Next project

Since I’m not in the mood (nor will I ever be) to go and watch some overrated Irish pensioners prancing around on a oversized stage and making shedloads of money from the brainwashed masses in front of them, I’m happily ensconced at home, post braai and I’m planning my next project. It is to be beer related.

But no ordinary beer. Homemade real ginger beer. Not the local carbonated equivalent, Stoney, which doesn’t actually contain any ginger at all.
No, I will be attempting to raise a SCOBY. That is, a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast and then feeding said organism with sugar, water and the all-important not-so-secret ingredient, ginger, creating a Ginger Beer Plant.

Ginger beer plant (GBP) is not what is usually considered a plant, but a composite organism consisting of a fungus, the yeast Saccharomyces florentinus (formerly Saccharomyces pyriformis) and the bacterium Lactobacillus hilgardii (formerly Brevibacterium vermiforme), which form a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). It forms a gelatinous substance that allows it to be easily transferred from one fermenting substrate to the next, much like kefir grains, kombucha, and tibicos.
The GBP was first described by Harry Marshall Ward in 1892, from samples he received in 1887. Original ginger beer is made by leaving water, sugar, ginger, and GBP to ferment. GBP may be obtained from several commercial sources or from yeast banks. Much of the “ginger beer plant” obtainable from commercial sources is not the true GBP as described here, but instead is yeast alone. This is not legally false advertising because there is no regulation defining GBP.

I’m planning on importing the necessary (and genuine) ingredients from this place, but in the meantime, I’m going to warm up with a solely yeast based version, as described here, which I will be bottling in swingtop Grolsch bottles.

I will let you know how I get along.

Forty… Forty-five…

Those who listen to the Gareth Cliff Breakfast show on 5FM each morning will surely have heard the “forty… forty-five” meme which seems to somehow slip into the show in some form or other.
What you may not know is where it came from originally, which is here:

Series 2 of the Harry & Paul show.

I suppose that there comes a time in all of our lives when we have to take account of our age, Sheridan. When one has to say goodbye to the Matterhorn and hello to the Peak District.


And if you liked this, you may will also like the Nelson Mandela iPhone sketch from the same show.
Although I think it’s unlikely that this clip will be quite as well received over here in SA.


You’re looking a bit chunky right now.

There. I said it. Someone had to. Fact is, we’ve all been pussy-footing around you for a few weeks now, wondering how best to let you know that you put on a few extra kilos over the festive season. And that they’re still with you. There. And there. And… eww… there.

I know, when you get to our sort of age – and by “our sort of age”, I mean *ahem* mid-30s – it gets tough to keep the weight off. You can’t go out and have a few beers and a curry without there being ongoing consequences. You know what they say: “a moment on the lips, bloody ages sweating it out on the footy field or you’re going to be a complete lard-arse forever”.
And yes, you young folk (I’m looking at your type, Mr Nash) are sitting there going:

Yes, that’s what will happen to other people, but it won’t happen to me.

Bad news, Dan, cos three guesses what we were thinking when we were your age?
Yes, exactly.

But it’s ok. You can stop crying into your copious &Union beers. It doesn’t have to be that way.
This week, I discovered a brand new weight loss plan and I want to share it with you.

See, when you try to lose weight in your 20s – assuming you do the right sort of stuff – you lose weight. And the same goes for when you try to lose weight in your 30s as well-it just takes more time and effort. But then you hit the anti-plateau. It’s like a plateau, but the other way around. It’s like the inverse of a glass ceiling. You head down nicely over a few weeks towards your ideal weight and all seems to be going well and then you hit it and it doesn’t matter how little you eat, how much exercise you do, you can’t break through.

You are on the anti-plateau. It’s a sad and lonely place. And you’re going nowhere fast.
Sorry for you.

Until now. Because today I can reveal a plan to you that made me break through my anti-plateau – 3.5kgs through it – in just a couple of days. Yes: this is the viral gastroenteritis diet plan. Eat nothing, lie in bed and do no exercise and the weight just falls out er… off.

Using microorganisms to assist with weight loss is nothing new. In the early 1900s, tapeworm pills were all the rage among the rich and famous. If you want to try this (and having seen patients with tapeworms, I wouldn’t) just make sure you know your Taenia saginata from your Taenia solium, because the latter will eat your brain (literally).

Enteric viruses won’t do that to you, although they will colonise your colon and wreck your rectum. Aside from the obvious diarrhoea and vomiting, you will also experience the four secondary symptoms of gastroenteritis, namely sweating, shaking, swearing and farting. And because nothing can go in, pretty soon, everything has come out and your vomiting turns into empty retching, each bout of which is the equivalent of 100 sit-ups.
Rock solid abs in a mere 36 hours. This really is a diet plan full of win.

Even now, several days on from the worst of it, I’m only managing the most meagre of portions. A couple of pieces of toast at breakfast time, a yoghurt for lunch and then nothing much in the evening. Thanks to this, my anti-plateau is somewhere way back in the distance and I’m heading down through lush pastures towards GoalWeightVille.

And all just for the bargain price of a couple of days of abject agony and misery.

Do it. If nothing else, at least it’ll stop us all talking about your MASSIVE saddle bags, fatty.

Sacrificial anode

It seems that I have been acting as a sacrificial anode. Of sorts.

If you don’t know what a sacrificial anode is, allow me to enlighten you:

A galvanic anode is the main component of a galvanic cathodic protection (CP) system used to protect buried or submerged metal structures from corrosion.
They are made from a metal alloy with a more “active” voltage (more negative electrochemical potential) than the metal of the structure. The difference in potential between the two metals means that the galvanic anode corrodes, so that the anode material is consumed in preference to the structure.
The loss (or sacrifice) of the anode material gives rise to the alternative name of sacrificial anode.

Basically, in layman’s terms, it’s a chunk of metal which is attached to another submerged piece of metal (like an oil rig leg) and rusts so that the other stuff doesn’t rust. It lays down its atoms so that the oil rig leg (or whatever) doesn’t have to.

And last night, I suddenly realised that that’s what I’ve been doing: sacrificing myself in order to protect my wife. Not by rusting, you understand, but by lying next to her in bed and being bitten by a succession of mosquitoes, which bite me in preference to biting her.
Of course, she claims that it’s purely chance that with a single mozzie in the room, I wake up looking like I’ve had an overnight attack of chicken pox, while her gently tanned skin remains smooth and soft and…wait… sorry – where was I again? Ah yes – she says it’s just chance, but I’ve done some rudimentary calculations and statistically, it seems that I have been imported solely the purposes of baby-making, lawn-mowing and to be a sacrificial anode. Of sorts.
Oh – and to prop up the previous ailing South African brewing industry, which I have now almost single-handedly turned into a global success story.
(It’s ok. No thanks necessary.)

Nothing good ever came out of being sacrificed. The chunk of metal only lasts a certain number of months or years before it is gone – eroded and corroded – and replaced. The sacrificial lamb is braai’ed, devoured and forgotten before you can say “Mint Sauce” and no-one ever remembers which actor played “Expendable Exploration Party Member 3” who was pushed into the flaming lava pit by the African tribesmen to appease their Gods in 1921’s The Adventures of Tarzan, now do they?

But with the baby-making completed and SAB-Miller back on an even keel, maybe I should be happy that the grass is still growing and the mozzies are still biting. The way my joints feel these days, maybe the corrosion metaphor is more than just a metaphor and I should be grateful that I still have a role in this place and that I’m not about to be replaced by a shiny new lump of zinc.

After all, although it is a fundamental element in making babies, zinc can’t mow the lawn and zinc can’t attract biting insects.
I think I’m safe for now…

Stress Free Christmas Shopping

After all these years, I think I’ve found the way to do it. And while it might ruin the chances of a repeat performance for me next year, I’m willing to share my new found knowledge with you, my loyal reader.

You’ll need a few things to make this work well:

Firstly, you need to not be at work. Obviously, you need to have a job in order to have money to pay for things, but you don’t want to be at work on this particular day. That said, you do need it to be a normal working day for everyone else. I used Monday 20th December.
Secondly, you don’t want to have any children with you. For this purpose, we used Poliswa. Trained in the art of looking after our kids, she did an admirable job of doing just that all day (plus all the washing, ironing, cleaning etc etc etc). The woman is a dynamo.
Thirdly, pick your venue carefully. It must have all the shops you need, but as few as possible of the ones that other people need. This rules Anal Walk out completely, because while it has three shops that you need, it also has 7,613 of the ones that you don’t. This 0.394% useful shop ratio (USR) is completely rubbish. Cavendish is full of Southern Suburbs tannies (even more so than usual) which is extremely unpleasant and you need to remortgage your house to afford parking there.

You should probably head for a smaller mall, like the V&A Waterfront, which Capetonians avoid throughout December because they think it’s going to be hugely busy with tourists, but which in actual fact is ever so quiet: all the Vaalies are doing the boat trips because they’ve never seen the sea before, and all the Europeans are stuck in a snowdrift in Heathrow, Amsterdam or Frankfurt.
The V&A also has Meloncino, which is a great place to stop for lunch and an even greater place to stop between 4-6pm, when all cocktails are half-price. The service is excellent, the food is excellent and the views are none too poor:

Panorama via Photaf for Android

And then just go for it, safe in the knowledge that there will always be a draught Peroni or Strawberry Daiquiri waiting for you should you need a break. Or – if you need sustenance on the fly – a small Lindt chocolate reindeer.

We left home at 8am and returned at 6pm. Parking was R10, all our was shopping done and surprisingly we were still talking to one another and actually rather relaxed (if a little jaded). Neither of us is quite sure how or what happened, but we will be trying it again next year.

I might actually test drive the beer and cocktail bit each month. Just to get it exactly right.
Planning is everything.