Sunday, April 2, 2017

Only in America!

(4 July, 1998, Texas) If you fly over Houston USA, you will see the sky blue rectangles of countless backyard swimming pools. A Houston man joined the club, and purchased his own above ground pool on June 21, 1998. He selected the location, and the pool was installed by an independent contractor a few days later. He rated all aspects of the installation as "excellent."

A few weeks later, the pool owner was swimming with his friends and enjoying an alcoholic 4th of July haze in the humid Houston heat.

In an unprecedented show of bravado, the man decided to climb onto his patio roof and dive into his pool.

The man was six feet tall. His pool, typical for an above ground pool, was four feet deep and needless to say it did not end well for him.

Key facts:
  • The client himself chose the location of the pool. 
  • The client publicly rated the installation boasting how happy he was with the quality of the work.
  • It was he, all six foot of him, who took the ridiculous decision to take the dive.
  • Needless to say he was inebriated at the time of the incident.
The family of the deceased brought a wrongful death claim against the contractor on the grounds of faulty installation and inappropriate location. Only in America!


Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, March 6, 2017

Court Offside

Retired KZN High Court Judge Chris Nicholson recently penned an article titled “Drink driving defences can be intoxicatingly bizarre” in which he relayed the following courtroom exchange, involving a case from Northern KwaZulu-Natal.

In this particular case, the offender had allegedly admitted to the traffic officer at the scene (a Mr Van der Merwe) that he was indeed inebriated.  When questioned about the arrest, Van der Merwe testified (using the word he) that he had said that he was drunk at the time of the arrest.

This is the exchange that followed:

Judge: Now Mr. Vander Merwe, I want the accused exact words, just as he said them, he didn’t use the pronoun he, did he?

Van der Merwe: Oh,yes. He was drunk.

Judge (impatiently): No you don’t understand, I want the very words he spoke. Did he say, “I was Drunk”.

Van der Merwe: You may have been drunk M’Lord, but the accused did not mention your name.

Prosecutor: look Mr Van der Merwe, you still don’t understand. Did the accused say to you “I was drunk”?

Van der Merwe: He might have said you was drunk, but I didn’t hear him mention your name either.

Defence Council: Here let me try. Listen Mr Van der Merwe, in our English syntax, our English grammar, we have three persons. The first person is I; the second person is you; and the third person is he, she or it. Now did my client the accused in his exact words, use the first person? Did he say “I was drunk”? 

Van der Merwe: No Mr Advocate, he didn’t say you was drunk. He said he was drunk and if you don’t stop asking me all these questions, I’m going out to get drunk, too.

Semantics, the art of whatever you say, it isn’t.

Reference: The Independent (4 March 2017)

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, February 6, 2017

Free Fill Sand

 Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal was contacted by a gentleman named Kevin Naidu of Rivers Church offering free fill sand, suitable for backfilling.

He explained that they have approximately 5000m3 of fill sand on their existing property in Glen Hills which they would like to give away for free. Contractors are welcome to come and take as much as they need, they will however be required to bring their own trucks, equipment labour etc.

If you are interested, you can contact Kevin on 083 430 4876 to make the necessary arrangements.    

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager

The Big Swing

On 6 December 2005, a gentleman named Ryan Young demonstrated the reason extreme sport should never be performed without professional assistance, he also showed the world that common sense does not always dictate our actions.

On a cold winter’s night In Colorado USA, where temperatures drop below freezing, the appropriately named Ryan Young age 22, bundled up in warm clothing, grabbed a length of rope and headed for a construction site on the University of Colorado campus.

The security fence which Ryan was easily able to scale, proudly boasted a sign that said "87 Days without an Accident”.

Young Ryan climbed the 35m high crane, tied the rope to the tip of the boom, swung out into the night sky and ended up in a high speed collision with a campus building on the other side of the street. 

Sadly it didn’t end well, ensuring that the late Ryan Young, shall forever young be.


Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, December 5, 2016

Doomed To Begin With

South Africans were left flabbergasted by media reports covering the exploits of controversial pastor Lethebo Rabalago, otherwise known as the “The Prophet of Doom”. Rabalago made headlines when it was revealed that he sprays Doom pesticide at congregants in the belief that it will heal them of their ailments. As bizarre and dangerous as this may seem to some, there are people who have suffered far worse consequences as a result of blind faith which history will attest to.

In Pakistan (2014) a 40-year-old gentleman named Muhammad Niaz volunteered to be a test case for the ultimate miracle, to be risen from the dead.

Over a period of five years prior, Muhammad Sabir, a pir of village Mubarakabad in Bahawalnagar, had gained popularity for his alleged ability to perform miracles.  He believed he could perform a full resurrection and made it known to his followers that he wanted to kill and revive a faithful man, but not just any follower would do, it had to be a faithful married man with children!

Niaz heeded the call and volunteered himself to be euthanized fully in the belief that the condition would be temporary. An anonymous caller notified police, however by the time police had arrived, it was already too late.

Witnesses said Sabir uttered some words to bring Niaz back to life. They said when he realized his ‘miracle’ had not worked, he tried to flee.  He was detained by villagers who handed him over to police who formerly charged him with murder.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, November 7, 2016

A Somewhat Frightening Sight, On-site

Those involved in construction in South Africa are often faced with daunting challenges that hinder timeous delivery of projects such as water restrictions, too much water, civil unrest, power cuts, taxi strikes and more. Thankfully unlike our Brazilian counterparts, one that we don’t have to deal with is the unwelcomed arrival of a 10m anaconda, capable of swallowing a grown man whole.

The giant serpent was found by workers building the Belo Monte dam in Altamira, Brazil, with an estimated weighed of 400kg.

After making the frightening discovery, the workers allegedly (heaven knows how!) chained the animal to a crane and later lifted it up to reveal its yellow spotted under belly. As is the modern way, somebody had a camera handy, recorded the incident, and posted it to YouTube.

The builders on the site allegedly did away with the snake rather than leave it in its natural habitat, this however has not been confirmed so despite the tremendous fear it may have instilled, one hopes that those involved did what they could to spare the spectacular reptile. 

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, October 3, 2016

Going Down

The death of a man who fell down an elevator (lift) shaft at Tampa International Airport (USA) in 2013 was initially ruled accidental, this after he forced open the elevator doors, jumped towards the cables and proceeded to wrap his arms and legs around them to effect a slow descent. The man lost his grip and fell seven floors to his demise.

In a report completed by the airport’s police department, the deceased Chad Wolfe was described as a man who had acted irresponsibly during and after his trip from Atlanta to Tampa on a Delta Airline flight.

The report noted that witnesses on Wolfe’s flight had told investigators he had been drinking alcohol, popping pills and acting rudely on the plane. A further witness at the airport also told police that he had seen a belligerent man banging on the seventh-floor elevator door.

According to Wolfe’s autopsy, he had Xanax in his system and his blood-alcohol level was 0.17.

In October 2014, Wolfe's estate filed a lawsuit against Tampa International Airport claiming that a malfunctioning elevator had caused his death and that airport authorities as well as the lift’s manufacturer, should have prevented it.

Evidently in a case like this, a lawsuit is needed to determine who’s responsible. 


Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager 


Monday, July 4, 2016

Bill Gates and his 70 Billion Dollars

I’ve always wondered why Bill Gates of Microsoft fame does not give away the bulk of his $70 Billion to charity now instead of leaving it in his will when he dies in maybe 20 years time.

I know he and his wife do a lot for charity but still, with millions of people dying of starvation, why does he not give it away now? How does he sleep at night?

And then the penny dropped. Imagine the scene 20 years hence when Bill arrives at the Pearly Gates.

Saint Peter “Bill, why should I let you into Heaven?”

Bill “Well, I gave $70 Billion to charity 20 years ago.”

Saint Peter consulting his tablet “Sorry but I have no record of the donation.”

Bill feeling desperate “But you must.”

Saint Peter “Sorry Bill but 20 years ago I was running Windows 8 on my tablet, a terrible program, and it crashed and I did not back up and lost all my data”

Bill “Groan….”

Saint Peter “Take the elevator down to the basement level where Lucifer will be waiting to welcome you.”

Bill “Aaaaarghhh….”

Bill figures that in 20 years time his death and the donation arising from his will would be instantaneous with minimal chance of data loss. Besides, Saint Peter would probably be running Windows 17 a vast improvement on Windows 8 and he would certainly be backing his tablet up to the Cloud.

Bill Gates is one smart fellow.

Greg Beykirch
Finance Director


Monday, June 6, 2016

$54 million Awarded for Construction Fatality

February 2016 saw a landmark ruling in Harris County Texas, when a jury awarded approximately $54 million to the family of a construction worker who was fatally injured in 2013, during the renovation of A&M’s Kyle Field, home to the Aggie football (gridiron) team since 1905.

On Dec. 4, 2013 Angel Garcia fell to his death while operating a Caterpillar loader on the fourth floor spiral ramp in the northeast section of the stadium.

He was using the loader's bucket to catch concrete debris being removed from the structure. It was part of the $450-million renovation to expand seating from 82 600 to 102 500. The loader had a 1225kg carrying capacity but was bearing a 1515kg concrete section.

The weight caused the overloaded construction vehicle to topple forward over the side causing Garcia to be thrown four stories down. After landing on a pile of rubble he was rushed to a hospital where he died from injuries sustained.

The lead construction company Manhattan-Vaughn, Lindamood Demolition (Garcia's employer) and Texas Cutting & Coring had been named in the lawsuit.

When the jury returned, the verdict was unanimous.

The jurors determined that Manhattan-Vaughn bore 75 percent of the responsibility while Lindamood Demolition was held 25 percent responsible for the circumstances that led to Garcia's death. According to court documents, the jury concluded that neither Texas Cutting and Coring nor Garcia himself bore any responsibility.


Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Historical Quotes That Proved to be Wrong

Hindsight is 20/20 vision but it can also be humorous, like when Decca Records famously rejected The Beatles for a record deal in 1962, saying "guitar groups are on the way out" and "The Beatles have no future in show business”. Throughout history there are many such examples of how respected businessmen, great intellectuals and reputable publications very mistakenly predicted the future:

"If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one." - W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."  - Irving Fisher, economics professor at Yale University, 1929.

"X-rays will prove to be a hoax." - Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

"A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere." - The New York Times, 1936.

"There will never be a bigger plane built." - A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.

"There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." - Albert Einstein, 1932.

"Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure."-Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison's light bulb, 1880.

"The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad." - The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.

"Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night." -Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946.

"Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia." -  -Dr. Dionysius Lardner, professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, 1823

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home." -Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), in a talk given to a 1977 World Future Society meeting in Boston.

"The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most." - IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.

If you enjoyed blog post, there is a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to business quotes that proved wrong. ..... Enjoy

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager