20 November 2009

Catastrophe averted....

Thank goodness yesterday, which the authorities here deemed to be, at least for some of the state, a day of "catastrophic" fire danger, passed without fatalities caused by fires. (There were alas several road deaths)

There has been some confusion about the additional fire damage rating of catastrophic which has been superimposed on the existing ones (supplanting extreme) . Though there's a Cape Catastrophe on Eyre Peninsula near the proclaimed area I'm not convinced that everyone understands this multisyllabic term and what it means when it is invoked. Is it really necessary, I wonder? Whatever words are used and no matter how effectively warnings are communicated in a high fire risk situation each person usually has to make their own decision about whether to stay or leave.

The last couple of days have once again shown the value of a free to air public broadcaster for keeping people informed in emergency situations. The ABC staff were generally well informed about SA place names and their pronunciation, while Sky News persisted in mispronouncing "Wirrabara". one of the YHA's 20 Frequently Mispronounced Australian Destinations even though a local fire official appearing on its news programs pronounced it correctly.

I also wasn't too impressed with the inability of the SA Police media liaison person to provide ABC radio yesterday afternoon with the CFS hotline phone number. You'd think they'd have it if not in their mind then in front of them. A small matter perhaps, but possibly indicative of some gaps in interagency cooperation which need to be plugged before the next emergency.

13 November 2009

Heat...and more heat

Friday 13th. Black Friday. Yet another 35C+ day. It's now (2.40pm CDST) 38.1deg. The sequence is easily a record for this time of year, when there may be the occasional hot day or two but not this preview of January - February. And I I thought that a few days with temperatures nudging 20C when I was in the UK was uncharacteristically warm!

When will it end? Forecast is for 39 tomorrow and 40 Sunday before 28 Monday. We shall see.

11 November 2009

Not quite like de Botton.....

Just back from overseas, visiting family in London with a side trip with them to Istanbul. All very enjoyable notwithstanding the customary hazards of modern international air travel, notably airport chaos/ inefficiency and the brusqueness of (most) UK border protection officials.

Earlier this year Alain de Botton spent a week
in the employ of the British Airports Authority as a writer in residence at Heathrow Terminal Five. He's just published his diary, which is a characteristically fluent distillation of his week, which is one a long way removed from my and, I expect, most other airport users' experiences. That said it's worth reading, if only for the very different perspective he brought to his task. He must have been almost the only person with time to reflect about the terminal: everyone else was of necessity focused on a particular task: travelling (departing or arriving), security, selling (a big, big part of modern airport life) or maintenance.

I may have more to say about this topic later....