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Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm a dad! World, meet Greg...

So, seeing as I had never attempted this in the past, I decided to give Movember a bash. Had my last shave at the end of October and have successfully grown quite the facial lawn! Behold:

This picture is a little outdated...Greg has grown substantially since this was taken.

However, two rather unpleasant things have come out of this follicle-driven endevour; My sister has fallen in love with my beard. She has decided that I am just not a whole person without it and that I should never get rid of it. Thus, she has named (I kid you not!) my beard: Greg. Her thoughts were that if I gave it a name, I would feel terrible when I eventually got rid of it and thus would be deterred from shaving ever again.

Unfortunately for her, I have no qualms about slaying Greg come December! This is because Greg has become a bit of a nuisance. He has taken on personality traits and behaviour that I find less than desirable. He seems determined to make me very aware of the fact that when I talk, I do actually use my top lip. He keeps bobbing up and down along the edge of my vision as I converse with people and it drives me nuts!

Secondly, and probably the worst of his character flaws, he has become very vexatious (I like that word...) and continuously pokes me! It's so irritating! It's a bit like a combination of having a pot scourer attached to your face and having a spider walking over your lips at the same time. And it's just that much more irritating because you know that the pot scourer is the product of your own body and that you have consciously decided to cultivate the thing!

Having said all this, I am told I look rather dashing with my new lip-lawn and that I should strive to keep it going. Unfortunately for Greg's admirers, I alone control the razor...heh heh heh...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pelted with flowers!

Now, anyone that knows me will tell you, I am by no means a superstitious person. I will happily smash mirrors, hang around black cats (although my cousin's one is genuinely evil) and scoot under open ladders. But for some reason, this year I was overcome with worry regarding a local superstition and it's implications for me.

Okay, so maybe that's a minor exaggeration; I wasn't exactly overcome with worry, but it had occurred to me...

So at our university, there is an urban legend that, come the end of the year and the advent of spring, there is only one sure way to know that you will pass your exams (or the year, if exams are not something you have to do anymore): be hit by a falling Jacaranda flower on campus.

Every spring, the jacarandas of Johannesburg bloom, transforming the landscape from a hollow tan that personifies the dead highveld winters, into a lush forest of deep greens, offset by the lilac-blue explosions that are the jacarandas. Jacarandas produce an exhaustive display of flowers at the start of spring, before they produce any leaves, resulting in huge purple trees scattered across the city, and campus. Johannesburg isn't really known for the jacarandas and dwindles to insignificance when compared to our sister-city, Pretoria (Tourists apparently go there just to see the jacarandas!), but you still feel the transformation in Joburg all the same.

So I was a little concerned when, almost half-way through the university exam month, I had yet to be hit by a flower. Then, yesterday, I was loading stuff into my car, exhausted, mind abuzz with statistics nonsense that I'd been doing all day. I felt a breeze picking up and noticed that my car was awash with little purple flowers, almost adding insult to injury. I looked up at the jacaranda above my car and sighed.

A flower drifted down and bounced playfully off my shoulder and at that moment I knew I was okay. I was going to make it this year.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Look to the sundog!

Yesterday morning, Johannesburg was privy to a spectacular climatological phenomenon! The sundog, or parhelion! It's a corona (ring) that forms around the sun, creating a glowing, rainbow-halo type of effect. The result: A beautiful coloured ring that encircles the sun. The effect is apparently created by the presence of tiny ice crystals floating around in the upper atmosphere in the form of cirrus clouds. By the sounds of things, the light from the sun is bent at a 22 angle, resulting in the light halo. They are apparently best observed  when the sun is low, but we saw it fine with the sun almost directly overhead. There's more info available here on the ever-faithful, source of all true knowledge: wikipedia!

Here are some of the pics that I took yesterday. The dark bits are my building; I really should have been tending to the coffee machine at the time, but these climatological phenomena don't just happen everyday you know...!