No recharge available

We forgot to charge the beagle before this afternoon’s loadshedding.


There’s not much we can do about it now until the power returns, but hopefully this will serve as a warning to other beagle owners in South Africa to not make the same silly mistake.

And no, I’m not going to tell you where the plug goes.


Beware the petrol price drop

The preamble:
The petrol price in South Africa is regulated by the Department of Energy. That means that wherever you go within your locality, the price you are charged per litre will be the same. The only variation in price is between coastal and inland areas, e.g. Joburg prices are different to Cape Town, because of the additional cost of transporting the fuel from where it’s made/shipped to, to where it’s sold.

You might like this system, you might not. You may even be wholly ambivalent about it. It is, as they say, what it is.
And it’s not what this post is about.

The petrol price changes monthly to allow for any increases and decreases in the oil price and variations in the USD/ZAR exchange rate. These changes are announced in the last week of each month and instituted at midnight between the first Tuesday and first Wednesday of the following month. And it’s been good news recently for the South African motorist, thanks to the oil price being in freefall. The price of a litre of Unleaded dropped by 93c at midnight last night from R10.83/l to R9.90/l, and it was for this reason that I didn’t fill up on the way home yesterday.

In which I buy some petrol:
I don’t generally subscribe to the queuing up ahead of a fuel price hike – saving a few cents or a couple of Rand isn’t worth the time, effort and frustration. But when I need lots of petrol, the price is dropping quite a bit in six hours, I can fill up on the way to work and save enough for a six pack of beers, well then it’s the perfect storm of logic, right there.
So I filled up this morning and it was only afterwards that I noticed that I had been charged the old rate.

This shouldn’t have happened.

I would have noticed straight away, but I thought that I needed more than 50 litres, and the guy actually put in 45 litres. No issue there, you only pay for what you take, obviously, but I only looked at the price (R490.00), which just made me think I’d got more petrol at a cheaper rate. Compare 50l at R9.90 (R495) vs 45l at R10.83 (R490). It was only when I looked at the receipt closely that I noticed the “error”.


In which I go back the the petrol retailer and ask what’s going on:
I headed back to the garage about 30 minutes later, receipt in hand, to speak to the manager. I had a quick look at the pumps as I walked in and – fair enough – they were showing the new, lower price of R9.90.

The manager was friendly enough. He immediately apologised, told me that there “had been a glitch” and they’d “had to reset the system”. He paid me R44 difference, told me he needed to keep my receipt (conveniently removing any evidence of naughtiness) (apart from the photo I took of it) and we went our separate ways.

I’m not going to name and shame here, because I have no evidence that there was any deliberate wrongdoing here – as I say, it looked like the pumps had been updated in the intervening half hour. (Afterthought: but are the pumps linked to the card machine in any way?)
But then look at it the other way: the garage was packed this morning because of the petrol price drop, and if every motorist there in the first seven and a half hours of today was being overcharged by R44, then someone (spoiler: it’s the garage owner) is making a pretty penny. Or more.

These things happen elsewhere too:

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not saying there was deliberate dishonesty here, but what I am saying is that – much like every sell by date in SA – you should double check before you assume that you’re getting the right deal.

Happy motoring.


Ooh. Exciting news for the legion of a-ha fans that follow this blog in order to hear exciting a-ha news. This are that day!

Marking the 30th [weeps slightly] anniversary of the release of their first album Hunting High And Low, a-ha are releasing… Hunting High And Low. But this one is “a Super Deluxe Edition of the album… remastered and packed full of bonus content”!

Colour me excited. So excited, in fact, that here’s the title track of that 1985 classic:

Morten featuring as both singer and super-predator there. (Aquila chrysaetosCarcharodon carcharias and Panthera leo for the Linnean purists.) Although that notched caudal fin at 2:29 looks far more like that of Prionace glauca, I’m sure you’ll agree.

But minor shark identification discrepancies apart, what a song – drama, an orchestral background, harmonies deluxe and when you’ve seen it performed live, several (or more) goosebump moments.

Religious nutjobs steal God

Incoming from our Northern Irish News With Tenuous Links To The Isle Of Man Department – someone has disappeared off with a 6ft statue of Celtic sea god Manannan Mac Lir which overlooks… er… overlooked Lough Foyle in Derry:

Installed in 2013, the life-size statue is made from fibreglass and stainless steel and had become a popular tourist attraction.

Local police issued a not-entirely-serious missing persons report, asking people to watch out for ‘a well-known six foot tall striking local male with an athletic build’.

Here’s what they’re looking for:


But why would someone steal this statue?

The thieves left a wooden cross on the site bearing the words: ‘You shall have no other gods before me’, fuelling speculation that the unusual crime was motivated by religion.

Well, now suddenly you can see why this might have happened. Those words “You shall have no other gods before me” can be found in the Bible as Exodus 20:3 and form one of the Ten Commandments – the instant go-to guide for good Christian behaviour.

Celtic sea gods don’t feature highly in the Bible, and therefore are a definite no-no as far as sculptures in Christian territories go. And heaven knows (can I say that?) that we don’t want to upset anyone along religious grounds.


So all perfectly reasonable then, until you read a little further through Exodus…

“But… but… we’d only got to verse 3!”
“Shut up and get on with your self-flagellation!”

…because coming in at number 7 (or number 8 if you’re a Catholic – but who’s counting anyway?) is that old chestnut:

Thou shalt not steal

Oops. Hashtag awkward.

Presumably, when the police do come knocking on their door, the thieving bastards will come clean and admit what they’ve done, although the bit about ‘not bearing false witness’ comes even further down the list than the ‘don’t nick stuff’ idea.

Because Northern Ireland falls under the UK justice system, if convicted, it’s unlikely that the vandals will be able to claim religious grounds in mitigation of sentence.

That said, if you really believe that you have to steal a 2 metre high, topless fibreglass statue of a mythical bloke because of some words in a book, then there’s always the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act of 2006 to fall back on.

Offence and Outrage

It has become de rigueur nowadays to take offence and be outraged at anything and everything. Some of the minuscule things that prompt outrage these days are such that I swear there are some people that go out of their way to seek out reasons to be offended and stuff to be outraged by. I’ve mentioned the transient, ridiculously subjective and thoughtless nature of modern day outrage in posts previously, but, as ever, a picture is worth a thousand words, and this cartoon took my fancy (and I’m going to be outraged unless it gives my fancy back):

outrageTo be fair, while this demonstrates the selfish, subjective and hypocritical character of offence, many would not have got that far, already having been up in arms at the use of the term “Green Idiot” (although if you’d seen that party’s election manifesto in the UK, you’d probably agree wholeheartedly). Then, of course, “Moron” is discriminatory against… er… morons, and defining someone by their colour (whatever that may be) is obviously right out, isn’t it?

In sharing this cartoon (ironically, sometimes a fairly dangerous thing to do, because “offence”) and documenting my thoughts on this subject, I’m not expecting anything to change.

Not for the better, anyway.