There’s Rain in Africa

I felt a little bit exposed to the elements this week.
I live in a summer rainfall area of South Africa and normally, we don’t really have rain until the 10th of October. But, this year – we didn’t really have rain at all until the 16th of December. And since then, it’s been coming down in buckets.
I’m not complaining about the rain, naturally. If I complain about that, then I am never allowed to complain about the fact that it doesn’t rain ever again. I love rain and on the odd occasion, I even like getting caught in the rain. There’s something invigorating about standing in the pouring sheets of water. The rain drops are cool and sweet, much better than any normal shower.
Of course, I do not appreciate having rain in my car…

I’m taking a few steps back.

I started work again on Tuesday after having the week off between Christmas and New Years. My first day was spent in the office, catching up with beginning of the year paperwork and assignments that I neglected to do before I took my leave. Wednesday I decided to start my traveling again to the chicken farms where I do my business. I drove to an area relatively close to us (about two hours drive) and I could tell right off that it was going to be a very wet day as the thick white clouds followed me wherever I went.

The roads were also in a terrible condition (though I should add that they were bad to begin with). As things are in my country, the tax payer’s money rarely reaches its designation and our municipalities do not see the value of fixing roads. (They’d much rather all drive shiny cars). I took these pictures coming back from my appointments to show to my work as proof why I had been late for more than half of my appointments. My traveling time was almost doubled because I had to constantly stop, dodge pot holes, get off the side of the road, crawl through some poor farmer’s maize field and then finally get onto the road again only to be held up by some poor soul who needed to change a tire… It was harrowing to say the least and not for the first time, I found myself wishing that I had a 4×4, not a small little hatchback Opel Corsa Lite.

But, I came past all the literal pit falls in my road safely, without even loosing one of my tires, a feet very few people accomplished that day. If you look at the photos, I would like to point out that most of the road looked like this

I was pretty fed up with driving by the time I turned home, but Mother Nature was not done with me yet. The clouds, which had disappeared over lunch time, came back with a vengeance and pretty soon, dark clouds stole my sunshine and anointed me with more rain. This would’ve been fine if I had that 4×4 but sadly, my tiny little Corsa isn’t very rainproof. Or rain friendly. In order to keep my windows from fogging up, I have to keep one window open. I don’t mind getting wet all that much, but this was no ordinary storm. Before long, I was driving (slowly) through knee deep water, keeping my eyes fixed on the car in front of me, trying to take comfort in the fact that the car behind me was a jeep and could pull me out of the mud if I sailed into any trouble. To add to my discomfort, a truck stormed by me, sending a wave of muddy brown water into my lap because I had to keep my window open…

Again, I’m not complaining about the rain. For all the flooding that’s been happening (which wouldn’t have happened if people build things correctly and kept nature’s water ways in mind when they put up settlements…) it’s been a blessing. On the farm where I keep my horse we’ve really had a grazing problem because there was just no grass for the animals to eat. The wonder is how quickly everything just suddenly started growing! Grass which looked barely alive a couple of weeks ago now stood almost ankle high, lush and green, the bare ground almost completely covered. I am thankful for it every day and there’s no such thing as too much rain. There is, however, something like an inefficient car…

Advertisements

A Brief Interlude: My Beautiful Country

One of the perks of my new job is that I get to travel quite a lot on company expense. It comes at a price naturally. I drive hundreds of miles a week, normally very far from home to place which are VERY hot to see people who can be quite rude.

But, on the other hand, it allows me to witness an afternoon here, at the river crossing the Crocodile River to the Kruger National Park’s Malelane gate. My colleague and I had to come here to see some clients and show our faces (as my country apparently only comes this way once every six months or so). I set off very early this morning, leaving my temporary lodgings at 4:50am to meet up with my boss at 5:30am so that we can start on the road heading East to Mpumalanga (I stay in Gauteng). The day wasn’t very exciting admittedly as it was very hot and the clients… Well. Clients. I’ll never fault them because they are my bread and butter.

We finished up just after 2pm and came through to the guest house where we’ll be spending the night. I took a moment to collect myself while my colleague went to visit with some old friends in the area. I had a headache (read caffeine withdrawal) and needed to cool down a bit. It was 46 degrees Celsius outside, and cooking me alive. When he returned we went to the bridge crossing over the Crocodile River to the Kruger Park. It was beautiful and somehow just what I needed.

I have a beautiful country, and amazing place with so much a variation which I am priviledged enough to see now that I’m travelling so much. I forgot about it in a way. I had been so taken with England that I forgot that my country has just as much scenic wise to offer then the small British Isle. It’s not the same naturally, you cannot compare apples with bananas.

But, it is beautiful and I thought to share it with you.

 

How to Filter out Vuvuzela’s on your TV

I found this article on my iGoogle today and I find it very amusing. 🙂 Mainly because for the past 4 weeks I’ve been waking up to the sound of vuvuzela’s in the morning (seeing as how I live in one of the cities in South Africa which hosts matches). There is no equalizer in real life, no sound, material or ear plug which can really drown out this noise. 😉 But, WikiHowTo seems to think that they can, so I will give them their dues. 😉

How to Filter the Vuvuzela Noise

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
When you’re tired of the World Cup broadcast being a cacophony of vuvuzelas, it’s a relief to know that you can tone it down. Here are some ways to drown out the drone.

Steps

Equalizer (EQ) option (TV or Stereo)
The benefit of this option despite having to fiddle a bit more is that you don’t need a computer. You can perform this fix straight on your TV or stereo.

  1. Locate the equalizer. Either use equalizer on your stereo if you’re using that to listen with, or the one on your TV, if it has one. If needed, read the manual accompanying the stereo or TV for instructions on how to adjust the equalizer settings.
  2. Adjust the hardware settings of your equalizer. It is recommended to turn the frequency down as low as your equipment can go; Adam Pash recommends lowering sound level of the the frequencies 235 Hz and 465 Hz with about 40 decibels.[1] The drone sound should be considerably reduced, or even removed.
  3. Continue to adjust the different frequencies until you are comfortable with the sound. Given that all TV sets differ, only you will be the ultimate judge of what works best here. Things to consider include:
    • Level of sound of the commentators’ voices;
    • Ability to enjoy the rest of the atmosphere; and
    • The level of comfort of all persons watching at home.

Adjust Treble or Speakers (TV or Stereo)

  1. If you can’t locate an equalizer on your TV or stereo, or just can’t be bothered fiddling with it, try using your TV’s treble sound control. Locate the treble control, and turn the treble sound down as far as is possible. Doing this should reduce the vuvuzela sound enough to be bearable.[2]
  2. Try adjusting your speakers if you have a surround sound system. Try lowering the volume of the speaker that brings out the crowd noise and raise the volume of the one with the commentator’s voices.[3] Keep adjusting until you get the balance right.

Easy Free Software Option (Computer Assisted)
With this option, you’ll need to use the computer linked up to the audio of the TV. The benefit of this option is that the software will do all of the fiddling for you. The only adjustments that you’ll need to make are dependent on the age and speed of your computer.

  1. Go to the National Instruments site. Download the free software here: http://decibel.ni.com/content/blogs/Simon/2010/06/16/world-cup-2010–filtering-the-annoying-vuvuzela-noise. There is a Windows and a Mac version available, choose whichever one suits your needs.
  2. Install the software. If you don’t have the LabView Run-Time engine, you’ll need to install this also (it’s free).
  3. Insert your computer into the audio signal flow of your TV.
    • If the TV has an audio output, connect the sound card line in to this outlet. Connect the sound card’s output to your usual listening devices (such as speakers or headphones).
  4. Listen and check if it sounds better. If still needed, adjust the frequency on your computer. How much and whether you need to adjust will depend on the speed of your computer.

Video

Consumer Reports shows several easy ways to reduce the noise of the vuvuzela. Note that it doesn’t recommend paying money to do this!

Tips

  • Mute it. Watch in peace!
  • The vuvuzelas can pump out as much a 131 decibels.[4]
  • Apparently the horn “drones” (is at its most annoying) at 233Hz.[5]

Warnings

  • Not all TVs have a built-in equalizer. If you can’t find one, try one of the other methods instead.

Things You’ll Need

  • Computer for first option
  • TV or stereo for both options
  • Speakers or headphones

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. Adam Pash, http://lifehacker.com/5564085/how-to-silence-vuvuzela-horns-with-an-eq-filter
  2. Consumer Reports.org, http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/2010/06/fifa-world-cup-2010-vuvuzela-annoying-buzz-sound-audio-filter-app-noise-killer-scam-setting-minimize-horns-tips.html
  3. Consumer Reports.org, http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/2010/06/fifa-world-cup-2010-vuvuzela-annoying-buzz-sound-audio-filter-app-noise-killer-scam-setting-minimize-horns-tips.html
  4. Wikipedia, Vuvuzela, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vuvuzela
  5. Sharon Machlis, How to lower vuvuzela noise when watching the World Cup, http://blogs.computerworld.com/16345/how_to_lower_vuvuzela_noise_when_watching_the_world_cup

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Filter the Vuvuzela Noise. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

FiFa Viva… Calvin?

I wanted to write about the Fifa Soccer World Cup 2010 today, grudgingly feeling that it’s my duty to do so seeing as how I’m living in one of the host cities, I’m a South African and I blog. I’m also fairly open minded, have a habit of seeing things from ALL sides and I’ve had the unique position to have spoken to practically everybody that’s involved, from the fans, the diplomats to the gentleman that’s one of the individuals responsible for the security of the whole event. I wanted to talk to you about my thoughts on the matter, explain to you the finer details of what our country have been going through recently. I would even have mentioned our president, who is not only planning to marry his FOURTH wife, but who’s perhaps expecting his 21st child (or 20th, or I sort of lost count after 15) and who’s punishing his second wife for a supposed affair with another man (after said president was trialled a couple of years ago for the rape of a fourteen year old girl… Acquitted of course. What else?).
I wanted to mention all these things and then… Then, I saw a comic on my iGoogle.

The star of the show was Calvin, a six year old boy who was being hurried into his parents’ car to go to an out of town wedding. Normally, Calvin is accompanied by Hobbes, his stuffed tiger. Hobbes is of course his imaginary friend, the one who philosophises with him, endures his ‘experiments’ and generally provide hours of fun interaction. In this strip though, he accidentally forgets Hobbes in his bed. It made me smile in a: Oh dear… Kind of way and I eagerly await tomorrow when I’ll see the conclusion of this strip (I hope…). I know how attached Calvin is to his tiger and in a sense can totally relate to it.

I’ve known Calvin for about 8 years now, having been introduced to his comic strip by a very dear friend of mine. In a sense, I related to Calvin, understood his need to carry his security (Hobbes) around with him. Life is pretty daunting as a six year old, where monsters and fears could not be rationalized by logic, scientific proof and common sense. He had a super imagination, could entertain himself for hours with thoughts that other six year olds didn’t necessarily think and he had very tolerant (if sometimes a bit exasperated) parents who generally indulged him rather than try to conform him to the norm. I found myself wondering what would’ve happened to Calvin when he grew older, if he’d have one day quietly put Hobbes into a box and never opened it again, or whether he kept him safe, secret and secure in his world. I wonder if he learned to appreciate his parents as he grew older (because you never do when you’re a kid) and whether he turned out to be the brilliant explorer/scientist he always pretended to be. I wonder if he dated Suzie Derkins, his female antagonist who inspired him to create a club that labelled girls as gross.

The thing is that, I didn’t know how he turned out, just as I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next bit of the comic strip. Will his parents go back for the Tiger or will they leave, forcing him to leave his security behind?

It’s almost like the Soccer World Cup here. The fact was that I can speculate about what’s going to happen, I can predict disaster or foresee triumph, but the truth was that I wouldn’t know what was going to happen until I sat through it all and lived it. Until I saw how the proverbial comic strip of life played out. The thing was that, as with the comic strip, I hope that it turns out. I hope that people’s hopes will be realized, that it would do the good that we all hope it would and that my country will behave itself for 30 days. That’s all the world asks of us. Things can turn into a disaster quite easily, but hopefully – we will learn from that as well and perhaps then the world will see.

For now, I can only sit back and wait. And hope.

And read my Calvin and Hobbes because there are far more secrets of the world locked up in these pages than people realize.