I’m building a power station

I think it’s the only way out of this infernal power crisis.
No lights? Whatever.
No TV? A minor irritation.

But allowing my beers to get warm? Action needs to be taken.

Sod the Government, the captains of industry and the so-called experts countrywide who all say that there is no quick fix. I think they’re blinkered. If everyone builds their own little power station, we’ll be sorted.

As far as I can remember from my physics lessons at school, all you have to do is make steam (water + heat), turn a turbine and Bob’s your uncle.
For your average Southern Suburber, with a pool (water) and a braai (heat), that’s surely not such a big ask.
Apart from the turbine bit.

I drew a quick diagram and presented it to my wife.  With hindsight, I probably should have put it in Powerpoint with some fancy graphics. The back of Alex’s first school painting was not a good idea.
Still, once I had survived the hormone-driven onslaught of the enraged mother and wiped the blood from the plans, the idea seemed to get a cautious welcome.

“What’s that?” she asked, pointing to a hastily scribbled rectangle.
“That’s the pool.”
She hesitated.
“Well, what’s that then?” she asked, pointing to a second rectangle.
“That’s the braai.”
“And this big space?”
“That’s where the turbine will go.”

It didn’t help that the drawing was not to scale and made it look like the turbine was going to take up most of the garden, turning her beloved lawn yellow and (thankfully) squashing her Fatsia japonica, the ugliest plant in existence and rumoured to be a key part of the nightmare which gave John Wyndham the idea for The Day Of The Triffids.
In actual fact, by my calculations, it would also flatten the neighbours pansies as well. And possibly part of their house. But on the bright side, I could probably generate enough electricity to run the pool pump and my beer fridge. Just about.

“How much will it cost?” she asked, suspiciously.

This was a problem. Although running the unit would be relatively economical, subsisting solely on rooikrans bought from the scary lady in the light blue horsebox in Diep River, the initial capital expenditure was a touch over 300 million Rand. The missus turned a strange shade of crimson when I told her this.
Alert enough to recognise the imminent danger, I ran. Almost quickly enough.

Nursing my wounds at the Fireman’s Arms, where the fridges always work and SuperSport plays 24/7, I was approached by a Iranian dwarf who claimed that he could get me a partly decommissioned Russian nuclear power plant for 10,000 US dollars, three gallons of whipped cream and a night with the Ad Wizard.

I have a feeling that I’m going to have the coldest beers in Cape Town this summer, whatever games Eskom play.

Getting it right with baby

Hmm.

  Careful now.             Car seat 

Well, with another one on the way, I guess this might be a good time to polish up on our parenting skills.

This page seems a good place to start, with plenty of helpful advice.

 

Muse in Cape Town

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now.

Are you going to see Muse in Cape Town on 24th March?
You’re not?
Oh, it must be me then.

So goes a variation on a very old Dale Collins joke. And no, it wasn’t really very funny when he did it either.

I can’t recall being more excited about a concert since Glastonbury 2003. And I might not even have been this excited then. I am literally quivering with mounting anticipation. TTypingg iss a problemm.
I think that Muse* are probably the last big band in my “want to see them, but haven’t yet” category. Well, them and the Arctic Monkeys, but Arctic Monkeyism only really took off long after I left the UK. I’ve been wanting to see Muse for ~10 years now, but we (Muse and I) never got together. In leaving the UK, I thought I’d probably blown any chance of ever seeing them (or anyone even half decent).

In truth, Muse aren’t even topping the bill at the My Coke Fest concert.
In truth, there’s a whole lot of detritus to sit through before they come on, but I guess that I can tick a few more bands off the list (and I am looking forward to seeing Kaiser Chiefs).
In truth, although you are probably envisioning a backdrop of Table Mountain with Matt Bellamy giving it some welly up front on Hysteria, it’s more likely to be power cuts and the slightly less romantic backdrop of Rondebosch East, (which will also have a power cut).  
And in truth, although “Muse in Cape Town” sounds like the title of one of those ads for outlandishly expensive concert trips in the back of Melody Maker or Q magazine, it’s actually more a case of “Muse just at the end of our road”.
But that doesn’t sound nearly as cool.

So if you’ll forgive me – I’m going to milk this one for all its worth.
Right back at you, Ms Perry. *wink*

* Some great live downloads available here.

What we learnt in November

Here is what we’ve known since 27th November 2007, but couldn’t tell you until today:

Yep. That's a positive.

Right. Well, I think that’s pretty self-explanatory…

 

Jacob Maroga saved my hearing

Coming hot on the heels of my (as yet unpublished) Jacob Zuma Ate My Hamster post comes some unexpected praise for those masters of the dark arts – Jacob Maroga and Eskom.
For those who aren’t in the SA loop, Jacob Maroga is the CEO of Eskom and Eskom is the company which provides South Africa with electricity.

Sometimes, anyway.

We simply don’t have enough power to go around. I told you about this last week. Then they went and stranded the cable car on Table Mountain – a story which the BBC chose to illustrate with a picture of City Hall taken in 1968.  
Anyway, although I’m pretty sure that the CEOs of major SA industry don’t read this site*, it seems that this week, they have taken my advice and are getting down to the business of dealing with the power outages, rather than moaning about them. Good for you guys.

Anyway, back to my praise of Jacob and Eskom. Why? Because load-shedding has its benefits too.
Obviously, these don’t include the my safety cabinets losing power and MDR-TB starting to drift throughout the lab. That’s not particularly beneficial to anyone, although the shrieks of glee of the recently-freed airborne bacteria was heart-warming to hear.

No. I refer to a particularly ironic and comedic incident as I headed down to the Waterfront for lunch today. Crossing Dock Road, I could hear the sounds of the minstrel jazz band playing along to some cheesy backing track for a crowd of tourists.
Picture the scene. It’s a wonderful atmosphere – the sun is shining, there’s a light breeze and a happy vibe. A backing track plays through a tinny amp while the band – none of them a day under 70, I swear – sit under the trees in the dappled shade; one on bongos, one on a Hammond organ (or similar), one on oil-can guitar and another who occasionally shakes a tambourine, blows a trumpet or sings.

Improvisation is the name of their jazz game. The cerebral musicality of jazz mixed with the visceral groove of funk. 
And their repertoire…? Extensive.
Stretching today to a bloody awful instrumental version of the 1987 Starship hit Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.

Except that then, Maroga and his Eskom boys stepped in, load-shod – and promptly stopped them.

The irony was lost on the tourists, many of whom were only continuing to endure the overly cheesy soft rock hit while trying to work out if the keyboard player was in fact dead or just asleep.
The guitarist spat on the floor, shook his head in disgust and took out a cigarette. For the next two hours, the Waterfront would be listening to the Sounds of Silence…

* They will when I publish details of the ANC President and his rodent-munching antics – senior management loves JZ gossip.