Friday, April 28, 2006

Just a quickie!

Hi all!

I know that the last post that I did was supposed to be my last post before running off to do fieldwork but I have managed to cram in this little bit before I leave. Literally. I leave in half an hour.

I have just returned from the zoo where I went with Helen to go visit our keeper friend, Althea. She has been moved over from being in charge of the carnivores to the primates and reptiles. She took us around to go and see the cheetah that we had worked on and to see the new female specticalled bear that they have brought in from Switzerland. What a cute animal! Apparently she hasn't really settled in all that well so she was being very antisocial but she is so cute!

Anyway, she told us all about how they have all this research planned for on the chimps but they have nobody to do it. So...I want to speak to Neville and see if I couldn't maybe do one of them during the third block here at Wits because I have no theory topics during that time and I am not down to TA for anything. It would be really cool to do two papers in one year!

Anyway, I have to run off to see if I can't get some references of the internet to read and work on this weekend for my Animal behaviour essay. Cheerio folk! I'll see you all on the other side...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hmm...Who would have thought?

Cacophobia- The Fear of ugliness

There is a little useless information to get this post going. I was just browsing and found that so I figured that the general public aught to know about it. Information is the key to success after all...

I think I used to suffer from mottephobia. It is apparently the fear of moths. They used to really freak me out. Especially when they flew near my head! But strangely enough, not any more.

So today was not really worth writing about. I just got up, was in a bad mood all day and did a lot of shopping. I'm off to do fieldwork tomorrow so I had to go off and get myself food and stuff. I'll be back on Monday evening, so unfortunately for those that hang on my every word (because I just know that there are thousands of you out there that do!) I'll not be able to update until Monday evening. I even doubt that I will update then. I'll probably be way too tired for that.

I took my sisters shopping for a birthday present for a friend of theirs today. While we were at the music store I found the soundtrack to the movie 'Whalerider'. I really wanted to buy it but it was going for R280! So, I will just have to sit back and wish that I had it until I become fabulously rich and decide to squander my wealth on CD's.

I'm feeling rather uninspired for todays post so I think I shall sign off here. Here is a photo for y'all:

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Another day...

Hi all

Yet another day has come and gone. It has been an overall rather depressing day. I started from 08:00 this morning. Actually, to be fair, I didn't start at 08:00. I started at 08:15 because I managed to get myself all stuck intraffic and stuff so I was late. I was TA'ing from 08:00 so I thought that I would be in the poo when I got there but to my relief, the lecturer was late too. And thus started my day. I TA'ed for 4 hours solid (08:00 - 10:00, 2nd years, 10:00 - 12:00, 1st years) which was so tiring that by the end of it I couldn't actually make my mouth produce real words. Only the kind like 'pell' instead of 'pen'.

By this stage I decided that I didn't have any obligation to remain after the 1st years lab to make sure that they were all okay and ran off to get myself some food. I got a spinach and feta pie from the Wits theatre. These pies are amazing! So tasty and vegetarian!

So after grazing I went and checked all my e-mail and did some e-mailing. My friend Joe, who is a Bristolian, is currently in South America e-mailed me. He is part of this really cool program with the University of Bristol where, if you are studying a language, you get to go to a country where that language is spoken to learn it. I'm so jelous that they don't do that here. I'd study spanish and get myself to South America! I've always wanted to go there. Maybe next year...?

Anyway, the point of this story is that Joe e-mailed me back in one day. He usually takes at least a week to reply to e-mails. This, coupled with the content of the e-mail, worry me. He sounds like he is very down and misses his family. Apparently, his Spanish courses have yet to start (that's what he's there for), he has no job, he isn't getting any sleep due to the aviary that his hosts have and he's in the middle of the Peruvian desert so there isn't much to do anyway.

I hope he is okay...

After doing the e-mail, I went back to TA the first years again. They had a ton of work to get through today so they were told that if they want to come back during the lunch break they could and that we would be around to help them. Hense the fact that I returned to the grind...

Once they had all left, I helped my friend Helen to feed her lizards. Vanessa helped us too. It was really random because the head of school, Kevin, randomly showed up, watched us feed the lizards and then buggered off. Didn't chat to us or anything! He is a botanist though...

After that job was over, we just chilled in the honours room for a bit and then got prepped for our stats lecture. Stats depresses me. I just don't get it at all. It is so incredibly stupid! I say this because of the fact that if you are not getting the result that you had hoped for from your data, there are a million ways to change it to get the desired result! In which case, what the hell is the point?!

Before I could go to stats, I had a meeting with Laura about the 'Mr. & Mrs. Wits contest' that was happeing this evening. I was told that they might need my help with the running of the evening and I initially said that it shouldn't be a problem. Laura said that someone would call me is they needed me. But nobody did. Also, the more I thought about it the more I realised, my grandfather is in hospital and my sisters and I are basically running the house at the moment so I can't afford to waste time at some Wits party when my help is required elsewhere. So, anyway, I went off to the meeting with Laura to explain all this to her, but she never pitched. So I just went off to stats.

Stats was horrible, as usual. Eebee, Helen and I brightened it up a bit by playing a similar game to the one from 'Who's line is it anyway' where they are given random objects and have to guess the uses. We used the cardboard wrapping around a Dentene pack (Chewing gum). It was rather funny. Our uses ranged from paper plane through binoculars to a bizarrely shaped yarmulke. After stats I went to help Helen to clean out the iguana's enclosure. The iguana is called Dr. Melville and was adopted by one of the lecturers and his lab after it was found abandoned in, surprise-surprise, MELVILLE! She is really cute and loves to be scratched on the neck, or on her dewlap under her chin. Problem is, she doesn't take kindly to being handled, so moving her is a problem. But somehow we managed.

From Wits I then went straight off to the hospital to go and see my grandfather. It was a rather strange experience...I hadn't really been affected emotionally by it all until I saw him in that bed, surrounded by all the tubes and wires and machines. It was disturbing. It was also really scary because he is partially sedated. He can hear things and can move a little but he can't talk. Neither is he really consious. Today when I went and took his hand and spoke to him, he got this pained look on his face and started to move around as if he were writhing in pain. It was horrible to watch. I left soon thereafter, unable to stay and watch.

I then came home, had some dinner and watched a documentry about cannibalism. It was really interesting...

And thus concludes my day. I read Tom's blog today and was particularly moved by how he wrote about his gay friend. I feel the same way that Tom does. I think that parents should accept their kin for who they are, and not treat them any different to how they would anyone else! Someone once told me, 'You don't choose family' and I think that is very true. You get your family and you grow to love them regardless of all of their apparent flaws...

Anyways, that's my deep thought for the day. Now for a photo... My puppy, Asia.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Todays happenings...

Hi all

So today I got up, took my sisters to school, took my grandmother to the Milpark hospital, where my grandfather has had his operation, and came to Wits. At the enterance to the Wits gate, there were a whole bunch of very cold-looking people holding pieces of cardboard that said things like 'Free Lab Animals' and 'Animal testing is evil'. Being a zoologist I frequently do animal tests, but not the drip-acid-into-the-eyes-of-bunnies-to-see-what-happens kind. We do experiments more along the lines of see-if-placing-a-ball-into-the-bear-enclosure-at-the-zoo-helps-to-relieve-stress-of-the-bear.

Thus I was very tempted to drive past shouting 'I do experiments on animals and I love every second!' at them just to really piss them off :)

So I came in and milled around for the first part of the day. I tried to organise so that everyone knew that the lecture for animal behaviour would be held at the zoo. I then went off to the zoo and to my relief, everyone knew to come. I have a nagging feeling that I did considerably more yesterday morning but cannot for the life of me remember what it was that I did...

At the zoo we had our lecture under the bandstand in the middle of the zoo. It was really cool. That is until a large herd of children arrived and decided that the best option that they had as far as entertainment goes was to stomp accross the bandstand. The floor was made of wood and thus they derived great pleasure from generating so much noise that you couldn't here yourself think! So we moved to outside the zoo's resaurant. This resulted in my face being sunburned only on the one side. It was apparently so bad that you could see a perfect line down the middle of my face separating the charred from the not so charred...What made the situation much worse was the fact that I had to go and TA for 3 hours that afternoon, directly after returning from the zoo!

Both Helen and Vanessa had gotten unilaterally burned too and so the three of us laughed a lot during that TA session.

Upon arrival at home I discovered that my sisters were home alone because my uncle and my grandmother had gone off to the hospital. It turns out that the situation with my grandfather is very serious! Apparently when they opened him up to operate, he was already bleeding internally because the anurism had burst. In order to close it up they first had to see the full extent of the damage, and discovered that the vessel had ripped all the way from the stomach through to the kidneys! Hectic! So they tried to do their best in closing him up but he lost a lot of blood in the process.

Then, the second part of the whole situation is that he has high blood pressure. So post-operation his blood pressure was very low. Now because he usually has high blood pressure, his kidneys don't function on low blood pressure. Thus arrises a dilemma: Raise the blood pressure and risk haemorrhaging the now closed up anurism, or keep the blood pressure low enough to keep the vessel close but risk kidney failure.

My grandmother and uncle arrived home to tell us all this. It was terrible. My grandmother is so upset and worried! I saw my uncle cry for the first time which was an akward experience and deeply moving at the same time.

I must admit that I am shocked at the nonchalance that I am displaying toward the whole thing! I should be worried and upset but I'm not. Maybe I'm one of those people that keeps it all inside and then at inopportune moments has an emotional breakdown...this should be fun!

So, today I came in to Wits rather late and just got stuck into the admin. I worryingly didn't get all that far in terms of how much I achieved today. I got all my marking done for the 1st years. Man, some of them are stuupid! It is actually rather entertaining to read some of their answers.

The marking started at around 11:00 am and continued interspaced with random half-hour toilet breaks or I'll-just-die-if-I-don't-get-a-pie breaks until about 15:00. I then had a pre-lab tutorial with one of the lecturers about stuff for a prac that I am TA'ing tomorrow.

I have such a hectic scedule tomorrow! I TA from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm and then may be required to TA for an hour at 13:00! I then have stats at 15:00...which totally ruins Wednesdays...

Anyway, I'm off home to the wailing and gnashing of teeth. I'll let you all know what's happening tomorrow.

Like I've said before, appreciate things while they are still there. You don't know when they will be taken away...

Adios (Translated means 'to God', as in, I place you into the hands of God)

Sorry blogger...

Hi guys...

I rather sheepishly appologise for the ranting that I did yesterday. For some reason, my computer didn't want to admit to having loaded up my blog...sorry for the strong language...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

CRAP! It did it AGAIN!!!

This bastard blogger thing just trashed another blog! This is getting to be really annoying!

Well, it's been crappy weather all day, havn't done much and my grandfather has gone off to hospital to have an operation on an anurism on his stomach.

And now I don't really feel like elaborating on any of this...



Sunday...cold, wet and miserable

Hi all

Today was Sunday. It was cold, wet and miserable. This photo is of somewhere far away that I miss. The end.

Just kidding! I mean, it was cold wet and miserable but that isn't all that I'll write for the moment! Today I got up early and went with my sisters off to church, personally I wanted to just sleep in. It was so nice and warm in bed today! I had managed to get my duvet to just the right temerature and was all snug and wrapped up when my sister came in to yell at me because I had ignored my alarm.

After some breakfast and a discussion induced by my grandfather about how the world isn't safe and how everything is hopeless, I went off to church. After the sermon, we came out and the weather had changed from a mild, relatively sunny morning to a cold, cloudy, crabby noon. As I got out into the open I looked up at the darkening sky, felt an icey spattering of drizzle hit my cheek and thought to myself, 'Bugger...'

After that we went to my grandmother for tea. That was nice, as always. After the tea, we headed home for lunch and to help out with it because today is the day that my grumpy grandfather goes off to hospital to have surgery on an anurism he has on his stomach. My grandmother, not the tea one, is so worried.

So after lunch I went back to doing nothing and my grandfather prepped his stuff for the hospital. We then all said goodbye to him and he went off with my gran and uncle to the hospital. I spent the afternoon doing readings for Wits and just mucking about. It was a very 'bleugh' day...

So concludes my story for the moment. The photo is of the Outeniqua Pass near George. I've cycled down it and I love the area. I really miss it. I was last there in 2004. Now it's the end.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What's the point...?

DAMMIT!!! I HATE technology! I had typed out an entire post and then somehow, my computer wiped that whole thing off!!!

Well, it was about how I'm feeling like my wheels are spinning but I'm not getting anywhere at all...Feeling very despondent and depressed because I'm back home after house sitting. My family depresses me.

Anyway, cleaned the house and went throught to Wits. TA'ed at Wits for approximately 5 1/2 hours. Proceeded to the BioSoc pub and had a drink with friends. Left early to go return my uncle and aunts keys as well as get paid. They are so lucky! They got to go to a hotel in northern Zimbabwe, a kilometer from Victoria Falls! They went on a private helicopter ride over the falls as well as going on an elephant-back safari/game ride thing! I'm so jelous!!!

They brought me back some baboon curios, seeing as my research is on baboons. I left after handing over the keys and getting the money (and baboons). I headed home but got persuaded by a friend to go with to my cousins house to play computer games.

I got home at around 11 pm, had a large fight with my family (mostly my fault-I'll explain it to you if you really want to know) and went to bed.

Saturday was just relaxing time. I slept late which is a miracle in my household! Did a little marking for my students, watched the movie 'Bounce' and listened to music. I gave a much more detailed account of things the last time I typed this all up but, alas it is lost...

Anyway, keep your head above water. No matter what ones problem is, one must always remember that with enough determination, you can get through anything!


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Stupid me...

I was really dumb with that last update. I completely forgot to write about the title. The guy I wrote about yesterday has decided to link me to his blog! Hooray! So now I have a internut buddy!

Wow...that sounds so much cornier when I actually read it...but I'll leave it in anyhoo!

I also forgot to end off with a word or two of wisdom! I'm just not doing well today!

Savour the little things. At the end of the day it is usually the smallest dicovery that ment the most...

Cheerio all!

An internut buddy!

Greetings all!

I have had a strangely benign day. I just asked Laura how to spell benign and she thought that I said 'How do you spell banana?'. She then proceeded to spell banana to me really slowly. It was really funny!

Anyway, I got up and fed the various pets of my cousins, had some breakfast and went in to Wits. I got onto the highway and immediately regretted it! the highway was so congested that I immediately decided to get off again. I then ended up driving through some areas that I didn't even know existed! Eventually I got to Wits and went straight off to TA.

TA'ing for this course is really annoying because Vanessa and I are the only ones of all the TA's that actually do anything at all! The others just sit around and talk about movies or whatever happens to be occupying the large space between their ears! That was rather mean...they are all really nice guys in their own right but in this instance I am rather ticked off with them.

After that I had to hurtle off to a meeting with Neville. I was only 4 min late this time! I'm getting good at this! Anyway, it turns out that I only had two goals to complete this last week! I was sure that I had set more than that but I wasn't going to complain. And besides, I failed to complete either of them so I wasn't going to harp on that point.

Here is a really nice picture to soothe any tired eyes...

Immediately after that I had to rush up to the Honours room to grab all my stuff to go off to my Animal Behaviour lecture with none other than Neville! It was one of the most hysterical sessions we have had so far! Neville was constantly ripping the annoying chick (Natasha) off! It was so funny!

After that I came back to do all my e-mailing and update this here blog. I'm off to my cousins house tonight. I should probably leave now...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I guess you can't really have your cake and eat it...or at least, not all of it.

Hello to those foolish few that continue to read my somewhat unreliable blog. I can't actually remember when my last update was. I blame that entirely on my hopeless memory and the really stressful and crappy time I've been having so far. You know whwn you reach that point when life is just not really fun anymore? Sure it has its occasional percs but they are few and far between. That point when the highlight of your day was eating something and realising that it doesn't taste as crap as you remember it to...

I have been sleeping really badly since that field trip with the second years and so I am REALLY tired at the moment! I had to be in at Wits today at 8:00 am which was a mission in itself and then had to TA for some lecture material that I have never done in my life! I actually had to ask one of my students what was going on because I had absolutely no clue! As the day progressed, it went from bad to worse. I, as it turns out, had completely forgotten Helen's birthday on Sunday! I apparently sms'ed her at 02:00 an the morning to wish her a happy easter and forgot it was her birthday! Then, when she sent me a message later that day saying that she had recieved a coffee maker for her desk at Wits, I didn't put two and two together and think, 'Well, she recieved a coffee machine for her birthday...that must mean it is her birthday'. Sometimes I worry about myself...

Well, as those of you who are faithful readers will remember, I was in a smash-and-grab on Friday evening. I haven't really been all that affected by it which I find rather odd. I'm generally one of those people who tends to be embarrassingly over sensative and end up upset about stupid little things. Thus, the fact that I have yet to have an emotional breakdown about the whole thing amazes me somewhat...On the other hand, I was held up outside a friends house by three guys with guns in search of wallets and cell phones about four years ago. I have yet to shed a tear over that incident, so I guess that means that I probably won't be all that phased by this relatively minor event.

Anyway, the reason that I bring this up is that I had a meeting with my supivisor today, Neville. I made yesterday worse by completely forgetting to attend a meeting that I requested with Neville yesterday morning! I was SO embarrassed! He mentioned it at the beginning of the Animal Behaviour lecture yesterday and I felt terrible throughout the entire lecture! So I went to see him today to explain about how everything was just not working for me at the moment and that I was REALLY, REALLY sorry! He was just amazed that I was in such a sane state considering the Friday thing...He even gave me a bit of slack about reading one of the textbooks for my project! This book is apparently so boring that even he, the great Neville Pillay, refuses to read it!

And in other news, I was shown the blog of a friend of mine today. His name is Tom. I don't get to see him very often but after reading his blog, I really wish that I did! He is so funny! He is generally very shy around me and so seldom makes jokes. What a pity. He is really funny in all his writing and I just wish that he would show his clever wit more openly...

Anyway, I'm currently house-sitting for my uncle and aunt. I really love to do it because I get to live on my own. The sense of independence is something that I think is unmatched by anything I've experienced so far! I love it! Anyway, I mentioned this because I have to go off and feed all the animals. So I'm signing off and heading 'home'. Cheerio all!

Remember to live one day at a time. Tomorrow will have it's own problems so don't worry about the future, because it'll happen anyway, no matter how much planning you do...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What an awesome day!

Hey all!

It's Thursday and I'll be writing about Monday. I really suck at this whole keep-your-blog-up-to-date thing.

So, Monday. Well it started off relatively well. I got to Wits at 10:00 am and immediately started to do the readings for the animal behaviour lecture that I had at 11:00 am. I somehow managed to get through them all! It was rather miraculous! I am an incredibly slow reader, so for me to manage to get all my reading done on time is somewhat of an unusual event.

I then went off to the lecture which was really fun. One of the class members had baked us there really nice cup-cake things. They were very pink but tasted of cinnamen. The lecture was on play. It is very strange because, we all know exactly what play is and we can clearly say when an animal is playing but it is impossible to define.

Once the lecture was over, I headed down to the Matrix to grab some grub. I then went off to go and TA for the same course that I did the field trip for over the weekend. This was now at about 14:15. I got to the lab a little late and dove straight in. The class was split into two and the one half was identifying the plants that they had collected in the field while the other half was doing the same but with insects. I was helping the half with the bugs, thank God!

It's not that I don't like doing plants, it's just that I am particularly adept at identifying them...

After an hour of that I had to leave to go off to the dentist!!! Eeek! I had a dental appointment for 16:00 and it would take me half an hour to get there if I drove like a maniac. So I left the place at 15:00 thinking it would take me 15 min to pack all my stuff up in the honours room and another 15 to drive from my house to the dentist. So I packed myself up and headed down to the car. Once I arrived at the car, I realised that I had just been a complete moron. I had managed to take everything down with me, including one of the keys that was needed to get into one of the cabinets back at the practical I had just left. So I had to run up the hill to return the key, run back down to the car and get going.

Seeing as I had used up my 15 min from home to the dentist running up and down the hill, I figured that I would just head directly there. I somehow managed to not get stuck in any traffic and got to the dentisit on time!

He then did my filling which was a horrid experience because as he was drilling I could smell the burnt tooth. Really not fun!

After that I just headed home and chilled. Thus concluded Monday.

Well, I have decided that seeing as my week was rather uneventful, and I am so far behind on my updates that I'll just jump to Thursday.

Thursday was awesome! I went in to Wits at around 10 as I was TA'ing then. I ended up spending the whole TA session just helping to sort out labels for the students insects that they caught over the weekend. It wasn't all that exciting. It was really bad though because the lecturer who I was doing this with is one of the Phd students from last year, so she isn't really all that old or anything. I am actually quite friendly with her. The bad part is that the whole time while we were working on the bugs, she kept farting!

So, once my duties were over, I helped her to carry some stuff back to her office, not outwardly but very inwardly reluctantly, and made a hasty retreat to a meeting with my supervisor. I was late for the meeting which isn't very good because if you remember a few days back I was late for a lecture with the same guy because of taking a snake to the hospital. So after a few snide comments about how he would use me to run errands for him, seeing as I was so good at helping people carry stuff, I went off to the honours room to do my reading before my lecture.

I had to do the reading as I was going to give a short talk on what the paper was about. I also had to go and get food for all those attending the lecture. We have a rule that for this subject, Animal Behaviour, whoever is doing the talk at the beginning, must provide snacks for the lecture. So I ran off to the Matrix to grab some food and hurtled back to the office to snatch my papers from the desk and bound off to the lecture. By this stage I still had not finished reading my papers! I arrived and within a few minutes everyone was there.

I proceeded to bullshit my way through the meeting which seemed to work! I was so chuffed that nobody picked up on the fact that I had no clue what I was on about! The rest of the lecture went swimmingly!

After that, which ended at around 16:00, I came and started to write this entry. After I had finished writing about Monday, I was interrupted by a friend who arrived and wanted me to copy a folder from his computer onto my own over the network. So, I did this. It turned out to be a game that we could play together over the net! It was so cool! We were eventually joined by another friend, and we played on for a good hour and a half! It was so cool!

I've written that last bit twice now...

Once that was over, I returned home and just chilled.

Then on Friday, I had my friend David over. We were trying to get our laptops to connect directly through a single network cable, but alas, it failed...So, we went out to go and get some DVD's from the Video Store. We got 'Crash' and 'Nightwatch'. Incidentally, 'Crash' was okay and 'Nightwatch' was just odd. It was a Russian horror film that had really bad story telling, bad acting and yet wasn't all that bad. It had such potential but never quite got there.

Anyway, that evening Dave and I went through to Wits to go and get a book that I had forgotten on my desk but I need to read. On our way, we were stopped at a traffic light, and some guy came up to the passengers side to beg. Dave and I indicated that we had nothing to give him. Just then the man smashed my window and reached in for David's cellphone! David had had his phone between his legs and instinctively closed his legs around it. The guy then said, 'Give me that phone!' and Dave then realising the danger relinquished his cellphone. The guy then ran off into the night with the phone, leaving us, stunned.

I immediately asked Dave if he was okay. He was. I then realised that the traffic light had turned green and pulled off. As we drove, sections of the now splintered window dropped off into the car one by one. Once we arrived at Wits, I ran in to get the book while Dave tried to clean out some of the glass. Inside I ran into Helen, who was working on a public holiday! I told her about what had just happened and she then promptly decided that she was going to leave with us. We both left at the same time from Wits and I caught the highway prizes for guessing why. It was around 19:00 when I got home and so I didn't want to drive all the way back to the area where the smash and grab had just occured to find a police station and report the crime. Here in SA, you have to report the crime to the police station of that area in order to get a case number.

Then today I had a huge fight with my family because I slept in and didn't go off to the police station to report the incident when they wanted me to. David was only able to come with to the police at 11:00 anyway so I couldn't have gone when they wanted me to. Furthermore, my sisters needed to be taken off to their extra science lessons and I was still in bed at the time. However, my uncle was on the internet reading the news, despite the fact that he had just watched it on the TV. Why he couldn't just take them instead is beyond me. So I had to get out of bed and drive them to their class. It didn't get my day off to a good start...

The rest of the day was rather inconsequential. I reported the crime, went home, had lunch and did some computer admin (cleaning out etc...).

And thus concludes this entry. I hope that you enjoyed the exciting life that I live. I'll write again soon...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The 2nd year field trip

Hey all

This is about what I did from Friday to sunday simply because I was nowhere near any computers and thus couldn't update at all.

I have realised that this blog is probably really boring for most of you that read it. It's like an itinerary more than anything else. But unfortunately for you lot, I can't really bring myself to write it all in any other way. Bear with me...

So, Friday. I went in to Wits and started my day with a bit of admin. I was busy trying to organise my life and do all the reading that was required for my Animal Behaviour lecture at 11:00 am, when on of the masters students came bursting into the honours room and said, 'Are you really busy?' I wasn't REALLY busy, so naturally replied in the negative. He then said, 'Well I have an African Rock Python that needs to be taken over to the animal unit at the Jo'burg General Hospital. Would you please come along to help me carry it and hold it while I drive?'

Now, I realise that I had a leture that started at 11:00. He came to me at around 10:15 by the way. This gave me an odd half hour window in which to try and do all of my readings and get to the lecture. But on te other hand, how often does one get the opportunity to handle a python and watch a vet performing surgery on it?!

So I figured, screw it, and went anyway. It was really cool! We collected the python from the animal rooms here on campus and placed it into a container that we then put in the back of the vehicle and drove off to the hospital.

The story of this python is rather sad. Apparently, someone found it while out doing field work. It had just been run over by a car and it seems as though the car had driven irectly over the poor creatures head! The lower jaw of the snake had been split open and the jaw itself was broken. It had a few large lesions on the top of its head as well as some over the immediate length of its neck. It isso terrible to think that someone would do such a thing. Granted, it is possible that they had no intention of driving over the animals head, but I still feel terrible fo the python, considering what it has been through.

So anyway, we got to the hospital and persuaded the security guards that we really did have a large angry snake in the car and needed to get it to the vet as soon as possible. They were strangely co-operative. So we get into the animal unit and we found the vet. She took us to the operating theatre and we started. She first got us to take the very angry snake out of the container and place it on the table, restraining it all the while. She then anesthetised the snake with gas (I don't know what kind it was).

You have no idea just how strong those snakes are until you are handling one! We always see people handling them, like Steve Irwin (A TOTAL moron!), and it always looks a lot easier on TV. Then when you have all your weight on the animal and are pulling the thing back while it still slithers away from underneath you, you realise that they are unbelievably strong!

Anyway, the vet bean to clean up the wound once the snake was out cold. She removed all the necrotic tissue from around the injury and flushed it out with dissinfectant. Most dissinfectants kill reptiles as they are very sensitive to them, but this particular one is apparently okay for them.The snake then took forever to regain consciousness but when it did, boy did it regain consciousness in a BIG way! It was thrashing around and hissing (strangly quieter than one would expect). We immediately popped it straight into its container, thanked the vet and headed back to campus.

It was only once I was back in the car that I realised the time! It was 11:30! The whole affair had taken a good hour! And I still had the 15 min drive back to campus!

So I was 45 min late for my lecture, which naturally meant that I was singled out by the lecturer. His first question to me was, 'What did you think of the paper that I gave you to read?' So I put my foot in it and was brutally honest. 'I thought it was kinda stupid.'

So after a few akward moments with the lecturer, the overall lecture improved. After that I had to go grab some lunch from the shop downstairs and head off to TA for a lab. I then hurried up to the next floor to go TA. It was the 1st years. I really like to TA them. They don't have the ego of the higher years and are very receptive to what you ar eteaching them. Also, comming straight from high school, they are not used to the informality that we use when it comes to addressing students in lab based practicals. So they maintain a level of formality which is nice because they don't question you to your face.

After the lab, which ended early, I had to go up to the honours room to collect all my bags and things that I had packed for the 2nd year field trip. I was going, surprise surprise, as a TA. I had to ride on the bus with the students as all the vehicles that I would have wanted to ride in had already left. There are certain members of staff in our school that you would really not want to be seated in a car for 3 hours with!

The trip there was boring and akward. None of the students would talk to us because they are all too scared. Once we arrived, I got all my stuff and headed off to the staff camp site to go and set up my tent. I then headed back to the main site to go and see if they needed any help with the preparation of dinner. They being the staff that were there to cater for us.

After some dinner and some booze, we all went off to bed. It was around 00:30 amI was so tired that I fell asleep almost instantly! I rarely have the luxury of insta-sleep.

I didn't sleep very well dispite the insta-sleep. I was sleping directly on the floor of my tent as I didn't pack a matrice of any kind. This usually wouldn't be that much of a problem but, I had set up my tent on a large area of sand. The problem here lies in the fact that sand molds to the shape of your body. This is fine until you move. Then, the shape doesn't quite fit as well as it did before.

In the morning I was up at 6:00 am, got cleaned up and went off to breakfast. I am a bit of a strange individual because I don't eat cereal with milk at all. I find the idea of drinking the secretions of another animals lactation organs strangly unappealing...So I ended up having an apple and two rusks for breakfast, which for me is not that much.

By 8:00 am we were off to take the 2nd years to do their data collection. They had to sample insects in 5 different habitat types in a reserve by catching them in nets or by shaking foliage to get the insects to fall out. It was a little tedious due to the fact that I TA'ed the course last year so it was all the same thing over again. What makes it a little worse is that we had to do that with three groups of students, which had formed from the one big main group. So we had to do this three times over the whole weekend.

So at lunchtime we headed back to camp to eat and have a bit of a rest. The other two groups had gone off to work on other aspects of biodiversity; birds and plants. They didn't do any catching of the birds but rather just observed them. After the lunch we headed out with our next group of students. This was a fun group because we ended the day at a site at the top of a hill, from which we all had sundowners and watched the sun set. It was really pretty. That's what the photo at the top of this entry is of. It was cooler in real life...

That evening, after more food and booze, we went off for a night drive to try to see if we could find some nightjars (type of bird). It was rather unsuccessful and forced us to take note of the unsettling fact that the sky was becoming increasingly dark and a storm was looming over the horizon.

That evening it rained. My tent leaked the last time that I used it and so I was really nervous about it happening again, seeing as a soaked sleeping bag is not particularly pleasent experience. So once I heard that the storm was underway, I woke up and could not go back to sleep for fear of having to swim out of my tent.

Miraculously, the tent held its ground!

So, up at 06:00 am again, with even less sleep than the night before, I was buggered! I was so tired but had to go off to TA. In order to leave early on the Sunday, we decided that we would leave early with the last group of students and we left at 07:00 am. We returned after the first habitat to have some breakfast.

Once the last habitat was done, we returned to camp. I immediately packed myself up and climbed into the car of one of the other staff members who then drove me home. It was wonderful to be going home. I didn't sleep at all in the car because I didn't want to seem rude (Climb into their car, pass out and then get dropped off at home- it would work better had we been close friends or something).

Once home I just had a shower, ate something and went off to do some reading that I had to have done for a lecture the next day.

I slept really well that evening...

Well that is all that I have for the moment. I'll update on the next three days tomorrow and by the end of the week, I'll be upto date!

So, remember to always be patient. An argument with a friend is usually not worth the breath expended.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Wow...hectic two days!

Hey all!

The last two days have been chaos! So that's why I've not updated in a while. As you can see I have no pictures to go with todays post. I'm sorry. I had to leave my laptop at home because I'm leaving straight from the university to go on a field trip with the second years as a tutour. So, I'm using on of the computers in the computer room to update today.

So, Wednesday was lots of fun. I had a relatively mild day at university. Did a lot of reading and had a stats lecture which is always fun (sarcasm). Strangely enough, I actually understood most of what was being said in the lecture. Anyone who has ever had to do anything vaguely statistical will agree with me that understanding anything with regard to stats is an experience that will probably never be repeated and thus should be savoured. Enough savouring.

After that I returned to the honours room with some of my friends. I got hounded by Laura again about the SRC stuff and decided that I have just had enough of her. So I quit the sub-comm. I'm so chuffed with myself about that. The whole experience was rather an eye-opener. Laura actually pulled the 'Fine, well you are not invited to my party' card. She was really pissed off with me and actually said these words: 'See, this is why I don't have my "Thank-you-for-being-on-my-sub-comm" party in the middle of the year like everyone else, and have it at the end of the year instead!' Her immaturity was rather shocking.

Anyway, after that little experience, I went home, tried to do some reading and then went to have dinner. Half-way through dinner, and might I add 20 min early, my friends came to pick me up to go off to street racing! Like as in 'The fast and the furious', only legal. My sister decided to come along at the last minute too.

Well, what can I say about street racing? It is such a load of crap! All the guys take themselves so seriously and have these massive egos. It is cool once they start the actual racing but because of the way that it is run, you basically watch them start racing and you never find out who wins. So, after about the first 5 'races' it gets a tad boring. My friend David and his brother-in-law, Ben, loved every second! They are such nutters!

Sorry to all those that are reading this and love cars and all that they entail. I realise that I may have offended you with that last paragraph but, I really don't get the whole car thing. They are designed with one sole purpose; to get you from A to B. So why waste all that time, effort and money on getting a body kit for your car simply so that you can look, in your own eyes, cool. Since this is probably getting some of you hot under the collar, I will cease this topic.

Thursday was not much better. I arrived at university and tried to get some work done. I had to go to a meeting at 11:30 am, then another at 12:00 am and yet another at 12:30 am. On top of all that I had to go and rent out my graduation gown for the graduation ceremony that took place that evening. So I went to the 11:30 one and discovered that they had changed the time to 13:15 instead! They hadn't bothered to let us know that they were changing the times but they just did. So that made me slightly irritable. So I returned to my office to do some reading and didn't. I ended up just chatting to a friend of mine for the remaining time.

I then went off to my 12:00 meeting and ended up waiting outside my supivisors office for 15 min only to discover that he had decided that as it was graduation, we would be too stressed to have a meeting. So he canceled it without telling us. So I then figured that I'd try going off to see if the person that I was supposed to meet at 12:30 was there yet. Luckily for me, she was. So I got that out of the way and went up to the honours room to go and try to organise my life somewhat.

I then went to get my gown which took a good half an hour, after which I went to the 13:15 meeting. Not worth writing about.

I left shortly after returning to the honours room. I drove home in the ridiculously slow traffic, with that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I was going to end up late for my graduation.

Once home, I preped by first having some lunch, then taking a shower and getting dressed. I was supposed to leave to go and fetch my grandmother on my dad's side at 4:45, but, as always happens in my family, we were late. I had only two tickets to my graduation. That is excluding myself. I naturally had to attend my own graduation, so had a ticket of my own. I actually had quite a dilemma about who to take with to my graduation. Under normal circumstances it would have been a really easy decision. Any sane person woul just take their parents.

But, due to the fact that mine live on another continent, I had to pick someone else. So, now I had to choose: do I take my mom's mother or father? On my dad's side, my grandfather died two years ago so I naturally just had to take my grandmother. But my mom's family was a bit more problematic. If I took my grandmother, my grandfather would get offended (He is rather sensative and incredibly stubborn).

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I got to graduation, late. I wasn't too late though, thank goodness. I ran into some friends outside the hall and they told me what was going on and what I had to do. I discovered that one of my friend's moms is in a wheelchair. It came as a bit of a surprise and I really wasn't expecting it at all! He never mentioned anything to me. I hope that he is okay and that she is too. It's odd how people do this kind of thing. Something major will happen in their lives and they will just not mention it at all. I had a friend who's sister got engaged and he never mentioned it until he was really stressed out with helping with all the wedding plans. Odd...but at the same time, there are times when you just don't really want people to know and make a fuss over the situation.

So, the graduation ceremony got started with some rather carrot-up-the-arse ushers shooing us to our seats and then hushing us anytime we asked for a program or the time. Then, once we were all in place and waiting the ceremony got underway. The senior scientists in the Science faculty all came parading in in their weird outfits. They all then seated themselves on the stage and the dean arrived, followed by some guy carrying the university mace.

I had o clue that we even had a university mace! And why the hell do we have it anyway? Apparently the thing weighs 17kg.

After a few speeches, they started the graduation procedure. We had to que up and wait for our name to be called. We then had to walk to the centre of the stage where the dean sat. He would then stand and pat us on the head with a strange little beret thingy. While he did this he would lean over and shake your hand while congratulating you with a very naughty-little-boy look on his face. It was rather strange...

We then had to walk to the far side of the stage from where there were two people who took your hood/sash thing and placed it around your neck. They would then take a photo of you as the thing was placed around your neck. As you walked off the stage on that side someone would give you your degree-on-paper thing and a little tube to keep it in. Once you had that, you were ushered into a side passage where there was another photographer that took your photo and you then moved back to your seat in the hall.

A friend of mine nearly didn't get hit on the head by the dean with the beret and as result nearly didn't graduate! It was really funny! Then, at the end of the procedure, the faculty people formed a procession and left the stage. While they were parading out of the hall, there was a song sung by a chior playing over the sound system. Once they were all out, the music stopped and they played 'I feel good'! It was really random and unexpected!

The rest of the evening was rather dull. I just took my gran home and went home for some dinner.

I still have so much to write about! I had a really hectic weekend and its Tuesday already! So many updates, so little time...Anyway, I'll try to update as soon as possible.

Stay safe! Remember, you only have one life, so look after it!


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I swear I will quit!!!

Hi again all my adoring fans!

Another day has come and gone. I have been so busy today and yet have not really managed to achieve anything. I seem to be writing this, or something along these lines, very often of late. It is a little worrying. Well, I'll just pres on, I guess.

I got in to Wits rather early today (9:30 am). After arriving I started to discuss the questions posed to us by the animal behaviour lecturer yesterday. I had completely misunderstood something that he said-not to do with the questions, but to do with the formulation of groups to work in. I had understood that we were all going to have to give a presentation to the group about the topic that we select (we were given a list to choose from) and that we must form pairs to do these presentations in. I had organised to do mine with my friend Eebee. But, today I discovered that these groups are also for us to discuss our thoughts on the questions posed. So I ended up discussing the questions with Eebee. Soon, Vanessa had joined in and shortly thereafter, Helen too.

Once that was over, I went off to the Matrix to buy myself an exam pad and some pens. Along the way I ran into my friend Sarah. She was sitting on a bench with an American friend of hers. Now there was a bit of a situation with this fellow. It appears as though he is very possessive over Sarah because there is another American friend of hers that has, what seems to be, a crush on Sarah and the first individual doesn't like the second as a result. Anyway, I met them both as the first was sitting with Sarah on this bench and the second arrived shortly thereafter.

Do all Americans have ridiculously perfect smiles? It was really odd! Both of the people in question had perfect teeth! Most unnatural! Anyway, they all dispersed as I said that I would go buy Sarah a cream-soda while I baught all my stationary. Just then, My friend Cameron arrived.

Now Cameron and I have been good friends since the first year of high school. We met each other there and have been pals since. However, I have not seen him for approximately the last 6 months. So it was really nice to see him again. He came with as I did all my shopping and we caught up on all that has been happening in our respective lives. I'll see him again on Thursday for our graduation ceremony.

After spending some time with him I returned to my office and did a little reading from a text that I had to have read by the animal behaviour lecture/discussion session this afternoon. Laura, my SRC fiend arrived and was hounding me to organise a meeting with some of the other sub-commitee members. I get so mad with her because she has this idea that the best thing in the world is delligation. This is all very good and well, provided the people that you delligate to have the potential to actually do what you give them to do. At the moment, I am just too swamped with stuff to organise and do that I am not managing to do anything that the SRC requires from me. So I have decided to quit from my position on the sub-comm. I feel terrible for jumping ship but I fear that if I can't focus all my energy on my honours, I will not manage to achieve all that I want to. So Laura's arrival induced a miniture fit of frustration in me. Vanessa then arrived and I was rescued off for a walk to go get food from the Matrix.

On the way down, we ran into Sarah who was on her way up to find me to claim her drink that was sitting on my desk. So together we went off to get food. After getting another vegetarian spring roll from the chinese place, I returned to the office to do more reading.

I didn't get very far due to the fact that this really annoying person in our office, not the singer from yesterday, kept on pestering me with ideas for office pranks. It was getting rather annoying as I had this thing to read but was not managing to achieve much! It was compounded by the fact that I got a phone call from the masters student, Candice, that is also working on baboons. She called me down to her office and then once I arrived proceded to command that I walk with her to her car. As we walked down to her car, she explained to me that the method that I had been using for my data collection was wrong and that we would have to change it *again*. Thus I'll have to go out and do more sampling to recuperate for the previous data which has now been rendered useless.

After a brisk walk up the hill from the parking lot, I returned to try and do more reading. I had 15 min left and decided to just look at the pictures instead...

There is some logic to this. I had 15 min to read 17 odd pages from a textbook. However, the pictures shown correlated to examples given in the text to illustrate certain principles. Thus, by examining the pictures, I could get a rough summary of what was in the text.

Then I went off to my first animal behaviour lecture/disscussion session. It was so much fun! I have never really interacted with a lecturer on such a one-on-one level! it was great to be able to clarify certain things and ask questions and so forth. Everyone in the group thoroughly enjoyed the lecture.

Once that was over I went to put up posters around campus for the SRC. That didn't take all that long, and I then proceeded to return to update my blog and check my mail.

Yesterday I tried to post some pictures that I took while in the Suikerbosrand reserve. Naturally, because computers are as tempremental as they are, it didn't work. So, I'll try again.

Does anyone actually read this blog? I have my suspicions that it lies dormant...

Anyway, I'm rather tired and have been invited to go to the movies with my friends to see 'Ice Age 2' but I don't know if I will go or not. I think maybe I should have an early night tonight and get going early tomorrow...its not very likely to happen but it's the thought that counts right?

Well I'll write again tomorrow. Always think about what you say or do before you say or do it. The consequences may seem insignificant but are more often than not, far reaching and vast.

I really don't know why I always end with these stupid words of wisdom...but why the hell not?


Monday, April 03, 2006

It's doing it again!

Sorry folks. The photo upload thing seems to be against me...lets try again.

I tdoesn't seem to want to work. I'll try again later from home or else I'll just add em in tomorrow...Sorry for the incovenience....


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...


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sorry...Screwed that up there...

Sorry, I somehow managed to screw up the photo placement for todays entry...So, this is the cheetah, Cole, and this is the little panda, as-of-yet un-named.

Another Saturday...over...

So, yet another Saturday has come and gone. It is a little depressing when you consider just how incredibly fast the weekend seems to go by. I remember that as a child, the weekends used to just go on and on and I'd spend all the time outside, playing in the garden or swimming in the pool. Not anymore. Most of my mornings are spent catching up on lost sleep from the past week and with all the carting my siblings around that I do and doing general admin for my own life I usually only get about the last 3 hours of daylight to do anything outdoors. Generally by this stage, I'm too tired to do any exercise anyway so I don't bother. Strangely enough though, I am not overweight. I tend to eat a lot but luckily I have a rather fast metabolism and thus burn off all that food before I get a chance to add to my mass. I feel rather grateful for that. I also feel sorry for people who do put on weight easily. It must feel terribly frustrating and I definitely understand how many people get depressed about it.

Well, today I got up at 10:40 am. I was meeting some friends at the zoo at 11:00 am to go and visit one of the zookeepers that we befriended last year. We had to do a behaviuoral study at the zoo as part of a theory topic that I took last year. I ended up studying one of the cheetahs there called Cole. He is so cute! He is at the top of this page. His keeper was a young woman named Althea. She was so happy that we had come to study her cheetah that she immediately became our friend. She gave me and my group the most amazing zoo experience that anyone could ever have asked for!

She took us with on her feeding rounds to watch and help feed the cheetahs, lions, small cats, seals, meerkats and other small carnivores. She was in charge of the carnivores at the zoo. She introduced us to all of the other keepers at the zoo and took us on a behind-the-scenes kind of tour of the zoo. We got to see the kitchens where all the food is prepared and she took us into the sleeping enclosures of the lions and cheetahs. She even took us on a tour of the animal hospital where we got to see baby roan antelope, kudu, chimps, some tame meerkats and even...wait for it...a baby red panda!

We got to play with the meerkats which are so cute but smell dubious...

Now for those of you that don't know, the red panda is one of the most highly endangered species on the entire planet. They don't seem to breed in the wild very successfully and their limited diet of bamboo shoots and fruit leaves them limited by food availability as well as georaphically isolated. Now, for some as-of-yet-unexplainable reason, the pandas at the Johannesburg Zoo breed like rabbits. They breed so well that they have to put the animals on 'the pill' to stop them. This is for two reasons. It is to prevent inbreeding as the available gene pool at the zoo is somewhat isolated and that the zoo can only house a certain number of pandas.

Now Althea was the best; she took us to the back of the animal hospital and let us PLAY with the baby panda!!! He was the cutest thing I have seen! I loved him! He was so fluffy that when you picked him up for the first time, you were so amazed because he looks rather big, but there is only a tiny body under all that fluff. I have never felt so very lucky in my life as that day where I first got to hold a baby red panda. I will never for get it for the rest of my life!

Then, I got to the zoo to discover that Althea, the keeper, was not working there today. So we all just walked around for about 2 hours and then left. I organised to go to lunch with my friends after that so I went and picked up my sisters from home, fetched my sisters friend (I was rather annoyed about that as she only asked me at the last minute while we were driving off to lunch) and we all went off to lunch. We had falafels from a really nice shwarma place. I then went with my sisters to go clothes shopping (it was agony!). I hat clothes shopping with my sisters! Once, in Italy, we went shoe shopping at one of the markets. My sister looked at one particular pair of shoes at the first stall we arrived at and she thought that she would like to buy those. However, she was not 100% sure. So, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the entire market before she eventually decided that the shoes that she had spotted at the first stall, 5 hours earlier, were perfect and she was buying those. What a painful experience...

So after shooping and lunch and all that, I dropped my sister and her friend off at her friends house and returned home. I was pleased to discover that no one was at home when we got home. So my sister and I just chilled for the remainder of the afternoon.

And thus concludes my Saturday. I'm rather tired but I haven't done all that much today. Tomorrow, if the weather allows, I'll go off to do some data collection for my project.

Fare thee well fellow traveler. Always remember to take a moment out of your day to sit and watch the clouds drift past...