Day 452 – “Winter”

Midwinter’s Day today. The winter solstice. The shortest day. The longest night.
That’s for us down here, anyway.

I hardly slept last night – THE WIND was something else. We lost several plant pots, flung around and smashed. This morning, we collected garden furniture from all around the property – only the front gate prevented a full on cushion escape. Local trees are damaged. It’s still blowing hard. Really hard. Gusting to near hurricane hard. But also apparently hugely localised, right down this side of the mountain.
I honestly can’t remember stronger winds in Cape Town in my time here. And I can’t remember stronger winds in Cape Town before my time here, because I wasn’t here.

But it’s also 26 degrees. I’m in shorts and t-shirt and I’m lovely and warm. And it was that temperature at midnight last night as well. Because it’s a berg wind, as mentioned yesterday. I was given a beautiful Fitzroy’s Storm Glass for Father’s Day yesterday, but it’s completely bewildered and confused as to exactly what is going on at the moment. The good Admiral evidently never saw anything quite like this sort of chaos.

Anyway, all this means that means that tomorrow, another sort of extreme weather will kick in, with heavy rain expected as a proper winter cold front makes landfall. Better late than never. Better never late.

Day 451 – Sunbirds in the wind at Kirstenbosch

Father’s Day, and after some lovely gifts and a nice coffee in bed, I was lucky enough to be taken out (not in a Mafia way, no) for a picnic brunch at Kirstenbosch.

A few things that are relevant or of interest at this point:

It’s midwinter’s day tomorrow, but today is 28 degrees with a strong, gusting gale force, Bergwind blowing. (You’ll note that that link is illustrated with a photo from Kirstenbosch, almost as proof that it can happen there. Because it does.) It’s hot, dry and very breezy. Not bad for June, great to be out and about, but not great for watching the birds, as their perches were waving about all over the place and the feathery things themselves were very skittish.
Kirstenbosch was empty. Like, park right outside the gate empty. On a sunny Sunday morning (and Father’s Day, nogal) at 10am.
Why is this? Where is everybody? I don’t understand. Still: fantastic for social distancing.
Also, Kirstenbosch needs a bit of TLC. I’ve never had to say that before. Yes, of course it’s still utterly magnificent, but the lawns need a mow and the beds need weeding. Basic stuff that makes a lot of difference to the general appearance and the overall impression. I don’t know if this is a money thing or a Covid thing or a environmental decision, but it looks a bit tatty at the moment.

Anyway, after a very pleasant brunch and an international Zoom call to partially fulfill my own filial duties, I tried to find a few more sheltered places to get some quick shots. The pincushions were bright and cheerful, and the sunbirds were out and about. It was frustrating stuff with the birds flitting at the slightest movement and the flowers being buffeted by the wind from all angles, but I did manage to get a few decent images. You can see them on Flickr here.

I feel that in better conditions, I could have done better, and so I’m determined to pop back “soon” (it is just up the road and we are BotSoc members, after all) and see if I can improve on what I got today.

So… look out for that then, I guess.

Day 450 – Day 450

Yes, Day 450 of lockdown in South Africa. That’s a lot of days, and so it seems reasonable to ask what progress we have made since late March last year.

Officially, almost 60,000 deaths from Covid-19 (although the true figure is probably much higher than that); I can’t buy any alcohol until Monday and I can’t go out after 10pm. And in the next month, I’m probably going to be at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 than ever before. 3.4% of the population have been vaccinated, although most of those have only received one of the two doses they require. Joburg’s hospitals are full and are turning away desperate patients until others die and free up beds.

Image

It’s a deeply unpretty spectacle.

And yet, as I have previously lamented, life goes on unabated. I don’t know what it will take to change people’s mindset, but I can’t see it happening any time soon. And that means that it will likely be too late.

It’s a gorgeous sunny day here in Cape Town. High 20s and uninterrupted blue skies across the city. Fresh, clean, outdoor air is everywhere, and yet the malls and pubs are packed. It sometimes feels like I’m the only one that’s feeling this way, but there must be others also feeling vulnerable and choosing to keep themselves to themselves with just a coffee or two, last night’s braai meat, some Woolworths salami sticks and the football on the tele.

I don’t get it. And so I try to find some solace in Hungary v France.


Day 448 – More on graphs

Sometimes (often, in fact), displaying something on a graph can give far more context and relay far more understanding than using words or even numbers. That context and understanding might not be good news, but maybe in those cases it’s even more important to get the message across as quickly, efficiently and straightforwardly as you can.

This graph should do exactly that. And for those exact reasons.

Nearly 8,000 new cases in Gauteng reported yesterday. The highest number ever recorded there. Driven primarily by urban Johannesbeagle and still increasing dramatically, as the black line shows. And the likelihood is that this represents just the tip of the iceberg, with plenty (or more) anecdotal evidence that the community prevalence is actually far higher than those cases being recorded.

And you don’t have to be rocket scientist (or actually even a scientist at all) to consider what’s above and then look at these (smaller, but still equally valid and scary) graphs and see what’s coming for Cape Town soon.

Another week? Maybe two? It’s a pretty unpleasant thought.

While we’re on graphs and their significance, I thought I’d share this – adapted from a tweet by Jens von Bergmann, and used with permission.

Same graph, differing significance depending on your education/viewpoint/desired narrative.

But I guess that one point you can take away from this is by applying it to the graph at the top of the page and – once again – coming to the conclusion that things are looking very bad right now.

Graphs: rid1tweets and mediahack

Day 447 – Level 3

Alert level 3 for Wave 3.

50 people inside still seems like far too many (and that’s because it is far too many), and research has shown that a partial alcohol ban will have very limited effect on the numbers attending hospital and therefore won’t help much from that point of view. But again (and again and again and again), economically, we can’t survive a full lockdown and the government has to be seen to be doing something. Especially with this situation:

All the other big provinces are now joining the party (I think the Eastern Cape line is hiding behind the Limpopo one). And yes, the Northern Cape is doing its own thing, but if you follow that purple plot, you can see that the Northern Cape is a bit of a law unto itself anyway. I’m guessing (guessing) that this is because the population there is so small that any outbreak at a school or workplace – which would be considered fairly minor elsewhere – shows up even on a graph scaled like this one.

Looking at the previous two waves, the next two months are going to be fairly unpleasant for us all. the problem is (aside from the disastrous vaccine rollout trickleout) full on Covid fatigue. People are understandably fed up and no-one seems to be taking it seriously anymore. And yet the signs are all there that this third wave is going to be a horribly costly. Many of those who have dodged the Covid bullets so far, whether by good fortune or simply by not going to gunfights, are going to be affected. But stick your head up above the parapet and say that, and you get eye rolls and sneers.

I stick my head up and say it anyway. Don’t take unnecessary chances, do wear a mask, do avoid crowds and indoor gatherings. Let’s face it, it’s really not that hard to do: this isn’t rocket science – it’s just science science.

Stay home, stay safe.