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?

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Dicted Tootee

Am I a dicted tootee?
Day zero. RRAM
remote corners of my bags are stuffed with 5 Roses tea bags. Untagged. For the last 2 weeks I have been watching the price of tea. My mum is hell bent on tagged 5ies being better qualitea and my sister thinks she should go for the cheaper untagged option. So we did a study on tea prices V number of cups per bag. The tags come in at 15c a cup if you have 2 per bag and the non-Tagged are 14.75 a cup if you dunk the bag in a cup (as the non-Ts inspire one to). How's that for logic. On the last day of the study there appeared a large ad in Pick and Pay with a pile of proclaimed as only an a product Ad can: 'Five Roses untagged now only R14.73!save R3.'

What! When was it R17.73?

off to America we go.

Strumming the Rails....

My dear friend and intrepid explorer of all possibilities, the right honourable David Basckin, is of this week, an orphan. After what seems to have been a tumultous life, his mum passed away. It is always thus that in human affairs it is the beginnings and endings that we ritualize. I personally, not being of the afterlife persuasion and never being that attached to my body anyway, have long considered that if I were to die, I may happily be discarded with Monday's rubbish collection. If the Cuban Hat were still around I would want a few good ole mates to maybe get me burnt up and mix my ashes in some Twinings Earl Grey Tea. It seems that no matter what you do, some kind of ritual comes out of it, and so it should lest we wallow in unadmitted sorrow through our own twilight years. Dave Basckin impressed me with his understated Zonkie Bonkie funeral home facility and the wonderful way in which he (and bro Jonathon) gloriously respected their mum's wish to be buried at sea (well, the ashes that is). So somehow the last grey remains of a monumental life are now in the Indian Ocean...and as Dave says, The Sea off Durban will never be the same again. Funnily enough, Rod Prynne, intrepid surfer, noted that the ocean seemed uncannily rough and testy in the last few days....

Talking about ritual, as a precursor and traveller's blessing for my imminent trip to Washington to make a start on my RRAM (Reverse Ride Across America) Mikhail Peppas and I met in the shadows of an almost deserted eatery on the edge of Berea Park (where once we played and frolicked safely as kids) and lit a candle for the memory of Stuart Rolland, who died of AIDS in 2002. This standard issue candle will be relit by me and left in Arlington cemetery next week.
Why Arlington? Well, Stuart once inherited a tidy sum of money and immediately took almost all of it and blew it on a trip to America. His father had bought a piece of land, mail order, in Florida and left it to Stuart in his will. Often a time, when confronted with a bragard's disdain of our trampish friend, Stuart would comment to us afterwards....'All very well, but I bet he doesn't own land in America.' Needless to say, Stuart never visited the land.
So off I go, candle and US visa in hand to see what happens that I never expected to occur.

Watch this spot - If I can get my Nokia to talk American Data then there will be regular updates, if not, see ya when I return.
PS. The real gem of this trip is that having lost my laptop HDD yesterday I am travelling laptopless! Yippee! Out with the pen and paper!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Directions to 82 Kyuna Crescent, Kyuna, Westlands, Nairobi.
-From Sarit Centre (Westlands) head sort of west along Lower Kabete to the SPRING VALLEY CIRCLE. Then follow Kyuna Rd (It is across the circle and past the stalls) then after about a mile turn left to Kynua Rise. Short downhill to T juntion. Turn right to Kyuna cres and we are 82 on the left. Phone or call Stephen, the gardener. His number is 0725952445 or yell and hoot. He will find a safe place for your bags and show you the house etc. Have a cuppa tea on us!
Ida only got in this morning at 5am from work as she is chasing conference deadlines for DC...She will probably not be at home when you 2 get there..if she is, forgive her as she is on a sleepless roll!
Any other problems can always be solved by Pat, our BIG buddy and taximan, cell number 0722741842.
I will call again later today to see if all ok. If I don't see you in the US I will see you when you get back to the wild dogs of Nanyuki.
(Took liberty of using one of your pix from your blog! I have to have pickies on my stories!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Silent Revolution

In the shadow of the silent revolution, the discontented bougeousie eat hand-me-downs from disparate art houses....

Question: When is a chicken mayonaise sandwich not a chicken mayonaise sandwich?

Answer: When it is a Havana roast chicken and dixie mayonaise sandwich.

'Hey dude! Cool t-shirt. Who's Che?'

'Dunno, guess he was some oke who had a road named after him'

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How do nuns get habits?

What connects these 2 images?

I have always been fascinated by nuns' habits. What are they? No nooky? Wearing all the same all the time (except if you want to be a little sexy then you have a blue stripe on it). My pivotal experience with nuns was on a trip up to a Francescan Mission Hospital in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. En route, my friend and rural health afficionado, Steve Reid, stopped at a liquor store and stocked up with a crate of beers.....for the nuns. Well, blow me down if we didn't hit the bottle with a few of the girls when we arrived. Seems like this is an old Francescan nuns' habit. In this case, an inherited habit, from generations of beer swilling and brewing Francescans before them. No wonder, St Francis got on so well with animals - being mildly inebriated tends to bring out the cuddly in one.
But now, harking back to my previous blog on Digital Aging...if I see myself as a digital multimedia production I can then start to play with my coding. Sort of eradicate the bad stuff and promote the good. Now, like most other good ideas that seem to pop un spontaneously this is nothing new. In fact research (what researchI ask! Where are the references? Patience! I will find them later!) shows that it only takes 21 days of repeated action to ingrain a habit.
I read this story today on the following website:

My name is Rubén Loza; for years and years I have been travelling throughout the entire territory of the ARGENTINE REPUBLIC, enjoying the wonderful sensation of freedom that I feel when riding my faithfull and sofisticated metal horse through magnificent landscapes; regarding me sometimes as a pioneer in those beautiful places.
I started by making weekend journeys between 200 and 400 kms with friends within the province where I live, Mendoza. Later on, those journeys began extending in time and place; now the distances travelled were of 800 and 1500 kms, and the destinations were neighbouring provinces and, at times, the other side of the Cordillera de Los Andes, Chile.
All of a sudden, I found myself travelling at any time and to anywhere, with one or more friends; I would just prepare my motor cycle, the necessary things for camping and the camera.
And it came the day in which, after a casual meeting with two Swiss motorcyclists in the Uspallata valley (that is situated at 100 kms from the frontier between Chile and Argentina), I decided to organize motorcycle trips for tourists.
Always taking the Uspallata valley as reference, joining it to the northernmost point of Argentina, La Quiaca, or to the southernmost city of the world, Ushuaia; making our natural paradise known and making contact with aboriginal inhabitants of different cultures of the Argentine territory. -Rubén Loza-

I felt no small connection with the author. Over the last weeks I have been religiously riding my bicycle at least an hour a day. Whilst I am certainly attaining a level of fitness, the main reason is to get myself back into the habit of wanting to ride every day. I am hoping to arrive in Washington next week and be itching to get to the first bike shop so I can ride ride ride. Already the responses have kicked in. As my work load got a little tighter I have found that I needed to ride at night which, in Durban, is a huge amount of fun. It means you can ride through some pretty hairy areas where you would normally not walk as (hopefully) by the time you've rattled and sped past the thought of mugging you is no longer attainable. Who said it was better to stay indoors at night? Not me, Not me!
That's it, can't think of anything more to say.


With a small amount of initial discipline, you can create a new habit that requires little effort to maintain. Here are some tips for creating new habits and making them stick:
1. Commit to Thirty Days - Three to four weeks is all the time you need to make a habit automatic. If you can make it through the initial conditioning phase, it becomes much easier to sustain. A month is a good block of time to commit to a change since it easily fits in your calendar.2. Make it Daily - Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for your first thirty days. Going a couple times a week will make it harder to form the habit. Activities you do once every few days are trickier to lock in as habits.
3. Start Simple - Don’t try to completely change your life in one day. It is easy to get over-motivated and take on too much. If you wanted to study two hours a day, first make the habit to go for thirty minutes and build on that.
4. Remind Yourself - Around two weeks into your commitment it can be easy to forget. Place reminders to execute your habit each day or you might miss a few days. If you miss time it defeats the purpose of setting a habit to begin with.
5. Stay Consistent - The more consistent your habit the easier it will be to stick. If you want to start exercising, try going at the same time, to the same place for your thirty days. When cues like time of day, place and circumstances are the same in each case it is easier to stick.
6. Get a Buddy - Find someone who will go along with you and keep you motivated if you feel like quitting.
7. Form a Trigger - A trigger is a ritual you use right before executing your habit. If you wanted to wake up earlier, this could mean waking up in exactly the same way each morning. If you wanted to quit smoking you could practice snapping your fingers each time you felt the urge to pick up a cigarette.
8. Replace Lost Needs - If you are giving up something in your habit, make sure you are adequately replacing any needs you’ve lost. If watching television gave you a way to relax, you could take up meditation or reading as a way to replace that same need.
9. Be Imperfect - Don’t expect all your attempts to change habits to be successful immediately. It took me four independent tries before I started exercising regularly. Now I love it. Try your best, but expect a few bumps along the way.
10. Use "But" - A prominent habit changing therapist once told me this great technique for changing bad thought patterns. When you start to think negative thoughts, use the word "but" to interrupt it. "I’m no good at this, but, if I work at it I might get better later."
11. Remove Temptation - Restructure your environment so it won’t tempt you in the first thirty days. Remove junk food from your house, cancel your cable subscription, throw out the cigarettes so you won’t need to struggle with willpower later.
12. Associate With Role Models - Spend more time with people who model the habits you want to mirror. A recent study found that having an obese friend indicated you were more likely to become fat. You become what you spend time around.
13. Run it as an Experiment - Withhold judgment until after a month has past and use it as an experiment in behavior. Experiments can’t fail, they just have different results so it will give you a different perspective on changing your habit.
14. Swish - A technique from NLP. Visualize yourself performing the bad habit. Next visualize yourself pushing aside the bad habit and performing an alternative. Finally, end that sequence with an image of yourself in a highly positive state. See yourself picking up the cigarette, see yourself putting it down and snapping your fingers, finally visualize yourself running and breathing free. Do it a few times until you automatically go through the pattern before executing the old habit.
15. Write it Down - A piece of paper with a resolution on it isn’t that important. Writing that resolution is. Writing makes your ideas more clear and focuses you on your end result.
16. Know the Benefits - Familiarize yourself with the benefits of making a change. Get books that show the benefits of regular exercise. Notice any changes in energy levels after you take on a new diet. Imagine getting better grades after improving your study habits.
17. Know the Pain - You should also be aware of the consequences. Exposing yourself to realistic information about the downsides of not making a change will give you added motivation.
18. Do it For Yourself - Don’t worry about all the things you "should" have as habits. Instead tool your habits towards your goals and the things that motivate you. Weak guilt and empty resolutions aren’t enough.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

getting old...digitally

I was tossed a bit of a curvy a few days ago. An older resident of the flats, Dr Fisher came to me most concerned. She had gone to the local photo shop to have ID photos taken and was highly sceptical about the whole process. 'There was no click and no flash, and then the man said it was done!' She queried this and he told her 'it's digital'.
'What', she asked, 'is digital?'
Gosh! How do I leapfrog an elderly lady from the analogue age to the digital when she is clearly not intending to go past the front door, let alone join me for a copious tea drinking session while I unravel the mysteries of the binary world?
In a sort of free flow and with lots of hand waving, I said that it was a bit like going to see the doctor. If Doc tells you what your problem is, that is kind of analogue. When you retell your friends and family, it changes a bit and loses some of its original clarity. If, however the doc gives you a printed script, then the chemist will know exactly what was asked for. That's digital - it kind of doesn't degrade.
'Oh, thank you so much', said Dr Fisher, 'but, I must say I have been out of medicine for so many years that I am not too sure what you mean.'

In the days afterwards I have been thinking a lot about old folk. My mum is a glorious 88 years old and instead of going grey is losing the use of her legs. Try as we might we cannot persuade her to slow down on her daily domestic chores. She's up (with huge effort) at 6 and complaining about how she already has too much work to do. Any vague attempt to get her to change her habitual daily routine of the last 77 years is simply met with a stolid stare and non-compliance. Not surprizing as she has been running a home since she was 12 when her mother died. She has also not had a single day since 1945 when there was not a child, grandchild or great-grandchild coming back to her home after school for a meal. Try to change a 63 year old habit and you WILL FAIL. But she is clearly not as adept as she used to be. Her vinyl is getting worn and scratched. Eventually the expression of her daily life will be barely recognizable and the needle will just go click-click-bzzzz. But until then...rock on!
Now, if her life was a digital DVD, she could have just replaced the outdated bits with easier alternatives, all the while retaining the core, with little or no degradation.

I guess, that is the ray of sunshine I have got from Elizabeth Fisher's question. As a child of the analogue grown into digital adulthood, I now have the chance to learn the art of subtle change, as change is due. In this sort of digitally pure way, maybe I can not notice the scratches, whirrs and pops of old age!

The moral of the story is that while you can still travel the world and take photos of your feet in different oceans, do it.....and share the pic with your mum who may not be able to get there any more, but will smile in delight at the memories of youthful adventure that it conjures up.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Feline Eugenics

It's true! All those tails about returning cats! Pony, Durban's North Beach resident carpark cat, turned up again after more than a year away. As the last survivor of the original 8 babes from 'mother', a tabby with slanty eyes who bonded over Steers Chicken pieces with car guard, Eugene Archary, Pony outlived her siblings, surviving the floods, drag racers and Harley exhausts. Eugene is convinced that the diet he gave her of Pamper pet food did the trick. Then she disappeared, suspectedly catnapped by a 'white' couple with an over dose of misplaced philanthropy. They clearly weren't local because it took Pony a year to walk home.
Moral of the story - Home is where the pampered heart is.

live update from North Beach, Durban, South Africa 07h20 Zulu time.

I went back on the 18th August to make some more pix of this delightful follows...Pony avoids the morning rush and sleeps late. Who wouldn't with a storm water drain all to your own.
With a little cajoling she eventually popped up and out for brekkies......Whiskers!
While I was there a stranger walked up and gave Eugene a framed set of photos he had taken of Gene and Pony a few days earlier. Gene says he used to be a local but can't quite recall his name.
That was the end of carguarding for the morning as Eugene showed his gift to all who passed. He had been telling me earlier how he had never imagined becoming a car guard...and now would not have done anything else as he he has met the most amazing collection of people in the decade or so of being at North Beach. As he was saying this, an older Indian lady got our of her battered van and gave him R40. This morning I saw how Ubuntu cannot exist in a world where animals and the environment are negated. Indeed, often it is the necessary trigger for such events.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why I buy....


because they teach me about humanity.

Why I Fly


because it always reminds me that there exists wonder without superstition, spirit without religion.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Set up and go

Googling the C&O trailpath I came across a cyclist whose bike was all but invisible for the amount of gear attached. Then to boot, he was towing a trailer. This is so clearly how not to do it that I started mentally discarding all sorts of stuff that I thought was vital to this trip.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The grit in the paint, the girl in the wood

If I were to have a website of wonders it would be called 'Orange Sun' in celebration of all the days of my life when I have greeted this god of all Life magic.
The 10th August 2008 was just another morning that I chose to be there.

Or was I drawn, inexplicably to the surya namaskar, the sun salute, the stretching of slept limbs and arches. Maybe it was just a timeless connection between our Dolphin Coast and Atlantis rising from our thumbed childhood mystery tales.
If everything else is change in South Africa, Salt Rock is a constant.
The sea is always phalanxes of invading conquistadores, their horse held plumes held endlessly high.
In the hotel on the hill there remain ancient Indian waiters, bent in the lost pride of their honourable profession...
and in the Nikon frozen moments of the scarred rock coast, I entered the dreams of the girl in the woods.
Here an open empty doorway.
There a hundred African elephant made small by the artist's whim.
And in a long loved wooden house, Roz Angelica and Paulus Gamerangerus, living and creating their life from dreams and passions. Some few Salt Rocks ago, Roz and her artist within seemed somewhat emerging bedfellows, today they fly hand in hand. Durban, London, Berlin...and in the coming home there is wonderful, beautiful Izzie whose love of things beautiful shows in her odd colour sox and refusal to sleep till the guests have been farewelled.

On the floor, a canvas with the same jagged coast from my morning.

Yes, today a painting spoke to me and said, 'You can dream and from that world you can sculpt your life.'

Back in Durban, my remarkable mother, ironing on a Sunday, at 88 years old.
Another great weekend trek with Messrs Read and Prynne.
Nuff Sed.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Well, the 8th minute of the 8th hour of the 8th day of the 8th month of '08 has gone and, feeling lucky, like a few billion Chinese, grinning for the magnificence of their Olympic opening, Smith, Prynne, Read and the Sigamoney headed off north to Salt Rock.

Why don't we do this more often? is what I always say when I get out and about. So, in true style, Prynne goes surfing,
Read and Sigamoney strolling and Smith, getting serious about imminent cycle tours, riding.
Note that I am doing some serious downhill training.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Go gentle into that good night....

My heart full of 2 wheeled adventures, this week has been a mish-mash of rediscovering the cyclist within and balancing the promise of adventure against the 'danger' of 2 wheeling. Of course, having been doing the biwheel balancing act for over 40 years, I have no sense of fear at all, whether weaving through chaotic African traffic or flying down long hills. I must admit tho', I do spend a lot of my riding time off road...i.e. on the pavement. I worked out long ago that people are softer than cars.
In Washington DC it is illegal to ride on the pavement. I spend most my cycle time on the pavement here and in Nairobi. It is simply too dnagerous to ride on the road all the time. The SA average for cyclists involved in accidents is 1.6 per day! In the last 2 weeks here in Durban alone 5 sport cyclists have been knocked down in hit and run accidents.
One ended tragically and when I think of the calibre of person that Willem Van Heerden was....I am once again reminded of how precious and fragile life is, with no intrinsic meaning or purpose, other than that which we give to it, moment by moment.
Barely a week later, on the same stretch of road, in the early pristine hours of the day, 5 cyclists were knocked off their bikes by yet another hit and runner. The outraged sport cycle community called for a mass ride and memorandum of demands to the city.
Cameras in hand I headed down in support and apart from the rather stylish and tribal dress of all gathered I had a sense of being with a bunch of very healthy-minded and sensible people.
There was even one cyclist from my very own solar system, marked by the lack of shiny gear and a bicycle with no gears!
The mass ride sadly was competing with possible next resident president Zuma's corruption trial so it was disallowed by the powers that be and this decision was respected by the organizers, Cyclesafe SA.
My head full of images of cyclic intropection we 2 wheeled off back to our lives here in paradise by the ocean.