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  Wednesday, 29 June 2005

7:56:30 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 28 June 2005

A ferocious south-southwest wind has been screaming through Nelson today. Its the kind of wind the seems to blow in every direction at once as it swirls and gusts between trees and buildings, throwing leaves (and anything not nailed down) into the air. You can see for miles in this clear winter air though. It makes the other side of the bay seem closer.

9:16:33 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 27 June 2005

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"We tolerate shapes in human beings that would horrify us if we saw them in a horse."
W. R. Inge

9:07:41 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 26 June 2005

10:14:35 AM    Comment []

  Saturday, 25 June 2005

Good news! I just found Kaycee. It was quite a reunion with lots of face licking and hugs. She was stuck in the back of MY garden shed. I checked the shed last night too. I had opened the door and called out to her but she didn't come to the door. There is no light in the shed so I couldn't see in and I didn't hear anything. She must have burrowed behind all the junk in there to try and find a warm spot and so I missed her. She is now gobbling down last nights dinner with great gusto. I bet it was a long cold hungry night for her so she is in for some special attention today. I was really starting to think I'd lost her for good.
9:32:02 AM    Comment []

  Friday, 24 June 2005

My dog and best friend, Kaycee is missing. She disappeared from home sometime between 5.30 and 6pm this evening. I thought she was in her bed or on the porch but when I called her for her dinner at 6pm she was nowhere to be found. It was dark by then, and getting cold. She'll be back for her food soon I thought. I walked up and down the valley calling her, and have visited neighbours. Nothing. I had a meeting in town which was supposed to start at 6.30pm. By 7pm I decided to go to my meeting, late, but leave her food outside the door next to her kennel in the hope that she would come home and be there waiting when I got back. As I pulled into the driveway half an hour ago, about 10.30pm, for a breif moment I thought I saw her sitting on the porch in the dark. It was just my hopeful imagination playing tricks on my eyes. She's not here and her food hasn't been touched. I am beside myself with worry and really don't know what to do. I can't sleep knowing shes out there somewhere, maybe trapped, cold and hungry. I'm only blogging about this to stop me from pacing around the house.

God I hope shes ok.

11:01:04 PM    Comment []

Kudos to the NZ Maori party. It seems they are the only political party in New Zealand (including the Green Party who response has been little more than lip service so far) who have the sense and backbone to speak out about Peak Oil in the tone it deserves.

Press Release:

'Waking up to Peak Oil'
Thursday 23 June 2005
"It is about time the Government woke up to the approaching energy crisis” stated Tariana Turia today.

"The Maori Party raised the issue about preparing a range of options to respond to Peak Oil on 4 May 2005" stated Mrs Turia. "We were concerned that the isolation of Aotearoa* from oil reserves must lead us to take a serious look at the way that our future is planned in relation to energy and gas consumption".

"We are concerned that soaring oil prices are set to increase the cost of living with the impact felt across the whole economy. We know also that the 6 cents a litre price increase will not only affect transportation costs".

"It is hard to believe that twenty years ago, the average nominal price for domestic crude oil was only $24.09 compared to today’s prices of $43.26".

"The building of new roads in major cities, creating huge cost to the tax payers, is attractive only to the road builders and car salespeople".

"The future for transportation around the country is in more efficient systems being designed, and investing in the environmental future of Aotearoa. The development of commercial rail services must also be seriously researched".

"Yesterday in the House, I asked the Minister of Energy to describe what strategy does the Government have in place to inform the public of the issues related to oil dependence, and what risk management strategies are being developed to reduce the impact of peak oil?"

The Minister's exact response was that there is still "debate over when peak oil will occur".

"The time for debate is over. International energy experts predicted price spikes as an indication that we are near Peak Oil production. Those who know the truth, anticipate the results of Peak Oil becoming a Long Emergency".

"We can expect marked increases in the cost of food, due to price hikes of fertilisers, pesticides, heating, processing and transportation to your local supermarket".

"The Government must wake up to the immediacy of this crisis. Reducing our dependence upon oil needs to be addressed through reduction, replacement and elimination immediately. It’s not just the cost to run our cars" stated Mrs Turia", it’s the 500,000 everyday items that are made from oil".

Ko tenei te wa: the time for action is now.

(*For readers overseas, Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand, meaning 'land of the long white cloud')

I couldn't agree more. The comment by the minister that there is still "debate over when peak oil will occur" is true, and debate will continue until well after the hubbert peak. If we look at the example of the US oil peak (1970-71) there was heated debate until several years after the peak. Only then could everyone agree that the US had peaked in oil production as a nation, because by then (and only then) it was obvious. Debate will continue over world production peak, until it is obvious, and by then it will be to late to prepare mere survival will be much more difficult. Prevention is the answer, not the treatment of symptoms.

12:42:21 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 23 June 2005

I had a vivid dream last night. It is very unusual for me to remember any of my dreams let alone with the sort of clarity this one had.

I was with another person, a woman, who was very familiar to me, although I can't put a face to her (maybe someone I haven't met yet?). All I know is I felt very close to her and it was very natural for us to be together at that time. We were wandering through the rubble of partially destroyed buildings, like a city during war or after a big earthquake. We were looking for somewhere safe to huddle together and sleep but wherever we went the places were to unsafe, or unsuitable for some other reason. We kept wandering and looking for shelter. When we finally found somewhere which was not ideal but we settled down to rest anyway. We were soon joined by many other people, suddenly our place was to crowded and we needed to move again. The person I was with was now asleep and no matter how hard I tried I could not wake her. As I began to become frantic that I could not rouse her from this sleep I looked up, beyond the people, that were now all around us, to see a field of fountains. As I watched all the fountains sprang into life shooting water high into the air in beautiful displays. There was something very strange about these fountains though. I noticed the water in them was all brown and muddy.

Then I woke up.

7:12:44 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Sitting on my back doorstep, admiring the work I've done in the garden. The fence looks good, with its patched, recycled chicken wire. The Manuka fence poles look nicely 'organic' as none of them are perfectly straight. It should keep the chooks out though.

I can hear a variety of bird-life in the valley as I sip my coffee. In NZ the sound of birdsong is almost always around us but we forget to hear it sometimes. I can hear the song of a bellbird in the near distance, maybe a few hundred yards away, standing out from the other chirps and twitters. I start to imitate his song, note for note. He answers with his echo, once, and then, as I continue to mimic his original four-note composition, he swoops toward the sound to check it out. First he perches in the beech tree 30 feet away. I whistle again bringing him nearer into the poplar tree just across the creek. I sing his song one more time and his curiosity takes over. He leaps and glides effortlessly to the branch of the Kowhai tree just a couple of feet from my camera lens.

After a minute he tires of eyeballing me (I'm not the 'bellbird' he was hoping for) and zips off to see what he can find to eat under the bark of the Manuka tree by the river.

We'll meet again Korimako...

9:01:27 PM    Comment []

There once was a town called Allopath. It had many people, streets and cars, but due to budget limitations, there were no stop signs or traffic lights anywhere in Allopath.
Not surprisingly, traffic accidents were common. Cars would crash into each other at nearly every intersection. But business was booming for the auto repair shops and local hospitals, which dominated the economy of Allopath.

As the population of Allopath grew, traffic accidents increased to an alarming level. Out of desperation, the city council hired Doctor West, a doctor of the Motor Division (M.D.) to find a solution.

Dr. West spent days examining traffic accidents. He carried an assortment of technical gear -- microscopes, chemical analysis equipment, lab gear -- and put them all to work as part of his investigation. The townspeople of Allopath watched on with great curiosity while Dr. West went about his work, meticulously documenting and analyzing each traffic accident, and they awaited his final report with great interest.

After weeks of investigation, Dr. West called the people of Allopath to a town meeting for the release of his report. There, in front of the city council and most of the residents of Allopath, he announced his findings: "Traffic accidents are caused by skid marks."

As Dr. West explained, he found and documented a near-100% correlation between traffic accidents and skid marks. "Wherever we find these cars colliding," he explained, "we also find these skid marks."

The town had "Skid Marks Disease," the doctor explained, and the answer to the town's epidemic of traffic accidents would, "...require nothing more than treating Skid Marks Disease by making the streets skid-proof," Dr. West exclaimed, to great applause from the townspeople.

The city paid Dr. West his consulting fee, then asked the good doctor to propose a method for treating this Skid Marks Disease. As chance would have it, Dr. West had recently been on a trip to Hawaii paid for by a chemical company that manufactured roadaceuticals: special chemicals used to treat roads for situations just like this one. He recommended a particular chemical coating to the city council: teflon.

"We can treat this Skid Marks Disease by coating the roads with teflon," Dr. West explained. "The streets will then be skid-proof, and all the traffic accidents will cease!" He went on to describe the physical properties of teflon and how its near-frictionless coating would deter nearly all vehicle skids.

The city council heartily agreed with Dr. West, and they issued new public bonds to raise the money required to buy enough teflon to coat all the city's streets. Within weeks, the streets were completely coated, and the skid marks all but disappeared.

The city council paid Dr. West another consulting fee and thanked him for his expertise. The problem of traffic accidents in Allopath was solved, they thought. Although the cure was expensive, they were convinced it was worth it.

But things weren't well in Allopath. Traffic accidents quadrupled. Hospital beds were overflowing with injured residents. Auto repair businesses were booming so much that most of the city council members decided to either open their own car repair shops or invest in existing ones.

Week after week, more and more residents of Allopath were injured, and their cars were repeatedly damaged. Money piled into the pockets of the car repair shops, hospitals, tow truck companies and car parts retailers.

The town economic advisor, observing this sharp increase in economic activity, announced that Allopath was booming. Its economy was healthier than ever, and Allopath could look forward to a great year of economic prosperity!

There were jobs to be had at the car repair shops. There were more nurses needed at the hospital. "Help wanted" signs appeared all over town at the paramedic station, the tow truck shops, and the auto glass businesses. Unemployment dropped to near zero.

But the traffic accidents continued to increase. And yet there were no skid marks.

The city council was baffled. They thought they had solved this problem. Skid Marks Disease had been eradicated by the teflon treatment. Why were traffic accidents still happening?

They called a town meeting to discuss the problem, and following a short discussion of the problem, an old hermit, who lived in the forest just outside of Allopath, addressed the townspeople. "There is no such thing as Skid Marks Disease," he explained. "This disease was invented by the roadaceuticals company to sell you teflon coatings."

The townspeople were horrified to hear such a statement. They knew Skid Marks Disease existed. The doctor had told them so. How could this hermit, who had no Motor Division (M.D.) degree, dare tell them otherwise? How could he question their collective town wisdom in such a way?

"This is a simple problem," the hermit continued. "All we need to do is build stop signs and traffic lights. Then the traffic accidents will cease."

Without pause, one city council member remarked, "But how can we afford stop signs? We've spent all our money on teflon treatments!"

The townspeople agreed. They had no money to buy stop signs.

Another council member added, "And how can we stop anyway? The streets are all coated with teflon. If we build stop signs, we'll waste all the money we've spent on teflon!"

The townspeople agreed, again. What use were stop signs if they couldn't stop their cars anyway?

The hermit replied, "But the stop signs will eliminate the need for teflon. People will be able to stop their cars, and accidents will cease. The solution is simple."

But what might happen if stop signs actually worked, the townspeople wondered. How would it affect the booming economy of Allopath? Realizing the consequences, a burly old man who owned a local repair shop jumped to his feet and said, "If we build these stop signs, and traffic accidents go down, I'll have to fire most of my workers!"

It was at that moment that most of the townspeople realized there own jobs were at stake. If stop signs were built, nearly everyone would be unemployed. They all had jobs in emergency response services, car repair shops, hospitals and teflon coating maintenance. Some were now sales representatives of the roadaceuticals company. Others were importers of glass, tires, steel and other parts for cars. A few clever people were making a fortune selling wheelchairs and crutches to accident victims.

One enterprising young gentleman started a scientific journal that published research papers describing all the different kind of Skid Marks Diseases that had been observed and documented. Another person, a fitness enthusiast, organized an annual run to raise funds to find the cure for Skid Marks Disease. It was a popular event, and all the townspeople participated as best they could: jogging, walking, or just pushing themselves along in their wheelchairs.

One way or another, nearly everyone in Allopath was economically tied to Skid Marks Disease.

Out of fear of losing this economic prosperity, the townspeople voted to create a new public safety agency: the Frequent Drivers Association (FDA). This FDA would be responsible for approving or rejecting all signage, technology and chemical coatings related to the town's roads.

The FDA's board members were chosen from among the business leaders of the community: the owner of the car shop, the owner of the ambulance company, and of course, Dr. West.

Soon after its inception, the FDA announced that Skid Marks Disease was, indeed, very real, as it had been carefully documented by a doctor and recently published in the town Skid Marks Disease journal. Since there were no studies whatsoever showing stop signs to be effective for reducing traffic accidents, the FDA announced that stop signs were to be outlawed, and that any person attempting to sell stop signs would be charged with fraud and locked up in the town jail.

This pleased the townspeople of Allopath. With the FDA, they knew their jobs were safe. They could go on living their lives of economic prosperity, with secure jobs, knowing that the FDA would outlaw any attempt to take away their livelihood. They still had a lot of traffic accidents, but at least their jobs were secure.

And so life continued in Allopath. For a short while, at least. As traffic accidents continued at a devastating rate, more and more residents of Allopath were injured or killed. Many were left bed-ridden, unable to work, due to their injuries.

In time, the population dwindled. The once-booming town of Allopath eventually became little more than a ghost town. The hospital closed its doors, the FDA was disbanded, and the Skid Marks Disease journal stopped printing.

The few residents remaining eventually realized nothing good had come of Skid Marks Disease, the teflon coatings and the FDA. No one was any better off, as all the town's money had been spent on the disease: the teflon coatings, car parts and emergency services. No one was any healthier, or happier, or longer-lived. Most, in fact, had lost their entire families to Skid Marks Disease.

And the hermit? He continued to live just outside of town, at the end of a winding country road, where he lived a simple life with no cars, no roads, no teflon coatings and no FDA.

He outlived every single resident of Allopath. He gardened, took long walks through the forest, and gathered roots, leaves and berries to feed himself. In his spare time, he constructed stop signs, waiting for the next population to come along, and hoping they might listen to an old hermit with a crazy idea:

...that prevention is the answer, not the treatment of symptoms.

This fable was authored by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger. You may reprint or repost, as long as appropriate credit is given to Mike Adams at

6:35:22 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 19 June 2005

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 - (poster or print)

6:20:53 PM    Comment []

Yesterday was a positive day. Some of the Nelson Peak Oil Study and Action Group and I had a garden tour and working bee organised. The idea was to spend our Saturday going from one backyard garden to the next. I've found that no matter how experienced the gardener theres always something to be learnt by snooping around someone elses garden.

Saturday morning saw steady rain in Nelson, but a handful of hardy souls decided to carry on regardless. 5 people turned up at my place (which was the first stop on the tour) at around 11pm. Included in that number was Ted (the kite shop guy), Art (the worm farm guy), and three visitors to NZ, all the way from LA, USA. Art had very kindly brought me a 'starter kit' for my worm farm. We loaded up the old bathtub with old newspaper, compost, and food scraps, then released a big pile of Art's 'extended family', tiger worms, who went to work immediately making my organic fertilizer.

We then took a tour of my garden 'so far', then remulched the backyard again. For this we used the 'no-dig' method again. This involves laying down old cardboard boxes, as biogegradble weed mat, then a layer of peastraw. This is the second time this area has had this treatment and the soil is already much improved. The earth is much softer, and has much more life in it. By spring it should be more than ready for planting.

We did all the above in the steady rain, which made the hot vegetable soup I had made for lunch go down even better. After lunch we went to Teds place, where we took a tour of a very 'active' permaculture garden, and tackled a few little jobs for him. Thankfully the rain stopped while we were there. Then it was on to Annes place, a few blocks away, where we saw a little section crammed with all sorts of edible plants, removed an old gatepost, pruned a grape vine, and tried some homemade dandilion tea.

I got home just after dark feeling really good about how I had spent my day.

9:15:37 AM    Comment []

  Friday, 17 June 2005

Just a couple of links about peak oil that I've been sent this week. Its starting to come out of the closet.

Oil field's falling production reflects U.S. trend...

Britain suffered the steepest fall in oil production of any country last year, according to a report yesterday that will fuel fears of an end of the era of North Sea oil revenues. BP, the global oil giant, said North Sea production fell by 10 per cent last year. The drop of 230,000 barrels a day was the biggest fall of any oil producing nation...

8:50:49 PM    Comment []

6:35:53 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 13 June 2005

Time for a gardening update. I know this looks like probably the most boring photo I've ever published on CW but its tells a story. A story with a lot of work. That compost heap (which is very compact BTW) took most of Saturday, and a lot of cuts and scratches, to construct. The property looks tidier for it too. All those little piles of leaves and branches around the property went into it. As soon as I can get my hands on some, I'll cover it with black plastic to trap in the heat and moisture. Hopefully by spring I'll have a pile of usable mulch.

The two black drums are both full with a spicy mix of grass, leaves, donkey poo, food scraps, and windfall apples. It must be brewing away nicely. When I first filled them I packed as much material in there as I could. I jumped up and down on top of each one to pack it down. After a few months I've had to top them up twice as it turns to compost.

And then theres the bath. I got it for free yesterday, from the local buy/sell/swap weekly. All I had to do was pick it up. That was not as easy as it sounds. The thing is very heavy, thick cast iron. I dragged my friend Devon along and between us we could only move it a few short shuffles at a time. We nearly caused a hernia getting it into the van. I'm going to turn it into a worm farm. I've seen this demonstrated recently and they work a treat. With a few thousand of these little fellas (tiger worms)...

...and a supply of food scraps, newspaper, and garden rubbish (and pretty much anything else organic) I can create a steady supply of quality fertiliser in the form of worm castings. With a tray placed under the plug hole of the bath I'll also be able to collect 'worm juice' which, when diluted and applied to the ground around plants creates vigorous growth. I've heard it described as 'rocket fuel for plants'.  My cabbages seem to agree.

9:29:20 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 11 June 2005

This little pendant was a test. I wanted to see what a not so perfect peice of bone would look like worked into a carving. The natural blemish on this peice is the slightly more porus bone where ligaments were once attached to the beef shank. I soaked the peice in blackcurrent juice to highlight the blemish. The more porus bone soaked up the colour of the juice, highlighting the grain.

I also wanted to try this whipping which will be a feature of the next peice I'm working on. Its a simple yet strong way to attached a cord to almost any shape leaving a nice line of knots down the front.

9:50:57 PM    Comment []

The start of winter is a good time to pick up second-hand power kiting gear. I just picked up another kite, a 5 wheel kit for my kite buggy and a full face crash helmet from Dave, a Nelson Kite Club member who is heading home to the UK for a while and needed to shed some surplus gear. The kite is a 12m2 Peter Lynn F-Arc which is an awesome kite (trust me). More on that when I get some pictures of it flying.

The 5-wheel buggy kit is all about traction. One of the biggest problems in a kite buggy thats over-powered is sliding sideways. With an extra two wheels on the sand I can power up the kite more, thus gaining more speed, without breaking traction and sliding sideways. I used a five wheeled buggy to run the 50km length of Muriwai beach and it is way more stable at high speed to.

This afternoon I bolted the axle extensions and the extra wheel onto my kite buggy for a photo. Of course it had to be tested to. There was no shortage of volunteers among the kids next door and the newly modified kite buggy was put through its paces. By all reports it passed testing with flying colours.

6:52:13 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 9 June 2005

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8:06:13 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 8 June 2005

I stopped on my way to work this morning to get this shot of the cloudy sky, coloured by the morning light, reflected in the tide on Nelson Haven. I would have liked to have sat at the waterline and watched for an hour or two but I was already late for work.

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7:31:19 PM    Comment []

"My Grandfather rode a camel. My father rode a camel. I ride in a car. My son flies in a jet plane. His son will ride a camel."
Saudi saying

Now here's a great idea....

Diet for a sustainable planet
The challenge: Eat locally for a month (You can start practising now)

I'm going to try this. Eating only food from the Nelson/Marlborough region for a month (as an initial goal). It will be difficult and there will be a few exceptions (coffee for example), but I think its a great way to prepare for a sustainable future. I don't expect it will any more (or less) expensive, but it will probably mean shopping in different places. I will make a point of getting my vegetable direct from the grower, at the Nelson market (Saturday mornings in town). That way I can at least confirm how far they have travelled, as opposed to the supermarket where I can't tell where (or how) the food was grown. It will also mean researching the products I buy. For example I currently have no idea which of the 3 or 4 brands of milk I can buy is produced locally. I'll need to find out.

This should broaden my dietary horizons too :)

4:28:23 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 3 June 2005

This little guy and some of his kin were very interested in me as I turned the compost heap this afternoon. Everytime I took a break they would be in to see what fresh insects they could grab. These images were shot continuously at 2.5 frames per second. Fantails do not sit still and say 'cheese'. Click on each frame to enlarge.
2:57:54 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 2 June 2005

I finally found the beeswaxed nylon I have been looking for to finish off my bone carving with an authentic look. Being nylon its strong and not going to wear out in a hurry, and the beewax makes it look just like flax cord. The linen thread I tried, stretched and so the whipping needed redoing anyway. The beeswaxed nylon was easier to work with and I think it makes all the difference.

I finally found the stuff at a little place called The Bead Gallery. In an unassuming little house in the middle of and industrial area, surrounded by panel-beaters, battery wholesalers, and automotive workshops, is this Aladdin's cave full of everything to do with beads (and thats more than I imagined). If your in the area its worth a visit, especially if you're into making stuff.

6:53:09 PM    Comment []

I have today and Friday off work. Monday is a public holiday, Queens Birthday, so I am at the start of a five day weekend. I need it too, both to get jobs done, and for my mental health. I'm not planning to go far, but instead I have a list of things I'd like to get done around here.

  1. Make soup - potato and pumpkin
  2. Get more straw bales for mulching vege garden
  3. Fence the vege garden to keep the neighbors chickens out.
  4. Bottle more apples (4-6 litres worth left) 
  5. turn the compost heap (get job to warm up in the frosty air)
  6. prune the climbing rose that has taken over the almond tree and is shading part of the vege garden.
  7. finish another bone carving.
  8. rearrange the furniture in my bedroom.
  9. harvest the yams that got knocked over by frost.
  10. clear the ivy, old-mans-beard, gorse, and other nasties from the south corner of the property.

That should keep me busy.

9:43:35 AM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 1 June 2005

11:32:47 PM    Comment []

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