The smell of paint

We’ve done up the guest loo. Replaced the basin and the pan, stuck some tiles down on the floor.

Oh, and we painted the walls as well. That was done yesterday and thus, the house smells of paint. You know about the smell of paint. It’s not a pleasant smell. Chemically. Painty.

Fortunately, Mrs 6000 has a “secret” “proven” way of getting rid of the smell of paint, which is backed up by many links on the internet.
You’ll therefore note that it’s not actually “secret” at all. Nor is it “proven” in any way, shape or form.

It involves chopping up several raw onions and leaving them in the room which has just been painted. The scientific theory behind this method goes (and here I quote):

I don’t know how it works, but it just does.

Well, fortunately I’m here and I’ve brought along Science to help with the nitty-gritty of the chemical processes involved.

Firstly, we need to look at the differences between a neutralising agent and a masking agent. It’s pretty straightforward, because these sensibly named agents either neutralise an odour or hide (mask) it behind another odour. Simples, ne?

Ideally, we need a neutralising agent here – some chemical that binds to the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which cause the paint odour and thus render them less volatile and less odorous.

Onion fumes are not that. Onion fumes actually contain different VOCs – specifically including one called propanethiol S-oxide. Propanethiol S-oxide is the chemical in onions that make our eyes water. Propanethiol S-oxide will not bind to the VOCs from the paint fumes. Oh no. Propanethiol S-oxide will merely mask the paint odour by competing with it for the attention of our scent receptors in our noses.

Congratulations. Your house now smells of paint and onion. You’ve effectively doubled the number of unpleasant chemicals in your breathing environment.


If you’re going to use a masking agent, rather use something which at least smells nice. It’s not like you’re going to come home, notice that your house smells of paint and think:

I know, I’ll defaecate in the corner of the living room; there’s an idea which is sure to make the paint smell less obvious.

is it?

I can’t decide if the tears in my eyes this morning were from the sheer lack of science involved in the whole chopped raw onion thing or the propanethiol S-oxide widely circulating around my home.

This whole issue has been compounded by the fact that the said bathroom window faces south, so opening the window to ventilate the room merely allowed yesterday’s howling southeaster to come through said bathroom, pick up the combined paint and onion smell and distribute it liberally around the rest of the house.

My wife and I have been married for nearly 8 years now and we’ve done a lot of painting, so we’ve also “discussed” this onion idea on several occasions previously and I’ve had very little success (absolutely none, in fact) in getting her to stop it. Thus, yesterday evening, as she headed for the vegetable drawer, I sensibly kept my mouth closed and left her to it.

And then for the rest of the evening, I wished that I could do the same with my nose.

7 Comments | Tagged , , | Posted in annoying people, learning curve, that's a bit mad

Looking back: The Daily Mail Weather Outlook for 2012

This goes out to @StephanieBe who is heading out to the UK shortly and read this morning that… er… the UK is about to face its coldest winter for 100 years. Stephanie is Saffa born and bred.
Her genes aren’t cut out to cope with cold Decembers.

Stephanie is afraid.

Fortunately for Stephanie, that “coldest winter in 100 years” thing comes from the Daily Mail.
Regular readers will know that 6000 miles… loves the Daily Mail.

Britain will shiver tonight as temperatures plummet in the first taste of what promises to be one of our coldest winters for a century.
The cold snap is expected to last until the end of the week, creating dangerous conditions on the roads and adding to the misery of those already battling floods.
Temperatures could fall to as low as minus 3C in some places, with snow already falling in the Pennines.

Cold temperatures? In the UK? At the end of November? Whatever next?
Let’s have a look at how November ended when I was over in the UK in 2010, shall we?

 Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 29th November 2010. Is that… snow?!?

But hey, maybe the Daily Mail has upped its weather prediction game since 2010. Let’s have a look at what they thought about 2012, shall we? This Daily Mail headline is from 15th April this year.

Britain faces worst drought since 1976 (and the Severn could dry up by summer)

Officials are concerned that a third dry winter this year could be a tipping point and trigger restrictions for businesses or even further restrictions in homes for the first time in 36 years.
The restrictions are embarrassing for the Government which is showcasing Britain during this year’s Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee. Parks are included in the hosepipe ban and London’s iconic fountains will be turned off.

Sounds bad. So what actually happened?

Well, here’s a photo I took at Howden Reservoir in Derbyshire in July, slap bang in the middle of the “worst drought since 1976”:

Yes yes, I know that the big wall is supposed to keep the water in, but the fact is that because the incessant rain throughout the summer, the dam was overflowing.

What happened? Let’s turn to… er… the Daily Mail for the answer. Here’s a story from August 29th:

After weeks of wet weather and seemingly never-ending cloud, many have dismissed the last few months as a miserable summer they would rather forget.
Today was no exception as heavy rains fell across many parts of the country as weather forecasters predict that September will bring some sun and reprieve from the wet weather but only for those in the south.
The north of Britain however should brace for more grim weather which is predicted to last until mid-September.

But… but you said that… Oh never mind. At least it wasn’t the wettest summ… oh wait. Yes, it was. Well, that is according to the Daily Mail (31st August) anyway:

The temperatures, which reflect the country’s cold and soggy weather over recent months, have proved this summer has been a complete write-off.
It came as it was revealed yesterday the summer has also been the wettest in England and Wales for a century.

The thing is, I know that forecasting the weather is not an exact science. And long range forecasting is even less exact. So yes, you’re going to get it wrong from time to time. But there’s no disclaimer in Stephanie’s “coldest winter for 100 years” Daily Mail story. There’s no:

However, while we’re telling you about how cold it’s going to be this winter, you might want to remember that we also said that this was going to be the driest summer in almost 40 years and we couldn’t actually have been more wrong about that.

So people like Stephanie who have previously lived a Daily Mail free life (lucky fish) thus far, read it – and believe it. Oops.

Stephanie, I’m no meteorological expert. I can’t tell you if it’s going to be the coldest winter foreverever when you visit the Republic of South Yorkshire this December. I feel that I’m standing on fairly solid ground when I suggest that you probably won’t need to pack your bikini for a day out on the beachfront at Filey, but that aside, it’s winter and I would expect it to be decidedly chilly. Especially when compared with your usual South African December day.

What I can tell you is that you really shouldn’t believe everything anything you read in the Daily Mail.

Happy Holidays!

7 Comments | Tagged , , , , , | Posted in annoying people, emigration, heading north 2012, the last hurrah 2010, uk

Portable North Pole is back

Portable North Pole is back. But don’t worry, this has nothing to do with magnets and compasses, so your GPS isn’t going to struggle and the sun is still going to set off Camps Bay for convenient sundowners behind the palm trees photo opportunities from Café Caprice.

Cape Agulhas will still be at the bottom of Africa.

No, Portable North Pole is a very nifty little site where you can quickly and easily make a personalised video for your kids (or, I guess, your adults should you happen to have any) which is purportedly sent from Santa Claus himself. And, having seen the reactions from my kids last year, I can safely say that it works. Really well.

You don’t have to share anything too revealing about your offspring. They’re not looking for telephone numbers, school pick up times or inside leg measurements here. Just a first name, an age, a couple of photos and what country they live in. If you’re still feeling a bit paranoid, do a mock up and see how innocuous it really is.

Best of all, it’s free for the basic video, although there are some pay options for stickers, books, certificates and letters. I’ve not used them, but they start at $2.99, including a charity donation to a children’s hospital.

Here’s the link – go and have some fun and please share this post with any parents, so they can go and have some fun too.

2 Comments | Tagged , , | Posted in 6000 recommends, positive thoughts, recommended site, the parenting bunny

Kloof Nek German School sign on 9gag

It had to happen. In fact, I think it’s probably happened before, in which case, it had to happen again.

I still can’t believe that they haven’t replaced this yet.


3 Comments | Tagged , , | Posted in that's a bit mad, this is south africa

Chop Chop

A quick quota photo of a praying mantis eating a gecko.

You might have thought that the result of this would have been the other way around. But with all that offensive weaponry, mantises (mantisi?) can basically do whatever they want with geckokind.

And this one wanted to tear it into small pieces and eat it.

Leave a comment | Tagged , | Posted in quota photo, this is south africa