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Sunday, July 2, 2006

Well this is crap...

Hi guys

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.

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