Friday, 26 February 2010


I think I wrote somewhere, sometime (not going to link to it because I am ashamed) that I was trying to cut down on coffee because of health reasons blah blah.

Well I am back to drinking a million cups of coffee a day. Because it actually lifts my mood. I don't know about scientific data proving that caffeine is an antidepressant but it is for me, probably because I'm an addict. If it gets me through this winter that's fine, I just hope my liver holds out.

I've realised that I am no longer able to distinguish when things are going well or badly at work. I think I reached a threshold of despair, and now I feel bad all the time, even though things are ok. I am miserable at work at the moment, and this extends to home where I just sleep and eat, and... sleep.

But not to worry, because this is all clearly down to SAD and if I hang in there and don't scream or throw something or say what's on my mind to anyone at work, then I will survive and winter will be over and I won't go insane.

And I even had an extra dose of sun over January!

Oh dear. When does it get warm here again? I remember people always talk about the good week in April. Bring on the good week in bloody April.

I have scientifically calculated that Northern European winters are bad for my health (sharp hey) so we are planning to move to South Africa round the end of next year.

I hope you realise how scared I feel writing that down in my blog. I never announce plans in my life ever, because things go wrong, and people change their minds, and things don't work out, and things get delayed, and things are not meant to be. But we are hoping to move back next year, or sometime. I am so superstitious that writing it makes me feel like I have jinxed it.

Oh ja, p.s. don't tell my Dad. My Dad's tactic of persuading me not to go back to South Africa drives me insane and involves him shouting the word "Australia" to me at random intervals. Oh Daddy, you never learned did you; if you want your stubborn daughter to do something you must tell her to do the opposite. There is now no way in hell I will ever move to Australia, just to go against my Dad.

Yes I am a brat.

Right now I don't care what anyone says about South Africa.

  • Malema wants to nationalise everything -> don't care
  • Malema is annoying -> don't care
  • The ANCYL declares a state of war every time someone looks at them -> don't care
  • SA is crime ridden -> don't care
  • Zuma wants to shag everything and have a million babies -> don't care
  • I spent my whole life in South Africa in financial difficulty -> don't care
  • people keep saying farming is doomed and SA will become Zim etc etc -> don't care
  • SA doesn't have iTunes or cheap and easy internet -> eeep I may care about this
  • Steve Hofmeyer lives in SA -> don't care

These are the reasons people give for not going back, amongst others. Well, I DON'T CARE!

I do care obviously, I care very much, but I'm going home damnit. I want to care there rather than here.

There must be reasons for me wanting to move back other than weather, but ... well, the weather is a major factor. Yup, how lame is that? And it's time for a change, BFG and I are stagnating.

Never underestimate the power of irrationality, frivolity and whim when it comes to making huge life decisions, that is my advice for the day.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

My little blog is growing up!

I was having a pretty dismal Monday until I got an email from Briget of becausican.

If you didn't know, she won the Nerdies 2010 award, and much deserved! This is a South African award for the shecksiest blogger/tweeter spearheaded by by the blogger Shebee (who also runs Nerdmag) and it also donates to charity. This year they donated to the Wet Nose Foundation.

Anyway, Briget won some awesome prizes and she decided to give one of them to me! I am touched. She is giving me twelve month's hosting and domain registration by Eighty Six.

I must admit I am not entirely clued up to what this entails, but I assume there will be some changes around this little corner of the internet. This blog is nearly two years old so maybe it is time it took a step up the food chain.

Apparently the domain is a one, which makes me feel a bit weird since I am not in
Dotcodotza land at the moment. But trust me, if my life plan goes according to... plan, I will be there, sometime in the forseeable foocha. Not that anything I have ever done has gone according to plan. But it has to now, it is written in the blog!

Thanks so much B, you definitely deserve your crown. And thanks Shebee for organising such a wonderful event, and thank you Eighty Six for your generous offer!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Robot angst

Sheesh, sorry for the distressed outburst on Friday, but it felt so good to write that post. I can't exactly freak out and swear in the lab but I did feel like throwing something at the wall at one stage.

For once it wasn't even my fault, technology was rebelling against me but it was just the limit. I can only take so much. I had to throw something away and have to start again this week. Whatevs.

I am feeling so much better. But lets be honest, I wrote this post on Sunday night, after lots of sleep, food and exercise. I thought it would be best to write it then rather than Monday because I assume after about 5 minutes on Monday morning I will be freaking out again.

So lets go with the happiness vibes.

BFG has been coding robots to destroy each other all weekend. His first robot committed suicide by bashing its head repeatedly against the wall, instead of blowing other robots to smithereens.

I just thought you would like to know.

Friday, 19 February 2010

don't bother reading this.

I don't think this month could possibly get any worse in terms of work. I have had it up to here. I want to swear. Alot . So I shall.

Fuck this shit. Seriously.

Am swearing a lot more in my head. I have been back from holiday just over a month and I need to go on another one asap before I have some kind of meltdown.

I hate everything right now. Sorry.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Crying without tears

I know I am not the only person who suffers from tear duct constipation, it is surely a symptom of emotionally repressed people everywhere. Anyone else with a complete inability to cry?

Firstly I am one of those people for whom crying is a trauma. If I cry in front of someone else, anyone else, I feel like I am dying. Don't know why. So I don't do it. Also I can't even really cry alone. It seems to cause me pain even then. If it does happen it is more like I am being torn apart for a few seconds and then no more tears come. This happens about once a year.

It is quite inconvenient. There are many occasions that call for tears, as a kind of pressure release, and it makes you feel much better afterwards. If you let them build up and up.. well I think there lies the path to nervous breakdowns and stuff.

This all stems back to the wars between me and my father years ago. I realised that when he was angry at me, I vindicated him by crying. So I forced myself to stop crying, no matter what physical or verbal punishment was being metered out upon me. It was hard because I was scared but eventually I succeeded. And it enraged my Dad, who couldn't seem to figure out why his punishments weren't working any more. Score! Ok the punishments became worse, but I scored a psychological point.

Yeah I was quite a brat.

Anyway I can't cry no more. The apparatus she ees broken. Except when people die, then I can cry.

Please, no one die, I don't want to cry that badly.

But even when terrible terrible things happen, if no one dies, then I can't cry. I don't think this is healthy, it leads to this build up of emotional tension and sometimes I think I could explode.

My driving test is in 5 weeks and I feel like I should cry about this at some point, or at least vomit (although I have vomit constipation too, a whole other issue) because it makes me feel sick just to think about it. But obviously this isn't going to happen. If I can't cry at terrible things, I am hardly going to cry for something as menial as a driving test. But man it would feel so good.

So I am hoping that someone for whom the eye juices flow freely will donate me one or two tears, not too many, just so I don't feel so scared and crap. Any offers?

Just shed a little tear for me,
forever and ever you'll stay in my heart
and I will love you,
forever and ever, we never will part..

Ok how disgusting is it that I would actually wish for someone to cry? I don't mean it. Don't cry for me (Argentina), this driving test will have to be performed with dread in my heart and dry eyes.

Are there such things as crying lessons?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives...

When I delved back into my posts from this time last year, I found that I was writing about Biology being a bitch, and me being a sad Po, because my experiments weren't working.

Hello, am I on some kind of time loop here? Is February the month of doom? Will my life play out like this again and again like the science fiction boomerang of bad luck?

Well I am happy to say that some time last week (much the same time as last year) my little white strips started putting in an appearance or two again. Finally. For no particular rhyme or reason that I can make out.

I love me some little white strips.

I have a feeling only a certain set are working and the others are still fucked, but we can live in hope. Baby steps.

Just in case you didn't read it last year: Biology is a bitch, and don't you forget it.

Just a side note: to whoever it was who wrote the code for our PCR machine (the machine that runs my little DNA factories):

Was it really necessary, when warning me that I had forgotten to set a minimum temperature, to write a pop up that went something along the lines of

you have forgotten to set a minimum temperature!!!!!

That level of punctuation seems more in line with:

if you don't set a minimum temperature in 5 seconds this machine will explode and you all shall die!!!!!

Whereas what is called for is more along the lines of:

By the way, you have forgotten to set a minimum temperature, which could inconvenience your experiment. Which will be a bit of a bugger.

Save the multiple exclamation marks for personal use, if you don't mind, don't foist them on unsuspecting lab rats, they give me bad karma. No wonder my experiments haven't been working.

Friday, 12 February 2010


You know how if you have cats, they go mental when there is a change in weather? From what I remember from when I was small, if the weather changed from the normal Durban humidity to a crisp chilly day, my cat would go insane. He would tear up and down the passage and attack me like a banshee. He loved me really. And my sister's cats turn into fruit loops when it snows here. You don't want to be a moving target on snow days. It's best to just stay in bed. Safer.

I think the term is: "moggy". Because they are cats and all, right?

Anyway, the weather here has made me go moggy too. It was pretty warm (ie above zero) and rainy and then all of a sardine it became icy and alternated between sun and snow. And I am going insane.

I seem to oscillate between jubilation and despair. But mostly hysteria. For some reason everything is vastly funny to me. And I want to run around the room and do cartwheels and go catch snowflakes on my tongue.

I spend most of my time alone at work because my colleagues work in an office and I am in the lab. I have no one to tell my hilarious jokes to. The other day I was giggling to myself for about 15 minutes about the word "soutpiel*". I'm not sure I want to be explaining about penises dangling into the sea to my superiors anyway. People are deadly serious around here.

As I have no one with which to share the intense hilarity that is life, I have started hosting conversations in my head where I explain to imaginary people how funny it all is. Also I keep grinning manically and snorting. I think I am scaring the post doc who does wander into the lab on occasion. And when anyone does come near me I start prattling until I see their startled faces. Then I start giggling again. It would be best if they all just stayed in bed, really. Safer.

I have finally cracked. It is true what they say, if you spend too much time alone, you will start talking to your pet weeds and their little fly friends.

At least they talk back.

*Afrikaans word for English speaking South Africans, meaning "salty penis". Because they have one foot in England, one in South Africa, and your sausage** dangling in the sea.

**white boerewors!***

***pity it will be so small and shriveled.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Preserve our elders

Someone I care about recently got conned by a person with a fake internet identity. He did not manage to get any of her money but he dragged out a relationship over many months and took from her a huge emotional investment and precious time. She had no money to give him any way, all she had was love, which sure as hell was wasted on him. I want to kick him in the nads and wish him a plague of aphids.

But that aside, we need to protect people of the older generations. They who come from the days of morals and verified information that came from books. They who are not always very good at using computers.

They don't seem to realise that it takes a person roughly three minutes (depending on your bandwidth) to create a believable fake internet presence. One minute to google "American white army officer" (or whomever you wish to be), one minute to download a photo, one minute to upload the photo to whichever profile, and you can start preying on vulnerable women.

Many older people I know could not do any of the above in three days, or ever. So they seem to believe that people are who they say they are.

And who are the ones that send on those interminable email forwards warning of the evils of canola oil and aliens in your boot and tokoloshes learning how to get past bricks? Ballies, that's who. They believe credible sounding information because in their day information was more reliable.

All of the forwards I have bothered to read before deleting sound like they have been sucked out of a 15 year old's bum thumb . But if you throw in some words like "genetically modified" and "statistically vulnerable" and "police reports recently show" then it seems many ballies will fall for it every time.

We need to protect our elders. The times have changed, and they need educating. They don't take to it kindly but it is for their own good. They are just too good and honest and gullible. They need their nasty, cynical, scheming, lyingkids to teach them a thing or two.

*parents and general old timers

Monday, 8 February 2010

The shame

I have to hang my head in shame but I am about to admit one of those things that are probably kept off the internet and away from the eyes of many.

I have started drinking Rooibos.

It is disgusting.

When I was a lass people in Durban did not drink Rooibos, they drank normal tea. We were simple folk.

When I was about 15 I tried my first cup of coffee, and since then I have been an addict. I have a dangerously addictive personality, which is why I avoid drugs like the plague. I drink far too much coffee and always have.

When I moved to Cape Town I was introduced to the tea snobbery that is drinking Rooibos. Nowadays everyone in SA drinks Rooibos and it is hugely popular in the UK too (Redbush). But back then it was like you were on a higher plane of existence (the Capetonian plane by the Mowwwntain) if you drank Rooibos. And it is disgusting. I cannot emphasise this enough. I have never been able to like it, no matter how eager I was to fit in.

When I first met the BFG he would offer me tea and I would say yes and ask for milk, assuming it would be normal, and he would being me milky Rooibos and I would drink it. One day while doing this I had a flash of clarity: this is disgusting. I shall never drink this shit again.

Yes, I also tried the non-milky version but it still tastes bad. Coffee all the way.

Until now, when I am starting to worry about my liver and the fact that I get the shakes and that if I can't have coffee I start to panic.... this needs to stop.

I need the stuff in the mornings and it does not have any bad effects on me then, but if I have it in the evenings I am a wreck. So I have started drinking Rooibos in the evenings to become all healthful and serene and decaffeinated and free of radicals like the Mowwwwntain people.

It's still disgusting though. This must be growing up.

Friday, 5 February 2010

the birds and the bees... and Po.

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated trees* do it... It's not that hard to have nookie is it?

Wrong. Plant sex is the most difficult thing I have ever done. And, erm, that is not as dodgy as it sounds.

It is a well known fact that plants have sex via the air, with the help of wind, bees, flies, etc. Right? Some plants prefer to self pleasure instead and mate with themselves and that seems to work well for them too.

The plants I work with prefer themselves and get it on very well and we are all happy. Until we need to mate one plant with another to study gene interactions... that is when our plants need a facilitator. And it would appear that the facilitator is now me. Oh joy.

The fertile bits of the plant are in the flower bud. Now the flower bud I am working with is about the size of a ... flea? Maybe if if you split a rice grain in two along the length, then take one of the skinny bits and chop it into about 4 pieces, then that would be about right.

The bits of interest ie the male and female bits, are much smaller. I cannae see them, Cap'n!

Basically you are supposed to take a pair of fine forceps and dissect the bud pulling back a petal, (which looks like a white speck) taking out all the male bits (basically invisible) so they don't fertilise themselves, and then take a flower from the daddy plant and rub its pollen all over the mommy plant. No problem.

So far in the week that I have been introduced to this torture I have decapitated about twenty plants and produced no crosses of any worth whatsoever. I am not a surgeon. Even a surgeon would struggle to perform surgery on a speck, right?

Someone very kind is now trying to teach me how to do this horrendous process with a microscope to ease the heinousness. But my boss told me to do it with the naked eye. If I do, there will be no plants alive at the end of it.

Will it help if I wear a bee suit?

*artistic license

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


I am in quite a state at the moment. For some reason my body's reaction to work stress is more in line with what is usual when someone dies or some other tragedy happens. Which is ridiculous. I can't go into a catatonic state of depression so easily, I need to conserve my energy for when something really terrible happens, and in my experience that can happen at any time.

I just can't hack this daily torture of blank DNA gels. Sometimes I do hundreds of PCRs in a day, and every single day they just do not work. Where are the little white strips, seriously? Even after I corrected my idiotic mistake, things just are not working. I came back to work eager to shift the long To Do list, and here I am not able to begin. I can't take this constant failure. It is squishing me.

Then there are other things, other forms of torture going on at work that are just the limit for my small sense of self confidence. I shall write about them soon. They involve plant nookie. Dear God. Is that not what bees were invented for?

I am of no use to anyone in this state. I am too dejected and feeble. And just last week the BFG and I were scheming life plans. Now I feel too afraid to scheme life plans. Will my boss put up with this nothingness for much longer? I doubt he could fire me that quickly, there are probably laws against it, but at this rate I will be quitting soon. You can't make life plans about the future when you think you could be fired every day.

The only way I have not broken down into a puddle of tears is by mainlining music. Where would we be without music? Music has probably saved more suicidal people than any other thing. It is the only thing that can make me feel better.

My discovery of the week is Mumford and Sons, who are very successful in the UK. I was previously obsessed with some American boys from Vegas who try to imitate Brit pop and indie.
Now these Mumford guys are from London, but they are going for a full on hillbilly folk sound, replete with banjos and half-American accents. Who could not love a bunch of English banjo-boys?

Hooray for the banjo-boys, I think they may have saved my life this week.

Banjos aside, FUCK MY LIFE.

Monday, 1 February 2010

the trip of awesomeness part 4: Western Cape

On Friday last week, at about 5pm, I figured out why my work stuff wasn't working. This was not a Biology Bitch effect. This was a "Po is a complete and utter plonker" effect. I am so ashamed. I am hanging my head. I wasted a whole 7 days with a mistake so dumb I can't even believe it is true.

And with that, I shall continue recounting my holiday to South Africa.

Our next stop was Montagu. I think this was my favourite part of the whole trip. Well, apart from the Owl House... ok it was a great part. I love Montagu. I think it is so beautiful there. The plants and animals are special and the town looks Mediterranean. They grow olives and grapes. They have the best Pizza place.

Real climbers would never say Montagu is their favourite, it is too popular and busy. But I love it. And we were the only people in the mountains. Again. Where are all the climbers? Either they have all left the country or they are too sensible to climb in that heat.

We saw duiker while we were walking. That was a definite first in all the times I have ever been to Montagu. But one thing I knew we were guaranteed to see in Montagu was.... DASSIES!!! Montagu is a dassie haven. BFG went from a score of 2 to a score of 12 in one day. I hit a measly 7. The reason being, the little dog that adopted us and escorted us to the climbing chased the other dassies away before I could see them. BFG claimed they were turbo dassies. Oh well. He won the dassie spotting contest because those were the last dassies we saw. Tragic.

The Cape Town leg of our holiday was jam packed with so many things I think I shall have to use bullet points:

  • We saw family and friends.
  • We went to many many beaches, Llandudno was particularly spectacular thanks to the South Easter. We watched huge waves crashing for ages.

  • Someone got munched by a shark. This was perturbing and upsetting. We went swimming in the sea the next day and I was a bit jumpy. But it was 38 degrees. I needed to cool off.
  • May I just reiterate. I swam in the sea. In Cape Town. This is a feat of great impressiveness.It was refreshing.
  • We drove along Chapman's Peak drive, and it was spectacular as ever.

  • We wandered around Kirstenbosch while melting into little puddles. I kept "accidentally" walking into the sprinklers.
  • We walked up Lion's Head. The lazy hiking option. We did not go to the 9 hour hiking place in the end. I can't say I was thaaat sorry.

  • We ate lots of cool food in funky places.
  • We went to Robben Island and saw a dolphin! That was a highlight. I liked the tour of the prison very much, seeing as I had just finished Mandela's biography. It was very fresh in my mind. They had personal stories of the cell mates to read, that was interesting. Our tour guide was very good, he is an ex prisoner and had some interesting stories to tell. The tour around the island was a bit crap though, we couldn't get off the bus. But the views made up for it. Finally I have been to Robben Island!

  • I met a blogger! My first one. We met up with Tara of Goblin Talk and her boyf and we had delicious pancakes. It was very cool considering I was very nervous about coming out of my fairly anonymous shell. But she put me at ease and was very cool. He was very cool too to meet a bunch of total strangers and act as if it was a normal occurrence :)
  • We went to the Cederberg for the weekend and it was as spectacular as ever. The stars were out in full force. We climbed up Wolfberg, we investigated the cracks, we met up with a surprise friend in the campsite and his buddy from the UK who supplied us with loads of food. We saw a snake (only a mole one, but it will do) and other types of buck. This really was a buck-seeing holiday.

  • The day we drove back it was 42 degrees in the Cederberg. Needless to say we had to have many river swimming, sprinkler, icecream and dumping-water-over-head stops. I highly recommend getting air conditioning in a hired car. Of course we never will because we are too stingy (and hardcore!), but normal people, get air conditioning ok?

Then we had to leave this all behind and make the looooong journey back. I don't like Iberia very much, and the Madrid airport people are weirdly mean. I have used that airport many times and have had similar experiences each time. I will really try to avoid using Iberia in the future.

It was an awesome holiday from beginning to end. It already feels like nothing more than a dream.