A surprise, yet scheduled, power cut today. For infrastructure maintenance, we’re told. That’s good. Some places don’t get their electricity infrastructure maintained. Like the rest of South Africa, for example.
Ostensibly, we’re off for a whole 14 hours. Without warning, nogal.
Well, apparently, there was a warning, but we weren’t told about it. And that’s one of the fundamental things about warnings. If you don’t get them, then you are very much unwarned.
And so we are quite literally without electricity, without warning.

It’s like getting loadshedding back, which might be good training for next week when everyone thinks we’ll be getting loadshedding back…

An aside for foreign readers: next week is election week here, and it’s widely believed that loadshedding has been done away with for the last 7 weeks in the hope that the voting public will conveniently forget that the current (no pun intended) ruling party can’t even supply the most basic of services. Quite whether this is true or not is up for debate, but it’s an entirely reasonable suggestion. Quite how the electricity grid is being propped up is also a bit of a mystery, but it seems like it’s billions of Rands worth of diesel, some sticky tape, and prayers to several (or more) deities. It’s also completely unsustainable. And furthermore, it’s pointless after the polling stations close on Wednesday evening. Hence the widespread belief that we’ll be back to Stage n very shortly.
But I digress. Often.

The council have also chosen the darkest, most miserable day to do the work. Thick black clouds, a cold Westerly breeze, drizzle. If this was Sheffield, I’d look at those clouds and fully expect snow. That’s unlikely to happen though. Still, not only will this inclement weather slow the workers down, it’s also preventing our little home solar setup from helping out with the power situation. We’re only a month away from the winter solstice, and so even if we could see the sun – which is some 151½ million kilometers away anyway – it would only be up for 10 hours and would only drag itself to 35o above the horizon.
I’m not an expert on solar power, but we need is closer, higher sun, for longer.

If we’d had some warning (which we didn’t – see above), then I could have pumped up the batteries and lived a near normal life. Instead, we’ve been in deficit since we woke up, and despite my best power-saving efforts, I’m helplessly watching what’s left slowly, inexorably slip away.

I might be tempted to rig up some sort of system so that as the batteries give up completely, they give a comedic beep…beep…beeeeeeeeeeep noise like one might hear in rather less comedic circumstances in a hospital ICU.
But then again, I suppose that that would only use more power. Which we don’t have. Because of the power cut.

On the plus side, there has been a delicious lack of angle-grinding and jack-hammery from the nearby building site. This is not going to assist with my waning electricity issues, but it has made it a whole lot quieter while the power runs out.

And it’s clearly the little wins that I’m going to have to focus on today.

I’m powerless to do anything else.

Winner, Winner…

Chicken Dinner A Crisp Lettuce.

Yep. A lettuce. A whole crisp lettuce. He must be feeling on top of the world. And he absolutely deserves to be, given that he correctly answered – I take exception to their rather discourteous use of the word “guessed” – their very tough riddle, set just a few days previously:

Thank heavens for that clue “it’s food-related”. Indeed, that was probably what tipped a lot of people off as to the correct response. Not many people know what a vegetable is. But what they do know is that it’s food-related. And so once bleach (not food-related) and pilchards (not a vegetable) were ruled out, lettuce was the obvious go-to answer.

Jeez. Times are tough and standards are low. So very low.

Still, I’m eagerly awaiting the next brain teaser – with an appropriately fantastic prize – from Pick n Pay Wellington, but in the meantime, I have just received a phone call informing me that I’ve won a cucumber (“I’m long and green, you eat me as part of a salad. Clue: it’s food-related.”) from the Spar in Robertson.

I can hardly wait to go and pick it up.

No more explosion

Spotted in the camping and outdoor aisle of a local supermarket: butane gas canisters.

I’m not sure if this is a thing you can buy in supermarkets overseas, I know that there are a lot of places with a lot more rules and regulations than South Africa. But just along the shelf from this extremely flammable gas, I could also buy a BIG KNIFE. I know that’s not allowed in the UK. I guess knives are less of a thing here: thinking of using a knife as an offensive weapon is SA would really be like bringing a knife along to a gunfight.


But the butane gas canisters:

Now, I have a bit of an issue with the big orange and white bit. Because stating


in big letters and bright colours on your product does seem to suggest that a) it’s your main selling point, and b) that there have previously been explosion. And indeed, the somewhat basic diagram just below that does indeed indicate that Other brand (this is funny because ‘brand’ is Afrikaans for ‘fire’) does explosion.

But apparently you’re safe with BUSH BABY butane.
Their C4H10 is obviously just less likely to explosion than that Other brand.

And that’s good news.

I’m not into camping or the outdoors stuff much. I’d rather find a local cafe to do a bacon sandwich than risk explosion while cooking my own. (And if I was going to cook my own, I’d braai it anyway.) But is explosioning gas canisters (of any brand) really a thing? Surely we would have heard about this? There would be injuries and deaths, and tales from that campsite in the Cedarberg that everyone goes to, of those injuries and deaths.

Or is everyone already using Bush Baby butane? And precisely for that reason.

Please enlighten me. But not with a naked flame.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Andrew Fraser who found a CRV on the Bush Baby Butane. If anything is going to mean No More Explosion, that’s probably it.

Making hay

I’m crossing off a lot of jobs while the sun shines – and it really is still shining, albeit for a shorter period each day, we’re on 10 hours and 21 minutes of daylight at the moment, and we’re losing almost 90 seconds a day.

Tasks that have been hanging over me for weeks, maybe even months have been completed, or at least begun. I’m not sure why. Just a period of Getting Things DoneTM, and while I really don’t understand the reasons behind it, I’m still embracing it.

I’ve even done some homemade soup and baked some homemade wholemeal bread for tonight’s dinner, which will definitely be after dark, given parental commitments. We might have a new driver in the household, but it’s still a steep learning curve between passing your test and heading out solo into the crazy world of Claremont Main Road at rush hour. We’ll get there.

In the background, I’m working on a weird and personal tale for an upcoming blog post, but it might be a) too personal and boring to publish, and b) too long to fit in a single post.
More on that when (if) it comes. Save yourselves: don’t get excited.

Right. And now I have to put on my Big Boy Pants and brave that very same Claremont Main Road.

Wish me luck.

Southern Suburbs Store Music Watch

Popped into a few shops on a whirlwind tour of a local mall this morning.
Here’s what I was serenaded with while I was there.
(Just in case you want to make a playlist of limp, middle-of-the-road, inoffensive, nothing songs.)
(Please don’t.)

Something Got Me Started – Simply Red
[advert for adult nappies]
Letters – Watershed

The Living Years – Mike & The Mechanics
No Regrets – Robbie Williams
End Of The Road – Boyz II Men
[all merchandisers to the manager’s desk, please]
Speed Of Sound – Coldplay

She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5
The Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Mama – Spice Girls

An absolute maximum of 1/9 for me there (ok, 2/10 if you include the nappy ad), and only that because Neils Hannon and Tennant sang backing vocals for Robbie Williams.
I presume that each song is aimed specifically at the likely demographic visiting any given store (this doesn’t make me feel great about myself). And obviously they’ll be vetted for content and tempo.
I mean, I would love if they popped a bit of Slipknot on occasionally, but obviously it’s not going to end well for the tannies in the bakery queue when the whole bread aisle turns into a trolley-filled mosh pit.

Still: headphones next time.