Tuesday, 23 October 2007


I’m only coming up for air. Hectic with new job. Sit in open plan office with my back to everybody, do not want to spend to much time here whilst others may be looking – don’t want people at work to read this, miss you all.

Friday, 12 October 2007


Mordor 1. My last day as complaint letter writerer Hallelujah! Although I am exceedingly good at writing letters of complaint, I am mortally tired of it and I thank God that I am done with this. The only drawback of my new job is that I’d have to travel from Mordor to Jo’burg every day. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, most people in Jo’burg and Pretoria travel some distance to work and back. The people in Mordor are funny and I think It’ll take time for me to get used to the Jo’burgers. I am soooo looking forward to Monday. As I said before, I won’t be able to write for a few days, but I’m sure by Mid-Late Next week I’ll join cyberspace again. 2. Living in Mordor I think I got sort of used to Mordor, for Lamb and I have been living here for 9 years now. Though now and again something happens which still amazes me. Last week I was overtaken (in a small stretch between two sets of traffic lights) by a roaring three litre Ford Cortina. It is hard to describe the colour of the car. It is sort of metallic bottle green. On it’s sides it had been decal’d with outsized green flames. The flames were also metallic, but as the car passed me, the flames changed from a silver greenish hue to blowfly brilliant as the angle of light on them changed. The words “THE PUNISHER” were decal’d in large white letters on the back of the car. The car was occupied by a burly man (driver) with a mullet hairstyle. Next to him was a woman with an extremely tight perm and in the back two children of unidentifiable gender. You may wonder how I noticed all of that in the few nano seconds it took the powerful Ford to pass my fuel-economic Japanese model. All I can say is that the image had been imprinted on my memory forever. 3. Mordor Status Symbols Each community and segment of society has it’s own unique status symbols. In Mordor it correlates with the East Rand (East of Jo’burg for those who don’t know), Pretoria West, the Towns of Virginia & Welkom and Klerksdorp & Orkney a.o. Status symbols as well as fads & fashions popular in Mordor:
  • Souped up Ford Cortinas, VW Golf 1s, Opel Corsas and old Beemers.
  • Motorcar accessories to customise your wiele – shiny chrome hub-caps with rotating blades inside, which keeps still while the wheels are turning, but starts spinning as soon as the car slows down or stops; spoilers and fins – especially a fin the size of a Boeing tail-wing on the boot of the car (om die kar se gat op die pad te hou as jy vinnig om ‘n draai sleep)
  • Sound – It needn’t be the best quality, so long you have enough reverberating bass to dissolve the kidney stones of those you pass with your car.
  • Big Hair – It’s been all the rave since 1985 here in Mordor. Peroxide blondes with hair teased the life out of it still walk around in off-the-shoulder Spanish style frilly blouses with stretch jeans and white high heels. Better still if the heels could be “mother of pearl”.
  • Faux Flintstone Finish on Houses. I believe they call it “rock art”. I have seen it tastefully done around pools etc, but over here, they do the whole house. (Plain old 50’s 60’s and 70’s style houses get plastered with cement and painted to look as if it is made from stone. More often than not, the Idiot doing the job doesn’t know what he is doing which contributes to the overall kak look.) If the guy has a little more skill, you’d find images of the Big Five cunningly blended in.
  • Gates. As everywhere in SA people’s yards are sealed off by high walls or palisades with motorised gates. Here people have a big thing for gates. Some are so ornate and elaborate that one would expect to find the Forbidden City behind it. But no, once it opens it is just an ordinary house with garden ornaments such as Swan planters, Snow white and all 7 dwarfs and pink flamingos. The pillars built to support the gateposts are usually topped with massive cement eagles (painted dazzling blue) or Egyptian Cats or Chinese Lions.
  • Christmas decorations. I’ve seen a trend in the posh suburbs of Jo’burg that people put very tasteful lights and decorations in their gardens over the Christmas period. Here in Mordor the most ordinary and even shabby looking houses gets transformed in Las Vegas meets Christmas. It is something to behold.

I can go on forever. Bye for now

Thursday, 11 October 2007

What to do in boring meetings... Play Buzzword Bingo

This is from the site Wordspy. They have the coolest words there. Many of the words on the site are neologisms and portmanteaus. (Sheebee likes portmanteaus - she makes up her own words by combining two or more )
  • BUZZWORD BINGO (BUZ.wurd bing.go) n. A word game played during corporate meetings. Players are issued bingo-like cards with lists of buzzwords such as paradigm and proactive. Players check off these words as they come up in the meeting, and the first to fill in a "line" of words is the winner. Example Citation: [In] cubicles and conference rooms at companies from annuity sellers to paper distributors, drones and peons are slyly mocking the new corporate culture — and their cliche-spouting bosses. One of their weapons is an underground game called buzzword bingo, which works like a surreptitious form of regular bingo. Buzzwords — "incent," "proactive, "impactfulness," for example — are preselected and placed on a bingo-like card in random boxes. Players sit in meetings and conferences and silently check off buzzwords as their bosses spout them; the first to fill in a complete line wins. But, in deference to the setting, the winner typically coughs instead of shouting out "bingo." "Buzzword bingo arose as a reaction against half-truth and responsibility-dodging" in the workplace, says former Silicon Graphics Inc. software engineer Chris Pirazzi. When Mr. Pirazzi, now a software engineer elsewhere, worked at the hightech company, he wrote bingo cards featuring phrases like, "At Stanford, we . . ." (In Silicon Valley, it's hip to let people know you attended Stanford University.) The game, by all accounts, began at Silicon Graphics in Mountain View, Calif. Tom Davis, a scientist and one of the company's founders, says that one day in early 1993, he was sitting in the office of a friend who had scrawled corporate-speak on his blackboard. A light bulb went off, and Mr. Davis wrote a computer program to generate bingo cards filled with the jargon he had seen, plus motivational cliches like "Step up to it." He says he coined the name "buzzword bingo" and passed the cards along to colleagues with a note written in the spirit of the new game: "The ball's in your court."—Elizabeth Macdonald and Asra Q. Nomani, "Lots of Executives Become Fair Game For Buzzword Bingo," The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 1998

Also check the site for "The Streisand Effect" and "Corridor Cuiser"

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Kentucky Burgoo

Please do not only read my top posts, I am posting several per day. I am winding down at my current job and I am stocking up for next week when I’ll be starting the new job. I think it will be a bit hectic for the first week or so.

One of the best books on food I’ve ever read is Food: what we eat and how we eat it by Clarissa Dickson Wright (real name - Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson Wright). Clarissa is the the living half of the Two Fat Ladies team. Jennifer Patterson died a number of years back. The whole book is full of excerpts form other cooks’ and chefs’ books and then her own commentary on the subject. One of the entries I enjoy most is the one on Kentucky Burgoo. The recipe below dates from 1939 and makes 1200 gallons: "Kentucky Burgoo" is the celebrated stew which is served in Kentucky on Derby Day, at Political Rallies, Horse Sales and other outdoor events. This recipe is from a hand written copy by Mr. J. T. Looney, of Lexington. Mr. Looney is Kentucky's most famous Burgoo-maker and it was for him that Mr. E. R. Bradley named his Kentucky Derby winner "Burgoo King". Mr. Looney uses a sauce of his own in the preparation of this truly-amazing concoction. Mr. Looney is invited to all parts of the country to prepare Burgoo for large gatherings. This is not a dish to be attemped by an amateur though it can be prepared in smaller quantities. It is a very picturesque sight to see Mr. Looney, aided by his many assistants, preparing this dish over open fires and huge kettles which are kept simmering all night. 600 pounds lean soup meat (no fat, no bones) 200 pounds fat hens 2000 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced 200 pounds of onions 5 bushels of cabbage, chopped 60 ten-pound cans of tomatoes 24 ten-pound cans puree of tomatoes 24 ten-pound cans of carrots 18 ten-pound cans of corn Red pepper and salt to taste Season with Worchestershire, Tabasco, or A#1 Sauce

Mix the ingredients, a little at a time, and cook outdoors in huge iron kettles over wood fires from 15 to 20 hours. Use squirrels in season... one dozen squirrels to each 100 gallons.

The "use squirrels in season" really got to me.

Precious Ramotswe

Has anyone read “The Nr.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series by Alexander McCall Smith? What wonderful reading! My favourite in the series is “The Kalahari Typing School For Men”. It is quite NB to read them in the right order. The series is set in Botswana and the protagonist is Mma Precious Ramotswe. Mma Ramotswe is in her own words “a traditionally built lady”, and she speaks with disdain of the new trend of being skinny the young girls follow. Mma Ramotswe is a private detective, but the cases she investigates is not quite what one would expect. Mma Ramotswe’s methods are also rather unique. The books provide an easy read, the prose is light and immensely funny. The underlying tone is quite thought provoking, the characters real and the plot entertaining.

Angelic Advice

I have forever craved acceptance and understanding. The harder I tried, the more it eluded me. I never realized that my behaviour puts a barrier between me and others. I also did not understand myself. THAT is the reason why I was elated when diagnosed with ADD when I was 28. Finally I at least understood. Treatment made me better and my interaction with others improved exponentially. I still fail to make people completely understand. Letting people know that I have ADD complicates matters more. I used to do that hoping people will understand better, but I achieved the opposite. Now I don’t tell people any longer. This morning I had a lump in my throat reading another blogger - Angel’s latest post. Angel is a single mom raising an ADHD son. I implore everyone who knows someone with AD/HD or knows someone raising children with ADHD to read her post. I have never come across so much genuine understanding. I wish I could comment on everything she says, but I will limit it to point 6 in her post. May the journalists of the likes of Carte Blanche and popular magazines like You and Huisgenoot rot in hell for their contribution to the stigma amongst the general public which clings to ADD medication.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007


As you can see from with the posts below, today is lists day. We all know the phenomenon of a song turning in your head. A common comment from people with AD/HD, however is that we CONSTANTLY have a song in our heads. I sometimes have the same song for two weeks or longer. It becomes excruciating after a while. It is the last thing you hear before falling asleep and the very first thing you wake up to. Most often it is something ridiculous like “Three Blind Mice” or “Una Paloma Blanca”. The worst however is radio advertisement jingles… On Radio Highveld (Johannesburg SA) there is one which plague me forever. As soon as it is out of my head, they play it again. And then it is all over again. It is for a chain of shops that sell bathroom fixtures (or is it – which sells bathroom fixtures? Singular or plural? Should I refer to single chain or plural shops? Bugger, Bugger, bollocks bollocs!). The place is called Bathroom Bizarre. The jingle goes… “For mind-blowing bathroom specials, come to Bathroom Bizarre. That’s B.I.Z.A.R.R.E, come to Bathroom Bizarre, Come to Bathroom Bizarre.” It drives me insane. I know that is the purpose of catchy jingle tunes, but to me it is endless torture. Sometimes it is not even a tune, it is a word or a phrase. The most recent was the words “Minister Plenipotentiary”. It kept turning and turning in my head. Today’s song in my head is also one with an extreme propensity for sticking in one’s head – “Come on Eileen”

Culinary Arts I am incapable of performing

There are a few things that I have tried to make unsuccessfully. Number one – Pancakes (the English & SA version) I suppose in the USA it is called crepes. Lamb, who does not cook extremely well is a dab hand at making pancakes. Mine stick to the pan, their either too thick or too thin, not cooked through, they just don’t work. Crumpets I am fine with but still I cannot manage to get them quite like my Grandmother’s. Number two - Roast Beef. I can do the perfect roast chicken, roast leg/shoulder of lamb, pork roast, but I have never been successful with beef. It always comes out tough and awfully dry with very little taste? I wonder what I do wrong? My previous post on England things I miss prompted this trail of thought. It bothers me, because no matter how high the degree of difficulty of a dish, I always manage. So why am I not able to do a relatively simple thing like roast beef? If any of my dishes flop, I instinctively know what to do next time to ensure it doesn’t. I’ll also spend time perfecting a recipe. I have even tried different cuts of beef to no avail. Another one, which is not really cooking related, is Margaritas. I have tried different recipes, I have tried different ratio’s of tequila, triple sec & freshly squeezed lime – no luck. My Margaritas tastes horrible. I’ve also not had much luck with cooking artichokes, but I am not too bothered about that. My favourite dish in the whole wide world is…? Nothing fancy… I think it will have to be Spaghetti Bolognaise, but not any old Spaghetti Bolognaise, like my Grandmother taught my Mum & and later me. She in turn learned from an Italian POW in the 2nd World War.

England things I miss...

Going for a Balti at the Indian Restaurant round the corner Trebor’s Hurricane Strength Mints London Soho The National Gallery The Vintage Magazine Co shop in Soho The Underground Potted Stilton Cheese Bath (The city) Having a Ploughman’s lunch and a pint in a pub in summer Having Lancashire Hot Pot and a pint in a pub in winter Having Beef & Guinness Pie and a pint in a pub in winter London London’s parks York Shopping in Kensington High Street Cambridge Proper Fish & Chip Shops (cod & chips - strike the mushy peas) Camden Town The West End & going to theatre London Cream Soda (different from here) Sunday pub lunches - Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, 3 veg and lots & lots & lots of gravy over everything. Sitting on Trafalgar Square watching Japanese tourists. (They must have orientation before they leave Japan. No matter where you go, group after group after group Japanese tourists have their pictures taken on exactly the same spot as every other Japanese person.) Cathedral City Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese
London What I don’t miss The English and their Weather and their TV documentaries.

Favourite Food

Spaghetti Bolognaise Rump Steak (medium-rare) with garlic butter Well prepared – FRESH – seafood platter. (I like the way Portuguese Restaurants do it) Sushi Sunday Roast Waterblommetjiebredie Pap & Wors Braaivleis A good breakfast fry-up Oxtail potjie Chille con Carne Baked puddings Thai Green Curry Korma Curry Rogan Josh Curry Vetkoek & Mince Bunny Chow Pizza with salami, mushrooms and tons of cheese Any rice dish – jambalaya, risotto, pilaf, nasi goreng, paella, rys & sous, rys-vleis-en-aartappels, curry & rice, rice pudding, rice crispie & caramel balls, my mom’s 1980’s rice and tuna dish, basmati rice, American long grain rice, Arborio rice, Thai fragrant Jasmine rice, brown rice, wild rice, pilau rice, egg fly lice, spicy Mexican rice, etc

Friday, 5 October 2007


Lamb (my wife) does not eat lamb or mutton. She likes beef & chicken and the only seafood she eats is fish. We’ve been married for 9 years. Like everyone else, we have our ups and downs. I can honestly say that it’s been more ups than downs. Sometimes it takes time, but we always manage to get through the tough patches. We only have two rules in our relationship. 1 We don’t baby-sit each other – 2 We don’t share. This helps us to trust each other, to respect each other, and not to let a 3rd party come between us. Lamb learned me to be more affectionate than what I used to be. Though we get mad at each other and sometimes (like I do now) feel that the other does not understand something, I cannot imagine a life without her. Who else would be as patient with me as she is? Who else would put up with my quirks and antics? Who else gives the best bj's in the world [grin]. I can take Lamb anywhere with me and proudly so. People immediately take to her and she is lovely company. She is funny and interesting. Sometimes she’d read some of my science fiction and sometimes I’d read some of her women’s fiction (Maeve Binchy, Norah Roberts and Marian Keyes). We both share a love for crime and spy novels. Because the both of us furthered our studies at some stage after we got married, we decided to wait before we start a family. We both feel ready for that now. I cannot wait! Lamb always says that a baby is not glue, it won’t paste two people in a broken relationship together again. For us, it just feels right now.

Food, Glorious Food

I spend a lot of time thinking about food. Now I am planning tonight’s menu. I am undecided between a Blue cheese soufflé or a creamy satisfying mushroom risotto. Both with a nice crunchy salad dressed with a lemon dressing nice and astringent to counter the richness of either the soufflé or risotto. I prefer red wine, though I think I light crisp white wine should go down well tonight. Dessert? Dark chocolate. I like to spoil Lamb over weekends with my culinary skills. (We take turns during the week). Chocolate for dessert, she does not like baked puddings. Her loss, I make Jan Ellis/Malva/Brown Pudding which will cause tears in your eyes (and clog your arteries). For special occasions I will make a Tipsy/Cape Brandy tart, and like my Grandmother, I have a heavy hand with the brandy. Served with whipped cream, custard or vanilla ice cream, your choice. I also make the best ever chocolate mousse (not the stuff in packs tasting like carton & coco powder). It is one of those tricky recipes though. The egg whites must be beaten exactly right. Not too soft (it goes runny then) nor to stiff (it just wont mix with the rest of the ingredients then) and you REALLY need a light touch when folding the whites into the rest. Delia Smith’s Tiramisu recipe is the best out there. I don’t often bake, but once in a while I pull out all the stops. When I plan potato soup for dinner I have to start mixing and kneading the dough for the rosemary and garlic foccaccia quite early to allow enough priming time. But it is always a hit with guests. My other baking hits are my Gooseberry Cheesecake my Chocolate Brandy cake and my Red Velvet Cake. I also have a standing order from someone for Christmas Mince Pies and a Fruitcake. This person should consider himself lucky, for even if he is paying, Christmas mince pies and fruitcake is A LOT of work. It is also hard for me to plan baking a Christmas cake weeks in advance, though I do not forget to put brandy on the cake once a week till Christmas comes. By that time the cake is dark and rich and fragrant and quite delicious. What also gets me is the 7 layers of brown paper one needs to cover and line the fruitcake baking tin with. My secret for the mince pies is to use both lard and butter in the pie pastry. Hell it is only Christmas once a year! Coz I don’t like turkey and coz it is summer in SA over Christmas I like doing a whole gammon in the Weber. It is Christmassy yet out-doorsy and summery.

Tactile Defensiveness 2

A while back I went for a general medical check-up. When my doctor took my blood pressure her eyebrows shot up so high, it nearly touched her hairline. She did not say anything, she just took another – now what do you call it, one of those blood pressure measurer thingies. Wait let me look it up… Oh it is called a sphygmomanometer. Heavens above! I’ll not try to pronounce that. My tongue will get twisted and I don’t think I’ll be able to get it straightened again. Anyway, she took another sphygmomanometer (electronic this time) and took my blood pressure again. Same result. Extremely high. I told her that I don’t understand, I have started improving my lifestyle a year before. I finally quit smoking, I try to eat healthier and I exercise. She then told me, to get a better idea, she will arrange for a medical rep to fit me with an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. They fitted me with the thing at about 3’o clock the afternoon. I had to go back to work, we still had a meeting. The thing works like this. They fix the band bit round your upper arm. From the band bit a rubber pipe runs (underneath you shirt) to the monitor bit, which has a clip and can be fixed to your belt/waistband. Now, every half an hour I would hear the thing start to brrrr. Then I would feel how the arm band would start inflating till my arm goes numb. Later in the meeting, I was not aware of anything going on in the meeting. I was just in a state of anxiety because of this infernal thing on my arm. The anticipation of when is it going to start brrrr-ing again just killed me. So by the next time it started inflating I was in a right state. To the shock and confusion of the other attendees at the meeting, I jumped up, ripped open my shirt and continued ripping till I was free of the band, the rubber pipe and the exasperating device. I only calmed down a day later. My doctor was quite mad at me and I saw her scrawl “Pt cannot tolerate device” angrily in the file. For my sins I had to go into the consultation rooms for a few consecutive days for the nurse to take and record my blood pressure. Like an old geezer I now have to take a blood pressure tablet in the mornings and a cholesterol pill at night. The blood pressure tablets comes in blister strips, marked with the days of the week especially for the old folk, geriatrics and jurrasics. It is a known and scientific fact that white Afrikaners have a genetic predisposition towards having high cholesterol. One of our Dutch or French ancestors really did not do us a favour by passing it on. My doctor told me that if you have the genetic high cholesterol, you can only lower it marginally by means of diet. You have to take the meds. Bummer.

Nooky: (noun) Sexual intercourse (informal)

Man alive! Between sweetassrsa and angel quite an interesting conversation was started! getting laid, poking, bonking, making whoopee, shagging, sex – call it what you want, it will always stay a hot topic.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Thunderbolt & Lighning, very very frightning

Glugster (see link to the right below) put a post on his blog about feeling as if we’re in Britain here in SA, because of the soft incessant rain we are having. Last night however we had a proper Highveld storm (Geographical region in South Africa). Man do we get spectacular thunderstorms! Johannesburg and surrounds experience notorious storms during summer. Because of the high iron- and other metal content in the soil & rock the lightning does not just crack in the sky, it hits the ground in a fantastic manner. Round midnight last night we had such a storm. It caused a burglar alarm in our neighbourhood to go off. The occupants obviously were not at home, nor is their system connected to a security-response firm. It rang all FUCKING night. As not to disturb Lamb with my tossing and turning (how she was able to sleep is quite beyond me, really) I went and read in the guest room. My companions for the night were Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs. Now I sit and dim and bright behind my desk at work.


How lazy can you get? I read someone’s blog who is married to someone with ADD. I commented on her blog, and now I copied, pasted and slightly modified my comment as the following post. Lamb and I had a big argument last week. Last night she asked me what the matter is, she senses that something is wrong. I just couldn’t tell her… I couldn’t tell her it is because last week during the argument she told me that I attach too much value to having ADD. She said that at times I carry it like a trophy and she gets the idea that I am proud having ADD. She also said that at times, I use it as an excuse for things going wrong in my life. I really feel that she does not recognize the influence having ADD has on my life. I try to get her to read info on ADD, but she’s not really interested. She told me to stop thinking about ADD, stop reading on the net about ADD and that ADD does not define me. I may be irrational, but I feel this comment just proves how little she understands. Of course ADD does not define me. What defines me? Lots and lots of things of which ADD is only one. When I tell her that, she thinks that I am fooling myself. I feel that she “gets” all the other stuff which is part of my makeup, but the ADD thing – no. I understand that it is hard to understand. Trying to look at it from a detached point of view, I understand her feeling hurt because I refuse to wear the shirt she bought me. She spent a lot of time looking for the shirt, thinking it would look nice on me, she got very excited at the prospect of giving it to me. She got very disappointed and angry at my refusal to even fit the shirt. How can I put something on which I cannot even bear touching with my fingertips. Trying to please her I put it on when we go out. Disaster – I cannot wait to get home to take it off. I am unpleasant and cannot participate in conversation because my shirt is freaking me out totally. Packing. My wife and I are opposite stereotypes. She packs like the stereotypical man, whereas I need to take everything I own along. I am an in-case packer. What gets Lamb, is that I put everything I want to take along on the bed in the guest room with two large suitcases, and then she has to get everything in somehow. If I am left packing I throw everything in and when I run out of space I round up all our canvass sports bags and shove the rest into that. (Backpacking with Friends through Scotland, they all had a very easy ride with their single backpacks each. On top of the backpack on my back, I had to haul a large suitcase and canvass bag all over the Highlands.) It has to do with the fact that I cannot decide today what I am going to wear for the rest of the week. I need choice every morning. I need several choices of something formal, something casual, something warm, something cool etc to wear when I go away. And I have something about underpants and socks. I pack double what I need. It is also not that I am that concerned about my appearance, but my decision on what I am going to wear is heavily influenced by what I feel like wearing at that specific moment.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Bells & Whistles

I've started becoming jealous of how other bloggers' pages look like. Some people go through a lot of trouble to make their blog look interesting/good/unique. I am therefore very proud of myself, I did a quick teach-yourself-html on the web today and started a web album for photo’s. The picture is a heavily edited photo of me trying my hand at fly-fishing. (I’ve stretched the photo to fit into my Blog-header – I am not really that fat! Pah! Although I feel my blog is about the content more than anything else, I feel it is nice to personalize it and to make it look attractive. My blog is not yet what I would like it to be, but I feel I am progressing

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...

Because of our Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, South Africa’s HIV/AIDS policy is the laughing stock of the international community. Whereas no one disputes the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle when having HIV, her policy on the matter is positively medieval. A healthy lifestyle can prolong someone with HIV’s life dramatically, however, beetroot, garlic, olive oil, lemons and the African Potato cannot replace anti-retrovirals. (Maybe if you put it in a cauldron with lacewing flies, boomslang skin and grated mandrake roots. LOL) Our Minister of Health is also a thief (she stole from patients and the hospital in Botswana where she was administrator in the 70’s) She is an alcoholic and abused her position to get a donor liver quickly when hers couldn’t take the abuse any longer. She does not appreciate her new lease on life, for she still drinks. Please visit sackmanto.co.za (see link on the right) and fill in the petition form. (For fellow SA’s – check the cool Zapiro cartoons on the site!)

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Am I Weird?

When I go to my own profile and click on my own interests to see what(who) is out there, I get the strangest results. I am yet to find bloggers who has similar combinations of interests as me. My interests are by no means unique, but this goes to show, everyone’s combination of interests is (or is that are) unique. (I have an excellent English vocabulary, but you’ll know I’m not a native by the grammar mistakes). But browsing through blogger profiles, I am making a few subjective deductions. I am a believer of the Christian Faith (not fundamentalist though). I always thought that it my interest in Science Fiction is a bit misplaced. Man you will not believe how many bloggers out there have Science Fiction as well as Christianity listed in their favourites. Am I the only one who finds it strange. I am encouraged though. If I look at many (not all) profiles which include Christianity as interest, I come across a lot of well balanced people. People with diverse interests, people with normal interests, people with unusual interests. Yes, as believer in Christian faith I also believe there are scary people out there calling themselves Christian. I honestly think it is the few minority fundamentalist groups which gives religions like Christianity and Islam a bad name. I know many Muslims and none of them are crazed suicide bombers. But back to the topic. I am not a very good South African male. I don’t like Rugby, Cricket or Soccer. This limits my conversation topics immeasurably in the company of other South African men (Black, White, Asian alike). I like bbq and beer, but I have nothing to say standing next to the bbq fire with a beer in my hand. My sprawling solo-conversation on the peculiarities of Pop Culture usually does not go down well in such a setting, unless the fellows are suitably inebriated not to care. I also notice that people are starting to get uncomfortable once I start talking about food. I have encyclopaedic knowledge about food and cookery. (I’ve actually read the Larousse Gastronomique cover to cover at least twice. My wife are getting really disheartened when I come home with yet another tattered cookery book from a second hand bookstore. She does not understand that it is not any old cookbook (such as the free microwave cookbook you got with your Sharp in the 80’s). I am talking out of print classics here. I can still kick myself for not buying Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine when I had the chance. I am now searching for “The Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Cooking” by Anne Wilan (Published as La Varenne Pratique in the States) La Varenne Pratique is still in print, but I want METRIC MEASURES. For some reason converting from Imperial to Metric does not work for me. I’m sure it works the other way round as well. You have to cook in the measures the book is written in, other ways success goes down the drain in the translation. Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Cookery is extremely popular with Cook’s and Chefs in SA, so it is really scarce over here. I managed to track a Second Hand copy in the UK, but postage from there to here makes it out of my monetary league. Why do I want books like that when the weird and wonderful abounds? Well, when you look beyond what is all the new rage, you’ll find even food fads are based on certain basic principles. Nigella aptly puts it in one of her books. She says that one cannot be adventurous with food if one cannot even manage the basics, such as roasting a chicken (successfully). My measure of a good cookbook is that it needs to give you instructions such as your mother or grandmother did. Some cookbooks are scientific and without personality. You’d be able to make the recipe without it turning out a flop, but it will lack that certain something. Your grandmother would have told you that you must use so much flour, but the dough for this recipe should be quite stiff, so if it is not, add a little more flour. In another recipe your grandmother would stipulate – so much flour exactly, no more no less. Good cookbooks combine science with art and emotion. If you are an excellent cook with a natural aptitude, you’d be able to make a purely “scientific” recipe into something truly delicious, but even for experienced cooks, a cookbook should inspire. It is the difference between a map and a well written travel guide. Somehow I managed to get from Science Fiction to Cookbooks…

Shattered Dreams...

I completed an online nerd/geek-questionnaire and I only scored 32%. Dang! Where did I go wrong?? I mean for CRYING-OUT-LOUD I know my own Jedi name. But, alas, that is not geeky enough.

Another Advantage of ADD

One of the major advantages of ADD is that my short attention span does not allow me to be depressed for to long. Very soon something will come along which distracts me from feeling miserable. And I am not talking of major things like being excited about a new job etc. I can be down in the dumps driving along in my car, and suddenly I’ll spot my favourite Middle Eastern fast food outlet, swing the car into the car park, ignoring astounded hooting, order a schwarma and I will be as right as rain, unable to remember what I was depressed about.

Monday, 1 October 2007

New Job! Finally!

Most excellent! I have a new job! Whhhoooooooeeeeee! Super! Fantastic! Incredible! My dream job at that! I am now a consulting organization transformation advisor! Far Out! It is what I studied for, it is what I want, it is what I dreamt of. Bye-bye tedium, hallo excitement! I start in two short weeks.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Pop Culture

Is it a bird…? Is it a plane…? No…! It’s Superman A monologue on Pop Culture Or The practical employ of little used as well as foreign words accepted into the English Language. The reason why I am interested in Pop Culture is that I am fascinated by the following: 1. How the image of a scientist with unruly hair became a ubiquitous icon to be found in cartoons, on T-shirts and posters and how this image became synonymous with the concept of “genius”. 2. I love the fact that a group of young boys or girls with zero, zilch, nix, nada singing talent can become a phenomenon which can whip maudlin and morose teenagers everywhere in paroxysms of frenzied psychosis. 3. Sub-cultures. How did it come about that certain female political figures such as Imelda Marcos, Eva Peron, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Maraget Thatcher – divas like Eartha Kitt, Liza Minelli, Barbara Streisand, Cher and Celine Dion – actresses for instance Susan Sarandon, Judy Garland and Doris Day as well as other female celebrities became definitive gay icons? It is not as if they all share the same traits. Some are basilisks, harridans or femme fatales, some are aloof and keep others at bay with mordant and acerbic wit whilst others are eternally optimistic Bon Vivants and yet the quintessence of femininity and gentleness. 4. Why is it that burlesque spoof movies, which mocks serious topics and treats silly and frivolous themes with exaggerated seriousness are so intensely entertaining to so many people? 5. People who believe that they live sui generis lives and that they are different, unique and peculiar are often those who slovenly follow the latest trends. 6. The elitist view of the theory of mass society that pop culture is an inferior ersatz culture, which they call “low-culture” and that it only appeals to the hoi polloi and the Luddite masses. 7. The view that popular culture is influenced by the media with agitprop messages to either educate or influence the masses and so furthering profitability for advertisers or promoting certain ideas or beliefs of certain groups. 8. The progressive evolutionary theory that popular culture does not threaten high culture, but is an authentic expression of the needs of the people. 9. If the “intellectual Übermench” are so irritated by pop culture, why does he not retreat to his ivory tower? No, he has to shout his snotty, snooty, snobby, stuck-up, superior, high-and-mighty views as a hosanna or a triumphant paean to all who do not want to hear. 10. The existence of a real nucleus coterie of individuality, which pop culture cannot influence. These people usually do not feel threatened by pop culture, they do not judge, they just prefer different. These people can enjoy Tolstoy and Dickens as much as they enjoy John Grisham. 11. By some contretemps a low budget science fiction television series lead to one of the largest cult followings ever. Star Trek and its followers became greater than anyone would have imagined. This singularity in turn lead to inter alia the following: · Motion Pictures, numerous sequel and related TV series follows original · Characters i.e. Mr. Spock becoming some of the most recognizable icons ever · A fictional language developed for the fictional Klingon race, which most people believed was just ineffable twaddle uttered by the actors, evolved into a fully fledged language spoken by a roughly estimated 7500 people today (Mostly geeky polyglots and even geekier Trekkies). Major literary works i.e Shakespeare’s Hamlet has been translated into Klingon. A detailed History of the Klingon race has been developed, as well as a legal system, a culture and customs. · Pithee slogans from the television series and movies abounds, i.e. “Beam me up Scotty!” and the Vulcan (another fictional race of which Mr. Spock is a member) greeting “live long and prosper” used in conjunction with the distinct hand greeting where the little and ring fingers are pressed together and where the middle and index fingers are pressed together forming a “V” between the ring and middle finger and extending the thumb to form a “L” with the index finger and thumb. 12. How pop culture is a snapshot of the particular Zeitgeist of a particular society in a particular moment of time. 13. How a lingua franca, for instance English spoken in South-Africa by non-native English speakers develops into a unique manner of usage and how a pastiche of local vocabulary gives the original language a distinct different flavour and leads to a unique vernacular recognized and published as a South African English Oxford Dictionary. Eish! 14. Mawkish soap operas where the imbroglio of who is related to whom becomes a study in incest. People become addicted to be a voyeur into the louche lives of the characters, to the extent that they speak of them as acquaintances. 15. The schadenfreude people experience because of others’ misfortune is a key ingredient in the success recipe of the popularity of TV reality shows. 16. The frisson of excitement one feel every time the theme of raconteur spy James bond is heard. 17. People being sub rosa about the fact that they are super fans of the Swedish pop group ABBA, just because ABBA is not en vogue anymore. 18. Every time a celebrity behaves like an enfant terrible it makes the headlines all over the globe. 19. and so forth and so forth.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Blue Boy

Dog my cats! What a bad day I had yesterday. (Thank you Angel for the encouraging comments) As I explained to Angel, I did not take my Ritalin on Monday. It takes generally a day and a half to get back on track again. Many times, I do not feel adverse effect when not taking my meds. Ritalin makes it generally better, however, once in a blue moon you strike a very bad day, despite the meds. I once read the following analogies to help explain what Ritalin does when you have ADD. Ritalin does not give you an extra trump card, it just deals you the same pack everyone else is playing with Ritalin is the windshield wipers in a bad storm Ritalin helps you to tune your radio to the same station as those around you – it also tunes out the static. My Dr believes pharmacological treatment constitute 50% of ADD management. The rest is made up by counselling, KNOWLEDGE, and support. Now if it is good for you, why do you not take it, dammit?! The answer is simple. Alcohol and Methylphenidate Hydrochloride (active ingredient in Ritalin & Concerta) does not mix. I haven’t seen any research on that, but personal experience proves that. In a previous blog entry I mentioned National Braai Day (barbecue day) in South Africa. Well that happened on Monday and that is the reason why I did not take my Ritalin on Monday. I had Margaritas, beer and wine on Monday whilst friend Victorious People and I had our cookout. I did the Greek Leg of Lamb as intended. I also put some apricot wood in the weber which gave it a delicious smoke flavour. The day was PERFECT. My Leg of Lamb was a huge success, and so was the Roast Potatoes. The people positively raved about the Ratatouille. (Good timing – 3 days after the release of the Movie Ratatouille in SA). I garnished the carved lamb in a nice plate with seared green asparagus spears and lemon wedges. Victorious People made whole beef fillet (tenderloin for the Yanks) which he crusted with black pepper and wrapped in bacon. Just before dishing up, he sliced it, poured melted butter on and then flambe’d it with brandy. The verdict – a draw! On top of that, it was a beautiful sunny spring day in our part of the Southern Hemisphere. Mix in a few good friends and you have success. A drawback of ADD is that a “low” many times follow a “high”. The higher the high, the lower the low – that is the ADD equation. After I won the Weakest Link, I was on a super high for two days on end. Won’t talk about the two days which followed… May I just remind anybody reading this… this is my subjective experiences, which I hope will give especially parents of ADD children some insights into the emotions and thinking of their children. I don’t proclaim my views to be the gospel truth however.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

I hate having ADD

No matter what they say on all the ADD info websites, ADD is shit. It is a fucking curse and a cross which I whish I did not have to bear. I have also tried to talk myself into believing that I am happy about having ADD because of the positive aspects. Well, I don’t think the “positives” is so fucking great any longer. What I hate about having add I hate the effort I have to put in to do simple fucking things I hate the fucking effort it takes to stay organised I hate the fact that when I let my organising efforts slip, it takes a major fucking project, mission and venture to get back on track again. I hate being so fucking irritable! I hate being so fucking sensitive I hate my fucking procrastinating I hate not being able to fucking concentrate on the things I should I hate concentrating on all the things I fucking shouldn’t I hate having to take one of the most debated substances ever (fucking Ritalin) I hate not fucking knowing what I am apprehensive about. I hate my fucking addictions I hate being so fucking bored I hate having AD-fucking-D

Unhappy Defined

Attention Deficit Disorder, wretched, sad, miserable, discontented, unenthused, cantankerous, despondent, dejected, jittery, gloomy, teary, forlorn, tense, sorrowful, bored, uncommitted, procrastinating, remorse, low, down in the dumps, disheartened, panicky, deprived, irritated, out of sorts, frustrated, lackadaisical, glum, fed-up, dismal, sinking, apprehensive, negative, morose, blue, shame, sullen, on-edge, cheerless, dour, grim, surly, worried, sombre, brooding, dull, monotonous, murky, feeble, unresponsive, unmotivated, half-hearted, tired, depressed, crestfallen, doleful, anxious, pessimistic, disconsolate, hopeless, disinclined, melancholic, longing, unenthusiastic, desultory, subdued, reluctant, indifferent, half-hearted, upset, frustrated, self-pity, wounded, perturbed, discouraged, distressed, bothered, hurt, lonely, irritated, self-recrimination, unwilling, nervous, guilt, apathy, unable to accept what is not meant to be.

Friday, 21 September 2007


I had to go to my boss' house after work yesterday to help him with something. We had a few drinks together and he has a bit of a heavy hand with the whiskey. I hadn't eaten since breakfast, I was too busy. 4 very strong whiskeys later, I went home. I had extreme munchies and stopped at KFC. Gorged myself on Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was extra delicious. This morning I am not happy with myself however. I promised myself, no junk food till I reach my goal weight.
I know I shouldn't, but I feel a bit frazzled out, so I took double dose Ritalin this morning. My doctor will strangle me should he find out. He is very particular on not deviating from the prescribed dose, because he really takes trouble to determine the correct dosage for each patient. I know he is right though, I did quite a bit of reading myself on the topic.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Friends - 2

My friend Peaceful Ruler is very sporty. He is into canoeing, swimming, running and cycling. I asked him to give me a few pointers on swimming. Peaceful Ruler likes things to be perfect and constantly strives to do everything he does as perfect as possible. He is a very good teacher and I must admit that my swimming technique improved with leaps and bounds. He has the heart of a lion, but the body of a fox. Had he been tall with a larger frame, he would have been first in every sport he participates in. He is one of the most courageous people I know. He has drive and he starts what he finishes. Some people find him to be fussy. I tend to like quirky people however. I think it is because I generally have an aversion to the mundane. I use my comfort zone only to regroup and to prepare my next launch into the unknown. I find that if I stay in my comfort zone too long, someone moves my cheese. I rather prefer to move before that happens. Lamb are friends with Victorious People’s wife Rough Island, and with Peaceful Ruler’s wife, The Lord Increases. I also get along friends’ wives. We are fortunate in that sense. Many times one cannot stand your friends’ wives/husbands/partners. We have a saying in Afrikaans which literally translates to – we both ate seven bags of salt together – meaning we shared hardships. This is to a greater and lesser degree applicable to all 3 my best friends, Army Man, Victorious People and Peaceful Ruler. Francis Hodgson Burnett wrote in The Little Princess “My adversity tried you and proved how nice you are” or something to that effect. Real friends are those who stand by you when you suffer hardship – it is the old truth. It is not possible to express in words what Army Man has meant to me in my life. He is the one person who has always been there.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Where are you today...?

Ten years ago when I was very young and working as a child protection social worker in the UK, one of my cases involved 3 Argentinean girls. They haunt me till this day and I wonder what happened to them. Their father was in the British Merchant Navy and their Mother a prostitute in Monte Video. The girls aged 4, 6 and 10 grew up in Argentina, but was brought to the UK by their father. Social Services received a referral from school, suspecting physical abuse of the girls by the father. We went and interviewed the children, which was a nightmare, as they spoke very little English. The Child Protection Police Officer who went with me, managed to get a Spanish interpreter from their database of interpreters. He was a typical good-natured upper-class English country gentleman, who spoke perfect grammatical Spanish. This proved to be a problem. In the man’s own words – it is the same as him trying to interpret English and the children are from the Bronx. Neither he nor the children understood each other quite clearly. Enough was understood however to confirm suspicions of physical abuse. Neglect was evident. Emotional abuse is part of the package. The children were taken from the father (old man, we initially thought he was the grandfather) and put with emergency foster parents. I phoned my mother Bee in SA that night and for the first time since I was a child I cried when I heard her voice. I soon found a native Argentinean-Spanish speaking interpreter (a lovely woman with a young boy of her own). The children’s English also improved daily. I am fully conversant in English and speak it nearly as well as my native Afrikaans. Language was not so much a problem however, for I understood these children rather well. I also came from a country which are developing in the sense that part of the country and society is developed, and part is undeveloped. I understood their craving for simple staple food from home (in their case rice and beans and in mine maize porridge). I understood the culture shock of living in a new country. Sub consciously I grew quite attached to the three little girls. I suspect they felt that I understood them and I know they genuinely liked me. I do not know who hated the foster mum more, I or them. I just couldn’t find an alternative placement for them. They used to threaten the foster mum with “we tell Hard Spear you hit us.” The foster mum had no insight at all, although I appreciate that it could not have been easy on her. I will never forget the foster mum telling me that she cannot understand the fact that these children who come from horrible circumstances does not appreciate living with people in a semi-detached and driving a Mercedes Benz. I had to bite my tongue so hard, for I had seen their car. It was a old 190 Merc adorned with fins, spoilers etc etc. It was all I could do not starting to scream at her. There is more brand new luxury top-of-the-line German cars individually in most backwards third world countries than in the whole of Germany. (I am not talking about the exploitation and means some individuals in the third world obtain their riches, neither about the exploitation and means some individuals in the first world obtain their riches for that matter) however, the sight of a Mercedes Benz is extremely common in the third world. Later on it transpired that the girls’ father abused them sexually and that it was an older “brother” who was responsible for the physical abuse. Without going in too much detail, the whole matter ended up in the London Family High Court (where I had to testify as expert witness – horrifying experience). I passed the case over to a long term care social work team shortly before I returned to South Africa. Mary, Mary Magdalene and Elizabeth… where are you today? My heart still aches for you… I did what I could then... I know it was not enough... Please forgive me, my dears... Hardy

Splish Splash

I am training for the World’s Largest Open Water event, which is the Midmar Dam Mile in South Africa (February). Since last week, I have been doing a kilometre in the gym pool 3x a week. A mile is 1.6 kilometres long, so I have some training to do. Open water is also totally different from the gym pool. Our gym uses a salt water chlorinator, so one float more than in fresh water, which makes swimming easier. Reduced visibility and 10000000000000000000000 people thrashing and kicking next to you, in front of you, behind you, below you and on top of you complicates things further. I learned something new about myself with the previous attempt. The overcrowded conditions, poor visibility etc made me panic so much on my previous attempt, I had to get one of the life-boats to pick me up and take me out shortly after starting. I know I will be ready physically by February, but I will really have to concentrate on being ready mentally.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Greek roast leg of lamb

I've found this recipe below for Greek roast leg of lamb on the net and ajusted it for the Weber Kettle Grill. This will be my main attraction when Victorious People and I have our cookout on monday.
Greek roast leg of lamb 6 lbs bone-in leg of lamb (about) 14 cloves garlic 2 tablespoons dried oregano 2 tablespoons rosemary 1/3 cup olive oil 1 cup red wine 2 lemons, zest of, of grated 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 tsp pepper 8 large potatoes (1 per person) or 16-24 small new potatoes, 2 to 3 per person 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Wash lamb well and pat dry. 2. Finely chop 8 cloves of garlic and place in a glass dish or sturdy plastic bag large enough to hold the lamb. 3. Stir in 4 tsps each of oregano and rosemary, 1/4 cup of the oil, the wine, zest and lemon juice. 4. Place lamb in marinade, turning to coat well on all sides; cover and refrigerate overnight. 5. Crush remaining 6 cloves of garlic and stir together with remaining 2 tsps each oregano and rosemary mustard, salt & Pepper 6. Remove lamb from marinade (keep marinade) and pierce in several places with the tip of a sharp knife. 7. Rub garlic-herb-mustard mixture over lamb, pressing into incisions. 8. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. 9. Peel potatoes and cut into large wedges or like cottage fries (or if you are using small, new potatoes, leave them whole). 10. Toss in the marinade kept from the lamb and 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil and pour all of this mixture into your pan, around the lamb. 11. Make indirect fire on the sides of Weber grill – grill for 2 ½ - 3 hours.
I am also going to add apricot wood on the coals for a light smoky flavour. For sides I am going to make Ratatouille and roast potatoes in the Weber and a baked chocolate pudding (also in Weber)
I’ve found Elizabeth David’s ratatouille recipe to be the best.

Monday, 17 September 2007


Tactile defensiveness, although not a recognised symptom of ADD, is a condition which affects many AD(H)D children and adults. It basically entails being “intolerant to being touch and intolerant of certain textures”. This is something which has made me very unpopular throughout my life, especially by loved-ones and those near and dear. I have never been able to tolerate someone suddenly and unexpectedly touching me. Light touches and stroking are the worst. I find it totally excruciating. I will still be able to stand it if someone grips my shoulder firmly even if unexpectedly. I can hold my wife’s hand, but I cannot stand her touching my neck lightly whilst driving. At the start of our relationship I nearly overturned the car when she put her hand on my neck. She took this as rejection. We had lots of fights because of it. Grandparents especially cannot understand a child not wanting to be cuddled. The following things about me or things I do transpired to be as a result of tactile defensiveness:

  • I remove all the labels from the insides of my clothes. I cannot bear the feel of clothing labels on my skin. I cannot stand the touch of certain types of fabric, material and clothes. Textured fabrics are the worst. It feels like horse hair and burlap to me. I used to be completely baffled that other people do not perceive it the same as I. Generally I prefer natural fibres such as pure cotton and new wool, however there are certain synthetics which does not bother me. Nylon is the devil. Nylon is evil. Nylon is hell… I THANK GOD for the fact that I am not a woman for the simple reason that I would not have been able to wear pantyhose/stockings. When is my turn to fold the laundry, I will leave my wife’s pantyhose. I cannot even touch it with the tips of my fingers. Mostly I would prefer to be the “toucher” that the “touchee” I cannot wear new clothes before it has been washed at least once. I hate the way fabric softener makes my clothes feel. Certain “silky” textures can be just as bad as “rough” textures. I wash my hands a lot to get rid of the feeling some textures gives me. DON’T TOUCH MY FACE! DON’T TOUCH MY HEAD! I cannot wear something round my neck. If you want to torture me, force me to wear a polo-neck. I once took of my wristwatch during a 2 week holiday. I have not been able to wear it again since. It is not so much the taste as the texture of certain foods which bothers me. Certain smells which are not obnoxious to others will make me gag. Certain noises not noticeable to others (clocks ticking, the refrigerator motor, the television if I am not watching) has the ability take me to the verge of insanity. Noise which may bother other people, I do not notice. I MUST have the radio on at all times. I do not understand why the radio and not the tv. I fidget excessively I get motion sickness

ADD Diagnosis - After 2

Continued from ADD Diagnosis – After 1 In the four months since I started the new job, I’ve implemented new things and made myself (never indispensable) but extremely well liked. I know I impress a lot, for I can truly pull a rabbit out of a hat. I am bored out of my skull however. I have to force myself to complete my tasks and still manage not to complete it. I have no drive whatsoever and I am rather downhearted as of late. I feel like I felt before I started medication way back when. I feel thoroughly mixed-up at the moment and I have trouble keeping up-beat about things. I do not know what to do, except that this mediocrity which I sold to myself as something I want, does not work for me any longer. I cannot say I have trouble concentrating, because I have no concentration at all. I do things I shouldn’t. I don’t do the things I should. I do not understand this, because … well I just don’t understand. The thought of passing ADD to the child my wife and I want, makes me want to choke up and cry. I have, since being diagnosed with ADD been secretly pleased with my right-brain functioning as I truly believe it makes me unique and creative and interesting. I never minded having ADD. I never minded having impaired left-brain functioning. I always looked for the positive aspects of having ADD. Of late I recognize ADD for the curse it is. I do not wish to speak ill of my Doctor as he has meant so much to me since diagnosing me. He is getting very old however and as stubborn as a mule. I have been worried for some time about where to go when he is no longer there or decides to retire. I will miss him terribly. My other sister Honey Bee also has add, but she has given up te meds as it gives her palpitations. She has had several major heart operations and her heart is a bit dodgy at the best of times.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Shooting & Salvation

New Firearm & Weapons legislation in South Africa dictates that everyone in possession of a previously issued firearm license must re-apply. The criteria for issuing firearm licenses has become extremely stringent in terms of this legislation. From now on everyone with existing firearm licences need to re-apply every 5 years. New applicants must complete practical and theoretical training with an approved agency. Renewals only have to do the theoretical training & exam. Once issued with a firearm training certificate and armed with a heap of forms completed in triplicate as well as certified copies of a myriad of other documents, one can now go to the nearest Police station for fingerprinting and handing in of the application. True to nature I waited till the very last moment. On the day before the cut-off date for handing in applications I contacted a Firearm training centre. I was lucky to get the last slot for the evening training session. I also had to do a portfolio of evidence (fancy name for assignment) on the Firearms Act before attending the session. Now I must make this clear, I am not a firearm fanatic. I am however in possession of a .38 Colt revolver (which I have never fired – it has been locked in my safe forever) and I have some sentimental value attached to the thing. When working in the Police as social worker I volunteered for SWAT training, to get more insight into the work and lives of policemen – so I can handle firearms quite well. In fact, the safety precautions drilled into me during training saved the life of a child. Without going into detail, had I not made TRIPLE sure that a particular firearm was safe a child may have died. I am veering off of the topic however. The story is actually about the training I underwent for the purpose of renewing my license. Having left the whole issue that late, I could only find one training agency who could still help me at this late hour. It was one of the strangest experiences I ever had. The training agency is a family run business. The main trainer is the Mom. Quite a formidable woman. Trophies and Medals covered every available wall and surface in the training room. These were from competitions won by this little family of marksmen and markswomen, or shall I be politically correct and call them markspeople. The Mom and Daughter seemed to be superior shots, while the Dad and Son did not do bad themselves. Where the was no medals, trophies or certificates - notices adorned the training centre. Firearm safety posters were interspersed with Bible text quotes and Bible based slogans, motivations and admonitions. I hope I do not sound callous if I report this in a humorous manner. As a Christian believer I do not wish to come over as blasphemous. I am exceptionally tolerant of other people’s beliefs, however, not so tolerant if their beliefs infringe on those of others. Their appearance (bearded Dad), dress (conservative), manner of speech (passionate, emotional and full of one-sided beliefs) made me suspect that they are borderline right-wing fundamentalists. Greed however allowed them to take Black people into their training programme. I actually felt quite sorry for the few Black people attending the session. They must have felt quite intimidated. It was quite clear to me that their civilness and friendliness toward the Black people were a thin veneer concealing something different inside. The training session started with the Mom introducing themselves and informing the class that God placed her there to teach us about firearms and that it is her God-given task to ask us if we know God and if not, to lead us to him. She then proceeded with the course content and delivered it in a style typical of the military and armed forces. I call it the “Shout-the-question-and-ridicule-the-answer-method”. It starts with the instructor shouting a question and then keeping quiet, till some idiot cannot stand the tension any longer and blurts out an answer. Invariably the answer would be ridiculed before the textbook definition is recited. For example: Question “What do you load a firearm with?” Answer “Bullets” Instructor reply “Bullets! BULLETS! A BULLET IS SOMETHING YOU BITE! People you must learn the correct TERMINOLOGY! You load a firearm with CARTRIDGES or ROUNDS if you must! A….Bullet….is….only….the….PROJECTILE….part….of….the….cartridge.” (When the Dad interrupted her rantings for the umpteenth time a little later, she became irritated with him and told him to shove off and make himself useful by making some bullets for the shooting practice the following day. Had I not been scared of her, I would have asked her if her husband shouldn’t rather be filling cartridges…) The training session ended with a written exam and an altar call. I nearly became converted for a second time, fearing she would fail all those who do not give their hearts to Jesus. I stayed in my seat however and miraculously passed.

ADD Diagnosis - After 1

Continiued from ADD Diagnosis - Before 2 (See post below)
I was stunned by the realisation that I have ADD. There was absolutely no doubt. I phoned my friend and asked him about ADD and he told me about the Doctor he was seeing. I went to see the man and he made a diagnosis and prescribed Ritalin. My life changed. My relationship with Lamb, my wife improved drastically. I completed the MBA in the required time on Ritalin and SHEER determination and fucking hard work. I had to repeat Financial Management, scraped through a few others, got C average for a few more and was awarded 4 distinctions including my dissertation. The damage done at work though was irreparable, and the studies also took a toll. I found a new job, not the corporate job I wanted, but still out of the Police. I became the general manager at a medium sized in 2003. I was responsible for HR, Marketing and General Administration and running of the offices. I suffered great hardships at the new work and I stopped using Ritalin as soon as I completed my studies (6 months after I started the new job), but pulled through beautifully and after a year was back seeing my doctor and back on ritalin. For a long time, it went very well. In 2006 everything went pear-shaped and amongst others I missed a very important deadline. I was given the choice of a disciplinary hearing (where I had to admit guilt) or a standard severance package with a good reference. I chose the latter and started my own management consultancy. I stopped smoking and started going to the gym. Some money came in, but not enough and this went on for three months. I was determined more than ever in my life though. Till one day when Lamb pulled the carpet from under me. She gave me an ultimatum: Regular paying job, or she goes. I packed my stuff and went to stay with a friend – we agreed on a few days, so we both can get time to think. I resented what she did, as I felt that she did not understand. I felt that greatness and success was nearly within my grasp. I swam my first ever open water swim event the day after. I barely started when I suffered a severe panic attack and could not complete. I did not take this well and felt a terrible failure, for I prepared really hard and for me who never ever participated in sport, this was something big and I yearned to achieve. I blamed my failure partly on her. The day after the race though, I was due to participate in a recording of the South African version of Weakest Link, since I applied, auditioned and got selected a long time before all of this. I was still employed in fact. I pep talked myself into a frenzy. During the recording I put on the performance of my life and even made Fiona Coyne (Anne Robinson Clone – Wikipedia Weakest link, there is a photo) laugh. I won to top it all! I made a decision to start looking for a permanent position again. I told myself that this decision must be without regret and without reproach. Even if I give up a dream, my wife is very important to me, I love her very much and we want to start a family in the near future. Thoroughly disheartened by my previous attempt of applying for new positions, and I think it was in excess of 100 positions I applied for, I tried to keep good faith. It was hard though, for as a result of my previous attempts I was selected for an interview with a the second largest beer brewery in the world. As a result of the interview in turn, I had to go for rigorous psychometric tests (aptitude and IQ). Following the result of these I was invited for another round of psychometric tests, several personality tests this time and another IQ. When they invited me for a fourth interview I could not help getting excited. To make a long story short, there was a mix up between the job applications and bursary applications, and I was incorrectly interviewed for a bursary. I wrote a very verbose and on the surface polite letter to the Human Resources Director of the company, yet still conveyed my disappointment and ire. They responded promptly with apologies, but apportioned the blame squarely on the shoulders of the recruitment agency. They also made some noises about Employment Equity and so forth and so forth. My view has always been that because of EE, I must just work all that harder, for the supply is all that bigger. I try never to say “Because of ADD or EE or whatever could I not,” but always proudly state “In spite of … I still managed” Yet, I was put off of job hunting. Then a job literally landed in my lap. It was the competition of the medium sized firm I worked for, and I got exactly the same position as I had with the previous firm.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

ADD Diagnosis - Before 2

Continiued from ADD Diagnosis - Before 1 (see post below)
No one could comprehend the fact that I would near fail some of my subjects, but comes prize giving evening at the end of the year, I walk away with 2 book prizes for best student in certain other subjects. I endured bullying throughout school. I was a sissy and a faggot because I was bad at sports. My hand-eye coordination is terrible. I started reading voraciously as soon as I learned how. My mother and I suspect it is because I hardly slept when I was an infant, and she would put a reading light and a stack of books on my bedside table every night to keep me occupied at least. I find it hard to fall asleep till this day if I do not read a bit. My school work suffered even more because of it though, because I would read in secret and cover my story books with my school books, so that I could sit and read in stead of doing homework or study. The subjects I excelled at, I simply excelled at. I hardly studied at all. Other subjects reflected my lack of input. As I progressed, though the volumes of even my favourite subjects increased beyond my capacity to absorb it all simply by paying attention to the teacher. And that is another thing. Paying attention in some classes required no effort at all, whilst it proved quite impossible in others. Generally, unfortunately, I found school boring beyond belief. After school I went to study Social Work and the same story just went on and on. When I successfully completed my degree, I went to work as a Child Protection Social worker in the UK for two years. On my return I worked in the SA Police Service as an Occupational Social Worker, at which time I also got married. I always did well and was generally liked by my clients, though my superiors gave me a hard time about my admin always being in a mess. That may be the wrong term – maybe my admin being non-existent would be more accurate. I met a friend at university, Army Man, (see post Friends 1 below) who was diagnosed as dyslexic and he also mentioned ADD to me, but when I met him, he was in his 4th year and could read write and understand 9 languages. Many of it ancient languages like Hebrew, Greek and Cuneiform. I once asked him how he did it to which he replied – hard work and perseverance. With this friend in mind, I told my self – if he could, I can. I started on a new course in my life and cultivated a determination second to none. I wanted to enrol for an MBA (and WHY I ever wanted to do a Master’s Degree in Business A D M I N I S T R A T I O N Is quite beyond me, till this day. I did not meet the criteria, since I quit maths in Secondary School. The University’s Business School told me that Statistics First Year Level will do in stead of maths, and I enrolled for stats 101. I struggled my butt off but I finished it. I was enrolled for an MBA start 2001. By April I realised that I forgot how hard I found studying. I told myself though that no matter the cost, I shall complete this degree. In May 2001 I read an article on Adult ADD in the South African Men’s Health Magazine. I was stunned by the realisation that I have ADD. There was absolutely no doubt. I phoned Army Man and asked him about ADD and he told me about the Doctor he was seeing. I went to see the man and he made a diagnosis and prescribed Ritalin.

Friends 1

I am lucky to have three best friends, Army Man, Victorious People and Peaceful Ruler. Army Man also has ADD and it is uncanny the way we understand each other. We also share a lot of interests. Army Man is gay and has yet another prospective boyfriend. I have not met the potential beau yet, but Lamb and I usually have to meet any possibilities to give our opinion. I love Army Man very much, but I am getting tired of his unstable love life. I must admit, that I do not wish to meet another prospect. It is a pity none of his previous long-standing relationships worked out. I really wish he would meet another long term partner. I sometimes worry about him having casual relations. Being each other’s confidants, he tells me about them. I act very non-judgemental, but I am secretly concerned. Lamb tried to play matchmaker, but the match was also not to be. Victorious People and I do not have many interests in common. We think alike about things however. Victorious People has quite a twisted sense of humour. He is one of very few people whom I find really funny. Victorious People made one grave mistake recently. He challenged me to a braai (Afrikaans for barbecue/grilling) cookout. I willingly picked up the gauntlet he threw before me. This significant event will take place on 24 September which is a public holiday in South Africa and apart from being Heritage Day it is also National Braai (Barbecue) Day.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

ADD diagnosis - Before 1

I was only diagnosed with ADD when I was 28. From very early on my Father (Famous Warrior) and Mother (Bee) treated me in a manner which lead me to believe that I am more intelligent than my siblings and peers. Some of my teachers did as well, though I expect it was inadvertently. I have however, always been lead to believe that I am lazy. The aftermath of a PTA meeting usually meant extreme unhappiness in our home. “You do not live up to your potential… If only, your sister Flower had your braininess, she would have excelled, but the little she achieves comes with very hard work… You can do better than these mediocre marks… Your results belies your IQ…” This became the standard accusation to which my standard reply: “I am not as clever as you think… I try, but I cannot… I hate school… I hate my teacher” One teacher admitted to my mother that my staring out of the class window drives her batty. I cannot count the number of times I was hit by a teacher throughout my school years because of my horrid handwriting or my untidy work. What nobody understood (and I include the teachers, my parents and myself) how did it come about that I had the same amount of gold stars on the wall chart in class as the teacher’s pet, the top achievers and the best behaved. My profile was not skewed in any way though, whereas these children – who all gave me a pain in the proverbial to the extent that it is not describable in words – had a long rows of golden stars to the right of their names and nothing or very little to the left. I had exactly the same staggering amount of black dots to the left of my name as gold stars to the right.

Falling off the Diet Wagon

I am so disgusted with myself. I’ve been dieting for two weeks. Lost a lot of weight and centimetres during the first week, but nothing the second. I really stuck to the diet during the week, but the weekend I just went mad. All my hard work in vain. This morning I swam a kilometre in the gym pool (40x 25m laps) to try to compensate. Exactly the same happened to Lamb, my wife. She also lost a lot during the first week, but nothing the second. We went to her mum’s for the weekend and the old lady stuffed us with food, cakes and dessert.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Kindergarten 3

Another boy at kindergarten taught me a very useful skill. It was one that was difficult to master when surrounded by a great number of little tattle-tales. The skill was to pee in the sandpit with no one noticing. The skill was valuable for it allowed you not to waste play time by having to walk up to the main building of the crèche to avail yourself of the little facilities. The whole thing worked like this… First one had to dig a small but deep hole in the sand, packing the mouth of the hole tightly, so it won’t cave in. Then to lie down with your crotch directly above the hole. Then for a little while you have to pretend to build something in the sand with your hands in front of your face. Quickly and surreptuously you had to pull down the front of your pants just enough so that your willie would stick into the hole. While pretending yet again to build something in front of your face, you would pee in the hole. In a swift move the following had to happen virtually simultaneously. Pulling your pants back up, closing the hole and getting up, pretending you’ve had enough of the sandpit. During this time one could have walked to the toilets and back at least three times.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Kindergarten 2

There was a girl at kindergarten whom I made telling me how she plays pranks on her father over and over and over again. Not that she needed coaxing. When someone listens to you, hanging on every word you say, one does not need a lot of encouraging. My doubling up and shrieking with laughter was more than reward to her for telling the story. Her accounts was preposterous yet extremely creative and I suspected that she was lying. I convinced myself otherwise, for I wanted to believe. Spurred on by her success as master story teller, albeit for a one-man audience, her recounting of fictional events became more and more elaborate and absurd. Though se could entertain me endlessly, I never became friends with the girl.

Kindergarten 1

When I was small I went to a crèche / kindergarten close to where we lived. I have an exceptional long term memory – a common characteristic of people with ADD. My short term memory leaves much to be desired though, but later more about that. Back to kindergarten. This memory must be from when I was about 5 years old. There was of course just like now, others you liked, others you disliked and others you tolerated. There was one boy whom I quite liked, he was funny and friendly. The odd thing however was that I was fascinated by the way this boy looked when he cried. His eyes would open real wide, and this is the oddest thing, his mouth became a perfect square hole in is face. I could just look at this boy’s face forever when he cried. Imagine that. Other children’s mouths made an oval, or a circle or semi-circle when they cried, but this was the first square I’ve seen in my short life! What a dilemma! I did not know the term at the time, but I suffered cognitive dissonance concerning this boy. Though not my friend, he was so nice, and therefore it would be difficult for me to hurt him. Still I very much needed to see him cry. The fact that I could see it in my mind’s eye was just not enough. I felt very guilty about what I did then, but there was no other way. I had to incite other children to hurt this boy. It was not easy, for they knew they could get into trouble. I also had to do it in such a way that the boy would not know it was me who was behind all of this. But oh, the reward of my efforts was greater than the guilt I felt.