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Monday, April 3, 2006


Hello surfers

I have done it again. I have missed that all important daily deadline of updating this blog. To make pennance for this, I will include a really cool photo that I took yesterday.

Well yesterday I went off to the Suikerbosrand nature reserve with my sister, the one that stayed home on Saturday evening, in an attempt to collect more data for my honours research project. We got up (relatively) early and headed out to the reserve after packing lunches and lots of water.

I managed to get to the reserve in only 15 minutes which is really odd because I was not travelling excessively fast, sticking to the speed limit at all times, and yet managed to shave off a good 15-20 minutes of travel time. Could this be the paranormal at work?

Just to clarify, that was sarcasm..

We got to the reserve and I realised that I had left my map of the reserve at home on my desk! I should have taken that as an omen and went home there and then but I didn't. So I went into the visitors centre, which looks like it is stuck in the 70's and smells like a hospital, and baught another map. This would not really bother me except for the fact that each map costs R10! so in total I have spent R20 so far on these stupid maps and have not used them once!

The reserve has only one road that you can drive on anyway but I need the maps incase I find any baboon troops, in which case I mark their approximate location on the map and later return with a GPS to get the exact co-ordinates.

So anyway, we started to drive around the reserve. By this stage it was around 9:00 am, the sun was hot but the wind chilly,so driving around was rather comfortable. This comfort didn't last long at all. Within half an hour, it was getting very hot and the wind was dying down rapidly. Still, we drove on.

We completed the drive circuit of the reserve at 11:30 am at which stage I had managed to sunburn the right side of my body. Here in SA, for those who are confused, we drive on the left side of the road. Thus the driver is on the right. Thus, the right side gets burnt while the left remains a sickening white.

We decided that it was too early to have lunch and so we went for a hike after some snacks. The hike was rather tiring, mostly because it was the most physical exercise that I have done in a long time. However, it was really nice to be out of the car and get to walk through the veld (Local term for grassland). My sister and I also saw a small rock agama, a type of lizard, which seemed to have no fear of us whatsoever. So we got to take some nice photos of it sitting on a rock. It was really nice to be that close to a wild animal and not have it running off in fear. They usually do...

After the hike, we went back to the car to sit and have lunch while we just rested. I am not supposed to collect data during the middle of the day as the baboons would most likely be resting and not do much of anything, really. So to prevent my data from filling up with hundreds of resting observations I just don't sample during the scorching hours of midday. That suits me just fine!

So after catching up on some reading and realising that I had managed to get myself sunburnt all over on the hike, we went off for the afternoon drive through the reserve. I let my sister drive for a bit of the route as she has to still learn how to do it and I figured that there was no other people on the road so it was safe. She didn't crash the car if that's what you were thinking.

About halfway through the circuit I was just so fed up with driving around for hours, seeing nothing and my sunburn that I decided to try and just get out of the reserve as fast as possible and just go home. So I ceased my sisters driving lesson and took over. We drove relatively fast for the rest of the circuit except for the last quater, where we joined a que of 5 cars stuck behind some moron who couldn't seem to drive faster than 20km/h! It was infuriating! And it was made worse by the fact that we finally saw some baboons within a kilometer of the exit. They were traveling over the hill and we were in the valley. There were only 5 of them and so I decided it wasn't worth it and we went home.

Once home I changed and went straight to the pool to have a swim. It was freezing, but pleasant. We are nearing the beginning of winter here in SA and it has been a rather miserable, rainy summer so the pool is not nearly as warm as it should be.

That evening, I just chilled and watched 'Kung-Pow'. I had never seen it and a whole lot of my friends from university think that it is the most hysterical movie. So my friend Helen, who works at a video store got the DVD for me to watch so that I can say that I have seen it.

It's crap...

It has some funny moments, just like most movies but overall, it was appalling.

So that is yesterday done. Today was less exciting. I arrived at Wits at 10:00 am and helped Helen to feed all the lizards that she is working on. We both then had to attend a meeting regarding the theory topic for animal behaviour that we have taken this semester. It seems like it will be a lot of fun! I am really looking forward to it! It is the first theory topic that I am taking this year so I have no idea what to expect. It is going to be with my supervisor, Neville Pillay, which is nice. It at least means that I know the lecturer.

After that I went with Vanessa to get some food from our student centre, called the Matrix. I really have no clue why it is called that but apparently the SRC and the university think it is a good idea to call it that. We got springrolls from the dodgy chinese place. They do make vegetarian ones, which I only found out today! I'm a vegetarian by the way.

On the way back from the shop we ran into a friend of mine that I haven't seen in literally months! It was so nice to see Sarah, thats her name, again! She is here at Wits doing her honours in international relations with the hopes of becoming a war correspondant and hostage negotiator. She is mad...

After that I went off to speak to one of the masters students that is also studying baboons. She gave me some helpful advice on how to improve my odds of actually seeing the stupid animals! On my way out from seeing her I ran into one of the other honours people who asked where I was going. I told him that I was just going up to the office. He then asked me 'Aren't you coming to the seminar?' I had totally forgotten! We have compulsary seminars every Monday at lunchtime. So I stuffed the remainder of my spring roll into my mouth and then hurtled off down the corridor to the seminar.I made it on time.

It was rather interesting. I was on reconstructing climate in Mongolia from pollen trapped in lake sediments. It was held by some American woman who seemed to be very condescending towards one of the local lecturers for some reason. It was rather funny.

After that I did all my e-mail. I then worked on my statistics tutorial and handed that and a friends in. It was a bit of a mad rush because they have to be in by 4:00 pm and it was 3:55 pm. The situation was compounded by the fact that the computer I was on refused to acknowledge the printer, then from another computer that did, the printer ran out of paper. I managed to get it in on time by running across campus like a luney.

I then came and decided that I should update this blog. I'm probably going to go home now, but I'm not sure if I should wait for traffic to dissipate...

Today, one of the guys here in the honours room brought a guitar to play during his free time. It was so annoying! To give you an idea, try to read scientific papers while someone bellows Cat Stevens 'Moon shadow' at the top of their lungs!

Thats all for today. Use your time constructively. You never know when it will run out...


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