Bass on Bass

Saturday, September 18, 2010

He Who Changed Everything

Some happenings in life simply change everything or at least how one sees it all. So it has been for me to meet Liam Edwin von Rentzell, my first grandchild. He came into this world via cesarean section birth to my daughter in law Joi and son Jon on September 7th 2010 and has had pretty much our full attention ever since. In true von Rentzell fashion, he does what he does when HE is ready, not when the world wants him to. I'm convinced that all of the scares he, or rather his care givers' view of his progress, has given us all in the last 10 days are just him slowly catching up to where he wanted to be when he would be ready to meet the world. He was ~2 weeks early per his predicted due date. He's been in the NICU of Rush Copley Hospital in Aurora since birth and is now making serious progress. I hope his new grandpa can also. I think I am but we'll see. I think that and the picture and video say it all! .

Thursday, September 2, 2010

WW II: the film"Flags of Our Fathers"

    I just watched the film “Flags of Our Fathers”, the story of the lives of the men of the Marine unit that raised the flag(s) on Mount Suribachi in the Battle of Iwo Jima. It was difficult yet compelling to watch. For those of us whose fathers served in the War it’s particularly compelling. Mine was in the Army at the beginning. As part of the “great family tradition”  Dad enlisted in the Reserves before Pearl Harbor. Seeing that war was inevitable, as he put it, it gave him the best chance of not getting into the worst of it. He didn’t quite get the scale of things to come back in early 1941. Defining that “Family tradition” is for another discussion, suffice it to say that I did the same thing during the Viet Nam War. It worked for me, not for him. I think therein lies the source of some of both the difficulty and compelling nature of viewing this film.
    As is repeated a number of times in the lines of the film, most of those who experienced the war first hand, who disdain the “hero” label so firmly, were (are) generally loath to talk about it. So it was with dad, most of the time. There were small bits of stories that he shared though. He served most of the war years as a cook, later on as cook for officers’ mess. Sadly I can’t recount his unit, though I assume it was part of the 8th Army as that was made up primarily of Reservists from the Midwest.
    Mainly, for we members of the “children of the war” so to speak, I think the film raises and maybe in part answers 2 questions that trouble us all.  The first would be why didn’t they talk about it (most survivors have passed on)? The answer I get from these “realistic WWII films” of recent years is that they were sparing us and maybe themselves from the horror of much of the life of a soldier in war.
    That seems to leave us with less knowledge of who they are (were) and consequently who we are as products of their parentage. It seems inconceivable that such an experience could not be a major part of forming their persona afterward. That defines the importance to us of the answer to the 2nd question, what was it like?
    For those of us spared from life in combat, there’s only the guess that what the film(s) show is more or less what it was like. I’ve heard stories of WWII veterans saying it was pretty close. It’s not hard to conclude, though, that it’s nothing like actually being there in the midst of it fighting for all your worth for your own and your comrades’ survival.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wind energy: Not just "down on the farm" anymore?

So do we all plant one of those giant propellers in our back yard to get the benefit of wind on our energy costs? I don't think so, That doesn't mean we have no option to make use of the wind though. There are all sorts of makers and designs coming on the market or well into development for vertical axis wind turbines. Check out some of the cool You-tube videos linked to.

Problems of Energy & Waste: Glass half full?

    We all have a very basic choice which we are required to make every day in life. EVERYONE awakes each day to be confronted with a seemingly endless series of “problems” to be overcome. We must upon awaking, make the choice of how we are going to view those problems each day of our existence. Which way do we go with this ? Do we approach these problems as challenges to be met as mankind has always managed to do, thus making our continued existence to this date possible, or do we view the problems as insurmountable simply because we don’t have immediate knowledge of their entire solution? Obviously, if we wish to “continue to exist”, the only logical choice is the former. It get’s down to what we look for in life. Do we first seek knowledge of exactly how “full “ our “glass” is or of exactly how “empty” our “glass” is? Our current and hugely pressing problems of economic downturn, environmental damage and dwindling and ever more costly energy supply are no exceptions. I see the only viable alternative is to look for the “liquid” first while keeping an eye on “the air space” in the glass seeking solutions for these problems. Since mankind  still exists,  the “insurmountability” of all such problems has been proven completely false to date. Solutions grow out of “assets”, the “Liquid” in the “Glass” of life.
    So how do we do all that’s necessary to solve these problems? One “statement of guidance” I’ve heard many times seems to be pretty universally applicable. That is “Think globally, and act locally”. The examples of successful application of this are pretty much endless. A logical extension of this for me is “Think universally and act specifically”. By that I mean view all of the problems more or less together while focusing on solutions for one of them. That’s all about viewing of the glass “half full” in that one can then see the “asset value” one “problem” may have towards solution of another.
    Example:  the 2 problems of human society’s waste disposal and our dwindling energy supply
    Sewage and garbage both stink and have mass that takes up space in our lives that we need to live in. That presents the problem of disposal. How do we get it “out of our way”. Why does it stink?  The stink is a result of microbes which produce stinky waste gasses feeding on it. They feed on it because it contains the energy and materials necessary for them to live.
    We are constantly confronted with rising costs, both in purchase price and environmental impact of our main sources of energy. We all see the price we pay at the pump or for the public transit tickets going up and see the huge displacement and unemployment brought on by disasters like the Deep Water Horizon mess and their related nature. We need to find other energy sources less likely to kill off the life of the world we depend on for survival.  

    When viewing the “glass half full” it’s not that hard to relate these 2 problems, seeking to supplant the need for some of our fossil fuel consumption with waste to fuel technology.