Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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24/11/13: the Joshua appeal is well underway! And backup generators...

It's been fantastic having so many wonderful responses to the Joshua Appeal so quickly, many thanks to family, friends, present colleagues and former colleagues for all your support.  Being in the UK soon - not counting but I believe it's now 11 days to go - gives a great opportunity to promote the cause.  Pastor Ahmed is uploading updates to his blog which can be found here, let's do what we can to help this family at this difficult time.

Of course, when seeking sponsorship to shave one's head, one has to put up with a certain level of mickey taking.  So, PC of Hong Kong, thank you for your most generous donation, and yes, I DO still have enough hair to make it worthwhile!  Although whether this will still be true in 5 years' time remains to be seen...

Of course, being southern hemisphere, 'summer' is now approaching.  We're far enough from the equator here (which goes through Kenya) that there's an appreciable change in seasons.  So it's heating up somewhat, and also the rains are coming again, oh joy...

Air conditioning is a major consumer of electricity, I was somewhat horrified by my last electricity bill and have been making efforts to keep my consumption at home down.  Also, it's not entirely healthy, I don't think.  But, warmer weather leads to more electricity consumption and also a greater risk of overheating of generators - so this week just gone we had a whole series of powercuts lasting right through the night.

It's fairly recently that I have come to realise that there are, broadly speaking, two types of powercut, scheduled and unscheduled.  So, to allow overheating equipment to cool down and to ration supplies, there are scheduled powercuts, often at the weekends or overnight.  Those of us fortunate enough to have access to backup generators both at home and at work can continue life pretty well uninterrupted, although they do make a huge amount of noise - but, again, those of us fortunate enough to have spare bedrooms facing in the opposite direction can move for the night when necessary.

I have to say, I have very mixed feelings about backup generators.  On the one hand I am very pleased to have access to them.  On the other hand, I have come to the conclusion that if I could be President of Tanzania for one day and achieve one thing, it would be to outlaw them.  This is because, for as long as the mains supply is unreliable and as long as backup generators are allowed, there are a huge number of people whose careers - and fortunes - depend on the mains electricity being poor.  If politicians, business leaders, journalists and others had to do without an electricity supply when the mains is down, there would be huge political pressure to improve the supply.  As things stand there isn't - and even, arguably, the reverse is true, there is pressure to retain the status quo.

Of course, this is never going to happen for precisely the reason I want it to (if that makes sense).  And I hope it doesn't sound hypocritical to say that I'll continue using electricity from backup generators during cuts.  But one can dream....

One more entry before I'm writing from the UK!  Thank you for reading, I'll be back soon.

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