Saturday, September 30, 2006

Reasonable Faith

The Popes recent misadventures in his speech to the University of Regensburg prompted a little bit of thought on my side.

I have always looked at Reason as being to the exclusion of Faith but I am now thinking that maybe they are actually complimentary concepts, neither of which are able to determine Truth which is what we would all actually like to know (I think). I have been brought up to respect the reasoning of an argument and to take Positions as a result of Reason. However, I have found that as time goes by, Positions I have arrived at have not stood the test of time as new evidence has come to light which have contradicted my previous Positions, requiring a change of mind on my part. Equally, it could be as simple as a case of unsound reasoning which has led to a change of Position. Either way, the Truth appears to be more of a moving target rather than an absolute.

On the Faith side, which I define here for purposes of this discussion, as a Position that is taken that has no justification by Reason. Taking a Faith based position does not preclude the Position taken from being the Truth any more than just because a Position has been arrived at by Reason, it is therefore the Truth. So, in a nutshell, Faith takes over where Reason ends on any given Position one wants to take for a Reason based person. On the other hand, Reason can take over where Faith is no longer required for a Faith based person.

We all get to decide where we would like to position ourselves on this scale. Do we only accept Positions that can be arrived at by Reason or are we willing to accept Positions by Faith that, while unable to be justified by Reason are not contradicted by Reason. Lastly, are we the type of person that will accept Positions by Faith even in the face of contradictions by Reason.

I feel that often we are simply not mature enough to just accept that maybe, sometimes, we are just plain wrong in the Positions we take whether they be Reason of Faith based. Somehow we take Jesus' words "I am the way, the truth and the life" (Hope I haven't misquoted here) to be our own words and way too seriously which is why we get so tense when we come up against something which really challenges or eclipses a Position we have taken.

I find religious people quite amusing sometimes because they 'have the Truth' which means that they can't change their mind because then they didn't really have the Truth did they, they would have just had what they thought was the Truth. This is exactly the same as a scientist who steadfastly refuses to believe that his/her theories are or could be wrong.

A cool motto would be "Let truth take me where it will" but I fear that we are not anywhere mature enough to actually live this out. Maybe we just actually enjoy being obnoxious about the views we hold.

Outlaws continued ...

Started the day going to gym with Kim so that the spinning instructor can get all the pent up frustrations from several past lives out. This particular instructor just makes me want to laugh, everything has to be done at top speed and if you are slacking, she singles one out and tells one to get with the program. Dangerous class, gotta pick your bike carefully, preferably behind some large person. I hope she doesn't have a boss, managing her would require the wisdom of solomon and the patience of a glacier. There was a very good advert on TV for a Toyota tazz and in one of the shots there was a picture of a spinning instructor breathing fire and I keep on seeing this mental picture in front of me.

Went to work but left at 11:30 to go and play my annual obligatory round of golf. Boss frowns at me as I waltz out the door and reminds me that he is noting all the times I leave early and that I am now seriously in debt. My sister does volunteer work for an educational charity and the golf day is in support of this cause which is worth supporting especially in the country we are in. The fourball consisted of two actuaries, my sister and myself. I think I actually just get invited to provide the entertainment, not from what I say but from the way I play. I don't actually play, I kinda stitch the course together by going from one side of the fairway to the other, slowly homing in on the hole. Only the scottish could have come up with a game like this. I only play golf relatively infrequently, that way I have a really good ready made excuse for why I am playing so badly. Actually, I didn't really play that badly and scored 99. Some of the shots were even quite decent like the 180m approach shot that ended up 2m from the pin. Probably lucky but I prefer to think not, it was skill. really it was. Escaped home after the game and retired as soon as I could, cycling and walking 18 holes carrying a backpack full of steel was more than enough to finish me off.

Father in law had a list of things around the house that I ought to have fixed. Felt like telling him that he is welcome to fix them it he wants them fixed.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Outlaws and other aliens

My parents in law arrived today, for the weekend. Laurel invited them up for the weekend but their house is too full as it is so we got the job of hosting them for the weekend. It is just as well I actually get on quite well with both of them.

We had to rearrange the TV room, joining the two benches together and putting the mattress that normally lives in the garage to use. We used to have a dedicated spare room but, in reality, we so seldom have people to stay that it works out better to use the room and rearrange it when necessary.

Made one mistake. Left the drinks cabinet in the room which my father in law found with remarkable speed. Even worse, I had left the keys in it. Too late Jose, as the saying goes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rug Rat Fatigue

Well, this weekend past was a long weekend and it sure felt like one, it seemed to go on forever.

Weekend started on friday afternoon with the drive down to Durban with the 1/2 a million other lemmings. This was when I realised that it was going to be a weekend to endure, not enjoy. In the car we had Kim as well as defendant one, rug rat Sage age 2 years and 2 months. I know, it's a bit of a wierd name but hey, your name (whoever you may be) is only normal by convention ... you too could have been called Sage if you had been born to different parents.

Drive down was horrible, crazy people driving like lunatics. As a percentage of drivers on the road they were actually only a very small percentage but they draw so much attention to their bad driving that one forgets all the normal sane drivers. Loads and loads of traffic ensured that what is normally quite a nice albeit long drive turned into a marathon and I was truly relieved to arrive safe and sound.

Having consumed about 1/2 a bar of chocolate on the way I was kinda bouncing off the walls and consequently didn't sleep very well. I'm noticing more and more what an amazing effect sugar has on me these days. It has got to the point that if I want to be in a particularly loud and bouncy mood or to stay awake, all I need do is consume a small amount of chocolate and voila, loud and bouncy and very wide awake. Better not speak to me after a few hours as you will only get the odd growl and the occasional bite as I work my way through the sugar low. If I maintain a sugar free (or almost) existence I stay on a fairly even keel, generally upbeat but not over the top. These, of course, are highly subjective obversations and do depend to a certain (large) degree as to who is around me at the time. Some people can even knock the stuffing out of a sugar high, while others can moderate the sugar low.

Launched the yacht on Saterday morning and went sailing with Tim, Emer, Rug Rat defendent No 2 a.k.a Liam and Rug Rat defendent No 3 a.k.a Clare. Maybe I should dwell on the launch a bit more since I rather overdid the distance that I let the yacht go down the ramp. Tim's comment afterwards were words to the effect that I didn't really have to launch it right out the harbour mouth. Brad, who was standing on the trailer must have wondered when the water got up to his armpits just how far was he going to have to swim to get back to shore. Fortunately he is a rather amiable character so no real bother there, thank goodness. Approaching the harbour mouth I tried to winkel Liam out of the cabin to no avail and it required the father to wade into action in order to get him out. Once again, the answer from the PortControl was monosylabic and totally unintelligable so in the absense of any light and large freighters we proceeded out to sea. We were about 20 minutes out when emer started looking a little green and suggested that we go about, after 35 minutes she let loose overboard. So now we had two miserable kids, one seasick wife, one grumpy husband and me who was actually ok at that point in time. Radioed ahead to come back in and for a change there was a real response, one we could understand. So the pattern now is that if you can't understand it and it is very short just go ahead, if they had wanted you to stop they would have said so clearly. Still, they really should standardise on their replies, it would really make life much easier. We parted company for the day agreeing that the next morning Tim and I would take the yacht out since it had been a generally miserable outing for them as a family.

Next morning was pretty miserable, low cloud, scattered showers and when we arrived with MIL, FIL, SIL and defendent No 1 in tow, Tim announced that they were going to camp out at RNYC, have breakfast etc. So we cancel the planned breakfast at the harbour mouth while Tim and I sail past only to be told 5 minutes later that plans have changed and they are going out right now and do I want to join them. After yesterday, I don't think so but what really pissed me off was the constant changing of plans without taking anyone else into consideration. Anyway, this gave me the jig and Tim just couldn't understand why especially since I am not prepared to fight about it in front of the family, it's all my fault in any case. Really it is!

Spent a very pleasant couple of hours at RNYC having breakfast before I ventured out onto the mudflats with Sage on my hip. Learnt a couple of important lessons here. Lesson one, women have hips, men don't. If you are a guy and carrying a baby, trying to balance it on your hip is not an option unless you have well developed spinal sclerosis. Lesson two, conversations with two year olds tends to go like this.

"Look Rug Rat there are the crabs" as they scurry away
"Where the crabs?"
"There they are" pointing at the one intimidated crab who wasn't quick enough to get to his hole.
"Where the crab?"
Ummmm "There the crab is"
"Where the crab"
Silence while I think of what to say.
Excited "There the crab"
Phew, "Yes, there he is"
"Where the crab"
and on and on and on and on. There has got to be a better life than this.

I think childen are like this global conspiracy that all parents belong to. When asked they all swear that children are the best things to ever happened to them if, and ONLY if, you happen not to have children. If on the other hand, you do have children, well too late for you (snigger, you fell for it) so now the only thing left is to commiserate over how they are slowly leaching the life out of you. It is remarkable how after the initial exictement of being a parent, parents quickly realise their mistake and then the comic adult behaviour begins.

You can generally recognise this, not by what is said but by the amount of money that is spent on the cretins with the intention on occupying them so that the parents can have a little, just a little of their previously happy lives back.
The more desperate they become, the more money they lavish on kindergarden, preschool, playschool, primary school, after care, sports, secondary school anything, absolutely ANYTHING at all to have some peace and quiet. And you thought parents were just looking out for their progeny. No, they're not, they are trying to get some peace and quite.

Back to the weekend, after showing Rug Rat No 1 the crabs, I do believe that she genuinely did see some, we left for home. So much for sailing this weekend...

Afte the third SMS from various family members to remind me that it is/was my fathers birthday, I thought maybe I should phone and wish the old codger happy birthday. Having done my family duty I went to hide in my cave, actually my FIL's cave since mine is 7 hours drive away. Lots of sharp things in this cave to keep little cretins out.

Had a great nights sleep and woke up to howling wind and people wishing me happy birthday. 41 (fourty one). Expletive, I'm 41 years. That is enough to put a damper on the day. I don't know when midlife crisis sets in but I have a suspicion I am going to enjoy it. My birthday went as follows:
06:00 - Wake up, I know there is something I am meant to remember about today. Oh, yes, it's my birthday.
07:00 - 08:00 - Breakfast with assorted bedraggled characters.
0:80 - 08:30 - Drive down to harbour.
08:30 - 10:30 - Pull yacht out of the water and pack it up.
10:30 - 11:00 - Drive back to parents in law.
11:00 - 11:30 - Shower, pack and pile into the car to a chorus of "What's roland doing", "What's roland doing". Gnnnshhh, it's going to be a long drive and not only in hours.
11:30 - 17:30 - Drive back to Joburg with the same lemmings we had to contend with on the way down. Another lousy drive. Narrowly avoided an accident when the traffic concertina'd and the ABS came in for some heavy duty action. Pretty impressive actually.
17:30 - 18:00 - Shower and get ready for fathers birthday party.
18:00 - 18:30 - Drive to parents picking up food and presents on the way.
18:30 - 21:30 - Supper, lots of loud arguing, teasing and generally good natured banter. BIL took advantage of the 4 glasses of wine I consumed on an empty stomach to attack. Defense didn't hold out too well but I live to fight another day.
21:30 - 22:00 - Home at last, thank god.

End Of Weekend.

P.S. I have two words to describe children. "Adult Entertainment"

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Weekend that wasn't

I has taken me 4 days of working to recover from last weekend. But I'm back now so here's what happened.

Friday night didn't start out too badly, nothing on so I watched V for Vendetta with Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving. Actually I mainly watched Natalie Portman since there wasn't a helluva lot of Hugo Weaving visible. Thoroughly enjoyed it and went to bed after getting my bicycle ready for Saturday.

Saturday dawned, actually it cracked, at 04:45 which is the time I needed to get up in order to be on the bike by 05:30 to meet Jason at 06:00 at Cycle Lab. Did an 81km ride with Jason at just short of 26km per hour which is not too bad for us. Felt like Sh!t the whole way and my mood was not improved by the taxi overtaking me on my left by driving on the pavement. Very disconcerting having someone overtake you on your left hand side. Since we started ahead of the A group from Cycle Lab it took them a couple of kays before they came cruising past. They weren't actually going much faster than us in reality but it was just that little bit too much to comfortably hang in with.

Coming up with a new (maybe to me only) theory on exercise which has three axis, love of eating, love of exercise and the negative axis, hate of being overweight. So if you disike exercise and hate being overweight, there goes eating. This is normally called a diet, the process of getting thin and very grumpy. If you love eating and hate being overweight, better you get used to exercise and lots of it because you are gonna need it. I'm ignoring the 'love being overweight' crowd because they get what everyone really wants, no exercise and eat what you want. Of course they also get stares, self loathing and fat but then that's their choice.

I'm trying something down the middle, some exercise so I can pig out occasionally since I can't do anything about the other axis. I just plain do not like being overweight and unlike the old days, these days it is way too easy to just put a few on.

After the ride, straight into shopping mode. Food from Fruits 'n Roots, fetch chainsaw, fetch fixed bedside lamps, buy new toaster and fridge from Davenports, try on new running shoes, buy new sunglasses and have lunch at Sandton City. I think that is enough shopping for a while. Back home, change into Mr Fixit mode and hack down tree just outside of our boundays which is slowly damaging our fence, this is one job I REALLY don't want to do fulltime. It is rather difficult and things don't always work out as planned. Droped one of the branches onto the electric fence so I have to fix this as well. Dropped another on Caron but she is beyond repair. Electric fence doesn't turn off too well so I kept getting mild electric shocks as I'm repairing it. Off to the sisters-in-law to 'adjust curtain rails'. Finish the first curtain rail at 19:00 and retire home a beaten man. Watched TV again, twice in a row. I must have been finished.

Sunday morning 03:50, up again to go to work for the bimonthly change control. Kobus arrives with his whole family in tow. That is mighty peculiar and he "doesn't want to talk about it" so there is obviously something going on. Turns out the wife doesn't want to be left at home alone in case she gets burgled because some neighbours a couple of months ago were burgled. As if the miscreants watch and wait for Kobus to go out and then take this as a signal to start burgling somewhere. No wonder he didn't want to talk about it.

Home at 07:30 and don Mr Fixit clothes again. Finish the other pelmet at the sisters-in-law (yes, there are actually two of them ... in the same house ... with all their children ... chaos and anarchy reign there), home for lunch before a 35km ride with Tim and Graeme, the slackers. Home from there just in time for a family and friends get together. Eight adults and seven children shredding up our normally peaceful existence. Once again, the token vegetarian did all the braaing. Not too bad a job of it if I say so myself although I was sorely tempted to overdo it just a tad. Like charcoal it.

Tim tried to make an argument that since more women are suffering from stress these days due to work that the Womens Lib movement was ultimately a 'bad' idea. Like Womens Lib set out to increase the stress levels and hence diminish womens' health on purpose. Methinks he just feels threatened by women who are independent and can think for themselves.

Finished up, packed the dishwasher and retired hurt for the evening. Thank goodness I only had work on Monday and not another Sunday.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Darkest Africa ...

... descended on my home on tuesday evening.

We had just got home and were halfway through preparing the evening meal of woolworths meals in minutes (which is the only way I can cook) when the electricity tripped. At least that was what we thought at first as we stumbled around the house looking for a torch. Damn, it's on the yacht in Durban which is a really good place to keep it, if we were on the yacht that is. Found my headlamp at last and proceeded to light the 30 odd candles which we have been given for the last n years where n is large for assorted birthdays, christmas's and what have you. I'll remember not to think "No, not a another bloody candle" in future.

After a bit of investigation we find that it isn't only us, it is the whole street that is in darkness and that the reason is that Metro Power has turned the street off so that they can repair the overhead power cables. The reason for the fixit job is that, once again, someone who by nature of his job must remain nameless has stolen one of the phases and in order to give every third house their electricity back, we all have to sit in darkness for a while.

Ok, well this isn't so bad as we wander around the house with everything under candle light. Surprising how well one can actually see with just a candle. Not enough to read by but one could cope with most things. The neighbours in the next street seem to enjoy rubbing it in, they put on every light on their property. We also became acutely aware of all sorts of noises, particularly that of the security van rushing up and down the street looking for would be thieves hoping to take advantage of the situation. I didn't want to stop them and spoil their fun by pointing out that the thieves have come and gone some time ago.

The first hour was kinda fun as we ate our half cooked meal, the second boring and by the third I needed my electricity back. Now. I wouldn't be able to survive without it for long, one gets so used to it always being there that one forgets just how utterly dependent on it one is.

In case you happen not to be familiar with South Africa, a brief background to cable theft. Since all the power cables are copper and copper is quite valuable there is a quite a thriving cottage industry which specialises in power and telecoms cable theft. Of course sometimes they get it wrong and steal fibre-optic cable which I don't think there is a second hand market for. Sometimes they get it really wrong and forget to trip the high tension power lines before stealing them. Bzzzzzt. Anyway, it is a bit of a pest and costs us, the taxpayer, quite a pretty copper penny. I've heard some funny stories of cable repair people repairing cables and having them stolen again before they even finished the repair job but that may just be an urban legend.

So we have now joined the masses of people who have been victims of cable theft.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Black Eye Blues ...

Hmmm! Now if someone came and told you the following story, would you believe him or her?

Monday morning arrives and one of my colleagues walks in with really good shiner. After a little bit of prodding he said he got it during a movie. This sounds really interesting. More prodding, and just who was he at the movies with and exactly how does one get a black eye in the movies?

With great reluctance and in a small voice he admitted that he had gone to the movies with my sister in law. More and more interesting ...

Now I have to know exactly what he did so that I don't do the same. Don't want to end up with a black eye, now do I.

Approached said sister in law for corroborating evidence. The stories tie up which can only mean that they are in cahoots.

They both swear innocence, you can draw your own conclusions.

Durban Weekend

I think I am starting to feel some sympathy for writers when they stare at a blank piece of paper and the words just don't leap onto the page. In my case, it is a blog page, but the experience must be somewhat similar.

Lets see, what did I get up to this weekend. Well, spent the weekend sailing which is a bit of a mission since I live 7 hours drive away from the sea (and 7 back) which results in about 8 hours of actual sailing time. Doesn't seem quite right to drive so far in a car to sit in a boat to drive all the way back but that is in essence what I did. And it wasn't just me, I had three companions so it isn't just me that isn't thinking straight.

Drove down on friday afternoon at 14:00. Boss called at 15:00, "Where the f*ck are you?" Ummm! Not at work obviously! No major crisis, boss just feeling lonely, so we carried on driving and I could feel the stress disappear along with the pollution. Uneventful drive snacking on chocolate to keep me wide awake, you never can tell when some miserable suicidal dog, donkey, cow, goat or innocent pedestrian is waiting to make a mess of my bumper, not to mention myself. Arrived safely at my parents- in-law and slept, well sort of. The sugar was still coursing through my veins so maybe sleep is a bit strong, more like dozed the night away.

Saturday morning broke. Wind NE 15-20kts, sea 1.5 to 2m. This is going to be interesting. After months of paperwork, purchasing of safety gear, organising, exams and what have you we slip out of the berth and are on our way out the harbour mouth. Radio in to harbour countrol for permission to leave the harbour which they duly gave. At least, I think they duly gave it. Between the accents and the static it is next to impossible to hear exactly what they are saying so if it even vaguely sounds like "carry on" or "ok" that is good enough. Needless to say but we met a large ship coming in while we were going out. Really quite puts things into perspecitive it does. The top of my mast doesn't even get to deck level. I'm (my yacht, for those whose imagination is overactive) 7m and the ship must be at least 120m at a guess. Anyway we scuttled down the side and out into the open ocean. This is the moment, we have been waiting and working for for 4 months ... and ... Anticlimax, like an exam. After all the effort, you finish and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Spent 6 hours beating around the ocean. We were about 7 miles offshore when the depth sounder went from 70m to 0.7 (Yes, zero point seven) which is clearly impossible. We are in the middle of the sea for crying out loud and there isn't anything on the map at all but just in case, we tack and the depth sounder goes back to a far more respectable 50m. Just a bit perturbing this, you deperately want to ignore the depth sounder because it is clearly at fault but then you think about the stories about people flying vertically into the ground because they didn't believe their instruments ... and so we tacked. It would really be awkward explaining how we managed to run aground on our first outing having ignored the depthsounder which was going off like a maniac warning us of the depth, or lack of it.

Back to the harbour in one piece and we were putting the fenders on when graeme dropped his overboard. He says the rope came undone but I have my doubts. Things just tend to happen around graeme like dropping his outboard motor overboard ... in front of a restaurant full of people ... but that is another story.

Tried to recover it several times unsuccessfully so anyone that comes sailing with me, be warned. Do not, I repeat, do not fall overboard as I have not yet mastered the art of recovering a body from the water. If you want to end your days, by all means fall overboard. I am quite adept at running right over the object in the water but getting it out. Blogger it. Damn fender. To make things worse, the others were getting impatient and evicted me from the helm which darkend my already dark mood.

Home for supper and a good nights sleep while trying not to slip down the gap between the two beds and end up on the floor. This is one of those things I just can't understand. If one goes to a hotel and books a room for two people why do they give you two single beds. I mean, don't they know why couples go to hotels. If they wanted to sleep in single beds, they would get single rooms.

Sunday morning arrived. Wind 10kts SW, sea 1.0 to 1.5m. Bright sunshine, beautiful smooth sea at least compared to yesterday. Blue/green sea, dolphins gamboling next to the yacht. Sounds idyllic hey. Well, it was! So this is what all the effort was actually for. Absolutely fantastic swanning along at 6kts, what a feeling.

Packed up the yacht and headed back, 7 hours in the car. Saw dead pedestrian just to bring me back to reality. In truth, I don't know if he was dead but he sure looked it. Why people would want to cross a 4 lane highway on foot directly below a bridge is quite beyond me. A little sobering so I drove a bit slower for a while ...

To blog or not to blog ...

... that is the question. Since you are reading this, the answer is obviously yes. The next thing to decide was whether to do it anonymously or not and there are benefits to both. If I was to blog anonymously then I could say exactly what I thought and there wouldn't be any repercussions but then I would have to be really careful not to let something out that would identify myself. If I blog as myself, I can't always say exactly what I might like to, particularly when it comes to friends and family, but then I don't have to be careful who knows what. Since I find it near impossible to keep a secret I decided to just blog as myself and see how it goes. I don't know if anyone will actually read this blog but if anyone does hopefully it will bring some enjoyment.

P.S Notwithstanding the above, some places and names and dates might have to be changed to protect the innocent or in most cases, the not so innocent.