Fire meet Iron, Iron I’d like to introduce you to Fire, you can join your friends there.

“When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’ t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” – Lucille Ball

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

“He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life.” – Victor Hugo

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

In regards to my most recent post about getting organized, I’ve been thinking recently of one of my traits. I loathe sloth. Not sloths, they are odd looking but definitely ecologically necessary creatures; no, rather the act of doing nothing, wandering about, even whilst stationary, aimlessly and with little or no purpose. And just to let you know, if you ever see me sitting around doing nothing, you couldn’t be further from the truth; I am in deep, very deep, concentration, and most likely concentrating about something vitally important. No really, I am. Anyway, this trait that I am alluding to is that I tend to get many things going at one time. And typically these things are from a myriad of topics. I love this, and I love having so many different things going, but the problem is that I tend to fill myself up. And not just mostly full, but I tend to fill myself to the brim. You know how when you go to a coffee shop and get a delicious cuppa, and the server, oh excuse me, Barista, asks you: “room for cream?” Well, I tend to, more often than not, neglect to consider the need for room for cream in tasks and activities. So although I will consider just what I can pack into my schedule, I may not consider about the fact that I will need some downtime as well, but also I neglect to consider what about all the little surprises that the chaotic universe throws in our path. And this is what happens: my life machine is humming along at a nice pace, but something unplanned, but not necessarily unbelievable, happens and the whole thing comes crashing down. Imagine the breaking sound of all those formerly spinning plates crashing all about hapless little ol’ me. Don’t worry I’m not throwing a pity party, but believe me, you’ll all be invited.

Rather, and the point of this blog, is that I am trying to identify, and hopefully correct, just this one of my traits that are in dire need of the 120,000 mile maintenance. Though you wouldn’t know by looking at my desk, and my house, and my laundry room, and my car, I do enjoy organization and having things in a place. It’s just that my mind doesn’t instantly go to that organizational place. For years, I’ve developed a mindset that allows me to live in a “by the seat of my pants” sort of living. Such that I would tend to eschew putting things in order to experience the excitement of letting things happen. Because without keeping things straight, almost everything is a surprise. I’ve thought so many times that routine is deafeningly boring, and I would not want to have a “suburban” routine in my life for love nor money. But seriously, my lack of routine is really a routine if you think about. I tend to do the same things over and over, what I do when I get up, and what I do when I arrive at work are all consistent. And that my friends is a routine. And this is nothing to be ashamed of, we humans are creatures of habit, it’s all in our brain’s wiring. But I inherited the genetic “rebellious” trait from somebody. And in a way I’m glad I have it. It’ll tend to lead me to an exciting life.

Recognizing you have a problem is the first step to solving the problem. And the reason I have this problem, this “too many irons in the fire” problem is that I like having these diverse activities available to me. Reading Victor Hugo’s quote, and then John Lennon’s quote is a great dichotomy (or so it seems) of thoughts, but I don’t think so. I can plan and still allow life to happen. Sometimes I do like surprises. What do I do? I’ll tell you what I intend to do, I intend to continue enjoying my diverse interests, but I will strive to manage them, not allow them to manage me. So yeah, I’m going to organize that French Scrabble game on meetup.com, and am going to move forward with the writer’s group. I’m going to continue with my fitness goals, and my plans to move to a better place to live. But all with room for cream thank you very much.

Peace and love

Marv

Getting Organized

“Two minutes, get your sh*t together.” – George Carlin (on what if there were a two minute warning in life.)

I have so many aspects to my life, and only a portion of them are organized. My desk is a mess, my house is a mess, and although I do tend to get things done, it is most often haphazard. I haven’t learned everything in life, but I have learned a bit; one thing I’ve learned is that everything you do in life must be sustainable. Let me explain what I mean by sustainable. Consider the person who decides that he or she really needs to “get in shape”. So off to the gym we go. Of course, everyone knows “no pain, no gain” so this workout is excruciating; “pickin’ ’em up and puttin’ ’em down.” The interesting thing is that we all share the same response, our bodies (you know the out of shape thing that looks back at you in the mirror in the morning) do the work, but boy you know about it. So how does this work out? Well he or she may go to the gym a couple more times, but generally that’s about it. Too hard. However, if one makes a decision to get into better shape and then integrates new habits that are repeatable into his or her lifestyle, then success, though not guaranteed, will be much more likely.

This is the phase I’m in now, trying to get certain aspects of my life more in order. But I’m trying to do it in a sustainable way. We had a saying when I was growing up, sometimes someone would “flare up and flit out.” And that is what I don’t want to do; Flare up and flit out. I would like to change, subtly, some of the things about my life, and find my new normal baseline.

I may or may not keep you posted. Depends on my flare and flit factors.

Love.

Marv

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was” – Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

“And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that never were.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

“We all want to break our orbits, float like a satellite gone wild in space, run the risk of disintegration. We all want to take our lives in our own hands and hurl them out among the stars.” – David Bottoms

 

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year when the local gyms fill with folks who have promised to make that fresh start: to ‘get in shape’; to make a budget; to get out more; to stay in more. Usually the resolutions tend to reflect whatever was most pressing in their lives in the time leading up to the new year. And with the way we spend money and eat during Christmas time, I’m quite sure financial promises and exercise are topping the list. Honestly it would be more beneficial if we were to make a tradition of changing the batteries in our smoke detectors on this day rather than making hollow promises to the one person we fool most consistently; ourselves. The typical resolutions are remarkably similar to a recipe; if Dr. Frankenstein were jotting down notes about the form of his new creature I can imagine it would read something like a typical resolution list. A list of what you intend to do, and not do.

In point of fact, there is nothing different about January first of any year. The earth spun about its axis just like normal, its orbit about the sun continued the same as any other day of the year. It’s just that our calendar has been set up such that this day is a little different. When we used to buy wall calendars, it was a new calendar. When most of us wrote checks, remember how hard it was to write that new year on the check? Now it’s even less of a difference, we tend to pay our bills online; our calendar is on our computer and switches automatically. The recent hullaballoo about the Mayan calendar should have demonstrated how antiquated calendars can be. But antiquated or not, we celebrate this calendar event and a part of this tradition continues to be the resolutions.

But when the ball drops, we are the same person we were moments before. And most of us are quite exceptional people. We do some rather awesome things if you stop and think about it. We have jobs, we have families, and we go out into the world and make it a place worth living. This fabricated ‘new year’ is nothing new in life. We have the same baggage we had moments before, but we also have the same strengths. This is what we should all focus on. But still, our lives should be an almost continuous self-assessment; this is how we move forward, not with hastily, and typically drunkenly, mumbled resolutions. We should almost always be asking, “Who am I now, and who, or what, do I want to become?” Am I unhealthy? If I am, then what do I need to do to correct that? If I smoke, then I certainly need to stop. So I stop; If can’t stop, then I seek assistance in stopping. Resolutions are nothing more than half-made decisions with absolutely nothing to back them up; emotional checks that will bounce because they are written on an account lacking actual resolve. But if you take the “you” of you, or rather I should say the “me” of me, and use this momentum we have called life, and apply small corrections… Then we will have something. Then we will get somewhere.

Happy New Year folks, now let’s continue be the awesome people we truly are!

I love you all.

Marv

Message In A Bottle

 “…Take me out to the black.
Tell ’em I ain’t comin’ back.
Burn the land And boil the sea.
You can’t take the sky from me.” – Theme song from Firefly

“The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in.” – Robert Heinlein

“In my own view, the important achievement of Apollo was a demonstration that humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited.” – Neil Armstrong

Voyager 1 is having a hard time letting go. Launched in 1977, the NASA space probe’s mission was to study the outer solar system. Yet that mission was complete by 1980, and has since been on extended mission. Currently Voyager 1 is 123 AU from earth; an AU is an Astronomical Unit, and is an approximate average distance from the earth to the sun. Which makes Voyager 1 the furthest manmade object in space, and the reason I’m writing this blog entry is that, even as I type, it may officially be outside our solar system. I suppose at the outset this may not seem like much, or depending on the reader, nothing at all. But for me, and I would hope most folks, with a little reflection and thought this is pretty amazing. I enjoy hiking, and when I set out for a good exercise hike, I’m looking at five miles, maybe six if I’m feeling up to it. Voyager 1 is eleven billion miles from earth. Not only this, but Voyager 1 is traveling at 10.5 miles per second; pretty staggering really. That is almost too much to wrap your head around. Actually it is too much; I can’t even begin to honestly realize just how far away, and how fast that really is. I think the technical term is “a long damn way, and pretty damn fast”. But here’s where all the space opera movies, and TV shows start kicking in for me… I like to imagine how it would feel to be out there. Our sun would just be a really bright star, and I would, of course, be frozen instantly. Imagine the cold and desolation of being that separated from all that you’ve ever known. Imagine that one day our descendants will most likely be journeying along that trek.

Currently Voyager 1 is still operating, and recently completed a complicated maneuver. We are still able to communicate with Voyager 1, though a one-way message takes sixteen hours to travel between her and earth. When Voyager 1 was launched, the three radioisotope thermocouple generators (RTGs), powered by Plutonium-238, were producing 470 watts of power. That’s very little power to do all the amazing things Voyager 1 has done; like sending us the “pale blue dot” photograph that Carl Sagan spoke of. But this power won’t last, as the radioactive elements comprising the RTGs drops by half about every eighty-eight years. By the year 2025, the power will have dropped to the point that most of the systems will have to be turned off. At this point Voyager 1, our workhorse of a space probe, our stalwart gatherer of scientific data in our solar neighborhood will become a “message in a bottle” from us to whomever may scoop it out of the cosmic tidal froth. Who knows who may listen to the “golden record”, if anyone. But I can sure imagine it.

“Captain, we have something on our scanners.”

“Put it on the screen Spock.”

“Scanners have detected etchings of a certain pattern that appear to be able to be translated to audio. It appears to be a message from a ‘Johnny B. Goode’. Fascinating.”

Rev up and write!

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” – Stephen King

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

To write, or not to write, that is not the question at all; I will write. But to write consistently, to write well, and to write with conviction is not the question but rather the challenge. I started writing a couple of years ago, and took a self-inflicted hiatus. All who know me, and know my history, will know that just writing a check is a challenge. Yet even old dogs, or rather dogs with some mileage (as Indiana Jones put it) can learn new tricks. I have signed up for one of the Gotham Writer’s Workshops, Creative Writing 101, and my class starts January eighth. I couldn’t be more excited.

I am going to be blogging about my writing projects, my learning progress, and thoughts about how I am going to lurch forward in this craft. Chronicling my journey of expression. Most likely I won’t have to say anything, I hope my writing will speak for itself as I progress.

Just as with any endeavor the further you dig, the more surprises you reveal. I realize that this may just be a Pandora’s box, but I do like challenges. Managing my blog with updates about writing, and such as this is just one facet; how do I arrange the categories and such as that? Time, and the patience of any who read, will tell.

I look forward to the journey. Thanks for reading.

Le voyage en France 2011: Chapitre 1

Paris is always a good idea – The movie “Sabrina”

America is my country and Paris is my hometown – Gertrude Stein

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.-Ernest Hemingway

Other countries drink to get drunk, and this is accepted by everyone; in France, drunkenness is a consequence, never an intention. A drink is felt as the spinning out of a pleasure, not as the necessary cause of an effect which is sought: wine is not only a philtre, it is also the leisurely act of drinking.-Roland Barthes

The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American. It is more fun for an intelligent person to live in an intelligent country. France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older – intelligence and good manners.-F. Scott Fitzgerald

To err is human. To loaf is Parisian.-Victor Hugo

Boy, those French. They have a different word for everything.-Steve Martin

Here I am, just a country boy at heart, visiting France for the first time. Though, as my fellow submariners will tell you, I’ve literally been around the world, but sometimes I feel as if I never really left home. I have now. I have to say that I was quite nervous prior to leaving, not sure why, but I was. When the day finally came about, all was goo though. I got to Nashville airport quite early, but that is how I like it; I don’t mind waiting at the airport, I hate to be rushed. The trip to Atlanta was without much excitement. In Atlanta, my plane went directly to the same terminal I would be leaving from. Quite convenient. My layover was three hours and forty-five minutes; again, I don’t mind waiting. Boarding the Air France plane was like stepping into a spaceship, I felt the anticipation, could almost taste it. The flight to Paris was only forty percent full, so for weight and balance considerations, they had us take ‘temporary’ seats for the takeoff, but soon after we were allowed to take our assigned seats. My assigned seat was in the center section of four seats, but I had all four to myself! I could lay back with comfort! Soon after taking off, they served dinner, and I had the first of what would come to be a quite common verbal exchange. The flight attendant asked what I wanted for dinner, and I said, “Je veux un coca light.” She then said “Ahhhhh vous parlez Francais” Followed by a bunch of words that I totally did not understand! My bewildered look led her to say… “Do you speak English” at which I sighed, “yes.” This has happened a few times, mostly in Paris though. I was afraid I would not sleep on the flight, but luckily I did. I suppose the four seats I had made a bit of a difference, I certainly hope my flight home is similarly empty. I couldn’t easily look out the windows, but I did notice that Charles De Gaulle airport is surprisingly amidst the country! Lots of agriculture around the airport. I landed, and made my way to and through customs with little to no problems. The customs agent simply asked me to remove my hat to compare me to my passport photo. The first thing I did after customs was to find a French Telecom public phone and phone my shuttle service to ask for a pickup. No problem, the lady on the other end spoke a rather hurried English. Making my way to baggage claim, I found that my bag had just come out of the chute. Surprising luck. I then headed out to ‘sortie’ 8 and waited for my shuttle. I had to wait about twenty minutes…. But I was waiting IN PARIS! This phrase became my catchphrase during my entire stay in Paris. No matter what happened to me… it was happening In Paris! Now the shuttle… Wow, better than a Nascar In-Car camera, I felt every side slip, and bump the entire way to my hote. And interestingly the shuttle was a Prius. Not being driven in a fuel-efficient manner though. Most of the traffic was heading north, so we didn’t run into many slow downs until we came more into the center of Paris. Now the shuttle driver was playing a French pop radio station, and after recovering from the shock of an Indy 500 like start, I noticed “She’s a maniac” pumping out of the speakers. Hello eighties! It appears that mixing pop songs with French songs is ‘the’ thing in France. I think the French government requires they play something like thirty percent French music, but rest is some genre of American music. Paris traffic is rather crazy, and one thing that I noticed was that scooters and full-sized motorcycles are not just allowed, but encouraged to disregard any and all lanes! As ‘Love is a Battlefield’ wafted through my ears, I was amazed by the courage that these cycle drivers displayed weaving in and out of traffic, and between closely packed lanes of traffic! I did finally arrive at my hotel in one piece, and ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome’ saw me out of the Prius, and onto the sidewalk. Checking in was easy, I had studied a few phrases of French for my arrival, and this was one. I paid for my three night stay in Paris, and got the key to my room. In the States, the fob on this key would have been appropriate for many a country gas station restroom key… not exactly a pocketable item. Hitting my room was a pleasure, I was ready to settle in, but I still had one task to perform. For anyone planning a trip to France, at Charles De Gaulle (CDG), there are no phone outlets in the arrival section. I had bought a GO phone in the USA, and my plan was to buy a French SIM card to put in it. I had already looked up the closest kiosk for this from my hotel, and had ‘walked’ to it via Google street view, but a brief conversation with the hotel attendant led me to a shopping mall called Italie 2. This was lucky, as the kiosk I had found on the internet was from a bygone era, well at least in internet terms. It was a closed up shop. But in Italie 2, I found a shop named Darty which is similar to a Best Buy. I went up and went through my little spiel… ‘Je veux un SIM carte s’il vous plait.’ I took my phone out, and took the back off and removed my USA SIM. He asked me something in French, but I recognized that he was asking if my phone was unlocked. I replied ‘Je pense que, oui.’ He took his SIM card out and tried it… no go. So I said ‘Pas problem’, I just asked for a prepaid phone, then he started asking a bunch of questions. I think my blank face initiated his, ‘Do you speak English’, and I said … ‘yes’. His English wasn’t perfect, but neither is mine, so we got along famously. Oh and another thing… That whole Jason Bourne buy a prepaid phone and slip it into someones pocket?? Nope…. Hollywood! I had to show my passport, they made a copy of my passport, and I had to sign lots of things… then I got my twenty-nine euro prepaid phone. But it all worked well! I called Ethan and he was on the train, heading to Paris, would arrive in a few hours, so I decided to fix my phone up and go have some beers and wait to go meet him. My hotel was only a kilometer and a half from Gare Austerlitz, one of the main train stations in Paris, so the plan was for me to walk up the street, and him down and we’d meet. Oh by the way… ‘Je veux un biere, s’il vous plait.’ Is a very important phrase to learn. So learn it well! I had four beers while waiting, and then headed out to meet Ethan. I called him, and got no answer… called him again, and went straight to voicemail. I’m just plodding up the street, and while fiddling in my pocket for my phone, who do I almost literally run into… Ethan! What a joyous meeting. by this time we had to hurry to get back to the hotel and hit the Metro to go to the Eiffel Tower. My good friend Joe Phillips (His new book, Vampire Management, is just being published, you should get one!) by some coincidence was going to be in Belgium, at about the time I was going to Paris, so he decided to fly back out of Paris. Because of the certainty of no telecoms, we had made plans to meet at the Eiffel Tower at 6:45 local time. We got there a little after seven, and saw dishearteningly that there was quite a throng of people, and the setting sun was sure to make our discovery of each other very difficult. I just happened to look in a certain direction, and saw someone who I swear had the same ‘back of the head’ as Joe. So with the country boy in me, I just hollered; “JOE”, and amazingly he stopped and came towards me. Seriously, this was very lucky, he had to have been fifty to seventy-five yards away. That Parisienne luck was still with us. So, we took a few pictures, and then decided to go have a beer and get a bite to eat. Knowing that everything was expensive near the Eiffel Tower, we walked away from it to try to find a place to sit down. The first place we stopped at, we had Kronenbourg beer, a French beer, and some frites and a cheese plate. “Frites and Fromage” That was the specialty I had! Here was where I described to Ethan and Joe my new catch phrase; “In Paris”. And we used that the rest of the night, nay, the rest of the trip! After here, we decided to then go do a little bar hopping. The next place we went to was a nice little place, they had homemade chips, and of course we had beer. There was an interesting American couple there: Nick and Katelyn. Katelyn was a very…. ummm how to put this… negative person. Yeah she was very negative. She was complaining about everything, her earlier meal had been bad, etc. Her boyfriend Nick, a really nice guy mind you, had brought them over with his work, so a paid vacation… To Paris! Ahh well. I suppose Paris doesn’t touch everyone’s heart. We had some beers here and talked with Nick and Katelyn for a bit, and then decided to find another place. We hadn’t walked a hundred yards when Joe and I felt bad for Nick… We stopped and conferred… And yes, we should give Nick the opportunity to escape. So we walked back and I distracted Katelyn with “Did I leave my glasses in here?” Followed by: “So you went to school in Ohio?” While Joe gave Nick the opportunity to slip off with us. Of course, Nick did decline with a laugh and he said Katelyn is a really good girl. And I’m sure she is, but I hope when he’s forty, he doesn’t look back and say… “Damn I wish I’d gone with those guys!” We then went to our last place for the night, had a glass of champagne, and another cheese plate, and called it a night. Joe took a cab, and Ethan and I made our way down to a Metro stop. The Hotel looked quite pleasant for a good night’s sleep. And I was definitely ready to sleep. In Paris!

Surviving the Rip Tides

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

“Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.” – W. C. Fields

“Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Alva Edison

“Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.” – Albert Einstein

“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson

There are so many metaphors that can be used for striving, and surviving in life. The ‘current’ of the ‘river of life’, ‘arms like wings’ riding the currents of wind, etc. All these metaphors are just ways of translating ideas, ideals, and concepts to aid us in this blind journey through life. And it is a blind journey as none of us can see into the future. Oh sure we can plan, and prepare for what we see as the most potential dangers that beset us. But all of life really is an assessment of the dangers of the present. This ‘risk assessment’ is something that we all do, though mostly subconsciously. When you are at an intersection you (hopefully!) look both ways before you pull out. So you see a car coming, immediately you assess; how fast it’s going, and knowing the performance your car you determine the odds of successfully negotiating the action. You may not realize you are doing this, but you are. Here’s another example:

Let’s say you are using a riding lawn mower on a yard that you are not quite familiar with. Going across the yard you encounter a rather steep slope of which you will be crossing perpendicularly. You stop, and assess the slope, and thinking of your mower you make a mental decision whether to go ahead, or to stop and do something different. This is where life’s decisions come to a head. You go forward and one of three things can happen: one is that there is no problem; the second is that you roll over and tumble down the slope, and the third is that the mower tilts up and to ‘that point’ and pauses. At that time, your mind is racing, and you realize you are in terrible danger. So either the mower continues over and you tumble down, or it slowly lowers back to the ground. At this point you have learned a valuable lesson. Well hopefully you have learned a lesson. And this will affect how you make future decisions.

Often we make decisions for the absolutely wrong reasons: In the lawnmower example (which is anecdotal by the way) perhaps it’s laziness, thinking “I just want to get this over and done”, and merely changing your mowing pattern takes too long, so you don’t. When negotiating traffic perhaps it’s that you need to be somewhere and didn’t allow enough time. Whatever, sometimes we don’t always think things through. And often times this is all based on our attitude. The bar fight started because one guy just didn’t “like” another guy. (See Abe’s quote above.) I could continue on with coming up with examples, but really it should be obvious that it is our ‘attitude’ that affects our decision making skills.

Attitude, the psychological term not the geometrical orientation along a plane (as in the attitude of the lawnmower about to tip over in the example above), is what I think affects so much of our decision making processes. Jung defined attitude as the “readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way”, which fits this hypothesis perfectly. I have always considered the ‘frame of mind’ as the fulcrum of the decision making scale, but Jung’s definition of attitude relates this concept to attitude. There have been many arguments and theories about what affects attitude, and perhaps one’s attitude is based on social, environmental, and genetic influences. I know that I have recognized that my attitude has been influenced by all of these factors. Growing up I had certain factors that were both experience and environment based that affected my attitude; both my decision making ability, and my opinions about the things in my life. In retrospect I can look at how I’ve lived my life and I can clearly see that my decision making paradigm was completely influenced by my attitude at the time. And that is a bit scary, because, though my attitude has changed radically in my lifetime, there are parts of my attitude that I see haven’t changed. I would like to think that I am an erudite person who calmly calculates the risks with everything that comes into and through the purview of my life… but I can assure you that many decisions I make are purely gut decisions. So generally I am nothing more than one big dumb muscle blindly responding to whatever stimuli happens to come within my reach. But… one thing that a big dumb muscle doesn’t have is introspection and awareness, and though I do not claim to be an intellect, I do try to judge myself and be aware. This is the biggest step to monitoring and trying to keep your attitude trimmed. (I’m using ‘trim’ as the spatial term here.) I have heard the phrase “your attitude affects your altitude”, and this is how trimming your attitude comes into play. Keeping one’s attitude positive is how we do this. Now on to this topic…

Maintaining a positive attitude is much easier said than done. I do believe that the attitude is built out of social, environmental and genetic influences. Genetic influence to attitude is something that we cannot modify. Sorry. Social and environmental influences are what we have to work with. Social is the easiest, if you hang around positive people then your attitude (especially when you are with them) will tend to be positive. For me, I tend to shy away from people who live at the ends of the spectrum; tea partiers, and ultra-liberal hate mongers always ‘bring me down’. Sorry Eeyore, but you’re bringing me down man. My mom used to call it “dwelling” as in “don’t dwell on that for too long or you’ll just want to cry.” So let’s not hang around cave ‘dwellers’. This leaves us with environmental influences, which is much harder to define. It is possible to argue that environmental and social are the same, but I feel that social more directly deals with the people you associate with and environmental is more the ‘situations’ you get into. But I do agree that social and environmental are closely related, the environmental situations you get yourself into will often either be driven by the people you hang around, and conversely, the people you hang around will often get you into situations! But I’m using environmental to define specifically one’s; financial situation, living situation, romantic situation, and etc. All of these are generally easy to ferret out. If you are upside in your car or home, your attitude will most definitely be negatively affected. Marry the wrong person… Standby by my friend, by you are going for an attitude ride. I’ll leave you all to fill in all the other examples for yourself.

So, what do we do? How do we proceed? Well, my friend, Tony Robbins I’m not. I can’t tell you what to do or how to do it. But I can say that here is what I’ve come up with: Think about what you are doing, and what you are going to do. Use risk assessment like I described above. Be careful who you associate with, or if you have certain friends or relatives who are ‘negative Neds/Nellies’ don’t subscribe to their attitudes. If you have negative friends or relatives who are argumentative, don’t argue. Be true to yourself, and be honest with yourself. Is it really important to get so worked up over a football game, or which cell phone carrier you use? Seriously, not a single multi-millionaire football player cares about you, and for the love of God not one damn company in the universe actually cares about you, you are nothing more than a tiny blip on a spreadsheet on someone’s computer.

Now this is what drove me to write this article… Do your best to adhere to a Zen mind.  To minimize; wants, desires, and cravings. To completely get into whatever it is you are doing, ‘walk while walking’. When you drive, drive. (Don’t text, daydream, or argue with the wife/husband.) I am new to this Zen idea, but am completely enthralled with the concept. What a way to become an empty vessel, and if you’re ‘empty’ then how can there be turmoil? Feel free to leave (hopefully constructive) comments. But if you think I’m just another idiot with a blog… ummm that will negatively affect my attitude. Sorry.

As you were.

Fukushima Radioactivity Release Estimates Pt. 1

Further information concerning the truth in the Fukushima accident.

You can’t be distracted by the noise of misinformation. – James Daly

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13678627

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa) now says 770,000 terabecquerels escaped into the atmosphere following the 11 March disaster – more than double its earlier estimate of 370,000 terabecquerels.

Although the amount is just 15% of the total released at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986 – the world’s worst nuclear disaster – it suggests the contamination of the area around the plant is worse than first thought, says the BBC’s Roland Buerk in Tokyo.

We are now starting to get some better information out of TEPCO and the Japanese government. 770,000 terabecquerels converts to twenty million curies. This is a lot of radioactivity. And the correct term for what is being release is radioactivity, not radiation. The radioactivity releases energy, radiation, as it undergoes radioactive decay. So radiation must have a source, and it’s this source that is ‘leaking’ or being released from where it’s supposed to be contained. Imagine your kitchen after your children made you biscuits from scratch. The flour all over your kitchen is the ‘contamination’ and if it were radioactive, it would be radioactive contamination. Fortunately flour is only a nuisance. Or better yet, if you had a balloon full of cesium 131 powder, there would be radiation emitted from the balloon (well, the cesium in the balloon). But you could put the balloon under a lead blanket and all would be alright. But if you pop the balloon, the cesium powder will fly out all over the place. And it’s all still emitting radiation, but now rather than being contained in a balloon, it’s all over the room, all over you, and unless you held your breath, all IN you! This isn’t good. So kids… take care of your cesium balloons!

But I am still looking for a breakdown of the amounts of each radioactive isotope released, as this is of great importance. Imagine if I told you that someone had spilled twenty gallons of liquid in your kitchen? If it were twenty gallons of water, you’d just be worried about water damage, but what if it were twenty gallons of liquid chlorine, or twenty gallons of hydrochloric acid? So ‘what kind’ of radioactivity released is important. True that any release radioactivity is not good, but some types of radioactivity are worse than others. I’m going to try to put this twenty million curies of radioactivity into some sort of perspective, but first here is something I stumbled on while researching this post. (Please be advised that I have not found any supporting references for this yet, and it’s from an anti-nuclear website.)

In 1945, 550,000 curies of radioactive iodine were released at Hanford, exposing 150 million Americans to more than 4 billion picocuries per capita of this lethal radionuclide, an amount comparable to releases from Chernobyl, the worst nuclear disaster in history – which resulted in a 200 fold increase in thyroid cancer in that area.
(http://www.antiatom.org/GSKY/en/WC/e00wc/ei-casey.htm)

The above is an interesting find, and I’ll try to see if I can glean any other evidence out of it. But for now, here are some ways to put the radioactivity released into some sort of perspective:

  • A typical home smoke alarm has about 1 microcurie of usually Americium-241. So Fukushima is equivalent to about  twenty billion smoke detectors.
  • Using the ‘banana equivalent dose’ that some organizations do, assuming a typical banana contains 0.5 nanocuries of Potassium-41, and that a banana weighs 150 grams: 6.6 trillion tons of bananas. (Ok, this got so mind boggling my math might be off. But it sure looks impressive.)
  • Here’s a good source of information for comparisons of radioactivity: http://cns.miis.edu/opapers/op11/op11.pdf
  • And here is another excellent resource for some of our Department of Energy’s cache of radioactive sources. http://www.davistownmuseum.org/cbm/Rad8b.html

Again, I am waiting for an itemized estimate of the released isotopes before this can be truly categorized.

Let’s all be informed, and don’t just rely on me, ferret all this out for yourself too!

As you were.

BBC News – German nuclear review throws up new problems

Simple mathematics.

P = (N + F + W + S) + I

Where:
P = power consumption.
N = nuclear generated power.
F = fossil fuel generated power.
W = wind generated power.
S = solar generated power.
I = “imported” power. And this power’s source is an unknown, but probably cheapest possible.

If P is to remain constant, and nuclear power is to be minimized or reduced to 0 the following is true:

F, W, and S must increase proportionally to maintain P constant.
– AND/OR –
I must increase.

BBC News – German nuclear review throws up new problems.

There’s always a rub. In this day and age when our world’s energy consumption is rising at an alarming rate, and with the NIMBY attitude held by… well held by everyone, where is the solution? What is the end game in this dangerous game of chess with the environment, and the world’s citizens who do not have voices?

Regardless of your political, or idealistic thoughts on nuclear power, it is important to look at all aspects of the energy picture.

Just after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in March, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a review of energy policy and ordered Germany’s oldest reactors to be shut down immediately, and perhaps permanently.

Only a few months earlier, she had decided to keep the reactors running past their original shutdown dates.

But only now comes the hard bit. Power companies have warned of higher prices because of the shutdown; Germany has imported electricity to meet peaks in demand; analysts have warned that coal-fired power stations will be boosted – and nuclear ones in the nearby Czech Republic and France.

And right in the heart of the country, protest groups are raising their voices as they realise that rejigging a country’s energy industry means redirecting the transmission lines through their picturesque backyard.

This is the problem. First a knee-jerk reaction because of the terrible accident at Japan’s Fukushima reactor sites. I think a reaction is important, and required, but to categorically make decision of this magnitude without the proper forethought is rather rash, and will make it difficult to enact intelligent policies for the actual reduction of nuclear power. Let alone the increase of wind power. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about increasing “green” energy (whatever that is).

Secondly, it’s one thing to reduce one’s own generation of nuclear power, but if the consumed power is to stay constant, then you will have to rely on imported power. And interestingly that’s something that you, as a sovereign country, have no control over. If you buy power from the Czech Republic, then you have no say in how that power is generated.

Lastly, we all want a solution, we all want the comfort of the conveniences we have now. But, NIMBY comes back to bite you. (Not In My BackYard) As long as I don’t have the transmission lines running through my yard, as long as I can’t see the frightening cooling towers of the nuclear plant, as long as I can’t see the fossil fuel plants with the convoys of trucks carrying coal daily.

There is only one thing we all can do to help this planet. And that is every single one of us must reduce. Forget this silly “carbon footprint” bullshit. If you want to lose weight, don’t count points… eat less and get more exercise. It’s that simple. We must all reduce our power consumption. It will be inconvenient, but we must do it. And unlike many who criticize others because they aren’t doing “enough”, I just ask everyone to do something. Anything. Please. I will do the same. I’ve already started, I am not using my A/C, and it’s hotter than forty hells, but I’m persevering! I’m also going to string up a clothes line. I’ll keep you posted, and I’ll be honest too.

As you were.