Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Are you registered organ donor?

If there is one thing South Africa does know how to do, it is how to produce actuality news programmes.

I just watched Special Assignment about kidney failure and the misery this results in for most sufferers due to lack of donors in South Africa.

A major cause of this are traditional beliefs. For my international readers, South Africa is an astonishing mix of first and third worlds. While some live Western life styles with pretty much everything you get in places like London, New York, etc, the majority live in poverty in rural areas or townships.

Among the poor, superstition and traditional beliefs hold sway. And these are against organ donation. Some believe that the body is needed for resurrection (a version of christian belief) and organ donation damages this future. Some believe that the organs contain elements of your ancestors and this results in mixing of ancestors.

All of which means South Africa is dreadfully short of donors.

I've always wanted my organs to be donated if something happened to me and this prompted me to formalise things.

It took 2 minutes to fill in the form on the South African organ donation site and they are now sending me a pack containing information and stickers to affix to my drivers licence, etc.

The other day I read the blog of someone who is donating their kidney to a friend . What unbelievable guts to choose to give up one of your kidneys for the rest of your life!

The South African Organ Donor Foundation site: http://www.odf.org.za

Friday, February 16, 2007

Do you know Jars of Clay?

My goodness, how did I not know Jars of Clay? They've apparently been around for ages. Here's their discography:

Good Monsters (2006)
Redemption Songs (2005)
Who We Are Instead (2003)
Furthermore–From the Studio : From the Stage (2003)
The Eleventh Hour (2002)
If I Left the Zoo (1999)
Much Afraid (1997)
Drummer Boy - EP (1995)
Jars of Clay (1995)

They came to my attention through the release of their latest single, Dead Man Carry Me which is receiving much airplay in South Africa at the moment. It's foot-tapping, catchy stuff. It starts off with a very David Byrne-ish style riff and verse and heads into a Killers-like chorus.

Lyrics for Dead Man Carry Me:

January 1, I got a lot of things on my mind
Looking at my body through a new spy satellite
I try to lift a finger but I don't think I can make the call
So, tell me if I move 'cause I don't feel anything at all....

Carry Me, I'm just a dead man lying on the carpet can't find a heart beat
Make me breathe, I want to be a new man, tired of the old one, out with the old plan

I woke up from a dream about an empty funeral
But it was better than the party full of people I don't really know.
They've got hearts to break and burn, dirty hands to feel the earth
There is something in my veins but I can't seem to make it work...won't work

So, carry me, I'm just a dead man lying on the carpet, can't find a heartbeat
Make me breathe, I want to be a new man, tired of the old one, out with the old plan..

Can you find a beat, inside of me? Any pulse?
Getting worse. Any pulse, getting worse? Inside of me....
Can you find a beat.

Carry me, I'm just a dead man lying on the carpet, can't find a heartbeat
make me breathe, I want to be a new man, tired of the old one, out with the old plan
Carry me, I'm just a dead man lying on the carpet can't find a heartbeat...
make me breathe, I want to be a new man, tired of the old one, out with the old plan.

Apparently, Jars of Clay is reference to 2 Corinthians 4:7, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

Which places Jars of Clay in the Christian band category with Sixpence None The Richer and Tree63. Who knew that P.O.D. was in an extension of this category?

The video below is an official release by Jars of Clay comprising user generated clips taken on mobile phones at their concerts. Cool huh?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Do new year's resolutions work for you?

I'm not really one for new years' resolutions.

But I do like taking natural breaks in time like new years, new projects and birthdays to reflect and think of goals and ambitions.

So thinking about the year ahead - during the course of its first month, there are certainly some things I'd like to do.

My last year was about personal investment. After many years of burning the candle at both ends and reducing my reserves, it was time for introspection and consideration.

During the last ten years, my career value has increased tremendously as a result of experience. What I didn't do lot of was taking time out to invest in things I couldn't learn on the job.

The kinds of things I mean are reading, academics, etc. But they extend beyond purely increasing my career value to increasing my value outside of work too. Investing time with family, friends and relationships.

I've talked about academics and completed some studies though UNISA last year. I decided that residential postgraduate study in the US was unaffordable and had cost beyond any potential return on investment.

So I've registered for part-time studies at Wits this year and maybe at a late stage will look for a doctorate through a Ivy League school after a local masters. But that is so far away that not worth thinking of. Making a start is the most important thing and seeing how that goes.

Reading-wise, I made my largest ever amazon.com purchase over Christmas and have much reading ahead. My aim is to try for two books a month, but we'll see how that goes.


I'm just about through reading Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I'm not sure why I've delayed reading one of the most successful business books of all time for so long, but I have found it a very useful read. Even if many other books have picked up on its recommendations, it provides a useful holistic framework for self-evaluation.

I bought a number of cooking books and am looking forward to improving my skills in the kitchen. My plan is to plan one new recipe a week. I'll shop for this and try it out. I'm enjoying my cooking a lot and improving gradually. In the meantime, my cookery book collection has expanded wonderfully:

My cooking book collection

Gym wise, thing took a serious setback after breaking from training for my Christmas holiday (dunb idea). Immediately after my return to gym I got the rindepest. For the first time in almost a year I was man down. After anti-biotics, rest, etc I made another return and after two gym sessions was hit by a second dose of this bloody bug. Apparently it is all over Jo'burg at the moment.

Anyway, my goal is to increase my number of training sessions from 2 per week to about 4 or 5. Fitness is key to dealing with limited sleep and maintaining good levels of concentration and general health in the year ahead.

Last year was bloody expensive too. Never, ever underestimate the opportunity cost of forgone salary progression. Whether it is lost debt reduction, lost pension contributions or merely salary raise progressions, the componded effect of taking those in your thirties will make you weep as a sixty-year old unless the benefits of the time off were seriously worthwhile. I was concious of this, so no real issue. Merely recognition that this year needs some serious financial rewards.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What was your unlikeliest kid fantasy?

Hey, being a kid was great.

Closing my eyes and imagining myself in another life.

My fantasy was the not-unusual-circus-one. I imagined myself as a trapeze artist or tightrope walker. Or most especially, the breathtaking tumblers.

Cirque du Soleil - http://flickr.com/photos/night_n_day/

Cirque du Soleil - http://flickr.com/photos/kcolldesigns/

Cirque du Soleil - the most breathtaking show I've ever seen. I saw their Alegria performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Thing was, this fantasy went on a bit long and my parents were quite worried whenever Boswell Wilkie came to town.

I even visited Keith Andersen, trainer of all South Africa's world famous trapeze acts and then production manager of Boswell Wilkie. I got the royal tour and was even introduced to the elephants. I shook trunks and fed each one. Keith Andersen was one of the inspirations for the South African movie, "The Flyer."

While the fantasy was not unusual, its fulfilment was unlikely. Which in retrospect is just as well. Sleeping on a bunk bed in circus trailer is less charming than it might once have been.

I got thinking about this recently when watching Madonna's Reinvention and Confessions tours on TV. Yeah I think the woman has some quirks, but I also think she understands the whole concept of Pop better than almost anybody since Warhol.

The part that got me reminiscing was the dance acts. Man, what I would have given to be able breakdance or just plain dance like that as a kid.

Take a look at Daniel Campos in the Hollywood routine below. Especially the hand-plant-effort near the end. Wow.

Daniel "Cloud" Campos headlines Hollywood during Madonna's reinvention tour

Given that he broke a wrist in a dance act once and that he is infinitely more athletic than me, I won't be taking up break dancing anytime soon.

(Good on ya for following the childhood dream, Cloud.)

When Ray of Light was released I saw an interview with Madonna. She talked of how she dreamt of fame and wanted it to fill a loneliness inside of her. When she was famous and stood on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans, she felt lonelier than ever before.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

And before you ask, no I am not a Kylie fan ... At. All. Funny how that question follows a stated preference for Madonna.

(Can't believe I missed Depeche Mode and Madonna on tour last year - if I'd thought about it, I would have coughed up to catch them overseas. Who knows if DM will tour again.)