Archive for June, 2019

Rafting Sacramento style

30 June 2019

While I wrestle with various ideas about what to do with this planet, life goes on.

Late rains and early warm weather combined to give me ripe blackberries during my weekly ride from Folsom.

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Rafting

I went river rafting once. It was in 1980, and I was on my way to a family reunion in Iowa. I stopped on the way to visit Moab, the closest town to Arches National Monument. And while in Moab, I took a short rafting tour down the Colorado River.

The Colorado, in many places, presents a significant challenge to rafters. But the trip I took, as I recall, went through only one major rapids.

The American River below the Nimbus Dam, by comparison, is almost totally placid.

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This makes rafting on the river (in this section) a safe and relaxing activity – or party time.

Last week on my trip back from Folsom I saw a bunch of rafters enter the river around Fair Oaks. I failed to get any photos, but decided to take some on this trip. I was an hour or more later than last time, and all the rafts were already on the river.

They sounded like they were having fun. Laughing, shouting and spraying water at each other, these were mostly younger people, as I had been when I took my rafting trip.

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A little sandy area on the south shore of the river seemed to be a favorite place for rafters to stop for a break.

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Rough waters ahead?

While most folks enjoy an apparently perfect summer, I continue to study, contemplate, and write.

The latest documentary on Scientology TV was about our impending “energy cliff,” where it becomes more energy-costly to dig up and refine fossil fuels than it does to just leave them in the ground. The week before, I saw Fallen, a documentary about police killed in the line of duty. And in between I saw a documentary about Seattle’s homeless problems and attended an event concerning the continuing problem of drug abuse in the U.S. and around the world.

The future is only looking navigable to those who know how to confront the magnitude of the problems it holds for us. The rest are busy riding their rafts down a river taking them wherever it leads, hopeful they won’t run into any dangerous rapids along the way.

 

 

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Setting up a VM tent

15 June 2019

Word came down a couple of weeks ago that we were going to put our Volunteer Minister (VM) tent up in Old Sacramento and get some video shots there.

In the two years I’ve been in Sacramento, we’ve never set up in Old Sac before. Old Sacramento is basically a tourist destination. There are some nice restaurants right on the river, and river cruise rides offered, as well as a train ride pulled by a real steam locomotive. The place is full of gift stores, and similar shops.

The plan was to set up all three canopies, assist tables, a book display and as many information panels as possible. We planned to hand out lots of promo telling people how to connect with us via our website.

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Here’s the tent with all the info panels spread out on the ground so we could pick which ones we wanted to use.

The tent is a rugged piece of equipment, made for the church by a professional company. It’s not too hard to set up, but it helps to do it with four strong guys. It was a tiny bit breezy, so we put down the weights on the tent legs. They are a bit heavy.

All the side panels and info panels use big velcro strips, so it goes pretty fast.

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Here it is fully set up, with the train cars going by in the background. We really want people to know that something can be done about it!

Inside there’s a nice yellow glow.

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Here we have one of the volunteers giving an assist to another volunteer.

Things went fine. We made some new friends.

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The Lands – One of my writing projects

2 June 2019

I introduced this project here.

This is a bit of an update.

The project was to serve as a platform for me to write about better solutions that I was aware of. It takes a hint from Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, as the writer speaks to us from the future, speaking about our present as if it were the past.

An imaginary disaster known as The Event destroys the planet’s communication and computer infrastructure, while leaving everything else intact. I got the idea from studying about the effects ionizing radiation can have on computer memory chips.

The planet recovers with the help of Tech, Policy and The Way To Happiness. I also mention things I have learned about a design system known as Permaculture, and about land use planning. I use mostly my own photographs to illustrate the articles, using the invented idea that a device exists that can help a person turn his memories into photo-realistic images.

After the Scientology TV channel went live, I began to realize that my church was pushing for a higher public awareness that answers existed to many of our most pressing social problems. I thought I could do something similar with The Lands by turning it into a novel or a screenplay. And so I set about trying to write one. So far I have writtten 19 pages of a first draft. Mostly dialog, I don’t care that much about exact settings or actions at this point. I thought I’d share here an excerpt that transcribes part of an imaginary speech given by the hero Emil to a crowd of corporate executives summoned to Washington D.C. by the Defense Department to get briefed and come up with a plan of action:

Emil: (looking around) All right, then. I’ll make a few opening remarks.

The most ancient origins of business parallel the most ancient origins of government. Almost universally, monarchs were considered chosen by God, if not gods themselves. And in the long past, monarchs, or persons like them, were the only ones granting charters to large businesses. Such businesses could grow large enough to threaten the power of the government, so the old monarchies only wanted political friends to operate such enterprises. In such a wise, the divine favor enjoyed by monarchs extended to the large enterprises they permitted to exist.

Many large corporations – and even some smaller ones – have continued to operate as if they were God’s surrogates here on earth. I hope none of you find this overly-offensive. The picture painted by history seems plain enough. So many businesses and governments down through the ages acted as if they were above any earthly laws, that their word was inviolate, and that they knew best how to run an enterprise or a nation or a planet, and should be allowed to do so.

Large businesses have become perceived by the public as modern extensions of ancient monarchies, aristocracies, and oligarchies. And from what I know about such matters, that is not an unfair assessment of the situation. Attempts to repair this situation using PR methods have only worked to the degree that the PR was sincere.

I would like to point out that a business, even a very large business, does not have to be operated in this fashion. It’s just that most still are.

Emil is trying to get some of the largest corporations and defense contractors to agree to essentially “trade swords for plowshares” and actively assist in the recovery efforts across the planet. It is only because they actually have lost the organizational advantages they enjoyed due to their extensive use of computer systems and computerized communication networks that they are willing to consider turning themselves, essentially, into a giant charity activity.

It has been a very interesting project for me, and I hope some of my friends will find it intriguing enough to share it with their friends.