Thursday, May 31, 2007

Squish Squash

After my record of victories against J I fancied myself as a half decent squash player. Last night I got my butt kicked. Played about 9 games, the first four were: 9-0 or 9-1. Got up to 9-3 or 9-4 in the last games. My opponent this time was a guy I studied with at Varsity.

Frik - Respect.

But beware of my learning curve.

Body is nice and sore - stretched - today.

The Human Problem

For the full article, click on the title of this post.
It’s not Climate Change, or AIDS, or Oil that’s the problem

6.5 billion may seem like a small number. 6.5 after all isn’t much. It sounds like a tall person. The human population of planet Earth should probably be written like so:

6 500 000 000

On paper it still fits comfortably into one sentence. But that number of human beings doesn’t fit into any sustainable systems anywhere. They do incredible damage every day, and produce gargantuan quantities of waste.

In fact, unlike other animals, every time human beings move, they pollute their environment. Every time they cook. Everything they do erodes the natural world of its resources. In fact right now, your reading this article on a computer screen, and me writing it - something that may seem particularly benign - is consuming resources.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


A swimming pool is a fishbowl for the soul. It is a place to be
buoyant, a place for the sun to sprinkle itself into rectangular blue.
It is a place where wet dreams spin down a towel-dried spine.

Maybe some of the magic and charm of toiling in a pool comes from primal memories when I spun in amniotic fluid, dark and warm, with outside sounds muffled and crushed. Maybe a swimming pool is a place where the inklings of life blink back at us, through the stars, the silver stairs of light, where bodies are suspended, and I suspend my own, in a rectangular bubble bursting with light.

A swimming pool, in its most basic sense, is merely a rectangle of water for people to put themselves in.

There is ecstacy in that, and also, despite all this delight,loneliness. The loneliness of the long distance swimmer comes from isolation, from being in a sterile white world for long periods of time. It comes from being alone with oneself, in water. But this is not without warmth, or the glittering light of reflection. Sometimes the images shiver, dripping icy from their source. More often they spring buoyant and bright from the dancing rainbows that flow and radiate their chlorine dreams across the bleached chessboard backdrop that is the swimming

I saw my own reflections in the dark black bar running the polar white length of our lanes. I saw myself drifting in the night, I descended down, until the water pressed tightly against my ears, and saw my dark eyes shining in the dark, the tips of my hair catching the light and drawing it towards the dark black bar. I'd watch these silhouettes of light play off the the small waves that snaked around my body as I
crawled powerfully from one end of the pool to the other.

Sometimes I'd swim underwater and turn upside down and see the surface turn into a mirror, so that I was flying and below myself.
Reflections set off introspection. And a curosity in the swimmers stroking the water beside me.

Best Food Book

From Publishers WeeklyWhat can we do to help stop global warming, feed the hungry, prevent cruelty to animals, avoid genetically modified foods, be healthier and live longer? Eat vegetarian, Robbins (Diet for a New America) argues.

Noting the massive changes in the environment, food-production methods, and technology over the last two decades, he lambastes (in a manner less tough-mindedly restrained than Frances Moore Lapp‚'s classic Diet for a Small Planet) contemporary factory-farming methods and demonstrates that individual dietary choices can be both empowering and have a broader impact.

Robbins, heir to the Baskin-Robbins ice-cream empire (he rejected it to live according to his values), takes on fad diets, the meat industry, food irradiation, hormone and antibiotic use in animals, cruel animal husbandry practices, the economics of meat consumption, biotechnology and the prevalence of salmonella and E. Coli. Some details are downright revolting (euthanized dogs and cats often are made into cattle feed), horrific (some 90% of cows, pigs and poultry are still conscious when butchered) and mind-boggling (it takes 5,214 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef). Despite all this and more distressing information, Robbins ends on a hopeful note, detailing growth in organic farming, public awareness and consumer activism worldwide, as well as policy changes, especially in Europe.

Well researched and lucidly written, if sometimes overly sentimental and burdened by cliched rhetoric, this book is sure to spark discussion and incite readers to examine their food choices. (July 2)Forecast: Diet for a New America was both controversial and influential; Robbins's name (and that of Dr. Dean Ornish, who provides a foreword) should draw readers, particularly to the author's six-city western U.S. tour.

Global warming, animal rights, meat safety and genetically modified food are being recognized as important issues, but the kind of sea change the book calls for is unlikely to find a mass audience.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

How To Be Unhappy

Make little things bother you. Don't just let them, MAKE them.

Lose your perspective on things and keep it lost:don't put first things first.

Get yourself a good worry, one about which youcannot do anything.

Be a perfectionist, which means not that you work hard to do your best, but that you condemn yourself and others for not achieving perfection.

Be right. Be always right. Be the only one who is always right, and be rigid in your rightness.

Don't trust or believe people, or accept them at anything but their worst and weakest.

Be suspicious. Insist that others always have hidden motives.

Always compare yourself unfavorably to others. This guarantees instant misery.

Take personally everything that happens to you.

Don't give yourself whole-heartily to anyone or anything.
Above image courtesy

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Legal Juncture


We refer to the above matter and confirm that we have provided final insructions to the Sheriff to remove and store property of your debtor.

We currently await the Sheriff's confirmation that Heartland's property is stored at the Sheriff's premises.

We will inform you of execution sale- date and time.

Yours faithfully



Click on this post to link: should blogs like this be allowed?

Everest Calling

First cell call from Mount Everest was recorded on a blog

Your cellphone chirrups. Your colleagues around the boardroom regard the interruption with obvious annoyance and frustration. But holding up a hand with the cellphone in it, you defend yourself, saying: “Sorry, I need to take this. It’s from the top of Mount Everest.”
36-year-old Rod Baber, a British mountaineer, has made the first cellphone call from Mount Everest.

It was no easy feat either. First off, Baber would have had to remove his oxygen mask which meant not only would he have difficulty breathing, but would be even more susceptible to the cold. Baber had to tape the phone’s batteries to his body to prevent them from freezing and becoming useless. The initial transmission was not live, or made to a living person, but recorded on a voicemail account created by the expedition’s sponsor Motorola, and subsequently posted on Baber’s blog.

Gasping at almost 9km above sea level, Baber says, “Hi, this is Rod. Making the world’s highest phone call on the 21st of May. [Fumble]. It’s 5:37am. It’s about minus 30 C. It’s cold. It’s fantastic. The Himalayas are everywhere. I can’t feel my toes. Everyone’s in good spirits. We got here in record time.” He then describes what he wants to do once back at base camp.

The 2nd call he made was live, to his wife and children in Cirencester, Gloucestershire,in the UK. Typically climbers spend only around 15 minutes on the roof of the world, so Baber had to be brief. He told his family: “It’s amazing. I can’t feel my toes.” Baber then sent this first ever text message from Everest, to Motorola: “One small text for man, one giant leap for mobilekind – thanks Motorola.” We will probably hear Baber’s message and see the text message used in television commercials to promote the Motorola brand around the world.

Having already seen Baber’s story flighted in various media, I am reminded of South African software billionaire Mark Shuttleworth’s trip into space. Knowing the world would be reporting on this story, I contacted the advertising agencies that did promotions for Shuttleworth (the world’s second space tourist) and suggested Mark record a message in space on a simple Dictaphone which could later be relayed as inexpensive but powerful radio commercials to promote tourism to the country (a much underutilized, and under marketed resource). Som thing like:
“This is Mark Shuttleworth. Space really is our final frontier, but you don’t have to come to outer space to find your inner space. Visit South Africa.”
Perhaps an additional website for information could have been provided, along with in-support outdoor advertising. In an email Mr Shuttleworth indicated that the Russians were strict in terms of what cosmonauts were allowed to do and take with them. Every gram had to be calibrated. So unfortunately, that opportunity slipped away unused.

Nevertheless, it is somewhat surprising to hear that the first cell transmissions from Everest only took place this year, in 2007. Satellite transmissions have of course been made in the past, one of the most famous was from Rob Hall, the New Zealander who was patched through to his pregnant wife in that fateful year, 1996, before succumbing on the mountain.

But cellular technologies have been present around the world for some time. People have made the claim in thousands of contemporary conversations that with a cellphone one is reachable (theoretically), everywhere, from Mount Everest, to the bottom of the ocean. That has not been 100% true in the case of the cellphone. Baber’s call was thanks to China Telecom’s new base station at Rongbuk which is 19km from the summit of Everest, and 8km from base camp. It is one positive development of the unhappy taking over of Tibet by China that at least the local communities may benefit from the deeper pockets of the intrusive Chinese regime. Until now, regional telecommunications had only been possible using shortwave radios and the heavier and more expensive satellite phones.

Baber remains fortunate to have been able to transmit from Everest, given the extreme cold. To illustrate just how susceptible batteries and the like are to becoming dysfunctional in the extreme cold of high altitude, I refer to the almost 6km high Kilimanjaro (a third lower than Everest), a peak I climbed in the mid 90’s. Once on the volcanoes rim, which is probably half as cold as Everest, perhaps minus 10, or minus 15, we discovered that the camera’s battery was simply too cold to use. After stuffing the camera between my inner shell (a cycle jersey) and my skin, I was able to resurrect a few faint pulses of battery power. It was sufficient for a summit photo, but there was an agonizing moment where the person I handed the camera to said, “It’s not working.” By the simple action of removing it and handing someone else the camera, exposing it to the icy air, the battery had once again lost the small amount of body heat I’d imbued it with. Thus I had to re-heat the camera for the all important photograph and try again. ‘It’s still not working. It’s dead.” After the third time my companion was able to take a photograph, freezing the image into the camera’s cold digital mind space.

In the near future, space tourists (perhaps on Virgin Galactic rocketships) may demand to be able to communicate from space to their families and friends. Companies like Connext (who provide internet from airlines) already provide us with connectivity at 30 000 feet, but once again only satellite phones are likely to work from space right now. But given the extreme energy demands of space travel, I personally do not believe space tourism will last more than a season or two, if it ever gets off the ground. Then again, with human beings, anything is possible.

Background for this article from and The Sunday Times London.

Image courtesy

Kunstler: let's stop talking about making better cars and start talking about occupying the landscape differently -- which we're going to have to do anyway.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Images courtesy

Dismantling Bad Habits

We're almost halfway through 2007. What have you achieved so far? Now is the time to assess success, and dismantle a few bad habits that are going to tie you up in knots before you even start.

1. Why worry?

Worrying tends to drive a number of negative responses or reactions. When we get locked into it, when we've really got our teeth gnawing on the bone of worry, what happens is this: nothing. Most often, worry paralyzes us. Almost as often, when worry actually gets us to do anything, it's often the manifestation of a bad habit: comfort eating is a prime example.

When we sit around and worry begins to overwhelm us, the simplest way to feel better -- without doing anything -- is to eat something. It has the added bonus of feeling like we're doing something, and what we're doing is changing how we feel. Except, when it's done, we know we're not changing anything (not in a good way), and there are yucky side-effects like additional weight gain, mood swings and self esteem and motivation levels that slide down another few notches.

Another side effect of worry is insomnia. This is an extremely damaging side-effect, and its perniciousness is grossly under-estimated. Lack of sleep on a day to day basis severely erodes our ability to enjoy life, to effectively do the simplest tasks, and we run the real risk of endangering ourselves and others when we're in our cars or handling sensitive equipment.

So here's a rule of thumb this year. The moment you sense something is bothering you, go and do something. Develop the habit of instant response to worry, and you'll wipe worry out.

2. Time Management

Research has indicated that some families watch up to 40 hours of television a week. That's a working week! If you want to release up huge quadrants of time in your life, limit TV time, and whenever a social engagement conflicts with what's on TV, pass up the TV. At the end of your life you're going to evaluate the quality of your time on Earth by the nature of relationships you shared with others. You're not going to fondly remember a single TV program.

On weekends, get out of bed early and go out and celebrate the day. If you really need the sleep, sleep on a Sunday afternoon, and if you must, Saturday afternoon as well. The best way to ruin the perfect day is to sleep until lunch time and then feel too gloomy to emerge until the day is just about done. Give yourself the time to live, and it starts first thing in the morning.

3. Move -- get light

If you're heavier than you should be, cultivate an attitude where you are done feeling uncomfortable in your own skin. When you attempt to lose weight, do so aggressively, but in a way you can sustain for at least a month or more.

Combine exercise with a modified diet. The sooner you get yourself lighter, the sooner you're going to enjoy yourself more, and the more you're going to bask in better esteem, yours and others. Each day you delay is a day in the shadows of who you could be, so get going.

4. Find a paradigm

The beginning of the year is not the only time to think about your identity, but it's a great time to do a thorough checklist of your life. Think about who you are, your identity, your values, what you’re doing with your life. Evaluate the long term results you’re seeing in your friendships, in your health, and wealth, and make some changes.

5. Anticipate change

If you intend to shape the direction of your life this year, one skill matters more than most. Anticipation. Anticipation is the opposite of worrying. It's not reactionary, it's what? Yes, it's about being proactive. Because of course it's more than merely knowing what is about to happen, or finding a problem before it manifests. It's a matter of anticipating the future, which means letting go of the precious present momentarily for long enough to grasp what's immediately about to happen. And with that knowledge, you'll change your strategy, change what you’re doing. It's easier to ward off a small problem that's about to happen, than clean up the mess once the pot smashes onto the kitchen floor.

The above five points represent a broad theoretical dimension. Make sure you internalize these 5 points, and learn to practice them now, and on a daily basis, going forward. The first four are fairly simple, but if you're not there yet, you need to burn a lot of energy and find the discipline to at least get yourself through the starting gates. Then, when you're ready, get into the habit of anticipating. And when you anticipate, think laterally instead of linearly; think in circles rather than straight lines.

Now, here are a few practical suggestions. While the above mindsets present a governing psychology, you'll still need miniature goals, models and patterns to move your life along. You apply the governing psychology to these goals. It's important to remember that setting goals is crucial, but goals are not:

-Be more social.

Those are merely thoughts, hopes and wishes. Without specifying quantity or quality and a date, goals are merely daydreams. So, make your goals specific, and don't make the timeframe in the far future, make them immediate, and revise them often:

-Exercise: run easy every 2nd day in January, starting with 30 minutes a day
-Save: save 10 percent of my salary this month
-Be more social: drinks every Wednesday at X, with Y, swim with Jane every Friday at 4 p.m. in the gym

Without specifying quantity or quality and a date, goals are merely daydreams.

Now set a new set of goals for 2007, and make them worthy goals. That way you'll emerge at the end of the year basking in your own glory. Enjoy your success.

©2007 Nick van der Leek

Ad Awards

What’s hot and what’s not right now

You’ve heard them say that for broadcasters, ‘Filling’ is what they call movies and everything else on TV we like to watch. ‘Content’ is what they’re actually selling (the advertising). From our perspective, we tolerate the content in order to be able to see the filling.
Having sat through two of the three Lord of the Rings episodes on etv, I want a game plan for the third episode: Return of the King. The plan is called: How to avoid nuisance ad breaks.

1). Make popcorn
2). Add a paragraph to an article in progress
3). Make list of chores to do for Monday
4). Mute the TV and read a page of a novel
5). Sms someone

The reason these escape clauses are necessary is because commercial breaks ruin the ethos of the movie, and are usually not nearly as entertaining.
There’s something wrong with that. Sometimes advertising is entertaining. I’ve seen an advertisement for paint (not released) in South Africa that has a black guy and white guy visiting houses in suburbia. When it’s a white owned home, the black guy plays skivvie, and busily gets to work while the white guys put their feet up and relax with a beer. But when they turn up at a home with a black family, the white guy becomes the skivvie. It’s a comical look at the changing BEE/cultural mindset of the country.


At the moment, Toyota is producing some good material, not only on television but also on the radio. Have you heard Bill Flynn playing the bushman interpreter (Toyota Landcruiser radio spot)? Part of what makes it work is that it is telling a story. It also works because it’s funny. And it brilliantly conveys the message within the fairy tale of the Nambeeb; that in your Toyota, you’re not going to experience any fear. I did wonder whether there is such a thing as a desert wolf (in Africa), but apparently there is – in Ethiopia.
The other commercial I’ve seen at the cinema and on television. It features a boertjie who notices he is not attracting the attention of a girl he likes. He has a makeover, but when he returns to his tough Toyota bakkie in a pink shirt, his car feels he is too much of a softy: ‘Hey, it’s me. Open the door.’


Nedbank is doing very well, not only in its advertising, but they are working hard to win back market share lost a few years ago. In terms of advertising, it’s fresh, but not as dynamic and hardworking as the bank it is representing. And I don’t think highlighting the ‘N’ as a Nedbank ‘N’ in ‘Make thiNgs happen’ is very effective. It’s too incidental, even untidy. I don’t think it works. Perhaps the entire word ‘happen’ can be converted into a Nedbank font so that NEDBANK = HAPPEN/HAPPENING, or all, or just the first letters could be using the Nedbank font. After all, Nedbank are setting the standard for low banking fees, and at the moment, Nedbank is where a lot of consumer friendly banking is happening.


I don’t want to watch a junk commercial where a snake falls on a man’s head in a jungle, and then he grabs an AIRWAVE which miraculously restores his blocked passages. This is the sort of thing a young rookie at an ad agency dreams up, and possibly because he’s had one awesome idea for something he knew something about, no one thinks to second guess the idea.
Here’s mine: A row of men, perhaps prisoners or schoolboys, or even sailors. They are distracted by something – watching rugby, or lifeguard duty, or homework, or reading the paper (theoretically the same theme can be repeated using different scenarios). A beautiful woman approaches, walks by, everyone notices her, some even smile and close their eyes. But one man (is he crazy?) does not notice her. His buddy beside him offers him an AIRWAVE. When the woman returns, he’s able to smell her perfume just like the others and everyone (including the attractive lady, who notices this change) is happy.

When I was at advertising school, I found myself frowning on commercials that made you laugh. I believed that they were not going to sell the product at the end of the day. Although that remains a cogent argument, commercials that make you laugh do a great deal to improve brand acceptability. If we welcome the intrusion of a commercial because we like it, the chances are we will become increasingly positive towards that brand. Hence, the brand conveyed through a comical message cannot be dismissed. On the other hand, a brand that consistently irritates you (through repetitive, unimaginative marketing), is going to be blocked, and flagged by the consumer as: To Avoid in Future.

Finally, I want to repeat something my lecturers told me at advertising school. They said becoming generic is the worst thing that can happen to a brand. In fact, the opposite is true. I recently received sms’s from a friend traveling through Dubai. She wanted to know which type of iPod she should buy, and several messages later I realized she thought iPod was a word like TV or radio. In fact, only one company, Steve Jobs’ Apple, make the iPod. Other companies make their version of the portable music player. But since the iPod is now generic (and also an icon of our era), it means Apple needs to do very little to sell their player (as long as their distribution keeps up). Other generics include Speedo, Hoover, Xerox, IBM, Coke (as the only cola) and Microsoft (as conventional software). Generics kill advertisers though, because it is very difficult to market a brand against a generic in many cases, particularly when the product category is still new, or sophisticated enough to rebuff imitators. In time though, this can change.

Tonight when I watch Lord of the Rings, I will probably not do any of those 5 things mentioned above. I’ll probably flip to another channel. The broadcasters seem to know this, as it seems all advertising seems to flow out at the same time intervals. If that is the case, we will allow ourselves to be exposed to advertising that at the very least entertains us, even better if it makes us laugh. Obviously the best advertising bears some relevance to the contents juxtaposed alongside it. People interested in Lord of the Rings might want to know how much, where and when they can get their hands on the latest Harry Potter Book, or the latest EA Games version of Rings, or other Tolkien-based bestselling material. TV needs to keep its content and filling Inline. Google does this for the internet, but what keeps TV’s advertising from becoming gargled? In time, perhaps Google or some other interactive software will make for a more seamless and relevant commercial fill on TV, unless the future of TV is the internet, which seems more likely.


Weighed in at 86.35kg last night. Scary. Will have to invest a lot more time in aerobic stuff (non-cycling), which probably means running. Think I'll run tonight if I don't play squash.

Last night:
250 situps (new record)
Swim: 2km (250m in 3:45).
+ core

Visited a watering hole on Saturday night. In the wee hours went to get some Stadium slap chips. Last time I did that I was a pikkie. Good to see Werner and Annalize again.

Still blerrie cold in Bloem.

Iceman to crack North Pole Swim

First polar swimmer will negotiate cracks in the ice cap to reach the North Pole

Forget the rigors of Everest, or big wave surfing in Hawaii. This is an extreme sport beyond the capability of mere mortals. In fact, it is fair to suggest that South African Lewis Pugh’s attempt to swim* for 15 minutes (and about 1000m) in Arctic water as cold as -1.6 C is humanly impossible.

Fresh water freezes at around 0 C, so Pugh’s attempt (in salt water) is not merely in freezing conditions, but below freezing. The South African aims to draw the world’s attention to global warming through a 1km swim at the North Pole – a feat that ought in the natural scheme of things to be impossible anyway, except global warming has created vast cracks across even the North Pole ice sheets, and these cracks have gotten bigger every year.

But Pugh, an ex-maritime lawyer, is no ordinary mortal. Not only has he demonstrated incredible toughness as a swimmer (in 2006 he swam the length of the Thames river in England (320km), over 21 days), but scientists and doctors have discovered Pugh has an extraordinary ability to maintain an elevated core body temperature in cold water for a lot longer than other human beings. This talent will be vital at the North Pole. Pugh, gritty and methodical as ever, has taken up the challenge by bulking up his fat stores (he has gained 20kg in weight recently), and by training in tanks filled with ice. He is doing this at the South African Sports Science Institute in Cape Town.

Pugh, a tall 38-year-old, plans to travel to the North Pole in December, accompanied by a team who will assess the conditions and guide him on personal safety issues. He will be swimming only in briefs and a bathing cap, in conditions that kill most people in only a few minutes.

Hypothermia: What it feels like

It may not seem braver than climbing a mountain or surfing a roaring pipeline, but to actually experience icy water conditions for any length of time is very unpleasant. It requires both endurance and the tenacity to cling to one’s life against the constant shark bite of cold.

Just how vulnerable the body is to cold water conditions is easily demonstrated by my own experience. Some years ago, on Boxing Day, I participated in my second 1 mile out-and-back swim from Clifton Beach, in Cape Town. The beach is licked by icy Atlantic waters. The rough seas produced a soapy lather of foam, which made visibility and breathing more difficult in the heaving waters. Most painful of all was the marrow freezing cold: 11 degrees Celcius, and in places, the wind had ripped the surface skin away and the colder water had reached the surface, as low as 9 C.

Like Pugh, I swam only in swimming briefs. Unfortunately I did not have a bathing cap with me that day – a near fatal mistake. It’s fair to say that even in 11 degrees, the body screams in agony, and being completely immersed, it actually feels unendurable. I swam as hard as I could to get it over with as soon as possible, and to warm up my body. My back, exposed to the air, felt as though it was on fire. My face felt numb with cold, my skull as though it was cracking, my brain seized by a hundred ice-cream headaches. In these conditions one needs to stay calm, concentrate on even breathing and a flowing swimming stroke. It’s not easy. I quickly found myself gagging on the very salty foam I was inhaling, and being further sickened by the combination of rough sea and extreme cold.

After 20 minutes I’d turned around at Barker Rock, and then after a short distance, with about 400 meters to go still, I felt the cold eating right into me, and the beach just seemed beyond my power. I lifted my arm to wave to lifeguards, and as I did so, sank underwater. I remember a moment, cold and alone and submerged, thinking: “I could easily die here, and it wouldn’t be unpleasant. Like falling asleep, being a little out of breath.”

Every moment I did not move, the cold bit deeper into my spine. I could see no reaction from the beach. I hovered a little while, conscious that my situation was increasingly desperate, and I was becoming increasingly fragile. Still no response from the beach. I realized even if they did respond, would they reach me in time? I knew I had to keep moving, keep swimming. I decided then to try one more time for the beach. I don’t remember the next 10 minutes. It was as though I woke up with my fingertips scraping the kelp on the shallow seabed. I tried to stand up, but without the support of the water, my cold numbed body couldn’t support me. Lifeguards caught me and carried me to the showers. I remained under a hot shower, people were rubbing my skin to get the circulation going; they did this for around 12 minutes before I started to shiver. The shivering subsided, and then returned shortly after. Then I shook almost uncontrollably.

The Cape Times carried the story of my near demise. Friends who saw me emerge out of the water said my face had turned purple in the cold. When I finally left the beach that day it felt like I had been electrocuted.

I have a photograph taken that day, and what occurs to me is that I had very little body fat, and of course, not using a bathing cap would only have exacerbated vulnerability since the body loses a great deal of its heat through the head. Pugh has swum the entire Cape Peninsula, over 100km in conditions probably as cold as and colder than those I’d experienced in Clifton. Pugh will need to maintain a high level of fitness, but develop a thicker skin to protect him. As a safety precaution he will swim with an electronic harness which will provide his team with changes in his core body temperature during his North Pole swim. Even so, a 1km polar swim must feel like 15 minutes of blinding white pain.

On his website, Pugh says he has witnessed retreating glaciers, coral bleaching, animal migrations to colder climes etc. He has encountered crocodiles, sharks and even polar bears during previous swims. The odds are though that any creature that spots Pugh, a naked human being, swimming in its cracking icy domain, is going to realize something very peculiar is going on in the world. Hopefully the human population will receive the same message, loud and clear.

*Based on Bobby Jordan’s Sunday Times article: SA man aims to be first polar swimmer (May 27, 2007)

Friday, May 25, 2007


Click on the title to link to the Polo story on OHMYNEWS.
Try not be become a man of succes, but rather try to become a man of value. - Albert Einstein

Week In Review

From here, it's deep into June and winter, with oil is at $71.40 today. Greenspan said China's market is a bubble and all stock exchanges (worldwide) have contracted by about 1%.

It's been an interesting week. Last night's squash game has probably been the highlight, which goes to show, I really needed to get out and get the Michilin Man moving and sweating.

Also went to MEEL and had a R900 4 course meal with Fransa, Werner and Annalize. The food and company was good, the shock of getting a bill that amoubnted to more than R200 per person wasn't so nice. As I walked out the door, I said silently to myself:
I am never coming here again. Ever.
The thing is we asked for menus (to see prices) and were verbally explained what the menu was, hence the aftershock.

So that's why I didn't go to gym on Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday I was good to go, but it was freezing. Probably should have though.

Saw Ben at the gym last night, and he invited me cycling on Saturday. I said I'd go but I actually want to leave my bike alone for a good long while. So I might call and cancel, and try to arrange a squash game instead, even if it's for another day. I think it will be quite healthy (for me)to try other stuff. I wanted to do well in cycling this year, but you end up just doing the same stuff with the same people all the time. And I'm not sure whether it is personally so great to come 3rd instead of 5th against the local Bloem cyclists (age group wise). Overall victory seems a more ambitious - and worth - goal. And that means going back to the drawing board.

I've actually been enjoying my runs, and discussing some business ideas with my father. I think I need to spend more times looking at some new directions, and looking at the alternatives. One thing we explored is going into low cost housing development. There is steady demand, and insufficient supply.

Will probably see Alex this weekend, sell some of my pics (to Tico, Dad and Alex), and then I'm also sending off a consignment to Joan through Madelein (hopefully via Shannon and Brit - quite a logitistical process). There's also a rugby game between the Boks and England this weekend, and SA Cycling champs happening next weekend - will take some photos for both, the Champs from Albrecht, should be quite an amazing spot to watch the guys and dolls.

Oh and today is payday, which always helps.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Silly Nana

It's sad to see how one dimensional (some) people are. If you're a man, must you always vote within that paradigm, or can you be a human and think about other people (like women)? Same goes for everything else.

If you can't consider the ideas of others, you're not a very conscious life form.

Die Volksblad had a good article that said, according to Jaco's psychology (and the Bulls):
victory + success = God blessing you.
Thus if you lose, fail, are poor, have cancer, AIDS God must be punishing you/ignoring you etc. But it's these people who need God the most, and that's where all the miracles happen.

I think a much better reflection of the depth of one's conviction would have been if the Bulls lost, and Jaco went home, got changed, put his shirt on his bed and said, to himself, "You know what. I still believe Jesus is King."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Winter of My Discontent

made glorious, and colored by an autumn sun, fading on the tips of the tallest trees...

'The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.' - George Bernard Shaw.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Eye on the Ball

My money is on me coming away with the ball here...

Ryk and Me

That's me in the cirle. Ryk Neethling is the boy on the bottom row, far left. Picture was taken of the Free State Swimming Team in 1983.

Picture courtesy Erna Nel

Day 6

Tulbach – Dwarskersbos

It happened again at Tulbach, that thing that struck terror and shame into my heart. My heart folded itself inside out, and then hid under itself. At Tulbach, once again tables and shares were moved aside to make a dancefloor. As the girls and boys made themselves available, I crawled as far inside my sleeping back, and then wormed my way into the darkness of the stage behind the curtains. Unfortunately, nature called at one point, so I had to skulk from the stage to the toilet. I saw 5 of the prettiest girls wheeling around, while everyone else appeared to be doing what I was doing (under the guise of being tired/sick etc.) Finally, romantic hearts singing, while others choked and sputtered, the lights were killed and we all drifted off to sleep.

I don’t know what it is about dancing. I’ve had a lot of fun in the past, I mean I can count it on…one…half of one hand. Dances seem to me elaborate setups designed to inflict magical pain, shame and embarrassment. Truth be told, it’s probably my main motive for never getting married (I’d be expected to dance at my own wedding, in front of everyone, wouldn’t I?). I can’t even say I can’t dance, although technically I’m sure I can’t, since I been known to dance adequately enough (when sozzled on red wine). I’ve been to the occasional sokkie (nose involuntarily shoots forward). I remember one informeel with Sharon Heath.

So I think avoidance of reality was why, when we headed out that morning, I was taken by complete surprise when PJ bellowed “AAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGHH.” Everyone started yelling, and then the guys pulled away, and then it clicked: “AArrgghh” was thje suffic for: “STAAAAK” (which means strike). Oh yes,we’d been told the previous evening we were striking, but until now, about to head up a steep incline out of Tulbach, I’d forgotten.

I rode back with mixed emotion. I was fully kitted out, since 5:30 am and now it meant undressing again and loading bikes. Somehow it seemed worth it. I could do with a bit of sleep on the bus.

Once the bus got going I ended up chatting, and some chick on the bus who was really tired kept giving me black looks for talking a lot (and keeping her awake). After about 30km we encountered a big troop of baboons on the side of the road, and shortly after that we caught up to the girls. The bus driver did a really stupid thing at this point: he wanted to make a big show of overtaking the girls (with us guys on board), and so, even with a car approaching ahead, he used the speed and momentum and just kept going. It drove the oncoming car, whose tires tore a smoky smear on the tar, into the veld, and the bus then pushed hard left, forcing the girls to abandon the road as well. Crazy!
I was one of the first to disembark and run alongside the approaching ladies, pushing them, taking the odd photo and so on.

At Porterville we got off the bus and ate omelets. While waiting for the girls I took some more pictures, and then had the brilliant idea to load all my memory stick pictures onto a CD (at a local Link Pharmacy).

I followed all the instructions, and finally the disk popped out and the screen said: Transfer Complete. It was only when arrived at the office that I discovered the disk was blank. But from that point on, one by one, I deleted the pictures on the memory stick.

We left Porterville through an attractive avenue of tall bluegums on a hill.

The girls then suddenly peeled away, just as we had, and then I put on the gas a little bit. Before long I had a gap on everyone, and I was enjoying the rampy road: it would climb in small half egg climbs and then drop down again. I noticed that behind me the guys were definitely working together, so I employed an old trick. I found a very long, hard climb, and took it very easy on it. As I got to the top, Danie caught me, having obviously expended a lot of energy to close the gap. I took a turn behind him, and then kicked again. Pretty quickly we were back to the original gap, and I managed to hold it until Porterville. PJ said to me afterwards, “Why did you ride like that?”
“I just felt like it,” I said.

The maximum temperature was 33 C, with 310m of ascending (in just 25km).
We sat on the pavement beside a church at the top of a very steep hill and ate sandwiched and squeezy-packet-cooldrinks. The next stage would take us to the sea again.

For Dwarskersbos, I started off last, and after cruising down the steep descents, kicked again, in the first 5km, up a steep curving incline. From there it was a very interesting ride, in terms of the riders – the landscape was very dull, and the roasts terrible, and the wind even worse. Andre was riding hard to reach me, and I went very hard to test his resolve. But once we were together, we worked together. I felt much stronger than that first day, which was also windy, when it was just the two of us. Quite far into the stage, probably after 20km, PJ joined us. He did so shortly after the bakkies his girlfriend was driving passed us, so I couldn’t help thinking they’d provided him with a slipstream.
Having said that, JP also caught us at a certain point while we were taking in fluids and eating some chips. He stayed with us for about a minute before falling off again.

At one point PJ starting weakening, but I think from not drinking enough water. I also told him to empty one of his water bottles: he was just pushing unnecessary weight into a headwind, and if one got thirsty there was always a water point no more than 15km away. And then he felt better.
I did another kick on a steep downhill at around 69km. Andre called me from behind to say PJ was in trouble – apparently his short bars had slipped and he’d almost fallen. And then suddenly we were in Veldrif.

We rode together, past Joan’s house, and then went to the bridge at an intersection and left our bikes against a jetty. I bought myself a beer, the others got cokes. We sipped them while standing with the icy turquoise water soothing our hot toes and weatherbeaten legs. That was one of the highlights of the trip. Still hungry, and noticing that no one had arrived yet, we went to a nearby restaurant and ordered some chips.

We sat there eating, watching the boats floating on their moors on the Berg river.

Later on we joined the bus and cycled towards a church, and then there was one more piece to do, from Veldrif to Dwarskersbos. Now since all the cyclists were together, and it was just a 10km stretch, the guys started testing each other. I think Annetjie started it, and then some other riders, and then I shot to the front with Andre. We quickly made a gap, but Danie and another guy hauled us in. I kept up a very hard pace, but they still hung on. Then I waved them through, and after giving them time to do some work, kicked hard. Andre came along too, and that was it. They didn’t catch us again. Was a lot of fun.
Maximum temperature: 34 C
Kcal: 2479 (+876 of previous stage)
Average speed (against the wind): 29.1km/h
Ascent: 250m over 78km

Dwarskersbos was interesting. A place I’ve never been before. It was a wonderful way to end the day, walking on the beach in a low key area where you can be yourself.

At about sunset Sally and I went to Joan to discuss what we’d be doing the next day. That, in itself, was also a charming experience. Sally also loved Joan’s garden, the view over the Berg and the house. I couldn’t help seeing another Sally from then onwards.

Clockwork Orange

A mother's love...

Golden thread from a little boy's head.

That's me in the middle, behind David Maartens (the captain with the cup). I started playing soccer as an under 9, in the D team, and by the end of the season I was in the under 9 A team. I played for the Free State as an under 11, and quit to swim full time as an under 13. I won the boys under 12 swimming race, but sacrificing soccer to do so was a tough choice to live with.

Casey and Nicky - but for some reason, a lot of people got us mixed up. I always thought of Casey as a dark-haired person.

I remember, for us kids, the food crisis in Mauritius. We ended up eating a lot of bread and drinking liquifruit, since at that stage seafood resembled the leading characters from: A Bug's Life (the undersea version). To a 6 year old, prawns, mussels and oysters are indistinguishable from spiders, fish guts and snot.
I feel for my dad who paid for the trip, and the passenger who sat on the 8 hour flight (I had nightmares on the plane and kept kicking the seat in front of me).
Maselspoort - 1977. We're all wearing Tongaat Beach shirts. Got stung three times by a wasp, down the front of my shirt, that day.

Dad and Mom on their wedding day.

Gabriel de Jongh, my grandmother's brother, and Tinus' son, pulling off the boompie-bergie-huisie-thing yet again.
Tinus, my great grandfather on my father's mother's side, and his wife.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Glimpses of the Tour

Circles in the sand (on the last day)

Yolande putting on a brave face just outside Hermanus. My feet were burning at this point!

Sharing the road with the Epic guys...towards Barrydale

Andre and I, sparring outside Oudsthoorn.
Above images courtesy Erna Nel.

Depletion in Pictures

Above is an image of the world's largest oil field. The blue is seawater. The red is remaining oil. Enough said?

In particular, Saudi oil production has been falling with increasing speeed since summer 2005, and overall, since mid 2004, about 2 million barrels of oil per day in production has gone missing (about 1mbpd in reduction in total production, and about another 1mbpd in that two major new projects, Qatif and Haradh III, failed to increase overall production).

That's 2.5% of world production and, if that production hadn't gone missing, gasoline in the US likely would still be somewhere in the vicinity of $2/gallon instead of well over $3.

Find Time To Live

Do you remember being a child, and amazed at the miracle in almost everything. In color for example. I know my brother and I used to go to the shops on Saturdays to buy coloring-in books, and we'd spend hours drawing. I think this reflects that capacity children have for awe, to represent their environment, and sometimes, just their own thoughts and imagination.
It is a pity, becoming cynical, because so much wonder remains around us. The autumn, sunsets, beautiful afternoons that we miss while we read the newspaper or pencil-in another chore in our diaries.
Find time to live.

The Autumn of our Lives

Dear Nick,

I am not sure about seasons and influenza in Asia. In the past global pandemics started in some Northern hemisphere countries in June but nevertheless the main wave normally appeared in the autumn. But this could have more to do with childrens movements as they return to school.

Best regards,
John Oxford

Long Gone Summer