Saving the rhinos one Tweet at a time

This is a blog I recently wrote for Cerebra (hence the wee work punt at the end) – which I am adding to my personal blog post as well.


I’m not sure when last you actively tuned into the TV or radio news to catch the day’s headlines. Nowadays, relevant and breaking information is simply a tweet away. And with Twitter (followed closely by Facebook and YouTube) becoming the go-to news source, it’s not surprising that it’s also becoming a serious noise maker when it comes to causes and plights.

The latest issue to surface in South Arica is that of rhino poaching. A pretty relevant topic considering that gram for gram, a rhino horn is worth more than gold, and over 443 rhinos were killed in our country in 2011 alone.

On 11 January this year, news broke that eight rhinos had been poached at the Kruger National Park in one day – with the news came a flurry of outrage across all these social media platforms. Twitter saw the words “Kruger National Park’ trending, with thousands of people proclaiming their distress and anger at the issue, creating hashtags such as #GiveItHorns and #StopRhinoPoachingin2012, arranging Tweetups and writing blogs.

The question is – does noise on a social media platform have any relevance, and does it help the cause whatsoever?

I think it does, and here’s why: The people using Twitter to communicate are savvy forward-thinkers, with opinions, connections and a strong sense of community. A few people have even confessed that if it wasn’t for these platforms, they would be unaware of the goings on around them. The power of millions of people on one platform crying out for justice is a lot stronger than, say, the email petitions of several years back, or the ‘ag shame, it’s horrible, but what can I do?’ comments we are all used to.

Recently, PharSideUK released a chilling video on YouTube, silently narrating the horrors of the rhino horn trade. A mere four days later, that video had over 217000 views. The word ‘rhino’ has been mentioned on Twitter thousands of times in the past three days, and subsequently Facebook, blogs and other social media platforms were flooded with news, information and stories, all stemming from a single, sad incident.

This makes me think about the fierce emotions us South Africans expressed during the passing of the Secrecy Bill late last year. Again, thousands of Tweets, Black Tuesday petitions and Facebook updates were cast, yet the result was not a positive one, and ironically, all that noise resulted in a soon to be silence.

This is what happens, when you leave it up to the masses. If you had an agency to streamline this, you would have one or two hashtags, a leading opinion and a clarified goal. Working within guidelines and a structure would allow Twitter noise to turn into a broadcast message and help us all work towards a common target. With causes such as rhino poaching and speaking out against a secrecy bill, it’s pertinent to get the masses involved, but if the masses aren’t of one voice, the impact is lost.

Together, we can make a difference, both to the plight of the rhino but also to the participation in your communication campaign. Pop in to our Cerebra community for a chat, and find out how we can make your voice heard.


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Eat That Frog

During a recent mentor-ship session at the office, somebody brought up the problem of time management and getting things done. I didn’t think too much of it, as I’m that person – the one who writes endless to-do lists, answers emails as they come in and manages to dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ before the end of day school bell rings. Then it hit me – I do everything in my power to finish the small things – yet I ignore the large task as if they were the proverbial elephant in the room.

I’m certain I’m not alone with this. Sure, its very easy to get to mails, answer calls, and be very reactive to certain jobs. What I struggle with is being proactive about the big bad scary tasks, especially the tasks which I unsure of, scared of (Excel, anyone?) and which I have the most time to complete. It’s true what they say – the more you have to do, the more you get done.

During the session, we were shown a video titled ‘Eat That Frog’. The frog represents the largest, meanest ugliest item on your list. Trust me, once you eat that frog, everything else seems much easier to swallow. Sounds easy in theory right? It’s challenging in practice – just because you know you have to eat that frog, doesnt mean that you can. I have been using the motto for the past 2 weeks, and even though its a tough task, every day it gets easier and easier. In the meantime,  I say, identify the frog, cut the frog into manageable size chunks, and Bon Appetit!


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Hello 2012!

I was really supposed to write this post in 2011, heading up towards 2012, but alas time got the better of me and I failed to do so. So, instead of writing a blog leading up to the new year, I’ve decided to write a blog looking back.

Its scary to think that exactly 10 years ago, after recently matriculating, I boarded a plane to Minnesota (Minesoooda for those familiar with their characteristic drawl) to go live and play for a year as a Rotary Exchange Student. I wont be writng about that year – that would be a whole book – but remembering those times have made me think a lot about what’s changed in the pst 10 years. Heres a few starting with the year 2002 ;

– In 2002 digital cameras were a scarce novelty, and the ones which were around had a camera resolution of 1.2 megapixels (which resulted in a grainy VGA type image, similar to those taken off the early cellphone cameras – which weren’t even around in 2002! I remember buying 35mm film for my camera and developing them at certain pharmacies and CNA stores.Afterwards, if you never inserted the new 35mm spool in correctly, you got no pics. Simple as that.

– Social networking sites such as Facebook or even Youtube didn’t exist – and the closest thing we got to seeing our mates online was, a website dedicated to snapping pics of people at nightclubs.

– Skype was not around – we relied on email servers such as Hotmail and Yahoo to communicate.

– We did not BBM, Whatsapp or communicate via anything other than traditional SMS. The only time I ever SMS now is to enter competitions, or to chat to my gran 😉

– Smartphones and Tablets were merely a pipe dream. The thought of touching the screen of your phone to activate it was unheard of – and a mobile device which could carry all your contacts, email, take photos and (gasp) videos, as well as locate you via GPS?! Impossible!

– Google maps only came years later – today we dont even blink an eye when calculating the distance from Rosebank to Rondebosch, or sneakily spy on our neighbours using Google Earth.

_ Speaking of Google, it’s only 12 years young! Can you remember a day when you didnt click on that almightly search engine to find the recipe for devilled eggs, or enquire how to build your own car?

– Again, speaking of cars, even though the movement towards hybrid and electric cars has been very slow to, ahem, take off, who would have thought that our friends would be building garages in 2010 with plug sockets big enough to charge their electric vehicles?

– Ladies, what did we do without the GHD? (Good Hair Days, long may they live!)

– Willow Smith was born in 2000. She will be 12 this year. She is richer than most of us combined. That will be all.

– At the end of this post I will be linking it to Twitter. Ah, what is Twitter the 2006 version of you asks? My point exactly. (FYI as of 2011 this ‘sms of the internet’ had over 300 million users.)

– In 2006 Amy Winehouse’ ‘Rehab’ gained international sucess. In 2011 she died. What did you do in the last 5 years to make yourself as notoriously infamous as she did?

– With human greed comes a severe impact on Planet Earth. By 2011 several species of animals became extinct, including the Baji Dolphin, the West African Black Rhino, the Golden and Holdridges Toad, the Spix’s Macaw and the Pyrenean Ibex. Dont assume that your future children or grandchildren will know what an elephant or whale is.

– The first official BluRay disk was released in 2006. I’m clearly several years behind and have yet to embrace that trend.

– I stumbled upon an episode of an old favourite yesterday, the TV sitcom ‘Friends’. Ah Rachel and Ross and all their…pixelation!? It’s hard to believe we watched TV that was so blurry and unclear for so long. We didn’t know any better until HD (High Definition) came along in 2008 thanks to Multichoice. Heres an article written in 2007 on a local tech site about when HD would be hitting our shores;

– Hands up if you haven’t embraced the eBook yet? Amazon think you should. They released their first generation Kindle in November of 2007, and it sold out in 5 and a half hours. The device remained out of stock for five months until late April 2008.

What items have I left off here that you can remember? I would love to hear your feedback!

Saying the word 'floppy disk' always resulted in school girl giggles.
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Kudos to a dog blog

A few weeks have passed since I have written a blog (sies) and that coupled with that fact that I have severe writers block/am generally uninspired, the promise of something new and exciting being written here in the next few days is not very high. So it is with that in mind that I have decided to steal, and share a hilarious blog post which was sent to me today, and is very relevant to me right now.

As a new puppy owner, one of the hardest things to do is train said puppy…which leads me to often wonder if he has slight mental problems. After reading this blog, I felt much better.

Good for a great laugh – enjoy!

PS – here is a relatively cute video of Rupert (my dog) stuck on the stairs while going through ‘stair training’ and howling is distress. Ag shame.

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Masterchef Memories

Today I had the absolute privilege of meeting one of Masterchef Australias favorite – and most talented – contestants, Alvin Quah. Alvin is back in South Africa after his recent visit for the Good Food and Wine show.

The day started off fairly badly, and for a few hours I thought we weren’t goig to make it to the stunning Pick n Pay Good Food Studio. For those of you who live in Joburg, you will know what I am talking about she I say that the second it rains, we turn into absolute road idiots. Murphys law, the heavens opened last night, and the roads this morning was absolute carnage. It took two hours to arrive at the venue, but it was worth every second stuck in bad traffic.

I said to someone afterwards that even if Alvin had demonstrated how to open up a tin of dog food, I would have been absolutely enthralled. He is totally endearing, witty and personable, and at the end of his demonstration, he had the entire audience wrapped around his little finger.

Avin taught us how to make 3 dishes – starting off with a Bruised Salad, a Kung Po Chicken and lastly, my favorite, a Buddahs GardenSsalad. If you give me some money ask me very nicely, I may just share the recipes.

Despite the hefty price tag of R500, I even bought the Master Chef cookbook which is not yet available in this country. A bit pricey for a cookbook, seeing as I have the iPad app which I bought for several dollars, but this is Alvin, c’mon!

After the cooking demo, Alvin chatted about some of his favorite South African foods, including ‘Bunny Chow’ which he initially thought was a rabbit dish, as well as ‘potpie’, kudu and boerewors.

I also had the pleasure of meeting a few Twitter friends – namely the foodie babe @MegPascoe, a fellow Kate @Kate_Elsand the fabulous @GourmetGuys

Alvin will be demonstrating for a few more days at the Good Food Studio, and I highly recommend attending one of his talks – you will come away inspired, enthralled, and a little bit hungry.

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Yesterday, I found myself between jobs. Nothing too dramatic but a long story none the less, and one that I only wish to get into in a few weeks time.

This leads to me to my current situation, which is I now have a full 15 days of leisure time before my next adventure begins. Let me just add that 15 days is possibly the longest amount I have had off since I was in high school er, a few years back.

Once the intitail shock and bewilderment had set in, I began to realise that this was such a blessing in disguise, and the timing couldn’t have been better. We recently got a puppy ( see my first post an insert ‘aah’) and the thought of leaving him alone every day while I went to work has been devastating. I can now spend 2 weeks with the guy helping him to adjust.

Apart from that, I have out together a list of sorts, of things to do during my 2 week ‘staycation’ :

– start a new exercise routine from a Woman’s Health book I bought several months ago, which up until now has been doubling up as a coffee mat
– Get started on my Christmas shopping
– Renew my passport (just incase I’m surprised with a overseas vaycay – hint hint boyfriend)
– Start painting again
– Go to lunch with all my stay at home friends
– Nap. This one has me really excited

Not to get ahead of myself, I feel it may be best to stop right here. I’m off to the gym.

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Here I go…

My fingers have been hovering over my keyboard in preparation of writing my first post, since about 9 am. (Don’t tell my boss). This is quite daunting actually – for someone who enjoys nothing more than a good cynical rant, bitch or moan, or to talk about current events, interesting titbits and what not, the thought of doing it in over 14o characters ala Twitter style truly has me stumped.

My name is Kate, this is my blog – it will (hopefully) be an extension of me and my thoughts. Sometimes irrelevant, more than likely fairly annoying, but mostly sarcastic, witty and insulting to more than one individual.


PS – for my first daily dose of cute, here is a photo of my brand new Boston Terrier puppy, Rupert.

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