Stranger Clock

The first thing you need to know is that I have been watching Stranger Things with my daughter over the last week or so. We’re getting through a couple of episodes each evening. She’s completely engaged, and I’m actually quite enjoying it too, which is probably the strangest thing about the whole situation.

The second thing you need to know is that I was given a clock for Father’s Day. One like this:

It’s chunky, about 40cm x 15cm, and it is the perfect clock for the little gym thing we’ve got going on in the granny flat down the garden.

However…

Having mounted it on the wall earlier in the week, and then watched a particularly gory episode of Stranger Things, when I sent the beagle out to do its thing before bedtime, it was somewhat disconcerting to see this sort of eerie, ethereal red glow emanating from the bottom of the garden.

It took a moment to understand what was going on, but then I quickly realised that it was just the light from the new clock.

Right?

Look at me

A lovely Father’s Day morning, followed by a trip to the drop-off area at the local airport to get Mrs 6000 onto her first of eight flights over the next week and a half as she jetted off to Joburg to catch a real plane. And suddenly, it’s just me and the kids. And therefore, by a process of elimination…

(If you don’t count the kids.) (And the beagle, of course.)

Already, I have been tapped up by my son who is now going out with his mates this evening.

Real life continues here, with Dodgeball training, guitar lessons and horse-riding continuing as normal, and so we will live vicariously through the photos and stories from overseas for the next 10 days.

Safe travels, sweetie!

For the kids

And so, after 24 hours which have very, very nearly given us 100mm of rain in Cape Town, I find myself sitting in a car park near an oil refinery, in the dark and the continuing downpour, as the Boy Wonder trains for his next Big Thing (more about that at a later date).

The car park in question is about 30 sodden, spray-laden, trafficky kilometres from our house, and so with the session being two hours and the petrol price being what it is, I will sit here with my coffee, my portable hotspot for the internets and write a blog post as I overlook the lake.

Which… wasn’t there yesterday.

Not worth the effort and money of going home. And probably much safer to be here than on the road right now. In a country where every day is like driving in a video game, driving in the dark and the rain are like giving Pro Mode a try. You can get a hi-score just by arriving safely at your destination.

Of course, running your kids to various parties, events, classes and such is all part of being a modern day parent, And I’m very happy to support my children in all their chosen endeavours.

But there’s a lovely fire and a warm TV full of UEFA Nations League at home, and if I’m honest, I can’t help but feel that I’d rather be there than here right now.

Difficult decisions made easier

The biggest ever petrol price increase in South African history kicks in tonight at midnight. At present, the (government-regulated) petrol price is estimated to go up by an additional R3.50 for a litre of the good stuff. And while that might be nought pounds noughty-nought to you, that’s a massive amount to all South Africans, representing an overnight increase of around 16.6%.

And of course, that increase will be felt by businesses as well, and they will pass on their higher costs onto their consumers and so your man on the street is going to get smacked with even more increased prices for… well… for everything.

And that means that even more individuals and families are going to have to make some difficult decisions as to what they can and can’t afford, and as to what has to be let go.

Fortunately, one company has just helpfully raised their head above the parapet for me.

Yesterday, we were informed that my daughter’s music lesson this evening at a local music school (let’s call it the College of Stone for the purposes of this blog post) was cancelled due to loadshedding this evening.

I was actually impressed with their organisation. Letting us know what was going on over 24 hours in advance. Nice work.

However, due to some magic deity smiling down upon us, there is no loadshedding this evening.

So I call the good College people this afternoon just to check that the lesson is now going ahead as usual and they say no, because they “can’t reinstate a lesson once it’s been cancelled”.

Thankfully (for them), they can still charge us for it though.

Now, I wasn’t happy at the lesson being cancelled, even more so at still having to pay for it, but it’s not the College of Stone’s fault that loadshedding happens, and while my daughter shouldn’t have to miss out on her lesson thanks to the crappy local electricity monopoly and years of horrific corruption therein, nor should the College of Stone have to lose out on their income. I do get that.

But now there is no loadshedding – it’s what passes for a “good electricity day” in South Africa – and they’re still not providing the service we’re paying them for, even though there’s now no reason for them not to… well, to paraphrase Radiohead:

When I am King making those difficult decisions, they will be first against the wall.

I’m well used to crappy service in South Africa, but this is a new low. The only positive is that it does make one of those upcoming unfortunate decisions a whole lot easier.

On dangers in schools

Heartbreaking visuals and stories from Texas this morning as we woke to news of yet another school shooting in the USA. As a parent hearing these things, you always subconsciously put yourself in the position of those who sent their kids off to school on what should have been just another normal day, only for things never to be the same again, and you take special care to tell your kids that you love them as they head off to class.

And yes, my kids also go through active shooter and lockdown drills at school. They shouldn’t have to.

Sure, we can’t protect our children from everything, but there’s no justification in the incomprehensibly wicked act that we are hearing about today. Neither from the individual, nor from the laws and institutions that made it possible for it to take place.
And yet there will be plenty that will claim that this is a false flag; plenty more that will argue that it’s a price we have to pay for keeping our “freedoms” intact.

You don’t have to listen to them. Today or any other day.

The cartoon above isn’t from today. People can argue that “freedom” point until they’re blue in the face.

I’ll happily listen to their arguments on masks. I recognise that masks aren’t perfect. I think we’d all rather not have to wear them. But – and yes, of course I have done a lot of reading around this – they do offer a degree of protection against infection. And that’s hugely valuable and when known Covid positive individuals are allowed (and even encouraged, nogal!) to be out and about amongst the general public and – specifically in this case – in classrooms, we need every bit of defence and protection we can get.

One in every five symptomatic people still with active, infectious virus in their nasal passages 11 days after their positive test. One in six after 12 days. Still more than one in sixteen after two weeks.

And yet they’re allowed back into school 7 days after their symptoms begin (and we’re told to wait 5 days for a test!). Asymptomatic kids don’t have to stay off school at all. And then we wonder why there is so much morbidity continuing around us.

No. Covid isn’t as bad as being shot dead in your classroom. But it’s so easy to help protect our kids against it. So I’ll listen to your case on masks and I’ll state mine. We might agree: I doubt it, but there’s always that possibility. And then we’ll keep on wearing masks in schools.

Guns, though? No. I’m not listening. Been there, tried that.
Because there is no balance to be had there, there’s nothing to argue.

The South African pro-gun lobby will proudly and loudly brandish their occasional stories of an allegedly foiled hijacking or burglary, illogically extrapolating that to explain how an armed citizen could somehow prevent every incident of local crime, while conveniently ignoring the horrendous number of daily firearm-related deaths in SA and the number of household guns stolen (20,000+ each year) which clearly only exacerbates the problems we face here.

And yes, I know the police have their guns stolen, too. And that’s equally crap.
But adding yours to the pot still doesn’t help anyone, does it?

And then their comparing South Africa’s situation with the USA’s. Sure, both have unacceptably high gun deaths and both have differing gun laws. But they are wholly different societies and thus the comparison is also wholly invalid. It’s only made because it favours their case.
It’s the same tactic as choosing to compare Sweden’s “no lockdown” [sigh] Covid response and stats with (say) Bulgaria’s. Sweden suddenly looks amazing. But compare Sweden’s stats with countries that are actually like Sweden, such as Norway, Denmark and Finland, rather than an impoverished, ex-Soviet bloc totalitarian state, and suddenly, it all falls apart. So they don’t do that.
Rather compare the US with Canada or the UK on the gun issue. But they won’t, because that doesn’t fit their agenda.

Of course, the irony comes when the you realise that those advocating for masks to be banned “to protect our kids” and those suggesting that “every citizen should carry a gun”, are exactly the same people. The Venn diagram is actually just a circle.

It would be laughably stupid if the consequences weren’t so very damaging.