Why you should celebrate World Smile Day

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Why celebrate World Smile Day?

Don’t forget to put on your best smiley face on Friday, 02 October, when we celebrate World Smile Day®. The theme of this special day is: “Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile.”

The iconic smiley face was created in 1963 by Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts. Ball instigated the first World Smile Day in 1999 after he became concerned that his original meaning and intent behind the beloved yellow symbol might be lost due to over-commercialism. He wanted the world to dedicate one day a year by doing acts of kindness and smiling. After his death in 2001, The Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation became the official sponsor of this amazing initiative.

Smiling is good for you

Smiles are infectious. Very few people can resist smiling back when someone treats them with a smile that stretches from ear to ear. Smiles convey positive feelings and energy. A simple facial expression such as a smile can have amazing benefits for ones health and wellbeing.

When you smile:

  • a cocktail of feel good neurotransmitters (endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin) floods your system and makes you feel awesome and happy;
  • your mood will lift and you will feel relaxed and less stressed;
  • you may experience that you manage chronic pain better;
  • your blood pressure and heart rate may drop;
  • you will appear more attractive and approachable to others; and
  • you will attract smiles from others and you will feel special because of it.

How to smile more often

  • Surround yourself with friendly people who like to smile and laugh a lot. This will brighten up your life considerably.
  • Watch funny movies and listen to jokes.
  • Watch your kids/animal play and join in the fun.
  • Be appreciative of beauty. Smile at the fluffy clouds in the sky, the flowering pot plant on the windowsill, and a beggar’s face when you treat him or her to lunch.

Smiling is the universal gesture for happiness. Almost everyone on the planet knows a smile conveys friendliness, warmth and acceptance. Maybe it is time that you smile more often … Why don’t you show off your pearly whites and flex your facial muscles? Spread some good cheer on World Smile Day.




Joshua Tree: Route 62

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Coming Home to Joshua Tree via  Route 62

The high desert of California is oddly reminiscent of the Klein Karoo in South Africa. Dry weeds tumble on the veldt, and rocky outcrops are littered with succulents under a virulently blue sky. Puffy clouds resembling cotton balls over a wide open horizon sets the scene, with miles of open road to eat up with your wheels. So we arrive at the Harmony Motel along route 62, to find the owner, a South African who has decided to make this place her home. Looking at the corrugated iron fence, she laughs and tells a story of how her relatives from the home country had worried she had fallen into poverty. “They didn’t know it was a work of art,” she smiles at the many layers of irony concealed in this statement.

In the late 1980’s the Harmony Motel was where Bono and the band U2 stayed while making their album Joshua Tree. Their picture and the news articles of the time are proudly on display in the common room library. Many people still visit the Harmony Motel for this very reason, to touch base with the history of the music that came from here. Outside it is blisteringly hot, but the cold pool is invitingly clean and blue. We jump in and cool down instantly. “The water is always cold like that,” says Ash, the owner. The resemblance between this area and its namesake Route 62 in South Africa is uncanny.

Ash exudes a sense of common sense and no nonsense at the same time. Her words are measured and clear as she relates how she came to be here in the high desert of California. It is a moving story of bravery on her part and a certain willingness to face the future with resilience and fortitude. We end up spending many hours visiting with her, sitting around and talking till the cows would have come home were there any. In many ways this feels like a home coming, a familiar feeling place where the tradition of strangers meeting to exchange significant parts of their lives is as simple as putting the kettle on for a fresh cup of tea. It is with high spirits that we leave this haven on our way back on Route 62.


Homo Naledi – a New Light on Our Ancestry

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Homo Naledi –  Extinct Homonin Species

“Homo naledi is a previously-unknown species of extinct homonin discovered within the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. The species is characterised by body mass and stature similar to small-bodied human populations but a small endocranial volume similar to australopiths.” In this way the summary of the academic paper on the discovery and study of Homo naledi in the journal eLife starts.

On Thursday, 10 September 2015, details of the fossil find of homo naledi was unveiled at Maropeng. This significant fossil find has been greeted with excitement around the world and many have said that the find will make us question what it is to be human. Lee Berger of WITS University stated that “[u]ntil this moment in history, we thought that the idea of ritualised behaviours directed towards the dead, things like burial or like secreting your dead into deep chambers, was utterly unique to homo sapiens.”.

The team has already unearthed parts of 15 individuals, but the researchers believes that there is still a treasure trove of fossils awaiting discovery in the Rising Star cave system and the Dinaledi Chamber. Homo naledi is further described as having “humanlike manipulatory adaptations of the hand and wrist” as well as “a humanlike foot and lower limb”. These aspects, however, are “contrasted in the postcrania with a more primitive or australopith-like trunk, shoulder, pelvis and proximal femur”. Because these aspects are represented in at least the already discovered individuals, this find represents the “largest assemblage of a single species of homonin yet discovered in Africa”.

This amazing discovery has once again put South Africa – and the Cradle of Humankind – on the map. All eyes will be on our country and the talented team of professionals slowly unearthing our past and bringing it to life.

OH SHUCKS, Is it The End?

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Shucks! Pay Back the Money

After master prankster and filmmaker Leon Schuster’s latest film Shucks! Pay back the Money got released in film theatres on 28 August; the film is already on everyone’s lips. The trailer promised once again a hilarious comedy treat from South Africa’s candid camera king. There are whispers going around whether this number 9 candid camera film might be Leon’s best yet. But will there be more to follow?

Leon Schuster, The man Behind SHUCKS

Leon Ernest Schuster, born 21 May 1951 in Vereeniging South Africa, spent his high school and university years in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, where he also played his beloved sport of rugby for the first team of the University of the Orange Free State. That made him an enthusiastic Cheetah supporter ever since. After university, he went on to teach at his high school Alma Mater Jim Fouché for two years before working for the South African Broadcast Corporation. From a young age he showed a keen interest in filmmaking. As a child, Leon’s favourite pastime with his brother Otto was playing practical jokes on their family members while filming with a home movie camera. While working for the SABC, he gave light to the well known Afrikaans Vrypostige Mikrofoon radio program series, which consisted of various “victims” being pranced via telephone.

Sadly, it isn’t all moonlight and roses. Fame and success many times come at a price. Schuster got divorced after a 20 year long marriage, stating how his success might have been to his family’s detriment. His 4 children suffered with him through all the bad reviews and huge amounts of criticism over the years, despite all the success his films achieved. According to him, his bank balance also does not reflect the box office amounts his films had earned and that he invested enormous amounts of his own money in the making of his films.

Spectacular Career for SHUCKS

Leon Shuster is one of the most talented artists in South Africa as singer, actor, filmmaker and script writer. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award for comedy at the 2014 Huisgenoot Skouspel concert.

Film Career:

  1. You Must Be Joking! – 1986

  2. You Must Be Joking! Too – 1987

  3. Oh Shucks…It’s Schuster! – 1989

  4. Oh Shucks! Here Comes UNTAG – 1990

  5. Sweet ‘n Short – 1991

  6. Yankee Zulu – 1993

  7. Panic Mechanic – 1997

  8. Millennium Menace – 1999

  9. Mr Bones – 2001

  10. Oh Shucks… I’m Gatvol – 2004

  11. Mama Jack – 2005

  12. Mr Bones 2: Back from the Past – 2008

  13. Shucks Tshabalala’s Survival Guide to South Africa – 2010

  14. Mad Buddies – 2012

  15. Shucks! Your Country Needs You – 2013

  16. Shucks! Pay Back The Money – 2015

Singing Career Albums:

  1. Leon Schuster – 1982
  2. Broekskeur – 1983
  3. Waar En Wolhaar – 1983
  4. Briekdans – 1984
  5. Rugby – 1985
  6. You Must Be Joking! – 1986
  7. Dasiefoutie – 1988
  8. “Shakin” Schuster En Sy Opkikkers – 1992
  9. Hie’ Kommie Bokke – 1995
  10. Gautvol In Paradise – 1997
  11. Die Vrypostige Mikrofoon, Volume 1 – 1998
  12. Die Vrypostige Mikrofoon, Volume 2 – 1998
  13. Baas Funny Plaas – 1999
  14. My Beste Jare – 2001
  15. Groen, Goud En White – 2002
  16. Catchup Song And Every Cricket Hit – 2003
  17. Oh Schuks… I’m Gatvol – 2004
  18. Op Dun Eish – 2006
  19. Dra Die Bok – 2008
  20. My Mates – Die Bokke

Oh Shucks! South-Africa became Trigger Happy

Is it the end for candid camera filmmaking for Leon Schuster? In an interview he mentioned the intolerance and impatience of people. Why are we strung so tightly? According to Leon, it is due to the times we live in where load shedding, corruption and the lawlessness especially on our roads revs up frustration levels to the maximum. As he said: “I think my time is running out on candid stuff, so I don’t really know if I will make any more of these. Also I am a bit sick and tired of getting ‘klapped’”. At age 64, who can blame him?

He had to cut a few scenes from the film where guns were pointed at him. The public’s willingness to be set up for gags now differs completely from his debut candid camera film You Must be Joking in 1986, where the public were more relaxed and there weren’t a lot of people carrying guns around. As he joked: “I think one day my headstone will read: ‘Leon couldn’t take that last klap’”.

The petrol price is not the price we pay

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Maybe it’s time to think differently – in at least 5 areas:

  1. Damage: Human beings are funny creatures. We claim that consciousness makes us superior to the other animal species, but no other species does as much harm to a) themselves or b) the planet we live on as homo sapiens.
  2. Arrogance: Only when people are forced to their knees, do they begin praying. Our ‘stuck-ness’ in our comfort zone prevents us from becoming humble before we are absolutely forced to become humble.
  3. We can, but … :  We are NOT (even though our technology is supposedly so magnificent) going to invent vehicles and other petrol guzzling, Mother Earth destroying devices unless we no longer have petrol. We are exploiters and addicted to our instant gratifications. We lack vision and are too selfish to think of the destruction we cause – even to the inhospitable planet we are fast creating for our children’s children.
  4. The environment: Everybody knows that fossil fuels will run out but also that we cause enormous damage in the process of extracting it. Greed is a very effective blinker – nobody wants to think (let alone talk) about the ecological implications of our dependency on petrol.
  5. Mineral wealth Shapes History: When gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand in the fledgling Republic, more that one of the old Boer leaders lamented the fact, knowing that it would bring blood to the land. How right they were: Cecil John Rhodes and Milner engineered a war to be able to steal the resources of this country, nearly managed the genocide of the Afrikaner Nation, and destroyed indigenous cultures to create a slave labour system with which to obtain it. The spilling of blood continues – Marikana is but one. Look at the areas of conflict in the world: ISIL now occupies oil fields. America’s so-called “peace keeping” interventions would have been rather less inclined to interfere if there was no oil.

Denial is one of the strongest aspects of human behaviour. Every time the petrol price goes up, let’s cheer rather than weep. Maybe if it goes up far and fast enough, we might start THINKING of alternative and green sources of energy. The wind and the sun can be harnessed, and nobody can go to war to grab Mother Nature’s free gifts for themselves.