I used to have major problems with buying my family members presents for birthdays, anniversaries and during the Christmas holidays, because apart from finding it difficult to get the right present, giving someone the wrong gift can undo years of cordial relationship. I remember once when I gave my newly married cousin a blender for a birthday present and she gave me a look like I had just ordered her into the kitchen to make me dinner. Not that the gift was not valuable – I had actually spent quite a bit getting her that blender – but because she was going through some marital problems trying to juggle a successful banking career, and a her husband’s expectation of a good Christian housewife who is home on time every day to prepare him a hot meal and a warm embrace. So after smoothing things over with her, I turned to my friends for advice on how to shop for the right present for the right person, and for the right occasion. This was when Charles pointed me in the direction of modern multimedia technology.

I soon found that it was easier and cheaper to get my cousin a Terabyte mobile hard drive to help her store large amounts of data on the go, rather than getting her a kitchen utensil; my little nephew appreciated the second-hand Playstation CD ROM I bought him for his birthday much more than the packet shirts I was used to buying for him (which he quickly outgrew each time I did because the boy seems to be shooting up like a weed); and when my parents’ wedding anniversary came up, I quickly vetoed my wife’s suggestion to have expensive matching outfits made for them – which they wouldn’t wear more than a couple of times anyway.


For my mother I bought a Kindle, because she loves to read and the look on her face when I presented it to her was proof enough that I had made the right choice of gift for her. My father enjoyed listening to classical music, so I got him an ipod loaded with all the old classical composers and complete with a docking bay to enable him connect via Bluetooth to the multimedia speakers placed around his study. Getting my wife a present for Valentines Day was a bit tricky, but I finally solved that problem when I remembered that she is as tech crazy as I am. My solution? I hunted online for one of those cute little camera drones that she could control with her phone and take selfies with from whatever distance she wanted. Problem solved! What makes tech presents an ideal solution for presents for family is that each year newer and better tech comes out, and you can simply find out what is trending and buy that for your loved ones, or you can get them the upgraded version of last year’s gift. Either way the gift will be well appreciated, and will provide many hours of value and pleasure. My birthday is coming up next month. Hint; I always wanted to play the new Street Fighter V on PS4!



As far as Martial Arts and Self-Defence goes, the general belief is that it belongs primarily to the men.
Women in society are raised to view themselves as the weaker sex, and are encouraged to shun all forms of physicality and violence…even at the risk of their own safety and well-being.
Personally I do not share in this view, and over many years as an instructor in various forms of martial arts, I try to encourage the women who come to my classes not to see themselves as victims who must be rescued from violence by a ‘knight in shining armor’, but as empowered individuals who can take care of not only themselves in a crisis situation, but others less adept or equipped who need their help.My latest commission was to instruct a class of

oil workers on basic self-defence techniques should they be encountered by hostile locals or bandits while out in the field.
One of my students was a mousy looking young lady named Edna, who from what I gathered during a chat with her, was a brilliant Process Engineer sent out to the rig to sort out one or two knotty issues holding up production.
She had a quiet, almost inaudible voice, and seemed to believe that being the only woman on the crew, she did not belong there.
The other guys were already giving her a hard time and poking fun at her for her small stature, and her confidence was as low as it could be.The first thing I did was to arrange various lifting exercises for my students, to help them get some tone in their muscles and

get comfortable with moving heavy objects around. I made sure I appeared to be harder on Edna than I was on the other guys, but at every opportunity I would whisper words of encouragement in her ear like “you got this!” and “don’t worry, you’re a natural”.


Pretty soon her confidence started to grow when she found that by lifting with her knees instead of her back, and drawing energy from her core rather than relying on her muscles, Edna was pulling more than her weight in my class. Step one was a success. Next we came to strikes and locks and throws. What most people do not understand is that the smaller your limbs and the larger your target, then the better your chances of hitting the correct points to cause maximum damage

Edna was a natural, and being a woman she was more flexible and adaptable than her male counterparts. By the time the classes were done she could grab, lift and flip a man twice her size, as long as she kept her focus and balance when faced with an opponent.


The last time we chatted on Skype Edna admitted that she was doing much better at her job and the result of my teaching was really evident as she was now much more confident as an engineer and as a team player who believed that being a woman did not give her any less of a right to be in any type of work situation or vocation, no matter how physical and demanding. I am just glad that I could help someone transcend the gender barrier in the workplace through my own small teaching.


“Uncle…when are you going to get me my iphone?” I looked up from my tablet and fixed my niece with my meanest stare…she stared right back. This had become a recurring decimal in my house for the past 3 weeks; my niece had a qualifying exam coming up a couple of months ago, and I had promised her that if she aced it I would get her a brand new phone. Well, she not only aced the exam, but had one of the highest results nationwide this year – and promptly tracked down yours truly to make good on his promise to get her a brand new phone. I was very happy to spring for a good quality android device, but when we sat down to browse sales catalogs together, she opened the Apple Store page and proudly pointed at the phone she wanted…an iphone 7

I looked at the price and nearly had a heart attack; the cost of that small device was more than three times what I earn in a month! “What in the world do you need such an expensive phone for?” I thundered. She replied that apart from being the best product on the market today, the iphone 7 was also loaded with features that would make her a better student and intern at her job.

I shook my head vigorously; “no way honey…I can’t afford it. Pick an android phone and I will buy it for you” I finished with an air of finality, thinking that this was going to be the end of the matter. But my niece was ready for me. “Uncle”, she said calmly, “hold on, and let me explain to you why I need it”.

She then proceeded to tell me about the unique Operating Software of the iphone, and why it was the best in the market…and how it has evolved over time and has improved with each iteration to match any other technology in the mobile phone industry. She told me about the low power usage and how easy it was to carry and use an iphone; as well as the thousands of apps available for free from mathematical to business and art and design apps which one can download and use just as easily as if it came hardwired into the device. I still wasn’t buying, so she continued to regale me with details of how the iOS does not need to be updated regularly, but will automatically download updates and upgrades every year for up to 4 or 5 years…so it’s essentially like buying a 4 or 5 new phones at once.

Also apart from the social status of owning one, she also clued me into the awesome camera quality and some other stuff that I was no longer listening to because I had heard enough. Now we are engaged in a game of wills over the iphone 7; will she wear me down and make me buy her one, or will I fend her off for long enough for her to cave and accept a store bought android phone? While I agree that it does appear to be a better machine – and I pride myself on being an advocate for new and improved technology – the price tag is a little too…scratch that, it is WAY too steep for a salary earner like me to be buying for an unpaid, student intern…even though she is my beloved neice. What do you think?

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