Next: Science is now so complex that we can no longer ask What? We can now only wonder Why?

This Blog used to be about the question: What is Science?
Now, it asks: What is Happiness?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Man Alive!

This is the the inside story of an extraordinary brain. The lighter parts on the right side of the MRI scan represent the damaged area of Christo Jooste's Left Parietal region, after an extensive ischemic infarction of the brain on the 28th October 2008.
This critically includes the Brocas Speech area, vital for speech and writing and also deeply affects the ability to move the right side of the body.

This is the start of the outside story of a remarkable journey, with western medicine, art and music, photography and compassion all playing pivotal roles in a Jota of Joy and Life.

21st December 2008
It's as though the old Christo is back in force, barely a week after the doctor and therapy boffins decided that he was 'not capable' of being therapized. Funny how we tend to tread so carefully around their hallowed opinions and mutter under our breath how they dictate the truth with big technical words and 15 minute assessments. I wonder if they even heard me trying to tell them that here was a man with an extraordinary brain and thus constituted an extraordinary opportunity for any practitioner in this field to have a really fascinating challenge. But nobody heard me, nobody bit.
Yesterday when we took Christo for a baseline checkup, his family physician was amazed to say the least! From an assessment of "It's the biggest stroke I have seen in 16 years of practice...the prognosis is not good at all",

to Christo playing chess ..
.. and doing the barbicue (braai) this evening,
...I can only only ascribe it to a good mixture of the right drugs, western medical technology and lots of love and empathy (and MUSIC!!!).
Today was a day of firsts - his first little nibble in the form of a tree berry from his garden.
His first letters put to paper (strange new language, but letters nevertheless)...
..his first walk around the block...
Understandably, at the end of all this he was was Ida.

But the best of the lot was that, while I was outside yogaring and Ida was inside helping Christo dress, he motioned her away and SAID....yes, SAID...."budgie....come!"

Bla, bla, bloggety bla, splishety, splosh, a whole lot of stuff happened and next thing we are all with wonder physio, Melanie Wessels (not an M T Wessel, this one!). Christo rediscovers blondes and the rest of us, the power of the committed specialist.


Have a ball!

Saline Hookah

...and finally, my advert for free stroke rehab support services and documentation.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

God smites then saves..

This is a real cool story. For days now I have been teasing Christo that, once he is up and running I am going to challenge him to a chess game. 5 days ago he was diagnosed as having such severe Apraxia (inability to translate ideas to actions, initiate co-ordinated motor actions and plan a sequence of motor responses) and Aphasia (unable to properly process sensory input). So, I naturally thought that the great chess challenge was still well in future dreamland. I told him that I was going to practice against myself in the meantime and to illustrate the point, I hauled out his chess table and introduced myself to myself by swapping sides. He looked at me, looked at the board and then arranged the King and Queen correctly, as I had reversed them (give me a break - it has been a while!) Then he pinted to me and to the board. SO I moved Kings pawn 2 to KP4...and the game was on!

That was 2 days ago. Today I bought him a glass chess set and in a blink we had renewed the challenge. Today, I was a lot closer to losing to him. If he had not slipped up with a vulnerable queen, I would have been the one biting the chess dust. But spotting the gap, I carefully closed in on his cornered king and with the humility of a man who has played a thousand or more chess game years, Christo conceded defeat. I am pushing for daily games because I know that it cannot be long before I lose my temporary advantage.

The latest image is at the top....Today Christo took the tiring 270km journey from Eugen Marais hospital to his home in Polokwane....tiring but it surely makes me recall the words of Neil Sack, who, with but a few months to live had the following to say - "Never has music sounded so sweet nor colours been so vivid. I have further come to the conclusion that my problem is people, not cancer, as I only experience discomfort when in the company of people I do not like."

Isn't nature wonderful! A 5 legged stick insect is insisting on climbing all over me attracted no doubt by the brilliance of my Laptop screen, here in the middle of the African night. What happened to its 6th leg, dog only knows but it had certainly recovered. And recovery is a hopeful but slow process for one Christo Jooste, my bru-in-law traditionale. If you want the whole storie check out my udder blog -

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Cross Maasai (knot)

Visitor: silkhobby
Location: Sydney, AUSTRALIA
WebSite: Animal Spirits
Date: Tuesday, Oct 23, 2001 at 20:00:31 (EDT)
Comments: I loved looking at all the animal photos. I became interested in the maasai when the (Australian) TV show '60 minutes' showed an Australian girl - Catherine Oddie, marry a maasai warrior named Robert, and she changed her name to Nasha Oloimooja. Catherine wrote a book about her life with the maasai called 'enkop ai' (my country). It was a fascinating book. Does anyone out there know whatever happened to her ??? I'd be interested to know if she is still married to Robert.

I know someone who knows someone who knows somebody who retired from a 30 year career with the World Bank and the IMF. She now lives in Nairobi....happily, it seems. She has a small enough fortune amassed to be able to NEVER HAVE TO WORK AGAIN!

Her name is Margaret (name changed to protect innocent people including Margaret whose real name I don't know).
Margaret says, with a whimsical half grin, 'International aid does not work.'

This is the second person of some influence and credibility that I have heard this from. the other is Paul Theroux, author of 'Dark Star Safari', a bum in the matatu travel book wherein, disguised as a auto-erotic novelist, he traverses Africa from top to tip and basically comes to the same conclusion (with a lot more hilarity) as Margaret.

Now, I don't necessarily agree with either of them, though Dark Star is on my top 10 list. In fact I can't even agree 100% that Barrack Obama is the best choice for November or whether South Africa will in fact be a better place if our president is an accused but proven innocent rapist and is wiggling his way through 782 charges of corruption. So, I buy both the adorned mugs and all the badges and hope that my investment will help Democracy grow in the third world and be rediscovered in the first.

Meantime, nailed down by the frequent politically correct company I keep I am obliged to come up with some kind of mission statement for Africa.
The only thing that comes to mind is an oft quoted quote from my late and lamented role model of how to live creatively on the edge, Kessie Govender (the spontaneous, real, earthy, naughty, chuckling, satirical playwrite and bricklayer who 'kept a tradition of humanism and discord alive' in a country where being politically correct is your boy scout badge to boredom.)

He put it all rather simply - 'There cannot be any real cultural cross-fertilization without genetic cross-fertilization'.

I suspect that these words were sprung from loins of opportunity, perhaps confirmed by his (in later years) throwing his tabla out of his '79 Volvo window when his beautiful and talented daughter announced her love for a black American violin player. All however was forgiven and the violin sang a mournful but uniting song at Kessie's funeral some years later.

Nevertheless, those words resonated as true in a sort of global way for me and so it was with great delight that I learnt that my recent visitor, Margaret (believe me, she isn't a Margaret), had a deep seated fantasy to run away with a Maasai warrior and spend the rest of her life flying Quantas between a Manyata and the Sydney Opera House.
She arrived in Kenya clutching her copy of Catherine Oddie and wiping away her tears of anger at the original lady (Corinne Hofmann - 'The White Masai'), who succumbed to this (totally understandable) dream. (see note 1)

For days it seemed that her love would have to be from afar, a desire fuelled by fiction and expressed through a small Olympus digital camera.

On the 8th of October we piled into Ravickles, (Ida's trusty RAV4) and headed off to Lake Magadi, mostly because we could see flamingos for free which was certainly not the case at Lake Nakuru. (50 dollars! incl. rainy day).

What a smashing adventure we found ourselves in....and here are just a few pix..take a tea break and check them out as the real adventure begins ....on our way home.

Having completed the Magadi 4x4 bushawallah experience and still not found the thermal mud baths, we made a last stop at the Lake Magadi Golf Course.

What appeared to be the 19th hole sprung out of the middle of the sand ruck which seemed to have gobbled up the fairways.

What a great place for my 60th birthday!

I'll give a set of co-ords and invite whoever I know is still alive and vaguely mobile and see who turns up.

While doing the promo pic for the invite, the world took an about turn.

(well, it was clearly now Margaret's turn!).

Feeling a touch out of the picture, Smith spots a 2-wheeled opportunity...

... and soon discovers the reason for endless Maasai migrations...
...their transport has no brakes!

Margaret in a bit of a daze, we headed outa town past the local bus shelter, a greyish structure filled with red and purple people. An irridescent piece of red waved me down and said what could only have been the name of a town....suspecting that a lift was required and realizing the opportunity therein, I stopped and before you can say Sam Buru's my uncle, Ravickles had one bag of cabbages, 2 Maasai children and Nashun Mle aboard.
Make no mistake, the cultural X has happened with or without the genetic stuff as Nashun gaily fielded multiple and loud cell phone calls on his Motorola mobile, tucked into a leather holder which seemed attached to a rather large weapon of sharp destruction that hung off his belt.

25 kms later we were motioned off the main road and headed into the bush for another 8.5 kilos. By this time Mags was in her stride, giving Nashun and family, in well honed Rhodesian English, a crash course in birding. Clearly she had a convert as confirmed by the conversation, "Well, Nashun, that bird over there is the yellow necked brilliant shrike and as it is endemic to these areas, is a lifer for us!" To which, Nashun replied, "Ah! Baad ...Aafrika!"

By this time my sister was glancing at her watch and every time we passed a cow would ask Nashun if it was his.

As Rift Valley Freeways go...this one was A-OK!

Eventually we were ceremoniously guided into his humble collection of 2 huts and introduced to Mrs Mle and child.

Despite all the legends about stolen souls and cross Maasai, it was clear to us all that...

One man's ethnographic photo opp is another man's lift home.


So, after a day of Ubuntu, Smiles and cycling adventures, I finally headed back to good ol' Naairobes, stopping only to do the African sunset pose and think of absent friends...(and wonder what more I have to do to convince you buggers to came and visit!)

Note 1: for a bit of fun & nonsense see