Thursday, October 30, 2008

Something a little fun on a Friday!

Not that I remembered that it was even Friday until I turned on my radio. I have now entered the exam void where you have no clue whether it is Monday or Friday you just know whether you are writing today or not.

So here’s a little bit of fun for you all – it’s a can you guess what this picture is of?
Look carefully …..
HINT: the location is not what you should be looking at.


Monday, October 27, 2008

A Calmness in the morning

Despite the end-of-the-year exams being literally around the corner I woke up this morning with a deep feeling of calmness which I can't seem to explain. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I fixed my radio last night and can now wake up to the lovely airwaves of 5FM once again or maybe I just had a really good dream...I don't know. But whatever it was it has left me in a great mood that I thought I would share with you all through a picture.
It's one of my own so I hope you all like it. It was taken at Cambridge University in the UK.

Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Procrastination as a new age art form

One thing that I have learnt to do really well this year is to procrastinate. Although it might sound like an easy thing to do it is in fact an art! A professional procrastinator is as stealthy as a ninja and as self destructive as a shopaholic at a sale! No matter how much I try and put my mind to it I never seem to get my essays done ahead of time but constantly end up writing them the night before. Some of my fellow journalism class mates like to think of this as motivation rather than slacking off as they say that they are waiting for inspiration to hit (otherwise known as last minute panic). I suppose that if I think of it that way I could rationalise that by waiting until the last minute I am teaching myself how to work in the real world of short deadlines and working under pressure. The only problem with that rationalisation is that I know it’s only half true and fuelled by a desire not to do my work. So in order to combat the progressing procrastination I recruited my friends to help me. One of the ways we now use to keep us working is to have scheduled midnight coffee breaks. We actually stumbled across this method by accident one night when we were pulling an all-nighter to finish off an essay (two in my case). I would never have guessed that a scheduled break would actually help me work but it does. After supper we all head off to our respective rooms to work and later meet up for coffee/tea and sometimes biscuits (yum yum). Seeing as we are all more than a little competitive it kind of acts like a competition to see who has finished the most work thus far. Therefore I don’t know if it will work for anyone else but I thought what the hell if it doesn’t work for you, you will have at least gotten a laugh out of this post.

Something different and old

The world changes and supposedly evolves for the better, or so we are told.

Today has been dedicated to the revision of Greek sculpture for my Classic Civilisation class. While studying one sculpture in particular the Ludovisi Gaul Killing Himself and His Wife I remembered what my sculpture lecturer told us about the history of this sculpture and how the Greek’s treated their enemies. He told us that the sculpture is of a Gaul (a Continental Celtic people, who tried to invade Pergamon). It was commissioned by Attalus I to commemorate their victory over the Gauls. Now I know what you must be thinking because I was thinking the same thing when I first heard that. “Why on earth would he commemorate their victory with a sculpture of a Gaul slaying his wife and himself?” Well the answer is that in those days you would make your enemy out to be great, hence the Gauls are portrayed here as being noble. He has killed his wife so that she is not captured or becomes a victim of warfare and is killing himself as he knows that he has been defeated by his GREATER enemy. They wanted people to look at the sculpture and see the compassion and nobility, but on seeing this they would then feel the greatness of their victory over these noble Gauls.

Very different to the way the world works today hey? As people push each other down in order to look better. We just have to look in a newspaper or turn on the news to see how politicians prey on the weaknesses and mistakes of their opponents to make themselves look stronger. Is this the best way? Who knows maybe the Greeks were onto something?

Things that pass us by?

I was watching the first episode of the new season of Heroes (season 3) yesterday and it had gotten to the voiceover at the end of the episode when I had the strangest feeling of déjà vu. Where had I heard those exact words before? Then it dawned on me…in English class of all places. They were reciting William Butler Yeats’s poem The Second Coming, which is in the Modernism section of our poetry book for this year. This got me to thinking about the workings of the universe as that was not the first time that something like that has happened. Now I might be talking absolute nonsense but does anyone else out there find that when they learn something or discuss something it finds it way into your life? Things like this poem which I never would have recognised in the Heroes episode had it not already been mentioned and discussed. I constantly find myself saying in conversations “my friends and I were just saying” or “it’s funny you say that because just the other day”. Makes me wonder if these things always passed me by and I just didn’t notice or if they only pass me by after I have become aware of them. Now I know it is probably the first explanation of these things passing me by unnoticed but I must admit that the more I toyed with the idea of your path in the universe growing and changing with you the more I liked it. To believe that things happen for a reason is a belief that many people use to make it through the day so I thought that this post would be some food for thought.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"For my unconquerable soul"

Swot week has begun and soon all talk will be revolving around exams. Lucky for me my first exam which is English Prose is only on the 11th November but I will be needing that extra swot week to study for English, Journalism and Politics which are straight after each other (not so lucky). But I suppose the bright side of the situation is that I only write for 10 days and then I am done for the year. I began getting all my notes in order today so that I can tackle the task of revision when I stumbled across a copy of one of my favourite poems ‘Invictus’. I decided to put this poem up on the blog for anyone out there reading this that has not read this poem in the hope that it will evoke some sort of emotion from you as it does me.

The title of the poem ‘Invictus’ is latin for ‘unconquerable’ and it was written by William Ernest Henley. William was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone when he was 12 years old and had to have his one leg amputated below the knee. Despite his disease and living with a disability he embraced life and believed that his future was what he made it. I find this poem an inspiration for many reasons one of which being that he wrote it from his hospital bed. For me a strength of living life on your own terms and making your situation work for yourself shines through. Whether you like it or not I just wanted to put it out there as a reflection of how I am feeling about my upcoming exams.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Keeping in touch!

To keep in touch with friends can be difficult especially for students who attend a university not in or near their hometowns. Although I am originally from King Williams Town, which is in the Eastern Cape and only two hours away from Grahamstown I still found it a challenge to keep in touch. Especially with my school friends and all the friends that I made during my four years abroad. All I can say is thank goodness for the internet and modern technology which act as great distance and time minimisers.I would like to offer some tips to all the prospective students who will be flying the nest next year and will be confronted with the ‘keeping in touch challenge’ at university.

1. Mxit is an easy and cheap way to keep in touch with your friends as all you need is a cellphone and ‘wee’ bit of airtime to be able to get online and chat.

2. If you can score an internet connection that is awesome as it opens so many avenues of communication such as email, Skype, Facebook, chatting systems like Google talk and MSN, or you could even start your own blog to keep everyone up to date on what is happening in your life.

3. A calendar can come in very handy (in the case of power failure) to remind you of birthdays as no friend likes it when their birthday is forgotten.

4. And of course there is always the good old faithful letter which can be written and posted.

These are just a few of the tools that I used to tackle the challenge of distance between friends. As they have worked for me this past year I highly recommend them to you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Whine into Water - radical journalism

Although all the JMS students were emailed by Rod to inform us about the JMS3 presentations that happened on Wednesday night I made sure that I went (even though I had an extremely long politics tutorial to complete) as one of my oldest friends is in JMS3 and therefore her group’s campaign was presented. She is in the Whine into Water group that used a radical journalism approach to try and create awareness on water quality and the Kowie River Campaign. Their campaign used the slogan “Out of Order” which was placed on numerous toilets within the Journalism department as well as in many residences on campus (including mine). Needless to say chaos and confusion ensued as people could not understand why so many bathrooms were ‘out of order’. Some people even got upset which I would think was the whole point - to achieve a reaction of outrage from the general public. That there are people in the Grahamstown area that do not even have running water is unacceptable. The posters that they used with the slogan “The ass end of the water” refers to the terrible quality of water that we have been receiving and is aimed at creating awareness. They even had a water point set up outside Pick ‘n Pay where they asked people to taste water from two different sources to see if there was a difference.
I really enjoyed their approach to the issue of water and water quality awareness as it was unavoidable and demanded a reaction. I recommend that you all go check out their site and become more aware!

JMS3 Critical Media Production

The JMS3 students have been slaving away recently in order to complete their critical media production assignments. To explain this involved all the JMS3 students being divided into groups of twelve to thirteen people making sure that each group contained at least one or two designers, radio, TV, new media and writing students. Each group was given a topical issue of our local area of Grahamstown. They then had to put together a campaign around their issue. These campaigns were showcased on Wednesday 22 October at Barratt Lecture Theatre. To say that I was impressed is the understatement of the year. Some of the presentations were amazing in their use of audio and visual to get their messages across to the audience. Unfortunately I could only stay until 21:00 and therefore only saw the first six presentations which were Whine into Water, Take a Leap, Prof Greenthumb, Ukulima G’town, Common Ground and Green Inc. The issues dealt with ranged from promoting awareness on water quality, developing food gardens to the cow dilemma. Each group decided to address their campaigns differently so for example Ukulima G’town used a developmental approach. Their target audience was students followed by the residents of Grahamstown. They highlighted the initiative of starting a food garden as a source of sustainable food. Their campaign sticks out in my mind as they showcased a 12-year-old boy named Ganief Gamat Borez who puts his heart and soul into looking after the food garden at his school. The audio visual slideshow that they produced really hit home as someone much younger than myself was taking a stand and trying to support his mother and sister as the ‘man of the house’.
It really was incredible to see the final products of the campaigns. I think for the first time I realised how even as student journalists we can really make an impact and deliver powerful messages to the public if we work together.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Inspiration amidst the nervousness

A deep sigh of relief and I can literally feel the weight on my shoulders lessen. My JMS2 application has been handed in and I have officially finished my last essay of the year (not including exams of course). It would seem as if things are coming to close, which is brilliant in a way and not so brilliant in another. Although the stress of getting my JMS2 application done is now over the nervousness of whether I will get accepted has begun. This nervousness is made even worse when I think that I still need to write my final Journalism and Media Studies exam on the 12th November and wait until late December to early January to hear if I made it. The silver lining of the situation otherwise known as the brilliant side is that JMS1 is practically over and I am one step closer to getting to photojournalism. I got so excited on Monday after I handed in my application and took a walk around the Journalism and Media Studies building as it is filled with work by old and current journalism students. “This is what I will be doing in a few years time” I thought. The whole building inspires with its colourful décor and interactive layout. When I saw the T.V and radio studio I just wanted to go and play around. Then there are of course all of the labs, one for design, for radio, for writing and who could forget the photo lab. I saw this last door and just stared. You need an initialised student card to be able to get into the lab so I could not go in and check it out even though I was dying to. But at least as I left the Journalism building I was filled with hope and more determination than before. Now it’s just a matter of keeping my head down until the exam and then waiting…

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another example of light painting.

Light Painting

One of the most fun things that I have learnt to do with my camera since starting my self-study of photography has been light painting. Most people are unfamiliar with this technique but it has been by far one of the most interactive and fun techniques I have learnt. The setting for light painting can be anywhere as long as it is dark as you either need to take the shots at night outside or in a dark room. Then you need a light source, which can be anything ranging from a torch to a candle. Now if you have a camera like I do that didn’t exactly come off the ark but it is also not a NASA creation then you will probably require someone to help you. You will also need a tripod in order to reduce camera shake as you will need to keep the shutter of your camera open for as long as possible. My friend and I went to the fountain here at Rhodes University as we thought it would be a cool setting and dark enough to take the shot. I set up the tripod, set the mode onto ‘bulb’ under the manual mode and we were all set. My loyal and helpful friend who gave of her precious time to venture out into the cold with me was the light painter. In other words she was the one that stood in front of the camera and wrote in the sky with the torch when I said ‘go’. The trick we found was to move quickly and point the light towards the camera and not on the ground as the camera shutter does not stay open long and it needs to pick up the light. Simple huh? Which is why it was so much fun! The results look awesome and it is so easy to do. I recommend that you all give it a try.
Happy shooting!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Rat Race

To have your future hang in the balance of a motivational would you feel?
Well this is the situation that I currently find myself in as I am applying for a place in Journalism and Media Studies 2 (JMS2). With the application due tomorrow my nerves are fried, my fingernails nonexistent and my hair starting to grey! Journalism was the biggest reason that I came to study at Rhodes University. I gave up a career in London to come back to South Africa and take a chance on my dream of becoming a photojournalist. Failure to get into JMS2 is therefore not an option, but unfortunately that does not stop the debilitating feeling of nervousness that I am experiencing. I’m staring at a blank screen wondering how you translate your feelings into golden words that will completely win over the selection committee. I wish there was a secret password or a magic wand that I could wave to ensure that I get though. It is so strange how all my friends that do not take journalism think that I am being overly dramatic and have nothing to worry about. My grades are good; I have all the necessary things like my shadow week report etc and I have participated in a student newspaper so why would I not get in. They don’t seem to get how stressful the whole process is and how my future at Rhodes actually hangs in the balance of whether I get into JMS2.
While chatting to a third year JMS student at lunch today, who has just applied for fourth year, I realised that I will be this stressed and nervous at this time every year as you apply for JMS every year. It is the only course at Rhodes that is an absolute rat race, for a lack of another way to put it. So I guess all that’s left for me to do is put on my running shoes and get on in there and face the blank screen.

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 17, 2008

All work and no play

One more week of lectures…
Two weeks until exams start…
So far at Rhodes I have found that people deal with the looming exams in one of two ways. They either step up the partying a notch or two using the excuse that they need to get it out their systems before exams start or that they need to go out now because in swot week they are buckling down to work. Or they start slowly reducing their partying in order to get a head start on their learning as just learning in swot week will not be sufficient. Neither route is particularly bad as long as you prepare and do learn eventually. Leaving my friend’s birthday party at 00:30 (early by any standard I’m sure) last night and waking up at 7:00 this morning in order to get cracking would definitely push me way over into the ‘reducing my partying’ category. But as I got up this morning looked out my window and realised that hardly anyone else is even up at that hour on a Saturday I began to think about whether I even made a choice or did it just kind of happen. I would have loved to have stayed out at the party last night and let my hair down some more but I was practically falling asleep on the dance floor as a result of an all-nighter I had to pull to get my politics essay done which was due for Friday. My classics essay and journalism 2 application which are due Monday has forced me to be up at the ungodly hour of 7:00 this morning. So I guess you could say that the circumstance of having so many deadlines for the weekend and next week have meant that I made a decision without even realising it.

All I can do now is pray that the exams go well and look forward to a deadline free holiday!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Transcending Time

In my previous post I talked about the different ways that you can experience time at Rhodes University. This got me thinking about how we as human beings experience time in relation to our emotional state. That reminded of an inscription in the park, Grosvenor Square, which is in Mayfair, London. In summer I would usually go and have lunch there as it is a beautiful park with statues and a gorgeous water feature. It is also located between the American and Canadian Embassies. It was for this reason that it was chosen as the resting place of a memorial garden dedicated to the victims of the September 11th attacks. In the centre of the garden there is circular inscription that says:

Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice
But for those who love...time is not

(Extract from "For Katrina's Sun-dial" by the American poet Henry Jackson Van Dyke.)

I think that it is a profound statement that sums up the nature of time to perfection. Time is nothing but the manner in which you perceive it. If you are waiting time is torturously slow. If you are afraid time seems to surge forward at a great speed. If you have lost a loved one time stands still but when you are happy the moments pass swiftly by. Van Dyke suggests that the only instance that time is timeless is for those who love. Love transcends time; it will live on and be remembered. This inscription had a great impact on me as it not only made me realise that all the lives lost on September 11th will transcend time as they were all loved by someone but it gave me comfort to think that no matter what happens in my life the people that I love and that love me will always be there because even through death time can not break the bond of love.

Time is a strange thing...

Time is a strange thing that at Rhodes can be experienced in many different ways. Sometimes there never seems to be enough time. I constantly see people rushing off to the next thing they have to do as our lives revolve around schedules of work. We don’t even eat when we are hungry or sleep when we are tired but rather only do these things when our schedules permit them. This seems like a crazy notion but it is in fact the honest to goodness truth. Then there are those moments when time seems to be endless. They usually occur during a particularly boring lecture or when you are particularly tired from either pulling an all-nighter or going out. You stare at the clock and can swear it feels like the minute hand is ticking in reverse.
I’m sure that a lot of people at Rhodes or anywhere for that matter can relate to these ways in which time passes. But none of these forms are more contagious or destructive than procrastination. It is the sneakiest way of experiencing time as it can often happen without you even realising. For example today I returned from my ‘scheduled’ lunch to find that I had an hour to kill before my next lecture. What to do with it? Was the first thing that I thought, sleep perhaps, work on my politics essay or maybe type a blog post? By the time I have come to a decision on what to do with this extra unscheduled time I realise that so much time had passed that it no longer mattered. This is a vicious cycle called procrastination and it is possibly the worst way to spend your time especially when you do have work to complete. The only problem is that procrastination is inevitable and, depending on how you spend the time, quite fun.
So it would seem that a majority of your first year at Rhodes is spent trying to figure out the best balance or mix of rushing off, sitting still and procrastinating that best suits you. I am currently still in the process of figuring this out for myself but as you can see from the blog post that I completed in my free hour I am slowly finding the best way forward for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Wind Of Change

Every morning I am woken up by my alarm clock ,tuned into 5FM, which I then listen to as the painfully long and often difficult process of waking up and actually getting out of bed begins. Once I have finally managed to convince myself that I have to get up and ‘no I can’t sleep for another five minutes’ I turn up the radio and the day begins to brighten. There is nothing like good music in the morning to get your day going. But this is not the only benefit of listening to the radio in the morning as it also keeps me updated on local and international news.

One of the news items that has been mentioned almost everyday for the past few days is that of Mosiuoa Lekota and the possibility of a splinter group being formed. Lekota the former Minister of Defence and a supporter of Thabo Mbeki is considering breaking away from the ANC as he believes that the party has become “arrogant” and there has been an “elimination of internal democracy within the ANC". On Monday night ANC President Jacob Zuma announced that Lekota had been suspended from the party as a result of his plans to leave.

I have heard many opinions about whether he will actually form an opposition party, whether the party will have support and if they could be a viable vote for the 2009 elections. Some people even think that it is disappointing how he is abandoning the ANC.

I on the other hand am actually less concerned with his reasons for wanting to leave the ANC and more with the implications that another party would have on the South African party system especially if it does gain support. South Africa is currently a one party dominated system (that party of course being the ANC) but what if another party had to gain support and be able to offer an alternative to the dominate party. For this exact reason I think that a splinter party is a good idea and is in fact healthy for our party system as a dominating party is a lazy party. Even if this new party only has an effect in the long term it will be worth it as the competition and debate that will ensue will be good for both the ANC and South Africa.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Tornado in Grahamstown?

As a first year at Rhodes University in Grahamstown I have heard the stories about how the town can experience all four seasons in one day but had always dismissed them as an urban legend. I did this because I only live roughly two hours away in King Williams Town and I could not believe that the weather here could be so different to my home. Well I have been proven wrong in a major way not only have I experienced the four season day first hand but on Wednesday 8th October a mini-tornado struck Grahamstown. And no you do not have to check your eyes or adjust your screen I did indeed say a mini-tornado. According to the official reports from the Herald

“A killer storm of gale- force gusts, hail, flash floods and lightning cut a swathe of destruction across the Eastern Cape yesterday, leaving a woman drowned and 65 people homeless”.

I did not see the mini-tornado myself but did manage to get caught in the hail storm, which for the record was not pleasant. Students could be seen making a mad dash for cover as the rain poured down swiftly followed by the hail. For the people who experienced the mini-tornado first hand it must have been a scary sight as most would have never seen a tornado before. I would imagine that many people were clicking their red heels together hoping to get home. Wednesday 8th October was the last straw for me and I am now a fully converted believer in the bizarre weather in Grahamstown. Who knows what could be coming next maybe snow or floods? All I know is that I plan to keep my eyes on the sky and have an escape plan in mind.

All in a day's work

During this last week Tales from a Rhodent has taken up the challenge of becoming SUPERHEROES in the comic book world. You are probably looking very confused right now and wondering what on earth I am talking about, so let me start at the beginning. Our latest assignment in our Narrative and Genre course of Journalism is to create a photo comic using a website called Comeeko. We would be responsible for the entire creative process from coming up with an idea, storyboarding, photos and dialogue. I must admit that at first it all seemed extremely daunting. Especially as it had to be done as group work, which is probably the most loathed way of working on any assignment. The hellish task of finding a time to meet is the main problem and from what I hear most groups have had many more like people not showing up or pulling their weight. But I must admit that I am glad to report that our group, Tales from a Rhodent were awesome to work with. They made the assignment so much fun and, as you can see from our comic below, very fruitful. Our tale is one of how when your drink is spiked and transforms in an evil creature out to get you, you need to step up to the plate and become a superhero in order to defeat it. We wanted to send out a message that the spiking of drinks does happen and that you need to be alert and your own superhero. It worked out really well with Nonhle as our super cool hero and Sarah as the ditsy but awesome sidekick. The photo comic was shot at The Old Gaol and didn’t feel like work at all but rather a hilarious photo shoot with the girls. The facial expressions of our drama princess Nonhle had us all rolling around with laughter and brought the comic to life. All in all a great time was had making the photo comic except for the last step of loading it all on to Comeeko which managed to make our dialogue disappear three times! To say that it was frustrating is putting it mildly but we conquered the Comeeko monster and ended up with a really kick ass comic!

Photo Comic

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Hotness Monster

Anyone who watches the television show “Greek” will know exactly what I am talking about when I say that I was smiling from ear to ear this weekend when there was a sighting of my Hotness Monster.
Now I know that most people out there are busy asking “The Hotness what?” and I can totally relate because until I saw the show I had never heard of it before either. Well to give you the cliff notes version Ashleigh one of the main characters on the show Greek (which is set at a American college) briefly meets this really super hot guy at spring break but as she does not get his name nor sees him again that weekend she begins to refer to him as the hotness monster. I love the term as it has just the right amount of humour and cuteness. So I decided to start using it to describe by own Hotness Monster much to the amusement of my friends who did not quite know what I was on about at first.
And so I began to think about how terms come about and end up being used. I googled “Hotness Monster” and guess what there it was… a dictionary if you can believe that! According to the Urban Dictionary website
A hotness monster is a cute play off of the "Lochness monster". A hotness monster is a man or woman who is sizzling and near unattainable. He/she is the royalty of hotness. (Origin: Ottawa, Canada)
Urban Dictionary is actually quite an awesome website that has some funny definitions of words all of which are added by ordinary people like us. I love the fact that we live in a world that is basically a huge network of communication and creation. I can be in Grahamstown and chat to my friends all over the world via email, Skype and IM. A term like the hotness monster can be coined and put out there for all to understand. The world is no longer rigid but flexible and open to people’s creativity which in the words of Neil Armstrong “is a giant leap for mankind”.