Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Me and The GOOGLE

I find it so amazing how much information is at our fingertips just through The GOOGLE.. I mean have you really just sat and gone wow…what isn’t there out there that I can’t find out about through the internet. Maybe I am suffering form some serious delayed action but …. Yooooooo…the internet is hectic.

You can be sick and The GOOGLE can cure you. The other day I was suffering form a very bad headache and stiff neck. So I got onto THE GOOGLE and typed “stiff neck and headache” and BAM..there hundreds of diagnosis. I read through pages and pages of possible symptoms that could add onto what I thought I had. I went form sinusitis, to hey fever to meningitis. What worried me was that one article said “suffering form a headache and stiff neck are key symptoms of possible meningitis. Brrrrrr… I started to sweat just reading it. Then I read Fever…and for sure I was having a fever. Okay maybe I didn’t have the symptom of bad vision wasn’t going bad. The thing that truely saved me form diagnosing myself with meningitis was when I read “ If you are feeling a bit mental and are not thinking straight.” Well I don’t think I think straight every day but I was sure I was thinking straight on this day…I mean I was diagnosing myself using the internet….there should be some sanity in that right. J I concluded that is was definitely sinusitis and began using The Googles at home curing remedies of draining my sinuses with Water and salt. ..no I didn’t but the thought did cross my mind.

My absolute favourite thing to do on THE GOOGLE is finding recipes. But this requires a great amount of skill because you got to know exactly what you are searching for. My tip is to start with what you have in your fridge…that way you save yourself from driving to the shops. So say you only got Bacon and Broccoli. Well you just type that in THE GOOGLE and look through what comes up. You will find stir -fry bacon and broccoli to creamy bacon and broccoli casserole. Now what I am about to tell you next is absolutely crucial in succeeding with hunting for recipe…..You must add THE BEST to the beginning of your recipe. So type “THE BEST BACON AND BROCOLLI SALAD!” That puts you in a whole new playing field. Once you have gone through the best of the best Bacon and broccoli salads…..you simply print it and call your self SHEFF Ala Kanya!

Whenever I can’t figure out how to do something at work….I head to THE GOOGLE and just say it as it is. “How to mosaic classified images using…!” and BAM I find myself reading through forums of other idiots like myself trying to solve the same problem. It really makes me think…if I got a ridiculous question …..I am positive someone else in this world has asked the same ridiculous question on The Google and some saviour has answered the question on The Google. Although I often think to myself, “who has time to be answering such questions?”

Basically I just wanted to express my excitement for The Google.
..I know its not called THE GOOGLE. Just wanted to clarify that J.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Encounters with a Stranger

Meeting a stranger can always be interesting, and life changing if you take the time to listen. I truly believe that people come into our lives for a God given reason. You may not think of it at the time but each stranger we meet is like a puzzle piece to Gods master piece, but only time will allow you to realise it. The following blog is about how I took the time to listen to a stranger and where it took us both.

The day I met Fransisca wasn’t exactly the best day of my life. I was two weeks into my new job, I was adjusting to the traffic from Jozi to Pretoria, and on this Saturday I had to go into the office. After dropping my husband off at North-gate and asking my dad for some petrol money, I had to wait for my sister to come meet me there. It was a hot day, I was broke and depressed about working on a Saturday.

Then this young lady started to approach me and I wasn’t exactly in the mood to chat. But something came over me like the Holy Spirit whispering “Kanya all I ask is that you listen to her.” ....grrrrrr. So I asked God to help me listen because from what I could see…she looked rough around the edges, lots of make-up, short twist, denim jacket. She greeted me and began to tell me about her life, where she came from, who she was living with, how she was looking for a job, how it wasn’t easy. Something a lot of us have all heard before…but there was something different in this conversation. I began to talk about how I knew how hard it was to look for a job….But if I was struggling and had a Masters degree, how much more harder was it be for a girl with only O’levels. I told her I was only looking for someone to work for me for one day and she could come for an interview. By this time I had already interviewed 3 ladies, none of which were right for the job.

When I got into the car that day I briefly stepped into Gods world, I suddenly got flashes of her life, I got scared thinking how close prostitution could be..drugs. I got reminded about my prayer for a job, my frustrations with life and I began to realise how they were all nothing compared to hers. It was like at that moment I was touched by the compassion of God….. It was as if God was showing me how his puzzle of life worked and that this was just one puzzle piece. My blessing of having a job wasn’t for ME, MY LIFE MY NEEDS, MY DEBTS, MY DREAMS. No not at all. It was all for Gods Kingdom, Gods people. It was like God was giving me a glimpse at His BIGGER PICTURE but this was only one puzzle piece put in my heart by a stranger.

It is over 7 months later and Fransisca is like my daughter or my sister. We talk to each other about everything…from getting married, to contraceptives to loving your husband. She grew from working once a week with me to a full week of working for my friends and family. I realised later that she was a Christian and had been praying for a job just like me. We have both opened up our hearts to each other and have experienced so much more than we have ever imagined if we hadn’t met. We both know that it wasn’t in our own doings that got us to where we are today but Gods doing. There is so much more too her and I tell her that! Cleaning houses is only a stepping stone to what God has in store for her. But only time will tell and more puzzle pieces will be added to the puzzle of life.

Red Bull Cart Race: Jiva Inkunzi team

Tomorrow, 24th Sept 2010, marks one of the most exciting events in Soweto, The Red Bull Cart Race. This is a race where selected teams build home made carts and race them down a street in Soweto. Yup a good day of family fun. Don't ask how we got involved....it just started off with a small idea "hey why don't we......" and a month later the team is ready to race in a custom made (homemade) cart.

Now the rules of the race are simple: your cart can’t have an engine, it must have more than 2 wheels, a hooter and breaks. The rest is up to the teams imagination...and from what I have seen some teams go while...One team is called Booty Call and the cart is shaped like a boot (according to the sketch) To begin, all potential teams had to send in a sketch of what their cart will look like. Then Red Bull selects which carts will race on Sept 24th, 2010. This is the sketch we sent in:

Then the details are added…like team name, dance routine, d├ęcor ect. Our team name is Jiva Inkunzi which means dancing bull :). The core team consists of Avon (my husband), Reagan (brother inLaw), Elton (Avons Cousin) and Bradly (Avons other cousin). This team of great coloureds have been working intensively in developing a name for themselves. This type of branding came almost naturally to them, the choice of colours was pink and blue, the logo is a dancing bull, the cart is full of character and charisma. However; truth be told….none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the Engineer uncle Eric himself. He knew exactly how to weld the cart together.

Last night I got to witness the final product. The cart was super cool and was exactly like the sketch we had envisioned at the beginning of the competition. We also went through our dance routine (which has to be withing 30seconds). From the looks of it the Jiva Inkunzi team was ready to show Soweto what they were all about. Form head to toe there personalities and dance moves just oozed with coolness…… Meet the team:
From top left: Avon Elton Bradly Reagan (bottom)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kanya’s Top 10: You know you live in Craigavon when?

I know some of you will relate to these top 10: You know you live in Craigavon when? But only if you live in the Craigavon Suburb. For those of you who don't live here this will give you and idea of some of the funny situations we go through. With all the little problems..we can only find humour in it all. Enjoy

  1. You have large bottles of water stored for the “just in case the water doesn’t come on days.” And you do dishes every night because you get haunted by the time when you didn’t have water for 3 whole days and your dishes began to grow things.
  2. Phone signal can only be picked up in certain areas of your apartment.
  3. You believe you are the unknown neighbours security guard because you back door looks over their large house. And you are still trying to figure out what exactly they do to live in such a house because they never leave.
  4. You get concerned when there is a different beggar at your regular intersection.
  5. Purchasing sunglasses and phone chargers on Witkoppen or William nicol is a quite a bargain.
  6. You grocery shop on Thursday and Friday nights because you know on Saturday Morning between 10am and 2pm…cedar avenue is way to stressful for your weekend. But you can deal with it during the week.
  7. You have a gym membership but only use it to go shower when the water stops flowing.
  8. You get disappointed when the billboard has changed from a pretty lady advertising a drink, to a pink Vanish advertisement selling stain remover. Its like contamination of your visual space….could the bottle get any pinker.
  9. You can’t wait for the rainy season because paying R60 a week for a car wash is starting to affect your budget.
  10. You wouldn’t be caught dead walking to Fourways mall which is less than 2km away but you will run around your block 4 times to get your exercise.

    And here is the bonus one:
  11. 11. You have a “lights out radar” when you drive home. If you are driving on your way home for dinner and the lights are out at Cedar Square you can guarantee you don’t have electricity. You are able to instantly strategise where to find your next meal.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Have your cake and eat it too..Lies!

After a hectic weekend of craving cake, I could not resist an invite, from Marcia, to a treat at Isebella's bakery/restaurant (Pretoria).

Marcia had warned me about the cakes from this shop and she was so right, this was not your average piece of cake. It was beautiful, it even smelt good, just sitting ther on my plate. As I sunk my teeth into the Turkish delight cake I could feel all my female sense come to life. Woooooooooo...... HELLO WORLD. The icing was rich with flavour, with hints of Turkish delight pieces hidden within it. I hadn’t tasted anything like it before. The moisture and texture oozed with perfection. I savoured each bite like a kid trying not to suck on a sweet for too long…just so it wouldn’t finish too quick. It was indeed a taste of heaven.

Two hours and 3 cups of earl grey tea later, it dawned on us that we were not young anymore….we couldn’t have our cake and eat it too…we were getting to the age where we have to pay the price of eating cake L. The older we were getting the more the cakes were staying with us.…. On the hips and thighs. Marcia and I laughed at how when we were in high school we would eat 6 slices of bread minimum….. and we would still be skinny and hungry. Gone are the days … Soo gone

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kanya the Remote Sensor

Well since it is lunch time and I feel like making my work sound more exciting than it really is…I thought I would write a blog about it.

So I am a remote sensor. Eek well remote sensing is the collection of information about objects/features without physically touching them. We carry out remote sensing every time we take a picture of someone….our camera captures the response of us based on what we reflect. Yes so you are also a remote sensors too.

But my type of remote sensing is a bit more complicated because instead of photographs I work with images generated from satellites. You are correct, satellites are those things that float around in space. There are a number of satellites that capture different types of information about our earth at different times. Tracker uses satellites to track where your car is a, a GPS uses satellites to provide us with location based information. Some satellites focus on climate others specialise in vegetation and so on. The really great satellites capture great detail spatially (measurement of a pixel – the smaller the pixel size the better) and spectrally (# of bands that the satellite captures information about – the more bands the better). These are the really expensive satellites and are required for exceptional precision and detail….we talking hyperspectral images where you can map what is beneath the ground.

I am currently using Landsat Satellite imagery to produce a basic Landcover map for a couple of African river basins. Landsat spatial resolution is 30m which isn’t the greatest because that is as zoomed in as you can get…30m. However Landsat has a pretty decent spectral resolution of 7 bands which allows you to capture more spectral information like types of vegetation. The other benefit of using Landsat is its affordability as it is freely available on the internet. However for projects such as mine I needed to purchase the imagery because all the images needed to be taken during the same time of the year and I needed them to be in the best condition as possible.

This job isn’t always easy. It requires good software to process the images, such as Erdas or Envi, which can be very expensive. Also a number of processes need to be achieved before your image can be classified. Now that I have gone through all the stages – like removing the atmospheric effects (Haze and clouds), geometrically correcting each image (so that they actually fit accurately on a map)…ect...I am now classifying the images.

Classification is probably the best part of my job. It would have been ideal if I had been in the field before I had started mapping. But due to budget constrains and the purpose of this map field studies prior to classification wasn’t needed. This is where Google earth becomes very handy as I am able to zoom into areas and confirm features/landcover types much quicker than I would have done in the field. I feel like I am flying around the world to places I have never been, observing cultivated fields, wetlands, rivers, lakes ect. I can imagine what it would be like to be on the ground some areas are just so remote I wonder if people have even touched the land there.

The benefits of being in my organisation is that I am able to confirm with in-house wetland experts and ecologist about features and landscape patterns that may not be familiar with to me. I need to make sure that the map I produce for the field visit is as accurate as I can get it. Later on this month our field experts will be going into the field to confirm if I got my classes correct. If not …it would be back to the drawing board.
So thats Kanya the remote sensor in a nut shell .

(The images in this blog show a river flowing over a different band of rock type which caused the river to braid). One image is from landsat(top) and the other is google earth (bottom). Notice the differences in resolution. ...google being more detailed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reflections: Past, Present, Future

I was very interested in an article I read in the August issue of Oprah Magazine. It was letters to famous/successful ladies younger self from their older self. I know that sounds complicated but simply put the letters were words of encouragement during the tough times of their careers when they were younger.

For example one story was of Founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. She writes encouragements of how although she may not look like all her friends…tall and blonde,….she is still unique and had other qualities. .. here is a quote from the letter
“Your feeling of uncertainty as you’re trying to figure out what your life’s passion is won’t go away over night. You’ll feel lost at university. One day your mom will ask, ‘If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?” You’ll say, somewhat hopelessly:” I’d go play with make-up at the cosmetics counter.” That’s when your mom will help you find Emerson College, where you’ll major in theatrical make-up”

She finished her letter by saying “Oh my God, if you’d told me when I was in high school that one day I’d take my eldest to Stanford University, That I’d be successful and have this amazing life, I’d never have believed it” Do you believe it now?

Isn’t it amazing how the struggles of our lives are actually the moments when we learn the most from God. It made me reflect on my “old self” and realise how confused I was at certain stages yet God was right there! When I was on my last penny and didn’t think I could finish my Masters (due to lack of motivation)…God pulled through. I remember sitting in my professors (Richard Kellys) office and crying (which I had done numerous times before), he said to me “Kanya I can see you one day Managing a Remote Sensing Department.” Yet here I am in a organisation which allowed me to build the department up from scratch…okay maybe it is a small department…but I must say I didn’t think I could have done it. When I didn’t believe I could love again he showed me how to love unconditionally.

After reading this I thought of my unpredictable future and imagined what my letter would be to myself now. Who would that “SOMEONE” be whoever she is I have no doubt that God would have used the ups and downs of today to weave me into a perfect quilt, with the colours and beads of a Kanya life.

Although I wrote this about me, my hope is that you would think of yourselves in this light. We all need to be encouraged and whatever it is you are going through there is a light! HIS time is so perfectly made for you just let GOD shine on your life.

Monday, September 6, 2010


The drive from Swaziland is 3.5 hours and the only way I can survive the journey is by playing "GAMES" with other drivers, but they don't know I am playing them. My favourite game is racing with Skoro Skoros (lousy cars) not the exceptionally slow ones because that’s just boring, but the ones that race past you down a hill and then struggle up a hill because of lack of VUMA, aka power. But the events of yesterday made me reconsider my Games.

As I was enjoying these games of mine one Skoro Skoro red truck car pulled up behind me while I was in the fast lane over taking. It would have been fine if he just relaxed but he decided to flash his lights franticly like he was in some major rush. GAME OVER for Kanya. I got so frustrated because I couldn’t move any faster coz there was a slower car in front of me and there were cars back to back on my left. I can completely understand if I was going slow in the fast lane….but IT WASN”T MY fault. So my game for entertainment purposes turned into a 1 hour …. “get back at the RED TRUCK”. Mean while Avon was fast asleep in the passenger side. This car was useless…. it couldn’t handle the hills at all. I managed to get to a point where I was in the fast lane and he was trying to over take me because now we were kind of going down hill but there was a BMW behind pushing him. I sped up, ever so slightly, just enough speed to irritate the guy behind him. The BMW was hovering and almost flashing his lights. I kept driving looking ahead as if I had no idea what was going on. But in my mind I was like …SEE HOW IT FEEL…SUCKER! I WIN J.

So we get of the N4 and travel on the N1 south to Wits Uni coz we had to drop of a Patrick (family friend who was passed out sleeping in the back). I was a lot calmer coz I had won the competition with the RED TRUCK. But just when I thought I was calm a White Van suddenly appears right at my tail, nearly kissing my ass. I was already going 120km/hour. Now that my passengers were awake I couldn’t express my anger to the Van, yet I let out a …”relax guy!”. But what I really wanted to do was raise my hand and pull down my glasses and give this guy a huge greasy (piercing look). This guy was in a serious hurry and as I watched his real skoro skorro van, with a plastic bagged back window, weave through the traffic I just thought, “what an idiot, I am not even going to play a game on you, coz you are going to cause an accident.”

Good thing I didn’t play and games because not even 5 minutes later on the M1 before the Empire exit I see serious action ahead in the fast lane. I was in the fast lane driving towards a scene where I saw someone pulling someone roughly out of the car. I thought for sure this was an accident. HECK NO because from the side profile I saw the biggest gun I have ever seen in my whole life. Now I am driving right towards it. I FREAK out. Put on my hazard lights…then realise by doing that I can’t switch into the left lane to avoid the action. It was like a movie. The Police were holding huge guns to the people who were driving the Skoro skoro Van. By this time the back window was out (Avon thinks someone tried to escape). My heart was racing because all I could think about was a SHOOT OUT. This was no GAME any more. Although I played the Game in my head. I would be the Hero who would shout “ GET DOWN!” and would speed through the traffic and bullets like I knew what I was doing.

Although technically I won the Game with the Skoro Skorro Van, I really reconsidered playing the game again. What if I did give the guys a huge greasy (look with piercing eyes)? That would be GAME OVER for Kanya.