Monday, 17 December 2012

"Branches through a Window"

I have started a new pendant for which I don't have a name yet, the idea behind the design is from the back of a chair I saw at one of our local restaurants we like to frequent - maybe I should call it "Chair Pendant"

Back of chair

So with Idea now in mind, I melted my silver, rolled out plate, drew up a pattern glued it to the plate, I wont go into the boring details - done that a number of times in previous posts. 
I then drilled 1mm holes at strategic points around the pattern to facilitate the threading of the saw blade to begin the cutting process 

Step one - Rolled silver, Pattern glued  and holes drilled

Step two - sawing, sawing, sawing........

Once all the small varied shapes are cut out, I drilled holes at the four corners where 1 mm wire is inserted and soldered in place to hold the two plates 2 mm apart, the whole is then polished up and completed with a ring in the centre to hang it on a piece of black cord.

Completed Pendant "Branches through a Window"
Epilogue: I didn't think the name Chair Pendant gave it the necessary gravitas , so I will rather name it "Branches through a Window"

"Branches through a Window" is now living in New Zealand.........

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Garmin South Africa....... YOU SUCK!!!!

We own a soon to be ex-Garmin device, why do I say this.... well for one major reason, Garmin South Africa's service SUCKS like a suppurating hemorrhoid!!!

We had an old Garmin that started to become a tad problematic and unstable so prior to a trip to Croatia we took it into Garmin South Africa  for two reasons, firstly to have a look at the device and then to purchase maps for Croatia.
On the issue of the device itself we were told that the battery was going but that it will be fine and not cause a problem, on the maps we were told that the Europe maps (that we currently owned) were up to date and the ones to use. 
At the same time we decided to update our South African maps - remember this  - at no time were we told that if we swapped our device, the maps would become null and void. We paid R800.00 to update our SA map in April 2012. We were offered to swap our old device for a new one and pay in the difference, but chose not to as we were told the unit was working fine.

HMMMMMMMM epic fail on both counts; the maps were consistently incorrect and got us lost on more than one occasion, and then while getting lost in the city of Split the device failed altogether, now for those of you that travel like we do - self driving, not on a bus driven package tour, then you will know how important a working navigation device is, and so here we were stuck in a city with no clear idea where we were.

No problem....... 

whip up the internet on my trusty iPhone (quick punt for Apple)......
look for the nearest Garmin supplier, get the address.......
Open the maps on my iPhone (although I must add Old Apple maps)....
Drive to supplier........

Firstly we purchase a new device as the old one is by now D.E.A.D. and the discuss the map issue, they tell us that the Europe maps do not properly cover the Adriatic region and you must purchase the Adriatic maps...... 


But anyhow, we go our merry way with our sparkly new device and map; did we get lost again .... NEVER!!!!

Enter our next trip:

Hah, I say HAH!!!, and you thought it was over...

We are setting out on a road trip of our own country.... South Africa, going on a long and winding road trip, so we need the Garmin and South Africa maps.
Now the maps we had previously purchased with the old unit is on a large format SD card that doesn't fit into the new device, we need a small SD card..... 

So off to Garmin South Africa goes Pam (my wife if you don't already know)....Tum te tum te tum.... 

It went some thing like this: 

Pam:    "Hello Garmin type support person.... I updated our South Africa map in April 2012 for my Garmin which died even after you people told me it was fine and now the SD card is the wrong size, can I upgrade said card for a correct card......" 

They should have the following written above the door:

Omnes relinquite spes  o vos intrantes....

it means.... 

Abandon all hope yea who enter here......

Garmin type support person:      "Sorry but to get the map changed because you didn't buy the unit here you must pay FULL price for a new one (ZAR 2400.00 or USD 280.00) , or you must bring the dead unit back in and then we will trade it in for a new unit  for which you must pay for (ZAR 2000.00 or USD 180.00)..... and then we can give you the maps at a reduced price (ZAR 1000.00 or USD 115.00)
Why were we not told this in April when we paid our money to update the SA map for a unit that was beginning to give trouble?


Monday, 10 December 2012

The almost revenge of the wiggly bits

Note: This blog entry carries a NL (Nudity and Strong Language) rating

Following hot on the heels of a crashing migraine on Saturday brought on by a bit too much eating and drinking over the past week entertaining an overseas colleague, followed then by an extremely stressful Sunday of working on a partially downed company network, I get to work this morning - Monday morning - a day that will be forever etched with horror into the fabric of my life; I park my lumbering beast of an SUV into its usual parking space in my parking garage where I park every day without due incident .... except for today.

I park, I try to exit the vehicle, and my back seizes up, now to give a bit of side background I have had numerous back failures (ruptured disc's) over the years mainly due to stupidity involving large TV's, horse accidents, climbing accidents, car tyres, some more climbing accidents, picking papers up off the floor and so on ad nauseum......

So as I was typing.... I try to exit said vehicle and my back seizes up in the most incredible spasm, I am left hanging with one hand on the top of the door and the other on the edge of the roof, a bit of orangutan in the positioning - not pretty....... when along comes an at the time very bright idea.... put on the body brace I keep in the car, so I maneuver myself slowly around the entire rear of the vehicle looking in all the windows to see where it is while hanging onto any part of the car I can get a grip on....... Ah yes I remember...... its on the floor of the front passenger seat - furthest possible place to be.

Finally I get it out and realize I am not really going to make through the entire basement parking to the toilets.

So along comes second bright idea (they seem to migrate in herds where i'm concerned) ... put the brace on now!!! ......OH YES the ideas just keep on coming until someone starts running with scissors and puts an eye out...... now as I said -or maybe didn't say - I am parked up the top end of the basement right by the big automatic access gates - not a good place to be, but hey at this point as a beggar I can't be a chooser.... 

So I open the rear passenger door to stand behind to give a small modicum of privacy;  I lift my shirt and put on said brace, but now I have to get the brace inside my pants at the same time hanging from the door in the now very familiar orangutan position, I undo my belt and pants button and attempt to work the brace down my torso to a comfortable position and then........ FWWWOOOOOPPPPPP my pants do the most remarkable exit towards my ankles..... OH CR@@@@@@P , I nearly have a brain hemorrhage with shock, break out in a sweat.... eyeballs bulging in horror, pants down there, me up here and no clue how to recover my dignity, I am not surprised the entire building didn't come running down to catch up on the latest bad language .... the only way this day could have got any worse was for another car to enter the basement....

Don't Panic.... Don't Panic...... another car could enter the basement at any moment.... So I slowly lower my self down still hanging onto car for dear life ..... don't dare fall over because then its over - me lying on the floor of the basement pants around my ankles ...... Yes I can picture the HR discussion even now..... grab onto pants with one hand pull myself up with the other, followed by a bit of frantic buttoning and buckling drenched in sweat, pain relieved, I exited stage left .... 
If anyone had had the misfortune of being in their car in the basement during the disaster and happened to view the escape of the wiggly bits, I trust that all that ensued was gasps of appreciation, but unfortunately and somewhat sadly no cheering, laughing, applauding crowds were left in my wake.

Moral of the story: Don't run with scissors, climb, ride horses, change car tyres or you too could be standing one day with your pants down round your ankles in a parking basement

Friday, 30 November 2012

Cuff-links..... Cuff-links....... Cuff-links.......

Back to the bench for a bit, and I mean a bit, reason being; I popped my back yet again and haven't really been able to sit for long periods hunched over my bench peg, it should also be noted that a healthy layer of dust had to be moved with a shovel before work could begin again.

So happy was I when I could again sit down and do some work..... this time in the form of not one but two pairs of cuff-links that had to be produced, the first pair being a pair of keyboard keys.

I started off with one of my usual "brilliant" ideas, those jewellers out there in the know will probably hold their collective heads and gasp in horror, but me myself and I at moment of inception thought this was an epic idea.... start off with a small mould made by embedding a genuine keyboard key into Plaster of Paris and leaving it for a couple of days to set thoroughly, keys are then removed from said mould, a bit of oil dropped in for lubrication and the mold heated up prior to the molten silver being poured in.

Silver is melted in my crucible and then poured into the mould...... and here everything turned sharp left in a direction marked "totally pear shaped"....... the silver now did a very passable and oddly dramatic impression of Mount Vesuvius, as the shock and horror of the eruption set in, stupidity immediately took over and I cupped my hands over the eruption to prevent loss of still molten pieces of silver.... ahhh yes you guessed it hand got a tad hot.... picture holding a near nuclear powered  Guy Faulkes sparkler in your cupped hands.

So back to the drawing board.... I measured up each of the sides, top and bottom, then made up a set of templates.
I re-melted all the silver poured an ingot and rolled out a sheet of plate - back into familiar territory.
Piece of rolled out plate

Templates are glued to the plate and tshrret tshreeeet tshreeet <--- sound of sawing, twooiing <--- sound of say blade breaking, tshrret tshreeeet tshreeet <--- sound of sawing,  finally all the required pieces where cut out.
Sections cut out
 All the pieces where then assembled not without their own various problems and a couple of restarts when side pieces fell apart but finally they began to become that which they were meant to resemble

Assembly complete

Following a couple a finishing glitches namely the engraver who didn't seem to know which way up a computer key faced and engraved one key the wrong way round, then blamed the fault on me saying "I put the cuff-links in the box the wrong way so he engraved them that way around".... riiigghhtttt!!!! - note to self don't send work there again......

Anyway all things being equal, they reached a successful completion

Keyboard key Cuff-links

The second pair are the "Round Square" cuff-links which by contrast came together with complete and almost boringly undramatic ease, don't get me wrong I'm not complaining, it's just I am usually so used to exciting disasters haunting me that it feels somewhat odd when a piece just pops together.

Round Square Cuff-links

As with all the pieces I make these two sets of cuff-links have a story of their own and a motive for their existence;  they are farewell gifts for the headmaster at the school where my wife Pam teaches, the keyboard keys being significant in that Pam is Head of I.T. studies in the high school of which he was very instrumental in the development of I.T. Studies.

Final Note:

Round Square is an association to which he belongs, so members from the school are giving him my interpretation of the Round Square in the form of cuff-links as a farewell gift.

"Round Square is a worldwide association of schools which share a commitment beyond academic excellence, to personal development and responsibility"

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Rhino poaching

Stop the Rhino poaching 

Rhino poaching continues unabated at a rate unprecedented in the history of nature conservation in South Africa.

Rhino mother with baby

Following our recent trip to the Pilanesberg, it was again brought to our attention just what is being shot or should I say executed for the simple reason of the removal of the horn to be ground down as an aphrodisiac.

Now I am of the rather Old Testament variety; of the go out and smite all and sundry perpetrators of the crime of rhino poaching.
I say shoot the poachers on sight and for the rhino that are untouched - Insert poison pellets into the horns so when ground up and ingested the expected lift  for the male members of the oriental persuasion will actually come in the form of a lack of will to    live .......   permanently - did I just advocate murder... definitely not, i'm just saying if you willingly choose to ingest an "illegal" substance then it is your choice as to the outcome.

Now lets look at the horn specifically to understand just how stupidly insensitive this activity is: the horn is comprised of keratin, the same protein that makes up hair and fingernails, does this mean if I chew my fingernails or my wife's hair I will be "enhanced" in the nether regions.... I don't think so!!!

Reports below are taken from the to highlight the carnage:

20/11 Conserv reports 3 foot soldiers arrested today implicated in Vaalkop Dam incident. 
Will appear in Brits court tomorrow. Well done to all involved in the follow up operations!...

17/11 News of 7 rhino poached, 1 calf orphaned near Vaalkop Dam, North West...

07/11 Conserv reports white rhino cow shot, horns removed, calf shot, horns not removed, 
Mafikeng GR NW...

07/11 Rhino cow and calf darted and dehorned Shamwari, Eastern Cape. Calf has survived 
the attack...

06/11 Two rhinos poached Mauricedale...

04/11 Two Thai nationals suspected to be part of a rhino poaching syndicate arrested 
by SARS and the HAWKS at OR Tambo Airport. Well done guys!!...

04/11 Another 5 rhino down on private farm in the Amalia area, plus 3 known wounded...

01/11 Conserv reports white rhino found poached, Madikwe Game Reserve...afternoon 
follow-up: shot through heart and lungs, horns removed, carcass 3/4 days old, found 
approx 800m from Botswana border...

01/11 Conserv reports 1 rhino poached, horns intact, Amalia area NW....

30/10 Conserv reports 2 black rhino shot dead on Madikwe 2-3 days ago. Horns removed...

25/10 Last Javan rhino in Vietnam poached in April, with only 40-60 remaining in Indonesia...

24/10 Conserv reports: 2 white rhino poached yesterday, Sandveld, Free State...

19/10 Conserv reports 1 white rhino in boma near Vaalwter shot 3 x with a bow. Still alive...

10/10 Conserv reports 1 white rhino cow wounded, another shot/killed and horns removed. 
Carcass a week old, Kudoeskop area, Limpopo...

30/09 Groenewald case in court today, and a whopping 1 872 charges were served against them. 
Excellent work to the investigations team and prosecutors!...

28/09 23:40 Conserv confirms 1 rhino cow and calf shot, horns removed. Follow up in progress. 
Assen, North West...

28/09 Conserv reports: follow up on poaching in Rooiberg. 1 cow wounded, round removed and 
in stable condition...

19/10 Conserv reports black rhino bull shot Madikwe approx 5 days ago. Horns not removed...

17/10 Conserv reports 1 black rhino found poached, Madikwe. Shot, horns removed, 
carcass 3 weeks old...

01/10 Conserv reports 1 black rhino carcass found, 2 weeks old, Madikwe GR. Horns removed...

30/09 Conserv reports white rhino bull poached at approx 05h30 this morning, Madikwe. 
Horns neatly removed, eyes cut out...

26/09 4 White Rhinos poached in the Eastern Cape...

25/09 News of more rhino poached in KZN...

24/09 Conserv reports: Rhino Poaching latest stats. Sadly 396 rhinos down by 22 Sept. 
Another 6 down in Natal in the past 48hrs, 1 in North West. Total now 403...

31/08 2 men jailed for 29 years each for rhino poaching! An incredible sentence, well done all! ... 

21/08 Conserv reports 3 rhinos poached, horns removed on Pvt Game Farm NW. 2 shot 48hrs ago, 
1 shot 2 months ago...

12/08 Conserv update: The rhino that was dehorned alive has passed away. 2 calves found dead 
on Bora due to mothers being poached...

09/08 Conserv reports 7 rhino poached in North West. 5 in Bora, 1 Madikwe and 1 private. 
Private rhino darted, still alive...

19/06 Conserv reports White rhino cow and calf poached in the Vaalwater area last week. 
Cows horns removed with a chainsaw...on a positive note, 1 poacher was convicted of 2 counts
of poaching on Borakalalo, North West. 
He was sentenced to 10 years per incident. EXCELLENT NEWS!!! 

12/06 Conserv reports 5 suspected poachers arrested north of Brits last night, .375 rifle & 
Double Cab confiscated. WELL DONE GUYS!...

04/06 News: 7 people arrested and 12 horns seized in two stings in Gauteng last week. 

At this point I would like to suggest that the word be put out that outer Mongolian hair salons  or Amazonian Pygmy toenails are far better sources of the required ingredients for the required "lift" but this would only result in the unprecedented deaths of both outer Mongolian women and the demise of their hair salons and the possible slaughter of Amazonian pygmies.

But then again if we look at this logically the pre-mentioned Amazonian pygmies could however start a whole  new home industry with beauty parlors trimming toenails, grinding them up and giving the male members of the again pre-mentioned Oriental persuasion the required "lift" they so ardently seek.

I wrote up this entry and then debated whether to actually publish, until I read this entry on the website.

Please be warned the link takes you to a page as they put it "a story containing extremely graphic and upsetting images"

Notes :

  • No insult was intended to either Outer Mongolians or Amazonian Pygmies, but was used only as a means to try to highlight the ludicrousness of the situation.
  • No Amazonian pygmies or Outer Mongolian women or hair salon's were harmed during writing of this blog.

All creatures great and small....

Back at work after a fantastic four days with Pam in the Pilanesberg. 

The Pilanesberg for those who don't know; is a National Game reserve situated in the Bojanala Region of the North West province 2 hours from Johannesburg in South Africa, so it makes for a nice easy getaway for the weekend.

So we peddled out of town on Friday getting there in time to take a leisurely drive through a part of the park before sundown, At this point I will mention we go to the park twice a year for our timeshare weekends but have missed the earlier one this year due to other travel commitments... we like to travel a lot; if you are interested, our last years entry can be read here.

Weather to start with was a bit rainy, not that that worries us, but as the weekend progressed so the temperature went up, on one of the evenings we were still experiencing 30 Degree heat at 6 PM at night, and that was when it was cooling down.

But back to the main point.... firstly there were thankfully no baboon incidents as experienced the last time, but we did see creatures of the muffin stealing variety (see earlier post)

Now let me explain something to you who uninitiated into sight seeing in a game park, this is not a zoo, the animals walk around wild and free while you sit closed up- nice and safe in your car..... no you cant get out of the vehicle except at designated spots where you can picnic safely behind a large game fence. So to continue.... because said animals are roaming around free you don't walk or in this case drive from one "exhibit" to the next, you have to drive and drive and drive..... and .... d...r...i...v...e until you find  something, so you get to look at a lot of great bush scenery and you start looking at the smaller creatures .... the very small creatures, like dung beetles and locusts and shongololo's (African milipede). There we go who says you don't learn something new everyday.
Shongololo (African milipede)

Dung Beetles

But then you turn a corner and the vista's open out teeming with wildlife, and as usual the Pilanesberg never disappoints with what we saw and the amount we saw.

Geek/Nerd moment:
We like to keep a log of everything we see, this is usually done on a pre-prepared sheet of papers done in Excel and then manually written on. This time however we went all high tech and took an iPad with said form created in Numbers all ready for electronically ticking off, this was then uploaded each day to my repository for safe keeping, soooo soooo geeky!!!!

Any how moving literally and figuratively along, the vast vista's flowed past, inundating us with creatures large and small, an abundance of recently new borne's were the order of this trip, tiny elephants, warthogs, zebra's and springbok all pointed to a very healthy park.


Zebra Colt/Foal

Warthog mother with young

Young warthog 

The weekend progressed much in this fashion, following are a random selection of photo's from the 331 photos I took over the weekend



Family of elephants strolling down the road

Elephant up on hill

Elephants with baby elephant

Scene in the bush

Elephant on the move
Elephants with Baby



Warthog with "passengers"

General view

Wildebeest at a salt lick


Guinea Fowl


Kudu relaxing in the shade

Kudu ram
Iron Age site circa 1700AD

Springbok in the road
Is it a rock??

No its a hippo !!
Zebra relaxing in the heat of the day


Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Finale of the Ring that should be.......

This won't be a very long entry but more of a quick catch up and closure following on from the experiment with the copper and silver ring.

I got my head down concentrated and worked hammer and tongs (pardon the pun) to get the ring and their matching cuff-links finished.... and so it came to pass that they are now finished.

Ring and matching Cuff-links

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A little experiment with silver and copper

I have a problem .... a major problem .... it's called attention span, well that's what all the "normal" people would call it, I call it having to much noise going on in my head which distracts me every so often.... OK OK OK .... all the time

So I have this ring I have to make for someone, and I start by melting down and then pouring the silver into the mould, then rolling it out as one does at the start, cut it to length etc. etc. -  I do the necessary planning to start so that I know where I should be headed - it's after I actually get going that things go a bit awry, the voices start.... " "hmmmm try this.... or try that", and this is just what happened....

Ring was supposed to be a plain man's ring with groove cut into it and then the groove darkened with black patina.... but all the voices said "Nooooo try some copper ...... try some copper...." so I did!!

The result was good, I'm happy with it as an exercise.....  and that's where it ends, voices are quiet, I told them so, and now I have to make another ring as per the clients request.... 

Tune in again to this blog for the next exciting episode of the Ring that should Be ....

Silver Ring with Copper

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Queen's Knight Defence

Well let me start out by clarifying that the following blog has absolutely nothing to do with  the Queen's Knight defence move, I dredged through the vast empty confines of my brain to think up a suitable heading and this is how it ended up ... so be it

As an aside for those of you who may be interested in the actual Queens Knight Defence move may find it right here 

Queens Knight Bracelet

Philosophy and Construction of the bracelet

As if it wasn't hard enough to create the bracelet, I then hammered out a philosophy for the bracelet, although the basics were already formed in my head at the outset, the full story did not ferment until well into the project.


On the left are the Knights of the realm and on the right is the Queen representing the Monarchy.
This is a type of torque bracelet formed from solid silver.The body of the bracelet or torque represents the serfs or peasantry.  

The Knight facing the monarchy is bowing in greeting and subservience, the Monarchy bow back acknowledging the greeting.

The knights are landed gentry obtaining their land from both inheritance and from the Monarchy
Monarch and Knight will have peasants working the land for them and paying taxes, The peasantry are under the power of both the Knights and the Monarchy so I have the torque (peasants/serfs) underneath both Monarchy and Knights.
The knights will never become the Monarchy except by virtue of battle represented by the gap between the two.


The body of the bracelet was started with a 5x5mm square silver rod, this was then taper rolled from both ends so that it is thick in the middle then narrows to the ends, this is filed to make it all even.

Draw lines around the body at 10mm intervals then diagonal lines between them until the entire piece is covered.
Cut into the silver on the diagonal lines with a saw then using triangular and then round files cut deep into the lines.
Once you have a suitably deep cut you can start to round the piece up which finally gives the impression of twisted wire.
Pretty average technical drawing for the Torque

The Knight and queen are both carved out of a vast block of silver with a hammers and chisels and power tools .......... didn't believe me did you.....actually they are cast using small chess pieces as a model and then soldered into place on the ends of the torque, the whole is then polished.