Day 671 – The Tale of Little Timmy lives on

Of course, you might know Little Timmy as Little Jimmy or Little Johnny. But whatever…

Little Timmy took a drink,
But he will drink no more, 
For what he thought was H2O,
Was H2SO4.

If you aren’t into your chemistry, then let me explain that H2SO4 is the chemical formula for sulphuric acid. It might look like water, which is what Little Timmy (Jimmy/Johnny) thought he was drinking (that’s the H2O bit, but I’m assuming that you knew that already).
Don’t drink Sulphuric Acid. It will quite literally kill you, or at the very least, maim you horribly.

Thankfully, these sort of cases of mistaken identity don’t happen often – I mean, where was Little Timmy (Jimmy/Johnny) when the above incident took place? In a lab? If so, then he’d already broken all sorts of rules and regulations and probably deserved to die [bit harsh – Ed.].
You don’t eat or drink in a lab and you label everything – especially the nasties.
But maybe he was at home, but what was he doing with sulphuric acid in his house? I mean, you make a rod for your own back playing with those sort of chemicals in a domestic setting.
Or perhaps he was at a bar in London.
But surely no case of a basic household product being confused with a seriously corrosive chemical compound would ever happen in a bar in London, right?



“Apparent staff error”? I mean, we all make mistakes, but… just… how?!?

“Clubbers in London’s Tiger Tiger were mistakenly given caustic soda instead of salt when knocking back tequila slammers, sending four people to hospital with burns. A shot of tequila is made into a slammer by licking salt first and then sucking a lime or lemon after.”

I should point out that this is unconnected to the Tiger Tiger club in Cape Town.
Tiger Tiger in Cape Town has a great reputation.

Cough. Splutter.

OK, maybe not so much. But they never gave anyone Caustic Soda with their shooter.
To the best of my knowledge, at least.

Look, both salt (sodium chloride) and caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) begin with “sodium”, but that doesn’t mean that they’re interchangeable. I was going to come up with some examples of how chemicals that start the same aren’t always the same, but I think we’ve kind of covered that with the stories of Little Timmy (Jimmy/Johnny), and the tequila drinkers at Tiger Tiger. But if you’re looking for more, then water (H2O) and Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) are another two you don’t want to mix up. And are unlikely to find yourself in a situation where you can mix them up. Just like the other examples – you’d think.

I don’t really know what lessons can be learnt from this. Don’t drink acid? Don’t lick caustic soda off your hand? (Hell, don’t even put caustic soda on your hand.) Yes. They are good lessons. But the best one I can come up with is “Don’t visit any bar or club called Tiger Tiger.”

And if that saves just one life, it will all have been worth it.

Day 653 – Of course he is

The last thing we want now (or at any time) is another virus rearing its ugly capsid. But news came through yesterday of a human case of H5N1 avian (bird) flu in the UK.

Not good.

But then, in a typically British twist, this:

Of course he is. But if you are going to surround yourself indoors with 20 ducks (+ another hundred in your immediate vicinity), then these are the sort of risks that you are going to run.

Nasty case of car bonnet jumper-itis there, too. In his Por(s)ch(e).

This whole unpheasant situation must be a huge birden for Mr Gosling.
But honestly, who has that many ducks in their house?
He must be quackers. Stork raven mad.
I’m not sure it’s even leagle.

But enough of these fowl puns.
This is obviously a serious situation and it would be wrong to make light of it.

I hope he gets the tweetment he needs.

Day 642 – Nerd

I sometimes think that my hobbies make me slightly nerdy: Science, quizzing, photography, lighthouses, birds, Geoguessr, Only Connect etc.

And that’s because they do. And that’s fine: it’s a badge that I wear with pride.
But this guy beats me hands down:

And if you think that’s true, just look in the comments on that video to see that there are many others out there who beat him hands down.

A fun little video, with an important bit of advice that I’d certainly never considered:

You must always include Belsize Park.

Right. Now we know.

Day 629, part 2 – Red list lifted

I’m still mildly bemused by the exceptionalism shown to the UK regarding the recent travel red list. (I mean, I’m not really, we know that everyone loves to hate the Brits, but still…)

Sure, you can say that it was unscientific, unjustified or whatever (as if those are the only arguments that count here), but no-one seems to be chastising Chile or Italy or Oman or Singapore or the UAE or Panama or Uzbekistan or Canada or (weirdly) Rwanda (I know, right?) for stopping incoming Saffas and visitors to SA from… well… coming in.

And now that the UK (at the time of writing) has opened up again, while many of the the other countries (and there are almost 70 of them!) are still banning travel from SA, there still seems to be this latent whining at the UK, rather than any outrage at or pressure on other countries to follow their lead.


We now know a lot more about Omicron – and while the news (tentatively) seems to be pretty good – when the UK and everyone else added SA to their red list, no-one had any idea how nasty or otherwise it might be (it didn’t even have a name back then!), and the UK had detected no cases there. What I wrote a couple of weeks ago still stands:

That “more information” did become available, and the UK has acted timeously on it. Of course I’m sorry that SA lost out on tourism business for three weeks. I know it’s crap. The last 2 years have been crap for all of us. Omicron was out of anyone’s control (and it’s still wildly out of everyone’s control!), and there will be other variants in the future which will probably result in new restrictions and limiting travel. It’s not anyone’s fault.

I know how much the tourist industry needs a good season right now, but as far as I’m aware, the UK (or anywhere else for that matter) has no obligation to send a quota number of tourists here each year. And I’m not a business person, but to me, seemingly relying on a single nation to prop up your tourist industry seems like a worryingly risky approach.

If this was really just about the tourist thing and the stigma of being on a red list, then it does seem as if local social media and news sites should move on now from their… er… “unjustified, unscientific and irrational” stance, and start pressurising the likes of Aruba, Gabon and Kuwait (oh, and “Germany, the US, France and the Netherlands”, obviously) to allow travellers from SA back into their countries rather than pointlessly continuing to chastise the UK.

Really weird that that’s not happening.

Day 610 – Nu

[The next day: Ugh. You do 500+ words on it and then they move the goalposts. As history will now tell you, we… they?… actually named this new variant: Omicron. Anyway, on with the post, which has generated anger and hate mail (n=1), but which I stand by. Take care out there.]

There was a tweet thread alongside the Worrying Numbers that I mentioned the other day. It was about a potentially nasty new variant that was causing some of the cases. It looked horrible, but the numbers were very small. The Guru mentioned it to me as well, with the same caveat.

The numbers aren’t so small now, though.

And so now we’re red-listed in the UK again – completely understandably, given the situation. Who wouldn’t want to try and keep this out of their country?

But it’s a hammer blow to the local tourist industry, it’s upsetting for friends and family who had plans for the December holidays, and it’s a real gut punch for us, who were expecting to see my Dad on Monday for the first time in two years.

Not now.

And then there is the other side of this that the UK Red List announcement has made everyone overlook: this is potentially a very ugly development in this awful pandemic, and we’re going to have to deal with it, because even if the UK’s swift action has stopped it spreading to there, we don’t have that luxury: it’s already right here.

So what happens next?
Watch this space, I guess.

UPDATE: Massive and predictable backlash on social media against the UK for reinstating the travel ban from SA and surrounds. And yes, as I said above, it’s horrific for the tourism industry here. And if you look at the respective numbers of cases in the UK and SA, then you might be forgiven for thinking there’s something not quite right with them banning us. But then you remember that they are 70% vaccinated, and so the cases that they are seeing are not translating to hospitalisations and deaths like they are in other countries with much lower vaccination rates. Because of that, they have the luxury of handling things very differently.

Oh, and add to that the fact that – at the time of writing – they have detected 0 Nu variant cases there.

And if there was ever a chance of keeping this variant that the experts are calling “grim”, “scary” and “a worst case scenario” out of your country, you’d surely want your government to do the same. You don’t get a second chance at this.
Will it work? Maybe. Maybe not. I’d guess that the chances are fairly high that it’s already there.
But if it isn’t, well, then their quick and decisive action – unpleasant as it may be for us here in SA – may just have saved literally thousands of lives.

Safety first makes sense here. There’s always the option to relax the restrictions as more information becomes available (obviously assuming that information suggests that you should relax the restrictions).
You can’t retrospectively close your borders.