Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Damn! This CD is good...

So, on Friday I went and bought myself a CD. I was given a gift card by a friend for my birthday earlier this year and I hadn't used all the credit on the card yet, so I thought, before it expired (assuming that they can do that...) I'd better go spend the remaining money.

So I went off with my sister to go and select a CD. I was down to three options: The soundtracks of 'Hero' and 'V for Vendetta', both great movies with good music, or a compilation of the singles of Basement Jaxx, a UK dance act. It was a tough decision, but I went with Basement Jaxx and I'm regretting it now. However, the regret is for strange reasons...

The CD is AWESOME!!! I can't get over how cool it is! I love it! But I hate it at the same time! It's terrible because the music is so catchy that I end up with one song stuck in my head for hours on end. It's incredibly frustrating! Mostly because, as much fun as it is to sing to ones self, one can never do the original justice, leaving you with that well-that-was-crap feeling.

Hats off to Basement Jaxx!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Slurry birthdays

It is a tradition within the animal behaviour research group at the University of the Witwatersrand that when it is someones birthday, we throw a party. The parties are usually surprise parties, with some being bigger surprises than others. The last one was hosted yesterday. And it was a big surprise...

It was a joint party for Brian and Sneha, two fellow MSc students. Both had had birthdays in the last month, and we hadn't managed to organise parties for either of them on time, so it was a combined belated birthday party. After about two weeks worth of organisation and coordination between Helen, Megan and I we finally picked a date and set things up. I'm not entirely sure who did the actual setting up because, I left to go and do observations on the chimps at the zoo and when I returned, my lab was the picture of festive fun.

Through this, I learned a very valuable lesson, appropriate for anyone who is planning to throw a party at any stage in the future. Silly string is a bitch to clean up. It gets everywhere and appears to chemically bind to linoleum floors and almost all types of paint.

I also learned that a dust-pan makes an excellent silly-sting scraper.

The party was not expected and so Brian and Sneha were greatly taken aback. To add to this, shortly after being thrust through the door into the lab, they each had a cup shoved into their hand filled with jello-shots.

For those who have an intact liver or are innocent, jelly-shots are just shot-glasses of jelly (that's Jello for you Americans out there) that has been mixed with vodka or some other alcoholic beverage. I've only ever had them once. Given that I am a vegetarian, I don't eat gelatin, the principal component of jelly, and so was spared having to take jelly-shots. The others all told me that they were very strong...
It can't have been as bad as Govan's birthday last year though. At that party, it was a rule that if you walked through the door, you had to drink a mandatory 'shot' of vodka. It was 09h00 and a 'shot' was what most would consider to be half a cup. My supervisor has a heavy hand and sick sense of humour.

Part of the wonder of yesterdays birthday celebrations was the random birthday crap that Helen managed to buy at a ridiculous price from china town. This included balloons like the one pictured below which were always humorous and sometimes, a little creepy...

All in all, a fun time was had by all and we undoubtedly look forward to the next one...which should be Megan. Oh what pleasures await...!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Another one bites the dust...

Tonight on the news, it was announced that Robert Mugabe, current self-appointed president of Zimbabwe, no longer has control of the country and that it has now fallen into the hands of the Generals and ex-militia that formerly supported him. Coupled with this, there have been reports of escalating violence in the country and the ruling Zanu PF group are claiming that it is a result of the opposition party, that majority of whom withdrew from the recent run-off election between them and Mugabe for fear of their lives, are mobilizing, training and arming themselves. The country is in the state of a 'minor civil war'.

Why am I suddenly delving into the realms of international politics? Because, I am ashamed to admit, now it affects me. It is a horrible thing when one realises that you are just as bad as all those people who just don't give a crap about Africa because it's not on their doorstep. Well, now it is on my doorstep and I am heartbroken.

I love Africa. I'm not entirely sure why I do (living here probably had something to do with it...), but it occupies a very special place in my heart. For example, I can't help but choke-up when I hear African choirs singing. It's bizarre, but true. And now to see another African country dissolving in the corrosive effects of corruption and loonies, I am truly sad. Not just for the people who may die, be raped, mutilated or forced into service against their will, but for what the whole situation says about Africa. It says, Africa is a place with no hope. If one of the most successful and rich countries on the continent crumbled as easily as Zimbabwe did, just because of one man with syphilis, what hope is there for the rest of them? It sounds horrible, but I am getting to a stage where I have lost all faith in current world leaders and really wouldn't mind if some sort of underground organisation were to simultaneously eliminate them all in one painful pull on the plaster hiding the worlds wounds. That or just have the human populous be eliminated by the most deadly virus the species has ever known...either way!

What really scares me is that I know that this is a dangerous place to be in. Revolutionaries and dictators rely on the fact that there are people like me around. The ones who need a new hero to lift them out of their ditch. Bearing this in mind, I shall persevere and pray for a better tomorrow, while knowing that tomorrow won't be better, just different.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Today I had my first-ever motor vehicle accident. Granted, I've had one other collision but it was with my dads parked car and my mother should not have let me reverse her car when I was 11 years old...

Back to the story at hand. I cannot describe to anyone just how crap the experience was. I should have known that my day was going to be really poo when I was awoken by my sister, 45 min after I was supposed to get up because I'd set my alarm for 6:15 PM instead of 6:15 AM. It set the tone for the day and after a VERY hastey breakfast (an apple while running around...), we departed on our ill-fated trip to university.

I remember little bits of this morning, but accidents have an amazing property, in that they wipe vast chunks out of your day. We left the house and had to stop off shortly after leaving to clean the ice off the windshield. It was a really cold morning today and so we had to create a wad of tissues to wipe with. A little further on our way I remember hearing the news being read on the radio and thinking to myself, 'Oh good. The news is on. That means we can't be too late.'

Part of our route to university takes us along a long straight road called, Cumberland St. It has many perpendicular ajoining roads along it, but usually only on the one side. It was along this road that it happened.

Suddenly my sister was yelling and the car infront of me was really close. I braked and started to swerve to try and miss it. It was too late. I hit the back of the BMW in front of me and it went up one of the ajoining roads. It seemed to gain speed as it went uphill and, ramping the pavement, took out a STOP sign, eventually coming to rest against a tree.

At this point I remember thinking, 'I'd better move my car so that it's not blocking the intersection.' which I did. I stopped the car just off the intersection and got out. I ran around my car to the other side where I was greeted in language that I shall not repeat here, by an irrate greek man. After much swearing I went to my car to collect something to write on to get his details, while doing so, I phoned home to let them know.

Luckily for me, my uncle Vic was at home and he guided me through all the details I needed and what to do. Within minutes a swarm of tow-truck drivers had arrived and began circling the carcass of the BMW. My car still looked like it had some life in it and so, was left alone for the most part.

Nobody was seriously injured nor was anyone killed. It was just not fun at all. I must point out the irony in the situation though. Just the other day I was chatting to a friend and I happened to mention that my other sister was leaving for the UK (She left on Thursday last week). I also mentioned that it was a bad thing for her siblings she left behind because the last time that she left, we both got into trouble (I arrived home drunk and so did my sister, one week later. The parents were most unimpressed...) and so now that she was leaving again, we were bound to get into trouble again. And, like clockwork...we did. Luckily that should be the last time that she leaves, so life should be smooth sailing from now on...