This was going to be an interesting experience for him as in some places you have to crawl through very small tunnels and he suffers from claustrophobia. I had my camera with me and do not suffer from any form of small place stress, my focus was more on trying to get decent pictures in very low light. I had to set the ISO at maximum but that didn't really make much difference so I landed doing something I very rarely do, I switched the flash on. So, if my pictures seem to be a bit weird please forgive me, it was very dark down there.
A long way down in very dark conditions.
My picture.

Our guide was a young man who was, in my opinion, a bit arrogant. At one point on the tour he started bad mouthing Christians who do not accept the scientific insistence on the validity of evolution. While we were at the underground lake that is there he pointed out some mold growing on the rocks and started telling everyone that that was our ancestral beginning. He said something like those who don't believe in evolution have to be kept out of the caves because they will destroy the evolutionary evidence that is there because they think it was put there by the devil. There is a big gate wired up to shock anyone who touches it. I think the area behind the gate was where there are fossil remains.
The electric gate, bad picture sorry.
my picture.
Wynand chirped, "I don't believe in evolution," which brought a rather sharp reaction from the guide. I turned to Wynand and said, "Ask him if he believes in the "Tokoloshe." You need to understand that (almost) all black people in South Africa believe in a malevolent small creature that causes chaos in their lives. Our guide was no different and so if you believe that everything came from that slime on the rock walls then you come from the same place as the tokoloshe, Right? Ha, ha, ha. That's how you put someone in their place. I think it was a bit of a paradigm shift for him and he didn't chirp very much after that.
The rock formation with the green slime
 from which  we all descended.
My picture.
Well we went on with the tour through various tunnels and along long pathways but, since we were the last tour group for the day, I think the guide just wanted to get it over with and go home. He pointed out a few stalactites and other interesting features like the Calcium carbonate but in general it wasn't a very interesting discussion. Most of the other people there were of oriental origin, there was one American chap, a colored lady from Port Elizabeth, Wynand and I.
This is a very big cave system.
My picture.
 I think there is a whole lot more to these caves that we didn't get to see but I also think these other areas can be accessed by booking a special tour. I do know that there are excavations still going on there and some interesting fossils have been unearthed like Mrs Ples, little foot, and I believe there have been remains of saber toothed tigers found too. Nearby is the Museum known as the cradle of humankind Maropeng, which we didn't get to visit, maybe next time.
In general I would go so far as to say this was a very interesting and enjoyable trip and well worth all the rush and effort. On the way out of the cave system our guide was sitting on the wall and as we walked past I just had to chirp him, "You are in the home of  the tokoloshe, be careful." It was said with a smile and a laugh, not to offend him but to remind him he must think very carefully before judging other peoples beliefs.
We left and Wynand turned to me on the way home and said "I'm feeling in a much better mood now, that was great."
He left that evening to go back to Cape Town.
God bless Wynand, his visit was really enjoyed by both of us.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cape Town, going home, part 2

Day 2 on Signal hill with James. My picture.
Having rushed off to James' home in the suburb of Bothasig, a bit inland, after the scary phone call he received that I mentioned in my last blog post, we found that his house mate had switched the water off and things weren't as bad as expected. The geyser had in fact not burst but the inlet pipe had come adrift. Lots of cleaning up, about an hour or so of mopping, and things were almost back to normal. Plumbers were called and two hours later it was all sorted out. That evening we spent in the suburb of Sunningdale near Melkbos where I used to stay. We Made dinner, which I cannot for the life of me remember what it was, and settled in to watch a movie. I didn't get through the whole movie and skootched off to bed early. The next morning we were off to Signal hill for photo opportunities. James is of course a much better photographer than I am and has all the bits and bobs needed for the type of photography he does. Me, well my camera was James' previously but I shoot on manual while he prefers shooting on auto. I like to control everything such as ISO and shutter speed. Anyway I think my pictures are not too bad.
Suburbs on the slopes of Table Mountain. My picture.
We spent a few hours aiming out cameras in different directions and snapped away. It's been a long time since I went up Signal Hill which is sort of on the seaward side of Table Mountain closest to Greenpoint. There were a few Para-gliders launching from the top of the hill which also offered a few laughs.
We left and headed down to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. This is a must visit spot for international tourists and for South Africans too. A bit on the expensive side for me but hey, we were going to have lunch at Key Four, probably one of the best known restaurants in the country. Right on the harbor waterfront amidst boats and tugs. A truly fantastic location. This is probably one of my favorite restaurants of all time.
People enjoying lunch on the Key Four deck in the harbor.
My picture.

We had burgers with chips (french fries) all the while taking pictures and enjoying all the activity on the water. Of course being a restaurant on the harbor front will attract Seagulls in abundance and sure enough there were stacks of them there taking any opportunity to get a beak full that presented itself. Very hard to get a decent shot of these flying aerial acrobats, but what beautiful creatures to have all around you.
Hmm! Forester's Draught with burgers, yum, yum.
My picture.

Well lunch dragged on in a very pleasant manner with all sorts of  boats and people moving around on the water and off. Perfect for taking photographs, no wonder so many people from all over the world rate the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront as their favorite waterfront.
High speed aerial acrobat in action.
My picture.

After a couple of hours relaxation and munching we wandered off around the other parts of the waterfront having a laugh or two along the way. At one point we were walking past a big frame type thing where people stand within the frame and take a photo with Table Mountain in the background. There was a German couple trying to get a picture. The woman was in the frame with the guy taking the picture, they were probably in their sixties, with a tiny little point and shoot camera. Both James and I had our cameras slung around our necks, Canon with large lenses. James walked up to the chap and offered to use their camera to take a shop of both of them together which would make for much better memories. Well this German chap looked at James and myself, hesitated for a moment or two and then replied, "Looking at what cameras you have I suppose it would be safe." This to us was hilarious but in retrospect maybe not so funny. I wonder what kind of reputation South Africa has overseas with regards to theft and muggings.
It's not easy to get lost with signs like this to show you the way
 home. Long way though and you may have to swim. My picture.
That evening James was due to take part in a rehearsal for the Gilbert and Sullivan production of My Fair Lady so I was to spend the evening and next day with Wynand my friend in Melkbos. After wandering around the waterfront for a while James took me off to Wynand's house. That Photograph at the beginning of my previous blog post of Table Mountain was shot on the way to Melkbos. Yes I know it's kind of a dodgy picture but it hasn't been touched up at all and when an opportunity to take a picture like that presents itself, well, what can one do.
We had a rather pleasant day but the time had come for us to part ways, for now. By the time we got to Melkbosstrand the weather was closing in and rain was in the sky waiting for me to get indoors before blessing the earth. 
Ferris wheel at the waterfront. Not quite
as impressive as the London Eye but
still great to photograph. My picture.
Although the weather was fantastic for the time I had spent with James, the time I spent with Wynand was to be a little wetter. I was looking forward to spending time with my friend but not having any form of transport while I was there did prove to be limiting. For the first two days I had to depend on James who also had things he wanted to do so, not wanting to inconvenience him any further I just went along. The next two days I was depending on Wynand and did whatever he had planned, which was also cool. We went to a Post Net outlet where they have a board game gathering and played a few games, played more games with his kids in the evening and then early on Sunday morning Wynand took me back to the airport for my homeward flight.
All in all I had a wonderful time and took way too many pictures (I had to buy an extra memory card to cope with the overload) but it was great to be home again for a short while.
May my Father in Heaven bless Cape Town and all who visit there forever. 
Thank you Lord for blessing me so abundantly, Geoff.