Thursday, March 27, 2008

Down in the Bowels of the Earth

This is Pierre, one of the project managers contracted to Great Basin Gold, the mine whose account I'm working on for Blue Moon Communications. That's my mining helmet illuminating his face.

We walked 1.4 kilometres down a 9 degree decline, straight into the bowels of the earth. That put us at around 300 metres below the surface when we stopped walking and turned around to go back to the surface.

It's a pretty good workout, that walk. My calves are definitely going to be shrieking tomorrow morning. Luckily, Rachel, the safety officer who took us down, had organised a vehicle to pick us up to drive us out.

The mine is not yet in production. It's still in the construction phase, which means that they're getting to the ore body. They're much more than halfway to their goal, and the particular mining technique they're using is revolutionary for South African mines in many ways.

- Camera phone upload powered by ShoZu

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Letter to the 2008 World of Work Participants

Okay... Firstly... I'm really excited at the prospect of chatting to the new group of World of Work participants! It's going to be awesome to chat!

Secondly... I'm going to be delivering two different components of stuff... a creativity workshop, and a blogging workshop. Everything we're going to be doing is interrelated. Not just my two components, but with other aspects of the World of Work too.


I'm going to need people to do a fair amount of preparation for my stuff. The preparation is easy. And I'm going to give EXPLICIT instructions.

I'm putting that in capital letters because it's been my experience with previous participants, and with other people out in the real world that the understanding and following of instructions is one of the most vital skills in making it in the job world. And it's been THE most disappointing area of skill-deficiency that I've come across in this programme.

I'm going to make a bold statement. And I'd like EVERYBODY in this programme to prove me right. Treat this as a personal challenge...

'I am able to slow myself down. I am able to read a written instruction calmly. I am able to understand what is in the instruction. I am able to follow the instruction. I am able to make a judgement call about what outcome is expected from the instruction. I am able to get help from my fellow World of Work participants if I find myself stuck. I CAN FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS.'

Right. Here are my instructions, with my desired (and required) outcome.

1. Go to and hit the 'join this group' button. This takes you to a Yahoo sign-in page. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A YAHOO IDENTITY, FOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS AND GET ONE. YOU ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE ONE FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS EXERCISE. It's free. Follow the instructions. Follow the instructions. If you CAN'T follow these instructions, get help. If you can't get help, do not proceed. Go away. I'm not kidding. The mailing list is NOT something that requires rocket science or brain surgery. Nor is it difficult. And yet it has historically caused the biggest trouble with WoW participants. Break this cycle by proving that you are able to follow written instructions. THIS IS AN IMPERATIVE FOR YOUR SUCCESS IN LIFE. I kid you not.

2. Are you subscribed to the blogthinking yahoogroups mailing list? If you couldn't get it right, please consult with your peers. And WORK IT OUT. I will be uber ratty if there is ANYONE in my room when I give my seminar who HASN'T cracked this. And I'm not a ratty fellow. Ask previous participants and Lesley and Jean.

3. Go to, and sign up. Start following some blogs and RSS feeds on there. A place to start would be with my shared feeds... Find feeds you like. Then subscribe to them.

4. By the time you set foot in my seminar room, you must have AT LEAST 40 blogs that you are following in Google Reader. (There are 19 participants in this year's WoW, so 18 of the blogs you'll be following will belong to your peers. The other 22 will be up to you.

5. In Google Reader, create a shared items feed of your own. And use the 'share' button on Google Reader to publish items of interest to your shared items folder. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, just do it. And ask your buddies for help.

6. On entering my seminar, you must have shared AT LEAST 20 items in your shared items feed in Google Reader.

7. Go to Read my tweets. Try to understand what I'm doing. Look at some of the people I'm following. See what they're doing. Attempt to get a sense of what the different Twitter strategies are.

8. Open your own Twitter account, using your REAL name (or part of it) as your username. Keep it short -- 'royblumenthal' is almost too long.

9. On Twitter, follow EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR PEERS IN THE WoW PROGRAMME, and me. This is not negotiable. Use the blogthinking list to communicate with each other if needs be. Work it out. Coordinate. YOU WILL BE CHUCKED OUT OF MY ROOM IF YOU DON'T CRACK THIS.

10. Go to, and sign up for an account if you haven't already got one. Add everyone in the World of Work programme as your friend. My profile is there on Add me. Make sure you send me a message telling me who you are and why you're adding me. Make that a habit with EVERY person you add.

11. In Facebook, install the Twitter Sync application -- Put all your details in there. Use the 'prepend verb': "Twittering:" (without the quotes). This little piece of wizardry allows your Twitter messages to be transplanted into Facebook as status updates.

12. In Facebook, install the Feedheads application -- Set it up so that your Google Reader feed is funneled right into your Facebook profile. Then, whenever you share any item in Google Reader, that will be zapped into Facebook, for your friends to see.

13. Go to Or any of the other free blogging tools online. I advocate blogspot simply because I'm familiar with it. Create a blog. IN YOUR OWN NAME. If you already have a blog IN YOUR OWN NAME, great. That's the one you'll use. If you don't, make one now. Be sure to ALLOW anonymous commenting. Add every single member of the WoW group to your links list on your blog. It's INSANELY easy. It's all pushbutton stuff. Don't ask me for help. FOLLOW THE EASY, FOOLPROOF INSTRUCTIONS, and you'll crack it. If you CAN'T crack it, seriously question your abilities, and think of getting a soft job like television-viewing. And leave this programme. Anyone who can't get this right really does NOT deserve to call themselves a post-graduate student.

14. If English is not your first language, or if English is not a comfortable second language, BLOG IN YOUR MOTHER TONGUE. This is NOT negotiable. I repeat. THIS IS NOT NEGOTIABLE!!! Write in your OWN language. And for every post you create in your own language, supply an English translation in Italics. I absolutely insist on this. And you'll understand why when we talk face-to-face. I'm one seriously cunning marketing person, and you can choose to differ with me on this point ONLY AFTER YOU'VE DONE WHAT I'VE ASKED. If you don't understand what I'm asking because you're not a strong English-language communicator, then you HAVE TO consult with a friend who CAN clarify what I'm asking. I'll kick your skanky ass right out of my seminar room if you DON'T comply with this. I'm not kidding.

15. By the time you set foot in the seminar room for my session, I want you to have written AT LEAST 20 posts on your blog.

16. In addition, I want to see a bullet point summary of your skills in the 'about me' section of your blog. When I read that section, I want to know what types of things you're interested in as a person. I want to know what your business interests are. I want to know your passions. I want to know that you are able to think. This is not an easy task I'm assigning you. But it's a necessary one. When someone reads your 'about me' section, they need to feel as if they understand you. And you only have about 800 words to do it in. Don't worry if it's rubbish. Feel free to be light and fluffy. Feel free to make mistakes. The beauty about blogging is that EVERYTHING can be changed in the blink of an eye. One thing I must emphasise... if you DO NOT HAVE your 800 word biography on your blog by the time of my seminar, please don't come to the seminar.

17. Are you completely daunted by what I've asked you to do? If so, welcome to the World of Work. This list of 17 points is EASILY accomplishable in less than 2 hours. EASILY. And I must assure you that this list is REALLLLLLLLLLLLLY explicit in comparison to some of the crap you'll see out in the real world. In the business I'm in, this is the kind of thing that would be set up before the first tea break of the day. It DOES get easier. But only if you follow instructions.

18. Oh. Another instruction. Print out two posts from your own blog and bring those to the seminar room with you. We're going to work with them on the day. So make sure you've got yours with you. We're going to be playing around with swapping posts with our peers to help each other improve. You'll be denying someone the opportunity to grow if you don't do this.

I know that I'm sounding a little merciless here. And there's a good chance you'll be pre-judging me as a pompous a**hole who thinks too highly of his own little seminar. Truth is, I AM being merciless. Cos there's not a lot of room for incompetence in the stuff I'm talking about above. There's plenty of room for error. Please be aware that error is not a crime. But incompetence is kinda gunna bring the work executioner out. As for my being pompous and all that... ah well... sometimes it's the hazard one faces for putting his or her truth out on the table as strongly as I'm known to do.

I'm very much looking forward to meeting you. And I really want us to get off to a seamless start. In the world of business, there are certain things an employer takes for granted. And there are certain leniencies. The stuff in my list above is EASILY accomplishable by any 13-year-old who has had exposure to computers. I'm not joking. And I'm not being pompous. Use this list as a gauge. If you can do it easily, you're ready for the World of Work, and things are going to go smoothly for you. If you struggle with this list, you're really going to need to upskill urgently. Cos the TYPE of things I'm asking you to do are the things businesses take for granted.

Seeya soon!

Blue skies

PS: Would members of the Blogthinking list receiving this please verify, deny, debate my assertions? That would be great. Also, if I've left anything out, could you set me straight? Thanks!

eBucks -- Portraits of Some Members of the Management Team

eBucks Portraits, originally uploaded by royblumenthal.

In March this year I was privileged to do an afternoon visual facilitation with the management topdogs at, one of South Africa's top loyalty and rewards programmes.

I made portraits of all of the people who delivered mini-papers, and this is the result.

I'm not at liberty to share any of the other pictures, as everything falls under a strict non-disclosure agreement, drafted by Reuben, the tall guy, third from left.

All of the paintings were made live, on my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet pc, running ArtRage 2.5. I then spent some time finessing the pics in ArtRage, then transplanted them to Photoshop CS2 to make this composite portrait. My visual facilitation one-sheet can be found at Call me on +27 74 104 6386 to book my services.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anthony Minghella has died

Anthony Minghella 2, originally uploaded by royblumenthal.

Oh no! Anthony Minghella was a really good guy.

Heard him chat about filmmaking once when he was in South Africa.

I made this pic of the dude on my palmtop computer at the time. April 29, 2005, according to the date stamp.

There are no details known at the moment, but I wish him well wherever he finds himself.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Riaad Moosa

Riaad Moosa, originally uploaded by royblumenthal.

Yup. This dude's one seriously funny bloke. He was the entertainment at the Mugg & Bean National Conference gala dinner at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West. And he was brilliant.

The speech bubble quote is a throwaway punchline for one of his gags where he pokes fun at himself for being a Muslim. (Maybe he's poking fun at non-Muslims who see any Muslim as a threat? But you knew that, right?)

I was realllllly reallllllllllllllllllly reluctant to paint him while he was doing his gig. I felt that I might be taking the spotlight off him.

The laughs were flowing thick and fast, so I tried a few exploratory strokes.

Bear in mind that the screen was off to his right, and was a HUGE screen. A good 5 metres by 4 metres. And the nose alone on this picture was bigger than his entire body on stage.

So when I started drawing, and the laughs didn't dry up, I figured it would be safe to draw him, and that I wouldn't be hurting his set.

Riaad... I sincerely hope that I didn't dilute anything for you on the night.

He asked me from the stage if I could email the pic to him. So I kinda took that as an affirmative.

Book Riaad on or +27 84 575 1538. His website is at:

This funny painting of the funny dude, Riaad Moosa, was made on my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet pc, using ArtRage 2.5. Funnily enough.

Mario -- multi-instrumentalist -- final night 4

Mario was the musician on duty for the final night of the Mugg & Bean conference in Somerset West.

He uses a rich, sweet backing track, which allows him to showcase his virtuosity on flute, clarinet, and saxophone. He's very lovely to listen to. And a passionate musician.

As soon as I can get his email address, I'll pop it on here so you can get hold of him to play at your function.

I've painted the hall a lot smaller than it really was. It was gigantic.

This was painted in ArtRage 2.5 on my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet pc while Mario played.