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What does saving energy do for the environment?

imagessSo all your green friends are recycling and switching their globes to LEDs and buying hybrid cars. Maybe you are still not convinced that all this energy saving is doing anything for the planet. You neither have to be tied to a tree in the Brazilian rainforests nor do you have to wear tie-dye shirts.  Here are some practical thoughts.

Climate Change and the Air we Breathe

When we minimize energy at home we reduce power plant emissions. Most of our power stations are run on fossil fuels, coal to be precise. We also have backup power plants that use diesel. Mozambique will be supplying South Africa with natural gas – another fossil fuel, by 2020. Using fossil fuels may be among the cheapest ways of producing power but it’s costliest to our environment. By-products include carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides as well as sulfur dioxide.

This brings us to Greenhouse-gases. Carbon dioxide accounts for most airborne pollution. Carbon-dioxide absorbs the sun’s warmth keeping heat in the atmosphere. Long-term effects include higher seas, retarded weather patterns, smog, and acid rain, and rising temperatures.

Power stations are not required to produce as much power when we reduce our energy consumption. This means less carbon emission into the atmosphere hence benefitting the environment. So doing things like insulating your roof to reduce heating and air-conditioning energy, all benefit the environment.

Conservation of Resources is Conservation of Energy

The Earth is a finite ecosystem. Most of us have treated the Earth like it’s resources are infinite. People have been chopping down trees and digging in the earth for its natural resources as if they were unlimited. Now we have the science and technology to measure the consequences of our actions. Economists who say that the earth has infinite resources are today’s Flat Earth Society. Forests are shrinking, fish stocks are reducing and even coal seams aren’t infinite.

Crude oil is running out, clean water is reducing and even habitable land is running out.  Back in the early 20th century for example, oil was untapped. By 1964, nearly 500 billion barrels of oil were discovered. By 2011, it had fallen to below 100 billion barrels.  In 1965, the world produced 32 million barrels of oil per day. However, since 2005, oil production has plateaued at roughly 75 million barrels per day.

Our resources are finite and need to be conserved. By conserving energy we conserve our resources.

Conserving Ecosystems

One may not make the correlation, but conserving energy indirectly conserves ecosystems. Logging, mining and the extraction process for fossil fuels is destructive to ecosystems in land and sea. Oil spills destroy entire habitats for some species. They also disturb the chemical balance of the ocean. Air-pollution is responsible for the unfathomable rates at which biodiversities are meeting extinction. Chemical toxic waste created by power plants continues to be a factor. In places like the Niger Delta, entire ecosystems have been wiped out by oil pollution. Two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef has died due to warm seas as a result of CO2 emissions. Arguably if coal-fired power stations had reduced emissions this could have been avoided. We the public have to start reducing the amount of energy we use at home to see that happen. Are hair driers really necessary, don’t fill the kettle so high? Buy energy saving devices and appliances with the Energy Star label on it. We can make a difference.

Finally

You can save energy at home. There’s even a financial incentive in doing so. Use less energy and pay less. From the small things like changing your light bulbs. To bigger things like insulating your roof and geyser and buying an Energy-Efficient pool motor. These can make a difference to the environment as fewer fossil fuels are used and less CO2 pumped into the atmosphere.  By recycling, we reduce landfills and incineration. We also reduce the need to use fossil fuels to create products like plastics. Energy saving and conserving the environment starts at home. It starts with you.

 

 

 

The Ministry Of Chocolate Cake & Proverbs 18:16

82662502-56a2145f5f9b58b7d0c661ab“When giving treats to friends or children, give them what they like, emphatically not what is good for them.” G.K Chesterton

Chocolate cake is my favourite fruit. If you are in my neighbourhood and see a bakery just pop in, purchase a chocolate cake, and bring it around. I shan’t mind a bit. I’m bound to offer you a slice with your tea.

Many people theorise that one can discern the sort of gift a person would like to receive by observing what gifts they like to give. Well then, I am living proof of this. I love giving away chocolate cakes it’s as good as getting one, especially if it’s a surprise.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from working in the world of missions, it’s being frugal with one’s resources and learning to ‘make a plan’ when those resources are exhausted. Then when you’ve done all of that and you still need to keep things afloat that’s where the ministry of chocolate cake kicks in. Okay, I’m giving away trade secrets.

The mission for which I work is well serviced by a fine IT support company, the name of which I will withhold to protect the innocent.  If you would like to know – contact me, I’ll gladly refer you. At the mission, we do employ the services of a variety of companies. Sometimes it pays to do a bit of proactive pampering. “Hah, self-promotion, bribery and manipulation, burn witch, burn witch.” I hear the seething mobs shriek. Well no, I refer to a little verse in Proverbs 18:19 rendered in the NIV thus; “A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.” Now before anyone gets their exegetically correct hermeneutics in a knot, I am aware that many would apply this verse to the spiritual gifts God has given each of us. Fear not, all in good time blithe rump–o’s, but let us examine the spirit of the verse.[1]

In my opinion, the spirit of the verse is one of finding favour with another, by doing an act of kindness. One may argue that this is not an unselfish act nor could it be argued that it is a selfish one[2] either since the one giving does, in fact, do an act of kindness. This could hardly be compared, for example, to Saul’s compensatory offering to God out of disobedience[3], since no obedience or disobedience is in question here. I won’t be going down the road of exhaustive apologetics on a single verse – I’m not planning to start the first church of the chocolate cake.[4] It should be sufficient to say that this does not fall into the area of tithes and offerings and giving alms to those who cannot repay you.

Which brings me back to “doe a deer…”[5], eh no…I mean chocolate cake. Every now and then, I trundle over to the offices of our obliging aforementioned IT support people with a chocolate cake. The reception I get is astonishing. Whoever sees me stops and greets me something like this;

“Oh hello you’re Matt.”

I know this and shake hands heartily and exchange my usual pompous booms, this is followed by.

“You’re the one with chocolate cakes.” They announce with awe.

Feeling a little like Mother Theresa I willingly receive this title. “They really are very nice, where do you get them…etc” they enthuse.

After a few exchanges like this, I feel almost blasphemous at this Palm-Sunday type welcome. I push through the crowd feeling like they are about to heave me onto their shoulders shouting;

“Chocolate Cake, Chocolate cake- it’s the one who brought us Chocolate cake.”

Then it’s time to share my genuine gift and that’s just a bit of me, since a bit of me is all I really have to give, what that is, is between them and me.

The cake gets me into the presence of people who may otherwise have ignored me[6] for the small-fry client that I am. (Missionaries aren’t known for their vast capital reserves.)  I can assure you I get better service than if I stomped in there pretending to be someone I’m not, demanding my rights as a consumer.

So what has this to do with you? Oh, I don’t know, I just got back from holiday; I had nothing else to write. In earnest though (I’m trying) there are a few universals here; sometimes we need to focus on the relationship- on people and what they need from us instead of demanding our rights and always looking for the better deal. Faithfulness in relationship and paying the workman what he is due.[7]

We also need to be aware of the gifts God has given us[8]. What is your chocolate cake? Let those gifts make a way for you. Discovering, or being reminded, what you are for in God’s economy may see you put to work. Work without the burden[9]. There is nothing quite as unsatisfying as doing what you are ‘not-for’. Do what you ‘are-for’! I think this applies to the how as well. Without getting into the abyss of gift identification, we can simply revisit what we already know about ourselves.

Methinks too many ‘gifts’ in that last paragraph, so allow me to put some skin on it; I am not a ‘worship leader’, that’s the character who leaps about belting out the in-hymn for the week, which is not my gift. (If you use a different term to gift, feel free.) In one of the home groups that met in our home, we were without a ‘worship leader’. I then lead the yelling at God with the songs that came to mind. I love to worship; I love to sing songs to God. I have a great time doing it on my own, but to lead others in a small group can be, though not always, a chore. It certainly lacks something in comparison to when someone with the gift does it.[10]

In short, it’s always harder to do things you’re not for and to sustain such a practice is not possible without either turning into a monster or making others miserable. It begins to show and you become a burden. (Sometimes a miserable monster, oh Shrek!)  Even knowing our gift and using it can get the same burdensome results if God isn’t in it. (That’s all about listening and watching though isn’t it?) Therefore, just as we surrender our sin and weaknesses to God, we ought to give the gifts back. Not rejecting the gifts, but surrendering them to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I think this is applicable to everything from being a hairdresser to pastoring. (I‘m just waiting for someone to tell me that there is no gift of hairdressing in the New Testament.)

Finally, the ministry of chocolate cake is about giving yourself away, not just giving what you have as a means to an end. Remember not everyone likes chocolate cake so be prepared to bake a little creatively.[11]

[1] See Matthew Henry Commentary online for a more cranial approach. http://www.ccel.org/h/henry/mhc2/MHC20018.HTM

[2] Proverbs 17:8,23 shows there’s always a wrong way of doing what appears to be an act of kindness.

[3] 1 Samuel 13

[4] Suggestions are welcome

[5] Sound of Music;. Rodgers & Hammerstein. Sorry couldn’t resist that.

[6]“ Gets him liberty to speak, and the favour of them that are esteemed” 1599 Geneva study Bible

[7] Luke 10:7

[8] For further reading; Romans 12:3-8; 1Corinthian 12&13; Ephesians 4 etc

[9] Matthew 11:30; Galatians 6:2

[10] For the best worship music visit; http://www.vineyardmusic.com

[11] For a recipe, I recall my nephew Daniel made one of the finest chocolate cakes I know, I suspect his mum had something to do with it though. Call me, I’ll refer you.

REITS: Internal Verses External Property Managment.

They’re like non-identical twins, opposite sides of the same coin – internal and external management of REITs seems to be very much a case of “what you lose on the swings you gain on the round-abouts.’

Generally, REITs are either internally managed, with management as employees of the  REIT/operating partnership, or “externally managed” pursuant to a management contract with no direct  employees. Usually, private REITs and registered-but-not-traded REITs are externally managed for a fee by a related party manager. The related party fees for these types of vehicles can be significant and will vary based on the underlying investment premise and effort involved (e.g., “core” investment portfolio strategies typically have lower fee arrangements than those of more “opportunistic” vehicles).

In a REIT with an internal management structure, the REIT’s own officers and employees manage the portfolio of assets. A REIT with an external management structure usually resembles a private equity style arrangement, in which the external manager receives a flat fee and an incentive fee for managing the REIT’s portfolio of assets. The debate over which management method is preferential is favouring the internal management model. The controversy has centred on which method of management produces higher returns for investors, with some arguing that conflicts of interest underpinning compensation arrangements for external managers create incentives not necessarily in the best interest of the shareholders. Internalising management has emerged as the conventional wisdom for removing any conflict of interest between management and investors.

An external manager will typically receive a flat fee and an incentive fee. Generally, the flat fee is based on the asset value under management, which gives the manager incentive to purchase assets, while the incentive fee is based on the returns from the sale of assets. Most incentive fees for external managers are structured with a high water mark. Therefore, external managers will receive incentive fees only when the net asset value of a REIT increases above its highest historical net asset value.

External structures can create governance risks (at least when compared to REITs that are internally managed) and these governance risks can translate into credit risks. The central governance risk is that the external manager uses its control to extract value from the REIT to the detriment of shareholders and bondholders.

Curiously, data is not supportive of the thesis that internally managed vehicles outperform externally managed vehicles, despite popular opinion to the contrary. The potential for conflicts of interest are still greatest in externally managed vehicles and thus will continue to be actively debated. Ensuring maximum alignment of interests between investors and managers seems to be the key to regaining investor trust and support for externally managed REITS.

Having said that the following benefits for external management have emerged:

  • An external manager has larger scale than the individual REIT, so it can provide services at a more economical cost than managing the REIT internally.
  • With regards to management succession, externally managed REITs have a broader set of employees from which to select senior executives, thereby broadening the skills and experiences available to the REIT.
  • When external manager service agreements are specific and outline strict performance criteria, boards of REITs are better placed to oversee the manager’s performance. (Source: Moody’s)

On the other hand the external manager uses his/her influence over the REIT to further his/her own interests over those of the REIT’s shareholders or bondholders; external management representation on boards limits the board’s capacity to independently oversee the external manager and there are few, if any, independent control structures.

As South Africa is still feeling its way into the REITs market it may be worth our while examining what the trends are internationally: The US has typically internally managed, with a few externally managed REITs. External managers are often controlled by owner managers and may manage multiple and related REITs. In the United States, most REITs have now adopted the structure of internal management.

Australia seems to value both internally and externally managed REITs however a large portion of REITs have transitioned to internal management structures over the last few years.

Canada has some externally managed REITs but most are internal as are European, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Good governance is essential for the continuing success of the REIT, as the market places a premium on this attribute. The market needs to be made aware of the REIT’s commitment towards a strong corporate governance mandate.

Clearly the advantages and disadvantages speak for themselves and there’s no doubt that internal management is the favoured option around the world. South Africa is already following that trend it seems as emerging REITs are internally managed.

Going Green: So I asked my 85 year old dad…

So I asked my 85 year old dad: “what do you think of when I say ‘Green’ dad”. There was a brief crackle on the phone and then came: “mould.” The generation gap on matters Green is clear.

I have to admit that as a 44 year I too didn’t think of the practice of making modern day sacrifices in order to conserve the rapidly depleting fossil fuels, when the word Green came up. Rather I would think of someone new on the job, who parks in the bosses bay on the first day, a ‘Green-horn’ if you will, it’s best not to mix those two words up.

Or perhaps “Green Fingers”. I used to have “Green Fingers” when I was more involved in our garden or is that having a Green Thumb? It means the difference between getting anything to grow and creating a micro-desert.

But the search for a Green definition remains elusive: The movement to green has been nearly a thirty year process beginning in the 1970’s with the solar-energy craze.  Early in the 1990’s for example, the green building movement began to take hold.  Expanding our thinking and consideration for the larger picture of the total environmental impact, thus driving demands for materials, commercial and home designs offering reduced long term costs, healthier living, greater efficiency and sustainability.

But for me Green is for gunge: Gangrene from war stories, brave soldier who fought in the trenches and got the Dreaded Lurgy. Then there’s the sludge down on Zoo Lake before the big clean-up of whenever-it-was.  Then there’s beautiful, wonderful mucous. Oh yes, oh quivering parent – there were those nappies that….never mind. Green gunge is every little boys early fascination until puberty hits then green becomes just another colour.

One mini Green definition I heard somewhere, went something like is this: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” A little whimsical with a touch of daisy and shoo-wah, but pleasantly unimposing.  I rather like it.

Depending on where you are applying the term Green, ‘sustainable design’ may be a good substitute. True sustainability embraces a commitment to see the world as interconnected, to understand the impact our actions have on others and our environment, and to nurture the offspring of all species that will inherit the planet. To become truly sustainable, it is vital to equally address social sustainability, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability like three legs holding up a stool. Okay, a little preachy.

The truth is, the Green movement is now orthodoxy, mainstream, convention if you like. It’s no longer the fringe realm of hippies and New Ages or people with pony-tails in general. For example, Green construction is huge in South Africa now and Green Stars are a coveted reward.  It reminds me of my children when they were of the age when a gold star on the forehead for good behaviour was the most coveted award in preschool. Now we have pinstriped executives scurrying around fulfilling the requirements of the Green Buildings Council so as to acquire more Green Stars for their buildings.

As if Green building isn’t enough we have green nappies, green fuels and green political parties. But a new interesting one I discovered is “green-hypocrisy”. Green campaigners argue that cheap short-haul flights have fuelled a massive hike in carbon emissions over the past few years. Celebrities in particular are criticised for struggling to reconcile their well-meaning efforts to develop green credentials and the demands of the modern world.  Sienna Miller and Chris Martin preach the importance of being ‘green’. They recycle obsessively, insist on green nappies and compost every scrap of organic vegetable peeling and they’re not slow to tell you about it. Yet they jet set the world over producing a carbon foot-print bigger than the rest of us.

It’s tough at the top. Looks like you can’t get away with anything these days. Did I say Carbon Footprint, let me tell you what my 85 year old dad said when I asked him what he thought of when I said Carbon Footprint….

 

The Dig-out Port and the South Durban Basin

Yes you heard right, the speculation is over, the deal is through, Transnet has bought the old Durban Airport site for R1.8 billion. But that’s nothing compared to the investment of an estimated R100 billion over the next 25 years for the vast engineering job that will employ 20 000 people to accomplish it’s task.

 

The plan is for Transnet to create a whole new terminal with sixteen container berths, five automotive berths and four liquid bulk berths.  To give you an idea of the size of the operation, the port of Durban has the following Terminals – Durban Container Terminal, Africa’s busiest (seven berths), Pier 1 Container Terminal(eight berths) , Multi-Purpose Terminal (also known as the City Terminal- 14 berths), Durban Car Terminal (three berths), and Maydon Wharf Terminal (fifteen berths). (Source KwaZulu-Natal Dept. of Transport)

 

The whole development is intended to reach completion by 2037. But for those who like instant gratification, the first phase should be finished by 2019 at a cost of R50 billion. That causes one to wonder though , if it takes seven years to spend R50 billion and the project is due to continue until 2037 then that’s another 17 years to spend the other  R50 billion. Interesting, watch this space.

 

This news comes on the back of the governments R21 billion infrastructure upgrade for the Durban port over the next seven years.  The dig-out port though will ensure the doubling of the capacity for Durban as a container port, enforcing it as the largest in Africa. Durban already moves 67 per cent of the country’s container traffic flows through its port.

 

The Independent on Saturday quote Safmarine’s Southern Africa cluster manager, Jonathan Horn, as saying that a bigger, more effective port will help shipping lines such as Safmarine, improve transit times, service reliability and vessel turnaround, while offering the benefits of increased efficiencies and flexibility.

 

The result of the combined existing port and dug-out extension is that Kwazulu-Natal in particular and South Africa in general has a strategic asset, “an effective platform for forging trade linkages between provinces within the country, with neighbouring states and the rest of the world – particularly the Asian and South American subcontinents – offering the province considerable investment spin-offs and opportunities.” The Daily New quoted Ndabezinhle Sibiya, spokesman for KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize.

 

The implication for property in the area is huge. Already land sales are booming in the south Durban basin. The south Durban basin is already the second largest contributor to the country’s economy. Gauteng is the largest, making up 34 per cent of GDP, and KZN is just under 17 per cent of GDP. Transnet’s dig-out port indicates a catalyst for economic development for the city, the province and the country.

 

The Independent on Saturday quotes Keith Chetty, a commercial real estate manager at Lighthouse property group as saying: “The demand for commercial and industrial property has increased dramatically in recent times in and around the current port.”

 

Residents living adjacent to the old Airport would be hoping to get a pretty penny for their homes especially since land is in short supply around the old airport area. One may ponder what will become of the old Clairwood Racecourse site.

 

Not everyone is dancing for joy though, business owners in the path of the expansion for one. There may be a need for some PR damage control by Transnet with locals too.  The Independent interviewed several ratepayer organisations in the area and there seems to be a definite mistrust and disappointment at the lack of communication form Transnet. A point has been raised that some communities in the area were the product of forced removals during the apartheid era, a lack of transparency by Transnet and local government could result in some short to medium term instability in the area.

 

The municipality needs to inform residents that the area surrounding the old airport will be rezoned industrial to accommodate the expected demand for land once the port construction begins.

 

There is no doubt that one of the most important spinoffs from the dig-out port will be jobs. In addition to the 20 000 direct jobs claimed, an additional 27 000 ‘indirect’ jobs are asserted with 12 000 sustainable, operational jobs which will remain upon completion for the project.

 

There are naturally pros and cons, but there’s no doubt the Dig-Out Port is fait accompli and together with the new Dube Port and Richard’s bay port, the KZN coastline and its arterials are likely to be a very busy place for some time to come.  Edward Gibbon wrote “The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.” Let’s hope Transnet has done its homework.

Seven Workable Solutions to Needless Printing

Given that the Global Economic Slowdown continues and the prospects of a tight-fitting aftermath lingers, austerity measures are not just a Greek phenomenon. Companies across the world are having to look at lowering costs and streamlining operations. Furthermore, on-going research indicates a steady upward trend in favour of environmental responsibility in the workplace.

With a plethora of Document Management Solutions offered by companies like Equitrac and Xerox there is clearly a market for what in another time would simply be called ‘pulling in the belt’.

There are several document management practices that can help companies reach both their environmental and cost-reduction goals. From the sustainability perspective, these practices can significantly reduce the use of paper, thereby saving trees, fuel in shipping the paper, physical space to store it, and halting the eventual destruction of many files that end up in a landfill. It goes without saying that such measures need to go hand in hand with a serious commitment to recycling toner and ink cartridges.

According to the Environmental Paper Network, “If, for example, the USA reduces its office paper use by approximately 10 per cent, or 540,000 tons, greenhouse gases would fall by 1.6 million tons. This is the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road for a year.”

Here are some practices that in themselves are a Document Management Solution to reducing costs and carbon footprint.

1. Making use of Technology:  Companies need to make use of the technology they. Multi-Functional Printers have so called “smart” technologies such as Scan-to-Email/File Folder, Personal Mail Box, Document Routing and Fax-from-Desktop in order to decrease paper and ink/toner used in printing.  A recent study came up with three per cent in the reduction of paper used.

2. Getting the most out of a page: Building a habit of reducing the size of the font; setting the margins for a wider fit; checking ‘widows and orphans’ all with the intention of adding more text to a page can reduce needless printing and paper use by a significant percentage.

3. Ban banner pages: A banner page, the page that prints prior to a user’s file prints with username and machine name information. Research in the industry estimates that organizations can reduce their consumables cost by up to 20 per cent by abolishing banner pages from office print jobs. According to “Cost Cutting Initiatives for Office Printing”, Sharon McNee and Ken Weilerstein, Feb. 2008, a 1,000 person organization could cut up 1.6 million pages and save R268 000 per year by eliminating banner page printing.

4. PIN authentication: Cartridge Save reports that one in ten documents sent to the printer are not collected or end up being resent. What companies could do to reduce extemporized print costs by up to 10 per cent is to implement a PIN authentication system.

5. Duplex by default: Decrease paper use by up to 50 per cent. Largely multiple-page documents don’t necessitate the text to be printed on one side of the page. With the necessary policy decisions in place and the technical staff on board it’s quite feasible to alter office protocols and make duplex printing of multi-page documents the norm.

6. Workgroups work: To varying degrees, trading personal desktop printers with workgroup MFPs shared by departments can make a powerful impact. A high end financial services company replaced 1,100 copiers and printers and 1,000 fax machines with 400 MFPs. The move jettisoned 1,700 machines that now no longer consume resources based on their operation, maintenance, and ultimate disposal.

7. Scanning should be the norm: Instead of copying and storing physical documents, organizations can scan and store electronically. Employees can retain digital copies that they can distribute electronically, and at the same time avoid accumulating files filled with paper. In a recent industry survey, senior executives involved in document management indicated that document scanning has a high impact across the greatest range of business goals that include “reducing costs, increasing competitive advantage, enhancing regulatory compliance, and improving customer service.”

8. Recycling Toner and Ink Cartridges: The reduction of carbon footprint due to recycling of cartridges cannot be overestimated. We can take all the necessary common sense precautions above and undo it all by not recycling our cartridges. Used cartridges can be remanufactured many times over and keep plastic, steel, aluminium and rubber out of landfills. If you buy remanufactured cartridges, you save oil and 7kgs of waste.

In the final analysis, each company is like an individual with its own needs and priorities. Before you rush out and purchase expensive Document Management software perhaps two or three of the above practices could be enough to make a significant and sustainable change to your budget and your green conscience.

Haemorrhaging Printers in the Work Place and What to do About Them.

Unnecessary printing could be what’s putting your business over budget and causing productivity to stumble.  An exaggeration? Not according to a cursory glance at the burgeoning industry aimed at “Document Management Solutions.”

If you know anything about working in an office environment, you’ll know that if you wander about peeking into the out trays of printers at the end of the day, unfailingly you’ll observe papers overflowing from every orifice of every machine. These are either uncollected or unwanted jobs, extra copies of work that weren’t needed and so on.  “Document Management Solution” companies claim they have the answer, but first what is the question?

Cartridge Save is a UK supplier with a reputation for being more than just a cartridge supply company. A recent study conducted by Cartridge Save polled 1917 people in businesses with a minimum of 100 employees.  It was discovered that a business of this capacity would squander the equivalent of R57 000.00 annually on preventable printing.

A further breakdown reveals that each participant unnecessarily printed two sheets of paper a day. That’s 800 pages per company per working day. Cartridge Save posited that if that business used say, an HP Apollo printer, printing 795 pages per cartridge, that business would go through five cartridges a week on redundant printing. At a minimum of R220.00 per cartridge, that’s around R1100.00 a week or R57 000.00 a year wasted on needless printing.

Looking at in terms of ink,  each business would be wasting 20.2 litres of ink a decade on pointless print jobs, as each standard Apollo P-1200 ink cartridge contains eight millilitres of black ink, with 1000 millilitres in a litre.

Ian Cowley, Managing Director of Cartridge Save is reported to have said: “We wanted to conduct this research to emphasise to large businesses how much money they are wasting each year on needless printing. These figures only equate to value wasted on ink and ink cartridges; paper and toner have not even been factored in, so the true cost to a business would be much more, all factors considered. I cannot stress enough the importance of cost management when it comes to printing.  I strongly recommend that businesses look into the costs of its printing services.”

Enter “Document Management Solutions.”  Equitrac is one of a few companies offering software aimed at plugging the hole created by, end-users print splurges every day. Equitrac claims that on average, 10 to 15 per cent of volume prints remain uncollected daily. Meanwhile, Green printing solutions GreenPrint cites research that the average user waste R680.00 on paper and ink for unnecessary prints.

Upon the installation of Equitrac on a company network, administrators can use the suite to set and enforce policies that ensure that users only print what they need using the least expensive approach possible. Equitrac is compatible with Windows, NetWare, UNIX, and Linux print servers.

A principle feature of Equitrac’s solution is the “Follow-You Printing unction.” No that’s not an anti-stalking device. Using Follow-You, a user must go to the machine and key in a password or swipe an ID card before the machine will complete the job. Any jobs that don’t end up collected are deleted after a preset period of time.

An example of a benefit of this would be; consider placing a document in queue upstairs that is needed for a conference on the ground floor. Being absent minded you forgot to collect it before going to the conference. Instead of having to arduously wander upstairs again, you could find a printer on the ground floor, type in your code, and retrieve it there. The security benefit to Follow-You is noteworthy since documents with delicate information won’t get nabbed from the printer before they’re collected by the correct owner.

Other features include administrators being able to limit the number of colour prints a user can make, or what the user can print in colour.  An example would be the creation of a policy that any document printed from a browser would have to use black ink. Similarly a policy could be set prompting users to print internal documents as double sided documents. High volume jobs could be redirected to larger capacity machines.

On top of the functionality aimed at reducing waste, Equitrac provides reporting that can let administrators know, down to a device level, how printing resources are being used. Of course Equitrac is just one Document Management Solution out there. Others include:

– A.N.D. Pcounter Comprehensive printer accounting and management suite.
– Pharos Uniprint, Blueprint, and Omega Document Accounting, Cost Management, Output/Print Management.
– Print Audit 6 Comprehensive print management solution to analyze, reduce and recover printing costs.
– Xerox Page Accountant™Easily control access to color output while keeping its cost manageable.
– Xerox Secure Access Unified ID System™ Card security enabling users to authenticate at MFP& securely retrieve print jobs.
– YSoft® SafeQ® Integrated printing solution for accurate MFP accounting, security, and access control and follow-me.

Although reducing energy consumption remains a prime priority on companies’ sustainability agendas, there are plenty of rands and trees to be saved via better management of MFPs, printers, copiers, and the like. Find a solution that suits you.

Colouring Confusion or Confused by Colour

Perusing show-houses on a Sunday afternoon I came across an exquisitely restored Orange Grove house in Johannesburg’s North Eastern suburbs: Steel pressed ceilings, Oregon Pine floors and trims pedantically purged of paint and blemishes, with doors varnished to perfection.

As I admiringly examined the paintwork’s faultless lines and perfect finish I couldn’t help imagining what an annoyingly fussy and fastidious person must have been responsible for this. Yet the choice of paint colour suggested otherwise. I was told by the eager estate agent: “he did all the restoration himself you know.” I didn’t.

The children’s room was delightfully colourful. Not in that proverbial chameleon-on-a- Smarty-box way. The light of the room was wonderfully swept up into the four colours that made up the walls and splashed out a joy that kitsch can’t produce. Funny how too much colour or ‘wrong’ colour is like a fine perfume mixed with cigarette smoke.

But this use of colour was captivating. The children’s toys and bedding were convincingly persuasive of the presence of children, all thanks to four completely different coloured walls. I was converted at once and decided that I too would embrace the pedantic little man who perhaps, resided somewhere  deep within me and apply the same vivid and extravagant formula.

I voiced my plan to my ever-tolerant wife about how I was to apply my new conversion to the world of colour to my two daughters rooms. I have seldom seen my wife’s eyebrow raised so close to her hairline. All credit to her forbearance as I was unleashed. Alas, unlike Mister Perfection-Restoration of Orange Grove, I found that painting four walls different colours, plus the ceiling, infuriatingly, maddeningly and unbearably finicky.

Some say it was my actual choice of colours that was causing the nausea, others that it was the peculiar meshing of colours between the walls, but the effect when walking into the room of the four colours was not unlike entering a cabin on board a ship on a rough sea, where the portholes are just hovering above surface level.

Although my girls’ dreams of rainbows, clowns and female members of parliaments’ hats subsided, they never did quite get over their early years subjection to Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat on their walls. When we eventually moved home and they reached their teens, I was tentatively offered the task of painting their rooms. This time there was a very firm condition: “Daddy, please, only white, paint only white!”

Whether it’s painting or printing, colour is probably having more of an influence on your life than you think. Whether you call it ambience, atmosphere, mood or vibe you can’t live without colour. But you’d better get the best advice on how to use it.

Golf Estates: “Swing hard in case you hit it!”

As a social phenomenon it’s not surprising that golf estates would do well in South Africa, given the priority of security on the one hand and sharing the outdoors within one’s community on the other

“If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.”  Jack Lemmon

As a social phenomenon it’s not surprising that golf estates would do well in South Africa, given the priority of security on the one hand and sharing the outdoors within one’s community on the other.

It’s hardly unusual that people will take whatever measures possible to ensure the safety of their family and the lifestyle that they have become accustomed to. So it may come as a bombshell to find a slump being reported by some in the golf estate property market.

We know that property world-wide is depressed and so it stands to reason that the golfing estate market would not be immune to such pressure. Golf estates like those along the Cape’s Garden Route that were lauded as a major economic driver during the last ten years are currently struggling.

“These greens are so fast I have to hold my putter over the ball and hit it with the shadow” Sam Snead.

Not so for these golfing estates:

  • Pinnacle Point had as many as 15 properties for sale a couple of weeks ago, including a R14m luxury house.
  • 46 properties were on sale at Kingswood in George.
  • 53 properties were listed at Pezula in Knysna.
  • 26 properties for sale at the Oubaai golf estate outside George.

That’s a lot of stock!

In Plettenberg Bay, two massive golf estate developments, Hangklip and Roodefontein, have been put on hold despite winning approval from the provincial government and Bitou municipality as early as 2009.

Environmentalists in general and in the Cape in particular, are not big fans of golf estates, due to the high volume of water required to maintain these emerald isles and the reputation – fair or not – of the ecological destruction caused by the landscaping.

In the late 90’s investigations were made in the Western Cape, when local environmentalists made enough noise about the potential threat of golf estates to local ecology. By the time local government had produced a report in the mid 2000’s, twenty two golf courses were already fully functioning with more on the way. The report declared the golf courses unsustainable but no one had the political will to declare a moratorium.

The Cape Times quotes Tasneem Essop, Western Cape Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC, as saying the negative impact on natural resources, especially limited water supplies, might well outweigh the benefits of golf resorts. However the claims of tourism and job creation benefits needed to be properly assessed, she said.

Elsewhere in the country it’s the newer developments that are the most at risk, with banks withdrawing their funding for some of these projects as enough buyers can’t be found to warrant financial backing. This is due in part to the slump in the market in general and, as Alliance Group’s Rael Levitt believes, that the South African golf estate market has been overdeveloped in the last five years and that a number of estates will, unfortunately, go into liquidation in the near future.

“The ball retriever is not long enough to get my putter out of the tree.”  Brian Weis

Perhaps the golf estate market is more resilient than we think. Take the Ernie Els’s Copperleaf Golf Estate in the centre of Gauteng. Previously known as Gardener Ross, the name changed when developer Investec Property took over the development in 2010. Yes it’s true, the developer’s well ran dry and the land owners put their stands on the market.Since Investec Property took over and redesigned the development, land owners have taken their land off the market and want to build homes. This is an estate where a three bedroom, two bathroom home with a double garage has the entry level priced at R1.9 million.

There is also something for environmentalist to consider: the development has its own water treatment works, which recycles grey and sewerage water for the irrigation of the golf course and 2700 trees are currently being planted to add to the existing park, wetlands and grasslands.

One of the big criticisms of such estates is the high levy. One really needs to take this into account in any sectional title community but just for the record the levy at Copperleaf is being quoted to the public at R1500 monthly. One would figure this to be affordable if being in the market for a R2 million bond.

The big advertising pull is that of family living rather than just golf. The press releasefor Copperleaf tells us that:” Investec Property wanted to create a child friendly environment, family entertainment destination that all family members living at the estate or visiting the estate can enjoy.” Sam Hackner of Investec Property says that the recession has helped to separate the reputable developers from the suspect ones and right now, Hackner believes, the industry is left with reputable ones with integrity. Time will tell.

Like any investment, you want something for your trouble. The perception that golfing estates are a rich man’s refuge is not without foundation. To build a golf course of any quality costs in the region of R50m plus and once you’ve added the cost of the land, club house facilities, spa and other amenities, you have a business scenario not for those easily overwhelmed, with the sale of residential stands being the only means of reclaiming the investment.

In the early days the investment attraction was the weekend or holiday properties. But now a decade later there are hundreds of established residential golf estates offering more than thousands of properties, this has become a very different market. Golfing estates are now viable primary residential options.

Andrew Golding of Pam Golding Estates believes what is also likely to contribute to the success of golf estate living, is the virtual office scenario employed by so many entrepreneurs, as well as small to medium size business owners, whereby this sector can be based anywhere and enjoy a lifestyle perhaps originally intended only for the leisure consumer.

This leads one to consider the importance of golf. With little more than 125 000 registered golfers in South Africa – the target market is small.  Developers have had to shuffle their cards a little and make their appeal more broadly inclusive. Health and wellness, equestrianism, angling, walking and other sporting pursuits come into the mix. One may be forgiven for imagining scenes of people and friends galloping down the fairway or retirees fishing in the water features. Heaven forbid! But in earnest, options are opening up, broadening the scope of what golf estates can offer.

Continued research proves that there are two consistent and specific reasons for investment in real estate around a golf course – security and community. While those are creatively on offer, Golf estates will continue to be an attractive investment for retirement, rentals and lifestyle. Not being too reliant on the Golf aspect may preserve the future of Golf estates.

Or in the words of Dan Marino “Swing hard in case you hit it.”

Airport Retail – Flying into the Sunrise

In the old Westerns, people galloped off into the west as the sun set to get away from all their troubles. Well if current stats are correct, people may want to fly off into the east into the rising sun instead. Since shopping and traveling are human ways of escaping cold hard reality, it may explain why emerging market countries’ airports are doing a roaring retail trade in the face of the world financial crisis.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, airport retail seems up everywhere. The world’s airport retail sector is set to emerge as one of the best performing in retail, and is likely to grow by as much as 60% by 2015, worth approximately R322.8 billion. A Financial Times article cites spending by passengers atLondon’s Heathrow increased 16.4% year on year in the first half of 2011. Clearly someone did their homework since Kurt Greiger, Reiss, Burberry and ‘handbag company’ Mulberry have all recently popped up at Heathrow. Throw in a new Harrods mega store and you’ve practically got a shopping renaissance at the airport.

Looking at the international airport market as a whole for 2010, it’s estimated worth is approximately R220billion. Having grown as much as up to 40% in the last five years, emerging markets have led the way. By way of example:Europeheld 46% of market share and theUS23%, in 2005. That’s down to 40% and 20% respectively. Big winners here are Asia-Pacific up to 29% andMiddle Eastat 10%. Top of the class is Dubai Duty Free, the world’s largest airport retailer, recently reported 13% growth in sales and is due for a record year.

What is it about emerging markets that’s causing all the flutter? A symptom here would be an increase in airport traffic. Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle Easthave experienced double-digit percent growth in the number of airport passengers. Meanwhile the mature destinations of Europeand North Americaare not only experiencing weak growth, they are struggling to reach pre-doubledip levels of airport traffic.
From here we notice a two pronged effect on airport traffic. Firstly: stronger economic growth in emerging markets and secondly the drastic lowering of airline ticket prices. Going back a decade air-travel in the east was horribly expensive but now there’s Malaysia’s affordable AirAsia, India’s SpiceJet and Singapore Airlines’ new Scoot service among other budget airlines capitalizing on the increased demand. Thai budget airlines expects to launch in mid-2012, so the competition is hotting up.
And there’s more… despite a faltering global economy, luxury retailers have reported stronger than expected earnings, with demand from emerging economies boosting their success. Many high-end retailers announced unusually high profits. Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) reported profits of over R123 billion through the third quarter—a 15% increase over the previous year, with strongest demand from Asian markets. According to a recent consulting firm Bain & Co. Mainland China is likely to push Japan out this year as the second-largest market for luxury goods after the U.S., increasing market share to R257.5 billion. Chinese consumers spend an additional R132-165 billion on luxury goods outside of China in order to avoid the high luxury tariffs in their own country.

This year saw LVMH opening at South Korea’s Incheon airport, the store is expected to bring in approximately R533 million in annual sales, thanks to the growing numbers of Chinese passing through.

Within retail, it is beauty sales which are the fastest growing. Over the next five years this segment of airport retail is predicted to grow by as much as 80%, while growth in liquor and tobacco is expected to ease. Fashion and electronics are also areas which show growth potential over the same period.

Retailers are also modifying their product lines to appeal to Asian consumers. The French luxury fashion house Hermès intends tapping into the growing luxury market in Indiawith its new limited edition range of saris based on that label’s celebrated scarves.

There is also an increased significance of direct-owned stores at Airports. According to the same Bain study mentioned above, the physical distribution of luxury sales has undergone a significant shift, with direct-owned stores experiencing 14% growth, which is more than 50% higher than the growth rate of wholesale and department stores. Direct-owned retail now accounts for nearly 30% of luxury sales worldwide. Finally, currency volatility is a big player too. Travelers from different countries will seek the best bargain relative to the exchange rate.

Examining South African Airports, one may note that Cape Town International, OR Tambo and Durban’s King Shaka came first, second and third, respectively, for Africain the World Airport Awards a while back. ORT shuffles 13 million passengers every year, the most in Africa, yet we are remaining an emerging market
South Africa.net reports that South   Africa rates as one of the world’s best airport shopping destinations. Of course local may not be lekker for some locals but curios have come a long way since the artillery shell ash trays and dung pots. This OT airport curio shop was voted the ‘best destination’ retail outlet in the world in 2006 by well respected duty free retail commentators in the Moodie Report.

Interestingly the International Travel Blog enthused that: “at The Out of Africa store, almost all the handcrafts you’ve been eyeing on your trip, from 6-foot wood giraffes to Ndebele beaded dolls, are on offer here at better-than-retail prices.”

Yes it’s a long way from Prada but travelers want what they can’t get on their own turf and everyone is doing the booze and smoke. Having said thatSouth Africahas much more to offer than mere curios and duty free jewelers, as important as those stores may be. This is surely an untapped market for South African retailers. It’s time we encouraged the geese to fly down South for the winter.

The Battle of the Beachfronts

Let’s face it there has to be some resentment, so much of the glamour of ye olde Durban shifted to Umhlanga in the 1980s through to the ‘90s. But lots of cleaning up was done and then there was uShaka and some notable inner-city reclamation projects and Durban stopped looking so tarty.

On the other hand what used to be little scenic Umhlanga, has it’s own industrial area now, plus Hillbrow-type blocks of flats around Gateway and all those tarty mansions on the ridge in what used to be gently swaying sugarcane. Throw in some perennial storms exposing those very rocky beaches and things don’t look so rosy for the once cheeky upstart.

In anticipation of the, try not to yawn, 2010 Soccer World Cup, Durban embarked on a serious facelift to it’s dodgy beachfront. Following demolition and refurbishment, rearrangement of facilities and an impressive walkway, hotels have expressed how it was worth the wait. Hoteliers say Durban’s beachfront occupancy rates are exceeding those of Umhlanga and Ballito by as much as 10%. Deputy President of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, Mike Jackson, said there had been a “complete turnabout” by locals and tourists in regard to the beachfront and that the corporate trade was now balanced with holidaymakers.

There is renewed interest in spending time at the Durban beachfront, with big companies looking to buy land and existing hotels spending millions on upgrades. Hoteliers report an increase in locals coming down to the city beaches, especially at weekends. Cycle and pedestrian paths have also helped in attracting Durbanites back to the beachfront.

Enter a very motivated Umhlanga Rocks: not used to being upstaged by the tired old city, plans have been carried out to perk up some of the urban sag in Umhlanga’s infrastructure. R70million has been spent on the 2.8km promenade which stretches from the Breakers Resort in the north to Durban View Road in the south, with the paving similar to that at the Durban central beachfront. However, one little detail the Durban promenade averages at 15m in width, the Umhlanga promenade is about 5m wide. This presents a scenario that will depend on your taste.

On the Umhlanga promenade, wheels are banned. Except prams. No skateboards, rollerblades or bicycles. If you are walking with a stick, that’s good news. If you are in town for the annual student rage parties, it’s off to Gateway with you. In Durban you can bring your twelve wheeler circus cycle to the promenade and juggle wombats on your head if you like, you won’t be in the way. But no official matric rage parties are scheduled for Durban. Gateway has no competition.

Umhlanga has also upgraded roads previously unfriendly to tourist and pedestrian traffic. Roads such as Lagoon Drive and the roads leading from the Ruth First Freeway into central Umhlanga are also being upgraded.

Durban View Park is an important through way to the beach it has been the site of some important changes: The toilet and shower facilities have been upgraded, the park itself will be properly fenced and the walkway has been re-laid with bricks. The car park area has been greatly increased in size and should be completed any day now.

Due to a reputation for accidents, Lagoon Drive has been fitted with a number of speed-calming measures like traffic round-abouts and speed bumps. For example there is a round-about at the intersection with Durban View Road. Pedestrian tables, similar to brick speed bumps have also been added to allow people to walk across, for increased safety.

With the combination of the Matric parties, the usual holiday traffic during the festive season and the much anticipated COP 17 conference in the city, Umhlanga hoteliers are expecting 90% occupancy. Peter Rose, head of Umhlanga Tourism, believes that if holidaymakers haven’t yet booked a room, it may well be too late.

Down in Durban those in the hotel industry are equally upbeat in anticipation of the 25000 UN guests arriving. But the city has its sites set even further ahead. The second phase of the upgrade that began before World Cup 2010 is expected to actually transform the city’s shoreline from the Country Club beach to Blue Lagoon and will show off Durban’s wide open spaces. It will include restaurants and exciting new shops. It will also involve extending the pedestrian and cycling promenades, and relocating the Laguna Beach paddling pools to Blue Lagoon.

In the final analysis, what’s good for Umhlanga is good for Durban as they spill into each other turf. Many tourists stay in one locality and travel to the other for a change of scenery or simply to take in the attractions unique to that location. So all this bodes well for commercial property in both locations as businesses that have waited it out through the beeping of earth moving equipment, can now reap rewards through the tourism industry’s attraction of conference attendees, party animals and holiday makers. Iron sharpens iron goes the saying. Nothing like a little healthy competition to bring out the best in both cities.

Sandton – Hard Sweet work or Sweet Hard work?

The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote that change in all things is sweet. Scottish comedian Billy Chrystal said that change is just a lot of hard work! Witnessing the changes to the SandtonCBDskyline you may see something sweet here and there, but it’s mostly the result of a lot of hard work.

 

Much has been publicised about SandtonCity’s big R1.77bn first phase expansion. One can’t help draw attention to Sandton City’s retail space expansion to a total of 143 690m² upon completion of the first phase this month, taking the complex, which includes the Sandton hotel and office component, to 215 000sqm. But there is more happening in Sandton besideSandtonCity.

 

Part of what was once referred to as the wealthiest square mile inAfrica, the Village Walk,  these days only attracts a steady stream of JSE visitors’ vehicles seeking a parking space. Management of the once thriving collection of eateries and fashionable boutiques seemed to lose any sense of vision in the early 2000s. The once fashionable in-spot of the 90’s, sadly, has discount posters in its windows and wispy tumble-weeds of litter blowing about its courseways.

 

Having started as a rumour earlier in the year, it’s now conventional wisdom that the Village Walk will be demolished and even that 60 year old Grand Dame the Balalaika Hotel will be torn down and resurrected on the corner ofMaude StreetandRivonia Road. Of course it was never a matter of competing with its two sistersSandtonCityandNelson Mandela Square, rather it will be a matter of complementing and supplementing those enormously successful retail and entertainment venues. The current Village Walk basement will be retained and two floors of retail and some office space will be layered above. The whole development will be in four phases over eight years. Only a couple of blocks from the Gautrain station the venue has exciting potential. An international hotel is also on the cards making up the rest of the 180 000sqm of the project’s space.

 

Investors are showing enthusiasm for the acquisition of land or buildings for redevelopment close to the Gautrain station and it is envisaged that the area surrounding the station will be the centre of sustainable growth in the value of commercial property. There are even plans afoot to build above the station itself!

 

115 West Street, right opposite the station, is the future site of the Alexander Forbes head office for its approximately 2200Johannesburgstaff. The refurbished, eight storey 36 950m² office building will be embracing some green building codes with all natural light and energy efficient lighting. Throw in super fast lifts and state-of-the-art auditoriums  stuffed with all the latest technology, a gym, snazzy coffee shop and staff restaurant and you have a self contained little urban island. Nebank is putting up the R840 million funding for the development. This will become Zenprop’s Properties’ flagship of South African commercial properties. Alexander Forbes is expected to take occupation of the building on1 October 2012.

 

Characterised by a large number of owner occupied developments and with the majority of international banks, the JSE Securities Exchange, legal and management consultancies, Sandton, is widely acknowledged as the premier financial district inSouth Africa. There are currently over thirty development applications for the SandtonCBD, which includes  zoning changes  and renovations.

 

One such revamp is Southern Sun’s landmark Grayston Hotel. It’s closing its doors next month with a proposal having been lodged for the redevelopment of the building.

 

Other developments on the boil are 20 000sqm of sectional title office space on the corner of Katherine and West Streets – for occupation in 2013; 6 Sandown Valley Crescent, with a gross lettable area of 18 000sqm and a projected completion date of mid-2011; 16 000sqm at 1 Protea Place, with Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Attorneys as a tenant plus other smaller tenants; and Sandhurst Office Park, where 26 000sqm of office space becomes available in 2013.

 

Much of the demand for development seems to revolve around the financial sector. Developments planned over the next five years include: 9 000sqm at140 West Street; 35 000sqm for Standard Bank at11 Alice Lane; 150 000sqm on the site of the old Sandton municipal offices; and atFNBTowers, 25 000sqm of additional space.

 

One of the biggest changes to the Sandton skyline will be on the corner of West, Stella and Rivonia Roads. Insurance giant, Old Mutual, wants new headquarters inSouth Africa. Its answer is to build a multi-storey office precinct next to the Gautrain station. Old Mutual is to move their head office fromPresident Streetin Jo’burg’sCBDto where theChadrien Placebuilding stands, at the corner ofRivonia RoadandWest Street. The first 50 000 square meters will be ready for occupation by 2013, and the final product will be a 35 storey building.Chadrien Placeis currently an ageing Tudor-style block of 33 flats. On average units were valued at about R1,5m a couple of years ago. That all changed thanks to the Gautrain. Old Mutual is believed to have paid R400 million to a development consortium for theChadrien Placesite.

 

Finally on the auction front, one gets an idea of the demand in theCBD. During Auction Alliance’s September multiple auction event, two A-Grade office blocks in the heart of the SandtonCBD, offering a first rate development opportunity, were sold for R48.5 million. With A Gross Lettable Area of 2530sqm, this represents a bulk value of over R19,000/sqm.

 

There may be an economic down turn, but the future for Sandton looks set to change. For some it’s going to be sweet, for others, a lot of hard work.

Learn More about Sandton visit www.eprop.co.za

Going Potty in Jo’burg.

Do you remember all those promises about potholes in our roads being fixed at the beginning of the previous financial year: the homeless bathing in them; cars disappearing into them? Well Jo’burg’s been getting the good end of the deal thanks to the Dial Direct Pothole Brigade that made a start in August last year.

 

Yes, the name sounds like something out of Monty Python, but there’s been no slap-stick here. Thanks to a partnership between Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) and the said Brigade, 35 000 potholes have been repaired on Jo’burg’s roads. That’s a lot of empty space to fill!

 

To fix potholes, the Dial Direct Pothole Brigade has used an innovative Jetpatcher, which is a large articulated vehicle that carries aggregate and hot asphalt for patching up or repairing potholes.

 

 A high-tech machine mounted on the chassis of a truck, it uses a high pressure compressor to blow out debris and water from the pothole. The airflow cleans out fissures in the hole to ensure that complete waterproofing is achieved. Then the aggregate and asphalt are blasted in.

 

Now that this successful pilot project has come to an end, the JRA will have to formalise procedures and incorporate the repair of potholes into a tender process.

 

The JRA is a Jo’burg City-owned entity responsible for the construction and resurfacing of municipal roads, construction of bridges, building and managing culverts and storm water drains, maintenance of road infrastructure, traffic lights, road markings and signage.

 

During the course of the project the following roads that have been patched: the M16 – Linksfield Road, M90 – CR Swart Road, M57 – Pretoria Road, R512 – Malibongwe Drive, M6 – Cedar Road, R511 – William Nicol Drive, M26 – Main Road and R562 – Olifantsfontein Road, to mention just a few.

 

The Dial Direct Pothole Brigade, is a special task force comprising provincial and local government departments and two private companies. The original intention was to deal with Jo’burg’s ever-increasing potholes. Its work was never supposed to be a permanent arrangement but rather to supplement the maintenance work already done by the Johannesburg Road Agency and theGautengprovincial government.

 

Hopefully this will render redundant the guidelines on how to repair and prevent potholes, published by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on its website. Surprised by the huge interest, the CSIR released its annual results in Pretoria this week revealing that  800 downloads for the guidelines had been made since they were first published in December last year.

 

The training courses on the causes of potholes and various repair methods for different types of potholes, held by the CSIR since February 2011, had also proved very popular. You have to hand it to the South African public for being proactive and enterprising.

 

But the merry hole-filling brigade has other fish to fry now and is moving on to the outer reaches ofGauteng. The specific areas are yet to be announced. But it’s going to be good news for somebody.

 

Sam Swaine, the media director of Heart PR, publicists for Dial Direct says motorists should now report potholes in JRA areas directly to the agency on hotline@jra.org.za.

 

However the brigade urges motorists who identify potholes onGautengroads to report them either online or by dialling *120*1551# from a cellphone and following the onscreen instructions or via the mobile site, potholebrigade.mobi.

 

The JRA will now have to resume its responsibility for dealing with eradicating potholes alone. The additional capacity through public and private partnerships has enabled the City to do so much more than it normally has the capacity to manage.

 

A mayoral committee member for transport was quoted as saying: “Believing in the importance of government working together with the private sector and civil society, we think that this partnership has enabled us to do even more in the interests of the citizens ofJohannesburg.”

 

Clearly there is some light at the end of tunnel for road maintenance in Jo’burg and lets hope the momentum doesn’t stop now as the initiative continues into the rest of the province.

 Learn more about Joburg: visit eprop.co.za

“What is my place in this world?” – Is it too late to ask?

“What is my place in this world?” –  Is it too late to ask?

Teenagers face the question, perhaps more than those of us who are not: what’s my place in this world? It’s a healthy question methinks.

Some of us may have forgotten that struggle – either content with the path we’re on or accepting of our lot in life. Then there are those of us who’ve never really come to terms with the stage of life we’re in. I’m not just talking about the unrequited: “If only”; “I shouldn’t have”; “I could have” and the like. Sometimes we wake up with that sense of purposeless. We look back at the field we spent so much time ploughing and ask: “for what.” We come up with a suitably parental response to keep going like: “come on put on the uniform and go to work.”  Perhaps we are reminded of what we believe the purpose to be and take courage and move on, motivated and cheerful, brushing off that devilish little intrusion into our contentment. Or you don’t and it lingers like a hangover from too much of something that seemed good enough to indulge in the night before.

 

Indulgence often does that, brings up that question, the one you asked when you were a teenager. “Is this what it’s all about?” Getting here where I have the freedom to indulge in the thing that I want. The thing that’s not only not there the next morning but couldn’t face another bite of, sip of, moment of, if it was. After all, this morning I have to face reality, none of which was washed away by my television binge, escapist novel, vice or even sleep. Today is a new day.

A ‘New Day’ now there’s a thought: Jeremiah a prophet who contributed to the Old Testament, someone who contemplated these questions not only for himself but for his entire nation:Israel, on a regular basis through times of crisis wrote:

The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:

The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.

The LORD is all I have, and so in him I put my hope. The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him, So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—“ Lamentations 3: 20-26

Simon Peter’s response was remarkably similar when faced with the very unpopular choice of following Jesus after he had said something particularly offensive to His people.

John 6:68 records: “ Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”

Where else can we go? The Lord is IT.  We don’t know what the future holds but we can know who holds the future.

We live in a subculture where we want nanny voices to say “there there” and make it all better. Or perhaps we look for stirring words of motivation from inspiring people. Often we feel, as the eminent Austrian psychoanalyst Victor Frankel believed, that you will be content as soon as you discover your sense of ‘meaning’ – your purpose. Well that sounds like a handy thing to discover – but when such questions plague us let’s face the One who holds the keys to life, who claims to have a future and a hope for us. Obvious?

Jeremiah assures us that God’s love is unfailing and new toward us each morning – it’s an unconditional thing. We would do well to reflect on that – His Love is new every morning, it’s all about today! So you’ve lost your way, or maybe taking a moment to contemplate the manufacturer’s built-in re-alignment questions. Jesus didn’t necessarily give Peter an answer right there and then about where to go, what he was for, where did he fit into the grand scheme of things. He just gave him a choice and Jesus gives you a choice each new day: “come.” The invitation to come is an invitation of hope and I suppose hope is like a waking dream.

Peter sounds almost exasperated when he ‘comes’ “Where else can we go.” But at the end of the same book this man sat down and ate fish and bread with the resurrected Jesus discussing the way ahead even his death, his place in this world.

What I really want to draw attention to is not that we should ask the question with the view to getting an answer. Rather that we should ask the right Someone with the intention of listening to whatever it is He chooses to say. It’s another excuse to cleave to, confide in and covet Jesus.

There’s just no substitute to coming to Jesus in quietness and trust – your place in this world.

Sandton City the Queen Bee for Fashionistas

Like it or not Christmas is around the corner.

In anticipation of Christmas 2011 Sandton city is flirting, no, building, long term relationships with some of the world’s most glittering names in world fashion. So someone’s had to make some room.

SandtonCity’s much anticipated R1.77 billion first phase redevelopment is being undertaken by Liberty Properties on behalf of owners Liberty Group (75%) and Pareto Ltd (25%). There has been a shortage of retail space in the centre; despite being one ofSouth Africa’s largest. They’re hoping the 30 000sqm extension will be sufficient retail space in expectation of the flurry of high fashion tenants wanting visibility at the centre.

The development will see an additional 69 stores toSandtonCity, the resultant total will come to 360.SandtonCity’s total retail space, with the extension, will now be an extraordinary 143,700sqm upon completion of phase one. The whole complex, including offices space and the hotel, will now come to 220,000sqm!

So who’s coming to the party!

Where to begin? Let’s name drop with: Zui, Okaidi, Nespresso, Lecoqsportif, Steve Madden, Tag Heuer, Bellagio, Pandora, Democratic Republic, Ben Sherman, Hackett, Jack Friedman. That’s just a start.

Lacoste and Lacoste Live

The Surtee Group, being a cutting edge luxury clothing retailer, will be opening a breathtaking Lacoste flagship store. This concept store has only been seen on the Champs de Elysees in Paris andNew York’sFifth Avenue, as well as inHamburg. The store is expected to be a 300sqm store presenting the complete Lacoste world of products including footwear, fashion, handbags and sunglasses as well as fragrances and an entire children’s range. The store will introduce to South African Youth the dynamic Lacoste Live products and ranges.

Paul & Shark

The Surtee Group will also be showcasing Italian luxury fashion brand Paul & Shark in its own 120sqm store. Previously the brand was available at Surtee Group’s Levinson’s. The shop itself has been created inNaples,Italyand will be shipped intoSouth Africain time for the November opening. This is a replica of the Paul & Shark’s store inMilan, arguably the fashion centre ofItaly.

Guess Accessory Store

The Busby Group, which currently has 13 shops in the centre, will be adding to its repertoire a whole new exciting Guess accessory store. The Guess Accessory store will tantalisingly display an assortment of high-fashion Guess jewellery, handbags, eyewear, fragrances, watches and footwear. There is much anticipation of the designer-chic interior.

Lacroix and Nina Ricci 

The Levison’s retail group will be introducing new lines to their already chic store.  These include the highly sort after Nina Ricci and Lacroix labels.

Hugo

Said to be the avant-garde face of Hugo Boss – Hugo will open its first South African store with product lines particularly focused on men although there is a range of women’s products.

…and there’s more

Throw in Lulu Belle, Thomas Sabo, Lorna Jane, Drifters, Ordning and Reda, G-Star, Crossover, Shesha, Kitchen Passion , Kingsley Heath, Superdri, Sack’s, Maska, Fossil, Aeronautica, Addidas, Superga, Canterbury, Simply Manas, le Creuset as well as Tiger of Sweden and one is left gasping.

SandtonCity seems to have become the queen bee and all the worlds’ brands want a spot in the hive.  “The expansion ofSandtonCity adds an increased breadth of range for shoppers. The new variety and sheer size of the shopping centre will serve to draw more feet to the centre and grow overall revenue,” said one retailer.

With the introduction of the Gautrain and the proximity of the new Sandton Gautrain stationSandtonCity’s scope has broadened even further than before. Also the work done by the centre’s management, listening carefully to shoppers, on creating a customer friendly environment, adds charm to the bling of a glittering new crown of world-class status brands.

Christmas atSandtonCityis going to quite the glittering affair.

Keeping The Green Lungs Open

Johannesburgis an urban forest and arguably the largest of its kind in the world. Reports vary, but it is estimated that there are between 6-10 million trees in the city and over 2 000 parks.  Jo’burg’s City Parks (JCP) is responsible for keeping these green lungs breathing. Last month saw (JCP) win not only the Green Collar Training Award but the Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority (AgriSETA) National Excellence Award.

Urban forests play a pivotal role in ecology of human settlements, provide shelter to birds and recreational areas for people, filtering air, water and providing protection from sunlight. Of course green is also good for the soul.Johannesburg’s forest in the city is moderating the local climate, slowing wind and storm-water, and shading homes and businesses to conserve energy. Large shade trees can reduce local ambient temperatures by 3 to 5 °C. Cars parked in parking lots with 50% canopy cover emit 8% less through evaporative emissions than cars parked in parking lots with only 8% canopy cover.

 A study done in Chicago; USA, determined that trees removed approximately 17 tonnes of carbon monoxide (CO), 93 tonnes of sulphur dioxide (SO2), 98 tonnes of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and 210 tonnes of ozone (O3) in 1991.

JCPhas an enormous responsibility. Consider this,JCPmanages 1,6 million trees on its streets; 6 603 hectares of developed parks and arterials; 7 500 hectares of pavements; 2 343 parks; 174 hectares of water surfaces; 1 587 hectares of trails; 35 cemeteries consisting of 1 088 hectares of land; 22 nature reserves consisting of 1203 hectares; 15 bird sanctuaries consisting of 366 hectares; 7 hiking trails; 4 environmental and education centres.

The Green Collar Training Award was presented to City Parks at theBHPBilliton Achiever Awards. Falling under the Environmental Education category,JCPwas acknowledged for its programme that successfully provided 105 unemployed youth with skills development and employment.

Geoffrey Cooke, acting managing director of City Parks, said: “The project is aimed at creating decent, permanent employment in a sector that is labour intensive, and we are hopeful that this is the beginning of a programme that will be rolled out on a larger scale with support from business.” Young unemployed people were picked from the City’s Job Pathways database.

The second award picked up last month was the AgriSETA Award, recognisingJCPfor providing employment, putting people to work on maintaining the city’s green lungs.  It took the gold in the “project employed 50 percent and more learners” category. This specifically acknowledged the training of unemployed youth in ornamental horticulture as part of level one of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). These same employees were assimilated into Johannesburg City Parks, giving them permanent employment.

This isn’t just a flash in the pan either. Earlier this year theinstituteofLandscape Architecturein South Africa (ILASA) honouredJCPwith a special award for excellence for its outstanding contribution to landscape architecture through open space development at community level. The award was presented inDurbanin May at the prestigious Corobrik-ILASA Awards for Excellence.

JCPwon the award for its contribution to ongoing development of green open spaces and parks in greaterSoweto. The award was specifically based on the development of theVlakfonteinMedicinalPark, Dhlamini Eco-Park and theOrlandoWestPark.  Further acknowledgement for theJCPwas for theirAlbertsFarmEcoParkproject, which won in the Planning and Design Project Proposals category. The adjudicators said City Parks’ achievement was all the more remarkable becauseJohannesburgdoes not have any striking natural features.  “Johannesburg City Parks does not have the luxury of a coastline, a river or any other breathtaking natural feature in which play and city life easily blend,” they said.

Other notable projects completed so far this year have been in areas such asZakariyyaPark, Vlakfontein, Orange Farm and Lenasia. (Parks were also opened in Njongo and Nxumalo in May.)

These areas were earmarked as the focus of the City’s capital projects in the south. Work on a park opened inCloveParkfor example, created 40 jobs and also ensured that there was a transfer of skills to the community during the construction phase. These rejuvenated areas form part of the City’s strategy to address the greening imbalances between north and south. Over 200 000 trees have been planted and over 23 new parks have been developed in the south of Joburg as a step in addressing these imbalances.

This positive trend began in January when JCP extended its environmental credentials by gaining its ISO 14001 certification, only the second municipality to do so. The ISO 14001 is an international standard that provides a framework for developing, implementing and continually improving environmental programmes. City Parks received its certification on 20 January, following a series of comprehensive audits by NQA  (an assessment, verification and certification body.) “It was important for us to gain ISO 14001 certification in order to demonstrate that we are fully aware of our environmental responsibilities and that we are trying our best to incorporate our environmental duties into our day-to-day business operations,” said Alter Mavunda, City Parks environmental specialist.

Johannesburg’s City Parks has proven that it is part of the solution. Revealing intent with regard to city renewal and reducing the city’s carbon foot print. Other cities must be green with envy.

Just When You Thought it was Safe: All about Printer Emissions.

Have you ever seen reruns of those cigarette advertisements from the fifties and sixties where the doctor comes on recommending smoking as good for a healthy body and mind? You have got to laugh. Just like everyone laughed at those who first put forward ideas that smoking may be harmful to our health. It may seem a little unfair to make the comparison to emissions from laser printers but it’s a line worth pursuing if the Queensland University of Technology insists on updating its research on this subject.

When research was released in 2007 by theQueenslandUniversity that too much quality time spent with your laser printer may be harmful to your health there was a bit of scare. The Australian Federal Government launched an inquiry.  According to Professor Morawska, who headed up the study, printers emit ultra fine particles (UFPs) that are believed to be a catalyst and even a cause of respiratory diseases. Alas Hewlett-Packard printers have been fingered as being among the worst emitters, followed up by Toshiba. A cursory glance through the list of printer though, shows a disproportionate amount of HP printers were used in the study.

In an updated version for the paper (Aug 2011)( http://eprints.qut.edu.au/17917/) This statement is made in the preamble: “We present experimental evidence that indicates that intense bursts of particles are associated with temperature fluctuations and suggest that the difference between high and low emitters lies in the speed and sophistication of the temperature control.”  Morawska’s study determines that when the printer toner and paper pass over the hot printer roller, chemicals known as volatile organic compounds are released into the air. These compounds then react with ozone in the air and condense to make UFPs.

The temperature of the printer is crucial. The hotter the temperature, the more particles are produced. In the Sept 2011 (http://eprints.qut.edu.au/15414/) update this statement is made: “However, fundamental gaps in knowledge still remain, for example, it is not clear what makes a printer a high emitter or why some models alternate between being low and high emitters.” It’s apparent that different models made by the same manufacturer can produce very different levels of particles. Two machines of the same model type can also differ in their emissions, if one has recently done a lot more printing, it’s likely to create more particles.

Morawska believes the study gives manufacturers all the evidence they need to produce safer laser printers. “We’ve shown why certain printers are high emitters and this information should be used by the manufacturers to design printers that are not high emitters, high emitting printers should not be allowed on the market.” She said.

Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) response is: problem? What problem? The public relations department released this statement to the press with regards to UFPs: “The results confirm previous research that such UFPs are predominantly not toner particles, and suggest that they might consist of volatile substances and water vapour. These results substantiate HP’s position that such UFPs are not specific to laser printing technology. UFPs also form under conditions where no paper and toners are present in the printer.” It should be pointed out that other sources of ultra fine particles include vehicle exhausts, burning wood, candles, and cooking.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Wilhelm Klauditz Institute inGermanybluntly say that they found no evidence to support theQueenslandUniversity’s claims, after examining the makeup of chemicals released from laser printers. “One essential property of these ultra-fine particles is their volatility, which indicates that we are not looking at toner dust,” said Tunga Salthammer, a professor who worked on the study. They determined that such airborne materials include paraffins and silicon oils that evaporate when a printer’s fixing unit, which attaches dry toner ink to paper, reaches temperatures as high as 220 degrees Celsius. The study did not describe how breathing in those ultra-fine chemicals could affect human health. Printer makers belonging to the German Association for Information Technology partly funded the research.

Rather than focusing on the chemical composition of emitted particles, Morawska’s study focuses on their concentration and volume (a technique that is also used to rate the effects of second hand smoke). We may need to consider whether the particles referred to in the study toner particles? Do they have carbon black (a Class 2B carcinogen) or some otherIARC(INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER) -rated carcinogen in them? This remains unclear. HP has argued in its public statements that its printers meet all accepted standards in terms of particle emission. HP public relations released a statement saying. “Testing of ultra fine particles is a very new scientific discipline. There are no indications that ultra fine particle (UFP) emissions from laser printing systems are associated with special health risks. Currently, the nature and chemical composition of such particles whether from a laser printer or from a toaster cannot be accurately characterized by analytical technology. However, many experts believe that many of the UFPs found in common household and office products are not discrete solid particles, but may be condensation products or small droplets created during thermal processes.”

One thing for certain is that we ought to watch this space for new information as it would seems that it may be an over reaction to have health warnings on our printers just yet. In the meantime, it may be advisable to follow some of  Professor Morawska precautions: Avoid standing over the printer when printing; If you work beside a high volume printer, consider requesting either your or the printer’s removal; Make certain your office is sufficiently ventilated with air from outside; Those with asthma or other chronic conditions should be advised to position themselves at a suitable distance from busy printers; Locate heavily-used printers in well-ventilated areas, away from people. Okay, now take a deep breath and print this out to read outside.

QR Codes: Practically Speaking

Practically Speaking

(See : QR Codes expanding you experience  for and introduction to QR Codes)

So how do QR codes work?

A QT code is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) A matrix code, also termed a 2D barcode or simply a 2D code, is a two-dimensional way to represent information. It is similar to a linear (1-dimensional) barcode (that we are used to seeing on our products at the shops already), but can represent more data per unit area.

How QR Codes work is by embedding links or text inside a series of black squares and then users can use their cellphone camera with a barcode reader application to translate the barcode and show them either the webpage, text or contact information embeded in the barcode which either gives users more details about the product, object or place or even connect to a wireless network. This act of linking from physical world objects is termed hardlinking or object hyperlinking.

For example tourist in London can now scan in the QR code found on a well known landmark, like the Big Ben and have displayed, as a result, on their phone everything from the history of that famous building to a virtual tour.

Currently in South Africa Woolworths is having a sale; if you scan the QR code in your local Woolies window you will see details of the sale and links to all manor of items up for grabs including online shopping.

The impact has been so great inJapanthat McDonalds inJapanis using QR codes on its packaging to direct customers to a webpage displaying nutritional information about the different products.

If you buy Johnson & Johnson products you will notice that they have started implementing these codes globally on thier products, they can be scanned with a 2D barcode scanner, which contains vital information, about the product, like Manufactured date, lot number, expiry date etc.

Most smartphones now come with preinstalled QR code readers; for those that don’t, downloading them is a very easy process. Once the QR code is installed, you just have to point the camera to the code and the phone scans and links you directly to the desired information provided by the generator of the code.

CellC’s PhotoCode reader is available by following these steps:

1)SMS your name to 32357; 2)Receive an sms with a download link; 3) Click on the link to download

Others may  download a reader at:

http://reader.kaywa.com for most  phones including a Java Reader.

or

http://www.quickmark.com.tw/En/.

QR Codes can be used using:

Apple iOS: no QR code reader is included, however there are nearly 60 apps that are either free or for a small fee that have the ability to scan and perform hard-linking to URI.

Nokia’s Symbian operating system includes a barcode scanner which reads QR codes,[6]

BlackBerry’s come with an App World application that can scan QR codes.

Google’s mobile Android operating system can be used to read QR codes using their own Google Goggles application or 3rd party barcode scanners like ZXing or Kaywa.

Windows Phone 7 is promising an update that will be able to scan QR codes via the Bing search application. However Microsoft have brought out there own Code, the Microsoft Tag. Visit the site below and there you can learn follow very easy steps to download the software to make use of it.
http://tag.microsoft.com/what-is-tag/home.aspx

Quite simply anyone with a computer can generate a QR code. All you have to do is search the Internet for “QR code generators”. There are several sites that will illustrate how you can easily link information to the code.

http://qrcode.kaywa.com/  is one very good example that opens with a simple wizard into which your desired information in entered and then your QR Code is generated. Have Fun.

QR Codes expanding you experiance

Introducing Quick Response(QR) Codes Quick

A QR code (or Quick Response code) is a kind of barcode popular due to its large storage capacity and quick readability. QR Codes make it easy for a person to perform a certain action by scanning a code on their smart phone. QR as opposed to the old bar codes, are very flexible in that it can hold a large amount of data and in any form. Specifically, a QR code can hold a maximum of 7,089 characters in numerical form. If the characters come in alphanumeric, it can hold 4,200. It can support nearly 3,000 bytes.

The code looks like a chessboard designed by someone with his contact lenses inside out or a very fuzzy crossword puzzle. It’s basically a square made up of black and white squares, although new funky coloured ones are out, some even include a company logo. Although QR codes were designed for high speed scanning of components inToyotafactories inJapanback in the mid ‘90s, these days they can be used in every imaginable facet of our world. Some are to be found on the pages of magazines, other on labels of dog food tins.

Apart from the obvious use by retailers to market products to consumers, QR codes have caught on in the entertainment industry, downloading tunes or scanning a code on screen at the movies.  Every Smart-phone user is a potential user. The user can receive text, acquire geo-coordinates, add a vCard contact, connect to an URL, send an SMS or email message after scanning QR codes. Making sure you have downloaded the right apps for your phone can enable you to generate and print your own QR codes for others to scan and use.  Reported in theUSthus far this year by a ComScore study: 15 million mobile users scanned a QR Code, 58% of those users scanned a QR code from home, 39% scanned from retail outlets.

Everyone from Vineyards, Estate Agents, theBBC, the US Army and Google are using QR codes. In the town ofMontgomeryin theUSeven the parking meters have a QR option. In South Africa Woolworths is promoting its biggest sale using giant QR codes in its windows. Even aWitsUniversitynewspaper is providing an ‘enlarged’ experience with QR codes. From a retail point of view, with some software, you can keep tabs on who is looking at your codes and what demographic they fall into.

Cell C has introduced PhotoCode readers to the public in conjunction with media partners, YOU, Huisgenoot, People, Sunday Times, The Times, 5FM, MultiChoice and Oppikoppi and is being rolled out via retailers and restaurants.

“ Making inanimate matter come alive, for example, a newspaper can provide access to a video clip, a shopping window provide information about items exhibited, a t-shirt can carry an electronic business card and a billboard can provide access to a concert or provide a link to a website,” enthused Lars P Reichelt  CEO of CellC at the launch of PhotoCode, powered by BeeTagg Pro. talking to My Broadband.  CellC is among the leaders in South Africa of QR reading software with the arrival of Swiss based market partner BeeTagg.

The youth ofSouth Africaare street smart, technically speaking, and although they may not be ‘over’ what they can do with Facebook and Twitter they are eager to explore what new experiences their smart phones can provide for them. The number of smart phone users is growing and web-mobility and web-access is now considered essential. This is fertile ground for the acceptance of QR codes in SA.  Add to this the ease at which one may download QR code readers, suddenly the opportunity exists for marketers to engage with current and potential consumers.

There are now rivals to the QR code, the Snap Tag – an interrupted circle with you logo in the middle, and Microsoft have come out with the Microsoft Tag which looks similar to the QR Code but uses more diagonal lines. The principle is the same. They are 2d barcodes that connect people with information, entertainment, and interactive experiences in the digital world. You only need to download the relevant apps to use them.

 At the center of QR Codes is the experience. Taking your customer on a journey of opportunities, free-stuff, competitions, information, access and value-added services. The QR code is like the key into the matrix taking you deeper, louder and more.

(See QR Codes: Practically Speaking for how you can make QR codes work for you.)

Contemplating Inner City Land Reclamation

Where there’s talk of land reclamation one thinks of dykes and soggy fields and tulips perhaps. But in the centre of Johannesburg, what could anyone possibly want to reclaim. Next time you look at a map of Jo’burg notice the huge chasm between Braamfontein and the city filled with parallel black lines.

City Council and the Johannesburg Business Forum have been examining that space and similar ones around the city occupied by marshalling yards, railway lines and the big gaps between them, and they are scheming. Recently mayoral committee member for economic development Sello Lemao announced a land reclamation project that would involve the decking of the railways and environs with the view to bridging the gaps in the cityscape like the one between Braamfontein and the CBD, at the same time making use of land that currently does not generate any income for the city.

The intention is to create specific precincts that would continue the city’s ongoing regeneration projects. Offices and residential (low cost and upmarket) buildings are planned, as well as hotels and open green lungs so vital for cities. The idea of decking the railways is not a new one. In Chicago the 99 000 sqm Millennium Park was built over its rail network providing it with its second largest tourist attraction. It took seven years to build, four years longer than projected. It ended up 60% over budget which had to be picked up by business and the good taxpayers of Chicago. In Johannesburg’s case we’re looking at an estimated R2Billion for phase one of the project. Ninety percent of the bill will be picked up by private enterprise. The city will have to come to the party in terms of infrastructural development.

There is some ambiguity with regards to land rights and ownership. Head of the city’s special catalytic projects, Bokaba Maluleke, says that the land is owned by the city but “the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and Transnet have servitudes over the lines, so it will have to be decided who it belongs to.” This brings us to ‘air rights’. Legally the concept is quaintly wrapped up in the Latin phrase Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad caelum et ad inferos meaning “For whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.”. Originating in medieval Roman law it was notably popularized in common law in Commentaries on the Laws of England. World wide it underpins the notion that owning or renting land or a building gives one the right to use and develop the air rights to further that building above. There could be difficulties adjudicating who financially benefits from such air rights. Bokaba Maluleke brushes this ambiguity aside saying: “But either way, the land above the lines will be leased by either us, or the railway servitude owners, to the developers. “ Time will tell.

In New York, for example, building on platforms over railway lines is considered very profitable for the rail service. Recently the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority attempted to sell air rights to the New York Jets Football team so that they could build the West Side Stadium over the West Side Rail Yard near Penn Station as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project, a project similar to the Jo’burg’s Decking of the Railways. The MTA has even proposed building a platform themselves to encourage development. In Brooklyn, the Barclays Centre is proposed to be constructed over the Atlantic Yards.

Sello Lemao a spokesman for Jo’burg’s mayoral committee for economic development said the project planned to creatively use the space above the railway lines to “develop a balanced district” improving public transport and the road network in the area advance accessibility to the inner city. Public amenities, open green spaces and resultant sustainable jobs. Proposes of the project claim an estimated 19 000 jobs would be generated initially with a possible 40 000 jobs over the longer term. Given that the project is likely to span thirty years, job sustainability seems a realistic outcome.

3000 jobs were created by the Federation Square built in Melbourne Australia. Constructed on decking over the Flinders Street railway yards. It was opened in 2002 and cost a$450 million to build. The decking on which the building and its surrounding piazza stands is supported by over 3,000 tonnes of steel beams, 1.4 km of concrete ‘crash walls’ and over 4,000 vibration-absorbing spring coils and rubber pads. Federation Square joins the Melbourne CBD to the Yarra river. The complex is home to the art and design institutes like the Australian Centre for Moving Image, The Design Institute, the Victorian Visitor Information Centre, and features concert areas, restaurants and bars.

Jo’burg council’s plan is ambitious. Initially the intention is to develop non-decked areas on the periphery of the intended decking area first, this is due to start by the end of 2011. The under-used land between Joburg’s inner city and Braamfontein will support the intended investment and automatic regeneration in the inner city.

Over the next 30 years five precincts will be targeted: the eGoli Design Centre, to the west of the M2 highway beside Fordsburg; the Newtown precinct adjacent to the Mandela Bridge. This is the location for WITS University’s science centre, which is to be surrounded by a ‘green area’ or park. Then there is the Park station transit-orientated development serving daily commuters as well as intending to be a node for tourist activity where the Gautrain gives access to OR Tambo International Airport and the Northern Suburbs. The Joubert Park precinct will be focused on the current museum which will be upgraded. Finally there is the Doornfontein transit-orientated development which will revolve around the University of Johannesburg and the Coca-Cola Park sports precinct.

Given that the city can only really move upward the plan to reclaim the space above the rail network and land pinched between marshalling yards and other development would certainly be a creative and efficient use of space and has huge potential to earn through rates and taxes.

There is no doubt that the vision for the regeneration of Jo’burg’s CBD would be given further energy and initiative through the decking project. Feasibility studies have been received by council and the project is being studied by what has been called the Decking Working Group, finalizing the first draft business plan. Council has promised a further round of consultations later this year.

The Online Retail Redherring

A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue.  The saying arguably originates from the practice of escaped convicts using that nasty little fish to throw the pursuing bloodhounds off their scent. There are many other legends in this regard but what matters here is that the growing belief that online shopping is sapping shopping centre numbers is perhaps a red herring.

What we are faced with are some cold hard facts, turning to the IPD Retail Trends Report for the first quarter of 2011: Although there has been a decrease in shopping centre foot traffic over the last few years, individual spending has actually increased in nominal terms; although “in real terms people are spending less with each visit than they were five years ago.”

In essence despite consumer confidence renewal off the back of a confidence boosted December 2010 trading quarter, the first quarter of this year remains, in IPD’s words: “unexceptional”. The reasons are diverse.  Comparing the consumer confidence of South Africans prior to the world cup in 2010 to the present is certainly unhelpful at best and deceptive at worst.

South Africa’s economy expanded an annualized 1.3 percent in the second quarter, its slowest pace in almost two years.GDPgrowth eased from a revised 4.5 percent in the first quarter.  Now that hurts. But IPD reports that retail sales remained positive with a 5.1% year on year increase.  Could it be that the economic context has more to do with the drop in shopping centre feet, why then are some retailers pointing at online shopping?

The boss of Harvey Norman, Australia’s premier electronics retailer, Gerry Harvey, says local retailers are under threat from online stores “They don’t pay any taxes, they haven’t got any overheads, there’s incremental sales and that’s where they make their money. In the end they (retailers) just put up their hands and say I can’t stay in business,” he told ABC news.

But one needs to note thatAustraliahas a strong currency which is a major factor driving online overseas shopping, in that country.

Just out, the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC)Australiaonline shopping report says there has been a 13 per cent increase in the amount spent online last year, and predicts it will rise to $21.7 billion by 2015. PWC partner Stuart Harker expects growth in online shopping to outstrip the ‘bricks n’ mortar’ retail sector.  “Growth of mobile smart phones and the iPad where consumers are continuing to shop anytime or anywhere.” he said. “It is faster and more convenient shipping, you can now buy something and have it delivered within a week from anywhere in the world.” But Harker remained upbeat saying that local retailers can compete against online competitors. “It’s not all doom and gloom, if they embrace the challenge of a fully integrated channel they can really capture and retain current customers,” he said. So is there hope?

ECommerce inSouth Africahas been slow to get going compared to theUK,USAandAustralia.  World Wide Worx, a South African research company, indicates South Africans with Internet access grew by 15% from 2009 to 2010. A recent MasterCard survey regarding online shopping trends inSouth Africaindicated that 51% of the respondents did online shopping. One may argue that e-commerce is definitely still in the infancy phase inSouth Africa, but it’s growing. The same survey indicated that the number of users who make use of mobile phone access and thus using their phones to do online shopping inSouth Africahas increased considerably. This can be due to advances in cell phone technology and faster browsing systems.

Ignoring ecommerce is no longer an option and may present a threat to the retailer who does not keep up with trends. Consider the terms Complimentary and Supplementary. Rather than being merely threatened by eCommerce, retailers are under obligation to have an online presence to compliment their brick n’ mortar stores.  Online stores are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week extending hours to supplement the sales process.  Many studies have shown that shoppers do their research in physical stores and then do their buying online, possibly skewing survey figures.  It’s probably happened to you.  If ‘brick ‘n mortar retailers don’t have an online offering, they may not be an option for many shoppers.

Questions crop up here as to whether it is better to add a company’s products to an online shopping facility, create an eCommerce facility or simply allow for ordering of products at its own website? With the amount of users of online shopping mall type facilities increasing, retailers can only benefit from such a move to complement and supplement their physical stores. Although at this stage, surveys indicate that South Africans still use the online shopping facilities mostly for consumer items such as DVDs and books.  Look n’ Listen and Kalahari being among the leaders.

According to Kevin Meltzer, co-founder of a self-service solutions provider Consology, SA’s biggest brands have yet to catch up with the expectations and needs of their consumers in the online space.

An example of the complementary/supplementary practice is Wal-Mart, a proactive e-commerce player, who may look to overhaul Massmart’s online presence. Wal-Mart, currently purchasing a 51% stake in Massmart for R16.5bn, will be providing the required global expertise as it ventures into areas outside its traditional trading formats. Other local traditional shopping centre tenants like Woolworths and Pick n’ Pay have already seen the need to compliment and supplement their business with online shopping sites, making their presence felt on the net.

An area that shopping centres can manipulate the online environment to their advantage has to be the issue of community. Consumers are far more prone to researching than in years past. Especially mobile consumers. By being present online instead of shunning it, puts retailers in the homes, cars and taxis of consumers. Most people still want that human contact and an over the counter experience that they trust.  The abovementioned IPD reports points out that larger centres in particular can transform themselves into entertainment destinations with restaurants and cinemas rather than maintain a pure shopping focus.

With every new trend there is resistance, but every new wave offers the opportunity for a great ride.
It seems that to see online shopping as a threat to shopping centres, could be a red herring throwing us off the scent of a foxy catch. What the trends show us is that online shopping can complement and supplement the whole shopping experience and still bring feet into South African shopping centres.

Weeding in Waterfall

Having lived in Johannesburg for 30 years, moving to the thriving metropolis of Waterfall was quite a change of scenery. I loved the fact that I lived in an area named after physical features that actually existed in the area, (Apparently there are 7 waterfalls in Waterfall.) as opposed to Parkhurst where there are no parks and certainly no hurst.

Our garden borders a little gorge created by the Nkutu River. There are three waterfalls at the bottom of our garden. My two small daughters and decided we wanted to find the source of that beautiful sound of rushing water. Thus began the required process of clearing the vegetation between us and river. At my previous residence in Johannesburg I had been used to extracting weeds with a small polished fork (with a quaintly mounded orange handle for comfort) and depositing the said weeds with gentle rhythm and small sighs into a black bag which was inoffensively sent out with the garbage each week. Imagine my horror when I opened my back door on a fateful Saturday morning to the roar of half an acre of Waterfall’s six foot high Lantana, Triffid and Mexican Sunflowers. My small fork fell from my hand with a whimper, prongs disfigured like lukewarm spaghetti as I examined my bleeding hands, this after my first failed attempt at removing a spikey Lantana stem.

I have learnt many things about weeding in Waterfall since those virginal days, I became equipped with a most formidable device which became a faithful companion as I cleared my way to the Waterfalls over those many adventurous months: a mighty Cane Cutter. So I tell you all this oh gentle reader for one reason. Alas my cane cutter has expired after years of good service. But do you think I can find a single cane cutter in a hardware store in the Upper Highway area. No, only those bendy long blades for veld or tiny little pangas. If anyone can tell me where to find a decent size cane cutter I’ll gladly send you my old weeding fork with the quaintly moulded handle.

Course Excerpt: introducing the difference between Greek and Hebrew thinking.

Appendix 2

Hebrew and Greek language reflects their respective worldviews…

 Since our contemplations in this course come largely out of what some may refer to as an Hebraic (Hebrew) worldview as opposed to an Helenistic (Greek) one it may be worth considering the about-turn in this part of the course where we are examining a scripture more analytically.

Some simple examples concerning language may help us understand why we consider these to be different paradigms. In the Biblical world, past and present, two major cultures emerge and hence have influenced our thinking and methodology: the Hebrew and Greek. Both of these cultures view their surroundings, lives, and purpose in ways which would seem foreign to the other. With the exception of a few Bedouin nomadic tribes living in the Near East today, the ancient Hebrew culture has largely disappeared.

What happened to this ancient Hebrew thought and culture?

Around 800 BCE,  new worldviews arose to the north of Israel. These paradigms began to view the world quite differently to that of the Hebrews.  Around 200 BCE the Greeks began to move south causing a coming together of the Greek and Hebrew culture. This was a very tumultuous time as the two vastly different paradigms collided. For over 400 years conflict of cultures finally led to Hellenistic (Greek) domination, virtually eliminating all trace of the ancient Hebrew worldview. Greek thought then in turn became the greatest influence in the Roman Empire and thence European cultures to emerge and similarly in European Colonial empires even the modern Hebrew culture in Israel today.

As 21st Century South African Christians we may be tempted to read the Hebrew Bible as if a 21st Century South African had written it. In order to understand the ancient Hebrew culture in which the Tanakh[1]  was written, we must examine some of the differences between Hebrew and Greek thought.

“Abstract vs. Concrete” thought

Greek thought views the world through the mind (abstract thought). Ancient Hebrew thought views the world through the senses (concrete thought).

Concrete thought is the expression of concepts and ideas in ways that can be seen, touched, smelled, tasted and/or heard. All five of the senses are used when speaking and hearing and writing and reading the Hebrew language. An example of this can be found in Psalms 1:3; “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither”. In this passage we have concrete words expressing abstract thoughts, such as a tree (one who is upright, righteous), streams of water (grace), fruit (good character) and a unwithered leaf (prosperity).

Abstract thought is the expression of concepts and ideas in ways that can not be seen, touched, smelled, tasted or heard. Hebrew never uses abstract thought as English does. Examples of Abstract thought can be found in Psalms 103:8; “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger, abounding in love”. As you noticed I said that Hebrew uses concrete and not abstract thoughts, but here we have such abstract concepts as compassionate, gracious, anger, and love in a Hebrew passage. Actually these are abstract English words translating the original Hebrew concrete words. The translators often translate this way because the original Hebrew makes no sense when literally translated into English.

Let us take one of the abstract words above to demonstrate how this works. Anger, an abstract word, is actually the Hebrew word   (awph) which literally means “nose”, a concrete word. When one is very angry, he begins to breath hard and the nostrils begin to flare. A Hebrew sees anger as “the flaring of the nose (nostrils)”. If the translator literally translated the above passage “slow to nose”, it would make no sense to the English reader, so ” awph “, a nose, is translated to “anger” in this passage.

Appearance vs. Functional Description

Greek thought describes objects in relation to their appearance. Hebrew thought describes objects in relation to their function.

A deer and an oak are two very different objects and we would never describe them in the same way with our Greek form of descriptions. The Hebrew word for both of these objects is    (ayil) because the functional description of these two objects are identical to the ancient Hebrews, therefore, the same Hebrew word is used for both. The Hebraic definition of    is “a strong leader”.

A deer stag is one of the most powerful animals of the forest and is seen as “a strong leader” among the other animals of the forest. Also the oak tree’s wood is very hard compared to other trees such as the pine which is soft and is seen as a “strong leader” among the trees of the forest.

Notice the two different translations of the Hebrew word    in Psalms 29.9. The NASB and KJV translates it as “The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve” while the NIV translates it as “The voice of the LORD twists the oaks”. The literal translation of this verse in Hebrew thought would be; “The voice of the LORD makes the strong leaders turn”.

The Message makes full use of this license with: GOD’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches. We fall to our knees–we call out, “Glory!”

When translating the Hebrew into English, the translator must give a Greek description to this word which is why we have two different ways of translating this verse. This same word is also translated as a “ruler” in 2 Kings 24.15, who is a man who is a strong leader.

Another example of Greek thought would be the following description of a common pencil: “it is yellow and about 8 inches long”. A Hebrew description of the pencil would be related to its function such as “I write words with it”. Notice that the Hebrew description uses the verb “write” while the Greek description uses the adjectives “yellow” and “long”. Because of Hebrew’s form of functional descriptions, verbs are used much more frequently then adjectives.

Impersonal vs. Personal Description

The Greek culture describes objects in relation to the object itself. The Hebrew culture describes objects in relation to the Hebrew himself.

As in the example above of the pencil, the Greek description portrays the pencil’s relationship to itself by using the word “is”. The Hebrew describes the pencil in relation to himself by saying “I write”. Because Hebrew does not describe objects in relation to itself, the Hebrew vocabulary does not have the word “is”.

A Greek description of God would be “God is love” which describes God in relation to God. A Hebrew description would be “God loves me” describing God in relationship to myself.

Passive vs. Active Nouns

Greek nouns are words which refer to a person, place or thing. Hebrew nouns refer to the action of a person place or thing.

The Hebrews are active people and their vocabulary reflects this lifestyle. The Greek culture recognizes the words such as a knee and a gift as nouns which by themselves impart no action. But in the Hebrew vocabulary the nouns come from the same root word, because they are related, not in appearance, but in action. The Hebrew word for knee is (berak) and literally means “the part of the body that bends”. The Hebrew word for a gift is (berakah), meaning “what is brought with a bent knee”. The verb from the root word is (barak), meaning “to bend the knee”. As you can see, both Hebrew verbs and nouns have action associated with them where the Greek nouns do not.

Even the Hebrew nouns for father and mother are descriptive of action. The Hebrew word for father is   (av) and literally means “the one who gives strength to the family” and mother   (em) means “the one that binds the family together”.

The Old Testament needs to be studied with this language and culture in mind. In the New Testament we need to apply ourselves differently keeping in mind that  it was largely written by Hebrews, though in Greek. The Analytical Greek mindset is not misplaced in digging out the hidden nuggets of New Testament in my opinion.

{For more information please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to expand on the subject of the influence of Greek and Hebrew and related topics.}


[1] Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ״ך) (also Tanakh, or Tenak, is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. The acronym is based on the initial Hebrew letters of each of the text’s three parts:

1. Torah תורה meaning “Instruction”. Also called the Chumash חומש meaning: “The five”; “The five books of Moses.” Also called the “Pentateuch.” The Torah is often referred to as the law of the Jewish people.

2. Nevi’im נביאים meaning “Prophets.” This term is associated with anything to do with the prophets.

3. Ketuvim כתובים meaning “Writings” or “Hagiographa.”

Golf: who needs a ball anyway?

I’ve never understood why people watch golf, especially on television. I do understand why people play golf. In South Africa I can categorically state that our most manicured stretches of landscape are our golf courses. For those elsewhere in the world I would imagine to some degree that is true for you to too. This on it’s own is reason enough to, at least pretend to play the game and simply enjoy the walks and scenery.

I recall the comedian Jasper Carrot referring to all the camera crew covering golf tournaments as being ex World War II search light operators. “Hours and hours of televised sky!!” He said. I agree, what a bore, all that fuss about a little ball going into a little hole instead of into strategically placed sand pits and ponds. Then in a desperate appeal to people drawn to that other exhilarating sport, bird spotting, they have chosen to use the names of the creatures that represent the only genuine action camera crews ever actually see. I suppose we should be grateful that instead of terms like birdie, albatross and pigeon, or whatever it is, someone didn’t end up calling shots cumulonimbus, cirrocumulus and cirrostratus.

There was once a man, who wishes to remain anonymous, who by reason of circumstance acquired a lone golf club. He lived near to a municipal golf course, not one of those “stuff-the-poor” places, outside which are parked cars that might as well have “stuff-the-poor” bumper stickers on them. This golf course was small and not as well kept as those other more ostentatious institutions reserved for a handful of elite martini sippers who speak and say nothing for so long it just sounds like; “stuff-the-poor darling”, “stuff-the-poor my brother” or “my good man, stuff-the-poor.” Well anyway it wasn’t one of those courses.

It was a lovely day and lets give anonymous a name, how about Garth? Well Garth is very fond of wide-open spaces and enjoys hugging trees and talking loudly to himself. At last he had the excuse to prance about a golf course. Just one snag Garth though, large and gormlos, has never been very sporty. Garth can not play the game required for him to partake in a beautiful day in the wide-open green grass and trees. Ag shame. (If you’re English; oh tut. If you’re American; oh that’s too bad. If you’re an Aussie; aaaaa.)

However Garth is not as dim as he looks, he decided that it was not necessary for him to know how to play since he would not make use of a ball. Golfers, he had observed acquired great rage as a result of this ball and caused many people to get fibersitus in their necks from spending too much time looking at the sky. Garth decided he would pretend to play and walk about with great authority and pleasure like one of those golfers on television. Garth imagined what those golfers must have been saying to themselves when striding about looking concerned as to the whereabouts of the ball they’d hit so hard that it was rendered invisible. “Ho ho” Garth imagined their chuckles as they contemplated all those silly people giving them so much money to hit a ball around a big park.

Garth stirred great curiosity that day among the amateur golfers at the humble course. He donned his finest braces and floral hat that he usual kept for weeding the garden. In leau of plus fours he tucked his trousers into his odd socks and beamed at his new found fellow sports men. Garth has a portly frame and requires regular provender so as not to get giddy. He decided to bring some meat pies to celebrate his virgin golfing experience. What a grand moment as he put down his pies and swung at the imaginary ball. Taking a handsome bite of pie he notice a quizzical face at his elbow. “What’s a good score?” he enquired of the face. It gave a figure. “Would you mind writing that down for me?” Garth said baptising the face with flaky pastry, “I am with pie.” He explained. The face graciously obliged though not without concern.

At the end of the morning Garth had had enough and deposited his impressive golf card at the humble golf club building and trundling home kicking an orphaned white ball down the street. He was seemingly oblivious to the bewildered faces of those he had left behind.

 

 

The Kingdom Of God was, is, is delayed and not yet.

Dear Bob,

You really are a silly sausage going off like that at the end of the service. I appreciate the dilemma you are in given your theology but lets try and unpack some of what happened and why. I’ll be the first to admit that Agatha Murgatroid leaping out the window like that was most irregular but sometimes people have an eccentric reaction to the movement of the Holy Spirit. I do so want to share with you the theology underpinning what you witnessed. As for the ‘Holy Spirit Prayer’ I’m really excited about showing you how we come to the place of praying like that. It’s all rather boringly orthodox when it’s laid out though – it’s not at all like saying abracadabra or something. Remember how Basil used to say how “you’re smoking your socks” when we got into those debates with the guys from theFirstChurchof the Wealthy and Prosperous.  So let’s be civil, old sausage and try and work our way through some of the Kingdom Theology that is the foundation of our churches practices best we can. Sorry if this all seems rushed but I’m boiling an egg and I do prefer a soft one.

Rather than getting bogged down in cessationism and signs and wimbers (good one hey!) and all that how about looking at some of the Old Testament roots of the Kingdom. That’s what we’re talking about here, an expectation that theKingdomofGodcan be manifest in our time. It’s out of that place that we announce- ‘Come Holy Spirit’ which is essentially rooted in the Lords prayer. Bob before you read on look at Luke 11: 13 “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” If you lay all this before the Lord right now what’s the worst that could happen?

Lets consider for a moment what Jesus himself believed about theKingdomofGod. Jesus didn’t just teach or share anecdotes about the Kingdom but was demonstrative. Some people like to use the phrase: “the words and the works of Jesus.” I think this is helpful since Jesus seemed to announce or proclaim the Kingdom and then respond to people’s faith oftentimes – an expectation if you will, performing works – demonstrating theKingdomofGodas a present reality.

In Luke 4:16-21 Jesus unscrolled Isaiah[1] (not him the scroll) declaring that the prophesy was fulfilled. This quote from Isaiah is part of the promise that God Will Reign, God himself, the King would come. He would break through into Israel’s history as He had done before.

Bob, have you noticed how much ‘royal language’ there is in scripture: dominion, throne, crowns and so on? Well we could get into all of that before Exodus but the Exodus gives us such a clear picture of what sort of God we serve. He’s a God of confrontation. He’s sovereign. He interrupts the course of history to fulfill His promises and liberates us from the mess we get ourselves in or others put us in. The model for us is in the ‘Exodus event.’

In Exodus 3 God appears to Moses in a burning bush. God reminds Moses of His covenant with the Israelites by referring to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He explains that He has heard the Israelite cry for help. Remember these were a people gravely oppressed. So we are let in on the character of God a little here: God is a god who intervenes in the world of men to fulfill His purposes. In this case to fulfill His covenant to Abraham. God commission’s Moses to be His representative to Pharaoh and  insists that God’s people be set free. God is announced by the use of His name, I AM.

Now pay attention here Bob because this is a vital key to this whole soap opera. Bob you know how important names are in the Bible – they encapsulate so much and certainly among the Hebrew people they are like calling cards. Well God’s name teased out means more than I AM as in Exodus 3:14. If you look at your footnote in your Bible, I know you use the NIV it says I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE[2]. You can take this further using G. R. Beasley Murray’s help from the first chapter of his Jesus and the Kingdom of God. The name of God reveals an astounding characteristic of God Himself. He intervenes in the lives and doings of men and women. He makes Himself present. His name could be cited as “the I was, I am and I will be, from generation to generation, the becoming present one, coming down into the situation of man to deliver and transform from bondage to liberty. “ If you spend some time processing Ex 3:7-15 and 6: 2-8 the Divine Name of God is revealed this way.  I just love that way of reflecting on God’s name.[3] Think of all the songs with the word Hallelujah in it, yes like the one in the Mr. Bean sketch. Hail to the Becoming Present One. It’s like what you always refer to as the Our Father: “Our Father, Who is in Heaven Hallowed be Thy Name.”

This announcement revealing the nature of God to the Israelites, has the supernatural consequence of expectation. Doesn’t faith come by hearing the Word of God? Romans 10: 17. Imagine the message of hope this must have been to these oppressed people. God had not forgotten His covenant with their Forefathers. This is part of the invisible or spiritual battle. Bob we live in a materialistic culture where we’ve got it all the wrong way around. Eugene Pietersen quote’s G.K. Chesterton as saying: …there are two kinds of people in the world: When trees are waving wildly in the wind, one group of people thinks that it is the wind that moves the trees; the other group thinks that the motion of the trees creates the wind.”[4] EP goes on to point out how Chesterton observed that a new breed of people had emerged who blandly hold that is the movement of trees that creates the wind. “ The consensus had always been that the invisible is behind and gives energy to the visible; Chesterton noticed how in his time (turn of the 19th to 20th centuries) the majority had begun to assume that the visible accounts for the invisible. This is common paradigm among those in the church who shun the presence of supernatural phenomena in their midst. In Exodus the model we see how ‘the wind moves the trees.’ So the political and military power that oppressedIsrael had to be defeated in the invisible world – spiritual if you will. Hence God’s judgment on the gods ofEgypt by use of plagues. One example would be how the Egyptians worshiped theNile god H’pi:  the ‘god of fertility’ turned to death (blood). Finally the historic worship of  Pharos as divine was judged by the death of his first born son. God’s reign in the invisible precipitated event in the visible.

The consequence of the victory in the invisible translates into the visible. The military that enforced the political power of Pharaoh was defeated. To quote Miriam’s song: “the horse and rider he has hurled into the sea.” Ex15:1bIsraelwas finally delivered from bondage. God the King had revealed himself in name, announced by Moses, building an expectation and a hope. God sovereignly confronted, judged and defeated the invisible forces that heldIsraelin bondage and the result is the defeat of the visible – God demonstrates that He is King and He brings His Kingdom here on Earth as it is in heaven. (This model remains consistent throughout scripture.)

This is confirmed in how the people ofIsraelrespond to God. Miriam’s song uses God’s divine name eleven times. The song is not only a song of celebration but of liberation by  the I Am of Israel – the ‘ever becoming present one’, as revealed by his name, announced by Moses and demonstrated by signs and wonders and the resultant victory and liberation. The people confess that “The Lord Will Reign forever and ever” Ex15:18. That is to say: “Our Lord is King.” For after all, it is a King who reigns and His Kingdom brings liberation.

Similarly Jesus is the fulfillment of theKingdomofGodas he spoke with an authority greater than that of Moses. Matthew 21:23-27  God again would intervene in history for all people: Jew and Gentile alike. There would confrontation with Satan himself as Jesus would demonstrate His authority over demons, sickness, sin and death and the elements –  finally defeating the Devil and liberating mankind from the bondage of sin and death.

There are other ‘pictures of the Kingdom’ in the Old testament: the Sinai covenant, the invasion of Canaanand the rule and reign of David and Solomon. In these circumstances the people of Israelconfessed that their God reigns. However as consistently more sinful generations of Kings led to the judgment of God through the oppression of heathen empires, that refrain changed to The Lord Will Reign, Our Lord Will be King. Isaiah and Daniel in particular reveal the growing expectation through the centuries of exile. This expectation continued through the intertestamental period resulting in some desperate imagery.

It would be to our benefit to consider what those expectations were since this reflects what Jesus taught and demonstrated here on Earth.  At this point let me introduce a term you would be familiar with I’m sure: Eschatology. Since Eschatology is the study of last things, in the context of the Kingdom it’s the study of the intervention of God’s kingdom at the end of the world as we know it – the end of the age or end of history. The eschatological nature of books like Daniel and Isaiah have a distinct ‘Kingdom’ flavour. Apart from their partial fulfillment in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah these prophetic words teem with words about how God will fulfill His promises of the Kingdom to come just as He had fulfilled the promises in their own time. However this New Age to come would be like none other before it: God won’t just send someone He would come Himself Is35:4; He would save his people 45:22; He would comfort His people Is 40:1; He would reveal His glory Is 4: 5-6; Is 60:19-20; The King would come  Is 4:2; 32:1 and  rule with justice Is 32: 16-17; 33:5 and establish his covenant 42:6; 55:3;  ministering as God’s servant 42:1-9. The Spirit would come Is 32:15 and 41: 16-17. Salvation Is12:2-3, forgiveness and healing 33: 24, 43: 25 liberty for the prisoners 29:17-19, peace 32:15-16, resurrection of the dead 25: 8, joy and praise 12:3-6; 42: 10-13 would all come.  A new nation from all the world’s peoples both Jew and Gentile in a new Jerusalem would be formed Is 2:2-4; 33:20-21;11:11-12; 60:3-4. There would be a New Order: a day of Judgment 2:12-18; 24:1-13;23: 17-22; 66: 24. A New heaven and new earth 65:17, 66:22-23. All this would come at the end: in the ‘latter days’ or the ‘Day of the Lord.’

In the Exodus event discussed earlier God acquired a people for himself and established his covenant with them. The promised land and all its benefits were only achieved during the time of David and Solomon a golden age revealing and fleshing out, if will of the concept of Shalom: the all encompassing peace and prosperity. Isaiah’s view of the Kingdom to come came via this perspective. His expectation was extravagantly more utopian than had been experienced during that Golden era.

When Jesus came he did so announcing the Kingdom in the context of the expectation of the promises of the Kingdom. He used the language of the book of Isaiah. Jesus introduces his ministry with the previously mentioned quote from Isaiah, recorded in Luke 4:16-19 (Is 61:1,2). Jesus particularly intimates the concept of the year of Jubilee found in the Mosaic law – herein communicating the arrival of an age of liberation – in him. Matthew 11: 2-9 renders this account: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor.”

In John6:35Jesus quotes Is 54.13 “They will all be taught by God.” Jesus saved people Luke 7:50; pronounced the shalom of God: Luke 24:36; Glory began to be revealed: John1:14and in Luke 2:9; Jesus said that theKingdomofGodis among you Luke17: 20-21.

Further to this Jesus spoke of himself as the Son of Man. Herman Ridderbos puts it like this: “It may be said, therefore that the messianic character of the Kingdom of heaven preached by Jesus is determined by the central place occupied by the Son of Man in the coming of the kingdom.” [5] (Sounds awfully stern about it but he’s quite pithy old Ridderbos.) Going back to the promises of the Kingdom in the prophets we look now at Daniel. In Daniel 2 we see emerging a kingdom not of this world that will obliterate all other kingdoms. In Ezekiel 1:26 we see a divine figure emerge and Daniel 7 reveals this in full as both a corporate and individual figure. So when Jesus announced himself as the Son of Man the Hebrew expectation was aroused, this is the individual who will bring the Kingdom of God. Paul uses similar logic in his discourse to the Corinthians in 1Cor 15:45-48 referring to Adam the first man and Adam corporately, that is mankind[6]. The key here is expectation, the Hebrew people had put their hope in the promises of Kingdom to come, a King, the Son of Man would come and reign. The Lord will be King!

The Kingdom that Jesus announced outstripped what even the prophets expected. John reveals Jesus as the first and last 2:8 using the word eschatos referring to the end of of the world and final judgment of God. Since the Day of the Lord is the end, and Jesus is ‘the end’ or eschatos –  when we come to Jesus we meet our destiny our final Judge. Wherever Jesus went he brought the end into the present. Bob when you gave your life to Jesus all those years ago back at the sardine filleting factory – you met your end, your final judgment! (Now tell me that sardines will ever look the same to you – those were sardine you were filleting weren’t they Bob?)

The end contains all those elements of the Kingdom to come promised in Isaiah. But this is a mystery for us to fathom.[7]  One could say that Jesus’ worldview was one of two ages. A present and a future age. We must go back to our word Eschatological. If the Kingdom promised is of the end, the Kingdom is eschatological. In His Olivet discourse (Matthew 21-25) Jesus tells his disciple that the Kingdom will come as some future cataclysmic event. Paul chose this theme in the epistles in 1 Thess 4:13-5:11; Revelations 6:15-17;19:11-16. In the endRev 11:15 we see the classic phrase sung in many a songs: “the kingdoms of the world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and he will reign forever and ever.” (I know you love playing the bag pipes to that one.) Jesus taught his apostles that there would one day be a final fulfillment in a final intervention by God. We too are expecting that the Kingdom is yet to come.

However with equal emphasis Jesus taught that the Kingdom had indeed come! (No wonder the disciples had some awkward moments.) Luke 17: 20-21 “The Kingdom of God is among you.” Jesus brought Daniel 2’s Stone forcefully into the present in what seemed ahead of time. Matthew 11:12. Demons were cast out and seemed surprised that Messiah had come so soon. In Matt 8:29. It seemed that this intervention by God, this King ignored the political tyrants of the day and had bigger fish to fry – the invisible was under attack. The visible manifestations overflowed the vessel of that which was prophesied by Isaiah. Matthew 11:11—15 reveals the passing of the baton of the history to Jesus. Luke 7: 21-28 reveals the punctuation of the period. Malachi’s prophesy of the coming of Elijah to announce the expected Messiah was fulfilled. So between the birth, ministry, death and ascension of Christ with the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost we see the Kingdom has come.[8]

So where does this leave us: Jesus taught with ‘razim’: mysterious sayings. In parables like the parable of the virgins who were foolish in the absence of the delayed bridegroom. The parable of the talents too speaks of the Kingdom being delayed. In Matthew 24: 30-37 the Son of Man comes after the tribulation a future event. In fact in the Luke 19: 11-27 rendering of the parable of the talents Luke says this was taught for the very reason that people believed that the Kingdom had already come in its entirety.

Finally Jesus used enigmatic language in Mark 1: 15. When He says that theKingdomofGodis at hand. It was near and some would suggest in the sprit of Mark’s pithy busy gospel that the phrase suggest the immediacy of the Kingdom. This may help us with Matt10:23 and Luke 21:32 referring to the disciples generation not passing away until the Kingdom had come.

So one may feel legitimately befuddled by such a conundrum without some Holy Spirit assistance. [9] I rather like Augustine of Hippos comment speculating the motive of God in this.[10]

This mysteriousness should not surprise us since the prophetic works this way. How else do we explain the fulfillment of prophecy both within the times of the Old Testament prophets and in the coming of Messiah. The immediacy and future nature of this scenario did not seem to trouble the prophets. Clearly God breaks though successively throughout the Old Testament and then promises to do so in the future. Jesus continues in this vein, be it unexpected in it’s extent. GE Ladd refers to this as the presence of the future in his book by the same name.  “Inaugurated Eschatology” and “living between times” are also phrases intended to help us with grasping this.

This leads us to Pentecost. Hadn’t Isaiah and in particular Joel announced the expectation of an outpouring of the Spirit? “When Peter interpreting the Pentecost outpouring on the basis of the citation from Joel Act2:16, characterises what is occurring as that which happens “in the last days” this likewise means that the present days are already “the last days” and that they are preliminary signs of the end.” Page 156 OC. The eschatological phenomena prophesied by Joel in2:28-32 speak of the end events. Jesus’ Olivet discourse comes to mind and Revelations 14:14-20. Peter stands up confidently on the day of Pentecost and announces that Joel’s prophesy is fulfilled (Acts2:16). Again the future age penetrates the present age. When we experience the phenomena that comes with the manifestation of the Holy Sprit we receive {Message translation of Ephesians1: 13-14} Since we have not received our resurrected bodies yet – the powers of the future age are a shock to these mortal frames. (This may explain poor Agatha’s behavior.)

Jesus commissioned the seventy in Luke 10: 1-9. In Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24:45-49 coupled with Acts 1:1-11 and John 20: 19-23 Jesus recommisioned the disciples post resurrection. This commission is passed down through all generations of the church until Christ comes. We are to expect God’s intervention in history, into human lives similar to the day of Pentecost and successive breakings in of the future age into the present.

Jesus Christ Messiah and King (Mk12:35-37); Matt12:42) Luke19:28-44) announced the Kingdom – these announcement were events. When He spoke events occurred as he proclaimed that which was promised culminating of the future in the present. The sick were healed, lame walked, deaf heard, sinners forgiven, demons driven out, dead raised and so on. All the elements of Isaiah’s promises of a future Kingdom demonstrated in the present. Jesus announced and proclaimed the Kingdom. Often referred to as ‘the words of Jesus’. Then the Kingdom came manifesting a form of life yet to come – demonstrated, ‘the works of Jesus’.

Bob you may ask how we should do these ‘works of Jesus’? Jesus taught us how to pray: Matt 6. “Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In order to pray this prayer with the expectation that the announcement of it proclaims requires Biblical revelation confirmed by eyewitness testimony – experience.

As we contemplate the pictures and promises of the Kingdom and allow the Holy Sprit to bring revelation of the heart and the intentions of Our Lord we begin to be able to grow in out expectation of the Kingdom in the here and now. So when you hear someone pray ‘Come Holy Spirit’ or the Holy Spirit Prayer we are praying nothing other than: let your Kingdom come” empowered in the context of Pentecost. The process springs from a life of private prayer and study of the scriptures manifesting briefly in this public prayer/announcement.  From there we rely on the sovereign will of God to manifest His presence, manifesting the future age here in the present. The Kingdom come.

So Bob my egg is ready and must have breakfast before the Kingdom comes (a little Kingdom Humour there.) so let’s conclude: Jesus came fulfilling the promises of the prophets permeating this age with the age to come. Jesus demonstrated this by fulfilling the promises that God, the King would come and serve, forgive, heal, cast out, take authority and save. He did this as the Son of Man promised in Daniel; as the suffering servant promised by Isaiah as God confronting the evil forces that bind up God’s people – intervening and setting them free. Whilst not completely fulfilling what had been promised all element of promise were wrapped up in Jesus the end, the Eschaton bring the Judgment of man upon himself and defeating death by resurrecting as the first fruits redeeming all mankind that will believe on him. Jesus fulfilled the expectation of the prophets and ascending into heaven His Holy Spirit came upon the Church at Pentecost empowering them for service. His commission to them is the same for us to day – to preach the Kingdom to all people until He returns. The church lives in the tension of being empowered by the age to come whilst dwelling in this age. So dear Bob: “Seek first thekingdomofGod.” And you too may see old ladies flying through windows.

Bibliography

Oscar Cullmann, Christ and Time,London: SCM, 1952.

George E. Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism,Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996, ISBN: 0802815316.

Herman N. Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom,Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1962, ISBN: 0875524087, or Grand Rapids: Baker, 1962.

Eugene H. Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places; a conversation in spiritual theology.Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2005 ISBN 0-8028-2875-2

St. Augustine, City of God; against the Pagans (Translated by Henry Betterson) Penguin Classics 1972 (First published 1467)


[1] St Augustine City of God Penguin Classic 1972  I rather like Augustine’s comment about Isaiah being one of the Evangelists: “Now Isaiah in the course of his arraignment of wrong and his teaching …..made many more predictions about Christ and the church, that is about the King and the City which he founded, so much so that by some commentators Isaiah was called an evangelist rather than a prophet. Bob the key to much revelation about the Kingdom lies in a book of Isaiah – he is indeed an evangelist.”

[2] Oscar Cullmann Christ an Time Page 63 Primitive Christianity knows nothing of a timeless God. The “eternal God is he who was in the beginning, is now, and will be in all the future, “who is, who was and who will be” Rev1:4)” Pithy – I like Oscar but can’t remember where the D-day analogy starts – I’m SO FRUSTRATED! I desperately wanted to start where he starts – but ran out of time.(excuse pun) Bob fear not I will lend you the pirate copy mi-hearty!

[3] G.R.Beasley-Murray.Jesus and theKingdom ofGod. Eerdmans: Paternoster, 1986, p. 3-10.I’ve taken this out of the notes simply because in this context in makes sense to do so. I haven’t read Beasley-Murray for many years but have read sufficiently to grasp DMs comments in the Kingdom 1 Course Material Page 14.

[4] E.H. Peterson Christ Plays in ten thousand places. Eerdmans 2005 Page 20

[5] Herman Ridderbos The coming Kingdom The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company pg31

[6] Oscar Cullmann Christ and Time Page 91 The same Christ  who is to redeem the world from sin into which it will fall is the mediator of its creation. Therefore Adam is mentioned as a first Adam, Whom Christ follows as the second (Rom 5: 12ff.; I Cor.15 : 45 ff.)

[7] Herman Ridderbos The Coming of the Kingdom Page 128: Jesus’ word was bound to remain enigmatic in many respects; and neither about himself nor an indirect, veiled answer which therefore remained enigmatical in the light of their continuing unbelief. Herman thrashes out for me the point of why didn’t Jesus just teach a little less ambiguously. Then the Kingdom would be so much easier to understand. It’s all about the heart Bob. The rest of Page 128 is very helpful but space does not allow.

[8]  Herman Ridderbos The Coming of the Kingdom Page 466 Here Ridderbos is also referring to Cullaman centering of time. “But in central importance of Jesus’ suffering and death for the preaching of the gospel, and in the gathering together of the New Testament church; it is clearly implied that the time of fulfillment is not at an end with the death of Christ, but has its starting point and presuppositions in this event. Cullman therefore rightly argues that in the synoptic gospels the center of time no longer lies in the future…as it does in Judaism but in the past, viz in Christ’s coming and action.”

[9] Oscar Cullmann Christ and Time Page 93 In conclusion, it must further be emphasized that according to the New Testament the new division of time, with Christ as the midpoint, can only be believed .To this fact in the last analysis refers the revelation of the “mystery” of the divine redemptive plan, concerning which it is said that it is “now” revealed (Eph 3:5; Col. 1:26).” Uncle Oscar’s trying to point out that even though he’s a bright bloke and has time to write 300 pages about Christ and Time at some stage he appreciated that this is a mystery and had to believe. I must say I’m rather fond of Uncle Oscar but I wish he had a used an acronym for Primitive Christianity. It must appear thousands of times in his book.

[10] St Augustine City of God Penguin 1972 Pg 807 We observe the partial fulfillment of this prophecy {Hag 2:6} we await its completion at the end of history….For head had first to be loved by those who believe, so that he might be longed for by those who look for his appearance. He then quotes Zech 9: 9. with great joy.

Columbia Neurosurgery

Article Written for Content Current January 2011

“Columbia Neurosurgery”

Everyone has heard the quip: “You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to…”

Neurosurgeons certainly have a reputation for being up there with the brightest and most skilled professionals. But when you’re faced with the day that you need one – how do you know where to go to get the best service? How can you be sure that your local Neurosurgeon is the person for your needs?

Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Neurosurgery at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York is ranked in the top 5 in the USA by the US News and World Report, making the Honor Role for 2010/11. Over 5000 hospitals were considered, 152 made the list and Columbia is ranked 4th in the nation for Neurology and Neurosurgery. This is a comforting thought when entrusting your life or that of a loved one to professionals.

Of course at Columbia’s Department of Neurological Surgery the physicians aren’t just professional doing a job, they are real men and women with real names like Steven Isaacson, Dorothea Altschul and Sean Lavine. They love their work and take pride in their doctor/patient relations. A rudimentary introduction to the hospital gives one an immediate sense that there is a desire for individual patient outcomes.

This brings us to the Neurosurgery Intensive Care unit at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Like the name suggests, it specializes in the aftercare of Neurosurgery patients. There is also specialist care for Pediatric Neurology patients.

If you are among those who find some security in high tech equipment and cutting edge procedures, look no further. At the Columbia University Center for Neurosurgery, a multidisciplinary team of 18 surgical specialists and sub specialists cover just about every imaginable neurological condition. Being a University Hospital, the commitment to research is very high. This means access to cutting edge techniques that are less invasive than many older procedures and thus lowering risks that have existed previously.

Fees always play a significant role in ones choices. The Department of Neurosurgery has its own insurance specialist on staff to help you liaise with your insurance company. They also communicate with your surgeon to secure any required preauthorizations. Payment plans are also available where necessary.

For out of town patients there is comfortable guest accommodation with a shuttle service to the hospital. Facilities include the McKeen Pavilion and the Crowne Plaza Englewood for friends and family of patients that want to be near loved ones for the duration their stay. The guest Facility at the Helmsley Medical Tower offers a “home away from home.”

The Columbia University Medical Center Department of Neurological Surgery specialties centers attract patients from all over the world. There is a Brain Tumor Center, a Pediatric Neurosurgery Center as well as centers for Pain and Epilepsy to name a few. The Columbia’s reputation for experience, skill and patient Care are world renown. When healthcare researchers Castle Connolly America’s Top Doctors asked 250, 000 doctors “to whom you would send members of your family” in 2009, more doctors from New York Presbyterian were mentioned than any other American hospital.

Welcome to Matt’s Writing Blog…

Welcome to Matt’s blog. I’m a full time copy writer. I have written for periodicals and websites, composed speeches and sermons and prepared copy for web advertisements and research papers. I can tailor my work according to your needs. I love a challenge and enjoy building work relationships. I hope to hear from you.