27 June 2007

Snow in Johannesburg!

A cold front moved through South Africa yesterday. Snow in the mountains of SA and Lesotho is not unusual. Snow in Johannesburg is! It was 1C (33.8F) in Jo’burg last night, and only 7C (44.6F) INSIDE my house! A high of 10C (50F) was expected today, and the temps will be up into the mid-teens tomorrow.

See photos at http://tinyurl.com/ys4a7o

25 June 2007

Pilanesberg National Park

This past weekend, Lisa and I loaded up the car on Friday afternoon and drove to Pilanesberg National Park (also called Pilanesberg Game Reserve; I can’t figure out which is correct). See (http://www.pilanesberg-game-reserve.co.za/index.html and (http://www.tourismnorthwest.co.za/pilanesberg/index.html). Kristian Collins, the University of Alabama law student who is doing an internship in Pretoria for 8 weeks, had hoped to go with us, but she has friends in Pietermaritzburg who couldn’t see her any other weekend but this one.

We stayed at the Bakgatla lodge on the northeast side of the park. The baKgatla were a tribe in that area. I think it was also the name of a territory in what is now Botswana. We had a self-catering chalet that had a small kitchen, small lounge, double bed in the one bedroom downstairs, one bath, and three single beds in the loft upstairs. Friday we paid the winter special, but Saturday turned into peak season. I think this is because it’s winter, and the game viewing is supposed to be easier during winter because the grasses are dead. Lisa and I observed that the grasses may be dead, but they are still standing and, therefore, still obstruct views!

I’d been wanting to go to Pilanesberg because everyone says it is closer to Jo’burg than Kruger, and has just as many animals. In the end, Lisa and I decided that Kruger is really better, and worth the extra distance. Still, we had a good time and saw lots of animals and interesting birds.

Animals: white rhino, elephant, hippo, mongoose, zebra, giraffe, blue wildebeest, vervet monkey, baboon, and several kinds of buck, including red hartebeest, impala, kudu, steenbok, waterbuck, tsessebe.

Birds: enormous grey louries (we have these in Jo’burg, but they grow them a lot bigger at Pilanesberg!), blue waxbill (so petite and cute!), black-collared barbet (beautiful), black-eyed bulbul, African darter, green-backed heron, forktailed drongo, Natal francolin, dark chanting goshawk, African hoopoe, yellow-billed hornbill, red-billed oxpecker, crimson-breasted boubou (or shrike; also really beautiful), red-faced mousebird, Swainson’s francolin, crested francolin.

Photos from Pilanesberg National Park

Sunset over Pilanesberg.

Lisa Glenn's mom and sister visited recently. Katie, the sister, didn't love guinea fowl. It's a bird with polka dots and a blue head -- what's not to love?!

This was either a crested francolin or common quail, I'm not sure. One of them had a club foot and had become quite adept at begging food from humans.

A red hartebeest.

The red hartebeest grazes near a blind on Mankwe dam.

Young giraffe.

He looks like he's smiling, doesn't he?

A white rhino with some kind of fungus on his belly.

In SA, they call the white stripes painted on the road to indicate a pedestrian walkway a "zebra crossing". Here's a real zebra crossing!

Some of the big grey louries, also called the go-away bird. Not because his call sounds like those words, but because a particular call of his warns other animals that a predator is around.

An African darter dries his feathers.

An enormous, old elephant. The breeding herd was about 5K away. He'd been set out to pasture, so to speak.

Some hippos napping in the sun.

A skinny white rhino.

Female kudu.

Vervet monkeys and guinea fowl line the road.

This monkey seemed to be posing.

Another pod of hippos in the sun.

One of them moves around.

Yellow-billed hornbill. Isn't he the Guiness bird?

16 June 2007

NASIG 2007 in Louisville, Kentucky

The North American Serials Interest Group, or NASIG, is by far my favorite professional organization. Its one thousand members (plus or minus) make it far less unwieldy than, say, the American Library Association with its 65,000+ members. Of course, not nearly that many members attend the annual ALA conference. But at an attendance of 22-24,000 librarians, ALA is still a whole lot more complex than NASIG.

But it’s not just the size of NASIG or of its conferences that I appreciate. The concerns of the organization are so relevant to my job, and are reflected in the excellent programs of the conference.

Not only that, but the conferences are a whole lot of fun! The longer I’m involved in NASIG, the more people I meet and the more friends I make. That, in itself, makes attendance at the conference feel a little like a reunion. Couple that with the worthwhile programs, and going to NASIG feels more like a vacation than work!

Often, tours of the conference city are offered. This is a nice benefit. So often, I go to an interesting city for a conference and see little beyond the convention center, my hotel room, and maybe a few good restaurants. Some of these photos were taken on my tour of Louisville.

Barge traffic on the Ohio River.

Beautiful restored old buildings in downtown Louisville, near the Michael Graves-designed Humana Building.

Tree guards in front of old buildings designate two things. First is that it is one of the many "cast iron buildings" in downtown. Second, the tree guard (all designed by local artists) indicates the nature of the original business establishment. In this example, the original merchant in this building was a cobbler.

Main Street in Louisville.

The facades of these old buildings have been saved and will be used as the new entrance to the existing Muhammand Ali Museum (one block behind).

Cool wrought iron door handles at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft.

According to the guide, one of the best examples of cast iron architecture in the U.S.

The Louisville Slugger Museum. Next door is a plate glass company. Notice the faux baseball going through a faux window?

Our tour guide in front of a statue of Louis the XVI, for whom the city was named.

Louisville City Hall, completed in 1873.

Sunset over Corn Island and the Ohio River.

NASIGers enjoying a river cruise.

The city of Louisville from the Indiana side of the Ohio River.

Alice Rhoades performs for a full house during the Open Mic event.

Eleanor, Teresa and Susan sing along.

Blythe plays flute and Katy tries to lead the sing along.

Four Chinese-American librarians beautifully sing a traditional Chinese song. I hope they do more next year!

Sweet Home Alabama

As I pointed out in my 4th March 2006 post (http://katyginanni.blogspot.com/2006/03/south-africa-has-not-joined-european.html), my trip to Alabama last month didn't have much to do with my time in South Africa. But I've decided to post some photos for those of you who may not ever have been to Alabama. I'm thinking of my family in California, and friends in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and so on. And certainly the ones of you in South Africa!

The annual conference of the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) was scheduled for 30 May - 3 June in Louisville, Kentucky. I went home early so that I could attend the wedding of my friend, Allyson Ard, in Fairhope, Alabama on 19th May. I rented a car in Birmingham and made the four hour drive to the coast on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful spring day.

The next weekend, Memorial Day weekend, was the Acoustic Café (http://www.theacousticcafe.com/). This is a small, one-day (mostly) bluegrass festival hosted by Steve Masterson. Debbie and I have been volunteering for several years now, and I was really happy to be home for this, too. The weather couldn't have been better, and the show was great, too!

Cypress swamp and railroad.

Dari Delite (soft serve ice cream) -- very common sight in a small Southern town.

Private piers and boathouses on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay.

The insanely picturesque Sacred Heart Chapel, an old Catholic church (built in 1880, I think), was the scene of the wedding. Its front entrance looks out onto Mobile Bay.

Allyson Ard, the beautiful bride.

More piers and live oak trees.

The reception band included a banjo -- my kind of band!

Allyson and Francis Zellner dance.

Sunset over Mobile Bay.

The groom's family invited guests to brunch the next day. This is their home, which Malcom (the father) built. The Spanish moss hanging from the trees is a parasite, but still lovely.

Quaint downtown Fairhope, Alabama.

The municipal pier in Fairhope.

An old and beautifully restored home in Fairhope.

Most creeks this small don't have boathouses. But this creek is just a couple hundred yards away from the bay.

Memorial Day weekend at the Acoustic Café, where Steve takes a refreshing (and safe) dip in the pool.

The stage at Acoustic Café. It is quite literally in Steve's front yard.

Headliner Peter Rowan plays with the wonderful up and coming Dread Clampitt. If you're a bluegrass or acoustic music fan, keep an eye out for these boys!