My brothers and I learned tonight that our beloved mom had passed away in the early hours of Monday morning in South Africa.
Above: a stanza from a 2003 poem by Johann de Lange (Afrikaans). I tried my hand at a rough translation, on the right.
My passport renewal application form with photo & check was ready to send in on Thursday.
I could fill out the form on the computer to print it. All good.
I practiced a few times to make a recognizable signature with my right hand’s four fingers; signed the form, and signed the check.
I enlisted the help of friends to fill out the rest of the check, and to neatly write the date on the form.
There was no mercy at the post office, though: I had to fill out my own address and the passport center’s address three times with my left hand (on the priority mail envelope, and in teeny-tiny letters on the certified mail slips).
It was hard work!
My butter dish now resides on the kitchen counter, and not in the fridge.
A hard block of butter is annoying for two hands, and absolutely does not cut it for a one-handed toast butterer.
I also discovered that there is a Left Hand Only keyboard setting for my iPhone.
We did not take a group photo last year, and I insisted we do one this year. I set my camera up on its tripod, and had it take 8 pictures, 3 seconds apart.
Hold still! But no — the objects being photographed got a little restless towards the end of the photo shoot.
I have now completed exactly sixty trips around the Sun, and that earned me felicitations from family and friends (which I appreciated very much).
The Thursday night social tennis group also made a fuss over me— with cupcakes and beverages and a little gift bag and balloons. There will be more festivities on Saturday, when I plan to have a few friends over.
Well, the wait for my Tesla Model 3 (Long Range AWD) car was over on Wednesday.
A Tesla delivery person showed up with my car at my house shortly after 10.30 am. I signed some papers and handed over a check. We linked up my phone with the car, and that was it, for the delivery.
As for getting behind the steering wheel, completing the setup of the car on the touchscreen, and starting to drive it: I am very fortunate to have friends that have been Tesla owners for awhile, and that have provided me with invaluable pointers and ‘tech support’ from the day I had put in my order nine weeks ago. It would have been a very steep learning curve, with many stumbles, without them.
The 15-in. touchscreen shows the car’s position in traffic, its speed and a navigation map with (optional) driving directions. The screen is also the interface for entertainment and a host of other controls for the car.
There is a standard turn-signal stalk & a gear selector stalk (R N D P) by the steering wheel, and buttons on the wheel for volume control & the sideview mirrors.
Modern cars are all high-tech, but one can argue Teslas are a notch or two above that. The software that controls the car’s interface and functions will be updated from time to time through my home wi-fi network. The car has no key: your phone is the key. ‘The car knows you want to drive when you get in’, as Elon Musk likes to say. On long trips, the navigation map will work out which chargers to go to, and will indicate how many open chargers are available at nearby locations.
My car came standard with some Autopilot* functions – which I can choose to engage at any time. I opted out of getting the ‘Full Self-Driving’ functionality. (*Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system: automated steering within a clearly marked lane, and matching the car’s speed with that of surrounding traffic. ‘Full Self-Driving’ is automated driving functionality that actively guides the car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including lane changes, navigating interchanges, automatically engaging the turn signal and taking the correct exit).
I love the high-tech, but at the end of the day I am just thrilled to have a car that drives on electricity. No more fill-ups at the gas station for me. I hope that in the not-too-distant-future, all the cars in the world can become electric.
|The body is mostly steel, with some aluminum. The 2021 Model 3 replaced the chrome door handles, side mirror trim, window trim, and camera covers with a black finish. It has a double-paned windshield, a powered trunk, and a new center console. Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection. Curb weight is 4,072 lb (1,847 kg).
|Two electric motors (‘dual-motor all-wheel drive’).
Front motor: Alternating Current (AC) Induction.
Rear motor: Alternating Current (AC) Permanent Magnet.
|Automatic, one-speed fixed gear, 9:1 ratio.
|82 kW-h capacity. Rated range of 353 miles (568 km).
|Aluminum, aerodynamic covers. Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock braking system; regenerative braking to extend battery power.
|LCD touchscreen in landscape orientation that combines the instrument cluster and infotainment. Heating and air-conditioning cooling efficiency increased by heat pump with octovalve.
Here’s a picture (circa 1966) that I found in a shoe box of pictures. It’s a rainy day scene at my family’s house in Vereeniging, South Africa, where I grew up. I’m not sure if the picture was taken to capture the soggy grounds, or the Cadillac in the driveway! Maybe both.
Some some ten years later, in 1975, the low-lying areas of Vereeniging would flood, during a wet summer season, and muddy river water would creep up to within an inch or two of flooding my parents’ home. We were very grateful that the wooden floors and everything in the house were spared.
My long sabbatical from work had came to an end by last week, and it was finally time to decide: to go back to full-time work, or not. I decided not to.
So 8½ years with my firm, and its many adventures in the world of SAP* projects, have come to an end. I am still working on what the future holds.
*Enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations.
Wishing all the moms in the world a happy Mother’s Day today!
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads! Thinking of my dad with fond memories, on this Father’s Day.
All that remained at my mom’s house at the end of Monday were paintings on the walls, boxes with documents, and stuff in the back yard.
My brother and I stopped several times while we went through the stuff to check out documents. Some go back 30 years, and the set of Chambers’s Encyclopædia goes back – oh, about a hundred years!
I finally got a quote for shipping three pieces of artwork to Seattle : SAfr R 22,619 (which is US$ 2,310). What! Are they wrapping the items in gold foil? I said. Turned out that is for sending it by airplane, that’s why it’s so expensive.
So we had another appraiser come out and provide a quote based on volume. They fill up a shipping container with items that go to the same city, or at least to the same area, overseas. It will probably be a few hundred dollars for me.
We lost our friend Robin to cancer recently. She passed away on June 15, 2014 after a long and courageous battle, at age 60. As her sister Kate told us, “Our bird has gotten her wings.” She was able to spend the last few months of her life in Cincinnati with her sister Kate, step-father, and many nieces and nephews.
So Robin’s good friends Ken and Steve hosted a commemoration today for us : just a few of Robin’s friends and colleagues, telling stories of how she touched our lives.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, especially to the ones in my family! We salute you. It was my first Father’s Day without my dad, which made for a day of reflection and remembrance for me.
I had the removal of one of the three big trees in my back yard scheduled for this past Friday, and it went ahead even though I was traveling. The arborist that took the tree out stopped by today (just to say he planted a sign out on the sidewalk to advertise his business). Seattle City Light had to take the power line coming into the house by the corner down for the day, and it took them until 12 noon on Friday to get here – but after that everything went well. (Yes, I don’t like to take out trees, but this one has been making trouble for me for a number of years by giving squirrels access to the roof, dumping pine needles into the gutter, and it’s in the way of a new fence that has to go in right about where it stands).
It was a very emotion-filled day for the family, starting with pulling together all the logistics for my dad’s memorial service : the flowers, the pamphlets to hand out, the tributes from my dad’s four sons each (that the minister was to read; we could not trust ourselves to do it), the refreshments to go with the tea for the guests, and the cash payments in envelopes for the staff at the church. But everything went without a hitch, and we took pictures of the family afterwards. The four brothers together made for a rare picture : two from the United States, and one from Australia joining the one that is in Stellenbosch.
So .. how did this happen? (Broken rear view mirror on the driver side of my venerable 1996 Toyota Camry Driving Machine). Well, it really wasn’t my fault .. I had the car parked flush to the curb while I was at dinner on Friday night. When we arrived back at the car, I noticed the damage. The perpetrator left a note and a phone number on the windshield, though, explaining that she clipped the mirror while driving, and damaging it. (Which I really appreciated. It makes a big difference knowing it was an accident and the person is owning up to it, as opposed to me thinking it was a random act of vandalism). She will send me a check for the damage. The Toyota garage is ordering a new mirror and housing. There are only two such mirrors with metallic blue housings left in the country, said the spare parts guy. Which makes me wonder what I would have done if there had been none. The options would have been 1. Pick another color. (Maybe); 2. Go hunt in scrap yards for blue 1996 Toyota Camrys. (No); 3. Do nothing. (No); 4. Use it as an excuse to get a new car? The straw that broke the camel’s back. (Maybe!).
So, here we are at August 19, 2010 and it’s my 49th birthday. Yes, I’m going for it! – the big five-oh. There’s no stopping me! : ).
But first today’s stop at 49. The card in my hand shows 七七 qī qī seven sevens (equals 49), written in simplified Mandarin. I don’t have a cake here in China, but I plan to go to Hong Kong for the weekend tomorrow. It just happened that three of us from work made have plans to go to the fancy Felix restaurant on top of the Peninsula Hotel. So we will have a toast for my birthday there.
And since I love numbers, here are some references to the number 49 that I like :
* 49 is the square of 7 and is therefore the fourth squared prime number.
* It is the atomic number of indium.
* It is the number of strings on a harp.
* The 49th parallel runs between Canada and the USA.
* The 49th State of the USA is Alaska.
* The term 49er is the moniker of one who participated in the 1849 California Gold Rush, as well as the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.
No, it’s not your eyes .. the picture’s quality really is that bad. My apologies – but it’s all I have to prove I actually went out and played tennis tonight. The temperature chart below is for Dameisha, and it shows average highs of 34 C (92 F). The humidity is what really matters and boy, most mornings at the bus stop I pull out my hand towel and wipe my face and neck and arms.