Funny, not funny

Nuclear disasters aren’t very amusing. Fortunately, they only happen very, very occasionally: so much so that you can probably only name the same Big Three that I can.

This story references a nuclear disaster that hasn’t happened yet. Indeed, there’s no evidence or suggestion that it ever will. And that’s why I feel that I’m allowed to find it a bit amusing.

First off, in the event of a nuclear accident at Koeberg (Koeberg being our local nuclear power station (the only one in Africa, nogal)), my first instinct would not be to head to the city centre anyway. Given that Koeberg is pretty much in the bottom corner of Africa, I would hesitate to head further into the bottom corner of Africa should there be any sort of radioactive leak.

That’s not where you want to be. Especially if it’s going to take you three hours to get there.

Additionally, should Koeberg go bang bang, residents in (Uns)Table View will surely not be the only ones anxious to vacate the general area. I reside in the much more gentile, verdant, pleasant surroundings of the Southern Suburbs, but in the unlikely event of Koeberg going off, I’m not going to hang around to see what happens next: I’m heading out of Cape Town along with everyone else. I’ll review the situation from the interminable queues in godforsaken Somerset West or something. I shouldn’t really have to say this, but Table View’s local traffic congestion is really just one small part of a much, much bigger problem if one or both of our local nuclear reactors happen to meltdown.

But then, why would you drive anyway?

Another resident, Cindy Welch, said it recently took her an hour to reach Table View High School, which is four kilometres away from her home, due to traffic congestion.

You’re not stuck in the traffic, Cindy; you are the traffic.

Four kilometres is entirely walkable. Or jogable. Or cyclable. Especially if the motorised alternative is going to take an hour. And even more so if there’s a big explodey mushroom cloud lighting up the sky behind you. I reckon you’d be shocked as to how quickly you can get yourself 4km from your current location with just the gentle persuasion of an impending nuclear catastrophe for assistance, Cindy.

Of course, all this is assuming the worst case scenario, which is a full reactor core meltdown at 8am on a wet Monday morning in August.

And that’s a rather pessimistic approach, isn’t it?

There are many other days, other times and other prevailing meteorological conditions on and under which Koeberg might conceivably explode. For example, it might happen 3am on a Sunday and the roads of Table View might be completely empty.

In which case, a quick getaway is almost completely guaranteed.

So why are we spending millions and millions of Rands on bigger roads, just in case the apocalypse happens during morning rush hour? Madness.

I’m here to suggest a controversial – but actually rather reasonable – alternative. Instead of building more roads connecting Table View to everywhere else, why not just build a Big Wall and isolate Table View from everywhere else?

Hear. Me. Out.

Firstly, this will clearly benefit anyone living outside Table View. Remember that:

approximately 40 500 people use the R27 from Table View to the city each day

well, they’ll immediately be taken out of the equation and will be unable to cause congestion on the other major escape routes out of the city, meaning that other, normal people will have more chance of survival.
Additionally, if the wall is big enough, it might actually contain some of the nuclear fallout from any Koeberg disaster.

Double bonus.

And as for the unfortunate residents of Table View, well, are they really any worse off?

No. Not at all.

As this news article clearly states, they were never going to successfully make it out alive anyway. You’re never going to outrun a deadly cloud of enriched uranium particles going at four kilometres an hour. It’ll take you an hour to even get to the High School, which – like you – will be completely and overwhelmingly contaminated by the time you get there. You might as well just stay where you are and see if you develop any (more) interesting mutations ahead of your inevitable death.

The City of Cape Town don’t have a great record in listening to my amazing ideas, but I suppose that they might have seen the whole iceberg thing as being a bridge too far. Simply diverting funds which have already been allocated for road building on the West Coast across to wall building on the West Coast really doesn’t seem too difficult, especially given the evidence I have presented here.

I’ll sent Patricia an email – I’m sure she’s not got much on her plate at the moment.

Not a great start

It’s not been a great start to the day.

My phone’s software updated yesterday and reset the volume setting on the alarm clock. This was never going to be a good thing. Either it was going to be very, very quiet or IT WAS GOING TO WAKE UP EVERYONE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD!

I almost soiled myself when it turned out to be the latter, but that blast of volume was actually the better option as I had had a particularly restless night. My uneasy slumbers had been punctuated by dreams of Godzilla hurling flaming cars from the M3 onto nearby sports fields. And that wasn’t even the worst bit: some of the drivers of those cars had agrostophobia, and those that survived the impact and the resulting blaze found themselves wholly triggered. It was awful.

You can see why I feel somewhat unrested.

And then, with assessments for both kids beginning today, the careful balancing act on the drive to school between recognising the importance of the tests and not scaring our little cherubs half to death. And it really doesn’t help when one is so laid back he’s practically horizontal and the other is concerned that she might get a sum wrong.
At some point.
During the rest of her life.

With them suitably advised (one newly terrified, one newly blasé) (well, done, Dad), I headed off to work. I could have taken the M3, and indeed it was probably the route of choice, but the chances of being attacked by a mutated dinosaur seemed so much higher along that route, so I took the low road instead.

Along with everyone else who was avoiding death by traumatic exposure to grass.

Desperate times called for entirely sensible measures, and thus I employed a mixture of soothing Ludovico Einaudi and Susanne Sundfør to calm me down as those around me (many of them in these categories) gave their best efforts at sabotaging any attempts at me getting to the lab in time to complete yesterday’s experiments.

Suffice to say, thanks to Ludo’s Petricor [sic] and Susanne’s The Golden Age, I remained calm, focussed and got to work in time to add the appropriate reagents at an appropriate time.

It’ll take more than dinosaurs, dodgy alarm clocks, the spectre of school examinations and all of the traffic in Cape Town to beat me.

Although I could do with a nap right now.

Traffique

Back in Cape Town. The traffic heading back into the city after the long weekend, together with the rain sweeping across the Western Cape made for a long, miserable and taxing journey home.

Which idiot decided on that 500m of single carriageway between the bottom of Sir Lowry’s Pass and Somerset West? Who thought that would be a good idea?
Tosser.

I’m tired, and so I’ll sort out a few photos and some more words for you tomorrow.

Ok?
Ok.

Late one

I’ll just slip this in before midnight…

image

Another packed day, another bike ride with the boy – followed by a long drive home in the post-Easter traffic (at least the views were nice) and friends staying over this evening.

Back to life, back to reality tomorrow.
Let’s chat again then.

An open letter of congratulation and gratitude to all at Gott 2 Tour tour bus company in Cape Town

Hello all at Gott 2 Tour tour bus company in Cape Town,

You don’t know me, and I haven’t “Gott 2 Tour” (LOL!), but I was fortunate enough to witness a selfless act of humanity by one of the drivers of your 16-seat minibus tour vehicles yesterday evening. In the world today, there are far too few selfless acts of humanity and even fewer open letters of congratulation and gratitude recognising these selfless acts of humanity. Perhaps this is why society is falling apart around us. Or perhaps not. Either way, I don’t feel that it could do any harm for me to write you an open letter of congratulation and gratitude recognising the selfless act of humanity that I witnessed last night.

Picture the scene, if you will, on the M5 Southbound carriageway at around 5:15pm. Mmm… messy.
Somehow – bewilderingly – the traffic seems worse than usual. I realise that this doesn’t seem possible, since the upgrade to Koeberg Interchange effectively destroyed any hope of reasonable traffic flow from the N1 south, but believe me, as a regular driver of this route, things were slower than I was used to; a sure sign of some sort of incident up ahead.

Just north of Berkley, alongside the three lanes of near stationary traffic, a tow truck raced past in the yellow lane on the left hand side of the carriageway. One could see the sudden realisation sweep across the rows frustrated drivers as they suddenly realised that there must be an accident on the road ahead.
No relief from the queues, sure, but at least some reason behind the excessive delay and at least some help was on the way to clear the road and get the traffic moving again.

But you know, much like the proverbial London buses, tow trucks never come one at a time. This is actually quite a good thing, because quite often, there is more than one vehicle involved in an accident and all of the damaged parties have to be removed from the carriageway before the horrible congestion can begin to be addressed. And indeed, true to form, along came another tow truck, its shiny black paintwork gleaming in the evening sunshine.

Now, it should be noted that, technically, driving in the yellow lane isn’t actually allowed. I know this, the traffic police know this, the tow truck drivers know this. But in these cases, where everything else is like a parking lot, the cops are willing to overlook this minor transgression in order to get the tow truck to the scene of the accident, get the road cleared and get the literally hundreds of cars stuck behind the crash, moving again. But the law is the law. And those tow truck drivers were breaking it. We know that everyone hates tow trucks: they’re second only to the minibus taxis and way, way ahead of Golden Arrow buses who occupy third place when it comes to inciting extremes of hypertension amongst the populous of Cape Town.

Naughty tow truck drivers. Naughty.

Gott 2 Tour employees reading this should have no fear, however. I know that the driver of your (empty) white minibus – registration GOTT 3 WP – was aware of this naughtiness as well, because his inner superhero kicked in and he swerved across the inside lane and got his wheels across the yellow line to quickly and effectively block the tow truck. In some sort of twisted analogy for Apartheid, the fat, white bus prevented the sleek, black tow truck from going about his business.

Ha! That’ll show him that we won’t stand for his flagrant disregard for the laws of this country! Yeah, he’s going nowhere now, certainly not past all these irritated drivers and to the scene of the accident up ahead where he will hopefully be able to assist with getting the traffic flow going again and get these hundred of people safely and timeously back to their respective families.
And who cares if I am technically breaking the law by driving at 2kph partially in the yellow lane, because I’m stopping the tow truck driver from driving in the yellow lane, because that’s breaking the law.

So weird though, because there was so little recognition of his selfless act of humanity from the other motorists around him. It was almost as if they were thinking, “Dude, don’t be a twat. That tow truck is going to remove the blockage ahead and get me home in time to see my kids before they go to bed”.
Almost exactly like that, it was.

There was a sort of slow motion stand-off going on over to my left. For second after second, Mr Gott et al, your driver used your tour bus (and effectively, your livelihood) as a rolling barricade to prevent the – now understandably irritated – tow truck driver from getting past in the yellow lane. Well done, tour bus driver! You’ve made a stand for the common man, facing up bravely to the tyranny of the tow truck fraternity and merely inconveniencing everyone else on the entire road as a slightly unfortunate by-product.

Eventually though, your driver realised that he couldn’t keep this courageous behaviour up all the way home, as the margins for error were becoming smaller and smaller thanks to the thoroughly pissed off and increasingly desperate tow truck driver, who seemed almost prepared to see if his vehicle would fit through the tempting – but not ever so wide – gap between bus and kerb.
Eventually, a whole 45 seconds after he began his epic crusade, your driver relented, went back to driving legally, and allowed the tow truck past.

But, you know, point made, right? Right.

If there were medals for holding up a law-breaking tow truck in the traffic for almost a minute while slightly breaking the law yourself, your driver would have got one.  Because that’s exactly what he did. But now the bad news, all at Gott 2 Tour tour bus company in Cape Town: I’ve checked, and sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any precedent for awarding medals in this somewhat niche category.

And so it comes down to me to express my congratulations and gratitude in this, an open letter of… er… congratulation and gratitude to all at Gott 2 Tour tour bus company in Cape Town.

I think I can safely speak for all the frustrated motorists on the M5 yesterday evening when I say that I will certainly not forget the actions of your driver.