Tuesday, 30 September 2014

30% Chance of Rain?

I listen faithfully to the weather forecast for our area every morning, but I'm blowed if they are ever right about the rainfall.  The temperature is normally accurate - within a degree or two and they are pretty good about wind speed but 30% chance of rain?  Maybe I don't know how to interpret the language.  Does it mean that 70% of the day will be dry and that for 30% of the time it will rain  - or does it mean there is only a 30% chance that there will be any rain at all - or for those of you optimists that believe the glass is half full - that most of the day will be sunny?  What do the statisticians say?

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Funny Effects of Physics

Duvet cover lying on the ground

Still on a noise theme... lately we get woken up at our holiday home in the early morning by the sound of elephants thundering around on our (tin/flat) roof.  Last week-end I dashed outside and peered up, just in time to see two fat pigeons departing, presumably having consummated their spring revels. Speaking of thunder, we had a garden shed/Wendy house erected two weeks ago in the back garden.  Last week-end our famous South-Easter was blowing full force and every now and again I was startled to hear a sound just like in the old movies when the sound effects guy would wave a sheet of metal up and down to simulate the effect of thunder.  I was about to criticise our new shed's roof as being loose when hubby mentioned that he had also heard the noise and had traced it to a loose sheet of metal he had left on the ground which had propped itself up at one end on a stray brick. He fixed it. Finally, I gave some thought as to how to hang up my washing in this strong wind. The duvet cover, being large, I decided would be safest if I hung it up exactly in the middle, both sides hanging equally,  so that the wind would be unlikely to cartwheel it over the line and onto the other washing. How wrong can you be. In the morning, when the wind had abated, the only item trailing on the ground was the duvet cover.

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Big Switch On.

We had a scheduled power cut last Sunday at our holiday/retirement house.  Naturally, we had visitors - my son and his family - so we needed some electricity, albeit we have with laudable forethought, installed a gas hob and have a solar-heated geyser.  I however, couldn't get the gas going, not understanding that the automatic lighter is electric. Big son luckily had a match (and a lecture) but not before I had filled the kitchen with quite a lot of gas.  All was well after we opened a few windows.  Then hubby and big son got the generator going and I (and all the dog walkers/joggers in the street) almost jumped out of my/our skin(s) at the huge noise. Said machine was residing in the garage whose open door leads into the house. This small-looking machine is clearly a monster in disguise: pleasingly it powered most of the things in our house without cutting out and hubby was quite impressed with its  5.5 (horsepower/gig/mig/....ah yes, kilowatt) engine. I however, especially as this was Sunday morning, was mightily embarrassed by the noise and the irritated expressions on the faces of the people in the street, who were standing rooted to the spot, trying to track the origin of the shattering disturbance. Luckily, it's quite hard to do this out in the open especially as I hypocritically faked similar body language, standing out on our balcony. The men hastily pushed the machine to the back of the house whose garden leads onto some empty plots and things improved a bit. Hubby promises me he will build it into a sound-proof room and fill its exhaust with baffles. Of course, if everyone was as clever as us and had a generator, we would all be in the same boat and subterfuge wouldn't be necessary. Only ear-plugs. As an interesting adjuct to all this, I've just heard that most of Johannesburg has had no water for days.  Glad we live in Cape Town.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Noise Nuisance

Could look a bit like this?
Having thought I was becoming more tolerant and wise in my old age, I find that this does not apply to my tolerance threshold for irritating noise.  My only criticism of our holiday hotel is that there was a large refrigerator in the spacious and  open breakfast area which produced a loud vibration (sounded like metal on metal) which echoed around the area and made dining there an unpleasant experience. At least for me. I finally did a survey of nearby diners and discovered that everyone was suffering to some degree (the ladies more than the men), but no-one had thought to complain. It even bothered me that the laboring motor in question would eventually vibrate itself to a standstill and would need replacing. Maintenance is not generally considered to be a priority in the 'new' South Africa.  Still, I sidled up to the reception desk (in the same general area) and ingratiatingly (in order not to antagonise anyone), explained the problem and suggested that the maintenance man should be sent for, before all the diners decamped to other venues in town to eat their meals in peace. I also suggested that the machine could be switched off as it was in any case, empty.  Both suggestions were met with expressions of total amazement but finally half-hearted commitment to improve matters was made. We stayed there for four days: the machine was initially switched off at mealtimes, but no moves were made towards fixing it. I had a lightbulb moment: we once moved to a town where our rented house was next to a railway line. For the first week, trains passing during the night woke me up.  After that I ceased to hear them. I got it.  The staff were oblivious to the noise. They needed to remember though that guests turn over about once a week. Our 'new' government here (its been 20 years now) sets the trend regarding lack of maintenance:  take our nuclear power stations as a case in point.  About 7 years ago, our whole country suffered so many power cuts that our supermarkets bought in a load of small generators and many people, like us, bought one in the general rush. We had cause to switch it on for the first time last week. But that's another story....

Monday, 22 September 2014

Low Season Holiday

Gosh, I haven't blogged for a month. Several reasons:  been away, been in bed (bronchitis), been busy, couldn't think of anything good enough to blog about.  Anyway, two weeks ago, we took a 5-night break and drove up the East coast of SA. It's 'low' season here, so it was very peaceful  (all the children were at school) and for once we treated ourselves to 4-star accommodation because a friend offered us his time-share week - we just paid his levy. Lovely to have someone make my bed every day and even nicer to not make a single meal for a whole week. Great to at least have a kettle and a fridge in the room, so we could have endless coffee/tea/whiskey, made the way we like them.  Also, we were treated like royalty everywhere we went e.g. we had individual guided tours around the Raptor Conservation Park and the Snake Park -
such a privilege to get close to these amazing creatures. We were even the sole customers one night when we ate at the most exclusive restaurant in the hotel (but even its prices were very reasonable).  Still, eating out all the time does clock up quite a total so it was also good to come home.  Just some pics while I think about what to blog about next...