Life lessons from Eskom

Eskom (our state-notverywell-run power utility) has warned again of potential loadshedding this evening*. Of course, the system could always go tits up well before that, or not at all. I realise that this isn’t an exact science and despite also being really pissed off about it, I do see that there’s no point in pretending that their predictive abilities should be 100%.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

And while not wanting in the slightest to normalise loadshedding (because we should be angry and vocal about it) we still need to get on with our lives. Being aware of what might be happening later allows us to plan ahead and be prepared. We don’t have to enjoy it, but it does make a crappy situation slightly more bearable if you know it’s coming.

Equally, if there are simple actions we can all take to mitigate the risk of loadshedding, I don’t see why we shouldn’t take them. Surprise, surprise: most of these actions involve using less electricity. People mock Eskom as being the only company in the world trying to dissuade customers from using its product, but actually, most utilities (water, gas, electricity) around the globe recognise that sensible usage of resources is a good thing. I remember visits to school from the Yorkshire Electricity Board telling us to switch off lights and not overfill kettles – it’s just the same sort of idea.

An aside: When Eskom announce these “ways to cut down on your electricity usage and help us avoid loadshedding” things, some people will always respond with something along the lines of:

Screw you. I’m going to use as much electricity as I can, just because you said not to. I’m not listening to your advice, you useless, corrupt bunch of [afrikaans anatomy]. Switching ALL my lights on RIGHT NOW!

These people are fucking idiots, and will be the same ones who complained about the size of their electricity bill just a few days previously. Not only will this raise the chances of loadshedding (albeit by a tiny amount), it will also cost them more money at the end of the month. Tosspots.

Anyway, I digress. Often.

Eskom really took the proverbial biscuit this time around, by telling South Africa how to use… a window and some curtains.

Seriously:

Right. It’s a complex set of instructions, but I’m going have a go at explaining it. I think (think) what they are saying is that when it is light outside… and you need some of that light to come inside into your living room or bedroom… you should open your curtains and/or blinds. This will allow unfettered passage of light through the transparent aperture in the window space, and into the room in question.

So that’s light… from outside… coming inside. Still with me? Good.

But oh noes! This will surely only work¬†during the day! That’s because after the day, the sun goes to sleep and is replaced by the night shift crew of the moon and the stars, so there is no light. Apparently, the technical term for this is “dark”. Even if you open your curtains and blinds at this time, no light will come inside from outside, because there is no light to come inside from outside.

It seems that at this point, the general advice is that you should switch on electric lights. Assuming that electricity is available to make them work (and really, who knows if that will be the case), this will allow the room to be lit from the inside. You should probably remember to close your curtains and blinds if you are taking this approach, because otherwise, the light will escape to the outside and the Luftwaffe will know where to bomb.

Not good.

Wow. I’m already exhausted. I think we need to take a break here, before we overload on how to use “curtains” and “blinds”. It’s all just so deeply technical.

So let’s leave it here for now, maybe read through this again when you’ve had a quick nap. But be warned: tomorrow, we move onto “doors” and “doorways” and the advantages of them being open when trying to use them as a means of entering or exiting a room.

But don’t worry about that right now. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Today is all about windows. And loadshedding.

 

 

* post written Thursday lunchtime