South Park Self


I'm very full of excellent Asian cuisine from Haiku, which was this month's Salty Cracker. I've had a very nice day working from home, and being both unbugged by students and insanely productive. I have wrangled orientation budgets and credit transfers and weird student email queries with cheerful dispatch. My weekend is full of nothing in the way of work, and several things in the way of happy socialising, except not too many, so I'll still have time to restore the soul by pottering around gardening and sewing and baking. (God, I'm domestic. I shall have to sling some Smallville in there just because). I am clearly coming out of the Horror That Is The Start Of The Year, and am in a benign space which calls for an anti-rant-list. Indulge me!

Administration is one of those things I'm good at mostly because I hate it and will have it done as quickly and efficiently as possible so that I can get on with fun, useful stuff like reading CakeWrecks. That being said, I also like systems; I appreciate the elegance of a well-oiled machine, and respect those who respect the machine and put their energies into removing the grit from its wheels. These people are, alas, few and far between. One realises quite how rare they are when one does actually run across a system that works, leaving one stunned and unable to parry in the best possible way. The South African online tax returns are a case in point. They work. They're elegantly put together and designed to be intuitive and reduce your chance at making mistakes. The other two joy-inducing loci of actual efficiency in my life at large are Loot, and Imaginet.

I blush to admit the size of the monthly book/CD/DVD habit I have built up on Loot. It's probably approaching about a thousand rand a month, which is the unmistakeable sound of Extemp hitting disposable income for the first bloody time in her life. Loot is South Africa's baby Amazon, except it's not an evil empire. They can get almost anything I want, and my sf/fantasy/comic book/music tastes are eclectic and wayward and tend towards the cult. Their wishlists are beautifully constructed and email you to alert you to things becoming available, or going down in price. They send me emails when they've posted an order, and the items always arrive at the post office, impeccably packed, within 24 hours. About once a year I receive an apologetic email to say that there's been a problem with an order and it won't arrive within the minimum projected time. Twice in a four-year relationship they've had to cancel an order because their supplier didn't have it. One book order was misprinted, and they replaced it immediately. One multi-disk TV series had a blank disk in it, and they not only ordered a replacement, they emailed me to say that the replacement had arrived but they'd tested it and the same disk was blank, please hold on while they re-order another one from a different supplier. Their email helpline is quick, courteous and given to actual spelling and grammar. They apologise when something goes wrong. At least part of the reason behind my ginormous shopping addiction is because they're so pleasant to use. I love Loot.

The other organisation I love is Imaginet. The hideosity that is the Telkom experience makes you lose all hope in actual intelligent life at the other end of a phone helpline. Imaginet, on the other hand, employs nice geeky young men who are polite, articulate and know what they're doing. I've just disrupted my perfectly fine working ADSL line by changing my login username, on the grounds that it was still in my dad's name and I was finding it mildly distressing to keep running across it. The actual login name change took, I kid you not, all of 35 minutes - I emailed asking how to go about changing it, they mailed back half an hour later to say "It's done, just reset your router." Of course, changing the router settings is a bizarrely arcane process involving a totally badly-written user interface opaque to geek or non-geek alike, which I never remember how to access and have to be talked through from scratch. We ended up having to factory reset the bloody thing, which entailed me crawling around on the floor, phone stuck to ear, to prod the hole at the back with the official straightened paperclip dingus, without being able to see what I was doing because the computer and router are all cabled neatly into the desk and the cable's too short. The nice Imaginet geek was lovely about it: patient and clear and not in the least condescending, and apparently mildly amused by my running dialogue with the cat (Hobbit assumes that these sorts of complicated operations are run entirely for his benefit, and insists on sticking his nose in more or less continuously). The Imaginet helpline makes me deeply miss dating computer programmers. Something about the way their minds work.

I am planning to have a lovely weekend, with working internet and no orientation to run and the latest stash of books (more Jo Walton, the dragon one, and A Superman For All Seasons, which has dreamily beautiful artwork). I hope yours will be likewise.
  • Current Mood: amused happy at the world
I'm a big believer in giving business to small ISPs who have techie staff that actually care about keeping a customer happy. The big ones have many layers of call centre staff with no actual skills...
I totally agree, except that I seem to have some horrible small-ISP karma. My first ever home internet was with Interlink, which lasted all of six months until Mweb bought them and the service went to hell. Then I moved over to IAfrica, which all went fine for several years until Mweb bought them and the service all went to hell. Now I'm deliriously happy with Imaginet, and braced for The Small ISP Curse Of Extemporanea to catch up with them. Sigh.
Faster than a speeding bullet
Not sure if you were aware, but neatly deconstructing "Superman For All Seasons" into its components of "A Man for All Seasons" and "Superman", is the casting of Henry Cavill from "The Tudors" as Zac Snyder's new Man of Steel.

Dreamily beautiful is the word. :-)
Re: Faster than a speeding bullet
That's a very pretty man, oh yes indeedy. Except that I don't think he looks like Clark Kent - his face is too modern, if that makes sense? Can you see him doing gormless in big black spectacles? Superman needs to have a more a solidly 50s clean-cut thing going on, somehow. Cavill also looks as though he could play a complete bastard with a fair amount of conviction, which is only useful in the Superman context if they break out the red kryptonite, which I sincerely hope they don't. On the other hand all accounts suggest he's a good actor, so hopefully he'll surprise me and pull it off. I will, of course, see the film regardless ;>.
I use Take2 a lot and have never used Loot. I certainly have no problem with Take2, in fact, I am closed to addicted to it. What does Loot have that Take2 does not? Do they do 2nd hand?
I use Take2 for electronics, mostly. Loot doesn't do second hand; what it does do is free delivery if the order is over R200, which usually works out cheaper than Take2. I do not diss Take2, they too are a noble entity offering good service, but my heart belongs to Loot ;>.
I don't do Take2 delivery, I drive out to their offices. It's not very far and I rather enjoy the opportunity to listen to my podcasts. It's a welcome break from routine :).
Ah. Valid, except I'd have to do it at least weekly. Besides, I now have the Rondebosch post office trained so that they bring the Loot boxes out the back as soon as I join the queue, without me having to show them slips or anything.
** You write: "Administration is one of those things I'm good at mostly because I hate it and will have it done as quickly and efficiently as possible so that I can get on with fun, useful stuff"

I know *exactly* what you mean. There is a flaw to this logic, though. To paraphrase my former boss (said with a grin after adding extra annoying bureaucratic tasks): if you're clearly good at it, you'll get more to do, thus becoming a a victim of your own success.