Friday, April 17, 2009

Ballroom is hotting up

For those who watch the UCT Ballroom calendar Medal Tests are just around the corner. Extra lessons start on Sunday and we are set to have a truly awesome time this year. We're going Greek! The committee are also gearing up for Intervarsity and all it entails (the bane of my existence at the moment).

My thesis is slowly progressing with a multitude of stops and starts as problems arise. I am currently investigating the SMILE library for Bayesian Inference. I am not completely sold on the library and the API yet and am wondering if I should have stuck it out with PNL. I seem to have more problems than solutions currently. The nightmare continues.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Python for Nonprogrammers

The EGS Honours class at UCT has requested a course on programming and the research they are attached to (CSAG) has decided Python is the best introductory language for them. I have never taught Python to people who have never programmed before and especially ones who have already done an entire degree. How quickly can you move through the basic programming concepts? Do you assign it as homework before your first lecture? Any suggestions?

I have read through a Byte of Python but I am not convinced it covers the topics in enough depth. I as a programmer can breeze through the whole book without a qualm but I do not remember a time when I didn't know what a variable is or what an IO stream is.

We will see how well things go next week. I might be designing the lecture material yet again. Sigh. If nothing else, it is a challenge to see how well I can still teach the basics.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

IPL is here

I am super excited to attend the Indian Pro20 League games happening at Newlands next week. Due to election violence in India the entire tournament has been moved to South Africa. Something South Africans are ecstatic about. The games are sold out, space is going to be at a premium. Bring on the boundaries!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chocolate trails in Montague

The Easter weekend was chocolate filled and not in the normal way. Ever been rock climbing for your Easter eggs? No? I can officially cross that off my I Never list. It is the most bizarre experience. The first climber leads the climb with Easter eggs and hides them on the way down. The next finds his/her eggs on the way up and eats them and hides new eggs on the way down.

This weekend was the first time I have ever climbed, be it on a climbing wall or crag. I came away with more bruises that I would have liked and a healthier knowledge of the sport in general. I'm not sure it is quite my thing, I think it might be one of those things that could grow on me.

While away I bumped into a fair number of my research group, which begs the question, are most environmental scientists outdoor freaks or just this lot? Another weird fact, ask a climber if they dance, you will be surprised at the number that say yes. It seems there is a correlation between social ballroom/salsa and climbing. Both are social, both have a grading system of sorts. Ballroom however has smaller startup costs.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In a Goldfish bowl

I had the privilege of attending the last Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert of the season. Goldfish played to a sell-out crowd while the sun set over the mountains. I managed to miss all previous concerts in CT due to other commitments or still being in Michigan. While I enjoy their albums, I loved their live performance. They manage to get the crowd going and keep up the energy for the entire performance. I will definitely go to another of their concerts on their return to CT later in the year (They are playing in Ibiza for a month). This experience taught me not to write off a band just because their album sounds offay.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

You're only as old as you feel

Table Mountain is a truly beautiful venue to hold a champagne breakfast. I love going up the cable car every year on my birthday (for free) for either breakfast or sundowners. This year friends hiked up India Venster to meet me at the top. The view from above never gets hold, no matter how many years I have lived in Cape Town. I think we managed to freak out the tourists up there though. If you ever find yourself on top of Table Mountain near the compass, look for the manhole covers and jump on them. The compass is directly above the water drum. The hollow sound it makes when you jump on them is awesome.

My day continued with lunch with my grandparents and then drinks at Fat Cactus with friends. Frozen Margaritas are wonderful, as are cheesy nachos to soak up the alcohol afterwards. We finished the night with a UCT Ballroom social themed Grease. Big skirts with poodles, bows and slicked back hair was the order of the evening.

Celebrations continued the next day when I hosted my first ever dinner party. I think it was a great success (No one is allowed to comment otherwise). The menu included:
  • Butternut Soup with french bread
  • Deboned stuffed chicken with mixed vegetables and potato bake
  • Dark Orange Chocolate Mousse or Meringues with Ice Cream
  • Coffee and Biscotti
There weren't many leftovers...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sushi anyone?

Any sushi lover in Cape Town has to try Minato's off Long Street. This sushi restaurant tantalises the tastebuds and offers some of the most reasonably priced sushi around. The portion sizes are huge (I'm being serious when I say a dragon roll and a California roll will fill an adult male). The service however is quirky. You cannot arrive without a booking (Well you could try, you might be lucky), you may only order once at the beginning of the meal (One chef who closes the kitchen when he feels like it) and do not even suggest paying on separate cards. Once you have navigated the trials and tribulations of the ordering rules on the menu, page to the special rolls, they are out of this world (I have a friend who refers to them as sushigasms).