Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Fog Bow

This morning at CUE Haven we woke up to wonderfully thick fog.  It wasn’t such good news for travellers, but for us it made everything look wonderfully strange  and different.  It didn’t last long, however, because as soon as the sun came up it started burning off.

I decided to drive up to the high ground to get an overview and take some pictures and this was the view from up there:

Normally from here you would see the cottage and nursery and the neighbor’s farms, but this morning everything looked like it was under water.  The fog looked a lot thicker from above than it had been down below and I was thinking how cool it would be to drive back down—like an airplane descending into the clouds as it gets ready to land.

As I drove down I was mildly disappointed that the fog was rapidly dissipating but then I noticed something unusual.  There seemed to be a brighter than usual spot in the fog bank ahead of me.

As I got closer, the white column turned into a white rainbow!

I got back to the cottage and called my wife outside to see the “fog bow.”  Her response was that there is no such thing as a “fog bow.”  I told her that’s what I’d thought.

When we got back to town this afternoon I did some research and found out that there is indeed something called a fog bow and that is what we’d seen.  I have a book, which I’ve never read, called Wonders of the Sky and it told me almost everything I ever wanted to know.

According to the book, fog bows are really called fog bows, but are sometimes referred to as white rainbows.  They are caused by the same mechanism as
rainbows, but because the water droplets that cause fog are so much smaller
than the rain drops which cause rainbows, there is much less refraction and
therefore almost no color.  If a fog bow has any color at all it will be reddish and they are usually twice as thick as rainbows.

A fog bow will occur any time there is a light source behind you and fog in front of you, which is exactly what happened to me this morning.  The book says that on a foggy night the moon can create a “moon bow,” which would definitely be worth seeing.  Apparently, you can get a slightly less impressive moon bow from streetlights or car headlights.  But I don’t think it would be a good idea to stand in a road at night with fog in front of you and car headlights behind you.

I’d never seen or heard of a fog bow before.  I’m not sure if you have, but I hope you get a chance to see one!

When Is Enough Enough?

I’m not sure where you stand on the subject of corporate greed, but this is a story about one of my favourite companies who have decided that they are willing to endure a public relations disaster for the sake of a few bucks.

Next month New Zealand is hosting the Rugby World Cup.

The media and various politicians are reminding us daily what a Good Thing this is.  We are all supposed to feel good that all (?) eyes will be on little New Zealand and we will all get richer because (1) a lot of people, in the midst of the worst
economic downturn since the Great Depression, will spend a lot of money to come here and inject their hard earned dollars into our economy and (2) tourism, our biggest industry, will get a shot in the arm and even more tourist dollars will come rolling in.

All that may be true but it ignores the other side of the coin which is things like the debt service costs on white elephant stadiums and party venues that have been built with taxpayer money and the fact that the health service has basically said not to have a heart attack during the world cup because hospital emergency rooms are going to be overflowing with trauma injuries from alcohol fuelled fights and accidents.

But that’s not the basic issue before us today.  It relates to the behaviour of the
International Rugby Board and various organisations supplying world cup related merchandise.  As far as those guys are concerned, the World Cup is a giant pipeline designed to siphon money into their coffers from the pockets of people who can probably ill afford it.

And that mentality is epitomised by Adidas.

They have come up with a commemorative All Blacks rugby jersey that has been marketed as the “Must Have Item of the 2011 World Cup.”  Need I say more?  Adidas decided that they would sell 100,000 “units” in New Zealand this year and identified the lucky retailers who would carry them.  The “suggested (by Adidas) retail price” of the jerseys is NZ $220, which is about US $180.

That’s a lot for a sweatshirt, but the experts at Adidas figured people would cough up that kind of money.

Then two things happened.  First, someone figured out that they could
get a Chinese knock off online from eBay for about NZ $40.  But who wants a knock off when you can get the real thing?  The second thing that
happened was that people discovered that the real thing was available from
overseas Adidas distributors online at half the price including shipping and handling.

Who says globalisation isn’t good for the little guy?

Adidas, for one.

They don’t think it is a good idea for Kiwis to buy All Black stuff from overseas.  You know how when you buy something online they ask you what country you are in and you have to find your country on a scrolling list?  Well,
Adidas told people selling the jerseys on web sites to take New Zealand off the
list.  So we can’t buy the jerseys on line.

That was considered unsporting by just about everyone in NZ, even people who wouldn’t be caught dead in an Adidas All Black jersey.

So what did Adidas do? Did they say sorry, it was a mistake? No.  Did they say, we’ll lower the store price?  No. In fact they said that we were being unpatriotic and not willing to support local rugby because the “price reflected Adidas’s investment in the game in New Zealand.”  Which I’m pretty sure they’ve gotten a tax deduction for, by the way.

The New Zealand Herald had an online poll today asking whether people would boycott Adidas based on their “rugby jersey stance.”  Ninety percent said yes.  I’m guessing that the 10 percent who said “no” probably work for Adidas.

To put this in perspective, it is useful to remember that Adidas expected to sell 100,000 jerseys in NZ for $220.  If everyone bought them at $110, the total
loss would be $10 million.  Not all of that, in fact probably very little, comes out of Adidas’s pocket.  The retailers who have already bought the jerseys and have limited right of return are the ones who will take the hit.  And those are New Zealand businesses, unlike Adidas.  In fact, a number of retailers have lowered the prices significantly to give consumers a break.

Last fiscal year, Adidas earned $21 billion after tax in New Zealand dollars.  Ten
million bucks is less than .05% of that.  I’ve got to believe that someone at Adidas corporate headquarters thinks that’s worth losing the goodwill of an entire country.