Has anyone else had difficulty answering the new questions which are given to ‘authenticate’ you when you start a contract or new account?

The first time I came across this ‘new’ authentication practice was back in March when I was upgrading me cellphone contract with CellC. The entire process was pretty seamless, except when it got to the end. Just before handing my phone to me the cashier or contract sales guy told me I’d have to answer 5 basic questions just so that they know it is actually me who is upgrading.

My first thought was that it would be similar to when they ask you to verify your ID number on the phone so just nodded along. These questions are nothing like those. In fact, they kind of remind me of the little code boxes you have to fill in for most online forms, but the really difficult ones that you end up unable to read.

I failed the authentication first time around. I failed to prove to a machine that I am in fact me. How bad are the questions that I cannot answer them satisfactorily enough to prove that I am me while standing there with my old phone and ID book? Really?

It made me laugh at the time and I got another 5 questions which I managed to pass, but once I left I kept thinking about the ridiculousness of it. Besides the thought that we live in a country where this is what they think is needed as proof that you are who you say you are, how badly are the questions built?

I mean asking me if I have some random home loan when I don’t even own a house, or whether my current work telephone number is 011 xxx xxxx, which is in fact my old work number, does not prove anything. It just makes things difficult.

Needless to say I gave up last week when the final step of my Woolworths store card application ended with another round of 5 questions. I failed the first time and told them to cancel. It was ridiculous.

“Do you have an RCS Card?”
“Yes”
“Have you had it for 1 year and 7 months”
“umm… no. Not that long.”
“For more or less than 1 year?”
“Less”

“Do you have a contract with Nashua Mobile?”
“No… I did.”

“Do you have a number starting with 071…?”
“No.”

I mean WTF? I still don’t even know what I got wrong.

I asked the guy from CellC when I first experienced these questions what would happen if I didn’t get the second round right and he told me that he wouldn’t have been able to give me the phone.

Can you imagine that? “Sorry, you can’t have this phone because according to our system of stupid randomly generated crap, you aren’t who you say you are.”

I just can’t understand why a place like Woolworths would implement a system like that.

It was less painful going to the damn dentist. I was already frustrated because they had given me the run around before the questions, with two different people phoning me and telling me different things and going through the entire application (filled out online) all over again over the phone. The first person who called told me it would take 24 to 48 hours for activation, the second guy called to say he was activating it right now and I will be able to go into Woolies and get the store card immediately.

Um… no. That’s not quite how it works apparently. I went in to the store to be told it was pending. I was irritated enough by then and 3 days later I get a call just to let me know that it has been activated! Yay. All you need to do is answer 5 authentication questions….

Why is customer service so hard to get right?

I am so happy with how far Bachelors and Bachelorette parties have come over the last few years.

Gone are the days of women drinking tea while sharing recipes and anecdotes on keeping their husbands happy while their soon-to-be other halves are sitting at bars smoking cigars, drinking whiskey and enjoying a lap dance.

It has become something of a tradition for these celebrations to last the whole day and to encompass a fun activity, some embarrassment, a get together for everyone with party games and then a ‘real’ party for the ‘last fling before the ring’. Generally the boys camp has a little more debauchery, while the ladies camp can get a little more crass than one would expect.

Now, I have never experienced a bachelors party so that is about as far as I can go with speaking about that but when it comes to a bachelorette, I have done a fair amount of research and have gotten some first hand experience!

The really fun part of the whole thing is that practically anything goes. Things you would not usually discuss with your mother (or even your grandmother), are suddenly fair game. This kind of playful ‘awkwardness’ creates a great environment for all kinds of fun and ice breaking activities.

Obviously there is a plethora of websites with all kinds of games, themes and ideas for everyone (just Google some key phrases, such as ‘Hen Party Ideas’, and you’ll see what I mean) but there was one thing that I really thought was worth sharing from my most recent experience.

You know how parties are just 10 times better with a piñata?

Well a nice project for you and the other bridesmaids (if you are planning a Bachelorette) would be to make a DIY Penis Piñata.

There are so many laughs in this project, I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun I had while making it and not because it’s all arts and crafts, but purely because of the words I got to say and the reactions they invoked.

Example:

The boyfriend: “What are you up to tonight?”
Me: “I need to paint my penis.”
The boyfriend: “…”

And hysterics ensue. There were numerous occasions for this as I went through the process, especially as the whole thing started coming together.

So if you want to surprise your guests and other bridal party members, embarrass your bride-to-be and have a lot of laughs, you should really consider this.

All you need to make the actual pinata are some balloons (long and round ones), duct tape, newspaper, water, flour, paint and tissue paper.

First you will blow up two normal round balloons and then some of the long balloons. You then need to duct tape the long balloons together to make a ‘shaft’. You can then duct tap the two round balloons on opposite ends to the bottom of the shaft.

All you need then is one more round balloon to tape to the top.

You can decide on size.

Once the shape is correct, you will then start the paper mache process. First you will need to tear up some strips of newspaper. The glue is then made by mixing 1 part flour with 1 part water (TIP: Add a little cinnamon to the mixture to counteract the floury smell and some salt to prevent mold) and stirring. You can then paint the glue onto the strips and place them onto the balloon structure, covering the entire surface.

Each layer will need about 1 or 2 days to dry. Make sure it is completely dry before starting the next layer. I would suggest around 3 layers but make sure you are happy with how hard it is (see how the word play can be entertaining?) before you pop the balloons using a pin!

Once you have done all the layers it should look something like this:

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You can then add a layer or two of paint: (this is where it looks the funniest… you could probably leave it like this but I wanted more of a piñata feel)

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Once that is dry, you can cut a hole somewhere to add the contents later and you can add the tissue paper (this take a little while and a lot of patience… but it’s worth it):

2014-08-20 19.18.17

Once that’s done, all you need to do is fill it up (think naughty – g strings, plastic alcohol shots and sweets), close the hole and hang it up.

You can then give the bride a stick and put on a blind fold. You can imagine how funny that can be to watch :)

IMG_0010

Happy piñata making :P

I started this blog many moons ago as a creative outlet. Over the years it has adapted and been on hold for several periods of time.

I think that probably says more about me that I’d like.

In any case, here is to trying again, differently. I am hoping to spend more time writing about things I love and hopefully putting down some interesting points about the way I am experiencing this life. I suppose it’s time for this space to reflect the growth I have experienced over the past few years.

My About Me page used to say that I was on the way to where I want to be in 5 years. Of course, we always are, but I think I am at a place where I at least know who I want to be, who I am.

Here’s to creating new habits and to finishing what I start! Hopefully this can extend to other parts of my life as well :)

ExtinguishI was filled with excitement when I heard that JM Darhower was releasing another book. ‘Sempre’ was one of my all-time favourite stories and who doesn’t love it when an author you love and respect, releases something new to sink your teeth into?

However, when I found out that this new release was a paranormal romance, an angelic one at that, I became a little nervous. I am not a big fan of Angel books. I often feel that books about angels tend to be incredibly cheesy and overly dramatic and one of my absolute favourite things about ‘Sempre’ was how real it all was. Naturally, my trepidation was a little high when I first opened my copy of ‘Extinguish’.

After the first few pages my trepidation increased and I felt a little disappointed as the story plunges into a world that seems to be exactly what I was afraid of… dripping with cheese – Michael and Serah prancing around in a field of wild flowers. It was too angelic, too strange, too difficult to find a connection in Serah (our angelic main character).

After that first chapter however, everything changed. The entire stereotype I had begun to imagine for the rest of the book blew up the minute Luce stepped into the picture and from what I now know, having read the entire book in record time, it was all very necessary for me to feel that way. In fact, it somehow added to the entire experience because I was more a part of Serah’s journey than I could have been had it started out any other way.

‘Extinguish’ is filled with all the right things that build up a story and fill it with life. Nothing is predictable. Nothing is a stereotype. The story is beautiful and JM Darhower has officially created the ultimate fantasy ‘bad-boy-who-is-not-really-bad-but-actually-is’. Confusing? You’ll only understand what I am on about when you read the book… and you should most definitely read it if you enjoy fantasy novels or paranormal love stories.

And a big plus?

This one is definitely for the adults!

Piet Byleveld BookI don’t really know how to begin with this review as it is not my usual reading material (seems I am growing up!).

This book is a biography of sorts but I don’t want to label it as such because that somehow makes it sound too clinical. I don’t often read biographies and will, more often than not, choose fiction over the facts. This began to change after reading Lawrence Anthony’s  ‘The Elephant Whisperer’ and since then I thoroughly enjoy stories based on real life events. But they are still always stories, which is exactly what “Piet Byleveld: Dossier of a Serial Sleuth” is filled with.  Lots of stories that make your skin crawl and at the same time make you want to join the police force (this is definitely saying something with the state ours is in)!

I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good crime story (think CSI/The Mentalist/Sherlock Holmes) and especially to the people living in South Africa (particularly Gauteng) as it is always great when you can picture the places they talk about perfectly because you have actually been there. This isn’t something we don’t get to experience often.

The book takes you through Piet’s life in Brixton’s Murder and Robbery unit, his move when the SAP became the SAPS, and focuses on his years specialising in serial killings. You will read the details of cases such as the Leigh Matthews case or about Cedric Maake, one of SA’s biggest serial killers.

Each case is told as a story, with little anecdotes about Piet and his life along the way.

This is definitely one of the best books I have read!

Rating: 10/10

Unearthly Hallowed Boundless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am always a bit skeptical with Angel books and tend to find that so many of them are wildly ‘out of this world’ and completely impossible, but Cynthia Hand has created a world which makes it all fully believable; If Angels exist, this genuinely seems the most likely world they’d live in.

Besides having such a well structured environment, Cynthia has also created a cast of brilliantly developed characters. It’s enough to make you want to read each of their stories to get the full picture. That is probably the only negative of being in Clara’s head as the story unfolds – you want to know what everyone is thinking and feeling. Clara is a wonderful character and going through the story with her is just the only way I could imagine it. Her emotions are perfectly captured throughout the journey as she tries to navigate the new destiny she has been given.

The story begins with ‘Unearthly’ where you meet Clara and the hand full of characters that you will follow through the series. The initial story is action-packed and will make you swoon as her tangled version of a ‘love triangle’ unfolds. Don’t be fooled though, this isn’t the usual kind of triangle – it’s a lot more complicated. There’s no bad boy vs. sweet friend, it’s much more real and much more heart breaking. (Once you meet Tucker and Christian you will understand!)

Through each book you follow her as she tries to uncover the meaning of her destiny while stumbling toward it guided by dreams and flashes. Each book is neatly wrapped up, though the main story follow through each, ending in an action packed climax. It is always difficult to say goodbye to characters, especially when you have been on a long journey with them, as you do in a series, but it is worth it.

I would definitely recommend this one to everyone who loves a good ‘young adult’ novel!

Warm BodiesWarm Bodies is something so different and completely unexpected and I am so glad I read the book before watching the movie!

The story is filled with crazy amounts of touching, sad and hilarious moments. You wouldn’t think a zombie story could be all that funny but right from the first page I found myself laughing out loud at the visuals Isaac Marion’s words were evoking! R is a fantastic character to share a mind with. I absolutely loved everything about his thoughts, feelings, developments and especially his sense of humour and blatant honesty!

Besides for a great main character, every other character you come across throughout the book are perfectly rounded and interesting, whether you love them or hate them.
To top it all off, not only did the story provide me with hours of great imaginative entertainment but it was also really thought provoking by touching on some real issues regarding the human condition.

As crazy as a zombie story might be, it felt incredibly real and possible.  I was left feeling sad it was over but satisfied with the entire story!

What an awesome read!

Anna Dressed in Blood Girl of Nightmares

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I absolutely loved this story! It was something completely unexpected and it took me a while to start it just because ‘things that go bump in the night’ scare the living daylights out of me!

Thank goodness books are different to movies and I could dial down the scary to suit my easily frightened mind.

A few years ago I never would have touched this book, but since a friend once convinced me to read a vampire love story, I haven’t quite been the same and I am so glad for that! The criteria for picking which new book to start, is now based on reviews rather than silly stereotypes.

Anna Dressed in Blood and its sequel ‘Girl of Nightmares’ are must reads. In the ‘young adult’ genre there are only a few books that completely suck me in and take me into their world. You know those books that you end up taking everywhere with you – the ones that you’ll read on bathroom breaks or during lunch at work? This is one of those. You can’t help it. The characters are just so fascinating and the desire to delve deeper into the story and find out what is really going on is just too intense not to give in.

In Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake takes the idea of a haunted house and turns into a brilliant story about how love can completely catch you unaware. The main character, Cas Lowood, is great to share a mind with. He’s funny, intelligent and even though he can sometimes be rash, it is what makes him so believable.

I cannot rave enough about this series, and have shared it with enough friends to know I am not being to biased – don’t let any stereotypes stop you from reading this story! ‘Anna Dressed in Blood’ will knock your socks off.

W.O.W.  

It was even more amazing the second time around.

I always hoped that this (once a fanfic) book would be published as I loved it so much I wanted to have it on my bookshelf and easily accesible to read over and over again.

 J.M Darhower (or Kharizzmatik as we all know her…) is an amazing author with an astounding ability to build up a scene and make you feel as though you are living it, using only her words.

The story is an intense one, and is not for the faint hearted. It will make you cry, it will make you laugh, and it will make you so angry sometimes that you will want to scream. But every single bit is worth it!

And what’s even more amazing… is that this book is raising awareness of a worldwide problem that seems to be hardly ever spoken about – Human Trafficking. Proceeds from the books are going to Love146, which works toward the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation through Prevention and Aftercare solutions while contributing to a growing abolition movement.

If you never had the chance to read the fanfic ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ (or even if you did!) then please, get a copy of this story. It is action-packed love story so powerful that it will rock your world!

 All I can say is, when is the next one coming? :-)

Visit her site for more info of how to get a copy and what you can do to help the cause!

 

This past year has been the start of a lot of steps forward for me… steps toward things that have always been goals of mine but, as procrastinators tend to do, have been put off, or delayed.

One of these things was (and still is) getting healthy – making better food choices, getting fit, stopping smoking and losing weight. ‘Finding the right balance’, as such.

I can see now why people say that good can stem from tragic circumstances because I don’t think I would be where I am now if it weren’t for the reality check the deaths of my Grandfather, ‘Step-father’ and ‘Step-uncle’ gave me in December 2010. The thought of how different things would have been had they been healthy, had they made the right choices for their bodies, pushed me into thinking about where I was and what I wanted from my life. It forced me to make the right choices and take a big step forward.

I have now been gyming daily for what will be a year in March. I get up at 4.30am, get to gym at 5 and get to work by 7.30am. It seems hectic (and trust me, one a half years ago, I would have agreed) but it’s amazing how quickly you can get into a routine when something feels good and gives you the kind of results you are looking for.

I took it slowly at first, one choice at a time. I started with gym. Once I got comfortable with that, I quit smoking (beginning of May) and once not smoking felt pretty normal I decided to give the ‘making the right food choices’ a go. I start ‘dieting’ October this year and I am now a comfy 10kgs down. I still have another 10 to 15 to go and have a goal of April 2012.

I am not starving myself and this is not a ‘diet’ in the sense that by April I will just go back to eating like a pig. No. It’s a lifestyle change.  You’ve probably heard that a hundred times before… and yes I still agree, it sounds ridiculous… but the fact is that it’s true.

I haven’t suddenly stopped loving chocolate (especially those yummy double milk Lindt slabs), or pizza (Cornuti anyone?), and I definitely haven’t stopped thinking that pies, chips and red bull are suddenly disgusting – because if I said that, I would be lying.

What I can say though, is that feeling good and looking good… is better than any of those things taste. Although there are still days where I disagree with myself and raid the pastry section of the nearest shop.

I guess what I’ll say, is that I make the right choices the majority of the time… I mean, it’s all about balance, right?

So for 2012 I have decided to focus even more on the ‘getting fit part’… note “Mission‘Extreme Fitness’. I have decided on two things: 1) I will be doing the 94.7 Cycle Challenge this year and, 2) I will be participating in a Triathlon (I’m thinking

the Energade one), in other words, by November I want to be at tip-top fitness level… I’m thinking like 18% body fat here!

Anyhoo… I decided to blog about it… and in this way I can kill two birds with one stone, well kind of , my next 2012 goal is ‘Write more’… so it works!