I live in a water-scarce country on a water-scarce continent. I grew up with a little ditty, “Kinders moenie in die water mors nie, die ou mense wil dit drink” – “Children, don’t mess with water, the old people want to drink it”. Parts of my country has had water restrictions in the years that I have lived.
And yet, I have never really wanted for water. When I open a tap, there it is. Cold and ready to drink, albeit chlorinated. Cape Town has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. I could run through sprinklers as a child. I could swim in swimming pools.
Continue reading ““Water, Water, Every Where””
It has been a long and difficult week in Psychiatry. This week, we’ve been exposed to a large mental hospital campus, where I found working with intellectually disabled children and therapy groups especially insightful – and emotionally taxing.
Here is a short TedTalk by one of the psychiatrists working there. It is pretty self-explanatory, but I love the way he is approaching stigma and the environment. A note on the norMAL/MALadjusted theme: “mal” is the Afrikaans word for “crazy” (and no, we don’t call people crazy anymore, but in this campaign it is an especially useful play on words).
One of the first things I noticed when I started traveling was international differences in public restrooms. In New York City I was met with the conundrum of a city that has everything except restrooms. In China I saw squat toilets for the first time – and refused to use them. Working in a hospital with filthy restrooms has given me a strong bladder. Then, when we hit our first official port for Semester at Sea (Japan) I saw the smartest loos alive.
What a pleasure, then, to read The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters while traveling. (The cover caught my eye – isn’t it wonderful?) Rose George literally goes everywhere with this book. She plunges into the depths of sewer systems in New York and London. She exposes the dirt and grit of the water we consume. And then she travels to the corners of the earth to see how other countries compare. Continue reading “Review: The Big Necessity by Rose George”
There is a school of thought that the Earth, rather than being several physical and biological structures, is one big functional organism. It is called the Gaia Hypothesis, pivoting on much the same idea as homeostasis, except that in this case one rather calls it homeorhesis, meaning the return to a specific trajectory and not a specific state of equilibrium.
I first heard of the Gaia Hypothesis during my years of high school debating, but thought of it again while in discussion with The Boy this weekend. He flew me up to Johannesburg as a birthday gift and on the way to a movie we saw a large Nedbank billboard in Sandton, advertising their new initiative of solar powered traffic lights. Thus started the green conversation. Continue reading “Human: Noun, Noxious Substance”