17 July 2011

Why Timaru?

A question that a person that is for some reason interested in my life would ask is “Why Timaru?” Is it that I was born here or spent the first seventeen years of my life here? No, not really, though memories do creep in every so often, Timaru of today is not the Timaru I grew up in. Like other places in the world Timaru has not stood still; buildings have been demolished, businesses closed down, streets altered, friends and family have moved away etc.

It is also a question that a famous chef maybe pondering over the next week as his Facebook page gets inundated with Timaruvians commenting why Timaru is a great place to do his live show. Heston Blumenthal is thinking of touring New Zealand and is starting off with an interesting way to gauge the popularity by asking what towns want him to visit. The local polytechnic (Aoraki) has started a campaign to get him to Timaru after successfully campaigning for Masterchef to hold their South Island auditions in Timaru at their campus.

But for me, the question is answered every time I drive up the bypass on my way home from work. I will take a photo of this reason and post it one day soon, but as I approach the crest of the hill the snow capped mountains of the Southern Alps gleam in their majesty appear in front of me and the blue waters of the Pacific stretch off to my right past the palm tree rich Caroline Bay area.

Both my wife and I are fortunate to get employment here and we can live comfortably in a three bedroom brick house with reasonable view, close to shops, bay, the new aquatic centre when it opens and even the café/restaurant strip. The same house and location in Auckland would be far from our meagre means and we would be in a viewless cramped suburb. I would rather live in a smaller place and have a life with views, decent sized section and most amenities a short walk away. But I definitely have, and still will, visit Auckland as it has a character all to its own and I do like the shopping malls there. Well at least the food courts in the shopping malls, a great place to sit down and write my stories as my wife explores the shops. The flautist description in IVRRAC was written in one such mall as I was having a coffee in a café looking out at the outside mall area.

But here in Timaru we have most things, Christchurch is only two hours away if we need more, Mount Cook Village is only two and a half hours west and Queenstown, the New Zealand tourist haven Trentsworth is based on, is four hours of driving through amazing scenery away. If I was a skier, and I am going to give my children the chance to become such, we have over four decent ski-fields under ninety minutes away and many more not much further.

The climate is an interesting one, every day can be different, one day it can be in the high 20s or even 30s (80s Fahrenheit) and then the next day plummet to single figures, only to reach high temperatures once more the following day, summer or winter. In fact one year the middle day of winter was over twice as hot as the previous middle day of Summer. The one thing we don’t get much of is rain, the clouds do not seem to like Timaru that much and avoid it as much as possible. It is quite often that I can look to the blue skies above me and see dark grey clouds banking around Timaru, too scared to actually come any closer.

So if I do seem to blog on and on about Timaru, it is not just because it is my birthplace but also because I have chosen to return with my family and enjoy the views, climate and location that Timaru provides.

Cheers and Blessings


06 July 2011

The Wet Sponge Report

With the weather behaving normally for a change, this morning’s clouding over, wrecking the chance of another fine winter’s day, got my mind wandering. (Actually my mind does more wandering than a courier cyclist with a flat tire). Where it wandered this time was the polarising subject of Global Warming, or as we know it now, due to some massive cooling, Climate Change. For me it shouldn’t be so polarising, all we need to do is all admit it’s a load of rubbish and then we can live side by side in harmony.

Well actually in some ways it isn’t a load of rubbish, much to the chagrin of myself,  but even I have to admit there is some element of truth within the Climate Change mire. This is where the wet sponge comes into play. On this subject I am going to be as decisive as a wet sponge. Basically I am not here to make you think one way or another. I have a much better soapbox than mere human activity to be direct about, so I needn’t waste my time trying to convince people on this human issue.

I absolutely believe that Climate Change is happening, this is obvious centuries ago Greenland was green (thus the name) and they grew grapes in England. Now Greenland is white (for the moment at least) and grapevines are almost a possibility after decades of failure in England. (Apparently at least, not living there I cannot be 100% certain of this). But for me Global Climate Change is cyclic, every so many centuries it changes to warm, cold or indifferent.

The Human Associated Global Atmospheric Climatic Alteration or HAGACA (i.e. clearing one’s throat, not an internationally recognised acronym, but you know me and acronyms, just can’t get enough of them) has not yet been proven in the least as far as I am concerned. I would love to get more into this but I have so much more to say on the general subject that I won’t. Let’s just say that when there are so many contradictory statements made in support of a theory I cannot treat such a theory as proven.

However the crux of the matter here is the world “Global,” this is very difficult to prove as there are no direct consequences, no direct reactions to actions. A butterfly may cause a hurricane in Florida by beating it’s wings, but there is no way we can ever pinpoint that butterfly. However at a localised level there is. So if we look at HALACA instead, not only does it sound more like a dance than throat clearance, it also is quite obvious and is factual and provable.

Take Mount Kilimanjaro for instance, even the most committed Global Climate Change advocate admits that the weather changes around this mountain (which is a major lack of precipitation causing a receding hairline, sorry snow cap) are caused by the equally massive deforestation around the mountain’s base. On the melting of the Artic and Antarctic, has anyone researched how many  more ice breakers etc. are being used in the areas of major meltdown?

We do need to take note of what we do, but I feel we need not look at how much CO2 we release but what we do to the environment around us. If we chop down trees we must take the consequences of drier weather, if we break up our ice fields we must take the consequences of having the ice melt at a faster rate. If we go out and shoot endangered species we must take the consequences of them becoming extinct, or even over fishing the seas etc. Charity starts at home, I reckon environmentalism does also. If you are not interested in preserving the environment you don’t need to worry, but if you are, forget about whether the fizzy drink you had released too much carbon dioxide, worry about where you put the empty bottle instead.

For me the Global Climate Change issue is that many people are so busy worrying about the global issue and multinational conglomerates, they don’t notice the damage being done right on their doorstep by local companies and councils. And this is the damage they have power to stop, whether or not Global Climate Change is fact or fiction.

Remember  a wet sponge is much more powerful in close contact.


Cheers and Blessings


03 July 2011

Normal Abnormality

My weekend is over and I have had a wonderful day. After church we had some friends over for lunch and had soup, breads and cake out on the deck on an unusually standard winters day. I say unusual as we have not had an usual winter’s day this year until yesterday. I blame the volcanic dust cloud that has been hanging around since the time our winter was meant to settle down. But today our thermometer dropped below one degree (Celsius)  and we had a decent frost. The skies remained clear and the sun beat down upon us over lunch, keeping us warm and happy. This is a normal South Canterbury winter’s day.

Another abnormal normality, if you can have one, is 160km (100 miles) to the north. Christchurch has not had a decent quake (around 4.0) since 9:40 Thursday morning and only a few non-decent with the last two being 41 hours apart from each other; both coming in at around 3.5 which is a good jolt but nothing compared to the 4.0+ aftershocks that had been happening daily or even hourly a week or so ago. Has the fault lines finally come to rest? I hope so and pray that the alternative (building up of pressure) is not the case.

Our church follows the lectionary and thus our readings today were Romans 7:15-25a and Matthew 11:15-30. It was a good reminder to me that even Saint Paul was not able to abstain from sin, something I have been beating myself up about this week when my greed has been overtaking my sensibilities. I will attempt to remember to take on Jesus’ yoke, as per the reading from Matthew next week and allow him to guide my motives.. We will see though, as like Paul, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Sin is all around us, and it is only through Jesus’ guidance we can move forward into a sinless life. But if Paul himself relapses, what hope have I? I guess that is why I am studying theology to sort these questions out.

So we probably should stop beating ourselves up and start looking towards Jesus and the wonderful life ahead in his name.

Cheers and blessings to you all.