Out of the Frying Pan (2)

(Not to be confused with my original Out of the Frying Pan post from February last year)

I’m in two minds whether to fly this evening. We’re packed, we’re all checked in, our hosts are ready and waiting, the weather looks good and the boy can hardly wait and is literally twitching with mounting anticipation, but then I read this:

Official crime figures show the UK has a worse rate for all types of violence than the U.S. and even South Africa – widely considered one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

Seriaas? Seriaas.
Well – sort of, anyway – it is from the Daily Mail.

Completely violent: SA beaten back into 3rd place in hysterical Daily Mail article.

It’s nice to see that while SA is only the third most violent country on earth according to this survey, it somehow maintains the perception of being the gold standard when it comes to criminal naughtiness. Give it a couple of years and everyone will be comparing their violent crime rates to the UK:

Oh yes dear, I know Dennis was mugged twice last week, but it’s still nowhere near as bad as the UK.
And it’s not raining.

But I’m seriously considering a last minute change of destination to somewhere safer, like Baghdad or Kabul. Or maybe being adventurous but taking just a bit less risk by heading to Salzburg, famous as the historic birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Knifecrime.

EDIT: It’s a good job that forum is down for repairs. They’d be having a cadenza over this one.
Excuses central: more buts than a goats’ night out at Teazers. Hahaha!

The 2009 Kids in Tow Tour

The 2009 Kids in Tow Tour is almost upon us and I know that there is one burning question on your collective minds:

How will it affect us, the reading public of 6000 miles…?

It wouldn’t be right if, like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown, I didn’t put you out of your misery, so here’s the deal as I see it.

  1. I am not guaranteeing a post every day, although I’ll certainly try. If you want to know when a new post is up, you can follow @6000 on twitter or better still, you can subscribe to the 6000 miles… RSS feed.
  2. Comments may take longer to get through moderation. Sorry and all that. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t comment, but I’m going to be on holiday, chasing my boy around a beach and generally drinking red wine and beer. Pretty similar to life in Cape Town then, but a slightly different beach.
  3. There will be plenty of photo action. Not least (I hope) with my new camera. Those photos will go onto my flickr and I will let you know when they are going up there. Some (if not more) will probably make it onto the blog as quota photos anyway.
  4. It’s possible that I won’t be reading your blogs as often as usual. Don’t hold it against me – I will try to catch up when I get back. However, SA blogs will be my main link with the Saffa world while I’m away, so please keep me informed of developments. (Or lack of them, if that stadium-building strike begins to bite.)

And that’s pretty much it. We fly tomorrow, Kids in Tow and, anticipating un jour ‘ectique, I’ve already pre-published a special KiTT send off post, which will appear here at 1800 CAT (or some other time, if I got my time zones mixed up) tomorrow.  That post may appear mildly trivial (although reading it now, rather prophetic) if there happens to be a nuclear holocaust between now and then; but then you probably won’t be reading it if there’s a nuclear holocaust between now and then, will you?

I leave you with the ever popular Simple Minds 1985 hit Don’t You (Forget About Me); firstly, because I love songs (with brackets in the title) and secondly, because I’m gonna miss you guys. *sniffle*

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAdaQhitdKg]

Listen to Jim:

Slow change may pull us apart
When the light gets into your heart, baby

Don’t You Forget About Me
Don’t Don’t Don’t Don’t
Don’t You Forget About Me

See you soon!
6k.

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:

psc

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.

    Amazon.co.uk #fail

    I got my Dad two brilliant books for Father’s Day. He’ll love them, if amazon.co.uk and their “premium” courier company, ShittyLink, ever actually get around to delivering them.

    The story so far = two failed delivery attempts + a wasted day + a stinking email complaint + a grovelling reply.

    But still no books.

    Bring forth the sarcasm and the crying child: 

    Thanks for your last email. I was consoled. 

    Briefly. 

    However, my father has had to continually ring Citylink and (having stayed in all day as he said he would) has now found out that the parcel has been in Rotherham all day. Poor parcel. But that’s beside the point. 

    So – you (or rather your courier) didn’t manage to leave a note when they allegedly came to deliver the parcel on Saturday, didn’t fulfill their obligation to deliver after 10:30am on Monday and have failed to show up at all today despite my Dad wasting his entire day at home. 

    In summary, it’s not great, is it? 

    You know, I actually have no problem when things sometimes go awry. It happens to all of us from time to time. I used to work in a hospital lab and once almost killed a patient by mistake. (She got better). But when a company has one task – namely to courier goods from one place to another, not anything as taxing as therapeutic drug monitoring (which is really difficult and can easily go wrong) – and they mess it up time and time and time again, it annoys me. When they repeatedly waste the time and effort of their customers, that annoys me more. And when they claim to be offering this as a “premium service” – well, it’s just like some sort of sick joke, isn’t it?
    I want to laugh, but I can’t. I hurt too much.

    Truly, it probably doesn’t even matter when this order turns up now. You’ve ruined Father’s Day for my Dad; you’ve wasted an entire day of his life today and you’ve wasted his money in having to chase your “premium” courier company all over South Yorkshire on the phone. 

    My 3 year old son keeps asking why Granddad hasn’t said thank you for his books. I told him that the useless company I ordered them from couldn’t get their arses into gear to organise a simple delivery. He cried. Copiously.
    I reckon that’s basically a whole lifetime of potential orders you’ve lost – and who can blame him? 

    I look forward to hearing how you plan to sort this out.

    It’s raining here in Cape Town, I’m off to the rugby this evening and have plans for tomorrow as well, so I’d appreciate some sort of solution preferably within 48 minutes and not the 48 hours you promised in your last email. 

    Yours, in foolishly optimistic anticipation,

    6k.

    I’m actually really disappointed. I’ve only used amazon.co.uk three times over the past year or so and this is the second time that they’ve let me down. Suffice to say, it’s going to take a lot to get me to use them again.

    Tomorrow: my next letter to them, because the books blatantly aren’t going to arrive plus a report on what could be the muddiest game of rugby ever. It’s been raining HEAVILY for 24 hours all over Newlands. Handling errors deluxe.