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I need your help!

Please don't laugh ... I've written a novel and it's now available as an e-book on Amazon:

This is a fun, fantasy adventure story, and though I was still rather crazy when I wrote it, I think it is not too bad a tale. Now ... I would of course appreciate it if any of you actually bought and read the book, but even if not ... I really need any help you can give me for getting the word out and making folks out there aware that here is a potentially read-worthy story! I want to sell at least a few ... anything you can tell me as to how to go about it, I would appreciate vastly!

Discuss this Journal entry [13]

Latest reply: 5 Weeks Ago

A Visit by Ernst van Jaarsveld

Today I was visited by Ernst van Jaarsveld! You probably don't know who he is - but you should! So let me inform you: Ernst is one of South Africa's most renowned botanists and horticulturalists and the author of several books. He's discovered, described and named several plant species, and also has plant species named after him. He is especially into succulents - of which South Africa has an incredible variety. And that's what brought him to me! A few days ago I was called by Joe Grosel, the chairman of our local bird club (but Joe is also into nature in general, so knows lots of things - and lots of people). Joe knows that I'm into plants and know a thing or two. So Joe was contacted by folks who know Ernst and then Joe contacted me, about a plant Ernst was looking for - a Kleinia venteri, an extremely small, inconspicuous and unassuming plant. But anyways, Joe was hoping I know about these plants - and fortunately I did! Fanie Venter discovered this species, Ernst described and published it, naming it after Fanie. The original colony of these plants, which Ernst knew about, was destroyed by housing developments, so when he recently went back to try and find them, they were gone. But luckily I know of other, still-existing colonies. So I told Joe, I was phoned by another guy Anton, and finally by Ernst, and I said I could help him.

So. He arrived here this afternoon with Sean Gildenhuys, another succulent expert. I immediately showed them the plants I have growing here in my own collection - I grew them from cuttings taken from wild plants. Then we headed to the first location - walking distance from my house. The veld looked completely unpromising - people walk there and the municipality often comes in with big vehicles to mow the grass, of course squashing tiny plants beneath their wheels. But lo and behold, I found some plants! Once we had the first ones we soon found more. And they were flowering and also bearing fruit! Actually the 'fruit' are tiny dry capsules with a tuft of white fluff, but still, there they were! Ernst and Sean took lots of photos and also of the other plants which miraculously survive in that veld.

With this success we headed for the second locality. This is a patch of veld in the middle of my suburb Ster Park. Again when we arrived things looked extremely unpromising - the veld had been scraped by some kind of scraping vehicle, almost bulldozed! I was hoping something survived ... we only saw a few species in the scraped bits, including a very pretty little Othonna. But deeper in we found fairly healthy veld ... Ernst said that in the patches he had seen them in long ago, they were in patches underneath Acacia caffra (common hook thorn) trees. And there were a few hook thorns. And - Ernst found them there! We again soon found quite a few, and also flowering.

In both localities, Ernst took a few plants for his collection. From my own experience they are very easy to grow from cuttings, so I'm sure they'll flourish.

With these successes, we headed to the hills where they wanted me to show them the Euphorbia clivicolas, another extremely rare species only occurring around Polokwane. We were bashing through some dense bush and again found lots of other interesting things - Ernst took some cuttings of a huge succulent cactus-like wild grape - and then, again, we found our clivicolas! Only a few, and small ones, but there they were!

We came back as it started getting dark, and they had a quick look at my own garden and the strange things I have growing here, and some of my collected plants. Sadly, there was little time, but Sean could inform me of the ID's of some of the mystery plants I have here and was wondering about.

But we chatted a lot and got on very well and I hope they'll return again. At any rate I'm sure I'll see Sean again ... he works at Gariep Plants, a specialty nursery in Pretoria, not far from where my sister lives. Gariep has an amazing diversity of indigenous and tropical African succulent species ... I've already discussed with my sister that we'll go there when again I visit them.

Anyways I'm very honoured by the visit, and will stay in contact with Ernst. He's working on a new book, about the plants that make a habit of growing on cliffs - cremnophytes! And I've already seen several such myself, especially on my recent trip to the Blouberg. So I'm looking forward to this book!

All in all I'm very chuffed about this. Dmitri - I'm sure you'll read this - how about another special feature for Colours of Wildlife, about this little plant, with photos?

Discuss this Journal entry [6]

Latest reply: 6 Weeks Ago

How the Bench Press Competition Went

The contest was quite all right although I was disappointed in not matching the best lift I managed in preparation. I bench pressed 85 kg (I did 95 kg in the preparation) at 72.3 kg bodyweight ... in the competition itself I tried 95 kg twice but missed. I tied for third last (and one other guy fell out of the contest for not managing any of his three lifts) but I was the only lifter over 40 years of age. By age standards the 85 kg was actually quite a good lift! The heaviest lift was 160 kg, but the winner was a guy who pressed a bit over 125 kg while weighing in the low 60's.

There was no soreness whatsoever the next day.

I'll certainly do this again.

Discuss this Journal entry [3]

Latest reply: Aug 7, 2017

I've entered a Bench Press Contest!

Hi folks! On a bit of a whim I've entered a bench-press contest in my gym. I'm no powerlifter, I mainly work out for my health, but I'm fairly strong for my size so I thought what the heck, let's see what I can do. The contest is on Monday! I've been preparing for it over the past week ... actually proper powerlifting preparation needs to be done over many weeks, typically about three months. So I'm not really going to be able to do well. But it's mainly for fun. I'm going to try to bench press 100 kg/220 lbs. My bodyweight is about 70 kg/154 lbs, and this will be taken into consideration at the contest. I reckon most of the lifters are going to be much bigger than me! Well anyways I'll also enjoy seeing who the really strong guys are.

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Latest reply: Jul 28, 2017

Feeling really, really down

Hi folks! I'm in a pretty dark place right now. Something went wrong ... just a little thing that went wrong but it ripped open deep wounds. Feeling extremely alone and isolated and *scared*. I'm again experiencing serious alienation ... paranoia too. It's hard to describe to people the fear of a falling completely into insanity. Many people use 'crazy' as if it wasn't something very bad, sometimes even being something positive. But for me, insanity is the worst thing in the world. I've already experienced it ... it is indescribably bad. It's all your nightmares becoming real. It's a pit of despair with no way out. It is screaming at the top of your lungs but it's all locked inside and no-one else can hear. It is being buried alive ... and not being able to get out or even to find relief in eventual death. It is being trapped in a kind of mirror-world ... you're surrounded by strange beings, they're not like you and you're not like them, nothing makes sense to you, you don't know what to do, you can't predict what will be the result of anything you do or say except that it is going to be horror and disaster. You realize something is wrong, you're doing something wrong, something has gone wrong with your interface with reality and with others, but you don't know *what*. You're failing some cosmic test and the punishment is worse than eternal hell. You're letting everyone down. But you don't know what you did wrong. You start questioning, questioning, questioning, and it's like a tornado of fire ripping you to pieces. Your soul goes up in flame and with it the universe, the only universe you've known. Something has gone wrong and now everything's doomed. You've tried, you've ripped your own guts out trying, but it wasn't good enough. And you don't know *why*, since you don't benefit from the torture, and no-one else does either! Or does anyone? What is it all in aid of?

Look - I'm not there yet. I'm sort of all right right now. But I'm too close to that for comfort. I just want folks to sort of understand ... heck I want to understand myself. This is the kind of fear I have to live with every day. I'm still clawing my way out of the abyss and just a small bump can send me falling back in.

Discuss this Journal entry [11]

Latest reply: Jul 9, 2017

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