Category Archives: Thinking Independently

I’m Doing it – NaNoWriMo


Participant-2014-Web-Banner (1)

I’m doing it! I’m going to attempt NaNoWriMo again for the like the 4th, maybe 5th time. I was always working before, so it really was hard. Last year, I was still in a daze, but this year, I can’t help but wonder if this is destined to happen 😉

It’s really fun, this National Novel Writing Month annual event that started in 1999. So, even though I have some really interesting things on my agenda to share with you, I may be a bit MIA even more than normal this next month – yeah I know, you never know what to expect from me . . . sorry — though I kind of like it LOL 😉 (Like today for example, you get to hear from me two or maybe even three times – that’s a record!!)

If you want to join me in this journey to attempt 50,000 words in 30 days, the links are provided above. Notice, I did say attempt – though I am going to work it hard this year!! Maybe this is the something I felt coming, hell who knows 😉

Wish me luck!!eyes

 

Just something I was thinking about . . . that novel burning up inside me 🙂

Some FLUFF is always good


I don’t know about y’all, but I need a break from the news.

I love all kinds of music – though not head-banging or rap so much – rock and roll, blues, jazz, R&B, some pop, some country, and even a small amount of classical. Growing up in the 1970s , I was a huge Black Sabbath fan! My first real boyfriend turned me on to them – they were his FAV band, and his room was covered in their posters. As we listened together, I fell in love with the driving beats, and what I considered at the time as rebellious, independent, free-spirited, anti-establishment, beautiful, truthful lyrical compositions. BUT my favorite compositions were their instrumental pieces. They are just beautiful and soul-touching.

My very favorite of these instrumental pieces & one of my all time favorite songs is Fluff.

Then there’s Laguna Sunrise, a very peaceful, introspective piece.

Black Sabbath did a few other instrumental pieces, as well, but these were my favs.

Feeling nostalgic and working on feeling peaceful this evening . . .

Got some interesting stuff coming soon, a few new topics I have been probing around in – hope you’ll stick around and check it out!

Just something I was thinking about . . . ☮

Fine & Boycott the Bastards


stop-outsourcing

Okay – so in the last three days I have had to call Comcast, Chase and my local credit union. Do you know where their customer service call centers are located – The Philippines (yeah, I asked!), every last one of them, even my credit union (which I must say surprised the shit out of me).

It’s no wonder people here can’t find jobs . . .

And don’t get me wrong, I want people in the Philippines to be able to work and eat and raise their families, but not at the expense of American’s doing without these jobs that President Bush-43 called the jobs of the 21st century.

Now, mind you, I have been out of work for over a year, though I am not a customer service person, but this kind of business practice affects us all!

I think everyone who does business this way should be heavily fined, and if possible boycotted!

Okay my rant for the day is done . . . (yes, this pisses me off!)

Just something I was thinking about . . . something I think about often, as a matter of fact! ☮

 

 

I’m Confused – to say the least


I have no idea what to make of this Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl situation. Let me start by saying as a human being and a mother and sister, I am very happy they were able to bring him home. I am also a firm believer in leave NO man behind.

Now having said that, as the ever-questioning cynic and realist that I am, what is going on here? Why would we ever exchange FIVE Taliban commanders for one sergeant, especially after all this time? What has changed? Who is this Sgt. Bergdahl and what does he know? What has he been exposed to?

What do these Al-Qaeda guys know? Have they been given lobotomies? Have they been implanted with tracking devices so invasive that removal would cause death? (Just curious WHY we would release them if they are Taliban commanders.)

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to insinuate in any way that Sgt. Bergdahl’s life isn’t worth saving – I just don’t understand why it was done – it doesn’t make sense. What precedent does this set? This is not our government’s normal protocol, as best I can tell. Maybe I am misinformed, or maybe I don’t understand how things are done. I’ll admit, I have never been in the service, nor in a war zone.

Now I am hearing Bergdahl  was a deserter, and possibly a traitor – and that this was known by those making decisions to barter his release. It was negotiated, but it was bartering just the same. Not sure what to make of that, though I am totally just thinking aloud here, as I write. Is this just a small cog in a larger machine, or is this just a simple confused young man who ended up getting lucky after all – or something in between? Yeah, I know, I should write fiction with the way my mind works 😉

I am sure there will be many new developments as time passes. In the meantime, I am off to read more about all the hoopla surrounding the execution drugs used by the U.S.

Anyway – just something I was thinking about . . .

What Will Happen to the International Space Station?


iss imageThis photo of the International Space Station was snapped by an STS-133 crew member on the space shuttle Discovery on March 7, 2011. Image Credit: NASA

It’s started. Not quite three years since the last shuttle flew, the Russian government has threatened to pull support from the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020. NASA has hoped that the ISS could operate through 2024, possibly even as far out as 2028 – which extends its original lifespan, which I believe was 15-20 years.

The Russian government has also decided to block the U.S. from using Russian NK-33 and RD-180 rockets to launch U.S. military satellites due to the growing tensions between the two resulting from U.S. sanctions in response to the upset in Ukraine, as well as U.S. plans to deny export licenses for high-technology items to Russia.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has decided to really spice things up by saying the U.S. could use a trampoline to get our astronauts to the station. He also implied the Russian Space Agency may continue to utilize the station alone, as the U.S. segment cannot function without the Russian segment, though the Russian segment can function without the U.S. segment. The thrusters on the Russian segment keep the ISS in orbit and at the proper attitude.

NASA issued a statement saying they have not received any formal word from the Russian government regarding this proposed change in space exploration cooperation. The $100 billion space station is the result of the work and cooperation of 15 nations, predominantly the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe.  I am pretty sure we have covered a pretty huge dent in the costs, in one way or another.

This raises so many questions. Why did President Bush decide to cancel the shuttle program before there was another option in place? Why was this aspect (replacement for the shuttle i.e. human spaceflight) so short-sighted in thought and forward planning? Though the space shuttles were becoming outdated, NASA was in the process of upgrading them. Why does our government continue to cut our space exploration legs out from under us by cutting funding?

Why does our government seem to have a problem with strategic long-term planning support in this area? Often NASA makes plans, gets funding, starts work, and then whichever administration is in power loses patience and interest. I would love to see a complete list of all NASA (and other government) programs that were funded, worked on, and then scrapped, and why they were scrapped.

Asking these questions will not change what has happened, but I think examining some of these disconnects might help going forward. Space and politics aren’t really my thing, but even I am smart enough to understand the implications of the U.S. not having a prominent place and role in manned space exploration.

Well at least the Russians aren’t threatening our seats on the Soyuz just yet. And maybe this is just all bluster on Rogozin’s part. There is still a lot of knowledge to be gained from the space station, not counting the amount of money that has been invested. It only seems right to get as much out of it as possible for all parties involved.

What a way for the greatest engineering achievement ever embarked upon and completed successfully to end. What a way for one of the most auspicious global collaborations in cooperation of shared visions to come to a close.

Just something I was thinking about . . .

You Best Be Paying Attention ‘Cause Shift Happens


Many years ago I watched a video called “Shift Happens” – a real eye-opener on the world we now live in. Since then it has been updated a few times and has changed a bit. I found several out there, but this revision is by one of the the original creators and I found the info presented here, as far as numbers go, is the same used in the 2013 and 2014 versions. (Plus, I am not entirely sure who actually updated those with additional info.)

I can’t say I hope you enjoy the video, as it is not for pleasure, more as it is for pause, consideration, education, and maybe even enlightenment. The world is so different from the one I grew up in, and is even different from the one my kids grew up in. People born in the last decade have had just about every move they have made digitally tracked in some form or fashion. (That’s another topic for another day!)

We are not the greatest country in the world anymore (yes, we Americans often think that!) – if nothing else because our “natural” resources are lacking . . . our human resource is not only out-numbered, but out-educated, and possibly even out-motivated, it seems. Taking these things into consideration, maybe we need to start thinking about “re-inventing the wheel” as it pertains to our future or the United States may find it quite difficult to keep up or even compete.

I don’t know  – just something I was thinking about . . .

What do you think?

Is the Giant Panda Sleeping?


Let me start by saying that I have nothing against China or the Chinese people. What I am fixing to talk about is bigger and far more encompassing and quite frankly it’s not about the Chinese people either. It’s about governments and their desire for control and expansion. It’s about the second-largest economy in the world.  It’s about people in general not paying attention to what’s really going on around them – which is hard to do, as there is a lot of noise coming our way these days. Sometimes it’s hard to get a clear channel on anything.

Mainstream media is good at distracting people from what’s really important and needs our attention or consideration, by providing us lots of other crap to focus on. Right now one of those focuses is North Korea, Iran and Syria, as well it should be. But, we better not lose sight of the sleeping giant panda or fire-breathing dragon – however you choose to look at it. I’d be willing to bet there is a legend somewhere that tells the story of how one became the other . . .

Most of us are aware that we , the United States, owe China an immense amount of money — in the ballpark of $1.3 trillion, if my sources are correct. The U.S. government continues to borrow from them.

The Chinese have also been buying a considerable amount of U.S. assets over the past decade, with projections in U.S. investments of $15-20 billion a year over the next decade. They appear to be focusing on acquisitions in energy, financial services, food production, real estate, and manufacturing, as well as entertainment and technology. The Chinese own One Chase Manhattan Plaza and the General Motors building, in New York – both nice commercial real estate coups for sure. They own all the AMC Theaters.

Most of these assets are owned by the Chinese government, under various state-owned entities. China needs energy to fuel their rapidly growing industrial development, and have purchased power assets in Portugal, Brazil and the Philippines. They had an unsuccessful attempt to buy the U.S. oil company Unocal in 2005.

The Chinese government also purchased private equity assets that fund GM pensions, if I understood correctly. I want to do some more research on that, & a few other things. I have so many questions. Though these are my opinions, I do try to thoroughly research topics I am interested in, verifying my info with several sources. Most of this information came from sources like Reuters, Market Watch, LA Times, USA Today, Business Week, and Forbes – encompassing a variety of agendas.

There is concern about China’s foothold in technology and possible breaches in our national security. Some analysts think that it’s in China’s best interest to stay friendly with us, as our markets thrive, so do Chinese investments. But what if their overall strategic goal is to control or even own the U.S. in some unknown manifest destiny design. They have quite an established growing assertive military presence, as well. Regardless of what might happen, I would not want to be at the mercy of a Communist country.

A month or so back I happened across CNN doing a piece on The Guardian’s Predictions for the World in 2014. Predictions shared involving China were:

  • China will eventually be the world’s largest economy.
  • Though Western brands will continue to dominate, China will own them.
  • U.S. will soon celebrate Chinese holidays.
  • Western politicians will clamor for Chinese investors.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I find all of this a little disconcerting. I am not a political person, nor do I know much about economics. I realize the world is now a global economy, but maybe the U.S. is a little too open for business? And why do we do so much business with China, in particular? The government does not allow any partnering with them involving NASA, spaceflight, or manned exploration – but then again there is considerable technology involved in those endeavors and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) come into play.

I will be writing about this again, as I have so many questions that are not answered and concerns I wish to address. I also did not want to make this post to awfully long, as I have lots more data to share. I would love to hear what you think about this, too. Is the giant panda a good business partner or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Anyway, just something I’ve been thinking about . . .

locator map of China

** I watched a most interesting program quite a few years back about China – I have been keeping an eye on this development for quite a few years now – their growth, increase in consumption, and interdependency with the United States. In all honesty, it was a bit disconcerting. This link no longer shows the ABC News/Bob Woodruff video, but you can read the accompanying story.

 

Russia and Your Space Station


I read an interesting article in the paper a few days back regarding all the upheaval in Ukraine with Russia, and how this is affecting the relationship between Russia and the U.S. when it comes to the International Space Station (ISS). I know a little about NASA and the ISS and its operations, and I can tell you this issue is troubling to me. We have an ISS mission operations control center in Russia, as well as here in the U.S. at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Our astronauts train in Russia for the Soyuz flights that ferry them back and forth to the ISS. The following is an excerpt from an internal NASA memo:

“Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, until further notice, the U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted. This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian Government representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email, and teleconferences or videoconferences. At the present time, only operational International Space Station activities have been excepted. In addition, multilateral meetings held outside of Russia that may include Russian participation are not precluded under the present guidance.” SOURCE: NASA Watch

From what I know, there are teleconferences at least weekly and emails probably daily. Before each flight of a vehicle to the ISS, Flight Readiness Reviews and Stage Operations Readiness Reviews are typically held and ALL international parties attend in person or via teleconference. Most configuration changes of any kind often require all international partners to agree and sign-off on. I have no idea what exactly has been deemed essential and how this is impacted by the sanctions the U.S. currently has in place with our partner in space.

We are dependent on Russia to get our astronauts to the ISS. We have much invested in the way of funding and are gaining enormous benefits in areas that will not even be realized for years – the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer could possibly change the basic concepts of physics; medical studies regarding cancer, aging, medications, etc.; as well as many other important scientific and technological advances.  When NASA’s Space Shuttle Program ended, with no crew vehicle to take its place, the price of the seats on the Russian Soyuz went up, now costing approximately $70 million. Sometimes two of those seats belong to us, meaning that cost doubles.

I’ve read that Charles Bolden, NASA’s administrator has said Russia’s space agency Roscosmos will continue to cooperate with NASA as far as providing our astronauts a ride to and from the space station. He has assured that Russia depends on us and can’t run the station as we supply many essential power and operating systems. He mentioned in 2008, when there were diplomatic issues involving Georgia, there were no problems. Well at that point the ISS was not completely assembled. I doubt both of the robotic arms were onboard and I’m pretty sure the satellite deployers had not been delivered. The robotic arms are used for so many tasks and operations and the small satellite deployers are a definite advantage in this newer area of technology. In my opinion, the only guarantee we have is that Russia wants our money.

My understanding is that the Russian cosmonauts spend the majority of their time living and working in the Russian modules and predominantly only work on their own science investigations – which if you ever look at a NASA Expedition Press Kit, these science experiments/investigations are written in Russian, so if you do not know the language or have an interpreter, most people have no idea what the Russians are really working on. (Though I am sure someone at NASA does.) They may even use their own communication systems separate of NASA’s, as well.

Also, if I understand correctly, the Russian Zvezda Service Module is the main piece of the station when it comes to powering all other systems and if it goes down – the whole thing can die. Having said all that, the Russians could just shut the parts of the U.S. side of the station down that they didn’t want to use and that would be that. I’d be willing to bet, there’s probably ways to disconnect the U.S. modules and let them deorbit, if so desired.

The space station was conceived as an engineering feat, to result in not only great advances in science and human space exploration, but also as a model for international cooperation – peace, compromise and teamwork. Under the circumstances though, I can’t help but wonder if Russia would try and use their advantage and take over the station.

I don’t know, and I am not an expert on any of these things. I am just thinking about the possibilities of what can happen with operations of the space station and the ramifications of the state of the world and our own affairs in this country presently. WE have a lot at stake here and I don’t think most of us really even know it. It’s not just about who owns, runs, funds the ISS and the science we get from that – it’s about who ultimately owns the skies with satellite technology and just as an aside, human space exploration.

I just realized North Korea has a space agency. North Korea has a space agency and China has landed a rover on and is exploring the moon and Russia is the only way our astronauts can travel back and forth to the space station that we as a nation and as taxpayers own a big part of. Regardless of your opinions of NASA, space exploration, and its funding . . . Is it just me or is this picture disturbing?

Just something I was thinking about . . .

Random Ramblings . . .


My random opinions for your consideration: 

[These are my quotes, and I have been using them for years. Those that know me well will recognize them – sometimes smiling, sometimes cringing LOL 😉 ]

The best thing and the right thing are NOT always the same thing. (This is when moral and ethical dilemmas occur . . . )

People think death is the worst thing that can happen to you, but in reality there are many things in life worse than death. (Think about it, I have . . .  and I’ve seen it.)

When something bad, wrong, unplanned or unpleasant happens, I try to remember if no one is scarred for life, no one is terminally ill and no one has died, as a result – then it can’t be all that bad. (The three things I mentioned can be devastating!)

If it was easy, where would the fucking fun in that be?!? (Sometimes I leave the F* word out depending on my audience, though I have said this is the quote I want on my headstone, with the F* word 😉 )

Just something I was thinking about . . .

Why Do We Keep Giving Our Jobs Away?


This is an article I originally wrote back in December 2004 about the problem of outsourcing American jobs to other countries. I recently found it and was surprised at how nothing has changed in the last ten years and this piece is still pretty spot on. Actually things may be even worse. There’s a greater number of aging baby boomers to work some of these jobs, and they are having an even harder time, often being terminated from their jobs 10-15 years before retirement age, now dipping into their retirement savings to live – but that is another story for a different day.

I hope this trend of corporate greed at the expense of this country’s health and welfare changes soon. Personally, I think if you outsource jobs to other countries that can be done by American workers, you should be heavily taxed. I think companies who maintain their workforce in the United States should be given tax breaks, at least for a period of time.

I note in my article I am NOT an economist or historian, nor am I necessarily politically inclined, so I don’t know all the background about these types of things, but I know enough to know they can be done judiciously and pragmatically. Of course, this will most likely cut into some profit margins – so though it can be done, I am sure it would be a fight. In honor of Throwback Thursday, I thought I would share it with you & see what you think.

 Outsourcing American Jobs Dangerous Trend

I love to read Molly Ivins’ nationally syndicated column. Today’s article was Ivin’s review of two books. One of the books mentioned, “When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor” by William Julius Wilson, discussed the problems with joblessness in the inner city ghettos. She uses a quote from the book discussing his solutions, which she states as critical for all of us not just for poor inner-city blacks – “The problems of joblessness and social dislocation in the inner city are, in part, related to the processes in the global economy that have contributed to greater inequality & insecurity among American workers in general & to the failure of U.S. social policies to adjust to these processes. It is therefore myopic to view the problems of jobless ghettos as if they were separate from those that plague the larger society.”

This made me think, as I read, that a large percentage of the American workforce is now in danger of this “jobless ghetto” syndrome. I heard President Bush say, during one of the debates, that the key to ending unemployment and government assistance needs is EDUCATION for 21st century jobs. The way I see it, the market is becoming considerably service and technology based. The jobs of the 21st century are huge in the area of technical assistance (development, programming, maintenance) and customer service. These are also the jobs that have been outsourced to other countries, for considerably cheaper labor costs. This is a dangerous trend that has been on the rise in the last five years.

Now, I am not an economics or history expert, but the way it appears to me is that in the last half century jobs have increasingly changed in proportion concerning manufacturing and service-oriented jobs. In the early years of this country up until the first half of the 20th century, manufacturing was a huge part of the economic base. The last half of the 20th century saw a large majority of these jobs being outsourced to other countries because it was cheaper for the manufacturer. This left the service-oriented and technology fields as a way of providing jobs for American citizens. As proved from my last five calls to Dell, and other computer parts manufacturers they are involved with, ALL of their technical support has been outsourced, often times to places where the technicians’ English is accented so heavily, even if they are the most intelligent in the world, I can’t understand a word coming out of their mouths.

If we are sending all the manufacturing, customer service-oriented and technology jobs overseas, what jobs does that leave for Americans? Medical professionals, lawyers, dry-cleaners, and fast-food/restaurant jobs are a few of the jobs left. Do you recognize the large gap in salaries between the first two jobs I mentioned and the second two jobs – the haves and the have-nots?

Do not misunderstand me, I understand the importance of a global economy, but in my opinion we have taken the concept entirely too far. When there is no balance, a considerable amount of middle-class jobs disappear from the U.S. landscape. If this trend continues, jobless ghettos could be as common as tent cities during the Great Depression.

Just something I was thinking about, something I think about often actually.

(And RIP Molly Ivins, you are missed by many!!)