Tuesday, December 27, 2005
I promised to post a photo of Eric now that he is 2 years old and here it is! We all survived Christmas and had a good time with friends on Xmas Eve. Took some 4 hours to clean up the house the following day though... The bar is now by all standards officially inaugurated. Hope you all enjoyed Xmas and are now relaxing with friends or family.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I should really be writing a novel or something since it was so long since I posted. BUT I will leave that for now and just publish a photo of our new bar, installed last Saturday.
Lots have happened lately but this is (hopefully) the final day before Xmas break. Yesterday we met to plan for this year's Xmas Eve party to be held at our place. Then the bar will be very officially opened! Look very much forward to that...
Friday, December 09, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I work mainly on a laptop PC. It has a number of settings and you name it what, some in Bios, most in Windows XP that I run on it. Today I thought I should check exactly what type of RAM memory it uses since I am think of buying more. So I run a software for this that tells me more than anyone normally need to know.
One of the things it tells me is that the processor seems to be running at less than half the possible speed!! Now I of course start trying to figure out why, I run various diagnose software, I tinker with Bios-settings for Speedstep, the technology that allows the CPU to work at a lower speed to save battery life. Nothing helps.
I search the internet high and low and had started downloading a driver from Dell when I read something about the "power status" in an article online. Off to Control Panel and select Power Options. Notice that the selected "Power Scheme" is "Portable/Laptop" that sort of makes sense. Change this to "Always On". Back to the software that helped me spot the problem - and VOILA we now run at max speed...
So I have most likely run like this for months, I don't recall when I was last tinkering with these settings. What is obvious to me is that "Joe Average" would most likely not even be aware that the PC is running at less than optimal since most persons don't fiddle around there at all. It seems to me that this particular setting/options needs to explain what it actually DOEs to the PC rather than just quietly slowing things down.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Discovered Tiddlywiki today on a sheer coincidence. It is basically a system to easy maintain and update a website or a todo-list or whatever, there is quite a few things one can use it for. Since I had been looking for something to update my company site Orionweb for a long time now this seemed perfect and I have spent some time today to totally revamp it. And it feels as this could help me to maintain the site with interesting notes, feeds, links and so on.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Air Zimbabwe (who now flies on most routes again) is the only airline at Harare International where the aviation authority does not allow the "airport tax" to be paid via the ticket. This because they never got paid from Air Zim... so after (or before) checking in you stand in another queue to pay the "service fee" as it is for some reason called. It now stood at 1.8 million (or USD 30) which meant a good pack of 20 000 notes.
Off to Johannesburg and what proved to be problems. On drawing some money from my visa-card it was refused - by a forex bureau, not the ATM. I sadly did the mistake of punching the wrong PIN too many times a while ago. But has used the card since with no problems.
To cut a long story short it took phonecalls to Zimbabwe and a looong call to customer service in Sweden (thanks Gustav in Göteborg) to sort this out and I was already 1 hour late when I finally drove from Joburg airport in a rented Kia Cerrato. A thoroughly boring but perfectly pleasant car if you see what I mean.
Off on a +350 km drive to Pietersburg on very good toll-paid highways. Not much to say, was in Pietersburg round 3 pm and did some scouting around. Then off to a littel b&b called Eagle's Nest some 5-10 minutes on the Tzaneen road.
Spent the night almost sleepless since I forgot to close 2 small windows. Something like a million mosquitos must have tried to feast on my blood and still have bites everywhere. Hiding under a thick duvet doesn't work for me, I overheat too much. Not even under a sheet helped.
So woke up tired and started driving to Tzaneen. Beatiful road through mountains with lots of forests, small lakes, tea- and other farms. But damned slow progress thanks to up-and-down hill, fog, traffic and whatever. Took over an hour to get there.
Where I had a roughly 1 hour long meeting with SA Avocado Growers (www.avocado.co.za) that was both good and fruitful. Then back in the car and a nonstop (almost, bought a Snickers and a drink around 1 pm) drive back to Johannesburg. Handed in the car at around 3 pm and went straight to the check-in counter.
Shopped a bit in the Taxfree (Laphroig whisky, hurrah hurrah), had a bite to eat and a beer (so tired my hands were shaking) and then time for boarding. Back in Harare around 7 pm and the normal confusion around Immigration and Customs. Home to family and a very early retiring to bed.
Life is sometimes a bit absurd.
On my drive to Tzaneen I heard on the radio this awful story about an armed robbery. I know that poverty creates crime etc. but some are just too much. These guys had robbed a creche (daytime care center for kids if you don't know) at gunpoint, forcing the kids to lie down with arms on the back of their heads etc. They then stole all the money they could find including what the place had managed to collect for the kids Christmas party. This was a place run by volunteers for parents/children who are poor in other words. Now that is just TOO damned dirty low down for anyone, no matter how poor or high on drugs or whatever they might be.
Thankfully the radio channel had found a donor (a casino actually) who not only replaced the money but invited all kids for a free fun day in their childrens area. Good someone still cares!
It often baffles me how poor people hit out at each other more than at more well off people. During the food riots in the late nineties here in Zim what was looted, burnt etc. was the shopping centers in the poor areas. Now that will make food cheaper??? Note the riots were over food prices.
In SA some weeks ago disgruntled train commuters BURNT over 20 train coaches. They were angry over the delays. Now I am SURE their actions meant the trains will go on time from now on - or?
I know logic and anger does not go together well but some sort of "is this really gonna improve the service" reasoning must have hit at least quite a few of the involved persons. Still they go ahead and burn. Why anyone??
Thursday, November 24, 2005
There are cases when sport and politics should be mixed, such as boycotting arrangements in certain countries etc. BUT when it comes to administration the two certainly do not go well together.
Over the past years those who love local soccer here in Zim (I am not one of them) have seen fierce infighting in ZIFA (Zimbabwe International Football Association) create a situation where nothing really works. Foreign trips for the national team have ended up with bloated "administrative" delegations sometimes amounting to more people than the team and sometimes these trips have been completely unorganised. Various fractions have tried to ouster each other, all in the search for control of the perceived power that comes with being chair of ZIFA.
Selection of the national team should in my opinion be left to the coach but oh no, all sorts of bureaucrats want a say in this and have a love for forming "advisory" committees that in practice leaves the coach powerless. So soccer has slowly but surely declined in professionalism at a pace faster than can ever be explained by the problems the country itself is having.
Almost the same scenario have been witnessed in tennis where Zimbabwe was doing really well a few years ago. And now cricket (certainly not a sport I appreciate, I still think that only English could come up with a sport that takes days to play, have frequent teabreaks and where you have to be an expert to understand who actually won when you look at the results) is walking (rather running) down the same path.
Well, as I often say - life in Zimbabwe can be many things but is rarely boring
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Rain, finally! Yesterday afternoon it started raining and has not stopped since and have we been waiting for this! I hope we now get typical rainy-season weather with a mixture of sunshine, thunderstorms and rain!
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Honestly - is there still people "out there" who would buy this by now extremely well-known scam? I have also had emails from the widows of several deceased African dictators, "princes" et al. Personally I am revolted by those who somehow claim to be victims of the farm invasions in Zimbabwe and "sons or daughters" of non-existing farmers from non-existing organisations like "The White Farmers Union of Zimbabwe".
I guess there still must be those going for it as I guess otherwise the authors would not spend their time looking for email-addresses (don't know where they find mine) and writing these rather ridicilous mails. Beats me how you can be that stupid/naive/uninformed though.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Of course I was delayed inside the house and when I returned to the outside I found 3 black men "loitering around" on my driveway, one having a conversation on a cellphone.
They were neatly dressed (shirt and tie) but behaved rather odd, like they were trying to check out the place. Apparently they had asked my gardener for a container of water for their car but they did in no way introduce themselves or explain the issue. Once they got the water they sped off (and I mean FAST) in a blue Nissan Sunny, we could net get the numberplates as they were driving too fast.
Hate the feeling that arise from this kind of "incidents", if someone steals a pump or a motor for the gate we will have to fork out quite a lot and then there is of course the whole "troublefree sleep"-issue. We certainly don't want a repeat of last year's armed robbery (it is about one year ago now actually)!
Theft and other forms of stealing is, sadly, a growing problem here in Zimbabwe. As the economic crisis continues more and more people simply have no other means of survival. A female friend was robbed of her cellphone while walking down the road the other day, 2 men threatened to beat her up.
Well let's just keep the fingers crossed and hope it is all false alarm. Too hot to work, think I will head home and chill before downing a few beers with friends later when it hopefully cools off a bit.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Otherwise we are coming up to more than 2 weeks without tap-water and it seems to be spreading all over Harare. Restaurant-owners are ferrying water daily to the near-by Newlands Shopping Centre, Mia's father in Mabelreign has no water since quite some time and so on. It is basically only in City Centre things are normal. The "authorities" are mum on what they plan to do, something that normally means they don't have a clue but is hoping for miracles.
Same with the fuel supplies, if you can not buy in forex you can basically forget all about getting any petrol or diesel.
And it is hot hot hot and still not much rain. This is not good at all, we just hope the rains will start any day now. Keep your fingers crossed...
Friday, November 11, 2005
Otherwise the water situation is not any better at all, we had water for a few hours one day only. Managed to fill the tank from one neighbour's borehole though so we are OK for a week or so, let's hope it comes back soon.
It is hot and cloudy but no rains in our area sadly. We (read our gardener) planted maize so we are waiting eagerly, also for the rest of the garden of course. And Zimbabwe in general, a good rainy season would be most welcome.
Hyperinflation (now at over 400% according to state media) makes life "interesting". One does not even react at the fact that a loaf of bread costs more than the value of the largest bill in circulation... And for a normal lunch you are looking at around 400 000, or a wad of 20 notes - at least. People who need cash have to book with their bank in order for the bank to get some idea of how much cash they need to stock. And so on. Wonder when and how this will end...
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Had forgotten that it was a birtday celebration yesterday for Mia's young sister Wedlyn who turned 6. Combined it with our brat Bradley who turned 5 a while ago. 2 rather tired visitors but it was all OK in the end - did not complain at all when we got home and in bed though.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Was a nice party, kids enjoying themselves in the pool and the adults by downing an unpredecented amount of Swedish snaps + Black Label and a good number of beers. No wonder we still feel a bit "off" today, especially since we spent yesterday "winding down" by his poolside again
Still waiting for the rains to start. Every day now the clouds gather but still no downpour. And our watertank is almost empty after more than a week without muncipial water...
Friday, November 04, 2005
Mia is doing exams and is busy busy and stressed but I have a feeling it is going fine. I have spent a few days compiling our first "home DVD" and that was a learning experience alright. Fun and frustrating at the same time and the ambitions I had were being hampered by reality ever so often... but at least now it is done and next time will of course be easier.
Battery. Car battery. Was driving Mia's Nissan since she needed the space in the Corolla for a much anticipated wardrobe we had made. Died on me on the way back after dropping Bradley at Montessori pre-school. Of course at the worst spot one can think of and I was really in the way of others. Got help to jumpstart it and just about made it home before it died again.
Called Eldridge and we went hunting for a new battery amidst other problems on his last day in Zimbabwe. Poor guy had a million outstanding issues before leaving this morning for Sweden with his family after more than 6 months temp work here in Zimbabwe. Don't think they will miss life in hyperinflation too much but November in Sweden weatherwise is just drab. Serious drab.
Found new battery at last and managed to get a few other things done. Already Friday, how did that happen???
Otherwise Harare is too hot to muster and we are all wating for arrival of the rainy season. Our lawn looks more like a desert at the moment.
Monday, October 31, 2005
The Tank! We bought and installed just over a week ago. 5000 litres (almost, it doesn't get completely full) for those very frequent watercuts. And it has already paid off, yesterday afternoon some time water stopped flowing in! But we should be OK for quite a few days now if we ration it a bit. The system only feeds the house itself.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
At the airport I start feeling tired and weak and really awkward in the stomach region. On the bus to the plane (that took for bloody ever) it just went worse and when we were in our seats I was starting to think I was going to throw up.
Of course the whole comes to a climax during takeoff when you can in no way leave your seat! I started feeling like my head, hands and arms were buzzing and tingling, cold sweat was all over me (could hear the guy next to me comment) and I had to call for help, honestly thought I was going to faint right there and then.
The flight attendant wanted me to bow down and put my head between my legs but I was like 100 I was going to vomit if I did that. The guy in next seat suggested lying down on the floor - yeah sure during take-off... not to mention how seriously dramatic that would have looked.
Anyhow, I recovered after some minutes, got a glass of cold water and later a whisky to keep me alive. Once back home it became very evident that I had eaten something bad since I am still suffering from a terrible stomach.
No more salads for me is all I say, at least not on the same day I am about to fly.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Sunday, October 23, 2005
And as a perfect ending; rain! Good rain too, the kind that one knows is the start of the rainy season and we are all waiting for that now. Let us hope it becomes a really good rainy season now, a lot of people will then hopefully not go hungry. And our gardener has just planted maize so the timing is excellent!
Maybe difficult for some to understand but the start of the rains is really something we look forward to when it is just getting warmer and drier every day.
And Friday the new is DEAD, and I mean not a lifesign. After frantic calling to SA (where it was bought) and a lot of tinkering I managed to establish that the power supply is "gone". At least not a motherboard this time. Am flying to SA tomorrow for other purposes so am bringing the dead psu with me. Wish me luck in Customs... at least on my return Wednesday evening.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
It has been HOT since last Saturday (started raining yesterday though) and to give the kids some relief I made a "mini-pool" for them Monday lunch-time. Interesting how different they react. Bradley says "it is cold" and slowly gets in, Eric is in before you get his clothes off...
Thursday, September 22, 2005
This is what happened; Tuesday 13 Septempter in the afternoon I was leaving my neighbor Peter that had assisted me with some diesel for the Toyota. When I come to the intersection between Coghlan Rd (that I was on) and Court Rd I check that no traffic is approaching and then I cross. It was getting dark so my lights were on. I see nothing to worry about so I cross.
Next thing I know something smashes into the passenger door and shattered glass is raining all over the interior of the car! My first though was that someone had thrown a stone or likewise in the window to make me stop and then use whatever force or tricks to rob me. So I continued down the street towards the military that I know guard a house there 24 hours a day but when I check the rear mirror I see a confused person trying to get up on his feet and a rather smashed bike lying next to him. He must have been coming down the non-lit separate cycletrack with really good speed (it is downhill quite a long bit before) and of course with no lights or reflexes and then totally ignored the "Give Way"-sign or just somehow didn't see me and then smacked right into the side of the car.
So of course I reverse to see how he is. He is bleeding from his right arm (good thing in this country...) so we load the remains of the bike in the car and proceed to our house only to realise that we definitely do not possess a first-aid kit or such. So we decide to take him to hospital but pass the police first so that I don't get trouble later for not following procedure. Mia comes along in case there would be some issue with people speaking a lot of shona and I not understanding the situation.
Once by the police they are certainly in no rush until they realise that the guy, Tapiwa, is bleeding all over their floor. Then we finally see some acitivity. They try to get an ambulance but no such are available and I explain that I already had promised to take him to hospital but could we please do the report quickly then? No, they feel it is better we take him first so I finish my part and then off we go. Of course he has no medical insurance so it has be Central Hospital that has a solid bad reputation because of very scarce resources and an enormous pressure. And you can guess who had to pay.
Once there things actually happen rather fast since it can not be disputed that he is dripping blood all over the emergency intake. It turns out that an artery is injured and I promise that very few would want to swap with him when they dig it out without any anaesthesia. They manage to stitch it though plus x number of stitches to close two rather bad cuts in the same arm. After that a tetanus shot and then off to a nightopen pharmacy and buy his medicine. Finally I drove him home and told him that I had done all I felt I had to do since in my opinion he was faulty and if he thought otherwise he had better take it via the police.
Then home and collapse, have a very late dinner without meat (we had just started the bbq/braii before...), note that the bread I was baking was almost rock solid since Ellen left it in the oven. Early to bed, completely drained. The next day I checked how much a new window would cost and did not enjoy the figures given at all. That was an expensive "visit" and probably cost us an extra warderobe we were planning for. It is of course totally pointless to try and get compensation from a young guy working as a security-guard, they are everything but well paid. Was supposed to leave for Mana Pools and the annual Game Count on Friday same week but did not feel good about it. Wanted to fix the window and also be there in case people would show up by the gate seeking "compensation" from the "rich" white man.
And of course he did show up Thursday evening together with some buddy. Bringing a letter asking about my "position" regarding compensating for his ruined bicycle, loss of income and "injuries". Said he had spoken to the police and the letter stated "cc Highlands Police". I asked him if he had any idea how much a new window and panelbeating was going to cost me, something he of course did not until I told him. I also told him that from my point of view he should be glad that I was not even going to try and get my costs covered from him and if he thought all was my fault then he should take it via the police and normal procedures. Checked with the police next day and he had not even been back to complete his part of the accident report and even less talked to anyone there!
Managed to find a new window last Friday at a better price than I thought. Panelbeating can wait until the report is done in case the police wants to inspect. Have taken photos of the place of the incident and the damages of the car just to be sure.
So much for a long weekend camping, walking and counting game :>(
Monday, September 19, 2005
Was not injured in the accident though, it was actually a cyclist that rammed into my car so "only" a shattered door-window and an injured cyclist that I had to take to hospital.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Friday, August 19, 2005
What a week this has been! It started when the server of SCC ROSA broke down at the end of last week. After having tried to put in a new power supply (didn't help) it was sent to a computer company. They told us the motherboard had burnt and offered to replace it + new processor, memory and harddisk.
I set up a temporary solution by moving the disk containing user data to a workstation and reconfigure the other to access this. That part worked.
Tuesday the "revamped" server arrived. I put the old disk back and started repairing the installation of Windows2003 server. So far no big problems, it crashed once but did not think much of it. Once it was up the problems started. When you repair an installation of Windows2003 (or XP for that matter) it wants to "revalidate" its authenticity by connecting to Microsoft over the internet, before this is done you can't even log in. This did not work. Second option is to call Microsoft, in our case in Southafrica, tell them an endless code you get from the software and then type an equally endless confirmation code to get started. Tried twice and didn't work. Microsoft SA suggested calling their support service.
Decided to reinstall Windows2003 fresh instead. Put the new drive as "master" and installed on that. Finally installed after a couple of the much hated "blue screen of death". Managed to log on and install network and other drivers and to set up the server system.
Tried to authenticate again. Did not work even though internet was working. Strange but nevermind, went home around 9 pm.
Wednesday morning start adding the users, most of them can log on and, after reconfiguration, access data on the server. Some can't though and while trying to sort this problem we get the bsod screen. On restart the server refuses and tells me that a system file is damaged. Try to fix this by copying it from the CD or using the Recovery Console (don't ask, too complicated to explain). Doesn't help.
Try to repair using the CD again. All of a sudden several files can not be copied from the CD and I discover that it has now developed a CRACK rendering it completely useless. So there I stand with a non-working server and a useless CD.
Bring out the old Windows2000 server CD and try to install this instead so we can get the system up. Blue screen of death. Then it almost works for a while until I install network drivers and set up the server system. Blue screen of death. And again and again and again. Try swapping disks, try with one disk instead of two, try disabling various features on the motherboard. Nothing works.
By now I decide to try and install Windows XP just to see if ANYTHING works. After a few attempts with the dreaded "bsod" I give up. I put the data disk back in the workstation and set things back to the temporary configuration. Home late again.
Next morning I give it one final try with Windows2000 server. Blue sceen of death. Then ship it back to the supplier who called this morning. The motherboard they fitted is faulty and they are looking for a new - this could take a few days.
Sometimes when things go wrong they really decide to go wrong in all possible ways.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
I should really write a long posting regarding my "week in computer hell" but will do that separately. Just thought I would post a photo for visa purposes that for some strange reason came out looking like I actually do in real life! Sensation. Too bad it was not for my passport, there I look like some punch drunk weirdo.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Mia is most unhappy with the photo of the 2 of us that I posted, will have to go through how she can post her own blogs and photos!
Checked latest Star Wars at the movies last night with friends Eldridge & Tove. Impressive technically and that it manages to keep the plot going even though one knows that Anakin will somehow become the Darth Vader we have all known for near 30 years now (yes, that is how old the first Star Wars, "A New Hope", is by now). As an old die-hard fan I will probably always like the first trilogy better though. George Lucas once talked about having enough script for nine movies but let's hope he now puts an end to it!
Friday, August 12, 2005
For those who don't know us we are a family of 4 living in Harare, Zimbabwe. Writing this is Orjan Sinclair (or Örjan if you can read umlauts) 44 years old, Hellen (called Mia by some, me including) Costa 24 years and our kids Bradley soon 5 and Eric about 20 months old.
For those who know us; don't expect sensations but I hope this can be a way for us to keep our faraway friends and family updated, put up some photos, get some comments and generally keep in touch.
Många som läser är förstås svenskar men vi kommer att hålla oss till engelska i möjligaste mån då våra vänner och familjemedlemmar är spridda över världen!
That was a start, will see if i can post some updated photos later today