Sunday, December 09, 2012

Fiscal Cliff thoughts


     This thing we are approaching is so ridiculous.   Democrats and Republicans alike have to grow up and get real about this.  It is throwing a cloud over everyone’s future.   We are supposed to be world leaders in some aspects, although I realize that is fading.  But nevertheless, can we not try and get this done?  Here are a few of my ideas for what it’s worth.

       - Restore the payroll tax to 6 percent.  We made it on that before, we can do so again.  It is no big deal - and this is coming from a guy that made 21,000 last year.   If I can do it, everyone should be able to do it. 

      -Place a.5 percent tax on most stock purchase or sale transactions, effective as soon as possible.    Little investors won’t notice, and the big institutions are wealthy enough to absorb it.  Day traders will have to absorb it.  It is only .5 percent, for the survival of our national economy.  Also raise the capital gains tax back to what it was in the early 1980’s.   Please.

      - Make some modest cutbacks to Medicare.   Leave Social Security alone - it is supposed to be self-funded. 

     - Make cutbacks to Defense, and every other program - modest ones.

      - raise taxes slightly on the top 2 percent of wage-earners.

      -Impose a national sales tax of 1 percent, and earmark every last penny of that to deficit reduction.

      - no more stimulus funds, for now.  Things are moving along better. 

      If these things are done, and done swiftly, the reaction on world financial markets should be positive.  We are finally getting our act together and dealing with our financial problems.     Then we wait a year and see how things play out.   

      Our housing market is in recovery, and we are discovering new supplies of energy.  Our electronics and aerospace, as well as pharmaceuticals and consumer goods sectors are all doing good.     If we take the modest steps outlined above, we can stop borrowing every day to make a budget, and get ourselves back on track.  Worth a shot.   But nothing is sacred, whether it is Defense, Entitlements or whatever.  Nothing.   Those are one working-class  guy’s ideas.   Thanks for reading. 

-

Sunday, December 02, 2012


In the Wayback Machine - Again

 

When 3.5 floppies were the standard, files were smaller, and it was a novelty to connect a digicam to a computer.   Then something called a Zip drive came along, and all of a sudden we could store up to 100 megs on a cartridge, or 250 megs later.   About the same time, the first commercial CD writers came on the market.   These rapidly sped up, so 1x became 2x and 4x and 8x and so on.  

 

     Now we could store up to 700 megs of data on a CD, or write up to 70-80 minutes of music.   Amazing, to a generation that had cut its teeth on the 5 1/4” floppy things, containing something like 360 kilobytes of storage capacity.    If one of us could jump ten years in the future from this time, around 1998-99, to 2010, they would be pleasantly astounded.

 

     The cd had morphed into a 4 Gigabyte DVD, then a 25 GB blue-ray disk.    Now you could store tons of pictures and videos, many taken on the compact new point-and-shoot cameras coming out in droves.   Kodak was flirting with bankruptcy, film cameras were by now all but dead.  

 

     And then the flash drives  (or thumb drives) increased rapidly in storage.  In 2007, a 4 GB version could be had for around $70.00 in a local office supply store.  But I recently purchased a 64 GB one online for much less, around $40.00 (in 2012) .     I can load it up with music, and go out to my car, a 2010 model, and plug it directly into a USB port on the console and play music for a couple days if I want.   My 1999 self would be very happy indeed, to have that kind of capacity, erasable and re-writeable, portable “Ram in a stick” in a quantity that would make early mainframe builders drool.   

 

Perhaps a virtual tombstone is in order.   “Here lies the CD-RW.   1997-2012.  Once the most cutting edge technology, now relegated to history.    No technology caught the sunlight or held drinks as well.”

 

Perhaps in the future instant wireless access to the Internet from the car will render thumb drives obsolete.  Even now, cellphones linked with cars can grab music and play it on demand.    And those 3.5 floppies?  Hopefully being recycled, more likely taking up space in landfills.    But perhaps some of that will be revived for the cache, just like vinyl records are now.   Do the bits look better coming off of a magnetic media?  I doubt it, but  beauty is in the eye of the beholder.     

 

;-) thanks for reading.
 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A new website that is still under construction

http://dycen-alexander.webs.com

Amazing the authors that I know...


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Last Debate

Opponents are seated this time,
Positions and questions rehearsed;
Prepared for rebuttals in kind,
In all facts and figures immersed.

Television crews are positioned,
Moderator is well-prepared;
Coaches have made their decisions,
Weaknesses and strengths compared.

When they go at it a nation will watch,
or at least a good portion thereof;
An election might hang on this match,
Each trying to propel himself above...

Republican Romnesia or Obamacare economy,
The outcome will determine our final legacy.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Election 2012

     Well, it is finally almost over.  A couple more visits by the two candidates, and then on Nov. 6th anyone who did not vote absentee can vote real-time so to speak. 

     I have never seen so many imploring, grasping, begging emails - would have never thought something like this was possible.   It made me perturbed with both parties.   Grabbing for dollars like that, just so they can run another foul advertisement slamming their opponent.   With prices going up on everything, it is hard enough to make ends meet.  And now this grabbing monster of a political process wants to shake every loose coin out of our pockets.  It is disgusting, and I wish there were some way to change it. 
Work fantasy


At work today, the world ended, or seemed to.

No one would speak to me - they talked into their phones, and occasionally glanced my way - but did not say a work.  They could have been looking at air, or a painting on the wall.
 

I continued in my rounds, numbed, upset.  They usually ask me how I’m doing, or say something.  Not this time.
 

     And then I saw it, over by the window on the far wall.  The glowing shape.  Was it a trick of the eyes?  I looked away, and then back again.  It was still there.
 

     They had been talking about the strike.  But they never talked about who the owners were.
 

Apparently, the owners had sent a representative to negotiate.   And I, who had glided around there making fun and laughing, I was being shut out.  And it scared the hell out of me.


     The light-construct appeared on every floor that I went to.  I uttered no more jokes, I drew no more funny pictures on the elevator lumber.  I meekly made my rounds.  And when it came time to go home, and I had to leave through that rear door, the sun seemed much brighter than usual.   Mustering all of my courage, I walked through that pastiche of light    (“how dare they imped me, a contractor, anyway?”) 


I tingled all the way home, but otherwise seemed none the worse for wear.    Darned out-system union busters.


                                             *** the end***
 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Well, I just completed what will be my last weekday bike ride for quite awhile.  It felt great to get out there, and soar down the trails, underneath a gorgeous canopy of colored leaves.   Lots of others were out enjoying it as well.   From now on, I'll try other, more compressed exercise routines, like stair-climbing, running or just calisthentics.  Anything to keep the weight off. 

     The one thing I don't care for is lifting weights.  It is difficult;  and it builds muscle that must constantly be maintained, or it will turn into flab, and then you are worse off than if you never put the muscle on in the first place.  But, to each their own.   It is just nice to get out there and be a part of the ebb and flow of life, along with all that youth out there.   Invigorating. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Another day, another exercise

     As I was riding the bicycle along my usual route at Fourmile trail, I felt and heard a whup-whup-whup.  Sure, enough, I got off, and surveyed the now-flat rear tire.   After swearing a little, I contemplated my next move.  It was to start walking to the nearest convenience store to pump enough air into it to get it back home.  I did so   (thank you Caseys for the free air!), at least getting some walking exercise in.

    Today, I decided it was as good a time to switch to running as any.  So I got some light clothing on, and headed over to the neighborhood park.  Thankfully, they have an oval in there that is close to 1/4 mile in circumference.  I lapped it several times over three runs  (walking in between, gasping for air).    That was a good start, and I was overheating, so I called it a day and walked back home.

     A young man encouraged me,  "Way to go, Buddy, keeping up that exersize".   That was nice to hear.  I'm glad to be 55 and ambulatory enough to go out and run.   A part of me fears the dreaded Cancer, or diabetes.  Anything I can do to hold these off, I will do.  Even if it means gasping my way around an oval, to the amusement of toddlers, kids and adults alike.  Because, someday, I keep chanting, it is gonna pay off  :-) 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A new ISP

     Here is an idea I might like to try, if I were youger, bolder and richer.  Since I am none of those, I offer it up for someone else to use or consider.

     There are a lot of Internet service providers out there, from the big Telecoms to smaller operations.  Some certainly have on-site power backup systems in case of an outage from storms or such.  Okay - what if someone launched a service provider, powered completely by alternative energy.  The energy would come from Solar, Wind, or Biomass.  Biodiesel would be considered an alternative fuel - anything that is not petroleum-based, and considered renewable. 

     The ISP could be advertised from the beginning as 100 pcercent alternative-powered, off-grid.  Thus guaranteeing more reliability, gleaned from multiple sources of alternative energy.  This would of course be expensive, and need to be started small-scale.  But the more Internet infrastructure that could eventually be moved to 100 percent alternative sources, the greater energy security these facilities would have.   No worries about hostile countries, or wellss running dry, or even pollution for the most part. 

    Perhaps there is already an entity like this, and if so I salute them.  But if not - well, hopefully someone will start one soon.  Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Another week, another ride

     I started out easily enough, riding the edge of Scott ave on the way to the trail.  Several cars went around me - it was the tail end of rush hour, after all.  But no one hit me again today, thank goodness.  Finally made the trail, and there was not much traffic there either.   Before I knew it I was all the way to Altoona.    Every so often I would pass a jovial rider who would remark something or other.  The ones who smile and have a friendly word are highly valued.  I come up on walkers or dog-walkers, and dutifullly say  "on your left" and they move over.  At a gazebo by a drinking fountain, I saw a young man sitting cross-legged on the table, listening to an Ipod, oblivious to the world.  By the time I returned from the endpoint, he had left. 

     I slowed at the major intersections, and although there were some cars, was able to cross without waiting today.  That is another godsend, because I can maintain a consistent pace for a workout.  I happily reached my farthest point, and took a few pics to document it.  Then it was a zip around the parking lot for good measure, and time to head back.

     My knees were hurting for awhile, and i decided to take it easy - no rush on a friday night.   But about halfway back, that sun was dropping pretty quickly - decided to put on the speed so I wouldn't get caught on the trail in the dark.  As usual, needent have worried.  Made it back home with light to spare.  Another Friday, another capping workout.  My body feels tired in a very good way, something I probably share with athletes of all ages.  Now for a relaxing weekend - I just have to keep from eating too much. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Physical Fitness in middle age


     Maybe the above term is an anachronism now, but I use it anyway.   This is my 55th year on the planet, and one of many years I have embarked on a regular program of exercise to lose weight and improve my appearance.   I am amazed at how long I've kept at it, as sometimes happens.   Some years I do little or no regular exercise.  These years, I still do some gardening, lawn mowing etc so am not completely sedentary.  But those pounds pack on - sepecially in wintertime - and they are one b**tch to get rid of.

     This year, I started last January, walking up and down stairs.  I pushed that all the way up to around 33 flights, up and back - by May.  Then I caught a bug, and stopped - lung cough, a nasty one.

In June, I was hiking, and doing occasional biking.   By late June I decided to do some "adventuresize" - combine exercise with unique outings.  So I walked riverbeds for a few miles, or took long bikerides on various trails.  This way I got back into regular workouts - this time bicycling.  Today I just completed a 16-mile ride.   It felt so good - and there were many others out using the trail too.  When my dad was my age, he was smoking regularly and not in very good shape  (not to fault him in any way - most of his generation were the same, and he invested all of his energy in making everyone else happy anyway.)

     So I am on another exercise roll, so to speak.  But it does take a trememdous effort.  To psyc myself to keep it going - to eat right, cut back on the sweets and fats, and get some high protein in my diet to build those leg muscles, and so forth.  Since this effort is occupying so much of my mentality at the moment, why not write about it, I figure.   Many of us are doing the same thing - there are lots of people out on the trails, running, biking, skating etc etc etc.    What more relevat topic to blog on.

      It was good to see our school lunches replaced with a more healthy menu.   The fatty, starchy stuff they have fed the kids all these years - no wonder we are so obese.  Things are changing - way to go, Michelle Obama :)

     Here is to a more fit, well, and feeling fine population.   See you out there on the trail.  (but don't try and talk to me - I need all of my wind to pedal!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

unfortunate again

Another day, another attack on us.  The Embassy attack in Libya is really unfortunate, particularly so since they were trying to help the libyans rebuild.   There is always a smill sliver of radicals who want to destroy civilized society to further their aims.   Religious fanaticism produces casualties no matter where it festers - in the Middle East, or even here on our shores.   In any case, I'm hoping they can find those responsible and prosecute to the fullest - or just take them out  ;-)

We will endure, no matter what.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tea Amerikkka


They keep spreading lies and misinformation --

He was not born here, he will do this and that.

Even though he has been governing our country,

Even though he has been creating jobs and helping people,

even though everything he says makes perfect sense...

 

No, the goofy goober-peas crowd will not stop until

they have toppled anyone with a high degree of rationality.

So...

 

 

When you feel the boot of oppression

crushing down on your emaciated neck --

When you are working for less, eating less, doing less.

When you share a hovel with two other families...

 

When disease and overpopulation decimate the land,

religious dictates are ever more severe,

war is ever a daily part of life,

Middle class comforts are a distant memory --

 

Then you will know the true reward of

conservative Republican governance.

 

Security apparatchik - tattletale neighbors -

reduced expectations and fear pervade the land.

Freedom becomes a hollow slogan,

chanted without meaning from starving lips --

Everyone is watching everyone else for something to report;

Food and sleep become the new gold standard.

 

Welcome to the land of the tea party,

where a few wealthy owners rule over a nation of wage-slaves...

Despair and hopelessness masked by false advertising.

 

Tea Amerikka 2016 - white purity, Nazi slave hate rule forever.

 

 

 

Barefoot runner sonnet

 

 

The barefoot runner hoofs it down the trails,

showing everyone how it is done --

His feet skip over rocks, glass and nails,

At the end he laughs,  “Oh what fun!”

 

Younger runners fully dressed and shod

can only look on in bewilderment;

This older guy breezes past young hot rods,

Close finishes  bring looks of wonderment.

 

Once upon a time he thought he could not run;

A bad high school experience put a damper

on his self-confidence, spoiling future fun;

Speed-walking became the trend for this fighter...

An awakening on the water finally decided it for him,

He would run no matter what, it began on a whim!
 
-end
 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Fair Full of Fun




Here comes a caravan of crossovers,

Minivans, SUV’s, Jeeps and the odd small car.

They park wherever they can, vying for the best deal.

Then off they go to the fair, toting necessaries and kids.



Off to see the big boars, the TV shows, the new rides;

Off to eat everything on a stick, or watch others doing so.

People watching is a huge sport.

Look at how odd that couple looks,

standing there, looking at us...



The daily news is broadcast from a stage,

talented youngsters perform their hearts out.

Weathermen wrestle snakes and gators,

And news anchors struggle to compete with it all.



Presidents and senators and candidates all

traipse through, taking their turn at the soapbox.

Some get welcomed, and others get booed --

Everyone is down-to-earth equal at the Fair.



One can live nearby and feel the rumbles,

hear the bass vibratos of the daily processions.

Humanity, enjoying itself once again.

Reveling in its own fantastic creations,
modified for maximum appeal.



The weather is even nice and cool!

Happy voices carry across the way.

Folks crowd in to see horses and mules,

Pigs, sheep, goats and tigers some days.



It will soon be over,

all the fun had,

all the calories packed on,

Sights seen and rides rode.

Another fantastic year for the Iowa State Fair.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

Synthetic Happiness


role-x cleaner
Bath salts,
pipe oil cleaner,
synthetic cannabis,
dead man walking etc



--Not needed!

There are rivers and streams,
bike trails and ball courts,
books and video games,
Movies and so much music...

All legal

Unencumbered.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

At least in Middle Age one can count their blessings, as it were.


Expressive Belly


My gut has a personality all its own,
Rising and falling like Moon-driven tides;
It expands after a meal out or at home,
Then shrinks in time, after strenuous exercise.

Rising and falling like Moon-driven tides,
It fattens or flattens at different times of day;
Then shrinks in time after strenuous exercise,
Middle-agers angst -  it will not just go away.

It fattens or flattens at different times of day,
Tautens when I’m feeling tense,
Middle-agers angst - it will not just go away,
Jiggles when I’m joyful, grows with any pretense.

Tautens when I’m feeling tense,
Who needs a face for any expressions?
Jiggles when I’m joyful, grows with any pretense,
My gut does double duty in succession.

Who needs a face for any expression,
Hope that you can digest all these facts;
My gut does double duty in succession;
Even if fitness performance goes lax.

Hope that you can digest all these facts,
Can stomach the truth about my girth;
Even if fitness performance goes lax,
I’ll still remain jolly and full of mirth.

Can stomach the truth about my girth,
It expands after a meal out or at home;
I’ll still remain jolly and full of mirth,
My gut has a personality all its own



-end

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Earth Grid (improved) storage idea for Wind Turbines   (not a joke):



     Take say five or six wind turbines, and group them around a common area.  Connect them all to the same power grid - then connect this common grid to a central, underground battery.  The battery would be like a large building buried underground - maybe with ceramic wall containment.   Otherwise, it could be a standard lead-acid or Lithium Ion battery.   Or, use more durable metals in a novel arrangement to store a large charge.   The idea is that it would take several days or weeks to charge up the battery, but it would discharge in the same amount of time, providing a large power ‘buffer’ when the wind dies down.    It could provide a consistent amount of current.   This would take up more land - say around an acre for the combined turbines and central battery, but then could all be fenced in for security. 



The Earth Grids could be aggregated for higher currents and voltages.     There would be high up-front costs involved.  But steady power outputs might then prove economical in the long run.  A possibility worth investigating, it seems to me. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Here is a Villanelle in honor of the victims in Aurora, Colorado


A Dark Night in Aurora

 It was a dark time indeed that night,
after they turned the theater lights down;
Emergency exit opened, and let in civilization’s blight.

He threw bombs and opened fire, showed his might,
His hair dyed orange like some macabre clown;
It was a dark time indeed that night.

Initial disbelief dissolved into panicked flight,
Moviegoers wounded, screaming, running around;
Emergency exit opened,  excreting civilization’s blight.

Among the newly dead, others crouched low in fright,
Calls reached dispatchers, first responders hit the ground;
It was a dark time indeed that night.

Bloodied crowds and a murderer rushed into lobby light,
Everyone erupted out in mayhem, a wounded town;
Emergency exit opened, and exposed civilization’s blight.

This easy access to guns and ammunition just is not right,
Although certain sectors upon reading that may frown;
It was a dark time indeed that night,
An exit door opened, and let in civilization’s blight.



-end

Another heartbreaking tragedy in the U.S.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Another humorous write...


My Peculiar Gut


 
My gut has a personality all of its own,
Rising and falling like the Moon-driven tides;
When hot I drink lots of fluids, expanding it out,
Until it shrinks in time with exercise.

It fattens or flattens at different times of day;
Smooth of surface yet roughened by coarse hairs,
It tautens when I’m tense,
 yet jiggles when I’m joyful.

Who needs a face for expressions?
My gut does double duty quite well,
Whether or not it doubles up in girth,
or is halved by strenuous exertions.

Hope that you all can digest these new facts,
Or can stomach the truth about my girth;
Even if my fitness vow performance goes lax,
I’ll still remain old and jolly, full of mirth.


end


c) 2012 Mike Wilson

Solo jazz ensemble

Low basso rumbles of intestinal caverns
provide the background for my tenor section -
Crooning duodenal sax section keeping time.
Every so often, a toot shoots from that clarinet in the rear,
Embarrassing in public, otherwise relieving!


My parents never told me that my body would
change into a jazz quintet when I got older.
Each ‘player’ makes itself known one at a time,
doing solo rumbles, before they begin to
jam in four-part bodily harmony.

Different meals produce novel tunes,
After that Chinese place, they really swing and scat!
People think I might be stumbling or swaying --
No way, man!

I’m jammin to my abdominal rhythm section,
So eat your hearts out!
but don’t get too close...
The Clarinet is playing its smelly parts.

 - end


I've been getting out and riding the bicycle all around Central Iowa trails.  Even though I knew we had a lot of them, I've been surprised by how many different ones there are.  So last week, for example, I went out biking on three different trails, and also jogged on one of them.   Slowly the ol bod is getting back into shape.   Even though it has been over 100, it is tolerable in late afternoon, especially on a bicycle.  Particularly when the sun dips down and a breeze kicks up.   A good way to beat the heat is not let it leave you in defeat.   Just go do some stuff outdoors anyway - hydrate with water, and pace yourself, but still do things.    Some humor follows - thanks for reading.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I need a donation!



My salary is frozen, my stocks are down, and my prospects look grim.   Getting older and Social Security is at risk, not to mention Medicare.    The world economy has constant storm clouds hanging over it.  These are just not good times.  



And then I check my e-mail inbox, and see several requests for money every day from well-funded political organizations - and other non-profits.   So my message to all of these well-heeled organizations is, 



I NEED A DONATION, TOO.



I need my mortgage paid off.  I need my utilities paid, my groceries supplied, my car repaired.   I need my foot operated on, and my teeth fixed.  So to all of you that fill my inbox with money requests, send a little my way.  I promise not to run for any political office, steal or embezzle public funds, break any big promises, or otherwise do any kind of disservice to the public.   If you donate to “ME”, I will stay out of the limelight and pay all of my bills and taxes. 



SO PLEASE, CAN YOU HELP?



SEND your donation of at least $15.00 today to:   One angry taxpayer tired of being soaked for corrupt politicians of every stripe.   I thank you in advance.  Your money will be triple-matched by



“The organization for relief from barrages of lies and broken promises”.   

Thursday, June 28, 2012

An unexpected optimism


An unexpected optimism


     There is indeed new cause for optimism here in the USA.   While the news issues the usual drumbeat of disasters and tragedies, there are some underlying trends that bode very well for us.    The first is the continuing gas and oil production increase here.   This is reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  And thus, our outflow of dollars to various countries, some hostile to us.   This has been something long hoped-for, and can only strengthen us.   Not only that, but it is also making possible a new re-industrialization fed by the cheaper domestic supplies.  In addition, we are adding wind turbines and other renewable energy capacities, which adds to our total production.   More energy made at home makes for a stronger, more independent homeland.



     The second trend is our increasing technological sophistication.    Twenty years ago the cutting edge was the bulky white Personal Computer, with all it’s attendant cords and frustrations.   Now we carry more powerful devices in our hands, complete with cameras and bright displays.    Our cars are getting smarter and more fuel-efficient, loaded with intelligent gadgetry.    We are even gestating a private space industry, the first country to accomplish this.   To an outside observer who is not fixated on flaws, we might seem like a very prosperous, advanced nation. 



       Of course we have many problems that need to be addressed - and many are being addressed.   But today, the highest court in the land has upheld a revamping of our health care system.    This gives me even more optimism.  It means we will continue to tinker with our systems and improve the lot of the common citizen here in the USA.     That may be the most hopeful thing of all.   Thanks for reading.



Friday, May 25, 2012

Whirlwind world these days

What with all of the turmoil in financial markets these days, it is unnerving.   The European countries seem in disarray, and Greece has one foot in the grave.  The U.S. recovery is struggling to gain traction.
Political polarization  (and sabatoge by the party on the outs - repubs) is hampering getting anything done.   It will be a miracle if humanity makes it to the end of this century.   The oceans are filled with trash.   Wars and bickering continue ceaselessly.   We are poisoning the Earth to get to the remaining fossil fuels, so we can burn those up.   The recent spaceflight by a private company seems hopeful;  so now we can trash and litter the rest of the solar system???   Not sure of the answer here, beyond intense recycling efforts.   Good population control would be a start.    Anyway, I'm going to try and forget the horrific news for a few days.   Have a good weekend, all.  And if you are a former communist or socialist party official, enjoy a few snickers at our miserable fate.  They have been earned  (thank you very much, Wall Street.).   Peace out.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Driving Update:

This may irritate some, but it is my personal driving philosophy, like it or not.

When the speed limit is posted at 55MPH, there are speed cameras out on the freeway in town, and police are out doing regular checks, it seems to me to be logical ot adhere to the limit, or at least close to it - say 60MPH max.  I refuse to go above 60, and I refuse to budge from the turn lane I need to get off for my exit to go to work.  No matter how much they tailgate and swerve around me.  What is wrong with people?  Did they check their brains at the DOT when they got their license?

There are vans that tailgate me and then swing around me, only to rush ahead and get off at an exit 100 yards ahead.  One the other day had a christian cross and people praying as a window emblem - must be in a hurry to meet their maker, I guess.  They can't wait and go at a speed of 55 to 60 MPH for thirty seconds, oh no.   Pickups and other gas-guzzlers seem to be the worst offenders - are they in a hurry to get to a gas station?  I don't know and don't care.  I refuse to budge and get a ticket on their selfish, mindless behalf.  F--- them all, the speed limit is the speed limit and I'm going to stick close to it.  If they want to pay the price in tickets and accidents, let them.

- end of rant for today.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The New Voyages

      Thinking about our human-crewed space programs these days.  The problems are daunting.  Radiation spewing from the Sun, bathing every object in harsh particle baths.  Long periods of isolation and boredom for prospective astronauts.  Bone density losses and other physiological changes will have to be endured.    The problems are there, and not easily dismissed or defeated.   And then there is the everpresent issue of funding.   (At least the private operators are committed to their programs for the long term.) 

     But the hardy explorers of the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries give an example of how difficulties were overcome.   They had to travel in fragile, tiny ships across vast distances.  They had to endure deadly storms, huge waves, and near-starvation conditions.  They travelled in cramped, uncomfortable quarters.  They had to stay in tiny cabins, or in some cases, the hold at the bottom of a ship.   And yet they persisted.



     They endured harsh voyages of several months to a year.  And then occupied wild new lands, and hacked out a living for themselves.  They created vast new areas of wealth.   In the end, they payoff was enormous.



     The first voyages to a place like Mars will be difficult, no doubt about it.  But, in the intervening years, propulsion methods will improve, just as they did for sailing ships over the years.  (better sails, better navigation, better ships, and finally, steam power.  Then, diesel engines made it routine)     The space craft will get faster, more durable, more efficient as we grapple with and eventually solve the problems of long-distance space travel.  It will come to us, just as it always has. 



     As long as we do not stop, give up, turn inward or succumb to silly superstitions.  Careful observations and deliberate scientific methods have taken us from demon-infested cities swamped with plagues, to sending spacecraft to the edge of the Solar System  (Pioneer and Voyager probes,  and New Horizons probe).   We should not hastily discard all we have learned in favor of any kind of religious or superstitious psycho-babble.   Here is hoping we keep going, and make the incredible efforts of people from Galileo to Sagan and Van Allen count for something.  



     Let’s keep the voyages going outward.  Keep sending those fragile craft out to new worlds, new lands.  It is part of our condition, who we are.    And someday they will bring back splendid, amazing news.   It will be worth it.  I only wish I could be there to see it all. 


Monday, March 19, 2012

Things are always happening...


     It would be so nice to just forget the problems of the world, to be happy, keep one’s head down, do your own thing, not worry about anything.  Sometimes I actually succeed in this.   A weekend arrives, and I go get my groceries, household tasks done.  I go out to eat, or to the nightclub, and try to have a good time.  But the media is ever present these days - like an omniscient conscience that keeps reaching out of my TV or computer screen, grabs me by the shirt and says,  “Hey, you uncaring boob.  This woman’s son just got gunned down for no reason.  Or that middle school teacher just got charged with 50 counts of sexual abuse.  Or the Russians are offloading troops in Syria.”



     Then I get wound up and angry.  The clincher is when I log onto Facebook, and there are the posts of conscience and injustice, assaulting my eyeballs.  What right do I have to breathe the air in my own free space when such horrifics are going on everywhere.  So I unleash my temper through typing fingers, posting venom and ichor of my own.  And on it goes, nearly every day. 



     Whereas before the barrage of 24-hour nonstop media, one could comfortably ignore the numerous injustices going on around us at one time, and blithely, cheerfully lead a reasonably happy life.  Not any more!   Now you will care whether you want to or not - cannot escape the images, the statements.    Maybe this is to the good.  Perpetrators can be brought to justice, victims can be helped,  injustices redressed.   But I can’t help but wonder, the rest of us are left in a state of constant, low-level tension, never quite feeling like we have done what we should. 



     Because somewhere, in Uganda or Syria or the Congo, someone is being hacked up, raped, murdered, or bullied.   They always have been, and they always will be.  While it is good to care, most of the time there is little or nothing we can do.  And that is not our fault.  We are still okay, and we can still strive to have a good day.  No matter what happens - anywhere.  This has probably been said elsewhere, but I was feeling tense and anxious tonight, so just had to say it again.  Thanks for reading. 

Friday, March 09, 2012

Exercise Restoration - Finally!

It had been years since I did any kind of working out.  Heck, in my 20's I used to jog several miles a day, and was even in a couple of races back in 1981.  Over the years, I would fall out of shape, and then get back into it, by jogging, walking, or biking.  One year it was via Tae Kwon Do, but that was relatively short-lived.  Finally, as my 40's arrived, the jogging stretches became further and further apart.  Beer and snacks in the winter was a big source of weight gain and general sloth.

    But if I stayed reasonably active, especially in the summer, with bike rides and some intense gardening, I could at least get the blood pumping some.  It helps that I have a physical 'labor' type job - if I had to sit at a desk, I would surely be 30 pounds heavier.   During my 50-52nd year I exercised indoors via step aerobics and calisthentics.   But then I fell out of this that summer, and the last two years have been a non-starter  (except for the occasional bike ride.)   My body slowed, the weight went way past 190, headed for 200.  Things really seemed hopeless.

     And then a guy at work happened to mention  (again) that he did stair-climbing.  That day my brain must have been fertile, because a light bulb finally went on.  Of course!  I saw people walking the hallways on a certain floor, during work hours, for fitness.  Why couldn't I walk up and down the stairs?  Hell yes.  So I started by going from the ground floor to the eighth.  I saw spots, was gasping for breath, and was dizzy.  But I made it, thankfully.  That was over amonth ago.  Today I did 21 flights of stairs, or almost three times the amount I started at.  I feel lighter, more spry, and my reflexes are quicker.  It is a gift, almost a miracle.  My body is rewarding me with a taste of youthful quickness I thought was Gone, gone, gone.  

     Stair-climbing.   A miracle in my life - as long as I keep a sweating and climbing.  Once again, I find exercise pays off - a lesson first learned at age 23, my first year jogging, and repeated on this, my 54th year of life.   The lessons go on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Well, I finally got another short story written.  around 3,800 words and a rough draft.  The finished product will be different, and hopefully, better.

     Waiting expectantly for any response to a few stories sent away earlier.  Have to remember not only the myriad ways to craft a good story, but also to keep submission records, to remember to try and build relationships with Editors  (who are human beings too, not robots), to critique and get critiqued, and on and on...
Then ther is this thing called The Rest of My life - my day job, my house, car, cat, relationships, even politics  (this is a presidential election year).   Trying to hold onto my sanity and keep this writing thing going.  But it gets pretty wobbly at times. 

Thanks for reading the literary rant for today.  Hope it is better for some other writers than for moi. 
Happy Fat Tuesday.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Where we've been and where we are going.

     Way back in the 1920’s, in Germany, Russia and even in the U.S. there were various groups of regular civilians who gathered for the purpose of building rockets.  They would share stories and news of each others exploits, build small, experimental rockets, and even publish scientific papers.   They ended up advancing the capability of rockets quite a bit.  They designed, built and tested liquid-fueled rockets of increasing thrust, that reached higher and higher altitudes.   These were students and amateurs, mostly.  In Germany and Russia, they eventually gained small amounts of funding from their respective governments. 

 (see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verein_f%C3%BCr_Raumschiffahrt)

      They advanced the state of the art.  And some of them went on to head up government labs and efforts both during and after WWII.   These individuals ultimately helped us escape the bonds of Earth and make it to the Moon and beyond  (with accomplishments like the V-2 liquid-fueled rocket, the precursor to our expendable rockets like Redstone,  Atlas and Titan). 

 (see:  http://www.army.mil/article/46989/German_Rocket_Site_Unearths_Memories/ )

      Now here we are in 2012.  Our Space Shuttle program is done, and we are hoping and waiting for some corporate, for profit efforts to become available.  In other countries, especially China, governments are heavily funding national programs.   In the US, we have placed our hopes on that elusive thing called ‘private enterprise’ .     There are lots of beautiful photos and mockups and such.  But whether anything actually gets flown is another matter.

 (see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_spaceflight)

       Might there not be a way to join a loose confederation of individuals, to plan, fund and build small-scale efforts, to probe other ways to escape Earth’s gravity and so forth?   It seems important, after a century of hard-won gains in the field of rocketry design and practice, to keep up our momentum.   The U.S. has had to play catch-up more than once, as other countries showed foresight and persistence.   We are a large and relatively prosperous country.  We should be able to do better.   
     Some college-level rocketry organizations, modeled after some of the early German orgs, might stimulate interest on the part of students to not only learn about rocketry in general, but also to perhaps build and test some of their own models.    This could help us advance the state of the art here in the US, and keep up with the rest of the world when it comes to getting objects and people sent into space.     One example is here:  http://aero.cpss.calpoly.edu/

      We have accomplished much in the last 100 years, going from the fantastical stories of Hugo Gernsback to the reality of rovers snapping pictures of Martian rocks.   We can justly be proud.  But we should not stop here.   No, we are just on the cusp of a breakout.  A breakout into livable habitations on the Moon, on Mars and the Asteroids and even in orbital facilities cycling between Mars, the Moon, and Earth Orbit.  We should not stop now.  A pause, perhaps, to regroup and re-focus some efforts.  And then the next leap forward.   Our youth can lead the way for us.   Thanks for reading.




Monday, January 09, 2012

Another 25-word hint fic-let:


The external drive seemed dead.  Jason tried unplugging and re-connecting it;   loud screeches ensued.  Then he tried a different system, and it worked. Darn viruses.


-end
my entry into the 25-word hint fiction category...


Roger tried a laser pointer on the crows that roosted in trees near his job.  He came to later, heavily bandaged.  The warning went out.

-end 

Have a good Monday.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Raucous Caucus 2012

The noisy seven smothered our fair state,
Ingratiating themselves into coffeehouse
society - shotguns and words fired straight;
Exciting results reported from the statehouse.

Fortunes raised and fell more than the Dow,
Values questioned and half-truths belied;
Debates started civilly, became a genteel row,
Accused each other of being special interests allies.

Finally those incessant ads will soon cease,
The votes will be tallied and the field winnowed;
Weary Iowans eyes and ears will get peace,
Leaders will declare success with eyes narrowed.

Another Iowa Caucus draws nigh to an end,
We go back to normal, no more rhetoric to defend.

- Whew.