If today was your last day?

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had, if today was your last day?
What if, what if, if today was your last day?
– Chad Kroeger, Nickleback

My mom has been up away for about a week and a half now to be at the bedside of her eldest sister who was in hospital. She had malignant growths removed from her bowels and after surgery became more ill from a hospital virus she contracted. Her organs started to fail and she was placed in a medically induced coma as her body was to week to cope. For a period of time she was on a ventialtor as well as she could no longer breathe on her own.

My mom, her sister, younger brother and her mom (my gran is 92 by the way) have been going every day to the hospital and back to be at her bedside and to motivate her to fight and get better. Last week however they were told that she might not make past midweek. So the family has been preparing itself for the worst. A priest was also called in to say a few prayers.

A specialist told the family that she was not brain dead so they couldn’t legally turn off the machines and let her go. Over the weekend she stabilised so that she could be removed form the ventilator however still in an induced coma.

While all this is happening my cousin (daughter of the second eldest sister) is 39 weeks pregnant and just about ready to pop! Understandably her mom is being tugged between her sister’s condition and the miracle of her daughter’s pending birth. Not a situation I would wish upon my worst enemy.

I spoke to my mom again last night and she said that she spoke to her sister and commanded her to wake up and wish her for her birthday (yeah it was my mom’s birthday yesterday – she turned 60). After she left the room my aunt’s daughter-in-law noticed tears streaming from her eyes while she lay in a coma on the bed. I guess it must be true that we can sub-consciously hear people while in a coma.

This morning around 2am my aunt passed away. I guess she tried to hold on just a little bit longer so as not to leave my mom with the reminder on her birthday each year about her sister’s passing and not on the day her neice would give birth to her first-born. I really feel for my gran who I couldn’t imagine what she must be going through – as parents we should never be in a position that we should have to bury our children, especially not at the age of 92!

And so with the passing of one life the balance must be restored – any day now my cousin will give birth to their child and the ying-yang will be in balance once again.

Here’s the video to the Nickleback lyrics I was referring to at the beginning of this post. Remember, live your life to the fullest because today might be your last day. Rest in peace, aunt Pieta.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jyy9Qj-FBw

Perception

I got this from BG today and after reading the story thought it might be one of those email urban myths we all know so well. It seems however, according to trusty Snopes.com that it is indeed a true story – read the story for yourself and tell me what you think.

violinist-busker

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk..

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…. How many other things are we missing?

Makes you think doesn’t it? How the surroundings a person finds themselves could dictate the perception others have of him? Just because someone is out in a public place playing a musical instrument does that instantly make them someone who is busking for money? Poor? Aren’t they talented? Do you even notice that they’re playing? And if you do tip them, do you just hurry off or do you take a minute or two to take in and enjoy their musical talent?

In case you missed the experiment a little over 2 years ago you can enjoy it by watching the video below supplied by the Washington Post on Youtube. And if you’d like to read the original full story on the Washington Post website click here (there’s even an interview with Joshua about the ‘stunt’).

District 9

district9-posterSo we’re in Noordhoek celebrating our 10th anniversary and the weather is pretty crappy and there’s not much to do outdoors in weather like this in Noordhoek. We’ve been to the World of Birds and Hout Bay Harbour a number of times before so we drove down to Longbeach Mall to see what was there and if perhaps they had a thing called the “cinema”.

We thought we might be pushing our luck, but lo and behold, they actually had one, in fact a few cinemas in the mall.

There has been much talk of this District 9 movie for the last month or so and after being prompted by the likes of Baldricman and my brother, I thought we too should go and see what all the fuss is about.

Now I am not a fan of the home-brewed movies or acting except for the odd comedy so I went in with very low expectations. Yes we have the likes of Charlize Theron but she’s a one-in-a-million when it comes to a-list actors from South Africa.

District 9 is not your ordinary film although I think it’s genre would classify it as a sci-fi movie however there’s a distinct documentary feel about it but it doesn’t only have elements of science fiction in it. There’s the drama and almost realism of it all due to the documentary style it is shown in. There’s the romance between the lead character Wikus (played by Sharlto Copley, who interestingly is largely an unknown when it comes to the big/little screen and actually didn’t audition for a role at all and was just helping his mate read lines) and his on-screen wife Tanya (played by Vanessa Haywood). There’s a lot of humour, although I think the language used might appeal more to South Africans than internationals. And there’s lots of action and surprisingly well done special effects.

With a high rating of 8.5 out of 10 from almost 70,000 votes and grossing more ($37m) than it’s budget ($30m) in it’s opening weekend it seems the movie is becoming quite a success.

District9Scene

So what did I think of it? I was actually very surprised and actually enjoyed it, quite a bit in fact. I quickly forgot about the silly sounding South African accents and even though there was a documentary style about it still enjoyed it. The effects as I said were done surprisingly well and did not look cheesy at all. If you’re squeamish about blood and gore maybe this isn’t one for you as there’s quite a bit of it. There are a couple of lines from the movie that I really enjoyed, although they’re not quite fitting for publishing on my blog, if you get my drift.

But don’t take just my word for it – read some reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and go and see it for yourself. And if you’ve not seen it yet, here’s the trailer below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHihFA8q8xI

10 years on – through the looking glass

If you’d asked me 10 years ago where I thought I’d be today I probably wouldn’t be able to picture my life quite like this – I know I had aspirations of getting to this point one day but that’s all they were back then.

About 11 years and 6 months ago my life changed, in a blink of an eye. I met someone with whom I began a new chapter, in fact, a few new chapters. I convinced her to move with me to the UK where we made London our home a year after we met. Six months later we returned and got married.

We went back to London where we lived and worked for another 3 years. Somewhere along the way we did some travelling in and around the UK, Portugal, Greece, France and Mexico.

And then another chapter began, Melissa was born. Four months later we packed up our belongings, shipped them off to South Africa in a container and flew back to Cape Town.

Yet again another chapter began, our family and life back in Cape Town. As the years went by so did the changing of jobs, meeting new people, making new friends. And almost 4 years later our lives took another turn, for the better, Rebecca was born. That was a little over 3 years ago now.

It almost feels like it was only yesterday that I met Dina, and look how much has happened and how much time has passed.

And so that brings me to today, the 25th of September, 2009. Ten years on, so much has happened and so much that I’m grateful for.

Dina, Melissa and Rebecca – I love you. Thank you for being a part of my life and letting me be a part of yours. May there be many such milestones ahead and many more joyous times.

To my friends and family – thanks for being there for us too, in good times and bad.

Right now, as of the (automated) time this post goes live, I’ll either be lying next to Dina in our lodge at Monkey Valley (where we spent our honeymoon, 10 years ago), in Noordhoek, or having breakfast – enjoy the weekend, I know we will.

VOTD: Man and Lion in harmony

Baldricman just linked to this video on Facebook and I was completely blown away at the interaction bettween Kevin Richardson and this pack of lions.

From the YouTube post:

Kevin Richardson 34, met his first lion 11 years ago and was hooked. Kevin shows Sky’s Emma Hurd his pride of lions who he has hand-reared at his vast reserve in South Africa. The big cats treat him like one of the pride. As the gate swung open the three lions pounced. Powerful young males, within seconds they had wrestled the human intruder – Kevin Richardson – to the ground.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v6f274vcP8

This reminds me of this heart-warming video of Christian the lion from so many years ago.

Big Picture: Armageddon in Australia

It seems Armageddon has hit Australia today – well not exactly but if you look at the photos it does seem that way. Sydney seems to have taken the brunt of a severe sand storm across Australia. And as usual Boston.com‘s Big Picture has some great photographs of today’s event.

A huge outback dust storm – 500 km (310 mi) wide by 1,000 km (620 mi) long – swept across eastern Australia and blanketed Sydney on Wednesday, September 23rd, disrupting flights and ground transportation and forcing people indoors for shelter from the hazardous air, gale-force winds, and in some places hailstorms. Those few who ventured outside, especially at dawn, were greeted by a Martian sky, familiar landmarks blotted out by the heavy red dust blowing by. Collected here are a few photos of the worst dust storm Sydney has seen in 70 years, three of which you can click to see a before/after fade effect. (26 photos total)

big_picture_sydney_redstorm

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is seen on September 23, 2009. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

VOTD: A Capella Tribute to Michael Jackson

Sam Tsui is a junior at Yale University and he and friend Kurt Schenider put together a great video of them performing as an A Capella group singing a tribute to Michael Jackson using various of his songs. Look carefully, it’s actually not a group but just Sam, replicated a few times and Kurt off to the side doing the beat-boxing. Nice editing from Kurt and vocal talent from Sam. [via Koukla and MJ Memorabilia]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6Ky02oqjQU&feature=player_embedded

Phishing Scam Site: MSN Block Checker (oh-oh-oh)

It seems a fresh new phishing/scam website has emerged. Apparently you put in your MSN/Hotmail/Live credentials in and it will tell you how many of your contacts have blocked you. It looks like this:

oh-oh-oh

I’m very suspicious of these types of sites especially when I receive a link to it from an old Hotmail contact whom I’ve not had contact with in years. And although it might look legitimate due to the MSN logo and familiar MSN icons – a quick WHOIS check on the domain reveals something different:

 Registrant Name:         Oxana V Eskova
 Registrant Organization: Oxana V Eskova
 Registrant Street1:      ulica Kostromskaya d.6 kv.21
 Registrant City:         Voronezh
 Registrant State:        Voronezhskaya obl.
 Registrant Postal Code:  394014
 Registrant Country:      RU
 Updated Date: 13-sep-2009
 Creation Date: 13-sep-2009
 Expiration Date: 13-sep-2010

So, be warned, tell your friends not to use the site to put in their credentials because their account will almost certainly be compromised (as will their contact list).

VOTD: The The Impotence of Proofreading

How many times have you written something using a word processor with a spell checker that corrects your work as you type and either not proof read it and sent it off or read it again afterwards wondering what you were smoking while writing it? Some spell checkers try to be intuitive as to what you meant to write but if not taken into context can have funny and disasterous effects. Take a look at the video clip below and enjoy – I wonder how many times he rehearsed that bit to get it right and not stumble over his own words! [via Rarmadig]