31 December 2016

My 2016


I don't know how this happens so swiftly every year, but in a blink of an eye, we're back to seeing out one year and welcoming in a new one. Since 31/12/2013 I have done my bit of reflection of the years that have left me, and now, I intend to do the same for 2016. 

In 2016, I learnt to grow as a person.
As a person, I think I have grown the most over this past year. I think several factors contributed to this: my last year of high school, 'ending' my 13 years of learning the violin, and establishing my values in the midst of it all. Academically, 2016 has been the toughest (and most rewarding) year of my schooling career thus far. At so many different point in the year things just got too tough, and pressure- mostly from myself to perform- became excruciating. However, in the most un-narcissistic way possible, I am proud of what I achieved and what I came to learn about myself.

In 2016, I established my core values.
In 2016, I further established and cemented my core values as a person. I don't claim that all of them are'set in stone'  but many of my former 'gray areas' have materialized into black and white. This has made my life easier and helped me to become a more assertive individuals--which is a 'must' for the career path that I am ensuing.

In 2016, I learnt how to love...and then un-love.
I mean the word 'love' in the broadest sense of the word: New and old friends were made and lost, long-lasting habits left and new habits formed and some hobbies hobbled out of my life whilst new ones made me feel like home. I decided to hang up my goggles and racing gear in the pool which shattered my heart, but I learnt to love the calm of training for the love of training. Similarly, I hung up my bow and strings, after playing the violin for 13 years- but played in my school's orchestra. My 16 year-strong habit of biting my nails was officially broken- this is a habit I proudly 'loved' and now 'unlove'

In 2016, I learnt to have self-belief.
Early on in 2016, the trust and faith in myself was compromised. Through the support of others and a lot of self-love, I emerged unscathed and stronger.

In 2016, I learnt what I want to do with the rest of my life.
I'm very very excited to be studying Journalism next year. I'm a very curious person who is very interested in how the media works with news stories and how people's perception of the media has changed.

2016 in Review

In my blog post, last year, about the same topic as I find myself writing about today, the new year, I had these wishes for 2016.
I did end up starting the year on a clean slate. It actually led to my first date, getting rid of a sour friendship and starting a new one. 
I mentioned earlier in this post how "I learnt to have self-belief" this year, I think this is in large part due to trusting myself.
Honestly, I probably could have done a lot better when it came to this one. However, 2017 is looking calmer, so it's okay. All my hard work and stress has paid off and now it's time to play!
In 2017, I look forward to a calmer year than 2016, in terms of school. In September, I will start my first year of university...in a country several thousand kilometers from where I am right now. I am so excited about discovering the crannies of a new city and new people... with killer accents (if I do say so myself). My wish for this coming year is to spend more time on my blog and really take the time and effort to produce posts that I am 100% proud of when I press 'publish'. If I gained more followers, that would just be a cherry on top of my creamy,  Social Spying cake.


My theme for 2017 is Make A Difference (Notice my use of the word 'theme' as opposed to 'resolution'- I stopped those long ago). I'm not sure in which aspect of my life this difference will come, but I hope it is in a space that I enjoy being in. I would really enjoy giving back to others in someway or making  a small but significant impact on someone in this world.

From the bottom of my pumping heart, I wish you everything of the best...and then so much more for the next 365 days that are to follow. To you and yours, I hope you have a year filled with an abundance of love, health and everything that is good and right in this world.


2015

For a look on my take of last new year, I decided to venture off paper and onto the inter web... onto this very blog. My hopes for this past year can be found here.

Till next time-
Steph

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You can find me here:

Instagram: @socialspying
Email: socialspying@gmail.com


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24 December 2016

Craft I Restaurant Review


Craft- Parkhurst, South Africa

 
Did you even go to Craft, in Johannesburg, if you didn't get the photograph of the milkshake to prove it? Nope. Since the opening of the originally Australian chain, in South Africa, my Instagram feed has frequently been graced with the presence of these mega, multi-coloured, milkshake monstrosities. I called up some friends of mine, just yesterday, and we decided to see if these #OhShakes (formerly known as #FreakShakes) taste as good as they look.

There are 3 options when it comes to these decadent delights:  The Candy Feast, The Chocolate Overload and the Salted Caramel Delight. And, my goodness! They are indeed a feasty overload of absolute delight! 

Being a lover of all things caramelized, condensed milk and cheesecake, I'll let you guess which option I ventured for...the Salted Caramel Delight. The salty-tasting, intertwining, convoluted network of caramelized goodness perched on top of the slice of cheesecake complemented the sweetness of the under layers of  overflowing cream, then white vanilla ice cream fused with condensed milk underneath. 


Criticism:
However, the excitement of the ice-cream, personally, did not do the actual taste justice. The vanilla flavoured ice-cream was quite plain and unexciting to my vanilla-sensitized taste buds. The presentation offered my eyes an experience. My taste buds weren't offered the same as I neared the ice cream.

My friend devoured the rainbow coloured Candy Feast which seemed appropriate for the summer's day in the ever sunny South Africa. Her dazzling delight was dotted with an array of colours that resembled a rainbow. The surrounding board was speckled with sprinkles which brought to mind the celebratory party popper emoji (🎉). The candy floss clouds and sherbet sticks called for the remembrance of childhood, fairs and amusement parks infused with the maturity of rose coloured cream drizzled in strawberry syrup with the same syrup and vanilla ice-cream underneath. I personally did not try this milkshake (or the third flavour, the Chocolate Overload) myself, but I have it on good accord that it was absolutely delicious!





Tis was almost the day before Christmas when we popped in for an #OhShake and still the restaurant was packed to the brim, just managing to declare the last table ours. The tables are in such close proximity, it was very easy to be apart of the conversation to our left (which largely consisted of swearing) and to our right which was a couple, presumably out on a date. The manager, who greeted us after being seated, our waiter and staff were so friendly and inviting. I would definitely go again- this time for the enticing food (which I could almost taste from my table neighbours).

I can officially say that I went to Craft...and I've got the photos to prove it.

Where to find them:
Craft restaurant offers so much more beyond milkshakes, too. If you'd like to experience this hipster, alternative yet cozy ambiance for yourself you can find them at 33 4th Avenue and 13th Street, Parkhurst, Johannesburg, South Africa or alternatively at www.craftrestaurant.co.za . 

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You can find me here:

Instagram: @socialspying
Email: socialspying@gmail.com

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7 December 2016

Wind-back Wednesday

I realize that it's not Thursday or Friday and can't blame 'Throwback Thursday' or 'Flashback Friday' for the post that is to follow, but alas, when I was on my week-long, sea-side getaway some friends and I cranked up our modern day stereo and jammed to some older tunes. Initially, a wave of mumbles and awkward sounds escaped from my mouth until I re-orientated myself to the rhythm, beat and lyrics of music lost to my ears.

Here are some Wind-back Wednesday songs which I hope you jam to loudly and proudly:

1. 2 Heads- Coleman Hall



2. Breakfast at Tiffany's- Deep Blue Something


3. Lemon Tree- Fool's Gold


4. I'm Yours-Jason Marz


5. Broken Strings- James Morrison ft. Nelly Furtado


I hope you've listened through some of these and enjoyed possibly hearing them again as much as I did.

Till next time-
Steph

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You can find me here:

Instagram: @socialspying
Email: socialspying@gmail.com

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4 December 2016

My Hour with a Stranger


Two days ago, myself and a group of friends were geared for a night out; My personal choice of attire for the evening was black leggings with a small gold zipper which runs longitudinally on either side of my calves, a grey, striped spaghetti-strapped top which I 'borrowed' from my sister's cupboard and made to fit with the help of two safety pins and all completed with my short-medium length hair down and my face dashed with the little skill of make-up which my skill set allows- namely, bass, blush and mascara. I thought this last night would be like most other nights out at this week-long festival- I could not have been more wrong.

The night started off the same way as every other: pre-drinks at our holiday apartments before heading out to the festival. Just like every other night, I was sober and my friends weren't. Jade, a pseudonym for all purposes of anonymity, over-consumed on a transparent alcohol, which I later learned was 'Red Square Vodka'. Jade was smashed! At some point- early on in this eventful night- she was spread out on the white marble floor of our apartment's patio exclaiming how excited she was for the night ahead. Not a single hour later, as my friends and I meandered out, Jade subtly whispered "Guys, I think I should stay home." I was impressed. Jade had the sensibility to stay at home in her drunken state.

A few moments later, after walking over and propping her into bed, a mixture of green and yellow with hints of asparagus and other vegetables (indicating her vegetarian diet) spewed out of her mouth, mottling the achromatic, clean white sheets beneath her. This was only the beginning of what was to come. I raced to a neighboring flat, who just so happened to have the door ajar, and asked for some help in moving my tall, well-built friend over to the bathroom- just a few meters away from the now dis-coloured bed- as my small, lanky body could not do alone. Jade was a sight to behold. Cathy and her boyfriend James, my new acquaintances and neighbours from across the yellow, brick-layered wall helped me lift Jade and drag her to the bathroom. Her hands hung loosely at her side whilst her cheek indented the toilet seat. Beads of sweat formed on her forehead, her nose and her check, before racing down her rosy, flushed face. Just then, she vomited again- completely missing the area of the rectangular toilet bowl and vomited off to her side and onto her unaware hand. There were so many hazards around; I was sure, if Jade wasn't going to die by alcohol poisoning, it would be a death by choking or head injury.

The small space which Jade found her self: placed between the open cupboard with several shelves behind her, the porcelain bowl of the toilet in front of her and the solid, slippery marble tile beneath her left a vast array of hazards with which to injure herself. James and Cathy had left and I was alone. Jade had to be moved somewhere safer, but I found myself unable to do so. My heart began to race and I could feel myself getting hot. I had to do something. I decided to call the 'Red Frogs' - which is an organisation overlooking this particular festival, consisting of volunteers who care for drunk people, offer friendship and guidance and make pancakes for those who are hungover. I tried to open the festival's app, to get the call centre's number, but of course due to Murphy's law my app froze. I could feel the panic in me starting to rise. A wave of calm rushed over me when I remembered that by luck, just the day before, I had seen my friend whom I haven't seen in a long time- and not friends with on Facebook anymore- leave my apartment building. She was a 'Red Frog' volunteer. Hence, in a last ditch effort and a moment of panic I resorted to finding her on Facebook and using Facebook Messenger to call her. She answered and I haven never been more grateful for a person answering a call than I was in that moment.

After 10 minutes, Brave Brandon jumped to my rescue. Brandon is short with a lean, strong build and a fully shaven head. After initial introductions And some grunting and moaning- both on our part and by Jade- she was placed back on the clean side of the bed, but only for a short while. 30 seconds later, vomit of the same green-yellow fusion spewed out once again.

After securing Jade, Brandon stayed with me for an hour. We spoke about what felt like everything with some but little bouts of awkward silence. We found similarities and differences between our lives and found commonality in places and experiences which we could both relate to. We shared awkward moments of laughter, jokes and stories which had we not been strangers, we probably would not have shared with one another. It's weird, but I think I had a better time having a meaningful conversation with a complete stranger than I would have if I had gone out partying like I had intended earlier that night. Sometimes, it's funny to think about how things work out.

As the hour drew to a close, I walked Brandon to the door with full knowledge that in all likeliness, I would never see him again, and Jade would never know the man who was there for her in her time of need. I shut the door and he walked away as so much more than the two strangers we had been just one hour before.

Jade woke up the next day and I explained the whole night to her...and what a night it was indeed!

Till next time-
Steph

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You can find me here:

Instagram: @socialspying
Email: socialspying@gmail.com

Yes, yes, I realize that I have already failed at Blogmas. I missed day 3! I'm sorry about that but I did admit that this would be a challenge for me. However, I'm still not giving up and will continue as normal until 25 December.
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2 December 2016

My 'Christmas Ship'

As I write this,  I overlook the Indian Ocean with several beams of light radiating from the anchored ships at sea.  I'm on holiday with a couple of friends to celebrate our finishing of high school.  A light breeze covers my body- and gently rocks the hammock beside me as I hear the crashing and roaring of the waves just below. Life is good.

This last year has been a tough one.  Sitting here- after what feels like the calm after a very tumultuous storm- makes this past year worth it.  As the ocean draws back and flings itself forwards,  I can't help but be proud of how far I've come this year- and proud to be at the point that I'm at- with not one single deadline in sight.

Whatever point that you're at now  take a moment to sit under the stars- without technology- and reminisce at how far you've come.  Some will have taken larger steps,  and some smaller,  but few take a moment to appreciate the lengths that they have already travelled- like me.

The year is drawing to a close signified by Christmas trees and Thanksgiving dinners. Like the darkness and mystical stars which surround me signifying the end of another day,  I cannot help but marvel at the beauty which I have eluded from, this past year. School-focussness and my suburban city that ticks against the regimented concept of time hasn't offered me a moment like now.

I sit observing what my friend and I have deemed a 'Christmas Ship', an island-like mass adorned with glistening lights off in the distance with lights all along the hull- it's beautiful.  Skyfall beats out from my magenta JBL speaker (a birthday gift from my gran) and I am content.  For the first time in a long time,  I'm content.

I really wish I could bundle this moment up and send it to you in the post.  Take a moment to sit outside and appreciate life.  Even if you have to look out into the obscure darkness,  I hope you find your 'Christmas Ship'- which offers you warmth,  love and comfort- as its presence has offered me tonight.

Till next time-
Steph

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You can find me here:

Instagram: @socialspying
Email: socialspying@gmail.com

Thanks so much for stopping by. If you're feeling up to it, follow this blog on Google Plus or on Instagram.
Thanks for spying!



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25 September 2016

Interviewing Student Protesters

Towards the end of 2015, mass protest plagued through South Africa. These protests were lead by the country's youth- specifically students studying at university level. These protests began peacefully and with a common goal in mind- lowered university fees, however, after not too long, every university in the country took their anger to the streets, with the result of rubber bullets being fired at protesting students.

This nation-wide debacle began at a university in Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand, or Wits. In 2010, it was found that 20% of South Africans fell below the poverty line, with the expectation for that statistic to rise. Many students battle to find the money to get to university, never mind the fees involved in staying at that university. Last year, local universities announced a fee increase off 10.5% for the following year (2016), despite a 6% raise in the inflation rate, for that year.

Towards the end of October, about a week or so after universities returned to a somewhat-sense of normality, I ventured out to Wits to speak to the students. I wanted to understand, directly from them, why they were-or weren't- getting involved in the protests and what inspired their decision.

Students helped me to understand that their protests were fueled from initial protests on outsourcing. Cleaners, gardeners and other manual laborers were employed by a parent company, who were then hired by the universities. The staff wanted to be employed directly by the universities- which is accompanied with better benefits. Their dissatisfaction fueled mass-gatherings, which eventually started a chain reaction when the students were dissatisfied. The movement became known as Fees Must Fall.



The first individuals that I spoke to are pictured below, in front of 'The Great Hall'. The lady on the left illustrated to me that she was instrumental in the movement, and actually led many of the protests. When they spoke to me, it really helped me to understand their fight. For the first time, this movement had faces and names with whom I could identify. 

I got into my car that afternoon and turned the radio on- like always. I caught the middle of the 5 o'clock news bulletin which stated that a protest had just erupted at a neighboring university- the University of Johannesburg.  Honestly, without much thought I was steering towards the protest- quite unwittingly to be honest. I was determined to get their stories.

Driving up to the embankment where the protests were, I first took notice of the massive tank-like police vehicles that lined the streets. Immediately, I was filled with a sense of unease. Crowds of police were present. Police were protected by bullet proof vests and shield. Their presence silently raised the tempo by a few notches. If things were to take a turn, I somehow doubted my grey-knitted jersey would protect me I would not be safe. However, by this point any wit inside me was long gone. I was getting what I came for- these people's stories.

Built into the African culture is song. The rhythm and melodies of old tribal beats remain indented into South African's lives. This is evident if one looks back at Apartheid struggle song and at this protest. For the past few weeks, I had heard news reports of violent gatherings. This was not that. People with a common goal of being heard and addressed to, were gathering and had turn to the one thing which has always been there- song.










This events took place almost a year ago. The conclusion was a 0% fee increase for 2016 fees. However, this has proved to be a problem. Nearly one year later, university students have once again broken out in protest- with an increasing theme of violence. The protest, which prevented students from entering their universities, began for the same reason-the announcement of 2017 fee increases.  

During one interview, last year, a student had said that "If this should happen again, let it" and that is exactly what South Africans are seeing now.

I am unsure of where the latest talks between students and government will go, but for how long can there be no fee increases?  Universities are institutions which are dependent on million of rands each year to maintain facilities.These funds have to come from somewhere. But what does a country do when its people have the right to education despite the funds to afford it? South Africa's minister of higher education has called for the closing of all public, tertiary institutions for one year. In my opinion, the aforementioned is a disastrous ideas with long-term, calamitous effect for the current youth and the youth as adults. In my eyes, a solution could be to clamp down on South Africa's corruption at the highest level- the presidency and the government. If even a third of what our 'leaders' have stolen were put into education, Fees Must Fall would not be a problem. 

In situation like these, it is important to note that each perspective has a valid argument. The issue arises in creating a long-term solution, which is in accordance with the needs of each side.

Till next time-
Steph


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10 September 2016

Visit to a South African Tribal Village

I first visited this cultural village back in 2003, as a third grader. For 9 years, I  have carried a somewhat dimly-lit memory of this excursion, webbed between the network of neurons that are protected by the outer sulci of my brain. Last weekend, a new memory of this tourist-targeted cultural village was ignited. My previous recollection unreliably recalls my peers and I, with much apprehension, selectively picking the least gross-looking worm -mopane worms to be exact (a South African delicacy)- to take as a victim to our unsuspecting westernized palates. Last weekend, I returned with my family . Due to my somewhat 'practical experience' and 'expertise' on this local delicacy, I did not re-live the worm-eating affair.








'Lesedi' means light in Sotho, one of South Africa's 11 official languages. This dialect is widely spoken in Lesotho, a country land-locked completely by South Africa, hence, the Free State province, just above this country speaks Sotho, hence its appearance on South Africa's official language list.

The colourful geometric shapes which journey across the perimeter of the walls, as seen above, are synonymous with the Ndebele people of South Africa. These patterns originated after 1883, when the Ndebele people joined the Boer workers in a Boer war. After their loss in the war, these people faced harsh circumstances, as are the repercussions of many, if not all wars. The African people turned to pattern and colour to vent their grievances. Hence, Ndebele house painting was born. The patterns are said to portray cultural values, belief systems, symbols of marriage, symbols of self-identity and personal prayers. The pattern is created by the woman of the household, hence, a well-painted home shows a good wife and good mother figure.

Similarly, the traditional dress is opulent in colour. The neck and leg accessories called 'isigolwani'  are worn after a woman undergoes initiation. These bulky pieces are said to have been worn so that it would be very difficult for them to run away. The brass around the ladies' wrists and legs are called 'dzilla'. These are worn by married woman. 

The second lady from the left is unmarried, indicated by the lack of 'dzilla' around her limbs and her bere breasts. In several African tribes, it is very common to see bare breasts. This unmarried lady is showing off her feminine assets to attract a man, as is common for the Ndebele people.

Back in 2012, across two days in August, 47 people were killed when police opened fire on protesting miners. The miners were demanding a wage increase The events of this day have since becomes known as the Marikana Massacre. The lady on the far left is wearing a shirt that says 'Marikana Skeem' which means Marikana scheme in Afrikaans, another official language of SA.  The Marikana shootings took place in the same province that this cultural village was located. Hence, it is my thinking that the lady supported what the miners stood for on that day, which resulted in many losing their lives.


The blanket wrapped around me above is called 'nguba'. It usually always consist of monochromatic stripes which run vertically across it. Married woman wrap themselves in the blanket out of respect for their husbands...I guess that makes me married?
It is important to note that this cultural village is a 'mock' depiction of a genuine Ndebele tribal village. This set-up is for tourists. The people sell their beaded works, they have conference centres and wear western clothing under traditional garments. It represents the style of the culture well, but is not a 100% accurate depiction of the tribe. It is a fairly accurate representation that allows visitors an experience of a group of people in South Africa.


African tribes are embedded with narratives which largely include animals. Animals have always played a vital role in rituals or ceremonial occasions, and in communicating with ancestors. Africans hold culture very near and dear to their hearts. A zebra without its stripes is simply not a zebra, hence a person without culture, fails to be a person.

I thought that these were the perfect examples of 'up-cycling'. These chairs are made from old washing buckets. A washing bucket has been cut in half, into a semi-circle, and placed within a frame. I personally loved this new use for something old. To incorporate it into its Ndebele context, it is decorated with pattern.

The people were so lovely and so willing to share their cultural with us. It was truly a heart-warming experience.

Till next time-
Steph
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2 September 2016

I Don't Really Know My Facebook Friends...

I sat in my design classroom this morning, pondering which direction I wanted to steer my next design project towards. After some time, I settled on the topic of overweightness and obesity. After further pondering on the topic, two cups of tea, and  a lot of research into the causes,treatments and prevention tactics, I started creating a survey. I created a survey for my Facebook friends. This is when I found out, that maybe, I've been using the term 'friends' too strongly.

My survey consisted of 8 question, ranging from the anonymous participant's height, age and weight to more personal questions like "Do you consider yourself overweight?" or "Is there a relationship between your weight and your self-esteem?". Truthfully, I was very surprised by the answers to the latter of the two above questions. I expected most people to simply respond with "yes" along with an impersonal short explanation. Seven out of thirty respondents replied with "no". I had wrongly assumed that all participants would say that there was an indirect relationship (as the one increases, the other decreases) between their self-esteem and their weight.

However, there was a very interesting reply to the question "Is there a relationship between your weight and your self-esteem?". Someone replied that "ever since I was little I was chubby because I have a slow metabolism because of a genetic thyroid condition and I've been bullied for being overweight so I don't know what I am anymore." This reply stuck out for me. I had posted the link to this survey on Facebook, hence, this reply came from a Facebook friend of mine. I know this person in real life, yet I have no idea who they are and the struggles they have had to face.



Besides educating me on overweightness/obesity demographics and psycho-graphics, I've been reminded never to judge people. We truly have no idea what other people are going through. This has been a well-learnt lesson for me to remember to really take time to talk to people and make them feel appreciated, and also to judge less.

That's possibly a lesson we can all take away from this.

If you'd like to see all 8 questions and possibly fill out the survey for yourself, follow this link:

Till next time-
Steph
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29 August 2016

Images that Changed Me

Photographs are fascinating concepts. These photo-chemical reactions have the ability to teleport a viewer back into a certain time, which they were apart of, or not. Similarly, a photograph has the potential to evoke emotion in the viewer based on the complex, or simple, subject matter of the image. Well-placed subject matter, whether intentionally done, or not, in a photograph can captivate one's eyes and leave behind an indent in one's soul, like these images have done for me.

I stumbled upon the first historical photograph like a boy running through the untinctured shrubbery of a park- by accident. What started as a late night Google Search for something completely unrelated, ended up with myself scouring South Africa's National Heritage Council's website, and that's where I found this:















South Africa was placed on the map when the Witwatersrand Gold Rush took place, in the mid 20th century. Miners from across the globe quickly travelled to Johannesburg to swoop in on what minerals our unhandled earth had to offer. Several years later, building were being erected to support the bustling, new city.

One of South Africa's biggest bank, which still thrives today, Standard Bank, moved its headquarters 54km in an easterly direction, from Pretoria to Johannesburg. Johannesburg began to grow exponentially, and so did Standard Bank. In a board meeting, one morning in 1962,  it was decided that their current building was too small to accommodate a growing business like theirs, and decided to move.

 The new 'home' of Standard Bank was designed by Professor Helmut Hentrich, an architect from Dusseldorf. To this day, the building is still described as a 'hanging building'. The then mega-structure measures 139.60m (524 feet) tall from the ground level; The 27 storey skyscraper, for its time, was built from the top downwards, defying gravity and South African perceptions of how a building should be constructed. A central concrete core allows for beams and concrete to extend from it, supporting the structure. A crane, perched above the central concrete core, slowly pulled the floors into place, and meticulously made its way downwards, until the buildings completion in 1970. 

Standard Bank went on to reside at 78 Fox Street up until 1990. Since then, another board meeting dictated a larger building for a constantly growing company. 

I've often seen cement trucks sluggishly creeping along the highway due to the mass that it carries. It is incredible for me to see this truck hoisted above the city, as men in suits (possibly the project managers) watch on, alongside the shorter Joburg skyline. 



The next image captured my attention for a different reason:


This image is a screenshot from a video created in 2007 by Adrian Paci called Centro di Permanenza Temporanea, which means centre for temporary residence. The people on top of the ladder, which is synonymous with boarding an airplane for those who know of the luxury, are migrants or refugees, except they escalate the ladder only to be met with nothingness, in place of where an aiplane should meet them.

To me, this image means a dead end. These migrants are waiting, hoping, for a better life, but that opportunity doesn't meet them. This video was produced in 2007. Currently, the world is facing unprecedented mass-migration of people. This image is still relevant 9 years later due to ongoing crisis in several countries, globally.



To see the full story and more images about the Standard Bank building and photography of it under constructed click here:



To see the full video on migration go here:


















Let me know if you've evr seen an image that has left an impression on you, like these have left upon me.

Till next time-
Steph
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19 August 2016

Why I Deleted My Instagram Account

Instagram, reportedly, has around 500 million, monthly active users. To put that into a number for you, it's 500 000 000, and as of last week, it's four hundred ninety nine million, nine hundred ninety nine thousand, nine hundred ninety nine, or 499999999... because I deleted Instagram!

Amongst already existing social media apps like Facebook and Twitter, one would think that there isn't any room on the internet for anything else? Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom challenged this thinking and created their own niche on the ever-expanding internet- Instagram. The social-networking app allows users to add photos of themselves, their food, their drinks, their cats or well...anything else, accompanied by a caption which can be anything from an emoji to a profound Albert Einstein quote. Since its inception in 2010, the app has taken the world by storm, with an average of 58 million photographs being uploaded every day.

If you tapped the average teenager on the shoulder and asked them if they had Instagram, there is a high chance that they would say 'yes'. If a stranger tapped me on the shoulder and asked me this same question, I'd say 'no'. However, this would not have always been my answer.

Two or so years ago, which is already later than my peers, I decided to press the 'install' button and download Instagram, the application I'd heard so much about. Due to 'pop' culture and newspaper articles, I knew that food was a very popular subject matter in photos, hence, in true essence of conformity, I posted a picture of a crispy, caramel-coloured waffle, glazed with chocolate sauce and drizzled with rich Kefalonian honey that I'd ordered on a lunch out whilst on holiday. I clicked post. It was over 200 weeks later that I posted my next Instagram photo. Since the enzyme-enticing waffle photo two years ago, I've posted about 10 times- far less than the average Instagram user. By the end, I was scrolling through the 'recommendation' tab, spying on other people's holiday photos, pictures of Kim Kardashian West, and people spreading chocolate ganache on cakes (which is actually a lot more satisfying then one would think). However, despite this, I deleted Instagram.

I am a big fan of social media. I see the advantages in all of them- even Instagram- but I see the disadvantages too. Instagram, like many other social networking sites is great for being in the 'loop' over summer, or in touch with long lost relatives in other countries,but in my opinion, it's one big lie. I've believed for a long time, that we create misleading lives on social media. Zilla Van Den Born's story is a perfect example of this. Our photos show the highlights of our lives- our faces are covered with foundation, our feeds are a reel showing our latest exotic getaway and the chef-made cuisine. Our feeds don't show the burnt homemade dinner or our body's flaws. We manipulate camera angles and scenarios to deviate from reality in hopes of creating a seemingly perfect life to others. We should rather promote a society that encourages differences, abnormalities and one's flaws.

Instagram apps, along with others such as Snapchat, prevents people from 'living in the moment'. Here's another surprise: I don't have Snapchat, but its not always been that way. I first got Snapchat a couple of weeks after it came out. However, I soon deleted it, and not for any well-informed reason either, I was just not enjoying the application. Recently, when my sister, who has the app, was playing around with it, I joined in. I immediately became emerged and ended up taking more selfies then I've taken over the last two years but in the span of one hour.

In my opinion, applications like Snapchat and Instagram are creating a self-absorbed culture. Don't get me wrong, I'm a massive supporter of social media but I'm opposed to what social networking apps, like the one's above, represent. Think of an aeroplane being tracked on a radar system, similarly, we're constantly sending out signals, like a flashing plane, being tracked in the world.

Till next time-
Steph
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10 August 2016

9 Things I've learnt About the Olympics So Far

Every four years, athletes from around the world come together to battle it out in the pool, on the track or in the ring (among several other places) and this time, it's all coming together in Rio de Janeiro. Last week, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games began. Every night, thanks to the five-hour time-difference, I've bundled myself up around the TV and the fireplace, ready for an exhibition of raw talent, persistence and copious amounts of training which each athlete has put into their sport. I have a bias to admit: I've focused my attention particularly towards the direction of pools, being a 'swammer' myself. However, admittedly, the killer bods of those half-naked athletes may have something to do with it too.


Over this past week or so, I have observed some interesting aspects about the Olympic Games. Hence, without further ado...let my Olympic Games list begin!



1) Divers carry a shammy


After performing a dive, Olympic divers make their way to large, bubbling Jacuzzi-like baths and dunk their chamois (less-fancily called an aqua-towel or a shammy) and shower themselves with water. I don't know about you, but I usually use my towel dry. Intrigued, I did some research. Turns out that although diving is not an equipment-heavy sport, only requiring a swimsuit (preferably), a diving board and a deep pool, divers are very dependent on a piece of poly-vinyl cloth. They use this easy-drying cloth to dry off before a dive- ensuring that they don't slip. Afterwards, they dunk the shammy to ensure that they stay wet and don't get stiff before their next dive. Also, after a while, it becomes a habit. Athletes use the shammy as a comfort blankie before facing their competitors. Although to the viewer this piece of cloth may seem like, well, a cloth, to the athlete it's far more than that- it's a teammate.  If you want to know more, go here:



2) Female gymnasts don't get periods

Have you ever wondered what happens to an athlete if they get their period during the biggest competition of their life? I've wondered about this with regards to swimming... but never gymnastics. Gymnastics involves stretches, turns and tumbles which are all quite revealing.

Nicol Ruprecht
It is common knowledge that exercise is healthy for the body... but as is true with everything, anything in excess cannot be good. Amenorrhoea is a condition experienced by dancers and gymnasts worldwide. The condition means the absence of menstrual period. This condition is particular to athletes with a low body mass who train intensely, such as gymnasts. Although gymnasts are probably grateful that no strings need to stick out from their leotards during their performances, this condition does need to be supervised by a medical professional. If you want to know about this condition in more detail, go here: 




3) Don't mess with Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is a man who needs no introduction...but I'm going to introduce him anyways. His feet, or flippers as I like to call them, fit into a size 14 shoe, he's the most decorated Olympian of all time and a new father. Phelps made his first appearance at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and has dominated in every Olympic Games since.

Fast forward 12 years from his first Olympic appearance. Phelps was defeated in the 200m butterfly event at the London Olympic Games, a race he had triumphed in since the Athens Games in 2004. Newcomer, Chad Le Clos of South Africa, touched the wall first, beating Phelps, in a staggering defeat.

Phelps, who many believe came out of retirement to defend his title in this event, came back to the pool with a vengeance. Le Clos shadow-boxed Phelps in the 'Call Room' of the aquatic center in Rio, much to the displeasure of the American Athlete who shot a stare like no other in Le Clos' direction.

Le Clos' antics and 'high-headedness' was short-lived; Le Clos finally learnt his lesson when ultimately, the King of swimming reclaimed his title as the fastest man in the 200m butterfly event with the defending champion, Le Clos, not even finishing on the podium, but instead coming fourth.






4) Gymnasts can injure themselves pretty badly



After years of training, one would think that any injuries would have occurred in training...and not at the world's biggest sporting event. If Samir Ait Said ever thought this... he'd be wrong. The French gymnast landed wrong sending his foot in the opposite direction to his leg. Imagine training your whole life for the Olympics and then having things go horribly wrong? Said was treated immediately and resigns to watching his fellow athletes on the television, for the time being.  In the spirit of the Olympics, he was cheered for by the crowd as he was stretchered away.













5) The Youngest Olympian was born in 2002
Gaurika Singh, from Nepal but training in London, holds the title of the youngest Olympic athlete at the Rio Games. The 13 year old is a swimmer whose 2016 Olympic Career lasted just over 1 minute. Singh competed in the 100m backstroke event racing against the clock in a time of 1:08:45, ending 31st out of 34 swimmers. Nonetheless, this swimmer can only grow from strength to strength in the years to come.  
Olympic Aquatics Stadium

6) Greece always walks out first, at the Opening ceremony

The Olympic Games have their origin in Ancient Greece, specifically Olympia, in the year 776 B.C. However, the modern games, as we know it came about in 1896. To pay homage to the creators of this event, Greece always walks out first at the Games, proceeded by the other competing countries. To this day, one is able to visit Olympia and set foot on the tracks, which held these Games all that time ago. One is also able to witness the lighting of the Olympic torch which travels the globe making its way to the host nation, from Greece.












7) If Phelps were a country....
I briefly mentioned before that Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time... but I didn't tell you how decorated he really is. Phelps currently has 21 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 2 bronze medals. He surpassed Larisa Latynina,the previous record-holder, who won 18 Olympic medals in her career, 9 of which were gold, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. If Phelps were a country, all his medals place him 40th (ahead of 185 countries) in all the medals won by all the countries over all the Olympic Games.

8) There is a refugee team competing 
The team of 10 are competing in events ranging from swimming, to judo or athletics. All athletes apart of this team were victims in the latest migration trend which saw thousands flee from their countries in hopes of a better life. The athletes are all competing under the Olympic flag.


9) This isn't the first time a hijab has been worn at the Games


Ibtihaj Muhammed has become the first athlete from the US to wear a hijab at the Olympic Games. The fencer wanted to aimed to break established conventions and norms for Muslim woman. However, the first athlete to ever compete in a hijab was Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkani from Saudi Arabia, who competed in Judo at the 2012 Olympic Games














Did anything else catch your eye- maybe even an athlete- whilst watching the Games? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Till next time-
Steph
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