St. Patrick’s Weekend in Sacramento

17 March 2019

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“St. Patrick’s Day? Who cares about St. Patrick’s Day?” the lizard seems to be saying. Well, he lives in Folsom, so missed out on all the excitement.

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I wasn’t the only one out with my camera.

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The new businesses at 7th and K used the sunny, mild weekend to seek new customers.

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Three bars in a row…the fate of modern downtowns?

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Lots of people came out to see what was going on. Across from these shops, at the little square, the local more-established pub had an outdoor stage set up with a band playing. This happened both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

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Look at the crowds walking to and from DOCO (Downtown Commons)!

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Police have a lighter load with these mostly well-behaved crowds. Some ride cars, some ride bikes, and some ride horses!

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The K Street “canopy” is not even green yet, but Sunday was quite warm, with most choosing summer t-shirts and tops.

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Cars, trains, people and dogs are all part of the downtown scene. Then is the crosswalk at 8th and K, right next to my building and home to two different light rail stations.

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Dial One

14 March 2019

“Dial One” is the first piece of electronic equipment I have made that I am officially considering a piece of art, and am offering for sale as such.

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It was conceived while I was on the Purification Rundown and completed in this form just yesterday. Like most art concepts – and most electronic equipment – there are many possible ways to turn the concept into reality, and many possible “variations on the theme,” or parts of the design that could be made differently. This is the first working prototype of this concept – a dial. On the circular screen, a pattern of lights rotates as an input signal varies between zero and five volts.

Dial One has all the basic features I imagined for this type of piece. With 4 knobs, the user can vary the pattern of lights. There is a sliding control for testing the effect, and a connector for an external sensor which would provide some varying signal (such as sound level or distance of nearest object). The display can be made totally dark or rather bright.

This particular prototype is housed in a black aluminum enclosure originally made for a vacuum tube voltmeter. The display features white, red and orange LEDs. Power is supplied through a standard computer-type power cord inserted in the rear.

The circuitry is all hard-wired – no programmed elements. This was the original concept for this piece, so I kept it that way. In fact, I could not immediately think of an easy way to achieve this same effect using a micro-controller. I plan to return to this concept again before too long and explore some different ways to implement it.

I sight a special bird

3 March 2019

I’ve been going to Winco in Folsom almost every weekend, as it’s such a nice store compared to anything near downtown, it’s near a light rail station, and food costs much less there than in town.

Last weekend I spotted this special bird, but I didn’t remember to look it up and find out what it was until this weekend reminded me. It was swimming in a creek that I cross over when I walk to Winco.

Known as the Hooded Merganser, this duck winters in no-freeze zones, then returns north during the summer. It is absolutely unmistakable when you see it; the appearance of the male’s head is so striking. This photo was borrowed from Wikimedia Commons, and kindly provided to them by scientist/photographer Ken Billington.

About Letters from Generation Rx

17 February 2019

Letters from Generation Rx is a 2017 documentary by Kevin P. Miller. It’s a follow-up to the 2008 documentary Generation Rx. Both these films feature case histories of families who got involved in the Mental Health System and paid for it dearly.

The more recent film was featured recently on the only TV channel I watch regularly, scientology.tv.

Towards the end of the film, a Canadian researcher Bonnie Kaplan is featured. She has been doing research into the therapeutic value of “micro-nutrients,” the latest term for vitamins and minerals.

When I looked her up to see if she had done any lecture videos, I found the site Mad In America Continuing Education. Mad In America was a book written by investigative journalist Robert Whitaker about the current U.S. Mental Health System. He has been featured prominently in several Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) videos about psychiatric abuses.

Bonnie Kaplan is prominently featured in a free “course” on nutritional treatments for mental illnesses. She and her colleague Julia Rucklidge go through all the evidence, from anecdotal to full Double Blind Studies, on the mental health benefits of improving nutrition. These are simple, cost-effective ways to improve physical and mental well-being in a community. They can be implemented by any Public Health agency simply by advising clients to eat better and take extra vitamins and minerals. The basic philosophy behind this “therapy” is supported by every sane doctor and healer who has been informed of its effectiveness.

The question is: (and both these academic researchers ask this question) Why is nutritional therapy not widely practiced (in the fields of medicine and psychology, and in our Mental Health System) as our first line of defense against mental problems?

Kevin P. Miller states his answer to that question pretty clearly in both of his films: The U.S. Mental Health System was established, and is operated today, to make money for psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry – with tacit consent from the FDA. People in academia have a hard time accepting this answer. They think of psychiatry, psychology and medicine as “their kind” and cannot believe that trained professionals would stoop so low as to ignore patient deaths in return for industry consulting fees. What is clear to a student of Scientology, if not a student of life such as Kevin Miller, is that elements in the “professions” have always done this, and probably always will.

Our huge challenge now is to remove such persons from positions of power and influence in society before they complete their secret goal of tearing society apart. They are not well-organized, but they can muster amazing “convincing arguments.” And they are protected to a certain extent by the blind spot most well-intentioned people have on the subject of evil intentions. Look at the historical example of Hitler’s Nazis. How many were able to accurately predict the events that included the great war in Europe? These events were being threatened publicly in speeches by Hitler himself. Yet only a few could believe that he would actually go that far. Well, his people did go that far.

The best response this planet has mustered so far to the atrocities connected with World War II has been to draft a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, put it on a shelf somewhere, and hope the problem would go away.

Well, it hasn’t. I must say that it is Scientologists who are at the center of not only pointing out that there still is a huge problem on Earth, but also manning and funding campaigns to turn the planet around. Their story has remained largely untold, as most major media outlets are in bed with the criminals.

And in related news…

I don’t actually follow the news, for the reason stated immediately above. But I do buy fruit, and I do remember articles I have read about various subjects… so I was a bit surprised to find this tag on my Winco pineapple today.

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Dole is one of a few very large food companies that operate in “third world” countries but are owned by United States citizens. These food companies have been implicated in a variety of criminal activities in the countries where they operated, activities that were only undertaken to improve or protect their corporate interests and profits. One such activity was the rebellion of Americans living in Hawaii against the native government (a monarchy), resulting in Hawaii eventually becoming a state, which reduced the cost of selling Hawaiian produce in the U.S.

More horrendous stories are told of what American fruit companies did in Central America to try to prevent local influence in their huge plantation operations. Typical was the ouster of Jacobo Árbenz from Guatemala in 1954, engineered by United Fruit Company in cooperation with various elements of the U.S. government. Árbenz had been the democratically elected President of Guatemala.

Disney produced a multitude of cartoon shorts in support of various U.S. government policies and actions across the world. Though I have seen some accusations connected with the making of “Saludos Amigos,” a 1943 attempt to improve relations between the U.S. and Latin America, in the face of expanding Nazi influence in that region, I cannot find any particular mention of Disney films supporting the U.S. “anti Communism” crusade against governments in Central America that wanted to curb illegal actions by American fruit companies operating there.

On the other hand, it is now a documented fact that elements of the U.S. government did collude with United Fruit and other companies to overthrow regimes that wanted to instigate reforms on the huge plantations. Many died during those struggles to give Central American agricultural workers a better life. Though the region has become more peaceful, except where the illegal drug trade has taken hold, I don’t know that those issues were ever fully resolved. That is another measure of the intractability (difficulty in curing) the problem of criminal influence in high places.

 

 

A Walk Through Sacramento

14 December 2018

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A month ago I was in Chico, where the fire that burned down the entire town of Paradise filled the Sacramento valley with an acrid haze.

The people who could not get into or did not want to stay in one of the shelters were just beginning to figure out how to cope with their new situation.

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A month later…

I decide to take a late morning walk to get a few needed items and take some pictures.

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I start walking south, down 7th. This alley heads towards the old justice building, is shaded by a WPA-era office building, and exits in the middle of an RT (Sacramento Regional Transit) station.

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At the Capitol Building the holiday tree is up.

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While landlords try to contend with all the fallen leaves.

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It’s boring until I get to R Street. This is the newer end of the “Historic R District” development.

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Some folks meet outside the local organic foods market.

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This establishment is named “Fox and Goose.”

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And here, the stores in front of Warehouse Artist Lofts, the original apartment building I was hoping to move into.

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One of RT’s main offices is near their 13th Street station, and sports one of our beautiful murals. Across the street there is another one…

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That’s a Nelson Mandela quote, in case you can’t make that out.

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The older part of the R Street development starts with this posh interior design shop…

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…continues with a chic gathering place serving coffee, tea and pastries…

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…and is framed by the now-old corporate look of a Panda, Safeway, and Peet’s Coffee.

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Included is one of Sacramento’s iconic silver horses.

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Walking up 19th (after shopping at Safeway) I run across this mural.

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The sign on this lot reads “Let Us Grow.”

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Then I hit the beginnings of gentrified downtown, the Golden Road Pub, fabricated from steel shipping containers.

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Ace Hardware is my next stop, and a very important source of supplies in the downtown area. On their roof is mounted a solar panel array, still a rarity in this area.

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This cute little eatery is called “The Porch.”

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And here at 15th, another cafè catering to young professionals. This eatery faces The Kay, the central tourist area of downtown Sacramento and my current neighborhood.

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At this end of The Kay is the Convention Center, some hotels, and some higher-end shops and restaurants. The IMAX theater is here. The children waiting outside the IMAX are actually headed for the outside ice rink near where I live.

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In my mind, a street roofed by a natural arch of mature trees is a street to be proud of. This street, however, has seen better days. Its renovation is far from complete, and with the continuing dominance of the suburbs in modern urban life, it may never be as busy as it was before the widespread use of automobiles.

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Through Bishop Gallegos Square I catch another glimpse of the Capitol Building.

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The children walk through my neighborhood, destined for the DOCO (Downtown Commons). They seemed a bit uncomfortable downtown, but excited.

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They must pass by this RT station on K Street, where a technician is trying to fix some malfunctioning piece of electronic equipment, while holding his flashlight in his mouth.

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Yay! They have made it to the ice rink! But how are that many kids going to fit into one little rink? I will leave them to solve that problem themselves.

The extensive bird droppings are worth noting. These would probably not exist at this level if these trees were not part of a daily stopping place for the local crows. They tend to gather in the evening, hundreds of them. They make an awful racket, and rain down their poop. Then they fly away.

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The police are useless in deterring these errant crows, but I’m sure they serve other useful purposes. DOCO has their holiday tree up, too. One of several, actually. And I have returned home.

Pictures From Recent Travels

4 November 2018

It’s finally time to sit down and share some photographs. These start in the hot days of August this year.

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Our tent at the Incident Command Post near Redding.

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Open land near freeway in Redding. This is the same type of ecosystem that was being burned in the fires. Grass under scrub oak.

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Naturally dried asters in Redding.

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Dove on a wire near the Orland ICP, near Redding.

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Smoke masks for handout in Redding.

By the following month I was back at another disaster site, this time in North Carolina.

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Storm damage removal site near Jacksonville, North Carolina.

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Example of storm damage before the removal process.

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Example of what is left behind.

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Small lizard comes out to watch us at a park near the shore.

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Toy loader at one of our work sites.

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Clearing storm damage from a back yard.

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Work party at a church that suffered water damage.

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Our setup at Boiling Spring Lakes, 6 October.

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Washed out levee (dam) at Boiling Spring Lakes. This was an earthen structure constructed like a levee but functioning as a dam. The steel side rail to the road that used to run across the top of the dam can be seen hanging in midair. Behind, the lake that this dam used to create has completely emptied. The water drained into an area that is mostly a nature preserve, but did flood some houses.

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Our hygiene kit handout team on 7 October.

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We worked into the sunset at this site.

Then Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle, so we went there to see how we could help.

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Scene at a rest stop on our way to Florida, 12 October.

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Storm damage in Panama City, Florida. This beam used to hold up a billboard.

I didn’t stay very long in Florida. We still have a team working there.

When I returned I decided to take my bike on the light rail north towards Folsom, do my grocery shopping at the Winco there, then ride back home through the American River Parkway. These photos are from the second week I made that trip.

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A mysterious tree near Folsom, American River Parkway.

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The buckeye produces a large nut which is unfortunately inedible.

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View from bike trail where the American River flows into the Sacramento.

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Trail / walkway between the American River Parkway and downtown Sacramento is squeezed in between roads and the river bank.

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Stage decorations at a Dia De Los Muertos celebration in Old Sacramento (3 November).

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A winter-season ice rink adds some enjoyment to downtown life.

After the Fire

11 September 2018

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Redding is a town of about 100,000 people located in northern California on the Sacramento River. Near the end of July this year, a forest fire started west of the city, caused by sparks flying from a vehicle wheel scraping the pavement after its tire went flat. The fire entered the city – the first time this had happened, per some residents I spoke to – and destroyed about 1,000 homes. The fire was contained by the end of August.

I arrived in Redding for the first time on the 29th of July. I was with a group from my church volunteering our help as part of our disaster response program.

It is reported that 38,000 people were evacuated from their homes during this fire.  Those who could not find motels or friends to stay with went to one of several evacuation centers, one of which was set up at Shasta College.

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I spent most of the afternoon here sorting clothes that would be given out that evening. The organization in charge of that operation was the Salvation Army.

When I returned in early August, we hooked up with Bethel Church, a large Christian organization headquartered in Redding with several years of experience in disaster response work. They had teamed up with the Salvation Army to create a large distribution center for food, water and other necessities at their facility, and we helped them with that for several days. I took no pictures of that, though. I was there to work, not to observe. On Sunday the 5th of August we went to their church service. Visit their Facebook page for more data on their work, including a full video of that 5 Aug service.

The Incident Command Post (ICP)

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Our group also tries to help disaster response workers (in this case, fire fighters). However, we were not allowed into their command post, set up at a nearby fairgrounds, so only managed to hand out some cold water and Gatorade, talk to a few people, and wave to the guys coming and going in their trucks.

Ash-outs and smoke mask distribution

We had a lot of donated smoke masks and found various ways to distribute them. Meanwhile, some of us (myself included) helped with sifting through debris at burnt-down homes looking for valuables and mementos. I have no photos of this; we were usually prohibited from taking any in respect for the privacy of the home owners. However, you can see some photos and videos of those activities at Bethel’s Facebook page.

Ash-outs are somewhat physically demanding. They are done in Tyvek suits which make it very hot and sweaty work. They also result in contamination of clothing and skin with house ash. Though the amount of dangerous contaminants in this ash is debatable, it requires multiple changes of clothes and/or visits to the laundry to stay “clean.” This leads most to volunteer for just one ash-out a day, but we were doing two, one in the morning and one in the evening.

The smoke mask distribution was a lot less physically demanding.

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Especially after we got a temporary OK from Walmart to set up next to their store. We handed out hundreds of these masks.

Rising from the ashes

If my numbers are correct, about a third of the people in this region were affected by this fire. Yet a much smaller number actually lost their homes. I experienced, for the most part, a resilient people. Most knew the difference between living and life. The fire was an experience of living, but it did not threaten life itself. Most could see that. Most who were directly affected could see this as an opportunity to start afresh, or take a new direction in living. Many, of course, were not directly affected and thus were not so challenged.

The volunteer experience was new for me. Not only did I meet many Scientologists that I didn’t know, I met many other people, too. The constant interaction was a challenge for me, but probably the highlight of the experience. We only worked about 8 hours a day, and had our meals more or less cared for. So the big problem became filling the idle hours between knock-off time and sleep time. The younger guys all sat with their phones. I would try to use my computer, over a usually weak wi-fi connection, or do a bit of writing or some such. And I would think, sometimes, what if something like this happened to me? Not total death, but something close to it; loss of all one’s valuables. Potential financial ruin. Would I pull through OK? You might want to ask yourself that question, too.

 

 

 

July 4th

4 July 2018

Sheep in the park!

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There is a theory in permaculture that intensive (but not prolonged) grazing can improve open land much better than simply leaving it fallow. It appears this theory is being put to the test at the American River Parkway (area across from Cal Expo). This is one of two sheep pens very recently put up in the park, and there are a LOT of sheep here! They are still getting used to the bike riders.

After visiting these pens for several weekends in a row, I can add that many of the grazing animals being used in the park are actually goats. On my first visit, I found two different pens (also called paddocks) but since that time have only noticed one (they are being rotated through the area) on the river side of the bike trail which is full of goats.

Community Fair at Howe Park

I went up to Howe Park to volunteer at the Way To Happiness table. There was a little parade down through the neighborhood, and it ended up here. The setup was simple but attractive, and there was quite a crowd.

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The booths only stayed until noon. I think the organizers were expecting another HOT day, but the weather today was milder than usual.

The parade was modest – no marching bands – but included some nice old cars (popular in Pullman, too) such as the one shown below.

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Bike path fruits and nuts

As I returned on the bike path through the Parkway, I stopped to check the fig trees. They are dropping a lot of unripe fruit. The problem seems to be that fig trees really need water, and we’ve had no rain for at least a month. The fruit turn soft and pulpy, and tend to fall off, though they are still green and inedible.

The blackberries were doing better. The first fruit are beginning to ripen now, and it looks life a full crop.

The almonds at the city end of the path (near the Diamond facility) are also ripening and are now edible, though not fully ripe.

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Happy Fourth!

Other Spiritual Practices

28 June 2018

Almost ten years ago, in the spring of 2009, I had the opportunity to begin exploring the internet, and to post my findings and reflections on this blog. I decided to connect back up with a community that seemed to be aware of the magnitude of the situation here on Earth, and were seeking answers. I intended to make them aware of LRH materials that might assist them in their work.

In all those ensuing years, not one contact I have made has expressed a sincere interest in LRH materials or what my church is doing to get them into use in society. In fact, I found the community strewn with false data and lies concerning this work, and a few individuals even openly hostile. Furthermore, this community advocates spiritual practices that fall short of achieving their stated goals.

Though some of their data is informative, and pertinent to handling the situation on this planet, their continued lack of interest in more effective solutions leads me to conclude that their goals have been perverted or are not sincerely stated.

Thus, I have decided to end my communication with that community, and discontinue recommending their data to others.

Furthermore, I will be going through past blog posts and deleting them or editing them according to the above statement. If you should run across anything written by me that seems to violate the intention of the above statement, I would appreciate being notified so that I can handle it.

This post may be amended or edited in the future, but I believe the basic intention is stated clearly enough, and I do not expect that to change.

To be super clear: I am a Scientologist; I want nothing to do with those who would denounce or invalidate anyone simply for being a Scientologist.

Conversation Of Our Generation

5 June 2018

About a year ago, a young man named Nick Jamell started a blog ConversationOfOurGeneration.com in an attempt to cut through the lack of clear thinking and responsible debate that he saw occurring across the internet and in public life on matters of social importance.

He was recently interviewed by Jack Spirko (at The Survival Podcast, which caught my attention because it deals with Permaculture), and he seemed like a sincere guy who really wanted to see some changes made on this planet. I offered to write a “guest blog” for him, and he graciously agreed to publish it (linked above).

I wrote a piece entitled “My Paradigm Shift Experience” which tried to convey in just a few words the depth of change a person may experience as he shifts from merely studying and discussing the human situation to becoming involved with a group that is actually doing something about it.

I might note that this shift started for me by reading a real book and interacting face-to-face with real people who were involved with the movement we all know as Scientology. I don’t know if an experience like that can be duplicated on the internet. But as this internet is now the place where so many of us connect, I hope that for many people that experience can at least start here.