Never read the small print

I’ve hurt my arm.

It’s nothing serious, but it is pretty painful. My doctor sent me for precautionary x-rays, which showed that everything is ok bonewise. She also gave me some anti-inflammatory tablets which she enthused about. In fact, she got quite carried away, reminding me of my wife when she discovers something else she can do with MS Excel.
Sheesh – accountants/doctors/other happy professionals.

Anyway, such was the doctor’s excitement over these tablets, I found that my scientific curiousity had been somewhat stimulated. I was almost quivering with mounting anticipation as I headed home from the pharmacy.
As soon as I got in and had removed the scrambled egg from the carpet, sofa and curtains (see: 2-year-old, having a), I went through the HUGE package insert. After a while, I realised that despite my years of medical training, I was struggling to understand a word of it. Then I realised I was looking at the Afrikaans side.

Etorikoksib word omvattend in die lewer gemataboliseer en minder as 1% van die dosis word in die urine as onveranderde geneesmiddel herwin.

Which, for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug is pretty remarkable. And probably accounts for the mean oral bioavailability of 100%, which impressed me too.
Etoricoxib (the English spelling) is a COX-2 inhibitor. Stop sniggering at the back. 
Hmm. That’s obviously enough of the exciting pharmacology.

I moved onto the section entitled Side Effects and Special Precautions.  Yes – we’ve all seen renal failure, dyspepsia, nausea, dizziness, headache and the obligatory DEATH (“Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Mr Thousand!”). However, I was taken completely by surprise by what I read after those little gems. It was there I came across the best side effect I’ve ever heard of:

“detachment of the top layer of skin from the lower layers of the skin all over the body”

How cool is that? You too can be a snake for a day. Just don’t roll in salt afterwards.

I’m off out for a curry this evening – can you imagine the reaction as I moult gently into the shared naan bread?
“Hmm – this is a bit flaky tonight… not up to their usual standard.”

Problems in Zim, Problems in Sheffield

Just when the poor people stuck just over the border (though admittedly a border a long, long way from me here) thought that bent elections, crooked politicians, ridiculous inflation, food shortages, violence and intimidation were the only minor issues they had to face upon getting up this morning, comes this.

Yes, according to the BBC News website, African leaders have now taken their lead from Thabo Mbeki and Mad Bob and are further conspiring against the Zimbabwean people – and not just any Zimbabwean people – some the most vulnerable: Amputees.


BBC News spells it out clearly. No arms for Zim.

I am appalled.  How are these unfortunate people supposed to find gainful employment when their prosthetic limbs are denied entry to the country over some inconsequential political spat?

Meanwhile back in Sheffield, copper theft from electricity substations is out of control, apparently.
No – wait – surely I mean Cape Town?
Hmm – this is the perfect home from home, it seems.

How did I make it to Monday?

Ah. Monday morning. My favourite time of the week. Apart from all the other ones, of course.
But I was actually quite delighted to make it through to this particular Monday morning.

As my alarm sounded (thankfully slightly later than the infamous 5:19), I rolled over on the 30cm strip of mattress which remained unclaimed by my wife and her onboard foetus and lazily reached out from under the security and warmth of the covers for the TV remote to flick on the news. I was greeted by the beaming face of Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, South African Minister for Public Service and Administration. This was slightly perturbing, as I hadn’t actually switched the TV on yet. I opened my eyes again and Geraldine was gone. Shame – she could have got me a coffee.

1029_largeGeraldine – too 80’s popstar for Government?

Such are the hazards of waking up after a hectic weekend involving curry, a heated political argument with a couple of lesbians, a singing fibreglass train, a tub of pink butter icing, a Castle Milk Stout or two, a giggling monkey, an essential visit to a local pharmacy and an urgent – but minor – service for the new vacuum cleaner.
And if you think I’m lying about any one of those, then you’re unfortunately mistaken.
Unfortunately for me, at least.

The big event of the weekend was a second birthday party for our son. No-one is more surprised than me that he’s made it this far*, bearing in mind that for at least some of that time, he’s been in my care. A whole 731 days** is not to be sniffed at, but judging by the green ooze permanently emanating from his left nostril, sniffing is an art which he has yet to perfect anyway. Photos of the party, selectively edited to avoid any audience exposure to catarrh, will be posted to flickr at some point this week.

Roll on 5pm Friday, at which point the madness restarts. Albeit hopefully with less pink butter icing.
In the meantime, a combination of Placebo, Arno Carstens, REM, Smashing Pumpkins and an occasional coffee will aid with my further recovery.

OK – perhaps he is as well.
** It’s a leap year, remember?

Can you write me off too, please?

Great news! (if you’re Cuban, that is.)

According to this morning’s Cape Times, the South African government has written off a 12-year-old debt owed to it by Cuba for export insurance relating to diesel engines, pesticides, Joost van der Westhuizen promotional mechandise and biltong.  
Very generous. Very, very generous in fact, when you hear that the debt totalled R926,8million. Now although the current exchange rates mean that that princely sum would only buy you a prawn mayo sandwich in London, it’s still a whole lotta Rands.

Government communications head Themba Maseko told a media briefing following Wednesday’s regular Cabinet meeting:

Given the assessment of Cuba’s debt position, government is of the view that Cuba was not in a position to meet its obligations in the foreseeable future.

I’ll bet that little gem of an announcement was slipped in right at the end of the briefing, following 4 hours waffling about exciting social grant allocation, fishing subsidies, landfill waste statistics and annual concrete price fluctuations. “Oh – and for those of you still here and still awake, we also voted to write off a billion Rands worth of debt to the Castro brothers. Thank you all very much, see you next week.”

At this point, I’d like to introduce you all to my bond. My mortgage. The money I borrowed from the bank to pay for my house. Now, to coin an official government phrase, “Given the assessment of my debt position, I am of the view that I am not in a position to meet my obligations in the forseeable future.”
This, by inference and extrapolation, together with a good dollop of subjectivity and bias, therefore means that my bank can write off all that I owe it and I can celebrate with a few mojitos and a fat cigar. Right?

Wrong. Despite the fact that I could be doing better things with my cash than throwing it into the ever-deepening pit of excessive interest payments, a pit which now dwarfs Kimberley’s Big Hole (and here I refer to the city in the Northern Cape, not the lass on Sea Point Main Road) – I still have to pay it back. Life is just so unfair.

Seriously though, what could South Africa have done with that billion Rand? Well, maybe the answers are right in front of us on the same Cape Times website:
Prevent deaths through water-borne disease in Soweto?
Fight the scourge of alcohol abuse and tik which is ruining students futures?
Reducing child mortality rates, which are still on the rise?

Look, I know Cuba has problems too. But I pay tax in SA. For SA.

Phone envy

Readers,

As I write this, I find that I am in the most unusual of situations. One that is new to me. One that I have never before experienced.  A difficult, delicate, unfortunate situation. But worst of all – an embarrassing situation.

Not the acute embarrassment that one feels when one exits the public toilets in Canal Walk trailing a long and dubiously stained tail of 1-ply from the back of one’s trousers. Or so I’d imagine anyway. No, that’s bad (like I say, so I’d imagine), but this is worse. It’s chronically embarrassing. This is the ongoing dull ache of a pulled muscle compared to the immediate but short-lived pain of a kicked shin.

I can hardly bring myself to admit this in such a public forum, but… but…

My wife has a better mobile phone than me.

Yes. I know. (Sorry, can someone help that poor man who’s fainted at the back, please?)

Compare and contrast my previously snazzy, but now aging W900i with her sparkling new and annoyingly-awesome K850i. It’s sickening. And the worst bit is that I was the one who advised her to rid herself of her cumbersome and error-prone Nokia N70 and equip herself with some K850i loveliness.
And who’s laughing now, huh? Well, actually, she is. Repeatedly.
Each time she innocently asks “have you seen what else it can do?” and demonstrates the latest dazzlingly brilliant feature she has discovered to our friends, she may as well be saying, “I’ll do the braai’ing tonight dear – remember you couldn’t get the fire lit last time, you snivellingly miserable excuse for a man!”

But enough is enough is enough (I can’t go on, I can’t go on, no more no…)
So – I’m ready to fight back. June is upgrade time and I have been browsing the Sony Ericsson site:


Sony Ericsson site screenshot

I can’t help thinking that they’ve missed a trick on there though. Where’s the checkbox for I want to: Have a better phone than my wife? Surely that is more important than all those other choices? After all, at the end of the day, the modern mobile phone must do everything, but more significantly, must have at least one more feature than whatever your missus is using.

I have found some very eligible young hardware which which to reclaim my rightful, alpha-male place on the mobile throne, chez 6000. Step forward Ms C902 and your roommate and “special friend”, Miss G900. Baby, I don’t claim to be an expert on mobile telecommunications devices, but I know what I like and I like what I see. Nice buttons, sweetie. So – do you girls come here often?*

Only problem being that they probably won’t be available in South Africa until 2012.

Hmm…I feel the need for a trip back home coming on…

* 6000 has been out of the dating game for some time.