Quantum Physics and Raising Teens

Niels Bohr said anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it. Richard Feynman said no-one understands quantum theory. But quantum theory makes possible lasers, computers, transistors, GPS, cellphones, MRI machines and all the wonders of the information age. Without quantum theory much of modern science would not exist.

So I have tried to understand it better. Ken Gillings gave me a slight insight into the mysteries of quantum physics on one of our hysterical tours here. And I think having a teenage son has given me a better grip on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.

Which says “If you know where it is then you don’t know what it’s doing; And if you know what it’s doing then you don’t know where it is.”

Did they inherit . .

. . these genes from me!?

Jess came home from a nightclub last night – a series of nightclubs, actually – full of the springs of joy.

Hello! What did you have to drink? I asked.

Oh, very little Dad. Behind her back her friend grins.

So, what?

Just three Strawberry Lips shooters, two blue ‘Cocaine’ cocktails and one Smirnoff Blend.

And one Vodka and Coke, says Andile who only drank cooldrink and kept tally.

Oh yes.



Pleez pleez Dad! I haven’t seen her for AGES! (yeah, like one week). OK, I’ll fetch her Friday on the way home from work. I enjoy that back route anyway. Instead of taking the N2 national highway then onto the N3 national highway at Spaghetti Junction and home, this route takes me through Yellowwood Park with its dark avenues of huge old yellowwood trees planted around 1885 by Dering Stainbank the sugar baron (don’t take my history at face value, but it’s something like that).

On past the Stainbank nature reserve, over the one-way bridge across the Umhlatuzana River, through the narrow tunnel under the railway line, through the cement factory that Mike Doyle used to run. Up into Bellair past the driveway lined by an avenue of huge palm trees that dwarf the house, past the impressive Albert Luthuli hospital, across the Mkombaan River and into Chesterville at the big shisanyama and beer hall. Andile is waiting outside her home, she hops in and we drive past the Pavilion shopping centre and into Westville and home.

The two girls whoop and give each other a big hello and a hug. Then Andile promptly disappears into the bedroom and Jess into the lounge and they don’t see or speak to each other till suppertime! Of course they may have been busily engaged with each other and a dozen friends on their social media, for all I know. Wifi, after all.



An earlier pic of them one Easter.

Salt Rock Gap



Gail & Sean Robinson invited us along to join them and friends Len and Ann on their Salt Rock getaway. Brave souls! They probly thought “Let’s ask Pete, Jess and Tom”. They got Pete, Jess, Tom, Lungelo, Ryan and Andile!!

Luckily the boys slotted in smoothly, eating, sleeping and fishing like Vaalies-by-die-see. And even getting a bit of exercise walking to Tiffany’s centre a few km’s away when they ran out of bait.


The girls did much the same except for the exercise and fishing parts. They did swim, and they rescued tiny toadlets from the pool – so the birds could eat them.

Whatta lovely weekend, with the weather doing all its things: Rain, wind, sun, quiet and cool. Everything but hot. Wonderful.

I walked to Chaka’s Rock a kilometre or so South where we had enjoyed our first by-die-see as Vrystaters in 1963! It has changed somewhat!

see: https://vrystaatconfessions.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/chakas-rock-1963/

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. 

Tongue Piercing Avoided . . Wallet Pierced Instead.

So D-Day dawned today and I was trapped. She’s done all her homework, researched it, found a slash-for-cash artist, priced it, drawn her money and extracted a promise from me that I’d take her TODAY. How to get out of this? Jess, does your school even allow piercing? I ask.

Of course yes, Dad. Well, clever question that was.

Sudden inspiration! BRIBERY!

Jess, which would you rather have: A pierced tongue, or a notebook computer?

Ooh, that got her thinking.

A proper tablet, not a cheapie? Well, . . yes.

Hm. She lets me sweat. And can I still have my tongue pierced later? Well, yes, after school you’re on your own, kid.

A real tablet computer TODAY? Sure.

OK Dad, I’ll take the tablet, I won’t have my tongue pierced. I’ve decided and I’m sure about it.

Phew! I’m very relieved my girl, I really was worried and unhappy.

Then she drops her bombshell: I was having second thoughts myself, Dad!

Jess Tongue Tongue safe – for now