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 www.canon.co.uk 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...

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I slept until 8am this morning! It was so good! Then I got up to find that my dad had decided to show his support by washing my car. My mom always tries to support me by telling me to stop working, or by offering to help (I'm tempted to give her some stats to analyse and then she'll never do it again)!

So I went from home to the zoo where I helped with another workshop. Well, mostly I sat giggling with Anoushka and Neville (Luke said OK a lot. I counted 86 before I gave up, and Neville kept asking for the running total). I also got to know some of the kids. They're nice, but also very much little teenagers and I felt very old after about half an hour of discussing learner's tests and cycle tests and getting drunk and falling down the stairs (and the 'Oh my gosh,what a coincidence I wear contact lenses too! from Ashley was really a highlight).

After that I had to go to my brother's engagement party. It actually really sucked because I was havving fun, and I was chatting to some of the people who work there (the one guy had a hectic cast on his arm from a crocodile attack, and was nice and sensible about it, saying that if you work with big animals with big teeth it's a bit inevitable). They even offered me a behind-the-scenes tour of the reptile section!

The party was amazingly cool for a family function (except Luke smsing to say he'd met the baby chimp :( ... So not fair!) mainly because I had very little to do with either family. A few friends had been invited, and they happen to be good friends of mine too, so I had an awesome catch-up session. Plus the best man and some other guys were there so I got to listen in to the bachelor part plans.

The best was to get him really drunk (how they plan to do that is beyond me, he's a pretty light drinker, like me) and then get a cast put on to his leg or arm and leave him to wake up with a note saying 'we're so sorry!' and then leave it for a week or 2 before telling him it's a joke. There was also the full-body mercurochrome bath (so when wearing a suit there's no problem, but after the wedding...).

My uncle, who taught me to dive, also invited me to Sodwana bay for 2 weeks in December. I think I'm in the desert then though :( which is really horrible because it's with his friend (incidentally also called Neville) who is a total marine life expert and will teach me all about the stuff I always see but can't remember long enough to get to my field guides. That was also the first time my parents heard that the desert trip was happening, so there's a bit of drama there too.

After that I went to work, because it's just down the road, and I had to plan the concert itenerary with the friend I'm going with.

I got home to have a serious talking-to from my mother along the lines of 'promise me you'll have 5 litres drinking water with you at all times!' and as far as 'remember that the desert is bigger that you are!' and so on. I promised her that the university couldn't lose me because it's bad PR and they wouldn't want to jeopardise their funding. It seemed to work.

Still no word from the German lady though...

And I'm going dam-diving in the next few weeks to sort out my weighting!

Jo is going to kill me!

Here is the view from where I was working on the roof (courtesy of Luke who isn't afraid of standing on the wall). I hope it helps to explain why I'm so desperate to get out of Joburg!

Friday, October 13, 2006

stats is evil!!!

So I ran my stats again, and suddenly I had a whole bunch of significant difference. Not the differences that I wanted, but at least something happened. So I ran all excitedly to my supervisor, and he laughed at me (weirdly enough) and then settled down to itnerpret them.

The problem is, they make NO SENSE! I can't explain it because nothing happened in logical patterns...

So after a day of being decidedly unhappy with life, I went to my supervisor and (got something in my eye which made the whole situation mildly more awkward than usual) was all stressed out (something along the lines of 'I don't understand it and I don't know what to do!') which I never do usually. I'm supposedly a very calm student, so it really freaked him out. and he did the usual making-me-feel-better-while-doing-nothing-to-help-me thing, and said we'd look at it this morning.

So I went home and fell asleep over my ecophys paper (again) and came back this mornign to find that he's not here.

So I'm going to go and try and figure it out all over again.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

what is this world coming to?

October 10, 2006 Edition 2

Melanie Gosling

THE Marine Living Resources Fund, which had R53 million in its coffers at the end of March 2005, is now R45m in debt.The fund is the operational budget of the Department of Environment' s Marine and Coastal Management (MCM), which is tasked with managing thecountry's multibillion- rand fishing industry.The financial crisis facing MCM is likely to affect almost every facet of the fishing industry, from the control of illegal fishing to thecountry's international markets.

The annual budget for the 2005/06 financial year was slashed to less than the budget of 2002.Yet MCM's travel and entertainment costs have gone up from just overR2m in 2004/05 to R23m in 2005/06.Lack of money has meant that MCM scrapped its annual scientific hake survey in 2005, the first time this survey has not been run since itsinception in the 1970s. The survey forms the basis of MCM's setting quotas for how much hake can be caught the following year. The fishingindustry pays levies on hake landed, in order to fund the research surveys.

Other services that were cut were a scientific trip to Marion Island in December, the Marines anti-poaching project in the Overstrand and the Smit-Amandla contract for anti-pollution control and fishing surveillance. Marine pollution, such as oil spills, is regarded as one of the biggest threats to marine resources.MCM carried out no significant anti-poaching trips on the high seas last year, nor any joint international training programmes to curb illegal fishing.MCM has not created any new fisheries since 2004, although its three-year business plan commits it to introducing three new fisheries in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Many of these issues were published in Feike News, the newsletter of acompany called Marine Regulatory Law and Environmental ManagementAdvisors, run by former MCM head Horst Kleinschmidt and former MCMchief director Shaheen Moolla.Kleinschmidt said in an interview: "We are not interested in name-calling, but we need to set the record straight. MCM is now making out that they inherited a financial mess we created, that they inherited a fund that was broke. That is simply not true. In 2004/05 we ran MCM and all its vessels on our budget, and we still came outwith R53 million in the kitty.

"MCM also makes out that we committed them to excessive expenditurebecause of the running costs of the patrol vessels. The fact is that the patrol vessels were commissioned by parliament in 1998, when Monde Mayekiso was head of MCM and Pallo Jordan was environment minister.

"The new state-of-the- art vessels are regarded as essential in curbing illegal fishing inshore and to patrol the country's exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles out to sea.Moolla said when he managed MCM's vessels, he budgeted for running costs of between R88 million and R150 million a year, depending on the price of fuel and on how many days the vessels were in use.

"We used to charter the vessels to pay for their costs. For instance,the European Union paid e30 000 for a 5-day charter. The Eagle Star now lies in the harbour doing nothing, but we chartered it for up to 260 days a year," he said.Moolla queried how MCM could justify the R30 levy on every kilogram of commercial abalone caught. He said the levy had been increased to this amount with the blessing of the legal abalone industry in order to fund the Marines anti-poaching unit in the Overstrand. But the Marines had been disbanded in July.

The Cape Times asked the department of environment' s communications department in Pretoria for comment, but had not received a reply at the time of going to press.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Desert, here I come!

Ok, here's what's been happening...
I spent the weekend measuring lizards (and being bitten by them. I have a very embarassing bite-mark on my nose...). Today my supervisor was back (with poofy, poofy hair - made meetings difficult... I never learned how to control my giggling!) and I sat and processed my data. There's still a lot to do on it, but I made relatively good progress. I'm aiminy to be done by Wednesday (famous last words) so I can do my analysis and have all my results done by the end of the week.

I also have to do a presentation tomorrow for one of my courses, so I've been writing my essay. I've written about 6-7 pages, nothing groundbreaking in terms of content, but it's ok.

I also got my feedback from my presentation. It was all really nice, I got lots of 'confident delivery' and 'entertaining' and a lot of stuff I just couldn't read. Academic's handwriting is worse than doctors! It was a boost that I really needed. I also showed it to my supervisor and he couldn't read it either, but seemed pleased/relieved.

The Australian is also back, so I have someone to talk to in labs. He's a bit scared of Melville, they had a shaky start, but getting along ok right now. He also spoke some Afrikaans and I nearly fell over I laughed so hard!

After he (and my supervisor) left, I got to work on my essay and actually made some headway before I left at about 8. It's about 3/4 done, so I'm hoping I can finish and do a presentation before 11, otherwise I'll be reading excerpts in class tomorrow!

Anyway I just got an sms to check my email from Luke. Last year we went to catch mole-rats with one of my supervisor's post-docs. It was fantastic and a lot of fun and I've been wishing I could do it again. Anyway Luke and I went to a talk on fossilised termitaria and what we can understand about the evolution of eusocial behaviour from them. The guy also mentioned mole-rats and it quickly became apparent that he had what he was talking about (and that's not just my 'know-it-all scientist speaking, he was confusing rodents and insectivores!). Anyway, he introduced us to the newest mole-rat student, who was very German and equally hopeless, albeit in a very inexperienced way. She needed field assistants, but we were too busy, so she took our names an email addresses so that she could get in touch with us about a trip in December.

In the meantime I was supposed to go to a herpetology conference in November but didn't get around to submitting an abstract. To tell the truth, I'm a lousy herpetologist (no, really lousy) and felt that it would be a bit wasted on me.

Anyway I ran to check my email tonight to find an email from this girl, saying that she still needs helpers, and it's 3 locations, one right by Cape Town, one in Namaqualand, and one in a private game reserve in the kalahari!!! I've never been to a desert before, but always wanted to go to one! Which was partly why I was fighting so hard for Namibia.

The only thing that could be a problem (seeing that I managed to free myself up for the end of November by being unenthusiastic) is that we have to be around to meet the external examiners at some stage at the end of November. I need to check dates and I'll email her tomorrow.

It's so exciting!!!! DESERT!!! and mole-rats!!!

sorry about the punctuation, I'm just a bit over- excited at the moment!

hee hee! DESERT!!!



Good night.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

I uploaded my photos!

I used to do a photo-a-post thing, but it just ran out of steam because all of the photos I have are of fantastic trips, when I wasn't stuck in Joburg and exhausted and angry with my supervisor (who called by the way, and asked a whole lot of questions about stuff that we'd duscussed before). Lookng at those photos is very therapeutic sometimes, but right now it's just frustrating.

So anyway I've taken photos at wits now (Luke helped) and I finally uploaded them.

here goes:

Here is Melville being all scary. She's really cute, but if you'd ever been mauled by her, you'd also call it scary!

She's doing a lot better at the moment, I stuck some newspaper along one side of her tank, so now she has a 'secure' area to sit. She was still clawing at the door, and she shredded her newspaper again, but I think she actually ate a bit and her water bowl was still upright by the end of the day so it's progress. In the meantime I'm fending off questions from people who think I'm suicidal because of all the cuts on my wrists from her claws. Fortunately today wasn't as hot as it has been, so I could wear long sleeves.

Here's an example of some of her more minor work. I googled 'iguana attack' yesterday and saw some photos of people who have really been attacked, and I must admit, my little cuts and scratches look pretty minor when compared to some of the bite marks. She's agitated and a bit aggressive, but she never tried to bite me, except once when she got stuck on top of a computer monitor and I think my detaching her was a bit traumatic to both of us. She sat and threatened me for a while afterwards.

Here she is being scary again. I wish I could get a photo of her being cute. Today she was sitting staring at the newspaper on the side of her tank, and it looked like she was reading it. It was so sweet! And at night when she lies down flat and spreads her dewlap out and she goes so fast asleep you could drop a grenade next to her and she probably wouldn't notice.

I finished my reading for that essay today. I'm going to work on a skeleton for it before I go to bed and then work on it tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have at least a draft done by the weekend so I can spend the weekend measuring animals and starting on that set af analyses. Hopefully the stats will be a bit nicer to me this time! I'll be so upset if the results aren't significant again. It's not that I don't understand the importance of a non-significant result, it's just that when you're doing something that nobody has done before it would be so exciting to find out something significant as it would open up so many new research possibilities!

I must really stop whining, I have an awesome field to work in,with a lot of passionate (and odd) people. It's just a bit tough at the moment, and I guess that if I get through it, I'll be able to call myself a qualified researcher, and I wouldn't want a researcher to not know how to work hard!

Malpighian tubules? - vertebrates RULE!

I've been reading and reading and reading for my osmoregulation in deserts essay. The entomology guys all laughed at me because I had no idea what Malpighian tubules are until I was readnig a really cool article on tenebrionid beetles (I know what tenebrionids are at least).

I always thought my ecophysiology was better than it's proving to be. I thnk it's because of the focus on deserts. I've never been to a desert. I want to go to one (as my rather confused atempts to care for the Lithops show - I feel awful because I'm not watering it, but watering it will kill it...). But I know all about temperate region physiology and I'm really good with diving physiology. I hope the next part of the course covers diving physiology. Bird metabolism and deserts in general have been disappointing.

I stuck up newspapers on one side of Melville's tank so she'd have a nice quiet 'refuge' and would stop being crazy. For a while it seemed to work, she sat and stared at it (it looked like she was reading!) but now she's standing on her back legs scraaaatching the glass at the door. IT sounds horrible... but I can't let her out, she keeps trying to go into small dark places that I can't get her out of and when I try stop her she attacks me. After yesterday I look like I've been trying to kill myself, I have deep scratches all over my arms.

Anyway I'm going to email the university I want to go to next year about possible projects. I have some ideas that are really interesting, and pretty cutting-edge where the field is at the moment.

Then I'm back to osmoregulation. Frogs are really cool when it come to living in deserts!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

shitting bricks is a good term...

I did my presentation yeserday and I think it went ok. To tell the truth I really don't care anymore. The fact that I was the last person on the day meant that most people went home so I ended up talking to all of 10 people. The feedback in question time was scary, it looks like I have a lot more explaining to do because my study was pretty bad.

I have no idea how the actual presentation went. I remember standing up and seeing the first slide and then 12 minutes later I was on the last slide, butI have no memory of wht happened inbetween. My supervisor hasn't contacted me to see how it went, so I'm not gonig to let him know. If he wants to know he knows where to find me.

On the crappy side (besides the fact that I have so much work to do in so little time), it turns out that the animal ethics committee is on my case because I haven't put the sick guys on the roof. I'm sorry, they told me on thursday, on Friday I started prepping a box for them, on Friday night my flashdrive crashed and I had to spend my weekend redoing my presentation (well the graphs anyway, which took ages) and yesterday I was in presentations, running out inbetween to feed them. So if they want to give me crap about it they can shove it!

The lecturer who's been bugging me about it is really starting to piss me off. He didn't even bother asking what's been happening. I'm working as fast as I can! And today is cold and damp and probably will be rainy soon and he wants me to take sick animals from their warm dry tanks and put them out in the open?

I really hate wits right now. To tell the truth I really hate the idea of doing anything else here. Whenever I think of masters I just want to run in the opposite direction.

I'm starting to think of looking for a job for next year, and if I get in and get the scholarship I'll go overseas. I hate this place so much at the moment.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


It's my presentation tomorrow and I'm feeling strangely ok about it. It looks good, tons of graphs and pictures and very few words, which leaves me free to waffle. I also times myself today and it looks like I might be able to actually fill up the 15 minute slot, rather than using half of it and then sitting through an eternity of question time!

James and I are ok again, I'm not sure what happened, but it's all good. I'm glad, I missed him!

I sent off an sms to see what my ideal job would be. It's when they send you those arb 'ever wonder what you should be doing with your life?' messages and you reply out of morbid curiosity. It said:

'You like telling people what to do and you do it so well! A career as a movie director would suit you down the the ground. Lights, camera, action!'

I find it amusing. Like when you ask what your past life would be, and they always tell the guys that they were Cleopatra or something, and I was always a guy. Last time I was a sheriff or a cowboy or something. Today apparently I was a musketeer who won a great duel when my opponent's sword got stuck in my moustache. the weird thing is they ask for your name when you sent the message. Helen is a very masculine name apparently. I bet Helen of Troy shaved. Or bleached. I bet Paris got a nasty surprise!

I had the weirdest dream last night. I was driving from my house to wits, and the Australian and my supervisor were sitting int he back of my car. As we drove I spotted the Erythrina tree I drive past every morning and found myself explaining the various common names and the basic ecology of it. and for some reason the Australian knew it all already and thought I was rather silly for telling him. So I identified some fever-trees and I don't remember if he was impressed or not, but somehow the road to wits was also the road to Sodwana bay (I think I made the connection because I first learned about Erythrina on the way to Sodwana, along the route therre are hundreds of fever trees as well as Erythrina).

I'm not sure if it means something, although I am mildly disturbed that I identified trees correctly in a dream!

Anyway, I'm going to go to bed now. I didn't feed any lizards today, so I've got a super-early start in the morning!

I will continue posting photos again as soon as I get around to uploading all the ones I've been taking recently!