Hamba kahle, Nigel

ISTOTBIDMPD (explanatory link)

Nigel lived for years on his own on uninhabited Mana Island off the north of the country, surrounded by concrete replica gannets.

It’s probably worth noting at this point that Nigel himself was actually also a gannet. The concrete replica gannets with whom he shared the final 5 years of his life were placed there in 2013 to attract other (real-life) gannets (like this puffin project in the Isle of Man).

They only attracted Nigel.

The gannet was observed carefully constructing a nest for his chosen mate, grooming her chilly, concrete feathers, and chatting to her – one-sided – year after year after year.

This sounds remarkably like my efforts in Madison nightclub in Newcastle, every Monday (student night) between 1992 and 1995.
We’ve all been there, mate.

Sadly, Nigel died alone, although there is hope in the fact that three real-life, flesh and blood, absolutely not concrete gannets arrived on Mana Island just before Nigel shuffled off this mortal coil and joined the choir invisible.

What a sad, sad story.

Hamba kahle, Nigel. Thank you for your efforts.

The capacity of the Table Mountain dams

Yet another so-called anomaly pounced upon by the conspiracy theorists when it comes to the Cape Town water crisis is that of the Table Mountain dams.

Yes, there are five dams on the top of Table Mountain. They were built there during late 1800s and early 1900s as the population of Cape Town expanded and more water was required. Maybe we should have tried this idea more recently too. Anyway, you can still visit the dams on the top of the mountain (but be careful) and you can still see a lot of the late Victorian infrastructure running through Newlands Forest.

The dams are  Woodhead (1), Hely-Hutchinson (2), Victoria (3), Alexandra (4) and De Villiers (5). The other blue area towards the suburbs on the right is the Kirstenbosch dam, and doesn’t count here.

Anyway, there are two questions that people are asking about the Table Mountain dams. Firstly, why are they so full compared with the other dams out east (79.9% vs 25.9% on February 1st)?

Table Mountain is a 1km high lump of rock surrounded by very little other stuff which is 1km high. Its location right down in the very bottom corner of Africa, ostensibly bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on 2½ sides means that it has its own microclimate and is a veritable magnet for rapidly condensing air. It’s regularly moist on top. It’s one of the reasons that the dams were built there in the first place (the other being the use of gravity to produce water pressure).
Newlands’ proximity to the mountain explains why it is so wet compared with virtually every other Cape Town suburb. And also why it’s dark there by 2pm every day in winter. So yes, the top of Table Mountain is more regularly wet than most anywhere else in the metropole (including Newlands).

And that’s why those dams are fuller than you might have expected.

Next question – why aren’t we using that water?

Well, right now, any water is good water. So don’t get me wrong when I tell you this. But there’s actually not much water in those dams, even when they’re full.

Those 5 dams (together) have a total capacity of 2376 Ml.
Theewaterskloof (alone) has a total capacity of 480188 Ml.
That’s over 202 times the combined capacity of the Table Mountain dams.
And even though Theewaterskloof is very, very empty (13%) at the moment (see here) (and not here), there’s still 24 times more water in it right now than there is in the (80% full) Table Mountain dams.

The total capacity of the Big 6 dams supplying Cape Town is 378 times the capacity of the Table Mountain dams. Scale.

Even if we could (and did) empty what’s in those dams, it would only give Cape Town about 4 days water, which is certainly not to be sniffed at, but is not going to save a doomed city of 4 million residents either.

 

I hope that has answered your questions.
Have a special day.

 

Dam Mischief

I was a bit naughty yesterday, but I’m not sorry. Everyone should be a bit naughty every now and again. I’m not advocating murder or anything. Nothing illegal. Just a bit of mischief, which harms no-one and which keeps your heart young.

As ever with a big news story in the modern era, everyone wants to be the first to share the latest developments and fresh angles. There’s a certain gratification to be found in being the one to tell your friends about the breaking news you have just read. They didn’t know. You informed them. You’re the man (or woman). Noddy badge of honour time.

The water crisis is dominating the news here at the moment, as it has monotonously for several months now. There are no new angles anymore. Even Helen Zille’s tweets are only generating transient, short-lived outrage.

Still, when I put out this tweet yesterday, I was rather surprised when people quickly shared it.

Several people remarked on it and shared it, often with a sad emoji, because it clearly doesn’t look like a major reservoir feeding a city of 4 million people should.

Of course, that’s because it’s actually a picture of Mars.

This composite image looking toward the higher regions of Mount Sharp was taken on September 9, 2015, by NASA’s Curiosity rover. In the foreground — about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the rover — is a long ridge teeming with hematite, an iron oxide. Just beyond is an undulating plain rich in clay minerals. And just beyond that are a multitude of rounded buttes, all high in sulfate minerals.

So, no. This isn’t Theewaterskloof dam “from the Villiersdorp road”. It’s another planet about 55 million kilometres away.

Still, there are some similarities:

The changing mineralogy in these layers of Mount Sharp suggests a changing environment in early Mars, though all involve exposure to water billions of years ago. Further back in the image are striking, light-toned cliffs in rock that may have formed in drier times and now is heavily eroded by winds.

This was never meant to be a social experiment. I lobbed it up there as a bit of a joke. Perhaps naively, I expected everyone to see it exactly for what it was. Instead, there were only a couple of engagements which suggested that*. The remainder simply clicked the Retweet button apparently without even thinking.

I’ve learned something from this, but I suspect I might be just about alone in that.

 

* One of them was from Jonathan Meyer**
** He’s very anxious for me to point that out to you

Tomtop

Let’s run through a quick backstory here.

New school year, new extra murals for the kids. But there’s bad news: the boy’s cooking class (which he loves) has been cancelled because there isn’t enough interest. Sad.
Instead though, because every cloud has a silver lining, he’s joined the Photography Club at school.  Chip off the old blog and all that…

An old camera is a helpful thing to have for this sort of thing and he’s extremely lucky in that I have kept my old Panasonic and my old Sony. Given the choice, it seems sensible to use the Sony, which is still a really good, solid bridge camera. The only issue being that I can’t find the charger (it does have a microUSB to charge through though, so still usable) and the one battery doesn’t hold charge as well as it did. Still, it’s more than fine for an eleven year old starting out at school Photography Club.

I wondered how much it would cost to get a new battery. Turns out that it’s fairly pricey everywhere, but there’s this Chinese online place called Tomtop which has a typically eclectic selection of goods at all too reasonable prices. I’d never heard of Tomtop, but two appropriate batteries and a charger were available for the princely sum of R150.33 including tracked shipping. Still too good to be true? Well, no issue if so because payment was via PayPal, meaning that I’m covered should this turn out to be a complete scam. Back of the net!

I’ll keep you informed as to any progress.

Inevitably though, there had to be a downside. Life, ne?
That downside is that the google ads on every webpage I visit are now Tomtop ads.

All of them feature the actual product that I purchased, which doesn’t really make sense to me, but to be honest, that all pales into complete and utter insignificance when you look at what else it’s suggesting that I should buy.

I don’t have the cleavage to carry off that bottom outfit.
I do have the legs for the LBD above it though.

But… but… the man praying in the big black genitalia suit?
Why on earth would I be interested in that sort of thing?

I’m an atheist.

Shrinkage

Cape Town is making the international news again. It’s not good news this time though. Even if, like me, you have a very dry sense of humour.

This gif is from some American fly-by-night organisation called NASA. I don’t know if they know what they’re talking about when it comes to science and stuff, but their informative webpage on the subject seems to suggest that we are royally screwed.

They quote from expert

Piotr Wolski, a hydrologist at the Climate Systems Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town

who:

has analyzed rainfall records dating back to 1923 to get a sense of the severity of the current drought compared to historical norms. His conclusion is that back-to-back years of such weak rainfall (like 2016-17) typically happens about once just every 1,000 years.

That’s some pretty spectacular extrapolation there. You’d think that you’d have to analyze at least 1,000 years before you could draw this sort of conclusion. But I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. He’s an expert, after all. Sadly though, much like Dr David Olivier, Piotr’s expertise will be ignored by those Facebook warriors determined to lay the blame for the water crisis at the doorstep of the City and Provincial governing structures.
They’ll point instead to a massively inaccurate newspaper article from 1990, and shared by a man who helped tell us that the chocolate and coffee farmers downstream of Theewaterskloof are stealing all “our” water.

Yeah. Not much thought went into that.

Elsewhere, The New York Times shares news from this shithole country with their shithole country:

 

The Daily Telegraph photographer should have turned off this tap:

And there’s a typically understated response from the Daily Express:

And you know things are getting SERIOUS when someone brings out THE CAPS LOCK key twice in a headline.