And… no power!

Cape Town disappeared off the electricity grid at around 11:00 today.  We’re powered by some fairly sizeable generators (when you’re in the ISP business, you can’t let a measly city-wide power outage break your stride), but it was interesting following the reports of the outages and the rumours surrounding it while it was all going on.

And I’m going to start by dispelling the most common one: Koeberg (our nuclear power plant about 40 km up the West Coast) did not do a Chernobyl/Fukushima on us.  Although most of Cape Town went down (in particular, the CBD, Cape Flats, Southern Suburbs and South Peninsula went down), the northern and West Coast areas (Bellville, Durbanville, Table View, Bloubergstrand et al) stayed up.  Trust me, if something ever happens at Koeberg, those guys are the ones who will be the first to know about it – one way or the other.

According to several reports on our local news sites, the issue was with the Eskom supply line from the Muldersvlei area.  From what I’ve heard, there are two supply lines: one was down for maintenance, and while this was going on, the other one tripped.  This isn’t first-hand information, and the South African press is slightly notorious for getting facts wrong, so I’d take this with a slight pinch of salt – that being said, it’s entirely plausible to me.

As I type this, power to the CBD has been restored, we’re off the generators, and other parts of the city are either back online or are being brought up.  I should be fine for World of Warcraft raiding tonight then.  (I hope!)

For those interested in the geeky side of the power failure: Andrew Trench put together a map of the power failure as it was mentioned on Twitter.  It’s quite interesting viewing, and just shows one the impact that social networking has had on our lives (if the Arab revolutions earlier this year weren’t proof enough).

Stillness in the bay


After spending a day here in Stilbaai, I can see how this place gets its name – all is still and peaceful.  I liked this town the first time that I came here, and it’s definitely grown on me a lot now.

It’s just me and Chris (who plays the piano in our church band) out here, and all we’ve really done is watch sport on the telly (Chris, while watching a rather soggy cricket match between England and India: “Kind of ironic that all the sports that need good weather come from England…”) drink beer (Chris, while I was writing this: “All I’ve had to drink since I’ve gotten here is beer!”) and play pool on a full-sized snooker table (which is great fun).  Right now, we’ve got some Rachmaninov playing, just watching the sunset.  It’s awesome.

The only bummer is that we have to return to Cape Town and work, bills and so forth tomorrow…

Four seasons in four hours

You’ve got to love Cape Town weather.

Driving to work at around 08:45 – grey skies, and raining quite hard.  Had to switch the fog lights on while getting myself through Hospital Bend because the visibility was that bad.

And right now, just before 13:00 – clear blue skies…

I’m predicting a mix of snow and heatwave by the time I leave the office this evening.

The Stilbaai excursion

Yesterday evening, after playing in the church band for the Sunday evening service, a few of us headed out to a local eatery for dinner.  The conversation between two of the guys revolved around their planned weekend away in Stilbaai (this coming weekend) – and halfway through, they turned to me…

“Hey, want to come along?”

You don’t need to ask me that twice!

Hence, I won’t be around this weekend (but may be able to post remotely).  This time though, I will remember to take the camera with me, so there should be a few photos posted around this time next week.

Stilbaai is, for those who have never been there, a rather peaceful and relaxed little dorp on the southern Indian Ocean coast, around four hours drive east of Cape Town (you take the N2 out and turn off just after you go past Riversdale).  I’ve been there once before in January, when some friends from Gauteng were staying in a holiday house there and phoned me up inviting me to pop over for the weekend.  I’ve only good good memories of that place, and I should be adding more in a few days time.

This does however mean that I need to get moving with my roadtrip playlist

Registration plates of dodginess

A bit of background before we get started here.  Gauteng Province (aka “Gangster’s Paradise”) has the following motor vehicle registration scheme: two consonants, two digits, two more consonants, then the text “GP” indicating the province.  Until last year, they were three consonants followed by three digits before the “GP” (as with most of the rest of the other provinces, except for the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal who like to be different and use the old 1914 registration scheme where your registration number indicates in which far-flung location you registered the vehicle*) – until they ran out of combinations, so they switched over to their new scheme in December last year.

Now, you’d think that two consonants, two digits and two more constants would result in little chance of some unintended, computer-generated dodginess from showing up in the registration plate.  Reduced, yes – but not entirely eliminated:

I was actually searching the interwebs for something else entirely when I stumbled across this on the CarScoop blog.  Here’s the backstory:

The number plate is on a fiat 500 at a dealership in South Africa. Apparently, the car was sold, but when the new owner aw the number plate issued she refused to take possession of the car [wonder why…]. According to the salesperson the car has been “difficult to shift”. In South Africa, as with many countries, the number plates get issued to the car on its first registration and can’t be changed very easily…

The rest of us find this rather amusing though…

* If you’re driving in the Western Cape and spot a registration plate with CY on it, automatically assume that they can’t actually drive – when you see them, you’ll “see why”…

There’s a World Cup on?

Apparently the Rugby World Cup starts tomorrow (and for anyone reading this who doesn’t know what rugby is, it’s basically a game where 30 overweight guys beat each other senseless – sort of like American football but without having timeouts every 20 seconds or so).

I’m not the biggest follower of spectator sports (except for F1), so while I vaguely knew that this event was coming up, I wasn’t aware that the first game is tomorrow – until I received a mail from someone in the Marketing Department inviting us all into our games room to watch the opening game tomorrow (between some random two teams – I’ve forgotten who they are, such is my disinterest).

So, apparently we now have to “unite behind the Springboks” (our national team), and our games room has been done up accordingly:

So, it seems like half the company will be invading the games room to watch tomorrow’s game.  Meanwhile, I’ll just be getting on with some real work (such as trying to archive a massive production database while making sure that existing code doesn’t suddenly and mysteriously break).

Then again, I could be living in New Zealand (where this event is taking place) – it seems like they’re crazier than we are:

So there you have it folks.  This is what I now have to put up with for the next few weeks…

Roadtrip music

My sister and I are doing the Cape Town to Durban roadtrip in December (visiting the folks for Christmas).  Obviously, 20 hours of driving (per direction) is going to get a little bit tedious, so I’m trying to come up with the ultimate roadtrip playlist.

Below are what I’ve thought of so far.  If you know of any other good tracks to include, please mention it in the comments!

  • Alistair Griffin – Just Drive
  • Motorcycle – As The Rush Comes
  • AC/DC – Highway To Hell
  • Rascal Flatts – Life Is A Highway
  • Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild
  • U2 – Beautiful Day
  • Andain – Beautiful Things
  • Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (how can I not include this?)
  • Daft Punk – Around The World
  • DJ Shah feat. Adrina Thorpe – Who Will Find Me
  • Jose Amnesia feat. Jennifer Rene – Wouldn’t Change A Thing
  • Willie Nelson – On The Road Again
  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Road Trippin’
  • Armin van Buuren – Coming Home

And after coming up with the measly playlist above (which won’t get me past Worcester!), my brain has decided that it’s fried for the day…

Lunar landings, 25 km away

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (which is on a mission to, amongst other things, map the moon’s surface as a precursor to future manned missions) was recently moved into a orbit of 25 km above the moon’s surface.  One of the things that the orbiter did while in that orbit was to take the following image of the Apollo 17 landing site:

Apollo 17 landing site

More information (and more images) are over at the NASA press release here.