Saturday, December 30, 2006
Hope the final days of 2006 are treating you all splendidly! I certainly can't complain. Well, actually that isn't 100% true but we'll quickly skip along to the point of todays post.
To Friend or not to Friend, that is the question...
If someone likes you, are you under obligation to like them in return? I'm not talking in the teenage girl, 'so do you, like, like him?' kind of way but in terms of friends. I realise that this is a bit of a random topic to blog but you'll see that there was some kind of thought behind it.
It all stems from the situation that I live in. When my family and I moved off to Italy, my grandparents, who owned it, rented out our house to an Italian family that had just moved over to South Africa (I realise the irony in the situation). Now, this family lived in our house for about 5 yrs and then got a house in Edenvale. During their stay, our families became great friends. I became friends with the kids, one is my age and the other, four yrs younger than me.
My problem is that I really like the kids but the parents on the other hand...To make things worse, I really don't like the social circle that they are part of and so I came to this question. They like me and would do anything in the world to help me but I just don't like them. Is it wrong for me to feel this way? Should I simply love them by default? What is your take on the situation?
And after that I figured that I should brighten everyones day with the instructions written on a pair of chopsticks that I got in Italy on how to use chopsticks. I am typing it our word for word, nothing has been altered:
Welcome to Chinese Restaurant. Please try your Nice Chinese Food With Chopsticks the traditional and typical of Chinese glonous history and cultual. BAMBOO CHOPSTICKS PRODUCT OF CHINA
Tuk under tnurnb and held firmly. Learn how to use your chopsticks. Add second chcostick hold it as you hold a pencil. Hold tirst chopstick in original position move the second one up and down Now you can pick up anything:
I have the chopsticks here infront of me so if any of you are doubtful of what I have written above, we can always organise for you to have a privat viewing of the specimen...;P
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Today was crunch day for many a South African high school student as it was the day that the final end of year results for the last year of high school, called Matric, were released. My two sisters were amongst that large and rather unhappy group. They were so stressed out about their results that I doubt they slept very well last night. I certainly didn't, but that was for other reasons.
This morning, they came running into my room to wake me up and tell me that they both got 4 distinctions! They each scored over 80% (or is it over 85%?) for English first language, Italian second language and Art. Then, Gemma and Lucia, for those are their names, got the same marks for Geography and History respectively! The only subjects that they didn't do all that well in were Maths, Science and Biology.
Now, how am I, the elder of the three of us supposed to provide a good example for a pair of superhuman twins?! They do so freaking well at all their work, it's just not fair! I'm so thrilled for them, I really am! They were so nervous about their results and now it is over. They are going off with some of their friends to celebrate in Melville tonight. I have to go fetch them tomorrow around 1am which I'm not too pleased about but I think they deserve it.
On top of it all, they got an article about them printed in the newspaper! All about their results and how tough the year had been on them. It was really odd to open up the newspaper and see my sisters on the page in front of me!
I didn't sleep well beause of the fact that a friend of mine, Xena (not her real name) was coming over today at 10am to make some jingles for her new radio program that she will be doing. It'll be on some online radio and will be a relationship advice show. Her, Duncan and I had come up with the jingles some time ago but now had to actually produce them. Duncan is off at the coast somewhere at the moment on holiday so he couldn't be here.
Anyhoo, the point is that when I know that I have to get up for something specific, as was the case today, I can't get to sleep properly and so I don't sleep very well.
BTW, Helen phoned to congratulate my sisters, which was funny...
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I have been doing a lot of thinking of late about all kinds of things. I usually do most of this thinking while driving people places. My sisters still do not have their driving licences and so I act as the family driver. I've done SO much driving over the last week, it's not even funny! Most of it was for the transporting of people to go and buy presents and things but it's really been tiring. Especially when my sister sends me off to buy some earings for our other sister with this flawless description: 'They look like they could be sweets'
Now, normally, this kind of thing would be enough for me to go by but on this occasion, the store that I was sent to happened to be one of the local accessory shops called 'Claire's'. Now, as I'm sure many a South African girl, and guy, can tell you, almost everything in that store looks like it could be sweets! So invariably, I bought the wrong thing and had to return them for some other ones. To my relief, it turned out that the ones that my sister had intended that I buy were all sold out anyway and so I wasn't completely useless!
But other than this little sidetrack, I've been thinking about my life, my friends and family and just what a jump it's going to be to go from honours into masters. The problem lies in the fact that in honours, we had an office in which we all had our desks and we all worked. Technically we had three offices because we had a very big honours group. But in Masters, we all work on our own and in our own labs and things.
It's going to be really sad not seeing all the other people all the time and not getting to sit and gossip through our lunch break eating spring rolls from the ever-so-slightly-dodgy chinese place. Also, Sarah (abfablife.blogspot.com) won't be around anymore. She is studying international relations and technically shouldn't have been near our building but she moved into our office and we loved having her around to sing things down the corridor and act as the buffer between Rob, one of the other students, and the rest of us. (We love you Rob and we're gonna miss you! Buya!)
Another person who I'll miss is Marlien. She wasn't in our office but she often visited us and she was one of us crazy people that often remained at Wits long after we should have left to work. Her fiance (I really have no clue how it is spelt) was also always around and it was so cool to have them there to go and bug when you were feeling particularly ADHD or when you felt like going to get pizza from Debonairs before they closed at 7:00pm.
There are many more of you who I shan't name simply because it would bore the crap out of my hordes of adoring fans (Thanks guys! I love you too!) but I'll miss you all none the less! That bit about the fans was sarcasm, by the way.
The other thing that I'm thinking about is the direction th-
Damn...I have to go mow the lawn. Sorry. I'll have to continue this rant later.
The photo for today is of the farmer-from-Darling's dog. His name was Andy, the dog, not the farmer, and he had one blue eye and one brown eye. I LOVE him! Again, the dog, not the farmer. The farmer was terribly nice though but I doubt that I'd be able to say the same about him, what with barely knowing the man and all...
Thursday, December 21, 2006
It is raining right now. I think that that is one of those things in the world that is keeping me semisane. In the words of Natalie Portman as Eevee in the brilliant movie 'V for Vendetta', "God is in the rain." I really feel like that sometimes. There is nothing I like more than walking in the rain. And not the kind of walking in the rain that most people do, as in wearing waders and carrying an umbrella around, but instead I prefer to go walking with no protective measures. Naturally you do run the risk of...gasp! getting wet, but I feel that that is part of the experience and that you should just let yourself get wet and enjoy it!
The best thing is to go to sleep or wake up when it's raining. Lying in bed watching the rain running down the plants in the garden and smelling that amazing smell that comes with rain is just so beautiful to me. It is something that I really miss during winter (we are in a summer rainfall region) and when we were zooming around the country.
In Kamieskroon we had one day in particular which was terrible! We had done all that was necessary for that day and we were simply waiting for time to elapse so that we could go and check the traps we had set out. We were all in the car trying to keep our bodies out of the sun. I'm telling you all of this because it has to have been the hottest day of my life!
We were literally paralised in the car! We couldn't do anything at all! We couldn't lift our arms, we couldn't bare to keep our shoes on and eventually we all just fell asleep! We all decided that the temperature must have exceeded 40 degrees celcius that day but I suspect that it may have been closer to 50. We had a day in the Kalahari when the temperature in the shade was 45 and that wasn't nearly as bad as that day.
Overall, Kamieskroon is a very hot place. And there is nothing to do there at all! So pretty much every day we went to the only supermarket in the whole town to buy ourselves drinks. And they were so cheap there! It was great! You could buy yourself a whole litre of fanta for R6, AND get R2 back as a deposit on the bottle if you returned it after you'd finished! So essentially, you were paying R4 for a litre of fanta! To put this into perspective, in Joburg, most of the time you can't get a 340ml can of fanta for less than R4.50.
Well, the rain seems to have let up so I'm going to go and have a swim. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere and are able, you should go and have a swim right now! Even if it is at night! There is nothing more exsilirating than going for a dip at night.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Well gang, I have finally returned from my month of galavanting around the country digging for a German's research. It was really such an experience! We first went off to Darling, a small town half an hour north of Cape Town. It took us 21 hours to get there from Pretoria, a trip which should have taken 14 hours at the most. It took so long because of the fact that the vehicle we were using was completely messed up. There was something wrong with the battery and it was severly overdue for a service; about 6000km overdue.
Darling was really interesting for me because, as someone who has lived their whole life in a city, going to a small town was very strange. Firstly, the small town sense of humour is...odd to say the least. They seem to find small things hysterically funny. Secondly, they are incredibly generous and warm! If someone I had been staying with in Joburg wanted to hug me goodbye after knowing them for a week, I would be mildly freaked out and wonder what is going on inside their heads. But somehow, when the wife of the farmer whose farm we were staying on hugged us all goodbye, it was perfectly fine. Thirdly, small town folk are easily entertained.
A good example is what transpired one evening at the home of an orchid farmer who is a relative of the people who hosted us. This guy and the son of our hosts had organised a kind of welcome braai (barbeque for you who have no clue what I'm on about) for us at the house of the orchid farmer. The evening began fairly normally and we drank quite a lot of wine. We ended up eating very late and soon after feeding, we were joined by some other people from Darling. How they fitted into the general social equation completely eludes me.
Anyway, we all had some more to drink and got to know each other. One was a local resident and the other was a German who had come over here for work or something. The only thing that I really remeber about him was that the German who we were with was really not impressed with him. After some more drinks, our host, the orchid farmer, decided to put some music on. He asked us if we would mind his 1930's jazz and blues. We said we were happy with that and he proceeded to put on the music. The problem was, that it was not 1930's jazz and blues! It was Abba and Westlife and all kinds of horrid sounds! What made things so much worse was the fact that he then insisted on playing along to all of it on his piano! It was aweful!
Helen, Nicole and I were all in fits of giggles! All the others seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it all! They were all dancing, in a sort of dancing-in-someones-livingroom-is-silly-so-I'll-just-kind-of-sway-my-hips-like-a-complete-fruitbasket-instead kind of way. This certainly didn't help to bring the giggles under control. The German guy was particularly keen on the Beach Boys.
Eventually, we went home after signing the orchid guy's visitors book (yes, he has a visitors book...FOR HIS HOUSE!), and I had somehow developed hiccups and was rather tipsy. It was rather embarassing because the guy giving us a lift was convinced that I was going to throw up all over his car but I was fine. And trying to convince someone that you are not going to do the technicolour yawn in his car when you have hiccups isn't easy. Everytime you say something you pack up in fits of giggles because it's so funny that you hiccuped!
The morning after, the farmer's wife (the guy we were staying with, not the orchid guy) came and asked us if the orchid guy had played piano for us. When we responded in the affirmative, she rattled on about how it was so beautiful when he did that and how she loved to visit him just so that he could play for her...Hence the fact that they are all easily amused.
And I think that that is enough of a rant for today. I leave you with a photo of one of the holes that I dug in an attempt to find a molerat tunnel. It was big enough to bury someone in and, as it turned out, was a fruitless venture.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
The problem is that I have been sitting infront of a computer all year and so I have not really used those muscles in my legs for about 8 months! I nearly fell over when I tried to get out of bed on Friday morning! So, I have made a decission to try and get fit this holiday. I've been swimming a lot since the exams ended. I mainly do butterfly because it seems to be the most exhausting, so I figure that is must be doing me the most good...
The photo for today is of Laura looking annoyed at the camera, held by Vanessa, as I dish up our dinner. It was from our first Wits run field trip. It was for a course where we had to make and insect and plant collection. We were the only ones that had made pasta for dinner! All the rest of the normal people had brought things like 2 min noodles or cup-o-soup. We even had salad with kroutons! That's what happens when Laura is in charge of catering. Don't get me wrong, it was great! We arrived at this place, called Ezemvelo, and from the second that we stepped off the bus to when we got back onto it two days later, it poured. I have never been so wet in all my life! It got to the point where as I walked, water would gush out of my shoes, but in the time between lifting my foot and putting it down for the next step they would fill up with water again! It was such fun!
On the last night, we were all so wet and tired of running around looking for flowers that we all climbed onto a single air matress (spelling?) and didn't move all night. There were about 5 or 6 of us all crammed onto a 2.5m x 2.5m matress. It was snug to say the least. On the last day I had to borrow some tracksuit pants from Laura because I didn't have a single dry item of clothing left. For weeks afterward, we made jokes about me getting into Laura's pants. We all thought that they were hysterical but in hindsight, they weren't all that funny.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I just tried to log in and the website kept saying that my computer was blocking the cookies from Blogger. So it suggested that I alter my security settings, which I did. I set them higher and it let me in! How does that make any sense?
Today was really nice because for the first time in a very long time, I spent a good part of my day outside, in the sun, playing with the dogs and swimming. It was really nice and I realised how much I've missed it.
I did go in to Wits today to speak to Neville about some of the stuff I found out at the zoo the other day (When I finally learnt all the chimps ACTUAL names). He came up with a really cool idea for enrichment of the chimp enclosure that would encourage them to use more of the space. I elaborated on it so that it'll become a great way to increase the amount of time that the chimps are occupied and make them use more of their space. In short, they should be happier at the end of it all.
I also gave Neville a thank-you/christmas gift for all the stuff he's helped me with this year and put up with. He was chuffed.
Tomorrow I'm off to go and play paintball for the first time in my life! It's kinda scary considering all the horror stories I've heard about people losing eyes and bruises that remain with you for your life etc...I'm rather psyched on the other hand and I'm sure it will be awesome! Some of the Honours people refuse to come or participate (TAO! - we all want to shoot this one in particular!)
Anyhoo, it's 22:45 and I'm feeling really tired so I'm going off to bed. Yes, I know I'm like an old man but I haven't been sleeping lately and so I'm really tired. Hopefully tonight I can get a good night's sleep!
By the way, the pic today is of a tree from Suikerbosrand that I took a photo of. We named it something but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was called.
Afterthought: I finally have the first Chicane album! It's awesome!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Well guys, as the title suggests, today I was introduced to my new and current favourite-eatery-of-all-time! It is none other than Kuwai (Spelling?). I'm allowed to spell it wrong because I've never been there before.
They make the most amazing food! It was...wow...I had something that had lots of humus on it and pepperdews and stuff which was delicious! And they have the only smoothies on the planet that I have ever actually liked! I had something with lots of mango in it and it was brilliant!
I would like to thank Laura and Sarah for broadening my horizons with todays lunch. I am eternally indebted to you!
And the best part of this amazing place is that the vast majority of their food is vegetarian friendly! There is a lot of vegan stuff too! Thus, it is also automatically healthy! Hooray! Finally, good food, that's healthy!
We all (Laura, Sarah, Helen, EEbEE and I) went to the movies today to see 'An inconvenient truth'. It was rather good except for the fact that the movie was primarily about how the first world was going to be affected by global warming. It appears that the REST OF HUMANKIND that lives elsewhere, will be entirely unaffected by the phenomenon.
I must admit that it makes me glad that I live in Joburg. At nearly 2000m above sea level, we're not likely to get flooded any time soon. Kind of ironic when you think that many of the people of this country can trace their ancestory back to the dutch and Holland is going to be completely wiped out by the warming!
In other news, I went off to the zoo again today and was taken on a tour of the new reptile enclosure (which hasn't opened to the public yet!). It looks amazing! I also got to go into the back of the chimp and orangutan enclosures! The orang is scary! He is massive! His middle finger is as thick as three of mine combined!
Monday, November 13, 2006
OH my golly-gosh people of this small green and blue planet! I have nearly finished my honours degree! I'm not going to get used to this any time soon…It may seem incredibly odd to the rest of you but I am really rather freaked out by this thing of having finished! Helen and Eebee can attest to this as they suffered through the whole of Friday lunch with me going on about how cool it was that we had finished and did they realise that we were nearly done and that this was a major milestone in our lives and that we were finished and... (You get the idea)
Coincidentally, I have never been so tired in all my life! I haven’t had a good nights sleep in I don’t know how long! Speaking of which, I’m also losing track of time…It’s rather surreal to be told about something and think that it happened months ago and then realise that it only happened yesterday.
Oh my gas! I’ve also put on 5kg’s since the beginning of the year! I’m going to have to work it off. I really hate exercising so this is going to be tough…I’m sure many of you can sympathise. Exercising sucks! And I have all these papers that say that research has shown that exercising releases endorphins, which makes you happy. I think they may have conveniently left out the bit where all their study subjects were fed chocolate while running on the treadmill and THAT’s where all the endorphins came from! But seriously, I can’t get excited about jogging or cycling or anything…except perhaps swimming. I enjoy that, but in a more ‘I’m going to pretend to be a piece of driftwood and see where I end up’ kind of way.
I used to do swimming in school. In primary school I loved it and was on the swimming team and everything. I went to swimming training with some woman who used to be a friend of my mom’s from high school. I then arrived at high school, hated the idea of achieving anything in the name of school and stopped. I was forced a few times to swim in the school gala, once as a result of a practical joke on the part of a friend of mine. I was not impressed…
Wow…today I really can’t keep my mind on a single thing! ADD in a bad way…
So, what I’ve been up to lately…Well, on Friday I went with Helen to try and see if I couldn’t do some behaviour sampling for my Masters project. The chimps were not out and so I decided to take the rest of the day off and go home. I did that and swam a bit. That evening I went out for the first time in…I dunno, but the point is it’s been a long time! I went with Duncan and David to ‘Frankie Bananas’ here in Bedfordview. I’ve been there before with some of my colleagues from when I used work at M&A. It was cool then, not too crowded, but this time it was packed and it was full of the typical pretentious Bedfordview rich kids. Not cool. So, instead, we went off to the new club (I say new because it’s new to me) called ‘la Boom’ at Wild waters in Boksburg.
Yes, I ashamedly admit that I occasionally go to the ‘far east’ to party…
It was actually not bad. The crowd was a little I’m-16-but-I’ll-pretend-to-be-23-and-nobody-will-know, but I had fun. I loved their toilet signs. The theme for the place is sort-of South American…or something…and they have these signs outside the toilets that say ‘senoritas’ and ‘senoras’. Now, if my limited Spanish knowledge serves me well, senoritas means young girls and senoras means women. So technically, they have no men’s room! I think that they think that senoras is men, but it should be senores.
Anyhoo, Saturday I got up and went off to the zoo with my sister who came along as my time-keeper. She was a brilliant assistant. Don’t worry Helen, I’ll make the CD for timing…
After returning, we went off to return the DVD my sisters took out from the video store the night before and ended up getting two more DVD’s. My sisters insisted on getting ‘School of Rock’ again. I’ve seen it 4 or 5 times now and it is becoming a little tiring to watch over and over. My sisters think that it is the most amazing movie on the planet and can’t seem to get enough of it. I got something called ‘Bagdad Café’ which is really good! It is amazingly shot and tells a rather simple story in a beautiful way. I recommend it to all!
Then, today I went to church which was really tough as I fought to remain conscious. It wasn’t as long as I was expecting, which was nice, but the worship was horrid! Tone-deaf people should not be appointed to the position of lead singer in the worship team! What were they thinking! After that we all went to tea with my grandmother and then Gemma and I went off to the zoo again. There we discovered that I had been calling all the chimps by the wrong names. It was a little embarrassing.
My sister and I had a bit of a REALLY BLIND moment later. We were supposed to fetch my gran from my aunt’s house at 15:00 and we finished at the zoo at 14:30. So we thought we should simply fetch her straight away. The trip should have taken about 30 min anyway but as it was Sunday, shortly after lunch, everyone was off the roads. So, it took us 10min. And so, despite our attempts to get stopped at every traffic light, we arrived 20 min early. We decided rather than to show up 20 min early, to go and get a cool drink from the petrol station up the road and chill for 15. We did this and went to fetch her.
Hmm…I guess you had to be there.
That’s all for now! I’m off to write my book report for tomorrow! Have a good one people!
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Well guys, I sent off my stuff to Neville last night and he sent me back the stuff from two days ago. I always expect the worst when recieving comments on my work from him and so today when I opened the file I kept chanting 'It's gonna be bad' in my mind. So I opened the file and found a comment at the bottom that basically said that what I had spent all day typing up on Monday was completely off topic and had to be rewritten. This was my introduction and seeing as my discussion section, which I completed yesterday and was rather chuffed about, is based on my intro, that has to be rewritten too. I wanted to cry.
It was bizzare because usually, I would get really annoyed that he had said that but this time, I just wanted to die instead. Don't worry, I'm not suicidal...
So I spent the whole day today rewriting my intro. I finished it about half an hour ago, at around 10:00pm. So, tomorrow I shall go and see Neville, find out which parts of my discussion I can salvage and then rewrite that. Then I shall send it off to him, have it ripped to shreds again, rewrite it and send it off for the last time, print three copies, bind them, create a *.pdf file of the whole thing, hand them all in and go off to Helen's house to go get smashed. Then the only things I'll have left until my honours year is over will be my two outstanding essays (not outstanding as in good), the two exams I have to write consecutively, a book review and a stats project! There is light at the end of the tunnel!
Blogger hates my photos...it won't let me upload again. Boo...
Well, that's all for now! I'll blog again when I'm able. How was everyone's Halloween?
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Now, just to wait for Helen to let me know whether she is proof reading it for me or not and then I can send it off to my supervisor and be free of it! Until tomorrow morning that is...
I'm so excited about the end of this year! I can't wait to go catch mole-rats again! It'll be in the desert! Hooray!
Brain is fried...will write again when I can actually come up with more interesting sentences than 'It'll be in the desert!'...
Happy Halloween all...
(I tried to put in a scary photo of me, from when I had long hair, for Halloween...but alas blogger won't let me, so you'll have to ask me individually to send it to you if you really want to see it...)
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Sorry, those are some lyrics from a song that I heard a VERY long time ago and suddenly popped into my head as I was typing. It was by some random chick called 'Vitamen C' or something...who knows...
I have been reading like a mad thing for the last...3 days and came in to Wits today to fix up all my results so that I can rewrite that section of my report. It's been great fun (Sarcasm...)! This is one of my pretty graphs. Now, if only I could figure out what the hell is going on in it...
So, I arrived at Wits and went to say hi to Helen who has also been furiously working away at her results. EEbEE arrived too and we chatted for a while. We all then went our (I momentarily couldn't spell separate) separate ways and worked for a bit.
After some angst over trying to get the stupid computer to print, I decided that it was lunch time. So I went to tell Helen to stop working and get ready for lunch. I also went to call EEbEE but had to go to the loo first. On my way back from the loo, I went and knocked on the door to EEbEE's room. Just then, I realised that I could hear him talking to Helen in her lab so I walked of to chat to them. Half way there I heard someone walking through EEbEE's room to answer the door. So, being my irrational and silly self, I thought that I couldn't let the person see that it was me who had knocked on their door, and so, scampered down the passage to Helen's lab.
In hindsight, I realise that that was really silly of me and that I probably should have just owned up to my heinous crime of...knocking on the door...
As I spun around the corner into Helen's lab I found out from EEbEE that the person in the other room was Lindo, who had only just gotten to sleep after staying awake all night! I feel terrible...
So we went off to lunch and got Falafels from the 'Anat falafel' in Campus Square. They were AMAZING! I've not had one for so long that I had forgotten just how good they could be...mmmmm...
Three hours later, we returned to Wits to continue our work (it took so long because we ended up on a mission to find me a 'Vanilla Coke' and ended up discussing various foodstuffs available for purchase at the 'Pick-n-Pay' as well as buying various different types of tea). I then did all my graphs and am now on my way home to work on writing up all this nonsense!
Have a smashing weekend world!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
My current predicament is not as serious as the title of this post sounds. I have to produce two essays for my current theory topic and I am TOTALLY disinterested! The one lecturer is an asshole and his contribution to the course just left me feeling really lost and my brain was fried! I'm supposed to write this essay for him but I can't even think of what my topic should be...I mean, I've got a rough topic already but I can't think of what angle I should use...
Well, this week has been horrible. I've had so much work to do. I'm really worried that I'm not going to be able to finish in time for the end of the year! My supervisor came to see me yesterday and did the whole, "Should I be expecting some work from you?" thing.
On the flipside, I'm currently house-sitting for my aunt and uncle which is always fun! They have a heated pool! I have yet to try it out because yesterday, when I got to the house, it was raining and I was so tired that I simply went to bed. I awoke this morning to discover that their gardener had somehow let himself in and was rumageing through the flowerbeds. It was a little awkward because I don't know him from a bar of soap and had to go out to feed the dog. So I introduced myself to him and ended up having quite a conversation about the merits of not drinking and smoking. It was arb...
Anyhoo, I have to go home to get some lunch and start working on THE essay. Have a great weekend internutters!
PS: The photo has nothing to do with anything. I just think Zebra are cute!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Isn't it ADORABLE!!! Sorry, its my paternal instincts coming out here...
Anyhoo, today was rather dull...I went off to church with my family minus mom. She stayed at home to do...something...I don't know what. Church was rather odd. I have really been questioning my belief lately and I'm still not 100% which side of the fence I'm on. I mean, what if this is all that there is? This whole thing is really getting to me mostly because my parents are such religious zealots...okay, maybe not zealots, but they are pretty close! It's just irritating.
The other thing that is bugging me about the situation at the moment is that (Helen, you don't have to read this - we've discussed this before) I have many ideas and beliefs that conflict with those of my family. This would be fine if it weren't for the fact that my family are as openminded as a rock, so any opinion that I voiced would be torn to shreds and I would be left to bleed out.
I believe in evolution, to begin with. I don't see how evolution and God can't coexist. They are completely separate things! To begin with, God is an entity, evolution is a process, just like digestion is a process. You don't have christians running around declairing that digestion is evil just because there is no direct link between what happens in our stomach and God...Second, there is tons of proof for evolution and in contrast, there isn't all that much proof to say that the world was created in literally 7 days.
Another thing that I don't agree with is the whole homosexuality thing. I don't beleive that god could reject people based on a psychological issue they have! There is so much research that has gone into this and has shown that homosexuality is caused by genetic predisposition (to a minor degree) and the results of experiences of the people as they develop. So is God really going to say to someone at the end, 'Sorry but because your father didn't show you the right amount of attention when you were between one and four months old, you can't come in to heaven...'!? It's not even their fault!
Sorry, but this is all because of something that the pastor said today in church. He said that the church should rise up against gay rights and same sex marriges. Not that they are gay-haters, but they just don't think that there is any place for homosexuality in the world.
As we speak (not that we are), my father is on the phone to a friend of ours in England, talking about attrocities in the church...
Sorry Travis and Jeff but this is just how I feel right now. I'm not attacking you, I just feel that christians should be a little more openminded and use that beautiful organ God put into our skulls.
I finished my essay for Ecophysiology that is due for a months time, or something! Hooray! Now I only have to work on the one that's due for next week friday and the other two, my final project writeup and my exams and I'm scotfree!
Well now that my theroputic rant is over, I'm off! Have a smashing rest-of-weekend! Cheerio!
PS: I saw the movie 'Domino' last night...it's VERY violent and weird...
Friday, October 13, 2006
A soothing photo of a South African sunset to calm the nerves...
Well all as some of you may have noticed, I have not updated in something like a million years. This is due to the fact that the more sadistic side in me thought it would be funny to slowly kill me by drowning me in work.
On the upside, I heard from a friend of mine the most hysterical story about how I got my middle name, Mangaliso (All the APES people can cease reading from here down).
Apparently, it all began when my parents came to South Africa on holiday. My mother was alledgedly pregnant with me at the time. For their supposed trip here, they had a tour guide by the name of...wait for it...MANGALISO! Now, he supposedly did such an amazing job of showing them around, that before leaving to return to their home in Italy,my parents swore to name their first son after the brilliant tour guide that made their holiday so special. Upon my parents apparent arrival back in Italy, I popped out and was named accordingly.
The truth of it all is that:
- My parents lived their entire lives here in sunny South Africa. They only went to live in Italy in 1999.
- I was born here at the Johannesburg General Hospital (dodgy, I know!) and never set foot in Italy until I was 13.
- My name comes from the fact that my dad was one of the liberals that had a huge bone to pick with the Apartheid government and so as an act of deffiance, gave his son a (*Gasp*) 'black name'.
My parents never go on holiday anyway so this never could have happened. And, for those who are wondering, Mangaliso means blessing or miracle.
Saturday, October 7, 2006
Yes, I am spending another weekend here at Wits instead of at home because I have too much work to get through. At the moment, I have two essays to do and a portion of my final writeup. The road seems very long...
At the moment here at Wits we are having an exhibit of all things natural and alive. It's called 'Yebo Gogga, Yebo amaBlomo' and happens every year. It's usually really cool and quite fun but unfortunately I can't really go check it out this time due to the above. I usually go help out and spend most of my time there showing school kids around and explaining stuff. I dumped my family there today and they seem to be enjoying it so far...
Anyway, I am off to go and see if Helen and interpret my statistics because I sure as hell have no clue what they mean!
Have a GREAT weekend!
Sunday, October 1, 2006
Holy crap people! Hierdie jaar het vinnig weg gegaan! I really should be heading off to bed but I thought I should just do a quick post...
For you who are not in the AP&ES dept. or don't see me practically every day...or ever for that matter, tomorrow is the day that we have to give our end-of-year presentations on our honours projects. We are, or at least ought to be, shitting bricks at the moment.
I really know that I shouldn't be worried about it as I rather enjoy presentations but somehow always get into that whole oh-crap-I'm-going-to-have-to-stand-up-infront-of-all-those-people groove...It is really silly, I know.
Speaking of which, I love 'Scrubs'! It is brilliant! I watched season one today when I should have been working!
Well enough of that, I'm really off to bed now.
Wish me luck!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I arrived home today rather late from university as I had to prep 7 dung samples in the hopes that they will be dry by Saturday and I'll never have to do any more dung analysis ever again. I was greeted at the door by my sister who had come to let the dog out. I entered the house as Gogga, the dog, pranced around my feet and occasionally crashed into stuff. As I rounded the corner into my room I noticed something odd. There was a large grey plastic packet on my bed.
I approached the packet cautiously, half expecting it to explode, half expecting it to contain loads of sweets with a corny note saying, 'For our sweet son'. It's the kind of thing my parents would do. The sweets...not leaving bombs on my bed for when I get home.
I looked in. It was full of plastic containers. For a second I was perplexed. It then hit me like a nursery school bully...
It was dietary suppliments! My mother has consulted her boss, the dietitian, about the fact that I am stressed at the moment and has organised me millions of pills and brightly coloured capsules to ease the stress of my everyday existence!
Don't get me wrong. I'm not ungrateful, nor am I opposed to taking vitamen and mineral suppliments. But I think that taking a total of up to 38 pills daily (even number sarah!) is a tad excessive! The doctor even gave me a timetable of how and when to take them! It includes a line about the importance of remaining regular, if you know what I mean...
So from now on I have to prep little party-packs of vitamens, zinc and calcium to take with me to Wits to have with my lunch. I practically don't have to eat anymore!
On the flip side, I watched my first-ever episode of 'Scrubs' today. It was REALLY funny! I need the box set...
Another thing that happened today was really awkward. I was in the honours room trying to work and I realised that Laura and Jason (her boyfriend) were making out in the honours room, behind some other peoples desks! It was horrible! I tried really hard to concentrate but I kept on hearing all these wet slurping and poping sounds with random rubbing sounds every now and again! It was so...eeeuuglh! Sarah and Margaret thought that it was all very funny when I told them...
Well, it's late and I have to write a Stats report tomorrow so I'm going to sleep now. It's so cool having a laptop and being able to sit in bed and surf the internut at the same time! Hooray!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Why the hell this still comes as a surprise to me is somewhat baffling but, blogger won't let me upload a photo!
I REALLY don't have time to post today but I thought that I should mention that yesterday, Helen was my knight in shining armour who saved
me from the perils of traffic by sending me directions as I tried to navigate my way from Ravonia to Wits without taking the highway. Spanks Helen!
It appears that the computer somehow sensed my current mood and decided that it probably was a good idea to cooperate (for once) and post my photo!
The point of this is to show just how amazing the sea is. I mean, who can honestly say that this image doesn't appeal to them on some level! I took this photo on my mini-holiday-ete (it was only three days of which I could only speak for one due to a brilliantly timed *and my first ever* case of larangitis).
Monday, September 18, 2006
I have a little bitching to do but I'll get it out of the way so that I can write happy things.
I spent 4 hours in the car today driving around! It has TOTALLY ruined my day! I hate other people on the road! Why can't they all live and work in another country or something! Bloody hell! The worst part was that it took me 2 hours to get my mom to work and then a measly half an hour to get to Wits! And there are so many idiots on the road that seem to think that somehow, by driving right up your arse, they'll get to work 5 min sooner...
It really makes you wonder about natural selection...I mean surely if natural selection actually worked, all the stupid people in the world would not be reproducing. However, by simply walking out of your house, the evidence says otherwise.
I really miss the sea at the moment. I realise how silly that may sound but I haven't had a holiday all year and the ocean has a particular place in my heart. Does anyone out there get me on this? I know Sarah loathes the beach for cullinary reasons (it interferes with sandwiches). I think that the sea is the most awesome place I've ever been to. I have a feeling that a rainforest may compete with the beach on the awesomeness scale but I've never been to one so I can't say for sure. I've heard that rainforests are not all as cool as they seem on TV. They have millions of bugs and parasites and stuff that makes life in them generally unpleasant.
Random, I know, but my laptop fixed itself last night! It was wonderful! It has had this trojan on it for ages that I knew was there but my antivirus software refused to recognise. I tried a million things to remove it but nothing seemed to work. Then, last night for no apparent reason, my laptop just decided to recognise it and do something about it! It was brilliant!
I'm trying to post a video that I took on my last trip to the ocean but it doesn't seem to want to work...Sorry...Blogger hates me...
Thats all for today kiddies! I'm starving and so I'm off to see what has happened to dinner...
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I have just returned from the funny workshop thing that I mentioned in the previous post. It was dumb. I did however get my quote of the day from it. It was said by a rather odd and daft sounding individual whose first name was Petrus and whose surname obviously didn't warrent space in my limited memory. He said:
'The tree are pumping up water, like a water pump'
I hosed myself! The other thing was that I was giggleing to myself, next to one of the only Afrikaans people I know, Marlien. It was really akward, but not that bad because then she told me how she loved ripping him off because of his inability to utilise the English language. That was all during talk number 4.
The first talk seemed to have no particular purpose. Some ex-Witsie stood up and went on about the media and something or other. I was enthralled as I'm sure you can tell from the astounding detail in my description. The most prominent thing that I can remember from her talk was that she said that she probably drank too many ciders while at Wits.
Talk two was from a woman who was very green. She was wearing this lumo-green thing and it made her stick out hectically! It was made so much worse by the fact that she was really loud, verbally. She did this talk thing on her company, Food and Trees for Africa. It all sounds like a really good idea but can potentially lead to massive problems in future if it is not governed properly.
I would like to take this oportunity to make a small shout out to my pal, Pinky!
The third one was by some lady who claimed to have discovered numerous things that are basically common knowledge. These included a particular type of plant, that gorilla's live in the Congo and that they are endangered as well as the fact that botanical gardens are actually Zoos for plants. She also ranted about how her supervisor refused to let her continue her study...It was dumb.
I may have tick-bite fever...
The rest of the talks were really rather inconsequential.
Today in a lecture, our lecturer was trying to explain to us just how it was that birds urine is collected. In case you are wondering why this should be a problem, birds only have one opening on the 'other end'. So, they don't urinate or deficate, they do both at the same time!
Anyhoo, he was explaing to us how this all worked and started off by saying, "You have to take a small tube, cut a hole near the top of it and insert the tube into...wait, let me show you." He then stood up. We all recoiled in horror, expecting him to drop his pants and shove something up his ass. It turned out he wanted to draw a diagram on the white board.
We were relieved...
And thus, concludes my latest post. I hope that it has lived up to your expectations! Have a brilliant day!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I realise that I did promise to post last night and failed to do so. I'm sorry. I was just so incredibly tired and I'd had a bad day of note so I went to bed instead. I will have to create a proper post later today because I have to go off to a workshop on biological control. It looks interesting and I really enjoyed the biocontrol stuff I did last year so I'm sure I'll enjoy this one.
The title refers to the idiot mechanic that alledgedly fixes my car. He was supposed to fix my breaks which were not entirely 100% functional and yesterday I was nearly in an accident as a result of his "fixing" the breaks.
Anyhoo, I'll write again later!
Have a great day!
Saturday, August 19, 2006
How goes the universe? I hope you are all okay. It is terrible when someone you know ends up in a rut. So, what have I been up to?
Well, it is Saturday evening and I'm sitting at home right now. Sad, I know but I did do my bit of socialising today! I went off with Kathleen, Josh and Eebee to lunch at some funny little Chinese place in Cyrildene. We were originally going to go for dinner but somehow, it changed and we went for lunch instead.
We got to this place and had a look at the menu. There was a very small portion of the menu that we all could actually eat, given that I'm a vegetarian, Kath and Josh are both vegans and Eebee is halaal and so basically is a vegetarian whenever we eat out. We had to choose from a selection of tofu and vegetable dishes. Kath and Josh ordered this really cool soupstuff that was kind of like having boiled rocket and strips of tofu. It sounds rather unappetising but it was really nice! Certainly much nicer than what I ordered. I ordered some tofu slices fried in soy sauce and noodles.
The noodles were weird and very fat, not the skinny kind that you expect after having only ever experienced the 2-min kind of noodle. The tofu tasted like smoked nothing and had the texture of a partially scrambled egg...and given that I am not a fan of eggs, this was not cool!
Well after that, I went and had a can of coconut juice to wash it all down. I love coconut juice! It is my favourite! Most people would find it disgusting but I really like the stuff! So, I figured that since I had enjoyed it so much, I should try and broaden my horizons and try someof the other lesser known drinks available from the chinese community.
If you are ever offered one of the following, scream and run!
The one on the left is the safest bet if you ever have to drink something on pain of death. It is guava juice (even though it is suspiciously white in colour...). The middle one is white guard juice which kinda tastes like ice-cream and maple syrup (trust me...not a good thing!). The most sinister of these is the one on the right: 'Grass Jelly Drink'.
On a considerably lighter note, yesterday, I went in to Wits with my cousin, Duncan. We went off to Biosoc, which I havn't done in ages and I had a blast! I doubt that Duncan enjoyed it as much as I did but at least he came. I got to meet a whole bunch of new people, such as Pam, the teacher in training, and Richard, one of the readers of this very blog! If your name isn't Richard, I humbly appologise. My ability to learn and retain peoples names is really shocking. Sorry!
At Biosoc, some poor sod passed out on the grass which was a huge mistake on his part! He was promptly tied to the dustbin with hazard tape,had his shoelaces tied together, had a table cloth drapped over him and had a large sign with an arrow propped against his back. Poor bugger. For a brief period, it seemed he was going to be upchucking all over but luckily, nothing happed.
After the comparatively entertaining Biosoc, Duncan and I headed off to try the other bars on campus. We decided to head off to Baqt (Pronounced 'Bact') in the hopes of finding Laura there. She works there on a Friday as a barmaid. We met up with her and she gave us discounted drinks which was cool! Literally 5 min after we arrived there, it closed so we had to clear off. Laura said that we should all go to another bar called 'The Boz' which was supposed to be really, in her words, 'pumpin'.
So Duncan and I decided to wait a while in the hopes of finding Laura. She never pitched, so we headed off home. Duncan dropped me off at home and we intended to go out again. However, after a bite to eat, I felt so sick that I couldn't go anywhere! All that alcohol had been very happy just sitting in my stomach on it's lonesome. Once food came into the equation, no-one was happy.
So anyhoo, after that graphic description, I shall bid you adeau (or however you spell it!). Cheerio all! I'll be going off to Biosoc again next week, so any readers of this, I expect you to be there too! Unless of course you happen to be on another continent or something...
Thursday, August 17, 2006
I thought I should just write a short entry considering I havn't done anything for absolute AGES! Hope you all are well and that the universe is treating you okay.
I have been working like a mad thing all week! I have done so much since Monday, it is nuts! I have done nearly all of my preparation for the workshop on chimps at the zoo next Saturday and I have prepped dung, TA'ed and discovered the joys of polyurithane and acetone! I have also made an ass of myself twice over the course of a single day!
If I feel particularly inspired, I'll write more tomorrow evening...
Saturday, August 5, 2006
So, since the last episode of my life, I havn't really gotten up to all that much.
Yesterday was the day of a protest march against seal clubbing in Namibia. I was horrified to learn that in Namibia they still club seals for their pelts! There are practically no measures in place to control the seal hunting there and as a result, the government keeps the activity of their seal pelt industry under wraps. Here is some facts about it that were e-mailed to me by my friend Kathleen:
Harvests of 7 to 9 month old baby nursing seal pups (which are protected in South Africa) takes places at Cape Cross Marine reserve and Wolf/Atlas Bay in the De Beers controlled diamond restricted area in Namibia. Seals were banned from islands in South Africa and forced to bred in Namibia on the mainland to make their killing easier. Baby nursing seals are rounded up and herded in-land away from the sea. Held in groups they await their slaughter. Panic is high. Released in small groups with their mothers, these pups try to reach the safety of the sea, as they are forced to run between a guantlett of men with clubs. Most of the time, they are not killed with the first blow to the head, and lie there suffering until clubbed or stabbed in the heart, some time later. Harvest quotas are supposed to be set as high as 30% of the pups born. Cape fur seals, a completely different species to the harp seals, suffer natural mortality in first weeks from birth of 25-32% to this Namibian adds a sealing quota. Namibia has stated that the seal pup production is 73% pre-1993 population. Which means in 13 years there has been no growth and the population is 27% lower than 1993. The harvest for 1993 was set at 30% or 50 850 pups on 164 000. The harvest for 2006, with a population 27% lower, has been increased by 68% to 85 000 on a population of 119 000. Taking into account the natural mortality of 25-32% these pups suffer - the 2006 sealing quota of 85 000 will kill all the pups on the colony from 1st July - a seal pup genocide. Namibia bans seals from most islands larger than 3 ha, and forced these seals to bred on the mainland. Numerous former island seal colonies off Namibia are now extinct. Current sealing practices are not humane or sustainable - simple because if practiced on seals in their natural breeding habitat - islands, from which they are banned will directly lead to extinction of that seal colony. Sealers in Namibia, of which there are only 3 concession holders who employ less than 150 workers, use a common garden pic-axe handle as a club and are migrant, part-time workers who are un-trained. No fisherman are employed in sealing industry and therefore if sealing ends, none with lose their jobs or income. Seals on islands that have not been disturbed, culled or harvested - have shown no growth in the population since population surveys started in 1971. Seals currently only breed on 2% of the over 1000 ha protected for them, they are banned from the rest. Since 1988, seals have suffered 3 mass die-off's from starvation from over-fishing, in 1988, 1994 and 2000. Where one third to one half died of starvation. The population has still not recovered, as is still down 27% on 13 years ago. There is no profitable market for seal skins, which receive US $3 per pelt. 63% of the seal pups weight is discarded as waste. Namibia claims seals are a threat to fisheries, yet all breeding cows have been exempted from killing for 100 years. Sealing disrupts the population male-female ratio - because females are exempt, and mostly only the larger male pups are harvested, creating an unnatural female surviving pup population.
I was really sorry about not being able to attend. I think that it is disgusting that a practice that is so barbaric is still happening just next-door! I really wish I could have been there for it...
On the flip side, I am really glad that I didn't actually end up going because I attended a talk about infering animal behaviour from fossilized termite mounds. I realise just how nerdy I sound, but it was really interesting and it resulted in me meeting up with someone that may be my ticket to a free holiday in December!
About a year ago, I went with Helen to help one of the post-doc students with her field work. Her name was Lydia Du Toit and she was trapping mole-rats. We had such a jol and it I got invaluable experience from the whole thing. Unfortunately, Lydia left to live in Germany soon thereafter. She was a joint student of Wits and Pretoria University.
Ironically enough, yesterdays talk was by a guy from Pretoria Univeristy and he had brought one of his students along as well. It turns out that this student of his was the 'replacement student' for Lydia, and is German! And ironically enough, she is also working on mole-rats. She has absolutely no experience with trapping them and so, was looking for field assistants to go on her trip. So Helen and I volunteered ourselves for it and she said that she'll let us know when she's going to go!
I also went to the zoo yesterday to see one of the zoo vets for Helen. I was basically acting as driver seeing as she wrecked her car. We got to see a baby Margay (type of wild cat) that had been born moments before that! We also were shown the zoo's new frog breeding project! It was amazing!
I then came home and had dinner with some family friends who are out here from the US. They live in Laguna Beach. It was so nice to see them again! You never really notice just how much you miss people until you see them again...
That's all for today yo'al!
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
Apparently, about 5 minutes after we all left Wits, all being Eebee, Helen and I, one of her tires burst and she lost control of the car! The car flew perpendicularly accross the road and crashed into the barrier on the opposite side. In the process, she miraculously didn't hit any other cars but burst both front tires, trashed the radiator and wrecked the front of the bodywork. The chassis is okay but she sounded really shaken. She is fine too. Not a scratch luckily for her.
Apparently the AA took forever to help out and so she only got home around 9:30 pm. We left Wits around 6:30 pm! Poor kid was stuck on the side of the road for almost 3 hours!
And in other news, today it sleeted in Johannesburg! Joburg hasn't had anything close to snow in about 23 years so today was really exciting! I was on my way to the zoo to fetch a document from Althea with Helen, Brian and a guy from the lab that Helen works in called Trevor. Trevor has spent the last 6 or so months on Marion Island, an island off the South African Coast that is bloody cold! It snows there all the time. So, today while it was sleeting and the rest of us were getting all excited, he kept trying to remind us that it wasn't real snow so we shouldn't get all excited. We just ignored him any filled our bodies with bliss in the form of adrenalin.
At the zoo I met a whole lot of new people while waiting for a blizzard to hit. It never did. In fact, it continued to sleet for another hour or so and then stopped. There were a lot of photographers from different newspapers there to take photos of the recent additions thanks to the baby-boom.
After getting the stuff from the zoo I returned to Wits and had to go off to TA this afternoon. It was fun. For a change, the students actually seemed to know what was potting and so didn't need all that much help. We assisted where necessary but it wasn't really a frequent occurance. Once the TA'ing was over, I just headed off to my office to get something warm to drink. It was freezing all day!
After the warm drink I went off to do my dung analysis which was surprisingly short today. Granted, I only had a single sample to examine but still. I then came home, had some dinner, watched another amazing episode of 'Lost' and returned to my room to discover Helen's unfortunate circumstances.
Speaking of which, I am most annoyed at the producers of 'Lost'! Next week's is the final episode of the season and they apparently have yet to begin/finish (depends on who you speak to) the next season! I CAN'T WAIT THAT LONG!!! The last few episodes have been totally AMAZING and I just know that they will end off the season with a cliff-hanger of note!
Well that's all for now. I end this day's blog with a photo I took in Italy of one of my favourite places in the mountains there. It is what I hope Johannesburg will look like by tomorrow morning! *Fingers Crossed*
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
I was just reading some of my previous blog titles and they are all so pesimistic! I thought, seeing as today was a relatively good day I should brighten things up by having some kind of cheery title.
Yesterday I went to the zoo to visit Althea, who is explained below. I went to collect my zoo access card for next year and ended up staying for 3 hours while Althea took myself and Helen around to show us all kinds of stuff. There is a baby boom at the zoo at the moment so we got to see a baby gibbon (ape), black antelope, mona monkey and a heavliy pregnant female chimpanzee! It was so cool! The antelope was being taken for a walk and it was so brave, it walked right up to us! We fed the gibbon mom some banana so we could see the baby. I'm seriously considering looking into getting a job at the zoo. It would be amazing! But it is really long hours hand for 6 days a week!
So today was good for many reasons. Firstly, I got to sleep late-ish. I was supposed to be up at 8:30 but I just couldn't get myself out of bed! I kept falling asleep again. It was rather frustrating but I got up eventually.
I went in to Wits with a few things on my 'To do' list. I had to go to the zoo at some stage to pick up some literature from my zoo-keeper pal/associate, Althea. I'm not sure what I should be terming her. She is a connection that I have at the zoo from third year and she is really cool. She was incharge of the carnivores at the time and our work there was on the cheetah, Cole. She is more of a friend than just some arb person that I know at the zoo. She is in charge of all the primates and reptiles there so I'll be working with her next year.
This is a photo of Cole on top of the mound we created in his cage to try to make it more interesting. If we had taken this photo a few hours later, Cole would have been nowhere near the mound and there would have been a large turd where he should have been. It actually happened...
Anyway, I didn't end up going to see Althea because shehad forgotten to take the paper to work with her so I'll have to go tomorrow some time instead.
The next good thing that happened today was that I got all of my marking done for the second years! They handed in an assignment on Friday but we were not allowed to fetch it until Monday and I didn't manage to do much marking yesterday. So I made it my mission to get through all the crap they handed in to us today. And I DID! Yay!
Then, I got a call from my supervisor, Neville to have a meeting after lunch. I had sent him an e-mail to say that I didn't want to bother him on his first day back after his leave and so I would see him tomorrow but he rather asked me to come to see him today. I spoke to him about all the stuff that I had done while he had been away and how my project is going and he assured me that I was 100% on track and that everything was going swimmingly! I was so chuffed because I had been worried that things were getting a little out of hand.
It rained today! I LOVE the rain! It is one of my favourite weather phenomena! That and snow! I just love the sound of the rain falling on the roof and watching the multitudes of little drops plummet to the earth to splash on the dark earth. That smell is amazing too! Nothing comes close to giving me that experience.
Then, I did my dung analyses and packed up to go home. On my way down to the car with Helen, we ran into one of the masters students from last year, who coincidentally is also named Luke. It was really nice to see him again. He's cool but he is doing his masters by course work and so he is never out and about.
On my drive home it rained again which was amazing!
I got home and had some supper while watching 'The Amazing Race'. It's the family one and my opinion of the show has dropped like a fat person on a diving board. It was my all time favourite reality show but now the family team thing is ruining it! I shant watch any more of this season to preserve my mental image of the best reality show...
Then I discovered that the dogs had taken a dump in the garage which I had to clean up...not cool...
I also discovered that my family just baught a computer today at a whim.It was really random!
That's all for today! Cheerio!
Saturday, July 29, 2006
It has been quite some time since I last updated here. My excuse is that I was rather tired. I have been geting to bed rather late lately because I have been working on my video thing of my coastal holiday. It's rather annoying to get the video going. I have to write a song for it and I have no clue what to do. I mean, I know how to write a song, it's just that I can't seem to come up with anything good. A sort of song-writers block if you will...
So on Thursday morning, I was supposed to go and see Althea, one of the keepers at the zoo about my access card for next year. However, literally at the last minute she canceled on me saying that she had to participate in somekind of assessment thing that was happening at the zoo. I am kind of stressing about it because I'm supposed to pick them up for both Neville and I to have access, and Neville gets back from his leave next week. He asked me to have it done by the time that he returns.
But, fear not! I have organised a meeting on Monday for exactly that. Neville only gets back on Tuesday.
Yesterday at Wits, I downloaded all of the Cell C adverts. You can download them off their website. They are hysterical! My favourite is the very last one that you can download. It is the one with the woman who walks through her house and everything is perfect. Things then go horribly wrong when she knocks her head on an open cupboard door. It is brilliant!
So anyhoo, I watched the movie 'The Constant Gardener' last night. I first saw it on a plane when I was returning to South Africa after my December European holiday. It is a brilliant movie and I recomend it 1000000%! However, I find it very sad because for most, that is all it is! Just a story. They don't realise that, while the subject matter may not be truthful, the basic storyline is happening every day all over the third world. The first world countries screw the third world over in order for them to live the comfortable lives that they lead, while millions die from diseases, starvation and a lack of sanitation!
Another movie along the same lines that I think everyone should watch is 'Hotel Rwanda'. That is a true story. All of what happened in that movie happened to real people! It makes me so mad to think that people around the world have watched that movie and walk out of the cinema thinking, "What a terrible thing to have happened! Those poor people..." and yet there is no actual reaction! No pressure on governments to alleviate poverty. No pressure to stop dictators such as uncle Bob over in Zimbabwe. It makes me sick sometimes...
I really think that a prerequisite for anyone doing politics or international law should be that they are required to do one years community service with a humanitarian aid organisation! That way they will be forced to see, smell, taste the lives that the third world lives every day and see that these people are not just numbers or aids patients or the kids with flies on their faces in the pictures in 'TIME'.
Sorry about my ranting but I just get very upset when I think about the way that the first world fucks the rest of us over...I have been over to Europe and have seen the attitudes and ideas that the people there have and so, to a degree, I'm not just pulling this all out of my arse.
Well, on that cheerful note, I bid you all farewell. Have a good day and I'll write again soon.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
There are different types of people in this world, everyone knows that. We all have our little niche which we occupy and our own quirks. It appears that my role on this planet is to be the one that is perpetually late. Or just never pitch at all...
This morning, I went to brunch with my friend Alice, who's brother passed away last week. My mother has been meaning to get her a card but never got round to it until last night, when I mentioned that I was going to brunch and she decided that she was going to go to buy one on the way home from dropping my sisters off at school. However, something happened to my grandmother and she had to be taken to hospital to have her hand looked at, so the responability of the card fell onto me.
So, on my way to brunch today I went and got the card at a CNA. Naturally, my indecisiveness at card selection lead to my being late for brunch. I arrived at the Mugg & Bean at Killarney (Shout out to all my peeps at Killarney!) and I gave her the card and we all started chatting and stuff. Then, a little later, a friend of Alice's arrived and produced a gift.
It was at this stage with horror that the reality of the situation dawned on me. It was Alice's birthday and I had completely forgotten...
My mental train was late. Severely overdue. In fact, it never pitched at all.
In a lame attempt to save myself I mentioned in passing that I hadn't had time to go buy her a present yet. However, I'm pretty sure she know's that I am a nitwit.
Then, after we had all ordered food and stuff, the Mugg & Bean people took SO long to bring my food that I ended up late for another thing today! I was supposed to be teaching Eebee and Brian how to do dung analysis and arrived 20 min late, and then took another 10 trying to organise all the stuff that I needed to do it all!
The rest of the day went relatively smoothely but the night is still young! I am supposed to go off to the movies tonight with Eebee and Helen to see 'Over the hedge'. Undoubtably I'll be really late for that too!
A photo from my beach holiday:
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Anyway, The last two days were rather dull. I just stayed at home as much as possible and did as little as possible. I don't really remember what I did all day appart from composing some music on my laptop and doing dung analysis at Wits in the evening. I know...it is very sad that I went in to University voluntarily on my weekend but I have a fridge full of baboon crap and I need to get through it all!
Dung analysis isn't quite as painful as you might think...I thought that the stench would be overwhelming and that I would have lost all traces of appetite that I may have had. But it is not so! To be honest, it really is a (excuse the pun) shitty thing to have to do but it's not as bad as you would imagine. Especially if you have music to listen to.
I am tempted to post a photo or two of the dung but shall not for the sake of my somewhat diminutive number of readers. I can't afford to loose any!
Today was much of the same. Visited my grandmother who managed to fall and hurt her knee's literally about 4 times in one week but is okay now. Helped prep lunch. Finished the song I started yesterday. Did more dung stuff at Wits. Returned home...Found the following...
Check out this link...it's just bizzare!
Tomorrow is Eebee's 21st birthday and seeing as how he hates cats and all I sent him the following with a birthday message:
I have a feeling that this hasn't exactly made my number of readers skyrocket...
That's all for now. Will write tomorrow! Cheerio!
Sunday, July 2, 2006
Another late post, another hectic past-few-weeks. So much has happened in my life and I feel really crap about it at the moment. I'll start at the beginning.
After returning from my fieldwork where I attained an impressive half hour of data (This is distinctly unimpressive by the way- I was being sarcastic...), I had one of those get-your-life-in-order fits that happens every now and again. They are generally not too bad but once in a while I do them and end up tidying stuff away, never to be seen by human eyes again. It is the famous incidence of 'putting it somewhere safe'. I'm sure you know what I mean.
This particular fit was luckily not one of those. I went in to Wits and typed up all my data that I have collected for my baboons over the year. To my horror I discovered that I had a grand total of...wait for it...two and a half hours of data!
That is NOTHING! As a scientist you can't even dream of producing a paper with data like that! I have to have 200 hours by the end of the year in order to be able to write it up! So I had a mild panic attack.
Actually, it wasn't mild...
I just remembered that Laura has returned from London. She said it was brilliant.
So in mid-panic, I sent an e-mail to Neville, requesting an emergency meeting. He granted me this meeting and I went off to see him a few days later. It was the only time that he had available on such short notice, so I took it.
At the meeting I explained the situation to him. He was rather surprised that I had as little as I have but then proceeded to tell me not to panic. He then explained that the 200 hours I need to write up is not 200 hours of DATA, it is 200 hours of TIME SPENT IN THE FREAKING RESERVE LOOKING FOR THE BLOODY ANIMALS! Inside I wanted to kill him...
I have been under the impression that it was the latter for a good majority of this year! If I had known the truth, I would not have been as stressed out as I have been for so long! I have been so worried that my project would be a complete flop. Neville does have a tendency to do these kinds of things. For example, in my project proposal, I said that I would try to sample baboon troops from both the northern and southern parts of the reserve to compare their behaviour. Neville said this was okay and let me discuss it in my proposal presentation. After my first fieldwork session, he asked me how the north-south sampling had gone. It had not worked at all! We had seen two troops, both in the north. I told him this. He giggled at me and said, 'I knew it wouldn't work...'
So, after all that, the next phase of my hectic week began. We, my mother and I, had to go and collect my sisters dog from the airport, which my dad had sent down to South Africa from Italy. We got to the airport and as we arrived, the vet arrived as well. Now, before you can take your pets home, they have to be examined by a vet to ensure that they are okay and that they have not picked up some kind of nasty bug along their way across the globe. The vet entered the building, we were still in the car by the way, and exited 5 minutes later. He then got into his car and drove off.
We, and the dog, then waited another 2 hours for the oversized vet to arrive and start to do all the paperwork so that we could take our dog home! Eventually, we got all our stuff in order and were able to leave with our dog who insisted on sitting on my lap as I drove home along the highway.Luckily, my mom was with me to take the dog so I could actually drive properly.
Then, on the Friday morning, my dad arrived from Italy for the funeral. My mom and I went to fetch him from the airport. My sisters were at school for a play practice or something. We ended up waiting forever for him to come out and never really found out why it took so long. Apparently the passport control people are really slow at their jobs.
We later had the funeral which was odd. I always feel that family funerals are odd. Somehow, they seem different to what I always expect. After the funeral, we all came home and just chilled. My dad stayed for the weekend. He left on the Sunday evening.
I then went off to Suikerbosrand to do some more fieldwork, but this time with my field assistant, Jeffrey. He is the son of a family friend who needed to do some job-shadowing in his holidays. He alledgedly aspires to be agame ranger some day and so he came along with me on my fieldwork. I soon discovered that he had no intention of gaining any experience while with me or doing anything at all. He pretty much just sat around and listened to music on his mp3 player. Strangely enough, I am not ever taking him with me again...
From that point on, a lot happened! I rescued my cousins cat from a tree, went to the south coast with David and Alice for 4 days, Alice's bother died, I returned to Wits as the term has started, did lots of reading for my masters project and have started my dung analysis. The latter is not very pleasent and I regret that I was so enthusiastic in collecting dung in the past...
This post is severely overdue! So...I will post it immediately and will try very hard to write again tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I am overdue again but I'm not really worried. Mostly because I have bigger problems at the moment. I have captured all my data today (basically that means that I typed it all up into my computer) and worked out that I have a total of 2.8hrs of observation time for my baboon project. This is very bad. I need, and I'm not kidding, 100 times that many hrs to be able to actually do this project!
Hence the title of today's entry. I have a meeting with my supervisor tomorrow to discuss it. Hopefully he will be able to calm me down a bit and help me figure out a way to get all the hours I need.
Anyway, since the last time that I blogged, I have been hugged by hundreds of people that I don't know from a bar of soap because of my grandfathers death. It has been really odd and even annoying at times. These random people come to me, have no idea who I am, but want to tell me that all is okay and that they care. I don't have a freaking clue who the hell they are and now I'm supposed to just accept their affections...? It's a bit odd if you ask me.
Another thing that has happened is that we, my household, have gained a stalker. Some random guy keeps coming and ringing our bell at our front gate late at night and demands that we let him in! It is crazy! This wacko keeps coming, ringing the bell and then saying 'Open the gate' and after being refused, just walks off into the park! The other night he came and rang our bell at 02:55! He was also wearing a bright orange bomber jacket. We think he is either completely mad or was very high at the time...
I went off on more fieldwork and returned with aproximately half an hour of data and proof that baboons do eat the leaves of aloes. There is apparently some debate about this because aloe leaves are supposed to be really bitter and so it makes no sense as to why they would be eathing them. But, as per usual, I have blown the doors of sciences preconceptions wide open with my brilliant noval thinking!
Otherwise, most things are the same. I am still highly addicted to the TV series 'Lost'. That show is totally rox! Oh, and my sisters dog from Italy is arriving in South Africa today. She has been flown in.
Well, there you have it. An update on my life. Hope it was worth every ounce of voyeuristic effort.
Just kidding. I wouldn't have a blog if I didn't want people to read it.
That's all! Cheers!
PS: As usual, this site hates me and won't let me load any photos. So, you will just have to survive without any of my amazing photography for now...
Monday, June 19, 2006
This post is severely overdue! Just like one of my library books that hopefully, I will remeber to return tomorrow, I have been neglecting this blog...In my defence, it has been a crazy last two weeks!
First thing on the agenda...I had a huge fight with my mom. I shan't discuss the nitty gritty here but it happened. Thus I felt really depressed for approximately a week and didn't update as a result. I also worked furiously on my assignment for my animal behaviour course.
Then, last Monday I recieved my first three day long exam. It was for animal behaviour and it sucked. Not like loosing change from your pocket sucks, more like a-large-chunk-of-ice-is-plummetting-toward-earth-and-will-annihilate-all-humanity-and-any-proof-that-ice-cream-was-invented kind of sucks. It REALLY sucked. I mean REALLY sucked. The question was as follows:
Hmm, well I can't seem to find the paper right now but when I do, I shall unleash the horror of the exam question we recieved on the world. You will just have to take my word for it that it sucked. So, the three day exam works as follows. You recieve a single exam question and you have three days to write an essay on that question. You have to treat it as an exam, so you are not allowed to speak to your lecturer about the question at all but you are permitted to speak to your exam-mates. Technically we are not really supposed to but who's gonna stop us?
I managed to find the question...here goes!
'Environmental changes may create challenges and demands for many animal species. Some animal species respond to such changes by modifying their behaviour, a phenomenon referred to as behavioural flexibility. However, the concept of flexibility is not universally accepted by animal behaviourists, because of:
1) an imprecise definition
2) uncertainty about the mechanisms underpinning the development of flexibility;
3) uncertainty about how flexibility would rise in a population/species.
Do you share these skepticisms?Discuss.'
Now is that not a crappy question? If some ridiculously intelegent individual has read this and offhand can give an answer...you suck and I really don't want to know what the answer should have been!
Anyway, once the exam was over, I left to go with my friend Eebee on his fieldwork. He is working on elephant shrews and a species of mouse. He is mapping their homeranges and comparing it to the personality of the respective individuals.
So what he has to do is trap the animals, take numerous measurements (length, mass, sex...etc) and assign a personality type to them. So I went off and learnt to trap them and do all the other stuff. It was really fun and I learnt a heck of a lot! We also had to alk through the bush spraypainting rocks with numbers that represent the grid in which the traps were placed.
So anyway, we were off to check the traps and had just returned when I got an sms from my mom to say that my grandfather was dying. Eebee very kindly offered to take me home if I wanted to go. So I packed all my stuff and we headed out. It was getting really dark by this stage. We got to the gate of the reserve and discovered that the security guy who was supposed to be there had gone off to bed and so we were stuck inside the reserve. Shortly after our arrival at the gate I got a message from my mom saying that he had died.
The guard arrived eventually and let us out. We drove back to Joburg and after thanking Eebee, I headed inside. It was really surreal, the kind if thing that you see in the movies. I was the prodigal son returning in time for the family death. If you have no clue what I'm on about, don't worry.
Here is a sunset to cheer you up!
I'm actually okay about the whole thing. It has been two months of up and down in the hospital for him and so I think that death was probably the best thing for him. I realise how cold this may sound but it is true. My family on the other hand are not holding up as well as I am. My sisters and mom are okay but my gran is understandably upset and so is my uncle.
Then the next thing that happened was that I got contacted by my supervisor who told me that my masters project is on the go and that I had to go see him about it. Immediately after that I got a call from one of the workers at the zoo that I know to congratulate me on getting the project and that she looked forward to working with me! It was so random!
So I went to see my supervisor today and he told me that the ball was indeed rolling and that I had to get cracking on this project. I'm so EXCITED! It's gonna rox!
I am totally addicted to the TV series 'LOST'! It is so cool! I love it! Currently, the second season is playing here in SA and I've only just recently started watching it. So my friend Helen, who works at a video store, has been giving me the DVD's of the first season. It is so cool...
And so, hopefully, you all now understand the reason why this is so overdue. Hope you can all forgive me. I'm actually going off on more fieldwork tomorrow of my own. So I'll update again at a later stage. Hope all is well in the world!
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Today has been rather interesting. I was awoken by my mother who had come to tell me that my cousin was on the phone and wanted to chat to me. I went off to the phone in my semiconsious state rather begrudingly due to the fact that my bed was really nice and warm, contrary to the rest of the house, and the sun was so freaking bright! He had called at around 11:00. Being my lazy self, I had slept in. This is common practice for me...
So I started chatting to him on the phone and he was talking to me about all this stuff that he had been feeling over the last two years and had never had the courage to talk about. That is, until he went on David's self-actualisation course!
He went on this course this weekend. Duncan and I have been really paranoid about it and have often jested at the parallels between it and a cult. This is from just how insistent David is that we should all do the course and how it 'changes your life forever!'. However, he is unable to tell us how they achieve this...suspicious? I thought that Duncan was a bit of a nutter for going in the first place but anyhoo...
So as Duncan was talking, it began to register that for the first time in years, he sounded happy! I mean really happy! And I don't mean really in the sense of intensity, I mean he was genuinely happy! It was so nice! I have been really worried about him for ages because he always seemed so sad. I hope that the happiness lasts. My mom pointed out that I should first wait a month or so and then see if the happiness has lasted, which is probably rather wise...
After that I spent the rest of the day thinking about the situation.
I went of to Wits and spent the day working on my behaviour assignment, which is reviewing a paper. The author of this paper is an idiot! This is good because it means that spotting the mistakes in the paper is made much easier for the likes of me!
I've just finished doing that now and so I'm off to go visit Eebee. He lives literally 2 min away so I'm off now. Here is the next killer sunset from Suikerbosrand. Enjoy!
Sunday, June 4, 2006
Nothing is really happening in my life at the moment. About the most exciting thing that has happened to me lately is that I went out to Eebee's house on Friday evening with Duncan, Helen, Kathleen and Josh. Obviously Eebee was there too! We had such a ball! We played this kick-ass game called 'Cranium'! I love that game! I want that game! Anyone who has ever played it will agree that it is totally ROX!!!
By the end of the evening, we were all laughed out and probably on a minor endorphin high. I took Kathleen and Josh home and proceeded to take Duncan home. Once I dropped him off, he thanked me for the lift and then thanked me for inviting him, saying that he had had fun. This may seem really trivial but I am thrilled that he enjoyed himself! He often seems really down to me and I wonder wether or not he is having fun, even when we are doing fun stuff together like filming or watching a movie. So, to see him actually enjoying himself was great!
On Friday I also went to see my grandfather who, for the fisrt time since his operation managed to eat an ice-lolly! It was so exciting! His co-ordiantion is very bad and he is still very week but he managed to pull it off! I was so happy and so was my mom!
It was really funny though because he became a kid when the nurse asked him if he wanted an ice-lolly. He just beamed when she produced it and proceeded to suck away with glea! He managed to get himself all wet and sticky in the process but he was in his seventh heaven! It was really cute.
Saturday saw the first major fight within the family since my mom got back. Lucia was being a typical spoiled teen and wanted to stay out at her friends house very late. My mother wanted her home early to study, and rightfully so, seeing as Lucia has an exam on Monday! Lucia threw a mini tantrum which resulted in my mom doing the old 'fine but don't come crying to me when you cock-up' thing. Lucia arrived home early that evening.
This didn't solve the problem though because she proceeded to be a total bitch to everyone and was crabby all evening.
Woman suck sometimes...
Today was much better! Went off to church and then to me grandmama's. From there went off to the hospital to see my grandad. Came home, had lunch, cleaned up and just mucked about all afternoon.
And thus concludes todays entry. Now for some killer words of wisdom, seeing as I haven't written any in ages. Love your neighbour! No matter how badly they hurt you or how much you disagree with what they are doing, always show that you do care about them! Too many people will drop their friends and neighbours at their first transgression. This is not to say that you are not allowed to be angry! On the contrary! Anger is an important natural response, but should not be allowed to overshadow your underlying love for the person...
Friday, June 2, 2006
I have returned to you! I went off on fieldwork on Sunday and got back on Tuesday. I then took Wednesday off to unplug from the world and stayed at home all day! Wait, I'm lying. I didn't stay at home all day as I went off to the airport with my mom to send some documents off to Italy and then went to fetch my sisters from school.
So I didn't unplug completely, so sue me!
The fieldwork was cool. I went off with Brian as per usual and we took Helen along as well which was a change. She wanted to come along because her project is labwork-based and as a result she never gets to go out into the field. So she came along.
We have access to the baboon tracking data via a website set up for us by the Gauteng Dept. of Agriculture, Environment and Conservation. This is a huge help...or at least it would be if we had internet access while we were in the reserve!
This poses us with a problem to which there are two possible solutions. Either, A) we buy a wireless prepaid internet connection to use in the reserve or B) we phone home everytime we need to get the GPS co-ordinates on the baboons. For those who are confused at this stage, the baboons that I am studying are fitted with cell-collars that send off a location marker every time they come within range of a cellphone tower. These location markers are in the form of latitude and longitude which allows us to go directly to where the baboons are via our GPS (Global Postitioning System - its a small hand-held device that tells you exactly where you are, is ridiculously expensive and tons of fun to play around with).
So, I went off before my trip to find out about option A. I went off to the closest Vodacom store to try and find out about 3G and how much it costs. The guy behinf the counter told me it would cost 32. I was rather amazed and thought 'only R32! That is so cheap!'. So I asked him in confirmation about the price and he replied 'No! R3 200!'. That was the last of option A.
So we had to phone my mom every time we needed to get the latest update on the baboons positions. This would have been a brilliant system were it not for the fact that my mother can't even log onto the internet. She is one of the most computer illiterate people I know. To combat this, I wrote out instructions for her on how to do it all. Strangely enough, it worked.
So we drove around according to my mothers co-ordinates for three days looking for baboons. For the first two we saw nothing at all. Then with a sudden stroke of luck we managed to find them on Tuesday morning and a I got a full 60min of sampling! It was amazing!
Anyhoo, on the trip we watched two DVD's, 'Resevoir Dogs' and 'Batman Begins'. The first was really dissapointing. I had heard it was such a good movie and it was pointless! The same goes for 'Trainspotting'. What an arb movie! 'Batman Begins' wasn't too bad. I still think that the best ones were the first two done by Tim Burton.
Since then I have watched 'Donnie Darko' (Absolutely brilliant!), 'Trainspotting', 'The Fog' and 'Se7en' which was freaky but amazing at the same time!
Thats all I have for you at the moment. Adios! Another Rave Pic...