Thursday, December 28, 2006

Stop fighting or I'll TURN this AROUND!

I'm typing this with a bird on each shoulder. Occasionally one of them walks around to the shoulder that is occupied by the other bird and they start squawking and pecking. So I pick up the one that was originally there and move it to the other shoulder. Ah, the stress of life in general.

Today was odd. My Dad is stiff off from work and managed to get a particularly nasty dose of flu that has him wlaking around like a zombie, sneezing and sniffling and being hugely productive and rather sensitive about things. My mom and I went off to breakfast and he got highly offended that we hadn't invited him on account of his being in bed with a thermometer sticking out of his mouth. By the time we got back he'd done two loads of laundry and a gigantic pile of ironing. He just doesn't know how to relax!

Anyway breakfast with my mom was marginally less awkward than usual. I'm not sure why but we're actually getting along relatively well lately. After that we split up and went shopping and I ended up buying clothes (as if I didn't have enough) which are very different to what I usually wear. I like them though. I had to rush off to work to get approval for them right away, so I went and had lunch with Jo and Lara. They had Steers, I had celery and mango. for some reason I've been craving celery and mango so much that I haven't eaten very much else for 2 days so now I feel a bit sick. But mango is amazing! I love mango.

We were also talking abut a leaflet I picked up while I was shopping. it's for a part-time course in being a field guide and covers stuff like:

  • Taxonomy,

  • Grasses

  • Trees

  • Earth studies

  • weather and climate

  • astronomy

  • Ecology (savannas)

  • Geology and geomorphology

  • animal studies

  • mammals (biology,taxonomy and behaviour)

  • amphibians

  • reptiles

  • arthropods (focussing on insects and arachnids)

  • birds(biology and identification)

  • fish

  • guiding

  • signs of the veld

  • bush navigation

  • plaeoanthropology

  • and ecotourism

From what I understand it's a one-year course with a weekly lecture in sunninghill (which is close to where I work) and it has weekend field-trips for practicals. And it looks like they may go to the REAL desert. I was talking to Jo and she was saying that if I do it she'll do it with me, which would be so much fun! I'm very tempted to go for it, so I'm waiting for them to send me the information pack thingie. The frustrating thing is that you can go all over the website ( and there is nothing about the price. It's so so annoying!

anyway I came home and caught up on a few hours of sleep and now I'm probably going to work on my CV for the Edinburgh application. Or maybe I'll just have some more mango (MANGO!!!) and go to bed.

Oh yes, and I'm happy to say that all of the people I know in matric (except for Sarah whose surname I kind of forgot) has passed and done really well. YAY! And my mom came rushing in this moring to throw the newspaper at me and show me that my friend Lynne got 6 A's and that there was a whole long article on Luke's sisters (which mixed them up a bit too. I guess that's an occupational hazard of being a twin). She also told me that I would be in all kinds of trouble if I didn't phone and congratulate them RIGHT AWAY. It was a pretty awkward phonecall... but quite amusing at the same time!

Here's a picture of some books. It was in this old rickety shed that we used to store our animals in Darling (there was a lot of cool stuff, like huge saws and bear-traps and a baby bird that liked to fly into your feet whenever you were feeling mildly unsettled) there was a pile of dusty books. Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I looked inside them. It's basically an acocunt of every day on the farm for over a century. The netry would say something like:

16 January

Killed 1 goat

Took Martha to Worcester

and so on. the writing was illegible most of the time, some of the older entries had been done with a quill pen! I intended to take a picture of a page but I forgot. I'll have to go back there someday and get one.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Today has been one of the most educational days ever. I started off sleeping in (I've been having trouble sleeping, so is it up until 1 or 2am and then sleep late from exhaustion) and then at around 10:15 my mother and I decided to go for breakfast. As I started getting dressed and so on I got an sms from Jo asking why on earth I wasn't at work. I had no idea... so I panicked and called her and she was really nice as usual, saying if I'd made plans it was ok I didn't have to and all that sort of reassuring boss-type nonsense. I love my boss! It's really really unlike me to miss a shift, I've been working since I was 15 and never missed a day (except once when they were going to call me in case of emergency and there was an emergency but I had food poisoning and told them to sort it out themselves).

So I got dressed and drove like a maniac, only 45 minutes late for work after all. I had also planned on going in to wits to give the iguana some mango for Christmas and say Hi to Oliver, but then I had to sms him and cancel and I felt really bad in case he'd taken a day off because I was feeding her today. It turned out he'd left his phone at home after all so it was ok because he was entirely unaware of my coming through.

We also caught up on the gossip. It turns out that two of our customers (both married) are having an affair with each other. It's really sad because we know both families and they're all extremely nice people. It's also ridiculous that they've decided to spend their 'quality time' together in our store considering they're regular customers and they know that we know them. It's so obvious that even Chris noticed it independently.

I was working with Jo and the new girl, who was a lot nicer today. She'd not the fastest learner but it turns out that she battles with dyslexia. I have a lot of respect for her attitude towards it. Lara also came in and bitched about her second job (assistant in Drew's law firm). She's planning on quitting it soon.

After work I went home and started watching Final Cut. It's a movie where people have chips implanted in their brains beofre birth that record everything as it happens through their eyes. After they die it's edited and made into a movie and friends and family go and watch it. the story is about a guy (played by Robin Williams) whose job is to edit all the hours and hours of footage. It threw open a lot of ethical considerations (how do you choose what to leave out? and is it right to portray a really nasty person as a good person through their own memories?) For instance one guy who was really nasty and molested his own daughter. It started off with him going into his little girl's room and saying he loved her and her answering that she loved him too. After that it gpt unpleasant. So he edited out all the nasty stuff and just had them saying they loved each other. It was so wrong! Also, if you think about certain events a lot do they show up more often in your memories?

Unfortunately after 45 minutes the DVD started sticking and jumping and I stopped watching. There's been a problem with that movie a million times before. I know it's been sent in for repairs about 10 times. All 4 copies of it. I was a bit relieved, it was upsetting me slightly.

Anyway I stopped watching and decided to rejoin the world of the living for a bit and took my dog for a nice long walk and then took the other dog swimming. If anyone has access to my memories someday I hope they pick those ones.

OD on movies and sugar!!!!

Merry Christmas everyone! Sorry I haven't updated, the problem with coming home a week beofre Christmas is that everything becomes an insane rush to get all the shopping done and the cards written and so on in time for the Big Day.

This year was the first Christmas I remember that I wasn't roped into reading in church or playing endless carols oor anything. I also went to midnight mass, so I didn't go to any of the morning services. We also had the big dinner at my grandparents house so there was no rushing around trying to finish all the preparations and stuff. Which makes this the easiest Christmas I have ever had. Seriously, I slept late on Christmas day!

The day itself was the usual blend of family togetherness and family dysfunction that I associate with any of the big holidays. I got a lot of soap and a few books. One is a really awesome one on wildlife photography that tells you all about the technical aspects of the photographs as well as the 'inspiration' and all that. I wish I'd had it before the trip! I also met an old friend of my grandparents who they met on a bus tour through Namibia before I was born. He's German but has lived in America for a really long time (the accent is unbelievable!) and has amazing pictures of hummingbirds that he showed me. He's travelled all over the world and he mapped out the perfect 3 week tour around the western part of America and now I'm dying to go!

Other than Christmas I've been spending a lot of time alone, just thinking and arbing. I watched a lot of TV for a bit but that got boring so now I'm spending a large part of my days just driving around. thinking is getting unpleasant, I've got too many unsolved problems, like the very minor 'what do I do with my life?' thing. I've been ok with just carrying on as long as I'm having fun, but I'm scared to go back to wits. I remember what honours did to me and I never want that again. It also hit me the other day that I have a lot of fun, but is that really enough to build a career and someday support myself? Scary stuff!
I've also been trying to spend time with all the friends I've been neglecting all year because of work and Wits and so on. It's harder than I thought: they're either away or working most of the time and when I do spend time with them it's really awkwad like we haven't got anything to tlak about anymore. It's getting a lot better though. Tonight about 8 of us went to movies (we saw 'Flushed Away' it's SO funny!) and had a great time, and now I ahve a lot of plans with them which is really nice. I've also been doing a lot of housework. My family has gone into a 'Clean the House!' frenzy and my brother got a lot of gardening tools for Christmas so I get roped into helping him rake leaves and sweep and stuff a lot. If I object I get the 'This time next year you won't have a brother anymore!' speech. And there I was thinking I was getting a sister. Oh well.

I worked at the Sunninghill branch this afternoon, that was a lot of fun too. It's in a tiny little centre that's mostly closed off for renovations and I had a lot of memories of working at the old petshop in Illovo before I was moved to Paulshof - almost no customers. It was nice, I wouldn't mind working there more often, partly because it's next door to a Spar and I got Mango juice which is incredible! I also managed to watch two whole movies during my shift - 'Lady in the Water' which was awesome. Not quite up to the standard of M. Night Shymalan's other movies but I did enjoy it. I think what threw me was the way that the director had a biggish role. The thing is, in all his movies he has a cameo role, and it's always fun to watch out for him, so I was all like 'Yay! Cameo!' and then he kept reappearing. It was very beautifully made though and quite thought-provoking. After that I watched 'Memoirs of a Geisha' which was beautiful and disquieting at the same time. I felt so sorry for her!

I figured that with the title of my blog I'd better add in some reptile photos. This is a lizard we saw in Namaqualand a lot. They're quite small and run really fast. I managed to get pictures of this guy by getting the focus ready and then chasing him from under his bush. Not very nice for him, but it worked!

And here's a picture of me that Luke took one evening in Darling. It's not the most brilliant photo, but I love it!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


My burgeoning Christmas spirit died during the afternoon shift at work.

It started off ok, I slept in, wrapped all of one present, played with the dogs (I had to pretty much cut all the fur off Jesse's back legs and her stomach yesterday because it was so matted so I was spending some quality time with her). After lunch I helped my brother put up the tree. It was a little bit under duress, I'm not a big fan of pulling out all the decorations when nobody will be here on Christmas day, but it was quite fun. We also ended up chatting for quite a long time about photography ("Mr SLR" doesn't know the difference between aperture and shutter-speed) and honeymoon plans and stuff.

Work started off in a pretty hilarious mood. Someone returned the box for their Playstation game but instead of the "Brothers in arms" game it was a movie inside. Called (and I'm being serious) "Wet Cotton Panties" with an option to skip straight to whichever sex-scene you want. Joey had to call them and ask them for the game. Even the big tough-guys I work with were blushing!

After about an hour we had a big storm. And the power went out. We surived for about an hour writing everything down and doing the manual swipey-thing with credit cards and so on and then the power came on. So we rather stupidly put all 4 candles away (we should really be a bit better prepared!) and after ten minutes the lights went out again. it took about 45 minutes (the flashing Chritmas hat was rather useful in avoiding collisions with customers) before the power cae on again. Byt then I was really annoyed and frantically trying to enter all the transactions into the computer system when Luke and Dave came to drop off photos from the trip. I was not in the best mood, but it did make me feel a bit better to see some friendly (albeit giggly) faces rather than all the frustrated customers!

It was a long shift. Eventually when the power decided to stay on (we didn't blow out the candles and I think that ensured a bit of luck - I'm not superstitious at all!) we watched Hoodwinked - mainly for the crowd of about 10 kids who came and sat on the carpet in front of the TV and demanded a movie - and had chips with sweet-chilli dip. By the end of the shift the Christmas hats were in a pile under the counter and the Chritmas CDs were hidden behind the non-playstation game and we went for drinks.

The owner of the Thai restaurant got all Christmas spiritish (her staff all have Christmas hats with flashing green trees) and gave us free drinks. It turns out my friend Lara's got a lot of stuff going on so we sat there for a long time before we both claimed exhaustion and went home. My mom and I had a very long conversation about tomorrow NOT being Christmas (it's just Sunday) and I went and wrapped the rest of my presents.

It's not that I don't like Christmas, I just hate the fact that a time that we're supposed to be celebrating something amazing is turned into such a stressful occasion where we have to spend huge amounts of money and rush around like maniacs. And christmas carols...

And Blogger has decided to lift my spirits by not letting me post pictures! so I decided to upgrade to the new BLogger and it seems to like me more. Here you go, a pretty 'desert' sunset!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Christmas spirit

My boss has turned into a monster. She's forcing us to wear Christmas hats while working (if we're caught without them we'll be fired on the spot) as well as playing Christmas music over the sound system. We only had two CDs - one orchestral and the other instrumental with pan-pipes and things... but now we have about 5 including the 'Beatmas' CD which is performed by 5 guys dressed in Santa suits and sunglasses.

The hats are all pretty disgusting. They're usually only worn on Christmas eve and Christmas day, but we have 9 staff members and I don't think the hats have ever been washed before. I flat out refused to wear one so Jo made me wear hers. It's clean but it's also covered in flashing stars. The customers find it very amusing and all think that they're unique in their comments (I mean 'Nice hat!' is so original of course). The best was one customer who said "you're being forced into the Christmas spirit? Ho-f*cking-ho!" I liked him!

It was weird though. Between our playing baseball with a plastic bat (courtesy of the kiddies meals from Nando's) and various Christmas ornaments and messing around with the left-over 'magic candles' from Springbok we started to get into the whole Christmas thing. we'd have taken the hats off in a heartbeat if we dared, but Matt1 and I started singing along and dancing around to the songs and stuff and it wasn't entirely bad. It was really strange!

Here's a picture of the road to the study site in the Kalahari. There can't be many people whose route to work looks like this!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

insights into life from staring at the TV all day

  1. I can procrastinate even if I'm not pressed for time at all.
  2. Woody Allen makes movies that make me feel uncomfortable about being human.
  3. Does TV desensitise us or are we all actually predisposed towards violence already?
  4. It should be illegal to end a series with more than one cliffhanger ('Prison Break' being a prime example. What if the show was cancelled? What would we do then? Send them an email saying 'Just so I know, what happened to Jo Smith after his head nearly fell off in the finale? Did they manage to reattach it or did they just transplant his brain?') Excuse my example. I tried to invent something plausible but decided against it.
  5. People in movies hardly ever have boring everyday names. How many ties do you see the characters running into people with the same name as them? And why are so many names symbolic of the year of their life that's portrayed? Was their mother supposedly psychic? Maybe this is why Hollywood people can't give their children real names.

I finished the first season of 'Prison Break' last night. It was so frustrating! I've also been having trouble sleeping and I think I got too involved in it and I ended up reading Steven King (who wrote some passable stuff apparently. Maybe the books I tried before were just the bad ones. Or maybe I was just lucky to get the good one this time) until early this morning when I passed out over 'Hearts in Atlantis.'

I went through to work to drop off the DVDs to fins that Laurin the One Who Talks was there. she's unbelievable. Quite often I just walk away while she's talking. It doesn't seem to affect her and I get to avoid whatever health problem she wants to go on about this time. she did have one entertaining story of when she worked at hotel school they locked her in a fridge for over 2 hours. Jo was almost twitching by the time I got there so we ended up joining Drew and Lara for lunch next door. It was fun, I haven't seen Drew in months and he's always entertaining. He told me that all I need to shut Laurin up is 'a small case of death' and it'll be just fine. Maybe his idea of his ability as a lawyer is slightly inflated?

After work I waited for Carla to call to tell me to come through for her mom to take measurements for my dress. Weirdly enough she never called so I ended up at home watching 'Match Point' - don't be fooled by the presence of Scarlett Johansson - it's an interesting movie albeit slightly depressing. The style of filming was very aggressive (at ome stage they filmed the main character through a mesh fence) and very clever at the same time. Lots of symbolism but it is very obvious and quite harsh sometimes. I enjoyed it, but I had to admit that the main character's 'downfall' didn't really seem too bad to me. Which is really scary because he did some terrible stuff, but I found myself surprised at how bad he felt about it all. Which is why I think TV has desensitised us all. Maybe after 'Prison Break' where someone dies almost every episode, or 'Lost' where according to the cast 'as soon as your issues are resolved you're going to die' the whole concept of murder is somewhat skewed. Maybe if I'd watched it six months ago it would have shocked me more. It was a good movie though and very cleverly acted.

Here's a quote "The man who said "I'd rather be lucky than good" saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It's scary to think so much is out of one's control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net, and for a split second, it can either go forward or fall back. With a litte luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn't, and you lose."

For all the reviews etc look at

Here's a picture of sunset on our second-last day in the Kalahari. It was really really pink!

I have more photos but they aren't uploading for some reason. So watch this space!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

why is Christmas shopping so complicated?

After a steady few hours finishing up on 'Lost' season 2 this morning and then finally getting part 2 of the first season of 'Prison Break' from work (and the end of the season is shocking. How can they do that to me?) I went to do some Christmas shopping.

As per usual I ended up in the situation of not knowing what to get some people and other people being too easy to shop for. So I buy some people several gifts and others none. And then I sit down and try to redistribute all the gifts easily. The hardest is my grandmothers - I can't get one a big present and the other one a small present because my parents will get upset if their parents aren't treated the same.

Tthis year I decided to be smart and buy them matching gifts, so I was all set for some uncomplicated shopping. Very funny. so i got my soon-to-be sister-in-law some earrings and then I found a nice display photo album but it was pretty expensive so I decided to get that for her and my brother and then each of them a small present for themselves. I refuse to buy 'house stuff' for Carla because I don't think it's fair that she only gets that while my brother gets all the random stuff he wants for himself. But then I went to a jewellery store and ended up getting her a bracelet. So now I have a small present for my brother, a big present for his fiance and a gift for them to share. So I considered shifting the photo album to my brother but it's too girly. The alternative is to save it for part of their wedding present and then get my brother something else. Why can't they just be normal and ask for chocolate or something?

Otherwise it was a pretty successful day. I have gifts for my parents, my grandfather and my boss, which leaves me with an aunt, two grandmothers and the other boss. By Monday.

I also went to see Sarah at work. The bookstore is a lot smaller than I expected but I had so much fun arbing around and looking at books. I've reread my books to such an extent I had to resort to Steven King last night. I nearly bought 'Brother Fish' by Bryce Courtenay (he's one of my gfavourite authors and I have almost all of his books) but then I started flipping through it and realised it involved post-traumatic stress and war, just like his last 5 or so books. I'm tired of post-traumatic-stress. He writes so well but he needs some new subject matter! So I decided to leave it until next year when I have more energy.

Then I sat and watched a ridiculous amount of Prison Break. Now I think it's time for me to get started on my application forms for Scotland. To tell the truth I'm not sure I really want to apply, but that's just apathy.

I was going to add a picture but blogger won't let me :(

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

we're not immature...

I was at work today. It was pretty boring. We have a new trainee called Nicky (so now there is Nikki and Nicky as well as Matt and Matt...) who is pretty nice. She's a bit shy but nothing really bad. I also get the feeling that I'm really not going to get along with her in the long run. I don't know why. Lara said the same a bit later.

Anyway Jo had to go and run errands for the other branches and Nicky and I were left alone together. We watched a bit of 'Snakes on a Plane', which was ok, not as funny as I'd expected although it had its moments! I will probably finish watching it at some stage, we had to stop when it went out to a customer. I just finshed the first half of the first season of prison break but the second half is out for the rest of the week, so I'm a bit annoyed :(

Once Nicky had left Jo discovered that the second hand bookstore in the centre (at which Justin no longer works. He found a better shopping centre up the road :( and left us) is selling a bunch of cool toys. Nicky had bought some putty stuff that is supposed to change according to your mood. Pretty much none of us feel anything except varying shades of bluey-grey as the putty got dirtier and dirtier. So Jo bought some of that rubber stuff you squeeze onto a little tube and then blow really cool bubbles. we spent half an hour blowing bubbles and trying to play volleyball in spite of a large fan next to us. It was also fun watching the static charge act on them. Jo just couldn't hit them away because they kept sticking to her in all sorts of inappropriate places.

Once the afternoon staff arrived we went to the bookstore and struggled with issues like 'Will Lara really believe that the rubber stick-on cuts and grazes are real?' and 'does bouncing putty really bounce?' finally I got a tube of the bubble stuff and a balloon that was supposed to be a flying saucer and Jo got a farting putty set (it's putty in a plastic toilet and as you push it it in releases the air... sounds pretty realistic too!) and a cardboard tree that grows blossoms if you put it in water (I had one when I was small, it was so rox!). We went back to the store and experimented with our new toys. I feel really sorry for the customer in the store. It was a lady with two small kids and every time Jo pushed the putty stuff we all fell over giggling and the baby girl was fascinated. The last straw came when I blew up my 'flying saucer' and let it go. It shot around the store and as the air was released it made a loud buzzing/whining noise. Chris sat looking shocked while Jo, Matt2 and I literally rolled around laughing and then repeated the whole process. Several times.

That was pretty much my day. After work Jo and LAra and I went and had drinks and then I came home and watched random DVDs until my parents got home. Right now I'm waiting for them to leave the TV so I can finish the second season of Lost.

I also got the stitching programme on my computer to work. Here's a panoramic shot of sunset in the Kalahari. It came out really small because it's so long :( so you'll have to take my word for it. It was amazing!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Things I missed about Joburg (and didn't always realise it)

  1. Driving. I love having time to myself to go wherever I want. My dad also surprised me with a 'present' of a full petrol tank when I got home, so I'm pretty happy about that.
  2. Having time alone. As weird as it was to wake up the first morning back and realise there was nobody in the room, I really missed having a bit of quiet time to think to myself and just ... exist (lack of a better word).
  3. Internet connection. Not that the email was really worth it. Although there was a very amusing one regarding the free food at wits. There was a graduation and afterwards there was all this food left over, so they put it in the tea room and sent an email around saying there were free leftovers if anyone wanted them. And then some guy got really annoyed and sent one back saying that it's incredibly rude to offer leftovers to someone who wasn't invited to the party. I figured that academics were pretty universal in their response to free food. Apparently not. Regarding the internet connection, there were 3 Weebls-stuff cartoons I hadn't seen yet. Score!
  4. 24 hour access to 5500 (and climbing) different DVDs. We also got the newest documentary (which features my lizards). My boss called me a loser today. I wonder why. I also have a terrible headache from watching about four hours of TV this afternoon (following 2 episodes of 'Prison Break' and 'Blade' this morning. 'Blade' was actually really cool, although I'm hearing very conflicting reports on the sequels.
  5. Christmas bonus! I love my boss (not the one who called me a loser. Although she is also totally rox). And it's not just a bunch of money in a bank bag (like commission), it comes inside a Christmas card! to tell the truth I was half expecting just a card woth a note saying wither "You're fired! Merry Christmas!" or something more polite like "We're not sure if you still work for us as we haven't seen you in six months. Take care!" Instead it was a very sweet message (I can't read the writing but it looked like it included 'happy' and 'family' and 'joy' and stuff) and rather a lot more money than they gave me last year.
  6. running into random people. Like my friend Sarah (not the blogging one. Another one) who came to sit next to me at the carol service on sunday. She's awesome in that she's very excitable and talks faster than me, while always increasing in volume. At one stage (Joy to the World) the organist (who may have been my father but I'm not admitting to it) got a bit carried away and I got to watch her turning purple with supressed giggles. After the service we also had the worlds loudest conversation about the mertis of going to the drive-in. Which entirely depends on the quality of the movie. If you watch a good movie it's fun. But if you watch a bad movie you get to ignore it and sit on the swings for an hour and chat until you get motion sickness. The downside is that there are only two swings. But there's always the slide so we're sorted.
  7. 'Prison Break'. No, it isn't 'Lost'. But I'm addicted anyway.

That's all!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm baaaack!

we just got home from the Kalahari. It's two days early and I must admit, I'm glad that the trip is over, as much as I'm also quite sad. It's always a bit depressing to get back to Joburg to realise that you missed everyuone like crazy, but they carried on living while you weren't there!

The trip was exhausting and hot. Pretty much every conceivable thing that could go wrong did go wrong too, which got really annoying by the time that our car just stopped AGAIN (it died 6 times if you joing breaking down and getting stuck in sand) or the cows attacked our traps AGAIN. At the same time it was really amazing. I've seen more of my country in the last 4 weeks than I saw in the 21 and a half years that I've been living here. It all makes me want to just stop what I'm doing and go exploring all the places we couldn't stop off at and all the places on the East that we never went to. I laso learned that the friendly South African is not as unusual as Joburg has led me to believe over the past few years. I got more warmth from small town people who didn't speak English than I have in ages here (Joburg is rox, I love it to bits regardless!). I also learned that the Afrikaans that I regularly hear and sometimes speak in joburg is very different to the real boere-taal, and so I had to revert back to the traditional Afrikaans I learned in high-school. It was entertaining to most people to say the least!

We also got to see some of the most bizarre town names (Putsies, Lutzputz, Kakamas and Dingleton to name a few) and some unbelievable river names (Volstruisfontein is the only one I can remember at the moment).

On top of the other stuff we had the 'honour' of being the biggest even to happen in a lot of small towns in quite a while. It's a mixed blessing, for example in Darling we had a braai/party thing thrown for us, and in Kamieskroon we were looked at strangely by everyone and a lot of people dropped what they were doing and came to beg from the strangers. Small towns also sell soft drinks at ridiculously low prices. for example you can buy a litre of Fanta Grape for R6, and if you take the bottle back they give you R2. Which is possibly causing the CO2 shortage?

I'm going to go eat some of the biltong I got from Hotazel (say it out loud. And no, I'm not kidding) and go to sleep. In my own bed! And tomorrow I get to drive My Own Car! Score!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Goodbye, cruel (this part of the) world!

I'm leaving tonight to go stay at the scary German's house and then leave for the desert at around 4am tomorrow (ouch). I've been getting a bit nervous about this trip, but I'm also really excited. It's been raining here for DAYS (and my hair went all poofy, so I'm getting a lot of it cut off today) and a lot of unpleasant things have been happening.

On an amusing note, I just got some spam: "powered parachute approved combat" - they're totally getting more inventive!

Here are some unpleasant events

  • I got 2 Cs in the the space of a week. I am NOT a C student!
  • One of my customers has a daughter studying genetics and biochem at wits, recognised me from prizegiving and now settles down for a half-hour chat every time she comes to get movies. There is only so much advice I can give! Particularly if I mention something like my friend droppng out and she gets all upset and tells me to stop telling her these things. So basically I have to say that her daughter will get into honours, have a fantastic time, do brilliantly and win a nobel prize. For half an hour.
  • My friend James is acting really weird again and it freaks me out.
  • It turns out that one of my favourite customers is studying at wits, and his wife is a lecturer. It's not bad, but after all the other stuff it was a bit last-strawish.
  • It's been raining all weekend so work has been insanely hectic, but because we have to sell contracts to make money, and everyone already has them, we had to struggle to get a bonus on Saturday.
  • At 10am on Sunday, just after we opened the store, one fo our customers came in with his wine-glass, EXTREMELY drunk and loud and wouldn't go away, and kept harassing the other customers. The guy I was working with (Neil) got scared and ran off leaving me to deal with a whole long queue of customers AND the drunk guy all alone.
  • Working with Neil was even worse than Chris in that he doesn't notice what's going on, so you have to TELL himto do everything. Like there would be hundreds of covers to put away, so I'd ask him to get started. Next minute I'd have a million customers queuing up (so he should come back, put the covers down and use the other till to serve half of them), but he'd wander around, occasionally putting covers back, walking AROUND the queue...
  • Shopping. I'm out of practise and crowds freak me out right now.
  • Michael, a really annoying guy who has stalked pretty much all my female friends (except the wits ones who I refuse to introduce to him), saw me hugging James (who was in total separation anxiety mode last night because I'm going away) and decided he wanted to hug me too. But not just hug. huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuug, complete with head on my shoulder and .... EW! We need to give him a talking-to about personal space. Really (I'm shuddering at the recollection right now).
  • Taking my bird to the vet to get her wings clipped. It's always sad. Dusty only likes me (she's at war with humankind in general), so today she attacked the vet, flew back to me and hid behing my neck. It makes me sad to leave her behind, but the vet is always an unpleasant experience with her.
  • Having really bad dreams. I usually battle to sleep, but recently I'm afraid to sleep. I usually get bad dreams when I'm stressed, and as our results are finalised this week and I just got 2 Cs, I think it's that. Plus my supervisor said he's expecting my marks to be 'right up there' or something. I just got 2 Cs.
  • Traffic.

Anyway that's pretty much why I want to leave Joburg right now. Today I'm going for a haircut, going to visit Jo, find some sedatives so i can FINALLY sleep properly, clear out my desk, go chat to the externals and then come home and leave for Pretoria.

So I won't be bloggin in a while, I'm sorry! I hope everyone has a really fabulous month! I'll take lots of photos to show you all!

Friday, November 17, 2006


We played paintball yesterday, I've never played before... It was a lot of fun, but today has been a really bad payback. I HURT.

Fortunately I was wearing a vest-style thing that covered my chest and my back, because I got shot in the back a lot, but didn't get any bruises. I was convinced that I'd be shot (and so out of the game) in the first 2 seconds, but I was actually one of the last of my team to be annihilated, when I took a shot to the shoulder. My shoulder is purple now. A bit later we played with all the girls (12) against all the guys (14). After a few minutes it was just me, with about 5 or 6 guys circling me. I held out pretty well, but then Oliver got behind me and shot me in the back.

Mostly I kind of found a safe spot and hid there, shooting at anyone I could see. the problem was that we were wearing red overallys, and the teams were marked with red and white armbands, and nobody really shows off their arms while you're fighting, so i had a bit of an embarassing moment where I shot at a teammate for half a game.

There was also a game when we all ran for cover and Oliver kept running and got behind us and shot our whole team in about 30 seconds.

Mostly it was one shot and you were out, but the last game, which was the best, was when we were trying to take people's flags, so if you got shot you just went back to the start. It was the first gamer when I didn't camp out somewhere, and it was so much fun! I only got shot once, in the neck (no bruise though), and I got pretty far through the course when I ran out of paintballs so I had to leave. I got shot on my way out, which I was quite annoyed about!

Anyway, I woke up today in a lot of pain! It's not so much the bruses, which are pretty minor, except the one on my shoulder. It's the fact that I've been sitting behind a computer for the most part of the last 6 months, so crouching and running around literally all day so my leg muscles are really really stiff. I'm sure the wits people will appreciate the walk up the hill this morning!

I went in to pack up my desk in the honours room. It wasn't really sad, mostly I just threw a lot of stuff away. I cleaned out my drawers and my cupboard. the sad thing will be emptying my pinboard. As the hill is so horrible I refuse to do more than one trip to my car a day, so it'll have to wait until monday. My supervisor said I can store stuff in the lab until I get back in January, so at least I only have to take what I can carry. He also said that he won't write my letter of recommendation for a scholarship until next week, because he 'has a feeling' that I'll be one of the top people and he wants to put that in for me. Apparently our marks are all finalised (as in set in stone) by wednesday, and he'll know by then. I was tempted to ask him to sms it all to me in the desert, but instead I said I don't want to know what I got.

I really want to know what I got.

The sleepless nights start now.

Here is a picture of Luke and me before the first fight. I'm wearing the mask, I'm not sure why. those things were so hot, it was TERRIBLE!

I totally want to go do that all again!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I'm still waiting for my stats assignment. Today I sat at wits for almost the whole day checking my email every 5 minutes. nothing. it was PROMISED by this morning and now it's 10pm and nothing. Even my supervisor said she's being unreasonable (and from someone who hates marking more than anyone else I know - me included - that's impressive).

I cleared out my desk in the lab today. It was mostly stuff to throw away, but I felt really sad carrying little piles of things next door to add to the general pile of clutter in the honours room. The lab in uninhabited now, except for Melville, who didn't really seem all that sad about it (I bet she's hiding opposable thumbs and she's sneaked out of her tank to have a party with the cockroaches as we speak. and clawing a voodoo doll of me.

We all just drifted aorund all day. I had a reasonably ok conversation with my supervisor (it was awkward, but less than usual). EEbEE and I also had ice-cream and burgers next to the pool, sitting on the steps (don't get closer to nature than you have to, it's dangerous), watching all the old men in their old wrinkly speedos (EWWW!) there was one guy sunbathing with one leg up... (I'm scarred) and another who had SUCH a hairy back it looked like he'd strapped a doormat on like a supervillain cape (hero just doesn't fit there). there's also a promotion with ice-tea at the moment where you can win stuff. I won a towel last week, so I tried again today, but all I won was more tea (and it tastes pretty bad).

After all that I went to work where it was the busiest weekday shifft in a long time. I was working all alone too, so it was quite stressful. Lets just say that in the 5 hours I worked I made twice as much as what we usually make in an 11 hour day. Inbetween runing around like a maniac (or a blue-assed fly, my new phrase for the day!), I watched "The Lake House" with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. Usually I work with guys, so it's always a big debate over what to watch. I was watching Prison Break, but the DVD drive on the computer was giving trouble and we're not allowed to put stuff above PG on the TV. Plus I felt like a nice girly movie for once. It was cute. Slow moving and predictable, but it had its moments.

Right now I'm going to go and find a nice book (I don't know what, I've read everything I own about a million times) and fall asleep over it. Sounds like a plan.

I took some pictures of the honours room today. My desk has been tidies recently, it's probably the tidiest it's been in months.

This is my desk (aka home for the last 10 months). It's a lot bigger than it looks here.

This (right) is my pinboard, where I basically organise my life. I have a lot going on. I don't know what I'm going to do without it!

This is the view from my window. Ther are almost always (just not today) hordes of students down there who have no idea that I'm watching them (and Luke's stalker who knows very well where we are...).

And this is the blackboard where we have had many lively intellectual debates (such as... I don't remember. There was one about how we're unconscious of our fitness becasue otherwise there would be hge queues ofr sperm banks. And other stuff that I can't remember. I wish I'd written it all down!) as well as hundreds of inane discussions, like whether we write our 'O' clockwise or not. and the betting pool was organised on it. Roight now it's covered by Sarah's pretty cool demonstration of mirror writing (she can write backwards REALLy quickly) and a few quotes that I mentioned before. The resolution isn't great here, on the original photo you canactually read all thw writing :(

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

different ideas of what's going to happen to us

I saw 2 very different movies today. First, after an absolute hell of traffic jams followed by dentist appontments followed by more traffic jams (for a country that used to have daily summer afternoon thunderstorms, our robots completely die after it rains!) and a 20 minute visit to the zoo (I want a sungazer!) and rushing around wits... I went to se An Inconvenient Truth.

It was ok, although a little bit wasted on a bunch of people who studied ecology (and Sarah who is an honourary ecology/zoology person, especially after her essay). It was funny when he'd say stuff like "This information has been seen by only a handful of elite scientists!" and then show us an excerpt from a national geographic graph of the world's most famous climate data. There was also a lot of random stuff about his past and stuff, that was a little bit off-topic. And why were all the flash-backs fuzzy?

i was also irritated by the lack of anything involving the southern hemisphere. I understand that he's American, and Africa hardly exists to them besides as a place to export fruit from, but the way that he'd casually mention catastrophic disasters in Africa or South America or New Guinea, and then go ON and ON about Hurrican Katrina. It reminded me of an essay I wrote about hurricane Katrina in third year. I won't say what I concluded, because any Americans reading this mught lynch me (and just from the record, it was a terrible thing to happen and I'm very sorry for anyone affected).

To illustrate my point, he had a whole long thing about how the ocean currents and wind currents would be affected by melting ice. but he hadn't done his homework, and hadn't switched the directions for the southern hemisphere. so Africa was shown as having a cold current along the east coast and a warm current along the west coast. It's supposed to be the other way around.

Anyway, I did enjoy it, and I'm glad he's raising awaremness, I really hope that something good comes from it, and more people try and change the way we're affecting the world.

After that, an an awesomely delicious lunch at Kuai (I think that's how you spell it. It's a really nice place that makes amazing smoothies. My first boss introduced me to them years ago, they're fantastic! It's amazing how you don't feel nearly as post-prandially dipped after healthy food!) I battled the traffic again to go to work.

At work, we watched a movie called "Ultraviolet" it's a futuristic thing where some people got infected with this virus that makes them totally superhuman but also sick, and the lead character (Violet) is a sick one who fights back, but then decides to protect a little kid who isn't infected. To tell the truth, I really didn't understand what was going on most of the time, but she could change her hair colour all the time and I liked that. It reminded me of how I wanted blue streaks in mine for years until some stupid teenager in a stupid teenager movie had them, so I have to wait. Maybe next year... Anyway the movie was mostly just special effects and trying to put enough storyline in to attach the various fight scenes. In one or two fights it actually looked like they ran out of music, so they just ended very suddenly.

It was a lot of fun though, I enjoyed sitting there with Matt(2) laughing at it and betting on what would happen next. It was also fun seeing the future as not drowning and frying at the same time, but beating the &%$** out of a bunch of bad guys with weird sword thingies. It was also a nice shift because nobody yelled at us. Usually at least one person screams and shouts and walks out because they kept a movie late and think it's our fault.

I'm tired now, so I'm going to bed.

Here's a picture of Luke getting in the way of my sunset picture. totell the truth, I think it's a lot more interesting than ALL the sunset photos I took that night, which look very much the same.

Goodnight everyone (Southern hemisphere particularly, we don't ALL forget it!).

How exactly do you defog a wondshield when it keeps fogging up and you think you're going to die?

There was a STORM today. it was really scary. Basically after realising that work was not going to be happening at wits today, we went for lunch at a really nice Italian place that let us sample the ice-cream. It was really nice, but so was the pizza until we skipped dessert anyway. I'm leaving out the way that people drove like idiots and I couldn't find parking and some idiot parked her car in the middle of the road (right next to a million empty spots) and smoeone was standing in the middle of the other side of the road talking to someone n the back seat and the some poor guy walked slowly and I yelled at him and felt better. That's one sentence because that's exactly how I said it.

Anyway when we left the restaurant I noticed that on one side the sky was blue (up North, where my huse and work is etc) and on the other side (where wits is) the sky was dark. So I drove to work, noticing that the dark was catching up to me. By the time I was going past my suburb it felt like about 6-7pm (it was 3:15) and we all had out lights on. So I raced the impending storm to work, ran in and told Joey to go home before it hit. When I walked into the store the sky was blue. I walked out half a minute (literally) it was black, and not more than 10 seconds later it was pouring with rain that turned into hail.

so we sat at work together, drinking hot chocolate from next door (which we have to pay for because we ordered Scooters Pizza on the weekend and now Nico's upset with us). And complaining about how our boss is a moron. James, the guy who caused all the trouble is being fired either today or tomorrow, so it should calm down a bit. it turns out that he was 'away' on the weekend, so the staff at the other branch had to cover for him, meanwhile he was in our branch about 10 times. Jo really wanted to be the one to fire him, but the manager at the other branch had to :( She's scary when she's angry!

Once Jo had left we watched Hoodwinked. It's so cute! There's this one scene where Red meets this crazy goat who has to sing instead of talking. and he has detachable horns, like long curly ones he uses as a ricking chair and can openers and stuff. Here's the song:

"Thirty-seven years ago a witch done put a spell on me
A spell where when I'm talking I'm singing it with glee
But when you're always singing you've got to live alone
That's why I made this mountain shack my home

When you're on the mountain there's lots to be a-feared
That's why this here old mountain goat's prepared
Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do

But I got horns that open bottles and I got horns that hold my keys
I got horns that when you turn 'em right They help me watch TV
I got horns that open pickle jars and horns that come with hair
I got horns that hang my other horns I always come prepared

To be prepared, to be prepared
This lesson must be shared
This lesson must be shared
To be prepared

To be prepared, to be prepared
And unless you've got a spare
You've got one life so handle it with care
( Keep your hands and feet inside of the vehicle at all times!)

An avalanche is comin ~and I do not feel prepared
It's rumbling like a mountain lion I must say that I'm scared
And if not for the witch's spell you'd hear just how I scream
But since I'm only singing I'll just yodel till we're creamed "

It's so cute! I was laughing and laughing, and Matt, the guy I was working with, was singing along and these little kids were sitting on the carpet giggling. I guess you had to be there.

anyway after work I went to my car to find it was white (my car is generally dark blue), all the rain had turned to frost on my windows. And wiping my windscreen only did a little bit, it kept fogging up. It was really scary. Sometimes having my airconditioning on helped, but I didn't have much petrol (I was meaning to get some on my way home), so I kind of drove at 20km/h putting the aircon on every time I couldn't see anything. fortunately it was quiet and I know the road well, but it was really scary. Especially when I was nearly at the petrol station and left the aircon on, and it seemed to make it worse!

So that was my day... action-packed as usual! Right now I'm having a weird Skype conversation with my aunt in the uk, who keeps confisong me by telling me I should be in bed, and just becasue my email was boring I'm ungrateful because I got to talk to her... I'm too tired for this!

here's a picture: it's Red and the Goat, I got it from some website (i.e. animated people do not walk around to have photos taken by me...)

I'm going to bed now, if I can tactfully remove myself from the conversation...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

wandering without purpose... or is it wondering?

We came up with a new name for EEbEE's blog (because he forgot both the username AND password for his old one) as 'Wandering without purpose' To be quite honest, I'm very tempted to steal it as a book title for when Luke and I finally publish the Mole-Rat Diaries. Just so we can write about other stuff, like the weird stuff going on in the hnours room. Right now we have 3 quotes for the day written on the board (which are just a very small sample of the stuff that gets said in there):
1. "Nothing says 'I love you' better than a battery-operated sex machine!" - Luke
2. "Oh my word! I had no idea you has so many piles!" - me
3. "How exactly do I handly my crab infestation?" - Neva

I think that way too much has happened this year for it all to be relegated to dim memories to be rehashed at reunions (which will probably be pretty empty considering how we're all fantanstic and destined for amazing careers all over the world -that's not wishful thinking at all!). The only thing will be tracking down people to sign disclaimers. TAO will be expecially difficult as most of it will be in a not very favourable light towards her! Please ignore my grammar I'm tired!

The exam yesterday was horrible. I hadn't been studying very hard, mostly due to living in a painkiller-induced fog for most of Thurday. I came off the painkillers to be able to concentrate for my exam, but it was really boring and I left just before the 2-hour mark. Everyone else was just finishing their first essay and I'd written all 3. The problem is that I'm panicking about all the stuff I answered badly right now. I'm a bit of a stress-ball post-exams!

After that EEbEE, Luke and I went to Fordsburg and shared a GIGANTIC pizza. Shout out to Nicolette, out waitress for putting up with us! It's tough when one of you is a vegtetarian and another doesn't eat mushrooms. Or olives. Or avocado. or brinjal. or asparagus... (yes that's me. I prefer to save my fungus for when I have the flu).

My supervisor and a lecturer made my life a little bit difficult by teasing me about leaving the exam so early and I was back in my drug-induced fog and unable to prodice any semi-witty repartee, so I just sort of smiled (it hurt too much to smile properly) and wandered off, trying to avoid walking into walls. A bit later I found my supervisor to ask if one of the lizards was ok (I had a nasty suspicion he's been sent off the the tank in the sky, but it turns out he's ok), and I casually dropped the whole 'I had surgery 2 days ago' into the conversation. He showed the same overreaction as everyone else, looking all shocked and nervous and saying I should have had my exam deferred etc etc. As much as I like to be infallable (for lack of a better word) I'm a sucker for sympathy!

After that we went to the zoo, but it had been raining and Luke didn't sample, so we followed out keeper-friend/person/mentor/I don't know, what is she anyway? around for a bit until she started apologising, and then we went to see Cole, the cheetah and went home. I mean to wits. Hmm, Freud was right.

I had to go back inside to fetch some stuff, my supervisor was still there. I get a weird kind of satisfaction from knowing he's finally working longer hours than me! And I ran into the lecturer runing the field trip for me and he officially invited me along next year. It's so exciting! I just have to get the formal invitation email and details, but otherwise I'm sorted and ready to go! It's so cool!

I just came home from 12 hours at work (Joey needed a day off so i agreed to do a double-shift), it was fun. We watched Over the Hedge again, and Superman Returns and the third X-men. The X-men is far better than the first 2! And once again, it makes me desperate to dye my hair. Stupid wedding! I can't change the colour because the colours I want won't match my dress!

In other news my boss freaked out because of certain staff members *couhg*Chris*cough* taking out brand new stuff for days rather than just overnight, so now out free-movies are restricted to taking out at 9pm and getting them abck by opening time (10am) the next day. Jo is furious and I'm upset, but my boss was in a bad mood today and I didn't think it was wise to negotiate. Maybe tomorrow morning!

Anyway, this post is far longer than I expected it to be. I'm sorry for all the babbling! I'm going to bed now!

Have an awesome weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I haven't blogged, but now I decided to because I hate looking at all the misery in my last post and I need to fill this space up to move it down! It's been quite hectic, in a not-hectic kind of way. i had an essay due on Monday but I was so fried I just couldn't. the lecturer was pretty understanding and I handed in one of the worst pieces of drivel I've ever written today... On the good side I got my glucocorticoids, stress and welfare management essay back and I did pretty well, so I'm not too stressed about my average for this course, since I wrote Friday's essay about a month ago. It just needs some fixing up, and I can think well enough to do that (the four hour exam on Friday on the other hand...)

Anyway, I've been wasting time with a shareware copy of Mario Bro's Neva gave me. it's AWESOME in a totally bad way! I'm addicted (and totally stuck on the third level!) which is bad because i generally avoid computer games like the plague because I know how quickly I get sucked in and then lose all productivity alltogether...

I've been having trouble with my sinuses lately, which may be the reason why I've had a headache for about 3 months now. So today I went to see my godmother who is one of the top facio-maxilla peple in the country (the other one is her husband) and she tried to do a little in-chair op on my face to try push it back a bit. Bad move. She drilled 3 holes into my jaw (the smell... it was like sititng in a dissection except that I was the subject! And then there was lots of swearing and blood everywhere and they said my jawbones are too thin and they stiched me up.

So now I have a headache from hell, a course of antibiotics, a swollen face and a large tub of painkillers. She said I must either learn to live with it and stay on some pretty hectic anti-histamines or else I must go for some huge bone-graft thing. I'm waiting for my parents to come home from Bermuda so we can discuss it. I guess it was a good thing in a way. I know that if she said there's no way then there is totally no way. She's the best (and she studied to music like me, so if you play a certain Beatles song - i forget which - she compulsively recites all the nerves in a certain facial region) and I'm glad I got that done now so that I'll have lost the stitches and stuff by the time the mole-rat trip starts. Plus I got a prescription for the painkillers that I ran out of (I'm not a druggie, I just get BAD headaches a lot. I also thought my tyre was going to blow up on the highway and it didn't. And I managed to drive home all drugged up and injected and I'm ok, last time I did that I nearly started a pile-up!

In other news... my supervisor said we can get my project ready for publication in january (rather than NOW which I wasn't happy with). There's also a rule that if I get an A for this degree I can skip masters and go straight to PhD and he thinks I will and said if I do that he's got a scholarship lined up for me. Which is scary. I don't feel old enough to be a PhD student! Plus it'll put an end to going overseas. He said to get a doctorate quickly and then I can go all over the world researching until I feel experienced enough to settle down somewhere. It certainly is tempting! Particularly because if I need a big PhD project I can do all the stuff I want as well as maybe squeezing some field work into it. I think I'm also being a little bit stupid and counting a lot of unhatched eggs... I don't know what my project was worth, and In read a lot of other people's honours from a few years ago (the big scary experienced Masters and PhD students) and I feel very inadequate!

Anyway I have to go to church now, I think I've been neglecting the Christians a bit too much, plus as soon as I take the bag of frozen veggies off me cheek I'm sure I'll get some sympathy!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

it's over... so why do I not feel happy?

Today was undoubtable the worst day I've had this year (with losing the lizard in the wall the day after I broke a finger being a not-very-close second).

I got to wits at 7am, and tried to get to work. It was so horrible, I was useless! That post from this morning took me about half an hour because I was so tired and stupid I just couldn't get anything right.

So I proofread and it seemed ok, but I knew I was tired, so I just sort of twitched around. When my supervisor finally deigned to arrive at about 10am I was a little bit... frantic. So I gave him my updated thesis and he said eh had to go do something quickly, but he'd get back and get started in about 1/2 an hour. I offered to help in order to be around to speed up the process, but he refused. so I sort of twitched around a bit more, drinking copious amounts of coffee and typing up a title page (more on that later).

Eventually I almost went to sleep on some chairs in the honours room, but as soon as I was dozing off nicely (the chairs actually make a remarkably comfortable bed when pushed together!) either someone would walk in, or someone would ask me a question. Finally the room was full of people who were being very polite and not screaming or anything when TAO (the annoying one) walked in and proceeded to get all loud on the phone about how happy she was that she was all done and her write-up was handed in and how exciting it was to go for coffee and so on. I gave up the pretense after she left. By then it was an hour after my supervisor had arrived (and 5 hours until hand-in) and he still hadn't got back. so I twitched around some more and got Luke to proofread (shout out to Luke, you is rox!) and then twitched some more.

After waiting for two and a half hours (it was a long half an hour I think, in his mind) there was srtill no sign of my supervisor and I got really really upset. I was complaining to Neva about how upset I was that all the hard work I'd done all year was going to be worthless because nobody (i.e. my supervisor) cared when I just sort of burst into tears. Awkward moment.

A little while later my supervisor reappeared and then an hour later (this is 2:30 pm, an hour and a half from hand-in) he sent me his comments. I was in a bad mood, and I think he noticed because he was really nice and I was particularly unfriendly (I had already stormed into the lab a few times complaining about how academia is horrible and I'm not doing masters... I think the Australain might have said something to him), and then I rushed off to do my corrections (nothing major a new paragraph and some grammar , the whole discussion was in present rather than past tense and I hadn't noticed. neither had Luke). so, with 45 minutes to go, Luke and I rushed off to get our theses printed and bound. there was a queue, but mine was done in time, so we sprinted (well Luke sprinted, I ran out of steam half way and walked. it's really not been a kind year!) to hand in and I walked over to the desk, and proudly held out my three copies... to see that I'd left a word out of my title, rendering it meaningless (it was a 'being', so without it I was just looing at 'the costs of subordinate').

So I panicked and sprinted off to reprint the cover page, but my copies were already bound, so with dramatically shaking hands I cut out the title and glued it on top of the original title. it looked horrible. So for the other two i just stuck the missing word on and that looked ok. The ugly one with the double title is going to give me sleepless nights. I was really upset, and Neva got a bit nervous that I might start crying again (I was beyond crying). And that was it. 40% of my honours degree ticked off a list and handed in.

We were about to go to Biosoc for a drink, and realised that of the three of us (myself, Luke and EEbEE) none of us had eaten at all that day and it might be a bad idea to drag ourselves off to the pub in our current exhausted, overcaffeined states. so we went and got food and Luke ran off home and I ended up at Biosoc where a small group of exhausted people sat and didn't really talk at all.

I have an essay for Monday, so I went to the lab to fetch the papers I need for it, and got a talking-to from the Australian about going home. He also said that if I'm not enjoying the long horrible hours, loads of stats and monotonous lab work it might be a good idea for me to quit now. I agree, but a part of me wanted him to advise me to stay. I couldn't find the papers, my desk(s) are messy at the best of times, but are also usually super-organised. Right now they're both disaster-zones and I can't find anything. so I drove home really slowly for fear of driving off the side of the road due to total exhaustion and went outside and lay on the grass. The drive home really upset me because it was the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen, the kind with bright ble sky with multicoloured streaks across it and silhouetted clouds and birds flying across... and I felt nothing. I didn't even wish I had my camera.

I want this year to be over!

Friday, November 03, 2006


This is my 50th post! I would be throwing coffee... I mean confetti... Yes, I'm exhausted. At 4:30 yesterday afternoon I decided that my discussion wasn't working and nothing I did to try fix it up was good enough, so I just deleted it all. I finished my new one at 11pm last night, when my mom strted phoning in mild hysterics because my parents are going overseas and needed their sleep and I shouldn't be driving late at night and so on.

So I just got in now (7am) and I'm going to go over my discussion, write an abstract (that's like a summary) and a title and then try track down my supervisor to proofread my new discussion. It's not my best work, but I just can't do anything better. This year has very much taught me that all that I was able to overachieve on last year by strength of working really hard and staying up late and getting up early just isn't enough yet. The Australian said that at this rate I won't make it to 30, but it gets easier once honours... no, masters... no, PhD... no, postdoc... it gets easier. I wanted to cry!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

the waiting is killing me...

I sent in my first draft to both my supervisors yesterday. One said I'd get feedback this morning, the other said I'd get it this 'arvo' so I took the afternoon off, visited Joey at work (to find her giggling because she had just had to serve Mr Fokkens) and went home to fall asleep in front of the tv. It was a lot of fun, but also stressful because I had the nagging 'I should be working right now' feeling the whole time.

So anyway I figured I wouldn't get my draft back until 10am or so, so I slept in and only left home at about 8:30, and now it's 10:20 and I'm waiting and I can't do anything and it's really stressful! I just reached the point where working all the time was so normal (although not neccessarily getting anything done) that I don't have anything to do...

I have an essay, but I don't want to write it. Maybe I should fix up my other essay that I already wrote. I'll be grateful for that next week when I have both essays due and an exam to study for!

The Australia bought a car and it broke down already, so he's being way too polite to the people who sold it to him, I think he's trying to appeal to their better nature. They've just referred him to some dodgy mechanic friend of theirs.

We hung a piece of melon on a string for the iguana yesterday and she had so much fun chasing it around! It was adorable!

I feel really awkward sittinghere not working. I think I'll go do that essay.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

two quick thoughts

I was at wits last night until about 10:30, and I had two thoughts as I was driving home at 50km/hr ebcause I was so tired I thought I'd crash otherwise.

1) I can do this. Which is weird because I'm really struggling, but I felt ok, and now I can almost breathe gain.

2) I really want to do masters next year. In fact, I want to do so much stuff that maybe going straight to PhD would be a good idea.

That's all.
And my paragraphs aren't too short! Are they?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

stupid blogger!

I made a whole post the other day and blogger ate it! SO not what I need right now!

Briefly: I have 5 days to finish my write-up. Progress-wise I'm behind (VERY behind), I have my results and methods almost done, all that's missing is a paragraph in my methods. I got my intro back with comments on Friday, there's a lot to do on it, but it's workable. and I haven't even thought about my discussion. I was supposed to finish my results this morning and have a rough version of my discussion done by now, but my results took a LONG time. I fixed up 8 graphs this morning until I realised that I would end up with 32 graphs and I didn't care enough to do that. So I went back to tables. Right now I have 15 tables and 6 graphs, which is a bit ridiculous, but when you have 120 dependent variables (2 sets of 60) it's a bit impossible to cut it down any more.

On Thursday I realised that my results were meaningless and sat up until 10pm at university redoing my stats. The I got home and worked a few more hours and then the next morning I finished redoing them and went to my supervisor to find out that they're actually irrelevant and should be relegated to appendices. We also had a little bit of an argument about my attitude on the importance of publishing (basically I don't care, I'm trying to get my write-up done and then I'll think about it, while he wants it ready for publication just about immediately).

I also went to the Live concert on Friday, after a lot of stressing about the amount of time I have and that I didn't have time and it was all horrible until Laura kicked me out of the honours room and I went anyway. It was a lot of fun, I needed a chance to scream a bit and go slightly crazy! There were even the occasional 10 minutes when I didn't think about my write-up, which was awesome!

On Saturday I was so stressed I felt really sick, and ended up going for a 3 hour lunch break with Luke and EEbEE and we ended up buying tea and having another argument about the pronounciation of Schnitzel and getting funny looks from people.

And then today I worked.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


On Thursday I realsied all my stats was wrong and I had to redo it. I had a full-on panic attack (I can't breather!!! style thing), then sat at wits until 10pm doing stats. Then I went home and carried on until midnight. WhenI woke up yesterday I realised I'd arranged it wrong, so I had to redo it again...

Finally after all that I went to my supervisor, who pointed out that that section of stats is actually irrelevant and just goes into an appendix that nobody will ever read.

Plus I got my intro back. It's not too bad, there are a lot of comments, but it's the section I'm always least comfortable writing, so I'm relieved that there's some rearranging stuff, one or two more paragraphs to research and write and a lot of irrelevant tuff to take out but that's all. There was even a full apge without comments!

The problem was that I was so stressed that when I saw a whole lot of comments everywhere I panicked. I was gonig to the Live concert last night an dI proceeded to panic and try find a way to not go so that I could get my work done.

Then Laura kicked me out the honours room (in a well-meaning way) and I ended up going ebcause I didn't have the heart to call everyone else and cancel. Plus I already paid for the ticket...

So I went and met up with Lara and we had lunch and by the end of it the stressed-going-to-be-sick feelign was nearly gone (I'm not sure if it's because I inhaled some second-hand nicotine or because we got to talk about non-university stuff).

And we went to the concert. I realised just how isolated we've got this year. I got to see Claire and Linda and Darryl and Lara and I just didn't know what to say to them. Linda and I went into our usual long-winded explanations about what we're studying (she does genetics and generally has to explain it in baby-talk for me) and then went into a rather de[pressed session about how we're such losers. Back in first year we always used to say how we'd never become pale nervous people who never come out of the lab. Oops.

The concert was awesome though, I really had fun. I've been so stressed it was nice to jump around and scream and just go nuts. They played really well also, and I got to laugh when the lead singer took his shirt off and Lara nearly fell over she was screaming so hard!

Anyway it's already 11am and I have a lot of work to do...

It's nearly over, but I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing...
here's my bird:

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

no pressure!

I have 9 days to finish my write-up. And that's a completed, final draft that is worth 40% of my entire honours degree mark.

I went to see my supervisor today. He was really nice, I hope it stays that way until I hand in (and until the end of masters, but one thing at a time)...

He's also developed a weird tendency to sit there with the trying-very-hard-not-to-laugh look on his face. and when I go "You're laughing at me! Stop laughing at me!" he packs out laughing while insisting that he isn't. I'd believe him if I didn't spend most of the time I'm talking to him with a similar look on my face. I figure that the best way around it is to laugh and be done with it.

We also discussed (da da da dummmmm) My Future. Mostly that I must make my mind up. He's ok if I freeze my masters to go overseas for a year.

Otherwise, the Australian introduced me to some music he heard at a frisbee club people party. It's really awesome (the music. Not the other stuff). He's also getting a bit annoying in that he's being all "You work so hard!" at me, when I. Don't. Have. A. Choice.

He's also completely full of shit, in a way that reminds me very much of my brother when we were younger. I get to laugh a lot!

Otherwise I'm so stressed that I'm completely calm, and considering going to bed now. Which is a bad thing because I have work to do.

plus if I go to bed now, when they walk in tomorrow to find me sitting at the same spot, in the same position (hunched over in front of a computer, with a cup of tea and a pen and paper), I'll get the usual "Did you go home last night?" speech.

The sad thing is, when they left, he came back to fetch something and I said "Didn't you go?" and he said no, it wasn't worth it. and I said "Not worth going home?" and he said "This is home." and I said "No, it's my home and it's only big enough for one of us!" and it didn't sound too far from the truth! It also ended the argument.

so I'm going to bed. As soon as I finish streaightening my methods and putting the last touches on my intro.

Very funny, I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I need validation!

Last night I was planning to finish my essay, but i realised I'd forgotten to back up all the work I'd done on the weekend onto my flash drive. So i went home to work on it to find that we had no electricity.

I had a minor breakdown, threw a tantrum at some poor unsuspecting Eskom person on the phone and went to work for some sympathy. Joey and Lara were very sympathetic. chris isn't speaking to me again for some reason. Don't know what I did this time...

Then I went home (buying peanutbutter curry - don't knock it till you've tried it on the way in case there wasn't any power yet) to find that the electricity was still out,and the Eskom workment weren't there anymore. So I threw another tantrum ast a very annoying Eskom guy, who responded by putting me on hold.

I read a few books that I needed for my write-up and fell asleep as the candles slowly sucked the oxygen out of my vicinity. I woke up to find wax pouring all over my first draft, narrowly missing two library books, and forming a gleaming puddle on my carpet.

My birds also panicked, and Rerra hurt his wing by flying around their cage in a panic. he was bleeding pretty badly, but it clotted ok.

the power came on at midnight, so i got up, saved everything to my flashdrive and worked for about half an hour before I got bored. I also got to read a very amusing email from the lady who we're going to the desert with (how's that for bad grammar?). she's trying very hard not to pry, but has to know if Luke and I are 'just friends' or a couple, plus a list of every possible eventuality in sleeping arrangements, from us haivng a bedroom and her taking the couch, to kicking Luke out the the living room while the two of us get the bedroom...

It's very sweet of her to try ask it so discreetly, but it's also so funny to read it that I just can't reply because I start giggling.

Oh, and speaking on giggling, the Australian inadvertently learned 'Poepel' today, but keeps getting the definition confused. I think he's also trying to get me back for forcing him to repeat all of his Afrikaans phrases over and over, by forcing me to repeat Aussie slang and then commenting on my pronounciation. Which is pretty good considering I speak English! He's also messing with me a lot, it's like having my brother around all the time, except I can't tell him to 'root' off.

I also got the first 2 sections of my write up that I sent to my supervisor back, COVERED with comments. Some of it's really little stuff that I just didn't know (like if you have a measurement you have to have a space between the numbers and the units. And instead of bullet points you number each point and separate them with semicolons), and some of it's basic stuff that I should have known, like naiming the brand of soap I used.

and some of it is major points that I knew I should have addressed, except that I don't know the answers.

So I'm feeling partly good that I've got feedback and I can fix stuff, but also really stupid and tired and annoyed with myself.

I've also been thinking about the future (if one more person asks me about what I'm doing next year I might just cry). I mean, everything I've ever really worked at has had a mark at the end. I learned music to get into orchestras and play exams. I went at school to get matric. I went to university to get a degree, I'm doing my honours to get a good honours degree. And the thought of doing two years of research without a nice little symbol (preferably an A) to keep me feeling validated and ok with life. I don't think I have the motivation.

Plus, as much as I love the department (I mean going shopping to find a 'poepoel' to raise frogs in?) and the people and the stuff I learn, I don't know...

Sorry you guys have to sit through this again, it's what happens after 10 pages of putting spaces between numbers and letters.

Here's Max again...

Oh, and some information on Hexane (courtesy of wikipedia). I have 2 years and 10 months until I'm clean!

"The acute toxicity of hexane is relatively low, although it is a mild anesthetic. Inhalation of high concentrations produces first a state of mild euphoria, followed by somnolence with headaches and nausea.
Chronic intoxication from hexane has been observed in recreational solvent abusers and in workers in the shoe manufacture, furniture restoration and automobile construction. The initial symptoms are tingling and cramps in the arms and legs, followed by general muscular weakness. In severe cases, atrophy of the skeletal muscles is observed, along with a loss of coordination and problems of vision.
Similar symptoms are observed in animal models. They are associated with a degeneration of the peripheral nervous system (and eventually the central nervous system), starting with the distal portions of the longer and wider nerve axons. The toxicity is not due to hexane itself but to one of its metabolites, hexane-2,5-dione. It is believed that this reacts with the amino group of the side chain of lysine residues in proteins, causing cross-linking and a loss of protein function.
The effects of hexane poisoning in humans are not permanent, and usually disappear gradually over one to three years after the end of exposure."

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Blogger FINALLY let me post pictures! This is the desert trip (as I said, courtesy of google earth). We start in Johannesburg (well, more Pretoria, but anyway) on the East and then work our way clockwise until we get home again. the first trip down to Darling is a 12 hour drive (to get a sense of scale. Highway speed limits are generally 120km/hr).

Here's a grown-up version of Jesse when not attacking Max. The only time I can get her to sit still for a picture is when she's sleepy/sleeping.

and, because I can't leave him out, here's Max:

They're in black and white because I don't like the way colours come out under artificial light, and I don't know my camera well enough to fiddle with the balance and stuff.

That's all. I'm sure once I have time to figure out my camera I'll be posting a lot more photos. It's so annoying, Canon was too stingy to actually print the instruction manual, it's in Pdf mode on a cd. So now instead of my usual lying on my bed figuring what all the buttons do, I have to sit by the computer. I've got the basics, but the cool stuff is still to come!

15 random things

Sarah tagged me, so I tag... Travis! hahahahahahaha! (sorry Luke, I don't want you to feel left out, but i know how much work you have...).

1. If I come within a square kilometer of a large open body of water I will fall in. It's like a law of nature.

2. I'm a zoologist, but until about 2 1/2 years ago I was terrified of insects. When I went on Marine and Coastals I was too proud to tell anyone so I just had to come to terms with them (within about 2 days that we spent just working with insects) I still don't like all of them very much, but mostly I'm ok.

3. I had my first music lesson when I was 4 years old. I had my last music lesson when I was 18. I miss playing in an orchestra sometimes, but otherwise I never think about it.

4.I just wrote the introduction to my honours thesis. I'm too scared to read it.

5. When I graduated in April I forgot to actually take my degree and they nearly had to call me back on stage, but they caught me in time.

6. I don't know anything about stats. I just fake it well. Really.

7. When I was 8 we went to Germany for 2 weeks and I put down the shopping on the side of the road while we were waiting for a robot to change and didn't pick it up again. i was the one carrying pretty much all the important stuff. the banks were closed the next 2 days (Sunday plus some holiday or something?) so we ended up living on the Oatso Easy and Cuppa Soup my mom had packed in case. We only had 1 spoon and my Dad had to use his shoehorn (he washed it first).

8. When I was little I was really quiet and I used to get locked in the classroom at the end of the day about once a week. I was too shy to shout for help so I just used to sit there until someone walked past.

9. I could read before I started school and nobody knows how I learned.

10. When I was a baby they had to separate me and my brother because we had a sign-language type thing going and he got me whatever I asked for, so I didn't start talking properly until really late.

11. I had a lisp and had to have speech therapy.

12. Whenever we had a braai I always used to get marshmallow in my hair.

13. I put cheese wax in my hair once and we nearly had to shave a chunk off. Nearly.

14. when I was 10 I read 'The Power of One' for the first time. I loved it but my grandparents were horrified because of the swearing. It's still my favourite book (hitchhiker's guide is a close second).

15. i used to sleep walk. Once I attacked my own arm in a semi-asleep state and pinched it so hard I had a bruise that was so big I could I could explain it away by saying I got hit by a cricket ball. I was 16.

I have to write my essay for Ecophys now. I really don't want to. I thought for a horrible split-second that the wits website was down again, then I realised that for some reason we weren't connected to the internet so I was able to breathe again.

Blogger still won't let me upload pictures. It says they're uploaded, but then they are nowhere to be seen.

It's so frustrating!!!

I'm going to go write an essay now.

Very funny.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Just a quick note

Last night I was supposed to go go-carting, but it was raining, and i was really tired, so I stayed home. Bad plan. My broother and his fiance had two friends (who are getting married in February) over and I had to join them for dinner. What do you get if you sit in a small room with 2 couples getting married within the next 6 months? Wedding plans. I am so glad I'm going to the desert!

AnywayI just had to post to say this: MY NEW CAMERA RULES!!! I'm tempted to run around shouting that a lot. But people already think I'm strange. So anyway I got my camera, with a lot of compliments from Daniel (the guy behind the counter) who earned a lot of commission off me today because I also got a new memory card (a multi-media card at a SD card price because they were out of stock) and batteries and a camera bag. Apparently I make the world a better place by knowing exactly what I want when I walk into a camera shop.

Of course. I'm going to meander around with large amounts of cash asking for advice from someone who earns commission? I've been researching cameras for months. More like years.

And if you get a really nice camera you have to get stuff like cases and batteries because otherwise it'll get damagedor you'll be running to buy batteries ever ten minutes (respectively).

Anyway I have to write my intro now. I HAVE to have my first draft done today. Please beat me up if I don't. I finished my reading. Out of the articles that I downloaded I read about 180 papers in the last 2-3 days and of those, maybe 60-70 are actually usable (I didn't say useful, because the 'useful and relevant' count if just depressing).

So I'm going to make lunch and sit down with all my paper summaries. I'm not even allowed to turn my camera on until it's done!

I hope everyone has an awesome weekend! I'll put up my amazing 15 facts a bit later, when I have breathing time!

Oh and here's where we're going on the desert trip (courtesy of google earth):

It hates me and won't upload :(
Maybe tomorrow.

Oh well! I'm going to go and WORK!

P.S if anyone out there is considering doing honours: Don't!

Friday, October 20, 2006

number 40!

I just realised that this is post number 40! I never thought I'd keep this up so long.

I've been readnig articles all day. I have about 70 more until I can start the real writing (intro and discussion). to tel the truth I could probably start the discussion alrady, but I don't want to do anythign until I get my M&M and Results back from my supervisor.

Anyway there was the most amazing article. Apparently our pigment for seeing blue light actually can absorb down to the UV range, but our cornea and lens don't allow UV light through. So if you have cataract surgery or something you shold be able to see UV! They should totally make a UV-transparent artificial cornea and give it to cataract patients. It would be so amazing!

The really frustrating thing about working with colour is that you can analyse UV colours, and work with them and manipulate them, but you can't SEE them. Like for us, red +blue = purple. so what does Orange +UV look like? We can't even imagine because it's a colour that doesn't exist for us. so two totally different colours both look orange for us.

Anyway, back to work.
I'm fetching my camera tomorrow!!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My camera-to be!

I ordered my new camera today, I'm so excited!!! It's a 6m.pixel, 12x optical zoom, with a supermacro that's so good you can practically balance the lens on what you're photographing!

My history as a photographer has been relatively awful. In 2004 I was unable to take a photograph that people would actually be able to identify what was in it. really. I was that bad.

It was really horrible because I loved photos and would spend hours looking at them and going through books and internet sites...

So at the end of my second year I worked full time selling dog and cat food and saved up, and on new years eve I went and bough a beautiful little Casio QV-R51 camera. I think I took about 70 photos that day.

By the end of the holidays I was an average photographer and the camera went everywhere with me.I became the queen of taking photos of people in awkward moments and stuff.

After about a year the camera started to bug me. I had qualified as a speciality diver with underwater photography in the meantime and the limited zoom and macro was annoying and restricting, and I started considering selling it and getting a better camera.

The dicision was made for me when, about a year later I went on a field trip and somebody (possibly me, I really don't know) didn't zip up the camera case and it fell out and landed on the rocky shores one night. I realised how much I loved it because I missed it SO much, but fixing it would have cost more than getting a new, better, camera.

So I got a little Samsung on special and it's been getting me through since then, but I really don't like it, I use it because I must have a camera, but I don't like it particularly. I don't know it very well and there are severe limitations in terms of EVERYTHING being automatic when I want manual.

so now I'm moving up to a nice new, shiny camera. I'm fetching it on Saturday. I can't wait! The desert trip is going to be so cool now that I can take photos with a cool camera! and I will... lots of them...
Here it is: (not my photo, it belongs to canon (the website is or something, so please don't sue me!).

Isn't it pretty...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

DESERT!!! MOLE-RATS!!! part 2

Luke and I looked at the map today to see where in the deert we're going.

It's SO cool! We're literally driving all around South Africa (well minus a lot of the South-East, but I've been there...). Plus we've arranged to be able to go on schedule, so it's so exciting! I'm so excited I'm really battling to work. Plus I think I overdid the sugar and my head hurts...
I was just sitting outside with Luke and Sarah and laughing about people wakling past and stuff and Oliver told this really disturbing story about dressing in a speedo and some leaves for a school play.

So anyway we get back to the lab and Sarah tells the Australian and then he said that the Australian word for a speedo was 'budgie-smuggler' and then it got out of hand and we ran to the honours room and collapsed in giggles...

So now I'm sad, because I'm exhausted, but this afternoon was kind of a prfect snapshot of what this year's been like. Lots of running around and giggling and getting into trouble and running away and hiding... and work work work...

And I'm sad that it's nearly over. And I'm sadder that I didn't make work a bigger component because I'm SO BEHIND!

I'm going to go work now...

Oh, and in the desert we're going to Darling (it's a town, really), Kamieskroon and Tswalu nature reserve.



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

fuzzy thinking

I just gave my flash drive to the Australian so he could listen to a sound-clip. I forgot that it has a folder called 'to be read when I'm feeling particularly intelligent' on it. He laughed.

He was listening to the 'how to speak English with an Afrikaans accent' clip. He found it funny, but most of the humour was actually lost on him. Quite sad.

I'm downloading articles again. on colour this time. Hopefully I'll actually get some work done today! I need to have my results done by the end of today, which is probably why I'm spending all my time on my introduction...

Anyway, just checking in to say hi. The Desert trip is going to be almost a month long, so I won't be blogging very much afer about a month's time...