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Father’s Achievement

I watched some emotional videos the other day; and they made me think, what can I do to make my life more meaningful, influential, … memorable? I considered what I have done and what I could do to make my effect on those around me more valuable. And, maybe more importantly, how that effect can be measured or recognized; how can I determine if I did lead my life in the greatest way possible? I began to perceive what I want from my life. I recognized criteria that will reveal the effectiveness my life or anyone’s life.

I came to this conclusion: My life’s accomplishment will be the greatest I could possibly want, if after I am gone, I am missed. That’s it; being missed. After I’m gone, if those that I love notice I am not here, then I have done good. At that moment, my legacy will be realized. I began reflecting on events and interactions in my life. I wondered if those moments would be remembered as I remembered them. I wondered if each of those “learn from me” instances would be valuable. I wondered if my presence would be missed by the ones I love.

In that reflection on who I am, in who I have become, in my achievements, in my transgressions, in my reached and missed goals, in all the life I enjoyed, in all the love I have shared, in the lessons I learned and taught; it was observing those moments that I realized how meaningful, influential, memorable, and great my Dad’s life was.

Dad, you are missed.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Memories, Writing

 

The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons

This is a long article, eight parts. I am sharing this public, because it is important that it gets shared. Our government, for the past 15 years or more, has placed our soldiers in harms way, and has ignored their needs. This article describes the chemical weapons our servicemen are exposed to, and then how our government ignored them. These chemical weapons are now controlled by the “Islamic State”.

The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Politics

 

Sustainability Brief Overview of Solar Utilization Network

Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship: Solar Utilization Network (IGERT-SUN)

The IGERT-SUN program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The faculty includes: Willem (Wim) Vermaas, DSc, Program Director; Cesar I. Torres, PhD; Jenefer Husman, PhD; David Guston, PhD; and, Ana Moore, PhD. A key goal of the program is to enlist PhD students from a wide range of disciplines to examine how to advance solar energy science and usage, focusing on three approaches: photovoltaics, solar thermal, and photosynthesis driven bioenergy. IGERT-SUN is designed to seek transitioning our current fossil-fuel based economy to these various forms of solar energy. The variety of participants includes students pursuing doctorates in Engineering, Biochemistry, Environmental Engineering, and Sustainability Engineering; one member is identified as “Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology” doctoral student.

The IGERT-SUN project highlights video on Vimeo demonstrates the faculty’s and the students’ vigor in pursuit of advancing these alternate energy resources. Miles Brungage, a student in the program, described how he appreciates the opportunity to work with colleagues of different studies but working a similar goal, sustainability. And Joseph Laureanti highlighted how this program offers him the opportunity to connect with people within alternative energies fields, and glean from them real purpose in the program. In some abstracts, I read a program focus on attracting “underrepresented groups, particularly Hispanics and Native American” candidates to the program. Although an admirable goal, if carried to excess, the achievement of that goal may result in reducing the diversity of the participants, or even narrowing the breadth of knowledge the program sought to nurture.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2014 in Class Writing, Sustainability

 

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Sustainability Essay

In our Introduction to Sustainability coursework, I have identified four areas for me to change: water usage, fossil fuel usage, red-meat consumption, and pesticide usage.

Last year, I purchased a new home with low-flow shower heads, low-flow toilets, new water-efficient appliances, xeriscaped yard, and no pool. My previous home used approximately 10,000 to 15,000 gallons of water per month. My new home reduced water usage to less than 4,000 gallons per month. I plan to continue to pursue reductions in my water use with methods described in Infographic 17.7 (Karr, p. 308).

From the new home, my commute increased from 40 miles to 80 miles round-trip. As described in our textbook, the “extra carbon causes problems such as global climate change, acidification of oceans, and alternations of communities worldwide” (Karr, p. 121). To reduce my impact, I telecommute one day per week. I did consider an electric vehicle. However, Mitchell Ng points out “alternative energy vehicles are cost-inefficient when compared to fossil-fuel based ones” (Ng, p. 56). Instead, on restricted income, I am pursuing the purchase of an Elio; it will triple my fuel economy from 18 MPG to an estimated 65 MPG (Resource Week, p. 159).

Graham Hill also pointed out “eating a mere hamburger a day can increase my risk of dying by a third” (Hill, 0:40). In our textbook, Karr explained, “Replacing some red meat with fish, poultry, or non-meat sources of protein decreased risk [of dying] by 7%–19%” (Karr, p. 368). I am very health, but by reducing my red meat intake and increasing the vegetables and fruits, my good health can be extended even further.

My home has frequent visits from desert wildlife and insects. Rather than using chemical pesticides, I believe I can use some organic pesticides to remove or restrict them, but with less environmental impact than chemicals. Using Karr’s recommended resource, SafeLawns.org (Karr, p. 327), I can help reduce impact on our water supply and deter those creatures from entering my home.

Works Cited:

Karr, Susan, et al. (2014) Scientific American Environmental Science for a Changing World Extended. 1st Ed. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman.

Ng, Mitchel. (2011). Short and long-term cost efficiency analysis of fossil fuel versus alternative energy vehicles. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 3(2), 45-56. Retrieved from http://jbsq.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Dec_2011_4.pdf.

Hill, Graham. (2010, February). Graham Hill: Why I’m a weekday vegetarian [Video file]. Retrieved from: http://www.ted.com/talks/graham_hill_weekday_vegetarian/.

Resource Week. (2014, March 23). Elio Motors Inc. Displays Enclosed 3-Wheeled Vehicle At Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition Legislative Breakfast. 159.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Class Writing, Sustainability

 

Fatherhood Moment

Our family took a long road trip to Michigan from Arizona for a family reunion. On our road-trip vacation, I got the chance to see the results of being a father. Our travels took us first from Phoenix, Arizona, to Shamrock, Texas, then Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, then a layover in Chenoa, Illinois, and finally to West Branch, Michigan. The second leg of the journey took us from Shamrock, Texas, toward Chenoa, Illinois, with a to-be-determined waypoint in Missouri. Somehow, coming out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, I had made a wrong turn and we were traveling north. We had to take an alternate route east toward Tulsa. We ended up on a two-lane road through rural parts of Oklahoma. The road weaves across hills and dales through rural farming areas. The sides of the roads are defined by wide gravel shoulders and shallow ditches. The ditch lines are broken by infrequent gravel driveways that access farm homes set back from the road.

Along our path, I saw a car on the opposite side of the road with its trunk open. It was oddly situated at the edge of a driveway but just off the road. Initially, I continued past the vehicle, but in my rearview mirror I noticed an older male retrieving something out of the trunk. I also noticed the passenger-side rear tire was flat. At first, I continued on my way, but my principles forced me to turn around and return to see if the gentleman needed assistance.

When we reached the disabled car, it was situated to not allow me to easily park behind it. To avoid completely blocking the nearby driveway, I parked in front of that car. When I got out of the car and approached the gentleman, he seemed put aback by my offering assistance. The stranded motorist was alone. He was a grey-haired, older man, appearing to be in his mid to late-70’s. He was not a feeble man; he stood about 5’ 8” to 5’ 10”, and likely weighed 180 to 190 lbs. The presence of perspiration on his brow disclosed some distress. He first declined and seemed to be annoyed at the offer. But, after a brief pause he griped about the modern automobiles complex storage of simple items like a car jack. I moved to the trunk of his car and insistently, but respectfully, offered to find the parts for the jack before I left.

As I was locating the pieces in his trunk, Dom and Aric approached from our car. I handed the jack to the gentleman. He attempted to locate where to place the jack based on the vehicle owner’s manual, but pointed out it was difficult to identify. He suggested the manual identified the corner of the wheel well and the body as the jack point and placed the jack as if he were going to use it there. I interceded and located the proper location for the jack, about 8 to 10 inches toward the front of the car. At this point, Dom pointed out the wheel lugs needed to be broken loose before lifting it off the ground, and he offered to do that. I handed the lug wrench to him. The gentleman stepped back and let Dom, Aric and I continue working on changing the tire. He did not intervene or suggest he was offended. Dom finished starting the lugs, and I jacked the rear tire off the ground.

After the vehicle was off the ground, I stepped back and began to chat with the gentleman. Aric joined Dom with finishing changing the tire. The gentleman and I exchanged introductions, and I shared our story of taking a road trip to Michigan. He expressed his appreciation for the assistance. And then he explained his circumstances. He was on his way home from Tulsa from the hospital. He had been there for three days tending to his wife. She had been hit on top of her head. The impact ended up fracturing her skull, forcing her to go to the hospital. As he shared his tale, tears formed in the corners of his eyes, but he fought off any significant tears or sobbing. Because of the swelling around her brain, the doctors had to place her into a coma, and extract fluid from around her brain. He was on his way home to pick up some clothing and other items for the both of them. He didn’t offer any prognosis.

The gentleman complimented Dominic and Aric’s chivalry. When the boys finished changing the tire, the gentleman thank them and me. We wished him well and offered our prayers for his wife.

My sons’ actions fill me with pride. They continue to show they have grown to be good young men. My sons are young, they make some foolish mistakes. That’s normal, but they also demonstrate mature and honorable actions. I hope they continue this path.

 

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Memories, Vacation

 

The Time Mom Was There

Remembering the times you were there for me.

The time I went to kindergarten.
The time I get hit in the head with a rake.
The time I learned self-defense.
The time I sliced open my toe at the lake.

The time I enlisted in the Army.
The time I learned to swim in the pool.
The time I fought against the boxer.
The time I graduated from high school.

The time I lost a favorite dog.
The time I went with you on a hike.
The time I rode on top of snow.
The time I lost my favorite bike.

The time I crashed outside your door.
The time I ran off to Oklahoma.
The time I was chased by the mean dog.
The time I ran off to Arizona.

And don’t forget yesterday,
the day before,
and all the other days in between.
You are always there for me.

Mom, I love you.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Memories, Poetry, Writing

 

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Emotional Days Reflection

Imagine the most emotional time in your life; a time where everything was in upheaval. A day that involved such emotional swings, you had no idea what was going to happen next. It didn’t start that way.

The time began when, like many other great day, you blurt out to your friends, unprompted, that you are looking forward to a wonderful day, and you wish them all the same. Subsequently, you experience humorous moment which solicits stifled giggles about someone’s peculiar happenstance. And as you barely finished that glee, you find out an Old Friend is dealing with a traumatic loss of a pet. You express sincere condolences to the Old Friend. Their trouble brings back the memory of a similar event in your life. You move from that earlier lightheartedness to a heavy-hearted sorrow.

As you absorb that moment and reflect on your past experience, a quote from a historic scholar comes to mind. It coincidentally matches, in some tangential way, the circumstances you observed. The quote brings you some relief and gives you some hope in life, people, and the world. You even release a heavy sigh of relief.

A loud Obnoxious Voice screams out, insistently, some claim that blames all the worlds problems on some sports figures thoughtless rant. You don’t understand the relationship of those topics. The irritation eats at your gut, and you spout off some condescending remark to them, with little thought. While you are still dwelling on that outrageous claim, the Old Friend thanks you for thinking about them as they fight their way though the emotional loss they had. Your heart pauses for a moment and you politely reply, “You’re welcome.” You again feel that camaraderie for the shared loss; and it pulls at your heartstrings for moment, maybe brings water to your eyes reflecting on your similar loss.

Your Mother happens by and inquires about your plans for the weekend. You’re not sure, but you check with your Spouse. She reminds you about a school event you are supposed to attend for the kids on Friday evening, and the yard work that was postponed from last weekend. You think, why can’t she clean up after the pets once in a while; but you know it’s your responsibility and just let it rest. But it is still irritating. She says Saturday for dinner with family would work good.

While you are thinking about the weekends plans, a Family Friend tells you this hilarious joke about two men and a priest walking into a bar. You laugh hysterically and repeat it to other people next to you. Some of them interject with other wise cracks that make you smile even more.

Thinking back to the meal, you remember a dinner, long ago, when the whole family gathered. One of those never-forget times with family. You pull out some old pictures from the event and reflect on how happy things seemed to be back then. It’s was a long time ago, but you remember it like it was moments ago. It brings a gleeful tear to your eye.

Finally, you respond to your Mother. You let her know you have a few things planned, but you invite your parents over for dinner. You ask if she wouldn’t mind bringing a side dish, specifically, your favorite sweet potatoes she always makes. You grin; knowing she’ll not let you down.

Out of the blue, a high school friend shouts out a joyful “Howdy!” You are astounded this New-found Old Friend is still alive; after all, some of the things you two did back in the day would kill most people. You exchange a few where-you-been inquiries, and highlights after high school. You two laugh reminiscing over some of the silly things you use to do.

The Obnoxious Friend from earlier interjects about something you said last week; uses it to point out how it seems you have no idea what you are talking about. You are astounded as his shallow view on the world and society. You quickly pull out some reference material and find documented proof those two items from earlier are not related. You highlight the evidence you found. An argument ensues. Your blood boils. You don’t understand how he could continue on the dead-end path he seems stuck on. The Obnoxious Friend blurts out he’s sick and tired of listening to your one-sided rants and lack of understanding. He spews off on a long tirade, and culminates by proclaiming he will never speak to you again.

Oddly, after a long exchange of memories, the New-found Old Friend, suddenly seems to be non-responsive. You suspect he must have had to run off.

One of the comical friends asks if you and your Spouse have made plans for the weekend; they are having a party and hope you could make it. Although it would be fun, you regretfully decline, knowing you’ll have family over; and family comes first, especially when you committed to hosting dinner… with Mother’s sweet potatoes.

Your Spouse asks if your Mother will be bringing a dish. You still hadn’t heard what your Mother will be bringing to dinner. So, you ask her again. Your Mother apologizes; she had missed your last question. But because she didn’t get your response, she went ahead and made plans with some other friends. For an instant, despite the relationship, maybe because of the ongoing emotion from earlier, you feel betrayed. You think, “it would’ve been nice if you’d reply….” But before you put it into words, you accept the apology and apologize for not being more responsive; with the bad communication, it is understandable.

Imagine an Hour of a day in your life where these events occurred. It is happening, right now, to you.

Welcome to social networking and online media.

It is no wonder the world today suffers from such psychological turmoil. We go through this emotional roller-coaster on our social networks at an untenable pace. Somehow, we think we can engage in meaningful conversation in 140 characters. We don’t draw parallels between the citations, but we proclaim others should understand our intended meaning with only an unexplained reference to a historic writing. We bounce through these emotional highs and lows at a pace that cannot be sustained.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Politics, Writing

 
 
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