Wednesday, December 19, 2007

God is a DJ...?

Hey blog-readers!

I hope you have your ranting-caps on, because here comes a little rant...

Last night I watched the documentary 'Jesus Camp'. It was really scary! I was horrified to see what they are doing to children in the states and, undoubtedly, other parts of the world! While I am a christian and I believe in evangelism, what they were doing on this camp really was very saddening and very maddening at the same time.

One of the arguments put forward for why they should be indoctrinating their children at a bible camp was that '...the muslims are doing it, so why shouldn't we?' (Muslims was pronounced Muzz-limbs). Firstly, I would like to point out just how incredibly short-sighted that point of view is. Just because they are doing it, doesn't mean that it is right! Are they saying that since Muslims extremists are willing to train up their children from a young age in the ways of Islam and sacrifice them as suicide bombers, that we christians should be prepared to do the same?! Where, pray, in the bible does it say ANYTHING about raising up our children to murder innocent civilians in this manner? For those who are not familair with the christian bible, it certainly says nothing like this at all! Jesus christ was once asked by a man which of the ten commandments were the most important. Jesus replied with 'Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Love your neighbour as you love yourself.' Now, how exactly is blowing up innocent people an act of love?

The second point I'd like to make about what was said is that God gave all of mankind the amazing gift of free will. This means that we, as people, must choose whether we want to serve God, accept Christ as our lord and live as God intended for us, or not. I have HUGE problems with anyone who thinks that they are saving their child by indoctrinating them! I believe that it is right to teach our children about the ways of God and how to live their lives according to godly principals but at the end of the day, it is up to them to decide whether they want to follow that path or not. No matter how much we love our children, or how much we don't want them to go to hell, it is not our choice to make and we must accept that and let them choose.

There were so many things in this movie that upset me. Another example was a little girl who was part of a dance-worship team. She would practice her dancing for God every day and when asked about her dancing said that she loved to dance for God, but found that sometimes, she struggled to keep her dancing focused on him. She added that she knew that dancing just for fun was ungodly because, as an act of worship, it would not be focused on him. This distressed me intensely! I think that it is so sad that a child should be taught that it is wrong to dance for fun! There is no place in the bible, to my knowledge, where it says that a person must dance for God alone and forgo any pleasure that may be derived from dancing just for the fun of it!

There was another segment where the children were being preached to about the evil that is abortion. While I myself remain divided on the issue, I feel that there was a more disturbing underlying problem with what was being taught to these children. Many of these kids were between the ages of 5 and 12. Now, I may have just forgotten this, but I have serious doubts that children of age 5 will know how human reproduction works, never mind the details of abortion! What kind of people force children to learn about the practice of abortion and how evil it is when these same children probably don't understand how that baby got there in the first place!

The final part that I shall rant about (for there is SO much more!) is about how incredibly naive they all are! One of the main reasons cited for the bible camps was that children are so open to what you have to tell them which makes them great for moulding as tools to do what you want them to do. Psychologically this is a very valid point, however, I find it terrifying that someone could consiously think like that and not see the horrible potential for the situation to get WAY out of control! The other thing is that these kids just accept whatever is being thrown at them as the truth! And they think that anything that seems vaguely related to God is good. This is very worrying because, I believe, people were given brains for a reason - to use them! Thinking and reasoning are part of what makes human beings so unique amongst the other species that share our world! What good is that if we don't use it? And, what greater way to slap God in the face than to say, 'Sure, you gave me the most amazing brain on the planet, but I'd prefer to not really use it. My life is just a lot easier that way...' This kind of thinking reminded me of something my mother said once. I was listening to the song, 'God is a DJ' by Faithless tonight while cooking my dinner (hence the title) and it too, reminded me of this conversation.

I had just recieved the CD 'Sunday 8pm' (Faithless) for christmas and I was listening to it one day. My mother happened to be in the room and 'God is a DJ' played, followed by another song 'Touched by the hem of his garment', both songs with obvious religious connotations. However, this is where the problem comes in. My mother was very impressed with the music because it was *obviously* about God. But the fact of the matter is that it is NOT at all! 'God is a DJ' is about how for the youth af the time, what mattered to them, their church, was the rave and dance scene. It was a place where they could go and just be themselves, free of the contraints of society and religion. Now the point that I'm trying to make is that my mother just blindly accepted the music as good because it had the word God in it! It is this kind of blind faith that I find scary and wish that I could somehow change.

I am sorry for offending you, if you feel offended by this post. However, I am not sorry for what I have written here. These are my thoughts on the matter and I believe that they are backed up by the bible and good, old-fashioned common sense. Take it or leave's up to you...

P.S. The preacher man at the end of the movie, who preaches about how evil homosexuality is has apparently come out of the closet and has been excommunicated from the church. I find it all hysterically ironic!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My terrible shower experience

No, this post has nothing to do with dropping the soap...

I am currently house-sitting for my aunt and uncle, who have gone on holiday to Cape Town. The job really just entails staying at the house to make it appear that there has been no change in the habitation and to ensure that all the pets are fed and okay. It's a great job because it means that I get to stay on my own for a while, get paid and essentially have a private mini-holiday.

The other night, I went to have a shower. Now, my aunt and uncle have a sliding-door in their shower. The frame of the door is a dark brown colour and runs as a wide band around the glass panel. On this fateful night, I climbed into the shower, after a rather stressful day, feeling a little frazzled and very grateful for the hot needles of water falling onto me from the shower nozzle.

As I stood under the rushing water, I noticed that there was a really bad smell in the air. I immediately thought that the cats must have taken a dump in the shower. I immediately began to look at the floor to see if the cats had, indeed, left a little 'package' for me on the shower floor. But there was nothing there.

The stench persisted and I began to wonder if the smell was from something that I had stood in. I looked out of the shower at the floor and noticed that my shoes were nowhere to be seen. I had left them in the bedroom, down the hall. I certainly hadn't stood in anything with my bare feet, because I'd only taken off my shoes when I'd decided to have a shower.

I then thought that perhaps the smell had wafted in from outside and I turned to check if the window was open. It was not.

By this stage, the smell was still as potent as ever and I had no idea where it was coming from. Then, I heard a scratching noise coming up from the edge of the shower door. I looked down and to my horror, there was a PARKTOWN PRAWN!

Now, for any of you that are not South African's, nor have you ever been to Johannesburg, Parktown Prawns are MASSIVE king crickets, that live in and around Johannesburg. They are revolting creatures that make most sensible people decidedly uneasy in their presence. One of the natural defenses of these hideous beasts, apart from kicking out with their strong and barbed back legs, is to release a foul-smelling, black gunge from their abdomen. It was this that I realised had been sprayed onto the floor of the shower, and was, in fact, the source of the stench!

I realised that I was now faced with a choice. Either, I could hurtle through the house, naked, and find something to catch this disgusting creature with, or I could remain in the shower and just be very careful about where I put my toes. I opted for the latter option and had one of the most awkward showers of my life. I'd wash my face as quickly as possible so that I could keep track of the whereabouts of this insect. And, to make things much worse, every time I'd look at the thing, a chill would shoot up my spine.

Eventually, I finished what felt like one of the longest showers of my life, and caught the beast in an old margarine tub. It was almost as bad as the time I put on a shoe to discover that there was one sitting where my toes were supposed to go...

This one seems a little smaller than they usually are...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Why on earth am I up this early?!

Good-day internutters :)

I'm currently house-sitting for my aunt and uncle. It's really nice because it gives me a chance to get away from home and relax alone for a while. It's been one hell of a year and so I've really glad that I have gotten this opportunity to just chill. Of course, I would much prefer to be going to the coast with the rest of my family, but alas, this was not to happen. The reason being is thus...

I've been asked to do two talks to kids about monkeys. I know, this sounds ridiculous, but it is true. It seems that most people think that anyone who is at a university is always free and willing to do talks, no matter how mundane they are. While this may be partly true, and I certainly can't say that I would pass up the opportunity to give talks simply because I enjoy it, this does tend to lead to some rather frustrating situations. Such as the one that I am currently in.

Now, it appears that, for most situations anyway, the norm for a talk is a Powerpoint presentation. I am, not boasting, rather good at those and I have learned how to make them so that they provide the watcher with enough information not to be boring and not to be overwhelming at the same time, while still acting as a sort of speech card for me. It's also a really good way to do things because, you can add in videos and sounds and that sort of thing, which is always fun.

But, this time, they expect me to give a talk without the aid of the digital realm. I could handle this, but to make things worse, the crowd that I'm talking to are between the ages of 5 and 12 years old! So now, I've had to plan a whole series of games and things to keep these kids entertained! I'm so freaking out right now! I'm doing my first talk today at 1pm at Southgate. Then the second (and final one!) will be at Clearwater Mall at 1pm.

The one thing that is keeping me sane is that I have enlisted the help of my cousin, Sarah. She's a school teacher who works with the youngest kids, so she will be in her element when she helps out with these talks! Ten points to Sarah! ;D

And now, I must head to the shops to buy things for my talks. That's why I am awake at 7:30 on a Saturday morning...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm an INFJ!

Hello blog-readers.

I recently took a personailty test on the advice of a friend. I enjoy taking these internet tests. Most of them are SO way off that you end up laughing yourself silly. I once did a psychic test and it turns out I have precognitive abilities! How exciting! Now, if only I actually knew how to use them...

This test was different though. It was the first internet test that has gotten me down pretty good! It was actually a little scary! It turns out that I am an INFJ (Introvert iNtuitive Feeling Judging) personality. It was very interesting to see just how spot-on this was! This is what it had to say:

The Portait of the Counselor (INFJ)
The Counselor Idealists are abstract in thought and speech, cooperative in reaching their goals, and enterprising and attentive in their interpersonal roles. Counselors focus on human potentials, think in terms of ethical values, and come easily to decisions. The small number of this type (little more than 2 percent) is regrettable, since Counselors have an unusually strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others and genuinely enjoy helping their companions. Although Counsleors tend to be private, sensitive people, and are not generally visible leaders, they nevertheless work quite intensely with those close to them, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes with their families, friends, and colleagues. This type has great depth of personality; they are themselves complicated, and can understand and deal with complex issues and people.
Counselors can be hard to get to know. They have an unusually rich inner life, but they are reserved and tend not to share their reactions except with those they trust. With their loved ones, certainly, Counselors are not reluctant to express their feelings, their face lighting up with the positive emotions, but darkening like a thunderhead with the negative. Indeed, because of their strong ability to take into themselves the feelings of others, Counselors can be hurt rather easily by those around them, which, perhaps, is one reason why they tend to be private people, mutely withdrawing from human contact. At the same time, friends who have known a Counselor for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise. Not that they are inconsistent; Counselors value their integrity a great deal, but they have intricately woven, mysterious personalities which sometimes puzzle even them.
Counselors have strong empathic abilities and can become aware of another's emotions or intentions -- good or evil -- even before that person is conscious of them. This "mind-reading" can take the form of feeling the hidden distress or illnesses of others to an extent which is difficult for other types to comprehend. Even Counselors can seldom tell how they came to penetrate others' feelings so keenly. Furthermore, the Counselor is most likely of all the types to demonstrate an ability to understand psychic phenomena and to have visions of human events, past, present, or future. What is known as ESP may well be exceptional intuitive ability-in both its forms, projection and introjection. Such supernormal intuition is found frequently in the Counselor, and can extend to people, things, and often events, taking the form of visions, episodes of foreknowledge, premonitions, auditory and visual images of things to come, as well as uncanny communications with certain individuals at a distance.
Mohandas Gandhi, Sidney Poitier, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Goodall, Emily Bronte, Sir Alec Guiness, Carl Jung, Mary Baker Eddy, Queen Noor are examples of the Counselor Idealist (INFJ).

Anyone who knows me will be able to tell you that this is pretty darn close to me as far as the personailty predicitons go! Now, I'm cool with most of those, except Mary Baker Eddy, who, as it turns out, was a bit of a nut-job. The end!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Attack of the KILLER HAIL!!!

My golly gosh! Yesterday evening was SO exciting, to say the least! It was crazy!
It all began when I was sitting at my desk, desperately trying to access my e-mail (our ISP has been down for a few days...who knows why...). I noticed, that my family were all standing in the entrance to our garage chattering. Now, my family is a little odd, I'll admit, but even for them, this is not normal behaviour. Thus, I got up and went to investigate.

They had just returned from doing the weekly shopping and thus had all clustered around the boot (trunk) of the car. But they were facing the wrong way. They were all facing the garden with their backs to the newly acquired shopping. I walked forward, trying to hear what they were all saying. As I got closer I suddenly realised that they were talking about hail and, looking around, I realised that it was beginning to hail.

Now, anyone who has ever spent some time, during summer, in the Gauteng region will be able to tell you that the area is bombarded frequently by massive thunderstorms - many of which, hail is an integral part. However, this time, the situation was very different. Most of our storms begin with a little thunder, rumbling away in the distance, like a flatulent co-worker tottering down the passage. This is usually followed by rain, which steadily strengthens in it's force and eventually culminates in hail. This time, there was no thunder, no rain, nothing. There were suddenly millions of little comets, plummeting down from above to slay any innocent leaf that was fooling enough to remain attached to it's parent plant.

Luckily for us, my mother had a moment of paranoia and insisted that we cover my car with something to protect it from the hail. My car is the only car in the family that lives outside, so it's the one that battles most in winter to get started and it's also the one that gets nailed by the hail. My mom found an old carpet lying about in the garage and we hurtled out to throw it onto my car. As we were in the process of straightening out the carpet, we realised, to our horror, that a carpet was not going to be enough! The hailstones that were crashing down all around us were getting to be about the size of a small apricot, only a lot harder and certainly not as pleasant.

Oddly enough, right next to the car was a pile of roof tiles that had been taken off our roof to be cut to make way for our new solar-pannel geyser. They had been replaced on the roof, so there was no gaping hole or anything. Immediately, my mother and I began to place these over the car (and it was a good thing we did too!). As we placed the last tile, things got scary...

Massive shards of ice began to fall all around us. These balls of chilly death were about the size of a golf ball, only they were larger and most were covered in very sharp, icey projections. Take a look at the picture. This is my sisters had with some of the hailstones in it:

By the end of the storm, which carried on for a good 10 minutes or so, the devistation was like nothing we have ever experienced before! The trees had been stripped of half their leaves, there were broken windows, about 7 dead birds were on our lawn and the solar panel was certainly a thing of the past. Apparently three people were killed last night during this storm, but it is still not clear how they died (walking around in the hail, car accidents as a result of the hail...?). We spent all of today cleaning up and trying to get our home looking more like a Bedfordview house and less like it was translocated for New Orleans following the floods. Check out the pics:

Our ill-fated solar panel...

The ill-fated solar panel complete with hailstones-del-los-muertos and a matchbox for scale.

Believe it or not, there is in fact a driveway beneath all that green!

Friday, November 23, 2007

On traffic and musical genius

G'day bloggers!

Today I had to go off to Pretoria for a meeting with the primate curator of the National Zoological Gardens (NZG). My meeting was at 2:00pm, so I ensured that I had an hour and a quarter to get to NZG. The route to Pretoria (of which there are actually two, both of about the same distance) is approximately 100km, so, any trips between Johannesburg and Pretoria take just under an hour or so. I had also considered the fact that today, being a Friday, traffic would be particularly hellish. But, I was soon to realise just how much I had underestimated the traffic!

I'd been in the car approximately 10min before it hit. I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic already. I looked along the road and to my horror, realised that the traffic was backed up all the way down the hill I was on, across the valley below and up the next hill. Internally I cursed the human race for procreating to such a degree that there would be this many cars at all but I resolved to accept that I might be a few minutes late for my meeting.

Once I reached the bottom of the hill, 15min later, I began to worry somewhat. I thought it a good idea to send a text message to the curator, explaining that I might be a tad on the late side.

About another 15min later, we reached the top of the hill. The traffic began to move a bit more and relief very cautiously dipped it's big toe into my mind shortly before shivering violently and scampering off. The problem was that I, once again, had completely misjudged the traffic, for it was nowhere nearly over!

The traffic continued to frustrate for a further 45 minutes...

There was one little gem that the traffic brought, however. As luck would have it, yesterday, it was announced on the radio that today, just after 2:00pm, they would be interviewing a band member of the group 'Chicane'. Now, had this been any other group in the universe, I probably wouldn't have given a fig about the interview. However, Chicane is a group that I've been a MASSIVE fan of ever since I heard their track, 'Saltwater'. But, as fate would have it, shortly after I discovered this uber-group, they went on an involuntary sabbatical of approximately 9 years during which, they would release absolutely nothing. So I sat, with my only Chicane album, waiting patiently for my next fix.

Coincidentally, I've somehow lost that CD within the last few days. It has literally vanished! I'm most upset.

Back to the story...Thus, due to the terrible traffic that was making me ridiculously late for my meeting, I got to listen to the interview! It was also made supa-cool by the fact that the interview-ee was none other than the groups founder and front-man, Nick Bracegirdle! Yay! The universe smiles upon me! I was surprised by the fact that he sounds like he's a Bristolian...I stand to be corrected on that. He is by far one of the worlds most talented and brilliant musicians of our time (methinks anyway!).

Once the interview was over, and the traffic eventually let up, I headed off to Pretoria. As I got in to Pretoria, the heavens opened and a deluge rushed forth. It was a good thing though. Somehow, people always take pity on you if you look as though you've been half drowned on your way to get to them for a meeting...

The meeting went well and I will be placing my devices in the chimp enclosure on Monday (HOORAY!!!). Big up to all my supporters!

PS: As it turned out...there was absolutley NO reason for the traffic...apparently people just like to slow down and huddle...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

No chimps were hurt during the testing of this device...

Another victory to me! Today I tested out my enrichment devices at the Johannesburg Zoo! It was awesome! They did exactly what they were meant to do and nothing broke! Including the chimps!
The story of the devices is a long and winding one, a story that I shall recount to you, bloggers. It all began in about February, before my project proposal, when I was designing my devices. I started off asking my supervisor what I could use as an enrichment device for the chimpanzees. He suggested that I choose something that would be strong and functional. I mentioned to him that I was thinking of using a feeding tube (see photograph) because that way we could provide an incentive for the chimps to go to a particular area of their enclosure. To this he agreed and suggested that I then speak to the respective zoo keepers about what they would prefer.

I did exactly that. The first person I spoke to was the primate curator at Johannesburg Zoo. She's also a good friend of mine and was very nice and helpful about it all. I asked her what she would prefer that I use for the devices and she said that she would be happy for me to use any material to make my feeding tubes. So, feeling confident that I was on the right path, although still a little lost about what I should be using, I approached the head of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) to ask her what she thought would be appropriate for me to use at the JGI sanctuary in Nelspruit.

She was not as open to the use of any materials. She said that the manager of the sanctuary would most likely not be happy with me using artificial materials as they would prefer to keep their animal enclosures as natural-looking as possible (as an aside, I'd like to point out that their enclosures are surrounded by a 3m high electric fence, are full of alien invasive plants and the animals get fed food - such as cream-cheese and doughnuts [ever SO natural] - by the tourists that visit the sanctuary, so clearly my placement of a plastic tube in their enclosure would have had a catastrophic effect on this pristine environment which they have created and manage...yeah right). So, I said I'd try to carve these devices out of wood.

There were two major obstacles associated with this scenario. Firstly, where does one obtain sections of tree trunk that have not been treated with chemicals of any kind (another requirement for their immaculate ecological setup) from which to carve? Secondly, how exactly does one hollow out a log to form a tube? As far as the second question goes, I'm sure there are special machines that have been designed and built for this express purpose. But, alas, I don't have any such miracles of technological advancement.

Finding logs proved to be considerably more difficult than expected...My first thought was to ask tree fellers for the logs. However, many of the tree fellers that I contacted would cut their trees into sections that were too small for me to be able to use. The pieces are easier to move that way, for those who are wondering why they cut them up. Others would cut me large sections but of woods that were not suitable (too soft or poisonous).

So, after months of searching, and almost giving up hope entirely, I drove into university one day and to my delight, there were people cutting down trees all over campus! As it turned out, many of the trees had been sceduled to be felled for some time, it's just that nobody knew about it. So I, in my joy, drove around campus collecting bits of tree and shoving them into my car. Helen (I am eternally grateful!!!) helped me and between the two of us, I think we developed enough lower back pain to last a lifetime.

Now that I had a car full of logs and a renewed sense of imminent success, I went home to try carving one out. This too proved much harder than expected! Firstly, simply using a chisel to carve away was NOT doing the job at all! I resorted to using a drill to drill out lots of holes and then chisel in between them. This was working very well until I killed our drill...

So I borrowed my uncles drill (also, to who I am eternally grateful!!!). I didn't kill that one. But still the process was taking a long time. Eventually (another drill-bit later) I'd managed to hollow out a log. My arms were aching and I had blisters all over my hands, but it was at last finished! It had only taken me...about two weeks.

I believe it was the next day that I went to a meeting with one of those in charge at Pretoria Zoo. There, I learned, they would not allow me to use wood because it was unhygenic (because as everybody knows, there are no germs in the wild...) and that they would only accept plastic.

I had a car full of tree trunks, blisters all over my hands, a sore back, six months worth of planning and searching and now I was told that it had all been in vain.

Not being one to give up that easily, I went back to the drawing board - this time, with the intention of making my devices out of PVC piping. But, to my horror, I remembered that the JGI people had said that I couldn't use un-natural materials. So I was totally screwed. At the suggestion of my supervisor, I contacted the JGI again and asked them what they would prefer for me to use.

Suddenly, they changed their tune. PVC was okay! SIX BLOODY MONTHS DOWN THE LINE!!!

After a minor emotional breakdown and (probably) a lot of grumpiness, I began designing my devices anew. This time, I intended to use high-pressure water piping due to the fact that it is incredibly strong and there would be no chance of the chimps getting their hands stuck inside (the diameter of the pipe is 200mm). This was then approved by all parties! Again, I was thrilled and riding the wave of my brilliant recovery.

I then told my supervisor about how much it would all cost.

He recovered surprisingly quickly and then agreed to go ahead with it. By this stage, it had been 9 months since I'd started my degree, and I'm sure he was very worried that at that rate, I'd never leave. So I made all the appropriate arrangements to buy the materials. It was then that I learned that it was standard practice for one to buy things first, and then claim the money back from the university. I didn't have a small fortune, so more drama ensued in trying to obtain money from the university before buying the material.

Eventually, the money came through and I bought everything. As luck would have it, there turned out to be a university handy-man who was willing to help me with the construction of my devices and he (once again, I'm eternally grateful!!!) gratiously built them for me.

I now have an odd 10 devices lying about in my lab and I can now say that they have been tried and tested and WORKED!!! YAY!!

And now you know the back story of my chimp feeder/toys!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The horror of your own works...

Have you ever done something that has really horrified you? Such as doing a drawing that was just SO awful that you find it hard to believe that YOU actually made it. I have done this kind of thing many times. My horrible works, however, tend to be pieces of music that I have written. Take, for example, the story of Tricky Tortoise.

My cousin, Sarah, is a first and second grade teacher and while she was still studying she asked me to help her with an assignment. She had been given a book and had been instructed by her lecturers to make an audio recording of the book complete with appropriate music and sound effects, a-la Disney read-along book-and-tapes. I, for those who don't know, mix and create my own music. So, I was hauled in to write some appropriate music for her to use for her audio recording.

The story itself was one of those African folk tales, along the lines of 'How the lion got his mane' and that sort of thing. For non-South African readers, these are a particular type of folk-tale that usually involves animals form the savanna talking to each other, one outwitting the other, and an animal aquiring a particular characteristic as a result. There's always a moral thrown in there somewhere and they usually don't make for very good reading beyond the age of 5.

This story was different in that no animal aquired a characteristic, nor was there any moral involved...but this is beside the point.
Anyway, I wrote this piece of music (aptly named 'Tricky Totoise') for my cousin. It was a guitar piece which was meant to sound particularly African and in the style of Johnny Clegg (Google him if you have no clue who he is). What I ended up with was one of the most catchy and ANNOYING pieces of music in the universe!!!

If blogger will allow me, I shall post it to share the misery with you all :)
It was a song that haunted all who heard it for weeks afterward, like the indigestion of a bad beans curry...

And last night, while at Duncan's house, I was composing the musical score for another movie that we filmed earlier this year. Duncan and David have been hounding me all year to compose the music so that Duncan could finish it all off and burn it to DVD (he keeps threatening to post the movie on YouTube, so there is a good chance that you bloggers may just get to see the sheer embarrasment of all of our work. Fun times!). While I was listening to some of the music, I realised that it was another 'Tricky Tortoise'. It is meant to sound really awful as the film is an intentionally terrible action movie (we can't really do better than intentionally terrible with a cast of three), but it still doesn't subtract form the fact that the music is still HORRID!!
I suppose it really does work with the film, adding to the humour, but I can't help writhing in horror on the inside every time I hear it...

Here are some pictures that Duncan took and edited of me. He's in an Andy Warhol phase at the moment... :)

Hmm...I appear to have misplaced the Tricky Tortoise are very lucky bloggers...very lucky indeed...

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm surrounded by incompetants!!!

My sister got very angry with me when I said that...

Today I returned from Wits to discover that my mother needed me to go and collect some furniture for her from somewhere. So, being a good and obedient son, I got my car keys and headed off to the car to go fetch said furniture. However, I was intercepted by my uncle who had one of those I'm-about-to-make-your-life-hell-and-I'll-enjoy-every-second looks on his face. As I'd suspected, he indeed had planned to make my life miserable and immediately said, 'Oh good! You're home! What are you plans for this afternoon?'

I told him that I was not going to be at his disposal and walked off to the car. I should have known things were going to be pear-shaped when he chuckled like he did as I walked away...

So, I went off and collected the furniture and returned home. Once I'd off-loaded all the stuff from my car, I went to find out from my uncle what he had up his sleeve. It turned out that he wanted me to go up into our roof and oversee the installation of some supporting brackets for our new geyser. We're converting our geysers from just electrical to solar heating and as a result, the geysers need to be mounted differently. Thus, they need to install the geysers onto mounted platforms at a particular height.

So, after much internal grumbling and cursing, I went to observe the installing of the support brackets for the geysers, and...yes, it was as exciting as this sounds.

Once the majority of the installation was complete, I descended from the roof to check with my uncle whether there was anything that needed to be done. It was at this point that he asked me how things were set up in our roof. I described everything and my uncle was slowly realising that things had gone horrible wrong. As it turned out, they installer had installed the brackets on the opposite side to where they were supposed to go!

So, lucky little me will be spending my Saturday in my roof, fixing this problem. Fun times...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A day in the life of 'John'

So peeps, today was my first day of working under the pseudonym of 'John'. It was interesting to say the least!

Firstly, there is the obvious problem of not always realising that people are talking to you when they refer to you by your new name. It happened a few times today. Particularly this morning! I arrived at work (late due to some really terrible traffic on which I shall comment later) and immediately was issued with orders which were simply to lay things out so that I could deal with them later and that it would be easy. This I did dutifully after spending a few milliseconds in complete bewilderment, trying to figure out why on earth they had called me John. I think that my brain isn't all that keen on working first-thing in the morning...

Then, the second problem that came up was that others forgot that I was called John. My sisters and Duncan kept forgetting to call me John and would accidentally refer to me as Luke in front of our bosses. Thank God that I wasn't around when these little slip-ups took place! I think I would have probably gone bright red and made deliberate and ever-so-inconspicuous gestures at them to shut up. I'm a very subtle person when it comes to being embarrassed...(It's sarcasm for those who didn't pick up on that...)

Finally, I recieved a name tag with John Duncan on it which just threw my mind for a six (for any American readers, that means that I was very confused)! It was terrible! I got the tag and I stared at it thinking, 'Why the hell have they given me this?! It's not mine! What's wrong with these people?'. The situation dawned on me shortly thereafter but it took a while.

As far as the work side of the day goes, we didn't really do much at all. Most of the day was spent either watching TV in our hotel room (I'll rant about that shortly), parking off at the front desk of the hotel in which we are working or scuttling between the hotel room and the front desk. I did get to run off to get food for everyone though, which was a welcome change from mooching around the hotel.

The hotel was horrible!!! For any readers who are likely to visit South Africa (which is well worth the visit by the way! ;) )and need to stay in a hotel, AVOID the Monte Casino Pallazzo Hotel! Firstly, the workers at this place are completely clueless and have no idea about how to serve the customer. They make screw-ups left, right and centre. I must interject here and say that the porters were very nice though. I think it's just the admin people that are useless.

Another problem with this hotel, from my point of view anyway, is that it has taken cheesy to a whole new level! It's modelled on Italy and tuscan villas, but it would appear that the architects and interior designers had never seen Italy and based all their designs on what they had seen in stylised pictures of tuscan villa style town-houses. That place is in absolutely NO way any reflection of what Italy is like AT ALL!!! Italy is beautiful and classical, whereas this hotel is hideous and lame! The room was so revolting, the headboards for the bed looked like plywood that had been given to some kids under the instruction to paint on a stensil but with as much colour as possible. It was horrendous...and the view from the window of a large, very obviously concrete and fake-looking Monte Casino shopping centre/Casino didn't help things much at all.

So, as you can imagine, I'm not a fan of the hotel or shopping centre/Casino.

As for the traffic, today was, it would appear, national bad-traffic day. We arrived at work late this morning due to an accident involving a taxi and two other motor vehicles just before one of Johannesburgs biggest highway offramps (Rivonia Rd, for those who care). Then, at another large offramp, all the traffic lights were out of order, which automatically resulted in utter chaos. Then, later today, amidst the usual insanity that is Johannesburg post-work traffic, an airplane crashed on one of the highways! It had apparently hit some powerlines and had been forced to try a rather unsuccessful emergency landing on the highway. Crunch!

That's all folks! I leave you with this amazing picture of the most hideous fish I've ever seen up close (He/she lives at the Pretoria Aquarium):

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On being an international man of mystery

Well dear bloggers, whoever claims to live a dull life has never spent a day in these moccasins! For I, over the next two days, will be working under an alias. Yes, I am going to work, incognito.

It's not nearly as exciting as I am making it sound. I'll be working a function for the International Platinum Association which a good friend of mine has helped organise. The reason for my disguise is that I am not in the good books of the company for whom he is organising this function, not by anything that I did wrong. The problem all started a while back...

I was asked if I'd like to work for them for a day, doing some phoning around and inviting people to this function/confirming their attendance. I said that I'd be interested and they then said that they would contact me about it at a later stage, which they did. However, by this stage, things had fallen apart in my life, as they often do, and I was no longer able to work for them. I did offer a replacement, my sister, who they gladly used. However, their favour for me dwindled rapidly. They were apparently furious that my name was now on their contract and I was, in fact, not going to be working for them. So, instead of doing the rational thing and just changing the name on the piece of paper, which nobody had yet signed anyway so it would have not made a stitch of difference anyhoo, they simply decided to hate me to the day that I die.

Luckily for me, I didn't have to deal with them directly. I was doing all of these dealings through my good pal, David.

So, a few weeks ago, when I received a call from David asking me if I'd be interested in working the function, I said that I would be very keen to do so. At this stage, I didn't actually know that I was loathed by these people. David then explained that I would be able to work with them, provided that I assume a different name as they didn't like Luke Duncan and were very angry at him. Given that these people had never laid eyes on me in their lives before, I figured it would all go smoothly. I stand to be corrected on this but, touch wood, I doubt that I will.

So, today I went to a meeting with the employers who hate Luke Duncan. It was the most hysterical and tense meeting of my life! David, my two sisters, Duncan and Candice were there with me. All was going well until they asked for our names. David had decided that my alias was to be 'John'. So when it came to giving my name, I said just that. From that point on, every time my 'name' was said, I'd feel a wave of terror shoot through me as thoughts like, 'Do I have a "John" face? I DON'T! They'll figure it out any second now!' frolicked through my mind. Another side effect of being given an alias is the urge to giggle every time your name is mentioned. NOT a good thing, trust me! Luckily, I soon found out that I was not the only one who suffered from this compulsion, as immediately following the meeting, we all convened to discuss how funny it had been.

So, the next two days should be rather interesting to say the least! I shall let you know who it is that eventually slips up and let's it out that I'm not actually John...

To make things worse, it appears that a Prof. John Duncan may be attending this function. I really hope I don't bump into him!

Monday, November 12, 2007

It bit me!!!

Hello bloggers!

I have to appologise. I have not blogged for almost half a year or so. It's just that doing a Masters degree is a hell of a lot more work than I ever expected and so I rarely had the energy to pick my nose, let alone write about it in my blog. So, I'm sorry.

The point of todays post is to update you all and let you know about what has happened to me in the interum. Firstly, I have started my research at Johannesburg Zoo approximately three times over the course of this year. It has been a great source of stress but I'm chuffed to announce that that stress is no longer a problem as I am not doing my work at Jo'burg zoo until next year, if I get a chance. Instead, I'm working at Pretoria Zoo!

Actually, it's not Pretoria Zoo, it's the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa. I'm sure you can understand why I just call it Pretoria zoo...

So I've started work there and so far, it's working really well! I've finished the first phase of my work there and I'll be meeting with the keeper on Friday to discuss how and when we'll be implementing the second phase! I'm so excited! This will be the first time that I've EVER gotten as far as the second phase! Yay!

Working at Pretoria is interesting to say the least...I have to drive through on a daily basis and as any person who lives in the PWV will tell you, it's not a fun drive. To make things worse, I only end up driving through there between 09:00 and 15:00 so, while I avoid the traffic, I am driving through the hottest hours of the day. It's okay though. I rather enjoy it and I am developing quite a tan from all that sun :D Now, if only I could equlise the tan by tanning my other arm...

I've also enrolled my sisters as my research assitants. They've been a great help with keeping tabs on the chimps and watching the stopwatch for me. Thanks guys!

My supervisor is currently in Cape Town, as an examiner for the University of Cape Town. He goes at the end of every year for about three weeks or so. I think he only actually works there for about a week or two and takes the rest of the time off but I guess, that's cool. He does work like a mad thing when he's at Wits so I suppose some time off isn't a bad plan for him.

And now, for the story relating to the title of this post. Yesterday, I was at the Pretoria Zoo and I was observng the chimps as I do. All was going well, apart from a couple of children who hurled Marie biscuits at the chimps whom I had the joy of shouting at about it (It's very cathartic to yell at misbehaving children in zoos! Try it some time!). All of a sudden, I felt a sharp pain in my elbow. I immediately looked down and saw what I thought was a mosquito biting me! The audasity of this creature! I immediately slapped at the thing, which naturally just wafted off and I ended up slapping myself for no reason. After giving the insect a very disapproving look, I resumed my observations.

All was well until this morning. I woke up and to my horror realised that my elbow was severely swollen! It looks like someone cut a golfball in half and surgically implanted in into my arm! It's not very itchy but it's huge and rather uncomfortable. Then, today I was at the zoo again and I got bitten AGAIN! But this time, the thing that bit me looked like some sort of fly. Once again, I slapped myself as the little bugger gracefully floated away blissfully.

The end.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Days like these...

Hello gangsta's!

Today, I'm thrilled to announce, I finished and handed in my project proposal! It's for my masters dissertation on chimpanzee behaviour. It's taken me absolute ages to finish off and now it is finally done! Hooray! Here is a photo of Claudette, my favourite chimp!

The sad thing is that now I feel like I have nothing to do. It's been a bit of a birthing process in that I had devoted so much time and energy to it that now that it's over, I feel like there isn't anything left. Apart from the crap that the 1st years hand in for me to mark that is...

Sadly, not everyone can join me in my revelry (If that's not how it's spelt, I don't care!). Alas, Helen and Vanessa are busy working furiously on their proposals too and are feeling rather down about it as they feels they have too much to do and too little time to do it in. So, to Helen and Nes, chin up! You can do it! You will manage!

In other news, Sarah has confirmed where she will be going in Japan to teach English for the nest year! It looks awesome! I'm so jealous! If only I were to come into a large sum of money and had little to no inclination to finish my masters early, I'd totally be there!

And, to celebrate all the good fortune that has been dolloped onto today, I am going to go to sleep before 12:00! So cheerio!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Tom tagged me! I'm honoured!

As is customary for these things, I tag Helen, Angela, Travis, Hannah and Laura. Pot along, and do it for yerselves.

First Add a direct link to you below the name of the person who tagged you! Include the city (or state) and the country you live in (a great way to score links and find new reads).

Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
Velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
Lotus (Toronto, Canada)
Tanabata (Saitama, Japan)
Andi (Dallas [Ish], Texas, United States)
Lulu (Chicago, Illinois, United States)
Chris (Boyne City, Michigan, United States)
AB (Cave Creek, Arizona, United States)
Johnny Yen (Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Bubs (Mt Prospect, Illinois, USA)
Jintrinsique (Manitowoc, Wisconsin, USA)
Dino Aka Katy (Newport News, Virginia, USA)
Angel (Gauteng, South Africa)
Tom Cat (Joburg, South Africa)
Mangaliso (Joburg, South Africa)

Second List your 5 top eateries where you live!

1. Soi, in Melville. Super-amazing place! I love the food! They make the most amazing stir-fry and the jasmine rice is always awesome!
2. Bismilah's in Fordsburg. Their food tastes great, doesn't kill you and is really cheap!
3. Thai Cafe in Paulshof. The peanutbutter curry! That's all I have to say...(it's also the only thing I have ever eaten there but it was so good! Apparently, the cashew stir fry is also really good!)
4. Moyo's in Melrose Arch. I had Tom's kous-kous, which was great, and the ambience was awesome! Plus, they paint your face for free!
5. Benkei in Norwood. Sushi is amazing, what can I say! Even if it is vegetarian...

Third tag 5 other people (preferably from other countries/states) and let them know they’ve been tagged.(see above)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Blog people!

I have begun to notice a disturbing trend amongst bloggers...

They are not blogging!

I realise this is rich coming from someone whose last post was about two weeks ago but I think that blogging is a really nice way for people from all over the globe to keep in contact and the fact that few of us are doing so, saddens me. As Tom mentioned before, perhaps the fad of blogging has died and people have moved on, to better forms of communication, such as facebook. Even so, I still think that we should all blog!

Now that my minor rant is over, I have a short true-life story to tell. On Friday morning, I woke up to discover a note and a CD outside my bedroom door. As it turned out, it was from my sister. The note basically said that that evening a band that she really likes would be playing a gig and nobody wanted to go with her to hear them. So, she wanted to know if I would go with her. I was definitely not feeling up to it.

The CD was of the band, called 'Cabins in the Forest', and she wanted me to give it a listen to decide if I was going to go with or not. I was running a little late so I just grabbed the whole thing and shoved it into my bag as I galloped out of the house.

Once I had settled into my office at varsity, I popped the CD into my laptop to listen to while I worked. It was AWESOME! They are really good! They are a pair of guys, one from Cape Town, the other from Durban, and they play alternative rock, with a slight new age/spanish sound. It's really cool!

So, later that evening, after exploding two beers at BioSoc (I'll have to write about that some other time), I got home and we decided to go. I was still a bit apprehensive about going as I am not a rock person and the idea of going to a gig where all the people around me would spontaneously start singing along while I had no clue what language they were even singing in, was a little daunting. But it was really worth it!

The gig itself was hosted in the back room of a tiny CD shop, called 'Canned Applause'. The two guys had set up their stuff and had put candles all around them on the floor. There was no other lighting in the room apart from some very feeble ceiling lights. We all packed into the room, sitting rather uncomfortably, and they played. They were BRILLIANT! I really liked them! They are a little like Michelle and Rodriguez, for those who know who that is.

And so, I am very grateful for having gone on Friday. It just shows that it does pay to step out of your comforst zone every now and again!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Life without light

We work very hard on field trips!

Hi all!

This post is not anywhere near as serious as the title hints. I'm just writing about how, for the last three days, I have had to camp in my own house. It is all because as most South Africans can testify, we are not all that good at grasping and understanding this concept of public service and community.

The reason why I say that I have had to camp in my own home is that we have had no electricity for the last three days! It's been insane! There was some problem and our power went out some time very early on Monday morning. I woke up to find that our house was unusually cold, despite the fact that we don't actually have any heaters in operation at the moment. I recieved a phone call on my cell phone, which incidentally was in the final throws of battery death, tried very hard to answer the call and for some inexplicable reason, couldn't. So, I got up and tried to plug my phone in to recharge the battery.

Now, usually, I do have problems getting the plug of my cell phone charger to actually make a decent connection so that I can actually charge my phone. So, this morning, when I plugged it all in and failed to get any hint of recharging it didn't strike me as particularly strange.

I sometimes like to listen to music in the mornings to wake me up a little. So on this morning, I pressed the play button on my CD player before I tried to plug in my phone. It was at this point that I noticed something odd. There was nothing happening. Not even that familiar whirring sound that usually preceeds the music. So, I sat up and looked at the CD player. That was when I realised that we had no power.

Now, power failures in SA are not entirely uncommon. We have them from time to time, however they tend to last about an hour or two at the most. This one went on for THREE DAYS! We are very fortunate however as we are one of the few families that I know that have solar heated water. It's great because it means that we still had hot water! The only down side was that we had to go and fetch the water from our pool area as that is where the solar unit thingy is. We also had to invent a new style of washing which involved getting a bucket of hot water and a sponge. You would then use the sponge to generate a kind of spray, similar to an actual shower only much less satisfying.

Then, our prayers were answered this morning! I awoke to my father sitting at a computer, checking his e-mail. The power had been restored!!! So, tonight I look forward to a shower instead of a 'bucket' as we began to call the new cleaning process. Also, I don't have to worry about concerving my battery life on my laptop! Yay!

In hindsight, it was actually rather scary to realise just how dependent we are on our electricity. It felt as if our lives had come to a complete stand-still because we couldn't watch TV or surf the web. It's rather sad really. All the same, I am thrilled to have it all back!

As an aside, I went to prize-giving this evening and finally recieved the prize for the mysterious money which I recieved a while back. It was cool! I got a post-it note with something along the lines of 'If you have any problems, please contact Mrs. Adele Katz'

Random Fact Of The Day:

Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from Public Libraries

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What a week!

Well folks, I've not been updating for a while because I've had SO much stuff to do! Naturally, as I type this, I can only actually remember one of the things I was doing but there were plenty more, I assure you!

I was house sitting for all of the last week which ment that I had no internet connection and I had all my timetable thrown out of balance. I didn't sleep very well there either, mostly because of a combination of the cold and the stupid cats which arrived outside the window of the room I was sleeping in at 5 AM to meow at me.

I also went and did note-taking for Athena's market research group which was really fun! I got to sit behind one-way glass and have access to vast amounts of food and drink while being payed lots of money to simply record all that was said on the other side of the glass. I'll explain that properly at a later stage.

Then, I had a field trip to attend and organise for this weekend as well which was supa-hectic! I went to fetch vehicles on Friday and ended up driving a Mercedes Vito from the airport to Wits (and back again at a later stage). These cars are MASSIVE! Car isn't really the correct term, TANK is more appropriate. Very scary to drive!

So the field trip was fun. Everyone got trashed, sunburned and got into trouble with the lecturer but overall, a good time was had by all! I was so exhausted by the time that I got back that I simply ate, returned the vehicle to the airport, ate again, had a shower and went to bed by 6:30 pm.

And this week promises to be just as hectic! I'll try to blog again soon but I can't make any promises!

By the way, today is my mom and dad's 25th anniversary!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Disasters at sea! (Well...not quite...)

How many of you have ever gone yachting? My cousins family own a small plot of land at the side of a river called the Vaal (Pronounced 'Vahl'). We occasionally go over to their plot to spend public holidays or the odd weekend. It's really nice despite the distinct lack of a toilet.

It is really just a large open piece of ground that is basically just open veld (pronounced 'felt' - it's the afrikaans equivalent of grassland). Luckily, there is a patch of tree-like weeds which provide good cover for when 'nature calls', so the toilet issue is somewhat resolved.

Well, on Easter Monday this year, we all went to the plot to spend the day. It was so nice! I really needed a change of scenery and it's always great to get to see family. We all left Joburg at about 10:00am and headed straight there. It's about 80+ km south from Johannesburg, so it takes about an hour to get there. My parents were supposed to come too but my dad wasn't well and my mom refused to leave him to his own devices, and so stayed home.

Once we had arrived, we being my aunt and uncle, my two cousins Sarah and Duncan and my sisters, their friend and I, we set up camp and started a fire going, to braai (pronounced 'bry' - afrikaans word for a barbecue). Shortly thereafter, my other aunt and uncle arrived with their kids and my grandmother. We all helped to set up camping chairs and whatnot and soon everyone was sitting around, chatting, as is customary at these things.

The day progressed as usual and apart from a very bad culinary mistake as a result of my sisters friend suggesting that we braai our vegetarian (she is also a veggie) sausages doused in mustard, all was going swimmingly!

Usually, when we go there we go for sailing trips around the river. However, this time, the little metal thingy, which to the best of my knowledge has no name, that sits at the front of the boat and has a rope through it which can be tied to stuff to prevent the boat floating away, was broken. So, as soon as things were set up and the food was on the braai, my uncles immediately got to fixing it. By about 3:00, it appeared to be seaworthy.

So we began to take the boat out. It is always a bit of a job and requires all hands to achieve due to the fact that the ramp thingy leading from the boat house to the water has kind of disintegrated because of the river eroding it. So, after much tying of ropes and erecting of masts, the boat was ready for the water. There was one rather unpleasant problem though...

The boat reeked of rat urine!

It was disgusting! The stench was rather overpowering! At one stage, someone mentioned how they had gotten a 'pure wiff' of it when a breeze had picked up. So it was dubbed 'Pure Wiff' (This was followed by many crude jokes about the marketing strategies that would be best suited to selling a product that was actually rat piss called 'Pure Wiff'). The boat is seldom used and, given that the plot is mostly wild vegetation in the middle of nowhere, it's no surprise that the boathouse probably had rats.

So, we held our breath and pushed the boat into the water. Almost immediately, a small crowd, including myself had gathered in the hopes of being taken out on the boat. I used to be terrified of capsizing and falling into the water, but now I love going out on it! So, my now rather tipsy uncle volunteered to take us out and Sarah, Duncan, my cousin Emma and I all piled into the boat along with the tipsy uncle. He was surprisingly sober when it came to operating the boat. Once everyone was in, we cast off.

About 20m from the shore, my uncle looked at the bottom of the boat and saw a large tuft of grass that had somehow gotten into the thing. For the same reasons that rats wouldn't be a surprise, this was inconsequential. He simply tossed it into the water and we went on. Shortly thereafter, I noticed something alarming!

The boat was leaking! I mentioned this and nobody, appart from Duncan thought this to be of significance. My uncle seemed to think that as long as we were bailing out all the rapidly collecting water, it was okay. And so we sailed on.

At some stage, Sarah shrieked and said 'There are rats on the boat!' And there were! At first we thought that there was only one, but as time passed, we realised to our horror, that there were at least 5! Now, this boat isn't very big. It can fit maybe 6 people sitting in it, at a stretch and even then, you probably wouldn't be able to stear it. So, there isn't much space and given that there were 5 rats running around it, the chances of having one scuttle onto you, or worse, bite you, were pretty good. So we spent the rest of the time with our feet up on the center-board trying to balance the boat and not let our feet touch the floor, all while dodging waves of the now-dissolved-in-river-water-from-the-leak Pure Wiff.

We soon realised that the grass had actually been the top half of a rat nest! This, coupled with a few close calls as far as capsizing the boat in concerned, the leak and the fact that we now had 5 rats running around under us in the bottom of the boat, lead us to head back in. It was great fun!

I went out again immediately, but this time with my sister, Lucia, who is terrified of sailing. Why she got into the boat in the first place still escapes me, but she did. The whole time she spent digging her nails into my knees, hands and shoulders, wimpering and praying aloud 'Please God, don't let this boat topple over!' It was really funny in a sadistic brotherly kind of way!

Once we returned to the shore, we all packed up and headed off home. It was a great day!

Random Fact For The Day:

Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying

Friday, April 06, 2007

My second degree!

Well folks! I have now officially got two degrees! I graduated last night!

It all started a few weeks ago when I recieved a letter from Wits, letting me know when our graduation ceremony would be. Enclosed with the letter were the tickets to graduation. There were two tickets. One for each of my parents. There wasn't one for me...

I wasn't invited to my own graduation.

I went the very next day to rectify the situation. I headed straight for the graduation office and after Helen rang the ring-only-once-for-service bell multiple times, a woman emerged from the back to try and assist me. I was sure she was going to slay me for the ringing but, unlike one would expect from a Wits admin official, she didn't. I explained my plight and without hesitation, she disappeared and reappeared with a little pink card. 'Here, just write your name on it and that's all,' she said.

I was a little surprised that it didn't need an official stamp or anything. So I quickly wrote my name out and my degree as well and headed back to my office.

Weeks passed and on Monday, I remembered that I had to organise my gown for graduation as well as the thingy that they call 'the hood' which looks more like a supermodels sash to me. When you get a BSc at Wits, your hood is black with a thick blue band down the middle. For honours, they throw in a thinner silver band, over the blue one.

I went on Wednesday to see if I couldn't organise my outfit. The hiring people said that they would be on campus the day before our graduation to hire out stuff. I couldn't remember just how much it cost but I had a vague idea that it was something around R180. Little did I know...

Firstly, I arrived at the room where they hire from and discovered that there was nobody there. I was a little confused and headed back to the lab to try and find out if anybody had any clue what was going on. Upon arrival, I was informed that it was actually that they would be on campus ON the day of our graduation.

That evening, I went out to dinner with Eebee, who is up from Kwa-Zulu Natal to graduate, Marlien and Wilhelem and Kathleen. Laura came too but didn't stick around for long. We had such a ball! And, as is customary for Bimillah's (the resturant that we frequent) the food was amazing!

The next day, I went to the room to hire out my outfit. They were there and I filled out the form and all that is required to hire. I had to stand in a long queue to pay and once I eventually reached the fron, I discovered that my memory is pretty bad! It turned out that hiring was R300, not R180 as I had originally thought. So I hirtled down to a bank, withdrew some money and headed back. After the short time that it had taken me to get money, the queue had doubled in length. So, I joined the queue, once again, and chatted to a friend of mine I hadn't seen in about a year.

Eventually I paid and got my outfit. I then went off to my lab to pack up and head home. But, not before getting a good stocking of 'Heros' from Candice, my fellow lab occupant. I love that show!

The drive home took a lot longer than usual due to traffic. As the easter weekend nears, people flock from the city to the coast for the long weekend. There are considerable road fatalities that accompany this.

Once home, I had a shower, got changed into my suit and made sure that I and my parents had all that was required. We had to get back to Wits for a pre-graduation cocktail party thingy that the school of animal, plant and environmental studies was hosting.

As an aside, you must watch this! It had me in stitches and chuckling for hours after watching it:

The cocktail party was interesting...we all just kinda stood around and tried to guess who was who. Most of those attending were parents, there were about 4 actual school staff memebers who attended. Half-way through all of us graduands (spelling?) ran off to go and take photos. This was a bit of a disaster, as only half of us actually did what we said we would do. The others were nowhere to be found. Eventually we managed to organise everyone together and got a few snaps.

Then, we all went off in search of our seating. It was a little confusing at first but we eventually figured out where we were supposed to be. Shortly thereafter, it started...

Helen and Vanessa recieved, like, a million awards!

And it ended two hours later! It was so long! I didn't do anything stupid like trip on my shoelaces while in the middle of the stage or anything. Someone else did that so I wouldn't have to! Some girl was so excited about getting her degree that she just about ran across the stage to collect the paper.

Once it was over, I went to hand in my outfit and pay for some of my photos. Along the way I ran into almost everyone I've ever known - seriously, I had no idea I knew that many people! Eventually after many greetings and goodbyes, we went home. All in all, it wasn't too bad...

Random Fact For The Day:

Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with

Monday, April 02, 2007

My first day!

I'm a bit torn about people that work at video/DVD stores now...I realise that it has to be one of the most boring part-time jobs one could ever have! At the same time, it's SO easy!

I went off to my first day at work, rather apprehensively. I was a little nervous due to the fact that my boss freaked out at Helen on the phone recently and by the sounds of things was not all that impressed with me, considering I would be going off on field work with Helen. So, I arrived there with a sense of mild dread.

I arrived about 10 min early and stood outside the store with the REALLY grumpy cleaning lady who, after I greeted her, made some very annoyed and desprite tugs at the stores main door. In a way, it was rather funny. I've never made someone look that desprite to go anywhere by simply greeting them!

The boss then arrived. She let us in and quickly ushered me behind the counter and then went to put out all of the store parafinalia. I was a little confused as I had just been shoved behind the counter and then she ran off to put out all the heavy-looking stuff like the gumball machine. I immediately went to help and was told to collect the middle-of-the-night-returns-box and take it behind the counter, which I did.

She then taught me to use the computer system, which is piss-easy by the way, and I got stuck into returning DVDs. It's rather fun, in that you really don't need to think much, simply scan stuff in and that's all! Then, I had four people come and start new memberships, which I did. I'm good at that too.

The day progressed with many smoke-breaks. I don't smoke, but my boss does. A lot! And after what sometimes felt like a lifetime and sometimes felt like a blur, my shift ended. I then headed home to eat something. I was famished! You have no idea! I hadn't eaten since 8:30 that morning and it was already 5:15 in the evening!

And thus concludes my first day at work.

Here are the lyrics to a song by 'Faithless', called 'Last this day' from 'To all new arrivals', which I've had stuck in my head all day and I think are really rather beautiful:

Lines to the skin, that are saying neither son nor sin
Tubes to the mouth, cannot laugh or sigh or even cry
A drop in the ocean, a second in all time
One star in the endless sky, but you mean
the whole world to me, you're an island of light

So please, bless this day
Stay, one more day
Please, bless this day
Stay, one more day

Stay one more, stay one more stay one more day
Just one more, just one more, just one more day

All this madness around us, you all-knowing and so still
You were made in love, and grew in hope, born in pain
You have them running around, trying to make you breathe again
One tiny link in an endless chain, but you mean
the whole world to me, you're an island of light

So please, bless this day
Stay, one more day
Please, bless this day
Stay, one more day

So please, bless this day
Stay, one more day
Please, bless this day
Stay, one more day

So please, bless this day
Stay, one more day
Please, bless this day
Stay, one more day

Random Fact For The Day:

By raising your legs slowly and laying on your back, you can't sink in quicksand

Sunday, April 01, 2007



I happened to check what comments I had on my last post (Thanks for the useless facts page Trav! I'll have to go check it out!) when I noticed that my world-blog-reading-tracker-thingy on the side of my blog has a whole lot of extra blobs all over it. And, as exciting as it is that I have expanded my readership, I was thrilled to see that one of them is from South America!

I have always been fascinated by South America. I love it! I think it looks like such a beautiful and exciting place! I guess, I also have a sort-of kindred feeling towards it as, coming from a continent that is almost entirely third world, we (myself and the South American continent) have something in common! So, to whoever you are that read my blog from way over the atlantic, TEN points!

This doesn't by any means diminish the importance of you non-South American readers! I love you guys!

Well, I havn't posted in ages because we had a huge storm here and, apart from taking out our gate and garage motors, it screwed up our internet and home network. It was actually really scary! I live on the edge of a park and we have a river running through our park. Each time we have some decent rain, the river floods its banks and 9 times out of 10, floods over the road too. On this particular evening, I ended up trying to drive through the flooding river. I misjudged the amount of water I was driving through and it wasn't long before the tires lost all traction! I was convinced that I'd have to call someone to pull me out or something! It was really scary but exciting at the same time!

As an aside, check out this picture of this amazing eggplant we somehow grew in our garden! There is an egg in there for reference...

I am addicted to a new TV show...'Heroes'. It's like 'X-Men' meets 'Lost' and then given a steroid shot just for good measure! It's freaking awesome! Must have more...

Tomorrow I start at my new job, Helen's video store. I'm nervous because, Jo, our boss, crapped on Helen about the fact that Helen wants to go off on fieldwork soon and I'm going with. Jo already hates me!

Have you ever eaten quince? It's really odd! It tastes good but is kinda hard and woody. It's strange, especially when you consider that it is related to apples! I had one the other day.

Random Fact For The Day:

The first CD pressed in the US was Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA'

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I'm still going...?

Apparently, my body is a heck of a lot tougher that I ever thought! Last night, I was an extra for one of my cousin Duncan's films. He is studying to be a director and he was in dire need of extras for his picture, and so, scrapping the bottom of the barrel, I was picked. Just kidding, the film school doesn't like 'outsiders' being in their students films, so if you don't attend their institution, they don't want you. But, desprite times called for desprite measures and so David, my sister Gemma and I were called in.

We were supposed to be on call (at the set) from 5:00pm but I could only finish varsity then, so we got there at 6:00pm. We had such a blast! I love working on films! It's just so much fun! And you get to work with so many interesting, albeit crazy, people that there is never a dull moment!

The only down side, and hense the title of today's post, is that I finished up on set at 2:30am. So, I only got 4 hours of sleep last night. Yet, I'm still going! That, and the fact that I had a cup of coffee today, which I never do, left me somewhat amazed that I am still (at least I seem to be) functional. I readily admit that I did find many things over the course of the day very funny and I will probably think that they are so not funny tomorrow but at least I enjoyed my day, right?

If I ever get some of the photos from the film set, I'll post them. Well, I'm off to read up on schitzophrenia! Have a good one!

Random Fact Of The Day:

Bubble gum contains rubber

Human birth control pills work on gorillas

(Sorry, that first fact was too dull, I had to put in the second one...)

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I think I'm becoming depressed.

Today, we had a family friend over for tea. We didn't invite him, we never do. He just pitches up, which is one of those things that you just love about him! It's odd for some to understand but it's nice.

Up until now, he has been working in Pretoria at a bottlestore. He is a trained microbiologist and a proffesional photographer too but unfortunately circumstance lead him to his current situation. He really didn't enjoy his work there and has been wanting to return to Johannesburg for some time. Only recently, he managed to organise for someone to advertise him as a photographer here in Joburg. He had started to move his things back here with a friend.

One night, while moving all of his camera equipment and some other things, he and his friend were hijacked outside his friends house. The hijackers took the car and, as the equipment and everything was in the boot of the car, that too. So now, after recieving his first promising job prospect in a long time, he has been left with nothing but rage at God and at the world in general.

To make things worse, there appears to be something wrong with one of his kids. There is a very high chance that this guy is on drugs. But he is non-responsive and so, there is no way of knowing nor is there any way, at present, to help him!

This is why I feel depressed. They are really nice people, they have never done anything wrong nor hurt anyone. So why are they being dealt this card? Why them!? There is such injustice in this world and it saddens me. I sometimes feel like I really want to just leave here, go find a small island in the middle of the ocean and live there alone; leave the rest of humankind to fuck themselves up and destroy all that they have.

I think to myself, 'it's okay, God, kharma or universal justice will win out in the end. They will pay for what they have done someday', but it's hard to live each day watching people suffer and not seeing any justice come their way!

Maybe we are lost forever...

Random Fact For The Day:

Bruce Lee was so fast that they actually had to SLOW a film down so you could see his moves. That's the opposite of the norm!

Friday, March 23, 2007

The mysterious money mystery!

I've solved it! Actually, all it took was a trip to the campus bank branch and a hike up to the finance people on the 7th floor but I know where the mysterious money came from!

For those who are completely lost here, earlier this week, I received R11 000 from my university with no apparent explanation. I was alerted to this when I received a phone call from someone in the amazing (sarcasm) Wits admin world demanding that I return the R1000 that they had accidentally put into my account. As it turns out, that money is a prize that I won from the university for being one of the top TA's. The really stupid part is that they now want me to give them back their money so that I can then receive it from them as a cheque at the university award ceremony! How retarded is that! I think that at the ceremony, they should just give me little piece of paper with 'Oh, you lucky boy!' written on it and I'll act just as happy and surprised!

In other news, not really much has happened. I have been watching the news in the morning (I generally try to avoid watching the news, period) and have come to realise that cricket is certainly not the 'gentlemen's sport' as we were all lead to believe it was! I'm talking about the recent murder of the Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer. It's scary to think that people could be that serious about cricket! I mean, you can maybe understand it with one of those hooligan games, like soccer or rugby (I don't know much about Aussie Rules but I'm sure it could easily fit in here too) but cricket? What is this world coming to...

The week has been rather hectic but kinda slow at the same time. I have had lots of hastles with my 1st year students. They keep handing in work about a week late. It's really bad for them because, I work on a principal of 10% being deducted for each day that the work is late. It generally works to motivate people to hand stuff in on time, but for some reason, one student has consistently handed in really late. It got really bad with his last hand-in where I had to take off 70% of his mark! He would have gotten 80% for his work had it been in on time!

Well, I'm not sure how many of you remember my rise to fame as an 'Isidingo' extra? This Sunday is the week omnibus and I'll be on TV! Yay! I'm in two of the bar scenes; one where Maggie gets a job as a gossip columnist, and the other where Maggie gets into trouble for writing some of her stuff. You must all watch! Naturally, if you live in another country, I don't expect you to watch it...heh heh.

My cousin came over last night to work on some music for a movie he is doing as a project. He goes to AFDA, the South African film school, with a non-sensical acronym. He is studying to be a director (very exciting!) and he is currently directing his second movie. We made a track for one of his actors to sing to last night. It was so much fun! It is a kind of glam rock thing. It sounded so cool! If I can ever figure out how to post audio on this site, I'll do that.

Well peeps, that is all that I have for you for now!

Random Fact For The Day:

Leonardo Da Vinci invented scissors and it took him 10 years to paint Mona Lisa's lips

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Here is R11 000...

This is Amber, one of the Jo'burg Zoo Chimps

Today I was given a lot of money for no apparent reason! It was rather exciting! It all began when I had finished most of my marking for the 2nd years. They have just recently done a practical where they had to examine various bird skeletons/skins/skulls and study them. They had been writing the most ridiculous things as answers, not nearly as bad as last years group but they were pretty close.

One of the questions they had to answer was:

'What do owls feed on?'

A relatively simple question I would think...They answered with this:

'They feed on the lawn at night and occasionally in exotic trees'

Anyway, I was on a mission to find out the names of some bird feet (random, I know). I collected Helen along the way and we headed out. After we had gotten them, Helen said that she needed to go and find some flu medication stuff. So we went into what was once called 'Choices', one of the many cafe's on campus. After we had payed for all our stuff, I recieved a phonecall. I proceeded to have a whole conversation, which I couldn't really hear very well, with some woman from the finance office about how they had accidentally transferred some money into my bank account. I didn't understand much of what she said but I agreed with whatever it was that she was on about, as one does in these situations.

One of the things that I did pick up was that they had put money into my bank account that wasn't supposed to be there. She had also asked me to go check that the money was there. So, after I had finished on the phone with her, I went off in a state of minor confusion to see how my bank balance was doing.

After standing in the cue at the ATM, I checked my bank balance. I had R11 000! I was now torn between full blown confusion and joy. We then set out, through the sea of people that usually flock to the Matrix in search of sustainance, to find the mysterious caller from finance.

First we went on a minor fruitless adventure, trying to get info for Helen. Then it was off to the terrifying lifts of Senate house. I say terrifying because these lifts, as is the case with most lifts on campus, don't really work all that well. They have a nasty tendency to get stuck at random places. Luckily for me, I have yet to be jailed by the lift system but Helen has had the misfortune to have it happen to her. Perhaps she will recount her tale to us someday...

So we got to the 8th floor, which is Salaries and Pay, I think. I had been there many times before trying to do Wits's admin as they are completely incompetent and in order to get anything done, you must do it yourself. We walked through the familiar green corridors to the information desk where we were greeted by a very friendly man who sent us off to an office occupied by three friendly women.

I explained my situation and after some confusion and much interest in my second name (it's Zulu for 'miracle'), we were given plenty of smiles and directions to the person who I was looking for. We headed down to the office in question, once again taking the dodgy lifts which sounded an alarm just before we got in, as if we weren't nervous enough already.

Eventually, we found the correct office, after going to the wrong one. I was met outside the office by someone called Violet. She was apparently the person who had just phoned me. After introducing myself, she looked me up and down and said, 'I thought you were black...' (because of my zulu second name).

She explained that they had accidentally sent the money to the wrong person and that I would have to bring them the money back. I asked about how much they had sent me and she replied that it was only R1000. After this, I thanked her for explaining all to me and we left. The rest of the day was not worth writing about at all!

Now, the question is, where did all the other money come from, and whose is it?

Random Fact For The Day:

The numbers '172' can be found on the back of the U.S. $5 dollar bill in the bushes at the base of the Lincoln Memorial

Saturday, March 17, 2007

How to make things more interesting


I must start off by saying how impressed I am that I have readers that are not from Johannesburg! Hooray! I love you guys!

Secondly, I am concerned about the lack of interesting material for my blog. I seem to have been swept into the dull and boring. Few of my posts are as entertaining as I remember them being. Perhaps I should go out and do something silly to make my life a little more interesting.

Last night, after going to BioSoc for about two hours, I went home and got ready to go out with some of my friends. I was a little nervous about going home because I had been drinking and I was pretty sure that my family would notice. I certainly wasn't drunk or even tipsy but I was sure that they would do the whole, 'I'm very disappointed in you' thing. Apparently they didn't.

So I got ready and David came to fetch me. We then went off to his house and waited for all the girl friends of ours to get ready and come over. They took forever. And coming from me, that is a long time! I'm infamous for being late and taking forever to do things. My faffing ability is also legendary, although, Helen has been encroaching on my title of worlds greatest faffer of late.

Eventually, after much indecision on the part of our female companions, we left to go to 'Sutra'. We all piled into David's car and drove off to fetch a friend of Elena's who was also coming with. We arrived at Sutra to one of our biggest mistakes ever...

The club was practically empty. The music was horrid. There was absolutely no vibe whatsoever! But, we had payed R50 to get in and so we stayed. Things were made a little worse by the fact that two of the girls stood on the dance floor and texted people instead of dancing! I mean, what is the point of going to a dance club to send messages to people who are not there!?

Eventually, after trying to get David to hit on some woman who looked about 100, and a bit of dancing, we all decided we were too tired to do anything more and we left. I got home and crashed! I was so tired! I don't actually remember taking a shower last night before getting into bed but judging from the lack of stench surrounding me, I assume that I did.

As an aside, Facebook is SO cool! I'm finding all these old friends of mine who I have heard nothing from since high school! If you have not, you should join.

Random Fact Of The Day:

There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with: orange, purple, and silver!

Monday, March 12, 2007


Hiking with students at eZemvelo Nature Reserve. The rock formations were amazing!

Hi guys!

Firstly, I would like to apologise for that rather profane post that I added earlier. I was very angry at said individual and I needed to vent. As you may have guessed, it was the kind of venting that cannot be done while family are around, so you were the unfortunate recipients of my rage. But enough of that!

On Friday, one of the honours students was TA'ing for the medic students, whom I rant about ever so much. It was part of their exercise to examine epithelial cells from their cheeks under a microscope. One of the male medics of said student called her, the TA, over to examine his cells as he noticed that there was an anomaly on one of them. The TA dutifully proceeded to examine the slide and saw what she thought to be fungus on this boy's cheek cells! Thinking little of it apart from some minor concern, she finished off with them and proceeded to seek out a friend of hers in Helen's lab.

This friend happens to be studying sperm competition and after showing the friend her presentation, the penny dropped. The friend, who had been TA'ing suddenly realised that what she had originally seen was definitely not fungus.

It certainly made our Friday!

Today has been rather odd. My supervisor asked me if I'm interested in reviewing another paper with him. I said I definitely wouldn't mind. I quite enjoy reviewing these papers. It's fun. I also had to watch the honours proposal talks which was entertaining. I TA'ed for 3 hours again, but it was the last plant lab! I'm thrilled that the plants are over! Hooray!

Random Fact For The Day:

There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Short one

Hi gangsta's!

I'm REALLY tired at the moment and mildly dehydrated so this won't be a long post. I have returned from a fieldtrip with the second years this weekend. It was fun, but not nearly as exciting as last year where our head-of-school chased ostriches away from our camp with a large spade. We did a ton of hiking and I got completely sunburned and dehydrated...oh wait, I've mentioned that already.

I had to share a chalet with two of the staff members which was a little awkward, especially when I arrived at 11:30 pm and had to climb the stairs up to my bed in pitch darkness. It certainly didn't help that the stairs were constructed at an 80 degree angle and so they weren't quite stairs, nor were they a ladder. Also, I had to climb through a hole the size of an apple box and then narrowly dodge cracking my head on a low lying roof poll in order to get to my bed. Good times...;P

Well, I'm off to watch 'Psycho'. Have a good one!