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Category Archives: Family & Friends


Huntington, Long Island: Brushing 14″ of snow off my Jeep! Read More »

20090221_sms-_with_alfAlf’s motor bike ride up to Tanzania from South Africa ended rather abruptly the first day into the trip at 110Km/h, in Zimbabwe, up against the hind quarters of a black cow, in the dark of night.

Nobody but nobody drives at night on African roads out in the back of beyond. What were they thinking?

Wild animals and livestock roam the roads in places where there are no fences. The animal survived to run off, leaving only a broken headlight and dung on my brother’s bike. Alf is flying back to Johannesburg from Victoria Falls today and having his injuries checked out in at hospital, the bike is being trucked back by friends he met along the way. Alf checked in with his son Mark on the South Coast who called his older brother AJ in the UK who called us in the USA. I sent him an SMS not expecting his iPhone cell service to be working in Zimbabwe and then heard back from him much later when he was flying home …

UPDATE: A couple of broken ribs and lots of bruising!

Read Alf’s account of what happened here: Ray and Alfie’s Tanzanian Trip on Triumph Tiger 1050 Motorcycles

helen-suzmanStraight out of school until she retired in ’89, I voted for Helen Suzman’s Progressive Party. I’ve never voted for a political party that ever came to power, but I don’t ever regret supporting Helen’s unique anti-apartheid efforts.

Helen was not only enlightened but affluent and resisted movements that tried to cripple apartheid by crippling the country’s economy. I witnessed so many people escaping South Africa’s crumbling economy in the mid 80’s — our doctors, lawyers and engineers were welcomed in the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA. Concentrating amongst those of us left behind the die hards clinging to white power who couldn’t and wouldn’t leave the country, essentially making the task of liberals edging the country towards democracy that much harder. Helen stayed and used her wealth and influence to change the country.

Helen lived in the elite suburb of Houghton, an enclave of walled in estates which typically epitomised the privilege of the white minority in a largely impoverished black majority country. I recall some conservative students accused her of being removed from the consequences of democracy, that she wouldn’t have to live it the same way that most whites would have to. Rather than defend the moral point, as most politicians would, she simply shot back that she had more to lose than the average white if democracy didn’t work out. So true, to the point and convincing!

Rest in peace Helen, your work is well done!

*Not only was Helen the first person I ever voted for, the party she created and the subsequent forms it morphed into were the only ones I ever voted for. In 2012 I aim to become a US Citizen — opening up a whole new opportunity for me to do some good with my vote. I’m looking forward to that as much as I did when I cast my first vote.

Suggested reading: The New York Times obit “Helen Suzman, Anti-Apartheid Leader, Dies at 91”

Here’s wishing you happiness, health and prosperity for 2009!

I enjoy the holiday immensely but more than a little shy of Santa Claus and the immaculate conception. Having long grown out of of life’s imaginary friends, I’m able to focus on my real ones in whose company I’m enjoying these holidays!

blogs-of-the-day-20071224 Something surprising popped up in a Google search for some information in my own blog recently: A link to my blog being one of the up and coming WordPress blogs of the day — the day before Christmas, last year.

What on earth were all those people, all three hundred and twenty four of them, looking for here at slappHappe on that one day?

rsa-passportRenewing a South African passport: Who could have imagined this would take a minimum of six months? Thankfully it’s only $50, but requires a full set of notarised fingerprints — something not so easily done for non-citizens in the USA. My wife gets her British passport renewed within a couple of weeks by post (or within 24 hours, in person) but they charge her nearly $250. I guess you get what you pay for, or do you?

No civilian chooses to carry a passport, or none that I know of. There shouldn’t be a hefty consumption charge on something you cannot do without and then not have those documents created within a reasonable amount of time and at a modest cost: A few weeks by posts seem reasonable. Overnight if you call in person would be nice. A minimum of six months seems punitive or inefficient or simply out of touch with the reality of life.

For those South Africans heading home for the 2010 World Cup, be warned, renew you RSA passport early!

UPDATE: March 22nd, 2009. My renewed passport arrived last week, about three and a half months after I applied for it. Just in time to be useless, without a visa, to visit Britain because RSA hasn’t kept up with securing their passports and reducing abuses.

I recently reconnected with some long, but not forgotten, Tac2 colleagues. The Transvaal Amateur Computer Club (tac2) was a hombrew club at the infancy of microcomputing in South Africa. To facilitate a virtual reunion of the club I’m proposing and helping the club draw in members past and present to a new tac2blog where we can reminisce and reconnect by sharing club facts, anecdotes and fond memories of the origins of an industry.

Caption: Out of the original Apple User Group grew the Desktop Publishing User Group (DTP/UG). Read More »

After a heroic two-and-a-half year struggle with cancer Hannali Blohm died in the early hours of Sunday morning at her home in Caracas, Venezuela. She is sister to a very close friend of ours who is, unfortunately, also suffering from the same disease.


Caption: Chris with Bo and Hannali at Christmas in Winterhaven.

I remember Hannali as a very determined and an unusually generous person — who adopted our family by proxy whenever we visited their home in Winterhaven, Florida. We enjoyed many meals with them, including one especially memorable Christmas dinner. Hannali will be missed by us, but more especially by her family.

halloween-2008Bo, her friend Alyssa and Carolyn at the Treanor’s Halloween Party, 2008.

This year the adults went in pajamas and the kids went free style: These kids had a Rocky Horror thing going. The pajamas turned out to be such a great idea: Carolyn and I were both suffering with sore throats, we stayed toasty warm all night and then went straight home to bed in our jammies.

The Wall Street bail out bill got rejected today, for better or for worse, as Bo and I were visiting the Capitol. Unfortunately we missed actually witnessing the vote take place on H.R.3997* while we were standing in line to get into the House of Representatives’ gallery. Representatives were scurrying around the building and gallery visitors rushed out after the vote. A small contingent of demonstrators dressed in pink were holding a noisy “Tax Revolt” outside. We saw democracy in action today. All in all a very good day to visit the legislative capital of the USA!

*A revised bill H.R. 1424 passed the floor a few days later.

Some South Africans celebrate National Braai* Day on September 24th: We did so tonight in our own off-beat fashion with fish burgers grilled up on the Weber.

A couple of eggs, a bunch of fresh parsley chopped, a diced onion and a flaked can of tuna all folded into a firm, somewhat dry, batch of potato pancake mix. Roll into balls and flatten on the grill plate. Cook five minutes a side to make crisp cakes ready for the bun. Speaking of which, while gently warming the buns, whip the zest of lemon and a good squeeze of the juice into half a cup of good mayonnaise and then dress up both sides of the bun with this tangy sauce. Slide the fish burger pattie in between and enjoy!

Alternative endings: Substitute sardines, boneless and skinless, in oil, for the tuna if you enjoy the real taste of fish or flaked, smoked crab meat for a pretty awesome crab cake burger.


On my last vacation day this summer, after the family visiting went home, my daughter Bo-Ashley and I headed out to the Sunken Forest at Sailors Haven on Fire Island. It’s a comfortable walk, hardly a hike, mostly a raised boardwalk through the forest and a concrete path between the dunes — with a couple of benches, rest stops, toilets and showers along the way. The circuit is easily completed in and hour-and-a-half with lots of time to look at things along the way. Take good walking shoes, bug spray and picnic food — the concession store and food stand leave a lot to be desired. The shopping experience aside, the walk was pretty interesting and the two of us had a wonderful father-daughter day out!

This month an icon of African journalism that I once briefly worked with, died. Hannes Smith born March 17, 1933, died August 5th, 2008 at age 75. He was affectionately called Smithie, an English nickname I think he would have preferred over the Afrikaans version of Smittie which many people used.

I knew him as the founding editor of the Windhoek Observer but he always thought of himself as its chief reporter — and indeed he was. My consultancy, Intelligent Ideas, converted his paper to desktop publishing in the late 80’s (early in 1989 as best I can recall).

He was a bright articulate man who didn’t mince his words. Working only from his notes and memory, he dictated stories to his Compugraphic operator to the precise column length required to fill a news hole. Something only he was sure of. We had to wait for the galleys to be played out on bromide, cut into columns and stripped up on the tables to witness the magic of his mental casting. He did this for years before we had write-to-fit text editors. Read More »

It’s underwhelming, actually. One hundred and fifity billion dollars arrived by post today. Zimbabwean dollars. Read More »