Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Where has all the Weather gone?

There exists the phenomenon of "whiskers" in electronic circuits. This doesn't mean that the cat will spill food all over them, but rather that the solder joints and other tiny metal bits will, for reasons best known to themselves, grow microscopic spindles in the same way that crystals do. Over time these spindles change the way a circuit performs, and eventually a pair may touch, causing a short-circuit and the end of life as we know it for the device. By a horrible irony, the more complex and compact the device, the smaller are the gaps between circuit components and the sooner this breakdown is likely to happen.

This may, or may not, have been the fate that overtook our little weather station after a decade of faithful service. And so when somebody asked that usually unanswerable question "Is there anything in particular you'd like for Christmas?", for once I had an answer.

Meteorologically speaking, Space has gone up in the world. Besides temperature, humidity and pressure trend, the new device also measures wind speed and direction, and rainfall. The last two months, though, had been so full of all these things that we didn't have a chance to install the various pieces until last weekend.

But since then there's been no rain, no wind and no change in pressure.

It was exactly the same when I bought the newest water-barrel: its delivery and subsequent installation ushered in a drought of legendary proportions, meaning that it was several weeks before I learned whether it worked at all. Since then it has spent some of its time frozen solid (to its credit, it survived intact) and most of the rest of the time full but surplus to requirements.

The solar panels, when first put up, were privileged to meet an historically sunless August. The Plot, likewise, has just seen two of the worst years out of the past generation for actually growing any food.

There are times when I feel I ought to install or acquire some appliance which can only work in the event of something dreadful happening. It would be a sort of three-dimensional equivalent of Insurance.

All ideas wecome.

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