Thursday, May 19, 2011

T-minus two and counting -- 'til the end of the world as we know it - or maybe not...

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Congratulations to my Sweet Baboo

The Oxfam Hong Kong Director General Awards launched in 2009 seek to recognize contributions to ways of working and achievements which reflect OHK’s values. Among the nominations received this year. I am happy to announce the winner of the DG Award for 2010. 

  Navin Vasudev (International Programme Unit - South Asia & Southern Africa Team) – Winner of the Diversity Award

Cert of Diversity Award-Navin.jpg
l   Navin Vasudev (International Programme Unit - South Asia & Southern Africa Team) – Winner of Diversity Award

DSC02357.JPGNavin was the lead of the IPU Gender Working Group in 2010-11. The Working Group, under his leadership, took a number of great steps instrumental to further mainstreaming of gender concerns in OHK work. He also made efforts to broaden the scope of the Working Group to include other categories of vulnerability/diversity such as ethnicity and sexuality. His work to promote the rights of sexual minorities is widely recognized and he has persistently and patiently shared information and ideas to raise awareness of these issues within OHK.

Call me gay... but I love Glee
And, I think Lea Michelle is the new Barbra Streisand. There! I've said it! Besides, the world is ready for a new mega-diva. I LOVE this version of "Don't Rain on My Parade."

And speking of gay...
This is the picture of modern, hip masculinity in South Africa.
It gives new meaning to the phrase "a little light in the loafers!"
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Top Hat (1935). This moment in “Dancing Cheek to Cheek” is Fred and Ginger at their most exquisite. Really. After all these years, this number still makes me gasp. And that dress! 
-via pickurselfup

Dancing to "Dancing Cheek to Cheek," Fred and Ginger are at their most exquisite. After all these years, this performance is still amazing and was even copied by Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in "Pennies from Heaven." But Ginger's dress! Wow! Only in a Hollywood fantasy could a ball gown be made of feathers. Re-blogged from We Had Faces Then  - via pickurselfup - (via iamheathcliff)

Hot-rodding in the sky
This shot over Victoria Falls was taken by photo journalist, Mark Mansfield. This one will go into Wilderness Air's promo material. Obviously, we were in another plane and it was the first time I had ever flown with the door open.
     Hot-rodding in the sky is something few people get to do – and I have been one of those lucky so-and-so’s. This was all in aid of Sefofane Air Charters changing its name to Wilderness Air. To publicise their rebranding, the company’s top brass invited a select few journalists – again, I was a lucky so-and-so – to join them on a whirlwind trip to Zimbabwe which included stops in Harare, Victoria Falls and a deluxe bush camp in the Hwange National Park. On arrival in Harare, the group was checked into the historic Meikles Hotel before being whisked off to the launch party outside of town at Charles Prince Airport. (not Prince Charles)
     At the event, Neil Lumsden, CEO of the airline, recounted the company’s 20-year history from its beginnings as a one-plane charter service to a safari/ecotourism business with a fleet of 50 aircraft operating in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. While the name has changed, Wilderness Air still flies into the same remote areas, with the same excellent safety record, all with the aim of connecting you and your friends to the deep wilderness.
     Wilderness Air operates a diverse fleet of aircraft from compact six-seat prop-driven planes to luxurious executive jets. However, the predominant aircraft operated by the company are chosen for their suitability in connecting to remote bush destinations with small dirt airstrips. All these aircraft types differ in their characteristics and are uniquely suited to various types of itineraries, group sizes, or groups having specific personal needs.
     Air charter allows for a completely different mindset when putting together an itinerary. Unlike scheduled airlines, charter flights can be set to best suit the client. Hectic airports can be avoided and less busy airfields located more “en route” can be utilised. For travelers wanting to visit remote areas on a tight schedule, with minimal time spent in transit, air charter is definitely the answer.
     At the launch party, Lumsden explained the reason for the company’s name change. “Essentially we have moved from ‘a house of brands’ to a ‘branded house.’ The renaming of Sefofane Air is a way of demonstrating the inherent connections among all members of the Wilderness family while still celebrating their differences. This move is intended to strengthen the air division’s position as a member of the extended Wilderness family of companies which also include Wilderness Adventures, Wilderness Safaris and Wilderness Explorations.”

Wilderness Adventures offers a range of affordable lodges focusing upon the mid-tier ecotourism and adventure market of southern Africa. Their lodges and camps are located in key wildlife and nature areas of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi and Zambia. A responsible ecotourism and conservation company, the Wilderness group works to protect the pristine wilderness and maintain biodiversity in the wild life. Through their safari operations they provide private access to nearly three million hectares of southern Africa's finest wildlife areas.

Wilderness Safaris specialises in upscale, privately hosted safaris with memorable wildlife experiences taking visitors into the most remote and pristine areas of southern Africa. Like Wilderness Adventures, the company’s goal is to share these wild areas with guests from all over the world, while at the same time helping to ensure the future protection of Africa’s spectacular wildlife heritage as well as sharing the benefits of tourism with local communities.

Wilderness Explorations are unhurried safaris under canvas, exploring some of Africa’s most remote localities, yet all the comforts and amenities of a resort are there for you. These exploration safaris take advantage of exclusive locations, mostly in private concessions, providing guests a select, spectacular journey through pristine areas, enjoying the most outstanding wildlife viewing in Africa. There are three Explorations packages – Discoverer, Adventurer and Trails – and all are designed for small groups of up to eight guests and can be tailor-made for private groups.

    Now, with the “who” and “what” out of the way, let’s get on to the fun! Aside from the branding hoopla, the trip was also a time to shoot photos for the new company brochures. This meant the entire party of guests spent a lot of time in the air above the African bush including an airborne game drive.
     By the time our junket had ended, climbing into a twelve-seat Cessna Caravan was as familiar as getting into a car – but a lot more exhilarating. Of course, the flight over Victoria Falls had to be the most thrilling activity of all. This is where the brochure photo shoot took place. With special dispensation from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean governments, we were able to fly the airspace of both countries. This allowed photo journalist, Mark Mansfield to get the best shots possible.
     During, the photo shoot, the plane’s rear door had to remain open while the fearless shutterbug – who was not strapped-in at all – took midair photos of an identical Cessna which flew in tandem with us over the falls. In order to get the very best photos, the planes swooped and took steep, arcing dives for best effect. After a short time, all sense of nervousness disappeared and everyone on board was caught up in the excitement of the moment. Another thing was amazing; in spite of the door being open, wind noise was surprisingly light. Sure it was louder than flying with the door closed, but nothing like the roar I had expected.
     The next day’s sunrise flight over Victoria Falls proved to be less than spectacular due to early morning rain. Photos taken that morning were useless and most everyone agreed we would have been better off had we stayed in our beds instead of dashing off to the airport. Another reason for the glum mood was we were staying at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and didn’t get much of an opportunity to fully enjoy it. 
     This was a real pity as the lodge features its own waterhole and at breakfast – if you’re there to partake of it – you can watch elephants, impala and warthogs rambling through the brush. The complex itself is also amazing with its modern spin on traditional African buildings. The friendly staff delivers a high level of service that makes even the most discerning traveler feel absolutely pampered. Rooms are well furnished in the local style – including mosquito netting over the beds – while baths and showers are completely up to date.   

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
     Continuing on the subject of accommodation, the Meikles Hotel in Harare cannot be forgotten. Since 1915, it has been regarded as Zimbabwe’s premier hotel and harkens back to a bygone era. Although a little worn, the hotel retains the gracious charm of a legendary and internationally acclaimed establishment. Rooms are cozy and the meals are excellent. Overlooking Africa Unity Square Gardens, as well as curio markets, it is situated in Harare’s Central Business District and should not be missed – even if it’s just for four o’clock tea.
     The final leg of our excursion took us to Davidson Camp in Hwange National Park. Belonging to Wilderness Safaris, this is the only way to camp out! Large tents complete with toilets and showers as well as comfortable beds, chaise lounges and overhead fans make them feel more like condos than pergolas. Electric power is provided by generators which get switched off at 10:00 pm. However, inverters provide enough power to allow late night reading. 

Davidson's Bush Camp tent accommodation
     Davidson’s is a well-operated camp offering an authentic bush experience. The dining area is elegantly simple, light and airy, with lounge and dining room both open to the front making the most of the view of the waterhole. Between these two areas lies an open campfire area which is ideal for pre-dinner drinks. And, with no TV, cell phones or Internet, all you can do is relax, explore, go on game drives, eat and enjoy the company around you. This is where the nearly lost art of conversation comes into play.
     Wildlife frequently encountered here include lion, large herds of elephant, buffalo, leopard, white rhino, spotted hyena, southern giraffe, sable, blue wildebeest, waterbuck and reedbuck. In summer, wildebeest, zebra and eland love the open plains, while in winter the nearby waterholes are magnets for elephants in massive numbers while bird life is prolific and varied.
     When it came time for us to return to Johannesburg, I truly didn’t want to go. Two and half days and three nights simply were not enough. But I have a sneaking suspicion that even a full week or two wouldn’t be enough in this playground. 

Horoscope Hang-Up: 

Earth Rotation Changes Zodiac Signs

Getty Images
The field of astrology, which is concerned with horoscopes and the like, felt a major disruption from astronomers, who are concerned with actual stars and planets. The astronomers from the Minnesota Planetarium Society found that because of the moon's gravitational pull on Earth, the alignment of the stars was pushed by about a month.If you're the type of person who relies on mysterious-sounding locations of stars to determine your personality and outcome in life, get ready to be shocked.
"When [astrologers] say that the sun is in Pisces, it's really not in Pisces," noted Parke Kunkle, a member of the group's board. Your astrological sign is determined by the position of the sun on the day you were born, so that means everything you thought you knew about your horoscope is wrong.
It turns out that astrology has had issues from its inception. (Aside from the fact that it tries to link personality traits with positions of the stars.) Ancient Babylonians had 13 constellations, but wanted only 12, so threw out Ophuchicus, the snake holder. Libra didn't even enter the picture until the era of Julius Caesar.
According to the Minnesota Planetarium Society, here is where the real signs of the Zodiac should fall. Get ready for your world to change forever.
Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16. 
 Feb. 16-March 11. 
 March 11-April 18. 
 April 18-May 13. 
 May 13-June 21. 
 June 21-July 20. 
 July 20-Aug. 10. 
 Aug. 10-Sept. 16.

Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30. 
 Oct. 30-Nov. 23.

Scorpio: Nov. 23-29. 
 Nov. 29-Dec. 17.  (Yep, this one is new — well, sort of — read all about the Ophiuchus way of life here)
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.
New Horoscope Dates & Personality Traits
See if your Zodiac sign has changed based on the addition of a 13th sign – Ophiuchus: Nov. 30th – Dec 17th. See how your own or your friends’ signs have changed under the dates below.

The New Dates:
CAPRICORN: Jan. 20 – Feb. 16
Personality Traits – The Passionate Lover – You are conservative and wary of taking risks. You prefer to sit on the fence and whine that life is passing you by. The truth is you are a total chicken-shit. Basically, you mainly like to engage people in guilt trips but you’re too transparent to be any good at it. There has never been a Capricorn of any importance. You should donate your brain for scientific study! 

AQUARIUS: Feb. 17 – March 11
Does It in the Water – Personality Traits – You have an inventive mind and are inclined to be progressive.  You tell lies a great deal of the time. On the other hand, you are inclined to be careless and impractical, causing you to make the same mistakes repeatedly.  Everyone thinks you are a total jerk.

PISCES: March 12– April 18
The Partner for Life – Personality Traits – You have a vivid imagination and often think you are being followed by the police. You have minor influence over your friends and people resent you for flaunting your power. You lack confidence and generally, you are a coward.  Pisces people screw small animals and pick their noses a lot.

ARIES: April 19 – May 13
The Aggressive One – Personality Traits – You are a pioneering type and hold most people in contempt. You are quick tempered, impatient, and scornful of advice. You have tendencies to be a hypochondriac, and think you are sick a lot of the time. You like people to “step and fetch it” for you. Basically, you are a whiney dink even when you are trying to be nice!

TAURUS: May 14 – June 21
The Bullish Twin – Personality Traits – You are a quick, intelligent thinker. You are charming and think you’re pretty damn precious. However, in reality, you’re a temperamental bastard. You are inclined to expect too much for too little. Because you have a dual nature, you are always of two minds – and 9 times out of 10 – you are a fag or at the very least, a bisexual.

GEMINI: June 22 – July 20
The Toiler – Personality Traits – You perceive yourself as practical and persistent.  However, most people see you as stubborn and bull-headed. You have dogged determination and work like hell. However, you one cheap son-of-a-bitch and you are the kiss of death at a party. In truth, you are nothing but a socialist zealot and a control freak!

CANCER: July 21 – Aug. 10
The Beauty – Personality Traits – You are sympathetic and understanding to other people’s problems. They, however, see you as a bleeding-heart sucker. You always put things off.  That is why you will always be on welfare and never amount to anything. Loser!

LEO: Aug. 11 – Sept. 16
The Lion – Personality Traits – You consider yourself a born leader. Others think of you as monumentally pushy and bossy. Most Leos are bullies who like to intimidate those weaker than themselves. You are vain and cannot tolerate honest criticism. Your arrogance is disgusting. Leo people are thieving bastards and kiss mirrors a lot!

Virgo: Sept. 17 – Oct. 30
The One Who Waits – Personality Traits – You are the logical type and hate disorder. This nit-picking tendency sickens your friends. They all talk about you behind your back. Of course, none of this bothers you because you are cold and unemotional. You often fall asleep while having sex. Virgos make good bus drivers and pimps.

Libra: Oct. 31 – Nov. 23
The Lame One – Personality Traits – You are the artistic type and have a difficult time dealing with reality. Though Librans are usually very talented, they lack the drive to get out of bed, let alone make up their minds. Chances for employment and monetary gain are iffy. If you’re male, you’re probably queer. Most Librans die of venereal disease. You will never amount to anything, so save yourself the hassle. You should kill yourself now.

Scorpio: Nov. 24 – Nov. 29
The Addict – Personality Traits – You are shrewd in the business world and should not be trusted. You shall achieve the pinnacle of success because of your total lack of ethics. “Screw Thy Neighbour” is your motto.You are a perfect son-of-a-bitch. Most often, Scorpios are murdered. Good thing your sign is only 5 days long!

Ophiuchus: Nov. 30 – Dec. 17
The Promiscuous One – Personality Traits – You have an inventive mind but are wary of taking risks which might better your lot in life. You cannot be trusted in matters of the heart. You are a screw-about and would do a rolling doughnut if given half a chance. You are quick tempered, impatient, and scornful of advice. You have tendencies to be a hypochondriac and will probably die of an as yet undiscovered venereal disease.

Sagittarius: Dec. 18 – Jan. 19
The Secretive One – Personality Traits – You are optimistic and enthusiastic but you never ask for advice and usually make dumb decisions. You keep secrets from everyone – including yourself! You have a reckless tendency to rely on luck since you have absolutely no talent. The majority of Sagittarians are drunks or potheads. People laugh at you a lot because you are always getting yourself screwed in every way except the way you want.

Well! That's it for today.

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This is the best I can do until I figure out how to do it the right way. Nealbo 

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