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My Blogs 21 May 2017

On this page you'll find links to my blogs - random observations, rants, raves, complaints and sundry other drivel. Click on the date to read the full text of each blog. Please send all feedback (positive and negative) to PKilfoil@Hotmail.com.

Date Subject Contents RSS Feed
21 May 2017   Books, books and more books Despite predictions to the contrary, more books than ever before are being published. And because it has become so easy to have your own book published, more and more aspiring authors are self-publishing their work ..... more
8 May 2017   Football, parkrun, weekend in the city I went to a Cape Town City match at the Cape Town Stadium on a Friday night then stayed the night in a guest house nearby. Next morning I did the Green Point parkrun ..... more
9 Apr 2017   Century on debut ... then failure It is an odd statistical quirk of the game of cricket that many of the batsmen who score a century on their Test debut (a rare achievement, suggesting a player of unusual quality) then spiral downwards into mediocrity ..... more
4 Mar 2017   Stag Coffee Company Fish Hoek, a sleepy seaside suburb of Cape Town, has been made immeasurably more interesting by the appearance of Stag Coffee Company in the centre of town ..... more
28 Feb 2017   A coffee roastery in Worcester A surprizing find in the rather dull Boland town of Worcester is a cafe that roasts its own coffee ..... more
31 Dec 2016   SQL data paging made simple Up until a few years ago it was quite a lot of work to implement "paging" on a web page that displayed a long list of data. But thanks to a small addition to the syntax of the SQL select statement this problem is now easily and simply solved ..... more
19 Dec 2016   160 not out, team total 169 In an U-19 Girls' cricket match in South Africa, one batsman scored 160 runs out of the innings total of 169, and the remaining 9 runs were extras! Not one of the other other batsmen managed to score a single run ..... more
14 Dec 2016   Terrible coffee in Nepal Nepal is a fabulous country, with friendly people, great food and stupendous scenery, but finding a really good cup of coffee is quite difficult. Tea is the beverage of choice across most of Asia ..... more
12 Dec 2016   The worst Springboks ever In 2016 South Africa had their worst ever season of international rugby, losing eight out of twelve test matches and dropping to sixth place on the world rugby rankings ..... more
4 Dec 2016   Cape Town City Football Club Cape Town City, a professional football club that was dissolved in 1979, miraculously reappeared on the South African football scene in 2016. Even more remarkable has been the club's run of success in the Premier Soccer League ..... more
28 Jun 2016   Iceland defeats England At the European Championship Finals in 2016, England were beaten by Iceland, a country with a population of less than half a million and only about 15 000 footballers in total. This result continued England's spectacular under-achievement at major football tournaments since 1966 ..... more
13 May 2016   The Hoek Espresso Bar The Hoek is a specialist coffee shop in Franschhoek, away from the bustle of the over-priced gourmet restaurants in this tourist-oriented town's Main Road ..... more
3 May 2016   Fairy Tale Endings Leicester City, a little-known English football club that usually either fights for survival or gets relegated, won the 2016 Premier League title in the most astonishingly unlikely of circumstances. Bookmakers had quoted them as 5000 to 1 outsiders at the start of the season ..... more
15 Mar 2016   Coffee at Cooked Cooked is a simple and unpretentious restaurant in Cape Town's V&A Waterfront, but it serves excellent coffee using their own unique blend of beans roasted locally to their specification ..... more
14 Mar 2016   Chet Sainsbury, RIP Chet Sainsbury, a legendary figure in the world of running in South Africa, died in February 2016 after a long battle with cancer. He will be remembered as the man who turned the Two Oceans Marathon into the world-class event it is today ..... more
7 Mar 2016   Bootlegger Coffee I first came across "Bootlegger" coffee when I visited Ou Meul Bakery in Cape Town and enjoyed it immensely. Now they have opened a store in Kalk Bay, serving excellent coffee in a fabulous location ..... more
11 Feb 2016   Rodriguez ... Unknown musical genius Sixto Rodriguez was an American singer and songwriter who performed in small neighbourhood bars in Detroit in the 1970's. He produced two albums, both of which disappeared without trace in the USA. His lack of success meant that he had to give up his musical career, but unknown to him he commanded a huge following in South Africa ..... more
6 Dec 2015   Coffee at Shoprite/Checkers The new Checkers supermarket that recently opened near where I live has an in-store restaurant, and not just a counter for quick takeaways but a reasonably-sized area with tables and chairs. All manner of freshly-cooked food is served there, from muffins and croissants to hamburgers and fish and chips ..... more
30 Nov 2015   Self-Belief claptrap What is it with all these Self Help gurus who proclaim that anybody can achieve absolutely anything they want to, provide they believe in themselves and work hard enough? How often have I shaken my head in amazement at the absurdity of statements like "The world is your oyster - you can do anything you want to do"? ..... more
29 Nov 2015   Africa's greenest hotel Hotel Verde in Cape Town bills itself as "Africa's greenest hotel" and truly does live up to this claim. This amazing hotel is located adjacent to Cape Town International Airport, in the grim and dusty industrial zone that always seems to exist next to major airports, a most unlikely place for such a forward-thinking enterprise ..... more
31 Aug 2015   Cricket world upside down What on earth has happened to the traditional and predictable order of international cricket? We are used to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe being hammered, Australia bullying everybody in sight and India arrogantly demanding that they get their own way. But of late the cricket world has been in a state of turmoil ..... more
13 Jul 2015   Cape Town's severe traffic problems Cape Town is South Africa's most congested city traffic-wise, and the third most congested city in Africa - only Cairo in Egypt and Nairobi in Kenya are worse. One would have thought that Johannesburg would have the biggest traffic problems in South Africa, but ..... more
12 Jun 2015   Lost ship reappears ... after 90 years I came across a story about a ship that had disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean nearly 90 years ago and was recently "found" in the sea off the coast of Cuba, unmanned and simply floating. But all is not what it seems ..... more
11 May 2015   Great coffee ... at Wimpy! You find the nicest coffee in the most unlikely of places and when you least expect it. This happened to me recently when I paid a visit to Wimpy, that venerable old South African restaurant institution known for its red vinyl seats, plastic tables and awful coffee ..... more
1 Apr 2015   London to New York by TRAIN? No, it's not an April Fool's joke ... In March 2015 a Russian plan to build a high speed railway from London to New York via Moscow, a bridge over the Bering Strait to Alaska and then through the frozen wastes of Canada was announced ..... more
27 Mar 2015   Blown Away by Books Four public libraries in the south peninsula of Cape Town recently organized a book festival. It comprised writing workshops, panel discussions by authors, talks by publishers and poetry readings, all free and open to absolutely everybody. The intention was to promote reading, writing and literacy in this fast-paced era of technology, social media and fleeting attention spans ..... more
22 Feb 2015   Five Years of Blogging I started this blog exactly five years ago - my first entry was a comment on the excellent service provided by Loot Online, a shopping web site based in Cape Town, South Africa. Since then I have published a further 60 blogs and have managed to keep to my commitment of 12 entries a year ..... more
25 Jan 2015   Paradise in Nature's Valley The tiny, unspoilt village of Nature's Valley in the Western Cape has absolutely everything - kilometres of sandy beaches, a gently-flowing river that opens up into a shallow lagoon, lush sub-tropical vegetation, a mild and balmy climate and none of the crass and tasteless property development that you see in places like Plettenberg Bay ..... more
19 Jan 2015   Peregrine Farm Stall near Grabouw   Peregrine Farm Stall, next to the N2 national road in the Western Cape, has been a firm favourite of travellers since the 1960's. Although the coffee shop was completely destroyed in a fire in May 2014, it has now re-opened in a bright and stylish new building ..... more
2 Jan 2015   From 9 for 6 to 186 all out In Victoria's second innings against New South Wales in Australia's premier cricket competition, the score was at one stage 9 runs for 6 wickets. The scores of the top seven batsmen were 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 9, 0 before Glenn Maxwell blasted a century at more than a run a ball ..... more
30 Dec 2014   A Year of Highs and Lows 2014 was a year of disasters (for example, the Ebola crisis and the loss of four commercial aircraft with no survivors) and great successes (for example, the landing of a probe on the surface of a comet millions of kilometres from Earth) ..... more
7 Dec 2014   A Trilogy in FOUR Parts   The Hunger Games is a series of three books, the first two of which were released as separate movies in 2012 and 2013. Both were a massive success ; the third book was then split up into TWO (or perhaps more) movies in order to maximise the money-making opportunity of a series that had proved itself a box-office winner ..... more
28 Nov 2014   Microsoft announces Windows 10   Microsoft recently announced that the next version of their flagship operating system would be called "Windows 10". That immediately sounded odd, because the current version of Windows is 8.1 so one would logically expect the next release to be Windows 9 ..... more
29 Oct 2014   25 Years of the World Wide Web   2014 marks Twenty Five Years since the advent of the Internet. The world has changed almost beyond recognition in that time ..... more
30 Sep 2014   What would Tim Noakes say?   The culinary buzzword of 2014 has become "What would Tim Noakes say?" These days you hear this phrase spoken everywhere - in restaurants, coffee shops, supermarkets and at dinner parties. Never before can I recall a theory about nutrition and eating to become so popular ..... more
25 Sep 2014   Registry Cleaning ... yes or no?   It is often said that computers running Microsoft Windows should have the Registry cleaned out every now and then. But is this good advice? Well, the current view is a definite NO - you are more likely to cause damage than effect any major improvement ..... more
13 May 2014   Park Running Park Running is the concept of free, timed runs over a standard distance of five kilometres in various public open spaces (parks, green belts, beaches, recreation areas, etc). There would be no cost or entrance criteria whatsover - anybody, young or old, fit or otherwise, could participate ; walkers, dogs and people with prams would also be encouraged to take part ..... more
14 Apr 2014   Liverpool Football Club Liverpool Football Club dominated British and European football in the 1970's and 1980's, but since 1990 their cabinet has been bare of major trophies (apart from a somewhat unexpected European Champions League victory in 2005). Now they are in sight of their first English Premier League title in 24 years ..... more
12 Apr 2014   Ou Meul Bakery Ou Meul Bakery in Riviersonderend has long been a favourite of travellers plying the route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Serving delicious home-made pies and pastries, this convenient roadside stop has fuelled generations of weary drivers and cantankerous children. Now the owners have opened a branch in Cape Town's city centre ..... more
23 Mar 2014   The Food Lover's Market The Food Lover's Market is a chain of fresh food stores in South Africa. I'd previously enjoyed excellent coffee at the store in Cape Town's city centre, so when I was in Claremont recently and looking for a good cup of coffee I had no hesitation in turning my back on the pretentious restaurants in Cavendish Square ..... more
8 Mar 2014   How Travelling has Changed   Since my first travels in 1987, the world has changed almost unimaginably. Getting around foreign countries is now so much easier than it used to be ..... more
9 Jan 2014   The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo   Stieg Larsson was a relatively unknown Swedish journalist and photographer who died suddenly in 2004 after climbing a flight of stairs. After his death a set of three manuscripts that he had written at home were published, each of which became a runaway bestseller ..... more
19 Dec 2013   Slip Slops Kitchen-Bar The south-western corner of the little cluster of shops on Noordhoek's Beach Road has a superb view of Noordhoek Beach and the sea and is now home to Slip Slops Kitchen-Bar, a welcome new addition to the South Peninsula restaurant scene. The place has a relaxed, beach-bar style ..... more
17 Nov 2013   The (Relatively) Quantum Universe   Our perception of the world is based on our very limited experiences in everyday life, but at a fundamental level that is not how the universe works. You can choose from two versions of reality : Relativity (describing the behaviour of objects at extreme speed or extreme gravity or both) or Quantum Mechanics (describing the behaviour of microscopically-sized objects such as atoms) ..... more
12 Oct 2013   The mathematics of standard paper sizes   Much of mathematics is arcane and theoretical, way beyond the grasp of the average person, but you would be surprized to discover how many things in everyday life came about because of the application of mathematics. Take the humble A4 sheet of paper for example ..... more
5 Oct 2013   Voyager 1 enters Interstellar Space   In September 2013 NASA announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had become the first man-made object to enter interstellar space. Many news reports incorrectly stated that the ship had left the Solar System - unfortunately that won't happen for another 30 thousand years or so ..... more
11 Sep 2013   Train station for sale Fancy buying a disused train station? Well, you can - Brompton Road underground station in central London is for sale. Closed in 1934 and used by the military as a command centre until the early 1950's, it has been locked up and abandoned for 60 years ..... more
30 Aug 2013   Fortran ... still in use today!   I was asked the other day to do some work on a suite of programs that were written in Fortran. Yes, you read right, Fortran - the very first "high level programming language" ever devised and which is still alive and well and kicking in the 21'st century ..... more
22 Jul 2013   Honeybun Deli in Observatory   Observatory is an inner-city suburb of Cape Town, a Bohemian sort of place with old, dilapidated buildings, narrow streets and a general air of decrepitude. Students, Rastafarians, refugees and backpackers on a tight budget crowd the sidewalks and cars jostle for space in the congested streets ..... more
12 Jul 2013   Chrome vs Firefox, the Version War   Remember the days when new versions of PC software came out about once a year, and new releases were given version numbers like 2.1.06? Google's entrance into the mainstream PC market with their Chrome web browser has radically changed that - in the five years since it was first released, Chrome is already on version 28 ..... more
7 Jul 2013   Edward Snowden : Hero or Traitor?   Edward Snowden, an employee of the United States National Security Agency, went public with details of the agency's illegal clandestine activities. He was branded a traitor by the US government and has been on the run ever since. But Snowden's evidence of large-scale surveillance by the NSA of almost every aspect of American life (emails, phone calls, internet activity, etc) is so compelling and convincing ..... more
24 May 2013   Unbelievably cheap coffee A restaurant in Stellenbosch has filter coffee on their menu for only seven Rand a cup ; refills cost only three Rand. In May 2013 that seems scarcely credible ..... more
6 May 2013   General Relativity passes another test   Observations of a pair of tightly-orbiting stars have been able to provide further evidence for the existence of gravitational waves, one of the hitherto undetected predictions of Albert Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. A neutron star and a white dwarf 7000 light years away ..... more
5 May 2013   La Sal Cafe in Fish Hoek A new restaurant recently opened in Main Road, Fish Hoek. It is called La Sal (Spanish for "The Salt") and boasts the somewhat intriguing signage "The Salt of Life" and "Meet. Eat. Drink". The interior is light and airy ..... more
4 May 2013   Sun Valley Eco Watch (SVEW)   I live in a suburb of Cape Town in South Africa that is surrounded by a fantastic natural environment, including mountains, oceans, dunes, rivers and wetlands. Unfortunately the area has become degraded due to urban sprawl - rivers are polluted, public open spaces such as parks are full of litter and graffiti is making its ominous presence felt ..... more
3 Mar 2013   Julius Malema : Hero, Villain or Joke?   For several years Julius Malema headed up the official youth wing of South Africa's governing party (the ANC Youth League), a period best described as "shambolic". Malema was fond of appearing at meetings in semi-military garb, complete with beret, although he never served in any armed force in any capacity whatsoever ..... more
20 Feb 2013   Two massive meteors ... on the SAME day   Some time ago NASA announced that a 46-metre wide asteroid was heading for the Earth and at its closest approach would pass by within 27 000 kilometres of us. In cosmic terms that is too close for comfort - satellites that are in geosynchronous orbit round the Earth are further away than that! The Moon is ..... more
5 Feb 2013   Century on debut ... batting at number 10   Cricket is the strangest game on the planet. It could only have been invented by the British, and was spread to the far-flung corners of the Empire where the phrase "mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun" was entirely appropriate. Cricket also throws up odd coincidences that defy explanation ..... more
18 Jan 2013   Bafana Bafana play in Cape Town   In January 2013 South Africa played a friendly football international against Norway in Cape Town, only the second time that the national team has played in the Mother City since Cape Town's new stadium was completed in 2010 ..... more
2 Dec 2012   Fourth Innings batting heroics   When Faf du Plessis batted for almost eight hours in November 2012 to save South Africa from near-certain defeat in a cricket test match against Australia, he continued a fine tradition of heroic fourth-innings defensive efforts. Jacques Kallis in 1997 and Jacques Rudolph in 2005 had scored fighting centuries ..... more
21 Nov 2012   CIA chief resigns in disgrace   The head of the CIA fell on his sword recently after an extra-marital affair was made public. General David Petraeus' sexual exploits with Paula Broadwell continue a long and noble tradition among leaders in the USA, from John F Kennedy's rampant womanising to Bill Clinton's unseemly conduct with Monica Lewinsky ..... more
12 Nov 2012   Bamboo trains in Cambodia   Years of conflict, war and neglect has left Cambodia with wrecked roads and no railway service. But the railway tracks themselves had survived and lay disused, rusting in the sun and tropical humidity. So locals came up with a simple and ingenious solution - why not run our own trains? And thus was born the "Bamboo Train" ..... more
11 Oct 2012   Gordon Igesund at last!   After years of bumbling around, the South African Football Association has finally appointed the best possible coach for the national team - Gordon Igesund. Media and football fans alike have been clamouring for Igesund for several years, and now, at last, his proven pedigree as a football coach has been recognized ..... more
8 Aug 2012   Experiences on Chinese Trains   My wife and I travelled on several long-distance trains while exploring China in June and July 2012. During the course of this trip I made a number of observations about China Railways ..... more
2 Jul 2012   Travelling in China   Travelling around China is hard. Nothing can quite prepare you for the total and complete culture shock that hits you - you cannot read anything written anywhere, bus and train schedules are a total mystery, the language is incomprehensible and even ordering food in a restaurant becomes a bit of a lottery .....more
7 Jun 2012   Facebook goes public   Facebook became a public company on 18 May 2012 ; the initial share price of $38 gave it a staggering overall value of $104 billion. Has the entire world gone mad? 104 billion dollars for a company that has absolutely no products, no long-term business strategy, no sales of any kind .....more
22 May 2012   Franschhoek Literary Festival   The Franschhoek Literary Festival is a celebration of all things book-related that takes place annually in this charming country town. The festival lasts three days (Friday to Sunday) and comprises ..... more
19 May 2012   The Franschhoek Wine Tram   A group of local people dreamed of seeing trains once again operating over the picturesque rail route through the Franschhoek valley, abandoned and derelict since 1993. A brand new, custom-built tram has been delivered to Franschhoek and is being tested ..... more
14 May 2012   Tablets, Netbooks and Common Sense   The world's insane desire to be both fashionable and connected, fuelled by some extremely clever marketing strategies, has resulted in explosive sales of hand-held devices like the Apple iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab. It seems like everybody either has an iPad or wants one ..... more
6 Apr 2012   Hacker group targets China   The shadowy organization called Anonymous, an informal collection of computer hackers who describe themselves as "hacktivists", attacked and defaced several hundred Chinese government web sites ..... more
26 Mar 2012   Century City by Train   Getting to Century City and Canal Walk using public transport has always been difficult. But the new train station constructed nearby (which was used as a "park and ride" facility during the 2010 Football World Cup) means that access by train from Cape Town is now possible ..... more
15 Mar 2012   Google vs Duck Duck Go?   Google's web search service provides incredibly good results, but it is now so bloated with relentless advertisements and add-ons that I find myself getting increasingly irritated with it. So I was pleasantly surprized to discover a new search engine recently called Duck Duck Go ..... more
12 Mar 2012   Green Point Park   An open area next to Cape Town Stadium has been transformed into a verdant and tranquil public park, with different areas for picnicing, exercising and strolling through a showcase of wetlands and indigenous plants ..... more
6 Mar 2012   The truth about Truth Coffee   Truth Coffee Cult is a coffee shop and roastery located in the front section of the Prestwich Memorial, a building constructed in memory of the many slaves who lived and died in Cape Town. But beware of ordering a single espresso there ..... more
8 Jan 2012   Cape Town's MyCiTi Bus Service   Recently my wife and I took one of the new "MyCiTi" buses from Cape Town to Table View. This route is part of Cape Town's ambitious Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) system, whereby buses travelling in dedicated lanes will supplement the existing commuter rail network ..... more
31 Dec 2011   Brutal Chinese Rule in Tibet   Tibet has been a so-called "Autonomous Region" of China since 1951, when Chinese troops invaded the country and placed Tibet under military rule. The spurious reason often put forward by the Chinese government for this act of naked aggression is that Tibet was historically ruled by China ..... more
28 Nov 2011   Decks Cafe in Kommetjie   My wife and I were recently pleasantly surprized to discover a new coffee shop/restaurant in Kommetjie - Decks Cafe. Somebody has invested a LOT of money in renovating the place, because it has been completely remodelled and now boasts a stunning interior ..... more
12 Nov 2011   Why is Graeme Smith criticized so much?   Graeme Smith has been captain of South Africa's Test cricket team since 2003. He has brought his own brand of confidence, aggression and directness to the captaincy, together with a "never back down" attitude and a propensity for scoring big runs when they are needed the most. But why is he hated so much? ..... more
25 Sep 2011   Technical Support telephone scam   I recently received a telephone call from a lady with a broad Indian accent, very obviously calling from a foreign location. She told me a long story about how "the Windows users" had been reporting problems with their computers and because ..... more
21 Aug 2011   The Cost of Data Storage   In February 2008 I bought a 160 Giga Byte (Gb) portable hard drive for about R750. Just over two years later, in May 2010, I bought a 1 Tera Byte (Tb) external hard drive for under R1000 - six times the space for only a little more cash ..... more
29 Apr 2011   The Ups and Downs of Self-employment   At the end of May 2010 I left full-time employment and started working for myself from an office at home. Thus far it has been a very interesting, rewarding and challenging experience - no more answering to a boss with whom I may disagree, no more filling in tedious timesheets ..... more
10 Dec 2010   Simon's Town railway still closed   In December 2009 a severe storm caused damage to the railway line that runs from Cape Town to Simon's Town down the east coast of the Cape Peninsula. Trains could not travel over the affected section of track so the line was closed between between Fish Hoek and Simon's Town ..... more
2 May 2010   Free/open source software   There are so many outstanding, free-to-use computer software applications out there that I often wonder why people even bother using commercial stuff ..... more
11 Apr 2010   Visiting Cape Town's World Cup stadium   On Saturday 10 April 2010 the third "trial run" of the newly-completed Cape Town stadium was held. This was the last trial before the stadium was handed over to FIFA, and included the use of the floodlights ..... more
5 Apr 2010   Terrible driving on Route 27   My wife and I explored the Western Cape's West Coast over the 2010 Easter Weekend. Driving north out of Cape Town on route 27 (the R27, also known as the "West Coast Road"), we were amazed, shocked and taken aback ..... more
13 Mar 2010   Tribeca Bakery/Coffee Shop in Kalk Bay   Tribeca Bakery and Coffee shop, located on the Main Road in Kalk Bay (a suburb of Cape Town) serves delicious coffee in a setting reminiscent of New York City ..... more
22 Feb 2010   Fantastic service at Loot.co.za   I am always amazed at the outstanding service I receive from Loot, an online store based in the Western Cape of South Africa. Not only that, their prices for books, CDs and DVDs are always consistently lower than anywhere ..... more

© Paul Kilfoil, P O Box 1091, Sun Valley, 7985, South Africa (PKilfoil@Hotmail.com)