Smelly penguins are a thing of the past

Here in the Cape, we’re lucky enough to have a couple of local colonies of the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) which one can pop along and visit, should one feel the need. Summer days are obviously nicest to spend in the sun, by the sea, getting up close and personal with these curious birds; with just one rather large drawback – the smell.

Penguins eat fish (which smells) and then they defaecate (which smells). It’s like smell². In short: penguins stink.

The penguins at Boulders Beach (so called because of the huge boulders there) and at Stony Point (so called because it’s all stony)* are a huge draw for the tourists, most of whom go home with a head full of wonderful memories, a camera full of wonderful photographs and a nose full of wonderfully fishy poo. Each time I go and visit Boulders, I am reminded of the need to do something about the dreadful whiff that greets me as I open the car door. And again when I arrive there.

But now I can, thanks to an offer from The Guardian in the UK. The UK isn’t known for its penguins, but there are, of course, several zoos and wildlife parks which have penguins in them. And I’m guessing that’s the market that The Guardian is trying to corner here, with the Penguin Steam Cleaner:

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They’ve even made it look a little bit penguinesque, so as not to frighten the birds on approach.

The Penguin Steam Cleaner features:

  • Continuous 1600 watt high-pressure (good for repeated penguin cleaning)
  • Steam exits at 105°C (bit warm, but penguins are well insulated)
  • Powerful jet nozzle, ideal for awkward spaces (beak, webbed feet, wingpits etc)
  • And it removes creased feathers. What more could you ask for?

    It’s expensive, but I reckon that the SanParks, who run Boulders, could get a better deal if they bought a job lot. After all – they have a whole load of penguins to clean.

    I will be pitching my idea to them later this week by getting one of these wonderful devices, “borrowing” a penguin and demonstrating the myriad of benefits a steam-cleaned penguin colony would bring to both their visitor numbers and their beleaguered olfactory systems.

    * I don’t make the rules.

    Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ28

    I’m feeling somewhat limited by my current camera, the 7.1MP point-and-shoot goodness that is a Sony DSC-W17 and I feel it’s time to move onward and upward and get something with a bit more power. Looking at the Flickr stats for the W17, it seems that I’m not alone in this. Following extensive research (of both cameras and bank balance), I have decided that while in the UK on the 2009 Kids in Tow Tour, I will be purchasing a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ28.

    panasonic-fz28
    Coming soon to a cute blogger near you: The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ28

    Now, before you trash my ideas and tell me that I could get a bigger zoom this and a better lens that, that I should be buying Canon or Nikon, Sony or Fuji, I’d like you to take a step back. Because there are certain limitations here. Namely my skill as a photographer and my wage packet as a scientist. What I’m trying to say is, it would be pointless to buy anything more fancy, even if I could afford it.

    And I’ve done my research. Plenty of it. I have been reading up on Brian Micklethwait’s thoughts for a long while now, although he appears to have about two limitations less than I have have described above. He is torn between Canon and Nikon, but the reviews of the Panasonic are excellent and this seems to be the camera to fit my needs, with a long extendy bit at the front (always nice), a button to press to take a photo and a little clip on either side to attach the strap to. All the boxes ticked.
    And check out that DC Vario-Elmarit 1:2.8-4.4/4.8-86.4 ASPH. Leica lens. Whatever that means. Glorious.

    The final clincher, however, was the name. Many hip-hop and rap artists from the 80s who have branched into photography went (obviously) with Kodak. But Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels and Jason Mizell were always a little different, a little ahead of their time and they headed for Panasonic.
    What’s good for hip-hop is good for digital photography and the fact that it has taken them close on twenty years to bring this baby out tells me that it must be something special.

    World’s Worst Hide & Seeker

    Actually, his seeking isn’t too bad, but we obviously do need to work on the hidage aspect of his game.

    DSC00484a
    I iz invizibul. U cannot see me behind my stick.

    This was taken in February 2008 at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and is a great example of what a quota photo looks like when one is trawling through one’s wife’s hard drive looking for quota photos because one’s hard drive is broken. Yes, despite several kicks to the side of the big boxy bit, I still have not had any joy in reinstating power to my machine. I’m not an expert, but even if I was, I really haven’t had time to sort anything out, as I have been rushing around today preparing for the imminent arrival of the 2009 Kids in Tow Tour and watching a brave and spirited Bafana Bafana performance during which not a single one of their players tried to gouge out the eyes of an opponent.
    Although, with hindsight, it may have helped, because they lost.

    This evening will be spent watching the Confederations Cup Final between Brazil and USA and singing a sickeningly annoying song from Balamory, which I heard several days ago and which refuses to leave the busy space between my ears. Still – I could be singing the theme from The Littlest Hobo, like you are now.

    Michael Jackson is still dead

    And he’s been joined by my PC.

    Yes, the world has ended. Sort of.

    With the Lions losing with the last kick of the game in Pretoria and having spent the afternoon in shopping hell with one (if not more) of the kids playing up, my computer has failed to work.
    Well, it started. Briefly.
    And then it stopped. My guess is a power supply issue, but after the day I’ve had, I decided that the best way to cure the problem was to sit down and watch Top Gear with a large glass of red wine and order a large BeeGee from Butlers.

    Don’t worry – you’ll still get your updates. This one is being tapped out on Mrs 6000’s laptop and I can always head to my super sexy SEX1 if I need to. But right now, all I need to head to is my 2003 Vrede and Lust Cara.

    Laters.

    The Curse of The Stig

    In news that has shocked the world, and just a week after he was revealed as the human face of Top Gear’s “The Stig” , comes the sad news of the death of Michael Jackson. Few would argue that Jackson’s story was amongst the most incredible in modern day history. Having released the best selling album of all time in 1982, Michael went on to win no fewer than seven Formula One Drivers Championships, while successfully defending himself against allegations of child molestation and, less successfully, of being German.

    Jackson’s trademark was the Moonwalk, in which he would go out on slick tyres on a wet track and spin backwards around the circuit, while the wheels would actually appear to be going forwards. He was also famed for wearing one glove while driving (and often, another glove on the other hand). 

    Michael’s family played a large part in his career, most notably in Scream, a 1995 duet with his youngest sister Janet, and also many on-track duels with his younger brother Ralf who drove for Williams. In addition, bizarre allegations surrounded whether Michael and his sister La Toya were actually the same person and, while these rumours were discounted, Ralf did – at one time – drive for Toyota, who was Jackson’s older brother.
    You can see where the confusion arose.

    The most successful part of Michael’s career was spent with Ferrari, during which time he released the critically-acclaimed album Bad. A track on the album, called Speed Demon was his tribute to Jeremy Clarkson, and featured the lyrics:

    I’m Headed For Gambon, It’s On My Mind
    And Coming Round The Follow-Through, I’ve Got To Be On Time

    while Man in the Mirror was seen by many as a dig at Jacques Villeneuve, who regularly finished behind him in races.

    Jackson was also infamous for his repeated visits to plastic sturgeons around the world and is widely believed to be the mastermind behind the tacky “plastic singing fish” craze which swept across America in the late 1990s.
    His nose was also made of plastic, but didn’t sing.

    His final revelation, that he was racing driver “The Stig”, came as a huge surprise to fans of Top Gear and Jackson alike. However, doubts still exist as to the veracity of the claim and many believe that the revelation was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Commentators pointed to the lack of sequins on The Stig’s racing suit and his apparent fear of children.
    However, the transformation of the ‘tamed racing driver’ from black to white while the King of Pop underwent the same change is surely solid evidence that Michael Jackson was indeed The Stig.

    He will be sadly missed. He touched many people (and now they can’t sue him).