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 ...