More on those whales

Well, this looks like one of those stories that – much like the whales – isn’t going to go away until a digger picks it up and dumps it on a truck bound for the local landfill site. 

The outcry over what was and what wasn’t done to help the beached creatures, together with the hysteria over what might have caused them to run aground in the first place is amusing, to say the least. And while the experts have stepped back and refused to speculate as to what might have been the reason for the beachings, the Kommetjie eco-massive know exactly what happened.

Is it possible they are telling us that the toxin levels in the water are too high?
By diane on 2009/05/31 03:12:18 PM

It’s possible, Diane, but unlikely. It’s true that whales don’t like toxins, but they like sand even less. Once they ended up on the beach, they were in a bit of a quandary. Sand or toxins, toxins or sand? Whales are notoriously indecisive and it was probably this inability to reach a decision that meant that they dried out to the consistency of Pick n Pay biltong while still considering their limited options.

Harrold has other ideas:

Their primary means of communicating, navigating, locating food, and remaining healthy is through the use of sounds. Their sound frequencies are as necessary to them as breathing is to us. It is their lifeline…

No, Harrold. Breathing is as necessary to them as breathing is to us. That is their lifeline.

So if you want to know what is causing the whales to beach themselves you need to look at who has been making a noise in the ocean lately…
By Harrold on 2009/06/01 02:49:00 PM

Well, according to you, Harrold, it’s the whales. So they only have themselves to blame then. Daft bastards.

Hi i arrived at Kommetjie beach at 10am and at 1pm when i left after watching how it was going to be for the whales, the helpers and the people watching. why did the Navy which is 2 mins away come and help with tugsm divers and support to help the helpers already there. it does not makes sense for the whales to not get the helped that we could of given them, 2009 this is not 1909, if it were people to be helped there would be many heli and boats. come of people. and the amount of people that were just watching and getting in the way, why didnt you get you feet wet????
By karen on 2009/05/30 07:30:35 PM

Now, I can sense that Karen is a bit upset. (It’s a gift I have). However, I do have to take her to task over a couple of her comments. I’ll let her appalling punctuation slide, just this once. 

The Navy is not two minutes away. Except by jet. 
And if the Navy had turned up in a jet, Harrold would have been even more annoyed by the whole noise thing.

Also, I have been in innumerable situations where there have been many hundreds of people lying on beaches in the Western Cape – Camps Bay in early January springs immediately to mind. There were people drying out in the sun all over the sand and at no time did “many heli and boats” come to help them. In fact, I’d venture that if “helpful” people had tried to roll them into the water, they would have swum straight back onto the beach. Much like the whales. Then the authorities would have shot them and taken them off to a landfill site. (That last bit might not be quite right).

Talking of “getting in the way”, Karen – it sounds like you were one of the people who were on the beach against the wishes of the authorities. Authorities who had a plethora of rubber ducks and whale stretchers, but couldn’t get near enough the whales to actually use them. Just saying.

P.S. Technical question:
These “whale stretchers” that everyone is going on about – how does stretching a beached whale help? And what qualifications do you need to be a professional whale stretcher? It sounds like a great job.


Night-writing – deserves a quiet night.

I’ve been wondering all day whether to share this.
Having considered my options carefully, I can’t see the harm in putting it out into the public domain. That sort of realisation will obviously only come to me once I have put it out – irretrievably – into the public domain. So here goes.

After two virtually sleepless nights, I gave in and crashed at about 9pm, midway through my prayers to Dave, the God of Sleep. Dave always listens and often answers, usually when I’m lying in bed and after I’ve had a few glasses of red wine. Dave’s like that.

And although there were minor disturbances from the offspring, it wasn’t really a bad night. Thus, when my alarm went off this morning, I felt refreshed, revived and re-ady to go. I glanced down at my cellphone, hardly daring to believe that we had got through to 6:30am with only a couple of incidents (albeit that one of them was snot-related and pretty horrific) (I would liken it to an explosion in a lime jelly factory) (but I digress).

That’s when I saw it.
Not the cellphone – although, of course I did see the cellphone. No, I saw what was on the cellphone.

At 3:22am, I had apparently created a file using Word Mobile, the contents of which read as follows:

I am growing tired of watching videos of fat girls struggling with chemistry problems.

Just like that. In perfect English. On a program that takes four stylus key presses just to open, before you’ve even written anything. Of course, unlike the Samsung Omnia, the Xperia X1 does have a full QWERTY keyboard, which would have facilitated straightforward data entry once the program was open. But even so.
I do vaguely recall dreaming about science lessons and an argument with… someone… about some essay or… something… but I couldn’t even tell you if she was a she, let alone whether she was rotund or being filmed.

Dream analysts are welcome to analyse away, but I’m a purist and I reckon I was probably just having a dream about some fat chick with limited scientific ability. It means nothing. Probably.

Dave works in mysterious ways.

Sunday evening quota post

I am literally shaking with lack of sleep. Or it could be lack of red wine. Or lack of hot weather.

On days like today – grey, overcast, chilly and damp – it’s sometimes difficult to remember the heady days of summer, even though they were here with us just a few short weeks ago. Here’s a quick reminder of those warmer times with Alex and I splashing in the shallows at Struisbaai.   

Of course, these days, the beaches of the Western Cape are much more famous for beached whales.

Surfers in South Africa are being warned to watch out for sharks off the coast of Cape Point where the carcasses of 55 whales are beached.
The stranded whales were found at Kommetjie Beach.
Hundreds of volunteers had tried to push the False Killer whales back out to sea – around a dozen of them later died of exhaustion and stress while 40 more were shot by authorities.
Although the authorities are clearing the carcasses, Ian Klopper of the National Sea Rescue Institute warned people to be on their guard because sharks may be looking for the whale carcasses.

The official line is that the authorities were shooting the whales because their cries of distress were attracting more whales onto the beach. However, it seems more likely that the whales were shot because South Africans enjoy shooting things and this was too big an opportunity – and too big a target – to miss. Like fish in a barrel. Sort of. 

Obviously, this sort of thing is very sad. No-one likes to see 55 whales dying on a beach. However, I do feel that the criticism of the council response by the local tree-huggers was a little melodramatic:

Carol Brown, formerly with the Durban dolphinarium, said Cape Town was clearly not geared for a mass stranding.
“There should have been rubber ducks and whale stretchers.”

Of course there should, Carol. Unfortunately, the 2009 rubber duck and whale stretcher budget was apparently cut after there were precisely zero mass beachings of whales in the last decade in Cape Town and was spent on something slightly more worthwhile; like building houses for those people living in shacks and providing food for hungry children.
Do make a submission to the City Finance Department for an increased rubber duck and whale stretcher budget for next year though, won’t you? Or better still, move back to Durban and waste their bloody oxygen instead of ours. 


Stupid forms

Ah, the divine VAF1B.
I’ve spent my entire morning filling in three of them to apply for UK visas for my wife, my son and my daughter. Ten pages per application, with crippling repetition, bizarrely detailed requests for bizarre details and stupid questions galore.

For example:

In times of either peace or war have you ever been involved in, or suspected of involvement in, war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide?

Seriously now, who – when applying for permission to enter the UK – is going to answer “Yes” to that one (and then provide full relevant detail in section 9)?
Certainly not my 10-month old daughter. And how can you commit war crimes in times of peace, anyway?

There was a worried look on the face of little Alex as I asked him question 6.14 though:

Have you engaged in any other activities that might indicate that you may not be considered a person of good character?

Especially after he had snatched the cuddly singing snake off his sister earlier in the day. I thought I’d better inform the UK Border Agency of that little incident, since they seem to want to know absolutely bloody everything:

When did you last visit the toilet and was it for number ones or number twos? (If number twos, please fully describe consistency of motion in section 9).

But despite even the most made-up of questions and the infinite detail to be provided, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs still holds the record for the stupidest form ever. Their BI-24 allows you to register your child’s birth, but in the answer space for “Country of Birth”, fails to provide enough spaces for you to write “South Africa”.

I hope heads rolled. Seriously.

Single parent bathing

And lo, it came to pass that I was left at home with two children to bath and put to bed because Mrs 6k had gone out partying. Which shouldn’t really be a problem, because Mrs 6k has single-handedly bathed and bedded the kids on a number of occasions and is full of helpful hints and tips.
Here’s how it goes:

  • Bath child 1 (3 years old) while child 2 (10 months old) crawls lovingly around your feet in the bathroom.
  • Dress child 1 for bed, plonk in parents’ bed in front of Cbeebies.
  • Bath child 2, dress child 2 for bed, give child 2 bottle, put child 2 in cot.
  • Put child 1 to bed.

Simple, ne?

And here’s what actually happened. Note that I have written this in the third person as my therapist advised me this morning that this way, I may be able to forget it more quickly. PammieJane may want to look away at this point.

The Prologue:

  • Child 1 decided to forgo his lunchtime nap in favour of running around the house and shouting a lot.
  • It is now approaching 7pm and child 1 is extremely tired and irritable.
  • “Toothpaste”, child 1’s Eminem doll, has gone missing and it’s the end of the world.

The Main Act
Part 1:

  • “Toothpaste” is successfully located and reunited with child 1. Child 1 stops crying for 18 seconds.
  • Child 1 does not want to get in the bath. Child 1 is placed in the bath and is not happy about it.
  • Child 2 crawls face-first into the bathroom wall and begins to cry.
  • Loving father comforts child 2. Child 1 defaecates in the bath.
  • Child 1 is removed from bath, the mess is sorted out and the bath re-run.
  • Child 1 does not want to get in the bath. Child 1 is placed in the bath and is not happy about it.
  • Child 1 is washed, removed from the bath and dried.
  • Child 1 is now so tired that he is crying because he doesn’t know why he’s crying.
  • Child 1 is clad in PJ’s and told to go into Mommy and Daddy’s room.
  • Child 1 starts crying because he can’t get into the bed: “It’s too messy”.
  • Loving father agrees, removes heap of wife’s clothes from the bed onto the floor.
  • Loving father removes child 2 from beneath heap of wife’s clothes on the floor.

Part 2:

  • Child 2 does not want to get undressed. Child 2 is undressed and is not happy about it.
  • Loving father hears blood-curdling scream from child 1. Loving father’s blood curdles.
  • Loving father runs through into bedroom, mentally planning route to ER with naked child 2 in his arms.
  • Child 1 is aghast: wants to know why Jake from the Tweenies is wearing those shoes.
  • Loving father takes a very deep breath, counts to 10 and takes child 2 to the bath.
  • Child 2 does not want to get in the bath. Child 2 is placed in the bath and is not happy about it.
  • Child 2 is washed, removed from the bath and dried.
  • Child 2 wants to get in the bath. Child 2 is not allowed to get in the bath and is not happy about it.
  • Child 1 has apparently banged his head on his teddy bear and is crying again.
  • Child 2 is clothed, bottled and plonked happily in her cot.

Part 3:

  • Loving father picks up child 1 and takes him to his own bed.
  • Child 1 cries because he wants to watch Charlie & Lola.
  • Loving father gives in before child 1’s crying wakes child 2 and lets child 1 watch Charlie & Lola.
  • Child 1 cries because he doesn’t want to watch Charlie & Lola.
  • Loving father picks up child 1 and takes him to his own bed.
  • Loving father switches light off and heads downstairs.
  • Loving father cries over a large glass of Vrede & Lust Cara (2003).

The Epilogue:

  • Both children awoken by thunderstorm 20 minutes later.

Of course, even if I could, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Especially the wine.