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Thursday, June 19, 2014

How-to: Green Enough to Save the World

          Green Enough to Save the World

This car runs entirely on air and can go 120 miles on a tank at 70 miles per hour.
If the compressor runs on electricity that is solar or wind power generated it is
as green as it can get.  A totally green car. View the link in the story to 
see the car in action.

     Sometimes I get frustrated when I have an idea and people tell me, “it can’t be done.”  When someone says that to me they have just destroyed any credibility they may have had.  If everyone had that view of things we would still be living in Europe and the world would be a completely different place than it is today.  Whether that would be good or bad is a hard question to answer.

     Would I be able to even write this had that attitude prevailed?  Certainly Ireland would be a different country without the potato that was bought from South America.  A world without potatoes is almost as unthinkable as a world without cars. The discovery of oil may have saved the whales from extinction, but it might lead to the end of mankind if an alternative is not found.  That alternative is what lead me to write this article to start with. 

    It is a coincidence of history that the automobile was invented at about the same time as the discovery of oil and gasoline.  Gasoline was actually a waste product when the first wells were developed.  Oil was the ingredient that was needed to replace a diminishing supply of whale oil for lamps and industry.  While that may have been a lucky coincidence, it is time for the world to grow up and wean ourselves from our gas and oil addiction.

     There are a lot of green and renewable alternatives to oil.  It was in the course of trying to create a green and renewable powered compressor that I found out that "can’t" is part of the vocabulary in American business today.  I called a company in California wanting an air compressor that I could run on solar and wind generated electrical sources.  The salesman told me it can't be done.  It seemed that the energy needed to start the motor would take more energy than those two sources of energy could produce.
     Well after a little thinking and searching I remembered that many trucking companies use compressed air starters to start the diesel engines on semi-tractors. Once running the diesel engine generates enough air to refill the tanks.  At the end of the trucks use cycle the remaining air is stored in the tanks till it is needed again.  Then it is tapped to start the cycle over.  Now I just need to find me an expert that is more close at hand and can actually help me build my compressor.

      So why do I need the compressor so bad.  Well the reason is that I want to build a totally green and renewable energy powered vehicle.  The vehicle already exists and can be seen in a short eight minute video on You Tube by clicking the link I have provided. The problem for me is that I do not want a compressor that runs off of the energy grid.  Doing that would be like having an electric car.  An electric car is not a green vehicle.  It is simply using fossil fuel via an extremely long tailpipe called an electric line.

       If you build a compressor that runs on electricity generated by wind and solar powered sources you will have a truly green machine.  Of course building this system would require the world to wake up and admit there is a better way of doing things.

      Americans have a habit of reinventing the wheel, if you followed the link I provided earlier you will quickly understand why this second video is totally irrelevant.  It does show how far behind we are in this area of technology.  Having lived all over the world in the military in the sixties and seventies I realize many of the things we pride ourselves on were available in Europe long before they came here.  I could buy gas in Europe after midnight with the station closed long before the technology came to America.  They also had on demand water heaters way back then.  Yet one foot was still in the stone age, as the apartment I rented in Germany required me to build a fire to heat the water for my apartment.  While it was a pain to do, it beat cold showers. If things don't change cold showers are going to be the standard, not an option

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

9/11 Déjà vu

                                      9/11 Déjà vu

    With the recent explosion of terrorist activity in Iraq it is easy to get a déjà vu feeling.  It was only recently that I realized how dangerous fundamentalism is. Many people got a déjà vu feeling on 9/11 thinking back to the original attack on the World Trade Center in February 1993.  The truth is that 9/11/2001 was not the first time Americans had been attacked on 9/11 and massacred by religious fanatics.  On 9/11/1857 a wagon train passing through Utah was massacred at a place called Mountain Meadows, Utah and ended in the death of over 120 men, women and children.  Most of them were from Arkansas. A group Mormon militia tried to make the massacre look as if the Mountain Meadows Massacre was done by Native Americans. It took almost twenty years before anyone was punished for the crime.  In February 1877 one man was shot by a firing squad after being tried for the crime.

     Another act of religious extremism was the Oklahoma City Bombing in April 1995.  It occurred on the second anniversary of the Waco Massacre conducted by Federal Agents on 19 April 1993.  Again many innocent victims were killed.  While the bomber was later captured, tried and given the death penalty for his deeds.  The government tried to say it happened because of the acts of people who felt the Federal Government was or is out of control. The real question is was the government out of control.  Many people did not followup on those events.  When taken to court the Branch Davidians were acquitted of any crime.

    The point I am trying to make and not doing it very well, is that a small group of people with a twisted view of the fundamental values of a religion may perform acts that go against the views of the majority of people in that religion and society in general.  Fanatical Fundamentalist often hi-jack and pervert the religion they say they believe. They then twist those beliefs to justify any number of crimes.  Claiming they are performing all the acts in the name of religion.  In reality they are simply using their religion to try and put themselves above the law they claim to believe. 

     This has happened in any number of religions over the history of mankind.  At some point the true followers of the faith have to stand up and take their faith back and take on and punish those who are trying to commandeer their faith.  The question is when will those forces rise up in Islam and rein in the terrorist who say they are speaking for the majority.

      Our involvement in Iraq was initiated under what has proven to be faulty grounds.  In January 1961 shortly before leaving office President Eisenhower warned America about the rise of a potential military industrial complex that would endanger our government and our way of life.

       It certainly seems America has reached that point in time.  The reduction or shutting down of the military industrial complex would or will lead to widespread unemployment.  Providing supplies for the military creates jobs.  The question is have we reached a point where our Congress has been bought by the financial interests of those industries.

        Our interest in the Middle East is certainly nothing new.  Remember the verse from the Marine Corps Hymn, the line that goes “Shores of Tripoli.”  That goes clear back to the 1700’s and the fact that after we gained our independence from England they no longer protected American shipping in the Mediterranean Sea.  It was that very fact that led to the creation of our Constitution and our Navy, not the revolutionary war as many believe.  They both happened in response to actions in the Middle East. A very good book that makes that clear is Power, Faith and Fantasy by Michael B. Oren.  This book gives the history of the U.S. in the Middle East and it is not boring reading.  It is one of the best books on the subject I have read.

       My post of January 18, 2012 called, "Iran, The Whole Story" gives a summary, which is mostly based on the book. It attempts to explain why we find ourselves in the middle of the Middle East mess.  In my opinion we need to return to the Monroe Doctrine and exit the Middle East.  A policy that Nikita Kruschev used to his advantage in the confrontation with America during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Which was a classic chess type move that made the U.S. agree to remove its missile bases from Turkey. Is it any wonder Russia is upset we are trying to put the missiles back in Europe and on their doorstep.
       In an effort to get down off my soap box I would like to end the matter with this statement.  American Christians need to rise up and take our nation back from the forces that are slowly tearing it apart.  We also need to encourage those who follow the faith of Islam to stand up and take their faith back from those forces that have perverted and hijacked their faith.  If both groups fail to do so we are headed towards the end of the world as we know it.

      The Bible says the truth will set you free.  It is time for people to stand up see the truth of the situation in the world in which we live.  Then they need to demand the changes that will defuse the situation.  Without that happening we are doomed and we are living in the time that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16:4.  In simple laymen’s terminology, “It is almost time to go home.”

     In Hosea 4:6 it says,” My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge”

It also says people will turn their back on God’s Word and in turn he will come to a point where he will turn his back on mankind and let them have what they have earned.

Friday, June 6, 2014

An Ex-Truckers Writing Tale

                                  The Conference

    The difference between a fairy tale and a truck driving story is in the way they start. A fairy tale begins with, Once upon a time.  A truck driving story begins with, You ain't gonna believe this.  The difference is that the fairy tale usually isn't true, but the truck driving story is, though it may be embellished a bit.

      Having just returned from my third trip to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference my goal is to share how it is and has changed my life. Just attending the first time was an act of providence.  My intention had been to go to a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I discovered that conference in Writer’s Digest magazine.  It took me two years to get the money together for it.  The trip to the conference was 1500 miles one way.  In my van that would have been over $700 in gas round trip.  I had to have the deposit for the conference mailed in by June 1st

      While looking on twitter I found a link to a site run by Keiki Hendrix that supposedly listed Christian authors.  Well it did and it also listed writer’s conferences.  One of them was the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference or BRMCWC for short.  It started on the 20th of May and this was on the 15th of May.  In the morning I called and checked on it.  It had a lot of things going for it. First it was less than five hundred miles.  That saved me almost two thousand miles in gas alone which almost paid for the BRMCWC. On top of that the conference was only $730 for room, meals and classes which was cheaper than just the conference in Wyoming.  As they say, it was a no brainer.  The next few days were hectic.

    The drive to the conference was an adventure in itself.  During the conference I finally realized I do not really want to write books.  My goal is to have a meaningful blog where I can share things I have learned from life and many hours of studying the Bible.  My blogging started before the conference but had little direction.  My daughter Angelica had gone to Costa Rica to get her certification to teach high school Spanish classes.  She started a blog to keep us up to date on what she was doing while she was gone. I really loved it and told her so.

      During my last year in the Army in Panama I had been a photo/journalist for the command newspaper.  She suggested I start writing some of my life experiences so they could share them with my grand kids when I am gone.  It seemed a good idea to me having had a heart attack and been bought back in January 2004.  My youngest daughter Glenda fought a seven year battle with a brain tumor.  She went home to be with the Lord in August 2010.  One advantage of being on disability during that time was that I was able to spend a lot of time with Glenda taking her to appointments and running her around as she could not drive.  Starting the blog in March 2011 helped get me out of a bit of a low point in my life.

     Arriving at the conference and signing in was an adventure.  You meet so many people it is almost overwhelming.  Arriving early a couple of the first people I managed to meet were Alton Gansky  and  Edie Melson, later I would discover they were and are the ones in charge of making things happen. They are both really nice people to meet.  The chance meeting with them helped me realize I was definitely where I needed to me.

    The next morning I met a real nice person at breakfast. He is from California and was on staff.  I told him I was from Indiana and he said he had grown up in Indiana and gone to Vincennes University.  Over the course of our conversation we found out we both attended the same years and may have actually crossed paths at some point. The thirty plus years since then made it hard to be certain.
    An hour into my first day of classes the schedule I had made for my self was history.  It modified as the conference progressed.  Finding what you really need and what will benefit you at the level you are at is one of the learning experiences you will go through at your first conference.  Writing was something I already felt comfortable with.  How to develop and market my writing was my interest.

     The classes I took taught me that many of the things that I had taught myself were not the best way of doing things.  Most of the teachers stressed that blogs should be short and no more than three to five hundred words.  My posts were and are much longer than what they recommended.  To me it is determined by the purpose of your writing.  Short is nice if you want to break things up and post often.  My style is to post four to six times a month and while my blog is not growing as fast as some I have heard of.  It is doing okay for me.  It has had over thirteen thousand hits and been read in over seventy countries.  That made me proud until I realized that those numbers were about what one might expect from accidental hits as big as the web is. Eventually I would like to start doing travel stories and maybe ones on crafts, especially ones done with recycled materials.

     What is fun and makes blogging worth it is when one of your blog posts takes on a life of its own.  A couple of my older blogs have suddenly started getting hits from all over the world.  They received far too many hits for it to be a random accident. 

    One incident happened the first or second night and set a tone of things that has continued happening to me since the very first conference.  My room at the first conference was in the Mountain Laurel East building on the third floor.  In the evening I decided to have some Pepsi, but the ice machine on the third floor was not working.  So I went down to the second floor to get some ice. As I did two ladies were sitting in the hall and signing books.  When passing I said, “Hi” and continued on to get my ice. While waiting on the elevator to come back we made small talk and one lady said it was her book she was signing. I said that was nice and proceeded to get on the elevator and had a sudden and overwhelming desire to know what her book was about. I stuck my foot in the door as it closed.  It was about the loss of her daughter Megan. It was something I could definitely relate to having lost my own daughter.  We talked a few minutes and Marcia gave me an autographed copy of her book.  It really touched me and I realized it was not only my cross to bear, but that many others had been through the same thing.

    The conference went well and way to fast.  On the way home I pondered all the things I had heard seen and experienced.  Stopping for gas and coffee at a truck stop in Leavenworth, IN in the wee hours of the morning I saw a man come in with one leg and on crutches.  I assumed, which is a bad thing to do, that he was riding with someone until I watched him go out and start sliding the tandems to make his truck legal. It would never have hit me that what I was watching was a story before the conference, but now I was seeing stories everywhere.

   In 2013 on my way to the Conference I decided to stop and see my daughter in Corydon, IN and watch my grand-daughter play softball.  Friday night I went to an oldies but goodies car show in Corydon.  Saturday morning we went to the game. Things went fine till I made a comment to my grandson about the pitcher having a real good arm.  Very sarcastically he looked at me and said, “Yeah she has a real good arm. Did you look at her Papaw?” It was then I knew where and why the sarcasm was in his voice. She only had one arm. In my defense she really is an awesome pitcher.  Anyhow I found out her father was the coach for her team.  She and a friend play in a traveling league.  She played with the 16 to 18 year olds but she was only 14 at the time.  There is a definitely a story here and if things go well I will get it.  Her Dad has been too busy to find time for me, but my daughter said he was just hired by the same high school she works for as a coach so the door still may open.  

   The second year was pretty nice and again I threw away my schedule.  It was a lot less hectic than the first year and I seemed to get a lot more out of it than the first year. While I had submitted several stories to publications I still had not had any luck generating revenue from my writing.  That was when I decided if my writing didn’t pay my way that I would not be back in 2014.
       A couple things happened in 2013 that I found strange.  There is a lady that goes to the conference and uses a walking stick.  I had wondered who she was and what her story was in 2012.  Well I sat down and struck up a conversation with and elderly lady and it happened to be her Mom. Thank you, Lord, for that gift of knowledge. Then later in the conference I sat at a table with Edie Melson who has a son who is a veteran.  Five of us sat with her and every one of us had lost someone in the last couple of years.  That had to be a God thing. Some very powerful testimonies were given at that meal

       Well 2014 came up kind of fast and I had to either admit I wasn’t a writer or lie and go to the conference anyhow.  So to justify going I had to use some “truck logic” to allow myself to go to the conference.  It certainly was not because of a lack of money.  Between 2013 and 2014 my income had quadrupled.  In 2011 I had gone to a 4th of July get together at an old friend’s house.   His wife is a retired Lt. Commander from the Navy.  Well in the course of events I met a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel.  We got to talking and I shared how it had been my goal to lose weight and get back into skydiving which I did in the military and get my Gold Wings for a 1000 jumps.  In the course of the story I explained I had a heart attack, after losing ninety pounds and that they had implanted a defibrillator in me and that I doubted I could jump as they had taken away my CDL.  Well it seems he had worked in the compensation department and informed me that if I had a defibrillator and was a Vietnam vet I was automatically qualified for Agent Orange compensation.  That was July and I didn’t do anything till January, when I decided to turn over a new leaf and fill out the paperwork.  The worst they could say was no.  Well in October 2013 I was informed I would start receiving my compensation.  So having the money I had to justify my going to the conference.  I did fill out the papers and write all the forms they wanted me to write for the compensation and if I had not done so I would not have gotten the compensation.  So with a little stretch my writing did pay my way to the conference.

      Also I have enough money to do some serious traveling this year and hopefully by next year I won’t have to play games to justify my coming to the conference. It is nice to know that money is not the issue anymore.  In the course of events though I think I have stumbled on what the Lord is using me for as it seems I have met dozens of people like Marcia and myself.  It is a ministry which I had not counted on but which gives me peace each time I am able to talk with a person who is recovering as I was when I met Marcia.
     One evening I decided to stop at “The Cloud” and get a cup of coffee before going to my room.  I met a pastor named Dan Ellrick who was attending the conference from Japan. I mentioned I had a close friend that was Japanese that I had lost contact with over the years.  He asked me for as many details as I could give him.  Her husband, my best friend at the time, had been killed in a plane crash on his way to his first demonstration with the Golden Knights Army Exhibition Parachute Team.  The next morning at breakfast he handed me a sheet of paper with some info on it.  I had tried for years to track her down.  He had done it in one night.  When I called the number it turned out he was successful.  It had been only forty one years since I had contacted her.

     On the way home from the conference I had an experience that defies logic and kind of spooked me.  I stopped at the Wendy’s in Cherokee, NC and got me some lunch.  I got Chili, fries and a frosty.  When I got to the table and sat down I realized I only had three crackers.  As I pushed my chair back to go get some more a lady across the restaurant from me got up, picked up crackers off of her tray, walked over to my table and put her crackers on my tray.  Then she walked back and sat down.  Neither one of us said a word.  Kind of freaked me out till the next morning.  I being a creature of habit stopped at the same truck stop where I had met the one legged trucker.  I started talking to the coffee lady and started to get the wrong coffee and she straightened me out.  In the course of the conversation she revealed her Mom had died from a brain tumor a couple years before.  I told her my cracker story and she simply said, “You have some one looking out for you.” Yes I do and my prayer is that I learn to use it and walk in the power of it to help others.