Life perspective

The New Religion Called Diet

Tele-evangelism like marketing leads the way with promises of a newfound you. These are backed up by powerful testimonies and anecdotal science (before and after photos). There’s also a strong altar call afterwards (buy these products, be they books or supplements) to all those wishing to change and converts go out into the world heralding enthusiastically the benefits of this new diet. New testimonies are born and shared around the dinner table and litter social media by the growing score of followers (yes, another loaded term). Books are written. Websites are dedicated. Courses are started. Markets boom. Industries grow. Even governments get involved and issue regulations. Naturally, not all of these assemblies are the same and they all use slightly different marketing methods to appeal to their flock, but the underlying hooks are the same. People haven’t changed in years.

How do you know if someone is following a new diet? They tell you. All the time. They will also be able to explain how the diet works and why it works in detail. And often the goal is aesthetics. Some will throw performance-related benefits into the mix but the benefits are still firmly entrenched in aesthetics. And, like all good religions, the core of that belief will get manipulated and ultimately misrepresented into bastard forms (either willfully or out of ignorance) that claim allegiance to the original but in reality have strayed so far down the garden path that anyone with small amount of patience can easily spot the hole. Of course, a lot see what they want to see. None so blind. But with the growing number of apologists (defenders of The Diet) it’s hard to sit outside in the cold wondering if you got it all wrong.

Followers of The Diet, be the goal aesthetic or performance, have one god in common: their own body. The promise of eternal youth, quality of living and longevity is such a strong pull that despite our self-proclaimed noble, scientific, rational or liberal outlooks, we fall for the silly so easily. We serve our body. We worship our body keeping it holy (which literally means set apart, or specially recognized) with an extensive list of thou-shall-not-eats (and or dos). Some more disciplined than others, there are still measures in place for those that slip up. Penance is usually paid by doing some extra “cardio” and followers rally to the help of their backsliding brother or sister with encouraging picture memes on their timeline to remind them of their purpose.

Detractors of The Diet are met with contempt if all attempts at proselytizing have failed. Ostracized or ignored, the scorned heathen will be left to their own nutritional habits. These detractors similarly start to develop a strong annoyance with anything related to The Diet on account of being endlessly battered by bullshit: current blog post as reference. Some detractors with a little more energy will engage in direct warfare thus creating the much needed tension which will help to keep The Diet alive. Because after the initial honeymoon is over, and all the longitudinal studies have been concluded, the lack of common sense will need a distraction.

But, at the end of the day, we all free to follow and serve and believe what we want. Ultimately, death will judge (if you even believe that). There are no medals in this lifetime that serve us in the grave and some will get there sooner than others (regardless of diet, lifestyle or otherwise). And in following, serving and believing, we are all free to enthusiastically share what we have on our hearts with others- it’s part of what makes us beautiful (and annoying). And in that beautiful journey we try cultivate a sophisticated sense of tolerance towards others with a different viewpoint- some more successfully than others. So if following The Diet works for you, that’s great and all, but maybe wearing a specially-recognized hat indicating you want to expound the mysteries of your diet on strangers is a good idea. That way, like the krishnas, Mormons and JWs, we know when we need to avoid eye contact and save everyone a world of awkwardness thus carefully preserving that politely veiled sense of tolerance we call world peace.

Life perspective

Getting out of bed

On my way to go paddle this morning, I stopped at a red traffic light. It was still dark out, a shade after 5:30AM and only the intermittent cars and buildings were glowing. In the shadows of the black, was a lone man; a vagrant. Blind. He was sitting softly at the light, clutching his make-shift guide stick; his face buried into his free hand.

He was sobbing.

I stopped and listened carefully. In between the sobs, he was singing a really sad song. In a foreign tongue but with the sweetest tones.

Miles from home, in a foreign country all alone, blind and wandering the streets of Cape Town sits a grown man crying.

And I’m off to go paddle in the pursuit of health, happiness and adventure. I’ll go back home after my hard paddle and choose between a breakfast of oats or Pronutro and huddle around the breakfast table with my clan drinking hot tea.

Never complain about getting out of bed. Ever.

Life perspective

Nothing Wrong With The Government

In every age and civilisation, when men didn’t agree with the status quo, they teamed up. They plotted and planned (illegally if they had to) and put into action, a labour of passion that would change the way things are. Sometimes, they would rewrite history. They were men of conviction and action. So, yes, it’s not the government at fault for *whatever*- it’s the men that fail to do nothing about it that’s really at fault.

I’ve written about tweeting our demise; watching the world burn while we compete for first in breaking the news on twitter, or getting an instagram or video up on youtube before anyone else…

And today, the notion was re-inforced listening to “grown” men fawn over each other about how ripped their abs were- and then compare notes on training supplements. Because these things are *really* important. The “bluddy government” is not a real problem- just another conversation topic.

Oh, and it hailed pretty badly up north, apparently. Check it out. This video is insane!

Life perspective

Betrayed in Prayer

Our prayers can betray us through the language we often use, or perhaps, default on. Sometimes it might just be a habit we’ve adopted without thinking about- and with all sincerity, we think it’s ok. But let’s unpack an interaction between two close friends, Ben and John. Ben finds himself in the awkward position of having to tell John that he has just crashed John’s car…

Ben: “Hey, John. Here I am. I stand before you to tell you something.”

Wait, stop.

Who is Ben really talking to… or more importantly, who is Ben talking for? That’s not really how friends talk to each other. They are both present in the conversation so Ben doesn’t really need to describe what he’s doing. Unless of course, John is blind and needs some context. Which in itself is equally interesting…

So when we pray, why do so many of us describe where we are and what we are doing to an omniscient God?

Us: “Lord, Here I stand before Your throne to ask for Your forgiveness…”

Do we think that He is blind to where we are and what we are doing? What are we trying to say and for whose benefit? It seems a little bit wishy-washy but maybe you think it’s respectful, polite or politically correct? It doesn’t really matter. Simply put, we don’t really talk that way. It’s just a little weird.

I feel we take our cue though from popular songs and, or from attending to and listening to too many prayers- not actually saying as many for ourselves. For example, when a leader prays, he prays for those gathered and almost tells a story and describes a lot of context. That is always for the benefit of those there that are, in context, slightly anonymous. In the same way you might over-elaborate a dinner at story time for the benefit of an invited guest who isn’t intimate with the details of the conversations.

A real conversation has a far more natural flow. And that’s where we betray ourselves; in the reality of the conversation we’re having.

Ben: “Hey, John. I’m sorry, I crashed your car.”

Us: “Lord, forgive me”

Simpler. And there’s a lot more we try and describe, add flowery images to and wax eloquently with prepared phrases and time-honoured sentences we’ve heard probably far too often. We can probably do a little better than that. Step into a real conversation with a real person.

Other phrases like: “… I kneel before you …” when we’re actually just sitting or standing. Which, we are quick to point out in a defence is a condition of the heart, and that we’re actually metaphorically kneeling when we say that. Well, sure but however you feel about that, why do we even feel the need to say that? Does it make us sound more pious and holy? Do we feel the need to impress whomever is hearing (besides God)?

There’s a couple more, but it’s not about picking on any of them really. It’s more about encouragement and pushing into having more meaningful and deeper conversations in prayer; without the burden of trying too hard and being overly PC. Just talk.

Life perspective Technology

Twitter Money

Stumbled upon a funny chirp the other day; equating twitter fame with monopoly money. Chuckle. It’s true. Obviously, some would disagree quite strongly with that sentiment- probably the same ones with a lot of hotels on Eloff Street?

Anyhow, shortly after that, Pussy Riot made headlines. Erm, ok. I ignored that (who on earth are Pussy Riot anyway?) till I read about the Kremlin’s interpretation of “free-speech” and their utter disregard for the entire Twitter-protest. I mean, even celebrities were tweeting! Shucks. Pussy Riot was trending.. somewhere. People were getting upset. And tweeting! Surely that would have made Putin think twice?

Apparently not.

Then I came to a frightening conclusion after a little extrapolation of online cultural behaviour: we’re going to tweet our demise and be left with a world burning behind us while we wonder #wtf?

Egypt worked because people actually *did* something and used a medium to communicate and co-ordinate their actions. It doesn’t mean Facebook and Twitter became all powerful and capable of toppling governments. If you believe that, you’re probably sitting on a stack of Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free cards and smuggly smiling to yourself.

No, Twitter is not powerful. Nor is Facebook or any other social medium. Fact is, you can organise a coup d’etat without any online social platform. Shock. Even more startling: you actually have to get off the network for a bit and *do* something in the real world to affect real change.

It’s much the same as a $1 re-tweet to help save children dying of hunger in Eritrea. How do you even know that’s *really* working? Or are you happy to just RT and put your conscience to sleep? What about closer to home: the homeless freezing their tails off but at least you look good by sparing them a thought online. As someone in my TL suggested: spare a blanket, not a thought! That would mean actually getting outside and doing something about it though…

Ok, enough of the holier-than-thouness. We’re all guilty of sitting cosy and looking good- trying to capitalize on events and circumstances and adding our thoughts. We’re good at being human. And as you will notice, most of the thoughts outlined here have purposely been chosen from those very same platforms- to illustrate a point. Conversations are great, but without action…

So going back to our little demise… Edmund Burke is quoted as saying: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. I say: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to keep busy tweeting about it”. Oh, and I would include women there as well as men.

Less virtual. More real.

Life perspective

Preamble To The Constitution of South Africa (or the best thing I’ve read in a while)

We, the people of South Africa, Recognize the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to

* Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
* Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
* Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person
* Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

May God protect our people.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso. God seen Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa. Mudzimu fhatushedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika.

There’s more to that over here


Touch Down Mauritius

Landing in Mauritius in the middle of a South African winter is, well, just plain “lekka”. And on landing here, there are already memories about this little island and its inhabitants which I can carry as long as I can…

The first memory is discovering why so many people don’t want to leave. You’ve heard the stories, I’m sure. Well, I certainly don’t want to leave because I’m not sure we’re going to survive the bus trip back to the airport! The brochure said “a 45 minute drive”. The brochure didn’t say that if Shivvy was driving, at night, in the dark, it would be 26 minutes. Shivvy is an ex-NASCAR racer (I’m certain) and understands the finer points of bump-drafting all too well while preserving fuel in the slip and is the only person I know to double-clutch a diesel bus in 3rd gear going up a hill.

The other memory is the stray dogs who have graduated the school of Hard Knocks (Shivvy was a professor there, incidentally). They scatter like rats when they see headlights approaching, which, if you consider the candles dubbed “headlights”, it’s not really that much notice at all. But they manage with cat-like reflexes. Not many slow hounds about…

And from the glimpses I caught of the passing scenery, the island reminds me a lot of the Caribbean and my journeys around that part of the world- and Ecuador. So the real Mauritius is very down-to-earth, even poor and a far cry from the brochures with immaculate finery. Not to say the finery doesn’t exist. Oh, it does indeed. A strong contrast as we enter our little hideaway behind security gates and settle down into a week of “whatever” (with a bit of ocean paddling thrown in for good measure).

One keen reminder for me is just how much “sport” plays a role in my (your) life. Tom once said about sport (particularly committing and dedicating yourself to whatever sport you choose) is that it gives you two T’s in life (he may have been quoting someone else though, not entirely sure). Tools and Tickets. Tools to deal with life and Tickets to awesome places. And then Barry Lewin once tweeted along the lines: choose the races, places and faces and then go there. So sport does give me (you) that escape, that release, that adventure all the while arming you with tools; determination and focus.

Anyhoo, we’ll see what the rest of the experience brings- we’re looking forward to it- and seeing it in the bright daylight. If this hotel is anything to go by (Tamassa in a part of the island called Bel Ombre) I’m already not wanting to go back home.

The program for the week is And the weather is… ahhhhh.


Healthy Desk Jockeys

Because i code… and code… and code… then code some more (you get the point) i tend to spend a fair amount of time with my fingers on the keyboard, an open LCD monitor staring back at me and worlds of awesomeness (all disguised as code) swirling around me. And then every so once in a while I’ll get some fresh air and go do something else “cool”.

But for the most part, i sit. Sometimes slouch. Badly.

Then a few years ago i started with regular back pain. I won’t bore you with the details. We have all back pain somewhere between the thoracic and the lumbar. It happens. And so i tried almost everything to correct my bad posture. Surfing helps keep that back flexed “the other way” but you can’t -always- surf. Ok, so you can. But unless you’re really really (really really) good or have rich grandparents, you’re not going to eat nicely (an entirely different problem altogether).

Alexander Technique, sitting on a oversized (and somewhat colorful) swiss ball, taking frequent breaks; all the tips you can throw a Google search at. Even tried changing my desk setup and “sitting correctly”. I followed the diagrams and posters on the walls of the physio to the ‘T’. None of it was that practical and most of it interfered with “me”. The ball actually made my shoulder/back problem worse.

Then I got a Mac and that all changed. Just kidding. It wasn’t the Mac 🙂

No, quite accidentally, i came across working out with kettlebells right about the time my brother started working at this gym in cape town: one80. Of course he learned a lot working there and he shared his knowledge and as he settled in, i spent some time working out with one80 here and there. The short times that I have spent in their gym inspired me to do more body-weight and kettlebell workouts. The result: no more back pain!

I can code for hours longer… i can swim way more than i used to… i feel “lighter” on my feet and i’ve had to do some pretty amazing things around the house. For example; fix a curtain rail from a very awkward angle (which, in a thousand words i won’t get right in describing) needless to say when my daughter walked into the room and saw me she said: “Wow, Mommy. What’s Daddy doing?”

No to mention the almost-daily heater-goblet-squat up and down two flights of stairs (once in the morning, once at night). Not that easy when you have a baby-gate to navigate and the gas bottle is full. And of course, playtime is so much more fun when you can squat, press and launch a 13kg toddler for 20 quick reps.

So, yes. If you just know you need to get back in shape -even if it’s just so you can code for longer or survive behind the keyboard for those extra hours- turn your life around, one80 degrees.


I’m Rich

I’m rich. Wealthy. Loaded. Rolling. Abundant. I have inherited millions over the last few weeks. Millions. In euros, pounds and dollars. And not Zim dollars. I’m talking USD, GPB and EUR millions.

It all started with Microsoft awarding me, not once, not twice, but over three times in the last few weeks, USD$10K at a time. Yahoo also followed and awarded me USD$1M. Just randomly. Can you believe my luck? Then, just as I thought I was getting lucky, I got real lucky.

In the space of 2 weeks, I won the Swiss Lottery (USD$100M), Spanish Lottery (EUR30M) and the Canadian Lottery (USD$28M). At least twice each. I kid you not. I have got the emails to prove it. Then my email address got entered into a lucky draw with billions of other people around the world and you’d never guess what happened? I won. 6 times. Twice, I won EUR1M, a couple times I won some other amounts. Whew! You’ll forgive me at this stage for not keeping track of exactly how much- you can imagine my giddiness. Besides, after a while, a bar here, a bar there. Who needs to keep track?

But it didn’t end there. The Nigerian government want to give me more money for compensating any losses I may have incurred because of email scams. Fortunately, I’m way too smart to fall for some pathetic email hoax. The Mali government want to apologise, in cash, for one of their citizens stealing my ATM card and transporting it all the way to their borders only to be apprehended by diligent border patrol. Apparently, the embarassment is too much? And the Saudi government want to use my bank account to transfer gazillions out of the country- a service they are only happy to pay for with 15% of the transfer. What’s 15% of a gazillion in USD converted to ZAR anyway?

On a sad note though, it just so happened that in the same last couple of weeks, a lot of my extended family have been dying. It turns out I have uncles, aunts, grandparents and friends of the family all over the world (whom I’ve never met) just bequeathing their entire estates (often worth more millions) to me alone. I need to chat to my mom about these family members and why we were never invited on ski holidays with them. Nonetheless, wrapping up all theses estates is going to take time and money- but money i have plenty of and I’ll just pay someone else for their time to do it.

The bad news however is that my bank have been sending me a lot of urgent notices to update my details so i can continue banking with them online. At first i ignored the emails- but then my millions weren’t arriving. No surprises there i guess. Afterall, they did say in the email that if i don’t logon with my username and password, all banking activity (online and off) will be suspended. Just shows: read your emails.

Anyways, so now I decided to update my online banking details after the umpteenth urgent final notice from my bank. Woohoo! My first of many millions should start arriving any day now….

Life perspective

The Next Round

So it was an incredibly busy end-of-year (2009) with exams, lifesaving, BlackBerry and .NET projects and family life. And then the festive season came and went; New Year’s slipped by and now we’re this side of 2010 looking forward to another round of whatever may be.
And right off the bat, tax season looms. Registration for university is on the go, lifesaving competitions get into full swing with some major events, followed by mid-year exams and winter. And then 3Nut (sprog #3) arrives and then (allegedly) the exponential busy-ness kicks in. So already, the first half of the year is underway at a pace. Which is New Year’s celebrations have always been foreign to me.
There’s this air of expectation around them like something “new” and exciting will be heralded in and when you wake up the next day and everything is supposed to be “different”. And because it’s New Year, you have a milestone whereby you can mark your life’s progress. Strange. Why wait to do that only once a year?
Every day is filled with new and exciting adventures. Every day is a milestone and an accomplishment. Every day is different and is definitively the last of _that_ day you’ll ever have.
So, today is the day you make a resolution; and if you resolve to do something, it means you do it- not just think about doing it. “Carpe diem” is the old expression (which i strangely don’t hear much anymore?) so seize the carp!