Saturday, September 29, 2007

'Bonk' Prevention

For those cyclist/endurance athletes out there, this is great to eat during endurance sports. I normally take a potato and a date ball per hour I am expecting to be out. The baby potatoes have a high GI and release energy quickly while the date balls have a lower GI and release it more slowly.

Baby Potatoes
Boil the baby potatoes in their jackets until they are soft and then leave them in the water overnight. Add salt to taste.

Date Balls
  • 4 Tbs x finely diced dried pitted dates
  • 2 Tbs x finely diced dried mango
  • 1 Tbs x roland's secret go-faster ingredient
  • 2 Tbs x dessicated coconut
  • 2 Tbs x sesame seeds
  • 100 ml x Honey
Mix all the dry ingredients together and add the honey until it forms a pliable dough. Roll into balls just smaller than golf balls and roll in coconut.

P.S. 'Bonk' in this context refers to what happens when your body runs out of energy during endurance events. When you hit the wall so to speak, you go Bonk. It does not refer to a specific form of exercise which it totally and utterly out of the question after you have bonked.

The unpleasantness of self-knowledge

"We are all perpetually smoothing and rearranging reality to conform to our wishes; we lie to others and to ourselves constantly, unthinkingly. When, occasionally—and not by dint of our own efforts but under the pressure of external events—we are forced to see things as they are, we are like naked people in a storm. There are a few among us—psychoanalysts have encountered them—who are blessed or cursed with a strange imperviousness to the unpleasantness of self-knowledge. Their lies to themselves are so convincing that they are never unmasked. These are the people who never feel in the wrong, who are always able to justify their conduct, and who in the end—human nature being what it is—cause their fallible fellow-men to turn away from them."
Janet Malcolm, In the Freud Archives

Thursday, September 27, 2007


The summer rains have arrived at last, we've had 35mm within the last 24 hours and it is a great way to start the rainy season and I hope it continues like this - gently consistent rain that isn't going to result in floods. It was great to see the lightning and feel the roll of thunder and hear the soft sound of the rain on the roof and the smell of the parched earth as it soaked up the rain. There are some experiences that Africa just has and this is one of them - the first rains of the season.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The family comes home to roost

Caron and I once used to joke that we were doing so well with family. We, even though we really can't claim the credit, had managed to get my brother to live in pietersburg, my one sister in london, my other sister in scotland, carons sister in botswana and her other sister in nelspruit and her parents in hillcrest. Life was good, uncomplicated but slowly and surely all our hard work has unwound. My sister lives just down the road about 3km away, carons two sisters and her parents all live within about 0.5km, my brother, although not exactly close, is at least in johannesburg. Even the scottish sister has moved to Abu Dhabi which is closer. I'm worried, they may be gravitating back.

The latest arrivals have been caron's parents who moved up from hillcrest last week wednesday so they have spent the better part of the last week sorting out the garden cottage where they are going to live while they build a granny flat at kims house. They have had to put most of their possessions into storage which is not a trivial matter considering that carons mother is a potter (kilns and clay) and her father is an artisan (lathes and other heavy metal objects) and inevitably, something they will need in the next six months will be buried in some inaccessible corner of the storage.

P.S. We actually get on well with most of our respective families most of the time.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Arniston or Waenshuiskrans

During my military service which, in case you think otherwise, was compulsory I occasionally had to go down to Arniston (English) or Waenhuiskrans (Afrikaans) near cape Agulhas. The following two images are of fishermens cottages just outside of Waenhuiskrans. I haven't been back there in twenty years (!#%&* that makes me sound old) and I hear that there has been considerable holiday house development in that area so in all likelihood, these aren't there anymore.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Banff Film Festival

Some pretty creative ways to die without getting accused of suicide. If you watch carefully you will see a couple of films whose actors are no longer with us. Death notwithstanding, what an amazing set of footage. Just what people are capable of on ski's, mountainbikes, parachutes and rock climbing is absolutely amazing but thankfully, I have no desire to emulate them.
The one that sticks in my mind is that of a skier looking over a huge cliff which he is intending on jumping off. The cliff must have been about 100m high and as he launched himself over the edge something must have gone wrong and he came down with his ski's in helicopter mode - Headfirst into a snowdrift. All you could see was his two ski's on top of the snow with him buried underneath, unbelievably he survived! The film is highly recommended even if it is only to see what you will never, ever, ever do.

Quite close enough

I did 75km's on my own on Sunday because Jason couldn't ride and communication difficulties with Graeme meant that they rode at a different time to me. Riding close to Northgate I came to a three way stop and I was balancing waiting for the car which had arrived before me from the opposite direction to turn in front of me when he waved me through. Very civil of him and I was waving my thanks when a car at the remaining stop street decided to use his magnanimity and take the gap - right over me. Fortunately I saw him at the last second and fended him off with my hand hard enough that I could feel the bonnet buckling. I hope it remained buckled but I suspect it just popped back out. Damn moron! The rest of the ride was uneventful and very pleasant.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Justice for the rich

Justice in civil proceedings, so it seems, is for the rich and powerful and not the poor and weak. The legal theory sounds so good, two antagonists present their case before an independent judge who makes a ruling. If either antagonist doesn't like the ruling which they are bound not to if they lost, they probably have an opportunity to take the case to a higher court and so on which all sounds pretty fair and evenhanded on the face of it. What my rant is about is that people that have legitimate grievances are sometimes denied justice due to the actual legal system, specifically the costs and time associated with doing anything in a court. Rich people, who generally aren't rich for being stupid, know this and are able to flout laws with poorer or weaker people knowing full well that there is a reasonable chance of getting away with it merely because they know that the poorer people don't have the resources to even engage in the legal debate.

I find it interesting the interaction of the legal system with capitalist society where the price of services is determined by the scarcity thereof. In this example better lawyers are more expensive than poorer lawyers and there are no lawyers for free and of course you can't go to court without lawyers and attorneys to get the justice to which the plaintiff feels entitled.

So what is one to do if one has been discriminated against in some manner and simply can't afford to take it to court? The obvious answer is to fester in silence or, as a last resort, to take the law into his or her own hands. This doesn't right the wrong at all and could just as likely lead to an injustice since there is no guarantee that the plaintiff has a valid case at all.

So our legal system seems to work reasonably well when the two antagonists are relatively equal in wealth and power but as the disparity between the antagonists grows, so does the chances of a miscarriage of justice.

I was talking to someone last week decrying the attitude of poorer elements of our society to the legal system but when they are excluded from the legal system by dint of their circumstances. What do people expect?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Spring Classic

The first Sunday of September is the Spring Classic mountainbike race. Officially it is spring but Sunday felt more like midsummer it was so hot. The race is *only* 40km so Jason felt that it needed a bit more distance so we rode from his place to the race, did the race and then rode back. A more respectable 60km round trip. We arrived at the race uncharacteristically early so we were quite close to the front of the field on the start line or so we thought. I was racing in the blue category which is basically for 'ou toppies but nobody comes right out and says it like that so i was meant to start in the group behind Jason but I sneaked into the same group as Jason. Standing in the middle of the bunch about 30 seconds before the start trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, everyone is quiet and I hear Pfhtttttttt followed by relieved laughter as everyone around me realised that it isn't their tyre going flat - it's mine. Damn 'n blast. Can you believe the timing.

Too late to change so I rode on it for a couple of km's before it really was too flat to ride on. Stopped and pumped it up but not as hard as I would have liked and I spent the rest of the race expecting the tyre to roll off the rim around every corner. Jason kindly waited for me to pump up the tyre but then promptly left me behind but as fate would have it, finished in a time of 02:32, well behind mine of 02:08. Mine is about right according to my average speed but Jasons is definitely wrong since he finished a good five minutes ahead of me.

Came very close to a spectacular fall going down a technical section. I started out on the right line but something and here I'm going to blame the tyre, put me onto the wrong line and turned the last metre into a near vertical drop. I felt the suspension bottom out not to mention the tyres right up to the rim and I wheelied along on my front wheel for a metre or so before the back of the bike came down. Loads of cheers emanating from the gallery gathered to watch the spills.

Felt much better on the second lap when I just went at my own pace and marvelled at the women coming cruising past me as if i was stationery. When we got back to Jasons place, cathy's first question - even before whether I wanted some coffee - was whether we had seen ourselves in a mirror. On reflection, it looked like we had crossed the colour bar - white eyeballs and teeth and brown everywhere else.

Brand loyalty undone

In South Africa as, I am sure, in the rest of the world the larger chain stores try to build brand loyalty by giving out cards to their customers on favourable terms so that they will shop in their, as opposed to their competitors, stores. This seems to work pretty well in general although every now an again things go a bit pear shaped as shown by the sign on the counter of a woolies store.

I wonder how many times the cashier had to explain that, no, woolies cards are not accepted here and, yes, it is a woolies store and no, it doesn't make any sense and yes, the guys at head office don't know what they are doing.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

All dressed up and nowhere to go

Every now and again one reacts to situations in such a way as to defuse the situation rather than exacerbate it. Not often, I will admit but occasionally and today was one of those occasions.
I went off to Sandton to do a little shopping for tomorrows race and to get some more gin for my father-in-law who is staying with me for the weekend. Caron is currently overseas in the UK and has left me to entertain the parents in law. Nice. Back to the story, I paid for my parking at the pay on foot, got into the car and zoomed off to the exit and almost into the back of the last car in the queue. There are only two lanes and one of them was blocked by some fat toad of an X5 driver. The other lane was moving until the car in front of me got to the exit and it was pretty obvious that the three black guys in the dusty, somewhat battered, toyota conquest have never use a pay on foot system. They were expecting an attendant at the checkout and of course there isn't one. So now both lanes were blocked and within about 30 seconds there was a queue of 5 cars each behind both stationary vehicles. One of the guys in front of me jumped out and asked if I could reverse just enough to let them reverse and let everyone through but of course with 7 cars behind me by now, it just wasn't going to work. The guys were immaculately dressed in full dress suits and spoke impeccably and had large VIP tags around their neck. Sitting there wondering what to do, I had a brain wave and gave them my ticket and then tail-gated then out of Sandton City. Such a simple solution and once you say it - so obvious.