Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thoughts on this strange land

Lexington, TN was founded around 1830 and sits at 300 ft. above sea level halfway between Nashville and Memphis.

Around 7,000 live in Lexington, ten percent of them below the poverty line. The poverty line runs diagonally with Main St. then takes a sharp right turn at the housing project. Naw, just kidding about that last part. The poverty line isn't formally demarcated in geographical terms; it's more vividly delineated in other ways though.

Why doesn't Lexington have a food pantry? There is the old City school that's been turned into a 'community center.' Surely it has at least one former classroom that'd suffice for food pantry HQ rent-free.

There are at least a dozen and perhaps two dozen Churches in Lexington. Added to that, there is the usual mix of fraternal groups. So potential volunteers exist, and a serviceable organizational infrastructure exists. So why doesn't Lexington have a food pantry?

Uhmm... let me see. Because they'd stay out of food 3/4 of the time? Well that's likely true, but what about that other 1/4 of the time? Wouldn't they be sending people home with some canned goods and a few boxes of macaroni & cheese?

A loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter? This week I will contact Hope Ministries. It sits in threadbare dignity in one of the poorest sections of Lexington; street I used to live on in fact.

I want to learn more about the faith of these natives.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Back at base camp

These few days away from Lexington have been nice, but I want to get back to the job. There is much to learn, there are ongoing projects I'm expected to lead soon.

It was comforting to have the Mustang with me in Lexington last week. While grateful for the use of company truck, I didn't feel free to move among the natives in that wild savage land during my first week.

I've been this last week to some of the natives' homes. I find them friendly and open-hearted. One of them gave me a Joan Baez record.

The coming week will be filled with activity. I will be inducted into some fraternal organization the primitives call 'Friends of the Library.' It's possible too I may run out of pot pies and canned chili, so a provisioning excursion into the bush seems likely.

I've invited members of a hostile tribe to join me at a neutral location for a meal. That will happen Thursday, if I get my will updated by then. I've been warned about one warrior of this splinter group; it's said he's a dopehead. That may be, but he is my blood relative. So I will break bread with this hostile tribe, while watching out for blow guns.

The atmosphere at base camp alternates between relaxed and tense. While it's refreshing to be surrounded by familiar sights & sounds, I can sense the wilderness calling me.

I can't push myself too far into the unknown regions without periods of rest. But it's my job to explore.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How Endothermic Human Reactions Work

A guy told me today about last night's scene in his wife's six years and counting battle with cancer. Pain med perscription hadn't come in mail on time; he was driving 30 miles to get a few 'get-by' pills for her. All agreed to by Doctor, and then he got jammed up with a nurse who misunderstood. Worked out OK this time though.

Interesting how people open up to you, when you come across as a safe place to unburden. It's not that you're so wonderful, just that you're neutral polarity. Wonder what the equation for something like that would look like, hmmm...

Well shear force is what acts in a non-direct angle against another force. So a person with troubles, there's a force inside him wanting other humans just to understand what he's going through. Humans have lots of ways besides verbal to convey, "I don't really care; I've my stuff to worry about." That's the human shear force.

Gotta be a way to graph human shear force. More narrow the angle of deflection or greater the shear force, the more energy is applied against the force that wants to unburden a little to a fellow human.

If the human shear force graphs high enough, the unburdening force is stopped cold. But not really cold. Sir Isaac proved energy is indestructible. A man so smart, he got a fig cookie named after him!

When it's about forces in motion? The shear force slows or even stops motion. The motion energy is changed to heat at point of contact. Friction. An object in motion by some force can get really hot on the outside when it's stopped suddenly.

But humans are made of chemicals, so I think the shear force acts against the unburdening force in an endothermic reaction.

There are some chemicals, you can bring them to full boil separately, then pour them together and the beaker is cold to the touch. That because the kinetic energy of heated liquids is suddenly trapped in chemical reaction. The heat's still there, but it's now inward heat.

Maybe that's how shear force/unburdening force works among humans, like an endothermic chemical reaction. You can stop people from telling you their troubles. You're not stopping the force that makes them want to feel fellowship though. Perhaps you're turning it into unhelpful interior heat.

I'm glad I listened to the guy. I hate there've been so many times I'd have brushed him off. Hope there won't be any more such times of that behavior from me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day Two in this Strange Land

Trevor got in quicksand yesterday and the last we saw of him was a pith helmet... no wait, that's a Tarzan movie. My journey of exploration without a map goes fairly smooth so far; no quicksand encountered yet.

I'm happy but surprised that Lucy the Mustang only needed a new battery. Sounded to me like the motor was doing sufficient rpm's to crank, but I'm glad to be wrong this time. It's tremendously helpful my boss gave me use of the company truck this week.

April will come fetch me on Friday; Sunday after Church I drive Ms. Lucy back into this wild, uncharted country.

I'm getting along well with the natives, but then again many explorers have thought that right up to the last minute, agreed? There is a machine at the convenience store at bottom of the hill... I need to say a few words on that topic.

It's a modified version of the penny pitching machines I was first introduced to at Long Beach's New Pike amusement park, around 1964.

Penny pitchers, glass covered table with many sets of little concentric circles, each having a number. Goal is to scoot your penny through the narrow slot so it lands to complete electrical circuit between the concentric circles. If done, whatever number is on that spot, that's how many pennies the machine shoots you back.

Were such machines to even exist nowadays, I think they'd have to up the voltage in the concentric circles. Pennies are now copper clad zinc, and zinc's not a good conductor. Besides, who wants to win a bunch of pennies? So both electrically and intrinsically, a penny ain't what it was in 1964.

This quarter machine down at the convenience store? About the size of a jukebox. It's a moving shelf gag. One scoots his quarter through the slot in hopes it will achieve some critical mass with other quarters on the moving plate, and a bonanza of two bit pieces will fall into the payoff slot.

Sounds complex I know, but the handwritten sign on the machine isn't complex at all. It's beautiful prose, so succinct I think Hemingway would be jealous.

"Have enough quarters because if you have to go get change you lose your place in line."

Something about exactly like that I'm pretty sure, is what the sign said. So there's often a line of people waiting to feed quarters to that monster, huh?

Wonder how many police officers stop in that convenience store every week and walk right past that machine? That's an illegal gambling device.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

And Away We Go... Again

I love humans, we're hilarious! Hey dig me, I redecorated my blog. See? Am TOO in control of my fate! That's a Vermeer painting; he didn't favor landscapes. He found delight in interior views.

So it's time to change blog content too. These past two years have been interesting, but a new life chapter officially begins today. I'm no longer going to be pointing out silly things in the news. Wish I could say it's because I've run out of material but nope, not that!

To think I know WHY I'm being sent back to Lexington would mean I didn't learn a blessed thing these past two years. I only know a path was cleared and I was invited to take it. After some deliberation I decided to go.

Quite my nature to go exploring, but I've always insisted on a detailed map of places I'll be going. Occurs to me at the back end of these two years, I drew those maps myself. So I drew a map of a place I'd never been yet. Well, a worthless map can be a comforting thing to have along when journeying to unknown places, that's all I'm saying.

Now I know I don't have a map. So a blog content change is in order.

One thing I'm pretty certain about? I'll soon be invited to see things I've looked at before. There's an important distinction between seeing and looking at.

And I'll be trying to see lots of things I never even looked at before. An engineering role awaits that's entirely different from anything I've known. I don't even know enough about it to predict my chances for victory.

So there will be many things to write about. Exploration without a map; not even a worthless map I drew myself beforehand.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Uppity Asians

Well I see Burma is having elections, hmmm... wonder what they're voting on? Probably which color for the jackboots crushing their windpipes. So it could go either way I guess, black or brown.

It's not Burma anymore, not technically. It's Myamar or something. There's ingratitude for ya. British empire worked hard marching red coats all over that part of the world, providing them easily pronounceable names.

Now there's no more Bombay, Calcutta, or Peking. What is it with those folks in Asia? I think they're just trying to be difficult.

President Obama is over there right now, presumably to make the case our Asian trading partners actually contribute to US job growth. Hmmm... interesting ground to stake out. Perhaps Mr. Obama can get millions of unemployed Americans to believe that; but I know darned well the Indians and Chinese don't believe it.

And that's a really funny thing about how this East/West dance is shaping up. We think we're playing checkers, and the other folks are playing chess. The Indians and Chinese are economic nationalists.

To them, all Western talk about "we'll raise their per capita income and then they'll be able to purchase manufactured goods from us" is hilarious. They don't see a future like that. Asian leaders see themselves as the recipients of a massive importation of manufacturing expertise, paid for with low labor costs.

Indians and Chinese don't foresee some future where they buy US made chainsaws. They'll make their own chainsaws.

Interesting question is who really has the upper hand in Asia; China or India? Controversially, I believe it's India.

In the weird little quirks that history often provides, India is in much better position for the 2010 global economy, due to a 19th century spent with red coats.

Law, business and accounting according to Western practice has been well known in India for over 150 years now. It's ingrained there; not a second language but mother tongue. Hey? Did you know a guy used to export New England ice to India, early 1800's? Yeah, that's a hilarious story, but must stay on topic.

China, enormous land with lots of natural resources. Those murdering thugs in charge are very adept at locking up even more natural resources. You thought I was gonna say locking up dissidents, didn't ya? Well they're really good at that too, but I was talking about something else. Africa is swarming with Chinese right now, wherever there are natural resources to be optioned. I don't know if the Chinese have begun mining copper in Afghanistan yet, but the deal's been signed.

But the middle kingdom is really new to ground level capitalism. Modern business, there are hundreds of transactional points along the way where corruption and corner cutting impact efficiency. It's there that India has edge over China.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nothing in the News

It's the dangedest thing, not a blessed thing to report on... oh wait! I heard there was some sort of election yesterday!

At this writing, it appears the jerks stomped the idiots. Well, there's a contest we can all be excited about.

I really don't think the GOP knows what's going on, yet. Party power structure interprets as votes against Obama. Well... that's not it.

Now here's a historical funny, bear with me? There used to be a chain of KKK Grocery stores. Yep, Indiana early 1900's. Those stores quickly went broke, because Klan sympathizers more enjoyed being against coloreds, jews and them catholics than being for something.

Majority of American voters though, through most of our history, cast votes FOR something; not against. We're a really funny people. And by funny, I don't mean 'Ha ha' Rodney Dangerfield funny. Nope. I mean we're a 'funny' people like somebody you wouldn't wish to sit next to on an airplane. But that's how we are and we're pretty much stuck with it.

The GOP makes a painful miscalculation, if it thinks voters elected them to be
anti-Obama. I hate when it falls on me to say stuff nobody else is saying...

Americans think 'Trillion' is a very frightening word. They don't like to hear that word associated with Federal government activities. Tell them Science has discovered a planet made of chocolate chip Ice Cream, a Trillion miles away, and they won't mind hearing such.

But a Trillion dollar budget number, many Americans get real nervous. That's why the jerks ran the tables last night. The voters have hired them so as to never hear the word 'Trillion' from Washington DC again.

If the GOP can learn that, and do agressive budget cuts? Will restore consumer confidence a lot. We shall see...