Friday, September 30, 2011

Women and Children in Space

Christa McAuliffe
September 2, 1948 – January 28, 1986

The public school systems of Utah Valley have for decades now been sending their students to the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in Pleasant Grove. Take your average Utahn and try asking them about the Spaceship simulation field trip. They won't remember the name of the place. They might not remember who Christa McAuliffe was by name or anything about the Challenger Space Shuttle, but they will vividly recall their position aboard the starship.
Some will tell you about their experience playing laser tag in the dark hallways as ship security. Some will remember their contribution as the communications officer. Me? I went to the center in 7th grade and I was chosen as our captain.
We went with a class of 8th graders on a field trip and this was such a triumphant moment in my career in space. They kept statistics for us on damage taken, speed in completing the mission etc. Me and my prepubescent crew beat those 8th graders too. We beat 'em good. They made fun of me after because apparently when under pressure I stroke my chin whether there is a goatie there...or just some peach fuzz.
I loved that place though at the time I was bored and annoyed by Star Trek. The sentiments of my fellows on the perimeter of the Utah lake are the same I have found. Everybody loved this place and I wish so much that there were more recreational places like it. I plan to have satellite facilities of The Lunar Island equipped with these sorts of educational simulations not only for astronomy but geological journeys to the center of the earth and zoological simulated safaris and biological Frankenstein laboratories or whatever else. The varied possibilities of recreation are far too great for the timid masses to rule leisure with the basest stimuli of food, alcohol, lazy banter and lazier sensory input. There are so many more untapped universals with which to relate to one another.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Utah Lake: The Cornucopia of the Apocalypse

When people consider our poor abused Utah Lake, they rarely consider anymore what a thriving supply of food that it is capable of producing. Still-high (though dropping) levels of phosphorus ((I pause at this moment to admit painfully that I am a contributor to this unfortunate condition. I remember for instance playing dodgeball as a boy and knocking a fluorescent bulb from its fixture in the garage. I can still see it floating down and see the streams of runoff carrying my poisons to the lake...oh the shame! I swear to you oh lake. I will make right this wrong.)) and other pollutants make fishing in the Utah Lake a catch-and-release endeavor at best. As dirty as these waters are though, were we to be pushed to harvest their bounty by oh say... the END OF THE WORLD!!!, there is plenty to be had.
To begin, we have over a dozen native species of fish and over a dozen introduced species. There is an abundance of delicious Channel Cats, White Bass, Bullhead Catfish, Walleye, Blue Gill, Perch and others right now. The biodiversity of the lake's fish population is even greater now since the genocide of the pesky carp that crowd it so. Carp too though are quite edible in apocalyptic conditions. Battered and fried,  you're at least a step up from fast food chicken nuggets.
Garnish with wild onion, rose hips, wild mint, willowbark or watercress from the shores and since it's the end of the world, let's go ahead and harvest some of its scores and scores of birds! Large and small, the lake is filled with over a hundred species of birds. Ducks, geese, herons, pheasants, doves, songbirds, finches, wrens, loons EVERYTHING! ((And they can and are at times eaten. I'll never forget the story my sixth grade teacher told me about his outing to the lake where he and his friend shot birds with pellet guns as children, grilled them over a fire and ate.)) Now there's not a lot of meat on a Red-headed Blackbird but this is the apocalypse. Nose down! And nose down for beaver, skunk, muskrat, lizards, salamanders, frogs, toads, and numerous other hybrids.

They all look delicious don't they. And guess where the meats for these delights came from?
Not the Utah Lake. BUT Honestly, is there any reason why you wouldn't believe me if I told you the first one couldn't be White Bass cake, why the second couldn't be pheasant curry, and the third, something made from Western Tanager breast?
But I think it actually will take the Apocalypse to get humans convinced that there might be other edible meats than five or so animals we devour by the tens of millions and somehow believe our grocery stores offer variety.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Lunar Post Office Audio Book

I finally finished recording and editing Book 1 of The Lunar Post Office. Those interested in obtaining a copy on mp3, PM or email me. Carry on travellers...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spiral Island

Off the coast of Mexico, a man called Rishi Sowa is famous for collecting thousands of plastic bottles, bagging them together with old fishing nets and upon them building a self-sufficient floating island. He built one which survived several powerful tropical storms (but one too few) and began again with a larger one pictured here.
 He builds a plywood platform on top of the plastic bottle nets and then covers the surface with dirt from the shore. He has mangrove and banana trees, chickens, a solar cooker, a makeshift washing machine and whatever else he can devise.
My first thought when hearing about this several years ago was to build my own on the Utah Lake. My second was an image of outraged Utahns informing their dutiful police officers to come and put an end to my fun. Orem, Utah is the quietest 80-90,000 citizen village I have ever heard of.
Here an Orem city police officer is seen "patrolling" the lake shore asking us, and then these kind folks, the quality of the fishing. I don't really think I could blame him for spotting a floating island with a cabin on board below safety standards and seizing an opportunity to bring something more than traffic ticketing stories to the dinner table.
Perhaps surprisingly, Mexico (whether strictly from resource limitations or not) is far freer in this respect than America , who has sold more than a little of her liberty for order since 1776, even in Andy Griffith towns. A man with a house built from railroad ties  will find himself mired in legal paperwork if he wants to defend his freedom to be peculiar in a neighborhood of well-to-do 50-somethings, and I highly doubt I'm going to get away with building something that isn't a cement foundation 2X4 skeleton sheet-rock skin "house" made according to the local formula.
It's time for that sort of thing to change. It's hardly published in the newspaper but even now, on the banks of the Provo River's inlet to Utah Lake, there are several dozen tent colonies, including some families with children, who live, at least during the warm months, in large camps. It's no less possible or legal to take to an island of your own craft. Take to the lake, transients! How much more dignified would you be pioneering green alternatives in the spirit of the eccentric but delightful Rishi Sowa than crawling through mass-produced nylon tents like swamp dwellers?
Eventually I will build a beautiful artificial island on the Utah Lake but in the decades that precede, I would like to see my charming little city open its mind without abandoning its innocent and loving traditions.
Don't live in a degraded version of the mainstream and call it rebellion. Create a recognizable and unique variation to what is and walk in the light of day.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blossom or Wilt

9th grade. Science class. My teacher brought out a box of empty toothpicks to begin the lesson. He explained that before class he had spread the 2000 toothpicks all over the school grounds but that they were not toothpicks, they were fish. Each of the 25 or so class members were divided into fishing teams instructed that they needed to find at least 10 per team to meet their needs and stay in business. He explained that the quantity caught would be subtracted from the original total, and the surviving fish would double in number up to a certain carrying capacity in a simple equation. Each 3 minute scramble for fish represented one year of business in the fishery.
I will never forget the outcome. Even though there was no reward system explained, no prize for finding the most, the strongest personalities in the classroom created a competitive atmosphere that led to an initial catch of about 90%. By the third year, the fish were gone and the points weren't even tallied.
I had a long discussion with a coworker the other night about human 'nature versus nurture' and I admit that I am of the persuasion that the human animal untempered by reason, logic, education is not a democratic sensible being but a competitive and destructive albeit caring creature prone to many illogical primal impulses. The world is changing though. The toothpicks are running out and there is no longer an undiscovered frontier on the Earth. If humans are to progress without a horrible calamity that will end the lives of millions or even billions in the century to come, we have only a few options. We can revolutionize our thought processes, social and monetary systems (probably impossible without a catastrophic inciting event). We can find a new frontier, through space travel and terraforming technology (also likely impossible in a limited time-frame). We can develop new Star-Trek-like technology to create abundance great enough to support the whole of humanity sufficient to eliminate competition. Somehow finding a way to create a sustained cornucopia of energy, food and water sources so abundant that every human could afford to live without the necessity of competition (also unlikely, but probably the most possible). Most of America is so saturated with obsolete but working technology for instance that where a criminal might break into a car to steal a CD player 15 years ago, it would be pointless to do the same today. The technology is not exclusive enough to be profitable. If we read in the paper that a grocery store in suburbia was robbed, it isn't assumed that the thief took bread and cheese, but money from the safe or register, because food is (still (for now)) so abundant and inexpensive in America that its theft would be of little consequence.
If technology can make essentially free the basic warmth, shelter, clothes, food and water of every citizen easily accessible by even the uneducated regardless of their qualification and the competitive race is relegated to the world of luxury and not animal necessity, and that can be done without increasingly sapping more resources from the earth and diminishing its supplies, then we may survive. Unlikely.
It's bleak but humans are capable of really anything if we have to be, and we do. 
Big businesses donate large sums of money to charity and much of it is useful but much too is also wasted in slow bureaucratic inefficiencies and is much more concerned with redistribution of limited supplies than the creation of more supplies.
I pledge that the Lunar Island will, rather than dumping money on nebulous organizations, be devoted to sincerely improving the future, and not simply its public image. Build solar farms and windmills which add to the Orem city power grid and encourage others to do the same toward the eventual goal of a power bill of 0 dollars and 0 cents. Use technology to transform our barren Utah deserts into forests with the use of gel packets Create farms and organize charitable grocery stores. And donate money to those on the forefront of nanotechnology and space exploration wherever they may be toward the future instead of a frantic search for the past.