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 . . .


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.



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.



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.’



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.



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!


umfaan – youngster

Hey! Wenzani? – Oy! Whatchadoin’?

Poephol – husband


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

The Fear Of Giants: fee-fi-phobia

Yielding To The Camera

Excuse me! You with the paintbrush! Camera coming through!

I was posting our wedding pics when I saw one we’d taken of our photographer Keith and his assistant. Being in 1988 there would have been a few other cameras there like the one that took a pic of him holding his large-format Hasselblad-like beauty and his first cold beer on that blistering hot day.

Wedding Helle Hella Ken Photographers

Nowadays you can almost guarantee every guest has a camera and a video camera in their pocket! Quite a challenge for the guy being paid:“Um, please stand aside, I’m trying to get a picture of the bride”. So are we! comes the answer from all the other guests.

Coincidentally wikipedia featured the top pic today, so I got to thinking of the poor portrait painters of yore. Used to being the main man around and very important, here he was probably asked “Won’t you paint a backdrop for me old chap? Any old thing will do. I’m taking portrait daguerrotypes, what!” But, but . . 

“That’s all, we won’t be needing you after that.”

I bet the early photographers made people stand way longer than actually needed so they wouldn’t feel short-changed after being used to sit for days for their portrait.

I think paintings often outshine daguerrotypes:

Collage Portraits.jpg


Feature pic Interior with Portraits by Thomas Le Clear 1865, features siblings posing for a photograph in an artist’s studio. The painting has been read as representing the tension between its medium and the emergent medium of photography.

 Hold still, would you!

Portrait Camera


What would we do without batteries? I just put new ones in our TV remotes.

The latest are lithium-ion and they’re amazing, but they are expensive, contain a flammable liquid and can be dangerous. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery showed us that. Researchers have even come up with lithium-ion batteries with built-in fire extinguishers now! The battery has a chemical called triphenyl phosphate, a flame retardant. If the battery’s temperature rises above 150 degrees C, the plastic fibres melt, the chemical is released and it prevents the battery from catching fire.

A new battery prototype known as “all-solid-state” – no liquids – has the potential to store more energy while maintaining high safety and reliability levels. It’s based on sodium, a cheaper non-flammable alternative to lithium.

Many other technologies are being tested, and according to each one’s marketing department they are going to charge your phone or your car in seconds, last forever, boost your love life and cost nothing. Don’t laugh, some of that will come true.

The first battery may have been made in Baghdad, Iraq back around 200 BCE. At least that’s the guess about what an earthernware jar with an iron rod surrounded by a copper sleeve may have been.

Baghdad battery

The first known battery was made by Alessandro Volta in Italy after Luigi Galvani noticed that metal and frogs’ legs could produce a current. Gotta love those Italian names, don’t they just galvanise you and produce a voltage across your brain cells?!

Volta put a stack of zinc and copper plates with salt water-soaked cloth between them and invented the voltaic pile in 1800 – a battery about equivalent to today’s AA. Not as portable but.

Volta's voltaic pile

Improvements followed and in 1859 the precursor to the familiar lead-acid rechargeable battery was invented by Frenchman Gaston Plante. This was a big boost to horseless carriages! Earlier, between 1832 and 1839, Scot Robert Anderson had invented the first crude electric carriage, powered by non-rechargeable primary cells. Studebaker Automobile Company made the first mass-produced electric vehicles in America in 1902. Plante’s rechargeable battery would have been a big help to them.

In 1954, Americans Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin invented the first solar battery, converting the sun’s energy to electricity using silicon.

Other things being used experimentally to convert energy into battery power are plants, dewdrops, air, your skin, your movement and your urine. Check it out – 37 different ideas for batteries!

Time will tell which ones will make it to market. I hope its not that last one!



Why Own a Computer?

My first computer was an IBM 286 copy in around 1987. I didn’t really know what to do with it, I just knew you “should have one” and I was late in getting one. But then I got a dot matrix printer and I started writing reports, minutes and speeches (!) for my optometric political career, so I found a use for them! It was only when I could see MY words in print that I really got interested. Funny that.

It looked something like this:

dot matrix printer

But why own one? According to the ads, you could use it to help your children do schoolwork, organize household finances or recipes, or ‘chart your biorhythms.’ But the ad proclaimed that ‘the biggest benefit is that you and your family increase familiarity with the computer itself.’ The computer-enhanced future was here, and you needed to be part of it. True, that was.

I remember the first time I got a 486 PC – a huge advance on the 386. It went from less than 10 million instructions per second to over 40 million instructions per second. Wow! I don’t remember giving it so many instructions, but hey! go with the flow here!

And I remember backing up: Floppy disk after 3.5inch floppy disk. Insert. Wait. Insert next floppy disk. Wait . . .

Then in 1993 came my first cellphone – with extendable aerial:

Panasonic cellphone.jpg

Here’s the humbling part: Remember how we said “No need for a home computer?” and “I don’t need a cellphone?” (Yes we did). Now think about virtual reality, self-driving cars and the internet of things; and this time . . be humble. They’re coming ready or not, so get your shit together.