Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Whale watching, spring flowers and summer before the stampede - by Nick van der Leek
Look, those sea animals that are the size of 10 African elephants are already swimming around the peninsula in September, but September is tricky to visit the Cape. September is rife with sharp teethed cold fronts. If you’re coming from across the Vaal, you’re less likely to be dodging wet weather in October, and you’ll have all that beautiful scenery to yourself before the matrics and the summer hordes start migrating from November onwards.
Even the locals venture onto the beaches for the first glimpses of summer weather in October. I visited during a tiny weather window squeezed between 3 nasty cold fronts, [the last cold front wrecked a Turkish ship on Dolphin Beach]. On the first day I saw 3 whales, and a whale calf, in Kalk Bay. You can hire a boat to get even closer, but by law you’re not allowed closer than 300 metres. Those who do venture closer need special permits.
While we were out there in our inflatable a Southern Right whale launched itself almost completely out of the water – a behaviour known as breaching – which involves making huge explosions of white water. The loud THWACK seemed to echo across the whole of False Bay. According to the experts, breaching can be heard up to a kilometre away. Which is perhaps the point. The whale that breached perhaps a dozen times in a row, sometimes twirling its huge body in the air before landing, was perhaps signalling its annoyance and attempting to frighten us away. It may also be announcing to other whales: “I’m here.”
Since we couldn’t get any closer than 300 metres, I pulled on my wetsuit, and swam in the dark green Great White infested waters of False Bay. The Southern Right Whale was clearly observing me, its pyramid head encrusted with large white callosities. These greyish-white calloused patches inhabited by whale lice are distinctive on each whale, which is the equivalent of fingerprints on human beings. The whale maintained a ‘safe’ distance between itself and me; not allowing me to get closer than around 250 – 300 metres, something that surprised me. Clearly they are quite shy and sensitive creatures, despite their size.
On Boyes Drive, which is a scenic road suspended high above Kalk Bay, I met a young shark spotter, Ethel Tshandu, who watches the whales and warns of sharks. I asked her whether she enjoys her job as a lonely lookout. “It’s nice getting to know nature,” she smiles. “This is their place; their home. Ethel points to a strange oblong speck far out in False Bay. It resembles a burnt piece of toast. “That’s Seal Island; it’s the MacDonald’s for the sharks.” I ask her if there’s ever been an attack on her watch?
“No attacks since I’ve been here. I see them though, and if they come close to the beach I call it in.” She offers me her binoculars, pointing me to a whale and her calf. I see the shiny black flippers of a whale moving between spinning, sparkling foam.
“Sharks aren’t as bad as everyone thinks,” she says. “We go into their territory. If someone came into your yard, how would you feel?” I have a strange feeling that Ethel may be protecting the sharks from people, not the other way round. Below us, surfers cover a wide swathe of white Muizenberg swell, rising like music notes on liquid paper.
The coast along Bloubergstrand and Table View is the flip side to the charm and laid back vibe of Kalk Bay. Here there’s the huge monolithic backdrop of Table Mountain, a steady flow of tankers and ships, and Robben Island across the Bay, sometimes seeming a short swim away, but in fact at its closest it’s about 7km through cold water and strong currents. It’s almost always windy on this side of the peninsula, but ideal for the extreme sport known as Kiteboarding. You can buy Kiteboarding equipment at Liquid Force, on the corner of Blouberg Road and Marina Drive.
For an experience of the Peninsula that’s off the beaten track head to the West Coast National park. You’ll need to drive 100km out on the R27. The turn off is about 40km before Langebaan. Here we found more whales drifting in the swells, and beautiful swathes of flowery vegetation, known as fynbos. One of the reasons the Cape is one of the world’s richest floral kingdoms is due to it surviving the most recent Ice Age, and thus many older plant species survived until the present time.
The azure lagoon in the West Coast National park, about 10 kilometres beyond the entrance, has the soft seaside tones – greens, yellows and blues – of the Caribbean. There are also beautiful roads for cycling, trails for mountain biking, as well as the Strandveld Hiking Trail
For me, the Cape Town that’s worth seeing is away from the thunderous stampede, places like Kalk Bay’s Kalkies [try their Calamari] and the experience of being out in False Bay with just the sound of the huge black tail of one of the world’s largest creatures, parting the waters, for company. That’s real R&R.
To visit the whales up close contact Chad at CKAT Coastal Adventures: 072 147 2555 or visit www.ckat.co.za
For Kiteboarding gear contact Jarrod at Liquid Force: 021 556 8172 or visit www.liquidforce.co.za
For information on the West Coast National Park visit: http://www.sanparks.org/parks/west_coast/And the flowers join in the spring
SHOOT: Iran is the only theocracy in the world. A theocracy is a country ruled by men of faith, rather than politicians. As such, the leadership are slippery, and otherwise hard to predict. probably more so than your average politician.
While South Africa's official pandemic website was last updated more than a week ago, the death toll has jumped from 59 t0 83 in recent days, putting South Africa's fatality figure in the world's top 10.
The incidence rate per 100 000 is 23.41 for South Africa is the fourth highest in the world, behind Macau [46.89], Hong Kong [34.98] and Brunei [28.71] and ahead of Australia [17.0] . The world's average is currently 0.6.
Of the top five territories, three - the United States, Mexico and India - show disturbing increasing trends in transmission, both on a widespread national basis and on a regional basis.
Brazil leads the world with swine flu fatalities at 1,112, while the world total is currently at 4,755. These numbers are generally assumed to be much higher.
More:Uganda: Swine Flu Paralyses Bushenyi Schools
SHOOT: Johannesburg North and Pretoria seem to be your best bets, although the Free State provides an occasional exception. Cape Town isn'tmentioned at all - must be somewhere in the middle.
This put Johannesburg North in ninth position, behind Johannesburg Central with an average salary of R8 504 (and a top figure of R13 480), Eastern Cape with an average salary of R8 172, Pretoria with R8 150
Have a look at 'Dark Matter'. No one knows what it is. It's a fundamental hole in our understanding of the universe. The universe is not only more unfathomable than we imagine, but more unfathomable than we can imagine.
We have a lot to learn about what is happening here, Benedetti says, but one thing is clear: the mind can affect the body's biochemistry. "The relationship between expectation and therapeutic outcome is a wonderful model to understand mind-body interaction," he says.
In theory, they can only have come from within our galaxy, avoiding an energy-sapping journey across the cosmos. However, astronomers can find no source for these cosmic rays in our galaxy. So what is going on?
SHOOT: Fascinating article. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my sister a few years ago.
Me: How come you are ALWAYS in a relationship?
Candice: How come you're NEVER in one?
Men were keenest on pursuing new mates, but weren't bothered whether their target was already attached or not.
The legal assault constitutes an attempt to separate Chinese companies that produce their own content or pay Western ones for imported material, and then charge users from those that often lift it. The division is not entirely clean. Sohu, a leading member of the new alliance, produces its own games and entertainment gossip, which are the mainstays of its business. But it also permits its users to upload files, which can include pirated material.
SHOOT: Seems the banks are in denial. You deny what is on the balance sheets, claim bumper 'profits', and use these ill-gotten gains to further distort your balance sheets. I have said before that I predict a downward slope in a series of steps, as reality takes successive bites out of a market that periodically makes concessions to reality.
Residents in both Samoa and American Samoa reported being shaken awake by the quake, which lasted two to three minutes and was centered about 20 miles (32 kilometers) below the ocean floor. It was followed by at least three large aftershocks of at least 5.6 magnitude.
New Zealander Graeme Ansell said the beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale was leveled.
"It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out," Ansell told New Zealand's National Radio from a hill near Samoa's capital, Apia. "There's not a building standing. We've all clambered up hills, and one of our party has a broken leg. There will be people in a great lot of need 'round here."
SHOOT: One minute you're sleeping, the next your village is washed away and you're swept out to sea.
Clearly we can expect to see adoption rates continue to rise, but what happens after the Facebook (Facebook) Fan Page, Twitter (Twitter) accounts, and blogs are created still remains somewhat of a mystery.
SHOOT: You need two things to win in the social media wars: community and content. The subtext to both of these are local and hyperlocal perspectives [relevance] and continuity. There is so much ADD noise out there, if you're providing a safe, sane, navigable space then you'll have sustained, and useful exchanges.
According to eMarketer, a combined 99% of surveyed online retailers currently employ (86%) or plan to employ (13%) Facebook Fan Pages.
Similar stats hold true for Twitter too. 65% are already all a-Twitter, with 26% planning to get in on the action as well. If the survey results are to be trusted, nearly all online retailers will have Facebook Fan Pages, and 91% will be using Twitter for status updates by the year 2011.
Vulcan Council President: Why did you come before this council today? Was it to satisfy your emotional need to rebel?
More's the pity that the science fiction in Star Trek is so far from present day reality. It is fascinating to see how easily, in the Star Trek scenario at any rate, officers are swapped and exchanged simply based on their usefulness or training. There are no hearings or debates - if someone is found to be emotionally compromised, or less skilled than another, they are replaced without discussion, without paperwork.
You might think that this could be unfair. On the contrary, it is based on everyone knowing that they serve the greater good. Something sorely lacking on this planet. Here, the service is to The Great Me.
As for logic, here on earth, it's an irritant rather than an integral part of a truly altruistic pursuit of advancing our knowledge and thereby, our common prospects, our common destiny.
Spock: [after Kirk offers surrender terms to Nero] Captain, what are you doing?
Kirk: Showing them compassion. It may be the only way to earn peace with Romulus. It's logic, Spock, I thought you'd like that.
Spock: No, not really. Not this time.
Logic, as we know, is corrupted, and in very few instances, improved upon, even strengthened by emotions.
We live in a world, however, where emotions and impulse reign supreme, and logic powers our computers, our tools. As such, logic becomes enslaved to emotions. Think of a college student searching for porn. And we know that for the majority of the period that the internet has existed, it has served baser instincts as a primary function. There is a price to pay for this.
Because the logical question that should be asked by each of us, at any time of time, during any season, is simply this: What is the best use of my time right now? It's a logical question that deserves a logical answer. But how many of us are capable of giving one?
There is a place for logic, particularly when our lives are clouded by consumer driven passions, by manifest addictions.
But if logic is a cure to our mental malaise, what lies beyond that?
Burly Cadet #1: Hey farmboy. Maybe you can't count. But there are four of us and one of you.
Kirk: So get some more guys and then it'll be an even fight.
The answer is that you have to believe that every scenario has an upside.
Kirk: "I don't believe in no win scenarios."
The trick is to believe in a winning scenario without losing touch with reality, without having the cord of logic that anchors us to reason, severed, by unfounded optimism. If you can do that you can be the captain of your own enterprise.
"Unemployment hurts normal workers who do not have the golden parachutes the folks at the top have."
SHOOT: Many in the middle class are feeling like they are being booted out, hence becoming the 'former' middle class. It's a terrible prospect, believe me.
"Unemployment hurts normal workers who do not have the golden parachutes the folks at the top have."
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
To assist the Cancer Association of South Africa in its work, Nu Metro will donate all proceeds to the association. “We salute the brave fight that Patrick fought as a cancer survivor. He reminds us all of the need to educate the public of the importance of early cancer detection and treatment, which is vital to prevent unnecessary deaths from this disease”, says Lucy Balona, CANSA’s Head of Marketing and Communication.
By taking part in the Girls’ Night Out, ladies can assist CANSA to continue to provide essential services to meet the needs of individuals and families facing one of the most difficult experiences of their lives.
Girls' Night Out (ladies only) will take place at Nu Metro Bedfordview, Canal Walk, Clearwater Mall, Loch Logan, Menlyn Park, Montecasino, Mountain Mill, N1 City, The Pavilion, Riverside, The Glen, V&A Waterfront and Walmer Park at 8:00pm on Thursday, 8 October. Mark Harris, Nu Metro Cinemas Content and Marketing Head, confirmed that all proceeds will be donated to CANSA.
SHOOT: What's interesting from this annalysis is that online advertising is usually ignored. Ads that look like content will get people looking and clicking. This doesn't have to be an abuse of trust - if you're promoting something you truly believe is worth promoting, it remains 'genuine' content, and it generates revenue.
Jakob Nielsen’s study on how much users scroll (in Prioritizing Web Usability) revealed that only 23% of visitors scroll on their first visit to a website.
That said, ads that look like content will get people looking and clicking. This may generate more ad revenue but comes at the cost of your users’ trust, as they click on things they thought were genuine content.