The Economics of Simple Living: Less Debt, More Life

It is popularly said that “Money is the root of all evil.” But, Dear Reader, I can unequivocally state that money itself is not evil.  Having money does not make you a bad person.  Rather it is the pursuit of more and more money, the lusting after money; greed that produces deleterious effects in people.  Greed is the root of evil.

money, cash, moolahMoney is just another tool to be used in bartering with others for what you need.  It simplifies the process of life by offering a universally accepted medium of exchange.  Instead of trading eggs for flour or firewood for meat, you trade your efforts in your area of expertise for money, then trade the money for the things you need to support yourself and your family.

Using money as a bartering medium is far more convenient than exchanging physical goods, especially since so many people these days produce no physical goods.  I’d say the vast majority of American citizens support themselves as service providers not goods producers.  They may be Payroll Administrators in a corporation, or County Tourism Directors, or Network Administrators in a hospital, or a cook in the local grammar school, or even a laborer in a factory that does produce goods, such as furniture.  But at the end of the week, they are not paid in sofas and chairs.  What a good thing *that* is! Continue reading The Economics of Simple Living: Less Debt, More Life

For the Love of Dogs

Marie and I have always had a love of dogs and enjoyed the company of canines.  Trained to behave in a civilized manner and be indoors with us much of the time, they were more members of the family than pets.  Last summer we lost both of our pampered pooches.

ZadieFirst was Zadie.  She was accustomed to heading up into the woods in the morning with her adoptive sibling Dolly and their friend from down the road, Boots.  That day was no different except that they did not return for breakfast.  It wasn’t like Zadie to miss a meal.  Any meal.  Ever.  And we became concerned.  Later in the morning Dolly returned, without Zadie (also unusual) and acted very strangely.

DollyDolly had been dumped on this mountain before we arrived.  When we moved into this home, she watched us for a while from a rocky outcropping above us, then decided she would take us under her wing (so to speak) and teach us to be proper mountain folk.  By this time we had been together for about 11 years.  Zadie arrived as a pup – apparently dumped as well – and Dolly took her in and mentored her in proper civilized behavior.  One of her most adamant tenants was that good dogs don’t “go” in their yard, but head up into the trees to do their business.  I particularly appreciated this personal habit.  But starting after Zadie’s disappearance, Dolly would not go more than a couple of feet past the tree line for her personal hygiene needs and NEVER went off a-wandering or chasing small game as she always had before.

Boots was oddly absent as well.  He used to visit every morning, but for days we had not seen hide nor hair of him.  Finally I did catch a glimpse of him, waved and shouted “Hi Boots!”.  He tucked his tail and scurried off as though I’d threatened him.

Being a Border Collie/Rottweiler mix, Zadie was very smart – in terms of being clever.  She could open any door and would paw a spring clip until it opened and she was gone.  To tether her required a padlock.  She was nimble too: 68 pounds of canine ninja.

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Gray Morn

The day breaks soft and gray outside the window.  Trees fade into obscurity within short distance.  What passes for a sky, a pewter bowl; featureless and unbroken, just above treetops.  The air, pregnant with moisture, will soon give birth to a misty rain.

A fitting analogy for life: the past fades into the mists of time, the future uncertain beyond a few scrawling’s on a calendar.  Only the right now, right here is clear.

The view can be soothing and beautiful or depressing, depending on your bend. But while gazing upon the surreal visage, bear in mind that above it all the sun shines bright and warm; hidden for a time, but not lost.

Destinaton Moon, Pizza and a Movie

Since I recently wound up my Adventures of Pizza Dude series, I could not resist sharing this headline and accompanying photos with you.

Japanese to Build Domino’s Pizza on the Moon
Yes, you read that right. The Japanese division of Domino’s Pizza has released plans to build a dome-shaped Domino’s on the moon, and would apparently support a drive-through suitable for space motorcycles (Lunazuki’s, no doubt). Of course, this thing isn’t going to get built THIS year.  The designers estimate it will cost U+00A51.67 trillion, (or about 21.74 billion US Bucks) to build and recovering such an investment will require a little more population than we have up there now.  But, when we set up the first moon colonies, Domino’s plans have the monopoly on pizza joints.

Continue reading Destinaton Moon, Pizza and a Movie

Book Review: Scat

The Story

Scat by Jim Graham, sci-fi novelScat, by Jim Graham is an imaginative and intriguing story set in the far future that follows Sebastian Scatkiewicz, a.k.a. Scat – an American in the US Marine Corps and decorated war hero. After ‘retiring’ from the Marines he finds himself on a distant planet working in a mine. He gets caught up in a riot there, and is shipped to another planet where he is unwillingly swept up in a planetary rebellion. The major players in the war that ensues are not governments so much as mega-corporations, a regulatory commission and the people of the planet he’s on. All he wanted was to do his tour of duty in the mine, get paid and buy a patch of dirt to settle on. Now he’s embroiled in a war and he has to choose a side.

Mr. Graham employs some unique science and offers a very dark view of corporate domination that may appear all too realistic given the way things are going. The story undergoes several convolutions that turn the plot on its head and leaves you guessing where it will end up, and I love the twist at the end that serves up retribution for the villainous. All of the villainous. Continue reading Book Review: Scat

A Christmas Message

I first saw this Christmas video a year ago – or almost the same; they’ve updated it some.  I remember being impressed with this mostly because of it’s wonderful Christmas message but also because Becky Kelley and her family live in St. Louis, very near where Marie and I used to live before we came here.  Her father arranged the music and played the piano and her bother did all the video work and composition – at least on the original.  We used to shop in the mall where those scenes were shot.  I think it’s particularly relevant right now. Continue reading A Christmas Message

The Meaning of Christmas

Christmas, meaning, love, hope.These days it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas, for the things we see and hear so often are not what it’s really about. It’s about the birth of a very special child; the Christ child. But his birth alone is not what made Him special, it’s what He did with His life and death that makes Him our savior and Lord.

Before I begin to explain this let me say that if you are a non-Christian and you’ve ever felt put down or condemned by Christians; this was not the message of Christ, and it certainly is not the message of Christmas. It was the message of the messenger, not the One who sent him.  That will not be the message here.  Continue reading The Meaning of Christmas

Cochise Gets TLC at TSC

It was a bright and sunny Saturday, a perfect day to go for a ride in the truck. And since my kibble bucket was almost empty, it was also a perfect time for that truck ride to take us to Tractor Supply Company. So I paced and humphed while Hairy Face and Nice Lady got themselves ready to go.

Cochise, dogs, riding, tractor supplyOnce we were in the truck I used my most adorable “pleeeese” face to get Nice Lady to let me sit up front and her to ride in the back, it didn’t work, but she had just washed the big pillows that go on the floor back here so it was not only cushy, but fresh smelling. Continue reading Cochise Gets TLC at TSC

Science Fiction Fact and Fancy: Propulsion-Exotic

This week I will continue with my examination of space travel technology, focusing on propulsion; but this time looking at the less commonly discussed and written about technologies.  Again, I remind you, reader, that I want only to help understand current theory – perhaps open some doors – not quash your imagination.

Solar Sail Propulsion

solar sail, NanoSail-D, propulsion, space, exploration, travel
via www.NASA.gov

As a sailboat enthusiast from way back I know well the elegance and economies of using wind to power a craft.  But light?  Yes.

The idea of powering spacecraft with sails harnessing the “solar wind” was first proposed by Johannes Kepler who observed that comet tails point away from the Sun and suggested that the sun caused this effect. In a letter to Galileo in 1610, he wrote, “Provide ships or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes, and there will be some who will brave even that void.” [1]

The technical term is Solar Radiation Pressure and it is made up of photons (light) and elemental gasses.  The sails must be mirror-like reflective to utilize the photon energy.  Although the SRP or “Solar Wind” blows at (or near) the speed of light, its actual impetus is rather low.  It will take HUGE sails to pull a space craft of any size through the heavens.

Two launch conditions are being considered both assume that the craft itself will be either boosted into orbit on a rocket or built in orbit.

The first is to unfurl the sails (see video below) and allow the Solar Radiation Pressure to do a slow-but-steady push on the sails.  The craft will pick up speed as the SRP continues to “blow” against it.  But, high speeds would probably not develop before the craft is so far away from the sun that the push it gets is diminished.  Best speed with this is estimated to be 90 km per second (km/s).  A modification of this is to use microwave or laser emplacements to give the craft a “shove” at certain points to bring the speed up to 30,000  km/s (1/10 the speed of light) and bring interstellar travel into the realm of possibility. Continue reading Science Fiction Fact and Fancy: Propulsion-Exotic

SECRET HIDEAWAY – Mental Withdrawal

The current scheduled post falls on a Sunday, and that means it’s a “Spiritual Sunday” post.  I’ve invited my friend; retired pastor Dr. Calvin Metcalf to offer something enlightening.  I think this is a message a lot of us can use right now.

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 Dr. Calvin MetcalfThere is a lonely place to which hurting people sometimes go.  It is called “withdrawal.”  They go thinking they have found a safe haven from their woes.  They wrap themselves in an emotional cocoon as a cushion against their pain.  They internalize their grief and often get locked into a rut of only one way of thinking.  Their imaginations play tricks on them as they lose touch with reality.  Many times withdrawal causes folk to lash out at those who love them most and could care for them best.  It is not easy dealing with life’s complications, but retreating within oneself does not make it easier.  People who turn inward to lick their own wounds have a limited source of healing. Continue reading SECRET HIDEAWAY – Mental Withdrawal