Citizens Helping Citizens

As we move into winter my thoughts turn to the weather… most winters bring floods to Snoqualmie Valley with some years taking out both roads that cross the valley.  A few years ago, our small town was an island with flood water covering all roads.  During the floods, a few of us volunteer for community service as HAM radio operators, medical assistance, setting up shelters… a lot of needs for daily life continue with no regard for floods or any other disaster that might happen.

I decided to create a video about the folks that volunteer to help their fellow citizens.  Organizations like Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and of course the Amateur Radio Service (HAM’s) all provide services for us.  My video project will focus on these groups to show the background, what they do – why they feel almost compelled to help and what equipment they carry around.

The video project will be using Kickstarter.com – this is a crowd-sourced funding site where people can read about various projects and help finance the project if they like it.  Many project (most) offer “rewards” of some type for those wishing to help.  We do the same offering copies of the DVD and since I’ll be investigating “emergency” bags, we’ll offer these for a reward at a certain level.

I will be posting video clips and images from the video project as it matures so check back from time to time…

 

Fukushima

One of my major projects involves creating a web-based platform that unites us all in a quest to solve problems.  Or you might see it as software to help us accomplish goals by helping to define the topic or goal, set milestones, find others with like interests and help with resources and planning until we accomplish the goal.

In order to develop the software, we decided to find a focus point to help us better define features, benefits and an interesting user interface – given that my colleagues have a background with environmental causes and law, we choose the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan and the problems with fuel rods and contaminated ground water.  Here’s a blog site from my colleague, Julian Gresser, discussing the problem: http://www.explorerswheel.com/blog/generating-solutions-fukushima

Wow – this is turning into chaos.  The problems in Japan are enormous and our hope is to unite minds from all of humanity to find new and innovative solutions, ideas and suggestions about how to handle the crisis.  From this project, we will build an amazing piece of software to help with other projects like clean-water projects, building hospitals or schools and many, many others.

But Fukushima is getting scary.  Even with no further interruption from nature, the problem is severe enough.  Now a typhoon – maybe the biggest in 10 years is about to hit the plant.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/15/us-japan-typhoon-idUSBRE99E09H20131015

If those fuel rods are exposed or the water storage tanks are damaged, God help us all.  Welcome to the 21st century disasters.

 

Time and Light

My more typical writing leans into political positions or observations about society – but today, it’s science.  Over the years I seem to have discovered a few topics that fascinate and leave me wondering, well beyond my capacity to understand.  Hobbies include a crazy range from hiking around the Northwest and playing piano in my small studio to video editing, videography and technology.  On occasion I might write some code (computer), work on a website or read about HTML5 and CSS… books can span from stories about Robert Kroese’s wacky angel stories about Mercury, or Seal Teams to Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity and I think it was reading a QM book that I started thinking a little more about this topic of time and space.

Light: tonight on history channel, a show about Star Trek and the field of astronomy was shown… pretty fun to see real astronauts on the set of Star Trek, explaining to the actors how their work had inspired his career.  As you might imagine, it was a pretty cool moment as the actors were humbled to think their efforts provided the foundation for such endeavors as space walks and searching for other planets.

ok, back to my point about light.  If it’s true that any object approaching the speed of light will exist in a state of slowed time… it suggests that “at” the speed of light you have either no time or instant time everywhere. This might actually link GM to QM???

If light is indeed, transverse – being both wave and particle, then it must have mass of some kind (maybe not – I’m out of my league here) – if light does have some particle state then at the speed of light time no longer exists as it does for us.  My point being, if astronomers claim the night sky contains the old Carl Sagan “billions and billions” of stars and that light left those stars thousands or millions of years ago, then how can they claim that to be true?  If my assumption is correct, light travels exactly “at” the speed of light.  It is light, ergo…. it travels as such!  And as you approach the speed of light, time slows.  That would suggest at the speed of light time no longer moves forward and that light reaching our eyeballs is happening right now – not from thousands of years ago – light got here with no time passing.

Ok, it’s getting past my bedtime and maybe the tea was too strong tonight… whatever.  But you have to admit, this is an interesting point.

Goodnight.

 

Why?

Quote, “The National Park Service placed cones along the highway viewing areas outside Mount Rushmore this week, barring visitors from pulling over and taking pictures of the famed monument.”

Can this report be real? In America? Our national leaders are so mean-spirited and self-indulgent they close a free roadside, non-staffed, no-cost look at one of our national monuments, just to make a point? Are you kidding me?

Then the government (us) has to pay for police or rangers to guard so people do not remove the cones. And now this becomes not only a frustrating experience for visitors, but we have to pay as well?

A friend recently suggested to me, “Be thankful you don’t get all the government you pay for!” – I think he’s right.

Congress

Why on earth do we tolerate the behavior of our Congressional “leaders?” – Both Democrats and Republicans are holding us, the American public as hostages to their inability to compromise and move forward in our national interests.  Given how I feel right now, my suggestion is to vote them all out of office.  The best thing for the nation might be term limits to stop the career politician from making a life in Washington.  They all need to come back to reality and get a job like the rest of us AND starting paying their own bills.  Especially paying for their own health care.  That would change behavior overnight.

I am in constant amazement at how ineffective our folks in Congress have become.  The house and Senate are so polarized they have lost the ability to clearly see problems and find ways to work together.

So let’s all hope, pray and contact our so called, “leaders” and let them know we are not very happy with their foolish and childish behavior and it’s really time to stop, talk, listen to us and do some real work.  The work of running our nation in times of need.

The Gravel Road

“I feel so close to this road. My feet can feel the soft earth as I step down”, and I have to wonder, “Why does this feel so good, so right to me?” I can’t stop the thought as I stroll down a very short part of the road that has not yet been paved. This has to be one of the original backstreets of my little town where life has not changed in a 100 years.

The Gravel Road

Then I realize, this is like home to me. This is part of my youth – this is actually part of who I am. Suddenly, I’m the little skinny kid, walking around a country road or taking the shortcut across the field by walking in the ruts made by a farmers tractor.

The thoughts start flooding my brain – the gravel driveway where I grew up – the path to the barn where I would take my turn to milk the cow in the morning and evening. The path in our back field that Gene and I made to ride our bikes. This 50 feet of compacted gravel and damp earth are about as close to being a kid as I can get right now and it just feels wonderful to be walking here.

And then it all comes together. The years when growing up in America meant the Platters, early Elvis, drive-in theaters, no drugs in school (well, maybe some beer), Teen Angel, milkshakes at the soda fountain with my mom while waiting for my sister to get out of the downtown theater… and maybe a grilled cheese sandwich with Velvetta cheese… I can almost taste it!

And now? What happened to that America? The one everyone loved. The America where streets were fairly safe and country homes did not even have a key to the front door. The place where men opened doors for ladies, and people could walk into a friends home, shouting “Hi – anyone home?” And homes had parents in them. Both parents. And we all sat together for dinner and then played outside or the family would gather for Crazy-8 or Rummy.

What happened to that one?

I understand with each passing generation, life changes. But this moment in time just seems different and to some extent – it feels wrong. We have become so polarized, spiteful – many are jealous of those with more than they have and it seems to breed contempt for each other. And some types of music is so offensive and demeaning to women, yet played on the radio like no one noticed. Can this be good for us as a society?

People look down or away when you pass in the streets and everyone is plugged into something. For what? To escape? To not engage with other people? Has the iPhone and Facebook taken away our humanity? What ever happened to calling someone – or perhaps even – gasp – visiting in person? Where did this all go and why? And where’s it going next? What are my kids going to see – how will they feel in 40 years?

Maybe the gavel and mud road is my therapy for now… something to hang onto as a token of good from days long past. I miss those days. I miss what seems like the simple goodness that was America and Americans. And I hope someday soon – they come back before it’s too late.

Gas Prices

How on earth will I get to go camping this year?  Being a reasonable person and somewhat concerned about the environment, I try to take the bus into work as much as possible.  And that’s just about 100% of the time.  So when it comes to commuting to work, I’m a good citizen, right?  Well, I do have – or maybe for now I should say I “used to have…” this other love during the warmer seasons – called “camping!” – And yes, like millions of other Americans, I do have a trailer which means I need a pickup and that means I need gas and now we come to the real problem.  Gas.  Actually, not really, “gas” as a product – it’s the “price” of the gas that has become the limiting factor for my upcoming camping trips over the summer.  My pickup tows a 5,000 pound trailer and does a fine job.  But it also needs gas to move forward and tends to use around 1 gallon of mid-level gas for every 10 0r 11 miles when the trailer is in tow.  Given the price of gas is around $4.39 (and of course, the additional 9/10 of a cent – stupid concept but not important for this blog) this means trouble coming very, very soon.

OK, thinking about heading to a campground – one favorite is 85 miles from my home.  A little math showing 10MPG for 85 miles each way with current gas prices comes to a staggering $74.63 just to get to and from and campground.  And that’s without taking any short side trips!  Now, because the liberal politicians in Washington state have over-spent our tax dollars on entitlement programs, I have to add on the new Washington requirement for a pass to even visit a state park for $30 (I can amortize this over many trips) plus the cost of the campground at around $27 per night.  And now what is this easy, low-cost “camping” trip going to cost?  Not even factoring in the “Discover” pass and just calling that a “summer” cost of $30 – the cost for gas and park fees for 2 nights is $128.63.  Not counting food, maybe a hot dog on the campfire, and the firewood.

I don’t know about you, but just a few years ago, I remember thinking that camping was a pretty inexpensive past-time – a nice way to get into the outdoors and enjoy some of America’s finest forests and sights.  But given the current federal administration and their insane desire to force the country into bankruptcy over an unrealistic view of energy, we are stuck.  For any of us that are getting older and thinking we’ll retire and see the country – we can kiss that idea off.  The only “country” we’ll be seeing is in our backyards or somewhere within walking distance.

It would appear that our politicians are completely out of touch with the realities of everyday life in America.  We, as Americans, love to visit our friends, family and other cities and campgrounds.  Many of us have grown up around the belief we will see the days when we can “hit the road”, leave work behind, if only for a weekend or two, and enjoy our time away from work.

But no – not going to happen until we have a significant change in leadership for this country.  Given the disregard for our wants and wishes, the current administration is plowing forward with money from some of the worst criminals on this planet (like power-hungry George Soros and other like-thinking thugs from Chicago) to reform and re-shape what used to be the greatest nation on earth.  Exactly what the president (yes, I did use lower-case as the current one deserves no better) is doing is just plain wrong, mean, disrespectful and with no regard for the public at large.  I doubt the secret service has asked him for his Shell or Chevron card to fill up AirForce One or any of the 20+ limos that take him and his equally elitist wife everywhere.

I am all for a “all we can create” energy policy but the last time I looked, we need gas for our vehicles.  And yes, we need it now.  And we have the resources to find, get, refine, distribute (well, almost distribute – we do have the Keystone pipeline issue to resolve), and use oil based products.  And we need – is to do this.  Yes, just do it.  Let the free market come up with innovation to move us into the next generation of energy.  Get the government out of the way and someone will create what we need.  It’s happened for the past 200 years and was the vision from our founders.  This entire insane and un-American policy from the current administration has to go.  And not soon enough.  We need someone in the White House with a vision and a respect for Americans.  And I hope with all my heart that the current person in that house gets to return to his thug buddies in Chicago real soon so we can get our gas prices back to where they belong and get some policies in place to allow America to do what it does best.  Innovate, live free, love family and liberty – and yes, camping.

As to the current administration – don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Good riddance.

 

Afghanistan

In the news, a story about a single US soldier that killed some families.  No matter where this took place, this is terrible and my heart goes out to those families.  And to the friends of that soldier as they all must be feeling hurt beyond belief.

But please world, keep this in perspective – we have 100,000 troops in that country, all doing their best to help the people of Afghanistan.  We send money, build roads, schools – help in every humane way possible and still that country is complaining about a single event from a single person gone bad.  That happens in every group, in every country, in every family on the planet.

My point is to be reasonable and calm.  This was terrible and you cannot sugarcoat events that involve death or hurt to loved ones.  But the US Military did not order a soldier to kill families – quite the contrary.  And the citizens of Afghanistan should respect to hard work done by the other 100,000 of our citizens that place their lives in danger for the good of your families and country.

As an American, I am proud of our country and our military and have a firm belief that the justice system works fine and will prevail.  What worries me is the insanity that comes with crowds and those seeking harm to our soldiers and America as they will be pushing the locals into a frenzy.  All we can hope for is reason and spiritual guidence from all faiths to calm, and see this even for what it is.  A single act of violence some a single person gone wrong.

 

Boomers

So, here I am, looking at retirement and knowing full well it’s impossible at the moment.  The past years have been spent with startups, not enough pay, lots of stock and none of it worth much yet.

I think I’m in that unique group of millions of boomers, aging, wishing to head out camping DURING the week while others are toiling away, and here I am getting stuff ready for work tomorrow.  Just like I’ve done for the past 50 years.  I have to admit, I asked for it – bad planning, way too optomistic, and way too much trust in my friends that founded companies, only to discover maybe the product was not as ready for market as I thought.  Or they were not as good a business person as I thought – but the bottom line, it was my decision so I have only myself to blame… but that will not stop me from complaining!!!

 

Liberty

In reading a small book containing comments and a couple of important documents published by the Cato Institute, I read a paragraph that I think about almost every day.  I use public transportation into Seattle and the route passes the Federal Building – on the wall, they posted some of this famous work, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” – and I’m sure you now recognize where this post is headed.  How great and inspired our founders must have been; “…that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that amoung these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are institued amoung Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”

I’m not sure why, at this time in my life this has become so important, but it has.  I love this Republic, the people and these documents that created a place for me to live in freedom.  And for that, I am forever grateful.

I also wish our political leaders would take this to heart, in the spirit in which it was written.  Not as a document they could abuse or change, but with the understanding our rights come from God, not from Government and these documents mean what they say.  And if they don’t like our Constitution, they are welcome to leave their positions and this great Nation.