Winters coming…

It’s still Autumn here, but today I felt the chill of winter approaching. After a heavy downpour, I took a rare stroll through the garden…

… okay, I was just having a smoke and felt like a walkabout… and was pleasantly surprised. How did I miss these beauties before? Had to go back inside to get the camera.

These fellas though, almost appear to be defying Winter. Wonder how long they’ll hold out? Seems like I’ll have to take more strolls through the garden and keep an eye on them. Hope they won’t mind the ciggies.

On the not-worth-talking-about scale

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake struck South Africa today around lunch time. Originating in Orkney in the North West Province, the tremors were felt in large parts of the country and even in neighbouring Botswana and Mozambique.

I felt it in my office while on a conference call and just looked up at the ceiling. I’ll bet many others looked up at the ceiling too. Probably a normal reaction, that. It’s being reported as one of the biggest to hit South Africa. Seems there wasn’t too much damage, except for the unlucky guy who died after a wall apparently collapsed on him.

Up here on the Reef, we live directly above working mines and tremors from mining activity is quite normal. Sometimes in the dead of night, I can swear I hear the locomotives running deep underground in the mine tunnels. But this was a real quake, albeit not much worth talking about when compared to the recent disaster in China.

In other not worth talking about news, I discovered today that there’s a random dude from South Africa who’s following my blog. What’s not worth talking about though is his blog which spews the kind of bigotry I rant about here on my own blog. Seems he’s a homophobic, patriarchal, anti-feminist, religious ANC supporter.

Not sure I want his kind following my blog. Get thee gone bigot.

And finally, it’s being reported that the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) is losing its relevancy. That to me is not entirely correct. Presided over by Angie Motshekga, this woeful organization lost its relevancy a long time ago. They were merely going through the motions of being constituted, whereas all they were doing was supporting the puerile ambitions of power-hungry ANC men, and furthering the patriarchal agenda.

It is widely said that Motshekga single-handedly destroyed South Africa’s education system. Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but she most certainly played a huge role in dumbing it down, and still does. And her feats of maladministration in the Education Ministry are now legendary.

The cremation of the ANCWL will not come soon enough, and hopefully we won’t have to suffer the presence of Angie in Education much longer too.

Project mismanagement

screenshot of the project management software ...

One of the basics of project management is identifying, sequencing and scheduling your project activities in a logical manner. It’s not that difficult and you don’t need any sort of Project Management qualification to do this; it’s common sense mostly.

Things only start to get hairy when you begin to manage resources, time and cost, but even here it requires some skill and a whole lot of luck. I know this because I’ve been in the business for a long time.

I’m writing this because I watched in amazement today, a contractor installing a simple water drainage system at the side of a building in my office block, just weeks after another contractor had just finished painting and renovating that very same building. It was actually amusing to watch these guys mess up that freshly painted wall with unsightly splotches of wet cement.

Now I’m pretty sure that the facilities management company that manages the place, employs project management principles, but for the life of me can’t understand how or why they got the sequencing of their activities so wrong.

I remember around 20 years ago thinking the exact same thing when I was a supervisor of a team installing telecommunications cabling infrastructure in a newly developed town. We’d get to the site, admiring freshly tarred roads separating the blocks of nicely demarcated plots of vacant land, and commence to dig up that road to lay our cables. While still busy with this project we’d watch in sequence as other utilities owners arrived on site to dig up the same roads which we’d only just resurfaced, to install water, sewer and electrical reticulation.

What were the town planning and development guys thinking not getting all these services installed before tarring the roads? It only requires a little bit of project planning to get things done in the right sequence.

I’m not sure if that still happens with new town planning as I’ve moved on and haven’t seen the like since. But I’m still a project manager and I do see it happen with other types of projects in the data networking environment I’m in.

It all comes down to communication and we’re really bad at it, even with the sophisticated tools we have at our disposal.

I’m sooo sorry Thor

It was a valiant fight, but with hail this size…

Alas my poor Honda came off second best. What chance did Japanese tin foil have against the bullets of an angry God.

I’m sooo sorry Thor. I promise never to worship Dawkins again đŸ™‚

Curious beliefs

Black rhino

Black rhino

I dropped my car off for a service at the dealership today and got a ride back to work in one of their courtesy cars. Sitting upfront, I shared the ride with three ladies at the back who had also brought their cars in.

I listened silently, pondering my day ahead as two of the women got into a conversation. One began regaling the other about her recent holiday at a wildlife reserve, and the conversation somehow shifted to rhinos and the decimation of the species by poachers.

One quoted the death toll to be standing in the region of four hundred and something; I can’t remember the exact figure quoted. That’s more or less correct. The other mentioned that rhino horn tasted like fingernails – she knows because she got to taste it somewhere. That’s also true, more or less.

To my mild amusement the woman in the middle fumed that something’s got to be done about the Asians. Being an Indian I felt somehow complicit, but funnily did not feel insulted. In truth, the demand seems to stem mostly from Vietnam and China.

Then to my astonishment, the woman immediately behind me said that we have to protect the rhinos because God created the animals and humans and we were meant to share the earth equally – the other agreed that God put them here for a specific purpose. It was more than I could do to burst out laughing.

In case you’re wondering, I absolutely abhor the killing of rhinos to satisfy the sick beliefs of ignorant people, Asians or otherwise. But I’m appalled that anyone would think it’s wrong to kill an animal simply because God created them and that they were meant to share the earth with us equally.

I almost asked them if they would desist from squishing a mosquito or fly or cockroach when they become a nuisance, following their reasoning that they were also created by God. I sincerely think they would have no compunction trampling a bug, because it is all too easy to rationalize that bugs are purposeless, or worse, created by the Devil?

Surely we protect and preserve animals because it’s the right thing to do, rather than it being the judgement of some mythical being? This reasoning should apply to all things – we do it because it is good and decent, not because it is commanded.

In the end, I suppose I’m just being anal about the whole thing – these women are doing the right thing even if for the wrong reasons.

Mozambique Road Trip – Finale at Kruger National Park

With Mozambique behind us, it was time to return to Johannesburg, but not before a little detour to the majestic Kruger National Park (KNP).

On all my previous excursions into the KNP which, I was very lucky to spot the famous Big Five – Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard and Rhinoceros. This turn of luck is no doubt aided by the fact that the bush is still fairly dry at this time of year, which makes animal spotting easier. Going into Summer, the African bush is more lush and dense, and animals are not exactly keen to show themselves, preferring to laze in the shade.

This time however, I not only did not sight any Leopards, the solitary Lion, Buffalo and Rhino I did glimpse, were hard to photograph. And it was overcast overhead.

Elusive Rhinoceros

However, antelope, deer and various types of buck are plentiful in the Park and quite easy to spot.. Giraffe are also in abundance…

Bucking the trend

Hellooo!

See how tall I am…

…and zebras too.

Lonesome zebra

While having lunch on the viewing deck of a restaurant at Lower Sabie Rest Camp, we were besieged by multi-coloured birds vying to get at any scraps that may be left. This one sat patiently within view of my table.

Lower Sabie Rest Camp

The lion may be king of the jungle, but out here nobody messes with the mighty elephant. We were forced on more than one occasion to back up our cars as a troop of elephants came along. The parents are especially protective over the young, and would not hesitate to pulverize anything they perceive as a danger to the calves.

Mighty king of the Park

And so ended another memorable road trip…

Should South Africa trade in rhino horn legally?

South Africa is facing an onslaught from poachers who are decimating our rhino population to satisfy the demand from mainly the Far East [Vietnam in particular], of ignorant people who believe quite absurdly that the horn is some sort of cure for a multitude of physical ailments.

Last year more than 400 rhinos were slaughtered illegally, and four months into this year nearly 200 more have been killed.

The Ministry for the Environment announced today that they are contemplating approaching the international community to lift the ban on trade in rhino horn so that South Africa can sell it legally, in an attempt to disrupt or destroy the poaching business. Reports indicate that South Africa may be sitting on a stockpile of around 20 tons of the stuff, which is estimated to be worth around R 500 000 a kilogram. That’s several times the value of gold.

Like many things in life, the answer is not straightforward and there are both pros and cons.

What do you think? Vote below:

Autumn in the United States: Photos by National Geographic

I love Autumn, but not as much as Winter.

However, Autumn offers a visual feast for photographers; a cornucopia of colours and sensations.

Japanese Maple from National Geographic

View more stunning Autumn photographs from National Geographic using the link below:

Photo Gallery – Autumn in the United States

Listen up, you oriental berks, rhino horn does not cure cancer

Just over a year ago I wrote about how poachers were decimating South Africa’s rhino population, driving another species towards extinction.

At that time around 210 had been killed already, but the latest figures indicate that the total for 2010 reached a record 333. However, the figures for this year thus far is an alarming 341 animals killed, which works out at almost one a day.

A photo taken of Rhinoceros eating in a nation...

Image via Wikipedia

And it’s all for feeding the ignorant oriental belief that rhino horn cures cancer among other diseases.

The biggest culprits driving the killing of rhinos for their horns remain Vietnam and China. It appears that their respective governments could not be bothered in the least to implement measures to curb the trade in rhino horn. One wonders if the ageing Commie despots running these countries, are not indulging in rhino shavings themselves, to prolong their tenure in office, dealing more misery to their people.

It’s a scandal that a magnificent beast is giving up its life, not to sustain human life as livestock do, but to sustain a delusional belief system.

So listen up! Stop being yellow monkeys! If you’ve got cancer, go to a fucking doctor for treatment, or die with dignity. Don’t be grasping at horns. Let the beasts be…

What’s that I see?

The pink, purple and white blooms are poking their way through the roadside vegetation once again. Cosmos!

On the South African highveld this only means one thing. Winter is coming. Glorious, beautiful winter. I’m in ecstacy already!

Hurry up and piss off, extended-Summer! And please take your fucking mosquitoes with you…