27 November 2012

not since college…

i found myself messing around with c++ today. it was my favorite language in college…20 years ago. had to refresh a big chunk of my memory (and google for a bit) in order to get this simple updated “hello, world” program compiled and running.

// ohaiwurld.cpp
#include <iostream>
#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
  printf("o hai, wurld!\n");
  if (argc > 1)
     printf("we haz argumentz!\n");
     printf("argz = ");
     for (int i = 1; i < argc; i++)
        printf("%s ", argv[i]);
  return 0;

$ g++ ohaiwurld.cpp -o ohaiwurld
$ ./ohaiwurld lolcatz cheezburger can haz
o hai, wurld!
we haz argumentz!
argz = lolcatz cheezburger can haz

never thought i’d be messing with this. i don’t know if it will be part of a solution i’m looking into at work, but it was a neat moment to step back into this.

more blogging, less facebooking…

this article from gizmodo defines why my blog will get more use in the future for any substantial content (stories, family photos, etc.):


i will never forget the story told at a tech conference about one member of a couple who saw a photo of his significant other in a facebook ad for a singles matching site. photos were usable in their ads without consent when that happened. not sure if that has changed at all, but this bit from their latest revision of the notice makes me wonder:

For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacyand application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.


26 November 2012

christmas decorations

tree was up last weekend, decorated by wednesday night. yankee candles of the pine persuasion make up for the tree not providing the enjoyable scents.

21 November 2012

south africa: final days

my last day in south africa was a fun one. first, in the morning, duncan, shawn, and i met early in the morning, and we went down to the beach and picked mussels from the rocks. it was great fun to climb around on the rocks, trying to beat the waves to move from one to another.

they showed me some neat spots in the rocks, some that could only be accessed during lower tides. the waves were strong and powerful, crashing and slamming into the rocks. it made the rock hopping more challenging and therefore more fun to run them.

we collected enough and shawn headed off to work.

next, duncan wanted to take me sandboarding, which is the same as snowboarding only on sand. he picked me up with his family, and we headed for the dunes. ahh, the dunes. i loved these dunes!

i am not much of a snowboarder. i prefer skis. two skis. one for each foot. but it looked like fun, so i decided to give it a try. i made it down once, but getting the hang of is something i would have been best done before that day. so, i decided to let duncan and justine board while i just took pictures and video.

duncan was going to take his family back then he and i were going to drive down to the dias cross. i asked him how far it was. he told me about 10 km. i thought i could hike that and meet him there. so, he agreed with a smile and drove his family back, and i began my trek down the beach.

as i started walking, i was keeping a good pace and enjoying the wind and surf. i realized soon that my destination was further down than i could actually see. so, i had to quicken my pace. i think it took me about half an hour to get to the cross. i climbed the long wooden stairs to the top. i took pictures, enjoyed the view, and trying to message my cousin. after a while, he responded. he told me he could see me. when i looked intently for him, i could not. he finally walked out on the dunes and sat down. i finally spotted him, a little dot so far away. it took me about fifteen minutes to reach him, down the steps and then climbing dunes. huge dunes! (you can see the distance from the google map link above.)

on my way back, duncan let me drive the dune buggy. my first time driving on the wrong side of the road. and a stick, no less. i have to say the hardest part was trying to reach the pedals. see, because my cousins both surpass two meters in height quite easily and this buggy was built with fixed seats for shawn, i was once again almost out of reach. pfft, tall people….

that evening we had a braai. on the grill we had the mussels we picked out that morning, some of the springbok i had killed several days before, and several other very delicious dishes (including some bacon). it was all very good. it was a very relaxed evening. even the sunset was perfect to end the day and the trip.

one thing i never did get before i left was a group photo of everyone together. i should have insisted on it at the beginning of the evening. but everyone did get in a few pictures. you can find the rest on my flickr account, including chester and jean (owners of the bed and breakfast where i lodged), duncan’s wife and girls, shawn’s wife and boys, and plenty of shots of the beach and sky.

thanks to duncan who planned so much for me to do. and to his wife, deanne, and shawn and tessa too who fed me and had me in their homes to visit. they are very good memories.

i would go back. i want to go back.

20 November 2012

south africa: hanging out

the next few days after the weekend gave me time to relax a little bit. i was able to spend a little time on the beach, catching some waves. my dad taught me to body surf when i was a boy, but i learned on waves in north myrtle beach. these waves were quite stronger than i had experienced. very strong!

now, both my cousins are tall guys, well over two meters each. we waded out to the point where the waves were breaking, however the water level was just above my head a bit. for duncan, he could stand on his toes and be fine above the surface. i was having to push off the bottom to keep breathing. if you add  a strong undertow to the mix, then i was using quite a bit of energy just to keep in position while i waited to catch a wave.

it wasn’t long before everything lined up and started paddling. i could feel the force of the wave start to push me, and i was off! i was really moving too! it was a nice long ride…then the wave collapsed on top of me. normal for body surfing, but i had become accustomed to holding my breath for north myrtle beach waves. after crashing down on me, i found myself still in substantially deep water and the hydraulics still tumbling me on a spin cycle. i tried to hold my breath a little longer until i could get my feet grounded and push my head above the water. wow!

it was quite the ride, quite the workout, and i felt exhausted after just one wave. i figured instead of wearing myself out and becoming that guy who makes drowning headlines in a country other than my home, i would enjoy some time on the beach catching some sun. i was right. i really would like to have spent more time body surfing. if i were younger, i would have definitely spent more time out in the waves.

i enjoyed a couple of days on the beach with my cousin and his family. it was relaxing time.

next >> south africa: final days

19 November 2012

south africa: seaview

don’t let the name fool you. although it was set with a great view of the ocean, this park housed big cats and other animals. but before i mention them, duncan and family and i found a reptile and raptor rescue at the place we stayed overnight after visiting addo.

duncan’s girls were considering getting a snake, and he thought this might be a good trial run to see if they would really enjoy having such a pet. we saw some rather interesting snakes (especially the black mamba), a few of which i was glad to have run across in a controlled environment rather than randomly in the wild. interestingly, they had some snakes local to my home town in the states too (copperhead, rattlesnake, and cottonmouth). some interesting birds including the large falcon were also part of the tour. (see how big this bird is.)

after leaving the rescue, we headed to the other side of port elizabeth to visit seaview. it was here that we were able to get very close to the lions. we arrived just in time to see them being fed. the cage allowed us to drive through while they had munchies. of course, we had to stay inside the car. not sure entirely what animal this was, but they seemed to enjoy it. among the cats we saw both tawny and white lions, a leopard, and couple of tigers (which are not indigenous to south africa).

one of the services offered was that we could have a few minutes to pet the lions. for several rand, i was able to pet a couple of young lions. they were nine to ten months old yet had paws as big as or bigger than my open hand. i can only imagine what it would be like to be attacked by one. i have had my arm shredded by house cats with sharp claws. it would be no matter for one of these to shred me in a couple of minutes.

we left seaview and stopped in port elizabeth for some dinner. then we trekked back home. it was a good weekend.

next >> south africa: hanging out

18 November 2012

south africa: addo elphant park

duncan got a kombi for all of us. shaun drove since he didn’t think his boys would be able to last the whole day at addo. we all piled into the kombi at addo, though, and headed in for animals.

first up: elephants. as we entered the park, we found a herd of pachyderms on parade to a watering hole.  it must have been morning drinking time because they all seemed to be heading that way.  perhaps they were stocking up for a long day of heat in the park.  a cool trunk of water is better than a warm one on days like this.  it give a whole new meaning to keeping your nose clean when you witness how they drink.  but it also makes you wonder what happens when an elephant tells a joke while they are drinking.

as we journeyed on, we came across another watering hole where some turtles were sunning themselves.  we also found some kudu in the brush, bush hogs keeping a low profile, some large buffalo, and the black headed heron.  of course, there were monkeys all over the place.  those things just run around the entire country.

we stopped to eat lunch around midday.  the park provided fenced–caged, really–areas were we could pull in to eat lunch.  these spots were staffed with park officials.  the monkeys were hanging around for food.  we inquired if it was safe/allowed to feed the monkeys.  the officials gave approval.  see the video below for a fun bit.

after lunch, we dropped shaun and family back off a their car as they needed to head back to kenton.  i along with duncan and his crew drove down to the bottom of the park.  zebra, impala, springbok, and other animals grouped on the hillside either munching on the grass or shading in the scattered trees.

we came across an elephant scuffle.  two elephants decided to lock head and tusks over…land, a female, a derogatory reference to a mother.  not exactly sure, but it was interesting to watch.

we kept looking for the lions.  the day was coming to an end, and we had to leave the park soon.  we questioned passers on the road to see if they had heard of lion sightings anywhere. no one had seemed to spot any until we found a group of stopped vehicles, passengers peering off into the distance.  they had found the cats sunning themselves on a hill.  i was glad for the 500mm lens purchase.  full zoom and then close up in the center of the shot revealed a male and a few female warming in the late afternoon.  mission accomplished.

it was time to crash for the night.

next >> south africa: seaview

17 November 2012

south africa: intermission

friday turned out to be a down day. some time at the beach with duncan, deanne, and the girls. the wind was still blowing rather hard, which made the waters cold. we moved from the main beach to the kaeriga river which was mostly shielded from the strong winds. the water was still cold. in my typical fashion, i took about fifteen minutes to fully submerge myself.

duncan had a few errands to run, so he dropped me back at milkwood manor. i wanted to check on my pictures, and it was good that i did. i was running out of hard drive space. but shaun helped me out. he phoned a friend of a local business and she had a 500gb hard drive she’d sell me. perfect!

i walked into town and got the hard drive. i then tried to back up as many photos as i possibly could in order to leave some room on my netbook for the pics i’d be taking from addo elephant park on saturday.

more dinner with shaun and tess. justin is starting to warm up to me but still won’t hold my hand when we pray. i also had my first taste of boerweors. heard my dad talk about this all growing up. it was good.

next up: addo!

16 November 2012

south africa: post-hunt

the evening after the hunt, we got cleaned up and had some dinner. both david and cathy were great hosts. and after dinner, they introduced me to leon schuster, who is a well-known prankster in south africa for his candid camera type of hijinks. with commentary from david, cathy, and duncan, i learned more about the culture of people.

we hung out with david’s family on thursday morning. duncan had taken some times to help soften his water supply. we put all that together. david had written a book along with some other guides he worked with in botswana years ago. they were a collection of some of their memorable events. i had read a couple of his stories and asked for a book to bring home so i could read them all.

after some lunch with them, we started back to kenton. the sun sets around seven-thirty in the evenings. needless to say, we were able to watch the sun set over the south african mountains. again, another amazing spectacle.

african sunset

tree sillouette

next >> south africa: intermission

15 November 2012

south africa: hunting springbok – part two

we drove over the hill and found our next arena. as soon as we came down the hill, dunc was able to see some kudu hanging out on hill. (how does he see these things?) but wasn’t the season for kudu. we parked near the windmill and saw a few on the hill. more wandering around in the trenches. this time, we ended up moving far enough above them that it gave us a bit of an advantage.

they seemed to spot us…but they didn’t bolt. i moved slowly to a couple of different trees to get a good shot. this field was harder because it left me a bit more exposed from one spot to another.

i scoped one in the distance just looking at me. she was standing perfectly lined up for a kill. i didn’t look back for duncan this time. closed the bolt, BOOM!

the jolt of the rifle cause me to lose my sight of the animal for a moment. i tried to find them, but they had all moved at the sound. having made noise enough to scare, i took the other three shots. nothing hit. but oddly, after a short run they all started moving back into the field. not too bright these animals. i asked dunc for another four bullets. i quickly reloaded and looked around. i don’t remember if i spent a bullet from that four first, but as they continued to walk back into view i picked another doe and fired. i didn’t believe i hit her, but then i saw her jump funny.

“she’s down!” duncan yelled. “let’s go!”

we ran down the hill to make sure she wasn’t still alive. as ran, we passed a dead springbok. “there’s your first shot,” dunc said as we kept running.

“i hit two?” i asked.

“ja, that was your first shot.”

we got to the other doe. she was indeed dead. dunc cut the throat anyway to be certain. we lugged this beast back up the hill to the first. we then gut them, leaving behind the stomach, intestines, bladders, etc. i told him i wasn’t going to eat the liver raw, despite having all my shots. we packed up all the good stuff and headed to the bukkie.

i really didn’t have a probably pulling the trigger. i think some prethought about that had already brought me to a conclusion in my head. we would eat these, and it helped david keep his springbok population in check.

bloody hands

the first hit was a clean one. the second one hit the stomach emptying the contents all over the inside. that was quite a mess.

we took them back, cleaned them up, removed the edible organs, and hung them up to dry overnight.

the next day, we would skin them and cut the meat off them. i was surprised how easy this was. the eating would come later.

got two

next >> south africa: post-hunt

14 November 2012

south africa: hunting springbok – part one

on tuesday, we loaded up the car and headed off to david hood’s farm. the three hour road trip up took us over some of the most beautiful terrain. duncan had put together a massive mp3 mix. we found toto’s “africa” and did our own music video toward the end of our journey. already, duncan is pointing out some of the local wildlife. most of them were on farms.

david’s farm is another amazing place. we found our lodgings and went out for a ride in the bukkie to pick up the laborers. we had dinner with david’s family, wife cathy and two little girls. lara is a very adorable three made only moreso by her accent.

after dinner, we headed outside. it was very dark, but i believe this was the first time in my life that i’ve seen all the stars in the sky at the same time. no city lights bleeding out the view, no haze or humidity dulling the stars. it was the clearest i’ve ever witnessed a night sky. david had his binoculars with which we could see four of jupiters moons. and the stars move very quickly in that location.

after a morning breakfast, we (i) familiarized ourselves (myself) with the weapon we’d be using. then dunc and took the bukkie and headed to find some springbok. our first camp had several to choose from. they were way up the property. we took cover in some water gulleys which let us move around out of eyeshot of these animals. we scared a few, planned again, hiked, tried to find them, spotted some, planned again, hiked some more. at last we had a group of six which included a buck that was our initial goal. we snuck around and moved into position. i crept…not too well. i made to the bush for cover and when i rounded the edge, the buck was right there. he was looking at me. i backed slowly back and looked for a “go” from duncan. he wasn’t looking at the moment, so i turned around deciding to take this shot. i closed off the bolt and took aim…at nothing. these animals had jetted–and i mean jetted–down the hill and out of range. lesson taken: don’t hesitate.

we chased them for a little bit longer. we found another opportunity to take a shot at them, but no hits.

we did find a lone buck in the bushes with the sheep. duncan pointed him out, moved over to let me get a shot spot, but from my vantage there was a tree in the way. it was perfectly lined up in the kill zone of the buck. he moved around but never gave me another chance.

after missing the group on the hill, we decided to check out another farm. it was already two in the afternoon. i was a little dehydrated. but we really couldn’t leave empty handed, right?

next >> south africa: hunting springbok – part two

13 November 2012

south africa: family

i had dinner with shaun and tessa the first night. i met their two boys. justin, the older, took a strange interest in my camera.

justin and his dad

tessa had made up some chicken, very tasty. we had a good evening chatting. after dinner as we were relaxing, duncan came over. i remember telling him: “you are much taller in person than on skype.” we all talked about the flight over, expectations, and of some of the plans for the week. duncan despite admitting not being much of a planner had quite a few things on tap.

the boys

on monday, i got to see uncle alex as duncan, he, and i headed out for a trip to port alfred. before we left town, i found aunt jackie at shaun and tess’s helping watch the boys. it didn’t seem like four years since we last saw each other…or maybe it was just the jet lag.

in port alfred, we dropped off some wood to richard, a craftsman who makes some beautiful tables with scraps. we then headed down into town. i saw the kowie fm radio station where both shaun and duncan had once worked. their broadcasting station is in a small mall. uncle alex and i did a little shopping while duncan was troubleshooting some computer matters. after that, we drove up the coast of port alfred and had lunch at a little place. burgers and chips. saw some more of the ocean. the wind was still high and a walk at the mouth of the inlet for water into the town left us with sandblasted faces.

after a small stop at a super spar, we went back home. i ate over at duncan and deanne’s monday night. i met their two very excited girls. i delivered some items of request to them: cherry coke, coffee, and chocolate. we chatted for a good long time until we felt it was probably a good idea to get some sleep. our next episode would take us hunting.

next >> south africa: hunting springbok – part one

12 November 2012

south africa: arrival

the trip was a long jet flight. i slept as well as anyone can on a plane. that is to say, my neck hurt when i disembarked in joburg. the jump from joburg to port elizabeth was aboard british airways. those guys server food on their flights still! i felt like i’d been thrown back in time to more civilized time.

shaun picked me up at the jetport in port elizabeth (a.k.a. p. e.). this was the first time in 37 years that i’ve seen him. he drove me from p. e. to kenton. it’s about an hour’s drive east. he pointed out a few interest spots along the way. i took pictures of the drive out. not much to see, but this was my first real viewing of the south african countryside.

milkwood manor b&b was my lodging for the duration. the place is very nice situated at the mouth of the bushman’s river. the view from their lounging area was amazing. i found myself always taking pictures of the view when i would sit and look out. the blue water of the indian ocean filling up the river at high tide. the sand dunes on the far shore had a haze from the blowing sands. it was very windy when i landed. this apparently is bad weather for them as they all kept apologizing all week for it. i however enjoyed the strong winds.

sunset at milkwood manor

chester and jean were the hosts and made me feel right at home. shaun left me to get settled in and told me that he’d come back around for me at six. after unpacking my stuff, i grabbed my camera and headed for the beach. a small path leads right down to the beach/bank of the bushman’s and from there it’s a short walk down to the rocks which make up the our corner of the river’s entrance.

i’ve seen our american beaches and i’ve seen greece’s mediteranian beaches, but nothing compared to these beaches. massive sand dunes unlike anything i’ve ever seen. and the rocks were a playground for exploring.

indian ocean at the mouth of the bushman’s river

next >> south africa: family

09 November 2012

back home a year ago

it was about this time last year that i returned home from my journey to south africa. in fact, i had already begun work on blog posts of that event which i had planned to deliver a day at a time shortly after my return. however, i got sidetracked and the job grew daunting in my mind and it never go completed. it was a shame, actually. most of the work was done.

with the arrival of the springbok horns a week ago, i decided to revisit getting this done. plus it was the anniversary of my trip just now, so another good reason to get these posts out there. the pictures, of course, have been out on my flickr account since last year.

over the next week, a new post will show up highlighting some of that adventure. some pictures are from the set but not on flickr.

i had hoped i might get another chance to go this year before i started my new job with scripps networks, but the schedule wouldn’t allow. maybe next year. we’ll see.

next >> south africa: arrival