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  Saturday, 28 May 2005

On Thursday night I slept in my capervan just 5 minutes from work, at the top of Marsden Valley. I parked just a few feet from this stream and with one window open I could hear the running water from my sleeping bag. I'm sure I slept better than I usually do at home...

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7:20:36 PM    Comment []

12:51:02 AM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 25 May 2005

This afternoon me and a few other members of the Nelson Peak Oil Study and Action Group met with some students from the various colleges around Nelson. A handful of teenagers showed up. We showed them a slide show that had been prepared some months ago for a presentation to the Nelson City Council. We wanted some feedback from them as to how it could be adapted to better get the message out to their age group.

These young people blew me away with not only their understanding of this mammoth problem, but their energy, creativity, and enthusiasm to 'own' the problem and tackle it head-on. Unfortunately they face the same problem that we do. Most of their peers are blissfully unaware and many would like to stay that way. The ideas that came forth were great. We ripped the slide show apart (figuratively), redesigned it, rearranged it (according to a teenagers priorities), and condensed it significantly. One student is using his media studies class to write an article on peak oil for the school newspaper (which is arguably one of the best college newspapers in the country). Another student suggested a way to use her performing arts class to create a short drama based on "The long fingers of petroleum", which graphically illustrates how much we depend on oil for everyday materials by stripping them away one by one until we are left with nothing but our cotton underwear (minus elastic). I can just imagine this idea adapted for the stage and thought it was a fantastic idea.

After the two hour meeting(which was only supposed to go for an hour) we decided to meet again in a fortnight, and we set up a Yahoo group to share ideas, links, files, and generally keep in touch. The name they choose for the group I think was particularly appropriate.  After the concept of the red or blue pills of Alice in Wonderland, or The Matrix, depending on which generation you're from, they called it the "Red Pill Gang".

7:24:17 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 24 May 2005

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"I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." 
Isaac Newton

9:59:18 PM    Comment []

I was just randomly going through my weblog archives and came across this old post. It reminded me how much I need to get out for a good kite buggy blast.

6:37:41 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 22 May 2005

My first bone carving project is finished. The material I wanted to use for the cord is still proving hard to find though. I wanted to use a bees-wax coated nylon, that is usually used for stitching leather, because it is very strong but also give the look of a traditional flax cord. I could go ahead and make it out of flax which would be very authentic but unfortunately no matter how well made flax cord will wear out eventually (and even faster through constant contact with the skin of the wearer). I have tried sewing shops, craft shops, hardware stores, etc but can't find the stuff I want anywhere. So in the photo below the braided cord and whipping is made from white linen thread which I have braided (with home made apparatus), and soaked in a cup of tea to give it a more natural looking colour. If I do manage to find some bees-wax coated nylon I will redo it, but for now the piece is finished.

10:42:23 AM    Comment []

  Saturday, 21 May 2005

I am emotionally drained emerging from the aftermath of my last post. As a result of that there are a couple of things I need to say.

First. Those of you that have been reading for more than a few months will probably have noticed this weblog has been changing, and I don't mean the visual design. I have begun writing about things that, up until recently, I would not have approached. As a result the overall tone has become darker. This is not something I wanted to happen. This change has come about through concern. The feelings that motivate these posts will chew me up from the inside out if I don't try and do something positive with them. I realise that many of the things I have been saying don't make pleasant reading(eg. 1 2  3 ). I realise that I sometimes get passionate about what I'm writing to the point where I don't express myself as well as I might if I were to remain calm. I realise that I have offended with some of my comments. If I do say something that offends you, by all means let me know, but remember they are not personal attacks.

Second. I will never, ever, EVER censor anything said by anyone in the comments section of this site (even if it offends me personally). So if you see something in the comments you find offencive, I may not necessarily agree with it. I will not change any of my own posts or comments after I have posted either (except for correcting spelling). If you say something in the comments section here you can be sure it will stay there, but that does not mean I want anyone to hold back.

8:21:32 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 19 May 2005

I have a question for my readers from the USA and the UK.

This story in The Times talks about the leaked memo that contains evidence that both Bush and Blair had made up their minds to go to war in Iraq almost a year before the invasion. Some quotes from the memo dated 23 July 2002.

"Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

"It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. "

Now obviously this is big news. It seems this is evidence that both Bush and Blair are guilty of the very thing Clinton was impeached for, only the subject of the lies in this case are far more serious. However, I have heard that this did not even make the headlines in the US. Can this be true? This should be front page stuff and apparently it was for the rest of the world.

So my question is, did this make headline news where you are? (or is Michael Jackson's court case still billing higher?)

7:19:02 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 17 May 2005

This post is about weapons of mass destruction. I don't mean the imaginary ones that Bush and co said were in Iraq. We can all agree that they never really existed (at least I haven't seen any evidence of them, have you?). I mean the ones that are being used, right now, in Iraq. They are being used against, the so-called 'insurgents', they are being used against Iraqi civilians, and they are being used against unaware (and dispensable) soldiers. They are being deployed by the coalition forces right now. These weapons are not imaginary; they are classified by a United Nations resolution as illegal weapons of mass destruction.

The war in Iraq is a nuclear war. Nuclear weapons are currently being deployed in Iraq by the US military in the form of depleted uranium (DU) munitions. Their use breaches many international laws, treaties and conventions forbidding poisoned weapons that cause unnecessary (and prolonged) suffering.

What is depleted uranium? Depleted uranium is a waste product of the nuclear industry. It is the leftovers from the uranium enrichment process, used in weapons and in nuclear power plants. This toxic garbage is usually trucked away to a secure storage site, and left, because no one really knows what to do with it for the 4.5 billion years it remains radioactive. Over a decade ago however, the Pentagon war-makers came up with a new use for it. They decided to 're-cycle' it into weaponry (cheap, high-perforation shells) and fire it at their enemies. Much easier than storing the stuff.

The US has over 10 million tons of DU. It is now used in all kinds of weapons. The reason they use it (apart from being cheap and readily available), is because of its density. Its used in DU tipped missiles, tank rounds, and even tank amour (imagine the exposure suffered by the troops inside those tanks). At 1.7 times the density of lead, its penetrates virtually anything it hits. And all the time it is radioactive.

A giger counter will give a reading of between 5 to 15 pluses per minute, in a typical environment. Put one next to a spent DU round, and it will trigger a reading of well over 10000 pluses per minute. Iraq (and Afghanistan, and Kosovo) are littered with DU. It was first used in Desert Storm, well over 300 tons of it. In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, at least 5 times as much was used, and a lot more was used in towns and cities full of civilians.

When a typical DU round is fired it ignites on impact and is dispersed in a fine radioactive dust which permanently contaminates the air soil and water anywhere it is blown (the wind knows no borders). The problem of clean-up is an impossible one to solve, there is just nowhere to put that much contaminated material. The entire eco-system of Iraq is now contaminated, even the ground water. The effects of breathing or ingesting any of these radio-active particles are many and varied. Cancer, birth defects, kidney failure, neurological damage, blood and respiratory disorders are just a few, but the most agonizing of all must be passing this onto ones children.

"The Iraq people are the new hibakusha. Their fate, like that of the 'survivors' of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is a condition of death-in-life. The long term health effects of DU on the Iraqui people (and on our own troops) are incalculable. There is no mask or protective clothing that can be devised to prevent radioactive dust from entering the lungs or penetrating the skin. Moreover, DU targets the DNA and the Master Code (histone), altering the genetic future of exposed populations. Because it is the perfect weapon for delivering nanoparticles of poison, radiation, and nano-pollution directly into living cells, DU is the perfect weapon for extinguishing entire populations. The Iraqi's are not alone. Vast regions of the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans have been permanently contaminated with radioactive dust and debris."
Weapons of Mass Destruction Found in Iraq – Walter A Davis

"Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a professor of nuclear medicine at Georgetown University, is a former army medical expert. He told nuclear scientists in Paris last year that tens of thousands of sick British and American soldiers are now dying from radiation they encountered during Gulf War I. He found that 62 percent of sick vets tested have uranium isotopes in their organs, bones, brains and urine. Laboratories in Switzerland and Finland corroborated his findings."
How the US is Nuking its Own Troops - By Amy Worthington, The Idaho Observer

As it condemns its troops (and their children) and millions of innocent Iraqis (and their children) to slow and agonizing deaths the US military insists that the use of depleted uranium on the battle field is not a problem, even though it fits their own definition of a weapon of mass destruction:

The US CODE, TITLE 50,CHAPTER 40 Sec. 2302 "The term 'weapon of mass destruction' means any weapon or device that is intended, or has the capability, to cause death or serious bodily injury to a significant number of people through the release, dissemination, or impact of (A) toxic or poisonous chemicals or their precursors, (B) a disease organism, or (C) radiation or radioactivity."

More reading on the subject:

If this shocks and outrages you as much as it does me, you will probably be asking “what can I do about it?”. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started:

  1. If you have a weblog, post a link to this post or any of the links above and help inform others.
  2. Next time you hear someone say “the Iraqi people are better off without Saddam” set them straight.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."  - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

8:59:41 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 16 May 2005

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"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us."
Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922)

8:50:25 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 15 May 2005

10:19:08 PM    Comment []

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This is how my day began. Camped at the top of Takaka Hill again last night, I got a King's view of a spectacular sunrise, and I have spent the day collecting photographs this Middle-Earth-like landscape. I am now offloading the other sixty something photos I brought home with me. Tune in later for more...

6:39:07 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 14 May 2005

After four days indoors with a head full of snot, I woke up this morning with the ability to breath through my nose again! The flu is all but gone, just in time for the weekend. Its one thing to mope around home feeling sick when you know you would only be at work otherwise, but on the weekend it drives me crazy!

My second bone carving is now underway. This one is shaped like a whale tooth which, once I get the shape just right, I will engrave. It's amazing how much polished beef bone looks like ivory. My first carving is now waiting for findings but the bee-wax coated nylon I want to use for braiding is proving difficult to source (I need to find a leather worker as apparently it's what they use). Rather than just drill a hole and use a slip-knot, I'm going use something like this. Being an ex-seaman, I appreciate a good whipping... wait, that didn't come out right...

9:17:13 AM    Comment []

  Thursday, 12 May 2005

I spent another day at home with the flu again today. At this rate I doubt if I'll get back to work this week. I worked on shaping my first bone carving project a little more. I can't really do much more now until I pick up some very fine sandpaper in town, but I'm pretty happy with it so far.

10:06:09 PM    Comment []

So this is what she does all day while I'm at work...

8:07:43 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 11 May 2005

I've decided to teach myself bone carving. Its something I've wanted to do for a while and I've been slowly aquiring the hand tools for it. I've been at home with the flu for the last two days, and since I hate being in bed all day (just can't do it), I've roughed out my first peice. I spent an hour or two last night cleaning some fresh beef shanks, which included scraping, removal of marrow (Kaycees favourite part), soaking, bleaching, and drying. Today I roughed out a basic matau (fish hook) shape which symbolises abundance and plenty (and an easy form to start with).  This is just the start. Now it needs sanding, engraving, polishing and of course braiding and whipping to hang it on.

7:04:53 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 6 May 2005

9:20:21 PM    Comment []

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Locals reading this will recognise the landmark in the photo above instantly. Fifeshire rock sits at the entrance to Nelson harbour and gets its name from the unlucky boat.

I got this shot on my way home from work today. I was trying to arrange the rock, the setting sun, and the 'monkey puzzle' trees, and the chain fence, in an interesting way, determined to keep the rush hour traffic whizzing by on Rocks Road, out of the photo. Suddenly there was a break in the trucks and cars and this lone cyclist crossed the frame. Snap. Just what the composition needed. This is why I dig photography.

8:02:19 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 5 May 2005

I saw this elegant creature in Queens Gardens, in Nelson this afternoon, after deciding on a whim to go for a walk and take some pictures.  Cygnus olor (Mute Swan) is a very rare sight in NZ numbering only about 100 in the wild. The Mute swan is a protected, introduced species (brought here in 1866 to look pretty in some rich mans garden). They struggle to survive down under but are far more common in the Northern hemisphere.

6:01:35 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 4 May 2005

A sobering read...

If you don't read the whole thing (and it is well worth reading), at least take a close look at this map, and then read the Concluding remarks.

7:21:42 PM    Comment []

I left my van at home today and rode my bike to work and back. That's about a 50km round trip and it felt good.

Good things about riding a bicycle rather than driving.

  • I have much more time to think about what I'm going to post on my weblog
  • I have more time to notice things like how colourful the city is looking with all the autumn colours right now.
  • Other people (cyclists and pedestrians) will often make eye contact, and even smile or say hello as our paths cross (a bit unnerving at first but I soon got used to it.)
  • I postponed having to fill the van with diesel for another 24 hours.
  • Stopping to take photos is much easier when biking.
  • Parking is a breeze.
  • I have time to think about things. The kind of things I would otherwise not have time to ponder. Like what would it look like if I was asked to design a light rail system for Nelson city (not that anyone would ask me that, but it doesn't hurt to wonder).
  • My legs get a workout (something kite buggying and kayaking don't do).
  • I will sleep well tonight

Not so good things about about riding a bicycle rather than driving.

  • High speed SUV wing-mirrors whizzing by my head on narrow roads.
  • Breathing exhaust fumes.
  • Don't tell anyone in the kite club I said this but... sometimes, just occasionally, wind is a bad thing.
  • I can't carry all my kite gear around with me on a bike (one small stunt kite max)
  • I can't stop to photograph the sunset, because I have no light on my bike so must be home by dark (although I do have more time to appreciate the prelude.)
  • I noticed that once you get out of the city to where I live (you know, where the footpaths end and there are no street lights), the bridges allow zero room for cyclists. I guess we are not expected to ride that far.
  • My butt hurts

I will be trying to ride at least once or twice a week in an effort to do something practical about peak oil. Combining that with actually staying in town overnight in the campervan once a week and I could almost half the amount of driving I do. Its a start...

6:34:09 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 3 May 2005

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6:51:31 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 1 May 2005

The view from the window of my van this morning, parked at the top of Spooners Range, looking towards the Richmond Ranges...

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9:16:05 PM    Comment []

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