Monday, December 28, 2009

Wishlist for 2010

Every year people wish for things, mostly unobtainable by themselves and often totally selfish. This year I decided to ignore my own wishes and tried to think of things which would ultimately benefit everyone on our fragile planet. Oh, don't be fooled, I'm as selfish as the next person when it comes to wishes, but once you get started thinking about the bigger picture, it really is not that hard to forget what you want in the small corner of your world. So here it is:-

  • I wish everyone in the world a crime-free year ahead. Although I am from South Africa and crime is truly a problem in our country, ours is not the only one where people are affected by the results of crime on a daily basis. Take a moment and think about this. Violent crime is not limited to street muggings and robberies from people you don't know. Domestic violence must be one of the most under-reported (both in the media and the police stations) crime in the world. Most abusers are clever and spin a web around their victims, emotionally and physically dis-empowering them to the extent where the victim feels worthless with no self-esteem left.  I've seen this happen over and over again while working as Commissioner of the Children Court and even in the criminal courts. We only hear about domestic violence in the media when the victim snaps and fights back - often with more force than people deem necessary. But, this abuse usually continues for years  before someone realize there is a problem. So my first wish for this Christmas is that nobody should suffer in the hands of an abuser - whether known or unknown. 
  • I wish every child in the world a warm bed, abundance of food and most of all - plenty of love for the next year. People able to support themselves and their families tend to look away from a street child begging on the street corner or at the supermarket. They don't want to see the hungry face because it makes them feel guilty. They justify not helping the child by saying there are millions of these children around the world and helping this one unknown child will not make a difference. Just think about this: if one person helps one child every day in each country of the world - how big a difference would we be able to make? How many children would be saved, helped, fed and provided for? So in short my wish for the year ahead: I wish every person on the planet would help one child in some way every single day of the year.
  • May the powers that be work together without putting the monetary benefits first, to ensure the future of our planet. The fragility of our planet has been in the news often lately and more and more people start to realize that we cannot keep on abusing the planet as we are doing. Resources are slowly being depleted and the recent funny weather (and this is my opinion) is evidence of more radical changes to come if nothing is done about the effect our habits have on the environment.     
 Three simple wishes for the world. The frustrating part is that one person alone can do very little to achieve these goals, but working together, we all can make a difference.

I hope everyone has a prosperous New Year and that health and wealth will follow after the 1st of January.

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    African Grey Babies Now 7 Weeks Old

    The African Grey Parrot chicks are now 7 weeks old and full of feathers. Hand rearing the chicks has not been such a mission as we first thought and they are becoming more and more independent. They started to eat soft food over the weekend and now resides in a proper parrot cage with extra mesh at the bottom to prevent them from falling through.

    The smaller one is a keen learner and already starts to react to instructions to climb onto your finger, but the feet are not yet co-operating and if she has one claw closed the other refuses. Her balance is much better than the bigger one which is a complete sweetie.

    The younger one also is the most inquisitive and will investigate anything and everything you place inside the cage. She now decided she likes the soft food better than the porridge and it appears that she will be weaned long before her older sibling as she eats less porridge with every feed and more soft food and seeds.

    I don't know how we are going to say goodbye to these two in two weeks time as they each has their own personality and are adorable, but I suppose that is part of breeding African Grey Parrots.

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    African Grey Chicks - Comparison at 3 and 6 weeks

    A 10-week old Congo African Grey Chick

    Our Congo African Grey chicks are now 6 weeks old and I thought it would be interesting to show a comparison between the African Grey babies at 3 weeks and at 6 weeks. The chicks showed an interest in soft foods today for the first time and after realizing the food is quite tasty, they ate and played with the food for nearly an hour.

    The bare wings now have feathers and even the long feathers at the tips of the wings are developing quite fast.

    The red tail feathers, which are unique to the Congo African Grey parrots, have also developed and three distinct rows of tail feathers are present. Note the lone red feather just above the tail and the tuft of down just below.

    We weighed the chicks today and the smaller one weighs in at 550grams while the larger chick weighs a roaring 650 grams. They have more than doubled in size in three weeks.

    During the past weekend we cared for a 10 week old African Grey parrot. "Gogga" the parrot baby is already weaned and only wanted to taste the baby formula because the little ones ate. At one stage we had a total of five parrots ranging from 6 weeks to 8 years old on the kitchen table and it made for interesting play time. Gogga enjoyed climbing all over hubby while the little one sought refuge from the miniature windstorm Gogga created.

     In the photo's of the African Grey parrots below you can clearly see the difference in the eyes of an adult and baby parrot. The adult African Grey parrot has a yellow ring around the black pupil while the baby's eyes are nearly totally black.

    We have already found a home for the smaller baby African Grey parrot, but will only deliver after the chicks are completely weaned and able to fend for themselves.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    Please Pray for Christopher Beets

    Please take 5 minutes to pray for this child.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    African Grey Parrot Babies Develop Feathers

    Our African Grey parrot chicks are nearly 5 weeks old now. They have grown by the hour and I think doubled in size during the last week. They are eating well and this week started to develop feathers.

    Even the red tail feathers, unique to the Congo African Grey start to show.

    The parrot chicks enjoy stretching their legs and simulating flight by flapping their wings - causing mayhem in the brooded as wood shavings fly all over the place. As mentioned in the previous post, they discovered their voices and now they tend to "talk" to the person feeding them (Especially if the porridge is not provided quickly enough.)

    You will notice the eyes are fully open and trust me, they see quite well. The eyes will turn more yellow as the African Grey parrot matures and the black eyes are a dead giveaway for a young parrot.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    African Grey Chicks - 28 Days Old

    The African Grey Parrot babies are growing by the hour. Feeds are now 4 hours apart - yah! More sleep, but they are cute as buttons. Each one of the African Grey chicks has his own personality and feeding time turns into playtime for them.

    The photo's show the oldest hatchling after a feed, stretching those legs that must support him for the rest of his life and exercising the wings (not that those small wings would ever support the likes of the round body).

    Since three days ago, they are fluffy little creatures and both discovered they have voices. Night time feeds tends to get a bit noisy and I predict the one sleeping would soon be awaken by the antics of the baby parrots.

    Dont' you also want one?

    From Baby African Greys

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Pictures of African Grey Parrot Chicks

    Here is a few pictures I took today of the African Grey Parrot babies. They are now 24 days old and growing by the hour. Note the feathers starting on the wings. We added some soft toys for them to cuddle up against and they seem to enjoy the company.



    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Man Eaten by Snake- True or Not?

    I received this via e-mail today and thought I would share it with you. Don't know if it's true or the details thereof. If anyone else knows the true story I would appreciate you sharing with us.


    Anyone has an idea what really happened? 

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    African Grey Chicks are 22 Days Old

    Feeding times are now every three hours and we're getting some more sleep. The African Grey chicks are growing by the centimeter every day. It is amazing to see the amount of small feathers they gain every day. Their heads pop up over the brim of the Tupper container and they can hardly wait for each feed.

    Due to these little babies, we now had to cancel our holiday planned for December with the in-laws. Not that I am complaining, we can always take the tour next year, but the babies will not survive without some tender loving care.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    African Grey Parrot Babies Sit Up

    Some more photo's of the African Grey parrot babies taken yesterday the 4th of November 2009.

    They are trying to sit upright, but still have trouble balancing. The chicks rock back and forth - hence the out of focus parts of the photos.

    I hope you will find them as adorable as I do.

    African Grey Chicks Are 17 Days Old

    The African Grey parrot chicks are now 17 days old and have been in the brooder for the last 3 days. They require feeding every two and a half hours and it feels like I have a newborn baby in the house again.

    From Baby African Greys

    As you can see, they grew tremendously during the last ten days and they are now able to sit upright during feeds and move around in the plastic container we keep them in. On the small segment of video, you'll notice the color in the brooder to be funny. I had to use night vision on the camera as the infrared lights gives the picture a too reddish tint. The eyes of the African Grey chicks are sensitive and the harsh white light used to warm the brooders may damage them.

    The eyes are just starting to open and they are definitely able to hear and distinguish between different sounds. Upon entering the breeding room, they will lie quietly until they hear the chair in front of the breeder scrape. During the past three days they have come to recognize the sound as being associated with feeding time.

    Each baby consumes approximately 7.5ml of formula during every feed and they are cute as buttons when they sit bold upright after a feed to allow the food to digest. Even without feathers they both "groom" the little plumage (and there really isn't much to see) like their adult counterparts.

    They start to make noises during and after feeding and even at this early stage there is no mistaking them for any other bird than a parrot.

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    How Do You Keep Faith in Yourself?

    I came accross a blogpost today of Keith Smith with the apt title of "Keep your faith and your doubts will starve to death!"

    The title alone made me want to read more as the amount of faith I have in my own abilities directly correlates to the amount of sleep I get per night. At least, that is what I realized after 3 nights of very little sleep.

    As you know from the previous posts, I am participating in the challenge to write a 50 000 word novel in the month of November as well as writing 30 articles for Suite 101 in the same time. That alone is enough to cause sleep deprivation, but to top it all up, we have two African Grey Chicks in the brooder (2 weeks old) that demands feeding every two and a half hours. Sigh...I feel every bone of my 40-plus body. Bloodshot eyes staring back at you from a wrinkled, devoid of make-up face at 6 am when you went to bed at 2 am is not a pretty sight. No, don't try it, take my word for it.

    The chicks are doing great, by the way, and I,m sure they grew a couple of centimeters since Sunday when we removed them from the nest. They are adorable and even at this early stage, each one has its own personality.

    But I regress from the issue at hand. Keeping faith in yourself when doubts in your abilities surface, is a daunting task. Keith Smith offers a simple solution - faith in yourself = conquering your fears of inadequacy. He suggests just grinding your teeth and getting on with the job at hand until your fears disappear. Good advice?

    What if you really aren't good enough to do what you set out to do? What if you really don't have it in you to write that book or finish a task you started? What if...

    How will you know if you don't try and stick to it? I don't know, but I am sure going to give it my best shot.

    How do you keep faith in yourself?

    Friday, October 30, 2009

    NaNoWriMo - Novel in a Month - What Have I Done?

    Write a novel of 50 000 words in one month. Sounds easy so I subscribed and joined the thousands of other writers, both published and not, in this challenge. The easy part disappeared as soon as I started making calculations.

    At least 1700 words every day for a month. Those writing daily will tell you this is ludicrous to try to fit into a daily work schedule. It only has to be a first draft, but at that rate, most of what you write is going to be absolute crap. If I only knew what to write about!

    This week I set out to finish the WIP (also a first draft and in Afrikaans) I only had to do 14 000 odd words in the week, but with a stiff neck and aching fingers, so far I managed 2500 words for the week. Moreover, tomorrow is the 31st!

    Lots of coffee and at least two late nights will show how far I will get with the nanowrimo challenge.

    To top it all - Suite 101 has a challenge related to the nanowrimo month. 30 articles in 30 days. Don't know if I will get to that one, but I am sure going to try. Need to get to the 100-article mark anyway.

    For the next couple of weeks, expect many complaints about the progress of the novel (un-plotted and unknown at this stage).

    Oh, and we have 11 African Grey eggs still in the nests with a suspicion that two already hatched. Will let you know.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Baby African Grey Parrots

    At last we were able to get a short segment of video of the African Grey Parrot chicks that hatched last week. The 2 babies are now 7 days old and it was quite a mission getting the footage. One person had to wait inside the bird cages, concealed by a piece of plastic sheeting from the rest of the cages while the other sat outside to watch the birds. Because we do not want to disturb the parents, we had to wait until both parents left the breeding boxes and went to the front of the cage.

    And the wait had been long. We tried the whole week long with "locked up" times varying from 1-4 hours. Today it paid off and the attached video is the result. With no light inside the breeding boxes we had to use night vision to limit the disturbance to the chicks to the minimum so the picture is sort of black and white.

    Hope you have a few "ah shame" moments like I did.

    75 Articles at

    During the previous week, I published my 75th article on 

    Not being the most prolific writer there is, this is a huge accomplishment for me. I hope to reach 100 articles before the end of the year as this do make a difference in the earning potential from there. Being a feature writer for Suite101 has taught me to stay focussed in what you want to say and do research, which I haven't done much since varsity days.

    One advantage of writing for Suite101 is the excellent support you get from your fellow writers and editors. No question is too stupid for them to answer and for a rookie, there is no better place to get information than in the forums.
    In the beginning, a flag (something is wrong!) was cause for jitters, sweaty palms and nervous giggles. Today a flag means almost certain heart attack. Writing for over a year, one should know the ropes by now and being a feature writer is serious business. You have a responsibility to your readers to provide them with quality content that will make them come back again. After all, you attach your name to the article. My biggest fear is providing inaccurate information to the public.
    Well, I suppose we all learn as we go along. 
    Now I have to storm to 100 before the end of the year.

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Finished Updating Blogs

    At last I am finished with updating all the blogs and each of them sports a new look. Now I can start sharing my daily life on a regular basis.

    For someone with no technical knowledge I'm quite pleased with the result. The normal blogger templates looked so old and out of date and I went searching for fresh and exiting templates. Blogger Buzz provides excellent suggestions for free templates that work with blogger and after you learn the ropes a little, it is a piece of cake. Well, maybe not so easy (it only took me a week), but definitely do-able.

    I would suggest that template developers find a way so you don't loose your widgets. I have no HTML knowledge and was too scared to try and incorporate my old widgets by editing manually. Hopefully I don't have to do this again soon.

    Now I can concentrate on other things like enjoying my daughter who now lives at home and working on my 3 novels in progress.