Saturday, 9 January 2010

Mild anxiety and random conversations

Have been concerned for the welfare of my much better half while she is in the UK. Mrs S is due back home to Canada in just over a week, and I can't say I'm unhappy at the prospect of her return. I've been pining somewhat, and the dog isn't much of a conversationalist.

To enlarge; Mrs S has been travelling around the UK, which I'm told is currently not the easiest of tasks. However, I have just spoken to her on Skype, and she has safely reached her next destination without too much ado. Couple of minor issues with a frozen screenwash bottle, but some hot water from the tap directly into the washer bottle sorted that. WD40 cleared a frozen car lock, and most of the roads were clear for her journey, which I am particularly relieved about. She is currently at my mother's house, toasting in front of a nice log fire. I am, for the moment, content.

Incidentally, here's some simple Winter driving tips. Firstly; don't clear your windscreen with hot water. The reason being that because of the Mpemba effect, warm water will cause ice to crystallise more quickly than cold. Really, it does. Hot water evaporates quite rapidly off a large flat surface like a windscreen, dissipating heat energy more quickly and thus setting the stage for rapid cooling and re-icing. No de-icer spray? A solution of washing up detergent works reasonably well in my experience. A squidge of any type of oil in the keyhole will free up car locks in sub zero conditions, but WD40 is best. FFS don't clear your lock with any water (aqueous) based cleaning fluid, as this just clears the locks lubricant and leaves droplets in the mechanism which will result in rapid refreezing. Been there, done that. Lastly; Load up the boot (trunk) with a hundred pounds or so of whatever which will help rear end traction. It may increase your gasoline consumption, but full speed ahead and damn yer carbon footprint me hearties. It's also better than ending up in a ditch.

Said snowfall is currently proving a major inconvenience to the British, and a source of amusement for much of the rest of the world, as in "Six inches! Is that all?" Back in the bad old days, I used to commute around twenty miles to work (and twenty miles back) in all conditions, including over six inches of snow. One English Winter (1981/2) I even rode a motorcycle throughout, including hard packed snow on major A-roads. Another (1985/6 I think) I learned the fine art of driving the notoriously unstable Reliant Robin (Yes, a blue one) in anything up to eight inches of the white stuff. The trick is to bung a hundredweight of whatever in the boot to keep the rear end firmly on the road, and the front wheel in the offside rut to travel slightly crabwise. It worked for me. I'm still breathing. I even used to pick up hitchhikers for 'ballast'. The looks of relief on their faces when I dropped them off were often quite priceless.

Regardless of cold weather in the UK, over here in the (Thankfully) not so frozen part of British Columbia, local friends have been throwing invitations at me so I'm never short of company. All I have to do is walk across the way or next door for a talk. Local conversation is mainly grouching about the onset of the provincial HST or harmonised sales tax. Got into one of those random gas station conversations while I was fuelling up last night. Total stranger hailed me as I was fuelling up the trusty old battlebus, and we had a general snarl about the Carbon tax on gasoline, the imposition of HST etc, about which my comment has always been "Tax just ups the cost of living. Then you need to do more to just pay the bills. You can't tell me that's environmentally friendly." Then again, I've long known that 'green' politics and taxation are something only a wealthy nation can afford (But not for very long).

While you will always find me bang alongside the need to cut particulate pollution and manage our planets resources in a sensible way, I was only ever briefly concerned about CO2 being a major climate driver. Then I looked at the facts (Temperatures leading CO2 levels, Vostok ice cores, yadada, yadada.) and reignited my natural scepticism. I've also long been concerned that simply exporting manufacturing activity was rather sweeping certain eco-environmental issues under the carpet.

For example; logging. Some people are against log exports. They say it's bad, period. No more cutting down trees, ever. Very bad. Now I have no issues with clear cut logging, providing you don't lay waste to whole hillsides. Certainly in BC we have plenty of forestry land which could be harvested in a way that benefits both humans and wildlife. Mixed replanting being one method. If you clear cut an area and immediately replant with a mixture of Fir, Spruce, Birch etc, there could be a policy of staged harvesting over say a 20-50 year cycle which would give wildlife clear cut areas to forage over, while retaining 'islands' of longer term growth to retain wildlife habitat. Two key benefits; Humans get the lumber (Timber), wildlife gets freshly clear cut areas and young regrowth to forage on. Nature routinely clears areas with forest fires, which are part of the natural cycle, so why not harvest the timber and replant?

There's an environmental win-win for you. Although the greenies would never sign up to it as it doesn't fit in with their guilt laden hair shirt philosophies. Many of the extreme eco-mentalists appear to think that Mankind must suffer for his 'eco-crimes' and don't appreciate that a carefully managed environment benefits everything. However, that's just the opinion of a rather jaundiced émigré Englishman and who gives a toss about what I think?


Angry Exile said...

Point out that leaving it to nature to 'manage' by means of bush fires means more CO2 as all those hectares go up in smoke and the muppets just say it's nature so it must be okay. Seriously, I've had that thrown back at me as if an arrangement of three atoms has a different effect depending on whether you burn a new tree for no purpose or a 100 million year old one to make electricity.

Quite, quite mad.

Angry Exile said...

Oh, and the picture... I tried to zoom in on roughly where the Met Orifice is but there isn't the resolution. Still, it's my hope that the snow is especially deep and impassable there. And the UAE as well for that matter.

TFGPB said...

Bill, thank you for another laugh, the image of a blue Reliant Robin with the rear end loaded down and plunging through six inch snow drifts is one I'll cherish for days. I remember learning to drive in a foot of snow and being glad of it in later years, possibly while you were being Nanook Knievel. While the North of England may well be justified in having a hard time with the recent snow, we are tucked away in London where I'm embarrassed to say my fellow Londoners have fallen apart at the sight of a couple of inches of cold, white stuff. One of my colleagues walked across the Arctic last year but couldn't get in to work.

I'm also liking your viewpoint on the carbon-footprint versus ecological awareness debate. I have been very much in favour of being more thoughtful about how we treat our environment for many years and was a little concerned when the 'Climidians' hitched their trailer to the environmental movement. The problem there is that while the message that we should take better and more responsible care of our planet has been steadily gain ground for decades, the 'Climidians' have only been really gaining a voice since around the time of the miners' strikes in the UK.

Could it be a coincidence that concern over carbon dioxide emissions only gained the backing of a government when it was convenient in reducing support for those that dug large amounts of carbon out of the ground. Since then the movement seems to have collected international support along the lines of a fad or fashion, which is what concerns me. If carbon dioxide is found to be less of a cause of global climate change as suggested and loses support, will that also lessen support for the pre-existing ecological awareness too? I hope not and I also hope that common sense solutions like the ones you suggested will prevail.

Bill Sticker said...


No, I drove a Reliant Robin through six inches(ish) of snow, the drifts that year were over six feet in places. Although thankfully not on my route to work.

All I remember about those driving days were that it was pretty much a white knuckle ride for the first six or seven miles until I reached the main roads, nine miles or so of clear highways, then another mile through less well gritted lanes to the place I worked at. Added an extra hour to the commute, and I was wearing two coats, but I got to my job on time and didn't lose any money. Oddly enough, I twice broadslid my old Robin, but I never rolled it.

The terror of driving throughout that winter convinced me to get a proper car.

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