Eish! Load shedding! Can there be anything joyful about it?
South Africa has enormous issues with electricity. We have scheduled daily blackouts called load shedding. Here’s an explanation and a graphic to help you get your head around this strange phenomenon!
Load shedding is a measure of last resort to prevent the collapse of the power system country-wide. When there is insufficient power station capacity to supply the demand (load) from all the customers, the electricity system becomes unbalanced, which can cause it to trip out country-wide (a blackout), and which could take days to restore. [Source: Eskom, our national electricity provider]
On a bad day, this can happen up to three times. Luckily it’s summer and it’s not so bad because it gets dark later in the evening. But you still have to plan for cooking and of course watching Netflix is out of the question, because the wi-fi router relies on – yes, electricity!
Some folk have generators but most of us just stock up on solar and battery operated devices, cook on gas and make plans to keep the food in our fridges and freezers cold. And then, there’s the hassle of trying to put automatic electric gates onto manual mode, resetting alarm systems … the list goes on and on…
So how do we use our time?
Well actually, it is is a great opportunity to get away from the telly, digital devices and social media.
- To read? Yup
- To cook on the braai (barbecue)? Sometimes…
- To play board games or do jigsaw puzzles? Always a good idea!
- To work on charged devices like laptops etc and use expensive data (This only works if you are organised!) Nah…
- To talk to each other. Heaven forbid!
- To erm…??
Let me tell you how we accidentally passed the time during load shedding last week…
My son and I were eating and discussing his thoughts on tattoos. Somehow, we got onto the topic of Dr Who.
T: “Did you know that there is a language for where Dr Who comes from?”
Me: “No! Really?”
T: “Well, you know that Dr Who is from a planet called Gallifrey?”
Me: “Not really.” (You may have guessed by now, that I’m not a Dr Who pundit)
T: “Gallifrey has a cool language based on circles. Here, let me Google it and show you.”
Thanks to the Dr Who ‘super nerds’ there are actually places on the web that tell you about the language and how to write it! Why am I even surprised? The example we looked at intrigued us both and pretty soon we were trying to work out how to write our names in Gallifreyan. Not a simple task, let me tell you!
We spent a happy hour or so figuring out how it works, reverse engineering from the example. I felt like a person who decoded secret messages in World War Two! It really stretched my brain!
We ended up with this word, which is not one of our names, but which means something special to the two of us. Our hand drawn words were OK, but funnily enough, we found an app that some Dr Who fan has put together to create the words in perfect geometric shapes.
Now, if that’s not a cool thing to do during load shedding, I don’t know what is!
Pure spontaneous joy – unplanned and spontaneous!
I’d love to hear your stories about what you do during load shedding (if you are South African) or during a blackout (if you aren’t!)