Day 20: I hate it when I forget my camera

Facebook has caused one really noticeable phenomena amongst young people that was really overlooked before is the photograph. Well, in actual fact, I don’t think that many people actually print out these photographs and display them as was the case before, but the digital still has really seen a boom. These ease of uploading countless pictures up onto the internet for the world to see has meant that having a digital camera or camera-enabled mobile phone is a must. I’ve embraced this fully – I think I’ve uploaded over a thousand pictures onto Facebook already! Anyway, this blog is not about pictures – simply because I forgot my freaking camera!

The site when you approach Duvha is similar to Kendal in the spectacular nature of it all. The one thing I noticed on the Tuesday morning that I drove to Duvha first was that at the turn to the station, it appears as if the station is situated in a valley. How smart – having these smoke stacks rising 250m into the air and then situating it in a valley meaning the mean height of the exhaust fumes is exactly where our air that we breathe comes from! Then, as I drove for another ten minutes, the true nature of this structure hit me. Mind you, the speed limit on that road was 100kph and driving for 10 minutes gets you pretty far! I don’t really know if I can use the word “beautiful” to describe a power plant but it’s something that comes to mind. It really is a hideous structure built purely for purpose and without any real aesthetics taken into account but the monstrous size of it all has this weird beauty to it. It’s kinda like Saturn or something. A bunch of gas molecules that have a strange affinity to each other so they randomly attract to each other and they end up looking real good. Come to think about it, that’s how humans are! Your girlfriend of boyfriend is a bunch of molecules attracted to each other because of some arbitrary code in the DNA and the final product is something relatively beautiful.

I didn’t take my camera so I didn’t get a picture!

On Wednesday, I was subjected to torture beyond belief. It was enough exercise to last till the London Olympic Games in 2012. This reminds me that I should have an Olympics blog sometime soon! Back to the topic – my group was taken for a tour of the ash dams. Ash dams are one way of disposing of the parts of the coal that haven’t burnt during combustion in the furnaces of the power station. South Africa is unique in that the quality of coal used for power generation is of the lowest calorific value in the entire world. This is why our electricity is so damn cheap in comparison with the rest of the world but it also means the stations take MUCH more strain than any similar station overseas. It also means that around 40% of the coal put into the furnace is not burnt and is left over as ash. This ash is fine like powder and there is 35 tonnes of it coming out of every furnace every hour of every day of the year. And remember, there are six of these per station. So when you have 210 tonnes of waste being produced every hour, it’s something that needs to be sorted out! One option is to sell this ash to cement companies as it makes real good cement but with sheer amount of waste being produced, these companies cannot buy all this ash. The ash dams, hence, are these immense stretches of dull silver that reach out past the horizon. These are a result of a mixture of water and ash being ferried away through pipes away from the station. When we entered the dam area, I was just shocked at the size and beauty of this all. For kilometres on end, one sees this barren beauty with the desert like ambience and quietness. As we walked on, one sees water trickling along this grey matter creating an image of hope even in this desolate wasteland. As we walk further, we approach a large body of turquoise water with a rickety, old wooden pier hastily constructed on one of the shores. The whole ambience has the eerie feel of the chemically polluted Ural Sea in Russia. The turquoise colour, I was told, is a result of chemicals in the coal that are disposed of with the ash. The water, though, is reclaimed and as much as possible is sent back into the plant to help with the removal of new ash from the coal that is being burnt. As with the power plant itself, this cancer on the landscape had a certain beauty attached to it.

I didn’t take my camera so I didn’t get a picture!!

The beauty, though, was replaced with hate and tiredness. Walking around the Ash dams, well – the “small” part that we explored was a 10km trek! This done in overalls, with safety masks and helmets as well as those uncomfortable, heavy and metal-tipped safety boots! Oh, and it was one of those uncharacteristic hot days in August – Damn you global warming! Though there is some irony in that statement *cough*

After having a bit of a rest, I took a road trip that afternoon to the smaller town of Ermelo. The 125km trip would take me on the N4 and then N11. The N4, let me tell you, is to be avoided as the toll road costs R33-00. Seeing that I travelled on it for maybe 5km after the toll, I was not impressed one bit! Then again, I don’t even like paying for parking at shopping centres but anyway! Apparently there is a back road (I suspect the R555) to Middelburg and then from there, one can just join the N11 down to Ermelo. The drive down the N11 is one that strains the mind. It is straight and when I say straight, I mean like on a 100km stretch, there are maybe five gentle curves with the drive through the town of Hendrina the only time when you need to move your steering wheel more than an angle of 5°. The drive is a brilliant drive through the Highveld with it’s brown Winter coat on. You also pass a road to the town called Amsterdam (wonder if they sell any herbs there) and the immense coal fields of Mpumalanga. The grand scale of these minds and the openness of the Highveld boggle the mind and make this seemingly easy drive much more difficult than one would expect. Then again, my mind thinks too much so maybe that’s why I say that! You also pass the immensely enormous Hendrina Power Station – that with ten generating units (as compared to the six each at Duvha and Kendal) and the eight or so cooling towers. I passed the station at dusk and it was a beautiful site – shining light in the cold darkness of the surrounds.

I didn’t take my camera so I didn’t get a picture!!!

So anyway, the moral of the story is that I need to get a camera. It should be a decent one at that seeing that I want pictures that will look good. I was using a Sony digital the other day and although it’s packed with features and really one of the better ones out there, the pictures didn’t come out as good as I wanted them too. Then again, I didn’t modify the settings but just pointed and shot and hoped for the best. I say that they should just write better code so the pictures undergo better processing before the camera decides how to capture them but what do I know? Lol. Getting a camera would help though – at least this blog will get some pictures!

Day 19: Procrastination

The one certainty about this course was procrastination. It has actually been such an awesome week that has gone pass but each day, I keep on procrastinating and saying that I will start my project tomorrow or I’ll update the blog tomorrow.

Well, first things first, this blog won’t cover the whole week but I will (hopefully) get back to that in time! This week started on Tuesday actually – the weekend, which extended to Monday was brilliantly spent around 700km away in Durban. So that meant that on Tuesday morning, at 5am mind you, I had to trek from my place in Johannesburg to Witbank. Leaving at 5am wasn’t too bad especially since there was no mist and I encountered one of the most beautiful sites – the sunrise over the Highveld. It’s nothing compared to those beautiful sunrises one sees in Durban, where the sun slowly peaks over the ocean on the horizon and within an hour, it blazes and warms the souls of Durbanites. On the Highveld, well, the sun peeks over the, um, veld! The stunning red crept over the hills in the distance and bathed the barren landscape in a weak shade of yellow. It’s as if the sun wasn’t trying that hard to make any real impression on the Earth. It was beautiful though!

Driving in the dark, though, has a major problem – you can’t see pedestrians. And when you are travelling at 120kph and some random guy wearing impressively dark clothing takes a casual stroll across the freeway ten minutes before 6am, it’s something that makes you go “WTF!!!” I was lucky that this brave soul had comfortably crossed the freeway and was a good metre away from my car as I passed. You never know what you would do in a situation where you hit someone who is crossing the freeway. And the scary thing that I thought about was that with life as it is nowadays, the one n problem that people will consider is the time you lose on your travel schedule. I had to be at Duvha Power Station before 7am and if I had hit the guy, I would have never made it there in time. So the choice would have been stop, see what happened and help the guy or just drive on. It’s scary that the second option is an option that really could be taken!

The day was interesting with a walk down of some auxiliary systems of Duvha Power Station. This included the Precipitators and Water Cooling Plant. It’s amazing how much water is actually used at a power station. And when you look at the clouds coming out of the cooling towers, it just amazes you about the huge scale that power generation exists upon. There will be more about this later in another blog.

These three weeks have exposed me to something that I can’t make sense of just yet. Apparently, a South African peculiarity is that people of especially White and Black origin eat meat at every meal! A meal is almost not considered a meal if there is no meat present. And this meat is properly prepared steaks, chops and chicken – it seems the fish are lucky as they aren’t considered a proper meat! I was in Ermelo yesterday and at the Spur, where I had supper, I ordered the Enchilada and the waiter asked me if I’d like Beef or Chicken in it. When I said I want vegetables (because I’m vegetarian) it didn’t register as a proper choice. It appeared as if he was pre-programmed to either bring Enchilada meals that have Beef or Chicken in them and anything else is just wrong and the world might explode. Similarly with my sister, who was also somewhere in the bundus like me (Zeerust in the North-West to be precise) relayed a similar story. She is also vegetarian and she was forced to eat meat because the chefs didn’t cook the vegetables in a way that would constitute a meal. The vegetables were just boiled and were meant as an accompaniment to the meat. The meat that they did cook was almost gourmet – perfectly cooked steaks, roasted lamb, grilled chicken and the like. And, people ate this at every meal! Anyway, when I was a meat eater, I think I ate meat a maximum of four times a week. This is not because I fasted but because eating that much meat was not necessary. There are countless vegetable dishes that provide a more than adequate meal. Eating meat 21 times a week (yes, even at breakfast) just doesn’t register in my mind. Yet, I have witnessed people eating meat for all three meals in a day and they do complain if there is no meat!

The interesting thing about this is that it does show that the prices we pay in South Africa are really low. People from all socio-economic classes eat meat everyday which does give an indication that meat is readily available at a reasonably affordable price. When I discussed this issue with some people, they did point out that meat overseas does have a high premium attached to it and this means you can’t cook meat at every meal. This forces you to search for an alternate and, as a result, this helps in health terms. This whole meat issue does explain the size of some people I’m guessing. Then again, I’m not a doctor so I won’t factualise that link! But anyway, this has made me think of the state of things in South Africa and the world as a whole. Globalisation has meant that everything around the world is slowly settling towards a common price. Whether you buy an item in Hungary or in South Africa, because of global competition (and price-fixing!) you will pay around the same amount. And that is what is happening in several sectors. Coal, for example, is needed around the world for energy use and because South Africa has so much, they can supply everyone! This means that to buy coal in South Africa, you will need to pay a higher amount than before because there is a market outside the borders that is willing to pay a higher price than the historical price that a local paid. At some point, there will be equilibrium as such – the local price will compete against the international price so the miners will be happy selling their coal to either market. I hope that makes sense!

Now, how does this tie in with the meat? Quite simply, South Africa has historically had cheap meat. Maybe it was the self sufficiency of the Apartheid government that put us in this situation but because we were forced to have enough livestock to sustain the country, it was possible for meat to be sold cheaply as it was abundant. Cheap meat means you eat meat – and lots of it! So your culture is grown around providing meat to eat at every meal. As a child, you grow up expecting meat and not having meat means the meal is severely deficient. Now, taking the coal example of above – I hope you can see where this is going? The globalisation is going to drive food prices higher and now, people won’t be able to afford “eating” (i.e. eat meat!) and hence, they go on strike! They couple this with a grievance against the high electricity prices which is directly related to coal and what do you get – a nationwide strike which we had this week!

All in all, this means that the global energy crisis is caused by the smugness that South African’s have of eating meat at all meals! Wow, who would have thought that!

Day 8: Is that a Power Station or are you just happy to see me?

Driving down the N12 is quite an experience. It’s actually a really boring freeway with not a lot going for it. It’s not like the Karoo stretch of the N1 or the Free State stretch of the N3 which is surrounded by pure nothing – this is just an arbitrary freeway that passes some really random looking farms as you drive further and further into the East which sucks you in with its mist. Moreover, today I drove the route at 120kph whilst only using the white line on the right hand side of the road as navigation. The Eastbound drive is marred by the rising winter sun and you really can’t see anything that is more than 50m in front of your car. Nevertheless, I don’t think my speedometer dropped below 120kph! However, there is one feature that actually awestruck me today.

After travelling 70km or so past the OR Tambo Airport, one approaches a slight incline which peaks out and results in an amazing site. No, it has nothing to do with an endless green landscape or mountains like those pictures taken in the States as you approach the Rocky Mountains. It’s a manmade monstrosity known as Kendal Power Station. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world and holder of countless records. As you reach the peak of the incline, in the distance, the six cooling towers and the two smoke stacks engulf the landscape. You are around 50km away from the station but its grandeur just stares back at you. Maybe it’s because of my career in the Power Utility industry but these stations do amaze me. The sheer scale of it all is mind-boggling and moreover, as we have realised in the last few months, its operation is vital to the well-being of humanity. Without electricity, we are just cave men!

I’ll try getting some pictures of it and posting then but hey, next time you drive the N12, keep this in mind and draw your own conclusion.

Day 7: Bring a Machine-Gun to Work Day

Haven’t we all experienced the sensation of wanting to rid the world of certain people because of some element that really irks us? I wonder where the whole moral dilemma of killing people came around. Other species on the planet that number around six billion really don’t have a huge problem with killing of a few for the greater good of us all. Take sardines for example, though that might be a bad example seeing that there might be more than six billion of them around. But I’ll use it anyway – if you’ve seen those documentaries on the Great Sardine Run that occurs up the KwaZulu Natal coast every year, you see the methods they use to stay alive which includes forming huge shoals. If a few get eaten from the peripheries of the shoal, it’s not too bad because altogether, a greater number survive. A similar technique is used by other animals – lay a few million eggs and hope that a few do survive through the advantage of numbers.

The differing element is the way our minds work. The emotional attachments and the analysis that happens up in our cranium are what make the difference. I doubt the sardines worry about the one’s that got eaten. We, on the other hand, would have a problem if someone we grew up with from the time we were in nappies, was eaten by a shark in a singular bite. Anyway, so this is really what holds us back from blasting the guy that cut us of in traffic to kingdom come. Using the whole technique I talked about a few days ago, it is up to pure choice – the guy would have cut you of for some reason that you don’t know that could be valid. Change your way of thinking rather and see it from a different angle. All good and easy but, well, where do you stop changing your own thinking and recognising that that person is really just a doos?

The Eskom annual results came out a while back and from a profit of R6 billion, it drop to a profit of about R600 million. That is a huge drop and one of the factors that influenced this was the increase in diesel use. From using 11 million litres of fuel last year, this year, 400 million litres was used. Couple with the massive increase in fuel cost, this was a recipe for financial disaster. Now, what were the reasons that so much fuel was used? The main reason was that there was no power and Eskom HAD to produce power somehow to keep the country alive. The load shedding that happened between February and April showed exactly what problems did occur when South Africa was not with enough power. Now with the base load, coal stations undergoing either planned or unplanned shutdown, the only option was to run the gas-fired turbines in the fleet. Now, IF it was known long in advance that these expensive devices would be needed, as a decision maker, you would have done some studies and found an optimal solution to make these run as cheaply as possible. But, this was NOT know long in advance, the reaction was not to do these optimisation studies that would take a few months but instead, get these suckers running in the way that you have at your disposal. In this case, these gas-turbines would be run with diesel fuel. The reason for this would be that in Eskom, there are current agreements with diesel suppliers to provide what is necessary and since you need power right now, you’d use this option as it would require the least red tape and it would be quick and easy to implement. The result would be a slightly higher bill for producing the power but at the end of the day, the country has power which was the primary aim.

However, there are other sources of ignitable gas that do exist. Things such as Natural Gas, gas from Underground Coal Gasification, Biomass and even Biofuels could have been used. All have certain pluses that come along with the technology but the bottom line is, these technologies weren’t available at such short notice. They haven’t been utilised before because the need did not arise. Or, if they have been utilised, the technologies would be undergoing or have undergone rigorous tests to determine the usefulness of it all. Moreover, since the gas fired stations are new, studies would have been done to figure out whether these options are viable. This is basic engineering practices – nothing fancy.

Now, to tie this up to the beginning of the story – if this is the case, it boggles the mind to have someone blaming the fuel bill on Eskom utilising diesel. It was proposed that instead of using diesel, Natural Gas should have been used. All good and well but, as I said before, the country was in a crisis. Diesel was readily available and Natural gas was not. Natural Gas would be the better option as it burns cleaner and is cheaper if it was available. But it was not. It’s like buying drinks in a club. You pay a premium price just to get drunk whereas with all the money you spent on getting yourself drunk, you could have gone to Makro and bought enough alcohol to get five people much more drunk than you were! However, you chose to drink the alcohol in the club because it was available at the time whereas at that time (which was some ungodly hour early in the morning) Makro would be closed and much further away that the bar that you are leaning against. You wanted to get drunk at that moment in time and the bar was the “only” option whereas if you wanted to get drunk sometime in the future, you would have bought from Makro. Just like the analogy, in this case, diesel was the option that had to be taken and the consequences of these had to be dealt with. Now, the part that got me thinking about the “Bring a Machine-Gun to Work Day” was that this was suggested during my Self Management course with a facilitator that has nothing to do with Eskom during a lecture that had nothing to do with power cuts. This is where it should to stop. It does not work when people try to indoctrinate beliefs into the wrong forum with the wrong people in order to show off how intelligent you are or degrade other people that were forced into making immediate decisions. It is fine having a lot of good ideas but what good does destructive behaviour serve?

Sacrificing such person would be in the greater good after all? It would have been rather cool wielding a machine-gun at that point in time! Lol. Mr. Kalashnikov would have been super proud of me! But anyway, the question then needs to be asked: Who determines what the greater good is and where does this greater good stop? But that’s another issue altogether!!!

Day 5: Torch of Zondor

Behold the citadel of Zimaya and shower unto us the power bequeathed upon the Torch of Zondor. It will be our protection and symbol of righteousness.

I sometimes wonder about my imagination and why it makes up such insane stories. Then again, it sucks because it can’t construct a Tolkienesque style mythology. I should read more.

I wrote a test earlier today on the whole self management course. It was the first time I had studied in 13 months. It’s amazing how you forget how to study so quickly. Old habits never fade as I ended up playing three games of pool and watching the arbest things on television, I have said to myself that this course would be a beacon for me telling me what is the status of my studying ability and how to continue with my education from this point forward. The coincidental bit lies in the fact that around 20 pages of the workbook was dedicated to career planning!

That paragraph was very disjointed!

Anyway, the test went pretty well – all six parts of it! Part of the assessment was based on the career planner and the way you answered it. The first comment, though, is that it struck me that these people who were going to mark the tests would need to be, well, in lieu of a better word, different. In my experiences of life, you get the factual based testing where what you write is either correct or incorrect. Then you get the mathematical model where it is correct or incorrect but the result depends on the method as well. You also get the type that I experienced in the Human Science elective I did which was basically how I interpreted the facts and portrayed it to the marker. Well, being a self management course, the answers were “personal” and, seemed to be the type which didn’t have a right or wrong answer to them. So, how does this get marked? Do these markers have a relative to the Babelfish that they sick into your ear which reads your mind? That would be a good method actually – stick a little transmitter onto said fish and voila, they know exactly what they need to know! Anyway, the emotive responses were quite amazing in that you were forced to think about yourself and what you wrote down, and the way you wrote it, would obviously say a lot about who and what you are.

What also struck me was that even though this course sat on the boundaries of conventional learning and a new, adapted learning method, the final result relied on a the antiquated testing method which requires a pass mark. It makes me think of the Top Gear episode where they test the new Ford GT50 which has all the modern electronics and cutting-edge, performance-tweaked mechanical components, yet has the suspension of a car from the 50s. Simple logic would tell you that it is just daft. Then again, democracy is not the ideal political system but it’s used because it’s the best option available. I guess just time will tell and maybe in a few years, an epiphany will occur that will turn the world of performance evaluation on its head.

Day 3: Songs made famous by Tiffany

This could be One Eyed Peas or maybe 38 cents. Okay, it’s not really that. Well, I got to Witbank two days ago for this Generation Skills Development Programme. It’s been pretty awesome for the past two days with 24 hours of lectures behind me already. It does get a bit much though but, well, at least I’m learning quite a bit.

I just watched this movie with Samaire Armstrong (whoever she is.) I think the reason why I mentioned that was to actually make an effort to find out what movie it is. It’s a teen romance comedy with a few less jokes than normal and a girl, being the smart yet indie hot type, and a guy, who is the typical jock, who get soul-swapped. It wasn’t bad and much lighter than “Britz” which was on last night. One thing I figured out though is that when boy confronts girl in the movies, it always comes out poetic though the writers do get paid a couple million to come up with it.

Anyway, back to the point – Keeping a journal of this little ten week excursion should prove to be entertaining and informative. I actually meant to start it two days ago but my procrastination got the better of me. Then the epiphany came – no retro-writing. The journal is for writing as I can and it should not be for filling in the blanks. I will forget stuff because that is what I do but hey, this is better than nothing!

We left to Witbank at 6am two days ago. I lacked sleep. Sleeping for a maximum of four hours the night before does not work and I intended sleeping in the car. Obviously, that wasn’t the case and the N12 in semi-mist provided my backdrop for two hours. They say that the first impression is supposed to be important and well, Witbank greeted me with a stench that would make Merebank seem like a country meadow. Witbank does have the world’s largest coal seam and, as a result, has been inundated with a lot of the Eskom’s coal intensive power stations as well as other industry. The weird thing is that the smell was only noticeable on Monday. This either means the smell has dissipated or I’ve become used to it. The latter is a scary thought – the sign of H2S poisoning is when you can’t seem to smell it anymore.

Monday’s lecture was on Operating Philosophy encompassing basic theory about how a power utility is run – from how Eskom came about to the incidents and, well, philosophies that govern the production of energy. The one thing I loved was the technical background of it all. Engineers, with experience and people skills, give presentations that are on another level to others. The lecturer dude was a retired engineer who had worked as an operator and manager of Kendal – the current largest coal power plant in the world. I went for a course on Innovation a few weeks ago and also encountered a trained, experienced engineer who was working as a consultant in a different field now. It was such a pleasure listening an interacting. Learned engineers have this ability to empathise and think on the spot with either real-life experiences or some hypothetical example. I find this lacking in lecturers, or should we say presenters, from other educational backgrounds. It’s something you view on their face when you enquire about something that is not part of the presentation or something which extends the present topic – the engineer will start going into his own mind trying to rationalise and analyse what has been said. It’s something quite marvellous and an observation I have made this year after several seminars and presentations that I have attended. Oh, a good thing that I learnt about Johannesburg was that Gold was first found at Langelacht (or something like that – somewhere in East.)

It’s quite interesting to note that the world’s biggest coal and gold seam is in South Africa. The world’s biggest diamonds have also been found here. That’s quite amazing for little country on the Southern tip of the continent. It’s like what Kulula say about going out and visiting our country’s treasures even seeing that a couple million tourists from everywhere are visiting our shores every year.

The last two days have been occupied by a course on Self Management. It’s such a simple concept yet it’s something that gets to the actual core of your very being and makes you question yourself. Imagine telling people that to get better results, they must modify and understand the way they manage themselves. It’s an easy concept which everyone is open to. After all, it would be amazing to actually use your mind in a better way to achieve results that were thought to be unheard of. The reality is very different and today, it was very evident.

The mind has several characteristics. An important point is that all information received by the brain is neutral. Personally, the point, which I did discuss in relative depth, was quite important to my understanding of the mind. Every stimulus that your neurons encounter is sent to your brain as an electrical signal. Think of a digital circuit with a 0V and +5V state. The signals that are received by the stimulus, such as a sensor, are sent down the wires as either a HIGH or LOW state. That’s what your neurons do – send information down the neurons to your cerebral matter in a set state. A stimulus to the nerves will send a HIGH signal to your brain. Sticking with the electronics analogy – once the signals are sent into the microcontroller, the microcontroller decides what to do with the signal. For example, if when the temperature reaches 25 degrees, a signal is sent to the microcontroller and the code on the chip will decide what to do with it. It can be programmed to send another signal which would release water to cool the device down or it could stop water flow to make the temperature increase. The brain works similarly – the responses it receives are purely neutral. The sensory organs don’t send the information to your brain with an embedded message saying that the particular stimulus must be recognised as something bad. It is the brain’s job to process what it has received and make a decision on whether on not the particular stimulus is a positive, neutral or negative thing.

These lead to emotions as emotions are “psychological interpretation of thought” meaning that your brain decides ultimately how you feel. This leads onto several principles. Emotional feelings are caused by the way that one utilises the mind. If you know how the mind works, then you can feel, emotionally, how you want to feel irrespective of the outside factors. People ALWAYS have choice. I’ll repeat that – there is ALWAYS a choice. This all adds up to the simple notion that any emotional activity always is a choice of the person. How you react is a result of your choice to act in that particular way. There is no such thing as having no choice after all. Whatever does happen to an individual is a direct result of the choices they made that led up to the situation at hand. An example is getting a scratch on your car when you are parked at a mall. The natural reaction is that it was not your own fault and you had no choice in determining whether or not your car got scratched. Yes, the scratch was a result of something beyond your control – and these things happen and you do have to blame someone else for causing the problem. However, it is untrue that you didn’t have a choice. The choice that you made was to buy and utilise a car. You choose to own a car even though you know that even though you could be an attentive, cautious driver, there are hazards everywhere that you cannot always predict. There is a chance that you can get hit by a car when turning. There is a chance that a taxi will clip your bumper. There is a chance that someone will knock into you in a parking lot as well. All these are risks that are associated with owning and using a car. However, there are the positive factors that by using a car, you have the independence to go wherever you want much faster than by foot. When you decided to use the car, your mind analysed these risks and made the decision on whether or not to use the vehicle. It probably was done in a way that you wouldn’t associate with analysing – after all, analysing on whether or not to use your car does not feel like analysing a partial differential equation. However, a CHOICE was made and by using the car, you stood the risk that it could get scratched at the mall. I am not saying that it being scratched was your fault – if found, the perpetrator does deserve to be punished for his action. But in a round about way, because your mind chose to use the car, you accepted the risk as a risk that you were willing to take.

Back to the positive, negative and neutral thoughts that are formulated – your mind can choose to view a situation in a positive, neutral or negative light. Any situation can be viewed in these three states – even the example of the car getting scratched. Obviously in certain situation, using one though over the other is not right – reacting in a positive way to your car getting scratched by going and hugging the person that scratched your car is not the right decision to make. But in other situations, using one thought over the other could be a much better option. However, changing from one to the other is extremely difficult with the mind.

The inability to modify one’s natural reaction is based on what we perceive as natural – our system of beliefs. These beliefs are ingrained and form part of one’s self image. Think about it – if you were to describe who you are to somebody, your beliefs would form the backbone of the description. People are not going to change a belief. Oh, just for clarity, superstitions are a prime example of belief. Things like wearing your lucky underwear when asking someone out. Every time that you asked someone out, you probably had this pair on and you got a “yes” answer but when you asked someone out wearing something else, the answer was “no.” The real reason you would have been turned down may be something else entirely but you probably would say the blame lies in the fact that you didn’t wear the luck underpants. It is a simple example, but if you were in that situation, no matter what anyone said, you would still believe in it. This was something I also experienced today – knowledge being passed onto people concerning the emotional management, but as soon as a though comes into conflict with one’s beliefs, the process shuts down and you are back to utilising primitive thought that is not constructive. Your choices appear now to boil down to you wanting to protect what you believe in even at the cost of all this knowledge that you just assimilated.

The direct consequence is that you just wasted a few thousand bucks on a course that didn’t teach you a thing. The other consequence is that this shows that your mind is not ready to think and utilise itself in the manner which is correct and allows for effective management of the self. If you can’t manage your own self, there really is no reason for you to have a judgement of another person. Then again, the person in this situation would now argue that you are questioning their life and argue back that you don’t have authority to make such decisions. And this goes on but I think you get the picture.

I shall leave it there for now. This should turn out to be an awesome 60 or so days and I really hope that this journal will chronicle as much as possible.