Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ambition - The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly

Its good to have goals. Its not ideal being attached to them. The only certainty is that you can then be disappointed in the outcome. What is important is to set those goals and work full tilt at reaching them. You'll find once you loose the attachment to the end resuuuuuuuult that you will actually be more effective AND enjoy the journey to the end goal so much more.

This little salmon dude hopefully had a good life and was not looking forward too much to the outcome (even if it was to find a hot babe salmon chick and get laid at the end of his journey up stream) as you can see all too clearly he is just a piece in a greater puzzle ... in this case a 10 000 piece puzzle of a hungry Grizzly.

Taking this thinking into the world we do our thing in from day to day, I think there is a good scenario to demonstrate these thoughts in action.
Take old people: In simple cultures the old people are so much more content with their situation after living a life with daily challenges that brought them happiness and satisfaction there and then. Those are the cultures least caught up in the trappings of the society I live in. Those oldies still remain a very important part of the community for the people that they find themselves in the company off, even respected and admired. My perception is that they are far more content and peaceful than the ...

Old people in my world? Not much is thought of them I am afraid. Perhaps the odd passing thought of how funny they dress or how out of touch they are. Not many seem too happy either. There just seems to be a ton of regret, bitterness and self loathing as the realisation hits of how futile 'its' all been. They are treated like they have become children again. They are made to feel helpless because they are told that is what they are. The adjustment to becoming older has been ignored as they have been too busy chasing what they thought was important. So much invested in that pursuit and now it suddenly hits home that the important things are all too simple, free and were there all the time to get their teeth into and they missed it!
Not likely to be able to start fresh now, it is into a wallowing pool of despair or at best apathy that they now exist and that's where we expect them to be. To work past all the crap that they have built up over the years is not even contemplated for most - I don't think.

My Grandmother who died just a few years back was sensational. Never one to move with the flock of other western grannies. I would always be expecting her back from places like India, with strange musical instruments or cushions with miniature mirrors in them. Totally exotic vibe for the time. She would never wear those funny granny outfits that seem to be handed out at old age homes and places the oldsters gather. Always a skirt of bright flowers with a neatly tucked in white shirt and some comfy shoes. Those eyes were constantly alive and awake with much intelligence and confidence. There was tons of pain and disappointment to deal with in her life I am certain, but I never noticed her striving for something that was not worth the journey. The journey of her life seemed so worthwhile and not because of the results, but because of the way she lived it.
My buddy Andy recently posted a piece on hindsight ... it is generally accepted that you can't have it. Fortunately on PlanetPi, time in not linear so this whole blog serves as hindsight for YOU when you are 82 ... come back from that age now and adjust, add to and savour your life so you don't get too caught up in those attachments you are told, and sold, are all important.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"It doesn’t mean much to be a man of importance. The most important person at a funeral is the dead man." - CJ Langenhoven

A person I knew briefly, died a few days ago. Until recently I never understood death and how it fits into our cycle of interaction on this planet. I had no real way of reacting naturally to death and the way I did end up reacting was - I am ashamed to say - contrived. I knew I was supposed to feel things in a certain way and even coaxed the odd tear or two. Not to fake it just convincing myself this is how I should be at the time to fit into reacting to death. It never felt right though.

I have been very fortunate now to understand the meaning behind death with a lot more clarity. The perpetuated sadness is not ideal. I am not advocating massive changes to dealing with losing a child, husband or friend. Understanding what occurs though is well advised as it is far removed from the lazy, yet bizarre notions most of the people I know have on the subject. In fact the effects of how we deal with death are not lost, but have impact on the being departed from the physical world, so it is not only worthwhile working out what the vibe is with death, but in fact beneficial to the person you love.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"You guys line up alphabetically by height." and "You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle." Colin Cooper Hirricanes Head Coach

I don't think even this genius could do worse than our head clown Peter de Villiers. So many South African's are watching helplessly as a team of players as good and usually better than any others in the world, crumble into an unnatural role of losers. Watching these Springbok beasts wilt against there natural rivals is like watching Obelix having his super strong powers (from falling into a magic potion cauldron at Birth) taken away and receiving a beating from some insignificant roman legionaries. The expressions are not just those of frustration but those of helplessness, perhaps with a touch of longing too. Longing for the philandering Jake White to leave his gallivanting behind, skip the session with the shrink and to return to the change rooms of the World Champions that he was so much a part of.
De Villiers is a total and utter screw up and it seems as though those of us that were holding onto the hope that Garry Glitter and Dick Pure would keep the shine and integrity of the Champs in place, well even we are losing our grip on that hope as we watch mouths agape at the shit pouring out of Peters:

"What we try to tell them is when you point your finger into the sky, don't concentrate on the finger because you'll miss all the heavenly glory out there." - On telling his players to enjoy life.

"So we will be aware of the threats they can pose to us but, then again, it's war and you die." - On Australia's (slightly over-stated) likely aggression in Perth.

"The laws are there and we are law-abiding citizens of South Africa and we will never over-step anything." - On the Boks playing to the referee.

"Now we have to go out there and do it ourselves and maybe it is going to be not too good for the two teams if they take the law into their own hands, if it is not being officiated the way that we want it to go." - Two minutes later, on the referee playing to the Boks.

"We are playing the Tri-Nations under the Experimental Law Variations. With respect to the Welsh, what do South Africans see as the biggest challenge this year, the most important games for the Boks? I think you can answer that question for yourself. Everyone wants us to beat New Zealand, we play them twice in New Zealand during the Tri-Nations," - On the importance of the friendly series with Wales.

"Test rugby is war. We're going back to the trenches. We have to build a side that will die for the country." - On preparations for a friendly series against Wales of hitherto secondary importance.

"My preparations for the Springbok team are secondary. It's about what the country wants." - On being happy with his squad depth.

"A lot of guys put up their hands and I want to make it clear that the Springbok door is not shut to anyone." - On leaving out players from his first Springbok squad.

"There is a time to come and a time to go. I am looking to the next four years, and some people may find that their time to go is earlier than expected." - One week later, on leaving out players from his first Springbok team.

"Either you can give him the opportunity to play himself into form or he can take the opportunity to play himself out of form because players always want to be the best and they can push themselves too far." - On...erm... something to do with squad rotation.

"Even if you're playing a game on the moon, if you have the skills and you play well, you will win." - On choosing the right team for the right time.

"I am a very competitive person, I can't play a card game and not be competitive. There is nothing friendly about what I do." - On trying to be the best (said with a big warm smile).

"The fact is, they were so spoon-fed by the previous regime. Now we are asking them to think a bit, it is a culture shock for them. They are scared to make decisions because they have been so spoilt. Everything was there, they didn't have to decide on anything. They didn't take the blame for anything." - On his new-look team's failure to respond to recent setbacks.

Peter de Villierisms from

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"If the world were to blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done." – Peter Ustinov

It's interesting stuff these limits we put on ourselves and others by arrogantly declaring "it can't be done". I was once challenged to eat a loaf of bread and did so with ease. The prize was a couple of Big Macs which I cleaned up no problem right afterwards. The strange thing is we place all these constraints on ourselves. That is, when we are born we are pure, but quickly tainted by our parents and others to make sure we have little chance in truly interacting as humans to our fullest potential. Did you know that up to about 6 months, if a baby is placed in water it will come up for a breath naturally and then of its own free will, it dives back down again in the water as a natural reflex. By choice. There is not much of that going about later on in life though. Watching the athletes in the Olympics breaking records it is so cool to see that the boundaries are overcome really quickly. I mean from one four year period (not a long time in evolution of man at all) to another the performances get better and better. It does take a huge effort to pass the existing marks set by others. Far too much energy as much of it is spent on a coach trying to psyche his charge up to believe they can actually take on the records. Then you get a guy like Michael Johnson or Phelps (he eats about a dozen eggs in a sitting ...they would have a good home with the loaf I mentioned earlier) who are specimens not too bothered about other peoples performances and have supreme confidence in themselves. They seem to cruise past the records. The African long distance runners are not just breaking the seemingly incredible feats already set up by their countrymen in previous years, they are doing so at the ages of 18 years and 20 years old. It does not make sense to the masses watching, especially those that know some simple maths. Where will the records stop in the question you see ... there is simply no answer that will come out in the form of a year, date or time now is there? So when will they stop? How can they though and why must they. Because eventually they will reach zero you answer, and you can't run the 100m in 0 seconds can you.
0 is just a number, a barrier at the end of a scale created by our good selves. I reckon that Jamaican Bolt characters great great grandchild - Lightning, will still be knocking that time down steadily in 60 years time and we'll still be saying it can't be done.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Begin each day as if it were on purpose." - Alex Hitchins

I know a guy who did today! Geeez I am teary eyed and buzzing after Llandudno won our first gold medal ever - so far. Jan Frodeno gave the most incredible performance this morning in China ... Beijing to be precise. Jan was competing in the Mens Triathlon. One of the most hotly contested events in the OLYMPICS with the most incredible athletes taking part and preparing themselves stukkend to make sure they would be the one's to finish with Gold. Jan had a chance but was certainly no favourite, what with that fast little Spaniard Gomez in the mix as well as others who had consistently finished ahead of Jan in the world series. The thing is if he managed to be there at the finish anything was possible in at the Olympics.
The comment most used when speculating about the winner in the last 6 months was probably "it's going to take a little bit extra from whom ever wins", I suggested in a message to Jan that although he was competing under the German flag he had the extra African something special that he should use as his 'something extra'. It was probably an extra dose of German resolve that got him over the line first, BUT we are very happy for Jan and feel closer to that gold medal knowing he began all that preparation riding up the killer Llandudno hill for each session of training as a youngster before heading North to represent his country of heritage.
Stoked Jan! You are a legend so I hope you enjoy the moment as much as you deserve to. Wunder Shurn Bro!

Friday, August 15, 2008

[Amélie hands a beggar at the station some money] Beggar: Sorry madam, I don't work on Sundays.

That's what you can call commitment to the task. Is there anything you commit to at that level? At the moment for me it is waking up at 5:45am for a ride. It is dark till just before 7am so I stick those flashy lights on which have helped so far as I still have not been knocked over. It's also cold, but not nearly as cold as I think it is while still in bed imagining what the conditions are like outside. Less than two minutes into the ride and the conditions are forgotten, the darkness feels comfortable and the cold seem to be there just to give you a good morning salutation rather than for any form of discomfort. The coast road is pretty quiet that time of day and Chapman's Peak closed to traffic so extra special to be cruising up there in solitude. By the time we get to Hout Bay the fishing boats are heading out and you know those poor buggers must have been up early and gone to bed late if there is a run of snoek, tuna or yellow tail - commitment.

On the way back along to coast road now traveling with the masses of traffic heading to work, just past the 12 Apostles Hotel there is a general fracas ahead as a line of cars in building up on the shoulder of the road, having hopped out their cars to stare at the ocean. Blue and I wondered what had made the manic work goers loose precious time on their work trip so we stopped to stare like lemmings. It was not long before we noticed the incredibly large fin from the humpback whale as the dude rolled around on his belly. Just about 20m from the shoreline so we could see the barnacles that patterned his body hitching themselves to the large beast for a lifetime of free riding. What was interesting though was although this big guy was just bobbing around and looked at ease, the vibe from the people was that he MUST be in in trouble. Cell phones were out as wild life organisations were hastily harassed with warnings that they had best come and save the poor whale. I don't think the old boy was in trouble at all with hardly even a swell to lift a piece of kelp out of the water. We said good bye to the Whale and cruised past the startled cars to finish the ride that took so much effort to commit to, but was so clearly worthwhile the effort.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"They’re prescription. That’s why I wear them." – Jack Nicholson

Mine went missing this weekend at my brothers 'Safari' party. Eric-the-viking was the culprit and I was about to track him down when he sent me an sms to explain. I was not to worry and he had them all safely in hand after walking off with the wayfarer's in a drunken moment of thoughtfulness. All is forgiven Eric. You could easily have blamed it on the dude in the Ape Suite though.

That's what this blog was about. A call to action to see who had my old sunnies. They were found before I could post it though so problem solved. You can stop looking for them and get back to watching those Olympics in Beijing.
Have you been watching? The Chinese have got away with things for the moment, but I reckon there is some heavy shit brewing. Just as a warm up check out how they dumped the little girl with angelic voice and crooked teeth for a prettier version to have on show. Not too serious I agree, but a good analogy to the overall picture of the Olympics in China. Have you heard about the Chinese dude who went crazy and stabbed two American supporters of the Volleyball team? Probably not. Hey I am enjoying the sports, but these Chinese punks have not gone about 'building' these Olympics the correct way and that has left a bad taste in my mouth. Kind of like I should imagine the smog must taste in Beijing.

post script: Did you watch the opening ceremony? I caught about a half hour and was watching the 'supporters' along the side of the track as the teams marched into the stadium. No one can jump around and wave there arms in the air for that long. There must have been some torture method going on there. My guess is they were told they would have to look after the Aussies for two weeks if they stopped waving.

Friday, August 8, 2008

"Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another's fear" – Umberto Eco

This one is just too true and you can put it into practice next time you are feeling a bit scared. I think it is part of the animal side of us. When people say dogs can smell fear, I reckon it means they are able to sense fear in us and know that is time to take advantage of it. Most people will carry a piece of fear with them all day long, so next time you are in a situation and you feel it rising in you and you're not that amped to have it hindering your performance in a one-on-one situation, recognise your 'opponents' fear and take control.

A point to bear in mind is that this animal like instinct of managing your fear at the expense of another works well while:
  • Grocery shopping (there is always much fear in most shoppers that people will actually see all the shit they have in their trolley and even more so that they will be 'bust' with one ply toilet paper)
  • On the fields of sport (where many athletes know their weakness a whole lot better than you could ever suspect ... this works especially well when confronted with lane rage in the pool. Once you have a person in a head lock and are holding them and their nostrils below water level, the levels of apprehension for one's ability to hold one's breath are pretty infinite)
  • Dealing with any confrontation with old people. You will have noticed how little fight most of them have in them. Most often mistook for frailty this is actually a result of so much guilt racked up over the years and not dealt with, that turns to fear.
The technique of fear reversal will have no effect on:
  • Bank tellers who have the luxury of sitting behind glass as thick as the earths crust and don't care.
  • Call center people who are not actually human, but artificial intelligence (designed by the same guys who invented the Rubik's cube) and programmed to see how much grief they can cause in as short a period as possible. At the moment the Vodaphone UK customer care are in the lead (there is a world wide compo to see who can cause the most irritation before we find them out. The prize is a contract to be the exclusive call center for all queries on all subjects world wide).
post script: Barking is not necessarily the best way to gain the upper hand her, a good hard look into their eyes will help though. They will feel you have found them out and your courage will build accordingly. Barking is no the best way but it does work.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

“In human life there are moments worth ages” - William Wordsworth

Have you had one?
You don't know what I am on about here? Well it 's Bill Shakespeare's goings on to be more precise, but it's my blog so I get to do the explaining from my perspective.
What we have here is a short moment that passes so quickly, but that is far more intense than would be normal for its actual time in existence, or means more than you would at first think. I suppose in his case it would be the first time he saw the patrons of his fabled Globe Theatre, launching their cushions at the stage in appreciation of his works. Or perhaps twas the time he was bothered by a few bees while knocking back some sweet watermelon and trying to decide if he should have the last slice or not, the very instant that lead to his most famous line contemplating just how many bee's there were in attendance at that time.
I don't know, I was not there. If I was, I know I would have beaten him to that last slice while he was dilly dallying about 2 bee's or not 2 bees or 3 bee's or what ever.
Some moments of mine that past by in a flash but meant a whole lot ... there are plenty. I tend to take in what happens around me. Sometimes that means staring at people a little too intently which gets me into shit I must confess. The first blitzvinning instant that stands out as one that happened in slow motion - like those cool new camera's they have at the cricket that show a booger in KP's (Kevin Pietersen to those who hate cricket, yes I know you do and I don't care) nose roll out his left nostril, bounce of his ego and spring right back to the same nostril over about a 5 second time frame, but back to my slow motion encounter. It was a 5pm rush hour traffic scenario. Location: Long Street in Cape Town just outside the swimming pool intersection. I was approaching said intersection from the slight downhill on Fabrizio the 1966 legendary Vespa of mine. For this episode Fabrizio decides to shed his legend status and at the same time his back wheel. Now the slow motion part kicks in. Seemingly before I realised the Vespa I am cruising on is actually minus one wheel and dragging it's wasp like ass on the road, I noticed my back wheel come cruising past me. Not ideal. Moving swiftly into a rush hour intersection time seemed to pass really slowly for some reason and I have time to witness my own back wheel forming a sub group and going solo. Obviously it wasn't long after that I was vaulted over the handle bars and was grinding my hip and wrist as hard as I could into the road as the Vespa came sliding down towards me in a hurry. The moment was instant and seemed like an age. It has clearly left a lasting impression(s) - a moment worth ages and scars to keep that moment company over those ages.
A less traumatic incident worth ages? Lets go back to 1994 - South Africa, about to sprout the most famous rainbow - later they named the rainbow, probably the first one ever to actually be named, although the Bible zealots will probably claim their rainbow was called NoahRainbow or ArkRainbow ... too late she cried. We all know that one as just rainbow so no use trying to spice it up now.
So it was the year of the first free and fair elections as the papers so enjoy calling them. Late one night after drinking unabated in the Burbs and on the way home to the family house in Hout Bay, I knew I had to stop the car. It was not a discussion in my head, it was matter of fact. I knew I had to stop the car, jump out, climb the lamppost and pull with all my might (and there is might in my pull believe me) on the razor like rope with on hand while clinging on to the lamppost with the other. The prize for my efforts was an Election campaign poster and backing board. The large ones that are about as big as say 60 packets of Frito's (the small ones - Barbecue) or Eight Pronutro boxes. No? OK A1 size for the media punks out there. It was an ANC banner inviting all South Africans- of voting age, to put their mark behind Nelson Mandela. The inscription read simply 'MANDELA FOR PRESIDENT ' at the top and the rest was a massive ironic smiling Madiba bust (that's head neck and shoulders guys, not his man boobs) looking knowingly outward with a great sense of satisfaction never seen before and surely never to be seen again on any campaigning politicians face. I still have that poster in it's original condition as if I had plucked it freshly from that lamppost on Victoria Road in Hout Bay 14 years ago. How happy am I for that moment that I clambered drunkenly up the lamppost? Happy enough I can assure you.

post script: Any punk off the street can purchase the Madiba poster for about a hundred bucks I think. Not quite the same though I'm afraid. One has Madiba Magic ingrained in it from the very moment in history that has generations hooked. The other ... well the other is a poster you can buy at the local stationer, today, now and if you are cooking your dinner and can't make it to the shop right now, you can still buy it tomorrow ... no not quite the same thing. Replica's never are.