Monday, May 09, 2016

Animal anti-cruelty league

Joanna, my Boss.
On Friday a group of the ladies in the sales and design department upstairs and I went to volunteer at the Animal anti-cruelty league premises. When I say we went to volunteer that's not entirely correct, more like we went to play with the kittens and puppies. Me? Well as usual I took my camera with and spent most of my time behind the camera taking shots of the ladies with the various animals. They are of course all candid shots, well most of them anyway.
The Animal anti-cruelty league does good work when it comes to taking care of the animals that get neglected here in South Africa where there seems to be a growing problem in this area. The animal anti-cruelty league however assists with education at schools, mobile clinics in the less affluent areas and with prosecution in cases of cruelty. They also run an adoption program, two puppies were adopted while we were there on Friday which is very heartening. There are also the facilities to house animals while they are waiting for adoption.I must tell you that for me this was a very traumatic visit. Seeing animals who have been abandoned and now spend their days in a cage just breaks my heart.
Pooja, one of the designers
We must have spent about two hours looking at kittens, some time in the senior's enclosure which was interesting. There was a white old lady there who didn't seem very interested in anyone for the first few minutes. But when I went into the enclosure she suddenly perked up and visited everyone. Cats are very weird creatures, very independent, I love it. After that, puppy time in the "Freedom Village. Here we sat with a bunch of Labrador puppies with the group slowly getting smaller and smaller as they were adopted. This is where I got most of my pictures because the girls were kind of in one place without moving around like excited children, which they really are.
My better pictures, in my opinion, were the close up images, I have this thing about filling the frame and composing my pictures with less wasted space. When the subject is moving round like a crazy thing it does get tough to get nice pictures, it all has to do with shutter speed. People, it seems, move around a lot so a shutter speed of no slower than one fiftieth of a second works much better. This means a lot of fiddling with ISO and aperture to get the right exposure.
Lauren, one of the sales ladies.
 This was a Friday afternoon and if you are anything like me you tend to look forward to the weekend and Friday is the start  so visitors were scarce, maybe two or three couples, but out of those few people at least two puppies were adopted.
One of the interesting aspects of visiting the kittens was having to wash your hands between handling different kittens. There is a disease going round in Johannesburg called F.I.D.S., Feline immune deficiency syndrome, AIDS for cats, which is very contagious so in order to protect the kittens there is no touching one kitten then another,wash your hands first. The "Cages" the kittens are in have a glass window on one side, maybe I should clarify that, more like a glass wall so visitors can view them, with a passage between. What was nice about this arrangement was that no one can touch the kittens without supervision, you can imagine a whole bunch of school kids trooping through this facility, what a nightmare to keep control of.
Dog cages on the right with the senior centre on the left
 Another thing that really impressed me was the cleanliness of the whole place, it was spotless. They really do provide a loving and caring service to those little ones who have had such a hard time previously, very admirable. Progroup, the company I work for, will be donating an exhibition stand to Animal Anti-cruelty League for the upcoming W.O.D.A.C exhibition. I haven't seen any pictures of the stand yet but I'm sure it will be superb. In certain countries they call them Booths but here we refer to them as show stands. W.O.D.A.C. refers to the World Of Dogs and Cats.
Lelo having a blast
When Lelo joined Progroup a couple of months ago we had two kittens in the offices upstairs and she wanted nothing to do with them. For some reason she had never interacted with cats before and was terrified of them, that was about to change. Over the next couple of weeks, when the kittens came to sit on her lap, she got used to them and fell in love, as happens with kittens. On this particular day she learned that puppies really like her too. They would follow her all over the place and she landed up falling in love all over again. Crimelda on the other hand was already in love with dogs and she immediately made plans to come back in the week to adopt a puppy.
Crimelda listening very intently

Unfortunately Crimelda didn't want her photograph taken and so I only have two pictures of her while listening to the facility manageress discussing the problem they were having to deal with with regards to one little puppy. She's a very bubbly and alive person.
Sam was there too and she was so happy to be playing with the animals it was quite touching, all she wanted me to do was take pictures of the puppy she was holding. A sweet girl with a very sweet little puppy to cuddle with.
Sam the designer in a happy place.

The other lady in the group is Ciara, also a designer. With her things went a bit differently. Ciara is new to the company and is the person who is doing the design for the Animal Anti-cruelty League show stand. She studied design at some university or other but was lacking, according to her, in one specific area, photography. She was chatting to me about not having a camera and even if she did have one she wouldn't be able to use it, no idea how. Well, you can imagine, this was just up my alley, I love photography, as you already know, and I know how to use a camera. It wasn't long before she was doing all the right things and clicking away, after a very few instructions that is. Her pictures were not the best to start with but it didn't take long before they were nearly spot on. Well done Ciara.
Ciara, another designer and budding cameraman
The people who run this facility were very friendly and obviously care a huge amount about the animals in their custody, which is something so many people neglect to do in their homes. I'm going to post a whole lot of pictures from that day so you can take a look at the place and be heartened to know that there are real people out there that really do care. For now, blessings and love from Geoff in Johannesburg in South Africa.

The A-Z challenge, a reflection post.

This year I once again took part in the April A-Z blog challenge started by Lee at Tossing It Out. There are once again a few observations I made during the month of April. Firstly and most important, write about something you know a lot about. I wrote about all things associated with Space Exploration and discovered I know very little about this area of research. Yes I did learn a huge amount while doing research for my posts but, since I don't have a computer anymore and had to do all my research at work, I spent way too much time on the internet and not enough time taking care of business. Another thing that I noticed was the lack of comments I got and the scarcity page views. I do know the reason for this; you have to visit other blogs in large quantities to get visitors. Since I only have access to the net at work this was impossible for me. I do enjoy writing posts but visiting other blogs is also one of my favorite pastimes, you all seem to write so well and about such interesting subjects and of course there have been many times I've burst out laughing while reading your posts however, it is difficult to find the time during lunch or tea time to get to many of your blogs.
My recommendations with regards to writing 26 posts in a month? Well, next year, If I'm still alive and taking part again I think I'll write about Africa again, I know this place and love it. I'll also try harder to visit more blogs and see what other people are writing about, it's fun. One other thing I will absolutely do is get my computer fixed, well let me rather say I'll get it back from the guy who was supposed to sort it out and send it to a professional.
That's enough about that for now. I'm off to the Animal Anti Cruelty League to volunteer with a couple of the ladies from the office to go and play with the animals and do whatever else we can to help. I'll publish pictures on my next post. For now, blessings and salutations, Geoff.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016


                     A candle burning on Earth       A candle flame in zero gravity.                    
Image source for Zero gravity candle flame. Source
Yesterday was holiday here in South Africa, May day, or worker's day. That meant I was without a computer, I only am able to blog while at work. Anyway this post is my final A-Z challenge post. I looked for something to write about last week but didn't find any inspiration with regards to the letter Z. There is of course the Zodiac, constellations of stars that appear in the sky in certain seasons but which some people tend to base their lives on this appearance so that didn't appeal to me much. I looked at some stars with their names beginning with the letter "Z" but they didn't inspire me either. This morning I made up my mind to get this post written and so have settled on Zero.
The word Zero means nothing at all, it must be such a lonely word. Imagine if your name had such a lowly meaning and everyone thought absolutely nothing about you. Just joking. There is actually very little to prove that Zero even exists.
I read an article about some scientists, I think in Germany, who got temperatures in an experiment to below absolute Zero, the state where atoms are supposed to stop moving altogether. They are now trying to use this sub-absolute Zero state to build, or at least design, an engine that is more than 100 percent efficient. Check this out.
The reason I started this post was that I was thinking about Space and Zero Gravity, but Zero Gravity doesn't exist. There is something known as nano-gravity, gravity less than a millionth of normal gravity. When a space craft orbits the Earth it is Earth's gravity that holds it there. What is in fact happening is that the spacecraft is falling towards the Earth at a specific rate all the while moving forward in an arc that ensures it never hits the Earth, not all that complicated. If we get away from nano-gravity for a moment and consider gravity in outer space to have zero effect then things start to get interesting. In the image about the candle in air under normal Earth gravity burns with an upright yellow flame while in air under Zero Gravity the flame goes into a dome shape and becomes almost invisible, why is that. Well scientists who carried out these experiments say that because of the lack of gravity there is no reason for the hot gas to rise and so it just hangs around the wick until the candle goes out. Fire in Zero Gravity is self extinguishing, it just goes out.

Add caption
There is a way to get "Weightless" here on Earth. You can fall down a mine shaft, not a very pleasant experience one would think, or you can get a ride on the "Vomit "Comet." But, truth be told neither is Zero Gravity, just weightlessness. A lot of movies are shot in this strange air craft and a lot of celebrities have been up for fun including Stephen Hawking. There are some serious side effects that have come to light as far as Zero Gravity  is concerned. Firstly people who are in a weightless environment for extended periods suffer from bone mass loss, muscle dis-trophy, vision problems and brain damage. No, I'm not going on that mars mission, I would arrive a brain dead vegetable who is weak and blind.
Further to all of that, I get zero for not having this post published before the challenge ended. "O"
I did write posts for all the letters but was a late finisher so won't consider myself an A-Z Challenge survivor.
Blessings to everyone and may God keep you firmly grounded, Geoff.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Yellow Dwarf Star, Our Beautiful Sun.

Our yellow dwarf star, the Sun. Image source
Trying to find a subject beginning with"Y" was looking like quite a challenge when I got to work this morning but I still had to deal with the letter "X" so I didn't spend too much time thinking about it. After publishing the "X" post I had to get back to work, things were a bit hectic. Later on things calmed down and I had a little time to search for some "Space" subject beginning with the letter "Y". The first thing that popped up was Yellow Dwarf Star and lo and behold, Our sun is a Yellow Dwarf. I've heard this before so was not too surprised about the fact and decided this was the star I wanted to write about, I haven't written about our sun yet so here goes.
Believe it or not our sun is one of the brightest stars in the Milky-way being brighter than about 85% of the stars. Most stars in the Milky-way are known as red dwarfs with only about 5% of the stars in our galaxy being bigger than the sun. One wonders why they would call it a dwarf if almost everything else is smaller than our sun. It's known to be a very hot and young star with temperatures reaching as high as 15.7 million degrees centigrade in the center. The light, and of course the heat from the sun takes just a little over eight minutes to reach us. We are quite a long way from the sun, for which I'm actually grateful, 150 000 000 kilometers.
The sun has this eleven year cycle it goes through with sunspots and coronal mass ejections appearing when it's most active and being almost uniform when it's at it's most peaceful. We are told that the sun comprises mostly Hydrogen which is changed into Helium through nuclear processes. This process which creates sunlight and warmth, which is completely free by the way, is what has sustained all life on this little world ever since God created it. Thank you Lord.
People have known just how important the sun is for a few years now, they have even built entire societies and civilizations worshiping it and in some instances gotten into a whole lot of trouble for that. God got quite annoyed with the Egyptians, the Israelites and a few other wayward peoples. Worship God, not the sun silly people.
There is a very well written and interesting article in Universe Today about the sun that is well worth taking a look at.
Well it's once again time for me to get back to work. Blessings to everyone and have a fantastic weekend, Geoff.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X-ray Telescope

The Chandra X-ray Space Telescope. Image Source
Some times scientists use different types of telescopes to view what is going on in the Universe, there are Radio Telescopes, Optical Telescopes, Gama ray Telescopes and then there is something that sees in x ray vision, the Chandra X-ray Space Telescope. The reason for all these different methods is because not everything can be seen with the naked eye. You can't see electricity but it's there, no doubt about it. You can't see X-rays either but they are also there, that's why you can get pictures of your bone structure without seeing or feeling anything, but there they are.
Yesterday was a public holiday in South Africa and therefore I was not at work nor could I publish a post for the "X" letter in this April Challenge. I did however hear some, in my opinion,stupid person saying that if he can't see something or feel it then he doesn't believe in it. There was a discussion going on about the reality of the existence of God. I thought "How stupid can you get?" Mankind has been around for thousands of years but only discovered the ability to use X-rays about a hundred years or so ago. And once we started using this new found invisible and unfelt energy that has been affecting mankind for millennia we started looking for ways to utilize it. This has taken some of the keenest minds but the results have proven to be spectacular.
Now, getting back to the stupid conversation I mentioned before; Jeremiah 29 verse 13 states, "If you look for me you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart and all your soul I will let you find me." Wouldn't you think that all those people who spend their whole lives searching for ways to explore the universe with energy source detectors that haven't been been utilized before would take just a little time to seek God, the true source of all these energies including the very life force that has allowed them to spend so much time looking at the way the Universe works? Man, some people are so sure of their own brilliance, it really annoys me no end. Anyway enough about stupidity, lets get back to "X."
The Earth's atmosphere is opaque to X-rays so any observatory must first be lifted into orbit beyond the atmosphere. These observatories are there to observe far off objects in a spectrum that isn't visible to other telescopes. How these telescopes work is a bit different to other telescopes in that the light isn't passed through a lens but instead reflected off angled mirrors to a collector. very clever and interesting.
how things work. Image source
I need to get back to work again. We have an exhibition stand going up in Cape Town today and these people are stressing me out big time. I'm not there, I'm still in Johannesburg a thousand miles away and as far as I know everything went down with the truck. Man, this job can be very trying :)
Anyway here's to more time with God and less time stressing. Blessings and love to all, Geoff.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wind Space craft

the wind spacecraft, image source
I've never even heard of this Spacecraft before but what I've learned about it's mission has fascinated and enthralled me. This spin stabilized spacecraft was launched in 1994 by Nasa and put into an orbital point between the sun and Earth where the gravity of each of the two bodies counteract each other in such a way that the spacecraft can orbit in conjunction with both bodies. This point is called a Lagrangian point. The reason for doing this was so scientists could study the radio and plasma goings on before they reach our magnetosphere.
Very interesting. This little spacecraft is still there doing it's thing and revealing some very interesting characteristics of what is going on ahead of our bow wave, magnetic bow wave that is.
I have known about our magnetospherical bow wave for a long time now but always thought it was relatively uniform with not much interesting going on there, wow, was I wrong.
Just look at all those squiggly waves. Image source
  You have probably seen representations of what this bow wave looks like at some time in you life and how they protect you from the radiation given off by the sun but they didn't look anything like this. The Wind spacecraft has been studying these waves now for more than twenty years and helping scientist to understand how some waves and particles get through this shock wave and how some just get turned around and sent off at huge velocities.
I highly recommend a bit of delving into this tiny crafts accomplishments, there is quite a lot written about this data in scientific journals. It does make fascination reading.
When I got home last night I was chatting to my daughter about writing blog posts about space. I turned to her and said, "What on earth does one write about space starting with the letter "W"? Without batting an eyelid she said Wall-E. I was as surprised as can be, I didn't even think about writing about a movie. I told her that I'd never even seen the movie Wall-E and she replied that we could watch it while having dinner, she has the DVD and so while eating grilled vegetables and chops we watched Wall-E.
Pixar's Wall-E image source
I did enjoy the movie but found it a bit disturbing in some respects, the fat people and the sadness of Wall-e got to me.
I decided not to write about it but instead decided to write about the Wind spacecraft, a lot less disturbing in my opinion and far more fascinating.
God has put this huge unseen bubble around Earth to ensure that we are protected from any disaster that could come from outer space, thank you Lord.
From me to you, blessings and good health, Geoff in South Africa.