Quality above all else

By: Vollie Brink

We live in a world of fast food, fast cars, fast lifestyles and fast track projects, but with less quality

Dear Mr Plumber,

We live in a world where old things get new names and in many cases also new meanings.

I read in a paper that one official proposed that the Auditor must not use the word “Irregular expenditure” or “Unapproved expenditure” in his annual report, because it sounds too much like fraud. The frightening thing about this unapproved expenditure is that it is not millions of rands, but billions, and it seems, in most cases, it was money squandered.

I have learned that if I write out a cheque without having money in the bank, then it is fraud and I can be arrested and will end up in jail.

Read more: Quality above all else

Your questions answered

By:  Vollie Brink

For this edition I have decided to do a questions and answers format with an educational and refresher purpose.

Below ground:
Q. What is a drain? (which part of a drainage system is called a drain?)
A. A drain is the underground piping connecting the building with the municipal sewer.


Q. What is the minimum fall or gradient of a drain in terms of SANS 10400-p?
A. I in 60.

Read more: Your questions answered

Satisfaction of teaching

By: Vollie Brink

When I was young my boss would ask me “why are you not working?”, And now I am asked “why are you still working?”

I never gave anybody an answer as to why I am still working and today I thought about it and what I should answer. I don’t want to be pretentious and also not to act ‘holier than thou’, but my short answer is that every time I get it right to solve a problem (engineering problem) it gives me a ‘great kick’, an adrenaline rush, and satisfaction.

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‘Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of facts’

I was doing some spring cleaning in my home office and I came across my old study guides when I studied development administration at the time when I was working for the Development Bank. I did this course as an engineer to have a better understanding of development and the work I did at the time. One of the things I learned was that there is no single all-encompassing definition for the theory of development that fully describes all aspects of development. I also read that Higgott (1983: xii) said: “There is no theory of development in the formal sense of hypothesis which have been verified in a systematic manner through empirical study”, and then further a warning by George Santayana: “Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of facts”.

Read more: ‘Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of facts’

Keep your pencil sharp

I have been writing a letter to a family member about the importance of putting important ‘things’ in writing and I thought perhaps I should share my experience with you. I know that there are many people who do not appreciate it to put important issues, decisions and matters on paper, (now a days on your laptop, smartphone, tablet, or computer), but it is an extremely important and essential activity that prevents problems, disputes, issues, and even expensive litigation and fruitless time in court. The times when I have not put things on paper was the times when I was in trouble, which is Murphy’s Law and it was lessons learnt and never forgotten.

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It’s a matter of time management

I want to discuss a sensitive matter with you and I would really appreciate your feedback on how you feel about this issue. I have previously discussed this matter but I feel we must talk about it again – the matter of selection of piping material at design stage and for construction.

Read more: It’s a matter of time management

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