Climate Change

This page written circa 15 March, 2002.

Somewhere in the writings of A. A. Milne is the line ``Grown-ups always talk about the weather, so why shouldn't we?". As a child I had a recording of this, listened to it often, and shared the confusion as to why anyone would bother.

Have you noticed those moments in Star Trek where our intrepid heroes quickly throw together a collection of technical items to solve some monumental problem or overcome an impossible high-tech obstacle? Have you noticed how often this happens in war movies or science fiction? It has been this way from Forbidden Planet to Voyager. It is most likely a response to some new offensive weapon or camouflage device. I hated this plot device! Whoever heard of anyone cobbling together some technological advance from a collection of things you just happen to have on hand, without years of research?

Well, I have to eat my words, for this is exactly what I have spent this month doing at work. Faced with a need to use results from a project that did not seem likely to deliver, I threw together a collection of instruments to find a novel solution, in only weeks, for a problem that had taken my Belgian colleagues years to solve, and which some Californian colleagues have spent months trying to solve by the Belgian method. What I happened to have at my disposal, that made this possible, is a magnificent collection of equipment and skills. Australian universities dream of having a fraction of what I have poised at my command every day. In fact, it is a bit like the situation portrayed on the Enterprise: Every new-fangled gizmo you could hope to own, and the best brains in the universe to bolt it all together. I felt like Jordi La Forge.

It is months like this one that diminish my desire to leave Agilent and California for stickier climes. Agilent will have to stay poor and the fires in the East grow hot for me to abandon my renovated house and the engineering room of this enterprise.

Analogously, I have recently paid for my shareware copy of WetSocks that puts a weather icon in the system tray. I am eagerly awaiting our marvellous Summer... that last day of rain, after which we will have such enduring dry climate that I can leave power tools out night after night, run the model train over the garden, leave indoor furniture outdoors, and indulge in those fabulous afternoon garden parties... all for months on end. I am frankly staggered at both the accuracy of forcasts this century and my concern with them.

This Winter seems to have been a grind. I have not been excited about anything much since Warwick left. Edwin's exuberance, fearlessness and lack of restraint are made bearable only by the total absence of malice and his dash of cheek, while having a three-yer-old is very hard work indeed. The recession, layoffs, paycuts, loss of profit sharing, and near massacre of the cafeteria have cramped life.

We have close friends who miss snow. I can understand that... a little snow to punctuate the drabness of a cold Winter would be welcome. After all, if it is too damp and cold to enjoy being in the garden, it might as well be picturesque and support snowmen, snowballs and tobogganning. It snowed here one day this Winter, the snow line coming to 500 feet. It was almost exciting. Our friends want to move back East, to family, cheap real estate, and of course snow. I hope they don't go soon.

Bill and Dave knew that it is more important, and quite possible in daily things, to have fun---get a thrill---rather than to accumulate wealth. Carly Fiorina probably never knew this. I nearly forgot.

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