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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIqhUCZgwXQ&mode=related&search=

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'