Friday, March 6, 2009

Hallo, blogs.theherald.co.za

Farewell from this address, and hello to the new ...
http://blogs.theherald.co.za/fworld/ is my new blog address, and you'll find the rest of the Herald and Weekend Post blogs at http://blogs.theherald.co.za
See you there!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Changes afoot at The Herald

Change, they say, is the only constant ... and The Herald and Weekend Post will be changing again next week when they launch their new, and greatly improved, websites.
Part of this involves all the bloggers - there may only be a handful of us but we make a lot of noise!
So ... please bear with me while we figure out how to move The F-World to the new blog platform, as it will be on Word Press later this week and no longer on Blogspot.
I almost feel like I am moving house, having grown very attached to all the gadgets on this one, and I would hate to lose that fascinating posse of followers ... many of whom I also follow.
I'll keep you posted ...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chocolate and women

You know, I try hard not to be sexist but sometimes it’s hard. Last week two young reps from Lindt chocolate popped into The Herald office to deliver a full to bursting two boxes of individually wrapped chocolate treats.
Although I was really tempted to take them home, very quietly, my conscience did win out and so the boxes were trawled around the office, stretching from editorial to the library, marketing department and even the switchboard ladies on the top floor.
The reaction to free chocolate was such an eye opener ... every single female said yes, thanks, and mostly with a glint in their eye and an outstretched palm. It was like offering Viagra to Hugh Hefner.
By comparison, the guys were so abstemious, you would have thought they did not actually like chocolate. Most men only wanted one piece, not more, and one or two even turned down the offer.
TURNED IT DOWN! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Very weird. Perhaps I hit a frivolous yet universal truth in my profile.
We are not talking crummy chocolate here ... Lindt chocolate is the 500-thread count of chocolates. Once you have tasted Lindt, you don’t really want Cadbury’s, and Beacon, pish-pah, goodness gracious, you may as well keep that for cooking.
These guys are the same species as the creatures we sleep next to at night and whom we trust with the fatherhood of our children ... they say men don’t understand women, but, truth be told, I think I don’t understand men.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What do you fill your life with?

Generally I enjoy Wednesdays, because it's when La Femme hits the streets and we catch our breath before plunging into the next edition. Sometimes, though Wednesday hits me with a sickening thud (like today) and that's when I really need to find something positive to focus on.
The story of the mayonnaise jar below does the trick. I can't claim it's mine, or that it is new, and it has been sent to me on more than one occasion so I may even have used it in La Femme as a Femme Point ... anyway, it goes like this:
A professor stands before his philosophy class and, wordlessly, picks up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls. He then asks his students if the jar is full. They agree it is.
The professor then picks up a box of pebbles and pours them into the jar. He shakes the jar lightly and the pebbles roll into the open areas between the golf balls. He asks again if the jar is full. The students agree it is.
The professor next picks up a box of sand and pours this into the jar. Of course, the sand fills up everything else. He asks once more if the jar is full. The students respond with an unanimous “yes”.
The professor then produces two cups of coffee from under the table and pours the contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laugh.
“Now,” explains the professor, “I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, family, children, health, friends, and favourite passions – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
“The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.
“If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you so pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
“Play with your children. Take time to get medical check-ups. Take your partner out to dinner. There will always be time to clean the house. Take care of the golf balls first. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raises her hand and inquires what the coffee represents. The professor smiles.
“I’m glad you asked. I added that to show you that no matter how full your life may seem there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire a winner

I love February in Port Elizabeth as all the cinema complexes show the Oscar contenders that normally blow right through the Windy City. Those that do stay only lurk for a week normally so if you snooze, you lose.
However, when a film wins an Academy Award, they usually stay for a bit longer and I am so looking forward to seeing the film version of Q&A, which won South Africa’s Boeke prize in 2007. This quirky paperback about a destitute street-kid in Mumbai certainly was one of my favourite books from that year.
The Indian author, Vikas Swarup, who is his country’s deputy high commissioner to South Africa, went on to write Six Suspects and he still is living here.
“I wanted to show that knowledge is not the preserve of the educated elite and that even a 'street-kid' can possess the wisdom to win a quiz show,” said Swarup in an interview about what inspired him to write Q&A.
That is just so relevant in South Africa, where we also have so many street kids and a huge divide between rich and poor.
The photos I’ve posted are of Rubiana Ali, the actress who portrayed young "Latika" and Freida Pinto, who plays her as an adult. Funnily enough, none of the cast won an Academy Award.
The second photograph is of Rubiana’s neighbours in Mumbai shown celebrating after they heard of the film’s Oscar success.
The novel had its detractors who called it contrived and unrealistic. I found it funny, though, tender and tragic and a thoroughly engrossing read. Now with eight Oscars, I can hardly wait to see Slumdog Millionaire ...




Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What do our pets do all day?

I discovered that I was not alone in wondering what our pets get up to when we are not at home, (see Cooper the camera cat )
Jeanne commented: 'Can there be a cat owner alive who hasn't at some point wondered "where the hell do you go all day, Tiddles?" ' and now someone else has e-mailed me this video clip.
I am not sure where it comes from but apparently, whenever the owners of this house, which you can see has a swimming pool, came home, they found puddles of water all around.
They believed that the neighbours’ kids waited till they went out to take a dip so they installed a camera and this is what they saw:

video

Mystery solved ...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cooper the camera-cat

We have the friskiest, liveliest, cutest ginger tom cat in the world ... or so I thought until I heard about Cooper, an artistic three-year-old living in Seattle. Cooper not only does all the regular cat things that our boy does, like disappear for long stretches of time and then lie like a slug for even longer stretches, he also is a published artist and he even has his own blog.
Once a week his owners, filmmakers Michael and Deirdre Cross, fasten a lightweight digital camera to his collar, which snaps a new photo every two minutes. You can see from the photo that it isn't big, and they don't make him wear it all the time. They obviously wanted the answer to a question so many pet lovers have asked themselves: What do they do all day?
Now they know, and they have framed 16 of the answers and put them up on display at the Urban Light Studios in Seattle until the middle of March. This picture of a tabby cat turning the corner, for example, is one of Cooper's efforts.
"We never thought we'd have an artist that is an American shorthair cat," said Kevin Law, owner of the gallery and a professional photographer. "But after seeing his photos, I was immediately blown away. He has classical compositions right out of a photo textbook. There may be no intent behind them, but they're beautiful artwork."
Part of the proceeds from exhibition sales will benefit Paws, a progressive animal welfare society.
You can read about Cooper at his blog: Cooper-catphotographer.
I think I'll have to get Nacho to write a book ...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day, Sister Ethel!

Love makes the world go round, and Sister Ethel Normoyle of Missionvale Care Centre spreads it far and wide. She will be on my own little love list tomorrow because I am definitely going to send her a Valentine's Day greeting.
A love letter to a celibate Irish nun in her 60s? That's not as odd as it sounds because Sister Ethel believes that any day that encourages us to love each other and treat each other better should be celebrated.
She makes me think of that line uttered by Jack Nicolson in As Good As It Gets, when he tells Helen Hunt,“You make me want to be a better man” (great date movie that, if you’re looking for something to take out of the DVD store tomorrow).
They say that the greatest gift a woman can give to a man is to make him want to be a better man – and Sister Ethel has that effect on a lot of folk. She makes us want to be better people.
She has seen her own community in Missionvale ravaged by Aids TB, poverty and crime, and many families torn apart by sexual and physical abuse, so she knows what she is talking about. To be sure, as a nun she is more likely to go for the AB of Aids prevention, not the full ABC (Abstain, Be faithful, Condomise), but how can you argue with someone who wants us all to love one another more?
Happy Valentine's Day, Sister Ethel!





Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cupboard Love

One of the perks of my job at La Femme is getting out and seeing interesting things and meeting new people and while I was out scouting for a good cup of coffee (which I found at Bocadillos) I also ventured down Clevedon Road in Mount Croix.
The Lavenders, the coffee shop there run by the Gunston family, now has a cutesy little addition at the back, in the form of a gift shop run by their daughter Carryn Scheepers.
She opened just before Christmas 2008 and has the admirable idea of promoting PE talent, and hence her five main suppliers are all from around here.
They include Beetle and Rhubarb (which we featured in La Femme before Christmas), Polka Dot's wire works, soaps by Ruby Soul from Plettenberg Bay, Soil skin products (well, only the agent is local there) and children's t-shirts, cement fondu shelves and crosses and a whack more by a most creative team called Gem & I.
Carryn loves birds so they fly all over the shop. It's a tiny wee place, tucked right at the back of the coffee shop, but worth a visit if you have small children to shop for or like quirky handmade goodies.

New Walmer coffee shop

If you love Vovo Telo and its outlet at the Warehouse, you’ll welcome Bocadillos, the newest Repton family sandwich and coffee bar in Main Road, Walmer.
This time mum Gill has teamed up with her daughter Kerry to decorate and start the little restaurant, which you can find where Cobblestone started off last year. They only opened last month, a brave move in a heavily traded market in a what everyone says will be a scary year but so far is doing really well.

It has Vovo style food - rye, ciabatta, croissants and more - and you also can order sandwiches to go. The coffee, though, is Lavazza, not Illy, but my cappuccino there today was just as delish and with the same creamy designer froth.
Matt had better watch out, he might have cornered the market in Central and Newton Park but the Walmer ladies who lunch are already flocking to his sister’s new spot.
The decor is cool and light and modern ... and I enjoyed the way the mirrors reflect the wallpaper on the back wall.
Lovely stuff!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is this the end of books?

Amazon.com introduced the Kindle 2, a new version of its electronic book reader, yesterday, and it will go on sale later this month.
It can store 1,500 books from a library of 230,000 titles, yet it is only about as thick as a pencil, has a 15cm screen and weighs less than an average paperback book (about 280gm).
Since one entire wall in our lounge is filled to bursting with books I can definitely see the appeal of something this small.
The super-gadget uses 3G wireless technology and sells for about R3,500 but once you’ve bought it, that’s it, you have access to all those juicy books.
Whatever device is used, reading a book on an electronic screen no longer seems to be considered bizarre, even for older readers. When Oprah Winfrey showed hers off on TV last year and proclaimed it her "new favourite thing in the world," demand was such that Kindles sold out all over America.
Is this the end of books as we know them? Well, they said that when the first version of Kindle came out but I think it may take a while to filter through to the Eastern Cape.
In fact, a call to our own Fogarty’s Bookshop at Walmer Park met with blank responses “what’s that?” said two of the staff and even the erudite Theresa didn’t know anyone in PE who owns one. Do you know anyone who has one?
I can see the appeal, though ... except now no one will know how clever you are any more because you won’t have a single book in your house.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Women drivers

Just yesterday I posted a little piece on how hard it is to get that driver's licence and today a colleague of mine at The Herald sent out this video clip of women drivers. It goes against my feminist grain to publicise how terribly women can drive but it is so funny I couldn't resist.
What is so ironic is that my colleague, "M", shall remain nameless because she failed her own driving test several times. At one stage her daughter thought she would beat her to it but mum did eventually - late last year - crack it. "M" said she hasn't "yet" tried any of those parkings moves or stunts so the rest of us are still safe for now.
The women in this clip really give the rest of us female drivers a bad name. Maybe they bought their licence at the same place so many of our taxi drivers do.

video

Sunday, February 8, 2009

More weird names

When you hear that the Berlin family of Missouri has three children, Lilian, Eve and Bosh, you might think, gosh, who would call their kid Bosh. Then you hear that they are all in a band called the Living Things … and that all three are boys. They do retro-punk kinda music, which I heard on 5fm this weekend and enjoyed.
I think musicians must be exempt from the mummy mafia rules which say “don’t give your baby an unusual name or they will be teased at school and never amount to anything in life”.
On the other hand, blandly named dads David, Frank and Michael gave their children the weird names of Zowie (Bowie), Moon Unit and Dweezil (Zappa) and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily (Hutchence) and do you ever hear from the kids? The old timers with the boring first name are even in 2009 the
famous dudes … Just a thought ... and remember my earlier post on how much readers hated Bronx Mowgli ?

If at first you don't succeed




If you are one of those South Africans who has sat and failed your driver’s licence more than once, then you will empathise with that South Korean grandmother who failed her driving test 771 times.
Yup, 771 times … sort of puts my friend Megan’s three times in the shade, and I know a couple of people who’ve sat and failed more often than that. I suspect that former Algoa FM presenter Buli G is one of them, but I never managed to winkle out of her exactly how long it took to get her licence. However, get it she did … unlike at least two of my acquaintances who are still trying.
What I find more interesting is the extremely small number of people who DO pass first time around. In the past five years, I’ve known a whole slew of folk trying to get their driver’s licence and only one has managed first time (congrats, Jessica G).
The granny in question, Mrs Cha, is 68 and says she is not going to give up so Test Number 772 here we come … that sort of puts it in perspective. So, Megan, here’s wishing you good luck for the fourth time!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

La Femme winners are winners

La Femme winners are winners: the Port Elizabeth couple who won the prize of a trip for two to the JB Met last weekend, Megan and Michael Holden, also came third in the most elegant couple competition (that's Megan in her turquoise chiffon mini with SABC TV presenter Claire Mawisa).
If you consider that the Kenilworth event was by invite only, and there were 50,000 people at the track, that was amazing - especially when you think that Megan had five days to design her outfit and have it made – plus she’s five months pregnant!
The prizes for the best dressed were great and well deserved, especially when I saw what their opposition was. The theme of “glitz and glam” did not necessarily bring out the most elegant impulses in racegoers ... Durban "designer" Kevin Ellis for example (that's him and partner in white Elvis outfits) spent R30,000 on five different outfits, but sadly, money can't buy you style. There were a few who thought that spray-painting their skin silver fitted the theme but still, at least this couple looked as if they were having fun.
Having never been before, I hadn’t realised how much the Met was about fashion. We were there from 11 in the morning until 10 at night and it was quite an effort to watch the races. It was so much easier to loll around in the VIP tent, which was utterly luxurious - as it should be with a budget in the region of R2,610 per person.
Even so, I am pretty sure that some of the horses were more stylish than some of the racegoers ... we'll carry more pics in next week's La Femme, so watch out for that.




Hilarious letter on airplane food

I was at the Met in Cape Town this past weekend (yes, believe it or not it was a work trip, sigh, what a hard life we journalists have!)
It was a fabulous weekend, travelling with lovely people who were the winners of a La Femme competition (more about them in another post later) and the hardest part probably was the dull food on the flight there and back. Nothing wrong with it, really, a standard domestic flight on SA Express but the two meals offered consisted of a pasta salad, hard bread roll and sponge-like dessert, both high on carbs and low on flavour, freshness or variety.
But thank goodness I wasn’t this anonymous gentleman, who suffered the traveller’s worst nightmare when he flew on Virgin in December last year. Click here to see the letter of complaint he addressed to Sir Richard. It must be one of the funniest moans ever.
Apparently, Paul Charles, Virgin’s Director of Corporate Communications, confirmed that Sir Richard Branson had telephoned the author of the letter and had thanked him for his “constructive if tongue-in-cheek” email.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No nipples on Facebook

You might have seen the report in Weekend Post about Facebook banning mothers from posting photos of themselves breastfeeding.
In response, a America artist named Phil Hansen decided to push the Facebook limits with quite a creative art project. He photographed his own nipples and then posted a profile picture that was a collage of those photos to his Facebook page. Here it is – and this is what he has to say about it:
“As everyone is focusing so much on the war in Gaza, I picked a light comical war to focus on instead, the war on nipples. As some of you may have heard, Facebook deems showing of nips obscene including breastfeeding. Meanwhile, men’s nipples aren’t a problem. So I decided to post a picture of me made entirely with nipples. And now we will watch the fate of the photo on Facebook."
Click here to see a video clip of what he had planned. Click here to see what happened next. There was even a Facebook update from supporters around the world.
You might like to check out the rest of his site, Phil in the Circle, as he seems to be a very web-savvy artist. For example, just take a look at him doing a Prickasso with a dead duck ... the mind boggles!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No smoking, even at home

If you are a smoker, be grateful that you don’t live in Belmont, California. This Silicon Valley town probably has America’s strictest anti-smoking law, effectively outlawing lighting up in all apartment buildings. From this month, residents who live in a flat in Belmont, California, are not allowed to smoke inside their own homes.
Compare that to here in South Africa where we have strict laws which rarely are enforced. Many restaurants give smokers the balcony area, rather than go to the expense of having a partitioned-off inside area.
Which should be fine, except, perhaps, if you are sitting inside next to a window at VovoTelo and there is a table of smokers right outside.
Which is why I loved the visit we had to Mariana’s Bistro, a charming little restaurant near Hermanus, over the summer holidays.There only are a half dozen or so tables and guests flock from near and far to eat Mariana Esterhuizen’s delicious food and be entertained by her husband Peter’s quirky waitering skills.
Their balcony has “no smoking” signs so you can dine al fresco without the whiff of tobacco overpowering your dish of the day.
Where do the smokers go? Like naughty schoolchildren going for a puff behind the bicycle shed, they are sent to the bottom of the garden.
Actually, it’s not that bad: the Esterhuizens have thoughtfully provided a table and chairs and they even have an undercover area for chilly or wet days.
How about it Port Elizabeth restaurateurs ... something you might consider?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Veet says bye to Bush

Did anyone send you a copy of that cheeky Veet ad this week? If not, here it is ... as it appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph earlier this week.
A colleague sent me the e-mail and she obviously wasn’t the only one to think it funny. Since Obama took over from Bush as president of the United States on Tuesday this week, it’s been hurtling round the web.
Brand managers and marketing gurus have been giving the ad agency, Euro RSCG, all credit for the ad ... and it has been such a wow that Canada and New Zealand newspapers are also going to run it this weekend.
This kind of hair removal humour could only come from the irreverent land they call Down Under ...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another tree woman puts down roots

There’s a new “tree woman” in Port Elizabeth and this time she is sporting a green polka dot bikini and lying at the bottom of Upper Valley Road, with "Boo!" and "2009" tattooed on her calf and neck.
I imagine she’s related to the “tree woman” who put down roots just off Buffelsfontein near the Walmer Woods golf driving range in 2005.
That one sprang to life when someone with a sense of humour saw the shape of a woman in a fallen tree and decided to paint a bikini on the appropriate body parts. Here is my colleague Mike Holmes's pic of her, to give you an idea of her size. The next thing we heard, someone had daubed on a new pink polka dot bikini.
Then on Valentine’s Day two years ago up popped a “tree man” in red trunks and shortly after that a little sapling and a tree dog completed the family.
Sadly, last year The Herald reported that the tree child and dog had gone missing.
It reminds me of the Gnome Liberation Army abroad, and if you search for them on the internet you’ll discover that there really are people who take this seriously, such as the Free the Gnomes group.
Speaking of which, there is this poor little fellow in Victoria Drive in South End, who really looks the worse for wear, who could do with their services.
He’s lost his nose and one arm and probably hasn’t been painted or paid attention to for years.
So, if you know how to get hold of the mystery tree artist, please ask him or her to sneak up in the middle of the night and work their magic here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

We live in Big Sky country

While the northern hemisphere is huddling around its heaters, we’ve been having a hot, hot, hot summer here in Port Elizabeth and along with that have been some fabulous cloudscapes.
I took these two photographs on a friend’s farm near Somerset East in the holidays because looking at skies like this just lifts my spirits. It's hard to feel stressed out when you are gazing at creation in all its unbounded glory.
If you love nature photographs, you also might like to check out Firefly and Skywatch. Firefly is a Port Elizabeth blogger who takes photographs that highlight our region and I’ve noticed that he also loves gazing at the setting sun. Yesterday he posted one of his daughter but perhaps he should submit it to Skywatch as even though it’s ostensibly of his little girl the contrast of her leaping up off the trampoline against the cloudy blue sky really hits home.
Anyone with a blog can post their own cloudscapes at the Skywatch site.
Port Elizabeth Daily Photo is another lovely blog for photographs that I particularly like because it is short on text and lets the picture tell the story. Have a look at Sue and Max’s shot of Hobie Beach at sunrise ... it's a stunner.

































It's dicey

Life is full of mysteries which while they don't quite keep me awake at night certainly pique my curiosity.
Such as, why does Kobus Wiese have a haircut that makes him look like a pineapple? Who was the person who counted the 7,000 species of dung beetles in the world?
Why are there still so many mistakes in The Herald when we have so much talent working here?
And ... the latest ... what do people do with the fluffy dice they buy at the robots in PE?
Since they started to sell these items, along with cell phone chargers, cockroach chalk and black bin bags, it’s really intrigued me.
Then, the other day I was at the Bridge and saw that they even sell them at that little boutique upstairs, Vibes.
Now, it’s one thing to sell totally useless items at the traffic lights ... the bad quality black rubbish bags, for example, that The Herald often warns readers about ... but another to discover that they are so popular that they are stocked even by regular shops. And the Vibes saleswoman told me, when I asked her who bought them, “everyone”.
But have you ever actually seen a car with these dice jiggling from the rear-view mirror? It’s the 2009 equivalent of an orange on the aerial ... please let me know if you see someone with these in their car.
Or perhaps I should take heed of my earlier post not to sweat the small stuff. Really.











Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wind power blows PE's hair back


Well done to Walmer Park Shopping Centre for setting up a row of wind turbines supplied by Eveready to generate electricity for the complex.

Alternative sources of energy have been explored for a while of course, except everyone’s thoughts turned to solar, not wind, power.

But think about it: we are not only known as the Sunshine Coast but we also live in the Windy City. Double the potential.

Some of America’s biggest chain stores are turning their eyes heavenwards for a new take on saving electricity. They are hoping that their immense, flat roofs are an untapped resource that can be used to harness solar power.

Last year several chain stores, including big ones as Wal-Mart and Safeway, installed solar panels on their roofs with a view to generating electricity on a large scale.

Now, we have a great deal more sun than our north American counterparts ... and as for the wind, well, step outside today and our south-wester will your hair back. I can’t remember such a breezy December for years – and those turbines have been whirring like mad up at Walmer Park.

Are any more shopping centres or business up to the challenge?

Curvy women are happier

It was the Weekend Post headline that did it for me: “Curvy size 14 women happiest of all, poll indicates”.
Dontcha love it? Apparently women who are size 14, which is fairly ample, are the happiest with their life and looks. Now, the population of South Africa are predominantly that size or larger, I would imagine, so that should mean that we are a pretty happy lot.
The Herald Miss Port Elizabeth promo starts in a week or so and you can bet your bottom dollar that there won’t be any size 14 entrants among them. Or, if they do enter, they are likely to be sifted out before the gala finale evening.
Which is quite a shame as this year the competition is really trying to move away from the “bimbo in bikini pageant” image that always has dogged competitions of this nature.
This year The Herald will no longer be having a swimsuit section and is putting more of an emphasis of asking the finalists to be ambassadors for Nelson Mandela Bay, visiting charities and being informed on the issues facing the city. Certainly, Nono Gali, our winner in 2008, has been fabulous.
Diarise the date: April 24 for the finale and this year it will be held at that grand old lady of Whites Road, the Opera House. Sure, it’s smaller than the Feather Market C, but sometimes less is more. Less flesh, more class, for one thing as far as the finalists are concerned – plus it’s a beautiful and stately venue.
Keep an eye out for your La Femme on Wednesday, February 4, for all the info on how to enter, as that’s when this year’s competition launches.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Polar plunge fund-raiser

January is the time of year that certain lunatics in the northern hemisphere raise funds for charity by doing something called the Polar Plunge.
The state of Maine, for example, has already had at least nine plunges this winter and Rhode Island had at least 10 on New Year's Day alone.
The idea is that you sponsor your friend to jump into icy waters, and they give all the money they raise this way to the charity. It works on much the same principle as other events do in South Africa, such as a big walk, a readathon and even those calendars where random groups of people strip off and pose for a photo.
It makes my blood run cold just thinking of it but if you go for a polar plunge, I suppose you may as well go big.
These four students in the picture, from Mankato in the Minnesota River Valley, were really putting their money where their mouths – and freezing limbs – were when they did their polar plunge.
Mankato’s winter temperatures dip to well below freezing in centigrade terms. I checked online and saw that tomorrow’s weather forecast for Mankato is 4 deg C – not to be confused with our winter low of 4, this is equivalent to our minus 16 degrees celsius. And don’t forget the wind chill factor which will take it down to minus 33 deg C.
Eina! You can rather sign me up for that 5km walk while reading a book in the buff right away ...

People for Earth

South Africa was just starting to dip its toes into the waters of green living when along came the recession and made us all think about budgets rather than organics. You may have noticed that the organic food section is not the cheapest.
However, that doesn’t mean the green world movement is slowing down - which it certainly won’t if it’s up to people like Sabina Pojded who runs an NGO in Europe called People for Earth
She’s also got a blog, which I’m going to add to my list of favourites (you’ll find that list at the right hand side of this site).
I totally love it when I discover how and what other people are doing to make a difference. Read what she has to say and be inspired.
What is so amazing about Sabina is that she doesn’t live in New York, Los Angeles or London, but in Gorenjska, Slovenia ... now where the heck is that?
One of the features of her site is a “daily action” plan to help save the planet – and one of them ties into one of my pet peeves, bottled water. It has its place, to be sure, but read what she has to say about it in this post from January 6 and you'll think twice before reaching for that Bonaqua.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Little Black Dress













Black is beautiful, black is flattering, it's a colour which allows most most women to feel just a slight bit slimmer and everyone should have at least one “little black dress” but – as my colleague, Susan, noted today after ploughing through the news wire shots from the Golden Globes awards – black also can be “boring, boring, boring”.
In fact, said print-savvy Sue, what possessed these celebrities to wear so much black to the awards ceremony when the media so love colour? From the plunging neckline of Tina Fey (top left) to the more modest garb of Rene Zellweger and Sally Hawkins, most of the stars wore black ... including best supporting actress winner Kate Winslet and Amy Adams (below).












There were a few splashes of vibrant colour, with Eva Longoria (red) and Cameron Diaz (pink) among the few to wear bright colours. Fashion pundits called the palette of black, grey, cream, mustard and off-white that dominated the dress divas “sophisticated”. On the whole, though, I have to agree with Susan ... here's hoping they ramp up the colour for the Academy Awards next month.







Don't sweat the small stuff

January 1 has been and gone, and along with the date so too have most New Year’s resolutions.
We all faithfully promise to lose five kilograms, eat five portions of fruit and veg a day, go to the gym five days a week, drop five shots off our golf handicap (well, OK, maybe I’m alone on that one) and be five times nicer to our fellow man ... but we still keep on trying.
This year I’ve decided something quite different. After all, it is exceptionally difficult to make life changes, even with the best will in the world.
And, when you stop to think about it, what is it that makes you happy or unhappy? Surprisingly, it's not usually who is president or how awful the economy is. In my case, it’s often really small things (as you might have noticed from Friday’s post) so I’m going to try and not sweat the small stuff.
As my psychology professor at UPE used to say, “don’t push the river, let it flow”.
Here’s to a free-flowing, marvellous 2009 ...

Friday, January 9, 2009

These are a few of my least favourite things

The sins below are, in the big scheme of things, not big things at all but they really do irritate me. This year these folk will not qualify for my “be five times nicer to your fellow man” New Year’s resolution.
In no particular order they are:
* Drivers (who are clearly not disabled) who park in the disabled parking bays at shopping centres.
* People who work in an open office environment holding private conversations at high volume (you know who you are)
* People who work in an open office environment eating KFC at their desks (you know who you are too)
* Able-bodied people who take the lift up one floor and taking it one down is even worse (you probably don’t have a clue if you are one of these, but I can tell you now, I have some pretty plump colleagues who do just this)
* People who send an SMS when a phone call would be almost as quick. Yes, it’s easier but it’s so often a cop-out
* White South Africans who talk about black South Africans as “them” and “they”.
* People who toss litter out of their car windows.
* Drivers who don’t strap in their young children on the front or back seat.
* Those who automatically opt for bottled water. PE’s water is still pretty OK, you know, despite the fuss reported in The Herald so just get over yourselves.
There, now I feel much better and, apart from that, I really will try and be nicer ...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Life begins at 40

At the beginning of a new year many a woman’s thoughts turn to ... getting another year older.But why is it that so many women fear turning 40? Scientists have revealed the age at which we reach our mental peak – and the answer is not, as Douglas Adams would have it, 42, but 39.

So, if life does begin at 40, it’s because you’ve hit the summit and can now freewheel downhill for the rest of your life (wouldn’t it be wonderful if life gave you a “free pass” at age 40?)

By testing how fast a group of subjects aged 23 to 80 could tap their finger in 10 seconds, a psychiatry team at the University of California found that the brain was at its most efficient at 39, but that its power dropped “at an accelerating rate” once it hit 40.

They reckon it’s because of the loss in middle age of a fatty sheath, myelin, that coats the nerve cells or neurons (in case you’re wondering that’s not a pic of pot plant, it's actually a close up of a myelin-sheathed axon). When this starts getting dodgy, your responses start slowing down.

And you’ll suffer more if you’re a tippler because the brain is made of fat and when you feed it alcohol you dissolve that fat, and destroy your brain cells.

Maybe this is why when you’ve had too much to drink you think you’re a genius when actually you are behaving like an idiot. Perhaps you should have thought of this before that New Year party ...