Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our first rugby game in Aus

Which is larger - the ball or the security guy?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Back to the future

I remember back in the eighties when we first got television in Windhoek. Yes, you heard me - we only got TV in 1981. The SWABC - (South West African Broadcasting Corporation) started transmitting in Windhoek during that year.

Now, back in South Africa, they already started broadcasting TV in 1976. But, as with everything else, they decided that SWA was too backward to enjoy TV, and kept it back for quite a while. Actually, I think the majority of the conservative suidwes-population tried to resist it, because they feared that television was the root of all evil, and that our country would never be the same again. (I think they may have been quite correct.)

Well, what happened in 1981 was that they would broadcast all last week's (RSA) episodes in SWA. In other words, all the shows were first recorded while they were shown in South Africa, and the tapes were sent to Windhoek. These tapes were then shown a week after they showed them back in "the States". News bulletins were a little more progressive, and were only delayed with one day. They flew the tapes in and showed yesterday's news today. Later on, they started broadcasting their own news right out of Windhoek, with Andre Henning sitting their with a blue wall behind him. They played the Suidweslied when the services started - beautiful. Services used to start around 17h00 and end at 21h00, or something like that.

The first series I ever watched on TV was Buck Rogers. And "Man van staal" (the million dollar man), both translated into Afrikaans.

We were quite happy to watch old tennis matches and never even dreamt of live cricket on TV. Until Diana's wedding, no event had ever been transmitted live. That was one big scary day...

Things progressed through the years, until independence in 1990, when the national TV broadcaster became known as NBC, and all quality was discarded and replaced with badly recorded political speeches of idiots with red, green and blue umbrellas and scarves standing under a tree in Okahao. Hip-hop, soccer games and badly translated Latin-American soapies filled the airwaves. Viva - the African Renaissance had started.

This didn't work for most of the educated population, and it wasn't long before Multichoice found tens of thousands of very keen customers wanting to pay to see good television. Almost everyone subscribed to digital television, put up their dishes, and started watching good live TV.

So, soon we got used to watching everything live, from Big Brother, to the Iraq war, to live sport - specifically rugby and cricket.

This is where I came from. A society where you could watch a cricket match on TV WHILE IT HAPPENED. Imagine - watching a cricket match while it is actually happening - just like being there on the field.

Then I moved Down Under, to a great place called WA. A great place, with one big major flaw - they don't show live matches on TV. They fear that it may keep people from going to work, or keep them from attending matches. Now they show delayed games on TV. Can you imagine how much this sucks to someone who has been used to experiencing LIVE TV??

I'm going to make it my life's mission to get these dumb citizens of WA to speak up and demand better TV. They don't know what they're missing. It's like being back in SWA in 1981, watching recorded shows of things that happened yesterday.

May the live transmission be with you...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Going to the Drive-in

This weekend I experienced something I never thought I'd ever see again - a drive-in movie theatre!

Apparently this is one of the last ones in Australia. It is just like the ones we had back in the seventies and eighties, (when I was a child), with the bumps and the speaker-poles, and the big screen. This is "the movies" the way I first experienced it. In Windhoek we didn't go to the cinema until I was about 15. We always went to the drive-in, as a family.

I can remember my grandfather packing a picnic basket, coffee flask and whatever else he thought we needed. He had a whole box that fitted into the back of his old Volkswagen Variant station wagon. We would all get into the station wagon, and go to the movies. Funny how these things come back to you. I remember there was a lot of Afrikaans films back then, and I also remember when Superman came out, and we watched it there on the big screen in 1979.

This drive-in is much similar to that, the only difference being the fact that they transmit the sound on an FM radio channel, and no-one uses the speakers anymore.

The movie started at 21h00, but we already parked at 19h30. There is a great atmosphere, families everywhere sitting and chatting and having a great time. Everyone has chairs, blankets and food, and all the larger vehicles are parked with their backs to the screen, so that the kids can lie there and watch the movie. Our kids were in the Holden's boot...

We watched two movies, and by the time we started driving home it was 00:30. I must admit that I missed some parts of the second movie...

What a great experience. I never knew these things still existed. It was great giving my children the opportunity to also experience this. The last time I went to a drive-in, must have been somewhere around 1989.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Here in Western Australia the government runs a program called Vac Swimming (Vacation swimming). They train children to swim - for $1 a day. There are different levels, and the children go up in levels each year as they progress.

The aim of the Vacswim program is to provide equal access for all Western Australians to a safe, quality swimming and water safety program.

The Department of Education and Training's vacation program has grown from its beginnings in 1919 when 5 instructors taught 248 children at three venues to the largest vacation swimming program in Australia. In recent years more than 50,000 children have received lessons at over 200 locations throughout the state. The program employs more than 1,500 qualified swimming instructors.

Vacswim classes operate up to 16 stages at pool or calm water centres in accordance with the Department of Education and Training's Swimming and Water Safety Continuum (stages 1-9) and Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) personal survival (stages 10 to 12) and rescue awards (stages 13 to 16). A more detailed copy of the requirements for each skill listed on the continuum (stages 1-9) is available at Department of Education and Training's Swimming Teachers Handbook and Guidelines.

Now isn't that the way a western civilized mind thinks and plans? Just imagine - holidays, children everywhere - train them to swim, and you increase their skills, help them to stay fit, and decrease fatalities later on. Train the whole nation to have basic swimming skills, and focus on this during the holidays when there's lots of time for this, and it's warm.

Coming from a country where they barely cope with training people to wash their hands after doing a poop, this is quite interesting. Many people "back home" don't know how to use a flush toilet properly - they would rather demolish it and use a hole in the ground and leaves from the bushes. Sicknesses like cholera are spreading because people don't practise basic hygiene. Swimming lessons are not a priority to people like this, which is understandable. But this drags down the rest of the nation who have obtained better basic "survival skills" just by learning this from their parents.

Anyway, that's off topic. We went to the beach this morning, and stayed there until it was time for the Vacswim training at Beatty Park. At Beatty Park we all had a swim in the public swimming pool, and while the two oldest kids were busy with their training, I sneaked off to the cafeteria and ordered a beef burger and chips.

Once again I was just amazed at the facilities that we have available in this country - for next-to-nothing, (nearly free) access. The same basic facilities we had as children "back home", but with one difference - they are still being maintained and regularly upgraded. People are proud of what they have, and every place has a history. The development of these facilities did not suddenly stop in 1989, like Daan Viljoen and Gross Barmen, to name just two disasters in NamBaboonia.

When I was a young boy, we used to go to Daan Viljoen for outings. We had our yearly Sunday school year-end thing there, and I can remember how well the place looked and how nice it was. There were lots of people around, and everyone enjoyed it. Now it's a disaster: baboons have taken over the place (literally), and the lawns are weed-patches. The thatched roofs of the little tables for shade look like they were attacked by a mob. Concrete steps have massive cracks in them. Ants crawl all over you. And that was two years ago, when I visited it for the last time.


Beatty Park Leisure Centre was built and used for the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. It comprised two 50 yard pools, a diving pool, extensive spectator seating and press rooms. Over the next 31 years, the Centre played a prominent role in the development of swimming and aquatic sports in Western Australia, both in education and at an elite level.

Following the construction of Challenge Stadium (previously Superdrome), much controversy surrounded the decision to redevelop Beatty Park Leisure Centre.
Feasibility studies and a series of public consultations were conducted in an effort to ensure that the new facility would meet the needs of the existing users and the broader community.

A total refurbishment took place in 1993 with the best of the old being combined with an exciting new facility. Beatty Park Leisure Centre re-opened in July 1994 and now comprises a 50 metre 8-lane outdoor pool, a 30 metre dive pool, a 25 metre indoor lap pool with adjoining water playground, water slides, diveboards, freeform pool, sauna/spa/steam room, gymnasium, aerobics room, circuit gym, retail shop, cafe, crèche, office space and a series of activity rooms, and spectator seating for approximately 5,000 people.

The Centre is unique in that it has maintained its historical links to the past, yet has become one of Western Australia's premier indoor and outdoor recreation facilities. It is a valued resource for the people within the Town of Vincent and surrounds.

Western civilisation is awesome - never be ashamed of it. Once you start making excuses for your culture and your civilized lifestyle, you start loosing it without realising what's happening. This is what happened to the "Europeans" in Southern Africa. They are slowly being converted into being "Africans". I don't want to be an African.