Friday 14 October 2022

Back in the blood donation seat

When I last went to donate blood in March, I had my first vasovagal episode during a donation - and this is after more than 60 donations since I started donating blood at 16. The needle wasn't put in right, it kept blocking and the jiggling around of the needle was the trigger. I felt the fainting coming on and said to the nurse I wasn't feeling great. I must have gone as white as a sheet and in seconds they had a fan in front of me, smelling solution under my nose and I heard someone say, "She's back".
Today, I was back in the seat with a like-clockwork donation, filling the bag in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea.

When I relayed the situation of my last donation to today's nurse, she said, "It is the jiggling that does it".

Although the blood donation marketing campaigns say that every donation saves three lives, this only holds true if you are a regular donor; when you donate 3 to 6 times a year. For your own safety and that of the blood recipient, if you do not go back again and again - three times every year, your donation is not used. Donating blood is an awesome thing to do but don't waste your time, their time and resources, and your blood if you do not intend to go back at least another two times in a 12-month period.
The donation process is on WCBS and SANBS websites, but not as direct as I'm telling you here. They're all about campaigns and getting new donors in who they hope will come back because of the good experience; I'm all about education and getting well-intentioned, once-a-year / blood drive-only donors to become committed, regular donors so that each donation really will save three lives.

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Woodwork: glass rain gauge holder

I like having a rain gauge to observe and, sometimes, to record rainfall. since moving to George, I have mostly observed rainfall volumes. In Jo'burg and Parys, I had a 'rain book' to record rain amounts. It was interesting to look back on past years to compare seasons.

I've always had those plastic rain gauges that generally last no more than two years as a result of UV damage to the plastic that renders it brittle. I've kept an eye out for glass rain gauges and finally found one online a few weeks ago. I'd sworn not to buy a plastic one again after my last one was killed by the garden service's edge trimmer.

To feed my rain gauge OCD, I ordered a glass rain gauge but then needed a suitable holder to keep it safe. Applying my woodworking skills, I sanded two scrap pieces of pallet wood, used a circle saw to cut a hole in the one, connected them together and applied three coats of protective wood varnish to exterior use. This evening I attached it to the washing line pole. Ta-da!

Looks like my next project is going to be to sand and paint the washing line poles... My rain gauge is safe from lawnmowers, edge trimmers, dogs and feet.

Only 35mm compared to the 70-80mm classic plastic version. Still, better than another 'disposable' plastic rain gauge. Time to break that cycle.

Adult matric fees and free

I heard an advert on the radio for an adult matric (final year of high school) online programme being offered by the University of Cape Town (UCT). They announced the fees as R2,125 per month. It is an 18-month programme. I nearly had heart failure.

"UCT Online High School for Adult Matric is here to celebrate those adults who were unable, or never given the opportunity, to write their matric when they were young."

A Google search told me that a living wage in 2019 was R4,870 to R7,330, but that the real wage of a low-skilled worker was R3,330 to R4,680 and the real wage of a medium-skilled worker was R6,620 to R10,200. Presumably, low and medium-skilled workers would be target candidates for the Adult Matric course.

To do online courses, the student needs a laptop/computer access, internet and UPS (power supply) according to the course requirements (these can be a challenge for adults without matric). They need to put in 20hrs/week.

Adult Matric learners are classified as individuals who are 21 years or older. They must have a General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) or have passed Grade 9 (old Standard 7).

I was horrified at the cost for adult learners who missed the opportunity to complete school, for whatever reason, and who could be working low-pay jobs. Presumably, an adult student wants to complete matric to open up opportunities for better jobs and better pay.

Thankfully, I found a link at the top of the website to FREE CURRICULUM. They do offer access to all UCT Online High School learning material and unlimited downloads for offline use for those who cannot afford R2,125/month. This is made available by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

The main difference between the monthly fee and the free courses is that the free one doesn't have the facilitators and support coaches to make sure you're doing your work and understanding it, internal exams and community elements. The free course does have computer and self-graded assessments. I can't quite tell whether the free curriculum gives you a matric certificate at the end.

I've been looking at an online course through UCT. Fees are R17,000 for the four-month online course. This is where a jaw-dropping emoticon is relevant. I didn't expect an online course to be so pricey.

In high school, I did Additional Maths as an extra subject. The one thing I remember doing, and enjoying, was to create what I'll call 'feasibility graphs' because I can't remember what they were really named. In essence, it is a graph drawn to see at which point any number of options become feasible. For example, can you make more money selling many items at low profit or fewer items at high profit. The graph indicates where the profitability meets and shows at which numbers one is more profitable than the other. This is actually the only thing I remember from Add Maths.

With online courses, we have the opportunity for smaller margins but a satisfying profit through higher student numbers, low overheads, and repeated use of the same material following the initial investment to create the material.

I'd be interested to know UCT's student numbers for the R2,125/month course and those taking the free curriculum option. I wonder how many low-income adults, who would like to complete their schooling, were listening to that ad on the radio. On hearing of the R2,125/month fee, I wonder how many saw this as out-of-reach to them, not realising that a free programme is also available. 

The ad would have done better to promote their adult matric programme mentioning the free programme and one with full support, coaching and an online community so that all potential students realise that there is something available for them.