What do bloggers do when they are not writing?

Have you ever wondered what Bloggers do when they are not writing or taking photographs for their blogs? They either attend or organise a Meet Up in the town where they live or in the city nearest to them.

MeetUps are neighbours getting together to learn something, do something or share something. I attended one of these this past weekend and simply have to share this awesome experience with you.

The event was organised (as always) by our very efficient and generous host Cindy Alfino from 3Kids2Dogsand1Oldhouse. Read more about the event here: The venue for our event was Chinos Coffee House in Kenilworth, Cape Town, South Africa – Find them here:

Our main speaker was a lady called Abigail from . . .

Specialist Women’s Portraiture

who shared some valuable information with us regarding the use of photographs and what the Copyright law says about using photographs taken by others and downloaded from the internet. The extra special bonus was the Online Blog Photography course available free to all those who attended this MeetUp. Thank you so much Abigail for your generous gift.

Our Goodie Bags were packed with all sorts of wonderful goodies as usual. Our hostess never ceases to amaze and impress us all with what she ends up putting in our Goodie Bags. Let me tell you about some of the stuff I found in my bag . . .

 

The Entertainer –  Find them here:

Entertainer App

This is an app available for all IOS and Android devices available through your App Playstore. This app for your mobile device gives you access to buy one get one free offers to the best restaurants, activities, attractions, spas and hotels across 40 destinations throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.

 

Rain Day Spa –  

Home

We received some lovely handmade soap, African Rain Hand Lotion and a gift voucher towards our next purchase at any of their stores.

 

Milly and Me –  Find them here:

MillyandMe

We received a discount voucher towards our next purchase via their online store.

Lavender in Lavender Hill –

Lavender Hill Products

Pack of tea bags: two Lavender and Rooibos teabags and two Lavender Honeybush tea bags. Find out more about the health benefits of Lavender here:  The benefits of lavender:

SelfieStickerZA –

Selfie Sticker

The new way of taking a selfie without having to carry a selfie stick around with you. Find out more about this revolutionary product here: Find out more here:

Canal Walk Gift Card – Thank you to Canal Walk for their generous gift. Find them here:

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics – 

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

A beautifully scented Shimmy Shimmy Soap Bar. Apparently if you rub the bar directly on any area of the body in slow gentle strokes allowing the bar to slowly melt on the skin it will leave that part of your body with a shimmer to the skin. You can find out more about them here: Find more information here

Revlon Cosmetics – 

Revlon Products

Another sponsor who never fails to impress and surprise us. I received in my bag an Ultra HD Matte Lip Colour (Pink – which has a Strawberry flavour) and an Ultimate All-in-One Mascara (Blackest Black) which has 5 benefits all in one: Volume, Length, Definition, Lift and Intense Colour. Find them here

Oh So Heavenly – 

Oh So Heavenly

Have you heard about their newly launched product range called Hair Scentsations? I’m looking forward to trying this sample of hair shampoo and conditioner I found in my Goodie Bag. Smells like mixed berries. Mmmmm . . . together with my lip colour from Revlon will make me smell good enough to eat. #LoveyourColour. http://www.ohsoheavenly.co.za

 

There was so much more in the Goodie Bag, I’ve decided to keep my post short by only focusing on these items here.

 

This event is definitely a must to attend. You cannot afford to miss the next one. I sure am looking forward to the next one myself.

To get on the mailing list for the next event, sign up to our mailer here: Sign up here:

Looking forward to seeing you all at the next #CTMeetUp

Party time!

Balloon Circle

Don’t you just love parties? No party is ever the same. Everyone has their own interpretation of what the décor, food, cake (birthday cake, wedding cake – any speciality cake) should look like. The guest list is made up of a whole array of people – you have the family, friends, sometimes neighbours and/or work colleagues are included on the guest list.

In spite of all the excitement surrounding any celebration there is an awful amount of preparation and behind the scenes work that takes place to make the celebration a reality and, sadly, so many things can go wrong in the days leading up to the event and even on the day itself which is why planning is so critical. Not only the final plan but a Plan B and Plan C and maybe even a Plan D may be required.

Delegation of tasks is critical – it is impossible for one person to do everything on their own. For example:

Connectivity (telephone accessibility) – is your mobile phone charged? Do you have sufficient data and/or airtime? Do you have all the relevant suppliers/helpers telephone numbers stored on your mobile phone. Do you have a (paper copy) list of these contacts and their telephone numbers in case something happens to your mobile phone and you need to use someone else’s phone or a public telephone?

Event Manager/Co-ordinator: Delegation of duties at the venue on the day: Who will be responsible for co-ordinating everything? Who is in charge of the kitchen to make sure everything runs smoothly and that the food is served on time? Who will be at the door to meet and greet your guests? Who will usher the guests to the relevant space at the venue (cocktails/drinks in one space and eventually moving into the main venue where the event will actually take place)? Who is responsible for sound and lighting?

Venue – will the event be indoors or outdoors? Is the venue accessible to the disabled/frail, those incapacitated by recent injury or surgery? What is your backup plan if the weather changes and you cannot use the venue of choice? What happens if a fire breaks out the night before your function and you are unable to use the venue? What is your backup plan? What happens if there are power cuts? Do you have access to a generator at short notice? How early on the day of the function will the venue be available to you for setting up? Décor, sound and lighting all need a few hours and cannot be done an hour before the function starts.

Bathroom at The River Club Obs 10.09.2015

Bathroom facilities at your venue of choice – are these facilities easily accessible to everyone? Will the frail, disabled, or those who have had a recent injury or surgery be able to access the bathroom i.e. is it on the same floor as the function or will they have to walk up steps/stairs to access the bathroom?

Parking – do you have parking marshals to direct people to parking facilities available and to ensure the available parking is utilised as efficiently as possible? Have you arranged special parking for guests with disabilities or for the older generation who may not be so steady on their feet? You may have a guest who has recently had surgery preventing them from walking too far – have you made allowances for this?

Sound and lighting – do you have one person responsible for sound and lighting or two? Do they know exactly what you want and are they able to do exactly what you want in terms of equipment, skills and expertise? Do they know that they cannot arrive five minutes before the function is due to start to set up?

Catering – who will do the catering? Have you hired a professional caterer? Is your appointed caterer a friend or family member? If so, will they take direction and follow your instructions or will they force their opinion and strong will on you? Will they only do the catering or will they do the venue décor as well? Will there be an extra charge for venue décor or is this included in the price quoted? If you are doing the catering yourself, do you have sufficient people to delegate to? You cannot bake, fry, plate the final product all by yourself – who will help you? If you have outsourced the food – who will collect the food from the various suppliers? If you are doing the décor yourself – who will collect the tablecloths and overlays, the centre-pieces for the tables, the flowers etc? are you expecting one person to do all the driving around on the day or do you have more than one? Do you have a backup plan in case one of your drivers cannot help on the day?

High Tea tray at my birthday

The special occasion cake – it has become a trend that a special occasion cake is ordered either from a retail bakery or from a professional work-from-home baker. Here I’m referring to (for example) a cake for a milestone birthday (1st, 21st, 50th, 60th, 70th etc), a wedding cake, a milestone wedding anniversary (25th, 50th, 60th etc) or maybe even just a fun and funky cake to spice up the event. Who will collect this cake on the day? What is the backup plan if this nominated person cannot collect the cake on the day at the agreed time?

Photographer/Videographer – have you arranged for someone to take photographs and/or a video (DVD)? Is this one person for both or two or more people? Are they professionals or just doing this for a hobby? Do they know your specific requirements (if any) of specific photographs or video shots you would like of specific people or particular moments of the event? Do you have a backup plan in case this person (or one of them) is not able to attend the function on the day for some reason? Do you have a few friends or family members with cameras of their own to capture unexpected moments the photographer or videographer might miss?

Let me know how your recent function went. What crises did you face and how did you handle it?

Follow me on Twitter: @PriorityBizServ or on Facebook at: Find me here:

My bucket and spade . . .

Bucket and Spade

One of the best gifts I ever received as a child was a bucket and spade. As a child, I used to love digging, always determined to find something. The poor earthworms had a hard time hiding from me. I always managed to find them.

As an adult, my plastic bucket and spade has been replaced by books, newspapers and computer (Google) searches. My curious mind always searching for information which I store somewhere always believing that one day somebody will ask me a question which I will be able to answer them.

Beach Ball

Ask me a question and you are sure to get an answer. I try never to say “I don’t know”, my response is usually “I will find out and get back to you” when I don’t know the answer to your question. My long-standing friend (we’ve been friends since high school) calls me her “walking yellow pages”.

My friend called me at work one day – (on a very busy day when I did not have 2 minutes to spare) to ask me a question. She needed to know where she could find something she needed to purchase. I explained that I can answer the question just not right now because I’m very busy. I said she could either call me back later or she could find the information herself in our local Yellow Pages directory. Her immediate response was “but that is exactly what I’m doing. You are my walking Yellow Pages. It is easier to ask you than to go through THAT book”. So on a personal level, I am the “go to” person. Need information or need to know something? Ask Natalie.

At the office it is very much the same particularly when it comes to matters such as Gender, Disability, Diversity and Employee Health and Wellness matters. What can we do to commemorate Human Rights day? Ask Natalie. What can we do for 16 Days of Activism of no violence against women and children? Ask Natalie.

I have a passion for finding answers to questions. Give me a question I cannot answer and I will keep digging until I can find an answer. This is particularly true when it comes to the rights of women and children who have been abused in some way. I am amazed at how many disabled people don’t know their rights. They just blindly accept situations they have the power to change purely by speaking up for themselves.

Bucket Spade and Beach Ball

I just love organising and planning events. I have a passion for connecting people. I am intrigued by forensic science and criminology. I want to know why certain men rape and murder. I want to know what happens in the mind of a serial killer. I WANT TO KNOW!!

So, what am I planning to do in 2015? How do I use what I know to generate a living wage for myself?

Writing a book is not the answer. Too many people have written books which very few people ever read. I considered starting a Hot Line or an Advice Office but what would I call it? How would I draw people to access my services? I also considered being a Virtual Assistant (Personal Assistant working remotely from home).

What do you think about that? Would you hire me as your Virtual Assistant or Research Assistant?

I currently have a regular 8 – 5 job like most people but really would like to leave the corporate world in exchange for more freedom in terms of how I spend my time.

I would like to spend my time doing what I love and what I am passionate about with the flexibility of being available to my family when they need me, to be able to work remotely (virtually) on days when I need to be in my own space.

What do you think I should do?

Let me hear your suggestions of how I can use my gifts and talents and still earn a living at the same time.

Conversations with Myself: Let the words of my mouth (hands) . . .

SASL Alphabet

We (in South Africa) are currently mourning the loss of our icon and global hero Nelson Mandela who has been laid to rest this week. I was determined not to write anything about Nelson Mandela because there has been so much media coverage, tweets, Facebook posts etc and just about every blogger on the planet has had something to say/to share/to vent about the life and/or death of our global icon.

The content of my blog for this week changed three times before I even started putting pen to paper. The reason for this has been due to the very public embarrassment we, as a country, have experienced as a result of the “fake” Sign Language interpreter who stood next to the likes of President Obama and fumbled his way through what was supposed to be interpreting the messages for the Deaf audience.

I have become very passionate about the Deaf because only when I learned SA Sign Language (SASL), I was made aware of how severely disadvantaged the Deaf are when it comes to access to information. Many Deaf people have had very basic schooling (some never went to school at all) and because of the lack of reading and/or writing skills rely heavily on others to share information with them. The people who have the knowledge and information are usually the ones who are not able to communicate via Sign Language which means the Deaf are mostly excluded when information is shared. Adverts, public announcements, documentaries etc on television mean absolutely nothing to the Deaf person without a qualified Sign Language interpreter. Publishing information in print media means absolutely nothing if you can’t read or only have basic language/reading skills. Printed information is usually targeted at the literate and not the semi literate or illiterate.

Chapter 2, Section 16(1) and (2) of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 guarantees freedom of expression and opinion. Section 5(a)(iii) of the Constitution places the responsibility to promote the development, usage and recognition of Sign Language as the first language of Deaf South Africans, with the Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB). The Deaf community has been represented on the Board since its inception, and PANSALB employs Deaf persons to help effect the mandate. It is therefore important that we collectively, as a country, take a critical look at ourselves with regards progress made in achieving this Constitutional obligation.

South Africa ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol without reservation in 2007 http://www.un.org/disabilities).

The Convention obliges States Parties to take specific measures that will promote the rights of persons with disabilities, including the right to equal access to information and communication and freedom of expression and opinion through freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice. Such measures could include, among others,

• the provision of professional sign language interpreters (Article 9);
• by providing information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats (Article 2);
• accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages (Article 21);
• recognising and supporting specific cultural and linguistic identity, including Sign Languages and Deaf culture.

You can therefore imagine my utter disgust and sheer frustration when I witnessed this Sign Language interpreter who had no idea what he was doing, being seen not only by those in the audience and those watching at home (nationally) but feeds going through to international audiences around the world. An historic moment that will never be repeated again, being missed out on by our Deaf community, all because the Sign Language interpreter did not know what he was doing.

I will not go into detail regarding this because I am sure you must have seen or heard the media coverage regarding this by now. For those who don’t know what I am referring to, click on the following link and you will see what I am talking about.

The video viewed by 769,792 people on YouTube http://youtu.be/2hCdtUxnOG8

After the event, when they eventually managed to track down the “fake” interpreter, he claimed he suffered a schizophrenic attack while he was interpreting and he felt “trapped” because there was nobody at hand to take over to replace him so he did the best he could in a bad situation. He claims that the attack was brought on either by the fact that he was so overwhelmed by the task at hand, or because he was so happy about being entrusted with this duty. He said the attack caused him to see angels and hear loud voices – these voices drowned out what the speakers were actually saying and therefore his signing did not make sense.

What enraged me about this, was our government’s reaction to this very embarrassing situation. We have a cabinet Minister and Deputy Minister in Parliament who are supposed to deal specifically with matters affecting women, children and people with disabilities. The Minister in this department, whenever her department is in hot water, she delegates the responsibility of dealing with the fallout to her Deputy Minister who, in my opinion, is just her puppet.

Without voicing my opinion in my own words (because I’m too enraged about this whole fiasco to even structure my thoughts in a plausible manner), I will share bullet points of what the Deputy Minister has said to the media in various interviews regarding the appointment of this “fake” sign language interpreter and will leave you to form your own opinion about this whole saga.

Our Deputy Minister had this to say (Mail & Guardian newspaper: 13 December 2013, pg13) . . .
• No single government department is responsible for the fiasco and South Africans have no need to be embarrassed. “I’m not sure, unless there is something that I’m missing – I don’t think as a country we need to first jump and say that we are embarrassed”. [This was her first official comment]
• “I don’t think we should be because as a country, a mistake happened while we were trying”.

The Deputy Minister defended the “fake” interpreter saying many factors had counted against him, including:-
• The fact that there are more than 100 dialects of local sign language
• As an IsiXhosa speaker, his inability to follow English, and the lack of relief interpreter leaving him on duty for four hours instead of the maximum recommended 30-minute stint.
• The “fake” interpreter was only intended as translator for the audience in the stadium and should not have appeared in the television coverage. The government has ensured that other sign language interpreters were available for the television broadcast.
• The attempt to provide live translation for Deaf people is a victory of which Mandela would have been proud.

Regarding the service provider: SA Interpreters the Deputy Minister said:
• The company does not exist, according to registration records.
• Government did track down the owners of the company – initially “they vanished”. “We managed to get hold of them, we spoke to them wanting some answer, and they vanished into clear air”. “Over the years they (“fake” interpreters’ employers) have managed to get away with this . . . offering sub-standard interpretation services”.

In other reports the same Deputy Minister was quoted saying . . .
• “It was bad. Was he fake? No. Does he have the training? He only has the introduction to the training. That’s like a lot of people in South Africa”.
• Asked if anyone did understand his gestures, she said only: “we will find someone who understands him, who requested his services, but we’re not going to do it now”.

Arguing that Sign Language had more than 100 dialects, making it impossible to be understood by everyone, the Deputy Minister was quoted saying:
“Unless there’s something I’m missing, I don’t think we as a country should say we are embarrassed. The issue of Sign Language has always been about where you live, what school you go to and what language you speak”.

Pressed on whether South Africa should be embarrassed, she insisted:
“I don’t think it’s the right choice of word, I don’t think he was just picked up from the street. He went to a school for the Deaf; I went to a school for the Deaf”.
• “His first language is Xhosa, one of the eleven official languages in South Africa”.
• “He was not able to translate from English to Xhosa to Sign Language. He started well and then in the middle he got tired and lost concentration. That did not mean he is a bad Sign Language interpreter”.

The Deputy Minister denied that he had been a security risk and declined to comment on his state of mind. “I don’t think it will get us anywhere to get into his health, his violence, his Schizophrenia. I don’t think other service providers or journalists there on the day had their health profiles discussed”.

The Deputy Minister continued . . . “will we invite him to big national events in the future? It’s not for me to stand here and say yes or no”.

One journalist asked if he would be “brought to justice”. The Deputy Minister responded: “Why? What crime has he committed? Why should he be brought to justice? Yes, he did not sign as well as expected, but what crime has he committed?

The Deputy Minister reiterated that Sign Language in South Africa lacked a universal standard and was the subject of disagreement among academics. “There is a battle between Black and White Sign Language people, urban and rural. Whose slang takes priority? What unit should be used to measure it?
Video: The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial says he suffered a schizophrenic attack. An expert explains why it’s unlikely that this caused his erratic signing. Watch: http://bit.ly/19GGyKX

And to end this post: http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/sarahbritten/2013/12/13/the-eloquence-of-the-fake-signing-man/

Journalists have been able to uncover the following cases pending against the “fake” interpreter . . . He stands accused of:

• Theft (1995)
• Housebreaking (1997)
• Malicious Damage to Property (1998)
• Rape (1998)
• Murder, Kidnapping (2003)

Additional historical information available from the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities in Parliament:
Many Deaf learners in special schools are not taught in Sign Language due to the lack of Sign Language skills of educators. Many Deaf children are not attending school due to the lack of Sign Language medium schools closer to home. The majority of Deaf South Africans therefore speaks a variety of sign language dialects, often not understood by formally trained South African Sign Language (SASL) interpreters. The current outrage over the quality of sign language interpretation at the memorial service is therefore an everyday experience for the majority of Deaf South Africans, even when qualified interpreters are available.

There is currently only 7 SASL interpreters accredited with the South African Translators Institute (SATI), and the challenges brought about by the lack of a universal South African Sign Language and disunity within the Deaf sector, are further delaying progress in accrediting many of the interpreters trained at universities as well as through organisations such as Sign Language Education and Development (SLED).

It is important to note that these accredited SASL interpreters are not necessarily proficient in all the eleven official languages, and the quality of interpreting from a language one is not fully proficient in, to SASL, is therefore also compromised.

What do you have to say about all this? Please feel free to share your thoughts.