Friday, June 30, 2006


Subject: RE: Tour de Free State
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 09:07:28 +0200

Hi Nick

Your story sounds like an interesting possibility for our reader contribution section. If you could send me a draft, I'll discuss it with Albertus on the Weg side to see what he thinks.

Best regards,

Andrea Weiss
Deputy Editor: Weg/go!
Tel (021) 4171155
Cell No 0829205993


Some interesting breakthroughs (and breakdowns) today and yesterday. Got into a shouting match with Lucille at Heartland - I think she's one of the rudest people I've ever met. You could swear I owed her something - instead it's the other way around.

I'll be going to Botswana next week Wednesday, and hopefully get some coinage on photos and pictures taken on that trip.

Had lunch with Susan (one of my lecturers) at House of Coffees; she's wearing a hair extension, a long blonde ponytail that makes her look very Swedish - quite interesting conversation content. Samantha was working there - haven't seen her in a while. Then went up to give Katia a sample for printing on my cycling template. Also spoke to someone at Giant bikes in Cape Town about possibly branding the cycling 'template'. Apparently Jan Ullrich (who they have sponsored) is out of the Tour for taking dope, and now they have to bin a lot of big posters with his mugshot on it.

Need to get a heap of marking done by Tuesday, so I can go to Botswana without a guilty conscience. I also need to get this Fietstoer story done. So some stuff to do this weekend. Also my girlfriend's brother's 21st tomorrow night. Should be good.

How to send a computer to yourself (and why not to)

In November of 2005 I sent 7 boxes from South Korea to South Africa. I intended to take my desktop tower with me in the plane, but my bicycle and other paraphernalia put me 20kg into the red. My entire weight allowance and more had been absorbed but an ex pupil of mine worked at an excess baggage/ticketing kiosk and she wrote off the 20kg and allowed me to take my heavy flatscreen onboard as hand luggage at no extra charge). Despite these angelic gestures, I was forced to leave my desktop at the airport, with the Korean friend that brought me. So I flew home and arrangements were made to send my desktop to follow me home.

I did leave my fossilized 4kg notebook computer in Korea, but I had plenty of valuable information on my hard drives that I still wanted, so I instructed a computer builder in Korea – a South African – to dismantle the tower, and then ship it all in a box, sending everything excluding the bulky shell. Another friend of mine provided a blanket to wrap the components in. The box was sent registered mail, and insured at the Korean Post Office. The friend who made these arrangements told me that they refused to insure computers, but it went through on a technicality (that these were parts, not an actual computer).

My computer arrived at the end of December, and the box looked…well… Put it this way, have you seen the movie Ace Ventura Pet Detective? Remember what the box in the opening scene went through, and what it looked like? My boxes’ corners were bent, the sides were soft, and a punctured area had been covered with brown tape with the writing: FOUND OPEN OR DAMAGED/SECURED BY THE POSTAL AUTHORITIES/SA POSTAL SERVICE.

And they were damaged (although both hard drives, mercifully, worked and I was able to use the data I needed). I’d insured the contents for $400, so went back to the post office and went through what can only be described as an ordeal. Each branch is given a budget, so when you come with a claim for lost or damaged articles they’re reluctant to get involved. Lost is still something the branch is prepared to help with. In terms of damaged articles (even damaged and insured), my branch had no forms to fill in, no procedures in place. They referred me to a Customer Service number and from there I got referred back to my branch. Korea’s side were waiting and willing, but they needed the SA Postal authorities to at least verify everything. That was where things got stuck in the mud.

Long story short, I finally got hold of someone at Customer Care who faxed Korea, sent me on a little paperchase (receipts, declarations, photographs of the parcel etc). 6 months later I collected a cheque for R2360. A few weeks later and I might have gotten more (in terms of the exchange rate).

The following question arises: how can you safely send your computer to yourself? By courier perhaps, but it’s a lot more expensive, about half as expensive as your hardware. The only option at the moment seems to be to sell your computer wherever you are, and copy your information onto cd’s and dvd’s, or to remove only the hard drives. Someone needs to start a business that specializes in transporting whole computers safely and cheaply overseas. Ace Couriers?


Falcon Embroidery said...

christania’s “bike rental” bikes are rolling across the city. The system, less than a year old, is funded by christania’s municipal government. It is currently only in one of christania’s 22 administrative districts. Although a 2nd generation system, there are 12 “Houses” in this district, each with around 40 bikes. The yearly subscription cost is the equivalent of $2 US, and allows the use of a bike for up to four hours at a time. In less than a year, there have been 6,000 subscriptions sold. There are larger 3rd generation systems in the world, which do not have a subscription to bike ratio as big as that.

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