Cars n Aeroplanes

January 2010:

Have you checked my white horse? Well, white VW kombi – WHICH . . was towed into the garage while on holiday two days before new year. Today I towed it again – to a clutch place. I’ve been driving Trish’s ole man’s 1980 Opel Kadett. He handed me the keys, his vision is shot. Glaucoma and deciding not to use the drops for years as they irritated his eyes and blurred his vision. He was right, xalatan is a bitch. But . .

I await the verdict on the kombi’s clutch – which I hope is better than VW’s R17 290.

I KNEW I shoulda fitted a Stromberg.

Peter Brauer wrote:

How thick can ONE man be?

Read what you wrote: ‘Been driving Trish’s ole man’s 1980 Opel Kadett.’

Do you not see the message in that? Let me help you: 1980……Opel . .

Give the kombi to the clutchplate and buy a fucking Opel. Of ALL people I thought you would have learned something as a student.

I wrote:

Problem is – no matter how hard I try – I don’t get the 1980 feeling driving it. I just remember Kevin Stanley-Clarke’s firm statement, as he drove us around Doories in his chocolate brown Alfa: “When driving, always watch out for old toppies wearing hats. Give them a wide berth.” My current cap says DAS Pilsener.

Also, clicking in the gearlock, fitting the steering lock, feeling the ceiling fabric fluttering on my bald head as I drive with all windows open – the aircon substitute. Then waiting for the misfiring to end after switching off – it all brings back TOO MANY memories.

PS: New crutch and “dual flywheel” (TF is that?): R9 900.

Steve Reed wrote:

Like I said: Buy a Toyota.

I wrote:

The WORST thing is, you’re right. As my Toyota patients never tire of telling me. With the Durban Toyota plant just down the road I see a fair number of them and their suppliers; and they have NO doubt as to what I should do. Trouble is: The Hi-Ace minibus has a bench seat – I can’t stroll back for a beer or a kip or to feed the kids. That’s a deal-breaker.

Steve wrote:

I never owned a Toyota in my life, despised them in fact, till arriving here in Australia and had to take the cheapest / most reliable / least offensive on the tweedie handsey (second hand) market.

Try standing on hot used car lots in the Brisbane heat !!!  Water boarding is a kinder form of torture.

Eventually when my head and body was about to be fully done in, I gave way and said “OK OK  I’ll take it”  and by some luck I was standing on the Toyota forecourt at the time.

VERY pleased I was not standing next to a Kia or a Holden Captiva.

As for the clutch, anything that can take six months of the good wife Wendy’s clutch abuse and still be on the road is ok for me. And I am brave enough to say this in front of herThen duck.

I wrote:

It’s a sad state of affairs that I will take anything that doesn’t give me kak in the line of cars and women nowadays.

Which reminds me:
Bob Ilsley was at Addington when I got there in my khaki uniform. He was in legs, I was in eyes. He made woorren legs for the hobbling. He’s turned 81 now, still flies the plane* he made in his garage – a Piper Vagabond – and waltzes around in rude T-shirts. One says, ‘IF ITS GOT TITS OR WHEELS IT
WILL GIVE YOU SHIT.

I’ve made glasses for him since 1980: Glass PGX execs; 3 cyl power, same axis; SAME heavy, dark Safilo zyl frame (same frame, not same type of frame), same add, same same; Tried changing a number of times to new frame, multi, CR39, flattops, different axis, whatever, and every single time we go back to EXACTLY what he had before.

Last year we tricked him. We made a free pair of CR39 flattops (‘temporary’ we told him) in a better frame (still zyl, but thinner) and made him wear them while we took his old specs and “searched for a frame just like his perfect one”. The search continued while his wife, all his girlfriends and mates told him he looked much better. Now he has stuck to them (except every now and then he walks in with his old ones on and kicks up a huge stink in the front office when its crowded about how “These bloody new frames you gave me are NO GOOD!”).
He’s a character. Sharp as  a whistle. He flies and signs off home-built planes – experimental aircraft – before they can be licensed.

* or would still be flying his Piper Vagabond tail-dragger if he hadn’t pranged it on take-off in PMB with his wife on board. He is re-building it in his garage now.

Bob’s Vagabond in his garage, being rebuilt after the PMB prang – never did fly again.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Anyway, owning a Toyota probly makes you more boring in the long run: You, for instance, would not have to catch a lift with friend Bruce to fetch your car in Umbilo Road (and the clutch feels kak, thank you).

We made a detour for lunch – a currie at Gounden’s. Gounden’s is at the back end of a panelbeating shop between Umbilo and Sydney roads. You walk thru the workshop to get to it. Lekker bare place, cheap tables with a big bar doing good trade. Many ous there for liquid lunch. We took quarter bunny mutton, made my hyes water.
Washed it down with Black Label and coke – one bottle, one can, long sips from one then the other. R80 for the both of us. Service: Of the Hey You variety. Ambience: Faint sounds of panel beating in the background.
Gounden opened this “restaurant” to spite his wife when they divorced. Her restaurant is a few shopfronts away, on the street: Govender’s Curry House. We feel in such cases of matrimonial argy bargy, we should support the husband.

~~~oo0oo~~~
My good wife Aitch also should be employed on a test track for concept offroad trucks along with Wendy. A mate from England visited and Aitch drove them around quite a bit while I worked to make money to take them all to Mkhuze. He drives ancient Peugeot heaps and lovingly tends them with kid gloves, keeping them alive long past their date de vente (sell-by date), so this was an eye opener to him. He said a Cockney version of Yussiss! and described how she takes no shit from a gear lever, nor a clutch. She knows first is somewhere up in that far left corner and she shoves the lever there without any how’s-your-father.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Bob is now 82. Last week he came in with his “Recycled Teenager” T-shirt. To proudly collect his – wait for it – Glass PGX Exec Bifocals in Thick Square Plastic Frame.
“Much better” he says.
His CR39 flattops were coated with a thick layer of some spray. Took lots of cleaning with acetone to get them clear and smooth. He did acknowledge they were clearer than they’d been in months. But the execs were better.

Today he’s back from passing his flying medical.
“Told you” he says.
“You wouldn’t lissen” he says.

Today he’s off to Kokstand to check if a home-built – built by the local hardware man – is safe to fly another year. He’ll certify it if all’s well.

Next week he’s on his way to Oshkosh in Wisconsin to the world’s biggest home-built aircraft show. Sleeps in a pup tent in the campground to save tom.

Last time he flew a simulator of the Wright Brothers’ first aircraft. Crashed after 3 seconds. Went to the back of the queue and stood in line again to have another go.
Flew it for 44 secs that time. Longer than the brothers themselves.

Steve wrote:

Amazin. Where do you get PGX glass execs from? That stuff is illegal here – we live in a nanny state though. Had a dude on the phone for 20 minutes wanting glass PGX trifocals.  Banging on about how he could buy PGX exec TRIfocals on the net if only he could get someone to fit them for him. Had not given up and had been trying for 18 months. PLUS of course being a veteran he needed to have them free. Veterans Assistance (V.A) here only does SV or bifocals, plastic only and a free pair every two years. Clear rules. He has been in battle with the head office of V.A. and after 18 months says he is beginning to make progress.  Fantastic. Over here if you whinge long enough, know how to use email, have time, and use the term “human rights” you can have anything. Just shout loud enough. Its all yours. And then the taxes go up.

I wrote:
Your veteran sounds like Bob.

On the execs, I got a definite NO WAY from Zeiss, Essilor and Hoya, but of course in Debbin there are lots of little one-man labs with family connections in places that keep Morris Oxfords running for half-centuries after their sell-by dates.

They woke up Hoya who then found a pair covered in dust. The add was +1,75 not +2,00, but I said “What’s the difference?” and we made them up. Bob’s as pleased as punch, like I told you. He loves a good “I told you so”.

Steve wrote:

Like Horseshoes and Handgrenades, closies DO count.  Excellent.

~~~oo0oo~~~

A Gardener’s Wisdom

Bruce sent this:
always mow the lawn after 3pm.
Then the dog turds are dry !!

….

Me:
Hosed myself!! Just picked up some steaming ones this mornin’
Strategically placed by Sambucca the black labrador where I’m most likely to step in them.

I just KNOW she’s thinking “Ooh! UGHHHH! There! He can’t miss that one”.

….

Jon Taylor wrote:

Very thoughtful dog u have. But time to delegate the task.

….

Me again:

A few years ago I offered Tobias R10 a day to do it Mon, Wed & Thursday. I figured it wasn’t part of his JD, so when I asked him I added a carrot. He said “Sure!” He’s no fool.

I offered my kids R5 a day to do it on the other four days. I got, “NO WAY” “Yecch!” “She’s not my dog, Dad!”
….

‘A gardener’s wisdom’ reminds me of my Clarens mate Steve Reed’s quiet wisdom.

On windless days he’s apt to murmur:

“Not a leaf stirred;

  Not a dog stirred.” 

(needs to be said out loud)

~~~oo0oo~~~

Roomerazzit dogs face north while crapping. Useful to know. Lost your compass? GPS battery flat? Find a dog doing his business: He’s facing North

So maybe that’s why they step around and fuss around before finally ‘assuming the position?’ They’re aligning themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field. Aaah!

~~~oo0oo~~~

On Having Dof Friends

It’s a real challenge. This having to navigate the world surrounded by dof friends.

I wrote to my ‘friends’ – it might have been early one morning; they might not have been fully awake: -original message-
Subject: Where’s that?
From: Pete <pete@sheila.co.za>
Date: 06/06/2011

I was embarrassed that I had never heard of Sanya, a city that looked bigger than Durban, with huge bridges, high buildings, man-made islands and world-class resorts. It’s China’s southern-most city. Well, today I tested Midi Yan’s eyes and he and his brother had never heard of Sanya either! OK, they are from Tianjin in the North, which is thousands of km’s away, but it made me feel a little better that they also hadn’t heard of this city in their own country.

Bruce – after reading with one eye? – wrote: Pete I`ve been there with you IN A BOAT – Legend of the Sea = tHERE AFTER THE BOAT DOCKED IN VIETNAM AT HA LONG BAY WHERE WE WENT ASHORE AND DRANK BEER

Janet wrote: So, Pete, it’s just the memory that’s going…

Rita wrote: That too!

I tried to straighten them up: Don’t be dof, people, I was embarrassed THEN that I had never heard of it. When the “Chinas” came to visit me last week I told them I’d been there and THEY had never heard of it. THEY said ‘Where’s That?’ So I didn’t feel so bad about not having heard about Sanya BEFORE I went there. Get wif ve program.

Rita persisted: Well clearly, you were not clear.

Steve backed her: ‘Fraid thats the way I saw it too. Sharpen up Koos.  

Janet made things worse: Hair today gone tomorrow????

**** SIGH ****

confession: I may have tidied the language of my posts ever so slightly to make my point clearer here . . . in order to emphasise their dofness, see . .

Speaking of Bullshit . .

This is American football. At Super Bowl time. And Keith Knight of The K Chronicles gets it. It could just as well be soccer, rugby, olympics or any of the scams that ‘professional sport’ is these days . . and has been for a long time.

My additional South African punchline would be “The fact that these sports get funding from our Lotto as “charities”: PRICELESS!!

Steve Reed wrote drily: Now hang on Koos. (Sure its a $10 000 ticket, but) I heard today that under your seat you will find a goodie bag. This contains earmuffs, hand warmer, a radio, Chapstick, mittens, tissues and a bandana! Definitely worth it.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Our friend Louis used to say ‘Dis My Gat Se Deksel’ which means ‘This Is My Arsehole’s Lid’ meaning ‘This Takes the Cake’ or – ‘This Beats Me’ or – ‘How the Hell Do You Explain That?’ or – ‘What a Scam!’

Design Excellence

We were talking bathrooms and cupboards and renovation projects. My friends are carpenters, like that Galilean ou, so they were vying for the gold medal.

There was Steve in Brisbane:

and Brauer in Tshwane:

If I was to enter the fray, I needed to lay down some groundrules if I was to stand a chance in this fiercely competitive minefield that looked vrot with danger.

So:

I tip-toed in:

Subject: Architectural and Conceptual brilliance – The Solution

When critiquing my design, please be fair and take time and motion and cost implications into account. I will admit to one advantage over you poor souls: blissful bachelorhood.

I give you: My Bathroom Cupboard:

True, it’s actually in my bedroom, but wait! This neat innovation leaves the mountain bike undisturbed, and the bathroom cupboard ‘nook’ still with endless potential:

Great interest was shown by the judges . .

Terry Brauer: mmm . . – perhaps you . . .

(a) need to go shopping – a little sparse on the blue shirt thing; (b) there may be a light problem here unless you are saving on blinds to keep out the glare; (c) Yip no potential female species will fall for this design I fear !

~~~oo0oo~~~

I had to defend myself . .

Me: I don’t understand! I have a blue shirt for Monday, a blue shirt for Tuesday, a blue shirt for Wed, Thurs and Fri; and a darker blue shirt for Saturdays. What “shopping”?

~~~oo0oo~~~

Brauer: Amazing how one misses the wood for the trees, but I was in awe of your metrosexual side that had put up new blue curtains for the retro dressing room (although I was suspicious that it was a ploy to dodge having to do some manly woodwork) . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

Steve Reed: I think for modesty sake you could consider hanging the shirts  at a lower level  to cover your nether regions and minimise offending the neighbours and the kids’ friends but otherwise … brilliant. 

~~~oo0oo~~~

Terry B: Very insightful Steve (she obviously means the part where he said ‘brilliant’ . . )

~~~oo0oo~~~

Brauer: Insightful or unsightly?? (a biased judge obviously ignoring that ‘brilliant’ comment)

~~~oo0oo~~~

Me: Insightful. Even Mrs Suboohi Choudry next door would agree.

She can’t see into my bedroom at all, even though her driveway is only 2m from it. I mean it’s a JUNGLE out there. Her driveway is also about 2m lower. She would need a machete and a stepladder, and she doesn’t have a ladder, she borrowed mine to paint their house.

~~~oo0oo~~~

I think all this intense interest and back-and-forth means I won the Design Contest

~~~oo0oo~~~

UPDATE: many months later

Leaps and bounds.

The home decor front is proceeding apace.

I hope you two carpenters can keep up.

My window is once more filled with trogons and pittas and louries. Quite shirtless.

Built-in cupboards have sprung up in the bathroom. The mountain bike has been moved to the TV room.

The ooh-ing and aah-ing queue forms from the left . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

Wikipedia – A Good Story of the 2010’s Decade

Every time I see a new bird I look it up and learn all about it, its scientific name and which other birds its related to. Just recently Steve in Aussie sent me his picture of a ‘Bush Stone Curlew’ nesting on an island in a parking lot.

That immediately reminded me of our water dikkops – I looked it up and ‘strues Bob’ they’re cousins – his is Burhinus grallarius and ours is Burhinus vermiculatus; Gondwanaland cousins.

– Steve’s Bush Stone Curlew – our Water Thick-knees – both Burhinus –

When I see historical facts I’ve never heard of I look it up and learn something new every day.

Who is Irvin S Cobb? I didn’t know; now I like him; he wrote these instructions for his funeral:

Above all I want no long faces and no show of grief at the burying ground. Kindly observe the final wishes of the undersigned and avoid reading the so-called Christian burial service which, in view of the language employed in it, I regard as one of the most cruel and paganish things inherited by our forebears from our remote pagan ancestors. . . . . perhaps the current pastor would consent to read the 23rd Psalm, my mother’s favorite passage in the Scriptures . . . it contains no charnel words, no morbid mouthings about corruption and decay and, being mercifully without creed or dogma, carries no threat of eternal hell-fire for those parties we do not like, no direct promise of a heaven which, if one may judge by the people who are surest of going there, must be a powerfully dull place, populated to a considerable and uncomfortable degree by prigs, time-servers and unpleasantly aggressive individuals. Hell may have a worse climate but undoubtedly the company is sprightlier. The Catholics, with their genius for stage-management, handle this detail better. The officiating clergyman speaks in Latin and the parishioners, being unacquainted with that language are impressed by the majesty of the rolling, sonorous periods without being shocked by distressing allusions and harrowing references.

How are Canadian and Eurasian beavers different – they look identical and Canadian beavers have even been introduced into Europe? One has 40 chromosomes, one has 48. Completely different animals! They just look and behave (almost) identically!

Obviously, I did all this on Wikipedia.

I was therefore thrilled to see motherjones.com has hailed Wikipedia as one of its Heroes of the 2010’s decade. I don’t like the overuse of the word ‘hero’ – I’m being so restrained here – but motherjones is American, so the ubiquitous American concept of hero – ‘anyone I like,’ it seems – is probably not amiss here.

Here’s motherjones:

This was the decade we learned to hate the internet, to decry its impact on our brains and society and to detest the amoral organizations that dominate it. Facebook steals our data and abets Trump’s lies. Amazon is a brick-and-mortar–crushing behemoth, like the Death Star but successful. Instagram is for narcissists. Reddit is for racists and incels. Twitter verifies Nazis.

Amid this horror show, there is Wikipedia, criminally under-appreciated, a nonprofit compendium of human knowledge maintained by everyone. There is no more useful website. It is browsable and rewards curiosity without stealing your preferences and selling them to marketers. It is relaxing to read. 

It’s wrong sometimes, sure. But so are you, so am I, and so are all your other sources – and most of them, there’s nothing you can do about it. On wikipedia, you can. Its transparency is a big plus. Wikipedia critics often seem to think ‘encyclopedias’ are better – you know, ‘encyclopedia brittanica’ anyone? Hell, those books are out of date long before they’re printed. That really is (early) last century! Many of its critics say you have to go to the academic source and read the latest research. Well, many of the custodians of those places are knowledge-hoggers, wanting to protect ’eminence’ rather than sharing knowledge. Well, phansi with them, I say. Phansi!

If you actually know something is wrong on Wikipedia, become an editor (full disclosure, I’m one – a very inactive one) and fix the info – don’t withhold, share!

With wikipedia you can – indeed you should always – check sources. Use the footnotes. Some pages need more information? You can add some. Governments, political figures, institutions – especially dodgy ones – or lackeys and fans of those politicians, ‘celebrities,’ or institutions may manipulate the info on themselves. Liars will always lie. But because it’s transparent, they usually get caught. Wikipedia has rules against “conflict-of-interest editing,” which you can read about at “Conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia.”

Founded in 2001, Wikipedia has spent the 2010s getting better and bigger. It now has over 377 million pages of info. It is a hero of the 2010s, because while the internet mostly got worse, it kept getting better, reminding us that the web can be a good thing, a place where we have instant access to endless information, a true project of the commons at a political moment when the very idea of the mutual good is under assault.

And it is free in a good way, not “free” like facebook and google which end up OWNING YOU.

(So I just sent Wikipedia my annual donation via paypal)

~~~oo0oo~~~

‘strues Bob’ – wragtig; true as Bob; verily

phansi! – down! as in ‘Down With . . ‘

Horse Sickness

We were talking horseracing. About galloping knowledge and great expertise about the sport of kings, when along came someone who actually knows what he’s talking about (damn!). He also seems to have developed a disease since we last saw him: Horse Sickness: Probably ‘cos its lonely in the saddle in Port Elizabeth . . .

Dave ‘Scratchmo’ Simpson said: As you guys mention horse racing, meet my beloved Stormy Eclipse:

As you can see, Stormy is the most beautiful horse with a wonderful character and a great record – run 39 times with 9 wins.

Stormy’s sister is running at Turffontein on Saturday. So if you have (me: absolutely . . ) nothing to do, watch the 7th race on Channel 239. Her name is Storm Destiny. She has a chance. (And Hood was right! Could it be he knows what he’s talking about!?).

Stephen for you, I also have a filly – her name is Ample Glory and will begin racing this year. I am secretly confident that Ample will be the next Winx. Do you know when Winx will next race? – Her first race of the season was usually the Apollo Stakes at Randwick in mid Feb.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Stephen ‘Spatchmo’ Reed replied: Howzit Dawid. Good to hear from you. My racing knowledge is scrappy but I see Winx is due to run on 13 April as you probably know in the Queen Elizabeth stakes. She is certainly big news here in Aussie. Racing seems like a big thing everywhere. I see radio and news channels run 24/7 with racing reports including the SA Turffontein and Greyville races. [free to air, not pay channels]

As for ample glory, I googled it and all I could find is:

i’m writing a story about the glory of my AMPLE thighs.

But I will keep an eye out

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Simpson: Hi Spatch, Well, it is really good to hear from you. My belated response comes from your mail going to junk.  I still see Hubby around and he still calls you Spatchmo and me Scratchmo.  

Hope all is going well in the mighty Oz. I guess my daughter Victoria will end up there, poor child, as she married an Aussie. Just joking – he is a hell of a nice guy – unlike those cheating cricketers and horse trainers. They have learned well from our insatiable politicians.

It is a little early to find the magnificent Ample Glory on the www as she will only make her first appearance in I guess about 3 to 5 months – but so far all is looking good. See attached pic of Ample with Frankie Dettori in the saddle:

– that is a filly, is it? –

If you don’t know Frankie – google him as he is a terrific character – getting most of the World’s best rides and has done some amazing things including winning the Arc de Triomf five times. When he wins, which is most of the time, he leaps out of the saddle in the winners circle, much to the delight of the crowds. Watch it on Youtube. I’ll convert you guys yet.

I got up early last Saturday to watch Winx win the Apollo Stakes at Randwick. She seems to not have lost any of her late speed from last year. Her next will probably be the Chipping Norton Stakes also at Randwick, this or next weekend, then George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill and the then the QE Stakes before retirement to make baby Winx’s. If you are living in Sydney, you and Wonderlikke Woman must go and watch her, you will not regret it. If you need a ticket, Winx’ jockey is a guy by the name of Hugh Bowman and he comes from the mighty metropolis of Mudgee. There is an optometrist there called Hogan who looks after the Bowman family eyes. So maybe he could swing you a ticket or two.

Keep in touch, Dawid Scratchmo Hood

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Me: Hoodlum – I stared very hard at that picture after your glowing description, but all I could see was a brown horse and a tanned Italian. Am I missing summing?

I have added the mighty Hogan of Mudgee onto this thread for cheep tickets . .

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Simpson: Yes Swannie, you noticed. Just testing your attention to detail. The dude on the back of my horse wishes he was Frankie.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Glen ‘Hogan’ Barker wrote: Thanks for adding me to this thread, Pete.

Yes, Hood is quite correct as last Thursday 14th I had Hugh Bowman’s parents come in to get their eyes checked. Quite a coincidence as their daughter, Hugh’s sister, lives a couple of hundred yards down the street from us, and they stayed the night. Their farm (or property as they call it here) is an hour west and further away from the ‘Big Smoke,’ i.e. Sydney, before all three of them went down there on Friday to watch the Apollo Stakes on Saturday for Winx’s 30th consecutive win.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Me: 30th consecutive win! That’s insane. Must be a record, surely?

Tell me Hood, it’s a brown horse, right? They seem to be faster, generally . . .

(thought I’d throw in a bit of insider knowledge and expertise there . . )

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

But Hood came up with two other words for ‘brown’, can you believe it, just to pour cold water on my theory: ‘Sorry Swannie, but there are three main colours of race horses: Grays, Bays and Chestnuts, so the bad news is that brown horses never win.’

Now, I knew horse racing was rigged, but I never guessed it was this bad . .

PS: I think Ample Thighs would be a good name for a race horse.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Here’s the actual pic of Scratchmo’s promising filly Ample Thighs with Frankie Dettori (or is this Frankie Dube?) in the saddle:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Scratchmo wrote: ‘unlike those cheating cricketers and horse trainers.’ And of course, Catholics:

– at least the one disgusting oke – the one in a dress – is in gaol –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Blue-Banded Bee

A gorgeous Aussie!

What a beaut Aussie bee! Snapped in flight in a Brisbane garden by Saffer-Kiwi-Aussie ace photographer Steve Reed.

Solitary bees, they don’t hang around in groups. They nest in tunnels in clay or sandstone – but don’t trust me, do some research.

Which reminds me of one of Aitch – Trish – don’t say Patricia! – ‘s favourite songs:

– they hang around in groups like battle-weary troops –

Techno-fob-ia?

Stefanus wrote about a new thing. I paraphrased his rant:

What a bloody stupid idea. The ‘Key Fob’ or ‘Keyless Start’ or ‘Keyless Go’ or ‘Proximity Key’. I have always thought it was a stupid idea but I wasn’t sure why. Tonight I found out why.

Our friend John gets home with his wife after several stops, including our place for a while. Cannot find his ‘fob’; realises the car might have started because his wife had the other fob in her handbag. Panics.

After much driving around and searching in various places, including our place, it ‘turns up’ under his drivers seat where he insists he had searched several times. But ‘it had gone into a crevice.’

Steve expostulates: It’s a lousy idea! You could leave your key fob behind and drive 300 km without knowing you don’t have it, because the car opens and starts with the proximity of the duplicate ‘fob’ in your wife’s handbag. Frikkin stupid, really. Although in hindsight he could have narrowed the search by checking to see if the car would start without his wife’s keys being nearby . . .

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

I wrote:

Aha! A technophobe!

I’m going to ask them to implant mine in a crevice so I can never lose it.

And I won’t let them fob me off.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Steve:

Technophobe – yes. Ask my older brother.

Ja, but how will you avoid forgetting the rest of your keys – the ones that are attached to the – er – transponder? Having your own practice I am pretty sure you have a bunch of keys like a prison guard anyway.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Me:

Me? Keys? Nope.

I am lucky enough to have an “Open Sesame” lifestyle. The practice is always open when I get there at a leisurely hour, and my home is always open. Overrun with bloody kids who all know the 1299# that opens the gate from outside. Me and security are strangers.

Thank goodness for Raksha and the keys at work and Cecelia and the no keys at home.

Sadly, I do have to carry the one single key for the 2007 Ford 4X2 3litre diesel double cab bakkie. White. I lost the canopy key so now it doesn’t lock. Help yourself to my toolbox back there. At times I do spend some time looking for the damn thing on the odd occasions when I put it in a clever place instead of the usual on the kitchen counter. For some reason my Ford key says ‘Mazda.’

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Steve:

I should have realised I was speaking to the wrong person. We tend to lock stuff by and large. Someone came and had an overnight scratch around Wendy’s unlocked car a while ago. Front door gets locked at night or if we are not around. We regularly get wide-eyed warnings from the neighbours about dodgy people seen snooping around the street.

Office keys: I am the first to arrive by a half an hour (OCD) so key needed.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Me:

I am weird that way. Partly slackness, partly – slackness. Been very lucky and fully aware that could change.

1984 – Marriott road flat – nothing. No incidents.

1989 – 7 River Drive Westville – pre-kids. Zanele said she saw an umfaan in our room and she said ‘Hey! Wenzani?’ and he scuttled off through the burglar bars, which were big enough for him to get through.

Years later Aitch found her Zeiss binocs were missing. ‘Stolen!’ she announced. I thought no, ‘Misplaced.’ She thought ‘Poephol, stolen!’ Two years later we found them in the socks drawer.

Then post-kids I got hijacked and taken off in a friend’s car. That wasn’t good.

2003 – 10 Windsor Avenue Westville – Break and enter while we were out and Aitch’s binocs WERE taken. Also her wedding ring. She replaced only the binocs with a shiny newer model – insurance. I still have the new ones.

2005 – 10 Elston Place Westville – nothing.

The reason I have a keypad at the gate where friends just enter the last four digits of their cell number and Open Sesame is I hate closed gates. I once – ca1982 – waited on the pavement in Argyle road outside the palatial home of one of Barks’ friends, ringing the doorbell in vain. Party inside, so they couldn’t hear. Pre-cellphone days. Eventually went home and resolved never to live in a fuckin prison. Still don’t.

Weird? OK.

Confession: I do insist the kids practice common sense security and keep doors locked if they’re alone at home and when they leave the home unattended!

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

umfaan – youngster

Hey! Wenzani? – Oy! Whatchadoin’?

Poephol – husband

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Talking of phobias, isn’t this a lovely one?

The Fear Of Giants: fee-fi-phobia

Hover

There are about 6000 species of hoverfly. They disguise themselves as wasps but they’re harmless little buggers and they do a great deal of good pollinating and eating pests like aphids. They love flowers and nectar so they hang around lovely perfume-smelling things:

A rose by any other name on the deck at Mogotlho Lodge

My cellphone pics and videos of the Khwai River hoverfly weren’t great so I didn’t post this until my ex-Saffer-turned-Kiwi, now in Aussie, mate Stephen Charles Reed sent a better picture of a Brisbane hoverfly.

– Steve’s pic you can see the wings –
– cropped for a closer view –
Stunning Hoverflies

They are amazing hoverers! They can hold dead still in mid-air and then flick to another spot in any direction, zip! just like that. They can do anything mid-air:

. . . even get it on! If that’s the female below, she’s like Ginger Rogers, who could do everything Fred Astaire did, backwards and in high heels!

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

All this made me go looking and I found a new hero. Fredrik Sjöberg lives on Runmarö Island in Sweden and looks for hoverflies, butterflies, beetles and anything that else that might flit by. He wrote a wonderful book on hoverflies, life the universe and everything which his publishers thought might sell 1600 copies in five years. Well, he sold 30 000 and has since published it in numerous other countries! Then – I told you he’s my hero – he won the IgNobel Prize for Literature in 2016!!

IgNobel LITERATURE PRIZE [SWEDEN] — Fredrik Sjöberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead. REFERENCE: The Fly Trap is the first volume of Fredrik Sjöberg’s autobiographical trilogy, En flugsamlares väg (“The Path of a Fly Collector”), and the first to be published in English. Pantheon Books, 2015, ISBN 978-1101870150.

Learn more and see some beautiful pics here.

We humans finally started to learn how to hover in 1907 when the French brothers Breguet flew the Gyroplane No.1 quadcopter about 0.61 m above ground for a minute. Hoverflies all around the world laughed at us.

——-ooo000ooo——-

Years before I had been fascinated by proboscis flies.

Botox Ballies Blues Band

I sent this cartoon to Reed & Brauer:

Old age home Asylum Rockers

BTW, ‘ASILO’ on the wall means ‘ASYLUM’.

Steve Reed wrote: I love it. Over here in Aus, the national broadcaster has a competition called ‘Exhumed’.A fitting term for those of us, like yourself, who played in a band as a younger person but wanna give it one last go. The blurb is: 

Exhumed is a band competition with a difference. It’s not for has-beens, it’s not for wannabes, it’s for the never-weres. It’s for people who play music for the sheer love of it. If you fit that description, enter and listen to your Local ABC Radio to be part of Exhumed. You could hear your track on the radio, be interviewed on air, perform at your local Exhumed event and feature in an ABC Music release. Each station across the country will choose a winner. Of those winners only six will go through as finalists and perform live on TV at our Grand Final. But just one will take home the title ‘Exhumed Winner 2013’.

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/exhumed/

I wrote: C’mon Brauer! Enter the Botox Ballies Blues Band in this great competition!

Reminds me of a gathering of old canoeists where someone said we’re the Has Beens.
Mate of mine said “Swanie you’re not a Has Been. You can’t be a Has Been if you Never Was”.

PS: Reed, you may not know this, but the BBBB is quite famous behind the Boerewors Curtain among certain square circles that are often in their cups. They even pay to play at some events in far distant little known venues. Serious! Brauer’s on guitar and quite vocal.

He got lost under a pair of bloomers that was lobbed onto the stage once. Rumour has it.


As for the suggestion that I actually ‘played in a band’, truth is more like ‘played with the band’s instruments at the same time the band was rehearsing and was tolerated by the band members.’ To be accurate.

~~~oo0oo~~~

DIY Bush Wedding

I don’t do DIY. I was going to say except for our wedding, but on reflection, I also did that the way I do everything: Stand back and watch as others do it all, encouraging and applauding while trying to save money.

What I did do was buy the booze and fill Mike Lello’s Isuzu Trooper and trailer with it and drive it out to Barry and Lyn’s farm Game Valley Estates at the foot of the well-known Hella Hella on the Friday. Lots of rain, muddy roads. It had been a wet summer following the huge September 1987 flood.

Wedding Hella Hella Isuzu Trooper.jpg

Like most bachelors when they do fall, I headed off cheerfully to meet my fate, all my own advice forgotten, marching singing to the gallows!

Luckily Saturday cleared up. I always sing ‘The robots change when I go thru, the clouds dissolve and the skies turn blue, and EVERYBODY loves me baby – – – what’s the matter with you!?

And the clouds did dissolve . . It got Sunny. Then Hot. Then Scorching, Humid, Sultry. It felt like all the rain of the big flood was trying to get back up into the clouds.

Wedding Hella Hella (4)

Barry’s big old 4X4 Ford F150 gave people a tug up slippery Hella Hella Pass so they could get to their lodgings at the nearby Qunu Falls Lodge. The Brauers, the du Plessis, the Reeds, the Schoemans, the Stoutes, the Stewarts. The Hills live nearby. Family stayed in the concrete A-frame lodge on the farm.

Wedding Hella Hella.jpg

The sauna was pitched on the lawn under the Hella Hella mountain.

The beautiful Hella Hella Kop

The Porters were linked up to ESKOM but just because ESKOM has arrived does not mean that when you throw a switch with a flourish that anything will happen. And so it was on our wedding day that ESKOM was feeling a bit off that day and we were without krag, power, lights and fridges.

Enter David Hurle Hill !! He roared off in his bakkie and fetched a huge diesel generator on a trailer. David is a Drrrillerr and will drill you a borehole. In fact his company motto is ‘On The Hole Our Work Is Boring.’ He linked up and threw a switch with a flourish and nothing happened.

She was not wekking, as David Hurle Hill would say.

Enter Enea Spaggiari !! All the way from Italy via Kenya and Petit outside Benoni. He climbed up onto and over and under the trailer and fiddled with wires and threw a switch with a flourish and Let There Be Light! Music! and Cold Beers!

Wedding Hella Hella (3)

Iona coaches her daughter: Make all the big decisions, but make him think he made them . . . Aitch: Ha Ha I already do that . . .

Wedding Hella Hella (7).jpg
– plotting –

Then the usual stuff, the ominous music from Jaws: Tun Tun Ta Da!; Tun Tun Ta Da! What? Oh, the wedding march. The father of the bride looks like he’s having having second thoughts; Guys are thinking hm hm hm who’d a thunk this day would arrive?; Ladies are smiling – they seem to enjoy weddings; Aitch saying – ‘Honour? OK; – Obey? Are you mad!?’ and so on. The usual kak.

Wedding Hella Hella-001.jpg

Then the cake, made by Lyn’s talented friend with a green frog couple in tux and wedding dress – probly a strongylopus and an arthtroleptis. In the heat they keeled over. We should have got a pic, but something like this, just green frogs and not from alcohol:

Then The Lies! You just can’t trust some people. Ten years prior to this I had done a very good job being his best man and if he had paid attention he’d have learned something. Like, to stick to the flattering truth and not tell scurrilous alternative truths that nobody wants to hear. At least nobody called the object of your attentions wants to hear them . . .

Brauer spinning yarns

Followed by The Truth!, plain and unvarnished:

Wedding 1988 speech.jpg

At last, we could change into shorts and relax and party.

Later came The Getaway:

Wedding Hella Hella Getaway Car.jpg

Which took a while, handicapped as we were. We wore getaway kit appropriate for our intrepid honeymoon. We were headed for Deepest Darkest America.

~~~oo0oo~~~

On the Monday friend Allie Peter flew over Hella Hella in a helicopter and took pics of Rapid No.5&6 looking downstream and then back upstream:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Twenty Five Years Later – 28 Feb 2013 – I wrote to friends:

Crazy, innit! 25yrs ago today Aitch and I got hitched down in the Hella Hella valley in a fun DIY game farm wedding.
She made it to 23yrs of married bliss (OK, she might have had something to say at this point . . ) and one month short of 26yrs together. We celebrated that 25yrs-together milestone in August 2010.

Thinking of all you good peeps that made our wedding so memorable – that’s the bachelor days before, the day itself, and the 25yrs since!

Cheers!

Lotsa love – Pete – and now Jessica & Tommy!

BTW, Lyn and Barry Porter of Hella Hella also died in 2011:
Lyn in January – also breast cancer; Barry in April – hospital infection; And then Aitch in July.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Dave Hill: I remember it well – I ‘nipped’ home to fetch my generator when the power went off.

Pete Stoute: Remember the week-end like yesterday! Struggling up the other side of Hella Hella to the Qunu Falls hotel in the mud and rain – Dave Hill saving the day with a BIG generator. Will have an extra glass of vino this evening – great mates and good times.

Sheila Swanepoel: Those pics are great. What a wonderful record of a very special day.
I remember the incredible heat and how you, Pierre and Pete sneaked off and changed into shorts straight after the ceremony. And how the phone kept ringing in the middle of the ceremony in the house.
Linda was flower girl, Robbie was so proud of his brand new red “tight”

Wedding 1988 Linda Robbie (1).jpg

. . and Jeff kept putting off going to change, saying that he was charge of the antelope on the spit – he dithered for so long that there was no time to change and that pleased him no end.
Bess & I sneaked down to the pool for a kaalgat swim and found Iona had beaten us to it!

Steve Reed: Will always remember the weekend; a great occasion. I think it was thanks to Mike and Yvonne in the 4×4 that we traveled safely back through the mud to our lodgings. Fond memories – raising a glass tonight to all of you!

I remember Brauer chasing a tight deadline speech writing – wise.

Pete Brauer: Damn. Been holding my breath during this stroll thru memory lane hoping that no-one noticed at the time or that no-one would still remember that poor last-minute effort.

Terry Brauer: Steve nothing has changed! PB has his own website called lastminute.com

Steve Reed: Speech was excellent. Not many can compose a wedding speech while putting on a tie with the other hand. Besides, Swannie probably tasked Brauer with the job as he was getting dressed himself.

Terry Brauer: Yip Brauer remains an orator of note and Swanepoel continues to notify me he is coming to stay usually on the day when he lands in Pretoria – 😀 Those old dogs ain’t gonna learn new tricks but love them both! T

Pete Swanie: I had prepared well in advance.

Wedding Hella Hella Groom scribbles truth.jpg

Brauer procrastinated and ignored my two rules: Keep it short; and NO LIES.

Wedding Hella Hella Brauer scribbles lies.jpg

Pete Brauer: If I stuck to the latter rule the first would have fallen into place quite easily.

Tanza Crouch: Thinking of you, Aitch, Tommy and Jessy at this time. My spider days at Hella Hella are very special to me and Aitch, Barry and Lyn were very special people.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Turn up the volume:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Lepidopterism – an affliction

Lepidopterists lead exciting lives!

This from my LepSoc newsletter: Hi everyone; We will be doing a day trip to Tswaing crater, just north of Pretoria, on the 24th September, where special butterflies such as Brown-lined Sapphires, Saffron Sapphires, Hutchinson’s Highfliers, etc. can be seen.

~~~~o0o~~~~
Us lepidopterists see not only these high fliers, but others such as Skollies, Nightfighters, Pirates, Policemen and Admirals. Playboys, Pansies and Painted Ladies are also sought-after! One can go prancing after them wearing a pith helmet and waving a net! What’s not to love?

There’s even one called swanepoelii and one called brauerii

Lepidopterism is one of the more fun diseases to contract, and lepidopterists lead exciting lives!
~~~~o0o~~~~

Soutar wrote:

Keep your net stockings on.

We off to Karkloof today. Will try to bring back a dead Karkloof Blue.

That and a Pink Elephant.

~~~~o0o~~~~

Me:

¶¶ . . and a Stuffed Delegorgue’s Pigeon, a Dead Cape Parrot and . .

¶¶ Planks from a Yellowwood Tree . . ¶¶

.

Hey! We could write a song like that . . .

~~~~o0o~~~~

A Real-Life Lepidoptometrist:

Hilton Pike is a nimble optometrist fella who darts around lithely with a butterfly net, holding it rather like Obelix doesn’t hold his menhirs. A talented lad, young Hilton, he builds fancy hi-fidelity speakers, refurbishes phoropters and mounts butterflies with pins on polystyrene in glass cabinets, all the while making children. Lovely chap, I miss him. Where is he?

– from LepSoc‘s stunning website –

One of me own: Lepi Fordus radiatorii

– butterfly Fordus radiatorii
– ah, and he looks the part! –

Swanepoel, David Abraham (1912–1990). Swanepoel began collecting in 1925. Pennington’s Butterflies of southern Africa (Pringle et al. 1994) describes Swanepoel as follows: ‘Probably no other person has spent as much time and effort in the pursuit of butterflies in the field as this great collector, who had the tremendous gift of being able to excite others about butterflies. His immaculate collection is in the Transvaal Museum. He discovered many new species and subspecies and published many descriptions of new taxa.’

– pinned specimens – from DA Swanepoel’s book –

His list of publications includes the book Butterflies of South Africa: where, when and how they fly, published in 1953 in Holland at his own cost. At the time, it was one of the most valuable reference guides to South African butterflies, citing his many collection localities across the length and breadth of South Africa. He collaborated closely with both Georges van Son and Ken Pennington. Popular names for many of South Africa’s butterflies were proposed by him. ( SANBI Biodiversity Series 16 (2010)6 ).

Swanepoel ended his book with these words: ‘In laying down my pen at the end of what has been to me a pleasurable task, I take occasion to dedicate this book to all naturalists and friends, without whose kindness and ungrudging aid it must inevitable have left much to be desired; and to those naturalists who may one day wander over the numerous paths that have afforded me so many happy, unforgettable hours – these would hardly have been possible without the grace of the Creator of all the beautiful forms described in this book. As mentioned in the introduction, this work is by no means complete, and if one day it is revised by some future observer, may he fulfil my dearest wish by building a great entomological castle upon this small foundation stone.’ (Epilogue of D.A. Swanepoel’s book, page 316).

Read more about David A Swanepoel and other pioneering flutterby enthusiasts here.

steve reed wrote: When we lived in Clarens we had an annual visitation by what must have been the self-same Swanepoel. Khaki clad solitary figure, fleet-footing round the village with his net like something out of Peter Pan. Regarded by the locals with great interest (and a good level of suspicion ) . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

I was lucky enough to meet Ivor Migdoll, who wrote the next butterfly book (as far as I know, the first field guide) in 1987. He came to me for his glasses in Durban, and we had some good chats and I loved using his book (since mislaid!).

– I must find my copy of Ivor’s book –

And of course we are all lucky now to have Steve Woodhall, who has built on these two books’ foundations – as well as the big Pennington Butterfly ‘bible’ – and brought out his vastly improved field guide in 2005. He tells the story of how Ivor Migdoll became ill and quietly withdrew from public life. Pippa Parker of Struik Nature told him they were planning a completely new edition of the Field Guide to Butterflies (Ivor’s best-selling book) but could not get hold of him. He did some digging and discovered that Ivor had a horrible, little-known condition called ‘burning mouth syndrome’ and could hardly speak. Hence his reluctance.

~~~oo0oo~~~

And so this magic new field guide was born without Ivor’s input:

Now they’re called . .

. . screenagers.

This was new to me.

Here we are, screenagers. Their screen-centric devices have become appendages they cannot live without, their dependency on real-time consumption, constant connectivity and an ever-expanding universe of expectations just grows, their digital maturity reaching new and higher levels. Get used to it!

Not only are there ever-more digital consumers, but more consumers own multiple smart devices. This is creating new digital services and experiences, and generating more business opportunities across every industry, age group and facet of human life.

Rita Sawtell wrote: Whatever next…..

Me: Oh, next is worse: Headsets for 3D virtual reality. this is getting bigger and bigger.

VR headset.jpg


Rita: Would you really walk around with one of those on your head?

Me: Doesn’t matter what WE would do – we’re gonna have to get used to it. Soon millions of screenagers will be doing just that. And people will be longing for the days when they thought them looking down at a screen was annoying!

You’ll say “Let’s go to the Kruger Park for the holidays” and they’ll say “Nah! Went yesterday and saw it all”. And they WILL HAVE! They’ll have seen – and even “experienced” – far more than you could hope to see in ten trips.

I think this is why dying is not as bad as its made out to be. After a while you’re just READY for it!

Rita: You made me laugh out loud! That’s hysterical. We have nothing to look forward to – except death.

Steve Reed: There is one thing worse than a screenager: the late converter. 
A recently-acquired top end smartphone in the hands of a 50-plus! They stop everything when it beeps, keep trying to show you photos and how clever it is, and comment loudly about everything it does or even louder when it does not do what it is supposed to do. 
At least the kids keep it low key and know much more about phone etiquette . . or how to keep their phones quiet anyway. 
Most phones that go off in the testing room very loudly belong to 50-plus patients. And it’s usually an AC/DC ringtone. Or Freddie Mercury. 

Pearls Before Swine

On Friday, August 3, 2012, Pete wrote: You can’t understand teenagers. Whenever I offer to sing to Jess and her friends to save her the cost of tickets to hear Justin Bieber or whoever, she says “OmiGawd, Dad, NO!”
When she’s in the car with friends and I offer to sing instead of listening to their CD’s, iPods, Blackberrys, bluetooth to my speakers, or whatever, I get a loud chorus of “No Thanks Pete!!” and whispered giggles to Jess about her weird Dad.

But she has a soft heart. Yesterday she came to me and said “Dad maybe old people would want to listen to you sing.”

~~~oo0oo~~~

Steve Reed wrote: Want to listen to you sing?  Only old people who are drunk and who are also wanting to sing. I suspect this type of forced exposure to our dubious talents ( though with only the best of  intentions ) would have been responsible for a substantial degree of traumatic stress to our own kid . . . Character building though. 

Anyhow, good to see the SAfricans doing well in the Olympic medals. 

Aussies have brought a bunch of retired sportsmen out to have a go. The pre – Sydney games sports development initiative is now a thing of the past.

Go the ZA’s! . . and good on the Kiwis.

I wrote: Ah, austerity over posterity? The calvinist ideal. Usually used to deny poor people their fair share; but in this particular case I agree with it, I’m afraid. ‘Specially here, where much money is spent looking for medals (and my favourite: building plush, empty, white-elephant stadiums) while people have no jobs, houses or electricity. Even lotto gives money to ruddy sports clubs rather than genuine charities. Bums me.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Back to singing: Fine tradition, drunk warbling.

Steve: One of Australia’s best has yet again done his country ‘proud’ . . .

Australian Olympic rower will offer his apologies to the shop owners whose windows he damaged. Booth will also pay more than $2000 to the owners in a bid to avoid criminal charges. The 21-year-old Melbourne University student was intoxicated during the incident as the team was out celebrating.

The men’s eight rowing team qualified 6th just hours before the incident. The Australian Olympic Committee have little doubt of Booth’s involvement and say he is responsible for all reparations. Many believe the incident has caused embarrassment for the Australian Olympic team. (Me: Drunkenness has cause Aussie embarrassment? C’mon! Get real).

Booth fainted and hit his head at the police station after being arrested. He was then taken to hospital as a precaution. 

And no, they take NO DRUGS…

I wrote: Having once (long ago) experimented with this very same drug, I have to keep quiet at times like this . . .

Steve: Still doing controlled experiments myself. Let’s call it research. 

I wrote: Yep – C2H5OH taken internally . . ongoing experimentation.

~~~oo0oo~~~