Weekly Head Voices #237: Don't step over the thing

Well hello there and welcome to the first Weekly Head Voices of the year 2022!

Figure 1: So many penguins at Stone Point in Betty’s Bay.

Figure 1: So many penguins at Stone Point in Betty’s Bay.

Where we usually pretend that a WHV covers a certain period of time since the previous one, this one will simply engage in some excessive but pretty skillful hand-waving and say that if you read it and the 2021 to 2022 year transition post, you should be more or less up to date with the state of this nation up to Sunday, January 30, 2022.

EAZ and sleep

EAZ (Experiment Alcohol Zero - no alcohol for at least a month but usually more) is still going strong, and it’s getting harder for me to ignore the fact that it’s (again) having a drastic impact on my sleep quality.

Where I normally am quite chuffed to wake up feeling that I’ve had a solid night of sleep, these days it feels like I’m almost guaranteed a great night of shut-eye as long as I can get to bed on time.

GOU updates

In other much more important news, GOU #1 has left the nest.

Ok fortunately only sort of… She now spends her weeks in the school’s dormitory.

They are extremely well looked-after, and she gets to participate even more fully in school activities where previously this was a bit constrained by the 1 to 1.5 hour travel time (school bus in traffic) involved.

We do miss her quite a lot in the weeks.

In her absence, GOU #2 (2IC, IOW) has quickly taken on a new role, which is interesting to see.

GOU #3 has just started with Grade R (first year of “big school”), and it looks like she’s taken to it like a fish to water.

It’s a lot more fun now with both #2 and #3 in the car in the mornings, although we could probably do without all the karma loss I suffer in traffic every morning. The 4km from my house to school can easily take up to 25 minutes, during which I’m obviously surrounded by people who clearly can’t drive.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

At the start of 2019 I decided for some or other reason that I really wanted to know how my branch of the Botha family connected to the rest of the tree.

Botha is a pretty common surname down here.

Many Botha’s probably know that we are the descendants of Friedrich Both, a soldier who came to the Cape from Wagenheim (from the Thuringen region of Germany) in 1678 to assist the Dutch colonists.


A 2013 study by Greeff and Erasmus, titled Appel Botha: The abc of a three hundred year old divorce case, showed that Theunis Botha, the first of four sons of Friedrich Both and his Dutch wife, Maria Kickers (divorced from Jan Cornelisz because they could not have children), was in fact the extra-marital product of Maria’s relationship with Ferdinandus Appel!


According to the study, Theunis Appel is responsible for roughly half (38000) of all of the Botha’s (78000) living in 2013.

Returning to my branch all the way down here: My uncle E was so kind to send me notes he made of the gravestones on one of the farms my ancestors lived on, including full names and dates of birth and death of a number of said ancestors. As you might realise, full names and birth / death dates are genealogy gold.

My aunt M’s many stories helped to fill in any further gaps, especially by confirming identities through matching full names with nick names.

Although initially I was unable to make the connection to the greater Botha tree using this information, the MyHeritage databases, and various bits of information I could get from older clan members, I recently picked up my notes again (after a two year hiatus!) and was suddenly able to make a single high-impact connection (my great-great-grandfather) that I previously missed.

Long story short, the moment I did this all of the fragments came together, and I’m now able to say with reasonable confidence that Ferdinandus Appel and Maria Kickers are my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.


I don’t want to step over the thing

At the end of their 3 hour long podcast interview from May, Lex Fridman asks Sam Harris one of his standard questions (you can listen to the bit in question precisely here):

What is the meaning of life?

In almost typical Sam Harris fashion, he replies that it’s the wrong question.

Less cryptically, Sam explains that if you’re searching for that mythical meaning of life that’s going to make everything better, you might be doing it wrong.

In his words (which I have transcribed and cleaned up a little bit especially for you):

You don’t have to live with the illusion anymore that you need a good enough reason and that things are going to get better when you do get those reasons.

There’s a mirage-like quality to every future attainment and every future breakthrough and every future peak experience that eventually you get the lesson that you never quite arrive.

You don’t arrive until you cease to step over the present moment in search of the next thing.

We’re constantly stepping over the thing that we think we’re seeking in the act of seeking it. [ed: my emphasis. I loved this bit]

You can’t actually become happy. You can only be happy.

His words hit home for me.

Dear readers, I truly wish you an abundance of recognizing the thing, and of being happy.