The world is a different place.
For starters, the ride on lawn mower we have now has a bigger engine and more power than the car Elwyn and I had in 1969, a Fiat 500. The Fiat had more cylinders though (two), and a hand throttle, and a sunroof- which made it a natural for bunny shooting safaris*.
Perhaps the first tangible sign of our continuing love of things Italian, the Fiat eventually suicided, the first of three to do so while in our care- hmm maybe there's a message there- possibly some sort of anti-blood sports protest? Come to think of it, that would have been more appropriate for our next car, an English made Bradford van, though I'm not sure it should have been called a car or even a vehicle- it was more like a sort of undernourished tractor. War isn't the same any more either- as an ex- CIA operative said a few weeks ago about the difficulties the US will have fighting in Afghanistan; "any activity that involves diarrhea as a lifestyle just doesn't happen".
It does here though, 'cos our main kitesurfing venue, the Christchurch Estuary, is currently a seething bacterial soup, a Spanish civil war for the biological age with new bugs and defenses fighting it out in a curtain raiser of the coming anti-biotic/immunilogical alliance versus wildly mutating diseases Armageddon. We need Genetic engineering NOW! Whew, I got a bit carried away there for a bit, but I had to get that last bit wiggled in somehow. Coming back down to reality, swallowing bits of the estuary does result in occasional conversations with the big white telephone for kitesurfers and sometimes even their housemates.
Here's a thought, maybe the West should recruit kitesurfers for the front line- after all they've already selected themselves for the appropriate characteristics- generally young**, male, willing to travel, not risk averse and with powerfully developed immune systems- and, just like cannon fodder from previous generations sent to war by the wise old men, until needed and they have been carefully prepared and trained by participation in manly sports. It keeps them off the streets also. What a clever plan! Some kite news from us; the Arc patent application has just passed a major hurdle.
The patenting process is long, convoluted, expensive and often frustrating. Not something I would ever ever contemplate if there was any reasonable alternative. For the Arc I've always expected to end up with useful protection but had fully expected some of our claims to have been knocked back at the international examination stage. As it has happened we have had them all accepted. This doesn't mean that there is certainty yet, there isn't.
The process still has a few steps to go. It does mean that it is much more likely that we will eventually succeed in getting the patent and that it will be strong.
*My best friend Tory has taken over this activity now-
**With the exception of Bob Dawson, who would probably even be rejected by the home guard.