Weekly Head Voices #128: Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

Hey friends, welcome back!

We have to talk about the water situation, seeing that Cape Town is now in the international news as being on track to be the first major city EVAR to run out of water.

In short, if it doesn’t rain in substantial amounts during the coming three months (which history and projections say it won’t), the municipal water supply will be shut off on April 21, a date festively referred to as Day Zero.

This means when we try to open any tap, no water will come out. This situation might continue for quite a while, which is pretty intense.

On that day, we will be celebrating by dressing up as Kevin Costner and running around barefoot shouting “NOTHING’S FREE IN WATERWORLD!”. Those who are not big fans of Kevin are allowed to dress up as Imperator Furiosa.

At my house, we stopped watering our garden with municipal water months ago. We installed a grey water recovery system: Shower and bath water ends up in the only remaining green corner of the garden.

We also installed a rain water recovery system three months ago, which has fortunately enabled us to collect a few thousand litres of rain water via the rerouted gutters and pipework from the roof. This water we will probably use after Day Zero to be able to wash and to flush a toilet now and then.

(Flushing frequency has necessarily decreased significantly. Around these parts we now have the saying: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s br***, flush it down.” Please excuse the mental graphics.)

We have been managing to keep our use of municipal water under the requested 87 litres per person per day. Starting on February 1, we will have to stay consistently under 50 litres per person per day, including drinking, cooking and washing. I guess 2 minute showers were wasting too much of my time in any case.

I have to do more research and corroboration (fingers are being pointed in all directions), but it seems the fundamental issue is not so much the current drought alone, but to a large extent mismanagement by both local and national government. It’s complicated, and politics is involved, so read at least this (otherwise good piece, but author is a DA / local government apologist), this (DA / local government IS to blame) and this (a longer, more balanced piece) to start with.

That being said, I am happy that a large part of the populace has become much more water efficient. If we get through this, in spite of “this” being called “the new normal”, I hope that we retain our mad Dune-grade water saving skills.

With that out of the way, it would be sort of anti-climactic for me to talk extensively about what-I-did-last-week, so I’m going to limit it to a REAL bullet list (ping me in the comments if something interests you):

  • pipenv is the bee’s knees, I have switched my non-miniconda projects.
  • convincingly but fortunately only temporarily locked myself out of my one laptop due to TCG-Opal hardware encryption, UEFI32, UEFI64 and legacy boot incompatibilities. I’m getting old, I used to NOT lock me out of my laptop in my sleep.
  • A compulsive twitch made me fix years of old-style broken youtube shortcodes using the wordpress regex plugin. The regexp you are looking for is /\[youtube\](.*)\[\/youtube\]/ which you can replace with \1.
  • People dislike really smart leaders. See water crisis above for one possible reason why this is a bad thing.
  • In spite of having invested a significant amount of time in deciding on the Office UI Fabric React components for my most major side-project (#38465 if you’ll recall), I switched to Semantic UI React (which was also in the running, together with Palantir’s blueprint, HP’s grommet, Alibaba’s Ant Design of React and more) at the last minute. I am happier now.

That’s it from me for now. Have fun this week kids, I hope to see you soon!


8 thoughts on “Weekly Head Voices #128: Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.”

  1. Sjoe boet, that’s tough! Because it’s on topic, and because I’m very, very German about these things, and I plan on someday going completely off-grid (sewerage included), I know my family’s water (and gas/elec) consumption exactly, with regular self measurements, plots, moving averages and estimated daily cost. Yes, indeed! And I figure you’re a number man, so I’ll share.

    Anyway, for a family of 4 I know that we use approximately 50% less water than the previous people (also 4) that lived here (the billing cycles are long and don’t get redirected). Still, and I’m sorry if this pains you, we go through around 589 litres per day on average for the last quarter, or 147 l/day/person. And this is down from close to 700 l/day same time last year, mainly due to educating the kids. But, we have 3 x 6 kilolitre tanks being filled by the gutters, and from experience, Jan/Feb will be dry, relying on brief summer showers. I am therefore able to top up the pool and keep the garden green on free rain water alone. I’m currently down to about 6000 litres, but it should be enough without having to be especially conservative. I know of people that drink their rainwater straight, but if only for grey water and garden use, home water storage is most of the answer.

    Good luck! I feel for you. I remember a severe drought in the late 80’s as a kid growing up in the Eastern Cape. Bath water went into toilets, and also siphoned onto the grass, and only after 3 of us had bathed in 2 inches of water. I thought it would kill the grass but it turned out soap and dirt wasn’t so bad for it.

    1. Wow, 3 x 6kl tanks, very cool!

      Seeing how fast our 5kl filled up, I have to see if we can squeeze in more of them.

      Thank you very much for stopping by and offering such a constructive shoulder hey! :)

  2. It doesn’t look as though pipenv provides much over “python -m venv” and “pip” other than better snapshotting of package versions; so I might be missing something!

    How did you pick Semantic UI React over the others? blueprint and ant design both look neat!

    1. Pipfile.lock hashes each and every dependency exactly, so that collaborators can rebuild your environment down to the byte.

      Apart from that, I enjoy just doing “pipenv shell” or “pipenv run …” in the relevant project directory, and having pipenv automatically figure out which virtualenv is the correct one.

      FURTHERMORE, I enjoy having env and pip unified. In a new project, before I’ve even thought of creating a virtualenv, I just do “pipenv install my_first_dep” and pipenv takes care of creating the environment, installing the package, and recording the dependency in the Pipfile and Pipfile.lock it creates.

  3. Scary water situation! Good luck with it!

    (Friendly side note: people with OCD don’t think it’s OK to use the illness as a synonym for “wanting things to be organized”)

    1. Re your friendly side-note: Thank you for pointing this out, you are right. I will take care of this in future. :)

      (I have also amended this post.)

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