Abandoned

This was the second week in a row this season that our football match has been abandoned due to a proper Cape Town winter storm.

I can’t really fault the decision of the officials. It was wet and windy when we arrived, but as the games before ours got underway, they actually got underwater. It belted down for a solid half hour and despite our best efforts to get on and get playing, it was clearly a lost cause.

Frustrating stuff. Why must it always rain on Tuesdays?

Cold, wet and irritated, I have now arrived home, had a hot shower and lit the fire. I’m now warm and dry, but I would have liked to have had a game of football this evening.

Next week, perhaps? Has anyone seen the forecast?

Don’t joke

Don’t joke about crazy journeys.

I once did that once (it was yesterday) and it almost backfired.

But I don’t have editing time right now: I’ll get to that should I survive my flight back into severely stormy Cape Town this evening.
It could be a crazy journey.
But it would take a bit to beat this one…

Now I don’t believe in tempting fate and all that nonsense, but if I were to believe in it, I’d consider that those lines above would be a really good way of doing it.

The descent into Cape Town last night was distinctly unpretty. In fact, it was a horror show. Bumpy, shaky, loud: wholly unpleasant. There were regular gasps and screams from the length of the cabin as we were chucked around over the Winelands. A member of the cabin crew was knocked clean off her feet. Another was throwing up near the back of the plane. The elderly Muslim gentleman sitting next to me grabbed my arm out of sheer terror. Twice.

Now, I have complete faith in the tolerances and the engineering that go into building passenger aircraft, and also in the tensile strength of the materials involved, but even I had to continually remind myself of these things as we bounced our way down into the Mother City.

When we did make it down onto the runway, it was with a big bang. And when we finally made it to a full stop, my neighbour gently whispered “Thank Allah” under his breath, which I thought was a little unkind given the best efforts of the well-trained pilots. But then I vaguely recalled that the First Officer had introduced himself as Allah van Zyl prior to departure, so I guess that’s maybe what he was thinking.

Even when we were sitting safely on the tarmac awaiting the stairs to take us out into the cold evening, the plane was still bumping around, being buffeted by the wind which was gusting to 100kph.

The dash to the terminal was fun, with horizontal rain, lost hats, mild swearing and relieved laughter filling the air.

Nastiest 15 minutes of my flying life? Probably. I really didn’t enjoy it.

Props (no pun intended) then to Captain Jesus Schoeman* and Big A the First Officer for getting us down safely.

I have no air travel planned for the foreseeable future.

 

* possibly a made-up name.

Thursday

Not today, obviously. Today is… [checks]… Today is Monday, and all is well.

Still, if all continues to go well (and, given the way this country “works”, that’s certainly not guaranteed), Thursday is but… [checks]… three days away. And it’s going to be a bit wet and wild by all accounts.

I went to my usual contacts and looked to see just how large this allegedly “large” winter storm was going to be, and here’s what I found:

Grey bit on the left: South America. Grey bit on the right: Africa.
Quite a lot of the intervening South Atlantic: large winter storm.

Blimey.

I felt compelled to break into song:

According to all sources (what sources now),
The street’s the place to go (we better hurry up).
‘Cause [Thursday in the early hours] for the first time (first time)
Just about half-past [two] (half past [two])
For the first time in history
It’s gonna start raining… er… rain.

It’s raining rain, hallelujah!
It’s raining rain, amen!

Just for absolute clarity, I have changed a couple of the lyrics because nothing relating to this story is happening tonight, just about half past ten. No, the first rain is actually more likely to fall sometime after midnight going into Thursday morning. And this won’t actually be the first rain in history, because there has been rain previously. Although not very much since 2014.

One of the few bits that I didn’t change was the advice about the street being “the place to go”. However, with hindsight, I probably should have done something about this. It does seems like a very bad idea when you consider it more carefully. The forecast winds are such that there could actually be some structural damage, and so I’d actually feel much better if you were all safely tucked up somewhere inside. In fact, given the possible severity of this storm, the street actually seems to be one of the worst possible places to go. I don’t know which sources were being quoted in the song, but they seem poorly informed and probably not worth listening to. Still, we’re all adults here and we can make our own decisions. I’m just saying that going to the street wouldn’t be one of mine.

Currently, it appears that this large winter storm isn’t nearly as large as the large(r) winter storm which came through last June. And that’s probably why we’re not really panicking about it just yet. That was the largest storm to hit Cape Town since 1984, whereas this will only be the largest storm to hit Cape Town since that one did.

That day, according to all sources, Kommetjie was the place to go and so I spent the afternoon down there ‘togging waves. But that was actually really great advice and so they must surely have been different sources from the ones above.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the approaching nastiness for the next couple of days, so why not pop to Facebook and hit that like button (if that’s something you’re into, 2018-style) to be kept up to date with that and other stuff on the blog?

What is Sea Foam?

And so, the GREAT STORM OF JUNE 2017© has passed over Cape Town. Schools were damaged, trees were toppled, roads were flooded, homes were lost, people were killed. Anyone lamenting the decision to close the schools here yesterday should maybe have taken a quick drive around and seen the devastation.

But I digress. Often.

On a lighter (no pun intended) note, there were also myriad photo opportunities, including some (or more) of spume – the technical name for that foam that covered everything in Sea Point and everywhere else.

But what is this stuff? Why is it there? Can I make my own sea foam? Is it dangerous? Can you eat it?
Never fear. We’re here to answer your questions.

It’s called spume, as I mentioned above. From the Latin spuma – “to froth or foam”.
And it’s there because chemicals within the seawater – usually naturally occurring chemicals such as salts, proteins, lipids and dead algae – act as surfactants. (Just like chemicals that you’ll find in your shampoo and shower gel.) Surfactants are chemicals which lower the surface tension of water, allowing for easy formation of tiny bubbles, especially when that water is agitated. And repeatedly flinging millions of tonnes of seawater from heights of around 10 metres directly onto rocks can certainly be considered agitation. And thus, billions of tiny bubbles are created with every wave hitting the shore.
When they adhere to one another, these tiny bubbles form spume, which is then thrown around by the waves and blown around by the wind until all our local roads are covered.

If you want to see this phenomenon from the warm comfort of your home, you can make your own sea foam in a jam jar. Fill it about 90% full of water (it’s ok, there’s loads to go around after this week), put the lid on and give it a good agitate (shake it). You make bubbles by the forcing air into the water, but then they quickly disappear as the surface tension kicks in and tells the water how it should be behaving.
Now add a teeny tiny drop of dishwashing liquid (full of surfactants) and maybe a drop of egg white (protein) or some of your wife’s Huge Muscle™ Supplement, and maybe a tiny blob of margarine (lipids). You don’t need much of any of these extra ingredients. Pop the lid back on (always a good idea) and give it another shake. This time, the bubbles stay put when you stop shaking. Bingo – sea foam.

Is spume safe? Yes, generally. But there are exceptions.
Those surfactants can also come from non-natural sources: sewage outlets, oil slicks, pollution and other places, like red tide algal blooms. A good sign of this is the presence of foam even when there is little agitation, or foam which is brown, black, red or thick (like a chocolate mousse). These foams are best avoided.

You shouldn’t eat spume. Don’t eat spume. Tell your kids not to eat spume.

6000 miles… Informing, Educating, Entertaining. And now craving a Milk Stout.

Storm chasing and slapstick

I spent the afternoon on the Atlantic seaboard, chasing photos and enjoying the wind.

You can see what I saw by clicking here.

The evening was spent at Camps Bay’s Theatre On The Bay for the rather excellent and ever so amusing The Play That Goes Wrong.

Would highly advise that you go along and see it if you get the chance. Take nappies, because you will laugh that much.