Brrr, New Zealand's temperate climate is anything but temperate just now. Even in Ashburton we've had snow and it's often been minus one degree or less in the mornings- INSIDE. Outside we've had consistent -5C frosts and a hundred kilometres or so south of here they've had a string of -20's. The NZ Herald (our largest newspaper) said that the last week has been "one of the coldest weeks in NZ history".
The best that can be said about this is that it has reminded me of my favourite pome:
The more it SNOWS-tiddely-pom,
The more it GOES-tiddely-pom
The more it GOES-tiddely-pom
And nobody KNOWS-tiddely-pom,
How cold my TOES-tiddely-pom
How cold my TOES-tiddely-pom
Gavin (down at the kite factory) has been buggying in Mongolia for the last month or so and then doing some work in China. Everyone here had the message from there not to let on to him if our weather turned bad because this draws him like a moth to the flame. Didn't work though, he passed through briefly on Friday before heading for the hills with various snowmobiles and other toys. We'll be lucky if we see much of him before October now I reckon.
There are theories that current cooling is partly caused by the absence of sunspots, and that if this continues, it may bring on a new 'Maunder Minimum' like the one that froze Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Could set global warming back a bit, let's hope, but please, not here and not yet.
No usable wind just now either, which isn't perfect for kite flying, so I've been beavering away completing the restoration of the Hoberg family's (Volker and Christian of NO LIMITS being the representatives you may know) 1906 saw mill. It's a Wehrhahn Bros "Roland" horizontal reciprocating saw frame, originally steam powered. In 2006, with a lot of help from Volker and Christian's father, it was extracted from a fallen down building in a copse at Nordleda near the mouth of Germany's Elbe River and bought to New Zealand. Its eventual home will be at the Lynn Historical Woodworking Museum (my father's life's work) here in Ashburton New Zealand, but I've rebuilt it on a base with its own roof and de-mountable log track and carriage so that it can go to local events behind my toy tractor. For not so local events, the sawmill's 3 tonne plus weight is going to give my long suffering Toyota 4wd a wake-up that's for sure - it's had a break from carrying heavy stuff for nearly a year while I've been focussing on kites.
Tangye 1863B Side View
Wehrhahn Mid Restoration Saw Side Sept 2014
Wehrhahn Mid Restoration Engine Side Sept 2014
But I digress.
I'm not saying winter isn't cool, in an occasional recreational sense, but I don't like being cold.
Which is a widely shared view, judging by population decline in colder places and the drift to warmer zones that's been a striking world demographic of the last 100 years or so.
In fact, digressing again, there are some interesting theories as to why this didn't happen earlier.
One probable reason is the development of effective remedies for tropical diseases, especially Malaria, which has made living in hot places more survivable.
Another is the invention of the air conditioner, which has made living in hot places comfortable as well.
And this was a spectacular own goal for the city of Buffalo in upstate New York. Willis Carrier invented the air conditioner there in 1902 (I recall it was originally for keeping a printing works at constant temperature). Buffalo then went on to record perhaps the largest population decline experienced by any major US City as everyone shifted to Phoenix Arizona.
That the St Lawrence Seaway killed off the Erie Canal (Buffalo being its lake terminus) probably didn't help either.
But I'd be more sympathetic- and I'm sure you would be too- if Buffalo hadn't also committed the unpardonable offence of banning kite flying within its city limits from 1832.
Cambell Engine Methven
Bessemer Half Breed Edendale
Besseme Garden Ornament 2011
But, to get back on message here: how to get warm?
At this time of the year, the best way is to be somewhere else.
And the best way of doing this, for me, is going to kite festivals where winter isn't.
But there are very few major kite events anywhere in the world during June, July and August- or not that I get invited to anyway.
Summer in the northern hemisphere is not generally a popular time for kite events because organisers get more support from tourist authorities if they schedule them during shoulder seasons so as to boost visitor numbers.
Another way to warm up would be just to wait around for the much-heralded global warming.
And I'm not skeptical about this in general- though NZ, at 13% outright disbelief is less believing even than the US (12%) and only just behind Norway on 15%, and top deniers, Australia on 17%. Our planet has quite obviously been warming up ever since the last glacial maxima (24,000 years ago) and this trend is probably accelerating; receding glacier and melting ice sheets are strong evidence. That a significant part of current warming is very likely to be anthropogenic (human caused) also seems pretty likely- though I remain a bit doubtful about the CO2/temperature lockstep, perhaps naively, because I've not yet heard a plausible explanation as to why the temperature wasn't higher than now 60 million years ago when the CO2 level was apparently much higher.
My Toy Tractor
Whatever, but what we as a species should be doing about all this- ah, that's a different matter.
While improving energy efficiency where this can be achieved without dire economic consequences, I think we should otherwise take a precautionary approach and not do anything too disruptive until there's a plan that can actually work- which may even be a geotechnical response. Of course the Greenists want us to regress to pre-industrial lifestyles now before it's too late- with the desirable (in their view) consequence of snuffing out most of us as well. But this is just more of the usual apocalyptic nonsense that has come from religious nutters throughout human history. Not so long ago it was; "repent of your sins or spend an eternity in hell- for the end is nigh".
Sawmill Building Nordleda 2006
Which does remain slightly relevant as right now I'm sorely tempted to fall into sin and burn all the fossil fuels I can get my hands on- especially the ½ tonne of coal I put aside in case it could someday be useful (like warming my toes, Tiddely Pom!). And while at it, I may as well pull out the various 100 year old oil engines that I gave refuge to when the world at large turned against them (especially two Bessemer oil field engines from the US that are doubly discriminated against). There's a Fossil Fuels Celebration in Christchurch (100km north of here) next weekend where they'll be amongst their own kind.
The Toyota will not be pleased to hear this- they each weigh more than 2 tonnes; about 750 times as much as the single skin kites it's been hauling around while on "light duties".
But nah, it's not really serious sinning, just a bit of harmless reactionary fun- useful de-fragging for me after the single skin intensity of the last year or two.
PETER LYNN, ASHBURTON, JULY 1 '15
At the beginning of June I made a 3.2 x 34 m single skin Serpent kite. Very similar to the 3.2 x 20m SS Octopus (and the same weight), it flew well immediately. Which suggests that this new field is wide open; that there's a very large range of shapes and styles of kites that will soon be available in single skin versions. And after this short break to clear my head I'll be diving right back in.