Why our Country doesn’t work

A venting post…

So today I had the task of taking Son #4 to make a booking for his Learners License.  What a #nightmare.

We started at the Marlboro (Sandton) Testing Station.  Parking was full so I had to double park and wait for an open spot.  I suggested Son #4 get out and find the right queue in the meantime and I would join him inside when I find parking.

A few minutes later he reappears back at the car – he can’t figure out where to go inside.

Luckily a parking spot opened up shortly thereafter and we both went inside.

There was a main area with about 20 seats of which about 10 were randomly filled.  In front of us were 2 large rooms, both filled with seats and all were taken.  To the right was a passage and again people were queuing along the whole passage.  No room or area was marked or had any signage beside scrappy bits of A4 paper stuck all over, most informing people that their eye-testing equipment was out of order and people were to call the main Call Center to find out when they would be operational again.

Just to the left was a counter with a window and it too had a scruffy piece of A4 paper stuck to it which said “enquiries”.  So we stood in the queue there.  Not too bad as there were 3 people in front of us.  The gentleman in front of us turned around and made conversation for a few minutes and before we knew it we were in front of the lady at the counter.

I approached her politely and asked here where we must go to apply for a Learners License?  She asked me who for?  For a few seconds I was a tempted to ask if it mattered (you know, perhaps they have pink forms for women and blue for men?), but I  managed to bite my tongue.  I politely replied that it was for my son and I turned and pointed him out.

She then snapped at me and asked me why he doesn’t speak for himself.

I was taken totally off guard by this comment.  How was I supposed to  answer that?  I lrimages1happened to get to the counter first / I’ve had experience dealing with government departments before and he hasn’t / I wasn’t shy …  I finally settled with “Because I’m his mother and he’s a minor”.

She was not impressed with my answer, tutted, shook her head in disgrace and then snarled at us and asked if we had the various documents with us. I replied yes we did and handed them all to her.  She snatched them, picked up an application form, shoved the documents in the middle, handed it all back to me and told us to go to Room A.

Room A was the second of the 2 rooms in front of us as we walked in. So we went  to room A.

Room A was filled with seats and all were taken. We  hesitated for a minute as one is  not quite sure where to queue and the start or end of the seated queue is not identifiable.  Then a young lady shouted / snarled at us that we can’t stand there, we have to join the back of the queue.  (Who knew where that was?)

At this point Son #4 whispers to me and asks me if we can go somewhere else.  Yes I said, gladly!

So we left there and headed over to the Florida Testing Station, a 45 minute drive away but hopefully much friendlier.

We found parking easily.  It was also far cleaner.

We went inside.  No queue’s.  High Five Son #4 eyes said to me.  We asked at the counter where we must go to make a booking for a learners license.  She politely points out that we need to go down the passage, first room on the left.

We found it, got a number and were asked to join the queue outside.  Our number will be called in due course for Son #4 to have his eye test done (at least they had working equipment).

It is a small building and no space inside for the number of people they deal with on a daily basis, so having to queue outside is a necessity.  Everyone randomly stood outside, chatting, mingling, walking around.  Every now and then they called a few numbers.  There was probably 50 people there.

We ended up standing outside for just over 4 hours till our number was called.

I went to sit in the reception area near the cashiers while Son #4 had his eye test done.  He messaged me from the eye test room to say he finally understands why we waited for 4 hours when the eye test only takes 2 minutes at the most.  He said that most people could not understand the concept of the eye test and they spent almost 10 minutes with most people explaining how it works and what they  should be looking for. #itsnotrocketscience!

Once his test is done, he is instructed to go to Room 2.

Again no signage!

So where is Room 2 one may ask?

Room 2 is the open window on the outside of the building just before the entrance.

We went there where he was given a booking date.  It took all of 2 minutes.

We then had to pay the fee at the cashier and this too only took about 2 minutes.

What a day.  At least they were a little more helpful and polite in Florida.

This is my 4th son so I have done this many times before over the last 12 years. There is honestly no improvement in the system since the first time I went.  No new furniture.  No improved signage.  No automation.  Just plain incompetence and staff (whose salary is paid by my tax money) who have not been taught how to deal with customers and be polite.

And after all this I still don’t understand why getting your learners license is not part of the school curriculum.

One asks if there is any hope?

Keeping the lights on

 

Naked, but Not afraid

I have looked at my header picture and often thought about whether it is appropriate or not for my blog.  Friends and family see it, including my sons – it is on public display after all.

The reality is, this is me.  This blog is me.  And the stuff I write about is the naked me – about my deepest thoughts, emotions, love, and life.  It would be inappropriate to use a naked pic of me so this is the closest I can get to showing the real naked me to you all.

This photograph is about 4 years old now and yes, it had a little help from photoshop.  I am a few years older now and have lost a little lot more weight and have a few more wrinkles – thanks to a fight with Throat Cancer in the last year.  But I fought and won and am in the clear!

Cancer was my greatest fear.  I wasn’t afraid of dying from anything besides Cancer (Okay maybe scorpions too!).  But I got cancer and survived.  So now I have no fears – I am invincible.

i-am-strong-i-am-invincible-i-am-woman-quote-1

I have realized life is short so I intend to live life to the fullest.  Not wasting a single moment to enjoy it and take full advantage of what it has to offer!  My only hope is that you are all by my side enjoying it with me.

Keeping the lights on

Missing in translation

I had my own domain (www.lifecherries.com) which is where all the content on this blog is imported from.  Luckily I kept this blog on the side but a pity I didn’t keep the imports up to date.

I forgot to renew my domain subscription to lifecherries.com so I lost the domain.

At first I was very disappointed, extremely annoyed and very saddened by this.  Lifecherries had become part of my life and I had lost it. I am really pissed at GoDaddy and really pissed as blogspot (google) because of this.

Yes, I tried to buy it back but I found this to be impossible.  Some company had taken over the domain – not to use it but to extort money from me.  It is no more than a parked domain and they want a vast amount of money for me to buy it back.  I am not open for extortion, especially not something that I feel belongs to me.

I realise I lost it as I had not paid my annual domain fee but this domain has NO value to anyone except me.

There have been a quite a few posts in between may last post here and this one and quite a few developments in my life.  I will try to catch up on my news in my next few posts.

So I will be trying to build up followers on this site now and hopefully all my old blogger friends will re-acquaint themselves with this domain.

Keeping the lights on

 

 

 

Born Free

I have been doing quite a bit of driving around our beautiful country lately and I have been shocked at some of the images I have seen over the last week.  This first pic is an indication of how beautiful our country is, but is unfortunately not the pretty picture I have been seeing just recently.

We are nearing our elections in South Africa, taking place on the 7th of May and we are celebrating 20 years of democracy.  This is the first election taking place where those who are “born free” (those whose lives began after apartheid) are eligible to vote for the very first time. One would think this is a major milestone for every young adult.

However, unlike the 1994 elections which took place when we had our first democratic election and everyone went to cast their vote for the very first time, we now unfortunately have a new generation who do not want to cast their vote at all.

Our own Archbishop Desmond Tutu has welcomed the “Vote No” campaign – a campaign started by our former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and other ex-ANC members encouraging “South Africans to be aware of the value and consequences of their vote.”

This new generation has no memory of the apartheid era and have no loyalties to the ANC.  They feel they have been let down by their own government.  Most are well educated and despite this are unable to find suitable jobs.  Instead they are witness to the corruption taking place and the inability of our government to identify with its people.

They feel betrayed.

There are many protests taking place on a daily basis due to poor service delivery. I must admit there is no excuse for poor service delivery.  We have one of the most efficient tax collection departments in the world so the Goverenment has no excuse for under delievering.

I am in support of those who make the effort to protest against poor service delivery but I am shocked at the total lack of respect my fellow South Africans have for other people’s property.  Driving back from one of our mines yesterday, we were diverted and had to use an alternative route and we were witness to the destruction caused by one of these protests.

We were left with a picture of total destruction in our path – vehicles being stoned and trucks being burnt.    Our roads marked by black residue from burnt tires.

Are we perhaps heading for a civil war?  Do I Want to sit back and let this beautiful country be destroyed by those who should be protecting it?



Some interesting readining:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/25/anc-south-africa-born-free-generation-election
http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/politics/2014/04/24/vote-no-campaign-forces-people-to-think-of-ballots-value-says-tutu
http://www.henrileriche.com/2014/01/24/south-africa-is-heading-for-civil-war-if-economic-decay-continues/
http://www.congo-mai-mai.net/?p=7

Lanthie Ransom

Are you too smart to engage?

I don’t typically talk about politics on my blog.  The main reason is that my blog is supposed to be about me and my journey in finding myself and the challenges I face.  And I have always felt that writing about politics and matters of the state make it about everyone else.  But this is where I have come to the realisation that talking about politics is very much about me too – not only does politics and legislation have a huge impact on my life, it is my opinion that counts too.  So it is time I started being a little more verbal about some of these issues.

I would like to quote Plato here and this forms the theme of this post and many more just like it:
“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by their inferiors.”

Now where to start.  Quite honestly this could turn out to be a long post but I will try to keep it short and keep to the facts as I see them and perhaps it will be the first of many such posts.

The first issue I want to address is our new toll roads – or eTolls as they are called here.  This has been a

eTolls

very controversial subject here since we hosted the World Cup in 2010.  Besides the white elephant stadiums that we are left with (another legacy of the World Cup), we are also left with having to fund the upgrading of our national highways in Gauteng.

Now I know you are probably thinking why are we bitching about the upgrading of our national highways.  It is not the upgrading of our national highways that we are bitching about – we are bitching about the fact the tax payer has to pay a toll to drive on these roads.  These are roads we have always driven on at no cost (or direct costs as the case may be).  They didn’t build new ones, they merely fixed existing ones and added a new lane here and there.  We, the tax payer has already paid for the capital costs of these roads.  And it is due to neglect and the lack of maintenance that these upgrades were required in the first place.   Not to mention the fact that we pay a small fortune for petrol in our country which is loaded with various taxes and levies which are supposed to cover the cost of maintaining and improving our roads.  I’m not sure what you all pay for petrol but we currently pay over R14 a litre for ours (about US$1.5 per litre) (Refer to Worldwide Retail Prices of Gasoline  here (US cents per litre)

I have also been told that part of the agreement with FIFA was that we were required to provide highways with a minimum of 4 lanes to the stadiums and the airport and other such relevant routes if we were to host the World Cup.  They didn’t care what the cost of this was or if we actually needed more lanes.

So SANRAL (our national roads agency) put out a tender for the upgrading of these roads.  Another huge controversial issue as the tender and subsequent business plan is flawed in many ways.  The tender was awarded to a non-resident company, so much of the money raised actually finds its way out of the country.  But besides that, the installation consists of elaborate gantries and inefficient means of collecting the tolls.  I’m not going to quote facts a figures here as these are freely available on the web and I will post a few links at the end of this post for those of you who want more information.

We do not have a public transport system and there are also no viable alternative routes so we are forced to use the tolled highways now.   This has put huge financial pressure on the average tax payer who has to get to work or get around on a day to day basis.

One of the big issues for me is that you have to register to use these roads and you are offered “reduced rates” if you register and pre-pay for the usage of these roads.  I feel this is discrimination at it’s best and I am so fed up with being discriminated against in various ways (a topic for another post).  I will have to register to take advantage of special rates and I have to have a little electronic device in my vehicle.  

According to various articles I have read recently, up to 90% of people who use these tolled roads have a) not registered and b) not paid after receiving a bill in the post.  I am not quite sure how they intend to recover this money as they cannot prosecute everyone concerned.  I am currently part of the 90%.

I have not registered either and have received many bills in the mail.  I am very sensitive to my information being shared and would like to know how the administration company knows where to send the bills to if I have not registered.  I have certainly not given the licensing department permission to share my information with any third party companies and I feel strongly about my rights being compromised here.

Please read some of the articles below and share your thoughts on this issue.  I would be interested to know what you all think.

http://www.outa.co.za/site/about-outa/why-we-oppose-e-tolling/
https://www.jp-sa.org/eTolls.asp
https://www.facebook.com/TollCrusher
http://www.citypress.co.za/news/whistleblower-worked-sanral-tells-thuli-madonsela-e-tolls/
http://www.iol.co.za/motoring/industry-news/just-nine-percent-pay-e-toll-bills-1.1670399
http://citizen.co.za/154001/half-billion-e-toll-debt-drivers-say/

Lanthie Ransom

I Joined The Mile High Club

Just kidding!  Also not possible to do in a Cessna c172.  Well at least not comfortably anyway.

If you all read my previous post What Would I Do With R5Million, I mention that I would love to learn to fly.  I gave my list of things to do some serious thought and realised that some of these things were possible without having loads of money.  So in true Lanthie style, I decided to take up the challenge and try to do some of the things on my list.

I did some research on Saturday, reached out to some friends and then actually called a pilot training centre and made a booking to go on my first test flight.  The booking was made for today at 4pm.  I suddenly realised yesterday morning that this would conflict with my belly dance class and as we are well into rehearsing for our next show, I could not miss a class and would have to reschedule my flight.

So I called them and my flight was rescheduled for yesterday afternoon at 4pm.  They called me mid-afternoon and told me the weather was not being very accommodating and it was recommended that I postpone my flight.  So we rescheduled for Sunday at 2pm.  I was a little disappointed as I was really looking forward to my first flight.

I was on my way to the office at 7.30 this morning, stuck in traffic when my phone rang.  It was my instructor asking if I was free this morning and he could take me up at 11am.  So I made a few phone calls and rescheduled my meetings and went for my very first flying lesson.

I must admit I was a little nervous when I arrived.  I have been on loads of planes and travelled the world,

but I had never been on a small aircraft before.  I walked into the hanger and made my way up the stairs to the reception.  I was greeted by a very friendly young man behind the counter.  He introduced himself as my instructor.

I had to fill in some paperwork and then we headed downstairs to the plane.

I knew what a Cessna c172 looked like but didn’t realise how small it is.  My car is bigger – Okay I admit I drive a big 4×4 but I still expected it to be a lot bigger.

The instructor gave me a set of headphones.  He explained some safety checks to me and explained what to do in case of emergency.  Landing with the door open / unlatched being one of them – not something I want to envision doing any time soon!

I had to pretend to be a contortionist to get into the plane and finally found myself sitting in the pilot seat.  My instructor then explained various dials and switches to me while he went through his safety check.

We then taxied towards the runway and he let me take control.  It was a little tricky using my 2 feet to steer rather than my hands on a steering wheel but I quickly got the hang of it.  Apparently you only use the stick when flying.

We were parked while he went though various safety checks again and waited for the tower to give us clearance.

Eventually we were given the go ahead and finally I was in the air.  It went a lot slower than I thought and I couldn’t believe that we could fly at this speed.

We were up for about 5 minutes when the instructor handed control over to me.  WOW!  I could not believe I was in control of a plane in less than 5 minutes!  This is seriously stuff that dreams are made up of.

Alright, I must admit it is not rocket science stuff and piloting this plan is a whole load easier than driving my car.  But still – I WAS FLYING!

We headed out towards the Hartebeestpoort Dam.  The instructor was very patient with me and obliged me by answering the gazilion questions I had about the various instruments and what each one did.  I could not have wished for a more patient man.

We were up in the air for about an hour and before I knew it, we were landing.  I took over control once again when we were on the ground.

I definitely want to get my PPL license (Private Pilot Licence) and will make every effort to get it.  The only hurdle here is money to pay for it all.  So all donations are welcome – please feel free to leave me a comment if you would like to sponsor me (And Yes, I am being dead serious!)

A friend went up with me and took loads of photographs – hope you like them.  There is some amazing scenery.

Hope to be posting loads more pics of my flying in the near future.

Lanthie Ransom

What would I do with R5Million (US$500,000)

A friend recently asked me what I would do with R5million (about US$500,000), assuming I would not give up my job.  Off the top of my head I gave a fairly boring reply as follows:

I said I would like to pay off my apartment, put some into savings or investments and then risk some of it on new business venture/s.

So after being accused of being boring I decided to draw up a list of things I could do or buy that did not fall into the “boring” category.  Now this is not exactly a lot of money but it certainly is enough to have some fun with.  Some of these require quite a bit of money, others I could and should do as time allows.   In no particular order and without giving it too much thought ……

  1. Learn to fly – My brother has a helicopter license and my mother had a private pilots license.  In fact I did some research into this and I could get my license for around R100,000 (US$10,000).  So very easily attainable.
  2. Perhaps buy a small aircraft like a Cessna – something big enough for 2-4 people.  
  3. Actually fly a Spitfire or similar fighter aircraft -this would be amazing!   And yes, I’d like to fire it too!
  4. Learn to skipper a boat – Well perhaps I should just buy one and find some awesome guy (with penis pointers or perhaps just a really great looking bum to look at) to skipper it for me while we sail off into the sunset and anchor off the Mediterranean coast or something.
  5. Buy a small personal submarine – Something suitable to view marine life with. Of course I would have to buy a suitable boat / yacht to launch it from
  6. Buy a Harley Davison or Indian Motorbike and do a Cape to Cairo or route 66 run or something similar
  7. Go and live in a small beach house in Mozambique for a few years
  8. Open up a beach bar 
  9. Go on a world tour – stopping in each country, getting to know the locals and moving on as and when I choose.
  10. Buy a bright RED Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche or other sportscar.  Not sure which – will have to take a test drive in them all first
  11. Buy a lifetime supply of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs
  12. Visit the 7 wonders of the world
  13. Go Scuba diving in the great Barrier Reef
  14. Take some of my best friends on a long holiday to the Maldives or Seychelles or some other exotic island
  15. Take some of my best friends on a skiing holiday
  16. Go swim with the sharks (Yeah, Maybe I’ll stay in the cage)

So how would you spend half a million dollars – just for the fun of it?

Lanthie Ransom