Sunday, June 29, 2008

The first are totally not in my top ten anymore...

Sorry I haven't blogged recently after the rather frantic pace of blogging over the last week or so... In the last week I have:

  • dyed parts of my hair blue. This has been covered but I still find it super-exciting!
  • been at the zoo at 5am setting up vivariums
  • been at an official zoo-section opening with all the ambassadors and dignitaries while still...
  • not cracking an invite to the official "we set up a display!" party
  • force-fed venemous snakes (not a first, but totally awesome!)
  • been yelled at for being late at the zoo
  • Sent volunteers to their doom - babysitting Thandi isn't a walk in the park anymore! It's more like a sprint through the zoo chasing the psycho monkey - literally!

as well as numerous other things I won't mention! It's been mildly hectic!

Last night I went off to Billy's in fourways to watch first project perform. It brought back a lot of memories, about 8 years ago I was a total First Project groupie! They're a lot like those blue guys in Las Vegas, where it's a bunch of guys on drums, and they're really amazing and they don't need anything else. The drums (and random bits of metal, like STOP signs) are all that they needed and they were really incerdible. To add to the fantasticness the performers are all relatively good lokoing guys who perform without any shirts on.

That may explain why Billy's started filling up with rather a lot of girls last night... by 'girls' I eman everything from the 16-year-olds who had snuck in at about 6pm to avoid the bouncers to 40 and 50-somethings who tended to behave a lot like the 16-year-olds, but with elss dignity as they couldn't be kicked out for being underage. One such aldy was dancing on the bar by about 8pm, and not getting the attention that she felt she deserved - an image that I would far rather remove from my brain!

So anyway after a few drinks from a fantastic waiter with an unintelligible accent that had us falling around laughing (seriously, we were drinking Coke for the first part of the evening and it was still funny!) and a few fantastic conversations, some of which were centred aroud Lara's fantastic chest-hair (for the record, she doesn't have any, but if she did, we would totally make it super-stylish!) we went off o the dance-floor stage area to grab a good spot close to the stage. We got one that was slightly too close - during the performance I was about a foot away frmo one of the performers, and my ears are still sore! Then we waited, and waited, even dancing to the rather awful remixes of Britney Spears and the Black-Eyed Peas, and nearly starting a fist-fight with some dodgy old guy who seemed to think he was destined to be a pirate, and who got a little bit too close to Nicola and me. While I was content to shove my elbow into his ribs and give him a look that would have melted glass, Nicola found it a little bit more difficult to find her 'happy place' and the guy was only saved by our reshuffling the group to move her away from him once he decided that it was funny to push past us every 5 minutes.

We spotted the performers about 10 minutes before they weer due to go onstage. So they have no excuse of waiting for traffic or any such rubbish, but they kept us waiting for almost an hour and a half, and when tehy went on there were only 3 guys, rather than the usual 5 or so that I remembered. Plus, they had backing music with vocals and stuff, which took away all the magic of the whole thing. It was still cool and I had fun, but I found myself wishing that I was 16 again, listening to the original stuff they used to do.

It also got me thinking, as I was stumbling around the zoo this morning cleaning out frogs and geckos and chatting to one of the volunteers, that I'm getting old. Or rather, behaving old. I used to be out every weekend listening to new south african artists and going to music festivals and all that sort of thing. Now I go out just as regularly, but by about 11pm I'm tired and I want to go home. And I've hardly seen any new south african artists in the alst few years - except the couple that were at MyCokeFest alst eyar. And even those weren't new, I remember hearing the Parlotones singing "Staring at the Sun" when I was about 16, so they're hardly anything new!

It is very sad indeed. So now for some nostalgia: does anyone remember Sarongas (before they became Seether), Just Jinger (before they moved overseas), Nemesis, Tweak, Cucumber Zoo and all those awesome bands we used to go and listen to? what happened to them? And who's around now that's worth going to listen to?

I won't be posting for a few days as I'm off to Kruger with an Australian tomorrow, wish me luck!

Friday, June 27, 2008

I am not making a statement or rebelling

I just like the colour blue... hence I dyed my hair blue. It has nothing to do with my parents or friends or an apparent problem with authority.

It's not even that blue! And my favourite colour is NOT blue, it is yellow.

And getting to the zoo at 5am to help set up enclosures and then not be invited to the afterparty is so not cool.

And the monkey is unmanageable. And Elaine is away. I will miss her.

And I'm off to Kruger on Monday with a complete stranger.

I am really tired. Hence the short sentences.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I have blue hair!!!!

It's so awesome! I've wanted blue hair since I was about 10... 13 years later I finally got the guts to do it! That was helped by Joey calling my hairdresser beforehand and telling her that I wanted blue hair so that all the products would be ready for me.

Props also go to Joey and Laurin (not that they read this) for being the most awesome friends ever and sitting through a rather long hair-cut/colour/blowdry/reapply colour/blowdry session with me. They certainly have a lot of staying power!

I have blue hair!


The Wizard of Oz

I am terrified of the Wizard of Oz (the old movie) to a point of it being a near-phobia. I don't know why, but I find the movie terrifying and ahve never been able to watch it. I have a vague memory of watching it and freaking out when I was about 4 years old, and I've tried to watch it several times since then, but the wicked witch scares me! As someone who watches horror movies for their comedic value I find being scared of a movie very strange (for anyone who hasn't discovered the joys of bad horror movies, I would suggest a movie night with Fragile, the Cave and The Descent. You'll laugh until you get a stomach-ache!).

So anyway I went through to see Joey and Lara last night for our standard after-work (for them) coffee. It's a tradition I really miss since I don't work more than about once a month for them and when I do it's usually to help one of them out, which defeats the purpose of them coming to visit for coffee. We've started a new tradition of me always going to visit on a Sunday night, and when I go away ti's often teh thing that I miss the most! Back to the point: I saw that we had a new mini-series called the Tin Man. I borrowed it, not quite clicking that it was an adaptation of the Wizard of Oz and took it home with me. And it was very cool!

I only realised about an hour into it that it was actually using most of the original characters, and a lot of strange references to the original movie which I didn't pick up on becuase I could never watch more than 20 minutes of the original (I got the "Lions Tigers and Bears, Oh my!" one but that was about it). And it was really cool! I totally enjoyed it, and just need to watch the third part tonight to finish off. I have no idea if the plot follows the original or not, but I'm pretty sure thay've changed a lot of things, but the most important change for me was that the wicked witch is no longer wearing stripy tights, which was an image in my nightmares for years when I was small! And so now she doesn't scare me!
So maybe I will give the original movie a try one day. But if I ever have children they will be banned from seeing it until they're at least teenagers. It's a scary movie for children!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'm ok!

I spent the day at the zoo today, as is my usual habit, but everything was strange. I was greeted by hordes of people rushing towards me to see if I was ok. Now I had sent a mesage through a volunteer to say that I was sick and wouldn't be there for a day or two, but nothing to alarm them. Then I found out that rumours are circulating the zoo that I am in hospital, dying of Giardia.

3 points of interest in the whole saga:

  1. A lot of people I don't really know very well were really concerned, which was really sweet. As much as the rumours were annoying, it was nice to see that people cared! So plenty of warm and fuzzy feelings on that one!
  2. The only time I had heard anything was from Elaine who wanted to visit me 'in hospital' on Friday, they were all happy to rely on the rumours rather than finding out from me. So if I ever end up in hospital, I won't be expecting too many visitors!
  3. I haven't heard anything from the person who is in charge of the monkeys who never warned anyone about the Giardia risk. She didn't try to contact me or anything. It really bothers me that she didn't warn anyone about the whole Giardia risk, and I would have thought that she'd be trying to be nice to avoid me taking legal action against her for negligence. Which I would never do, but I wish she didn't know me that well!

I also met the new baby pigs, which are SO cute! They really are adorable, although noisy and I admit maybe the baby gecko in quarantine is slighty cuter! I love the fact that I have to battle to decide the cutest in a never-ending parade of awesome animals! I also met Bakkies, the little Hartebees who was very sweet and tried to eat my jacket while Sebastian the Sitatunga (however you spell that) fell in love with Lynne and nearly climbed the fence to be with her. It was really funny!

That was my day, I spent the afternoon sleeping and spending some QT with my birds. I gave them a huge bundle of shiny bead bracelets which kept them entertained for ages! It was really cute and I need to figure out how to make them a toy or something out of them where they can't hurt themselves. the beads are too big to be swallowed, but I need to string them on someting they can't break and swallow, while securing them so that they can't break the beads. Any ideas?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's raining cats, and dogs and parrots...

I work at a vet on Saturdays. It's generally relatively quiet, I sit back and help the clients who come in, read a bit of the oh-so-awesome stats books (there are actually two, one explains exactly HOW the tests work, and the other explains the logic behind using different tests and how to understand the results in a biologically-significant way), catch up on Mens Health and GQ by reading the copies left by Nick, who works during the week and discuss random stuff with my boss. Occasionally there is a rush of people, like with last weekend's feline leukaemia scare, or Puppy Day, when for some reason people all rush out and buy puppies on the same day. It's not a formal thing, it just happens, and I love it because I get to spend my morning being paid to cuddle cute little puppies.

This morning I rushed in slightly late. The robot a block away breaks regularly every saturday morning. It is green one way and red the other for hours at a time, and it's a main road, so people like me who come in on the red side and need to cross, get to play a fun little game of car-chicken trying to dash across in a gap while people around you hoot and swear and tell you you're irresponsible... until 15 minutes later when they're still sitting there and then they dash across and all the newcomers hoot and flash their lights and tell them that they're irresponsible drivers. Unfortunately if, like me, you get stuck behind someone who isn't aware of the saturday situation, there's not much you can do besides, hoot and flash lights at the person in front of you, who generally gets very flustered and refuses to move and gestures wildly. Until someone turning left or right sneaks across and then they begin to understand that it has been an awfully long red light, and not just becasue they were feeling uncomfortable because of the bad behaviour of the person behind them.

So I rushed in late, and started reading Men's Health. They came to the startling conclusion that if you stop exercising you gain weight! Apparently they did a study where they had a huge group of guys, and half of them stopped exercising and miraculously were out-of-shape after a few months, compared to the control group who ran 30 km a week. You learn something new every day! The sad thing is that as a girl reading mens magazines I can laugh. I know if I picked up the latest Cosmo I'd probably find out similar nuggets of information, but I would then be forced to be offended by their underestimation of the average women's common sense. Or I'd be saddened by the lack of common sense that prompts girls to buy said magazines. At least I know from experience of many afternoons of reading Heat with Joey, that very few people actually read the words, and it's all about the pictures after all.

So back to the story... I barely had time to read 20 pages of the magazine before the floodgates opened and hundreds of people with cats and dogs arrived. The phone rang and rang and rang and I was helping people, filling out vaccination books, answering the phones, having discussions about cat collars (with an adorable little boy and his dad), getting bitten by a bull terrier ("he's such a sweetheart! He won't bite you!" Hah!) and so on. It didn't stop until half an hour after my shift had officially ended!

Actually it ended 5 minutes after the end of my shift and then some moron came in and insisted to talk to the vet about cat food, but the vet was operating on a dog that was bleeding everywhere and he wanted to go into the theatre and chat to the vet. I said no several times and he refused to listen until the vet came to see what all the noise was about. The guy was pretty loud! Unfortunately in the meantime a bunch of people drove past, saw him inside and went "Oh good! The vet's open!" and rushed in. While on the phone I had a hysterical girl with a sick cockatiel who refused to take him to the only bird specialist in about 50 square kilometres. The vet in question is really nice, and actually treats my birds, but I was unable to talk any sense into her so I think she may have gone off to pretoria with her sick bird.

By the time I got home I was so pumped up on the adrenaline that I literally fell over and had to take deep calming breaths. And the watch House until I fell asleep. Still gives me weird dreams! better than Malaria-prevention medicine!

Friday, June 20, 2008


After my 2 days of almost-solid sleep I found a fullish day rather tough, and I left university in the late-ish afternoon content in the idea that my day was over. I planned to go and collect a DVD or two, settle down at home, and sleep until I have to get up for work tomorrow morning.

It took me over an hour to get to my house - half of the robots on the main road by my house were out/ I found out later that there was no power at home. Oh dear. I attributed it to a return of load-shedding. For those of you who don't live here, load-shedding is when our electricity supply doesn't match demand and they shut off areas for between 2 and 4 hours. It used to be 4 hours twice a week, and we got used to it surprisingly quickly (an afternoon off work once a week was one of the 'downfalls' of the new system). The electricity company (Eskom) decided that we all ahd to cut back on our electricity usage by 10 % or face rather nasty tarriffs. And, amazingly enough, we did it! Load-shedding was stopped and we were all happy, to the point of my family refusing to use heaters even though we were all shivering and turning blue because "we wouldn't want load-shedding to happen again, now would we?" As I returned from the rather warm Lowveld in the middle of a cold front, I felt very noble, shivering away while wearing almost all of my clothes at once.

So I drove along, smiling and waving at pointsmen at the major intersections and saying nasty things to all those peopel out tehre who must have been using their heaters and thus bringing the curse of load-shedding back down on us. Until I got home to find out that the power had been out for over 4 hours, and after a long and not very productive call to Eskom, we found out that there is some kind of fault with our supply (just my suburb) and they don't know what's wrong or how to fix it. Last time this happened some areas didn't ahve power for a week.

Fortunately my mother was more awake than me, and she interrupted my lying on my bed watching DVDs on my laptop to mention that I'd brought home blood samples frmo the field and not got around to taking them to university. They were sitting in our freezer (for some reason, having blood samples in the freezer upsets her far more than having dead lizards in the freezer. Go figure). So, at 7pm, having watched Martian Child (a very sweet movie) I rushed across to university with a cooler-bag of blood samples and my laptop and phone to charge.

So now it's 8pm, and I'm sitting in the lab, all alone, and still procrastinating!

And I parked badly, and it felt realy good!

Back on track - well sort of...

I decided to stop lying around feeling sorry for myself, and I went to the zoo this morning (having slept for a good 14 hours last night). It was hard, they've changed my frogs into bigger tanks, which is theoretically nicer for them, although they can dehydrate quite easily if they aren't sprayed enough, and now I can't clean tanks without a spotter (someone to watch for escaping amphibians while I clean). The openinng is just far too big for me to control what's going on. I was mildly annoyed by the whole situation - firstly I was supposed to go in on Wednesday and today to help with treatments, but they seem to have rescheduled without telling me. That's a relief as I wasn't able to do very much at all on Wednesday, so I'm quite glad I didn't let them down.

What annoyed me even more than being out of the loop, is that I was there to move frogs into tanks on Sunday and I decided (and was confirmed by the volunteers there - who are the people who actually do all the husbandry) that the big tanks, despite all the niceness of having more space were completely impractical in terms of husbandry and keeping humidity relatively constant. then on the first day that I wasn't tehre the higher-ups who have very little contact with the animals and the day-to-day handling of them made a decision without asking any of us or even listening to the little volunteers (who argued as hard as they could). They also put a bunch of frogs from different tanks together, which is bad as far as I'm concerned as a bunch of them are developing lesions and we're pretty sure they're contagious.

It's not my place to make decisions, but at the same time, it really annoys me that nobody even asked the people who are involved what their opinions were. I just hope that the frogs don't have to suffer, so I hope that I am wrong.

On a happier note, some of the big geckos laid eggs a while ago, and I hadn't known that one of the staff had put them in vermiculite and one of them hatched! It's the cutest baby gecko ever! It's so so so adorable! The whole time we were cleaning tanks this morning we'd occasionally rush over to the baby gecko tanks and start going "awwww!" it's really cute! And the other eggs are also about to hatch, we were holding them up to the lights to see the developing geckos and it's so cool!

And I'm going ice-skating again on Tuesday! I went on Monday with Luke and Duncan and Candice and it was awesomely fun, so on Tuesday Lara and I and whoever else we can scrounge up are going to go for half-price skating night! I'm glad because every time I skate I think to myself that I should go more often, and then I don't go for years and years... I can only go forwards and a little bit backwards now, hardly any of the cool stuff I used to do. But it's still fun, and I lvoe ti and I'm going to go more often. Really!

And I've spent most of the day at university and actually got some work done! I'm about to smash my computer for being uncooperative, but I'm making progress! Now I'm going to go home and sleep until tomorrow!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

where did the last 2 days go?

So I came down with a nasty bug, and my doctors are treating mr for Giardia. After all that! I think they were right - the medication worked really quickly and I feel fine, except that I've developed a nasty tendency to sleep for at least 18 hours a day! I got a DVD to watch in bed and efll asleep during the first 10 minutes this morning, only to wake up about 9 hours later with a splitting headache and some of the weirdest dreams ever!

At least I'm feeling better and I'm off the hectic antibiotics after tomorrow. I'll also have to go and do some serious work to catch up after sleeping for 2 days.

It was worth it though!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What's in a name?

Theresa at the zoo today called me "Helga" - the volunteers all started giggling helplessly.

I responded with a blank stare.

So she said "Sorry! Sorry!" the thought for a minute "I mean Elaine!"

blank stare.

I've never been partiicularly fond of my name, but it annoyed me that for the first time at the zoo, someone got it wrong. Usually I'm the one trying frantically to remember who it is that I'm saying Hi to...


I have found teh coolest ever stats book! I'm loving it! I have an "Oh, so THAT's what they mean by that!" moment about twice a page!

And the fact that I'm so excited...

yes well...

Friday, June 13, 2008


I slept in this morning and only got to the zoo when 5 of the 6 new volunteers were tehre. It was frustrating because the new 3 aren't really learning anything because they keep going off to other rooms to help, when they should be learning to work in the busiest room, where the rest of us are focussed. The room with over 100 animals should take priority over the room with 20 or the room with 70 I would think. The experienced volunteers had an assignment due this afternoon, and only went in briefly to get the others started, but ended up spending the whole morning doing husbandry. Considering how much the zoo needs them, I would expect them to be treated slightly better!

Some of the little guys were really sick, I think from a bad reaction to the treatments yesterday, and one frog died. I'm glad I didn't know him very well, and I'm stressed out because one of the frogs has got a name now. Naming animals is bad, and I avoid it as much as possible, but soemtimes an animals just sort of names itself, and those are the names that stick! Fortunately I was able to get the experienced volunteers to agree to look after the frogs tomorrow when I can't be there, which is a huge weight off my mind! They're also going to start to get new bigger tanks ready to move the frogs on Sunday. Sunday is totally going to be Frog Day for me and I'm so excited!

So once I got to university and took several long walks to try and focus, I sat down and started redoing stats again (I found something that had to be considered, so now I'm re-analysing using a bigger model) and after a while I found myself grabbing a red pen and a piece of paper and scribbling out ideas and frameworks for the intro to the paper I'm hoping to publish from this data. The real issue is that as I've changed the focus of the study, all the reading and writing I did in order to graduate with this work is no longer relevant. So I get to go back to the drawing board and start reading and reading and reading and reading!

Something about scribbling makes you feel like you're accomplishing a lot! and the scribbles are often very useful later as you thought things through while involved with the data. So now I feel like I've accomplished something.


Thursday, June 12, 2008


So I went to go and follow up on an iguana who needed a home (sadly he already has a new home, so our lab will be empty for a little while longer), and got chatting to the friend who had a friend who knew a guy who had an iguana needing a home... She and a partner run a company that takes animals out to schools, resorts, functions and birthday parties and things to get children to interact with animals and learn about them a little bit. We were having a fantastic conversation (we're possibly going to go together to do a venomous snake course, which is fantastic because I didn't want to be surrounded by weird snake people...) when she mentioned that she really needs an assistant for her shows. The guy who works with her may be going overseas, and she's a bit shaky on all the reptile info. so basically I think I just got a third job. Oops!

It mayy come to nothing, but I'm really hoping that it works out! Her partner specialises in birds, and she said they'd teach me falconry and how to 'fly' birds in shows, which I've always awanted to do! Plus, it's not about the money, although it's fantastic that they would pay me, it's a bunch of experience that I wouldn't get anywhere else!

So here's hoping! Oh, and she has one of the coolest lizards ever! She brought it to show me once, and it was gigantic and totally adorable!


So I've started going in to the zoo super-early to get some of the work out of the way before the volunteers get there. I usually leave when they arrive and go in to university, so I can sit in my lab and look busy. I'm still battling to focus, and it's so cold I can barely type, unless I've been clutching a hot cup of coffee, which means that by lunchtime I'm so jittery I can't sit still, and then by the time I go home I'm exhausted. I really wish that a) the zoo didn't matter to me so much and b) that I could rely on the volunteers.

The thing is, they're really awesome, and they work incredibly hard, but they don't have the experience to handle things if they go wrong, and they don't have the experience of knowing what's normal, so if something gets sick, it isn't always noticed until the animal is very very sick. The volunteers that have been there for a few weeks are fantastic, they work really hard and they're very gentle and careful, but this morning we were faced with 3 brand new little first-year students. They arrived half an hour late, which looks fantastic on their first day... admittedly I'm not fantastic at being on time, but they always know that I'll be there and that the job will be done and done properly before I go.

I just know that when I'm not there I'm going to be stressing about them all... particularly the frogs, which have become my particular... what's the word? not responsibility, but... lets just say everyone has their 'babies' there. One person does chameleons, another does snakes, someone else does big lizards, the volunteers do geckos, and I do frogs. I started with them because everyone else hated cleaning their tanks because it's difficult and they're feisty little buggers who escape all the time. But as time passed I got to love looking after them, and I know most of their personlaities and who to watch carefully. One of them even has a name (shock! Horror!) I never name anything...

It was fine before, but teh vet who almost lived down there has left now, so basically we're struggling to pick up the slack. I feel bad that this is the first time I've really emtnioned her, but it was hard to say goodbye. I've only known her sinceAMrch, but she had a huge effect on me, and I will miss her tons! And the animals will miss her more, she looked after them with everything she had, and loved them even though she was always working and exhausted.

So this weekend, when the main vet is away, the 'good' volunteers are refusing to come in because they've done over 14 days in a row, and I'm stuck at work until lunchtime, I don't know what's going to happen to the little guys.

We dewormed today, it was a lot of fun, although I'm not sure if I helped or got in the way more, but I had to explain to the new volunteers exactly how to hold lizards. Put lizard in hand and don't let go, didn't seem explicit enough... I don't think anyone ever taught me I was just expected to figure it out while looking after my first 100-odd lizards. And I learned, but quickly! I think it went faster because I was there, but there were also several escapes that were entirely my fault. One of the kids is ... not scared, more uncomfortable around reptiles. She works super-hard and never avoids responsibility at all, and I've been really impressed with her. anyway to teh story: a gecko escaped, went past about 3 people and made a beeline for her, where it jumped onto her, ran up her arm and onto her face! I caught it pretty quickly, but it was so funny! She was really good too and didn't flinch or do the "get this off me!" dance or anything, which was good.

Afterwards while taking sick gickos to the hospital for observations one of the new volunteers asked me if she could work with the frogs. I was a bit rude to her. I feel bad, but moer because weveryone I discuss it with yells at me. Yes, I can't be there 7 days a week. But I don't want a newcomer doing one of the most finicky jobs. And no, it's not my place to decide. But if they escape and I'm not there to catch it and she can't catch it, then it will dehydrate and die. I feel justified!

That is the end of my rant.

Oh and the title is from a Japan and I song. It's because I'm feeling a bit stretched time-wise at the moment. Entirely my fault as well. And the fact that I can't decide between working on a paper tomorrow or going to the zoo to practise snake-handling...

I wish I didn't have such awesomely fun distractions!

And I have cuts on my hands from deworming the other lizards on Monday (spiky tails, thrashing around...) which are inflamed from the latex gloves this morning. And it itches.

That is all!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back to black... or white

Wow, I hadn't realised that my post yesterday was so multicoloured! Although maybe it will cause the world to sit up and realise that Giardia is no joke... Although I just spoke to a friend who has had it before, and she said it's really not that bad, and if you get treated quickly it's over in a few days. Kind of like tickbite fever I guess - ever since I've had it I'm not nearly as stressed about ticks as I used to be! It's horrible, but it's survivable!

It's being a frustrating week, I'm not sleeping well yet, so I'm tired pretty much all of the time. I made myself get up really early this morning (and it was freezing!) and I'm hoping that that'll reset my clock a bit!

I went to the zoo just after 7 this morning and got the frogs cleaned out and fed before the volunteers arrived. It was nice being ni there on my own again, not worrying about being in the way or anything like that. Two of the frogs that were perfectly ok when I cleaned them out yesterday are getting sick now, which is very upsetting!

Otherwise I just finished redoing a bunch of stats, which means that I have to start making rpetty graphs, I can't procrastinate any more! Making graphs is easy, making them pretty on the other hand...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I just found out that the monkey who I love very very much, has Giardia! Apparently they didn't feel like telling anyone... here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

"Symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, explosive diarrhea, hematuria (blood in urine), loose or watery stool, stomach cramps, upset stomach, projectile vomiting (uncommon), bloating, flatulence, and burping (often sulphurous). Symptoms typically begin 1–2 weeks after infection and may wane and reappear cyclically. Symptoms are caused by Giardia organisms coating the inside of the small intestine and blocking nutrient absorption. Most people are asymptomatic; only about a third of infected people exhibit symptoms. Untreated, symptoms may last for six weeks or longer.
Symptomatic infections are well recognised as causing
lactose intolerance,[2] and while usually temporary, may be permanent.[3][4] Whereas in asymptomatic infection, although hydrogen breath tests indicate poorer rates of carbohydrate absorption, this is not to a diagnostic level.[5] It has been suggested that these observations are explained by symptomatic giardia infection allowing for the overgrowth of other bacteria.[6][5]"

Mmmm, explosive diarrhea!

In other news, I have a huge amount of work to do, and it's all annoying, fiddly stuff that takes ages without providing too much by way of intellectual stimulation. I had to take the bakkie off to be washed yesterday and it took them over 2 hours! I'm also helping out at the zoo because the main quarantine vet is leaving, so I'm helping get everything dewormed and sorted before she goes, as well as training new volunteers in the next few days.

Awesome fun, but I feel guilty about the pile of work waiting for me!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Home again

Wow, this is the first time that I've been home for longer than to eat and sleep since... well since I got home! I usually go a bit nuts seeing everyone I missed while on fieldwork, and every time I end up exhausted, but I feel great because I missed everyone and seeing friends again is really really awesome! It's hard to go away and realise that life continued without me, but whenever I get back, besides the catching up, feeling like people actually missed me is really really special (yes, I need frequent ego-boosts. So sue me!)

So after Chinatown (w00t!) yesterday I dashed off to a farewell with some zoo folks. It turned out that it wasn't the farewell I thought it was, but the person leaving was really really cool and I will miss her even though I barely knew the girl. That's what I love about the zoo, people come and go all the time, but for some reason you get to know them quickly, maybe because they're all really passionate about what they do or something. We went off to dinner in Melville and then off to a place called Ratz, where they all did the craziest dancing I've seen in a long time and I laughed until my face and sides hurt and I nearly fell asleep in a candle.

This morning I woke up just in time to go hurtling off to the zoo to go and help in quarantine. When I arrived I saw a friend in the parking lot with the two monkeys. Here I must add something - quite often animals take a dislike to a person. It's nothing personal, they just do, and if (like for instance with Josh the baby chimp) they dislike you, you move on and it's ok. But if an animal likes you, there is no better feeling in the world! I guess it's because they don't fake liking or disliking you (unless there is food involved, in which case most animals tend to get mildly sidetracked). Anyway my friend came rushing to say hi, and Thandi sprinted over and gave me a gigantic hug! A little while later (I went from being 5 minutes late for quarantine to being more like half an hour late...) Ollie climbed onto me and refused to go back to her! I felt super-special!

From there I went to quarantine where I got to see some of the new volunteers in action. For people who had no history of working with reptiles they were really good! Very very slow, but gentle and thorough. I cleaned out frog and gecko tanks, and fed other geckos. It was fun not doing it alone, usually on a sunday I do most of the gecko room alone, which takes from 9am to about 2 or 3pm and I enjoy it, but it was nice to know that there were other people helping, and it did go a bit faster than usual in that we were out of there by 11:45 even though I did a whole bunch of stuff in the other rooms. A snake escaped which was very exciting, and 2 lizards escaped while I was cleaning their tank, which was pretty routine, although I did feel very accomplished when I caught them and put them back and the others were all impressed. a silly thing to be proud of considering I was the most experienced person there, although there was also a learner-keeper and a trainee vet at that stage.

I was also impressed that the volunteers have been there every day even though they are on holiday. They said that it's getting a bit much, and that they would really like to sleep in for once, but I was really really stunned by the fact that they aren't planning on taking time off until some new volunteers start next week. For volunteers to show that kind of dedication is really exceptional! It was a really nice morning, I've missed all the Madagascans and I got to clean all the tanks of my favourite lizards, which was really special, as well as the usual feeling of amazing satisfaction that only people who do husbandry will ever understand. The feeling that you get knowing that the animals are clean and fed and that the whole room is done...

From there I took the new volunteer and her boy-scout sidekick off to meet Thandi, who I looked after for an hour and a half. She ate a lot and then settled down to sleep, after greeting me in such an enthusiastic hug that my airways were cut off and I started seeing spots. I really missed Thandi! When I tried to give her back to the zoo staff she refused to go, which as painful as it is to see her distressed, also made me feel really special!

From there I rushed off to the chimps and said hi to Luke and his sister and then dashed off home to have lunch with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law before going back to the zoo to have coffee with one of the other zoo-staff members who had been off cleaning stables all day. Once that was over I went to see Jo and Lara at work to pick up keys for my shift tomorrow, and spoke to Lara for the first time in ages. I love the way that we often don't see each other for weeks at a time, but still pick up exactly where we left off! And then I dashed off to church and then home. Which is where I am now.

So that was my day and a half! Not the most exciting post I'm afraid, but it has been a really awesome day! I missed everyone when I was off in the gammadoelas and it was really nice to know that my place here hasn't been forgotten or filled while I was away!

Saturday, June 07, 2008


So I got home yesterday evening, spent about an hour or so at home before dashing off to a staff meeting at the place where I don't actually work anymore. There was some bad news, so we're all threatening to quit (in my case to quit again) if the owner doesn't start to realise what's happening around him. No more on that right now...

I got home and finally managed to sleep at about 1am. I don't have a problem with the light in the city - in the field I sleep with a light on so that the insects are attracted to something rather than dive-bombing me in my sleep. The light is around the corner, but being an open-plan area it's pretty bright anyway. My problem with the city is the noise. You don't realise exactly how loud it is to live here until you go away. I've had a headache since I got home - partly a result of pollution and partly from the noise which will probably start to fade in a few days, all part of the fun re-introduciton phase!

Once I fell asleep I stayed that way, through 2 alarms and my mother trying to wake me, until I managed to open my eyes at 8:30 - just half an hour before I had to be at work (at the place where I officially have a job). Work was tremendous fun, I was almost on time but got cut off by a non-functioning robot with a confused learner-driver, and as I hadn't had time for coffee I nearly died... I only nearly made one stupid mistake, but fortunately the client was awake enough to stop me from giving her a 50% discount (the joy of working with pet-owners is that they become all kind and caring in front of the people that care for their 'family members'). Once I'd finished the shift I was freezing cold, exhausted and starving, but I had to be at Joey's in less than half and hour so I had to mission, only to find that we had to wait for Nikki and her boyfriend to arrive to take us to Chinatown, down south where we could go SHOPPING!

It was so much fun! the place is awesome, all sort of dodgy and warehousy with stalls selling the most ridiculous stuff from singing clocks and lava lamps to feather boas and wigs and jewellery and and and... We only had about an hour before they closed, so Joey and I ran around like crazy looking through all the stalls and trying things on and just having fun. One of the things about not hanging out with girls much is that I really hate shopping, and take more of a 'make a list and then hunt it down and get out of there ASAP' approach. But today was awesome fun! when they started closing we ran around even more frantically trying to find the places that were still open and once that finished Nikki and Darren had to take us back to the car where we sat and planned our next trip and tried on all the stuff we got and then nearly fell asleep from the exhaustion!

It was totally not something I would do, but it was also one of the most fun afternoons I've had in a long time! and now I have sunglasses and a bracelet and a necklace and a whole pile of beading stuff, all for less than R150!

Now I'm off to the zoo. In theory I should be going out for dinner, but I think I might just go along for an hour or som and then come home to collapse. It's been a long day!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wrapping up and going home

I had a pst all ready yesterday when I tried to copy/paste it just in case blogger decided to eat another post. something happened then where the entire post vanished, and blogger very helpfully decided to autosave a blank post.

I'm leaving the field tomorrow to go back home. I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad about it, it's been a tough few weeks, and I'm glada to be going - partly because the cold front that has been threatening for a while has hit, and it's FREEZING here, so I want my own bed with lots of blankets, and I want a long hot bath...

On the other hand, it's always hard to go from isolation back to the big city, and although I always try to prepare mentally, it's never easy. I know that as soon as I get home I will rush around trying to see everyone I've been missing so much, I also know that I will battle to sleep with all the noise, and that I will have a blinding headache by about 9am very day, just from the noise of being in traffi. You have no idea how loud it is until you get used to the quiet!

I'm also a little bit disconcerted that a) this is the first time I've tried to do something and not finished successfuly and b)I'm not too upset about not getting enough lizards. This is completely against my personality. I'm not sure if it just that I know I've done my best and so this is ok, or that i'm all closed-up emotionally as a result of not having too muc by way of human contact n the last 3 weeks. Closed-up is pretty much my natural state, but when I'm around people a lot I try to be more open and occasionally it becomes less of an act and more of a real situation.

I'm worried about the attitude of not caring though. It's really bugging me! I was looking at geocaches today to see if there are any I can stop for on the way home, before I realised that I don't really feel like geoaching. I need to finish packing and cleaning the house, but I don't feel like it. If it wasn't that I've already got plans at home I might even have stayed for an extra day or two, more out of apathy than out of willingness. It's weird!

for my entire career as a student (well, after the first year, when I discovered that is was possible to enjoy studying) I've been known as ridiulously enthusiastic, and I'm scared that I'm losing that. Maybe I just need to get out of this old farmhouse and back into real life!