Monday, July 11, 2011

A Zen Master Moose Lesson & Thoughts on Wasted Energy

Knowing What You Value

As the Moose departed for school this morning, I noticed him standing at the top of the steps that lead down to the road, as if holding himself back. From the kitchen sink where I was filling a bucket with water, I was able to lean over a bit to see some of the boys waiting for him down on the road. One is a friend from his yochien days, he was holding out his hand, beckoning the Moose to come and join them. Still the Moose held back. As my bucket of water filled, I wondered at the Moose not joining them with thoughts of perhaps unkindly treatment by the other boys or some other mama fear. As I walked out to throw some water on our fancy parking lot garden that is happily blooming with sunflowers, tomatoes, cucumber, and more shiso than I know what to do with, I caught up with the Moose. He was dragging his feet to stay behind the boys who had given up on him and started on to school. I asked the Moose, "Why don't you walk with those boys?" The Zen Master Moose replied, "Because I like to make up my own stories on the way." It reminded me that it would do good to remember what we like to do and not give it up just because something else comes along. Some people seem to know what they like and some don't. I hope he doesn't forget his own likes and priorities as he moves along the path of his life.

I wantonly wasted reading and searching the internet. I need some kind of shock treatment to pull me out of these internet trances. Sorting out what is useful information is hard. There are interesting ideas and good basic information, but little depth or breadth that can be found. I suppose for this reason books will never go away.

One particular jaunt I explored was a note that the first Amazon.com writer has sold more than one million ebooks. The writer  attributed his success to selling his books for .99¢ of which he only gets thirty-five percent (he also wrote a book for $4.99 about it). I was a bit surprised by Amazon being able to get such a large chunk of the money by offering up the platform, but it is where the buyers go for content. A few days back I saw a stat somewhere on Seth Godin's Blog that only five percent of the population regularly buy books. I didn't realize I was in such a minority with my love of books. I haven't read many of those .99¢ ebooks as I have mostly gone for the free classics, but still have I have a lot of those that remain unread, unexplored too. There is also a fairly high stack of books next to my bed as I generally read from several books at a time at least until one grabs me. Part of the problem is having enough time blocked off to indulge in my stories. I also want to write one of those .99¢ ebooks, but I seem to be having trouble blocking off time for that too. I really do need to listen to that Zen Master Moose.

There was a discussion at my kitchen table over the weekend about the costs for energy to fuel the U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with part of the discussion centering on the types of buildings being used. My husband recollected his fabulous hut and office in Iraq with it's metal walls and roof that baked you like an oven unless the air conditioning was on full blast, all of the time. There was no insulation and no thought to the materials chosen for the desert surroundings. There was also a total absence of solar panels, but there were fuel trucks and thus the news worthy mention of the costs. It is "business as usual"I suppose. Meaning, for that someone in charge it is easier to order the known metal buildings, fuel, etc., instead of considering the overall costs and resources being wasted. Solar panels and insulation, might require a different kind of effort and learning something new. A known effort is easier than an unknown one.

As I think of so many tax dollars being consumed inefficiently on energy, housing, and transportation in the Middle East, I wonder, "Wouldn't it be nice if something good came from the war?" Something we could learn from such as increased use of solar power (in the desert mind you) and possibly improvements just because of the higher usage, or experiments in the use of building materials and insulation in an area where those things could in the future also be put to use to improve communities and lives? I wonder at the legacy these wars will leave behind: the usual waste and suffering, improved trauma care and rehabilitation for injuries, and with the overly long and repeated deployments, stress. Even veterans would be better off using and learning about solar power because when their time is done in the military, they would be familiar with bringing this kind of energy back to the States. Perhaps another side benefit would be reducing our reliance on oil in the first place and our reasons for being at war, ah, it comes full circle.


I don't recollect seeing any solar panels in Bahrain either. When traveling up north here in Japan, I have seen a number of solar water heaters on roof tops. Energy is expensive here and with the sudden loss of nuclear capacity, energy prices will likely go a bit as well as be in short supply. Surprisingly, there is not much insulation, geothermal, or solar power in use around here either. Perhaps this will change as Japan seems to be moving toward a nuclear free energy plan, but don't quote me on that.

On another note, I remember a Navy pilot in Bahrain who was quite happy with himself because of his garden. Bahrain is hot and sunny with little rain most of the year. The Pilot had a local horse farm deliver a truck full of poop to his house. He used his newly enriched sand as the basis for a small garden. He had basil the size of a bush growing in weeks. We all marveled at his basil at the time. Which reminds me our parking lot sunflowers are beginning to bloom. We are marveling at them now.