Just a quick thought

A friend of mine has this boss who works till 9pm most nights. She’s doesn’t have kids and she’s married to a guy who lives in Joburg. She has achieved a lot. She is an achiever. She earns a fat salary. She drives a nice car. People know her name. She’s actually a nice person too.

Now she wants my friend to work late as well. My friend isn’t happy about that.

It all depends on what your priorities are. There are no wrongs and rights here.

On saturday I’m going to remove the kitchen door that has swelled slightly and plane it down so that it doesn’t scrape on the floor any more. For some reason that is a priority for me.

On saturday evening I think we’ll end up sitting on a couch and drinking champagne (it’s the day we move in after all)… That time, with just the two of us, is a priority for me.

The difference of course is that when I’m 70 years old I’ll have the memory of that evening we sipped champagne and that day I fixed the door on my very first house. I’ll also have all those evenings where we talked rubbish while cooking supper together, watched inane tv shows and played with the cat.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’d rather have those memories than a fancy car and a list of people who know my name, but I respect any person’s decision to focus on those things.

Years ago I worked for a large travel company. There was an old lady who worked there… her job, for the previous 25 odd years, had been to travel the world and write about her adventures. One night at a company dinner she was telling us stories about all the incredible places she had been. Another woman of similar age said to her, “Oh, I wish I had lived your life, it sounds so amazing!“… To which the jaded traveler replied rather seriously “I would trade you my entire life for one week with a loving husband and children!“.

I think I was 19 at the time… Those words continue to haunt me… and guide me.

Grumpy Old Man Rant.

In case you weren’t counting, the year is 2008… In the past week I have received both the Spier Wants To Give You Free Champagne email and, more recently, the Microsoft Will Track This Email And Give You $321.56 For Every Person You Forward This To email. Both of these emails came from people I ~used to know… People who do not suffer from diminished brain capacity, amnesia or bouts of uncontrollable binge drinking & emailing. I’m tired of being understanding. Ignorance is not an excuse for not using your logical faculties.

Find your own internet, this one is taken.

"The Rest Of The World" continues to live up to my expectations…

A while ago I created this for graphjam:

It should be obvious to most of the readers of my blog that the use of “Tigers” and the placement of “Sudan” was purposeful.

Unfortunately half the commenters seem to be dumb people called “Brittany” (guess where she’s from) who are just clever enough to check the wikipedia article on tigers and yet not quite clever enough to grasp the point of the map.

Um, shouldn’t this be on Failblog? There are no tigers in Africa.

and:

Perhaps this should be on failblog due to the completely inaccurate placement of the Sudan.

With first prize going to this gentleman:

Technically most countries in africa carry no international significance. that’s the whole point of this map. and my lol’s.

I only wish I could convince myself that he’s trying to be incredibly sarcastic… but I can’t.

😦

Mail and Guardian letting it Slip (Knot)

I have the luxury of not being a journalist.

Mail and Guardian on the other hand doesn’t have that luxury. That’s why when I saw this: “Krugersdorp school rocked by ‘Satanic’ killing” I sighed quietly to myself. The article would be perfectly at home in Die Son and uses phrases like ‘crazy-eyes’ and ‘satanic-like ritual’

Here’s the deal. A kid who was obviously a little fucked in his head took a sword to school and stabbed a few other kids (one of whom died) and some of the school gardeners (who no doubt were trying to stop him). That is all. There is no need to try and justify his actions with claims of satanism or his music interests, or, for gods sake, the amount of time he spends on the internet. I’m sure he also played violent computer games; just like pretty much every other fucking kid in his school, who, for record, didn’t stab anyone with a sword yesterday.

These sorts of things happen, and they are tragedies, and they are possibly preventable, but not by censoring the kind of music your kid listens to, or freaking out because they bought a cheap sword at the Chinese knock-off shop around the corner, or banning the internet in your home. The only way to (possibly) prevent things like this happening is to be more aware of your child’s emotional well being, and, should you think your child might be a little nuts, get them to a psychologist who can either help them, or send your paranoid parent ass home because your kid is actually normal.

It seems like society is always looking for an excuse to justify our behavior. We blame MixIt for infidelity and computer games for violent kids… but we forget that a 70 years ago kids were being exposed to far more violence in the form of a World War and had access to more artillery than our current defense force, but they didn’t go to school and shoot up the classroom.

There’s also a stupid trend where people claim an unstoppable addiction to idiotic things like smoking, pornography and alcohol. They claim they have a disease because they can’t not buy that next box of smokes, or drink that next glass of scotch. Like Kyle so brilliantly said to his father in South Park, “No dad, you don’t have a disease, you just need to stop drinking so much”. If you don’t have the willpower to stop smoking, rather just admit to having no self control than muddying the waters for people with real  problems.

So please, journalists of the world, stop looking for reasons… back in the old days people were just plain old nuts if they stabbed their school friends … I liked those days. Can’t we please go back?

————–

Update: After a long discussion with Gavin, who knows a thing or two about mental issues, I must note that I agree that kids are doing this more now days than they were 100 years ago, and that the reasons for that must be something societal.

So maybe modern society (and everything that entails from bad foreign policy to violent movies) is to blame as the catalyst that triggers kids (and people) who are completely fucking nuts, to do stuff like this… but the key is, they were completely fucking nuts to start with.

The crux of my post was this; Journalism like this is likely to have a few thousand mothers confiscating their kid’s swords and slipknot CD’s, only further increasing the divide between them and their kids, which, will no doubt make them far less able to detect real signs of the kind of insanity that actually drives kids to kill their school friends, not to mention just plain old bad parenting.

Like Terri says, we want easy answers, not hard, complicated ones like ‘perhaps it’s a mixture of bad parenting and George Bush’s unjust war that kills thousands of innocent people every month, and violent movies and economic depression and the chemicals in our food and a bad case of ‘insane in the membrane’.

Observations from the weekend.

  • I made up an awesome pasta sauce based on “what we had around”:
    Put in a saucepan and mix:

    1. 1 can of tinned tomato and onion mix
    2. Two smoked chicken breasts cut into slices
    3. 1 can of tomato mix (Basically tomato and onion mix without the onion)
    4. One piquant pepper (thinly sliced)
    5. Handfull of chopped parsley
    6. Half a teaspoon of crushed garlic (More if you like)
    7. Half a teaspoon of chopped ginger
    8. A big handfull (or two) of a good quality grated mozzarella or gouda
    9. 25ml (table spoon) of Nandos Wild Herb Peri Peri (Double this if you like hot stuff)
    10. Salt and pepper to taste

    Serve with whichever pasta floats your boat and beer.

  • It is amazing how long you can forgo the need to eat when you are busy hacking electronics in a cold garage.
  • I saw two girls (12ish) in a bookshop, one was reading a book on Mayan Mythology and the other was reading an entire book about Zak Effron. This reminded me of a conversation I had with someone else about the hot girls from school who ended up nowhere in life.
  • I distinctly despise being told to do something by someone who can not give me a rational reason for the intstruction. A Cape Union Mart manager dude told me to leave the shop because they had previously had a power cut. The power was back on, but apparently the policy was to close the shop anyway. “But the power is back on” I said… “Yes, but it’s procedure” he replied,  “Why?” I asked. “Because it’s procedure”. His procedure hadn’t been relayed to the rest of his staff because as we walked out they were happily standing by the door as more people walked in.
  • Never watch a movie at Cape Gate. While the “common” people might be entertaining to watch as you walk around the mall, it is particularly NOT entertaining when you have to sit next to a kid who is loudly chewing on bubble gum with his mouth open the entire way through the movie, WITH his father sitting next to him doing absolutely nothing. Trailer trash.
  • I met a girl I’ve heard about for about 4 years but never met. She is every bit as wonderful as I had heard. It’s awesome to see someone in a relationship with someone they were enfatuated with 4 years ago.
  • It is very unawesome when one of your good friends starts to fall into the same stupid trap they’ve been in for the last 3 years… all over again. YES YOU! STOP IT!
  • We had home made bread and tinned soup for supper last night. I guess weekend cuisine can be in the shape of a tin after all.

Why Jesus doesn't like art… or want Zimbabwe freed.

Graffiti is and always has been a part of society… go read up about it. We’re talking thousands of years… even before Jesus.

Now obviously my title is rather exaggerated and designed for the express purpose of increasing my readership, but the thing is, I really am starting to get pissed off at those “Jesus Saves” people walking around painting over what they deem inappropriate.

First there was the international graffiti competition held in Cape Town where some of worlds best contemporary artists painted f-ing amazing murals on walls that made you want to stop your car and take a deep breath. 2 days later the Jesus Saves people painted that incredible wall full of art work grey. Not white, grey.

I was willing to tolerate that since graffiti is supposedly against the law… never mind the fact that supposedly these guys got permission from the owner of the wall.

Then there was “FREE ZIM!“, a piece of artwork so poignant and powerful that it made me seek it out and photograph it. It said everything that needed to be said and was a constant, daily, reminder to thousands of Capetonians of exactly what had to happen in Zimbabwe. It was also beautiful, with stencilled birds taking flight reminding me of the phoenix to our north.

Then in the height of the xenophobic attacks against Zimbabweans (and other foreigners) the “Jesus Saves” crew painted over it in a dull grey that angers me intensely every time I drive past.

Which leaves me to say, like some graffiti artists mural’d on a nearby wall: “Jesus must hate art”.

ps. For the kids out there who are going to start screaming about tagging. I am not talking about tagging. I am talking about art. Tagging is the equivalent of taking a shit on the pavement and expecting people to think you’re cool for doing it.

Sailing Day 3

Firstly, thank you to everyone who’s been reading these posts and asking me for more. I appreciate it muchly!

At the end of last weeks episode I had just woken up to a glorious sunrise and beautiful day, but with no wind.

We had dodged various fishing trawlers the previous night and now we were bobbing at sea while fishing vessels zipped past us like ants hauling in the day’s supplies. We were somewhere near Struisbaai and were watched cautiously by various seabirds who, in this area particularly, think that any boat means fish. The closest thing we had to fish was a desire to jump into the water and swim.

This was perhaps the most boring of days… mother nature teased us along with tiny squalls of wind that disappeared as fast as they had appeared. The water was glassy and technically we were sailing but probably only doing 2 knots in the fast bits and backwards in the “slow” bits.

To give you an idea about speed on a boat I will draw you this analogy. Firstly, ships calculate their speed at sea in knots because their speed is always relative to the water. If they’re running straight into a current/tide it might feel like they’re moving fast but in reality they’re doing half the speed it feels they’re doing. Sailors also use miles because it’s easy to translate miles to knots and know how long it will take to get somewhere. As an example, my office is about 6 miles (9.6km) away from my flat. If I drive in my car I can do that trip in about 10 minutes. (6 minutes assuming 100km/h). Our little sailboat was actually quite quick, the fastest the GPS ever accurately recorded her movements was about 7 knots, but that happened in the middle of a big storm while surfing down a 12m swell, so lets assume her real top speed is 6 knots.

So, 6 miles at 6 knots = 1 hour which doesn’t seem too shabby. However there’s this thing called wind and if it’s not your friend that 6 mile trip can take a long long time. Well, technically infinity, but to be reasonable lets say that day three was spent sailing at roughly 1.5 knots average. That means that our 1 hour trip to my office suddenly takes 4 hours. 6 minutes in a car, 4 hours in a boat.

The real average speed of our entire sail was probably in the order of 4 knots. Today’s average was probably half that… or less.

We sailed and sailed and sailed and tried our damnedest not to get too sunburnt. At some point we passed the Breede river mouth where my parents have their holiday house. You can imagine my feelings when comparing the comfort of their house with my current situation.

Toiletries at sea are not as fun as you might imagine. Firstly peeing is generally done leaning overboard with your body wrapped between two mast stays (steel cables). It’s not all that difficult once you’ve taught your body to pee on demand while facing impending death. Then there is the bucket and chuck-it, which for the sake of all mankind and our harmonious future I will not document any further. You brush your teeth in the same cup you drank your coffee out of, cleaned with sea water obviously, and spit overboard which leaves pretty streaks of toothpaste in the water.

Eventually we neared Stillbaai and while we sat out there in almost idyllic weather wishing for a storm, I can’t help but think that perhaps mother nature heard our prayer but was busy with something else at the time and would get back to us as soon as she was done. At times we were well and truly stuck. We could see wind over there, no, wait, over there… no no it’s back over there… etc etc. Eventually in desperation we decided to start up the motor and try and power towards the wind. We didn’t have a lot of diesel. I would guess we probably had about 40 litres in total, which is actually a lot for a small boat, but not if you take the next 48 hours into account. We motored for about an hour, getting teased by the wind every few minutes as it would fill our sails and make us contemplate turning off the engine… but those full sails never lasted long. During these agonising hours there was something else happening… the swell started getting bigger.

We sailed and occasionally motored all the way to the point where we could see Mossel Bay on our left. I remember it quite vividly. It was dusk and the lights of Mossel Bay slowly grew brighter and brighter off to our left hand side. We sailed passed those lights and both of us were thinking to ourselves that perhaps we should just call it a day and head straight for Mossel Bay under power. In 5 hours we could probably have been having a beer and a prego roll in some or other questionable establishment. We probably should have gone with our gut instincts. Mossel Bay was *right* there and we were sailing directly away from it, directly into a shitstorm.

In fact, once you pass Mossel Bay on your left, the bearing for Knysna (according to the GPS and compass) is uncomfortably right of where you expect land to be. Being dark we could see all the lights on the other side of the bay. Harolds Bay, Wilderness, Sedgefield… and then a whole lot of darkness. And we were heading straight for that darkness. I went below to consult the charts again to make sure that my coordinates for Knysna were correct. They were. Knysna was 50 miles away at 100 degrees. At our current pace we were between 12 and 50 hours away. The swell was getting bigger and the wind more random, albeit aggressively random.

The problem with sailing towards darkness at night is that you don’t have anything to navigate to except stars… And as the weather started getting shittier and shittier those stars would occasionally disappear for minutes at a time. We also had the reference of the lights from the other towns (Wilderness etc) that were somewhere off to our left… but they too disappeared occasionally as the weather rolled in.

It was cold, probably colder than it had ever been. I was thankful for my gloves but was still disappointingly surprised at how a “largish” guy like myself can have such a scrawny little ass. It felt like my ass bones were directly “on” the fibreglass of the boat, even with improvised cushions.

So you’re cold and the most obvious thing to do would be to pull your hoody over your head and insulate you ears etc. The odd thing though is that everytime I did that I found myself getting frustrated and pulling the hoody off within 2 minutes. Eventually I realised why. When you’re at sea you start to use your hearing a lot more than say, driving a car. You hear the wind behind you before it gets to the boat, you hear swells growing behind you threatening to dump a load of water onto the boat… with your ears covered you are essentially sailing “blind” and amazingly the comfort of warmth is nothing compared to the security of “vision”.

This was a miserable night… the swell grew and grew but the wind seemed to become more and more patchy and more and more random. At some point we decided to start motoring again but not before improvising a dip stick to try and measure how much fuel we were using. If we ran out of fuel heading into the Knysna heads we would probably die. No jokes. Fuel becomes that serious. We used strips of cardboard from a box I had brought some supplies in. As carefully as we could we dunked the cardboard and then quickly measured the diesel stained patch. 14cm was our first reading. An hour of motoring later we got 8cm… this scared the shit out of me. Our engine was meant to burn 2 litres of fuel per hour. We wearily decided to keep on motoring for another hour and get another measurement. 11cm. In other words we were either in the Bermuda Triangle or perhaps it might be that we were measuring fuel on a boat that was being tossed around by the swell. We “looked” into the tank with torches and decided to keep on going. I tried to sleep. Ok, so remember how uncomfortable sleeping is at sea? Well, add a huge diesel engine only a thin piece of plywood away from your head and the lovely smell of diesel fumes and hot oil. Amazingly I slept.

We kept on with the exhausted regime of sailing when we could sail and occasionally some motoring, but not before rechecking our fuel levels with our high-tech cardboard strips.

It was darker than it had ever been before. I was exhausted and at times would strain my eyes into the darkness thinking I could see land (i.e. we were too close) or think I could hear the sound of waves breaking on a shore… but all of that was imagined. We were far out to sea and as the sun eventually started illuminating the backs of the distant mountains I was able to relax, knowing that we were still far away from both the shore and Knysna. The swell was bigger than it had ever been before, perhaps about 5 meters. That’s two stories high, but wide enough to not be too threatening.

Knysna was a few hours away. I felt relieved knowing that eventually, probably while there was still daylight, I would be able to step onto dry land… I made jokes in my head about kissing the ground.

Up Next: The roaring 6 meter swells broke violently and audible, throwing spray 15 meters up into the air… “There’s the channel” he said, “between that rock and the spike in the distance”… All I saw was an angry wall of water and deadly rocks. I imagined what it would be like, in the water, amongst all of that.