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  Thursday, 29 September 2005

It's that time of year again. Time for the Muriwai Moose Meet. At the start of summer, early October, is the annual gathering of kite buggy pilots from around New Zealand (and the world) at 'Mooseland'.  Mooseland is actually South Head, at the North end of Muriwai Beach, near Auckland.

The event is two days of Moose madness. 50km of fast beach to buggy (each way) and acres of huge sand dunes to play in (and camp in). I went to my first meet there in 1998, and thats what really got me hooked on the sport. I've been to two others since then so this years meet with be my fourth.

Its on this weekend! I can't believe its snuck up on me and I haven't even mentioned it here yet. No countdown... nothing. This year I am ride sharing with two buggy pilots coming from Ashburton, Craig and Sam. I will be meeting them in Picton tomorrow morning where we will board the inter-island ferry to Wellington and driving to Muriwai. We will camp in Muriwai Friday night and be the first on the beach, when the tide has retreated enough, on Saturday. Everyone meets at the South end of Muriwai beach mid-morning on Saturday and we drive, or buggy, about 50km up the beach to Mooseland. There we play, and camp in the dunes Saturday night (always a good night around the campfire). Sunday its more kite flying then back down the beach before the tide cuts us off.

Some of us will then continue North for a whirlwind tour of the incredible beaches of the far north.

We will have to be back in Wellington to catch the ferry home the following Friday (the 7th) so we will have a few days to explore. We missed Baylys Beach last year, and the wind was wrong when we were at 90-mile Beach so those two are a priority, but there are literally hundreds of smaller sand beaches in the area too.

Here are some photos from last years trip.

I am in the process of packing the van now. Kites and buggies are in, next is the food and beer.

I won't be bothering trying to blog on the road like I did last year. There are no internet connections where I'm going, so see you in a week and a day, when I get back. I promise lots of photos and maybe even some video.

1:19:50 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 27 September 2005

This morning, for no particular reason, I went to the recycling centre and poked around for about an hour among the junk. There is something about the act of inspectings racks and boxes, full of stuff other people have discarded, looking for hidden treasure I find very relaxing. An hour passes quickly.

I left with:

  1. 1 whole, pretty old, 4-point deer antler, which I intend to use for carving.
  2. two wooden boomerangs with painted kangaroos on them.

All for $7.  I wonder what I'll carve out of the antler... and I wonder if my boomerangs will come back.

8:06:16 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 24 September 2005

This afternoon was luminous. Bright clear skies, with a gentle and smooth nor-west wind sliding in from the bay. After a morning in the garden (planting flax and transplanting lavendar bushes), I took the afternoon to play down at Wakapuaka Sand Flat.

The toys.

Devon was passing and saw the kites so stopped to give his dog Sasha some exercise. Rather I gave his dog the exercise while he took these shots with my camera...

A steerable kite is a great way to exhaust a dog :D

6:41:59 PM    Comment []

This is funny...

Dog Registers to Vote in New Zealand.

It was almost inevitable New Zealand's election would turn into a dog fight when you look at one of the country's 2.83 million voters Toby the Jack Russell terrier.

Toby became a registered voter when his owner, Peter Rhodes of Queenstown, completed an enrollment form in the dog's name, giving his occupation as "rodent exterminator" and his age as 28.

He signed the form with a squiggle and Toby's paw print before returning it to the Electoral Enrollment Center, the Otago Daily Times reported.

Rhodes, an aviation safety specialist who said he was making a humorous point about local government bureaucracy, was shocked to receive written confirmation of Toby's enrollment in the Otago electorate on New Zealand's South Island.

Voting is not compulsory in New Zealand and Rhodes said Toby had elected not to vote.

"The only roll he's interested in is a dog roll, not the electoral roll," Rhodes told the paper.

Electoral Enrollment Center manager Murray Wicks was more angry than amused that an application filed by a dog had slipped through the center's checking system.

"It's an offense, and whoever's done it will be in the hands of the police," he said.

Wicks said Rhodes could be charged with misleading a registrar of electors, making a fraudulent enrollment and making a false declaration, "to name a few" possible charges.

They're going to have a hard time next year when the enrollment forms start rolling in. All K9's will being demanding a vote now... and what happens when the nations cats get wind of this?

9:16:48 AM    Comment []

  Thursday, 22 September 2005

Most people agree that we, as a species, face some serious environmental issues in the future. Global warming, energy decline (peak oil), over population, water shortages, are all things that I find most people these days will agree do exist, and are a threat (and the list goes on). What I find most people can't agree on is the seriousness of these problems, and the urgency of the situation.  Many of the problems we face (over-population being the obvious example) are exponential in nature. Do we really understand what that means?

If there was a lily pad in a pond, and that lily pad that doubled in size every day, and it took one 30 day month for the lily pad cover the entire pond.... on which day was the pond half covered?

I found this presentation by Dr Albert Bartlett, a retired Professor of Physics from the University of Colorado, in which he examines the mathematics of steady growth, continued over modest periods of time, in a finite environment. These concepts are applied to populations and to fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal.

Dr Bartlett explains precisely why I find the global, environmental predicament we are in so disturbingly urgent...

(btw, the pond is not half covered until the 29th, the day before the end.... but you knew that.)

9:27:25 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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8:13:07 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 20 September 2005

My vegetable garden has suffered a bit of a setback. After weeks of spring-like weather we had a cold snap last night. One of the best frosts of the winter. I lost almost all my tomato plants, even the ones inside the greenhouse. I lost my best pepper plants, and all the pumpkins, melons, gourds, zucchini, and potatoes got major frost damage but I'm hopeful at least some of them will survive. Those that are not planted out yet (still in pots) are spending tonight indoors as another frost is expected. The good news is I've still got healthy lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, celery, black currents, raspberries, strawberries, cauliflower, silverbeet.... and lots more seed.

You live and learn. I've learnt that even frost cloth can't save sensitive crops from a bad frost. The climate in this little valley means that even well into summer you're never 100% safe from a rouge frost. My neighbour, who has lived here much longer than I, told me that she gave up trying to grow tomatoes up here after a rouge frost in February took out her entire crop one year. I'll just have to plant more frost hardy crops. For anything I want to grow that is frost tender I'll just have to hunt out the quick maturing varieties and take my chances.

7:11:04 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 15 September 2005

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"Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that's how dogs spend their lives."
Sue Murphy

7:20:52 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 14 September 2005

Tucked into the hills behind Stoke, is Marsden Valley. At the top of Marsden Valley is the Barnicott Walkway. A few weeks ago I was up there walking the dog and taking photos. On the day I choose to publish some 'blurry water' shots I had taken when the track was crossing the valley floor. These shots were taken a little later, up on a ridge overlooking Stoke and Tasman Bay at low tide.

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9:05:21 PM    Comment []

Thanks to Fi, I came across this little gem the other day. At PostSecret, people mail in their deepest, darkest, strangest, funniest, weirdest, and saddest secrets. They do so anonymously, in the form of a handmade postcard.

Some of them make me laugh, many of them make me gasp, and considering they come from strangers all over the world, its surprising how many I can relate to personally.

A strangely fascinating collection of glimpses into the minds of... other humans.

7:07:02 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 11 September 2005

Just moved in this weekend...

9:39:04 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 10 September 2005

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Everything is thriving in the garden. Its been very mild weather this spring but I'm still putting frost cover over everything sensitive to frosts. We're bound to get a late one up this little valley. We've been known to get rouge frosts in February round here. I've made all kinds of structures of bamboo, frost cloth, and bird netting to protect my little plants.

Clockwise from top left: Atlantic (Giant) Pumpkin Vine, Broccoli seedling, sliver beet seedling, lettuce under frost cloth.

This one silverbeet plant has already contributed to many soups over winter, and its still going strong.

This is one of six eight broad bean plants I've got planted around one bamboo frame.

This is one of the gourd vines that I've just planted out. It's got it own little frost cloth roof. I've never grown gourds before. They look just like pumpkins so far. I've made frames out of bamboo for the vines to climb so that the gourds will grow hanging (for better shaped shells).

The new strawberry patch beside the shed. I've got strawberry plants in every little corner of the garden.

Two little grey pumpkin plants under their frost tent.

Everything got a weekly feeding of 'worm juice' from my worm farm this evening. This garden is becoming a huge source of saticfaction...

"However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do want society."
Henry David Thoreau

6:02:25 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 7 September 2005

Only ten days till the NZ General election.

I came across "Vote for the Envi ronment" today. A web-site, prepared by Forest & Bird, Greenpeace, and ECO. Each political party was sent a set of questions about 12 key issues relating to the environment. Based on their answers each party has been given an overall score. While it might not make the decision of who to give your party vote to much easier, it will probably clear up who not to vote for.

Vote For the Environment

6:19:17 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 5 September 2005

It was a Nelson Kite Club meet day at Rabbit Island beach yesterday afternoon. I was to tired to write about it when I got home. I showered, ate, and went to bed. It was a great afternoon.

Ted and I shared a ride out there and were pleased to be met with the first decent Northerly of the season. Unlike last club day, when it was raining, a few other club members dusted of the kites and joined us. Roy was there with his buggy, board, and kite catamaran. Bill and Marty were making the most of it too. Although the wind was strong, for a change, it was also a little gusty and unpredictable. The kind of conditions that makes it hard to choose the right kite.

I started out with a nice run in the 5-wheel buggy, to the West end of the beach (about 4 kilometres away) and back again,  with the Snot-rag (an old, green 6.3m2 Arc kite). Just as I returned from that run the wind began to die a little so I got out the 8.5m2 C-Quad for a spin. After about ten minutes of fun with that kite, the wind began to gust strongly from the west and the 8.5 was threatening to lift the 5-wheel buggy and me right off the ground. So I stopped and dragged my 6.3m2 c-quad, but as I was unpacking it Ted suggested I try his 19m2 Venom...

...that's right, 19 square meters of terror, in a gusty wind. How could I say no? The venom is a monster of a kite with incredible power on demand. Unlike the C-Quads, the Venom has the ability to de-power when you need to; a feature that comes in very handy indeed. I was having no problems popping huge jumps with ease. Just pull back on the bar and hang on baby! This beast will just rocket you skyward like a bungy cord. When required altitude is reached just ease the bar forward and it will place you back on the beach like an elevator.

I still haven't flown the second hand 15m2 F-Arc I bought at the end of summer yet. Ted tells me it will be a lot like the Venom... but with out the brakes, and good manners. Real reassuring.

By the time we packed up and left the wind had turned Easterly and cold, and it was threatening to rain. I took this shot right before we left.
I love this place...

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12:59:10 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 4 September 2005

1:30:17 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 2 September 2005

I haven't had much to say this week. The events in Iraq and New Orleans have got me worried sick. Those of you who have read my rants about peak oil before will probably know why. This is it folks, and I'm scared shit-less. I'm more worried for the rest of the world than myself. I'm relatively prepared. I have my garden, and a roof over my head. I'm in an area that is sparsely populated. And most of all, I'm informed on the real reasons for the exponential energy price rises the world is about to experience. From here on out ignorance will be our greatest enemy.

shit... like an omen. The power just went out here. I'll finish this later...

An hour later, the power is back on.  Where was I? Oh yes... ignorance. I got an email today, one of those chain letters. Its title was "Consumer revolt - Tell the oil companies where to shove it! ".  I won't post the entire email but basically it was trying to encourage people of New Zealand to 'take control' by refusing to buy any petroleum on September 15. In doing so we could hit the evil oil companies where it hurts by denying them the 90 million dollars they would otherwise make that day. (I'm sceptical about that figure, thats just what the email said). Heres a quote from the chain mail that would have been funny if it weren't for the seriousness of the situation...

"Enough of these ridiculous excuses that the oil companies use to justify their increases everything from President Bush missing a golf stroke on the 9th hole to Aunt Fanny's artificial leg falling off. "

I have two words for the author of this chain mail....


This is not a government conspiracy, or a corporate plan to fleece consumers. Yes, the oil companies are making record profits, but thats because its an industry that has been downsizing for years and they are prepared for whats coming. Peak Oil is a reality that has been baring down on us for decades that no one wants to see. No one wants to talk about it because there are no easy answers. Telling people that they need to downsize everything they do, indeed our very way of life, is a hard sell for any politician. There's no upside. Tax cuts get much more votes without taxing anybodies brain to much.

And then there's the "technology will save us" crowd. If anybody out there working on alternatives to replace our need for oil is reading this, could you please give us a date? We're going to need a magic fix very soon, and I, for one, am getting very worried.

The recent events in the US is just the spark needed to start the petro-collapse that so many experts have been predicting for so long. It will effect the entire world as the US attempts to suck up all spare capacity, of which there is none. This is going to hurt. It wouldn't surprise me if we see oil over $100 per barrel by Christmas and thst will be just the beginning.

The only way to deal with this is to reduce our need for the 'black gold'. Learn to live without it. It won't be easy by any strech of the imagination, but we are all about to learn that we have no choice. The sooner we accept that reality and get on with the awesome task at hand the better.

Sorry if this post sounds all 'doom and gloom' but I really beleive the it's hitting the fan.

7:21:04 PM    Comment []

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