Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Are we starting to think (and behave) like computers. Is something either a 0 or a 1, a yay or a nay. Does that mean a person is either something or nothing, and there is no longer such a thing as potential, or potential for growth, or dreams, or anything else subliminal or even subtle. Because in the computer world, the closest to a dream is virtual reality, and even that is governed by hard and fast paradigms.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Heat Waive

Waiver: No insurance will be paid for fire damage as a result of heat.

Probably something we'll see more of in the future.

Dang, it is incredibly hot outside.

Delivered 11 Issues of Wheeler's World, a club newsletter I am editing and compiling. It's kind of fun, except for the hassle of people who can't do simple things like open a document.

Everyone seems to be irritable today. My legs are still really sore from the weekend.

Alex and I have been talking about pursuing world champs (in triathlon, 35-39 age group). Seems we just have to come in close to 2:15. Since my best is 2:00...anything is possible. Will probably start working towards that from June-ish (after SA Cycling champs) onwards.

Will probably watch Oscar's tonight at 108. And order pizza. And then pedal like hell tomorrow to shake it off. Going to go for training time of around 8-9 hours this week.

Running With Scissors

Natalie: Are you ready?
Augusten Burroughs: For what?
Natalie: To play "Doctor."

Neil Bookman: I'm a fuck-up and it's your fault!
Dr. Finch: That's right, Neil. Blame your father for your inability to focus. Direct all of that rage at me if it makes you feel better.
Neil Bookman: I can't focus because of the voices! I see you for what you are. Yeah. The camera never lies. No! My parents have given you thousands of dollars and I'm still sick! You have to help me get better! You know what I do! You have to help me get better!
Dr. Finch: You're right, Neil. You're right. I've done nothing, apparently. I've never pulled any strings, gotten you a scholarship to the University of Rochester to pursue your photographic interests. Absolutely nothing.
Neil Bookman: You just wanted to get rid of me. Why won't you let me live in this house and be a part of this family? D
r. Finch: Because I am the patriarch! And when the patriarch says jump, you jump, goddamnit! You don't co-operate, Neil, and for that, you're punished!
Neil Bookman: That's not why you won't let me live in this house. You won't let me because you're afraid of me, aren't you? Of what I could do to you in the middle of the night while you're sleeping. Huh? You're afraid of me. Aren't you, Doctor?
Dr. Finch: Our time is up, Neil. I believe we've made a breakthrough today.

Deirdre Burroughs: I need high cellings
Hope: You know Natalie, youre so oral, you'll never get to anal
Natalie: And youll never get a dick in your dried up cunt, you old maid!

Augusten Burroughs: According to Hope, Froyd died of kitty Lukemia. According to me Froyd died of being trapped in a laundry basket for four days without food or water
Deirdre Burroughs: Augusten. Don't smoke my cigarettes. You have a pack of your own.

Norman Burroughs: I don't understand.
Six-Year-Old Augusten Burroughs: I polish my allowance. I boil it clean, then polish it with silver polish.
Norman Burroughs: But why, Augusten? Why?
Six-Year-Old Augusten Burroughs: Because I like shiny things.
Norman Burroughs: I really don't see myself in you at all.
Six-Year-Old Augusten Burroughs: I'm more like my mom. I want to be special and I want to be famous.

Neil Bookman: I think he's a genius. Like when I was your age, and I'd have a rage seizure, he'd put on music to lower my blood pressure. Nat King Cole. "Stardust." Revolutionary sort of stuff, you know? Worked everytime. If he hadn't adopted me... shit, I don't know what I would've done.
Norman Burroughs: Is he an MD doctor?
Deirdre Burroughs: Yes. And as I've told you a hundred times, he got his MD at Yale.
Norman Burroughs: You heard about this guy from where?
Deirdre Burroughs: Doctor Newpall. Augusten's allergist. If you were more of a man and involved in your son's life, you'd know who that was. I smell manure.
Norman Burroughs: I don't smell anything.
Deirdre Burroughs: I do, I smell manure. It's coming out of your ears.
Norman Burroughs: Fucking bitch.

Norman Burroughs: So... you're saying we should split up?
Dr. Finch: In order to reach that conclusion, Norman, I would need to see both you and Deirdre on a regular and disciplined basis, for five hours a day.
Deirdre Burroughs: I'm available, Doctor Finch.
Norman Burroughs: Five hoursa day?! I can't do that! I have to work!
Deirdre Burroughs: See, Doctor Finch, I told you. I'm married to a narcissist.
Dr. Finch: Norman, if I'm willing to clear my schedule to save your marriage, but you're not... then get out! Leave this office, go home, and start dividing your books and your record albums.
Norman Burroughs: This is bullshit. This is really fucking bullshit. [Doctor Finch begins writing in his notebook.]
Norman Burroughs: What're you writing?
Dr. Finch: "Norman Burroughs is homicidal. He is an unapologetic alcoholic. He is dangerous and a threat to himself, his wife, and his child."

Augusten Burroughs: I'm gay, too.
Neil Bookman: Holy Mary, Mother Of God. So that's what this is about. You're gay?
Augusten Burroughs: Yeah. I thought Natalie had told you.
Neil Bookman: Small world, right? You and me. Crazy. Smoke? Here, let me light you. Want a ride home?
Neil Bookman: I won't go fast. Maybe. [Cut to Augusten and Neil in bed.]
Augusten Burroughs: What just happened?
Neil Bookman: You think you're gay, right? That's what gay men do. Just wanted you to know what you're in for. Want a beer? Smoke?
Augusten Burroughs: No.
Neil Bookman: You OK with what happened?
Augusten Burroughs: Yeah. Sure. Well, thanks for everything.
Neil Bookman: Thank you. Thank YOU for everything.

Dr. Finch: Where would we be without our painful childhoods?
Dr. Finch: Well, the only loophole or way I could see me getting you out of school for any considerable length of time would be for you... to commit suicide.
Augusten Burroughs: You want me to kill myself?
Dr. Finch: Well, if you tried to kill yourself, I could explain to the schoolboard that you were psychologically unfit to attend, and that you needed intensive treatment. It would a staged suicide attempt. Of course, your poor mother would have to find you and drive you the hospital, where you would stay for three weeks or a month for observation.
Augusten Burroughs: I don't know. It doesn't... Dr. Finch: Augusten. Where is your spirit of adventure?
Dr. Finch: Well, the only loophole or way I could see me getting you out of school for any considerable length of time would be for you... to commit suicide.
Burroughs: I don't know. It doesn't...
Dr. Finch: Augusten. Where is your spirit of adventure?

Augusten Burroughs: Who's Terrence Maxwell, Natalie?
Natalie: I've never heard of him.
Augusten Burroughs: Tell me who he is. Tell me who he is.
Natalie: Shut up.
Augusten Burroughs: It kills you, doesn't it?
Natalie: Shut up.
Augusten Burroughs: Let it out!
Natalie: Shut up!
Augusten Burroughs: Tell me who he is, Natalie!
Natalie: Shut up!
Augusten Burroughs: Tell me so I don't feel so alone!
Augusten Burroughs: A little bit. How'd you meet him?
Natalie: Terrence started seeing my dad after his mom died. She left him everything. He was 41 when I was 13. He told me I was pretty. And he made me believe it. One day, he broke my collar bone, and I had to hitch-hike to the emergency room, and I passed out on the side of the road, and somebody found me. My dad told him that he'd press charges and that he'd go to jail unless he donated money to my college fund. Then he did. $75, 000.
Augusten Burroughs: That's so great. So if you'd just apply--
Natalie: My dad spent it. Every penny. So that the IRS wouldn't take this house. So... I do know what it's like, Augusten... to love somebody who doesn't deserve it. 'Cause they're all you have. God, I hate my life.
Augusten Burroughs: I hate this kitchen. I need high ceilings.
Natalie: Me too.
Augusten Burroughs: Let's get rid of it then. Let's take down the ceiling.

Neil Bookman: "The Angry Nun" by Neil Bookman: "Bitch! Whore of Jesus! Dressed in black, you do not bleed, like a woman should bleed between the legs! But with your ruler, your crucifix of hatred, you strike my tender flesh! I bleed for you! Oh, mother." And then I-I ran out of ink.
Deirdre Burroughs: Good anger! It ended exactly at the right moment.

Dr. Finch: Everyone! Come quickly! Wake up! Wake up! A miracle! A miracle! A miracle has occured!
Agnes Finch: What're you looking at?
Natalie: Dad's morning shit.
Dr. Finch: See? See how the duplicoil is breaking out of the surface of the water? Holy Father. Agnes Finch: Doctor, let me draw you a nice bath.
Dr. Finch: Agnes, go get a shoehorn. A shoehorn, Agnes.
Hope: But what does it mean, Dad?
Dr. Finch: It means our financial situation is turning around. It means things are looking upward. Literally, the shit is pointing out of the pot! Towards Heaven, to God. My turd is a direct communication from the Holy Father. [Augusten and Natalie try to hide their laughter.]
Dr. Finch: No, no, no, no, children. No. Laugh. Laugh! God is... He is the funniest man in the universe. Agnes, I want you to carefully remove this, take it outside, and let it dry in the sun. We're starting a shrine, Agnes. A shrine. Hope, let's prepare.

Deirdre Burroughs: I disapprove of your choices.
Augusten Burroughs: I haven't had a choice!
Deirdre Burroughs: You did when you wrote this, didn't you?
Augusten Burroughs: You read my journal?
Deirdre Burroughs: Don't try and compete with me, Augusten. If you move back in with me, I won't allow it. You'll only get hurt. When I become a very famous woman, they'll write that I had a son who was a writer too, who doesn't compare to my brilliance. I want more for you than that.
Augusten Burroughs: Did you mix your pills again?
Dr. Finch: [Finch wakes up and sees Neil standing over him with a knife.] Neil? What're you doing, son?
Neil Bookman: SHUT UP! I'm not your son!
Natalie: What the hell is going on?
Dr. Finch: It's all right. [Neil drops the knife and walks away crying.]
Dr. Finch: Neil? Neil! NEIL!
Agnes Finch: Natalie is not coming. I told her I'd deal with it.
Augusten Burroughs: Don't try to stop me, Agnes. I'm going. I'm going to miss you.
Agnes Finch: I'll miss you, too. You're a... the best son a mom could ever want. You need to know that. [She hands him a small box filled with money.]
Augusten Burroughs: Oh, my God. Agnes, there's--there's a lot of money here.
Agnes Finch: A penny here, a dime there. It adds up. The Doctor doesn't know I have it, of course. No one does. You know, this morning, the IRS came again. And I almost gave it to them. Then I though, "No. For once in my life, I'm going to invest wisely." When you write a book, you send me a copy. Goodbye, my sweet boy.
Augusten Burroughs: Agnes. What're you gonna do now?
Agnes Finch: I don't know. Maybe I'll take down the Christmas tree.
Dr. Finch: You can't come in here, this is my mastabatorium!

Norman Burroughs: [from trailer] I haven't had a drink in four years.
Deirdre Burroughs: Excuse me (to waittress), can you get him a medal?

Why We War

We’re forgetful. And unimaginative. That’s why we’ll always be fighting each other

Human beings are a lot more evolved than Chimpanzees. Rival tribes of Chimpanzees will posture loudly towards one another, but if territory is invaded Chimpanzees will fight their rivals to the death. To the naked eye, it is a commotion in a forest somewhere, between large, dark hairy animals that don’t even look different from each other. Yet they know their own differences very well, and fight tooth and nail against each other. Once a rival group is defeated, the Chimpanzees eat the dead members of the opposing tribe. No one knows why.

Human beings, who are a lot more evolved than animals, also fight competitively for territory. Even in the office, whether in an advertising agency, a call centre or a bank, staff are very clear on rank, and all are engaged in their obvious or more subversive attempts to claim power for themselves, even at the expense of their peers.
Human beings will always form groups, and these groups will compete against one another, sometimes for one thing, often for a combination.

In the schoolyard, fights are often about making one’s status (strength) clear to the other children. While it is in their interest, a schoolyard may allow school bullies to have their way, even if they don’t like him. Some weaker, isolated children will become loyal sidekicks with a successful bully in exchange for protection and the spoils of bullying. Countries do the same. In the end though, the schoolyard children tolerate their leader only when he operates either directly or indirectly in their best interests. As soon as his power wanes, or once he begins to operate in an intensely unilateral pattern, he will begin to face an endless series of up and coming opponents. He is easily overthrown by any one of a number of usurpers, and each time, that title is up for grabs. So a strong bully is good for the whole schoolyard, especially if he is a reasonably talented and effective, because then clarity prevails on who and what belongs where. A powerful but increasingly ineffectual bully on the other hand, illustrates a perilous Schoolyard situation. Imagine how dangerous the world must be as the leading Superpower finds itself increasingly quagmired in not necessarily it’s own problems, but world scale problems like climate change and resource depletion.

So.with that in mind, pick any war. Study it up close. You’ll wonder how on Earth people permitted themselves to go to war ever again, knowing the horror and atrocity involved when hundreds of thousands of people spend 24 hours a day implementing their murderous strategies. Civilian casualties in the Korean and Vietnam wars were in the millions. In the 2nd World War something like 20 million Russians died. In Iraq the civilian tolls are estimated at anywhere from 50 000 to multiples of 100 000. I know, the larger the number, the more meaningless it is.

Here’s an easy way to process those numbers. Go to a baseball game or any other sports event with a big stadium. Now imagine everyone in that stadium including you, gone. Their clothes, cars, houses still there, but the people, gone forever. You’d have to visit thousands of fully packed stadiums to experience what 20 million people feels like. It’s a lot of human beings, so it might take you all year. The point is, simply by providing you with this description, you’re doing one fairly useful thing: you’re actually taking an extra few moments to realize that you can’t actually imagine the scale of massacre involved. That’s an okay place to start.

Like buying a house, getting married and having kids, having a war can at first seem like a simple, half decent idea. You might have some damn good reasons too. The reasons will probably never involve you directly (unless of course, you’re the victim of a war, meaning, if you’re invaded and your streets are suddenly filled with boots and the dripping weapons of a foreign power). For the guy who chooses to go to war, as Hitler did, it’s probably a case of believing that the good guys always win, and deserve to (and God is on our side), and if so, why not? What’s to lose?

Quite a lot really. And the problem is that the definition ‘good guys’ is relative. From whose point of view are the good guys the good guys? And when the good guys pray to God, asking him to give them a victory over the enemy, who does God listen to? It’s a little like two soccer teams about to play for the World Cup, and both ardently pray to God to have them win. That’s called conceit. Is it fair that God singles out one team for the victory? What does that say about the team’s accountability to themselves and to reality, to hard work, or just to how the game works? More interestingly, would God even bother with the plaintive ramblings of a bunch of skinny millionaires with so much else going on in the universe? Why would he even involve himself with something so absolutely unnecessary? And to pick sides? What a bunch of narcissists we are! This is why when we do go to war, God leaves us in our own self-made hell. Because it’s a choice we make, it’s what we do to ourselves, despite the invoking of his name throughout. Was Jesus ever a soldier? Did he ever fight in a battle?

I would have thought that by now we’ve examined war in enough detail to know for certain what it is we’re dealing with. Have you seen The World At War? Or watched recent movies like Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan? Not much good happens in a war; in fact it’s fair to say that war, for whatever reason, is a very bad idea.

Of course, whenever there is a war, the following words and sentiments become popular:
- hero
- patriot
- proud
- courageous
- sacrifice

It’s strange though, when you think about it. Imagine two teams of soccer players looking up to the stadium and seeing their entire audience vanquished by a laser beam from an alien spaceship. Anyone think they’d continue playing their game? They’d be struck dumb by the terrible horror of it. And as the soft gray ashes fluttered down on the field, like slow falling fluffs of snow, would one of the players write a poetic and meaningful story about the game, about sacrifice, courage and heroism? No. In the face of such spectacular slaughter, it is sufficient to say nothing at all. In fact, if you’ve experienced someone close to you dying, you’ll know that for a certain amount of time, not only are words and sentiments unnecessary, they are actually meaningless. And writing about one’s own dead mother or father or brother is demeaning because it is immediately a contrivance, a distortion of the obvious. Reality speaks better, and more meaningfully, than any man.

It is in our nature to war, and I believe we’re overdue now for a really big one. Have you felt the same sentiment? Many people do. Many people can feel it, like a dark cloud, slowly enveloping the Earth. There are just too many people, too many of us consuming, too many people just like you and me. And while it is important that people everywhere pollute less, consume less, find something meaningful and urgent to do with their lives, it’s never going to happen. Too many people simple aren’t interested in changing. Why should they? A war will quickly change the proportions of our consumption, our perceptions and our habits. We are still not ready, as a species, to choose to change. One more war will bring us closer, unfortunately, to where we need to be. There is no other way.

I think the reason Chimpanzees eat their victims is out of a mixture of fear (of being overrun, contaminated, or controlled by their adversaries) and an excitable bloodlust. They have a terrible fear of their opponents, learned from their parents, and it is only partly rational. Rational because their opponents will, just like they do, eat their victims. But irrational because being controlled by a stronger rival is considered worse than being dead. I don’t believe Chimpanzees eat their rivals because they enjoy eating the meat. They’re natural vegetarians, though ants and grubs play a part in their diet.
In the same way, I don’t believe our species engage in war because we like it. It’s because of very high amounts of indoctrinated fear, some of which is rational. Unfortunately fear of dying is used as a license to kill, instead of do what seems to me to be more intelligent (more evolved), which is to come together to preserve it. But we need to feel satisfied and safe in the knowledge that people who may be a threat to us, and who are perhaps capable of killing us for trying to wipe them out, so we need to know that will be completely and utterly destroyed. Eating the enemy serves this purpose, to soothe the Chimpanzee into thinking he has something to fear from his enemy. We do the same when we watch a movie, or prepare for a romantic evening, or celebrate a holiday. We eat. We eat our fears, we vanquish our enemies.

And our religion is also about blood sacrifice. We drink blood and eat the body when we do the ritual called Communion (which means empathy, and union, and relationship). The highest gift you can give to your fellow man is to sacrifice your own life for another. It’s recommended. It’s celebrated. We worship our God because of it. We’re prepared to kill those who don’t subscribe to it. Someone who tries to save his own life we mock as a coward and a traitor. Strange. The more who die and offer their lives to death, the better? Is that a rational psychology?

Meanwhile, you have to wonder, if we have only one life (whether or not we go to some afterlife or not), the fact remains that each creature here on this planet, is alive now, at the same time we are. We’re sharing an experience of what it means to be alive once. We can spend our lives killing everything around us, but that raises the odds of having our own lives – this one single life – lost forever. It is quite a thing to die. Perhaps not so when it is someone else. But it is possible for you to die. It is possible for me to die.

It is possible to die.

We seem to forget that when we’re encouraged to go to war. How important is the outcome of a war, when you and your family are dead?
What does it mean:
To fight for peace?
The war on terror?

It means the slow entry of a bullet or some other jagged piece of metal, slowly, into the vein in your neck. It means a jagged hand disconnected, lying in the Earth. It means one eye having been reduced to a scrambled red egg. It means plenty of sharp, stinging hot projectiles propelling themselves towards you, cutting tissue to ribbons. If you find yourself in a war, you will see horror, you might survive. But probably, you and many around you won’t. Because it is possible to die.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Race Report

Wasn't very vigilant to start off with. We were a huge bunch so I expected them to hang with the stronger guys for at least 5km. When I looked again they'd floated about 200m off the front. Thanks. So I got into the usual setup of arranging a chase. Except there were only a handful of riders of any calibre, and they were hesitant to help.

So I did a lot of long hauls upfront, with your occasional showboat idiot resting for about 10 minutes and then sprinting off the front.

Having said that, although I handled most of the uphills okay, the long drag past Engen wasn't so easy. Legs didn't feel very fresh - think the 60km Thursday was still sitting in them. So started to lose touch with the guys, but over the summit I pulled on the thread and reconnected with some effort, HR maxxing at 167 (which really isn't that high).

Then I took some time to recover and did a nice dummy sprint with 2km to go, then had two showboats to draft behind (who started sprinting way to early) and then the last 300m was a snip. Nice to at least win the finishing sprints of the last two races. At least a bit of justice for being the hardest working rider in both cases. Of course, usually the the hardest working rider that gets punished the most. So nice not to have the exceptions count in my favor.

Distance: 83.1km

Time: 2:14:31

Average speed: 37.1km/h

HR ave: 156 (170 max in sprint)

Total Calories: 2356

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Worst Job In The World

All work, little pay and no respect makes teaching a lot worse than cleaning toilets for a living

It’s a simple amendment with profound consequences. No corporal punishment at school leaves children with the responsibility of finding their own level of discipline and accountability. And as one can expect, the result is a circus of pandemonium and chaos in the classroom.

In my first week at a high school, I employed massive amounts of energy, charm and skill to attempt to manage my students. It appeared to work. My colleagues, who I often discovered in tears, even commented that they were astonished by how controlled my classrooms were. Except, the students were simply dazzled to see a teacher put on such an electric, high energy performance. It was impossible to maintain of course, and even if I had been able to run around the classroom putting out fires all day and being endless versions of Robin Williams mutated with Jim Carrey, they soon impatiently wanted to wrest back control so that they could do – well – anything besides being taught something at school.

Shakira Akabor recently wrote about the difficulties of teaching. I’d like to add my reservations about the absolute lack of discipline in school classrooms today. While I taught at a High School in Bloemfontein, one teacher commented that the children might as well be bricks, for the amount of quality teaching they made themselves receptive to. She said all the brick was required to do was be in the classroom at the right time. You could put it on the desk or on the chair, and did didn’t matter what the brick was wearing, or what it was doing. It could do nothing. It wasn’t required to do homework, contribute anything, not even bring it’s schoolbooks to school. Of course, the teacher would probably spend hundreds of hours yelling, pleading and cajoling the brick, but the brick wouldn’t do anything because it didn’t have to (meaning, it couldn’t be forced to do anything, so it did the minimum). Even so, the brick would get through school because the system is designed to pass – eventually – even the most ineffectual student.

Conditions are such in schools that the student has all the rights in the world, the benefit of the doubt in any important disciplinary finding, and virtually no accountability or need to be accountable (for lack of effort, lack of manners etc). Meanwhile, the teacher has no rights in terms of the student, other than to request that others treat the teacher with respect. It’s laughable because there’s an ongoing ignorance of the teacher’s role, and even though the teacher is required to fill in disciplinary reports, these merely fill up a file, and at worst, the student is brought in for a long conversation. The teacher is extraneous except as a filer, marker, converter of marks – basically an administrator of paper, and a part time stand-up comic. Not that a teacher is funny at all, but he is supposed to stand up and in the ordinary scheme of things can reasonably expect to be ignored, ridiculed, laughed at, threatened, mocked etc. In effect, nothing can be done to enforce the rights of anyone other than the student, and expulsion is virtually unheard of (because after all, now some other school must accept the child).

The physical experience of teaching is something like having one’s lifeblood drained out of you. Imagine having to spend the day yelling at brats who simply do not listen. Not listening may sound like a mild problem, but what it really entails is this: kids who enter and leave the classroom at will (they enjoy being sent out), are constantly distracted by cellphones, gambling, food, habitually throwing things out of windows, who blatantly cheat in tests, who choose to sit in a different seat every day, and try to deceive you for as long as possible about their true identity (answering to someone else’s name, refusing to answer their own name, not doing their own filing, not doing homework). Students also bunk classes by having other kids answer to their names, and by temporarily sitting in another teacher’s class (to avoid writing a test etc). Especially where 95% of the students are black, it is at first very difficult to learn student’s names, or faces, and to keep track of what is really happening (as opposed to what they are telling you is happening).

It’s soul destroying to spend each day shouting across an educational message, while circumstances are being engineered to interfere with this simple activity. It is a setup designed to make the teacher feel increasingly:
- helpless

What’s more, teachers don’t have the afternoons off, or month long holidays to recover from their daily term time ordeals. Teaching probably has the most unpaid overtime of any job. As the holidays approach, the potential workload triples or worse, as exam papers follow tests, and masses of information have to be converted and entered into a database.
Then there’s the chore of filing, and of going through all the exceptions, all those students who failed tests, or bunked tests, or were absent. These tests have to be retaken, memos excavated for more marking. Then there are the exam papers. The nightmare of marking exam papers is hard to do justice to. There are unending piles of booklets. Each one can take from 5 minutes to 30 minutes or more to mark, depending on content. These marks have to converted and filed once again.

The entire process is even more defeating when one remembers the students they are being done for (or on behalf of). A bunch of self-centred, self ingratiating, self indulgent, ungrateful youngsters who are concerned only about:
- appearance
- things (like cellphones and clothes)
The number of meetings and training courses teachers are required to go on beyond the filing of hundreds of student files (in the abandoned hollows of a classroom filled with lolly pop sticks, orange peels, crushed cheese crisps and soggy balls of mucous soaked toilet paper) is heartbreaking.
If the above is your lot, and you live in the school hostel, and have to do duty, you have virtually no life, or free time of your own. Often when you are not on duty, you might be called to supervise the punishment of a group of children (for example spending your Saturday morning watching kids shovel dirt over a garden), or spend a Sunday afternoon taking a child to hospital (after stubbing off a toenail in the chase to get to the lunch table first). Although I have incredible awe for teachers who have remained in the profession for say, 10 years, or 20 years, I honestly don’t know how or why they do it in the first place. Are they gluttons for punishment, or Saints? South Africa needs something like 30 000 teachers. Don’t ask me! I don’t care what the salary is, nothing will get me to sign up to kill my own spirit. To teach is to live each day through hell and torture. If I had the option, I’d sign up for Iraq first. Seriously.

Iran is Iraq

Click on the title of this post. Currently this story is ranked 2nd on Ohmynews International.

And Friday is payday.

And Saturday is an 80km cycle day

And the Cheetah's versus the Crusaders day

and another day without rain

and we're living in a world where

demand is too young/supply too old

Stern: The Economics of Climate Change

The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review concludes that the cost of acting to decrease global emissions of greenhouse gases is far less than the cost of dealing with the effects of climate change if no mitigation efforts are made. However, Mr. Stern warned that "even if we are sensible about climate change and get the emissions down, the climate is going to change still more than it has". While the world was currently experiencing the effects of an increase in global temperatures of 0.7 degrees Celsius, he said that "even if we act strongly to decrease emissions, we've got another 1.5 to 2.0 degrees centigrade to come. So we've seen maybe a quarter or a third of temperature increase we're going to have to cope with. St. Petersburg, New York, London, Cairo, Cape Town, Shanghai, Bombay, Calcutta, Dhaka-they're all under threat from sea-level rise, and many parts of the world will be under threat from hurricanes, typhoons, droughts and floods."

Mr. Stern also warned that the heatwaves that killed thousands of people in Europe in 2003 "will probably be standard by the time we get to 2050", and the Nile river, which ten countries depend on, could drop to one half of current water levels in the second half of this century. However, the "business as usual" scenario-where no action is taken to reduce emissions- would lead to changes in the earth's climate, he said, "that we don't really understand, absolutely unprecedented and earth-transforming--the difference between where we are now and the last ice age".

Climate change also highlights global inequities, according to Mr. Stern. "All countries in the world will be affected; we're all in this together, but it is the poor that will be hit earliest and hardest. You just have to look at the effects of Katrina in New Orleans, or the effects of the typhoon that hit Bombay a couple of years ago [in July 2005]." Global security is affected by climate change and "could cause conflict within and across countries", he said, adding that most African leaders he met with at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa in January 2007 attributed the humanitarian crisis in Darfur to the climate problem-pushed out of their traditional lands by drought, and pastoralists were forced to move and came into conflict with settled farmers.

To reduce emissions, Mr. Stern suggested a range of solutions, which included taxes on emission-producing activities, the development and deployment of low-emission technologies, investing in energy efficiency, and preserving forests around the world. Time is of the essence, he said. "Even though this is a long-term problem, we've got to start now. We've left it very late. If we had gotten our heads around this problem 20 years ago, it would have been much simpler and much cheaper. If we wait another 20 years, it will be still more difficult and expensive." Rich countries must take responsibility for a problem they have caused, Mr. Stern said, suggesting emission reductions of 60 to 80 per cent for developed nations. He noted that France had set the goal of a 75 per cent reduction by 2050, the United Kingdom at 60 per cent and the State of California in the United States aimed at 80 per cent. Developing countries, he added, must understand that they can continue to expand their economies and achieve progress on the Millennium Development Goals-eight targets for human development that UN Member States agreed upon to reach by 2015.

Mr. Stern cited the progressive policy in China, which is "reforesting, not deforesting". The country hoped to make energy production 20 per cent more efficient as part of its 11th five-year plan, which is already underway, he reported, adding that an $8,000 tax was established on sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in Beijing. "I'm much more optimistic six or nine months ago about where the world is moving", he said. He called on the international community to "act strongly and on the right kind of scale", stating further that the United Nations is "a place we can really take that forward in a very powerful way".

Mr. Sachs agreed that "we have to move quickly and urgently on this issue. That means setting in place a full century of transition, with much of the transition being completed by 2050." Some 40 or 50 years from today, energy sources should be very different from what they are today, he said. Supplying significant amounts of energy from nuclear power and coal-fired plants that used carbon sequestration technology, where carbon produced by the burning coal is pumped back into the earth, is "within reach", he noted. Such plants must be built quickly in China or India, in order to see if they are viable as sources of clean energy. "Once those plants are done, everything is going to become a lot clearer and less hypothetical than it is now", Mr. Sachs pointed out.

A Just Connection

We habitually suspend common sense in favor of fantasy and self justifying wish fulfillment

It’s appropriate when people are re-working old arguments to dismantle them with that most uncommon of human faculties: common sense.

I recently came across some writing and then comments in favour of the position that basically assesses homosexuals as 'wrong/unnatural' etc.

Are we clear on what scourge means? It’s been used in the context of homosexuality, and I think we ought be completely clear on what is being suggested. It’s associated with suffering, and flogging (and flogging is punishment). In this case we’re referring to a section of people – homosexuals – as the source of suffering. Often the word ‘scourge’ refers to a thing, for example: the scourge of crime, or malaria, or AIDS. So it’s interesting that Christians (on this website) use frankly inflammatory words to describe a class of people. It’s implied that these people are a direct affliction on the others, and well, aren’t they?

Many Christians triumphantly and loudly claim the Bible to be the absolute and infallible authority on every issue, so let’s have a look at how to deal with the ‘gay scourge’ using the Bible as our absolute and ‘God inspired’ authority.

Luke 19:27: ‘Those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.’ – Jesus
Christians may complain that I am quoting these words out of context, but I’ve been to church. Plenty of preachers finger point those verses that substantiate their particular brand of doctrine. May I not do the same?

Well, never mind, let me quote in context then: ‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act. They must be put to death.’ – Leviticus 18:22. I can hear some Christians formulating their argument: ‘but that’s from the Old Testament.’ Give me a moment, and I’ll provide another New Testament verse (beyond the Luke scripture already provided).

Plenty of fundamentalist Christians equate homosexuality with other sins, like murder, and they’ll tell you that sin is absolute. Murder doesn’t rank more more or less abominable than being gay. Well, if you believe Christianity is right, then you ought to subscribe fully and fundamentally to the above views, and Christians ought to hunt down homosexuals and hang them where they find them. Read Romans 1: 26-29 for a more detailed background on God’s associations with homosexuality. Being gay is described as shameful and evil, and the association between homosexuals and murderers is very clearly made here.

So Christians could feel entirely justified in calling homosexuals a scourge, an evil plague dragging humanity down. Some do, as we see, but then they run out of steam as they realize where that roads ends, which is the Dark Ages, and the Inquisition. People eventually burned witches willy nilly, and any other intolerables, merely on the suspicion of being evil. Evidence was useful, but not absolutely necessary (as the famous Jeanne d’Arc case demonstrates). And of course, this obsessional targeting of fellow human beings as ‘evil’ provided a great excuse to exact personal revenges and pursue personal and political ambitions (and still does) facilitating a rise to power and fortune, based on claiming (looting) the possessions and properties of someone else cleverly entrapped, accused and executed. There’s the modern war in Iraq described in figurative language.

People seem to be particularly susceptible to figurative language, as though the common sense meaning were temporarily suspended in favor of wish fulfillment.
We can spend a lot of time describing, say, Saddam Hussein as evil, but you know, I found a poll on the internet where the majority of people did not feel that he deserved to be executed. I believe the US also lost momentum in their baying for blood when it came right down to it. Saddam was executed between Christmas Day and New year, and very few of the people who made living room speeches were even aware that it was happening, or cared. In the end he was allowed to be executed by the US controlled state of Iraq simply because of the brou ha ha leading up to his capture. Probably he might have made a half decent prison inmate who could have been used as a consultant on how to restart the state.

What people discovered when he was captured, and when he was killed, was that Saddam Hussein was just a person, a temperamental and haggard fellow who actually ran an exceptionally tight ship (compared to the current disorderly mess) but by employing some very nasty tactics. Most people in the world, Iraqi’s included, would – I’m guessing – probably choose him over the current carnage and unending bloodshed. Perhaps they wouldn’t, but the point is, common sense is the last thing people consider when presidents loudly shout the words ‘evil’ and ‘murderer’ over a microphone.

Christianity stripped of its figurative poetry really boils down to this: God killed his son, and put man eternally in his debt for this great sacrifice. We focus on the sacrifice, and the guilt, but forget the underlying psychology. Any parent today who killed their own child would be treated with utter scorn and severely punished by everyone, including the state and close family members, no matter what the claim to sacrifice was. The exception is if the parent happened to be an Eskimo, where killing of babies has been routine in the wild, when supplies were insufficient. In that case, the grisly deed was meant to insure survival of the tribe, but I doubt whether each child was elevated to the status of deity. There are more urgent and practical things to pursue in the icy wastes of the world, like finding food and staying alive.

It’s also interesting that much of the time the focus is on a man lying with a man (with little or no mention of lesbians). This obvious male bias in the Bible clearly demonstrates a male God which in itself ought to demonstrate where the Bible finds its apparently ‘holy’ inspiration.

Christians should be pretty clear (given the information provided here) that they have to make a choice between what the Bible demands of them, and how they conduct their affairs on a daily basis anyway. It’s very rare that gay bashing escalates to anything more than tongue wagging and finger pointing. We can refer to this as a sort of moderate Christianity. Brian Fleming, in his DVD ‘The God Who Wasn’t There (which I have used to base many of the arguments on in this article), makes the following point: ‘If this book [the Bible] is wrong, what the hell is moderate Christianity? Jesus was only sort’ve the son of God? He only somewhat rose from the dead? Your eternal soul is at stake but you shouldn’t make a big deal out of it? Moderate Christianity makes no sense. Is it any wonder that the majority of Christians choose Christian leaders [like president Bush and worse] who have the courage of their convictions?’

The scourge that is plaguing our world is chronic Disconnectedness, and our Disconnectedness springs from Perpetual Delusion. We refuse to face reality. We slavishly indulge what we wish were true, despite overt pledges to the contrary. We refuse to face the most urgent and obvious crises afflicting the world, even those of just our nearby fellow human beings. We spend our time focusing on petty entertainments and self justifying our judgments and positions. We need to rediscover our common humanity, instead of perpetuating a crazy cycle of inhumanity to our fellow human beings. This can only be achieved through becoming conscious of our connectedness to each other, consciously knowing our part and sharing ourselves with the mountains and forests, with the birds in the sky and the fish in the fathomless oceans of this world.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Measured last night: 58 (previously 57)

Predicted Maximum HR 182

Cycled 60km this morning
Time: 2:07
HR Avg: 132

Took my car in to PG Glass to replace the cracked windscreen. Excess cost me R350. Ouch, but was able to draw double that off my Ohmynews earnings.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


While the president has spent the majority of his two terms ignoring crime, he is now having a R90 million fortification wall built around the presidential residence in Pretoria. Whatever for?

Could it possibly be to protect him from ‘the most dangerous criminal in South Africa’ – a Mozambican illegal immigrant – who encouraged his mates across the border to enter the country in droves over the Christmas period, because there were such ripe pickings to be had while rich people were away on holiday. This same ‘most wanted’ criminal was allowed to escape from a maximum security prison by the prison guards themselves (who colluded with him).

Why erect a R90 million wall when the SAP are as effective as they are, and beyond reproach. I believe the president gave a speech saying that he will not adulterate criticism of the police force, or the government’s serious intentions to perceive crime as ‘ugly’. (Mr President it’s easy to perceive crime that way when it’s happening in your street, and at your offices, on a daily basis. And if all you’re doing is attempting to perceive what is abundantly obvious, you’re a long way from actually doing what needs to be done).
Of course the police in Volksrust were only doing their job when they arrested a woman for public drunkenness. For this serious crime they threw her in jail with six other men – for the same offence – and subsequently the 19 year old, two 29 year olds, a 33 year old, a 48 year old and a 50 year old took turns raping her. The woman was taken the next morning (were there not police officers in the station during the night?)for medical tests to determine, presumably, if she had been either impregnated during the rapes or worse, infected with HIV or some other disease.

In Wesselsbron a much loved dentist, Dr Jan-Andries Strydom, who worked for more than 50 years as a doctor in this town (and treated mostly the local Africans), was murdered in his home by a fellow wielding a big knife and demanding cash. He’d gotten in through the back door, and kicked the old man whenever he said something. This is according to Strydom’s wife, who was bound. She watched, after the intruder’s final kick and subsequent exit of their home, as her husband drowned in his own blood. She managed to wriggle loose from her bonds, but when she reached her husband he was already dead. She said she didn’t think the burglar meant to kill her husband.

Now it’s against the above background that I’d like to quote from an editorial in the Botswana newspaper, the Sunday Standard (edited by Outsa Mokona). The editorial section is titled Loose Canon: President Zuma will sort out White People.
The writer describes the current South African president (Thabo Mbeki) as ‘The Big Lion’, and depicts his position as ‘the most important in Africa’. Why, because the Lion rules over not just blacks, but whites ‘answer to him’ too. ‘The one thing blacks did’ the writer points out ‘was to make it clear to whites that they won’t tolerate nonsense.’

Today on SABC news apparently powerful black officials dictated terms to the South African Rugby Board. They meant to set a deadline for when teams would reflect the ‘demographic composition’ of the country. That’s code for: ‘put more blacks in the rugby squads’. In offices across the nation, a certain number of black faces (is it 70%) must occupy desks. They want the same to happen on the sports field – in rugby – to reflect the composition of the nation. Sounds fair. I remember when I was at school and the kids chose their teams, they checked your hair, eye and skin color first. Yes, that mattered more than fitness, or training, or performance on the field, or having the winning team, or picking the best players. Yes, I’m sure carrying a demographics chart into the 2010 world cup and doing a survey of all teams (from France, to Korea) will be in order. Who cares who wins right, as long as each team is a perfectly artificial rainbow of representation? I’m sure people all over the world want to watch a fashion show of demographics, pat themselves on the back, and then watch the models and mannequins do a ‘reality show’ called The Soccer/Rugby/Cricket World Cup. That will definitely work. Good one.

Reflecting the attitudes perhaps of Africans all over Africa, but particularly in Zimbabwe and the rest of the subcontinent, the Loose Canon writer goes on to say: ‘I think it is better for owners of the country to get rich as opposed to settlers…Some people complain that only a few blacks are getting rich. I admit it is a matter for concern. But I have no doubt that the poor blacks will soon get rich…I say now that everyone is equal, crime must affect all people equally.”

There are some great solutions already. Bravo. Don’t solve crime, just equalize it, make sure everyone feels it. Great idea. He goes on to say he never understood Mandela, especially because Mandela ‘spent a lot of time smiling and hugging [whites]…

He goes on to postulate: ‘Although the Big Lion in power hasn’t killed any whites they don’t like him. They miss Mandela…Folks I think soon South Africa will have the kind of president who will once and for all sort out the whites…Some of the whites are so poor they have resorted to begging at traffic lights. The sight of white beggars gives me so much joy. Let them taste the feeling. Blacks have been begging since forever…[whites] should count themselves lucky they were not shot on the day of liberation. Perhaps it’s not too late to hang a few whites at the local stadium just to remind them who is in charge…Why didn’t they [blacks] divide white women amongst themselves? But again I don’t think it’s too late. Whites never stop complaining. They whinge about crime. They say the country is the most violent in the world…I can’t wait for him [Zuma] to take over. But as part of sorting out an ungrateful white people I want Zuma to embark on a re-distribution exercise. I want him to distribute white women among the long suffering black chaps in South Africa. He must first choose which white woman he wants. He can even have two.’

I have no doubt that the dentist, who was 82, saw his decent life in South Africa flash before his eyes as the last of his life left him, and as his wife slid from view. I have no doubt that this dentist, who was the only man in the town for the locals to turn to, saw his own blood spool onto the floor in front of him. Your blood has been shed, old man, and for what? Having lived, probably, his whole life in Africa, he probably expected, since it was a good life, he would end his days peacefully. But as the painful swarm fired across his old skeleton, I am sure that he realized his mistake. With his eyelashes dripping he realized: ‘This is South Africa after all, and now I am just another dying white man in Africa.’
There is an abyss in South Africa between the rich and the poor. Crime creates a bridge, something precarious like a rope bridge across a vast gorge. Some precious cargo is ferried in the dark from the mansions and manicured lawns in suburbia to the sea of shanties and smoke on the other side. Each time this happens, the barriers in those mansions go up a little higher, and the wealthy turn their backs even more on the poor. A few thieves and murderers profit, while the abyss widens and deepens. This Is South Africa.

The Fight For Oil in Africa

Photographs by Michael Kamber for The New York Times
Guinean soldiers patrolling in the streets of Conakry. Scores of people have been killed amid riots and a military crackdown in the last month.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Worm Catching

Noticed on BBC news that they intoruced a headline topic by soundtracking it. SABC is to stuck in the Jurassic Era it would never think of being that creative. Today news is entertaining, as scary as that sounds.

Meanwhile, on BBC Hardtalk I listened to Stephen Sackur talking to Senator Jeff Bingaman, the incoming chair of the Senate Energy committee. He has promised tough new legislation to help tackle climate change. He says that the US is paralyzed under the current Adminstration, to the extent it cannot even walk forward. Meanwhile, current events require us to meet the future at a gallop. We're likely to see a frozen stance in the face of an avalanche for another two years. Will we be buried by Energy Crisis by then?

Meanwhile I got up for a drag cycle this morning. Cycled up the long drag and kicked my heart rate up to 167 (with the help of a too-fast-to-catch truck.) Legs were still tired from yesterday.

Feeling thinner and lighter. Excellent rides early in the week, which will mean I'll be strong and rested and fresh for the 80km race on Saturday. The race also includes the long drag section I've been working on.
Meanwhile I have my eye on the top two frames...

Kunstler: Just Chilling

Image courtesy

The Big Chill - from

One of the farmers who organized the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture's annual meeting put it nicely: "

The ethanol craze means that we're going to burn up the Midwest's last six inches of topsoil in our gas-tanks."

The American public is in chill mode in more ways than one. We are finally freezing our asses off in the Northeast after a supernaturally mild December and January, and the heating oil trucks are once again making the rounds of the home furnaces (and running down their inventories). But we're also chillin' on the concept that there is an energy problem per se. The public is convinced that we are one IPO away from attaining the sovereign rescue remedy that will permit us to continue running our Happy Motoring utopia.

The public is bombarded daily with feel-good news about new bio-engineered bacteria that can turn sawmill refuse into high-test gasoline, cornucopias of miracle diesel beans, lithium batteries that will take you from Hackensack to Chicago on a single charge, and still (despite all the evidence against feasibility) hydrogen-powered SUVs. The public is convinced that we will enter a nirvana of "energy independence" just-in-time -- the same way that WalMart miraculously restocks it's shelves.

The truth is, we will never be energy independent as long as we remain a car-fixated society. It's that simple. If we can't let go of the sunk costs associated with Happy Motoring, we're probably not going to make it very far into the future, either as a nation or a viable economy or as an orderly society. By sunk costs I mean our previous investments in car-oriented infrastructure.

For the moment, I blame the Democrats (and I am a registered Democrat). One shouldn't expect rational thinking from the current generation of Republicans. The sheer fact that so many of them have sold their allegiance to the Born Again dominionist fold, where magical thinking rules, means that they are incapable of evaluating the energy predicament -- in fact, if they are sincere in their apocalyptic dogma, then many of them would probably welcome a global struggle over oil, with all the military mischief it would entail in the vicinity of the Holy Land.

No, I blame the Democrats. The Democrats are supposed to represent the reality-based faction of general public. They should be able to do the math without getting sidetracked by Jesus-haunted visions of WalMart running on biodiesel. They should be willing to tell the public the hard truth before it's absolutely too late to make some collective decisions that would lessen the hardship in the circumstances we face -- like allocating some federal funds to passenger rail, or reforming codes, incentives, and subsidies that favor suburban sprawl, or replacing the FICA taxes with a gasoline tax (as proposed by oil man Jeffrey Brown of Dallas), or by aggressively promoting local agriculture.

Most of the university professors in the USA are liberals or progressives or Democrats, or at least not Republicans trafficking in magic. University professors in the so-called "hard sciences," especially, have to lead reality-based lives which encompass such ideas as cause and effect and conclusions derived from facts.

They ought to know that we are not going to run the interstate highways on any combination of "alternative" fuels. Why are they not challenging the politicians who would pander to the public's delusions?

How about the policy wonks in the progressive foundations? Why is Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute still trying to sell the snake oil of a "hyper-car," when its chief effect is to reinforce the mistaken idea that we can continue to be a car-dependent society? This may be the Democrat's last chance to get their shit together. The Republicans are already done. You can stick a fork in them. But the Democrats have an opportunity to lead America back into a reality-based channel of history's stream. They can tell the truth about climate change, about oil-and-gas, and about the terrible misinvestments that we have to put behind us. They can prepare the public to deal with the new facts of life.

My guess is that this may happen with Al Gore emerging as the party's candidate for president. The 2008 election campaign has started way too early and the candidates who have announced so far, whatever their merits or demerits, are liable to exhaust themselves. If Al Gore intends to step up to the plate -- and I think he will -- he would be wise to chill out and wait until at least next fall. That seems to be what he is doing anyway.

Wheel Alignment

Above image courtesy of
Had a spectacular lunch break today. Put my credit card into the atm (my Korea bank card says 'insufficient funds' although online they owe me R1300 already and counting) and spent the next hour waiting for them to unlock the atm so I could get it back. Needless to say, didn't have lunch.

Meanwhile have been working on specs and DMP's. Did receive an email from Paul. He looks like he's changed from Celt to Greek.
Need to get on my bike now and get the machine going...

Are you fat?

How to lose weight immediately

I’ve heard some terrific news. For too long research has supported the lazy approach to training: run slow or walk, to lose weight. There’s been a lot of research to basically prolong the dilemma of being fat. But there’s good news. The most recent research says that a low calorie diet slows down the metabolism. In PlainSpeak: eating less, or eating fewer calories is not going to shed those kilos. Walking and jogging slowly will do more, but doing it slowly will probably end up discouraging you because of just how long it takes to get precious little results. So, here it is, How To Lose Weight Immediately:

Think of your body as an engine, and the fuel in it as a mixture of food and fat. If you drive from A to B, there’s a certain minimum amount of fuel you’re going to consume. If you drive slowly and at an almost constant speed, you’ll use the least amount of fuel. On the other hand, if you drive as fast as you can, and accelerate and decelerate at every possible point, you’ll consume a lot more juice.

In the same way you need to really kick up your metabolism. The morning is best, but any time when you have a few minutes is just as worthwhile. The warmer the better. The more uphills the better. Your goal is simply to get your engine from where it is (cool and sedentary) to as hot, vigorous and energized as possible. The idea is to get your self into a mode where you are moving, metabolizing, active (which continues even after you stop exercising).
It’s as easy as stepping out the front door onto your driveway, and doing some hard-as-you-can (without injuring yourself) gallops up and down the road. Simply push the engine of your heart until you can feel it beating – like a small bird – in your throat. Try doing 3 minimum on day one, and no more than 10. Each day, add another gallop. But that’s manufactured training.

Play Games

You can also pretend to be late for work, and dash up steps, or do a short run to your car.
Carrying groceries (instead of pushing them in a trolley) will also help. If you have access to chickens, you can also try chasing one in a coop and trying to catch one. Or, if you have access to teenagers, play some hockey or soccer, where you have to tackle and dribble.

Get Organised

To know exactly what your body is doing, get a heart rate monitor (Polar is the market leader worldwide), and aim for a workout rate at 80% of your maximum heart rate. Don’t be disheartened, it’s really not complicated. You’ll also learn very quickly what 80% feels like, and learn to associate it with a digit on your Heart Rate Monitor. For me 80% is about 160 bpm. You can roughly estimate it by doing this calculation:
220 – (your age) = MHr x .8 = Workout Rate.
You’ll also find that working out with a heart rate monitor is not only interesting; it’s a lot of fun. You can measure your calories, and load your workouts onto computer and plot your progress. Or you can just use it when you’re just working out, as a sort’ve coach-on-your-wrist.

Avoid SICCC Foods

I’ve trained for 3 Ironman triathlons, and I guarantee you, no amount of training, even 6 hours on a day, is going to make a dent if you continue eating pizza and hamburgers each day as well. You can indulge, but try to curb your consumption of especially the SICCC foods: Sodas, Ice Cream, Crisps (and french fries) and Chocolate.

Another important psychological starting point is to stop associating yourself with the following identity: I am fat. You’re not. You’re lots besides. Your flesh, and bone and blood and brains. You’re a person carrying excess weight, and what you’re doing is simply reducing excess weight. You are not a fat person trying to get thin; you’re a person carrying excess weight temporarily. It’s a small thought pattern adjustment that makes a big difference.

There is a point to exercising moderately, and it is that if you train too hard on one day, you might be too sore for the rest of the week to train again. My advice is to train through the pain. Plenty of top athletes do. You simply cannot wait 3 or 4 days after a decent half hour workout to feel fresh enough to train again. Trust your body to recover, and obviously don’t put in 100% efforts on your first day. Try 80% initially, but be honest: are you pushing yourself as hard as you could? As hard as you should? Do you want to see a difference? If you do, start making a difference to your comfort zone right now.

The point is that you need to push your body intensely to get to the point where your body is stressed enough, working hard enough, where it really starts consuming its own blubbery resources. Play with your engine. Work with it. Listen to it. Rev it the way you would a new car’s. Try revving a little, then a lot. Remember to stretch before and afterwards, no matter how light the workload. Treat sore or stiff muscles with massage and if it’s really painful, with ice, then warmth (massage or warm towels). Try to spend more time training than comforting yourself afterwards with drinks and ice packs.

Your body is capable of so much, so put it through its paces. Put your mind in charge, and your body will follow. It’s an incredible tool, and the most amazing instrument you’ll ever own. Now go out and own it, and do what you’re capable of doing, and slim down fast.

Bitney's Bald

What was she thinking?

On Friday 25 year old Britney Spears did the unthinkable – she shaved her noggin. What was she thinking? Could she have possibly read my article (Bald is Beautiful), and taken it to heart?

Britney must be going through a lot. Published on the same day that Britney went Kojak were rumors* that she booked herself into a rehab clinic in Antigua (on the Caribbean Island) only to leave the following day. Reports and pictures of the pop star at various nightclubs, and at various stages of undress, on Entertainment News, suggest that Britney is struggling to cope with the added stress of being a young, single mother.

But it was at Esther’s Haircutting Studio that Britney finally took the most drastic step of all. The owner, Esther Tognozzi (speaking on the gossip show Extra) understandably refused to do the requested shearingl; instead she attempted to placate the star by saying her hormones were possibly just playing up, and she’d soon be feeling better about herself. But then Britney calmly reached for the clipper, grabbed her locks and shaved them herself. According to Tognozzi she appeared in control of herself, if emotionally distant. When she realized what she was doing would upset her mother, Britney’s eyes began to moisten painfully, according to Tognozzi.

But it wasn’t over yet. From Esther’s Britney made her way to Sherman Oaks. She entered the Body and Soul tattoo parlor, where Miss Emily Wynne Hughes says Britney asked for a cross in black, white and pink inserted on her lower hip, and a pair of lips on her wrist. The body art would have cost Britney around $80. Hughes says that Britney found the procedure painful and, at times, writhed and cried out and was otherwise difficult to work with.

Having gone through the same experience at roughly the same age, I’m sure that Britney is going through hell. It’s not only a shock for oneself to wake up each day having changed one’s appearance so much (and arguably for the worse), it’s a shock to everyone else too, and they don’t let you forget it. A number of people approached me in the days after I shaved the long hair off my head, and plenty of people wouldn’t let me forget what a tragic waste it was. There were a few who said: “This is a great look for you, it brings out your face’. It’s likely the media and people close to Britney will make it even more difficult for the star to process her everyday agonies, let alone the ancillary anguish of dealing with her radicalized new appearance.

Britney is probably desperate to feel like a different, happier person, but she wants to feel happy now. Her moods may adjust sooner rather than later, but it will take several years to grow back the mop of golden hair she left on the floor at Esther’s Haircutting Studio.

On the other hand, scores of teenagers may take their cue from Britney to the horror and chagrin of parents and friends. Demi Moore and Sigourney Weaver made it fashionable once, perhaps Britney will prove that even for women, bald is (sometimes) the best way to go. Meanwhile, I’m wondering how Britney’s pal Paris is reacting to all this. Will she consider Britney cool enough for more girls night’s out on the town?
*People Magazine/Some information sourced and translated from local Afrikaans Newspaper, Die Volksblad: Britney Spears sny self al haar hare af

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Midmar Party

Candice outshining the rest.

Some Pugh fella is swimming through the Maldives - something like 160km over 10 days. It's on the cover of today's Sunday Times.

(Here's) what's wrong with the world

Realised with a pang that I am skint this month because a confluence of events determined that this month I would pay double doses of rent and insurance. But ah, pay day - that blessed day - is here by next weekend.

Dad's kidney stones passed without gathering too much moss - apparently they are jagged and rip their way through the fallopian (like) tubes on their way out. Owww.

Had a long call with Alex today. Says he got the Zipps after all and averaged over 40km/h in the race.
Darth Vader Voice: IMPRESSIVE.

Meanwhile, since I am at the office enjoying the aircon during the heat of the day (mid 30's), I emailed about 30 people that have been out the loop since my entry into South Africa's derelict internet shipwreck.

And I posted a comment (to pass the time I guess) on a particularly useless blog that I love to hate. That's what's wrong with the world. We spend our time as though time was money, which in fact, is the case. And we still waste it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Agent of Destruction

Had an unusually awesome sleep (at least 6 hours, I usually only make time for 4 or less), before cycling to the start just off Haldon Road. Was cool to the point of chilly at 6:30am, but soon it had warmed to setting one on the average oven.

There was also an incredibly strong wind driving us down the road for the first 50km and then ready whallop us across the road on the way back. Was very tough fighting against it for the last 50km, so much so that if there were more than 7 cyclists slipstreaming, the tailenders tended to fall off or risk being smashed to smithereans by oncoming traffic. Some nasty creatures in the vehicles that past us today. When will people get it in their heads that roads are not just for cars?

Distance: 100km
Time: 2:45
Average speed: 35km/h
HRA 156 (175 Max)
Energy: 1486 kcal
Time per km: 1:43


The guys got off to a cracking start, in fact we were moving so fast I felt like I was short of at least two more big gears. Very quickly the entire peleton was spread out into a long trickle, and as usual, I helped design a chaser group.

It comprised some fair to middling riders, but then we caught Ettiene and a Lindsay Saker rider. We didn't seem to be making headway (not fast enough anyway) on a flying fiver ahead of, so I pushed myself across. Fortunately with the wind at my back it wasn't as crazy as it otherwise would have been (with 90km to go). Then we reeled in a triathlete on a GT with a bleeding forearm and some more Lindsay Saker's. And then we really got going. We sped up the road and reeled in the leading bunch (which almost never happens).

I miscalculated at this point. I let them get about 30m in front of me, with 1km to go to the turning point. I thought I'd catch them on the turn as a big group usually turns slowly. I did catch them, except we suddenly hit a powerful hit wind and after closing the 10m gap to 5m I couldn't do any more. I couldn't believe that they bwere just ahead of me, but I was maxxed out. So there, at 51km or so, with my heart rate at 166, I took my foot off the gas and they quickly slipped away in the direction of the horison (later I found out they finished 5 minutes ahead of me, in 2:40).

Now I felt quite down, as the runner up bunch was almost invisible behind me, and I was fighting alone against a really nasty punching wind. When the next group assimilated me I felt even more down because a lot of them didn't seem very good calibre riders, bar Phillip (with Lindsay Saker) and a pip squeak from Grey who is always surprisingly strong.
I noticed my heart was bottoming out at 144, and felt gloomy that the hard work and high average speed was now being wiped out by travelling with this mediocre lot.

It turned out quite well though. As I said, the wind was coming slightly from the side, so tailenders were being picked off as they had nowhere to hide from the wind. That was the case with our group, and almost certainly the case with the hard(er)core guys up the road. So we first picked up Ben, and later, the triathlete guy that worked so well with us to reel in the main bunch - on the GT. Ben stayed with us but the triathlete was so wasted when we reached him he couldn't hang on. By the time we hit the N1 (at 90km) I had put in a little attack (on the same piece where I had been finally dropped in the 80km section), then sat up and cruised the next 9km.

I knew exactly how to approach the last km, and felt nerves twanging and somersaulting in my legs and tummy. Quite silly really, but there you have it. Some bright spark was kind enough to do a semi-lead out up the last uphill (over a bridge), and as Phillip drew alongside there was some noise and they looked at each other and then I kicked. The blue golf chaperoning us was soon right in front of me, gave me a little bit of extra help, and when I turned onto the bridge and looked back I had a 100m lead. At the next turn, a very sharp one, it was 200m. Then it was just an easy sprint to the finish line.

Glad I left my bunch behind, but also satisfied that I raced the way I did. Would have wanted to hang with that leading bunch longer, but I think I probably would have gotten wrecked at about 80km by the wind and the pace.

It occured to me afterwards that I basically engineered the chase and assimilation of 7 riders with the main bunch, then fell back and saw them fall apart, and then, once assimilated into a new bunch, basically whittled 12 riders down to about 7, and then left them for dead. Kind've funny.

Happy Day

It's Friday...started it off with an easy cycle to the Sunnyhill bridge. Very warm again this morning.

Also heard that dad is (was) in the hospital with kidney stones. He has just called to say he is being discharged and that it was very painful.

Marge also informed me that Andrew has a kid, who he has basically shut out of his life. On a whim I sms-ed Andrew: 'How is Matthew'. He sms'ed back:

'Are you threatening me with my kid cause if you are I will kill you.'

The backdrop to this is that I gave Andrew Aresti (my landlord) notice since he reneged on his promise to set up a carport (should have been up first week in January, then first week in February,), and now he wants me to pay half the costs. He also hasn't fixed the chipped basin or installed the burglar bars over the biggest window as he said he would.

Later in the day I got a second death threat from him.

Not the nicest way to spend the day. And otherwise it has been an incredibly boring day since all I had to work on was the DMP. At least I got that done and the cycle. Am feeling quite tired. Eating junk hasn't today helped. Think I am holding off some kind of infection.

Tomorrow is a 100km cycle race.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

How to be a Casanova (without really trying)

Simple stratagems to successfully and effectively engage with the opposite sex

First, what is a Casanova: a Don Juan, ladies man, conquistador, a serial seducer of the opposite sex, or in today’s parlance, a player.

With Valentines Day having come and gone, some people’s love life paradigms have shifted sharply into focus. It’s my experience that Valentine’s Day can sometimes bring couples and strangers closer, but more often, the pressure of demonstrating affection perfectly according to someone else’s standards is usually a source of friction on Valentine’s Day. Was it? Hands up who had an argument or even just some bickering on V-Day? This article is for those, and those poor souls who wish they were in relationship to start off with.

Now I’m sure some of you are going: who are you to offer us advice? It’s a fair point. Am I qualified? As any real Casanova will tell you, discretion is one of the strongest virtues you will need. What I can tell you is a group of 30 girls on a cycling tour voted me (and not my 29 male companions) as Mr. Casanova, so let’s take it on their authority. As far as I know though, the vote was not unanimous, which may be a good thing.

So let’s get started. The most basic trait of a Casanova is this one:
- be friendly. It may sound simple, but obviously if you’re walking around cursing and muttering under your breath, it’s probably going to be tough to approach other people with an open mind, and it’s going to be tough for them to approach you. Also, friendliness begets friendliness.
- smile. Well, it’s not quite as simple as that. I’m not referring to an artificial camera-in-your-face-smile, I’m saying you need to try to wear your feelings comfortably on your face. People like people who communicate openly with their bodies, and most particularly, their facial gestures. Guy’s are especially hard to read. Guys – show your feelings on your face. If this is a tough one for you, spend time figuring something to smile about before stepping out your door each day. That’s can be a significant mental step you make each day, and it can make the world of difference
- pay attention. Notice what is going on around you. That means, if there’s sport on television, or you’re busy with something, try to find the capacity or the space to move beyond your attention’s pan, and try to pan beyond, to include other people in your viewfinder. This could be at work, on a bus, anywhere. Paying attention also means being attentive to what others might need. It means remembering people’s birthdays, remembering the details in people’s lives the same way you like the things you like done in a certain way, and remembered on your behalf. Paying attention can also mean actual giving.
- listen. Chances are, if you don’t score well with the first three, you’re a dismal listener. A good listener shuts up and listens. It’s simple, but not always easy. Don’t listen in order to comment or judge or provide feedback. Listen in order to get to know the other person better. First seek to understand. You might find you discover a great deal in a short space of time. If you listen, it’s likely they will listen to you too (but not necessarily). Listen, learn and then, especially when specifically asked, provide your response. Choose your works carefully, and speak as honestly as you can.
- make plenty of eye contact. Enough said.
- touch. Please note that the first five tips are really about spending some time getting to know the person you’re intending to seduce (or at least, getting to know), but they’re also going to allow you to get to know who are as you put yourself in a place where you’re exposing yourself to someone else’s world. Touch is where the stakes change. Touch is very personal, so use sound judgment here. Touch is about trust. Forearms and shoulders, the back of the head perhaps for starters.
- talk. In this game you first talk the talk before you walk the walk. Knowing how to talk to someone is an art, and it’s where you can tell whether someone is charming or not, whether they do it for you (beyond mere appearances) or not. The eyes may be the window to the soul, but the voice is the door to the heart, and the words you use, a path into the mind of both people in a conversation. Obviously adapt what you say depending on the person. Someone who is shy will need you to take the lead in talking and setting the pace, but they’ll be more sensitive to what you’re saying, so watch carefully for cues. Someone who is particularly garrulous will probably want someone that can stimulate them, or understand them, or both.

I think if you want to have a good experience with the opposite sex you have to be fascinated by them, curious, and interested. I am and it certainly helps, because it shows. Be as honest as possible, even about the details, but let’s face it, sometimes it’s easier to tell a big lie in the beginning. Try not to. As far as possible, be true to yourself. Deceiving others in the end is demeaning to the both of you, and you’ll end up not feeling self-congratulatory but bitter about hurting someone else. If you can be yourself and get the girl, that’s the kick you want.

Another paradigm to bear in mind is this one: No Rules. Of course it does depend on the individual. Some will make their boundaries according to a list, others according to their religion, and others according to pure appearance only or to those they envy. The fewer rules, the shorter the list of must-haves in your search for love, the easier, more enjoyable and likely happy the experience will be. Many people get stuck on appearance, and so did I once upon a time. Why? Because it’s the obvious place to start. We start by noticing someone who looks attractive. You may have noticed that I didn’t even mention appearance in the above 7 stratagems, simply because it’s overdone (but not unimportant).

Like many young bucks, I started out dating a model and so my first three girlfriends were all models. Boy can they give you a hard time! Throw away the rule book. Is someone you know, or like, divorced, or with children, or a bit short, or bit too this or a bit too that? Be a little flexible and take a step. A small step isn’t a commitment; it’s just a small step. Going through a Casanova Stage (that’s probably Cinderella for the girls) is helpful for a while, because you learn what you like and you explore your personal power and develop your ability to charm and seduce. It’s really about your internal journey towards who you are and knowing who you are. It’s when this continues for too long, where you’re in love with being in love, and you know you’re being immature and greedy, and breaking hearts left and right (and finding your own heart becoming emptier and emptier)anyway, that it becomes self defeating.

It’s my experience though that few people graduate from the Casanova/Cinderella Stage; instead they quickly marry the first or second prospect that comes along, and then the babies roll out. This is usually at a youngish age. Not good. Today, given the complexity and pace of society, we need far more time not only to find ourselves, but to find our feet. Bachelors today, for example, are expected to spend more time alone than in a relationship, and thus are investing more in bachelor pads that are not just stylish but functional and livable. Give yourself time to find your space, and your place, before you choose your Cinderella.

The idea is to treat women as human beings, not as objects. Doing so assures success (for both players). There are plenty of men who use the ‘hit and run’ method, or simply play ‘the numbers’. It’s up to the woman to accept the man's attentions or not, and obviously the more acceptably (honestly and sincerely he behaves, the better the chances of mutual fulfillment. My recommendation is to be as true to yourself and as honest as possible, that way you save everyone (including yourself), a lot of pain. It also allows for a more rapid response, because in the end ‘having a relationship’ is about interactive communication on a number of levels. To the extent that this is free flowing, it ought to also be satisfying. Treating the opposite sex as an adversary or worse, the enemy, and employing tricks and deception is counterproductive and only effective over the very short term. Word spreads quickly, and so does the karma you’re employing. Be careful to manage your image over the longer term, if you expect to be playing the field further than just today.

In the movie Dangerous Liaisons, it’s interesting to see that the Casanova Game can go wrong (or is it right), when someone comes along that is genuine, and you’re ready to be – how can I put it? Disarmed. Of course, by being genuine, by talking and listening, you (the Casanova) runs the risk of really liking someone. That’s the reward for finally learning to play the game with sincerity and with minimum contrivance.

A good place to be is The Retired Casanova. You’ve experienced enough to know what you want, and you’re ready to seize the person who next makes your heart melt, and for the right reason. If you do embark on the Casanova Stage, make sure you graduate, and do so with honor!