Quick & Chilly

I had such high hopes to be doing a post on the municipal elections next month – specifically around the dangers of voting for the Cape Party, but then I went and played the best part of two hours of 4-aside football and I am completely and utterly broken. Then I put Deep Heat on the worst affected areas (adductors, bilaterally) and nearly had to seek medical advice. Ice pack application followed immediately afterwards and the resulting steam cloud almost triggered a Koeberg-style nuclear warning for the Mother City.

In these events, I find a quiet quota photo usually suffices, and since last December’s disastrous trip to the frozen North was mentioned last week, have some of this.

That was the calm before the storm. Redmires Reservoir on the Western edge of Sheffield, looking particularly beautiful in the winter sunshine. I particularly like the way the sun reflects differently (ie. not at all) where the water isn’t frozen.

The reservoir was surrounded by signs warning people that swimming was prohibited, because the water was deep. I think that would have been the least of their worries on this day. It would, however, have served very nicely as a groin chiller in the event of Deep Heat getting into places where it really wasn’t meant to get.

I’ll try and get that Cape Party post out tomorrow.
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More photos from Redmires and the Peak District that day: here.

4 Comments | Tagged , | Posted in quota photo, sheffield, the last hurrah 2010

Plus Plus

If you add a “Plus” to something, you suggest augmentation or improvement.

Example: The Freedom Front party in South Africa was simply… The Freedom Front party until 2003, when the Conservative Party, the Afrikaner Eenheids Beweging and the Freedom Front decided to contest the 2004 national election as a single entity under the name Freedom Front Plus (FF+), led by Dr. Mulder.

Whether this was actually an improvement or not is down to your personal politics, I suppose. But the fact is that there was MORE to the Freedom Front than just the Freedom Front and therefore they were (and still are) known as the Freedom Front Plus.
In my view, they missed a trick when the Federal Alliance joined up some time later. Surely then the Freedom Front Plus had the opportunity to become the Freedom Front Plus Plus paving the way for additional mathematical symbols to be added in the future:
“Freedom Front +++”, “(Freedom Front)³” and on toward the Holy Grail of “Freedom Front X” which might accidentally get counted as a vote. (If Jacob Zuma reads this, you can be assured that the ANC X will be contesting next month’s municipal elections.)

But I digress. The subject of this post was never meant to be the recent history of Afrikaner politics.

It was to be about this stuff:

Based on the discussion above, just imagine how many positive changes this sucrose-free, gluten-free super seed cereal must have gone through to attain the dizzying nomenclatural heights of “Miracles Plus Plus”.

Presumably two.

But look at the starting point for those improvements. Before we even started with the product refining process, we were dealing with Miracles. I’m talking walking on water here, curing the sick, feeding the 5000 (albeit with just 0.1g of seed cereal each). I’m talking restoring a severed ear while catching a fish with a coin in its mouth. Proper Derren Brown stuff.
Miracles, people. Miracles.

And then they made it better (possibly by removing the sucrose, possibly not. I actually have no idea, but it was obviously improved in some way) and it became Miracles Plus.

At this point, many cereal manufacturers would have rested on their laurels.
“We’ve just improved on Miracles,” they would be saying.
“What more do you want? The moon on a stick?”

Not Nature’s Choice.  Oh no. They had to push the seed cereal envelope, test the limits of bio-friendliness and essential fatty-acid wealth. They only went and improved it again. Boom. Maybe this time they took the gluten away. Or maybe it was the sucrose that they hadn’t actually removed the first time. Either way, what had simply been Miracles Plus now had to be renamed to reflect its superiority over that product. And what better way to go than down the Pieter Mulder School of Renaming Things That Have Been Made Better, again?

Thus, Miracles Plus Plus was born.

I’m aware that you may be struggling with what you have just witnessed here.
I know. I rushed it and serial cereal evolution is not a subject that can or should be hurried.
I apologise. Let me take you through it one more time.

Miracles became Miracles Plus, which in turn became Miracles Plus Plus.

When you look back at the extraordinary history of this product, from not so humble beginnings through repeated processes of amelioration and augmentation to where it is now, is it really any wonder that it is the super seed cereal that everyone is talking about?

Go. Tell your friends.

1 Comment | Tagged , , | Posted in learning curve, politics, that's a bit mad, this is south africa

Don’t say I’m not green!

There are those who come onto this blog and accuse me of hating the environment. Maybe it’s because they have misread, not read or simply misunderstood my viewpoints on whales, dolphins and natural gas extraction.

It’s not the case. I do care deeply for the environment and I do all that I (reasonably) can to protect and cherish it, including worm farming, recycling and saving electricity wherever I can. And I’m also going out of my way to champion Fairview Cheese & Wine Farm’s latest green initiative: The Goat Rapid Transit system or GRT.

With the rising price of petrol and wine farms becoming increasingly focused on reducing their carbon footprint, this initiative presents numerous benefits to wine loving visitors and the environment alike. It aims to offer a safe and sustainable alternative for visitors travelling to the farm. Fairview currently attracts close to 250 000 visitors to its Paarl cellar door each year, most of which travel to the farm by car or bus. From today visitors and staff can take a train from Cape Town to Paarl station, from where the GRT will operate at regular intervals.

Twenty-four custom-made wagons have been built by artisans from the Paarl region. “I am delighted to be involved in the revival of the art of wagon making in the area,” says Fairview owner Charles Back, “given the legacy of the art form in the region, previously known as Wamakersvallei (Wagonmakers Valley). Not only will this re-establish this historic industry, but it is also an opportunity for Fairview to utilize the unproductive goats in their 700-strong goat herd. “We will be making use of the billies and the does with smaller udders, as these are normally stronger than their high milk producing counterparts” added Back.

Ongoing training has been conducted by farm manager Donald Mouton over the past couple of months. This has ensured that the goats are fit enough to pull the wagons and have become accustomed to the traffic on the road.

Fine work by Fairview and especially by Donald, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I can only hope that they extend this service across the Paarl region – perhaps encouraging the Cape Town Lion Park and Stellenbosch’s Giraffe House to join them – a move which will not only allow visitors to reduce their carbon footprint on the wine tour, but will surely also reduce the incidence of drink-driving in the area. And, in the case of the lions, probably resuce the incidence of tourists as well.
Meanwhile, you can enjoy the animals, the amazing scenery and the wine.

2 Comments | Tagged , , , | Posted in from your comments, positive thoughts, that's a bit mad, this is south africa

How things work

A great letter in today’s Cape Times from John Walmsley of the Nuclear Institute rebuffing the concerns of opponents to nuclear power in the wake of the troubles at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan.

I’m trying to get hold of the full text, but there was one thing which I found particularly pertinent, especially while the fracking debate continues on this post.

This quote from the letter:

The anti-nuclear lobby will make alarming public pronouncements that will be quietly trashed by professional health organisations in the technical literature.

Brilliant. Because isn’t this the problem? It was the problem with MMR, where the experts repeatedly stated that there was no link to autism, but the anti-vax groups preyed on the public’s fear and exacerbated the effect of Andrew Wakefield’s lies.

And it still exists with the anti-fracking parties spreading fear through emotionally-laden misinformation to advance their cause.
It closes minds and it means that the real information – the important, factual information – is hidden from the general public. Which, of course, is the aim of these people.

In some ways, analogies can be drawn to the issue that troubles me around the media and their inaccuracies: namely that they can shout about a subject  on the front page – however inaccurate their claims may be – often igniting a bitter, yet worthless debate based on nonsense, but then get away with publishing a tiny correction at the bottom of page 19 two weeks later.

7 Comments | Tagged , , , , , | Posted in annoying people, in the news, this is south africa

PTSD therapy

I haven’t really talked much about the events of four months ago, but I did meet with a psychologist recently (not in her professional capacity, I hasten to add) and she told me that it was entirely possible that I could have mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder over the whole missed concert thing.
Mild, I suppose, because in missing the concert, at least I didn’t see friends blown up or shot dead like some soldiers may have done for example, but she pointed out that this was a traumatic event and said that all too often people write these things off while they are actually having a lasting and detrimental (no pun intended) effect on them. If I recognised any of the signs or symptoms of PTSD, then I should probably seek some sort of therapy.

Lesson one: One should never look up warning signs and symptoms of any disorder on the internet. Now I have PTSD about the time that I looked up symptoms of PTSD on the internet.
Here are a few of those signs and symptoms that I not only recognise, but have now welcomed into my life as friends:

  • Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event (Actually yes. Good guess, Sherlock.)
  • Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma (ARGH!)
  • Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma (I haven’t listened to an a-ha song in 4 months. Seriously.)
  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame (should I have tried to get to Manchester instead of to Gatwick?)
  • Substance abuse (I’m guessing they mean Milk Stout)

Did you see that third one? 4 months without an a-ha song. Madness. (And by that I mean it’s crazy that I haven’t listened to it, not that I’ve started listening to 80′s ska or anything).
Time to move on, I feel. So I put my big boy pants on and pre-ordered this – the CD and DVD box set of the concert I never got to see – from CD WOW.

*deep breath*

So it’s make or break time.

Not just for me, but for SAB as well.
Their Milk Stout department are teetering on the edge of oblivion.
Which, I guess, could lead to a certain amount of PTSD amongst their employees.

4 Comments | Tagged , , , | Posted in learning curve, the last hurrah 2010, uk