Science debunked

18 Aug

Brain scan of a scientist

Science has once again triumphed. It has ‘debunked’a wide held theory that people are left-brained or right-brained. How did ‘science’ manage this? They stuck 1000 people in an MRI and asked to think about nothing, then noted that no one had dominant activity on the right or left side of the brain.

A synopsis of the findings, here, says that is definitive proof. I would agree. But I won’t. If you ask someone to think about nothing, and they succeed, you wouldn’t see activity. Or if they didn’t succeed, they would most likely be staring at the blank white roof of the MRI machine thinking “Geez, they could really have been more creative” or “Geez, I wonder how they made such a clever machine so mind numbingly boring to be inside of.”

I heard a scientific fact the other day: You can’t prove the negative. So all the scientists trying to prove stuff doesn’t exist, just stop. You can’t do it. Scientific fact! Rather spend your time on something useful. Like hoverboards.

SAA is stealing your Voyager miles.

27 May

SAA is stealing your Voyager miles, selling you something that doesn’t exist. It’s beyond a matter of poor customer service. It’s theft.

Trying to book a ticket with SAA Voyager...

Trying to book a ticket with SAA Voyager…

I have booked 2 South African Airways Business Class awards to Europe, but no seats are available for the next 360 days.

On 11th March I tried to book an SAA Voyager award. The FlySAA site offered Business class Mileage Keeper and Economy Class Mileage Keeper etc, without any clarification other than Limited Availability compared to ‘Any Day’ awards which are 3 times more expensive in Voyager Miles.

Firstly the FlySAA.com site hung up during the transaction. I had to redo the transaction about 4 times. It never actually completed. Only because I noticed that my mileage balance had dropped, did I have any inkling that the transaction had happened.

I received no email confirmation. I then called the Voyager call center to confirm that the award had actually been awarded. I was assured it had, and I would get an email confirmation the following day. So I waited. Two days later, still no email. So I called again. The operator confirmed the award again and said she would send the confirmation email.

Nothing. I called again on the 18th. Again was told it would be emailed. Again nothing. So I resorted to writing. I had no idea that there was any urgency, only that you had to use the award within 6 months of it being issued.

On the 8th of April, I sent an email request to Voyager. Nothing. On the 19th of April, another email request. Nothing. These were sent to voyager@flysaa.com and voyagerawards@flysaa.com. I eventually did receive a reply to these emails. On the 5th of May for the first one, and on the 6th of May for the second one.

However, by now I had lost patience, so I called the call centre again and asked them to book the tickets. I explained that I was flexible in dates, preferably leaving early September and returning 3 weeks later, but leaving essentially any time in September, would be fine. The operator said no flights are available. So I said to try the following day. She had, she tried to find a flight from the 1st of September till the 9th of October, with absolutely nothing available. I was now highly unhappy. I then requested a supervisor and got put through to Pasela.

I explained to Pasela, that over a month and a half of delays from Voyager had now put me in the situation of having no tickets available. She told me, I should have booked with the call center and that I didn’t need the Voyager award number to book it. How I am supposed to know that, I have no idea. Essentially she blamed me for any problems.

She then told me I could have booked online. I said, you can’t book online, because 1 – I don’t have a voucher number, and 2 – You can’t book to Paris. She said you can. She just argued with me on the phone like a scene in Monty Python. 

After a 20 minute argument, she said the best she could do was wait list me. I said, that doesn’t help. How do I book accommodation, when I don’t know if I am going to be there or not? ‘Oh, hotels can refund you.’ The summation of that conversation was being waitlisted on a flight, and I was told to phone them every 2 days to try and confirm the seats.

Wait-listed is one step closer. But I thought, perhaps if I could speak to someone face to face, I might have better luck. After a day of trying to find the offices, I eventually go to the Icon building offices and meet a very nice lady. Who works for SAA. Not Voyager. There are no Voyager offices. Despite Despite what their website says… Fine. Can you please try and find us seats to anywhere in Europe with this award?

We then spend an hour and a half as she checks every day in September on every Star Alliance operator and NONE come up. NONE!!! Ignoring the fact that the retarded system makes you check each day and airline separately. So I ask her to please check 1 year in advance from that date for a flight. No seats available.

Well… OK, what if we scrap the Business Class and take Economy? Well, you could, but because it is 30 days past the award date, you would lose the extra miles that business class used. …

So as it stands, the way I see it, SAA has stolen 180 000 Voyager miles, selling me an award for something that can never be redeemed. Considering, that best case scenario, you earn 1 mile for R6.50 you spend, thats R1 170 000 in cash spent over the years. It’s beyond a matter of poor customer service. It’s theft. The irony, is that the SAA Voyager program, is a Loyalty program. And right now, thanks to the Loyalty program, I feel like only ever flying any airline other than South African Airways. And calling the call centre every two days? You know what that does? The operator sends a request to the controller. That’s it. 10-15 minutes of time, every two days, so someone can click a button. How about you just put all the waitlists in a queue?

So, if you have had similar issues, let me know, cos I’m pretty sure this is against the Consumer Protection Act, specifically clause 35.4.c.

the sponsor of a loyalty programme, or a
supplier who offers or holds out a willingness, to accept any loyalty credits or awards as
consideration or in exchange for any particular goods or services, must—

(a) ensure that the supply of those particular goods or services available at any
time is sufficient to accommodate all reasonably anticipated demands for
those goods or services in exchange for loyalty credits or awards;
(b) not limit or restrict capacity to supply those particular goods or services in
exchange for such credits or awards on any basis other than that it applies to
such a supply in exchange for any other form of consideration;
(c) accept any tender of sufficient loyalty credits or awards as adequate
consideration for the price of those particular goods or services if, at that time,
it has capacity available for supply in exchange for any other form of
consideration;

If I could buy a seat for cash, they have to give me one for miles… Who’s with me?

UPDATE: Apparently, they seem to have found some seats for the flight overseas. Amazing. And all it cost was 10 emails, 17 phone calls, 1 blog post, 22 tweets and 1 Hellopeter complaint. Now if we can just get home…

Burrata. The best pizza in Cape Town?

27 Nov
Burrata pizza

37 seconds later this pizza was no more. RIP pizza, RIP.

Burrata. Before you ask, it’s a kind of Italian cheese. I think it’s cheese stuffed with cheese, or cream. Deep fry it, and you’re in America. But I digress. It’s also the name of a new restaurant in Cape Town. Its an Italian restaurant, but before your eyes glaze over, it has one or two defining features.

It’s almost sacrilege to call any pizza the best pizza in Cape Town. I naively tried that 2 years ago. I’m sorry. I was young. But, I am pretty confident I can say Burrata has the best Napolitan (Napolese?) pizza in Cape Town. For those of you (me) whose extent of knowledge of Italian food growing up was the kids menu at Spur, Napolitan often means tomato based pasta sauce. This is not that.

On a recentish visit to Italy, I had the best pizza n the world. Literally. I wrote that. Google agreed. And for the ladies out there who were merciful enough to watch Eat, Pray, Love alone, it was at the same pizzeria that Julia Roberts ate at. The pizza in Napoli is nothing like you’ve ever had. It has no more than 3 toppings. And two of those is cheese and tomato base. The magic in these pizzas is actually the base, the dough, the stuff that is normally just there as something to layer topping on. In Napoli, the base is the pizza. It’s GOOD!

And I am so glad that Burrata is using that as their standard, when making a pizza. They even imported a pizza oven from Italy to ensure they wouldn’t miss that mark.

And they don’t. All pizza pales in comparison to a Burrata pizza.

But wait, there’s more. They do other Italian food that is simply great. And the wine list…. Aaahh, the wine list. There are no Durbanville Hills umbrellas here. The wines are from unique, boutique vineyards, and reasonably priced. It’s so nice to spot a wine that you tasted at that little farm that one time where the taster guy told you about that time his dog did that thing with the duck. And then order it. And then drink it.

But try the pizza.

The craft beer ‘scene’ in Cape Town

15 Nov

The standard hipster anthem is “You probably haven’t heard of it.” which, if it’s true about craft beer, is a travesty. If you haven’t spent half an hour in front of the fridge at Cape Quarter Tops or inside the coolness of Roeland Street Liquours beer fridge, it’s about time you start.

Alliance American Amber Ale

The hard part was putting the beer down long enough to take a pic. I don’t know how Instagram’ers do it.

The latest addition to the Craft Beer scene is the Citizen Alliance American Amber Ale. It’s been available on tap for a while, but it’s now available in bottles, in very cool 4, 12 and 16 packs. And I actually think it is better in the bottle. It has a nice nutty caramel flavor. And not in that “swirling at 15degrees anti-clockwise, with a hint of mint” kind of way. In the “take a sip, look at the label, and lick your lips, and it’s obvious” kind of way.

Another recent discovery I made is Triggerfish. I’ve had it on tap once or twice, but I actually think the flavors are way more prominent in the bottle. Their flavors tend to be nice and obvious and on the sweetish side, and the bottles are 330ml. Sooo, perfect to introduce ladies to. The IPA has a lovely berry flavor, (I’m thinking raspberry or strawberry) and the stout is so very coffee-caramel, it feels like you should wake up to one.

Devil's Peak First Light

Look at the colours, the beauty, the awe. Oh and there’s some grass and sea and stuff too.

Devils Peak has stormed my castle of a beer fridge and taken up every shelf. I am now buying in bulk. The IPA is very flavorful. And each time I open one, it takes me back to some bar in USA where I first discovered IPA, and it is good. It’s not a “session” beer as the kids call it. It’s meant to be savoured. But if you want a session beer, look no further than their Saison. Fruity, but drinkable, I may or may not have ‘klapped’ 4 of these in the sun at Sotano the other day.

And Union Berne

Good old Bernie aka The Redhead. She never ages…

Don’t forget And Union though. I got a bit spoiled for choice and didn’t have one for a while. (3 or more days…) But that first sip of a Berne or Dark or Unfiltered and I get a silly smile on my face. Because I remember/blame them for my current obsession with beer (beer belly). Flavorful, yet drinkable, their beers deserve to kick as much ass as they are around the country and even overseas. The Beast of the Deep is my chosen winter beer, a delightful Bock, and I can’t wait for their upcoming IPA!

Craft beers at El Burro

Some of the beer available at El Burro. And sometimes he even sells it.

I haven’t got through all the options. Because, like rainbows and kittens, these are just a few of my favourite beers. There’s plenty more options. Napier, Camelthorn, Mitchell’s, Darling, Three Skulls… There’re more, but I’m kinda engrossed in this Raven Stout from Mitchell’s at the moment as I contemplate all the new beers that are going to be at the Cape Town Festival of Beer.

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