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Monday, November 30, 2009

Night of 1000 Drawings!

Hi all!

For a smidgen of brief entertainment and knowledge-gaining see the list fo emotions at the bottom of the wikipedia page. I had no idea most of them existed...It makes me saudade...or is that weltschmertz...?

I've been furiously working on my proposal for my PhD over the last month or so, so I've really neglected my blog. I R sorrow...

Moving swiftly along, last week Thursday, I went to the 'Night of 1000 drawings'! It was hosted in the old Park Station extension, which has been untouched since about the 70's. It's a fantastic venue, filled with all manner of beautiful art-deco and later elements! Check out the pics below for an idea of what it looks like...

But first, what is the Night of 1000 Drawings? It's a genius charity event organised each year in Johannesburg where over the entire year, the general public are encouraged to draw/paint/photograph something and submit it. The content can be anything at all and the materials used vary considerably. The only unifying factor appears to be the size of the canvas (obviously not a literal canvas...).

Then, on the night of 1000 drawings, each of the submitted drawings are auctioned off for R100 a pop and the proceeds are donated to a number of charities! Genius! I confess, I didn't buy anything myself as I arrived too late and all the good stuff was taken, but the stuff that I did see was rather impressive! Next year, year...

By the way, the whole point of this story is that it's the first time I've been to one of these and they are AWESOME!!!

Behold, the main exhibit; Thousands of small drawings held in place by clothes pegs for the buying!

The drawings themselves were very variable. There was everything from telephone-side doodles and kids scrawlings to beautiful photography and professional artworks.

I liked this one in particular because I'm very anti-facebook (but somehow still can't bring myself to delete my profile...).

In the remains of the old fountains in the station, they had people doing massages; For when the weight of your taxing picture viewing becomes too much...

I like this one! I have no idea why, but I do...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The problem with the internet is that you can't broadcast smells...

Yesterday was a ridiculous day! It began with the introduction of coconuts to Tas and co. Midway through our munchings, we were interrupted by a student from one of the adjacent labs who had come to announce that the only freezer in our department which can be maintained at -80˚C had been off all weekend because the wall socket it had been plugged into had given up the ghost for no apparent reason. As a result, any material that we had stored in there was more than likely useless as it had probably decayed beyond all recognition.

As one does in our department, we shrugged it off and figured that there would be a few students who would be upset, but the world would continue to turn none-the-less. We were wrong...

As it turned out, the fridge was determined to go out with a bang and that bang was targeted at everyone who worked in our side of the building. The decaying material (which included cat-food - WHY?!) had, as decaying material does, produced the most noxious stench our building has ever smelled. The pong was also really remained out of smell for a good part of the day and then rushed at all of us will full smelly force just after lunch time.

In an effort to overcome the stench, one of the resident academics decided to try and burn some Helichrysum, which she had obtained from a local traditional healers market. The result was a combination of putrification with burning plants and a hint of marijuana (and not in a good way...).

It was around this time that Tas entered my lab and uttered the words, 'What died?!' which pretty much summed things up. We also came to the conclusion that our building has absolutely no fire/smoke alarms at all; a comforting thought...

As much as appreciated the attempt to improve the olfactory conditions of our labs, the smell became too much and we all decided that it was a good idea to go home. So, we all packed ourselves up and began walking out of the building. As we arrived at one of the staircases, we noticed that there was a small cascade of water pouring down the stairs into the passage. As it turned out, one of the pipes had burst on the third floor and the water was using the stairs, as any sensible sentient being would. We gave it some space as the water was slightly yellow and, being that it had come from one of the microbiology labs, you really never know what it could contain...

This morning, when I returned to my lab, the stench still remained and had yet to be exorcised from the building. Some kind soul had replaced the burning plants with incense sticks so instead of the smell of burning grass, we had a building that smelled like an ashram.

And people wonder why I enjoy the work I do...

Monday, November 16, 2009

You've never done WHAT?!

I'm amazed...So many of my friends have never eaten a fresh coconut before! Obviously not the whole thing (I think I'd be hard-pressed to manage downing an entire coconut), but I can confidently say that I quite like eating coconuts fresh out of the shell. And as it turns out, Tas, one of my lab-mates, has never eaten it, nor has Athena!

So, in an effort to broaden their horizons, I brought in a coconut this morning. I mentioned it to my supervisor who was rather excited at the idea and came to observe the coconut cracking ceremony, and get coffee...

Using my trusty hammer that I snuck out of the house and onto campus, we pulverised the coconut and from it emerged it white and tastey goodness! Unfortunately, I had bought a dud one, without any milk, so that part of the experience was missing, but otherwise, it was a rather tastey specimen. As it turns out, Leia and my supervisor are both expert coconut extractors...
Athena was really rather impressed with the fruit. Tas was not. She preferred the dessicated and shredded kind (I call it dessicrated coconut...). Leia and I were discussing how we think we should make it a weekly thing to introduce a new fruit to each other. Next time: STAR FRUIT! (Helen, you might want to stay in the bush for just that little bit longer to avoid the star fruit... :D )

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ode to the weekend and running!

I have managed to get through half of my marking for the weekend already! Yay! So, to celebrate, I'm going to go home and go for a run!

It's amazing to think that I, of all people, could possibly enjoy running that much, that I actually look forward to it! A year ago, I'd never have believed that I might get to this point of actually enjoying my running, and yet, here I am, loving it! It's quite bizarre...

Well, I really don't have anything more to say. It's a Friday. The day is almost nearly over and I feel a rewarding jog is in order. Cheerio! But before I go, the photos from our lab Halloween party:

Okay, this has nothing to do with the party, it's just a really cute forlorn-looking doggy... :)

Tas getting into the Halloween spirit.

One of our obese lab mice oggling us as we prepare food...

Our Halloween spiders! Made from scones, grated cheese, raisins and prezel sticks! Genius!

Making an army of cheese-covered spiders!
P.S. I really need a holiday...I keep dreaming I'm on holiday. It's really annoying!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Well, that was a complete waste of time!

After a good 7 hours, I've finally finished marking the first batch of my medic's practical exams. And I'm not-so-proud to announce that if a third of them pass, it'll be a miracle! It's SO depressing when you mark and realise that all those hours that you spent typing up notes, preparing lectures, giving lectures, preparing practicals and supervising practicals were all for naught. Nothing has sunken in...

It's quite amazing how little understanding of the world they have! For example, my friend Athena, who has not studied biology at all and considers her knowledge of biology limited, appears to have a better grasp of the anatomy of a rat than the average medical student who dissected the wretched creatures for a whole THREE WEEKS!!!

What also leaves me completely speechless is there inability to perform relatively simplistic and straight-forward tasks, like read the instructions on their exam paper. The number of students that completely ignore the instructions and write what they feel the question should be asking is scary to say the least.

Prime example: One of the questions asked them to plot a line graph of a set of mass-specific metabolic rates (basically how much energy used for every gram of body mass in a given time) against their corresponding mass values. What do I get?

A million graphs of mass-specific metabolic rate plotted against species, or mass against species!!! Every possible combination except the one they were ASKED for!!!

(In case you were wondering, I'm a little frustrated and despairing at the moment. I think I'll go home and it'll all be okay in the morning...)