Hey Milieu Pals,
I cannot believe how long it has been since my last post. So much has happened since then that it feels like a lifetime. Unfortunately I have yet to post details regarding my 21, but that will come when I have the time. Yes, speaking of time it just seems like I never have enough hence why my blog has been neglected so. This semester has been rather difficult for me, both mentally and emotionally but I plan on revealing everything within this post.
I will try to be as detailed as possible, but I may just touch on topics that are less relevant than others. So let us begin, for revelation is at hand!
According to the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary (2002) the term ‘revelation/s’ may refer to the following:
  • "Information that is newly disclosed, especially surprising, or valuable"
  • "A book of the bible that includes a description of the end of the world"

With regards to the above definitions, both are surprisingly relevant to what has been happening lately. I must admit, many surprising events have occurred that have put myself and my family on quite an emotional rollercoaster. The other aspect is that this year its triple 6… and I’m sure most of you know what that means… then again those numbers and our misfortune could just be a coincidence !

Mark, Mika & Uni
Ah yes, Mark and Mika did eventually make it back to South Africa and thankfully all in one piece. For a small period of time, Mika had adopted the Australian accent ("G’Day Mate") but since then has slowly become more South Africanised. Mark… well, Mark is mark… raging as always!

Obviously I’m really happy that they are back in SA and have been having an awesome, albeit hard, semester together with them and everyone else. Essentially this is our final semester before we begin honours (assuming we are accepted, we have been invited though) and it has been rather difficult. The work load this semester has been enormous when compared to previous years. Also the lecturers have been really harsh, often expecting only ‘perfect’ forms of work and have been incredibly strict in terms of marking and attendance (something I need to work on… If I’m there… I’m often late ).

Recently we did have our annual Spring Ball (Me and Mik to the left; Troy and Laura to the right) which most students did not even know about thanks to our incredibly competent Student Representative Council. Regardless I went, I mean how could I miss it… its the only function Monash really ever has… I must be supportive you know! 

Other than the above, University has been alright. It is actually the main reason as to why my blog has been so neglected. I just haven’t had the time. Ok, I suppose you’re wondering why I now have time… well… let’s just say that I can’t focus on Uni work right now , that and I decided poor old Hans’ Milieu was in dire need of an update!

Cancer and the like
Remember that emotional rollercoaster I mentioned? Okay, before you jump to conclusions let me just say that I, in my entirety, am fine. Other than being emotionally drained I do not really have anything to complain about. However, its those dearest to me that have taken ill.

My mom (picture to the left). About a month ago my mom was diagnosed with Obstructive Jaundice. This is when a Gal stone begins to move out of the Gal bladder and becomes lodged in the bile duct that is connected to the liver. This prohibits the liver from functioning effectively especially in terms of bile expulsion. What happens next is that the patient begins to turn yellow due to the toxins that cannot escape the body. It is lethal and you can die from it.

For a short while, no one really knew what was wrong with my mom. A doctor (who, reluctantly, shall remain anonymous) said she just had a bout of the flu… it is always the damn flu (makes you think!). After a few days on the treatment, my mom became progressively worse with her skin and eyes eventually turning a light mustard yellow. She began to experience intense abdominal pain, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and vomiting. Eventually we went for another consult at a doctor who discovered my dads illness (more about that soon). He immediately diagnosed her with obstructive jaundice and sent us to a surgeon for immediate assistance. The funny thing is, my mom needed to see a Gastroenterologist but none were available because, as Murphy’s Law would have it, during that very week all the Gastroenterologists were attending a conference in Port Elizabeth (about an 8 hour drive from where we live). The surgeon knew this and did not want to operate unnecessarily. So he prescribed a powerful anti-biotic to help the liver and bile situation until a Gastroenterologist became available. Thankfully we did not have long to wait. Three days later my mom was admitted into surgery for a Gastroscope (a non evasive procedure). Luckily, the Gal stone that had got stuck actually already passed through my moms system. However, the Gastroenterologist cleared the bile ducts anyway, just to be sure. After the procedure, my mom was advised to remove her Gal bladder… a procedure she has yet to undergo (will explain why soon enough; just think alternative medicine).

Since then my mom is better, but she keeps fretting over her eye colour and the moment she thinks they are turning yellow again she has an anxiety attack. Her Gal bladder has apparently been cleared of Gal stones through a concoction of a half a glass of Olive oil and some grapefruit via the advice of a Nutritherapist. My mom basically expelled the stones… and called us to have a look at them… that’s my mom!

My dad (picture to the left). My poor dad… he always seems to have the world on his shoulders. This year has probably been one of the hardest he has experienced. One of the hardest we have all experienced.

Just after my 21st Birthday, my dad developed a lump in his throat. At first we were all worried about it and wanted my dad to get it examined and then drained. Unfortunately he had to leave for Japan for the Karate grading and championships (my dad is the head of Tenshinkan Karate for all Western cultures). After a month of intense training, my dad came back. What do you know?! The lump had disappeared. We were all immensely relieved… but this relief was short lived.

A week later, my dad received a call from his Urologist. The news was not good. My dad had been diagnosed with a level two prostrate cancer (I think there are only three levels, anyway his was the level before the worst one). We were and still are, shook up and upset about the news. It is just one of those things you don’t expect. You know, your parents, you don’t expect them to be diagnosed with diseases like cancer and to be on the virge of death (Gal bladder scenario with my mom). You always think that its only others who are susceptible to such scenarios. You never really think that something like this can happen to you or your family. But it does and there is nothing you can do about it, except to be strong and supportive. These past few months have really been emotionally taxing especially since I’m an only child… there really isn’t anyone who can feel the way that I do, or know how I feel, or simply share in my sorrow. However, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

My dad was supposed to go for a prostrate removal operation, but has yet to go. It has been two months since it was recommended. Both of my parents do not like the concept of surgery and being in a hospital (who really does?). They therefore sought out additional methods of curing their illnesses before resorting to the knife. This may seem like an illogical choice for some, but wouldn’t you like to try anything and everything before resorting to measures, which are not 100% effective, known as last resorts?!

Currently both of my parents are undergoing Nutritherapy Treatments at a Nutritherapy clinic in Edenvale. Essentially they feed the body high doses of vitamins, minerals and more specifically GlycoNutrients. My mom’s Gal Bladder has essentially cleared while on this treatment, so I have faith that the same will apply in my fathers case with his cancer. One of my aunts is also undergoing treatment, Tante Jacqueline. She has also had an incredibly difficult year (its really not a good year for the whole family… more about that later). After rupturing a disc in her back she has undergone several major surgeries, which seemed to make her worse and worse, and has been bed ridden for most of the year. The worst happened when her wound became infected and turned septic. However, she started Nutritherapy treatment (with the same doctor we all go to now) and has since begun to walk again. So once again, I have faith that this treatment will help my parents.

My family, and most of the friends I have told (only really those who asked because its not something you really want to broadcast), have been incredibly supportive and have been with me through every step of the way. To them (you know who you are) I would just like to say thank you, really, thank you so much. Your continued support and love has really been inspiring and will not be forgotten.

Well, that essentially sums up what has happened emotionally (that’s not all folks… more to come) over the past few months. Obviously there are some details (treatment specific in particular) that I have ommited but the above may be regarded as a general summary of events.

HDTV Revolution
After all that has been going on, there have been some good aspects. Once my dad came home from Japan, before being diagnosed with Cancer, he decided to buy us a High Definition Capable Television (something I have been nagging about for over a year).

On the very day of his arrival back into sunny South Africa, I persuaded my dad to go shopping. He agreed wholeheartedly and we all went out together (me, mom and dad), good old family time. Honestly, I didn’t mind what television we got, just as long as it was High Definition capable, specifically because of my Xbox 360 (and come next year March, a Playstation 3), and replaced our current rear projection screen… which just happened to pack up anyway.

I can still remember seeing the TV for the first time… it was last year December (2005) and we were at the Garden House and Home show in Durban. It was there that I laid my eyes on the Sony Grand Wega 3 LCD rear projection television… it was amazing. Since then, I have wanted it. Yes there may have been other TV’s that were better, but they were significantly higher in terms of cost. Anyway, back to the story.

Once again, I laid eyes on this beautiful black behemoth of a TV. Unfortunately the store we were in only had the 50 inch, but it was gorgeous non the less. I enquired about the 60 inch, because thats the one I really wanted, and almost fell over when they told me the price. Honestly, I think they had made a mistake, but were not aware of it. They were selling the 60 inch for the same price as the 50 inch and both TV’s were from the same product line. We immediately jumped at the opportunity to purchase the TV. I swear, someone must still be kicking themselves after we bought it, why you ask?, because we got the 60 inch for almost half of its true advertised value (I know, I did the research )!

Ah… High Definition Television. Honestly, I don’t know how we could have watched TV on anything other than an HDTV before. The clarity is simply amazing! I could ramble on about all the specifications and HDTV formats and so on and so forth, but I’m kind of pressed for time at the moment as I should be finishing off an assignment and starting another (I have 4 assignment for the next week and a half, all research based). So I’ll save the techno-babble for another post. LOL!

RAGE & the Xbox 360 South African Launch
Last week Friday (29/09/06) my dad and I went to RAGE (Really Awesome Gaming Event). It is the one convention that I simply have to attend. Seriously, I am regarded as a techno and gaming geek, but I love it! The most exciting aspect about RAGE this year was the fact that the Xbox 360 was finally launching in this crummy country. The original Xbox never launched here because of the lack of a proper broadband infrastructure… or so they say. I thoroughly enjoy my Xbox 360 and was ecstatic at the prospect of being able to walk into any store and purchase games for my console (up until now, I have been importing them or buying them at speciality shops for ridiculous amounts). I don’t consider myself a fanboy, but simply someone who appreciated good hardware and software. I’m relatively unbiased in this regard. But at RAGE this year, I got rather annoyed with the South African Xbox 360 displays and presentation.

First of all, they had not set the HDTV screens correctly for the main display area (was really awesome… full of green spirals and green lights… "look into the light"). This simply irritated me because all the games were portrayed as having black bars on the top and bottom of the HDTV screens. So what did I do? I went to each 360 demo station and fixed the display resolutions and TV formats. I mean really. The South African market is already full of die hard Playstation fans who think the 360 is rubbish (ignorance is bliss), so by portraying the games in such a way (not at their best) they would just be reaffirming the general consensus that the 360 is no real competition to the Playstation brand. Really, Microsoft South Africa should have hired someone like me who is passionate about their hardware and software, not because I’m biased or a fan boy, but because I believe credit should be given where credit is due. It wasn’t just the demo stations, but also the 360 presentation. They had this lifeless individual up on stage, droning on about useless aspects of the console, like how it supports four controllers wirelessly. I mean, what about true connectivity (cameras, ipods, media centre etc.)? What about the recent addition of 1080p HDTV resolution support for games and movies? What about ‘Live Anywhere’? What about music on demand via the ‘Guide’? So many aspects of what makes the 360 such a great console were left out. The worst part of the presentation, however, was when they had a raffle for a 360… but not any 360… only the Core system. I mean really. If you are trying to break into a new market, don’t give out a bottom of the range product when the premium version signifies the ‘true’ Xbox 360 experience. Don’t they know about Word of Mouth Advertising? Ah, okay… enough ranting about Microsoft South African’s adequate Xbox 360 showing (next time Microsoft, give me a call… I’ll make sure people will want to purchase your hardware).

Later that evening, after RAGE, I went to the Xbox 360 launch at BT Games in the Northgate Shopping centre (see picture to the right). Yeah I know, I already have two Xbox 360’s so why would I want to go to the launch event? Simply because I have always wanted to be part of a new console launch. In South Africa, console gaming only really took off about a year or two after the Playstation 2’s launch and since then there haven’t been any new consoles… I’m not counting handhelds (remember that PSP launch I wrote about? Poor Lezanne. LOL).

The launch was really cool. The People at BT Games are really friendly and may be regarded as gamers… that always helps. While we waited for midnight, they gave away 11, yes 11, Xbox 360 Premium systems (each valued at R3700 aka $530). Much better than Microsoft. Another thing I noticed was how friendly all the South African gamers were. Everyone was chatting to everyone else, enjoying the Champaign and free sandwiches. It was fantastic! Thank you BT Games for ‘lekker’ time!

Health World goes down in a BLAZE!
As if my parents being ill just wasn’t enough.

Last year November (2005), my dad launched a premium health and wellness fitness centre on the corner of O’Reilly Merry and Malherbe Streets, Rynfield, Benoni known as Health World (see the logo and slogan to the left that I created and designed for the brand). It had everything, including several facilities (like outdoor volleyball courts) that were not present at any other gym in the entire country (I kid you not). But eleven months later, there is nothing left but smoldering ash, iron and rubble (see picture of Benoni City times article to the right). Yes ladies and gentleman, my fathers business burnt to the ground at approximately 1 am this morning (02/10/06).

At about 1:15 am our house phone rang. I wasn’t asleep yet as I had been reading the book Maximum Ride: School’s Out Forever by James Patterson. At that same time our gate bell rang and, while my mom was on the phone, I heard her say "What? What do you mean burnt down?". That is when I knew something was definitely wrong. At that moment, gout ridden and all, my mom rushed to the office where my dad was still working. She promptly proceeded to tell him that the gym had burnt down… Dad: "WHAT?! What do you mean its burning down?!". When we finally got to opening the gate, Alfred had arrived (Alfred is our gardener who lives at the Gym) and he exclaimed to my distressed father that yes, Health World was indeed burning down.

After a few moments of intense panic, my father collected himself together and left to see the damage. My mother and I followed shortly. When we arrived at Health World (see the before picture to the right), it was evident that something big was happening. There were about 8 armed response cars and 3 fire engines (after taking over an hour to get to the scene… typical South Africa). We parked where we were allowed to, and made our way to the mass of flames and smoldering building remains. I just remember being in somewhat of a daze… I mean… hello… my dads business had just burned to the ground and just when it was so close to its breaking even point. Thankfully, if you can say that, it was just the gym that burnt down. The beauty salon, restaurant and flats were still in one piece… albeit extremely hot! Thank the Lord that no one was hurt or killed in the fire, the Lord is truly gracious.

Needless to say, we are all shocked about what has happened. My father in particular has taken it hard, for obvious reasons. All that we can do now is begin the reparations.

To Conclude
This year has truly been a hard time for us all, especially for me. But I have faith in the Lord and I know that he will help us and guide us through all of our trials and tribulations. What is there in life, if there is no hope for the better!

I am just happy that my family and myself are ‘well’ (for the most part) and alive. Nothing is more important than that. I must admit, I really enjoy blogging and will definitely try to blog more often. However, if I have not written in some time, just bare with me. As you can tell, a lot has been happening. I have therefore not been able to update Hans’ Milieu for a reason.

Milieu Pals (all those who read Hans’ Milieu) thank you for showing an interest and for always being there.
(P.S.: this post took me four hours to complete… time always flies by!)

Adios for now!


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