Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Hi all!

I am overdue again but I'm not really worried. Mostly because I have bigger problems at the moment. I have captured all my data today (basically that means that I typed it all up into my computer) and worked out that I have a total of 2.8hrs of observation time for my baboon project. This is very bad. I need, and I'm not kidding, 100 times that many hrs to be able to actually do this project!

Hence the title of today's entry. I have a meeting with my supervisor tomorrow to discuss it. Hopefully he will be able to calm me down a bit and help me figure out a way to get all the hours I need.

Anyway, since the last time that I blogged, I have been hugged by hundreds of people that I don't know from a bar of soap because of my grandfathers death. It has been really odd and even annoying at times. These random people come to me, have no idea who I am, but want to tell me that all is okay and that they care. I don't have a freaking clue who the hell they are and now I'm supposed to just accept their affections...? It's a bit odd if you ask me.

Another thing that has happened is that we, my household, have gained a stalker. Some random guy keeps coming and ringing our bell at our front gate late at night and demands that we let him in! It is crazy! This wacko keeps coming, ringing the bell and then saying 'Open the gate' and after being refused, just walks off into the park! The other night he came and rang our bell at 02:55! He was also wearing a bright orange bomber jacket. We think he is either completely mad or was very high at the time...

I went off on more fieldwork and returned with aproximately half an hour of data and proof that baboons do eat the leaves of aloes. There is apparently some debate about this because aloe leaves are supposed to be really bitter and so it makes no sense as to why they would be eathing them. But, as per usual, I have blown the doors of sciences preconceptions wide open with my brilliant noval thinking!

Otherwise, most things are the same. I am still highly addicted to the TV series 'Lost'. That show is totally rox! Oh, and my sisters dog from Italy is arriving in South Africa today. She has been flown in.

Well, there you have it. An update on my life. Hope it was worth every ounce of voyeuristic effort.

Just kidding. I wouldn't have a blog if I didn't want people to read it.

That's all! Cheers!

PS: As usual, this site hates me and won't let me load any photos. So, you will just have to survive without any of my amazing photography for now...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Overdue...I know...

Hi all!

This post is severely overdue! Just like one of my library books that hopefully, I will remeber to return tomorrow, I have been neglecting this blog...In my defence, it has been a crazy last two weeks!

First thing on the agenda...I had a huge fight with my mom. I shan't discuss the nitty gritty here but it happened. Thus I felt really depressed for approximately a week and didn't update as a result. I also worked furiously on my assignment for my animal behaviour course.

Then, last Monday I recieved my first three day long exam. It was for animal behaviour and it sucked. Not like loosing change from your pocket sucks, more like a-large-chunk-of-ice-is-plummetting-toward-earth-and-will-annihilate-all-humanity-and-any-proof-that-ice-cream-was-invented kind of sucks. It REALLY sucked. I mean REALLY sucked. The question was as follows:


Hmm, well I can't seem to find the paper right now but when I do, I shall unleash the horror of the exam question we recieved on the world. You will just have to take my word for it that it sucked. So, the three day exam works as follows. You recieve a single exam question and you have three days to write an essay on that question. You have to treat it as an exam, so you are not allowed to speak to your lecturer about the question at all but you are permitted to speak to your exam-mates. Technically we are not really supposed to but who's gonna stop us?

I managed to find the question...here goes!

'Environmental changes may create challenges and demands for many animal species. Some animal species respond to such changes by modifying their behaviour, a phenomenon referred to as behavioural flexibility. However, the concept of flexibility is not universally accepted by animal behaviourists, because of:
1) an imprecise definition
2) uncertainty about the mechanisms underpinning the development of flexibility;
3) uncertainty about how flexibility would rise in a population/species.
Do you share these skepticisms?Discuss.'

Now is that not a crappy question? If some ridiculously intelegent individual has read this and offhand can give an answer...you suck and I really don't want to know what the answer should have been!

Anyway, once the exam was over, I left to go with my friend Eebee on his fieldwork. He is working on elephant shrews and a species of mouse. He is mapping their homeranges and comparing it to the personality of the respective individuals.

So what he has to do is trap the animals, take numerous measurements (length, mass, sex...etc) and assign a personality type to them. So I went off and learnt to trap them and do all the other stuff. It was really fun and I learnt a heck of a lot! We also had to alk through the bush spraypainting rocks with numbers that represent the grid in which the traps were placed.

So anyway, we were off to check the traps and had just returned when I got an sms from my mom to say that my grandfather was dying. Eebee very kindly offered to take me home if I wanted to go. So I packed all my stuff and we headed out. It was getting really dark by this stage. We got to the gate of the reserve and discovered that the security guy who was supposed to be there had gone off to bed and so we were stuck inside the reserve. Shortly after our arrival at the gate I got a message from my mom saying that he had died.

The guard arrived eventually and let us out. We drove back to Joburg and after thanking Eebee, I headed inside. It was really surreal, the kind if thing that you see in the movies. I was the prodigal son returning in time for the family death. If you have no clue what I'm on about, don't worry.

Here is a sunset to cheer you up!

I'm actually okay about the whole thing. It has been two months of up and down in the hospital for him and so I think that death was probably the best thing for him. I realise how cold this may sound but it is true. My family on the other hand are not holding up as well as I am. My sisters and mom are okay but my gran is understandably upset and so is my uncle.

Then the next thing that happened was that I got contacted by my supervisor who told me that my masters project is on the go and that I had to go see him about it. Immediately after that I got a call from one of the workers at the zoo that I know to congratulate me on getting the project and that she looked forward to working with me! It was so random!

So I went to see my supervisor today and he told me that the ball was indeed rolling and that I had to get cracking on this project. I'm so EXCITED! It's gonna rox!

I am totally addicted to the TV series 'LOST'! It is so cool! I love it! Currently, the second season is playing here in SA and I've only just recently started watching it. So my friend Helen, who works at a video store, has been giving me the DVD's of the first season. It is so cool...

And so, hopefully, you all now understand the reason why this is so overdue. Hope you can all forgive me. I'm actually going off on more fieldwork tomorrow of my own. So I'll update again at a later stage. Hope all is well in the world!


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Well, the day is finally over...


Today has been rather interesting. I was awoken by my mother who had come to tell me that my cousin was on the phone and wanted to chat to me. I went off to the phone in my semiconsious state rather begrudingly due to the fact that my bed was really nice and warm, contrary to the rest of the house, and the sun was so freaking bright! He had called at around 11:00. Being my lazy self, I had slept in. This is common practice for me...

So I started chatting to him on the phone and he was talking to me about all this stuff that he had been feeling over the last two years and had never had the courage to talk about. That is, until he went on David's self-actualisation course!

He went on this course this weekend. Duncan and I have been really paranoid about it and have often jested at the parallels between it and a cult. This is from just how insistent David is that we should all do the course and how it 'changes your life forever!'. However, he is unable to tell us how they achieve this...suspicious? I thought that Duncan was a bit of a nutter for going in the first place but anyhoo...

So as Duncan was talking, it began to register that for the first time in years, he sounded happy! I mean really happy! And I don't mean really in the sense of intensity, I mean he was genuinely happy! It was so nice! I have been really worried about him for ages because he always seemed so sad. I hope that the happiness lasts. My mom pointed out that I should first wait a month or so and then see if the happiness has lasted, which is probably rather wise...

After that I spent the rest of the day thinking about the situation.

I went of to Wits and spent the day working on my behaviour assignment, which is reviewing a paper. The author of this paper is an idiot! This is good because it means that spotting the mistakes in the paper is made much easier for the likes of me!

I've just finished doing that now and so I'm off to go visit Eebee. He lives literally 2 min away so I'm off now. Here is the next killer sunset from Suikerbosrand. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Another Sunday

Hi all.

Nothing is really happening in my life at the moment. About the most exciting thing that has happened to me lately is that I went out to Eebee's house on Friday evening with Duncan, Helen, Kathleen and Josh. Obviously Eebee was there too! We had such a ball! We played this kick-ass game called 'Cranium'! I love that game! I want that game! Anyone who has ever played it will agree that it is totally ROX!!!

By the end of the evening, we were all laughed out and probably on a minor endorphin high. I took Kathleen and Josh home and proceeded to take Duncan home. Once I dropped him off, he thanked me for the lift and then thanked me for inviting him, saying that he had had fun. This may seem really trivial but I am thrilled that he enjoyed himself! He often seems really down to me and I wonder wether or not he is having fun, even when we are doing fun stuff together like filming or watching a movie. So, to see him actually enjoying himself was great!

On Friday I also went to see my grandfather who, for the fisrt time since his operation managed to eat an ice-lolly! It was so exciting! His co-ordiantion is very bad and he is still very week but he managed to pull it off! I was so happy and so was my mom!

It was really funny though because he became a kid when the nurse asked him if he wanted an ice-lolly. He just beamed when she produced it and proceeded to suck away with glea! He managed to get himself all wet and sticky in the process but he was in his seventh heaven! It was really cute.

Saturday saw the first major fight within the family since my mom got back. Lucia was being a typical spoiled teen and wanted to stay out at her friends house very late. My mother wanted her home early to study, and rightfully so, seeing as Lucia has an exam on Monday! Lucia threw a mini tantrum which resulted in my mom doing the old 'fine but don't come crying to me when you cock-up' thing. Lucia arrived home early that evening.

This didn't solve the problem though because she proceeded to be a total bitch to everyone and was crabby all evening.

Woman suck sometimes...

Today was much better! Went off to church and then to me grandmama's. From there went off to the hospital to see my grandad. Came home, had lunch, cleaned up and just mucked about all afternoon.

And thus concludes todays entry. Now for some killer words of wisdom, seeing as I haven't written any in ages. Love your neighbour! No matter how badly they hurt you or how much you disagree with what they are doing, always show that you do care about them! Too many people will drop their friends and neighbours at their first transgression. This is not to say that you are not allowed to be angry! On the contrary! Anger is an important natural response, but should not be allowed to overshadow your underlying love for the person...

Friday, June 02, 2006

I'm back!

Hi all!

I have returned to you! I went off on fieldwork on Sunday and got back on Tuesday. I then took Wednesday off to unplug from the world and stayed at home all day! Wait, I'm lying. I didn't stay at home all day as I went off to the airport with my mom to send some documents off to Italy and then went to fetch my sisters from school.

So I didn't unplug completely, so sue me!

The fieldwork was cool. I went off with Brian as per usual and we took Helen along as well which was a change. She wanted to come along because her project is labwork-based and as a result she never gets to go out into the field. So she came along.

We have access to the baboon tracking data via a website set up for us by the Gauteng Dept. of Agriculture, Environment and Conservation. This is a huge help...or at least it would be if we had internet access while we were in the reserve!

This poses us with a problem to which there are two possible solutions. Either, A) we buy a wireless prepaid internet connection to use in the reserve or B) we phone home everytime we need to get the GPS co-ordinates on the baboons. For those who are confused at this stage, the baboons that I am studying are fitted with cell-collars that send off a location marker every time they come within range of a cellphone tower. These location markers are in the form of latitude and longitude which allows us to go directly to where the baboons are via our GPS (Global Postitioning System - its a small hand-held device that tells you exactly where you are, is ridiculously expensive and tons of fun to play around with).

So, I went off before my trip to find out about option A. I went off to the closest Vodacom store to try and find out about 3G and how much it costs. The guy behinf the counter told me it would cost 32. I was rather amazed and thought 'only R32! That is so cheap!'. So I asked him in confirmation about the price and he replied 'No! R3 200!'. That was the last of option A.

So we had to phone my mom every time we needed to get the latest update on the baboons positions. This would have been a brilliant system were it not for the fact that my mother can't even log onto the internet. She is one of the most computer illiterate people I know. To combat this, I wrote out instructions for her on how to do it all. Strangely enough, it worked.

So we drove around according to my mothers co-ordinates for three days looking for baboons. For the first two we saw nothing at all. Then with a sudden stroke of luck we managed to find them on Tuesday morning and a I got a full 60min of sampling! It was amazing!

Anyhoo, on the trip we watched two DVD's, 'Resevoir Dogs' and 'Batman Begins'. The first was really dissapointing. I had heard it was such a good movie and it was pointless! The same goes for 'Trainspotting'. What an arb movie! 'Batman Begins' wasn't too bad. I still think that the best ones were the first two done by Tim Burton.

Since then I have watched 'Donnie Darko' (Absolutely brilliant!), 'Trainspotting', 'The Fog' and 'Se7en' which was freaky but amazing at the same time!

Thats all I have for you at the moment. Adios! Another Rave Pic...