Thursday, August 17, 2006

We have moved

After having a brief discussion with Moonflake I decided to go and inspect what WordPress had to offer. And I must admit that I like what I see so far. The deal breaker was most definitely the ability to customise the template and especially the header.

So I am pleased to welcome you to my blog (if you are here for the first time) and to redirect new visitors and the few die hard readers to: Voice Of Reason - the new home of my ramblings.

I will attempt to set up a new trivia game once I have settled in.

So please follow me on our journey and I look forward to seeing you there.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

We live in violent times

In the wake of the frenzy over the Zuma trial and verdict I thought I'd steer clear of any comment on that issue and rather offer up a more interesting piece of general knowledge.

I recently finished reading Catch Me a Killer by Micki Pistorius. She worked as a profiler for the South African Police service from 1994-2000. The book is well written and very interesting. Apparently South Africa has the second highest number of serial killers in the world after America. Now that's something worth thinking about. She also offers a slightly simplified (but not dumbed down) description at the end of the book on the development of a serial killer from a psychoanalytical point of view (Freudian school of thinking). It may be because I'm studying personality theory at the moment, but I also thought that that was well worth a read for any interested party.

Talking about Freud. I am just finishing off reading through his work on personality and about to start the study guide work. He does seem to base a hell of a lot on repressed sexual urges. My textbook is well written though and they do give a background to each therapist and theory. In Freud's case they ask you to bear in mind that he lived and worked during the Victorian era when a woman was covered from head to toe and sex was not spoken about in polite company. Woman were not expected to have any sexual satisfaction or enjoyment and knew very little or nothing about sex when they got married. So in that respect his view points do make more sense. The writers of the textbook also go on to point out that most other personality theories developed from Freud's work, so even though some of his ideas are not as applicable now as they once were, it is important to understand his work. It's really interesting, but don't let me bore you any more.

Last post's trivia answer

Well done to zenstar for getting it in first (even though you had to Google for it).

Trivia question
American Pie by Don McLean was inspired by the deaths of who in 1959 ?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Blogito ergo sum

Yes, I blog therefore I am. You can all thank my little (big) brother for expanding my latin vocabulary.

Since I'm on the subject of my brother he appears to have started Google Wars between the two of us and is unfortunately ownzoring me. He was even so kind as to e-mail me the proof.

He may have won this round, but I'm sure I can come up with something nefarious as payback. But he is awfully cute.

As you can see the first round of trivia has been concluded and the scores computed. Moonflake was the only person to submit the correct answer and without a Google search so I decided to give her a bonus 5 points. Obviously she's actually listened when I've gone off on a rant about one of my favourite topics (development and embryology). kleinbaas was awarded 1 point for his Google-fu comment.

Last post's trivia answer:
Sonic the Hedgehog

I am aware that people will Google for the answers, but unfortunately there is nothing I can do about that. Bonus points for non-Googled answers will be given.

Trivia question:
What is South Africa's national fish ? (yes, we have one)

And now for that holiday update that I promised all of you. The photos haven't been transferred to the PC yet, but they will be added later.

Holiday report

Our first stop was at the Battlefields Caravan Park in Dundee. The area is within easy driving distance of the major battlefields of both the Anglo-Boer and Anglo-Zulu wars. We spent Easter weekend there with my Aunt (dad's sister), Uncle and cousin. The park is in the yard of a farm house. The owners are keen caravaners and very friendly people. During the course of our stay we were adopted by one of their dogs - a fox terrier who was a puppy when I was there with my parents in June last year. He has personality enough for 10 dogs and we affectionately named him "Hius toe" which, for those of you who don't speak afrikaans, means "go home". But he never listened.

We learned about the above mentioned wars in primary school and they were never my favourite section of history, but I have to admit that actually going to the battlefields makes it a lot more real and at this age I can actually appreciate the stories and the sacrifices. Our first battlefield stop was Blood River. Of the ones we visited it was the one that least impressed me. The museum is well organised though and the original carved wagon is beautiful. However I did find that the information was seriously skewed towards the Boer perspective. I was hoping for more balance I guess. The second battlefield to come to out attention was Isandlwana. At the end of this great battle - one of the worst defeats in British colonial history and a spectacular victory for the Zulus - 1357 black and white colonial troops lay dead and 3000 Zulu warriors lay dead or dying. The British were horribly outnumbered by an estimated 20 000 strong Zulu army. The battlefield itself has a small museum but the true experience only comes when you're standing at the base of the small mountain where the British camp was looking out over the hills. The day was chilly and overcast when we visited and this added a sombre backdrop to the haunting scenery. The area is covered with white cairns marking where British soldiers fell. No book can tell the story as well as those simple stones. As I looked down the small valley heading towards Rorke's Drift where the few survivors fled to the cairns continued to tell there silent tale. A tale of fear in the face of an overwhelming force, of confusion, of death. It was a very poignant moment. At Rorke's Drift (the story that is told in the movie Zulu with Michael Caine, but filmed at Royal National in the Drakensberg) some of the original buildings still stand and there is a beautiful sculpture in memory of the Zulu warrors who fell at that battle.

After five days at Dundee we packed up and moved off to Hlalanathi ("stay with us" in Zulu) - a park in the Northern Drakensberg. We spent a very relaxing six nights there. We went on a tour of Eskom's Drakensville hydroelectric power station. It was awesome - you go 62 floors down into the mountain. The pump water between two dams to generate electricity for the national grid during peak usage periods. Apart from that we sampled various hotels' scones for tea and I even managed to get a bit of a tan reading in the sun. It was a bit chilly at night though I will say so we were all in bed by 9 o'clock. The only problem with caravaning being the walking to the bathroom. Not pleasant when it's cold and dark. Just take my word for it.

The camp is also home to a family group of rock dassies who we discovered have voracious appetites. Their bottom jaw and tongue seem to act as a mini-conveyer belt and food disappears very rapidly. They are espeially partial to bread. The antics of my little family kept us amused for many hours. For example - to avoid their food being stolen they would keep their bums to each other and go round and round in circles if needs be. Although they are definitely wild animals and were skittish around humans they have a very childlike curiousity and would come and take food out of my hand. The problem came when all 7 of them wanted food and one little blighter decided I wasn't handing it out fast enough, so grabbed it out of my hand. In so doing sinking one of his very long and sharp top incisors into the bed of my thumb nail. That was a tad sore !!! Needless to say I was less than pleased and pain and shock had me crying like a little girl. My parents and brother thought it was hysterical. And after talking to Dave M and Mels the other day and having them kill themselves laughing as well I must admit that it may be funny. As Dave M said - of all of the wild animals in Africa I had to get bitten by a dassie. Yes, a small furry vegetarian. And after they asked - no, it was not a full moon, so I don't forsee me turning into a small furry vegetarian that people want to cuddle any time soon.

Last stop was Nottingham Road in the KZN Midlands. Now that was cold !!!!! In fact it was friggin freezing Mr Bigglesworth. We didn't do much newsworthy there, but I had a great time relaxing and looking at the various arts and crafts around the area. I bought a beautiful glass bead bracelet for myself. And most importantly - my dad had a very relaxing holiday and managed to de-stress.

An that is the end of my holiday tale. I trust you can still read through your tears of laughter and muttered dassie comments.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon

I have been fascinated for a relatively long time now by the very popular game: Six degrees of Kevin Bacon. After a very brief web search I discovered that the game was originally developed by three college students and is based on the premise that Kevin Bacon is the centre of the entertainment universe. With this basic assumption in mind they went on to propose that any actor or actress can be linked to Kevin Bacon, typically by a maximum of six degrees. The number of links to Mr Bacon are called an individual's Bacon number.

Yet more people have taken this theory further and stated that any person can be linked to someone else in the world by six or seven degrees. Now I may not be too sure about that one, but I'm really with people on this whole Kevin Bacon thing. I believe that it is possible for mere mortals such as myself to have a Bacon number of 6 or less even living out here in good old South Africa. Follow my logic for a moment and be amazed.

  1. I know my brother, Eric Parry.
  2. Eric Parry has met Adrian Bellengere (boss's brother).
  3. Adrian Bellengere was a stunt double for Joseph Fiennes in Man to Man (2005).
  4. Joseph Fiennes was in Shakespeare in Love (1998) with Colin Firth.
  5. Colin Firth was in Where the Truth Lies (2005) with Kevin Bacon.

Bacon number = 5

Not too bad for a South African girl from Port Shepstone who has never been out of the country. A fun website to check out in this regard is: The Oracle of Bacon.

Right - I was going to update you all with exciting news and happenings from my two week caravaning holiday with the parental units (hence the slightly longer than usual silence), but I sort of got carried away getting my page to look the way I wanted it to. So time sacrificed for aesthetics as opposed to news today I'm afraid. The holiday update will hopefully follow soon.

I put a new counter in - the software looks interesting. It allows you to track what countries people are from that are looking at your page and other cool stats. Unfortunately it means we have to start at 0 again. Oh well - you win some you loose some.

I have so far passed the assignments that UNISA has seen fit to actually mark and put the results on the web (2 of 5). Not bad for home studying, but I'm not ecstatically pleased with the 60% I got for the one. At least it's a pass i guess. I was battling to focus on them blabbering away on the theory behind theory and thought that that may have an effect. But in the greater scheme of things it won't be that big a section. Oh my god - I'm slowly morphing into that most hated of all - a social science student. My therapist was very amused when I mentioned that I had to wing a couple of sections for my assignments (i.e. read only the relevant bits as opposed to everything) and he burst out laughing and welcomed me to the social sciences.

I'd like to welcome people's opinions and suggestions about my page. Feel free to get in touch through the comments page.

I have also decided to introduce something new and fun to my page. A trivia quiz. Every post I will ask a trivia question and people need to post comments with their answers. Date stamps will verify who got there first. There will be 10pt for 1st place, 5pt for 2nd and 2pt for 3rd. I hope people will find it fun and entertaining for a bit of a change. The questions will vary in difficulty and style as I come up with them. I have set up a leader board on the site to track people's progress.

Trivia question
A crucial developmental gene/protein is named after a popular computer game character first seen in 1990. Name this character.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The world of me

So rumour has it that I may actually have Bipolar II, but the jury is still out on that so watch this space. At least I'll be in good company - Churchill amongst others were thought to have it and still managed to function in normal society. So there may be hope for me yet.

I've been having a frustrating few weeks. I know that one of my biggest problems is that I think too much, but that's one habit that they haven't developed a patch or gum for yet. So I was thinking the other day and feeling guilty about being 25 and still living at home with my parents while most of the people I know are working (those who aren't are studying). I have 2 degrees, 7 years at 'varsity and a well above average IQ (fact, not boasting) yet there seems to be nothing for me to do to earn money part time while I continue my studies in psychology at UNISA and try to find an even keel. Do you have any idea how shit that makes you feel ?

In an attempt to describe what it feels like to have depression I ask you to bear with me for a moment or two. Imagine that you're driving to work and you suddenly realise that the car in front of you has stopped. While you may be able to slow down there is no way that you can avoid hitting it. You know that feeling that sits in your chest ? That's what it feels like to have depression, but you carry that feeling around 24/7 and it varies in intensity with often no logical or apparent reason. Medically I know that what I have will take a long time to recover from, but I often beat myself up that I'm wallowing and using it as an excuse. Then I test the boundaries and I get slapped back into reality - I didn't wake up one morning and say "You know what would be fun ?" I do also try every day - some days trying involves actually being around people. I wish there was a reset button.

Do you know what my greatest fear is ? That people will get tired and abandon me.

But enough melancholia. I just finished reading The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan and I haven't read such a good and real feeling fantasy series in a long time. It will make an awesome roleplaying campaign setting (possibly with some modification). With regards to movies Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride is well worth the watch - excellent puppets and the voice talents of a star studded cast.

I've been having friendsickness - I miss my friends so much. I do have some good friends here - but no one under the age of about 31 and I haven't been out dancing for almost a year. Blast.

Write to me dammit.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

And today in the news

Ok, so maybe a bit more time has passed than I originally thoughtsince my last post.

Those who care will be pleased to know that I am in fact not dead, which makes typing this post a lot easier than it might otherwise be. My birthday was on Friday 13th January and I had a great day. I was spoiled by being taken out for breakfast and spent the rest of the day just relaxing. In response to the obvious question about loot - I got some really cool presents, but nothing worth detailing here after so much time has passed.

Life in Port Shepstone carries on. Our family has been beset by a string of bad news over the last week or two - with people dying, getting divorced and having tumours removed. Hopefully the new year has been kinder to everyone else.

I had a really bad time a few weeks ago and resorted to my old habit of razor blade meets skin (first time in ages though) and ended up feeling even worse after I had done it. *sigh* I am running out of time to register for UNISA, so I need to pull myself towards myself and sort that out. My brain is bored. This results in me playing PC games and thinking far too much about my shit. Plus I'm looking forward to doing something that has always fascinated me.

I watched Serenity last week (I love my local video shop) and it was great. It scores a 8 and 1/2 on the Shelagh scale for the general public. As a fangirl it gets a 9 for me. I recently finished playing The Bard's Tale: A Quest for Coin and Cleavage. It was a very enjoyable game and I rate it as an 8. Featuring the voice talent of Carey Elwes the comments are worth every cent. I am now busying myself working through American McGee's Alice - a good classic. I didn't have a PC that would run it when it was first released in 2001.

Well the writing bug seems to have moved on to greater and more glorious things, so I will take my leave here.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Only 6 more sleeps....

Yes, the countdown for my birthday has begun. I'm almost a whole quarter of a century old. Somehow I don't think that the queen will be sending me a letter for this one.

I trust that everyone had an enjoyable new year - I demand e-mails filled with embarrassing and blackmailable information. Or just some good stories would be good. I personally spent a very quiet and debauche free (sadly) evening at home with a movie and a book. Hopefully one day I'll manage to get some more dancing into my life again. I miss a good old fashioned party. I am waiting for the hordes of vaalies to subside before I even consider going to the local clubs. It's bad enough dealing with local 14 year olds without importing them.

I must again apologise for being lax in my writing of e-mails, phoning and general keeping in touch with people. I assure you that I do think of you all (whether you're in CT, Joburg or anywhere else) often and miss you stacks. I will endeavour to rectify the communication problem this year - and this is step one. Although to be fair it sometimes takes a bit of time to build up anything truley interesting to write about. When that fails you get a post very much like this one, where I expose you to random imaginings and thoughts occupying my twisted psyche.

I have lived in KZN for 24 years (almost 25 now) and each year I forget how hot it gets in summer. I am typing this while sitting resplendant in a pair of my brother's old shorts (unfortunately not studded battle shorts, but we work with what we have). The last week has been hideous as far as temperature goes. You know it's going to be bad when they forcast about 32 and then add at least 10 degrees on for humidity. I refer you to my previous post on conditions in which sweat becomes less of a cooling agent and more of a general irritant so that you may catch a glimpse of how I currently feel. I have resorted to covering my pillows with a towel in the hopes that they will not be soaking wen I wake up. A charming mental image to be sure, but very effective I feel.

I watched The Brothers Grimm yesterday and really enjoyed the movie. It gains a 7 and 1/2 on the Shelagh movie rating scale. It loses the 1/2 due to the story being somewhat sluggish at first. Matt Damon is surprisingly good in his role and Heath Ledger complements him well. A reminder that it is a movie by Terry Gilliam so will not necessarily appeal to everyone. Also look to se how many quite clever links to the real brothers' fairy tales you can spot. Current count sits at 6.

Well that's all folks. Stay tuned for the next installment of this exciting and no doubt riveting blog as soon as our author can be persuaded to come out of hiding.