Wednesday 30 June 2021

See it (from the air), find it (on Google Earth)

 I flew to Jo'burg last week and returned to George on Tuesday evening.

I've always enjoyed identifying features seen from the air, especially as the plane is on its way up or down when you can see clearly, to gauge my location and orientation.

On the flight out, I spotted some interesting trails just outside of George. I also recognised Oudtshoorn in the far distance and then De Rust, the farm I spent four days visiting a few weeks ago, the Meiringspoort Pass and some other features that I had recently 'flown above' on Google Earth.

Our flight path took us past Parys - my old home town - and then almost following the N1 highway. I identified the Walkerville hills, Turfontein race track, Wemmerpan, my old home suburb in Jo'burg, Linksfield Ridge, my uncle's suburb and other locations as we flew north and then banked sharply to land from the northern 'Denel' side of the airport.

That night, I took to Google Earth to locate some interesting river features (SE of Parys) that I'd seen as well as those trails to the west of George.

On the flight in, there was clear air below the clouds on the approach to enjoy views of the Outeniqua mountains that surround George. Again I took to Google Earth and enjoyed a new game of matching a Google Earth view to my photographs taken from the air.

Check these out...

I was on the western side of the plane so while I didn't have the best light with the sun outside the window, I did get to see super features.

The Google Earth view. Hard to nail the perspective exactly but pretty neat anyway.

In this second view we have the Sentec tower, George Peak (foreground), Craddock Peak (behind) and the Montagu and Outeniqua passes on the left.

Google Earth view of the above photo.

What a blast! A very nice new game to play for the next - and every - time I fly.

Monday 28 June 2021

Inbox insanity

 My inbox look(ed) a lot like this:

Everything is there and I generally know that I can find emails but I do know that there are probably some messages that I've missed.

Over the weekend I helped my uncle with his email folders and decided to be more like him - very neat and organised inbox and folders - by attacking the long-awaited to-do list item of email filing.

I've worked through over 4,500 emails in the inboxes of three email accounts in a day and a bit.  Yes, I also delete emails daily too! These are just emails sitting in my inboxes (all but a few lost souls have been read and replied to) and exclude the count of emails already filed into folders! 

When I got a new laptop in August last year, I started with a clean slate - I did not transfer my emails over from my old computer.

Really, this is ridiculous! The volume of communication that is ongoing is crazy. To say nothing of Whatsapps and and Facebook Messenger messages and the odd ones on Instagram. 

I'm aiming to be a lot more organised in my email processing and filing. With my inboxes cleaned up, I feel a little more in control. Long may this continue.

Sunday 27 June 2021

Bifurcation of people in your life

I am in Jo'burg for a few days. I came up on Wednesday for a small business show background shoot (for YOLO) on Thursday. The studio shoot with the small business panel is on Tuesday so I decided to stay here instead of flying twice.

Being in Jo'burg over the weekend, my initial thoughts were to catch up on visiting friends and relations that I have not seen in person for two years (or more!). My dance card was looking quite full and I was excited about spending time with people. But, with South Africa in the 3rd wave and COVID numbers racking up in Gauteng, I cancelled all arrangements and decided to stay put. 

My flight into Jo'burg took me over Parys and also over my old Jo'burg home. Driving through suburbs in the city that were my old stomping grounds has made me reminisce about people, places and experiences. 

Good people. There really are so many good people around. 

Because my activities have been diverse over the last 25 years, people have come and gone in my life. For a period, our lives would have been on the same path with regular interactions. And then, the path bifurcates and we no longer see each other regularly. That we don't meet up or communicate regularly is a matter of circumstance, not a lack of fondness. 

I really need to get into the habit of regular catch-ups with friends on Zoom or Whatsapp video. Sure, there is the keeping up with people on Facebook, odd Whatsapp messages and birthday calls, but seeing someone's face while you enjoy a good chat does enhance the connection. I'm not very good at reaching out, despite liking, caring and thinking often people that have been in my life. I'm really too caught up in my every day.

 I can improve by making a point to call a friend or relative once-a-week. Committing to more than this may stretch my natural inclination, so I'd rather aim for something that I can handle but that also fulfils a need to just say hi.

I'm staying with my aunt and uncle in Jo'burg. My uncle is a social creature with friendships that span 40, 50, 60 years. Something that he is really good at is giving his friends a call to say hi and to catch up. An admirable trait that's worth adopting.

Monday 14 June 2021

Time flies

The saying goes, "Time flies when you're having fun" but, for me, it actually flies all the time whether you're having fun or not.

This lovely image is from an article on the Huffington Post for a DIY project to make your own Time Flies Butterfly Clock.

I can remember one specific school holiday when it really felt like time was moving at a snail's pace. It would have been before I turned 16 and began waitressing. And I was in high school - so I may have been 14. I can clearly remember doing word puzzles in a magazine while lying like a cat in a sunspot on the carpet. That was the last time that I can remember ever feeling bored.  

In a paper published in 2019, researchers present their explanation of why we think time speeds up as we get older - related to the physics of neural signal processing. 

An older theory is that when you're young, you haven't been on the planet for very long so a week or a month makes up a more significant portion of your existence. If you've been around for 40 years, one month is only 0.2% of what you've lived.

I also think that it feels like time flies more and more with each year because we take on more, do more, accomplish more - every minutes becomes a jam-packed blur.

When my one grandmother retired, it was her plan to do... nothing. While she worked, she was incredibly dynamic. She lived in Paris and did courses - like art history at Le Louvre and she travelled and she met up with friends and work colleagues. When she stopped working, she stopped these activities. My dad asked her about this one time.

She filled each day with set routines, like taking an hour to 'prepare' breakfast, cooking lunch and dinner (taking long to do these), going to the shops daily for bread, fruit and the like, and attending to housework. 

Back in Parys, I had retired neighbours who spent most of the day sitting on their chairs outside their garage - facing the street. They would chat to each other and while away the day, watching the world pass by.

Every day, I grasp at time, trying to prevent it from slipping through my fingers. Before I know it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday have passed and the work-day week is at its end. Again.

There are a lot of people who wait for the day to be done. 

I'm sad for them that they do not have enough to fill their days. And I'm sad for me that I feel like my life is slipping past in a blur. 

Theoretically, at very-nearly 45, I'm in the middle of my 'official' working life. Do I really need to wait another 20 years for time to slow down for me? 

Sunday 13 June 2021

Just focus on getting better

 You, like me, may have told an ill or injured friend / relative to "just focus on getting better". 

I've certainly said this in response to an injured friend who has put on weight or gotten unfit as a result of not being able to participate in their normal activities. I've probably added something like it being worth it to spend the months now in rehab to have the rest of their life full of activity ahead of them.

This is all totally true - and it has applied to myself as much as the situations that have prompted me to mouth these words to others.

But there really is more to it than this.

Healing takes a great deal of emotional energy too. Whether you have a disease to recover from or the mending of a broken bone to wait out, healing does require focus and energy.

Take my knee. I'm a go-getter and I'm fairly compliant. I know what I have to do to strengthen my muscles and I dutifully do the exercises from my bio. But, I don't do them as much as I probably should and I do play around with selecting only some to do depending on how I feel and what I'm experimenting with. I could be further along the recovery process if I was more with the programme, but realistically, after expending my focus and energy on work, I have little left over for myself.

Because of this, I started to see more into the words "just focus on getting better". This is more than just investing in recovery now for later and trying not to be frustrated at what you're not currently able to do/enjoy. 

One really needs a clear mind, less other stress and free time to be able to focus on getting better. This means eating, sleeping enough, hydrating sufficiently, resting and doing rehab exercises. An ill or injured person really needs to go on holiday for a few weeks.

For people with COVID, being trapped at home under quarantine is probably the best way to get better. 

In the 'old days', if a person had bad flu they would be at home for a day or two to sleep it off and then get back to work. In my case, being really ill - which is a rare occurrence - meant that life carried on pretty much as crazy-normal - whether this was (flu) working through multiple nights (with 3hrs sleep a night!) to meet deadlines or (bad tummy bug where I spent the night vomiting every 20 minutes for hours!) setting up for a three-day expo and then being at the expo and interacting with people for the three days. 

I can only remember being really, really ill twice in the last six years and I didn't have the luxury of even a half-day in bed.

Next time you're ill or injured, test my theory. If you have the freedom to take a two or three week break, do it. Let me know whether this speeds up your recovery by enabling you to just focus on getting better.

First road run in a very long time

In early March I wrote about an 'injury' that has plagued me for many months - since middle August 2020 to be exact. I've been seeing a biokineticist since February. Our focus has been on balancing muscle strength between left and right and also various muscle groups. My assessment in late March showed marked improvement. In April, Megan got me on a treadmill to check posture, foot strike, alignment - all ok. 

I've only been trotting and walking on trails with the dogs these past months. I haven't been in pain, but I haven't been 'normal' either. Some right-knee stiffness here and there (even just from sitting or sleeping) - it is a general always-there awareness that my right knee exists.

I've been doing well and so two weeks ago I joined the George Trail Running Monday Social group for their 8km run - in the dark, by headlamp. I felt a bit skittish as I'm terrified of tripping and falling and setting myself back months again. The terrain and route were familiar to me and I took it easy and felt good. The next morning I was overjoyed to suffer no ill effects of the run.

A few days after this - perhaps from one of the strength exercises I'm doing - I felt quite niggly again. 

And then, a week ago, I woke up in the morning feeling nothing (which is a great thing). And this whole week I've felt nothing. I even spent a chunk of time placing rubber flooring mats, hammering, trimming, cleaning - and still nothing.

I'd spoken to Megan about trying a bit of road running, which I haven't done at all for the past 10 months! Four weeks ago she said I should give it a shot. Start off small - just around the block - and see how it goes, increasing from there.

Well, I've been too chicken to try, especially as I had not been totally niggle-free, which would bring in too many variables as I'm trying to isolate what keeps poking the bear.

After a week of feeling nothing, nada, zilch, I decided to give a short road run a try this evening. I began on a mostly flat stretch of road with a nice wide cycle/pedestrian path. I ran easy 1km down and 1km back up again. To my surprise I was clocking 5:30/km. I didn't expect that because I wasn't pushing very hard.

I felt nothing in my knee while running -  a great place to be. I added a loop within the nearby suburb to make it a 20 min run and then enjoyed a nice 10-minute walk to get back home. I hope to wake up in the morning feeling as good as I do right now.

I've got a bio assessment on Tuesday. We've got an hour session booked with treadmill (we do video side and back of me running - also to compare to previous videos) and other assessment elements included to see where I am. 

I have no doubt that this assessment will set new positive scores and it will prove yet another benchmark to better.

Monday 7 June 2021

No means no

 This came through on Facebook.

As someone who was hounded by a stalker dude at university and an anonymous heavy-breathing phone caller (in the days before mobile phones) who called randomly for too long, I don't like persistence.

I shared this post when it came through.

A guy in the US commented:

"A more selfish way to put this, that may stick better is “do you want to be with someone you had to convince to be with you? Of course not- you want someone enthusiastically with you!” That’s what I had wished I had heard as a young boy. It’s easy to turn “meh” into “ask again later”, and “meh” isn’t good enough."

A girlfriend agreed. She added:

"I can't say I was ever particularly excited about being "worn down". That pressure not to be mean. Either you like the person in a relationship type of way or you don't. And if you need time to get to know that person then that is easy enough to communicate. However, no does mean no and should never be negotiated. It's so degrading for both people."

Two other guys made very good points. 

The one spoke about the 'complex human ritual of courting' where he asks her out, she says no, he 'chases' and eventually they end up together happily ever after. He says that neither he nor many of his friends would be married to their partner if they'd not bounced back after those first no responses to try again and again. 

 The other similarly explained: 

"I know several cases where a friend liked a girl, asked, was turned down, and over time, through persistence (nicely of course) eventually "got the girl". One of which has now been married for two decades. Why did she say no the first time? Not in the mood TODAY for this sort of thing? Currently in a relationship, and that changes with time? You're not who she initially thought you were? There are plenty of reasons to suggest that an initial "no" should not be taken as an absolute. That said, I TOTALLY get the "no is no" argument. The hard part is finding (and teaching our children) that delicate line between being persistent in going after what you want, and in just being a creepy asshole."

The issue is two-fold. What she says and understands and what he hears and understands.

No should always mean no. It isn't a maybe or a later or a playing-hard-to-get word. It is a n. o. spells no word. Girls need to understand this. Boys need to understand this.

If a woman is not in the mood today / this week to go on a date with the person, she should have the freedom to say, "I'm really not in the mood to go on a date with you this week. In another few weeks would be better." She could even say, "Maybe, but not this week / month". Invitations can come at a challenging time in someone's life when now really is not good and their attention is not there. The invitation is open to him to try again (she could also reach out when she is ready).

But, if she never intends in a million years to spend an hour with the guy, she should just say no. He can move on, she can move on. She certainly needs to realise that if she says no, then that is it.

A man could ask a woman out but she may be in a relationship. She can and should reply, "No thanks, I'm in a relationship". 

I appreciated the many elements in this comment:

"My guy got me over time. But after the no we were friends, he never, not once, pushed the issue, until I made the move. So he basically showed, and we're talking two, three years here, that I was a person he values and wants to spend time with, regardless of my answer. That is miles apart from 'trying again' and being 'persistent' aka making it uncomfortable."

Where I was originally in agreement with the original post regarding teach.your.boys, insight from friends brought home that we also need to teach.our.girls.  

Fun fungi names

Many fungi have fitting names that match their shape, texture, colour or application. This makes it easier to remember their names.

I found this 'shroom on Saturday afternoon.

The cap feels a bit sticky and spongy - much like bread dough. I show it to my mom and say to her, "Feel the cap. It feels like bread dough".

I get home and look it up in my fungus book, "Field guide to mushrooms & other fungi of South Africa". It is a bolete type of fungus Suillus luteus -  a mushroom with a fleshy cap that has tubes instead of gills and the tubes open to the surface underneath the cap as pores that release the spores.

It goes by the common names of Slippery Jack and... (this one comes as no surprise) Sticky Bun!

I made a spore print from it.

The ripple effect is because my laminator chewed it up and scrunched it as it was going through.
haha haha

Where the pores were closer to the sheet of paper, the print is more defined. Less defined where even the lightest breeze could disturb the print.

Of interest, this one is edible - " one of the better edible sticky caps". I'm not much into foraging mushrooms for eating (too risky!) - just for photographing and discovering.

Moving email subscriptions from Feedburner to

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