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Careful Where You Step!

Recording and reminiscing; with occasional bokdrols of wisdom.

Random, un-chronological memories after marriage, children and sundry other catastrophes.

– this swanepoel family –

My pre-marriage blog is Bachelorhood! Beer! River trips! Beer!

bokdrols – like pearls, but handle with care

Africa, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Food, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Mfolosi Day Trip

2019 Aug day trip

This trip was notable for the worst lunch ever: Jess usually makes a great lunch. Fresh rolls, mayonnaise, freshly-sliced tomatoes. This time she had plastic rolls, viennas – and chicken viennas at that – and tomato sauce. Ugh! She has undertaken to work with me in raising the standard.

Life, Uncategorized

Post Mortem

After vrek-ification

I hate the idea of using fossil fuel to pollute the air to cremate me. What a waste and how harmful! Our effing grandkids are going to shake their heads in amazement at how dumb-destructive we were.

Don’t want to be buried either – the embalming and other crap is very destructive and then there’s the waste of land.

My best would be for the old carcass to be placed kaalgat and willy-up in a wild, open, unoccupied place where flies, worms, vultures & hyenas could access it. But I guess that ain’t gonna happen easily.

Better-sounding options are Natural Burial where the ground above you is just returned to normal use; or Human Composting. Some good souls are trying to gain acceptance for more sane policies. Hope they can succeed.


NATURAL BURIAL – A return to simple ways, no embalming, no concrete, no artificial stuff. Bodies are wrapped in a bio-degradable shroud or placed in a biodegradable casket, the idea being that they will decompose naturally.

An all-natural cemetery opened in 1998 in the Ramsey Creek preserve in Westminster, South Carolina. Mark Harris, author of “Grave Matters: A Journey through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial” (Scribner, 2007) told LiveScience, there are at least fifty natural cemeteries in the USA, and “scores more” regular cemeteries with sections for natural graves.

“Most people, when they find out what happens in the embalming room, they’re pretty horrified,” said Harris, who blogs at “They can’t believe the cost, which is
outrageous, and then there is this growing concern about the environmental effects of all of these procedures and of all of the goods and resources devoted to this modern method.”

Many natural cemeteries double as nature preserves, and many people like the idea of contributing to the ecosystem after death. “You’re actually benefiting the environment,” he said. “You’re allowing the body to rejoin the cycle of life” – and you’re freeing up some natural land.


HUMAN COMPOSTING – or ‘Natural organic reduction,’ may become available some time. The technique accelerates the decomposition process, turning bodies into soil within 4 to 7 weeks. Its supporters say natural organic reduction has a smaller carbon footprint than cremation or burial. Recomposition uses about an eighth of the energy of cremation, and also has a significant carbon reduction thanks to carbon sequestration when you return your carbon to the ground.

Maybe a good idea right now would be to simply add to our last will: Please get rid of the old carcass in the least environmentally-destructive way available at present.


Stephen Reed wrote: Ja. Topical subject. I have been listening to radio talks about options for carcass disposal, doing away with embalming etc

A coffee and Bagel shop in Hobart is called ‘Bury Me Standing’ – which is a good space saving idea, huh?

Natural burials on donated farmland – each body would fertilise about an acre …

Our local hood has quite a large cemetery – part of an occasional walking route along the Brisbane river, and across the river from the university. We were just walking through there there a month or so back. A good place to visit if contemplating mortality is your thing. Also a good reminder that in times gone by you would more than likely be gone by 55 years old.


Me: This is encouraging. Hopefully we’ll move to parks instead of cemeteries. I’d much rather that wildlife is gamboling about, poo’ing on the ground above me, than people in black tip-toe’ing around on wasted land with pebble paths and concrete slabs with lies engraved in them.

If they’d Bury Me Standing with head n shoulders sticking above ground, you could balance a coffee cup on me nut. A donut on one shoulder. Might be a nice idea for outdoor coffee shop décor . .

My suggestion along the parkland lines would be to also have – at each lovely indigenous park – an app. You key in a name on your phone and it leads you to where Wally is buried; or you key in ‘random’ and it takes you on a walk telling you about Joe here, Sally here and so voorts, complete with a brief CV. Maybe you could even key in ‘criminal’ and it shows all the crims who chose this spot as their last pozzie. An additional carbon saving is Aunt Matilda wouldn’t have to fly in from Scotland to put flowers on your grave. She could zoom in and check you out online.

We could © and TM this virtual grave app as ‘The Last Thing You Need’ ©


Africa, Canoe & Kayak, Life

Time Shuffles On – Cataracts Tumble On

Looking at the 2016 Dusi results I see the first finisher who, if I bumped into him, would say ‘Howzit Swanie’ or ‘Howzit Pete’ came in 93rd !!

Getting old! Gone are the days when I knew most of the top ten!

Another observation – 13 of the top 20 had African surnames. Wonder how the anti-Affirmative-Action boys would explain that away? I would bet good money if they (we!) were asked beforehand ‘What sports are Africans likely to do well in if given a chance?’ few would have suggested Dusi paddling!

Also: The first lady finisher came in 30th! Shades of Frith vd Merwe in the Comrades! And in both those events we used to ban them from even participating – ‘to protect them’ – to protect ourselves from getting our arses whipped, it turns out!


Yesterday a past Dusi and Umko winner phoned me about his eyes. I asked him if he was planning to do anything stupid in March.

He is. He is about to do his 51st consecutive Umko canoe marathon, the most exciting of all the river marathons! The reason? He has done 50 but he has only finished 49. He broke his boat back in 1970 and didn’t finish that one.

Fukkit!! So he wants to do his 50th finish.

He said to me ‘You should do it too, you know’. I said no ways, I’m too slow. He said ‘We paddle quite slowly these days you know’ (he won the very first Umko back in 1966).

I said you don’t understand. My slow includes frequent stops, and a lot of resting on my paddle and checking the scenery. He understood that was slower even than him and other 70yr-olds.

He’s going off to have his intra-ocular lens implants laser-‘polished’. All the better to read the rapids. Those Umko Cataracts need clear Ocular Cataracts.

Africa, Life, Nostalgia

1966 and all that

I was reading about 1966 – when the Beatles got blasé and the British pop music invasion of the USA waned.

Yankee marketers stepped in:

Pop abhors a vacuum, and just as the originals (The Beatles) ‘disappeared’, a full-page ad in Billboard promoted a ‘different sounding new group with a live, infectious feeling demonstrated by a strong rock beat’. The Monkees, a four-man group, assembled after ‘research and development’, to star in a Hard Day’s Night-type TV series. The timing was perfect. Touted as ‘the spirit of 1966′, the four good-looking group members reproduced the elements of the Beatles’ unified 1964 camaraderie. It was a great record, but it also contained a clear message: if the Beatles weren’t around, they would be cloned by the industry, and the younger teens would hardly care: A typical comment: ‘I thought the show was great. It’s kinda like A Hard Day’s Night but it’s even better because it’s in color and we can see it every week.’ How very American.

I was appalled.

I scribbled to one of my many Rock Star wannabe friends:

The kak started earlier than we might think.

My first ontnugtering to ‘Re-Hality’ TV and ‘fake news’ -type shenanigans in my sheltered ignorance was in 1973 when I went to watch the Dallas Cowboys play in Dallas and found out that not all the players were Texans! In fact very few were Texans, they were bought and paid for from sommer anywhere. A year or two later there was even a Dallas Cowboy called Naas Botha!

Then I found out the amateur college football team we supported – OU – Oklahoma University – also had players from anywhere and they were anything but amateur! Everything was paid for under-the-table, and cash and cars were handed over left and right to these ‘amateurs’. A few honest journalists would actually call them ‘shamateurs’.

Then in South Africa, along came Louis Luyt who thought What A Good Idea! and he proceeded to cock up our rugby.

I had forgotten the story about the Monkees. They were a purely manufactured group, chosen for their looks and put together like a soap opera; Scripted. Nothing real, or spontaneous or natural about them. The Beatles had actually been real. They actually had started like other good bands, in a lounge in someone’s home in some obscure suburb. Like even the Gramadoelas in Tshwane.

Nowadays made-for-you-tube and made-for-social-media is the norm!

Peter Brauer wrote: The difference with the Gramadoelas group of Tshwane is that we were chosen for our undoubted, unrivalled talent and pin-up good looks. Insufficiently rewarded for years of the hard slog that us musos have to go through before hitting the big time . .

Me: A breakdown is probably imminent. I mean breakthrough. Hang in there,

What you need is a gimmick. Can any of you grow your hair? I thought not. Can the chick wear outfits like Cher? Maybe include a lot of vloekwoorde in your act like Die Antwoord? When last did you smash your equipment?

Have you strangled a rooster on stage?

Think. There must be something you can do.

Brauer: Where would biting a chunk out of a toilet seat rank in babe magnetism?

Me: I must say that is quite bad-ass. How do you keep repeating it on stage, though? You ous missed your chance to drown in your own vomit at age 27 like real rockers.

Brauer: A nightly dose of tequila and repetition on stage is a cinch . .

Me: Ja, but I’m worried you’d run out of teeth to send scattering across the stage after a while. So the impact wouldn’t be as dramatic.


Our thread ended threadbare, we didn’t solve the pressing issue at hand, of the day: How can a Tshwane Rock Group achieve fym? ‘Course, Brauer could always fall back on the real talent in the family and provide backup to his talented vrou:

– the Warbling Brauers belt out a rude song full of untruths . . . –

Most of What You Read on the Internet is Written by Insane People

Interesting observation by reddit user DinoInNameOnly – a computer science student.

So I wrote: Read this interesting observation – NB: By ‘insane’ this writer means ‘NOT NORMAL’ – and I must agree with him – AND I think that’s fine! (my comments in bold)

97-99% of users rarely contribute to the discussion, they just passively consume the content generated by the other 1-3%. This is a pretty consistent trend in Internet communities and is known as the [1% rule]

Take wikipedia:

More than 99% of users are lurkers. Or just users. Only 68,000 people are active contributors, which is 0.2% of the 32 million unique visitors wikipedia has in the U.S. alone.

As an occasional contributor to wikipedia I say that’s OK, those people are adding their bit. If they’re adding bias (and of course they are) that’s what the links are for, plus any additional research you want to do. To diss wikipedia is wrong; It’s a fantastically useful site; And, of course, to totally accept every wikipedia entry as the sum of knowledge is also wrong. Do your homework; Check the links; They are the ‘evidence’ you base your decision on. They will vary. They will contradict each other. Read  more than one. Decide.

One of Wikipedia’s power users, Justin Knapp, had been submitting an average of 385 edits per day since signing up in 2005. Assuming he doesn’t sleep or eat or do anything else, that’s still one edit every four minutes. He hasn’t slowed down either; he hit his one millionth edit after seven years of editing and is nearing his two millionth now at 13 years. This man has been editing a Wikipedia article every four minutes for 13 years. He is ‘insane,’ and he has had a huge impact on what you and I read every day when we need more information about literally anything. My theory: He’s a bright, focused savant / prodigy / OCD nerd.

Amazon book reviews:

One book reviewer, Grady Harp, has written 20 800 reviews since 2011. That’s just under 3,000 reviews per year, which comes out to around eight per day. This man has written an average of eight book reviews on Amazon per day every day for seven years. I thought it might be some bot account writing fake reviews in exchange for money, but if it is then it’s a really good bot because Grady Harp is a real person whose job matches that account’s description. And my skimming of some reviews looked like they were all relevant to the book, and he has the “verified purchase” tag on all of them, which also means he’s probably actually reading them.

The only explanation for this behavior is that he is ‘insane.’ I mean, ‘normal’ people don’t do that. We read maybe twenty books a year, tops, and we probably don’t write reviews on Amazon for all of them.

So – 
If you read reviews on Amazon, you’re mostly reading reviews written by people like Grady Harp;
If you read Wikipedia, you’re mostly reading articles written by people like Justin Knapp.
If you consume any content on the Internet, you’re mostly consuming content created by people who for some reason spend most of their time and energy creating content on the Internet. And those people clearly differ from the general population in important ways.

– as always, xkcd nails it –

I don’t really know what to do with this observation except to note that it seems like it’s worth keeping in mind when using the Internet.

Note: The word “insane” is intended as tongue-in-cheek and I did not mean to imply that any of them literally have diagnosable mental illnesses. I have a lot of respect for all of the individuals I listed and they seem like nice people, I was just trying to make a point about how unusual their behavior is.

If you think about it: Pre-internet, if you wanted to know about Mars or Alpha Centauri you would have asked a cosmologist – hardly a ‘normal’ person; a person ‘insanely’ interested in what you happen to be asking about. I think that’s OK.

Myself, I’ve written about 900 blog posts over 13 years. That’s three posts every two weeks. That’s a sane rate, see. Perfectly sane.

And if you ous didn’t do crazy things I’d have less to write about, so it’s not me.


Jon Taylor replied: That’s way above the average sane lurkers output, so I would say border line insanity in your case and in need of close surveillance . 👁👁

Africa, Books, Canoe & Kayak, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Explorers 13. Chapman

James Chapman (1831-1872) – our first South African-born explorer, hunter, trader and photographer. Enough Swedes, Scots and Frogs, here’s a homeboy! Again, if you want really accurate history, you’ve stumbled on the wrong place – but check the sources!

A son of James Chapman and Elizabeth Greeff of Malmesbury, he was educated in Cape Town and left for Durban when 14 years old. He was appointed as chief clerk in the Native Affairs Department in 1848. Liewe blksem, Native Affairs even then! 124 years later when I matriculated you could still work for the Native Affairs Dept! We’re lucky the ANC didn’t institute a Dept of Umlungu Affairs in 1994.

A year later he settled in Potchefstroom, where he became one of the first storekeepers. Shortly after, in 1852, he ventured across the mighty Limpopo River and into Bamangwato country, where one of the sons of the Bamangwato chief guided him to the (truly mighty) Chobe River. Early the following year they took him to the Zambezi River to within 70 miles of the Big Falls – the one with the Smoke that Thunders. He would have beaten David Livingstone to their discovery. But closies don’t count. He turned back.

By 1854 he had teamed up with Samuel H. Edwards and launched an expedition to Lake Ngami (we once paddled into Ngami), after which he trekked through the territory between Northern Bechuanaland and the Zambesi. An easygoing man, he was able to get on with the Bushman / San hunters of the semi-desert interior and spent long periods in their company, obtaining valuable help from them. Like I always say, our ‘intrepid explorers’ were actually just tourists being shown around by local guides! Returning to Ngami, he traveled north to the Okavango River, crossing Damaraland and reaching Walvis Bay. Here he busied himself with cattle-trading in Damaraland, before setting out on a long expedition with his brother Henry and Thomas Baines. He traveled from December 1860 to September 1864. Now THAT’S an expedition-length trip!

Their aim was to explore the Zambesi from the Victoria Falls down to its delta, with a view to testing its navigability. However, these plans were bedeviled by sickness and misfortune. They did reach the Zambesi, but did not get to explore the mouth. On 23 July 1862 they reached the Falls – Mosi oa Tunya. Yes, Mosi-oa-Tunya, not another English queen’s name! Hell, even Harrismith OFS had a ‘Lake Victoria’ – gimme a break!

Chapman’s attempt at exploring the Zambesi ruined his health and exhausted his finances. He returned to Cape Town in 1864, dispirited and fever-stricken. The expedition was notable since it was the first time that a stereoscopic camera had been used to record its progress. Chapman’s photos did not come out well though, even according to Chapman himself. The negatives were of a rather poor quality, and when they reached the famous waterfall he failed to get any photos at all. This reminded me of one Jonathan Taylor, a more recent ‘photographic explorer’ and his failure to capture a key moment on an expedition.

Chapman describes the Falls: ‘. . . immediately before you, a large body of water, stealing at first with rapid and snake-like undulations over the hard and slippery rock, at length leaping at an angle of thirty degrees, then forty-five degrees, for more than one hundred yards, and then, with the impetus its rapid descent has given it, bounding bodily fifteen or twenty feet clear of the rock, and falling with thundering report into the dark and boiling chasm beneath, seeming, by it’s velocity, so to entrance the nervous spectator that he fancies himself being involuntarily drawn into the stream, and by some invisible spell tempted to fling himself headlong into it and join in its gambols;Wow! and Bliksem! ‘ . . but anon he recovers himself with a nervous start and draws back a pace or two, gazing in awe and wonder upon the stream as it goes leaping wildly and with delirious bound over huge rocks. It is a scene of wild sublimity.’

As they clambered about the Falls on the wet cliff edges, Chapman wrote: ‘It was necessary to proceed farther to obtain a more extended view. One look for me is enough, but my nerves are sorely tired by Baines, who finding everywhere new beauties for his pencil, must needs drags me along to the very edge, he gazing with delight, I with terror, down into the lowest depths of the chasm.’

Baines painted, his brush and easel working where Chapman’s camera didn’t:

Sir George Grey had commissioned Chapman to capture live animals and to compile glossaries of the Bantu languages. He kept diaries throughout his journeys, but his Travels in the Interior of South Africa appeared only in 1868, shortly before his death. Chapman also traveled at times with Charles Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton and Swede CJ Andersson.

He tried farming on the banks of the Swakop river around 1864, but he says the Nama-Ovaherero War interfered with that venture – a timeline says a treaty was signed in 1870 between the Nama and the Herero after a prolonged period of war between the two communities. He then lived at various places in South Africa, later returned as a trader and hunter to old South West Africa after that treaty, then died at Du Toit’s Pan near Kimberley in 1872, aged 40 years.


wikipedia; tothevictoriafalls; christies to buy expensive paintings; namibia timeline;

Some of Chapman’s photographs are apparently at the Africana Museum in Johannesburg, but so far I haven’t found any.

Africa, Life

Urban Rescue

Walking to Home Affairs in Umgeni Road I spotted a tree in amongst all the urban blight and litter and ‘! keep out !’ fencing.

That’s beautiful, I thought. It’s doing its very best! I’d love to have a tree like that in a natural space. I had to get a better picture:

Then I did some rescue, removing cars and things that were crowding the poor tree. Giving it a touch of a virtual breather. If I had better graphic editing skills I’d rescue it completely and place it in a wide open veld under a blue sky!