Thursday, August 31, 2006

International Experiences through SIETAR in Vancouver

Although I'm not in Vancouver right now, here can be a chance to about people's experience abroad and understand more about experiences of three people from work or life in Hong Kong, Colombia and India. It's on September 14th hosted by a group called SIETAR BC.

Sharks at Ushaka Sea World, Durban

Sharks in Durban
Originally uploaded by make_change.
He's looking pretty hungry, doesn't he? After surfing in town (north-westerly, gail force wind) and eating alot of sand from the wind, decided to pop over next door to the beach to the local aquarium. Here is a photo of one of the many sharks and fish found at the great Ushaka Sea World right on the durban beach point. I'll try to post more of the wicked shots we got on the website, but it does not do it justice on the amazing diversity of tropical fish and predators in the sea. Yes, we did go see Africa and Zulu at the cheesy dolphin show and watch them do hula hoops and high jumps, but I've never seen so many colourful fish in one place. We spent over 5 hours at this place just bugging the hell out of the pompanos and named one fish, Gramps, the musselcracker fish. All thanks to a beer can that said two-for-one so we paid 87 Rand ($14.50 CAD, cheap! ) for two, otherwise i'm not sure if I would have come to this place. Unfortunately, the deal ends at the end of August. If I had a known what a spectacular fun place it was, I would have dumped my recycling there a long time ago and try the Whistler 2-for-1 ski-pass method to go there all the time all summer! The other great thing is how the aquarium tries to drill in the idea of conservation and taking care of the oceans in all areas of the park. This weekend, I'll be heading up to the midlands of South Africa to check out some kind of treetop thing (not sure what it is) and maybe go flyfishing. It's chilly in the midlands, so the toque is on for the first time in a long time!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Testing Out vlogs from Garvies!

First sheeting of custom surfboard

Here is the first viewing of the new surfboard. Very stoked. Still need to put on the baboon decal, fin plugs, leash end and some sanding before I get in the water with it. stoked.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Kiora, the silly dawg.

kiora & Kathleen
Originally uploaded by make_change.
Here is a photo of me sitting down pre-licked by the dog, Kiora. She's a silly dog who may have her sister as her mom and chases after another ratty little dog called tinkerbell in their yard. Click on the photo for other just as exciting weekend photos of life here in Durban.

Last Friday, I went surfing on a westerly day with downpour rain. Great day to test out the new wetsuit. High tide at around 4pm but great easy-going waves with a group of 5 or so at Snake Park. The next morning, 9am, went surfing again on a sunny warm day at South Beach but much more crowded and more curling waves that wipe you out at one dump. Lots of learners and groms.

I also went to check out that Jomba! dance festival... little did I know that it was "interpretative" and all kinds of strange one person or duo acts doing dialogue with what seemed to be "dance". Apparently it was a Swiss team but I'm not soo sure. I just you have to go to these things to know what type of dance one likes!

All weekend, working again on the proposal and send it in today for review. Crossing my fingers that it will be approved. I am now reading over a project for East Africa on Information and Technology and poverty reduction and possibly find myself applying for an internship with this project for a year. We'll see!!! Have a great week! Tommorow i'll try to post a foto of the new surfboard progress!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Burning the midnight oil

I have just met up with one of my supervisors, Gavin, to give me the thumbs up to hand in my research proposal. Just a few more revisions and should be ready to be submitted to our department's Program coordinator and then the University's Higher Degree group for approval to go to Mozambique. Apparently, I can also apply for money through the Ford Foundation on research outside of South Africa. Yes, I am getting on that train for sure! This week, our Poverty and Inequality classes were about different ways to look at poverty. Amartya Sen has presented approaches such as capabilities and entitlement - capabilities is the ability for humans to reacht their needs and entitlement is some enforced idea that one is deserving of certain needs and services. Interesting stuff. Tonight, I'm checking out some Swiss dance group performing at the university's dance festival, JOMBA! Fun times!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

town surf

Light and variable day in Durban. It's about the least amount of wind that's come through town in a long time so it was worth at heading to town for a surf. It's been ages since I've been in the water because of dissertation prepping and coursework but now it's time to get back with it especially with the new surf board arriving soon! I saw the blank yesterday; pretty rad except that they messed up on the specs that I requested. Little choked. Basically it is now a 6'8 with a regular surf nose (not rounded somewhat similar to a mini-mal) but it's got less rocker. So either today or tomorrow, Greg is going to seal the board, then glass it and I guess some time in between add the fin plugs... can't wait. arms are tired of typing. surf arms are on its way!

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Research Proposal

What a harry weekend. I've been at the grind stone to get this dissertation proposal completed for the September Higher Degrees review date and it has been some heavy reading and brainstorming. After substantial help from my department, I think my topic had changed about 3 times over the course of the weekend. Inbetween this grind, I saw the provincial rugby team, the Sharks (Kwazulu-Natal) get pounced by the Lions (Pretoria) and then cruised over to Florida Road for some mexican food at Taco Zulu. Friends were all there for a laugh about harry eyebrows but the food was not so mexican with cabbage mix and cream instead of sour cream. No spice, no dice.

Friday, August 18, 2006

End of the Week

The month is flying by and I'm sure it is the same for those in the Northern hemisphere who are enjoying the great weather from the summer. I have been busy working on my research proposal which appears to be changing shape in all different ways as I receive feedback from my supervisor and reviewers. All I know is that I have a long weekend ahead working on this project as well as a literature review on the coursework I have been doing in my Poverty and Inequality class.

Poverty and Inequality class has been really functional in trying to understand what all the measurements mean on reports completed by the United Nations or others that try to compare countries. For example we learned about how to best estimate the Gini Coefficient this week with the Lorenz curve and some simple arithemetic of adding triangles and rectangles. Basically a 16 year old could do it. I just don't understand why economists need to make it seem so difficult and hard to figure out. Apparently there is a Journal for Economics Educators that try to demystify these economic equations for the normal person to understand.

Nothing to super exciting to report except that the surf is starting to shape up again at Garvies. I went for a run this morning and it is not looking as rough and windy as it has been for the last month. I can't wait to hit the water again with the new surfboard. This weekend, I'll also be checking out a Mexican restaurant called Taco Zulu on Florida Road. Go figure.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Poverty and Inequality

Today was the second day of my final course here for my Masters in Development Studies, the course being Poverty and Inequality with the Head of the School, Julian May. It's a bigger class with all co-students from first term, so it's great to see all the familiar faces and it looks like a great class to end the first 50% of the degree. Today we discussed how to measure poverty. We reviewed how poverty can be measure in many ways and should actually be viewed with a set of mirrors surrounding the whole issue to really understand the meaning of poverty. We looked at absolute poverty and how one uses a basket of consumption goods (rice, fish, etc) + non-food goods and total this for a person's consumption. Of course if you are calculating households one needs to consider the number of members in the household and decide whether a child's consumption is equal to a father's consumption and weight it accordingly. Back to the basket of goods, the goods are then taken and calculated according to the number of calories it provides one person and then the total caloric intake for the basket of goods is compared to the minimum one should have to be healthy. It changes depending on what region you are of course. Then you can start to calculate whether a person is "impoverished" or not. that's the start.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New surfboard on its way: Gotta love August!

I finally put in the order for my first personally custom made girl surfboard yesterday! I am very very hyped for this 6'10, X 18' 5/8th rounded tail board in 2 1/2 weeks time. I'm thinking of putting that photo of the baboon on the front of it since I get to choose decals and of course signing, "diga" on the bottom. I will start posting photos of the progress on the board as Greg starts to shape and glass the board. Very stoked.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

WorkSpace: Innovative indy legroom in Vancity!

I just recently checked out my good friend, Bill's recent website entry on his adventure with business in Vancouver called WorkSpace. From my understanding, it's this fabulous location overlooking Vancouver harbour where an independent business goer (webspace designers, consultants, etc) can set up their laptop (seem to be a theme with apples) and work in an environment set up for networking with others and getting out of that makeshift office in the closet. Brilliant idea and look forward to see its success in coffee-licking Vancity. Most importantly, he's got some memberships to giveaway in a contest for the best ackward work area photo or something to that effect. Enter and win! Cheers, Bill, wish I was there for the party.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Salima's Visit to Durban

Here's a photo when Salima came visited me last month. She just came back from completing a project with CARE International in Zambia.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Kruger Baboon's sombre pose

Kruger Baboon's sombre pose
Originally uploaded by make_change.
Did I tell you I have a Zulu name? Nqobile. Apparently it means “the conquered”.

I never understood why I was given a Zulu name; it’s not like when I meet a person who speaks a language other than English, I would immediately associate them with the name, “Bob” or “Sally”.

But as I read on for my research paper on the concept of ‘ubuntu’, a theory for the Zulu name is to make sure I feel included within the culture and be part of the community. 'Ubuntu' is about the characteristics that make us human like kindness, compassion, respect and charity and the idea that we exist because of our contributions back to the community. The best definition is through isiXhosa proverb, “umuntu ngummuntu ngabantu” or, “I am because we are” (Marx, 2002: 52; Venter, 2004: 152; Mbigi, 1995: 15). Under traditional context, such a proverb would deliver the importance of performing one’s duties for the good of the community especially when those duties are carried out for his or her small traditional villages where one lives for survival.

Kruger Leopard stares back at tourist prey

Ever since I came back to southern Africa, I promised myself to visit the ever-famous Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. I think the guilt set in when I came home to Vancouver realizing that I had lived an hour away from one of the best place to see the Big 5 in the world. So last week, I flew in to Nelspruit and arrived at the Paul Kruger entrance of the park. Sean’s brother worked at the park as a manager so we were warmly invited to stay at his pad where he shared with two other staff members. It is fantastic knowing people working within the park because you get to do things that the ordinary visitor would not get the chance to experience. The night that we arrived, we went on a game drive. Usually cars are not allowed on the road past 5:30pm unless you had a permit or were on a night-drive tour. Of course, staff have their privileges as well and we drove around for an hour before we spotted three lions on a side road. One of them came right up to the car, gave a sniff near my passenger door and then gave a small little growl. Small growl sounds like a terrifying rip-your-head-apart message when the lion is centimeters from your head and the only divide is the steel of the car side door. Then followed the spotting of a leopard! Absolutely ridiculous to see this cat walk past the car, large furry paws and all. Never got as close to the cats as that evening during the rest of the trip, amazing. We were able to spot all 5: buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant and rhino. One crazy part of our trip was the rhino capture where we jumped into an open high-seated 4X4 and we followed a helicopter to where rhinos were spotted. The first rhino was shot by a tranquilizer dart from the air and then whobbled its way towards the dirt track. He was then maneuvered into the truck to be transported to a local game farm who had purchased him by tender. Apparently it is possible to buy a rhino for the going rate of around R120,000. Of course the conservation officers would have to ensure that you have all the proper facilities to hold such an animal. Another fact that I learned is that the park has an abundance of elephants and the packs are growing quite large. In terms of selling such an elephant, it is very difficult because elephants tend to follow the same routine for the rest of their life and adaptation to new places is hard for the animal. It could possibly lead to much damaged fence and all. The best part of the rhino capture was a ride on the helicopter and follow the animals by air! So stoked because I have not been on a helicopter before! Another great thing of knowing people within the park is that we get to stay at the ranger’s guest house and hear about the ups and downs of living in the park from their perspective. The ranger has to consider the perception of not only the animals but the public and how to get visitors to understand the environment of this ecosystem that they see. Seemingly small problems like one animal having TB could have devastating effects on the somewhat balanced equilibrium of the animal life and park life. Lastly, our final night consisted of a farewell party for Sean’s brother and a feast of delicious venison and meats from the main chef of the camps topped off with a sweet peppermint dessert. Unbelievable treatment at the park and can’t wait to visit again.