Day 571 – Prep

Knackered (surprise, surprise) after a busy day of Robben Island prep. I assigned a couple of tasks, found a very friendly butcher, almost sorted a whole budget, listed some birds and animals, and purchased 200 plastic sacks and 6kg of chicken nuggets.

Amongst other things.

Listened to some music:
New Placebo is good.
New Einaudi is good.

But I’m not going to make it to kick off time for Arsenal v Palace tonight.

Sorry for the brevity. More tomorrow.

Day 569 – Experiments gone disastrously wrong

If you’ve been in science for any length of time, you’ll have had plenty of these. They’re sometimes expected, often annoying, and occasionally soul-destroying, but it’s all part of the learning experience. I tried two experiments yesterday. One of them was documented in some detail here, and the other one was simply enjoying a small bottle of Castle Milk Stout with dinner.

Both were fun experiments to do, and both seemed like really good ideas at the time. But in retrospect, neither of them have gone particularly well. I woke up last night at 3am with a towering hangover of note, and despite the best efforts of a combination of paracetamol, ibuprofen and codeine, I then woke up at a more reasonable time this morning with a collection of symptoms best described as “being completely broken”. Head, joints, muscles…
And my brain is not working again. Argh.

Let’s get the learning process going, then. No more alcohol experiments for a while. Not even a little CMS. And that’s disappointing. Not because I need the alcohol, but more because I like the taste (now that I can again). Sure, there are the well-advertised 0.0% alternatives (although thankfully(?) not for Milk Stout), but they are often very disappointing in the taste department.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room. The one which seemingly rolled over me in bed last night. Because in 11 days time, I have to go back to the rock and do three days of stuff, back to back. Based on the results from yesterday, this is is going to be very difficult. And that’s got me very worried. The first rule of Parents Assisting With School Visits To Robben Island Club is that you do not talk about Parents Assisting With School Visits To Robben Island Club, but I generally ignore that one. However, the second rule of Parents Assisting With School Visits To Robben Island Club is that you need to actually assist with the school visit to Robben Island, rather than being a liability.

And honestly, this morning, I would be a liability.

Crap it all. To use a well-used South African phrase: What must happen now?*

* The use of the phrase “What must happen now?” often then followed by an awkward silence, purposefully shifts the burden of the decision-making process – and therefore all responsibility for any negative outcomes resulting from that process – onto someone else, immediately absolving the protagonist of any blame, guilt or accountability.
I am fully aware of the implications of using it here, and despite that, I am still using it here.

Almost desperately.

Day 568 – Long lighthouse

568mls in a pint… (just saying, Cape Talk).

What a morning.

I went across to Robben Island earlier today. Just a recce. I’m both inspired and knackered. And now rather concerned about the actual visit in (less than) a couple of weeks. Could be exhausting.

This was a whistle-stop tour to discuss wants and needs and plans, so there literally wasn’t any time to stop and take the place in. However, it could also be a whistle-stop tour to look at what I might get some photos of when we actually go. I was using my old kit lens to play with and we were rushing, so I had to do a bit of messing around with some of the photos when I got back, so I went full messing around. These pictures never looked tremendous, so why not have some fun?

They did not come straight out of the camera like this, ok Ian?

The lighthouse needs a coat of paint. And this photo needs less HDR, but we all have our issues. This is deliberate, honest RBOSS. And I’m actually ok with that.

Then there was this smart guy by the sea:

This was taken through the window of a moving minibus. Yes, I know it shows a bit. But not too much, right?
I was also impressed.

With the right lenses, (ok, and possibly a lot less messing around in post) these would be much better images. And so that’s what I’ll try and do next time around.

Here’s one that I’ve left just about “as is”:

And it might look bright and colourful, but it was actually a very bright and colourful scene.

You can’t blame me for that. (Artificial) saturation = 0.

The real visit is going to be very hard work, but it’s also going to be very rewarding in a lot of different ways. Hopefully one of them will be some amazing photographs.

Day 565 – Testing my limits

Sorry for not getting back to you yesterday. I quite literally ran out of energy.

This isn’t unusual at the moment.

I’ve been pushing myself a bit for the last couple of days. And with a good reason. I’ve inadvertently(?) signed up for a trip to Robben Island, helping to manage about 40 (forty) 12-year-olds on a school visit. And something, I’m not sure quite what, is telling me that I’m going to have to be a bit further on in fitness and general recovery than I am now if I’m going to survive.

I have two weeks.

Last year’s trip was something very special, and I’m very privileged to have been asked along this time as well. But I’m mindful that I didn’t have Covid last time around. This time I’m still struggling a bit and the trip is an extra day. But there’s a whole weekend to sleep through just afterwards, so I’m sure I’ll be ok.

Step counts into the 12,000s for the last two days indicate that I’ve been testing my limits and – while I’m very fatigued by early evening – I have prevailed. It’s also been very good for the list of jobs around the house, many of which have been put on hold for the last three months.

Corner turned? Maybe.

I might even try a bit of a run tomorrow (or I might not).

Right now, I have some business in Claremont to attend to before 5:30, so let me go and do that before I fall asleep.

Can I stay up til kick off in the England game tonight (8:45pm)?
Will it be worth it if I do?

Day 317 – Cape Cormorants Crisis on the BBC

Indeed.

Off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, the sudden abandonment of more than 1,700 Cape cormorant chicks has sparked the largest seabird rescue mission the country has seen in 20 years.

That larger seabird rescue mission being the response to the MV Treasure disaster back in 2000.

Look, there’s a lot going on in South Africa right now: politrix, lockdowns, a virus etc etc. but, being someone who generally has his finger on some sort of pulse, I’m surprised that I haven’t heard more about this locally. So I’m glad that at least the BBC has stepped in with a attention-raising photo essay.

On 11 January, ranger Andile Mdluli was conducting a regular patrol on Robben Island, most famous as the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, when he noticed that almost all of the island’s thousands of adult Cape cormorants had disappeared. Unprotected, their chicks were being picked off by predators in their nests.

“It was just carnage, with kelp gulls and ibises coming for these chicks,” says Lauren Waller, a seabird scientist at Sanccob.

I was on Robben Island just over 100 days ago and I can vouch for the ferocity – and numbers – of gulls and ibises. Especially the ibises. Literally thousands of nasty, ugly, scary African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus). I’m pretty sure that Robben Island is the Sacred Ibis reservoir for the whole of South Africa. And it’s been spilling over for a while now.

But I digress. Often.

It’s important that these chicks make it to adulthood, because the Cape Cormorant is not doing well on the numbers front:

Cormorants are “as endangered as African penguins”, says Ms Ludynia, but “because they’re always in large flocks people don’t realise”.

…and they’re not cute and waddley either, both of which always help with gaining funding and awareness when you’re dying out.

Anyway, on that note (and given that the chicks will get through 20 tonnes of sardines in the next couple of months), wherever you are in the world, if you want to help out with SANCCOB’s costs, here’s the page you need to go to.

You can even select for your funding to go directly to the chicks in question. Do it.

 

Thanks for the link, Switzerland and Sheffield