Jan 072011

Wednesday evening I met up with Megan and Caitlin on Dolphin beach where we went for a long beach walk joking and chatting before heading out for some pizza. After the pizza we decided to go to the Banned Rock Lounge nearby where we went and sat in the outside courtyard by the small fold-out pool with our drinks.

The place was pretty empty (it being a Wednesday night and all) but there were a few people there. The table next to us had three guys who were all shirtless and behind us was a table with two more guys and one girl in one of those "I'm so hot" outfits with a red top that showed plenty of cleavage. 

They one guy at the table next to us was in that friendly drunk stage where he was trying being best mates with everybody but mostly we were pretty much ignoring the other people and chatting among ourselves while enjoying the club's excellent music. At some point the three guys from the table ended up in some sort of competition showing off their bare chests to the girl at the other table so she could pick the best tan and torso.

We joked about this at our table and the friendly drunk came over and asked me why I hadn't joined in the competition. I looked at him and jokingly said "Because I'm the guy sitting with two hot chicks already". He responded: "So ? I don't see them on your lap". I was going to reply "Yet" but Megan piped up and said "Was there earlier" and gave me the sexiest wink you can imagine…

At which point mister friendly drunk slunk back to his table, tail between his legs while I gloated like never before in my life ! 

Jan 032011

Now before you scream out. Sorry check your calendar, our calendar does not have a year 0. So the millenium began in 2001, and the decade (like all decades) begins in the first year, not the zero year – so 2 days ago, not a year and 2 days ago. Yep how geeky, trying to be mathematically accurate about these things – when in fact all it really comes down to is the earth (an insignificant little blue-green planet in the unfashionable western spiral arm of the galaxy as the great Douglas Adams once said) passing a completely arbitrary point in it's orbit yet again (which is rather unsurprising considering it's managed it quite successfully about four and a half billion times already.

And yet, I am human – dates matter to us. For all the existential and cosmic insignificance they have meaning because we gave them meaning. So I'll enter this new decade (which has begun with an event that promises to make it one of the best of my life) with a look back at the highs and lows of the last one. I'll do the lows first – because I would rather end on with the positive highs.

The lows of 2001-2011:

  • 2001: The whole world forgot how hard we worked to prevent the Y2K disaster a year ago, forgot that the only reason it didn't happen was because people like me warned the world, they listened and we set to work – putting in countless hours and massive effort. By 2001 some people already called it scaremongering and laughed at people gullible enough to prepare for it… but some of us who were there remember – and know, to this day, that the only reason it didn't happen was because we prevented it. This was the year that realization started to sink in however – we would never really be thanked, our efforts would go unnoticed. Today I look at the predictions about global climate change- and how people call that scaremongering, and refuse to listen to the advice on how to prevent it. They listened to the threat of CFC's – and prevented the ozone depletion disaster, they listened to Y2K and prevented a global computer meltdown… but their not listening anymore. I guess we got to good at preventing foreseable problems from realizing – and now people no longer believe they were real problems. Looking back -I can see the roots of today's problem in this year. 
  • 2002: This was the year 9/11's true impact became known around the world – it put a maniac into the most powerful office in the world and solidified his position. Under his rule fuel prices skyrocketed, two massive wars were started (one entirely on lies), thousands of innocents died and everywhere in the world people's quality of life and freedom declined – mine as well. It may say something about me that I consider the impact of a leader literally half a world away as being one of the greatest personal tragedies I went through in this decade – but if freedom matters to you then you have to see it that way. 
  • 2003: In February of this year my then girlfriend of four years broke up with me. Shattering my heart. For a while I never saw anybody, though I had some meaningless flings. In March  was in a bad motorcycle accident and somehow in the aftermath of that we got back together. Things were okay and we seemed to be making progress, but I wanted more. I wanted marriage, children – and she didn't want commitment. By June she proposed living together again, but in July I broke up with her. I only saw her one more time after that and I have no idea where she may be now as she cut off all contact. She always wanted to work for Peter Jackson in Neu-Zeeland. For the good 4 years we once had – when we were young and stupid (and mostly students) – I hope she got her dream. But this was my first true heartbreak. It counts without a doubt as the worst time of the year. Since bad years always happen badly, an even worse pain was to follow. My grandmother passed away shortly afterward making for one of the saddest events of this entire decade, an event I would write about in my poem Elegy.
  • 2004: After a relatively uneventful year, the December of this year counts as the time I meet a girl. At the time I would have considered it the high of the year, 2 years after divorcing her for abuse, I see it as the worst thing that happened.
  • 2005: This one went bad oh so early. In January of this year George W. Bush was inaugurated for his second term as president of the United States. The Star in Johannesburg covered the event on the front page under the headline: "A dark day for the entire world". Never before did freedom, equality and peace seem so far removed from humanity as the day the most powerful nation in the world proved that the fear of seeing two guys kissing was far more important to them than the welfare of their fellow human beings. This would set the tone for a year in which Bush's arrogance and violence would reach new levels, as he refused to attend the World Summit in Johannesburg (because apparently he was on holiday), finally did visit South Africa and became the first head of state in the history of the country to refuse protection by the South African police in leu of his own secret service guards (yes, that includes every other American president who ever came here). I sometimes wonder how much better my day to day life would have been that year if George Bush didn't rule America.
  • 2006: This is the year I moved to Benoni for my job, I would spend most of the year there. I didn't know it at the time but it was the beginning of the end of my OpenLab years – and that is quite sad as they were all in all among the most wonderful years of my career. 
  • 2007: Oh there can be only one contender. I married that girl I met in 2005 at noon on February 12th of this year. Bad mistake.  I guess the fact that the first time she threatened a divorce after a minor disagreement was on February 15th pretty much sums up why…
  • 2008: The global economic slowdown as it was called hit, the start of a recession – and forced me to essentially close my own business and find a dayjob. While I love the job I ended up in – I do miss being my own boss, solving the challenges of customers and coming up with unique and innovative products and solutions.  There was another major personal loss for me in this year. On July 14th of the year my longtime friend Uwe Thiem passed away.
  • 2009: If marrying the wrong person was hard, and led me through enormous suffering – getting divorced was even harder. It would become without a doubt the worst year of my life. Sometimes what made it bad was simply taking stock of the previous four years in my relationship and subsequent marriage. Sometimes it was the stresses of trying to work out a divorce settlement. Sometimes it was just the reality of trying to rebuild my life. I spent a large part of 2009 in therapy.
  • 2010: I think the very worst day of 2010 must be the day I came close to wanting to kill myself. As I sat home alone on a Friday night, drunk and miserable about the state of my life – I could see no point in struggling on. And as I cried for help… and found no answer from the friends whom I had always been there for – my misery deepened. My salvation came from an unexpected source, and I survived to be stronger and better than before – but those 12 hours were without a doubt, the worst of the year.


Now with all those sad and depressing memories revisited, and filed away – lets cheer up and look at all the good stuff of the past ten years.

The highs of 2001-2011:

  • 2001: In this year I ended up my university studies and began my career at DireqLearn which would ultimately become OpenLab and be the start of a wonderful period in my life where I would travel the world and make a true positive contribution to the lives of others. It must stand as one of my proudest and happiest moments when I was first offered the position at that firm.
  • 2002: This feels like such  a long time ago. Honestly I can't remember many particular events – but I will tell you that the release of the Spiderman movie was somewhere among the happiest days of my year. Call me a geek if you will but man I'd only been waiting for that my entire life ! 
  • 2003: The start of another career high as OpenLab signed our first contract with Netday Namibia. The contract would ultimately culiminate in our free operating system with it's massive collection of educational material running on 95% of all school computer systems in the country much to Microsoft's chagrin. It all began in this year however – and included my first visit to the country and meeting Uwe Thiem and Joris Komen who would become good friends.
  • 2004: The highlight of this year must by visit to France. During the first week I was at a technical conference in Nancy where as (apparently) the first ever African visitor to this tiny industrial town near the German border I was treated as something of a celebrity even getting an introduction to the mayor. It was quite a sight walking through it's ancient streets and seeing it's old buildings and floral clocks. The second week I traveled through the Champagne region and then to Paris where I got to see the grand old city of lights in the sweltering heat of it's hottest ever recorded summer. 
  • 2005: The greatest event of this year must be the one that happened in May – when I published my book "Batteries not included". It was never a best seller and I never really expected it to be – but it was my work, my words, my soul beautifully bound with an ISBN number and all. That book continues to be a positive force in my life to this day.
  • 2006: Once more the highlight of the year was a trip. This time to the beautiful and liberating San Francisco in the United States. My feelings toward the USA were less than pleasant at the time (as you can see from their two mentions in the lows list) but San Francisco was absolutely wonderful and I loved every second of my time there.
  • 2007: I bought my first home. I still live in it – my little apartment in West Beach. For the first time in my life I wasn't renting, but a homeowner. Redecorating it to fit my personal style was an expensive but very fullfilling excersize ( and still not quite done ) and when I finally after months of looking walked into an apartment and knew "this is where I want to live" – I had one of the happiest moments of my life.
  • 2008: This is the year I began work on Kongoni. Still a matter of personal pride though in the intervening years I stepped down as project leader it survives and continues to grow. In a real sense it was my last major code contribution to free software, while my believe in the ethics of free software has only grown with time – my energy hasn't and since stepping down from the project I have taken an extended sabatical from all programming which will continue for a while yet. 
  • 2009: Well it's the year I got divorced, the same thing I wrote up as the low of the year above was also the highlight. From it came a period of rediscovering myself, I started writing poetry again, I felt creative and alive again- that which had been suppressing me was gone. For all the hardship and suffering the divorce caused it was ultimately a needed thing which left me a better and happier person than I would have been without it.
  • 2010: The first highlight of the year must be the day I met Caitlin who grew to be my best friend. Our friendship has only deepened over the months since and she's inspired me to try new things, be more myself and cut away things that were holding me back. She was  a source of strength when I nearly crashed emotionally – and though we had just started being friends then was already proving what kind of friend she was. A realization that she continues to enforce not only in how she is towards me, but also towards our other mutual friends. Specifically one such mutual friend – whom she in fact introduced me to and that meeting must count as one of the biggest highlights of the year – Megan. Megan in whom I can see so much of myself, who gave me the strength to be a romantic again… who held me on the beach at Muizenberg in the final moments of the year and who started 2011 off with a kiss. 
Dec 102010

Well today's events started last Friday really. I had a bit of shopping to do at Cavendish over lunch and on a whim I called Megan and asked her if she'd like to go along. We had a lovely time talking as we walked around the area and back toward me office, and then I remembered that Scott Pilgrim VS. The World was opening that night and that I'd wanted to go see it.

So I asked her if she'd like to come with me. Which we then did. The movie was of course ten million kinds of awesome – but the more important thing was how we spent the next 24-odd hours in each others company sharing a connection the likes of which I have never felt before. 

We talked and watched Amelie and held hands and … then she asked me "Would it be premature if I invited you to dinner to meet my parents". Turns out she'd been nervously considering it for a while, but never had the courage to ask before then. Without a moment's hesitation I agreed. Which is what I'll be doing tonight.

For my part, I had a drum lesson last night but afterward I mixed up the dough for my secret recipe death-by-deliciousness chocolate cake. Stuck it in a tupperware bowl and along with a can of pre-caramelized condensed milk for decoration stuck it all in the fridge, brought it along today and it's now sitting in the office fridge. The idea being that for my contribution to the evening, I'll back it once I get to her family home in Bergvliet (an area I don't believe I have ever visited before).

I am excited, after all a girl doesn't take you home to meet her parents unless she really likes you and is quite serious about you right ? But I am also rather nervous. I really want to make a good impression – and that is a feeling I have hardly ever in my life felt. I have never really wanted to make a good impression on anybody. On the contrary – I prefer to make a good expression, knowing that those who are unhappy with the results are not people I would want to associate with, and those who like it are the people I feel at home around.

Tonight though, I do want to make a good impression. Not a false one, I have no desire to attempt to create a better impression than reality, but I guess what I'm saying is -I would really like them to like me.  Because I really, really like their daughter. 

No. I lie. I don't just like her. I am (and I have in fact told her this) in love with her. Not that I intend to rush into anything (I rather like the way we are taking things really slowly, especially on the physical side), but … hell listen to me yammer and stammer – that's how nervous I am.

I really don't want to fuck this up.

Nov 162010

I considered writing this inside the 30daystruth post but I had been meaning to write it on it's own before I even saw today's topic and there were more important things to say. I have tweeted about this a bit in the past few weeks, but I haven't really said it publicly and in fact I have only mentioned it to a few friends.

I've loved rock music since I was young. In my late primary school years I declared that I wanted to learn music – I had in mind electric guitar, or rock drums… instead I was sent to piano lessons… classical piano lessons. I suppose my parents (like all parents) genuinely believed they were acting in my best interest  – sadly it rather backfired. After 4 years of being forced to play an instrument I didn't like, and using it to play music I felt no connection to (classical piano lessons don't actually even teach you any of the good classical stuff – just simple tunes for the first many, many years) … well I grew up to despise classical music, when I learned history and realized that classical music was a tool of the aristocracy used to justify their suppression of the suffering poor, I instead felt myself connecting with the bardic music of the same ages. The minstrel's and their ballads – which has been a massive influence on folk metal in particular. 

While of course a lot of classical composers were rebellious and often died poor as a result, and their music tends to appeal to me (Beethoven ROCKS dude), my soul has always been filled with metal I guess, long before I ever really knew what metal was.

I knew by about the age of 15 what instrument I loved the most. Rock drums. I made some efforts to try and learn it – asking to join the school marching band for example (and learning that apparently these days school marching bands don't teach music-  they just use the kids who already learned). Even though marching drums are a completely different thing (each drummer only plays one instrument, one note – rock drummers play several, about the only thing they have in common is time-keeping) so that failed. I tried to buy a drumkit when I started university and couldn't afford it, so much for teaching myself. Years went by and my old dream remained just that, a daydream. Airdrums while listening to my favorite bands.

Until now.  Over the past few weeks I have committed myself to doing what I have been wanting to do for these past fifteen years. To learn to be a drummer. I signed up for lessons and I had my first one last Saturday and I'm religiously practicing every day. Some go well, some go less well. In one lessons I understood more about how it actually worked than I ever guessed – and things made sense. 

What about those old piano lessons ? Well one good thing came out of them – I can read notation, as it happens almost none of the notation I learned in piano class really applies though. Piano notes hardly ever go shorter than quarters- while drum notes are hardly ever longer than quarters. A drummer playing 4/4 time is probably playing at least 1/8th notes more likely 1/16th. For many songs 1/32th is not uncommon. 

No nobody plays 1/64/th notes because that would be just about physically impossible, not even Lars Ulrich can move that fast.

15 years I waited, always keeping this dream alive, it's bloody time I do something about it. Right now I'm practicing on pillows and ashtrays – I'll be buying a real drumkit soon though, I'm already feeling the shortcomings of such things. Sure they can let you practice time-keeping and limb-independence but you can't really hear the results – which is especially noticeable in the complete absence of a bass-drum (rock drummers hit the bass with their right foot).

Every note I hit, every time I get a rhythm right (even if just three times in a row)… I glow, I can feel the small step toward a lifelong dream being realized. So what if I'm about 10 years older than most people when their playing drums professionally. So what ? It makes me feel good. That's all that matters.

May 042010

While grabbing a coffee the day before my recent long weekend trip I got to chatting with a visitor from our Atlanta office. Mentioning that I was headed off to East-London she asked if I would not be affected by the ash-cloud problem. I explained i was taking the greyhound and got a rather incredulous look… until it dawned on me what the misunderstanding was and I explained that East-London is a seaport town on the Eastern Cape coast where I was going for a family reunion.
The reunion was decidedly a success, rarely had so many of the Venters been together in one place and the usual raucus discussions of religion, philosophy, rugby and politics reigned throughout a weekend that was extremely carnivorous (we braai’d every night… after all we’re Afrikaners).
I spent quite a bit of my time taking pictures (will be publishing later in the week) particularly of my nieces and nephews while my dad started teaching photography to a nephew who had likewise been bitten by the shutterbug.

The significant amount of family there-present also gave me a chance for some perspective-seeking and I came back feeling spiritually refreshed and much more at peace with myself. I would however not recommend the greyhound for that trip to anybody. The rest-stops work out terribly – just right to make sure you get no breakfast on the way there, and no dinner on the way back (#brandfail).
I didn’t manage to get much sleep on the trip back, so bad in fact that half-asleep I got off a stop too early, in Somerset-West – the cab fair back to Cape Town was enough that I may as well have flown anyway. Nevertheless -the trip was great enough that I didn’t even care very much.

Jan 282010

100 Truths! After you’ve filled this out, TAG 10 people and have them do the same.

1. Last beverage ~ black filter coffee
2. Last phone call~ Anita, wanted to check if I was okay.
3. Last kiss~ does a “hello” peck from a friend count ? Because that greatly influences the answer.
4. Last song you listened to~ 36 Crazy Fists: Slit-wrist theory.
5. Last time you cried~ Tuesday night, after a day of the ex-wife reminding me exactly WHY she’s my EX wife.

6. Dated someone twice ~ Yes
7. Been cheated on? ~ Yes
8. Kissed someone & regretted it ? ~ Yes
9. Lost someone special? ~ Yes
10. Been depressed? ~ Yes
11. Been high? –> Yes

12. Black
13. Sunset-red
14. Lightblue

15. Have you made new friends this year ~ Yes
16. Fallen out of love ~ Yes (well the year’s just started, but if you count “last 12 months” then yes)
17. Laughed until you cried ~ Yes
18. Met someone who changed you ~ No
19. Found out who your true friends were ~ Yes
20. Found out someone was talking about you ~ Yes
21. Kissed anyone on your top friends list ~ Yes *blush*

23. How many kids do you want to have ~ I would like one or two, one day.
24. Do you have any pets ~ Cat and a Dog.
25. Do you want to change your name ~ I kina did, no legal change, just started using my initials as my name several years ago.
26. What did you do for your last birthday ~ Threw a small intimate party at a cocktail bar.
27. What time did you wake up today ~ around 6:30
28. What were you doing at midnight last night ~ Watching Jeff Dunham.
29. Name something you CANNOT wait for ~ No comment.
30. Last time you saw your father ~ Mid-December.
31. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life ~ I would really like a six-pack… yes it’s shallow but even I sometimes have shallow vanities…
32. What are you listening to right now ~ The sound of my fingers hitting the keyboard
33. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom ~ Yes, my best friend in highschool’s dad was named Tom. Was a very cool guy, a writer who inspired me to write.
34. What’s getting on your nerves right now? ~ People who can’t tell the difference between a mailing-list and a reply-all list.
36. What’s your real name ~ Dream On.
37. Relationship Status ~ Single and available for short-term leases.
38. Zodiac sign ~ Aries
39. Male or female ~ Male
40.Primary School ~ Pierneef Skool
41. High School ~ Oos-Moot
43. Hair color ~ Black, but my blonde roots are starting to show.
44. Long or short ~ My hair or me ? :P Hair is long, for a guy anyway.
45. Height ~ 185cm
46. Do you have a crush on someone ~ yeah… maybe more than one…
47. What do you like about yourself ~ I want to spend my life making the world a better place, ironically, this is also what I hate about myself.
48. Piercings ~ left ear.
49. Tattoos ~ Two.
50. Righty or lefty ~ Ambidextrous.

51. First surgery ~ tonsils 3yrs
52. First piercing ~ Left Ear, age 18.
53. First tattoo ~ Aged 19, on a random Saturday morning after spending weeks looking for the perfect electric guitar picture.
54. First best friend ~ Trevor
55. First Sport ~ Sheez, I can’t remember.
56. First pet ~ dog
57. First vacation ~ First I remember was a trip to badplaas in the low-feld, must have been 4 or 5 years old.
58. First concert ~ Cutting Jade at Tequila Sunrise (this was a few years before they got signed, when nobody knew who they were)
59. First crush ~ Aaah Cindy… she was a sweetheart. We were 7 years old.
60. First alcohol drink ~ well appart from the odd sip of wine with my parents, I had my first beer around age 16.

61. Eating ~ Haven’t yet, I don’t eat breakfast and it’s too early for lunch.
62. Drinking ~ nothing
63. I’m about to ~ Sign of a customer ticket
64. Listening to ~ Still they clacking of keys.
65. Waiting for ~ lunchtime.

69. Lips or eyes~ eyes
70. Hugs or kisses ~ either
71. Shorter or taller ~ Shorties are adorable, but sometimes taller can be more sensual… bearing has more to do with whether you look good for your height than your height ever will.
72. Older or Younger ~ Couldn’t care less.
73. Romantic or spontaneous ~ What ? No option for “explosive” ?
74. Nice stomach or nice arms ~ Both please.
75. Tattoos or piercings ~ Both are sexy as hell.
76. Sensitive or loud ~ confident, smart and self-assured.
77. Hook-up or relationship ~ RIght now, hook-up, but the right person could change my mind.
78. Trouble maker or hesitant ~ I’m a trouble-maker, I prefer the company of fellow trouble-makers.

79. Kissed a stranger ~ Yes
80. Drank hard liquor ~ yes
81. Lost glasses/contacts ~ No
82. cried in front of someone ~ yes
83. Broken someone’s heart ~ Yes, though always when I believed it was ultimately in their best interest as well.
84. Had your own heart broken ~ Yep…
85. Been arrested ~ mmm, no.
86. Turned someone down ~ Not as often as I should have.
87. Cried when someone died ~ Yes.
88. Liked a friend that is a girl ~ Most of my friends have always been girls, my whole life, and sometimes – I’ve liked them like “that” too.

89. Yourself ~ too much perhaps.
90. Miracles ~ nope.
91. Love at first sight ~ I used to. Learned a harsh lesson.
92. Heaven ~ Sometimes.
93. Santa Clause ~ Yep, he’s existence is a historical fact. But the mythology around him should be treated as such.
94. Kissing on the first date ~ Absolutely.
95. Angels ~ The kind who wear leather and ride Harley’s.

96. Is there one person you want to be with right now – No comment.
97. Had more than one boyfriend/girlfriend at one time ~ Hell no, one is more than enough work !
98. Do you believe its possible to remain faithful forever ~ For some people.
99. What’s the one thing you cannot live without ~ Heavy Metal
100. Posting this as 100 Truths ~ Yes

Dec 192009

For many years, it has been my dream to own a cruiser. I bought the yamaha scooter at the beginning of the year, to see me through until such time as I could afford something better. That time came, and today I took delivery of a brand new Motomia Roma 250 cruiser. She’s an absolute beauty in black and chrome, so of course I had to take pictures. I drove down and parked her next to Blaawberg beach and used the ocean as a backdrop. Ultimately, I only decided to publish one of the pictures, but I do believe it adequately conveys how pretty she is.

She is also extremely powerful (hard to believe a 250 can have so much raw power) and I say that never even having opened the throttle all the way. The bike needs about 1300km run-in before you can go over 80km/h so for now, I’m riding nice and slow. Good thing though, as it forces me to really get to know her: how she handles, how her gears change and how she corners. Cruisers are big, heavy beasts built for power and comfort rather than breakneck speeds and while she can do a good 140 or so, she’s really more decide for leisurely cruising than high speed chases – and that suits me fine. I’m no speed freak after all.

Without further ado – here she is:

[singlepic id=337 w=450]