Day 161, part 2 – Hidden scaffolding

I spotted this image on Brian Micklethwait’s (new) blog – a photo he describes thus:

I mentioned the relatively recent phenomenon of buildings covered in scaffolding, and the scaffolding then being covered with a picture of the building.
Last night, I came across an example of this in the photo-archives, dating from 2013

And here it is:

This isn’t something that I’ve seen much (any?) of in South Africa. It could be that I haven’t been in the right place at the right time, of course. Or it could be that we just don’t do that when historic buildings are being repaired.

Norway, though – definitely. I remember being fooled (from a distance at least) when visiting Bryggen – the old wharf in Bergen – part of which was being renovated.

I mean, now you know it’s there, you can zoom in and have a closer look and yes, there is the temporary false facade. Bingo.
But if I’d shared this image without context, you’d surely never have known that two of those seventeen colourful buildings weren’t genuine.

Go closer (by walking around the harbour to the end of the row) and the requirements of sheer functionality make it rather more obvious:

Somewhere out there, there is a company (in fact, possibly more than one) that manufactures bespoke scaffolding covers like this. They’re probably the same ones who have been making the massive decorative tarpaulins that have been covering the empty seats in football stadiums during lockdown.

It does seem an awfully specific product though. Presumably, when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic or repairing historic buildings once every 100 years, there must be some other use for huge specifically-printed pieces of fabric.

But right now, I can’t think what that might be.

Day 160 – (even) More on Masks

It takes quite a lot for me to read a Physics paper. Of the the three, traditional “main” branches of science, Physics was my least favourite. And that’s saying something, given that one of the others is Chemistry.

However, this paper by Verma et al. in the journal Physics of Fluids (please try to restrain your excitement, readers) is actually rather interesting and offers further evidence that masks with exhalation valves are frankly useless in the fight against Covid-19. It also adds that those plastic face shields people are starting to use are equally kak. (In addition, they are not “cloth covering the nose and mouth”, so technically not legal either. Not that that will bother anyone in SA.)


…there is an increasing trend of people substituting regular cloth or surgical masks with clear plastic face shields and with masks equipped with exhalation valves. One of the factors driving this increased adoption is improved comfort compared to regular masks. However, there is a possibility that widespread public use of these alternatives to regular masks could have an adverse effect on mitigation efforts.

Just for the record: “improved comfort compared to regular masks” just means “people being overly dramatic about having to wear a mask”. Having “an adverse effect on mitigation efforts” is merely fancy language for “won’t work at stopping the transmission of Covid-19”.

It’s been said before.

And there are some more of those lovely visualisations of coughs and sneezes, which I screenshotted.
For the clear plastic face shield:

And for the mask with exhalation valves:

Full descriptions and even some delightful (and educational) videos on that link through to the paper, but basically (as you may have already guessed), green cloud is not good. And there’s a lot of green cloud in those images.

So. If you are one of those people who wears one of these masks or face shields or you know someone who does, please (politely) let them know that they’re not helping the situation at all.

Day 159 – Spring Day lolz

Yes. It’s Spring Day. The start of Spring if you are a meteorologist. In the Southern Hemisphere.

And you could almost believe that it was Spring, were it not for the weather warnings issued by… er… meteorologists. In the Southern Hemisphere.

Stuff like:


Actually, tomorrow’s is a bit of a weird one: rather than the usual low pressure flying across the Southern Atlantic from Argentina, this deep low has formed over Namibia and is heading down the West coast as we speak. Were it a bit further inland into the Karoo, we’d be into cut-off low, “Black South Easter” territory, but it looks like this one will sweep around the Cape coast and dissipate as it heads off South West from us into whatever is down there (spoiler: not much).
So not quite another Laingsburg (hopefully anyway), but it will still be wet and windy.

That said, today has been a massive 10 degrees warmer than yesterday, so I’ve done all of the washing and I’m going to lob some burgers on the braai this evening ahead of tomorrow’s nastiness. Because it’s also worth noting that while the rest of the week is also “Spring”, it’s looking every bit as unpleasant going towards the weekend. That’s because of a weak, transatlantic (“normal”) cold front.

I’ve said it before, but when I moved over here, I’m sure that September and October used to be nicer than they are now. The seasonal South Easter would set in sometime around late September and then we’d know that there was a change in seasons. Likewise, it would have moved on by New Year, leaving January and February to just be hot instead of hot and stupidly windy.

All of that has changed. The South Easter hasn’t given up until March in the last few years, ruining an extra three months of otherwise perfectly lovely outside time.

I shall be contacting my local representatives if that happens again this time around.

But hey, that’s all some distance away.
Let’s get through tomorrow’s excitement first, shall we?


Batten down your beagles.

Day 155 – Multi-talented

I helped out with a French lesson this morning. And then I fixed a dishwasher. I think we are all going to have to agree that I am clearly rather multi-talented. To be able to skip between past participles in some foreign tongue and removing a foreign object from the pump impeller of a German (but actually Turkish-made) domestic appliance must surely take some sort of weird skill.

An impeller is a rotating component of a centrifugal pump which transfers energy from the motor that drives the pump to the fluid being pumped by accelerating the fluid outwards from the center of rotation. The velocity achieved by the impeller transfers into pressure when the outward movement of the fluid is confined by the pump casing.

Of course it is. Of course it does.

I’ve done French before, albeit a long time ago. But this was my first ever dishwasher fix. It might not seem like a big deal to you (especially if you are actually a dishwasher repair person), but I was quite chuffed with it. And, as a further positive, I’ve saved us a bit of money: no-one has to come and fix the dishwasher anymore and (for the moment, at least) we don’t have to shell out for French tuition.

Le lave-vaisselle est réparé. C’est bien.

Or… something.

Day 153 – New judgement criterion

Here’s a post tying several other posts of mine together.

This doesn’t happen often, and so when it does, I leap on the opportunity with huge excitement. I may even have lobbed a bit of tautology into the title of the post. Oops.
I’ll try to keep it all sufficiently toned down from now on though, so that we can all get through this together. Let’s go.

Firstly, this post involves advice not to go to the cinema. I have told you about not going to the cinema on several occasions previously. Like this one, for example:

My only interest in films stems from the need to have some sort of awareness of plot and cast for pub quiz purposes. And I don’t need to pay R70 to sit with 100 cellphone-using, popcorn-crunching people in the dark for 3 hours to pick that up.

It’s a lifestyle choice, and it’s one I’m more than happy with.

And now there’s a new reason not to go to the cinema: Coronavirus.
I mention that here:

Cinemas, theatres and casinos?
No: Indoors. Proximity to other people. Prolonged duration of potential exposure. Ticking lots of those High Risk boxes and none of the Absolutely Necessary ones. Red flags everywhere.

And then it was confirmed by the DoH and WHO:

And when we’re doing those mini-risk assessments, the balance on the other end of the see-saw is how necessary or desirable the thing we’re planning to do is.

It seems that Russell Crowe’s new movie doesn’t cut it:

Yes, it would seem that this is the new criterion by which movies should be judged (at least for the time being). I mean, for me, no film would be worth the risk (because necessity = 0 and desirability = 0, while risk > 0), but if you are a cinephile, you might really want to get back to your local movie house and watch… well… not Unhinged, apparently.

In untethering the character from time and context, ‘Unhinged’ defangs him as well, reducing him from an avatar of a grander ugliness to just a guy who’s gone off the rails after having been left behind. And without that, there’s nothing much in the movie that’s worth remembering, much less risking a possible COVID-19 infection to see.


In sharing this, I’m not saying that cinemas aren’t doing everything possible to keep their patrons safe. I’m just suggesting that – like some other places – they can’t possibly do enough. And importantly, some of those efforts will rely on cinema goers following the rules, just like cinema goers have always followed the rules about… say… switching their cellphones off during the movie.


As I’ve mentioned, this isn’t a decision I have to make at all, which is great. But what is also great (in my mind, at least) is the fact that Alison Willmore might well have found the next big thing in film reviews. And who knows what else?

Next week: Is a visit to Joburg worth getting hijacked for?

(it’s a no)