The Extravagant Podcast by William Van Zyl. Podbean. 



Hi everyone. Welcome to The Extravagant Podcast Channel of William Van Zyl. The Podcaster and Author is an Educator, Writer, Thinker, Illustrator, Watercolour Artist and Photographer. On this podcast, you will find episodes created from the Five House Publishing website. It includes blog posts in article form from a vast range of genres. You can visit the Five House Publishing website to read the transcripts of the podcasts in blog format.

First the blog posts were written and developed, then the podcasts followed. The blog posts include rich illustrative photos as well as ink-and-watercolour sketches by the author. The sketchbook of the author is very unique. The illustrations are extravagantly layered to add depth to the individual posts. Annotations, sectional views, diagrams and more are included to provide a luxurious experience to the reader and listener. The listener could go to the blog posts and see all the visuals related to the specific podcast while listening to the episode. The detailed and colorful blog posts contribute to the reader’s and listener’s enjoyment. The extensive genres include exciting articles, true stories, cool lessons, in-depth comments, and creative fiction. To find out more about the writer and podcaster, visit his website. Go to His first name is William, and his last name is spelt VAN (second word) ZYL. William Van Zyl. Also, visit to find all the work of the author. Happy listening and happy reading!

IMAGE: Sreenshot of the home page of Five House Publishing:

Go to the blog posts on the Five House Publishing website to read the articles.


PODCASTS -EPISODES ON PODBEAN (widget below):  *Click, hold down, and drag on the narrow vertical bar on the far right hand of the widget below - scroll down to see all the episodes. Or visit Podbean:


Alternatively, listen to the podcast on Spotify (click on the Spotify icon to see all the podcasts listed)


Read and listen to extravagant articles by the author, William Van Zyl. The Podcaster and Author is an Educator, Writer, Thinker, Illustrator, Watercolour Artist and Photographer. The posts include rich illustrative photos as well as ink-and-watercolour sketches by the author. Annotations, sectional views, diagrams and more are included to provide a luxurious experience. Blog:

ENTERING A DARK HUMID CAVE: The Waitomo Caves in New Zealand: The use of technology (e.g. BBC Microbit - pocket computer) in managing sustainability in the caves. Focus: LED lights & sensors. 



On Friday, 5 March 2021, I stepped into the unknown. It was dark, humid, and very black. Yellow cat-eyes stared at me from the ground. It was evenly spaced and extended way ahead of me. Where could it lead? It took some time for my sensitive eyes to adapt to the lack of light.


The tiny yellow eerie-lights led the way – into the unknown.


The handrails were dead-cold and wet. My cold, wet hands slipped away from the cold stainless steel. It must have cost a small fortune to install all these stainless steel handrails, I thought. I know all types of metal. This was definitely stainless steel. Tiny grooves have been added in an attempt to reduce the slippery surface of the rail in the always wet conditions.

The guide stopped and waited till the group all gathered around him. His headlight was pointing up. It looked like a halo. I looked up. Pointy stalactites hanged dangerously low from the roof of the cave.

“Don’t touch the limestone. The natural chemicals on your hands will affect it,“ said the guide.  I instinctively pulled my hand back. “There is a $ 10,000 fine in place to protect all the precious stalactites and stalagmites,” said the guide with a friendly smile.

The guide’s light, some 15 meters ahead of me, skimmed over some more interesting formations. It looked like wax, white candle wax. There was a unique curtain formation – a beautiful limestone drape. 


The headlight of the guide went down, right down. It seemed like the earth was opening its mouth. Cracks and crevasses extended into the abyss. Then I noticed the walkway was suspended several meters above the large rocks. I felt unsafe. I stopped and placed my hands on the handrail; I then knelt down and touched the walkway's different parts and components. The structure was a combination of different materials. Stainless steel rods – diameter of about 20 mm – was anchored into the rocks and was connected to the walkway bridge. It looked like spider web chords holding the ‘fairy-bridge’ in position. The floor was a strong galvanised metal grid with a recyclable rough layer of plastic on top of it. It was very rough. The footing was very well designed to prevent any slipping while walking on the walkway bridges. The wet conditions in the caves required secure footings. Safety in a cave is paramount. The sides of the bridges and walkways were covered with galvanised steel mesh with a diameter of about 6 mm to 8 mm. The construction was solid and rustproof.

“An amount of 30 million dollars was spent to make these caves accessible to all people. That includes toddlers and babies in strollers and challenged people in wheelchairs,” added the guide. ‘Wow, that explained the choice of materials and the well-thought-through engineering in the caves,’ a random thought crossed my mind. Outstanding design and engineering! Very sustainable. The robust, solid and rustproof walkways are indeed very sustainable. The materials would probably last for hundreds of years with minimum maintenance required. The Waitomo Caves in New Zealand have received particular attention from sustainable engineers and designers...

Writing Skills – Wood and Stone: How Prophecy Changes Everything.

 A Comparative study between the work of Herman Melville (Moby Dick) and Shakespeare (Macbeth). 

Read the full article:


A great example of non-fiction storytelling is the book: Hiroshima - by John Hersey.


Hiroshima is a 1946 book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Hersey. It tells the stories of six survivors of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It is regarded as one of the earliest examples of the New Journalism, in which the storytelling techniques of fiction are adapted to non-fiction reporting.


Here is a short excerpt of the book Hiroshima. I have added – just for fun – a prophecy at the beginning (in brackets, the first three sentences).  The rest of the excerpt is the excellent non-fiction work of John Hersey – outstanding non-fiction writing:


[Little Boy had a tumour in its belly. The tumour had a self-fulfilling prophecy written in damaged DNA code. What would Little Boy’s message be?]

‘At exactly fifteen minutes past eight in the morning, on August 6th, 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department at the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in the plant office and was turning her head to speak to the girl at the next desk. At that same moment, Dr. Masakazu Fujii was settling down cross-legged to read the Osaka Asahi on the porch of his private hospital, overhanging one of the seven deltaic rivers which divide Hiroshima; Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, a tailor's widow, stood by the window of her kitchen watching a neighbor tearing down his house because it lay in the path of an air-raid-defense fire lane; Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German priest of the Society of Jesus, reclined in his underwear on a cot on the top floor of his order's three-story mission house, reading a Jesuit magazine, Stimmen der Zeit; Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, a young member of the surgical staff of the city's large, modern Red Cross Hospital, walked along one of the hospital corridors with a blood specimen for a Wassennann test in his hand; and the Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tammoto, pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church, paused at the door of a rich man's house in Koi, the city's western suburb, and prepared to unload a handcart full of things he had evacuated from town in fear of the massive B-29 raid which everyone expected Hiroshima to suffer. A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. They still wonder why they lived when so many others died. Each of them counts many small items of chance or volition—a step taken in time, a decision to go indoors, catching one street-car instead of the next that spared him. And now each knows that in the act of survival, he lived a dozen lives and saw more death than he ever thought he would see. At the time, none of them knew anything.’


 The reader could be waiting to see what Little Boy’s message was. The name of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was called ‘Little Boy.’ The long-term effects – which could be revealed at certain stages in the story - are:

  • An increased incidence in cancer development (with a strong correlation between the dose of radiation and frequency of cancer)
  • Reduced T-cell counts and altered immune functions, leading to higher rates of infection
  • A wide variety of organ-specific health effects (e.g. liver cirrhosis, cataract induction, etc.)...

Visit Five House Publishing - Blog - to read more.


By William Van Zyl

 Thinking of the sustainability of a cave is not something that comes to mind naturally. It requires prompts: What choice of materials is best for constructing the walkways? What type of lighting is best? Could the electrical system of the cave be powered via solar power? To what extent could sensors, computer programmes, and digital systems be implemented to maximise the caves' sustainability? These are the questions we address in this article. The focus is on the BBC's micro-computer, namely the MICRO:BIT. A short lesson is included at the end of the article.

 Do you think digital technology, like sensors and micro-computers, could help protect limestone caves' sensitive ecosystems? If your answer is yes, this article will support your conviction. However, if you don’t have knowledge of modern technology and the many possibilities, this article is also for you. It is written in straightforward terms so anyone interested will understand the ideas, concepts and designs. If you are a student or a teacher, this article includes an excellent opportunity for learning new things. Teachers could use this resource to produce a unique lesson on digital technology and sustainability! A is lesson is included at the end of the article.


 Materials and components: 

Considering the construction materials for the walkways: 

‘Do your bit’ challenge (Micro:bit – microprocessor/pocket computer). 

This article builds on the first article by the author. Here is the link to the previous article by the Author: 

Entering a Dark, Humid Cave – lit up by cat-eyed, yellow fiery flies – could turn your thinking upside down - 

Life on Land: Sustainable Development Goals 15 (United Nations). 

Learning Intention: 

Here is a diagram of the Micro:bit with annotations: 

The mBot Buggy from Makeblock. 

GIS and Karstic Cave Monitoring. 

Ever wondered what the average temperatures in caves are?. 

Engineer Hamish Trolove from Wellington, New Zealand (ABOUT HAMISH). 

How does the ultrasonic range finder of the mBot works?

Let’s test its sensitivity. 

How could the other sensors of the mBot be utilised in the caves to improve sustainability?

What about the sensors of the Micro:bit? Could the Micro:bit be used to sense changes in a cave?

LESSON PLAN: Application of a microprocessor (Micro:bit) to maintain the eco-equilibrium in a limestone cave-system. Focus on sensors. 

The challenge to students: The application of the sensors in the caves. 

Learning intentions:  

Tardigrades and Radiotrophic Fungi – death-defiers and demon-destroyers.

By William Van Zyl

July 2032

“As all the countries of the world are aware, an asteroid had been detected on radar for some time now. Black rock and ice are hurtling toward earth. We have an emergency!” said the radio host in a nervous tone.

“Would anyone survive the looming destruction?”

Then, there is a sense of optimism in her voice “Yes, something will survive!” said the radio host.

“It is the Tardigrades!” said the astronaut with confidence.

“But what is a Tardigrade? How can it survive an asteroid decimating earth?”

The voice continued, “There is also the threat of a looming nuclear war. In the case of the aftermath of a nuclear war, we also have a solution to clean up the mess as well.

“We have to release Radiotrophic Fungi.”

“I think we have to explain to the listeners what a Tardigrade – or Waterbear – and Radiotropic Fungi are.”

“You’re right. What on earth are Tardigrades and Radiotrophic Fungi? And how can it save us?”

Just after the advertisement, the talk show host informs the listeners: “We are interviewing an astronaut from Canada, John Templeton, on the survival on earth in extreme conditions and disastrous events.

The astronaut then comments with confidence, “Radiotrophic Fungi are fungi that can use radiation as an energy source to stimulate growth. Radiotrophic fungi can be found in extreme environments due to their ability to survive and grow in the presence of radiation. They have been found in the aftermath of a nuclear accident and in outer space. Lately, it had been found at Chernobyl, in the USSR. Years after the nuclear power plant disaster, the fungi were found on the deserted nuclear reactors. There is evidence that the fungi are eating up the radioactive material. Isn’t that amazing?”

“That is an amazing solution!”

“Tardigrades are microscopic eight-legged animals that have been to outer space and would likely survive the apocalypse. They can survive frozen for about 30 years (about -220 degrees Celsius). They can also survive boiling conditions (about 148.9 degrees Celsius). They can also withstand massive amounts of pressure. For example, about 6 x the pressure of the deepest part of the ocean. From a biomimetic perspective (ask nature how), this could just be the solution to survive pending dangers to our world as we know it. Biomimetics is the study of the natural biological world to inform us of possible design solutions to solve our problems on earth — asteroids decimating the earth is one such problem. Nuclear wars are another. Water bears can survive in extreme heat and freezing conditions. Tardigrades look like adorable miniature bears. Around 1,300 species of tardigrades are found worldwide,” said the astronaut.

“So, how can we use this knowledge to survive?” asked the host.

“Under stressed conditions such as extreme dryness or temperature, the waterbear practices several forms of cryptobiosis, a state in which metabolic activity is slowed or halted. The most studied of these is anhydrobiosis. The waterbear enters anhydrobiosis by contracting its body into something called a tun, whereby it loses more than 95% of its free and stored water; essentially, it dehydrates itself. In this state, the waterbear – or Tardigrade – creates different proteins and sugars that help protect its cells. Once these cell protectants are synthesized, the waterbear reduces, and at times suspends, its metabolism. When conditions improve within the environment, the waterbear activates its metabolism once again, aided by hydration from water intake,” said the astronaut.

“We have to use this design model to protect humans against extreme conditions. Right?”

“Yes, you are right. We could investigate how we could dehydrate humans and stimulate cryptobiosis.”

“For nuclear disasters and wars, we could also invest in researching and experimenting with Radiotropic Fungi – like the fungi found at Chernobyl nuclear reactor. It would be a very effective way to clean up the radioactive mess.”

“You imply that we should grow and keep large amounts of the fungi just in case of a nuclear war in labs, and clean up the mess afterwards?”

“You are absolutely right.”

“What great design ideas to attempt to solve future problems for humans!” said the radio host......

Read the full article: in a new tab)


LIFE’S UNEXPECTED PRESSURES: When an aquifer’s pressure in your life becomes unbearable – excruciatingly painful – the way you process the pressure in the aquifer is vital. Framing it positively will produce an Artesian Well that will spring up and create wealth and abundance!

Read the full article here:

‘Artesian Well Theory.’

The pressure in your aquifer could destroy you, or it could catapult you into a path of growth and development. If you process the situation right, you will ultimately experience victory. It will require resilience and a paradigm shift which will result in an artesian well.

A True Story: Abandoned Baby Graduates from College Where She Was Found.

The title summarises the story… Baby Jane Doe (Jillian) was abandoned and left in a cardboard box.

Here is a staccato version of the story:

A rustling noise drew Patrick’s attention to a cardboard box in the laundry room. And curiosity quickly turned to horrified surprise as a peek into the box revealed an infant!

Baby Jane Doe was born on October 11, 1983, suffering from spina bifida, hydrocephaly, and microcephaly.

Adopted, cared and loved by her new parents, Jillian struggled with learning difficulties.

Against the odds, she returned to the same University and graduated. The San Francisco State University, US.

After graduating in her early thirties – returning to the same University, she was abandoned again – Jillian faced rejection from her birth mother for the second time.

Jillian was focused on graduating and decided to hold off on responding to her birth mother.

The turn in the story: Jillian found out that some Facebook messages can actually be hidden from view. She started digging around under her own profile to see if there were any messages she’d missed. And that’s when she uncovered a message from her biological mother. It had been hidden in this Facebook “no man’s land,” unseen for nearly two years.

It read:

“I have something to tell you. I’m very proud of you. And thank you for being you.”

A wonderful ending to the story followed.

Read the full version of inspiring true story here:

More on the case of Baby Jane Doe (Health and the Law):

Adversity an opportunity for growth.

People who see adversity as an opportunity for change, a chance to make changes and adjustments, or an opportunity to be honest, to be frank, and to be transparent will acknowledge their weaknesses and limitations. They are the ones who will be able to overcome Life’s pressures and develop a growth mindset. On the other hand, many people who experience adversity – who frames it negatively and see it as uncontrollable – allows the pressures to stack up against them; they simply give up. They just collapse under the pressure. Some never bounce back. They fail. They get stuck in a no go, and no grow zone.

However, to grow and thrive, we have to positively frame adverse situations, no matter how painful they may be.

Have you been through such a situation?

It could have been a relationship that was destroyed or ended abruptly without any reason; a business that failed; the loss of a job or position; an incurable disease knocked unexpectedly on your door; you have lost your home; you lost a limb; you lost your eyesight; lost your hearing; you were diagnosed with an incurable disease or anything else which altered your Life forever. It could all have been due to you making a poor decision like a lapse of concentration; a fatal mistake under pressure; a financial error; you fell victim to a scam; you were rejected by the people you love or any other shocking event in your Life. Don’t despair. The way you process the situation, or the event, will determine your comeback or success! Be encouraged; choose to be positive! Have faith.

Have you experienced ‘personal pressure’? I am referring to the pressure of your’ aquifer.’ I will be using the analogy of an artesian well to explain the framing process and how it will make you or break you...

How can a quartz crystal ‘pace’ a clock? On the other hand, how can a belief ‘pace’ a human being?

The vibration of a quartz crystal: 2 to the power of 15 = 15 32,768. Isn’t that just stunning? I mean in one second you have to count from 1 to 32,768 – it is humanly impossible. It is this vibration that has me in awe in this article. Wait for it. That same 32,768-quartz-crystal makes a clock tick at one beat per second! But how?

 It all started when my wife asked me to replace the batteries of two of the quartz clocks in our home. You will see them. They run on penlight batteries (AA). One of the clocks casings are translucent; the mechanisms are visible through the light-grey case. It is very inexpensive and costs about $5 to $12 (US). Why all the fuss about such a cheap product? That is precisely the point—the miracle in the $8 mechanism. I have searched how a quartz clock works; you don’t have to. It is then that I discovered the super brilliant video of Steve Mould on quartz clocks. Make sure you view it! 


The Encoded Pen (Novella) - by William & Malinda Van Zyl


The engine of the Japanese fighter plane screams as it dives almost vertical out of the clear blue sky. The giant frigate battleship enlarges at an alarming rate from inside the cockpit. The unfriendly surface of the ocean races towards the pilot. Death-defying. The sun flashes off the wings of the plane as if giving a final signal. Desperately, the plane wants to transmit a warning in staccato-Morse Code. Then, the engine sputters and spews a desperate smoke signal. 'S-O-S.' 

The engine is screaming,

'Imminent danger, imminent danger!'

As the plane plunges into the ocean, the red sun rising on the fuselage disappears eerily into the foaming sea. 



After this catastrophic event, the voice of the pilot goes silent. Decades later, a mysterious artefact is discovered. Once discovered, the artefact leads to the most striking revelations and finds. What could the artefact be? What is the secret story behind the mystery? All the past events are unwittingly uncovered. Mystery upon mystery is unlocked. What could the hidden codes mean? What are the secrets behind the written code and the map? (Christian Theme) 

Listen to the podcast - an exerpt from Chapter 4 - below.


Comments by others:

‘The Encoded Pen is a story that demonstrates that love, hope, and faith is stronger than death. The legacy of love, which Haruto leaves behind, speaks across generations. The mysterious and secret codes - woven throughout this novel - makes this book a riveting and intriguing read.’

Chris Hill – Editor

 ‘An interesting and imaginative story. Well detailed.’

John Carstensen (Author)

Download at: