Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas weekend

We have survived the Christmas rush once again, this is the time of year that we (Caron and I) normally overdose on family. We now have a one day break to gather our wits and our strength before heading off to another family filled weekend with the 'other' side.
Officially, I am on holiday, but that really just means that work takes a back seat rather than disappearing altogether. Unfortunate but true. I have tried previously to just leave my email until I get back but after receiving 45 000 emails on my return the one time, I now try and at least deal with a few to prevent a repeat of the tidal wave that assaulted me that time. I don't always manage it but I try.
Saturday was the last shopping day before christmas so I took the opportunity to get a fluorescent jacket for my brother, bruce, since he too has bought a 650cc motorbike although his is a kawasaki. My mother is in a state! I also purchased a very interesting book on riding a motorcycle safely, although this is a rather relative term since it can never be as safe as a car.
Spent the afternoon making the penultimate bookshelf for caron. I am desperately hoping that once she has filled these up, and she will although it may take some time, she will start throwing out books because I have now made enough bookshelves (10 to be precise). Besides, we would have to add onto the house in order to fit any more in and that is not something to be undertaken lightly. Also spent some time modifying my motorcycle jacket so that all the pockets have decent tags on them that one can use, even if one has gloves on.
Sunday morning, we were up at 05:15 to go and meet Jason and his brother in law, Vaughn at Northern Farm for a mountain bike ride. It has been raining pretty much every day for the last week so the course was really muddy which was great fun. A couple of nervous moments in ruts where one couldn't get out so one had to just peddle in a straight line and hope for the best. Fell back on the hills a bit, I think that maybe I'm just not that good on the hills. At the one river crossing instead of the normal 3" of water ther was about 12", if you kept you pedals at the 3h00 and 9h00 postitions your feet were just skimming over the water but you would have stopped midstream so there was no choice but to pedal in the water. Great fun! Jason and Vaughn had to leave before me so I did about an extra 30 minutes which was just fantastic. Starting to trust the front wheel a bit on the gravel around corners which is making the whole experience much better. Got back to the car completely covered in mud but for a change, I had some dry of clothes and a towel. It used to be white. Caron is not going to be happy!
Got home, washed the bike and myself before we had to make the house presentable for the family invasion which duly arrived at midday. Not sure what has gotten into me but I am just perpetually tired so I wasn't much fun, caron kept on asking me if I was ok which I was. Just really, really tired. After everyone left, we packed up and cleaned up since there is no maid to do it for us at the moment which is really bad timing. Got lots of really nice comments on my photo gallery which made me feel pretty good. You might say that they were family so they were just being polite but my experience with family is that they are even more likely to tell you the truth than friends. Friends you can disassociate yourself from, family on the other hand: only death provides relief.
Went to my parents for supper with the usual suspects, still feeling really tired so once again, I was just a bystander in the conversation. When we left, I couldn't drive I was so tired. Caron had to drive.
Woke up this morning and went for a jog. My knees are taking strain even though I am taking it really, really, really easy. I think I am going to have to go and see a doctor about it.
Opened our presents to each other. Very pleased with my present to Caron, an iPod adapter for the hifi which sounds great. I received the remaining DVD's for the Adams Family series as well as the Star Wars series which I am very happy to have. Started the final bookshelf but had to break and get ready for the Christmas lunch with, you guessed it, the family.
The Family in this case consists of 10 children and 12 adults although two of the adults and two of the children can't really be considered family, more like family once removed. One of the children was twelve years old and has a very noticeable, and I mean really noticeable, moustache. At twelve! poor bloke he's going to be shaving by the time he hits teenagerdom. Opening the chrismas presents was chaos with 10 children and a couple of additional elderly children forgetting their age. I think I want to be a child again, I'm sure the quantity of presents has increased since I was a child. Caron gave all of the children, in addition to a christmas present, a 'gross' toy. It has engendered near universal dislike by mothers and near universal fascination from children. There are whole lot of types, all variants of a theme, but to describe one would give you the idea. It is a rubber ball filled with blood and plastic maggots and what I think are entrails. You can't normally see anything but by squeezing the ball suddenly the maggots and entrails can be seen through the rubber. Gross hey but the children love them! By 16:30 I had had enough so we retired to our cave and I finished off the last bookself and retired to write my blog.

As I am writing this, I can see the lightning out of the window and hear the roll of the thunder. I have gotta admit that I just love it and if we were to go overseas it would definitely be one of the things which I would especially miss.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The book, the book, hit 'em with The Book!

The Book in this instance is any holy book (bible, koran, atkins diet, the god delusion etc) but the point is that arguing from a viewpoint which is based on the premise that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is contained in said book, is a poor place to start from. Since the body of knowledge is expanding every day, this newfound knowledge has to be reconciled with the truth contained in a very finite book and if it either isn't there or worse, contradicts it, a crisis ensues while the hapless slave to the book works on the reconciliation. So, for me, while there are a great many truths to be found in all sorts of books, the thought of regarding any one book to be infallible defies logic.
Some might say that this is where faith comes in, one should just suspend logic in the face of the much more important faith. That would be fine up until the point that the contents of The Book are demonstrably internally inconsistent or contradict what has become known to be true. At this point, having forsaken logic, one is left with earnest faith in a falsehood. Not a good place to be. If on the other hand one takes a more pragmatic approach and just ignores the portions of the Holy Book that are inconvenient, prejudiced, pick your own criteria, etc what is one left with? the Holy Book according to the individual which is what I think most people actually do. Maybe unconsciously, but they do.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ho Hum

Not a lot to report for this weekend, nor last week for that matter. Went out with caron and some of her work colleagues on thursday night with a customer of theirs from the U.K to moyo's which is an up market african chic kinda restaurant. Quite good food although I am probably not the best judge of that pretty much anywhere, had the lentil bobotie which was nice enough. The customer from the U.K had a couple of interesting observations like that it's quite expensive here with a few obvious exceptions (food and accommodation) and he was totally taken aback that johannesburg and sandton are just like the UK (no lions in the streets or backyards) which I guess is true. It is pretty much the same as any first world metropolis but it doesn't take much to pierce the veneer and discover the 3rd world lurking just beneath it. Mind you after the race riots in france last year or the los angeles riots a decade or two ago maybe the third world is everywhere and we just convince ourselves that we are living in the first world. Ever wondered what exactly first world and third world actually mean? Quite a pleasant guy but there was a certain kind of smugness which many 1st world inhabitants seem to exude, probably unconsciously (I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt), which just gets under my skin and irritates me.
On Saturday morning Caron buggered off to the krugersdorp lion park with the client and a whole bunch of other work colleagues, I just could't face an entire day with them so I bowed out and spent the day on my own trying to find an xmas present for caron. This is not an easy task since anything she really wants she just buys herself so you're left with everything she doesn't want, which is a bit of a conundrum. Also printed about 6 pictures in 10"x15" format to take for framing next week. I've been doing a project for the last year or so of printing and framing photographs which I have taken on my various wanderings around the world. I work on the premise that if you take enough photographs, some of them have to be good even if one has no skill with a camera.
Spent some time sitting in a coffe shop waiting for the pictures to be printed doing my favourite thing of watching the passers by. This guy came sauntering past with a very overdeveloped physique and a tiny head like he's been to borneo recently and I couldn't help but laugh to myself which invited some comments mirroring my thoughts from a mother and daughter sitting at the table next to me.
Laurel phoned so I went over and put up the two clothes hooks on the back of the bathroom door, we'll see how long they remain on the door this time. Back to sandton city to go and watch eragon which was reasonably good and really fitted my mood. Didn't want to actually do anything but didn't want to be doing nothing either. Home for supper, caron arrived home at 21:30 so I could at least retire for the night.
Sunday started at 05:30 with me waking up to an SMS to ask where I was, I was meant to meet Jason to go mountain biking but sleep got the better of me.
Spent the morning fixing the house, in particular the lounge ceiling which due to poor workmanship has been sagging on the one wall. Eventually attached some threaded rod to chains and the chains to the roof rafters so I could adjust the height of the ceiling to be flat. I doubt if there is a straight, square or 90 deg. wall in this entire house. It all looks like it is fine but get out the square and it is way off. Fixed a few other things like the circuit breaker next to the geyser which for god alone knows what reason, the plumber wired around. On checking the isolator I found it to be faulty which might hav been the reason that at one stage we had an electric current running around the water reticulation system. Hmmm! good time to fix this although it did make showering kinda exciting. Went back to laurels (kim is never there so for the time being, it's laurels) to put up some hooks to hang mosquito netting from.
Off to the DVD store to get "the long way around" which has been recommended by my sister. Crit to follow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Virgin no more

Well, it had to happen sometime! My bike is a virgin no more, yes, that's right, I have dropped my brand new bike within the first two weeks. In my defence I was trying to ride offroad, diagonally up a steep grassy embankment and the rear wheel just slid out from underneath me on the grass. This encounter with the dirt proved two things, one that the foot brake is super malleable since it was really easy to bend it back into shape and secondly that I really can lift the 200kg bike relatively easily. I've been dreading the moment of truth when I find out if I can lift it, I had nightmares of struggling to get it back on its two wheels in a busy intersection with cars all around waiting and sniggering at my efforts to right the iron beast.
I have also filled up with my first tank of petrol. R75.00 for a full tank of fuel, ok my range may not be quite what a car would get on a full tank but 300km is pretty good going I think.
Every day when I get to work I have a look at my car which is looking a bit neglected. I think I had better take it for a drive this weekend and get it cleaned just so that it knows that it is still loved.
Why, you may ask, was I driving diagonally up a grassy embankment? The answer can be found at and what I was doing was trying to map my suburb with my GPS.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tame Wildlife

As I mentioned before, part of the company function last week was the "Bird Show" at Monte Casino which, if you ever have the opportunity, is well worth the effort to go and see. The most remarkable thing about the show, as Barry pointed out, was that these are wild birds that have the opportunity to fly away (the show is entirely outdoors) but that don't. I'm not sure if their wings are clipped but they get to fly at least 60m in a single flight so I would guess that there is plenty of opportunity to escape. The spotted eagle owl was very reluctant to come out of his hole in the tower since the last show (yesterday) he was mobbed by a whole bunch of smaller birds. The smaller birds often gang up on a lone predator and mob them, hopefully intimidating the predator and chasing it away. Anyway, the eagle owl was reluctant to say the least but when it did fly it was totally silent, even though it flew within half a meter of one's head one couldn't hear it at all. Great to see these large predator birds up close since one only normally sees them at a distance. Another interesting tit bit was the fact that the owls are the dumbest of the bird predators since their eyes take up something like 2/3 of their brain cavity. If humans were to have eyes in the same proportion as owls, our eyes would be the size of grapefruit. Next time someone of the opposite sex makes eyes at you with their big beautiful eyes, just remember the tale of the owl.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

To be an addict or not!

Went out yesterday for the end of year party which, since we are actually such a small company, is quite a low key affair. On top of that, most of the personalities are not exactly what one would call extroverted, mine included.

The whole company, all fourteen of us less two absentees, went to Montecasino for breakfast and thereafter to the bird show which was quite amazing and about which I will post in a couple of days time. While we were having breakfast we were looking over the fake stream, past the fake trees into the, anything but fake, casino and the conversation got going about how gamblers are addicts in the same way as smokers are. They just can't stop themselves. In light of "The God Delusion" which explains religion as a sort of a disease I started thinking along the lines that religion may more closely resemble an addiction than a disease and would explain quite nicely why people can't give it up and will sacrifice everything for it including their families and on occasion, themselves.

For purposes of this discussion, an addiction is anything that one just can't give up and includes some commonly acknowledged addictions as well as some which are not and it is definitely debatable as to whether they really are addictions at all.

By connotation, addictions are generally deemed to be 'bad' but since we, as people, seem to suffer from an awful lot of them, is it possible that some are actually good even if they are addictions? Furthermore some behaviour, in moderation, is typically deemed to be good and beneficial whereas the same behaviour in excess is typically deemed to be bad.

So far my list of possibly addictive endeavours, and yes, the definition of addiction is purposefully vague, are:

Substance Addictions : Where the body is addicted to something which is ingested into ones' body.
Sugar (just you try and give it up!)

Activity Addictions : Where the addict performs some kind of physical endeavour which results in the body itself producing chemicals to which the body becomes addicted.
Extreme Sports (Adrenalin)

Mind Addictions : Where the addicts' mind indulges in thought patterns, once again producing chemicals to which the body becomes addicted.

I doubt anyone would argue too hard on the Substance and Activity Addictions not being addictions but the Mind Addictions needs some explaining. Basically what I am trying to do is look at illogical behaviour that results from some kind of mind set and posing the question, is this actually an addiction that determines the behaviour so here goes.
Love - Ever done anything really stupid or embarassing because you were 'in love'? What is this feeling of 'in love', could it be a bunch of chemicals which your body likes and the thought of the object of your desire generates these chemicals, hence Love.
Porn - I don't think I need to explain or provide examples, pretty self evident.
Religion - People have excommunicated parents, children or siblings for not believing the same way. They have even sacrificed themselves for what they believe in. Could this be because religion provides the addict with some kind of assurance of acceptance by a god and the mere thought of this creates an addiction? People who challenge this assurance by not believing the same way need to be excommunicated just in case they influence the addict and he/she loses the assurance of acceptance.
Altruism - Same as Religion except that the acceptance is by the addict themselves.
Nationalism - What posseses a soldier to jump out of a trench and run straight at the enemy who is trying to shoot him. Death is near certain and yet people do. Could this be the same desire for acceptance but this time by the Nation? The 'For king and country' saying comes to mind.


Tip for the mercenary capitalists out there, create products for people with addictions, it is a guaranteed market, the consumers just can't help themselves.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Bike Ahoy

My days and weeks of waiting are finally over and I am now the proud owner (well the bank is in reality) of one shiny new BMW 650GS motorcycle. Purchased to commute to and from work although I have to admit to having entertained ideas of touring through southern europe on it. Going to have to work on Caron so that she will ride as well, she hasn't said no which is a good start.

This is what she looks like.

and again here ...