Monthly Archives: February 2007

God was watching indeed

It’s often said that one should thank and praise the Lord when he has done great things for you, and not only beg him for help when you need some.

In that case my girlfriend Vicki and I both have massive reason to give thanks to the Lord today. We went down to Kokstad for the weekend, taking an elderly friend (Lorraine) and the young 15-year old daughter (Cendyl) of another friend who lives in Kokstad with us.

We had a varied and interesting weekend, the details of which are another story entirely, and we left Kokstad at about 15:30. We were travelling north on the N2, having just passed Scottburgh. I was driving my mom’s Audi, which we borrowed to fit in Lorraine and Cendyl and various bags etc.

I was doing 120 km/h in the fast lane (there are only two) when I spotted a large metallic object in the middle of the lane. There is no emergency lane, so I swerved to the left to avoid it, and lost control of the car. We skidded across the other lane and left the road, mounting a bank which leads up to the side of a bridge. We came to a stop about 2 meters in front of the bridge side, and the car remained upright. In fact, the car has no visual damage at all, but there is some notable underside damage.

This is where the miracle comes in – no one was injured! Both Vicki and I have leg scratches, which come from the grass outside the car, not the accident itself. Cendyl has tensed muscles, which are only to be expected, but no major problems. Lorraine is slightly bruised but otherwise fine.

I simply cannot believe how lucky we were to cut across the other lane and not hit the bus immediately behind us, and then to travel up a bank, but not hit the bridge, nor roll. One of the attending police officers (all of whom were very professional and should be commended, along with the Netcare staff) was sure Vicki was an attending relative, since she was so uninjured, and could not believe she had been in the front seat.

The generosity of the family who immediately stopped on the other side of the road, having seen the incident and rushed over to help was also deeply touching, as was that of the bus driver who also stopped immediately.

I really believe the Lord’s hand was on that car last night, keeping us all safe, even after my own potentially fatal mistake, and I am filled with awe about it. One of the fellows who stopped on the side of the road summed it up nicely: “God was watching you tonight” he shouted. And He was – this is a testament to Audi, seatbelts and God.

Some pictures of the Audi after the incident are below. Big pictures are clickable from the small ones.

From Audi Crash en…
From Audi Crash en…
From Audi Crash en…

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The Lord of the Ring – corner cubicle, Room 4-10

For all those who have ever done some postgrad studying (or in my case, pretended to for a while), this should sound somewhat familiar:

The Lord of the Rings as an allegory for postgrad studies:


The story starts with Frodo, a young hobbit, quite bright, a bit dissatisfied with what he’s learned so far and with his mates back home who just want to get jobs and settle down and drink beer. He’s also very much in awe of his tutor and mentor, the very senior Professor, Gandalf. So when Gandalf suggests he take on a short project for him (carrying the Ring to Rivendell), he agrees.

Frodo very quickly encounters the shadowy forces of fear and despair which will haunt the rest of his journey and leave permanent scars on his his psyche, but he also makes some useful friends. In particular, he spends an evening down at the pub with Aragorn, who has been wandering the world for many years as Gandalf’s postdoc and becomes Frodo’s advisor when Gandalf isn’t around.

After Frodo has completed his first project, Gandalf (along with his Head of Department, Elrond) proposes that the work should be extended. He assembles a large research group, including visiting students Gimli and Legolas, the foreign postdoc Boromir, and several of Frodo’s own friends from his undergraduate days. Frodo agrees to tackle this larger project, though he has mixed feelings about it (‘ I will take the Ring”, he said, “though I do not know why.”)

Very rapidly, things go wrong. First, Gandalf disappears and has no more interaction with Frodo until everything is over. (Frodo assumes his supervisor is dead; in fact he’s simply found a more interesting topic and is working on that instead). At his first international conference in Lothlorien, Frodo is cross-examined terrifyingly by Galadriel and betrayed by Boromir, who is anxious to take the credit for the work himself. Frodo cuts himself off from the rest of the team: from now on, he will only discuss his work with Sam, an old friend who doesn’t really understand what it’s all about, but in any case is prepared to give Frodo credit for being rather cleverer than he is. Then he sets out towards Mordor.

The last and darkest period of Frodos’s journey clearly represents the writing-up stage, as he struggles towards Mount Doom (submission), finding his burden growing heavier and heavier, yet more and more a part of himself; more and more terrified of failure; plagued by the figure of Gollum, the student who carried the Ring before him but never wrote up and still hangs around as a burnt-out, jealous shadow; talking less and less even to Sam. When he submits the Ring to the fire, it is in desperate confusion rather than with confidence, and for a while, the world seems empty.

Eventually, it is over: the Ring is gone, everyone congratulates him, and for a few days he can convince himself that his troubles are over. But there is one more obstacle to overcome: months later, back in the Shire, he must confront the external examiner, Saruman, an old enemy of Gandalf, who seeks to humiliate and destroy his rival’s protege. With the help of his friends and colleagues, Frodo passes through this ordeal, but discovers at the end that victory has no value left for him, While his friends return to settling down and finding jobs and starting families, Frodo remains in limbo; finally, along with Gandalf, Elrond and many others, he joins the brain drain across the Western Ocean to the new land beyond.

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I knew it!

Here is some proof of what those perfect few of us scattered among the population of weak and mortal right-handers have always known…

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