Thursday, August 21, 2008

Koue Bokkeveld BikeAbout

Ruth and I went on a short biking adventure. We had no definite plans, just short rides, not-too-far-from-Cape-Town and avoid the rain if possible. It sounds like a recipe for a boring ride. It turned out a let's-do-this-kinda-ride-again ride.

We spent the first night on a farm just other side of Worcester, friends of Ruths, Margie and Frank. They had plans and were going to Cape Town for the weekend, but never mind, we must just make ourselves at home! South African hospitality is alive and well. They have a beautiful farm--Export fruit.

We left the farm rather late on Saturday morning, arriving in Ceres at around lunch time. It was quite something finding accommodation. We eventually found a guest house in Donkerbos, about 50 kilometers north of Ceres, in the Koue Bokkeveld. Believe me the name is appropriate. Here's a link to a site for booking accommodation:,en,SCH1/objectId,ACC8189za,curr,ZAR,parentId,RGN22za,season,at1,selectedEntry,home/mailfs.html

I spoke to the owner about the abundance of water on the farm. They had torrents of rain this year. I forget how many milimeters. He told me the water level in their dam, check the photos, in one 24-hour period rose by 2 meters.

Peacocks strut around the yard and each time you start a motorbike they make a lot of noise. I don't particularly like peacocks, but I've always wondered how, with such an over-the-top plumage, they are able to take themselves seriously, or would they, if they could, smile to themselves and think, hey it works--I get lots of female attention, and not just attention either.

The lady of the house, I think her name is Miki, told us the waterfall is about 45 minutes walk up the kloof, but we can probably ride nearly all the way with bikes. Now, I've been on 45 minute walks that take me half a day! We decided to ride.

Once committed, one does not feel like stopping. But it is a seriously technical ride. It's not really steep, but deep ruts and loose stones makes it awkward--you have to keep up a reasonable speed. I'd not done any trail-riding for a while and I got my full adrenaline quota for the quarter in just that one ride.

Ruth has never ridden this type of stuff before. I thought, I'll just say nothing. Hopefully she won't take a spill and if she does, hopefully it will be minor. Guess what? She just did it. I was very impressed. Sometimes if you behave like it's easy, it is. Even so, I was impressed by how she handled it.

By the way, it's not a 45 minute walk; It took almost that long by motorbike.

Ruth decided to swim! It did not surprise me. It was 7 degrees C in the shade. I don't know what the water temperature was, but I was surprised to see the stream still flowing.

We rode back on the Sunday. I've always wondered about the 650's vibration--The rearview mirrors are for show, no doubt about that. You can't see a damn thing in them while the bike is going. But check what it did to my take away muffin! We stopped for coffee and take away muffins. Ruth had space so she packed the muffin. After 50 kilometers the vibration of the 650 had converted my perfectly good muffin into a pallet of crumbs! I'm now convinced that the 650 is a cautious experimental venture into the adult toy market.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Nothing is ever what it seems

Why do we so feel our version of the truth is the truth, is what really happened? We have a difference of opinion with a loved one. We discuss it, sometimes, or we just walk away. Sometimes there are arguments. How often have you had a difference of opinion and been able to really convince the other person that your's is closer to truth and reality than theirs? I'm not talking about coersion, compliance, giving in, that sort of thing. I'm talking about the other person actually being convinced.

How often could someone convince you that their version is closer to the truth and reality? You may have said, okay, you're right for the sake of peace, but how often have you been really convinced?

Okay, that sets the scene.Here I am and I damnwell know what happened and the one I'm having the difference with also damnwell knows what happened and the stories don't match. Both can't be right because the two stories are different and there was only one incident. What if neither story is totally accurate, each contains some of what really happened and some of what did not happen or happened differently? I think sometimes we tend to emphasize what's important and forget what's not important. We both forget different elements of what happened, are affected more by other elements and exagerate the elements that had a greater effect on us. We felt hurt or insulted or offended.

Say now you were not there and one of the people tells you their version of the story. We will be inclined to believe that the story we've been told was what really happened. But this story does not contain the bits the teller forgot and is heavily slanted towards the elements that hurt or offended the teller, maybe even distorted to lend emphasis to the validity of the tellers feelings, that she/he is justified in feeling hurt or angry or offended. Ask yourself the question, how do I contribute to the situation by "siding" with either party, or in any way strengthening the story tellers view that her/his story is the undisputable truth, that there is absolutely no alternative interpretation? Do I alleviate their hurt/bitterness/resentment by affirming that there is no alternative beyond their version?

Let me always remember that I'm not sole custodian of the truth--Neither is any other human being. Let me not judge. If I judge, let me be influenced by the simple, verifiable facts, not by opinions and interpretations--Especially when I was not there when it happened. When the Bulls play Western Province and the final score is 15-7 in favor of the Bulls, Western Province lost--simple verifiable fact. The possibility that they lost because the referee was biased is an opinion. We can discuss the quality of the referee's decisions for weeks and never agree. We may end up angry with one another. Let's respect what others do in the heat of the game and quietly judge them, if we have to, but always remember that we were not in the scrum at the time.

The following story, sent to my anonamously illustrates how the truth can be stated in different ways, still the truth but totally different results. Note particularly the final paragraph:-

" A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: ' I am blind, please help .' There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, 'Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?' The man said, 'I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.' What he had written was: ' Today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it. ' Do you think the first sign and the second sign were saying the same thing?Of course both signs told people the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people they were so lucky that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective? Moral of the Story: Be thankful for what you have. Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively. Invite others towards good with wisdom. Live life with no excuse and love with no regrets. When life gives you a 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have 1000 reasons to smile. Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear. Keep the faith and drop the fear."

" Great men say, 'Life has to be an incessant process of repair and reconstruction, of discarding evil and developing goodness…. In the journey of life, if you want to travel without fear, you must have the ticket of a good conscience.' The most beautiful thing is to see a person smiling… And even more beautiful is, knowing that you are the reason behind it!!!"