26 November 2008

Woolies Self Serve Checkout

Scott & I went up the road to Woolies last night (it's open until midnight every night!) to do a little grocery shopping. They've installed the new Self Serve till points so we decided to give it a go! Very exciting!!! For 2 reasons.... Obviously because it's something new & secondly because where we come from, it would just be unheard of!!! Imagine putting in these self serve tills at Pick 'n Pay in Sefrika? Eish!!! They wouldn't last 5 minutes!

So how they work: As you can see above, there's no counter - basically there is a very wide isle between two rows of inward-facing till points. This is not ideal for large trolley loads of groceries - just a bit awkward with too many groceries and trying to maneuver a trolley from emptying to re-loading. There's not really enough space to have two trolleys at your disposal. So baskets are perfect cos you put the basket on the little basket shelf on the left.

The screen is a touch screen and is pretty much idiot proof. You press the start button on the screen and it tells you to scan an item. You scan an item and put it in the bag on the right. There seems to be a weight sensor under the bag (or possibly on the arms of the bag-holder) which will only allow you to scan the next item once the already-scanned item is placed in the bag. If you've got fruit and veg to weigh, you place the item on the scanner window which also doubles as a scale and press the button on the screen which says "weigh", choose from the alphabetic list and click the item you want. Eg: I had chillis - I pressed weigh on the screen. A new screen appeared with little thumbnail pictures of fruit & veg and the alphabet on the right. I pressed C on the right and checked through the thumbnails for baby red Chillis. The weight and price appears on the screen, you press okay and put it in the bag.

When it comes time to pay, you select your payment type - credit card / bank card with cashout / bank card without cashout /cash. I paid on my credit card - the screen said swipe, so I swiped and pressed okay. The screen said sign.......... hrm..... where to sign? No little slip of paper to sign....... Duh!!!! Check out the close up of the terminal - under the credit card machine is a little black gadget with what looks like a loop of wire to the right of it. That's the signing pad - the loop is attached to a solid plastic "pen". As you sign, your signature appears on the screen. There is a Woolies employee hovering around the self serve area. A little light goes on above my head once I've signed and she needs to verify my signature. (If I use a pin code instead, then she's not needed.)

The machine then spews out your receipt and off you go! Easy as pie!!!

I love this country! :-)

24 November 2008

A Big Hello from Down Under San (Mupersan Down Under)

It’s been a while, a long while. Mandy has been an absolute star with keeping you all updated on the blog. I haven’t done any writing for a while, as I haven’t been up to much, besides getting a promotion or 2, and working pretty hard. My travels haven’t taken me out of Sydney for a while, and I have been kind-of confined to the city centre and the North shore, but with my latest “promotion”, I am getting around a bit more again - to the tune of 250km per day.

Now this doesn’t sound far, but when it takes 4 to 5 hours of this kind of travelling in traffic, it starts to get pretty tiring, and loooong. However, thanks to my trusty new IPod Nano, the trips are made much easier... I think I broke the last one; maybe it was the drop from 10ft up that did the trick. Or one of the electrical shocks I had while plugged into it when an idiot electrician switched the power on, on an open circuit. Either way, it has retired!

Below is a picture of the area I am currently driving (c/o Google maps)

Click on the map to enlarge

F- Home

B – Site 1, and Army base in an area called Holsworthy. Drive time from F to B is about 1.5 hrs, through city centre and a few tunnels. Quite a bit of fun in morning Traffic, as you can easily get caught in a tunnel with all the fumes. I sat in the harbour tunnel for 15 minutes on one of the days, with a few tons of water above my head, not a pleasant thought.

Residential houses near the Holsworthy station and base

Small apartment block in Holsworthy

Closer to the Base

C – Warragamba Dam, this is one of Sydneys major dams, undergoing a bit of reconstruction. This is on the outskirts of the Blue mountains and Sydney, with lovely views of the bush.

The dam control building where we installed

The dam under construction

D – The Baulkham Hills and Castle Hill area. A large number of SA immigrants seem to settle here, and it looks like a typical new Durbanville Hills / Johannesburg development. Not my cuppa tea, but each to their own.

Durbanville Hills, or is it Baulkham Hills.....? You decide

Baulkham Hills Houses

Cycleway, pedestrian & cycle bridge - heading to Castle Hill

Glass sided bridges - heading to Castle Hill

My trip home from Castle Hill takes me through St Ives, where a weary traveler has been known to stop for a bag of biltong, and some Nick Nacks at the local Saffer shop, very yummy.

One thing that I love about my work is the travelling. I get to see so much of the city, and all the different life styles. Mandy and I will hopefully be doing a bit more travelling around the state, and then interstate next year, s we still haven’t been to the Blue Mountains, although next weekend we are going to a town a few hundred Km’s up the drag to go swimming with wild dolphins. A story for another day....

Temperatures in the areas B, C and D have been up in the 35°C, with one in the 40’s that melted tar onto my tyres. Oh, and it’s still Spring! On the News last night there was talk of 50°C days over December, but this will be more in the interior. Its sounds a bit alarming, but on chatting to a few locals at the surf lifesaving club last night, it appears that this is quite common, after all one of the towns in the great outback, Coober Pedy, is built underground, to avoid the searing temps.

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy Hotel

Coober Pedy Campground

Below is an excerpt from the camp ground pic.

"Okay, so the budget underground accommodation options aren't the prettiest, but they are cool and quiet. It's always a relief to escape the heat and the flies and the dust above ground."

And take note of the walls in all the pictures above, those beautiful rose colours and patterns. The underground homes people live in don't look like those budget places, rather they look like the flashy hotel in the first picture: tall ceilings, modern interior, and those gorgeous walls... Or, if they are older, then everything is rounded...

Well, that’s it for me today. The sky is grey, the see is calm, and we’re off to Shelly beach to go snorkelling, to get some practice in for next week’s adventure.

Chats soon


06 November 2008

Arte y Pico Award

Thanks Caroline for passing on the prestigious Arte y pico award to the Mupersans' Blog! This is an interesting one... The intention behind the origin of the award is quite clever. It works like a chain letter - each award winner in turn presents the award to 5 others. By linking to the original site (Arte y pico), the originator gets to view other people's blogs that they wouldn't normally come across. Clever idea but from the looks of things, this got a bit out of hand and grew too big for the originator to visit each and every blog. As he/she mentions in their latest post, they were leaving comments on each blog visited but were just inundated and couldn't spend every waking moment on the PC.

If anyone's wondering how I suddenly learnt how to read Spanish (I think that's what it's written in!), I haven't. But my good friend Google can & I just asked it to translate for me. The translation tool isn't perfect because it doesn't always get the context correct, but it's good enough to get the jist of things.

So let's get onto the important stuff...... (imagine a drum roll here).....

The RULES for presenting this sought after Award are:

  • Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.
  • Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog.
  • Each award winner (upon acceptance) should show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award.
  • Link to the Arte y pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.
  • Show these rules.
And the awards go to.....

Life In Dubai - Seabee
Carrie & Warren's LSD to Australia - Carrie
Markusse Family - Carol
The Life of Pie - Anna
Didgeridudes - Paul & Lee


03 November 2008

John's Visit to Sydney

So a few weeks ago, I got an email from my mom telling me that a friend of her's was coming out to Sydney and did we want anything from South Africa? Hrmmmm...... And put me on the spot like that and I couldn't think of a single thing! I'm happy to report that there's everything we could want here - including a shop down the road which sells Pepperdews (yes, they are a South African product!), Aramat, Niknaks and very good biltong. But the one thing I used regularly in South Africa that I can't get here are Myprodols. It's the BEST painkiller EVER!!! So that's what I asked for - Myprodols.

Now that meant meeting up with my mom's friend, John. I'd met John earlier this year when I was selling off my CDs - he bought several and I went to drop them off. So there's only one thing I know about John - he's got excellent taste in music! :-)

John arrived in Sydney late on the Saturday night. We picked him up at his hotel in Milson's Point on the Sunday morning and took a leisurely drive out to West Head. Unfortunately we forgot to take the camera with us - doh! It was a beautiful day and the perfect spot to start off a great day!

Here's a reminder of what West Head looks like....

Then it was a drive through the Kuringai National Park back to Mona Vale. We had a relaxed lunch on the balcony - my speciality - marinaded fillet steak on the barbie. A bottle of wine and some excellent conversation later.....

John and the depleted bottle in Mona Vale

John & Scott on the balcony

Once John had successfully inducted Scott into the world of "Yes dear....", we went for a walk along the beach. Hrm..... thanks for that John!!! :-)

John & I on the beach road

John & I deep in conversation about something important!


John instructing Scott on the finer points of "Yes dear" use in the most inappropriate situations!

Scott & John on the beach

The stunning Mona Vale Beach

Gettin' serious....?

Heading up the stairs at the end of the beach to the Mona Vale headland

The view from the top of the headland down across the golf course. The red arrow points to our apartment

Scott & John on the Mona Vale golf course with the local hospital in the background

John's officially been adventuring in Australia with The Hat

John in front of his hotel at the end of a fabulous day

We had a great day - hopefully we'll get to spend more time with John on his next visit to Sydney.