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Thursday, 28 February 2013

A little humor.

The ascent of man.

Click to enlarge.

Poor Darwin would spin in his grave.

You can see the likeness clearly.

A sign at a municipal swimming pool in South Africa. I kid you not.

How we paint the road markings here. Move the branch? Heaven forbid.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Africa's real "Heart of darkness." (Part one)

At university, (a Calvinist Afrikaans university) our very liberal English literature lecturers would go to great lengths to point out that in Joseph Conrad's novel "Heart of darkness,"  he was actually writing about the white mans "Heart of darkness", not Africa's. (Africa, according to them, was as pure as the driven snow before the white man got here). Conrad's character, Kurts'  heart, could have gone bad anywhere , but Africa was the perfect place to make it really rotten. Conrad spent enough time in the darkest spot on the continent, to know this.

Below is a photo of a photo of Africa's real heart of darkness. I would not go near one of these people, not for all the riches in the world. Thus the photo of a photo.

Photo of a Sangoma/witch doctor/shaman. (Throwing the bones to divine the future). 
Death and dirt surrounds these people. You don't voluntary decide to become a sangoma, the ancestors "call" you, refuse and the chances are pretty good that you will die.

Africa's indigenous religion is ancestor worship, and the sangoma is the channel through which you contact the ancestral spirits. The whole of Africa, south of the Sahara, is locked into this dark, fatalistic, and extremely negative power. 

According to this "religion" there is not much you can do to influence the direction of your life, it's all in the hands of the "ancestors" and they are an extremely capricious, vindictive, and unreliable lot. What will be, will be. The result an extreme kind of fatalism that beats the Muslim's Inshalla" hands down. When you die and become an ancestor you can then get your own back on your decendents.

More than 70% of South Africa's population claim to be Christian, (yet every second person is wearing a piece of rawhide around the wrist from the last sacrifice to the ancestors), but in Africa Christianity is never more than skin deep. If 70% of our population were really Christian, or even just nominally Christian, we would be living in a Paradise on Earth, not one of the most crime ridden and most violent countries on the planet. Two hundred plus years of missionary activity have not had much impact. 

When a Black African really converts to Christianity he becomes an outcast in his society, unless he compromises and continues to serve the ancestors, on the side as it were.  

This is a huge subject so I'll be devoting several posts to it.


Another good post from: Not another Episcopal Church Blog.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Taking stock and giving thanks.

One of my failures is that I tend to take things for granted, especially all the blessings that have showered down on me, especially in the later years of my life. My work and my work environment are two of those blessings.

 Last Tuesday while I had one of the grade four classes for their weekly library period, (08:40 to 09:40). (I get to work at about 6:50, but I only start working at 08:40, school starts at 07:30)  I was walking among them checking their work, when I happened to look out of one of the southern windows. Suddenly it struck me what a beautiful day it was, with just a touch of autumn freshness in the clear air. Then I realized how blessed I was to be able to look out of a window at my place of work and see what I see.

Not factories, no high-rise building, or so called office-parks, no parking lots, (we do have a small parking lot in front of the school and one at the back), no highways or (un)freeways, just trees, green grass, and mountains and hills all around! That's when I took out my cell phone and started taking pictures. 

Click to enlarge.

The first photo I took was looking south, south - east, Looking over our  netball fields right in front and the rugby fields further on, and trees. Every year, on Arbor day we plant at least four trees and this been happening for more than 50 years. 

Then I walked over to the northern widows and took a photo looking west-north-west. Below left is our pre-primary school, ages four to five. Further out is our hallowed cricket field, (shades of British Imperialism, we bless them for the cricket, rugby, and the English language, (in that order)) (Myself, I put English first, I'm not a great sports fan). To the right out of view is our swimming pool and tennis courts. 

Looking north-north-east across the school to the "suburb" of Drakensview, better known as snob hill.

West-south-west with the Drakensberg peaks of Giants Castle on the horizon. Right below is the pre-primary's play ground. 

And for a bibliophile like myself, the inside is as close to heaven on earth as one can get.

In this photo most of the learners have finished their assigned task and are reading. The boy with the glasses, on the right, asked me why I'm taking their photo, so I replied, "to put your photo on TV's "Police file", "wanted for bank robbery." Quick as a flash he replied, "I rob jewellery stores, they're much easier."

To say that  "I earn my bread by the sweat of my brow," would be an exaggeration. I work hard, but it is not onerous work. During the year I access, classify, catalogue and prepare +- 2,000 books, I issue and re-pack about 15,000 returned books on the shelves, that's why I arrive at 6:50, and leave at 15:15. Time driving to work? About 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the "traffic".

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Reekielyn re-visited.

Quote: "Trout are never caught in ugly places."

Last Sunday I set off for a spot of trout fishing at one of my favourite fishing spots, the Mooi River on the farm Reekielyn. I knew the water levels would be high due to all the rain we have had, but I was unprepared for just how high. All the normal pools and runs were unfishable, though I did try. 

Click to enlarge.

The Mooi River flowing in from the west, on the left you can see where the Reekielyn stream joins the main stream. A large weighted streamer could have worked here if one was fishing with at least a 5 weight rod.

The Reekielyn stream, this stream was also flowing very strongly.

A Cape cormorant, I hope he had better luck than I had.

The four hours I spent there weren't wasted though as I was able to take a lot of photos. There were acres of these wild flowers, (wild gladiolus ?).

Dew bespangled trap door spiders web.

The Reekielyn falls flowing strongly.

The falls from stream level.

An oxbow lake on the southern bank of the river.

Wild flower, (grass orchid?) on the bank of the oxbow lake. I need to get a book on Natal wild flowers.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Evening walk.

Sunday evening I was able to take my dogs for a walk along one of the dryer tracks on the farm, only one or two small puddles so they could not get too dirty. Although rain was predicted it held off till much later when we had a very light shower. This afternoon it was a different matter and between 4pm and 4:30 the rain came bucketing down. 

This is mainly a crop farm with only a few head of beef cattle. 

Cosmos, the first sign of autumn.

The mountains on the horizon are 50 or 60 kilometres away, this part is known as the Northern Berg, (Drakensberg)

West, north-west.

Looking North, north-west. The centre-pivot irrigation that stretches across all three these photos, is more than 300 meters long. The whole system can be moved to a different pivot point so other fields can be irrigated. There are two other smaller centre-pivots on the farm.  The maize in the foreground is intended for silage and will be sold to a neighbouring dairy farm.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Rain, rain and more rain.

In my 65 years I don't think I have ever experienced such a wet summer as this one. Hardly a day passes without rain, usually torrential. Last week Thursday we had a storm that ripped through the district with winds that uprooted huge trees and dumped 65mm of rain, (almost 3 inches) in about 40 minutes. Yesterday afternoon we had a torrential downpour that started at about 4:30 and only stopped 6 hours later. At the moment 5pm, thunder is rumbling in the distance.

For weeks now I've been unable to take my dogs for their daily walk. For me it's no problem put on my water proof boots and plod through the mud. My dogs though, get covered in mud. If Tombi sees a mud puddle she literally wallows in it like a pig as does Lady, they just love it. Sissie is not much better, only Bruno steps fastidiously around the mud. Back home I have to try and clean them up before I can let them in the house.

On Sunday afternoon I did take them for a walk and they did get covered in mud, Tombi promptly lay down in the first mud puddle we came across. We walked down to the largest of the farm ponds and the dogs just charged into the water. All the swimming washed the mud off and on the way home I made sure they kept out of the mud by walking through the soya bean fields. Hardly home and the heavens opened again.

While at the pond I managed to take a few photos.

A Red-knobbed Coot chick. This little baby is hardly bigger than my thumb. 

One of the parents keeping an eye on junior, just of picture to the left.

Three juvenile Egyptian geese with their proud mom upper left of the photo. When I got here last October these guys were just balls of fluff, now they are ready to face the world.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Medical Aid Schemes.

In my previous post I mentioned Medical Aid Funds, Pumice from asked me to explain the system. Medical Aid Schemes started, I would imagine, around the first half of the 20th century here in South Africa. (I must point out that I'm not an expert at Medical Aid schemes, so some of my info might not be 100% correct, but I think I've covered the basics).

When I started working for the Post Office, in 1965, I joined the Post Office Medical Aid. This scheme was started and administered by Post Office staff. I think other Government Departments had similar schemes in place. Till recently my medical aid was called Telemed, (an offshoot of the old PO Medical Aid Scheme) now defunct and taken over by a private insurance company. My Medical Aid cover, which is very comprehensive, costs about R5000 per month for two people, about $600 US. Fortunately this is considered part of my pension so it cost me nothing. All Government employees who retire with more than 15 years service, are covered by Medical Aid. If I was still working for the Post Office they would be paying half of the R5000.

Apart  from GEMS, (Government Employees Medical Scheme) I would imagine that most Medical Aids are now run as profit making businesses. The company you work for usually approaches one of these Medical Aid Schemes and asks them to cover their workers. Schemes have several options, from the most basic cover, to very extensive. The employee chooses one and signs up. Employers often cover part of the cost, usually Rand for Rand, in the US it would be $ for $. Payments for Medical Aid cover is tax deductible, not 100%, but a very large portion.

The Medical Aid council determines how much will be paid for each medical procedure, consultation, etc. Doctors can opt in to these fees or opt out. If you should visit a Dr that has opted out of the system you have to pay him direct and claim from your Medical Aid afterwards. Doctors that have opted in claim directly from your medical aid. Prescription medication is also covered, as is X rays, etc.

Also available are reasonably priced Gap covers, which covers any shortfall if you were hospitalised or had an operation. There are other "insurances" such as Dread disease cover, for cancer and other chronic illnesses, these are not very expensive. This kind of insurance does not cover existing illnesses you might have. You need to have the insurance before you get cancer, or diabetes, etc.

Medical Aid Schemes are governed by very strict laws, and to stay in business have to prove that they have enough funds to cover any medical claims.

Our government is also talking about setting up a "National Health" system, where every one will be guaranteed minimum health services. I think the emphasis will be on the minimum. Fortunately most time estimates point to this coming about in about 2037. By then I should have gone to my just reward.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Apple cider vinegar cure/remedy.

I've been meaning to write a post about the Apple cider vinegar cure/remedy for a long while now, especially as it has been so beneficial to my health and general well being.

Disclaimer: This does not work for every one and is not a replacement for normal medication. I'm not a doctor or an expert on alternative medicine and can only write about the effect apple cider vinegar has had on my health. Remember only apple cider vinegar, not any other vinegar's.

The apple cider vinegar cure/remedy goes back centuries and has been used for the treatment of various ailments and health problems.

Since my early twenties I have suffered from allergies, hay fever, sinus problems, upper airway infections and asthma. Come winter and I would be certain to spend several weeks in bed with bronchitis, flu, and all sorts of other problems. This led to the prescription of mega doses of antibiotic's and other medication. The antibiotics would have other side effects such as fungal infections in my throat, sinus, and even my lungs, which would then need other treatment. Chronic illness was just part of life for me.

Long before the end of each year I would have depleted my medical aid funds and have to pay for treatment and medication out of my own pocket.

About three years ago a lady in our church said to me, "Your body's pH is out, you are too acidic, that's why you are so prone to infections allergies, etc." 

Well she was absolutely right about the pH. I had, had a blood test a few years before to check my body acidity as I was starting to get gout in my hips. The doctors comment when he saw the results were that my blood  was more like battery acid than normal blood. (He was only half kidding). 

When I asked the lady, "Well what can I do about it?" she said, "Take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water first thing every morning and you body pH will become more alkaline."

Vinegar is acid, so how can this be? Well it works and for three years now I've been religiously  drinking two table spoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water, every morning, (see photo above) before I do anything else. (If it feels as if I'm getting a cold or flu I take it up to three times a day). 

In the past three years I've been off sick for less than five days, doctors visits virtually nil, antibiotics, nil, and I haven't felt this well for more than forty years. For thirty plus years, I had absolutely no sense of smell due to excessively inflamed sinuses, I now spend a lot of time enjoying the smell of things like coffee or flowers. If I do get a cold or a bit of flu my body's own immune system kicks in and sorts out the problem within a few days. Gout? What gout? Only if I forget to take my daily dose of apple cider vinegar.

For years I suffered with haemorrhoid's, plain old piles. It's something that only fellow sufferers can understand, (your anus becomes the center of your universe). Now all gone as if they never were.

Some people claim that apple cider vinegar has lowered their cholesterol and high blood pressure. Others say that if your body's pH is alkaline your chances of getting cancer is also reduced. I don't know if any scientific studies have been done regarding these benefits.

I use the cheapest brand of apple cider vinegar on the market, about R9 or 1$ US. The health food shelf in our local super market has one that is three of four times more expensive, but I doubt it works any better. Avoid health food capsules that claim to contain apple cider vinegar. Tests by the FDA in the US has shown that they have very little or none at all.

If you decide to try this cure/remedy start with a smaller dose and increase slowly. I hope it has the same beneficial effect as it has had for me. Make sure to rinse your mouth out properly, acid is bad for your teeth. I have my first cup  of coffee right after.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Men and women: All you need to know.

Say's it all I think. Though I'm the exception that proves the rule as far as men go. I'm modest to.