South Africa’s Electricity Crisis – Update

My South Africa’s Electricity Crisis post has turned out to be one of the more popular ones on this site, so with there being significant developments in the ongoing saga, I thought I’d update you, the 6000 miles… reading public, with the latest news.

As from Monday, we now have pre-emptive load shedding. Which means that now we are told in advance via schedules when our electricity will be cut and we can plan around it. We can pre-empt the pre-emptive load shedding, if you will. This makes things a whole lot easier. In fact, when you know that you’ll have no power for two hours at 10am on a Tuesday, you can work through almost seamlessly.
But it’s still not enough for some people.

The recent change in tactics comes simply because people in South Africa have not saved enough electricity to avoid mandatory power cuts. We were asked as electricity consumers to save 10%, we didn’t – it’s that straightforward.
It has polarised public opinion, according to the media. As a country, we are now split into two groups (something we’re rather used to here in SA) – the Savers and the Moaners.
This is actually not strictly accurate: there is the third group – quite a large group – which never had the luxury of electricity to begin with. I hesitate to call them the Dark People for obvious reasons. Anyway, they don’t count here, apparently.

The Savers (and I count myself among this group) cut down their electricity use. We installed energy saving CFL lightbulbs, we switched our geysers (water heaters) off for several hours each day, we stopped using standby on the TV etc etc.

The Moaners (quite rightly) blamed Eskom and the Government for the crisis and refused to do anything to help. Consequently, despite the best efforts of the Savers, we are back onto not having any power at certain times of the week.  And this time, it isn’t the fault of Eskom or Government, it’s the fault of the Moaners. Because you see, they had the opportunity to avoid this situation but they chose not to.
Instead, they keep working on their time machines in an effort to go back to 1998 and pre-empt the whole thing. Which obviously won’t work, because if they had managed it, we wouldn’t be having the problems now. Although there’s always the chance that they might stop their parents from ever meeting, which would be a welcome development (if you enjoyed Back to the Future trilogy, you’ll understand where I’m coming from).

Look, it’s not an ideal situation, but at least it’s an improvement on what we had before. What irritates me is that with a little more public buy-in, it could have been even better. We could have avoided having power cuts at all, but you people thought it was better to whinge than to actually do something about it. And guess what, judging by what I’ve heard on the TV and radio, you still think it’s better to whinge than to actually do something about it. Idiots.

Finally – “just” 800 days until the start of the 2010 World Cup and every one of our stadiums is on or ahead of schedule. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Wembley. 

Sorry – It’s a Short Week

There’s a story which goes about these parts that tells of a bloke who was nailed to some of bits of wood a couple of thousand years ago (give or take), meaning that my pregnant wife can gorge herself on chocolate throughout March and April.
So she says anyway. Personally, I think she made it up simply so that she could gorge herself on chocolate throughout March and April.

And why not?

She’s spread the word about as well. Women all over Cape Town can be seen gorging themselves on chocolate. And wine. And now, we even have a Chocolate Gorging Public Holiday on Friday which means that this is a short week. And that is a superb reason for the level of customer service in this fine city to drop to new lows.

Yes, because Friday isn’t happening in work terms, apparently neither is the rest of the week. If you thought that load-shedding was slowing down the economy, you were right. But it pales into insignificance next to Short Week Syndrome. Deliveries which didn’t make it through when they were due last week, mysteriously won’t be delivered this week either. Why?

“Sorry – it’s a short week, you know?”

Yes, I do, but the first four days are still fair game, are they not?

But it’s hopeless. You can’t fight the system.
Well, you can, but you’ll suffer a humiliating defeat on penalties.

Talking of poor service, a new Cape Town blog has sprung up: Welcome to the Metrosnail – presumably the work of some discontented Cape Town train user. I was looking for fun and amusing comment, but I found none. What I did find was an article about the upgrade of Cape Town station which was cut’n’pasted from a City Council website article from May last year. Cutting edge stuff, then.

Seriously, if you’re going to write a moany, whiney blog; at least put in a bit of effort to make it interesting, relevant and – dare I say it? – original. Don’t just publish rubbish and hope that your leap onto the 2010 bandwagon will be enough to make your blog “cool”.

Of course, you won’t find this blog moaning and grumbling about inconsequential matters. Except today, obviously. But that’s ok, because anything goes in a short week.

“Overall, it’s gone exceptionally well”

So says Dr Basil Bonner, head of the emergency unit at the Milnerton Medi-Clinic of the Cape Argus Cycle Tour 2008 via iol.co.za. (Thanks, DC)

I’m very glad to hear it, Baz. Let’s see what the good doctor is referring to, shall we?

About 65 people had to be taken to hospital during the Argus Cycle Tour in Cape Town, two of them with suspected heart attacks.

“We had two serious head injuries, a third with a fractured hip and pelvis, and two patients, both in their 60s, with unconfirmed heart attacks. They’re in hospital having tests done,” Dr Basil Bonner, head of the emergency unit at the Milnerton Medi-Clinic, said on Sunday.

“Overall, it’s gone exceptionally well”

Yep – that all sounds just peachy! For a moment there, I was mildly concerned that you might just have been pulling the wool over our eyes and that someone might actually have got hurt while preventing me from taking the family for a relaxing Sunday on Seaforth beach.
But no. Obviously not.

From time to time, the local* doom and gloom merchants accuse me of wearing rose-tinted spectacles**.
However, I think that even they would have to agree that any optimism I dare to show on this site pales into complete insignificance against your blinkered view of the facts.

In fact, I was wondering if I could borrow your phrase to describe completely overlook any bad day I may have in the future:

Yes, I did crash the car twice on the way to the lab this morning. And when I got here, I found that all the data that I’d collected over the past 3 years had been corrupted and the back-up discs had been accidentally sold to a user called BackupDiscSmasher on eBay. Then my hand slipped on the ill-thought-out XDR-TB release lever and consequently, I released a large cloud of XDR-TB across Cape Town. Thus, I was summarily dismissed from my job.
On the way home I crashed my car twice more and arrived back just in time to see the last bits of my house burn down after an electrical fault on my PS2 lit up the pile of braai wood (Namibian Camelthorn, nogal!) I was hiding it under.

But… “overall, it’s gone exceptionally well.”

Mmm! I feel better already.

* local to that pessimists forum, anyway.
** which (proudly) I am, compared to their grey-tinted ones.

It’s Argus Day!

Oh joy!

The annual Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour is here in Cape Town once again.
Each March, the largest timed cycling event in the world effectively paralyses the city for the day and increases the square metres of lycra to local population ratio far beyond safe limits.

So why do I love it so much?

  • For the two weeks (although this is now stretching towards a month) prior to the event, cyclists in the city are apparently permitted to ignore any traffic rules. Extra points are given for going through red lights and causing accidents, which are then blamed on anyone sitting in something with an engine (and helpfully, with insurance too).
  • On the actual day, residents of the city get woken up by the television helicopters flying the route from 6.15 in the morning. On a Sunday. Thanks.
  • It’s a wonderful day out there today, but can I take my boy to the beach?
    No, I can’t – because all the roads are closed.
  • Better not have a heart attack today if you live on the route. Getting an ambulance to you will probably take a bit too long. Anyway, it’s far more important that some poorly-prepared 55 year old from Bloemfontein gets to the local cardiac care unit first, because he has a bike and is wearing lycra.
  • For the next three months, we have to endure people talking about how they went “sub four” and what a struggle it was in the wind.  Then, for the nine months following that, we have to endure people talking about how they’re going to go “sub four” and that they hope it’s not windy.    

“Come now, 6000” some people say. “It’s just one day of the year!”

And they’re nearly right. They just missed a bit:
It’s just one day of the year TOO MANY! 

More diary entries please

Actually, there wasn’t a “please”.

I may be 34 years old, but despite my distance (both physical and chronological) from the family nest, the voice of my mum (now often experienced via email) still carries that air of authority. Apparently, there aren’t enough “diary entries” on 6000 miles… Nor should I be drinking beer during Lent. This despite the fact that both my mother and I are committed atheists and drunkards.

So. Diary entries.
Well, this evening, we attended the Summer Sunset Concert at Kirstenbosch Gardens under threatening, but lenient skies. Arno Carstens was performing, and any South African will tell you that you can’t miss Arno.
Once again, he performed some of his great music and totally failed to connect with the audience. Except for that expletive when he got a blast of feedback, which sent several old people home in disgust. Probably mostly retired mixing desk technicians.

I’ve uploaded a few pics from the concert. I’ve got to be honest: once again, it was primarily about the people watching and less about the music. Don’t get me wrong – the music was excellent – but the opportunity to gaze at and comment upon the population of Cape Town’s southern suburbs is not one that can easily be passed up.

   
Click for bigger versions of each pic

First up, we have a lady who we know, but we don’t. Yes, that friend of a friend thing strikes again. If the wife wasn’t pregnant and had a brain consisting mainly of freshly boiled porridge oats and if I hadn’t had a skinful of Castle Milk Stout, we would remember you. Sorry. I feel that I should offer some sort of reward for your name. I’m thinking “Dave”, but that just doesn’t sound right.

Secondly, an aggravating old bloke who wanted to stalk watch Arno with binoculars the whole time. Creepy. He kept getting irritated with people for standing up and blocking his perving.
Fancy. Standing up at a music concert. Whatever next?
His lady* friend went on to ignore the no smoking signs and exhaled her fumes all over my pregnant wife. Bitch.

Lastly, a shot of Arno on stage, doing his thing. I may have got a bit of my beer bottle in shot. Sorry about that. Photography isn’t my strong point. Drinking is though and one out of two ain’t bad.

So, Mum; I hope this pacifies you a little. I sat next to a really iritating bloke and his filthy missus just so that I had some stuff to tell the world about.
It was worth it though: as I lay back with my 5th bottle of beer and gazed up at the lack of mountain, Arno did his best to sum it all up:

Can you feel it?
Can you feel it?
It is heaven on earth

Well, Arno – perhaps for you.
Personally, I was missing the naked dancing girls, the masseuse, a Debonairs pizza and some sunshine.
I guess you just set your standards a little lower than I do.
I’m surprised. You always struck me as the naked dancing girl type as well.

* It might have been female, anyway.