Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

 

The next edition of my reblog of the Galapagos Islands thanks to Tim and Joanne!

Thursday, October 27th ~ Galapagos Islands ~ Isabela and Fernandina Islands Day 2 ~ A ship wide wake up call at 7:00 and breakfast served at 7:15, with a planned departure (again via panga boats) promptly at 8:15. Our day will be divided up into two sections. The morning on Isabela Island with our sightseeing […]

via Galapagos Islands ~ Isabela Island, Fernandina Island — A Note From Abroad

 

My friends have made it to the Galapagos Islands and the ship they will be calling home  during their trip through the islands. Their first day is chronicled here, enjoy!

 

Wednesday, October 26th ~ Galapagos Islands, Ecuador Day 1 – Getting off of the airplane I was already wondering where I was and what had happened. This surely was not the Island paradise I had envisioned. In fact far from it. Can’t say why I had envisioned lush and tropical, but the reality was hot, […]

via Galapagos Islands ~ From disillusion to wonderment all in a single day — A Note From Abroad

A friend of mine was asking a question about remembering some of the old style things as kids, like eight track tapes, etc. Hell, I still have an eight-track player that works, and a box full of tapes!

 The first house I lived in that had a phone was the old crank style. Our phone number was one short, one long, and one short crank. There were about eight of us on the line. Anyone could pick up and listen in. We could only talk to those eight households or the switchboard board at Lucille Idaho, ten miles north of Riggins. Lucille had a permanent population of about eight people! The rest of us all lived up Cow Creek, which dumped into the Salmon River. The switchboard could call anyone and connect us to a regular phone. Oh yeah, we did have a radio that only got one station with elevator music on it, and then only when atmospheric conditions were right, no T.V. signal at all. We did have an old wind up Victrola with a few records like the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, some old German beer drinking songs, really great stuff! Not vinyl, the old hard platters that would shatter if you dropped them. Idaho is weird, even then all that was 50 or 60 years out of date. The water for the house came out of Cow Creek. It ran into a little catch basin with a screen on it so tadpoles or leaves did not come out of your faucet or plug up the plumbing, but no other filter. The electricity came off of a power pole, but that was kind of new, we still had a paddle wheel electric generator mounted over the creek that still worked. However it would only run the lights. The fridge and electric stove had to come from Idaho power connections. I had over an acre of lawns, a 3/4-acre garden, thirteen flower gardens, two wood stoves for heat, and just who do you think roto-tilled, weeded, harrowed, cultivated, mowed, and cut all that wood? All with a push mower, a two hand scye, one axe, (no wedge or mall) a hoe and shovel? Me, that’s who, I was thirteen! Rode my bike down the mountain to the bus stop three miles away every school day and pushed it back home at night. That was actually my best and most relaxed time. I would read a book balanced on the handlebars as I pushed the bike back up the hill, which was my entertainment time! There was always chores to do until it got dark, then homework! If I got done with homework before bedtime, or it was summer, I was allowed to read, which I loved to do! Oh, it rarely snowed there in winter over a few inches, it was too freakin cold to snow!

 This was the first family I lived with after leaving my mother and step-dad. We had some weird rules. First of all I admit to having some bad habits. I used words like dang and darn, tended to leave lights on after leaving a room, said pitcher when I referring to picture, evil stuff like that. So the rule was, for any infraction of rules to numerous to mention was a swat with pants down, bent over, with a wooden paddle with holes drilled in for speed. Second infraction was two swats, and then doubled again to four, then added four every time there was another infraction! Twenty swats became the limit. Oh I could be repeatedly paddled at the twenty limit, it just did not get added to once I got that far. I am not against spankings, just the sometime idiots who are in charge of the spankings. I also went to church four times a week. Sunday mornings and evenings, Tuesday was youth group, and Wednesday we had prayer meetings. You see I had run away from home and taken my sister, but that is another story. But since my mother and stepfather were sinners, well it was catching and I had it! So they prayed over me at all of these meetings, waiting for me to be visited by the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues. They were Pentecostal, you see, so no Ghost, no saving. Now my sister actually lived with the preacher of this church, he was the brother of the family I lived with, who was going to also become a minister, and did sometime after I left them. My point is, I can only imagine the hell she lived in!

 So one fine day, having memorized the Holy Ghost speeches of my little congregation, they always said the same gibberish, I proceeded to spout what I had learned, thinking they would now leave me alone. Well it appears my thirteen-year-old brain had not thought this through. Everyone recognized his or her part when it came up! I was literally thrown out of the front door and down the stairs of that church as the spawn of the devil. And this, as I said, at the ripe old age of thirteen! I was still required to go to church down the road at the Community Church. You could be any religion and go there. Not a bad church. The minister, a Mr. Prohaska was very understanding and made it plain from the git go that he did not consider me a spawn of the devil. He also never prayed over me. For me, but never over me. So I planned a new escape. Again, not really a plan, just figured no matter where I ended up had be better, at least that was the thought running through my thirteen year old head.

 So you must understand where all this was taking place, the Riggins Idaho area. One way in and one way out, no other civilization for miles and miles. So running away was a problem, whether north or south it had to be down highway 95 and I knew that would not work. Going overland to the west only got me up against the Hells Canyon, kind of a son to the Grand Canyon. Going east was what they call a primitive area, nothing doing there but maybe a meal for a mountain lion or bear! Or if you were lucky maybe just getting lost and starving to death, you know, the old fashioned way! But luckily the family I was living with had a reunion scheduled I was now fourteen. This took place in Greenleaf Idaho, southern part of the state, and all kinds of places I could head out to. So I packed a ditty bag, you know, with the toothbrush, the couple of bucks I had stashed away, the only other pair of jeans I owned, and some underwear. Which no one looked sideways at, basically what I would have normally packed! I took off in the middle of the second night there. It was a long dirt road and then some county paved roads leading to all kinds of exotic places like Caldwell or Jerome, I mean we were in Idaho spud country!

 So I am trodding down the road, ditty bag in tow around midnight or so. I did not have a working watch. I see a car pulled off to the side of the road. In it was a lady, a school teacher, related by marriage to this family. I had met her before, so knew who she was as soon as she started talking to me. So on that dark night, she convinced me to go back and keep my mouth shut! She said she was in the process of trying to get them to let me come live with her and her family. She told me if I could just wait a couple of weeks that should come to pass. Their resistance had been that she was not religious, so she had joined the Assembly of God church in Council, which was also Pentecostal. I did not know this at the time. She then made me a deal that I would be treated just like her kids, and I would have some say over what happened to me. If I did not like living with them, she would help me find a place that did not include an orphanage. So we shook hands and that was the best damn deal I have ever made! Most of you will know who this women is, but as this will go public, I am not mentioning names.

 So I moved to Council Idaho. This very decent person kept working until she also got my sister, and then abruptly left that particular church. I did well. I had only been to two years of schooling and I was going to be fifteen that fall. Part of that other story I mentioned! So I had some catching up to do. I got straight A’s my junior and senior year. I was class president my sophomore year, editor of the school paper my junior and senior years, on the student council, science club, main string in three sports, and one of the football captains, we went undefeated by the way! So let’s just say I loved school, Council, and everything about it. It was a thriving ranching and logging town with a large mill at that time. I worked in the woods during the summer my junior and senior year. Fibbed a little about my age, but I was a big kid! All of the logging is gone now, mill torn down, so the town is suffering, but still hanging in there!

 So I went to Boise State, but ran out of money second semester. I joined the Marines for four years to get an aviation school guarantee, plus I also did not want to get drafted and become cannon fodder! I scored high so got into avionics working on a computer warfare bird. I wound up in Nam for two tours because my particular skills were hard to come by! They would bribe me with meritorious promotions to extend. I did that twice. So had been an E2 about two weeks before going to Nam and then promoted to E3, but it turned out there were no NCO’s in Avionics electric shop, so they promoted me to E4, a corporal so I could run the shop. So in six months my original one-year tour was up, so they promoted me to E5 Sergeant if I would extend for a second tour. I loved my job, however I did not like stateside troop and stomp. They offered me Staff Sergeant with guaranteed chance at Warrant Officer, but I was going to have to give them 8 more for all of that or four if I only wanted the Staff Sergeant, I was not willing. I should have at least stayed in the reserves, but hindsight is 20-20!

 So got out. Was always planning on continuing my education. Had been taking courses by mail while in the service. It turned out, even though I was not a grunt, but having a high stress job and hanging out on mission runs in Danang, lovingly referred to as Rocket City, gave me PTSD. Not that I admitted to that. However all I wanted to do was race my motorcycle, go boating, trash my 4×4, and was crew chief on a professional race boat, had the odd sand rail, etc. By the time I calmed down I was a daddy and had a mortgage. I had turned my military education into a career as an automotive computer and advanced engine diagnostics tech. I got my master ticket, became a smog tech, but mostly what I did was five gas analysis under load on a dyno. I could look at your tailpipe emissions and tell you what system was down, and usually what part. Once I got proficient at the dyno and 5 gas, I never used a scope again. Just my diagnostic computer and the dyno was all I needed. I knew how to do all the rest, brakes, alignment, pull an engine or trans out of a class A, the whole pie so to speak. But after my first year I was the shop foreman and usually the service manager, so if it was a dirty job, or heavy, I pointed and ordered someone else to do it. I lost nary a nights sleep over it either!

 So ended up working one job after the Corps for just under 30 years. The place closed down due to the owner’s ill health and being bought out by the State. I ended up as service manager for a private set of five Bobcat dealerships! It was stressful but the monetary reward was very, very, amenable! I retired after seven more years. This career did allow me to raise a daughter who has a Masters degree who became a teacher an now an assistant principal. She is the love of my life. Well aside from my wife, who I still have not managed to understand how or why I got so lucky!

 So in closing, I am not in love with religion as some of you may have guessed. As a matter of fact I am of the opinion that religion is the most dangerous entity this planet has ever experienced. Christianity just as much to blame as any other. So I do not begrudge you your belief, my daughter is devout, but for now I am not a willing participant. I am a good person and a great friend to have! I do not lie, well let me admit that I am a storyteller and will embellish if I think the story is boring. This piece is not one of those however, and my moral character, for whatever it might be worth, is a choice I make and not because I am afraid to be punished if I choose immorality!

 

 

Fathers Day and my posting of my Dad’s picture got me to thinking about the man who gave me almost every picture of my Father that thankfully I do have! Watch for the video at the very end of this article, it is the one I am most anxious for you to watch!

Warren King is a famous photographer and teacher who lived and worked here in Southern California. He was paired with my father during WWII, 167 Signal Photographic Company. They were both combat photographers, Dad specialized in combat movies when the opportunity presented itself. Not as easy to print up in the newspapers back home, but very valuable to military intelligence. Almost all of the photos I have of my Dad came from this man. A very good friend who I did not find until late in life whose name I had seen in letters sent to my paternal grandmother. He and my Father were very close, but after my Father died he lost contact and did not know what had become of us. I came across a website in which famous Hollywood photographers that had been taught by Mr. King had set up a scholarship fund in his name. I sent him a message via the web site asking if he knew my father and he immediately responded. So there is a documentary about the man, even includes a photo of my Dad!  You can see my Father at 5:16 into the film. It is the picture I am posting with this article and the one I posted on Facebook. At least my adopted families should take time to watch it. It was of course fascinating to me, but for obvious reasons. As I mentioned, Warren and my Dad stayed close friends after the war. After a couple of false starts Warren was offered a teaching job, among his duties he  started a career teaching photography to high school students. He became very famous, his students won prestigious awards every year, and so some of them also became famous in the photographic world. Mr. King took his students to a different foreign country each year on photo shoots, not your average high school photography class!

My father went to work for Hollywood Technicolor Corporation. He mainly worked on special effects for animation. For example, he told me the raindrops in Lady and the Tramp are actually milk drops that were later painted frame by frame to resemble rain and integrated into the animated movie. That is why they look so thick and fat! He loved his job, unfortunately his career was cut short by cancer, the Beverly Hills home we lived in had to go, not one of those mansions, just a regular home. But that is another story. Warren King or J Heslop, another very famous photographer, took most of the pictures in this article that I am including of my Dad. They were all in the same outfit at one time or the other and took photos of each other. So if King and Heslop are in a photo the chances that it was taken by my Dad are pretty good.

H_Warren_King_and_J_Heslop

The fellow pictured above with the camera is Warren King, and J Heslop is sitting to his left. No I am not forgetting to put a period behind the J, his first name is actually just the letter J, no period needed. Anyway, both he and my Dad wound up taking pictures and movies of prisoner of war camps, notably Jewish prisoner of war camps. Heslop used a still camera while Dad used a movie camera. I doubt they were together or at the same camp, but I do not know that one way or the other. I do know that because technology at the time could take still photos and get them in magazines and newspapers Heslop became famous! So there is a whole section at the BYU Harold B. Lee library digital photo section dedicated to J Heslop’s photos, he was a Mormon, you see. But he wrote books, was a journalist, and so was famous for more than just his war photos. There are several pictures of my Dad also in that collection taken by Hislop, however finding them took me a while, and some patience. Now the pictures of J Heslop himself obviously are not taken by him as cameras back then required a human to focus, aim, and pull the trigger, so chances are that Mr. King or my Dad could have taken them, no way to know. I will give you a link to the BSU site for Mr. Heslop, there are 75 pages of photos for you to choose from.

http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/search/collection/JMHes/

 

Christmas_card-2

This photo is of Sgt. Warren King

Christmas_card

 

2007-12-27-2239-24

2007-12-27-2239-24

Staff Sgt. Charles Love/Sgt. Warren King

Charles Edwars Love

Dad

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2007-12-27-2247-49Sgt. King/Staff Sgt. Love

Sgt. Warren King, Staff Sgt. Charles Love

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Dad being awarded the Purple Heart.

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Below is the short documentary on Warren King. Warren told me that other than my Mother and Father he was the first to hold me when I was born. He was also the contact for the VA hospital and came to tell me my Father had passed away. Donna was too young, and no one could find my Mother that evening, so he came to make sure I was ok.  I honestly do not remember that night, or him, until I found him about 15 years ago in an Internet search, as I mentioned. Any of you from my adopted families, I highly recommend you watch the video. It does not talk about my family, but it gives you insight into the kinds of people my Father considered a friend. Thank you for watching, and thank you Mr. King for being such a good friend!

 

 

 

 

 

I travelled a lot from six to eleven, but not as a vacationing child of rich parents. So for this article, we will just leave that as a maybe blog down the line. For our purposes we will concentrate on my travels overseas courtesy of the Marine Air Wing commands. (By the way, all pictures are in Gallery format, so if you click on them they will enlarge and then you can arrow back and forth.)

My first stop after a year of boot camp, infantry training, Avionics school, and a short stint in a training squadron was landing on the Island of Okinawa. Now all of the marines I came over with were grunts, or infantry, with the exception of one other guy. They were all shipped out the next day, but they left me and this other guy, both of us to be assigned to an air wing somewhere, dangling for a week or so. This is where I met my best friend for my Japan deployment, he taught me how to play tennis, his name was Doc Holliday. To this day I do not know what his real first name was!

After a week and couple of days we both got orders to Iwakuni Japan. I was, at the time, a navigation computer tech, he worked in the photo lab of a different squadron. We kept in touch however. I eventually got myself transferred to his squadron by a lucky coincidence. They needed avionics techs on the flight line, and I wanted out of the windowless computer van that was my home 10 hours a day. I loved working on the actual aircraft. It was not long before I moved out of the barracks and into a small house with a couple of other Marines from my new squadron. This is where I met my other best friend, Neal Regan. We were not best friends yet, that did not happen until we went to the Philippines and Nam together.

Doc and I spent our time in Japan travelling. I was licensed to drive pretty much any tractor, jeep or 6×6 truck the squadron had. They also got me a license to drive outside the gate in Japan proper, so I bought a car. I don’t even recall the model; I just know it had a two-stroke motorcycle engine for power. It was a little miniature station wagon. Had to fuel up with mix gas, which back then was available at all gas stations. Ecologists would be aghast now! I was the only person in the squadron, enlisted or officer to have a license and car that was legal outside the base. Made me a popular guy. Mostly picking up officers wives at the airport in Hiroshima. They would even give me time off work to go and pick them up. They had some kind of agreement the officers wives could get a three month visa. We enlisted didn’t rate diddly.

This car allowed Doc and I to explore the country around Iwakuni and travel to places like Hiroshima regularly, and basically just get lost on a duty free weekend. We both had critical MOS so did not get assigned but the minimum duty required. (MOS is a job designator)

We made friends with a farmer by scrounging up a pump from the base, rigging up a transformer to make it work on his electrical grid and installing it at his water supply. He was a rice farmer packing water by hand. He spoke no English; we spoke basically no Japanese beyond hello, goodbye, excuse me, and thank you! The only other word I knew at the time was koko, which would get a taxi to stop and let you out! It means “here”. He had a niece that spoke English and he would invite her whenever he had us for dinner. Dinner was usually rice, fish, and a lot of Sake! At first we had stopped and proceeded to help him haul water. He had a fit. But we refused to go away, and when we installed the pump, well we were family! He turned us on to a little sandy beach we could pitch a tent next to a stream that had fish in it. I don’t know what kind of fish they were, they resembled perch. Cooked up well and had very little fishy taste to them. We fished by sitting legs spread in the shallows at the downstream end of a pool while someone else went to the upstream end and started slapping the surface vigorously and wading towards us. Fish would appear between our legs and we would scoop them up and throw them onto the bank.

About this time, Reagan and I had just made L/Cpl and got orders to the Philippines and then missions run out of Danang Vietnam. It turned out that we were both scheduled to go home, there were no NCO’s trained in our particular MOS, so they meritoriously promoted us to Corporal to extend for a second tour, which we did. They then bribed us again with meritorious promotion to Sgt if we would extend again. Best thing that had ever happened to either one of us! We were inseparable as much as possible, watched each others backs! We ran missions out of Danang, but due to reasons I will not go into now; we fixed the aircraft in the Philippines. Broke our little hearts.

When I was in Cubi Point in the Philippines I rented and lived in a three-bedroom house, one bath, complete kitchen. It came with a live in maid, gardener, and security. There were three of us sharing rent, Regan being one of the others. All included with groceries, I spent forty dollars a month. We lived in one of the nicer areas of Olongapo. Normal housing had no running water or toilet facilities. Were one or two rooms mostly, apartment houses were a little nicer, but had community bathrooms, but no bathing facilities. Our maid, unknown to us for a while, slept in a big round chair in the living room. She would stay in the kitchen until we all went to sleep before bedding down, and up and cooking by the time we got up! We increased the food allowance to include her and gave her a raise when we discovered this. We had no place to put her, so we just left the sleeping arrangement as it was. She was around 16, I think. We all treated her with respect, she was not flirted with nor were any remarks made. I had friends with morals, so did not have to police their actions. She cried when Regan and I had to rotate back to Japan and home. We tried to find good people to take our place with her employment guaranteed. It was all we could do. We were never able to find out who her parents were, or even if she had any. So back to Japan, everyone we knew was gone, then back to the world, that is what we called the U.S..

Had some leave in Australia, short hops and stays in China, S. Korea, and a few over nights in Europe, but very short, so I might include them in another blog, but I have let this one run to long as it is!

Short Stories

Aliens

Are there Aliens? Beats the crap out of me! Do I believe there might be aliens, well yes I do. Now whether or not they are a microbe or an intelligent being with his hand, paw, claw, or whatever, on the throttle of an intergalactic space craft, now that is the real question.

 So lets discuss a couple of basic theories, or facts, as I see them, that you also have to believe in to even fathom an alien! First you have to believe and understand that the earth is around 4.5 billion years old. Then you must believe that evolution is a fact of nature, and that nature will always try to find a way to produce life in any environment it can. So for those of you who eschew this statement and believe that the world is only around 6000 years old, well then just consider this a science fiction article!

 So lets say you agree with me about the age of the earth, evolution, the propensity of nature to promote life, and the advent of natural selection, then aliens on other planets is a foregone conclusion. Most scientists agree, with the vastness of the universe, the chance of planets having an orbit around a sun with a  similar makeup to earth is mathematically almost a certainty, and in credible numbers. So now we need to consider how life on our planet became self aware to the point it was able to leave the confines of the planet and start to explore the universe, albeit mostly by robotic means or deep space satellites so far, and how common an occurrence do we think this is in the galactic scheme of things.

 A couple of things to consider about how we did evolve, humans, that is. Dinosaurs, which were huge reptiles, ruled this earth for millennia. Their dominance would have very likely not have allowed the human race to develop, as any species as incapable of defending themselves against such an onslaught of predators would have been eaten out of existence before they really got a chance to start. So whatever catastrophe wiped the dinosaurs from the face of the earth, whether it was a normal or even abnormal natural climate change is unlikely as the extinction rate was way too quick. So I buy into the cataclysmic asteroid event, which created such a cloud of debris it blocked out the sun for a long period of time, and pretty much everything died. The new ecology that emerged allowed for smaller types of life to emerge as the huge amounts of tropical growth that existed in the dinosaur era of our history was not prevalent any longer. So without this earth-shattering event, humans might not yet exist, or at least may still be living fruit to mouth, as it were.

 So if what I surmise are the facts of our evolution, then how often do intelligent self aware beings of our caliber become a fact of life on other planets. No way to tell, but out of the billions of possible chances, probably at least a few, in my way of thinking. Maybe their planet was never capable of supporting such large creatures as dinosaurs, so smaller populations of life were allowed to take hold, thereby negating the need of a massive extinction event which gave us a chance to evolve. But then lets say something like us, or at least something as intelligent, or maybe even more so, has evolved? What is the likelihood they got in a spacecraft and came here? I think highly unlikely. The simple vastness of space, the fact that we are kind of out in the sticks in the galactic scheme of things would preclude being able to cover the distance. Now of course some aliens may have discovered a means to travel great distances with science way beyond our scope. This would also more than likely mean that these aliens would be, in the evolutionary scheme of things, far more advanced, making us seem to be unintelligent by comparison and not worth communicating with. Maybe snatching up and studying, so there is that!

 So I guess it comes down to one basic question, do I believe aliens have visited, no I don’t. Do I believe in life other than here on earth, yes I think that is inevitable. Do I believe that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe; yes I think it is definitely possible. Lastly, I believe if they ever do get here one of two things will happen. They will not have a none interference clause like the Federation, so we would definitely hear from them in some fashion. Or, and also likely in my opinion, they would look on this jewel of a planet, see the infestation that is destroying it, and take appropriate action! Sayonara takes on a whole new meaning!

 1/17/15

Short Stories

Posted: January 14, 2015 in Life
Tags: , , ,

So I woke up, or maybe I didn’t wake up, at this point I am not really sure of anything. I remember I was relaxing in my easy chair when I suddenly got the urge to go for a walk. Now usually, when I walk out of my front door there is the turn-around for the cul-de-sac I live on. Not this bright morning! A meadow spread out before me. Trees, but not too many, just enough to provide intermittent shade to hikers or visitors to this seeming paradise. Grass, but more like a very luxurious lawn sprinkled with colorful wild flowers, a few low bushes, a few fruit trees of various types, all with ripe fruit on them. There was a brook, you know, the kind that babbles. You could see a fish jump a small waterfall every minute or so. There was also small a lake off to one side, evidently fed by the brook. It was lined with willows, a few ducks and geese were seen paddling and feeding, and a fish would surface for a meal of some unseen delicacy. Off about a half mile under a huge oak was a little cabin, or so it seemed from a distance. Every once in a while an animal would walk out of a forest that seemed to serve as the border for this immense expanse of meadow before me!

Now you would think, seeing all that I described to you instead of the houses, culd-de-sac, cars, and kids playing in the street, that I would be freaking out. But for some reason I was calm, even peaceful. It was like the meadow itself was somehow emanating a peaceful, calming glow of goodwill! So I started to hike out across the expanse of meadow and taking in the wonderful smell of grass, flowers, trees, even the musky smells emanating from the forest were pleasant. I started to notice the animals that were wandering around, most not seeming to care that I was interrupting their day. I also decided, since I was seeing predator and what would normally be considered a food source for that predator seemingly not aware of each other, that I must be in some kind of preserve where the animals were fed and had not ever actually been in the wild.

The cabin by now was getting much closer. I could make out an older gentleman and a young man sitting in a couple of old rockers on the front porch, seemingly engaged in idle conversation. As I came closer I could see a couple of old willow poles with some line and a bobber wrapped around them leaning up against the railing. There were also a couple of fly poles and reels hanging on wooden pegs seemingly made for just such a purpose. As I walked up they both acknowledged my presence with a nod, pointed to a spare glass and what appeared to be a large pitcher of lemonade, indicating I should help myself. I had worked up a bit of a thirst so gladly did just that! They just went back to talking amongst themselves again, so I plopped down on the front step a few feet away and proceeded to enjoy my cool and delicious, as it turned out, lemonade!

We had not introduced ourselves to each other, but at the moment it did not seem necessary. It was a nice warm day, cool here under the branches of the big oak, so I was content to enjoy my drink and listen in on what the two behind me were saying. At present they were discussing who had caught the biggest fish early that morning, and who the better fisherman was. There seemed to be some debate over whether or not the stream or the pond was the better fishing experience. The willow poles and bobbers, from what I could make out, being the preferred method at the pond, while fly fishing seemed to be the choice along the banks of the brook.

I was just about finished with my lemonade, had actually just taken a large sip to finish it off,  when I overheard the older gentleman ask the young man if he had been to Earth lately. As I sprayed lemonade all over the front step while trying to catch my breath I overheard the younger of the two state that, no he had not, the last time he had visited they had treated him very shabbily! They actually nailed him to a cross and stabbed him in the side with a spear, so he was not sure exactly how he felt about that yet. He further commented that until he had worked that out he was not going back. I was at this point trying to be very quiet. I was thinking at least, apparently, I wasn’t in hell!

Forget that big business hires lobbyists to convince us there is no such thing as global warming. Forget that 97% of scientists in the field agree that there is. Forget that if there really weren’t any global warming no one would be spending untold millions to convince us otherwise because the facts would be self-evident. That circumstance alone chaps my hide! Because global warming is just that, self-evident, all you have to do is pull your head out of the sand (or any other place it might have been stuck) and look out at the world.

Water temp in the oceans is up. The earth itself is heating up all around the globe. NASA has been photographing both poles from space for quite some time now, and they show that ice sheets and glaciers are melting at an increasing rate. Now one argument is that this is a natural phenomenon and is not aggravated by what man does or does not do. I myself do not deny that there could be natural cycles that would give us at least some of our symptoms. However, these would occur because of fluctuations in the suns temperature that it is sharing with our planet. We now have the capability to measure how hot the sun is and we have been monitoring it for decades. The temp is staying constant, so it is not the problem. Plus the warming effect would take place during daylight; you know when the sun is actually shining on a portion of the planet!

But satellites show that the earth warms up more at night and winter than in daylight or summer, which supports the supposition that it is being caused by an excess of Co2, not the sun.

What is the best Co2 scrubber we have available for the planet? I think they are called plants, which uses up Co2 in photosynthesis and produces oxygen, which some of us actually need to live. (Well maybe not politicians, I think maybe they are part of an alien plot to just kill us off without a shot being fired.) So where does most photosynthesis take place, why in the ocean by plankton. As a matter of fact if we lose this resource we all die. Not an exaggeration, we all die! So lets keep dumping our sewers into it and making huge trash islands the size of Texas out in the Pacific. What is the next best resource, well any growing plant, but in enough concentration to really make a difference, well that would be a rain forest. So lets keep cutting them down at a hundred plus acres a day.

So let me see, we pump billions of metric tons of pollutants into the atmosphere regularly, then we do our best to kill off the two most important resources to combat the harm we are doing, but hey, man is not responsible. Bull, this world is our house, and we my friends, are the damn termites.

Scientists have been warning us that we could cause global warming since the early days of the industrial revolution. As a matter of fact, from what I can tell, scientist did not have differing opinions on this until science started to be funded by industry, then it started to change its mind, who would have thought! If you look closely, only scientists whose main focus is somewhere else but in the study of greenhouse and global warming have changed their minds. If you look even closer, you will notice a pattern of whom they work for, or who funds them, and that pattern is telling.

People also confuse global warming and climate change. You get a cold snap, or way more rain or snow than usual, and people immediately claim this proves there is no such thing as global warming. But it does if you spent your time with me in Mr. Pratt’s class doing something other than hitting on girls and skating by. A few college classes here and there helped, but Mr. Pratt was by far my best teacher. Only people in Council who went to school with me would know who or what I am talking about. We learned a lot of science, way beyond what other schools were doing then or now. I personally took six science classes in four years. Some invented by the same Mr. Pratt so we could continue to learn. The point being is that global warming changes weather patterns. One of the most common to us in the U.S. is the change in atmospheric winds that used to keep the cold air of the arctic in the arctic, or at least mostly contained to Canada and bordering northern states. But the increase in global warming has changed how far south these air currents are now allowed to travel. This causes a huge change in weather, which will be colder and more severe. Same thing for seasonal storms that generate over oceans, global warming makes the interaction of air and water more dramatic, increasing the ferocity of storms, hurricanes, or typhoons, depending on your location. Again, changing climate attitudes, and never for the better!

Now we should talk about the tipping point. Once we get too a certain saturation of Co2 there is no turning back. A new report on permafrost slowly thawing in the Arctic creating methane and carbon dioxide emissions highlights an approaching dangerous climate tipping point. There is a huge amount of organic matter frozen in permafrost, estimated to contain 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon, twice the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere. And it is starting to melt. With no way to stop it except indirectly through us reducing the rate of global warming by reducing our own emissions. That means drastically and now! We both know that will never happen. You need to know that most people do not care, as long as they get all they can and the payback will happen after they die, then all is good! But you’re grandkids of our next generation may be living, or dying, in a world no longer fit for humans.

In order for us to turn the tide, we have to have a healthy ocean. We need way more green plants thriving. We will have to not only stop stripping the planet of rain forests, but also encourage growth. And we will have to quit pumping Co2 into the atmosphere. Natural or not, it can kill us off. We are smart enough to change this trend; we just have to be wise enough to do it. They already have a way to make fuel out of seawater. Not in a major way yet, but if it was a priority, it would soon be a way for sea faring vessels to be totally free of harmful emissions. And it also makes oxygen as a by-product. Plus the ocean regenerates these chemicals you take out naturally, so it is an inexhaustible resource. http://www.outsideonline.com/news-from-the-field/Navy-Makes-Fuel-From-Seawater.html There are lots of links I found, so I just picked one, but easy to find.

But for any of this to be done in time, or done at all, first you have to recognize the problem. We have the technology at our fingertips. Enough energy from the sun hits the planet in an hour’s time to run all of todays industry for a year. We just need to convince ourselves to harness it. The wind is always blowing somewhere, especially over the ocean. You can find links to wind generators in the ocean and not taking up an acre of useable land. In even one of the great deserts of the world, using today’s solar tech, we could power every industry in the world. So it is all entirely possible. Problem is, the people making themselves rich on fossil fuels are not about to let that happen as long as the money keeps pouring in. So you get the myth that it is not happening, or at the very least nothing we need to do about it. They are wrong, and I am telling you they know they are wrong they just don’t care. So you and I had better start!

I wrote this while my computer was down; some animal ate my cable off the side of the house last night. But if you have the ability to watch Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, I think it is the second to the last one. The episode is called; The World Set Free that deals with global warming. The whole series is well worth watching. Carl Sagan originally did this Cosmos series back when I was a teenager. It was great then and great now!

American Education Sucks

 

 

A report out last week by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance found that U.S. students are falling further and further behind their peers in other countries.

Students in Latvia, Chile and Brazil are making gains in academics three times faster than American students, while those in Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia and Lithuania are improving at twice the rate.

The study’s findings support years of rankings that show foreign students outpacing their American peers in education. Students in Shanghai who recently took international exams for the first time showed up with exam scores higher than any other school system on the planet! In the same test, American students ranked 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading. I suspect even then the tested students did not come from inner city schools in our largest population centers.

Just 6 percent of U.S. students performed at the advanced level on an international exam administered in 56 countries in 2006. That proportion is lower than those achieved by students in about 30 other countries.

 

In a comparison of education in different countries, we find that many countries not only have a longer school day, but a longer school year. This gives teachers more opportunity to present new material.

 

Successful education in other countries has some things in common. They actively recruit teachers from the top 10% of the class, and they require all teachers to have a Masters degree. Instead of spending money on standardized testing they spend it on teacher education. Also, in order to attract competent teachers they pay them well and treat and respect them for the professionals they are, and allow them the freedom to know how to teach without being told how by someone who does not have their credentials.   Additionally, each community, whether poor or affluent, is funded equally. I believe this to be one of the more important aspects of education and where we fail miserably.

 

We have turned our schools in the poorer areas of our inner cities, and elsewhere, into simply housing our youth to keep them off the streets, but not actually educating them. These schools have little to offer a student that actually wants an education. Studies show that even students with very high grade point averages do not do well in college because their education did not prepare them to compete at the college level. They do not even do well in junior colleges that have programs that are designed to help these very students. So unless you have a genius IQ and can educate yourself and learn at an accelerated rate once you reach an institution of higher learning, as the title suggests, your education coming out of a very large percentage of American schools, sucks!

 

We need to treat education for what it really is, the only way to end the inequality of our nations residents. Sure I rail against all the loopholes that in my opinion make the top 10% in this country tax dodgers. I also think that we subsidize big energy companies, you know the ones making billions in profits, for more money than it would take to fix our schools and fund them all equally no matter where they are situated. But no matter how you feel, be you left or right leaning, our school system is failing.

 

Ok, here is where I may get a little too radical for some of you. I don’t believe our schools should just be housing students. Students who don’t really want to be there and make it hard for the ones that do should be released. So I propose that school be a privilege, not a mandate. If you do not pay attention in class, are disruptive, or you have been caught breaking the law, the school has the right to not continue to educate you. It should be a privilege to go, and I do not mean everyone has to have a high IQ, only that they are using the school to the best of their ability. Now I know that a howl just went up, but this is one of the most insidious problems with large inner city schools. Gangs, drugs, intimidation, even of teachers, are the norm. We have to change this environment. We also need to have a way for students who have been “let go” to earn a way back in. Complicated, of course. Does this mean we will have more people wandering the streets of large cities with no way to earn a decent wage without resorting to crime, sadly yes. So this idea has to come with ideas about how to handle the problems associated with not using our schools as a place just to house our youth. Part of that, an important part, is what I have already mentioned, funding all schools equally. Paying teachers well and requiring a Masters degree to teach. This way you attract highly qualified professionals to the craft of education. Also we need to allow more freedom for the individual school and teachers to decide how to teach and what to teach. Teachers being the key word, not politicians or school boards who do not hold Masters degrees in teaching disciplines.

 

In our current situation, some form of testing is needed, and the new testing does seem to require the student to think not just learn how to pass the test. However, if what I propose is done, mandated testing would not be needed, and this money could be spent keeping teachers updated and in tune with an ever changing world in order for them to better enrich their students lives.

 

th 2Merry Christmas 2013

Well people, another year has gone by. A great year for me! I know some of us are still trying to climb back up and out, but I have confidence in my friends and loved ones to always find the road and keep on truckin! My year started out great, got the two new bathrooms, roof replaced, new paint in and out, new carpeting, new windows, new shuttered wooden window coverings, new ceiling in kitchen with recessed lighting, and a new wall put up between the kitchen and my office space, and all finally complete. I did have to have them back a few times to adjust this, repaint that, and ask what the he—is that. Oh, also put a small landing and stairs going to the French doors in the back. Never use them, but hey, once I get the dining room and what I call the all-purpose room done, they will come in handy. I thought I would be done last year, but I think expensive thoughts which I have to be talked out of, but I did manage to get in a couple of more things I wanted done. Well basically stuff I knew I would have to do, you see. Those last two rooms are jobs I am doing myself, so have, of course, not been done! But it was a relief to know the house will not fall over, leak, and like that. Took out a bunch of trees that were endangering my house and my neighbors, plowed up the place and made it relatively flat. I can get free construction equipment as long as I am the operator. Sooo, the grass covers it up, but the three yards are a little roly poly places.  I did manage to level my back yard, which was messed up when I bought the place, and that allowed me to put a couple of sheds back there with level flooring.  I did not like the way the sprinklers were set up so had that redone this spring, I now have the greenest crab grass you ever saw!  Ok your bored, I will move on.

Most of you know I took an extended vacation last summer with Jim Mahon on our bikes. There is a blog about our adventures on this blog site, if you are interested. We had some good times. Travelled a lot, mostly on our bikes. We parked Jim’s motorhome in Council. If you know Jim, then you also know he decided to buy a house in Council, then buy a gym and retool and start some pretty innovative programs, starts serving on the City Counsel this January, created an arts and crafts site on the internet and started an organization for the local artists to help them display and sell their creations. Are you not glad I brought Jim with me! He will not admit it, because I have tried, but I am taking credit for at least the initial push to get him to abandon his hermit ways. Our friends threw us a great party at the park; I was overjoyed at the great turnout. Some people travelled a long way to attend, and I really, really, appreciated it, as did Jim.

I finally finished, well at least the first part of what will probably be a two book series. Or maybe a really long novel, who knows. I never even know what the next chapter is going to say until I write it. I am just as surprised at what happens as anyone! By finished I mean the rough draft. I did one editing run myself, and then sent it to a few people to get some feed back. I added some stuff during the editing run and have basically been told to take it back out. After a reread I agree, so already done. The book started out as a hobby, but I am now considering doing some more work on it and maybe publishing. Depends on what kind of feedback I get.  My wife loves it, but she would love it if all I had done was spilled and ink bottle on a stack of paper!  It is already over 800 pages and 32 chapters, and I have just completed half of the story. It is sci-fi, so not the next great American novel. I do have an idea for a non-fiction, but I want to finish this first, then we will see.

Lets see, what can I bore you with now? I guess the last thing I want to include is that I have been blessed with a stupendous wife of 37 years, a daughter who got her Masters and has been a teacher now for a number of years. English, teaches the advanced classes, and then she specializes in reading disorders, so has a class in that category also. Keeps her on her toes. She used to also issue report cards to the parents. She would ask them to review homework and initial it. She would ask them to schedule regular hours for homework to be done, and then ask them to come in if she thought the student was falling behind, etc. Based on their participation, she issued grades. Of course the parents (the ones with failing grades) complained and the school asked her to stop. That was when she taught grade school. She can now teach up through junior college level or sophomore at a four year, which she did for a short period, but she likes junior high. Vivian and I are both retired, of course, so life is different, but I am not bored. Still have my big iron to ride, a 4 wheeler to get me to some place in the toolies, and plenty of cameras to take pics of it when I get there. So life is good, need to lose some more weight, Vivian needs to gain some, you would think we could figure out how to meet in the middle somehow. All of you take care; have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Love you all,

John & Vivian Love