Archive for March, 2016

Fire! Fire!

2016/03/31

Recently, I was one of the first people to come upon a fire in a complex of condominiums.  There were two police officers who were trying to wake people up, and I joined them, beating on doors and yelling “Fire!”  In the few minutes it took for the first fire engines to arrive, the fire had run down the open attic of the structure, involving 5 additional units.  After the fire department arrived, I walked back to my house, got my camera, and jumped into my car.  Driving quickly, I returned to as close as I could get to the fire, and then parked my car.

Over the ensuing hour, I took a little over 200 photos, many of which were out of focus, or underexposed, but a few of them came out, and I have posted them on my Facebook account.  As far as I know, everyone was evacuated safely, and there were no injuries.  I do know that I was hearing alarms from the firefighter’s air bottles constantly, as each bottle was expended.  Every unit in the structure was damaged, some heavily.  Everyone was fortunate that the wind was not blowing, as this fire could have spread very easily.

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A beautiful triangle

2016/03/28

Just got back from one of my early Monday morning stumbles, and I wanted to share the wonderful sky I saw.  The Moon was waning from being full a few days ago, and right below it were three bright objects.  When I looked it up on my astronomy program, I discovered that I was seeing Mars, Saturn, and the star Antares.  The triangle was quite striking, and the Moon drew the eye to that part of the sky.

Looking at the night sky is one of my favorite pastimes, especially when it is dark.  There is so much to see, such incredible beauty, and every once in a while a falling star (meteor) makes an appearance, which is even more special.  I live under a major air traffic route, so there are frequently jets going by high overhead, sometimes I can see more than one.  Occasionally, I get to see the Northern Lights, the aurora, which is super special.

I don’t hate me! Really.

2016/03/26

All of my life, I have hated myself.  When I was a child, I would go into destructive fits, tearing apart things that were important to me, or that I valued.  I denied myself, believing that no one would be interested in me.  I deny myself, refusing to do things that will make me feel better, or to have fun.  Most of my life, I felt that I was ugly, repulsive even.  People thought that I was aloof and stand-offish, and perhaps I was, but I was avoiding social contacts because they made me feel bad about myself.

All of these traits, these symptoms, are the result, I believe, of not receiving adequate affirmation when I was a child of 3 or 4.  Too many times, I heard “I don’t have time for that right now!” or, “Wait until later.”  For some reason, I began to believe that I was defective, broken, inferior, or even bad.  This value judgement colored every aspect of my existence, a cage I built for myself.

You see, I am convinced that there is a genetic instinct to try to be assimilated by the elders of a group, an urge to be part of the tribe.  As children, we seek behavior that reassures us that we are important, that we belong, that someone cares about us.  When someone gives you a hug, that is a powerful signal.  But when someone will take time to listen to you, or to sing a song with you, or to interact with you in some way, that is a powerful signal too.  That kind of behavior is called affirmation, and it is the signal our genetic inheritance causes us to seek out, because individuals cannot survive.

Being a part of a group is the most important survival strategy there is, the only way we can have any hope that our lives will have meaning.  If I am not part of a group, everything I have learned, everything that I have accomplished, will all disappear when I am gone.  The trail that I made will not be used, and if it is, the identity of the maker will be lost.  Even more importantly, if I am injured, or ill, I have some chance of surviving if I am part of a group.

Group membership was so important, I believe, that we are hardwired to seek out affirmation, the only feedback we can be sure of.  To a child, ‘later’ means ‘never’, because they live in the moment.  To a child, ‘later’ is a rejection, a denial.  All of the making-up done later may have no effect if the child has rejected themselves, as I did.

 

Greed, oh Volkswagen Greed

2016/03/24

Back in the late 1990’s, Volkswagen announced that it intended to become the largest auto manufacturer in the world.  At that time, the company was considerably behind Toyota, then the largest car maker.  But Volkswagen succeeded in being number 1, for a few months.  The cost of eclipsing Toyota may have been too great, though.  In order to sell so many vehicles, Volkswagen cheated, claiming mileage which was extraordinary for their diesel-powered cars.  Yes, the cars actually can get that kind of mileage, but not while being compliant with U.S. emissions standards.

When confronted with evidence that their cars were not compliant, Volkswagen stonewalled for nearly a year, before admitting to the deceit.  Now, the courts are trying to determine what the remedy should be for the people who purchased these defective cars.  Rather than spending millions in court costs and lawyer fees, I suggest that Volkswagen give these customers their choice of a brand new Volkswagen, or Audi, with a complimentary maintenance agreement.  This would be far cheaper in the long run, and might even go some ways toward repairing the damage that has been done to the Volkswagen name.

Minimum wages don’t help

2016/03/22

The minimum wage has been raised again and again, but it has accomplished nothing except to make everything more expensive.  The only way to improve things is to make it so that very few workers are paid minimum wage, with most making considerably more than that.

Creating a tax system which punishes those who pay poorly would be a real challenge, but it is about the only hope we have of correcting the inequality.  Unless the executives of most corporations would be willing to give the money to the workers instead of the stockholders, as well as sacrificing a good portion of their compensation.  Without an antidote for greed, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Corporate welfare

2016/03/21

How do you keep vital defense contractors healthy without spending billions and billions on weapons systems?  One way, at least for the majority of advanced technology companies, would be to spend money on space exploration.  That is about the only field where high tech outfits can actually use their engineers, technicians, and tool makers.  Spending ten or fifteen billion dollars a year on aerospace, deep sea, and electronics research and development would go a long way toward keeping Boeing, General Dynamics, and a bunch of other companies you have never heard of working, paying employees, and ready to build things.

Instead of building a new jet fighter to replace totally adequate aircraft, we could spend some of those billions in the ocean, mapping the sea floor, seeing what most of the planet looks like, and creating new industries.  What has been spent on the F-35 so far would have built a permanent base on the Earth’s moon, with some left over.  Not all defense spending is wasted, though.  A long, dangerous, but eventually successful program developed a totally new kind of aircraft, the tilt-rotor, which has tremendous potential for search and rescue work, relief operations, and recreation.  The United States has never spent money on space exploration in large amounts, except for the few years in the 1960’s when we were getting ready to go to the Moon.  The need for corporate welfare is difficult to deny, but at least we could use projects which benefit our culture,  and advance our knowledge.

Fear and Greed

2016/03/20

Greed has become a serious threat to the existence of a society of humans on this planet.  Fear is driving a few to hoard resources which could provide everyone on the planet a comfortable life, with access to education, health and dental care, and housing.  Trillions and trillions of dollars are chasing each other around the markets of the world, abstract concept of symbolic representation of work completely corrupted.  Fear prompts people to act defensively and aggressively, and that fear can come from lack of belief in one’s self.

This is the materialistic approach to one’s world view, the focusing on the physical, ignoring the spiritual.  The spiritual approach reassures us that there is plenty, and that we don’t have to sacrifice unduly to have access to what our physical needs require.  A warm place to sleep is not hard to find if people share and work together.  We have to trust each other, to know that we are in this together, that we have a bond, something in common.  Fear comes from our materialistic urges overcoming our spiritual needs.  Believing that those around you are family, and that they will help you out makes facing the night much easier.  There is nothing to be afraid of, because you are the highest level, most complex, most incredible expression of the universe, the cosmos, the All.   You are your god/dess.  You are that incredible super being with awesome power.  YOU!

Obsessed with Access

2016/03/20

People are paying large sums of money so that they can have the convenience of the Web in their pockets.  This allows them to be tracked physically by organizations which also know about their browsing habits, who their friends are, and whether or not they own their home. Other people are raking in bank because Americans are so obsessed with access.  Smartphone charges are rapidly becoming one of people’s highest expenses, and sometimes supplements access to the Web via landline at home, so access costs are even higher, in total.  And most of us don’t have to even be carrying a cell phone, we choose to, so that we can be important enough to ‘be in touch’ all the time.  We are sheep being lead to slaughter, willingly forking over huge chunks of our income on stuff that we don’t really need , which  we promise to pay for with money we have not made yet.

And the purpose of the phone is being overridden by the use for Web access.  Phones are getting bigger, and more fragile, especially with touch screen phones.  Carrying a phone on a construction or repair job is a good way to keep up with the latest in phone technology, because you will be buying new ones all the time.  If you don’t kill yourself by looking at your phone.  Sometimes, what we desire the most is what is the worst for us.  And those around us.  Don’t text and drive!  Watch where you are walking!

Imaginary bridges

2016/03/19

Trillions of dollars in wealth has been created in the last few decades.  Enough for every person on the planet to have a place to live, medical and dental care, and an education.  Several times over.  But this wealth is not improving the quality of life for anybody, it is for the most part chasing other money in an attempt to create more money out of nothing.  People who have billions of dollars can’t begin to spend it on goods and services, so the wealth is out of circulation, not flowing through the system anymore

There is another kind of wealth, the kind of wealth which benefits everyone, and which lasts and lasts.  My favorite example is a bridge, which spans a long, deep chasm, or canyon.  Going around takes hours, and lots of energy.  Every time that the bridge is used, the equivalent to the cost of the time and fuel is created, added to the system.  A highway allows goods and people to travel faster, with less effort.  That creates value.  A waterworks supplies clean drinking water to a city.  This prevents illness and death, which creates value.  These forms of wealth make all of us wealthy, because they benefit all of us.

Instead of investing in the future, building new bridges, roads, schools, our wealthy have been trying to accumulate even more wealth, with the sole intent of hoarding it.  They see it as a game, a pastime.  But they are sucking the life-blood out of our economy, taking all the energy, leaving none for even fixing what breaks.  The greed is destroying us.  We need to start building real bridges, fixing real roads, instead of making more funny money.

 

Lucky to be here.

2016/03/18

Walking in the moonlight, looking at the clouds across the Moon, I realized how lucky I am to be where I am, to be here at all.  This is the heaven that we all strive to prepare for, this is the place where we can change the physical realm.  We can make things better for those who come after us, give them a running start, lift them up so that they can see further.  What we do in this life is what will affect what happens next, whether we build upon what has gone before, or let it crumble into dust.

The constellation Aquarius is on the Eastern horizon at dawn this year, a sign that we are entering a new astrological age.  Supposedly, it will be an age of unison, where the duality that we have experienced for thousands of years will end.  Perhaps that is why sexual boundaries and roles are becoming so blurred.  We are all people, we all have needs, and we all have something to share.  Accepting that we have some of the other gender within us is one step toward achieving the unity that this age is supposed to bring.