Thursday, 31 December 2015

Blood donation #41 at my new donor centre

I've been a bit off kilter with my blood donations but yesterday got in my 3rd for the year at the donor centre in Potchefstroom. My last was in early August (my 40th donation), I did stem cell registration in September and I usually do October so that I'm good for the week between xmas and new year. This year I missed October.

There is a mobile clinic that comes to Parys every few months - I'll get the schedule in January.

The Potch clinic is located near the university, which means it is busy and well attended in term time. The SANBS nurses there (I met two of them) were friendly and welcoming. The cookies that they have are different to the ones in Jo'burg. They're individually packaged (you get two in a pack in Jo'burg) and the cookie is smaller. On the plus side, the ginger one is tasty.

At this time of year, blood stocks are low because of all the car accidents over the holiday season so the blood bank is always in desperate need of donors. When you consider that a trauma patient may need 30 to 60 units to save their life... yeah, they need a lot of people to donate regularly.

Looking at the SANBS 2015 Annual Report (for the first time), around the country SANBS operates 84 blood banks in hospitals in eight Provinces (not Western Cape - they have their own Transfusion Service), they have 82 permanent donor centres and every day there are mobile clinics (around 3000 a year!) that visit schools, businesses and communities.

SANBS has been focusing on increasing their base of black donors, which is now at 38% of all donors.

They have an 87% return rate! One of the highest in the World. And they got 13% new donors. I hope that they only count donors as new once they've got their regular donor status with at least three donations in their first year. As you know, once-off donations do not count.

Here's a short video from The Citizen newspaper featuring the SANBS communications manager.

Interestingly, once they've separated whole blood donations into the three components - platelets, red blood cells and plasma they can only keep the platelets for five days, red blood cells for 42 days and plasma they can freeze for up to three years.

Remember, once-off donations DO NOT COUNT. They test your first donation and hang on to it until your next donation. They use the plasma from the first if your second test is clear and they wait for your third donation to come in (within a year from the first). Once all three donation are clear of infectious agents (HIV, Hepatitis, Syphilis) only then will they use your whole donation. That's why it is important to become a regular donor, making three (minimum) to six (maximum) donations every year.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

parkrun RD fun

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of being the Run Director for the Parys parkrun for the first time. I fortunately had great support from friends, family and regulars who volunteered: my mom, Liz, and our friend Marianne doing timekeeping, Celliers taking photos, Ferdi (regular participant) handing out finish tokens, Isaac (regular volunteer) on barcode scanning and Vincent (regular volunteer) marshalling at the turn-around point.



Liz & Marianne

Our turnout was a bit smaller than usual with only 44 participants, probably due to the rain the night before. What the rain did do was to bring down the temperature making it one of the most pleasant mornings in a long time.

Everything went smoothly and I even got the results out without any glitches.

We've got baby joggers, a good number of children running on their own, old folks and lots of walkers who head out to enjoy the route and morning with us.
You can see more photos - showing how pretty our parkrun is - on the Parys parkrun Facebook page.

This Saturday I'll be running and then I'm RD again on 26 Dec.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Flat-water fun

The Likkewaan Canoe Club is our local paddling club in Parys. It lies just outside of town (Jo'burg side) on the left bank of Vaal. Thing shades lawns, big trees and weeping willows. It is a beautiful location.

On Thursday last week we took our plastic Epic V7 surfskis to the club. I've only once been on a surfski - a double, many years ago off the Kloof coast in Durban with an adventure racing friend. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience although I felt a bit queasy on our return route coming back with the runs.

Our Epics are one of a kind. Celliers moulds them and ours are ones that he used to test two different plastic colours. Mine is green, his is orange.

They're smooth. Never again will a fibreglass kayak (K1, single or K2, double) be the same again. Plastic moulded, the Epics are heavier than a racing kayak and they're sit-on-top instead of sit-in.

The body of the V7 is silky smooth and it cuts through water. Made for surf, it is quite a dream boat on flat water too. The element that stood out for me the most is the foot pedals for steering. It has a shark-fin, carbon-fibre rudder at the back of the boat, under the hull. Smooth carbon-fibre foot pedals control the direction and what ever they're doing with the cables works beautifully. Very, very smooth to use and the surfski responds beautifully.

I'm paddling with my regular wing paddle.

There's also a shorter plastic surfski model, the Epic V5. It is a bit shorter and a bit wider and thus, a bit slower than the Epic V7. The Epic V5 was recently launched with this fabulous video that shows off the boat's capabilities. I'm loving my V7 and I'm itching to try the V5 too - I think it will fit perfectly on my roof racks.

Being a watery activity, I haven't taken any photos of the club nor the magnificent stretch of Vaal River that we're paddling.

There's a weir just below the clubhouse (and across the main channel on the other side of the island) and from the put-in we paddle upstream for about two kilometres with houses on one side and island on the other. Paddling anti-clockwise, we round one of the many islands and paddle downstream in the main channel, skipping again between islands further down to get back into the side channel where the club is located.

We just did one loop last week and one loop yesterday (time trial is two loops at around four kilometres each). My paddle arms are coming back slowly.

My mom came along for her first paddle. We put her on a Fluid Chumani single sit-on-top and she did beautifully.

Every Tuesday is time-trial at 17h00 and mom will be joining us regularly. As she says, a few more sessions to learn and then it is competition time. Fiesty, that one is.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Biking about town

My plan with living in Parys is to totally soak up the small-town benefits - like having everything so close. 

After a few weight-bearing errands in my car - dropping kids, collecting my mom, picking-up cement pavers - I dropped my car and headed off on my bike to complete errands that could fit in my backpack.

It is so much cooler (temperature and appeal) and more fun to charge around town on my bicycle. My town riding bike is my Qhubeka -  a solid, steel-frame, single-speed, back-pedal-brake bicycle. I feel totally ok chaining it to a pole outside stores too. 

My mom lives two minutes from me - by bike. It is lovely to race along the river back and forth to her place. There is still lots to do there (unpacking and handyman stuff) so I'm between houses regularly.

I've got a nice basket that I can cable-tie to the rear carrier to make it easier for shopping and carting things around that don't fit in my backpack.

When I've been in town in the past I haven't done much bike commuting. It really is such a pity because this is a great place for it. I certainly feel guilty about hopping into my car to head to the shops when it is a short walk and bike away. 

Mom hasn't been out on her bike yet. We're planning to ride together later this week to check out the location of important stores and facilities so that she gets to know her way around. Bike is so much better for this than car. I've spotted many potential Metrogaine locations already.

Yes, definitely more biking for all of us. 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Dealing with stuff

My move to Parys has happened and I'm delighted to no longer be commuting between JHB and Parys. Even though my former home and current home were only 124km apart (1h15 drive), it was taxing. I can now barely get into a car and a delight in riding my bike between my home and my mom's new home (yes, she's also in Parys).

Temperatures have been roasting and today is another scorcher. We're all indoors, in our respective homes, dealing with stuff.

For my mom, she still faces boxes to unpack. When I arrived this morning she was looking glum indeed. As she says, she has boxes still to unpack and just doesn't know what to do with all the stuff. She's planning on a garage sale.

For the kids, they have to sort out their rooms.

Ruben's room wasn't too bad to begin  - he doesn't have a load of stuff. But things didn't have rightful places and little goodies needed to be grouped and placed into tubs so that he can easily find them to play. Also a sorting through of books that he no longer needs, fluffy toys that can be given a new home and such.

Ruben's drawer - AFTER
Kyla's room is chaotic. Draws and shelves of randomly distributed and tangled things. She doesn't know what she has. We don't know what she has. She can never find anything. The issue is not as much that there is tons of stuff, but that it is never put back in any order and nothing has a place. She's not too keen on dealing with stuff so this will take a while.

Kyla's drawer - BEFORE
For me... I've been in the process of moving to Parys for a few weeks. Each time I drove through I'd bring stuff. Some would be packed away; other items would be dumped to be dealt with later. Today I'm dealing with 'later'.

We're busy building a bigger 'toy room' for Celliers' toys and my toys. We're both active and outdoorsy with many sports - biking, running, paddling, orienteering, adventure racing, camping... that means stuff that needs to be accommodated for frequent and intermittant use.

I work from home so my home-office is a functional centre where almost anything can be made, laminated, coloured in, glued, cut...

And then I've got my crochet hobby... I've got separate containers for different types of yarn and also for on-the-go projects.

Yeah, stuff to be dealt with.

As much as I may wish to be free of stuff, I need a functional office. I'd love to have a 37-item capsule wardrobe, when you've got running gear for all seasons, it blows your item count (my regular-wear clothes are probably in the 37-item range).

Celliers is mostly sorted - inside the house. Once the toy room is done we'll have to get in there to organise and arrange stuff. And then we'll need to get into the garage to organise tools and making-stuff-things.

Yeah, a day to deal with stuff. Much need by all of us.

UPDATE: Ruben is sorted. Kyla mostly so. She wasn't so keen on us throwing out / giving away stuff (she is far more sentimental than me and Celliers) but she dealt with it well and her cupboards are looking great.