Tuesday, March 30, 2010

first things first:

I want to be this guy:

On to more serious things… like the awesomenessnessness of the hike!

So we walked for about 45 minutes and took a break on the edge of a cliff. it was kind of strange to take a break that early as we were just getting into it and stuff, but it was really pretty and we got to introduce the others to cherry-berry Game (go isotonics!) and test-drive Leia’s incredible trail mix.

From there we walked until we had a break right next to a “Gevaarlik'” sign before going into the forest/ravine/jungle/I-don’t-know-but-it-was-awesome area. We got to figure out how to negotiate some slippery paths and rocks (I survived thanks to C falling/slipping before me and yelling warnings, and she survived through Leia’s superior catching skills), we got to climb over waterfalls on ladders (I’d been stressing about this until I got there and had a ‘Bring. It. On.’ moment).

At one stage the path was far too slippery so Leia and C anded up doing a bum-slide across and around a corner. I sat down to do the same but felt very insecure and so decided to stand to take my pack off and hand it over the slippery patch to Leia on the other side. As I rested my hand on the nearest tree to balance myself I realised that there was a rope…

and so the bum-shuffle-bum-shuffle-ROPE chant was born…

More tomorrow, I’m off to battle traffic before tai chi and watching a poker game. Ah these things I do…

and as an aside: how cool are these? Candice and HOMSI had them and now I’m jealous…

Monday, March 29, 2010


So Leia has been getting progressively grouchier and more stressed-out lately (in an entirely adorably munchkinesque way) and finally caved and sent an email out asking people to volunteer to go hiking with her. I said no. Then yes. Then no. Then yes. and by then I’d paid and it was basically a done deal so there was no getting out of it.

And on Friday, after much drama, some teaching of students who actually semi-behaved (the joys of threatening them with science-discussion when you’re using real-world examples seems to work) we packed our stuff into the superawesome C-mobile and headed off to Suikerboschfontein (it’s a real name. I promise!) in Mpumalanga.

I was a little bit nervous – I’d never done a real hike before (as in you carry your stuff and it’s over more than one day) and I’d heard stories about the death-defying stunts involved in crossing over waterfalls and stuff and as those who know me will tell you, I’m mildly prone to total freak-outs including shaking and clinging on to rocks and attempting to get into the foetal position without letting go…

A long drive (I am a fan of the Mazda-2 now for the roads it dealt with) a highly entertaining dinner (thanks to Luke for the incredible pasta-sauce) involving the tall people walking into the hanging gas-canister lamps a lot and lots of crazy giggling and conversations about greasy utensils and a decent sleep later I felt much better! The place we stayed at was amazing to, in a cabin-type-thing tucked into a bunch of rocks and weird rock formations. Going to the bathroom involved negotiating a crazy pathway between rock-pillars and things and it was SO pretty!

I will write more about the actual hike tomorrow, for now I will say: it was AMAZING! we really bonded, the company was awesome, the walk was stunning and I’m not even very sore today, except for my feet which only hurt when I try to walk on them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Of course it’s phylogenetic constraint. Duh!

So during a discussion on nerdishness vs geekiness the other day I came across this article and found myself nodding and giggling a little bit too much.

Anywhere here is a section that I found quite interesting:

What Type of Nerd Are You?Mad Scientists
Description: You can't mess with the original. These are the chemists, engineers, physicists and other general crazies who are more comfortable in the controlled confines of the lab than in the messy, messy real world. However, they are responsible for the food we eat, the cars we drive, and the drugs we take—even sometimes the illegal ones. Without them, we'd still be using stone wheels and struggling to start a campfire with a flint. They are our saviors, but total bores at dinner parties.
Substrata: Mathematicians, Pharmacologists, Bio Researchers
Gathering Place: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting
Knows Way Too Much Useless Information About: You wouldn't even understand it if we told you. Idiot.
Eagerly Anticipating: When the Large Hadron Collider finally works

Which makes me worry… am I really boring at dinner parties? Personally I find myself a bit tedious at times, but for some reason people seem to like hearing about ladies with leafblowers and crazy crocodile hunters and stuff…

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Experiences

So I’ve been quiet… I haven’t even read blogs. Sorry. I missed you all!

That said, it’s been a few weeks of remarkably new experiences and I’ve been so busy trying to keep productive, open-minded and generally head-above-water with everything going on that life sort of got away from me for a bit.

Recently I have:

  • Been to this show:

Yip, they’re spears. Sharp and pointy ones!

which was flipping AMAZING! And the little kids were so so so cute! Yes, I am entirely aware of the fact that they could probably break my kneecaps with a single glance but that’s besides the point!

  • Had my car break down on a main road at the beginning of rush-hour. It was a surprisingly humbling experience as I found once again that people are generally kind – a random stranger pushed my car out of the middle of the road, several offered to help and the AA sent a security guard to sit with me. The security guard (Tshabalala) was awesome and we had a great time chatting, poking at things in my engine to try and see what they do, and he even took over and gave the tow-truck driver directions! The tow-truck driver was awesome too and I learned a lot about towing cars from him! So shout-out to Simon!

Thanks AA! You rock!

  • Had a phone call from a mechanic that started with “Hi ma’am, your car is broken.” You think?
  • saw a movie in 3D! Besides the fact that I hadn’t seen a movie since about December, the 3D-ness was SO cool! I actually ducked a few times! It also made me feel a lot better about missing skating (due to my car deciding to give up for the day) as well as a few other things I’d been a bit down about.

  • Learned to make biohazard stickers! and had many fascinating discussions with shipping companies about said biohazards…
  • Went window shopping for shoes (not really, long story) and thought about trying on some scary heels. There are days when i barely recognise myself!
  • Taken the Magic Hat out again – it started of with me being laughed at for wearing a hat, lead to it being worn by everyone else more than me (it really is magical – it looks good on everyone) and ended up in a near fist-fight when I wanted it back and the primary giggler from earlier refused to let me have it.
  • Reconnected with ‘my’ girls. Everything getting hectic Sciencewise meant that I had very little free time, which was vanishing remarkably quickly to spend time with a *cough*certain gentleman*cough* and being greeted by my friends saying “so how’s married life?” felt like a solid punch in the solar-plexus. Since then I have put my foot down and had the most fantastic girls evening of giggling and gossip and silly prank phone calls and doing karate in the kitchen at midnight (the bruise should fade soon).

And now I’m in the lab on a public holiday getting some much-needed work done while Leia runs around doing complicated stuff with electrical stuff (that’s a lot of stuff). It’s kind of nice, quiet, no little students running around. We had lunch with the unofficial therapist a while ago and there was much hilarity, while I labelled and glued, and double-sided taped and re-taped and parafilmed vials (how flipping awesome is parafilm? Oh wow I love it :) we managed to seal a bunch of sunflower seeds in it! Because we can).

So I will try and write a bit more soon, as soon as things calm down and I figure out exactly how much of my private life I feel like writing about. We’re off hiking this weekend so I’m sure there will be lots to say!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Hoping it’s just hormones

So I’ve had an awesome couple of weeks. Busy in the extreme, but always things that I wanted to do. Admittedly, my decision to calm down on the sport and the social life and spend more time doing my actual ‘job’ (it gets inverted commas because I pay to do it, or at best beg for scholarships) has crashed and burned and right now I’m out more than I was before (if that was at all possible).

So last weekend with the kiddies was awesome. It started badly with me having to spend the afternoon teaching drunk students ,followed by arriving at the field-trip place with a busload of drunk students, and eating a luminous purple meal (yes, purple). From there it really picked up though and I had a blast, leaving exhausted, but happy and sunburned and achy but in the best possible way.

Last week was heeeeecTIC – Monday night i was out, Tuesday morning I had a super-early start to teach my kiddies, Tuesday evening i went back to Tai chi for the first time in over two weeks. It was SO nice to be back, although I was very sore afterwards and for the next day or two!

Wednesday was skating – I got myself examined which was scary and I started shaking – this wasn’t made better by the fact that they made me take three exams at once (two for classes I skipped and one for the class I’m in) which included steps I’d never heard of before. The tester was kind enough to demonstrate so i could try them out though!

From there I had to hand my skates in to be sharpened, which was sad because I’d been looking forward to some skating-in-circles-thinking time, but good because I know that they’ll be sorted out properly, and I had time to go for a run afterwards which was nice!

Thursday I skipped tai chi and went with the Oracle, the nameless one and CG to meet up with some people and play some pool. I hadn’t played in six weeks and my skills went from abysmal to totally non-existent, but I had a blast – it was really nice to see the Oracle (who is quite shy sometimes and won’t join us often) having fun and dancing and chatting to people. CG was also looking like she had fun for the first time in ages.

Of course the time flew and before I’d realised it was 1am and we were going for pizza while my mother’s panicky messages started to come through and… so much for an early night… and of course I had to be up early the next morning and considering I’d only been to bed at 2:30 – it sucked.

Friday was The Day Of Many Meetings as usual, although my students took one look at me and decided to behave themselves which was fantastic. I nearly kicked a couple out of the class and it clamed them down a bit (even though they were still annoying). The plasticine I was using to teach them stained my hands and arms (and everything I touched, like my ears) purple. After that I went off to watch a movie and was asleep within a couple of minutes.

Saturday was my first day back at work since the fieldtrips and it was really nice and quiet and good to be back! I went home and passed out for a few hours and then headed off to meet someone’s new puppy (so so cute!). From there we had no real plans so we ended up going to Pretoria for a club launch which was hilarious and awesome – it was like a scene from a movie with glowsticks and bubbles falling from the ceiling and people in the most bizarre outfits ever. I was in jeans and a t-shirt but nobody seemed to mind! heck, i even managed to get two glowsticks from random strangers so that I could play the drums on the table…

On the way home we went to investigate a potential giant hole in the road only to find that it was surrounded by quicksand-y stuff. We figured this out when I sank up to my knees and had to be rescued. When we stopped off to swap cars I had to change into a semi-strangers PJs to go home in, while I thought my shoes were beyond repair.

So once again – a planned early night ended in me getting home at 4am, wearing someone else’s clothes. Awkward.

Yesterday I spent reading and sleeping and catching up on exercise a little bit. I also went back to church (I hadn’t been in a few weeks with all the trips and stuff) and today has been a day of working, marking, puppy-sitting, teaching (I want Luke’s students, they’re so much better behaved than mine!) and general movement.

I’m just feeling a little bit low at the moment. I know that by nature I’m a total loner, and all of the craziness is exhausting, but at the same time, looking back on each experience, it was awesome, I’d do it all again…

But right now I want to go and hide under a rock and not see another human being for a while. People are exhausting. I don’t want to be around them for a bit.

I just hope I can get out of this mood soon, as I have a crazy weekend coming up!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

As promised

Here are a few photos from two weekends ago, the ones from last weekend are stubbornly sitting in my camera and taunting me, but I will attempt to download them later. Have a lovely Tuesday!

  triumphant return

Our triumphant return from a rather hot and hilly walk… I narrowly escaped being punched for leading the way, but everyone was very proud to make it back to the house after the post-abandoning-undergrads stroll.

why we do this

View from sundowners on one of my favourite spots

found a friend

Walking home. Beats Joburg just a little bit, doesn’t it?

its a velociraptor

Investigating plant-life

luke meg marking2

It really freaks students out if you mark their work while they’re sitting nearby…

megs posing again

And posing. Again. Leia poses a lot, it’s very entertaining because she does it completely accidentally!

monkey behaviour

Luke emulating a monkey. He does that a lot.

more long hills

Up the last hill of the morning


Pretty pretty :)




A ticked-off sunspider

south african skies

Nothing beats a south african summer sky!


A ticked-off orb-web spider



 the pale one and the skydiver

Yip, living in the lab makes you pale…

the wtf eyebrow

Leia’s WTF eyebrow…

tired TAs

and watching the sunset at the end of a long, hot day makes it all worth it!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Things I learned this weekend

  1. The students are actually very cool! I’ve finally begun to pair up names with faces and handwriting, and there are some pretty amazing people in the group.
  2. It amazing how some people open up when you’re walking down the road on a ‘rescue mission’ at 2am. I still feel kind of bad that the girl with the attitude problem finally opened up and I ran off – distracted by something shiny…
  3. Brandy and coke is never a good idea. Unless it is.
  4. Rocks move sometimes. Ow. yip, just as I lose the last batch of bruises…
  5. Getting into a car as not NEARLY as much fun as hanging on to the back of it as you go over bumps. Turning corners is infinitely more fun while hanging on to the side so you swing outwards…
  6. doing crazy out-of-car riding results in a weird sunburn and some entertaining bruises.
  7. Pia-pia-pia-NO!
  8. You had to be there.
  9. Identifying plants at 2am is possible, even after said brandy and coke!
  10. I have the weirdest sunburn EVER!