Eclipse later today

In Southern Africa (or Patagonia) this evening? Don’t miss the partial solar eclipse later on today.

Weather permitting, Durban, Johannesbeagle, Cape Town and the rest of SA will all able to see a bite-shaped chunk missing from the side of the sun as the moon passes between us and it.

The Astronomical Society of South Africa website has all the details you need, including (but not limited to) this gif:

Yes, I was a bit concerned when the sun suddenly fell out of the Durban sky first time I saw it, too. Everything’s ok though. It’s just that we get a bit more eveningsworth for our money in the Mother City.

PLEASE, PLEASE! check their “How Do I Look?” section for hint and tips on safely watching the eclipse. It’s never safe to look directly at the sun, even if it’s almost half hidden.

And please share this post far and wide so that others get the chance to see the eclipse too. Thanks.

Nearly ready

Sure, I’m a non-believer, but any excuse for a party, and the fact that it’s going to be 30ºC here tomorrow and there’s a swimming pool and some cold beer seems like a good enough excuse for me. Whatever the religious reasons behind Christmas, we see it as a time to get together with family and friends, eat some good food and reward the kids (and ourselves where possible) for surviving another year. The car got rewarded with R5100’s worth of new shoes this morning. My wallet is feeling decidedly unrewarded.

The beagle is roasting on an open fire and Jack Frost has just been in touch to say that he’s never seen Cape Town, but he might just turn up (he won’t – unreliable bugger). The Carols from Kings CD is prepped in the living room and the last gift was bought at an alarming 11:31am today. Beers are on hold until the last family member has been picked up from the Deep(ish) South, but that’s no big deal. Plenty of time for catch up.

I have lots of writing deadlines to meet, none of which I am going to manage to fulfill, and a million YouTube videos to look at. My drone didn’t make it in time for Christmas, which is sad, but much like the beers, plenty of time for catch up.

Yesterday’s rain would normally have been most welcome, but the drive home was testing and stressful. Mrs 6000’s Whatsapp images from the start and (almost) the end of the journey tell the story.


And then we had shedloads of holiday washing to do and no means of getting it dry. Disaster.
Still – it’s done and now we have green grass for a few days, so I’m happy enough.

I’m now off to hoover the beagle as part of the sprucing up of the house ahead of the potential arrival of this evening’s red-coated intruder.

Bye for now.

Whites

When Julius Malema becomes president and drives all the whites into the sea, it’ll be a real waste. Not least because the outstanding Chardonnay we tried at Groot Constantia yesterday would presumably be among those whites that we’d lose. To be fair, it’s already sold out (much like Julius will if that time ever comes), so there’s limited danger of any imminent loss, but still, it would be a mistake to lose such wonder to an unnecessary salty grave.

We went strictly old skool tasting yesterday. Groot Constantia, Steenberg and Klein Constantia. None of your Beau, Glen or Nest here.

We had a look around the cellars at Groot Constantia, assisted by the informative and interesting Rayno. (Voucher prize from mother-in-law’s church raffle used, so I’m actually not sure how much cellar tour/tasting costs. Professional, ne? Lol.)
As you might expect, it’s a groot operation, but all was carefully explained, and I was delighted to learn that they are releasing a brandy in the (very) near future.
Wine is nice, but I’m more of a fan of red than of white. But that Chardonnay was a revelation. Lightly oaked, butterscotch and toast, just… lovely. I was surprised at myself.

Steenberg’s whites were also really good, their Semillion and the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion blends particularly so. But it was their Pinot Noir MCC which stole the show. Really fresh, slight blush, fun to engage with. But enough about me – the wine was pretty good too. Stanley was our guide, taking us around the cellar, explaining the processes, answering our questions. All very professional and informative again.
(Flagship tasting @ R70. We also got a free cellar tour.)

And then to Klein Constantia with their rich history and Agapanthus-lined avenues.

Very inviting.

(Standard tasting, R50pp, one tasting waived per bottle bought)
Their stuff is good – no question about it – but generally I felt it rather overpriced. Sure, wine for special occasions deserves a bit more cash to be splashed, but if I were going to splash that extra cash, I’d fancy my chances of finding something better for those additional Randelas.
But then, as always, they brought out their Vin de Constance and nothing else really mattered. SA’s top wine and 10th in the world; it’s like no other. It was the last of [several] wines that we tried yesterday, and what a way to go out. It is unique. And utterly captivating.

We had a great day on the Constantia Wine Route. The farms we visited seemed geared up and ready for the upcoming holiday season and the wine we drank (especially those whites) was really noteworthy.

If you have the time in the near future, get out there and support local business while enjoying some amazing scenery and really world-class products.

From Space

Here’s an image of South Africa from space, via NASA’s Modis/Terra satellite. Modis is Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (I know – it doesn’t quite work, does it?)

With its sweeping 2,330-km-wide viewing swath, MODIS sees every point on our world every 1-2 days in 36 discrete spectral bands. Consequently, MODIS tracks a wider array of the earth’s vital signs than any other Terra sensor. For instance, the sensor measures the percent of the planet’s surface that is covered by clouds almost every day.

That’s conveniently just about the width of South Africa, allowing this sort of shot:

rsz_dsc_0954

Click through for hugeness and detail.

You can see that we were having a wonderful day in Cape Town (although I spent it in a lab, in a car and at Tygerberg Hospital, rather than chilling at a bar by the beach).

I’m hoping to be able to get a repeat image to compare when the cold front comes through on Thursday evening (it’ll be dark, I know) and through Friday morning.

Smile through the tears

Hard(er) times are coming for SA. The effects of high inflation and the weak Rand are beginning to show more and more, with new stories of job losses, struggling families and desperation becoming an almost daily occurrence. It’s heartbreaking and it’s worrying.

Even those of us who are lucky enough not to be directly affected are seeing a difference. The shopping bill is suddenly through the roof, the requests to help support more members of people’s families and friends are up, and the soaring crime rate is back on the agenda at every braai and dinner party (not that it ever really went away). Such is the lack of confidence in our beleaguered police force that petty criminals can act with complete impunity knowing that their victims won’t even bother to register a case, as all parties concerned are well aware that nothing will come of it.

Here’s a good example:

Opportunistic thieves were caught on a dashcam by Cape Town businessman Marc Nussey last Thursday just after 11am, casually opening the canopy of a bakkie that stopped at a traffic light before making off with a box of toothpaste and other goods.

Nussey posted pictures and a video of the incident on Facebook to warn people and identify the culprits.

He said when he caught up with the driver and told him what had happened, the man did not seem interested in laying charges.

And in the same report:

The Facebook post attracted a number of responses, including from one man who said he watched the same men snatching a box of frozen food from a similar bakkie.

“I jumped out and chased them into Lavender Hill, but could not catch them. I then drove directly to Kirstenhof (police station) to report the crime. They practically yawned in my face,” he wrote.

Still, there’s always hope. And the hope comes in the spirit of one of the other comments on the thread:

Last month, a motorist warned people to stay alert when he saw some guys forcing open a delivery vehicle and running away with a large tin of tomatoes “all in view of a metro police vehicle standing two car lengths ahead”.

“The delivery guy gave chase picking up a brick and unleashed from 10m range, hitting the skollie between the (shoulder) blades who returned fire with the tin of tomatoes like a world-class shot putt athlete.”

The problems are real, but I feel that while we’ve still got a sense of proportion (and humour) about them, for the most part, they’re manageable. The situation is bringing out an almost altruistic “Blitz” spirit in people and that’s good to see.

Just how far that can carry us is up for debate though.