Category Archives: Environment

In Defense of Carbon

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Carbon is the basic building block of life.  It is an element, indestructible.  We have the same amount of carbon on earth now as always.  It goes through a cycle.  Because it is so versatile, it can join with numerous other atoms to create complex structures.

I’m a climate change agnostic.  I know the climate changes every day and every season.  Whether human beings are changing the climate in a significant way is the subject of heated debate.  I do know humans are poisoning the environment, but the most dangerous chemicals involved are not carbon dioxide or methane.  These two are naturally occurring substances that are intimately involved in the cycles of life and death.

Organic chemistry is based on whether the compounds under study contain carbon.  Photosynthesis is the means by which plants use energy from light to convert water and carbon dioxide to food for the plant.  In this process, water is hydrolyzed (meaning broken down into its constituent atoms) with the hydrogen joining with carbon to form sugars, such as glucose and sucrose.  The sugars contain energy that fuels plant growth, maintenance and manufactures the substance of the plant itself, like cellulose.

That plants can make their own food from light, carbon dioxide and water is a marvel of solar technology, because all food ultimately comes from plants.  The mechanism of photosynthesis, according to my botany text (Botany:  An Introduction to Plant Biology, 6th edition, T., Elliot Weier, et al., 1982) took almost 200 years to be understood, and it still contains undiscovered secrets.  Researchers are now working on harnessing the 100% efficiency of plants to make electricity.  In contrast, solar panels are only between 15-20% efficient.

According to Botany, a series of discoveries beginning in 1700 led to the eventual understanding of how photosynthesis works.  In 1700, a Flemish physician and chemist Jan van Helmont grew a willow branch in measured soil and water.  It grew from five to 169 pounds in five years, but used only two ounces of soil.  In 1772, Joseph Fleming noted a sprig of mint could restore confined air that had been made impure by burning a candle, but in 1779 Jan Ingen-House noticed air was only revitalized when the green portion of the plant was exposed to light.  In 1782, Jean Sonebier discovered carbon dioxide was necessary in the “fixed air” supply of the green plant, and in 1796 Ingen-House determined the carbon went into the nutrition and structure of the plant.  In 1804, Nicholas Th. de Saussure observed water was also involved in the photosynthetic process, and in 1800 chemists discovered that carbohydrates were formed.  Experiments using “heavy oxygen” (oxygen with atomic weight of 18 rather than the usual 16) proved the oxygen liberated in photosynthesis came from water rather than CO2.

The basic chemical reaction for converting carbon dioxide and water to glucose is:

6CO2 + 6H20 +686 kcal –> C6 H12 O6 + 6O2

The oxygen is released into the atmosphere.  Plants also release water vapor through evaporation, and this induces liquids and nutrients to move upward through the xylem (the plant’s substance, including transportation “vessels”).

The glucose produced is used directly, or stored as insoluble starch.  It’s used to make cellulose and other structural components, or is combined with nitrogen, sulfur or phosphorus to make proteins.

When a plant or any life form dies, the stored carbon is either consumed by another life form or it is released as CO2 and methane (CH4), among other substances.

Igniting the hydrocarbon molecules reverses the photosynthetic process in a one-to-one ratio.  CO2 and water are re-created, and the energy bound up in the molecule is released as heat or used to do work.

The chemical reaction when the simplest hydrocarbon, methane (natural gas), is burned is:

CH4 + 2O2 –>  CO2 + 2H2O

Natural gas, oil, coal, ethanol, and plastic, to name a few, have the same carbon and hydrogen building blocks, in different combinations.  All have high energy contents and produce CO2 and water when burned.

Ethanol—which is now a federally mandated gasoline additive—has a lower energy content than gasoline so lowers gasoline efficiency. Ethanol, also called “ethyl alcohol,” is old-fashioned grain alcohol, the same substance distilled by farmers in Revolutionary War days, and the stuff that led to the Whiskey Rebellion when the whiskey tax was passed in 1791.

Plastic has a high energy content and burns hot.  Plastic waste is accumulating around the planet, in huge ocean “gyres,” as well as other bodies of water, sewage and drainage systems.  Its breakdown products are associated with endocrine (hormonal) changes in people and animals.

The main weakness of the climate change initiative is that the focus on “greenhouse gases” diverts attention from more immediate and ongoing threats to the planet.  The use of single-use packaging, for instance, uses valuable natural resources, such as paper, and environmentally harmful industrial products, such as plastic, that end up in landfill or in rivers, lakes, and oceans.

The ethanol mandate, passed in 2007, is a particularly toxic piece of legislation.  Under this scenario, farmland is used to produce corn, soy, or other carbon-containing plant matter, to be distilled into alcohol for burning in cars.  Not only does this deplete soil that might otherwise be used to grow food, but it requires massive amounts of water, time and money, so is a pox on the planet and on the engines that use it. It is particularly harmful in small engines, like lawnmowers, so conscientious users must use ethanol-free gas to protect their engines.  That Archer Daniels Midland, the main corporate beneficiary of the ethanol mandate, is set up to distill ethanol for cars as well as ethanol for drinking, should provide clues as to how regressive this mandate is.

In summary, I contend that, “climate change” includes changing the political climate to recognize that growing trees is better for the planet than giving corporations “carbon credits” not to cut them down.

Political Climate Change

I’ve followed the “global warming,” then the “climate change” controversy for a number of years and have a number of reservations about the terms being used, the focus on “greenhouse gases,” and the almost religious fervor “climate scientists” adopt when pushing their agenda.

I’m an amateur scientist, at best, a “life scientist,” who still believes observation is the best science there is.  I can’t deny the environment is changing, becoming de-vitalized, and I also believe mankind plays a significant role.  That and other transgressions against fellow man and nature have made me ashamed to be human. I look to my pets and nature to restore my belief that nature will survive, even if humans poison or nuke themselves out of existence.  It may take awhile, and the earth may generate a variety of mutant life forms, but nature will win in the end. Best to make a friend of her.

While I am no scientist, I’ve taken more undergraduate and post graduate science courses than most Americans have.  I’ve taken biology, botany, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, and a variety of medical science courses. I’ve done published research, too.  The last showed me the limitations of the “scientific method,” which assumes cause and effect and must control for variables. The primary rule in Western scientific research is that you can have no more than one variable.  You begin with a hypothesis that you want to prove or disprove.  You “control” for variables, meaning you have a treatment group and a “control group.” In other words, you create artificial circumstances to suit your study design and outcome you want or expect.

Contrast this with the Oriental pattern-based approach, which embraces variables and looks for patterns among them.  The presumption is nature is composed of interactive processes that enhance or mitigate each other.  Everything is connected in a large, multi-dimensional web.

When it comes to the environment, it’s impossible to limit research to one variable and determine cause and effect.  We know what came before, and we use computer models to predict what will come next.  We want to attribute causes to “climate change,” and have focused on CO2 and other “greenhouse gases,” specifically methane/natural gas (CH4).

I contend this is too simplistic.  First we are technically at the end of an ice age, so planetary warming is at least partly natural.  Carbon is the basic building block of life, an element, that can combine with many other atoms to create a variety of molecules.  The difference between inorganic and organic chemistry is based on whether the substance under study has carbon.  Methane/natural gas is the simplest hydro-carbon there is.  It is part of the life-cycle, and every decaying life form produces it.  Cow farts (which have been blamed for adding to greenhouse gases) and human farts all contain methane, as do other life form farts.  It rises from the marsh and from landfill.

Carbon dioxide, CO2, the demonized poster child of the “climate science” religion, is the chief nutrient of plant photosynthesis, the process that combines carbon from the air with light to create food for the plant, and thus for every creature that eats plants.  Carbon dioxide comprises significantly less than one percent of the atmosphere.  By comparison, oxygen makes up 21 percent.  If carbon dioxide is the primary culprit in climate change, then overpopulation, with more people exhaling CO2 and farting methane, is a significant factor in the production of greenhouse gases CO2 and methane.

No one of the scientists has addressed the fact that burning one molecule of methane/natural gas (CH4) produces two molecules of water for every one of CO2. Apparently none of the computer models programmed to track carbon emissions and predict climate change factors in the enormous amount of water added to the environment with the burning of fossil fuels.  Water vapor is another “greenhouse gas” in fact, as anyone who has ever visited a greenhouse knows.  What is the effect of cloud cover on the earth below?  What is the effect of all the mass of buildings, highways, and parking lots?  These have replaced forests and fields, which played a role in keeping the earth cool and absorbing rainwater before it flooded.  Has anyone accounted for the thermals (vortexes of hot air rising from cities) creating fronts that change weather patterns all around?

The Industrial Revolution begun with the cheap abundance of coal and is intricately intertwined with its advance.  This closely followed major other changes in paradigms, specifically Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity, and the subsequent mechanistic view of the universe.  The mechanistic paradigm brought “determinism,” which separated life (and god) from science.  The idea that the universe functions like a machine, with everything governed by knowable physical laws, contradicted the Biblical presumption of free will.

We have made a quantum leap from Newtonian physics with Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.  At the atomic and subatomic level, there is enormous variation and spontaneity within a larger order.  All of a sudden, free will becomes scientifically valid again, the experimenter does influence the experiment by expectation or desire, and cause-and-effect paradigms begin to lose relevance.

I’m more concerned about the effects of environmental toxins than the buildup of greenhouse gases.  The industrial revolution has led to unsustainable levels of toxic waste in air, water, and land, and we continue to dump poisons way worse than carbon dioxide into the world environment.  We are poisoning ourselves along with the insects, but insects reproduce faster and develop immunity quicker than human beings do.  Plastic, also containing hydrocarbon chains, release toxic chemicals, especially when heated, that Americans blithely drink in their bottled water.  We’re increasingly afraid of tap water because of contaminants in pipes and groundwater that we’re only beginning to recognize.

Yes, we are devitalizing and perhaps even killing the earth, but we need to broaden our scope to look at multi-factorial contributors.  It’s not a government problem to solve.  We should look to ourselves as individuals, a nation of excess and waste. Don’t depend too much on salaried scientists, whose primary obligation is to their government, university, and corporate employers.  They agree with each other in finding simple targets and ignoring the greater industrial pollution that continues as fast as it can generate profits on Wall Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The View from Below

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I shoveled the dock steps the other day.  This was part of my latest health initiative, with the purpose of swimming in the river.

Now, most people don’t have a dock or concrete steps to a polluted river where they can swim.  Most people haven’t grown up on said river and watched it change gradually over the past 60 or so years.  It is a blessing and a curse.

While doing this mundane labor, which with clean-up took about two hours, I had time to ponder many worldwide concerns.  First, I listened to the constant buzz of helicopters at Hunter Army Airfield, only a couple of miles–as the helicopter flies–from my house.  There were also military aircraft flying overhead, as I live only 28 degrees off Hunter’s flight paths, and those planes fly low, low, low over my head. This reminded me that the US is engaged in perpetual wars, and I live in a war zone, what with the strong military presence loud, clear, and constant.

Next, I thought about the Clean Water Act of 1972, when the Army Corps of Engineers got jurisdiction over all “wetlands” including the “hydrophytic” marsh that surrounds my small spit of land.  I wondered if the AC of E would fine me for taking mud off the steps and depositing it in the center of my land, which is mine but not mine in that I pay property taxes but can’t modify it.  This spit of land has been sliding into the river for years and now becomes flooded in spring and fall tides.  The channels in the area are also filling in, because no one dredges them anymore, even though the drainage ditches are perpetually clogged and contribute to frequent, severe flooding in Savannah.

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The local movers and shakers would prefer to dump poisonous malathion by helicopter on the entire ecosystem than drain the bogs where mosquitoes breed. That the Army Corps of Engineers pays Chatham County to control mosquitoes, yet operates the largest mosquito habitat in two states does not seem important to anyone but me.  That the dredge material from current harbor deepening project will increase the mosquito habitat at this international port presents no red flags to those who are developing vaccines for mosquito-borne disease but are blithely nonchalant about the cushy habitat they are creating.

This brings me home to the polluted river, which still has fish and shrimp, but not as many as in my childhood.  I figure if fish can swim in it, so can I.  I’ve been stomping around, crabbing, shrimping, boating, water skiing, and swimming in that water since I can remember, so know it well.  While shoveling, I thought about “climate change,” and the claim that the oceans are rising.  I also remembered reading about how land is washing into the oceans and wondered if the oceanic rise is relative to the land’s sinking, in a leveling out that would lead to the oceans’ getting shallower. Shallow water heats more quickly than deep water, as any swimmer knows, and holds more heat, so this could explain some of the climatic changes.

So then I thought about President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord and wondered whether it makes any difference in the long run.  I’ve never been a fan of government solutions to government-supported problems, like the fact that deforestation is a major contributor to climate change.  I don’t believe in paying corporations not to cut trees (as in “carbon credits”) and would prefer instead to reduce demand for paper, like junk mail and single-use packaging.  International Paper, the owner of primo rain forest in South America, and a huge polluter of the Savannah River and air, does not recycle paper.

That got me to thinking about the enormous amount of methane produced by the marsh, the fact that methane and natural gas are the same thing, and that Germany is the world’s leader in recycling (70%).  In addition, Germany has to import garbage to fuel its waste-to-energy plants that provide so much of its heat and electricity. There is also new technology to capture methane produced by landfill, but the US lags behind places like China in its adoption of these promising technologies.  No wonder Angela Merkel was frustrated by Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Germany is the world leader in sustainability, and should be so acknowledged.

So, Donald Trump may believe coal gives the US a financial advantage, but this is short-sighted.  Apparently China is the largest purchaser of US coal exports, but China built 431 waste-to-energy plants in 2016, so it may not need our coal much longer.  With the reduced cost of solar, India is also going greener.  China is the biggest carbon-emission nation in the world, and the US is second.  Russia is third, and India fourth, according to Google 2011 data.  Americans probably generate the most waste, though, 4.5 pounds of garbage per person per day, and recycling has decreased, now down to about 30 percent.

So, while I solved my personal problem of how to swim without getting mud between my toes and oyster shell cuts on my feet, I also solved a lot of world problems, and I never had to leave home.

 

 

 

 

I Couldn’t Make This Up: 2007

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Ten years ago this month I was working a short-term contract as a psychiatrist in a public mental health outpatient clinic.  At I was considering allowing my medical and DEA licenses to expire, simply because I felt like a hypocrite.  I entered psychiatry to set people free, not to enslave them to diagnoses and drugs, government and insurance, for the rest of their lives.

DEPRESSED ECONOMY

Sunday, April 1, 2007 – Driving around Columbus, GA shows how depressed the economy is.  It smacks of military people borrowing against an uncertain future. Independent businesses are so rare as to be non-existent. Otherwise, Columbus is clunking along on pawn and title pawn shops, government buildings, banks, insurance companies, and a variety of businesses dedicated to selling and maintaining vehicles and vehicle parts.  There is so much run down and empty commercial space – and the place looks generally devoid of life – that the only activity shows at the multiple traffic lights, where large trucks, vans, SUV’s and old clunkers congregate as if at a business meeting.

PET FOOD SCARE

Tuesday, April 3, 2007 – The pet food scare widens, and it appears the economic hit is on China’s wheat gluten.  I’m more convinced than ever that the thugs at DHS, CIA, FDA, CDC, or DEA are behind it, and they all answer to Bush and Cheney, the sadomasochistic side show in the world-wide butt fuck.

I believe the goons at DHS have made their point.  Melamine is a plastic, used in McDonalds’ forks, hahahaha, and the latest bullet in the war on pets, but the repercussions in the plastics industry should be interesting.  I’ve wondered about the buildup of plastic breakdown products in the environment, and the toxins they release.  Animals would be the most susceptible, of course.

No one has proved the wheat gluten is the cause.  No one has even proved what the toxic agent is.  The “scientists” are disagreeing with each other, thus to obscure the real issue (in my view) that this was inside sabotage by someone who had access to aminopterin, which was proven in the DHS-funded lab at Cornell, created for the purpose of protecting US tax revenues from foreign threats.

The media arm of the Police State blithely ignores the obvious, so eager is it to cozy up to the perpetrators.  I’ve noticed AP is particularly reprehensible along these lines.  No wonder it hides behind its image.  It took some research to discover where their corporate offices are.

FEAR

Wednesday, April 4, 2007 – The vague cloud of fear that hovers over me surrounds the planet, I suspect, and I am less afraid than most.  Unseen enemies are those who are reacting to their own fears, and I have to dance lightly to stay out of their way.  I try not to take insults personally, even if they are meant that way.  I get strong reactions from people, as on the ESLR message board, when I assess the state of the “economy.”  I don’t pander to the Wall Street-generated hype meant to reassure people of economic growth, despite evidence.  It’s a pack of lies and deserves to be so-called, because people aren’t as gullible as they once were, especially as they feel the “economic growth” like a cancer in their personal lives.

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Corn, Cochran, GA Supposedly 80% of corn sold in the United States is already genetically modified. It’s too late to label GM products.

CORN AND ETHANOL

Wednesday, April 4, 2007 – How much time does it take to grow an acre of corn, convert it to ethanol and burn it?  Has anyone calculated the cost of energy, soil depletion, and water for the process?

The environmental groups are quiet on this one, and so are the Agriculture Department, the economists, farmers, American Solar Energy Society, and scientists.  Isn’t anyone even curious?  Congress hasn’t asked, Bush certainly doesn’t want to know, and once again, I am the lone voice asking questions that should have been asked a long time ago, before the legislation, before the factories were built, before the farmers were seduced into following this government-created fad.

COLUMBUS, GA NOISE POLLUTION:  LOCUM TENENS ASSIGNMENT

Wednesday, April 4, 2007 – The noise makes constant assaults on my senses, and I’m afraid  I will explode from repressed fury.  The airplanes have been droning–along with machines, traffic, and sirens–but mostly constant airplanes since I got home to the camper, exhausted from a relentless day, seeking a little peace, not to be had here, where the very earth is vibrating from the din.

I, for one, will be glad if I live to see the world run out of oil.

Now, the train.  The trucks on the highways.  The last airplane is gone, finally.  Was air traffic stacked up over the airport?  The train whistle is constant.  Everybody is in a dizzy tizzy today, all except the one bird I hear twittering, and my cat, who is as serene as a placid pool, asleep.

That train has been whistling for five minutes.  Motorcycles, more trucks.  If I were home and could do it, I’d let out a primal scream by now, so furious am I.  A horn.  another motorcycle.  I can still hear the train.  More traffic.

I turn on music and dance awhile, as I encourage patients to do.  It helps my attitude a little.

Train still blowing the whistle – seven minutes or so.  Constant.

The work turns me into a zombie prescription writing machine.  In W’s office, where I work on the adult side, the computer is also loud, so I listen to that all day and wonder if that contributes to my headaches.  Or maybe it’s the coffee they have there, the creamer, the stress.

I just got up and closed the windows.  It helps a little, but my head is vibrating still.  I can feel it like a saw grinding though my skull.

I turn on the fan, now that the windows are closed.  I can still hear the traffic noise outside, even though the fan is only two feet away from my head and has its own noise.

How loud must it get before people wake up?  Now I know why people go deaf.  Not that it would protect anyone here, because the vibrations penetrate all walls, all protections.  You can hear it over the music, over the fan, over the air conditioning.  It rattles the ground, shakes the camper.  I might as well be in the center of a war, except this is a war on nerves, as in the nerve of them.  There is no defense against sound, except to leave or bury my head in  . . . what?  The earth transmits it, too.

You get what you focus on, says Seth, but how can I think of anything else?

Winston Smith, in George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, had a horror of rats gnawing his face, so those who would convert him used rats in cages over his face, as I recall.  For me, relentless machine noise is the torture I most fear, but I am already being tortured, and my head hurts, and I think I will have a stroke or heart attack, and soon, if I don’t escape this hell hole in a healthier way.

 

USPS REORGANIZATION

Friday, April 13, 2007 – I discovered Richard Nixon re-organized the Postal Service in 1971, giving it over to a Board of Governors, and removing the Postmaster General from the Cabinet.  You don’t hear much about the Postmaster General or the Board of Governors, but the USPS affects every area of our lives.

Who exactly owns the USPS, which is so heavily saturated with garbage mail it can’t deliver a first class letter without losing it in the junk?  Why am I subsidizing these assaults on my money, attention, and all the trees on the planet?  I pay yet again for the destruction to the environment.  And these government goons are blaming taxpayers for global warming?  They are burning resources just as fast as they can get away with it, and their solution is to do more of the same?

Not at my expense, folks,  Use your own money to play stupid, because I don’t run my life that way.  Double rates on all sneaky mail (that is, all mail with rates they don’t want you to know).  How’s about publish ALL the rates everyone has to pay, like the slick paper flyers and unwanted medical journals, CME offerings, school and university solicitations, magazines, newspapers, non-profits, campaigners, sales pitches, fundraisers.  If they didn’t spend so much money on self-congratulatory propaganda, perhaps they could afford to do some good.  What exactly is pre-sorted first class?

MONEY MANAGEMENT

Saturday, April 14, 2007 – Money management is about keeping my money.  The more money I keep, the more money I save.

 

 

 

 

 

Following Formalin

 

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Introduction:  I wrote the following speculative fantasy in February, 2010, before I researched formalin on Wikipedia last week.  “Formalin,” I learned, is an aqueous form of formaldehyde, the simplest aldehyde in chemistry.  Formalin contains 40% formaldehyde, 10-12% stabilizer, usually methanol, and the rest water.  90% of formaldehyde occurs naturally, through decaying organic matter.  It does not build up in the environment because it is quickly broken down by sun and bacteria.

Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen, but used extensively in industry.  Major products are composite wood products, like laminates, particle board, hard plywoods, and fiberboard.  Its use in embalming is well known.  It is also used as a pesticide in animal foods, and as a disinfectant.

The primary effects of formaldehyde toxicity are respiratory, with burning eyes and nose.  It can worsen asthma.  Long-term exposure is linked to leukemia.

The formaldehyde toxicity associated with FEMA-provided trailers in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, was possibly caused by the high concentration of new particleboard in poorly ventilated trailers.

Industrialization has raised the amount and diversity of environmental toxins to immeasurable proportions.  From the particle board in kitchen cabinets to the PVC in water pipes, we are living in increasingly toxic conditions that we only worsen with our wasteful, consumerist culture.

While others worry about “climate change,” I’m more concerned with the growing generalized effects of environmental toxins, not only on humans but on all life.  Flint, Michigan is unlikely to be the only city in the US with poisonous water.  Industrialization has led to contamination of water everywhere, differing only in degree.  Even bottled water—and maybe especially bottled water—leaches hormone-altering plastic into the water.  Single-use packaging is particularly hard to justify.

“STRANDS OF CONSCIOUSNESS” FOLLOW FORMALIN

            February, 2010–Seth in Jane Roberts’ Seth series talks about “strands of consciousness” reaching out and entering others, but they are no more invasive than the leaves on a tree and depend on each other for survival—their very existence.   Every atom and molecule participates in a dynamic that can take it from rock to human to animal to insect to marsh grass, to every corner of the earth and dimensions unimaginable.  The atoms and molecules have a kind of memory of their histories, traces, and essences, that contribute to the greater understanding of the whole.

Man is not diminished but expanded by that, because he feels less alone and more connected to the larger dynamic.  We have created god in the human image, without recognizing god is as impersonal as a housefly, as placid as a mountain, as enduring as the galaxies, as strong and gentle as a spider’s web.

A dust particle in the air attests to god’s expansive creativity, and the dust will respond to the sun’s rays in its own way, as will the air molecules that hold it aloft.  All are expressions of the infinite creativity of god –All That Is, in Seth’s terms—the multi-sexual expression of pure energy.  The human division between life and death is arbitrary.  A “dead” human is teeming with other life forms, bacteria and the like, so it is only dead from a human perspective.  The other life that feed on it and helped it survive—as normal flora does—lives on and may not even notice the human identity’s passing.  Until the formaldehyde hits, that is.  Then all bets are off.

“But hey,” says the Cosmic Improv Group, that army of nags inside my imagination, which has lots of strands of consciousness invested in keeping me alive awhile, “Formaldehyde has feelings, too.”

“You betcha,” I reply.  “Not to demean formaldehyde, but I’d rather not party with it, if it’s all the same to you.  Let it play its role with other people.

“Formalin, actually,” say the medical experts.  Formaldehyde has carcinogens and toxins that are believed to be carcinogenic, as I recall, but don’t trust memory on this.  Formalin is supposed to be better on living bodies for preserving dead ones.

Go figure.  All this so the body won’t stink while people gawk over the plastic model of the deceased soul.  Be careful not to shed your tears on the make-up.

But the formalin goes into the ground, and into the sewer systems with the mortuary’s waste, and with the body’s interment.  People dry their tears and start fighting over the estate, and life moves on.

The formalin continues in new forms underground, freed from human bondage, and off to have new adventures.  Because it has the authorities’ seal of safety—was that the FDA, DEA, Cancer Society, Dow Chemicals, Pfizer?  Who decided formalin is less toxic than formaldehyde?  It is allowed free rein in the environment and can join its fellow non-toxins in joyful salute to the demise of mankind.

Now, that was not my strand of consciousness, certainly.  Why would I go off on a tangent about formalin?  Well, I was trying to understand formalin’s point of view, actually, to send a strand of consciousness to the probable life of a formalin molecule, and to enter its world.

Was that invasion?  No.  It was an appreciation for the greater unity that created my consciousness, the tools to make it conscious, and the formalin molecule, too.  I guarantee no formalin molecule is equipped to write about its own life, so who will do it if I don’t?

My experience is minimal, so my imagination limited.  The few anatomy cadaver dissections I participated in in medical school.  A month of a pathology elective, in my senior year, where I spent most of the time studying sliced placentas.

But hey, I’ve probably inhaled more formalin than most people, so its molecules have entered my body and communicated in the way only formalin can.  We just don’t know all the ways it can communicate with us.

 

 

 

Eminent Domain: That Itchy Spot Below the Belt

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By Katharine C. Otto
February 1, 2017

 On January 25, The Wall Street Journal ran a front page article claiming “Trump Revives Pipeline Projects.” The article states that President Trump gave a thumbs up to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, both stalled by former President Obama.

The WSJ is all for this, as noted in its editorial “No More Keystone Capers” the same day, which asserted the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines are good for “the economy.”

The WSJ says those in the industry are divided about whether the pipelines are needed.  Some say they are not needed yet. Other sources indicate energy use is declining worldwide, there is a glut of oil, and prices are down.

The WSJ’s slant is well known.  It supports Wall Street, assuming that what’s good for big business is good for the country.  It glosses over the long term costs of large-scale industrialization, manufacturing and exporting of natural resources.  The cost effectiveness of pipelines (and other large projects that benefit big business at the expense of residents) rides on the use of “eminent domain,” the government’s self-proclaimed right to confiscate private land for public purposes.

The Dakota Access pipeline is at the hub of the Standing Rock Sioux’s protest against the US government.  The Sioux claim the pipeline, slated to run under the Missouri River, endangers sacred ancestral and hunting grounds, as well as their drinking water supply (and that of others downstream).  Their resistance has drawn support from other Native American tribes, numerous environmental, other land-friendly and taxpayer-friendly groups.  The group is staking out its territory through the winter, justifiably worried that bulldozers will move in as soon as protesters look the other way.

While eminent domain has been in use over a century, it got a jump start forward in June, 2005, with the infamous “Kelo decision,” in which the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the New London, Connecticut City Council to eminent domain Susette Kelo’s neighborhood to build a convention center.  Pfizer, the massive pharmaceutical company, was a heavy hitter behind the move, as it had promised to build a $270 million research facility next door.

It was a bitter fight, as several of the neighbors had lived in their homes in the Fort Trumbull area for close to 60 years, paying property taxes all that time.  After the Supreme Court decision, Kelo’s neighborhood was razed.  Four years later, when Pfizer’s tax credits expired, it announced that it was abandoning the project, not to return.

Meanwhile, the precedent-setting decision by the Supreme Court has had devastating consequences, including using eminent domain to condemn property for oil pipeline construction.  It reaches deep into the pockets of all property owners and taxpayers and raises questions about what, exactly, is guaranteed by land ownership.

Shortly after the Kelo decision, there was a stampede by municipalities and other government entities across the nation to confiscate private land on the flimsiest of pretexts.  It got so bad in Georgia (and over 40 other states) that the state legislature put brakes on it, much to the dismay of our city and county governments.

In Savannah, title searches were being conducted by city officials to determine which properties the city might claim.  It was irrelevant to them that property taxes were being paid.  Now municipalities are lobbying the state legislature to remove the limits and maybe expand them, too.

Worse, eminent domain is rearing its ugly head in ever more ominous guises.  President Trump has said he would like to expand the its use.

This power of the state to confiscate private land for corporate cartels has run amok.  In Georgia, the latest assault on private property comes from corporate giant Kinder Morgan (of Enron heritage), which is lobbying the Georgia government for direct eminent domain rights.  There is a newly formed legislative committee studying how to slip this egregious theft past taxpayers and still get re-elected.

Meanwhile, multiply-subsidized Southern Company (a Fortune 500 company), has recently paid $1.5 billion cash for a stake in Kinder Morgan’s future.  Never mind that Georgia taxpayers, energy users, and captive SoCo market customers are already paying for two unneeded nuclear power plants upriver from Savannah.

I contend the industrial age has peaked.  Long term costs, like widespread contamination of shared resources, are becoming increasingly apparent, yet these are not factored into the government or corporate prognostications.  The “global economy” works when you’re talking about electronic money.  It’s a different matter when you’re exporting valuable natural resources and leaving the waste behind.

Eminent domain cuts both ways.  The impact of the Kelo decision has been for government to determine what is in the interests of “the public good,” to the great indignation of “the public.”  Remember that property owners pay property taxes every year to secure their protection from land confiscation, among other things. Guarantees such as water quality come with property tax payments.

By comparison, in the mid 1800s, much of the US rail system was built on government granted land, acquired by the government by “treaty” with natives, ”purchased,” as in the Louisiana Purchase, or presumed US territory because no one contested it.  Abraham Lincoln and his successors, such as Andrew Johnson and Ulysses Grant, gave 10-mile wide swaths to private rail companies.  During the War Between the States and during Reconstruction, the North was desperate to insure a food supply for the cities, since it had eviscerated the South’s agricultural economy.  Let’s not forget that Abraham Lincoln was a corporate railroad lawyer before he was president.

So the race to link the continent’s coasts as quickly as possible gave rise to government bonds and favors, and railroad stock speculation, with the so-called “Robber Barons” like John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie playing both ends against the middle and profiting on all sides.   They skillfully manipulated the government and stock markets to do their bidding, at maximum public cost.

Immigrants from China, Ireland, and other places were tricked into leaving their homes to come to the “land of the free” to do the grunt and dangerous work, like laying the tracks.  They were now destitute, unable to return home, and forced to do maximum labor for minimum wages and the worst possible living conditions.

Back to the 21st century, the most outrageous difference between the rail and the highway systems now is that the highways are owned by the public, and the rail lines are owned by corporate rail giants, like Norfolk-Southern, CSX, and Western Pacific.

To allow the rail infrastructure—an invaluable public resource–to languish in corporate hands distorts US perceptions so badly that we lose track of the obvious.  Rail is the most efficient, enjoyable, and effective land transporter of goods and people ever devised.  Rail has versatility, accessibility, and practicality that pipelines can never provide.  It’s out in the open, so people can see what’s broke and fix it easily.  Best of all, the infrastructure is already in place, just needs a little of The Donald’s magic wand in terms of claiming it for the public good and using some of that infrastructure funding to spiff it up and make it safe for all.

If the new President wants to use eminent domain for the public good, he would do well to look at the rail system, but don’t expect him to think of this on his own.  It is in every citizen/taxpayer’s best interest to look at who benefits from eminent domain as it is currently wielded.  Once again, it favors large institutions over individual taxpayers, while taxpayers suffer the costs.

And now the world knows my solution to the pipeline problem.

Coming soon . . . my solution to the health care problem.

 

 

 

 

IS THE DEMISE OF THE RFS IN EISA 2007 AT HAND? — Stop Mandatory Ethanol Blog

Anyone else notice anything strange about Trump’s cabinet appointment process? There is only one secretary level cabinet appointment left: Secretary Of Agriculture. Why is SOA the last appointment? Is there some controversy within the new administration already? Remember, Trump campaigned in the heartland, pandering to the corn state voters, promising he would not repeal the […]

via IS THE DEMISE OF THE RFS IN EISA 2007 AT HAND? — Stop Mandatory Ethanol Blog

This blogger gives detailed and valuable information about the ethanol mandate passed by Congress in 2007.  I stand firmly for absolute repeal of this mandate by the 2017 Congress and hope others see the wisdom of getting this law off the books.

 

Shoveling Steps

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My place in the Cosmos

Wednesday, July 6, 2016—And Brownie did indeed lay an egg yesterday.  When I noticed I’d been worrying about her, I decided my worry made it worse for her, so  turned my attention to the concrete dock steps, even though it was mid-day and cooking.  I hauled self and tools to the end of the dock and shoveled three bucketfuls of mud into the wheelbarrow.  I hacked oyster and clam shells and barnacles off the bottom steps, feeling surprisingly good about this heavy work in white hot heat.  The primary motivator was the realization that it would provide left-sided upper body exercise, and help strengthen my left wrist.  This wrist remains bent and atrophied from a break two years ago.

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Brownie

Once I began shoveling, though, the exercise provided so much more, including memories and associations to the river from my earliest childhood years.  Maybe lifetimes of memories.  I always imagine Moses as a baby, floating up a river maybe like this one.  I think of Creek Indians, the river’s slow pace, the easy rhythm of living off the land.  Yesterday, the tide was going out and low enough that water only covered the bottom step.  I saw ripples of shrimp and minnows and thought about going shrimping.

With steps cleared, this will be more feasible.  I wondered if this is now against the law.  I understand scooping mud and using it for gardening is now a no-no, but all was quiet yesterday, with government spies in airplanes and helicopters off harassing other people.

When I had all the mud I could haul, and a bit of sunburn, I brought the wheelbarrow to the east side of the deck and dumped it between buried concrete blocks and lawn (weeds) next to tomatoes that are thriving.  The plan is to extend the length of the plot along the front of the deck, where I can water easily and have water run away from the house.

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Mud garden

I imagined being a slave on a rice plantation in the old South, a life I was comfortable enough with, because the water was cool and the work hard but paced like the river itself.  I imagined being a woman in that life, with healing skills and sunny disposition that kept me safe.

I thought about myself as a true scientist, a life scientist, who makes discoveries through trial and error, going my own way, not calling attention to what I’m doing.  I’m not sure of what I’m doing, for one thing, and I don’t trust others’ judgment or discretion.

While working with the mud, I imagined today’s techno-geniuses looking to profit by expropriating my ideas, saddling them with rules, and ruining the fun for me.  I thought about Machu Picchu and how all prehistoric and locally/land-based cultures made use of what they had.  They worked with nature instead of against her.  The land owned them instead of the other way around.

The mass migrations created by shipping and its sequelae–because of dissatisfaction with treasures close to home—seems so sad and unnecessary, I thought.  The Cosmic Improv Group—that gaggle of hallucinations inside my imagination and unheard by others— told me this has been necessary to show others what I’ve always known.  The CIG likes to watch me work and give advice and support.

I want to experiment with river mud to learn or re-learn its properties, not only in gardening, but in building, too.  I don’t intend to ask government permission, or even to talk much about what I’m up to, unless they’re willing to help with the shoveling.  I really am creating a fertilizer factory, in a left-handed sort of way.

The idea of a “left-handed way” opens a “new cell in my brain,” as my left-handed mother would say.  My approach is “backwards” to some, but it is also yin-motivated, as I consider that the left is my yin side.

I imagine that if I discover the many useful properties of mud—or re-discover them—the asset plunderers and money exporters will seek to own and control, and I will be squeezed out, once again.

Here’s How 061916: Government Creep by Eminent Domain

Five days ago, I posted a blog that referenced the Supreme Court’s 2005 “Kelo” decision about eminent domain.

Four days ago, I read in the Savannah Morning News about the latest example of government creep by eminent domain.  At issue is the request by oil-and-gas pipeline corporation Kinder Morgan for eminent domain privileges through 210 miles of coastal Georgia.  The so-called “Palmetto Pipeline” is intended to transport oil, gas, possibly natural gas and ethanol (although this is not clear) to ports at Savannah, Brunswick, and Jacksonville for export.

Now Richard Kinder, head of Kinder Morgan, was one of the principals at Enron, when it collapsed in bankruptcy, following an internal scandal revealed in October, 2001.  Enron’s was the largest corporate bankruptcy in US history, at $63.4 billion in assets, until WorldCom surpassed it a year later.  (Wikipedia, 100415)

More recently, in 2014, one of Kinder Morgan’s existing pipelines spilled 370,000 gallons of gasoline in Belton, SC.

In 2015, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal did something right, for a change, and denied Kinder Morgan’s bid for eminent domain.  Kinder Morgan appealed the decision, but a Fulton County judge (Atlanta) upheld it, and Kinder Morgan officially withdrew its application.

Now comes the Georgia Legislature to help Kinder Morgan out.  The SMN’s article “Pipeline study group forming,” by Mary Landers, says House Bill 1036, signed into law May 3, 2016, has created a “study commission” tasked with recommending changes to the way Georgia evaluates gasoline and diesel pipelines.  This “State Commission on Petroleum Pipelines” has until December 31 to “conduct a detailed study to ensure the exercise of eminent domain powers by petroleum pipelines is carried out in a prudent and responsible manner consistent with the estate’s essential public interests.” (Quoted from the Savannah Morning News’ quote of the press release).  (KO Translation:  “We are trying to find a way to grant eminent domain privileges to Kinder Morgan.”)

Yours truly, here, has been keeping her finger on the pulse of the planet for forty years, and she has been right too often to doubt her assessment now.  This is how government works to benefit asset plunderers and money churners, at the expense of the taxpayers who pay the costs of the industry as well as the environmental costs on land they thought they owned.

Before Governor Deal denied the original application, I wrote letters to him and to Richard Kinder, threatening to look into stock investments of everyone involved in the decision, including judges.  I sent copies to everyone I could think of, because this is cheaper than filing lawsuits and dealing with the perpetrators in their own lair and on their terms.

As a tactical move, it also shows how legislators and bureaucrats at every level of government have an inherent conflict of interest as long as they have or control pension plans invested on Wall Street.  As long as they are making decisions that affect us all, we have a right to know where their taxpayer-funded investments are going.  After all, the biggest eco-rapists, like the energy companies, pay the highest dividends, and corporate and pension fund managers want to show high rates of return.

I posted the following satirical article about the Kelo decision on my now-defunct website in October, 2007.  It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

–news from the event horizon–

A RETROSPECTIVE: October 28, 2007

by Katharine C. Otto

VIAGRA BLINDS US SUPREME COURT
United States Government Implodes Following Eminent Domain Decision

Homeowners quit buying homes and paying property taxes after the United States Supreme Court sold them out to a higher bidder. On June 23, 2005, the High Court sided 5-4 with the New London, Connecticut City Council, allowing the city to take Susette Kelo’s and her neighbors’ homes by eminent domain.  When Kelo, et al. lost their property rights, homeowners everywhere realized US law no longer guarantees ownership, so property taxes are invalid.

Multibillion-dollar international drug manufacturer, distributor, university and medical education grantor, researcher, lobbyist, political donor, NYSE high roller, and advertizing giant Pfizer, Inc. denied a role in the Supreme Court decision. A spokesman for Pfizer, who refused to be identified, claimed the mega-corporation has not leased or purchased any part of the conference and convention center planned atop Kelo’s neighborhood and next door to Pfizer’s new, $270 million, global research facility.

Pfizer also says its popular erectile dysfunction drug Viagra does not cause blindness–despite litigation to the contrary–but a source close to the labs hints this is how Viagra works. (“FDA Was Told of Viagra-Blindness Link Months Ago:  Senator Criticizes Delay in Alerting Consumers After Safety Officer Warned Agency About Drug,” washingtonpost.com, by Marc Kaufman, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, July 1, 2005.)

Viagra blinded local governments, though. Running with the Supreme Court’s balls, city and county governments drove thousands of people from their homes, offering zoning changes and tax incentives to commercial developers.  Sadly, no one could pay the price.

This caused a general collapse of US currency. “The dollar no longer makes sense,” said a famous economist who asked for anonymity.  “This means there’s no difference between rich and poor.  And, since we have no property rights, tu casa es mi casa, as any illegal alien can tell you.”

Hoards of homeless men, women, and children hailed the news. They swarmed the White House, governors’ mansions, and other public housing, where they spread blankets and took up residence.

Government officials and bureaucrats, fearing angry mobs, barricaded themselves in government buildings, but no one tried to get in. When they attempted to leave with their hands up, they found doors locked from outside.

Ex-taxpayers gathered outside and questioned whether public servants serve the public. One woman insisted they could be taught.  She recommended re-writing their job descriptions, but others doubted they could learn anything new.  A janitor claimed it’s theoretically possible to rehabilitate federal employees with short job titles, but it would be taxing.  They could start by cleaning out their own offices.

A former property owner, who still lives at home, said quarantining public servants taxes no one but the government. It protects neighborhoods and keeps cities safe from democracy.

“We discovered the blockhead period of architecture—so popular with the feds since the 1950s—is perfectly suited for housing our surplus supervisors until we figure out what to do with them.” When asked how they would feed the thousands of incarcerated deciders, she replied, “Let them eat paper, since that’s all they produce.”

Junk food corporations broadcast outrage at this cold-hearted attitude. They have responded by donating millions in food and drink for the trapped victims.  Now, inside sources say the prisoners are far from starving, and many can finally stay on their diets.

But angry environmentalists are threatening to torch the burgers with the packaging, if McDonald’s and others don’t pack out their own trash. In a furious back-lash, the fast food and packaging industries are lobbying Congress to require more trash cans outside government buildings.

But Congress has more urgent problems. Legislators are locked in the Capitol and strapped for bathrooms and toilet paper. They are working on bi-partisan emergency legislation for men’s room rationing and other limitations on dumping. Already, government waste has backed up the sewage system and flooded the nation’s capitol, creating the most blighted neighborhood the world has ever smelled.  The President has declared a national emergency and is pumping trillions of electronic dollars into the sewer system.

Sadly, nationwide polls show little sympathy for Washington’s plight. “Let ‘em eat shit,” said a Kansas farmer who was paid not to farm.  “Nobody owns this land now.  Money has no value, but my family still has to eat.  People around town are helping out.”

He laughed when offered federal assistance. “Pay them to stay away,” he said. “I’ll distill corn ethanol, stay home, and party. Can we tighten that Beltway some more?”

He suggested selling or leasing government employees to third world countries. When reminded money was worthless, he suggested giving the public servants away, but admitted this may not be feasible, either.

An Alaskan book dealer said the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge seems safe, for now. People who worked only for the money have quit their jobs and no longer drive so much.

A Montana rancher didn’t know the government had collapsed, because he had no TV. He asked if that explained why road projects through nearby National Forest lands were abandoned.

A Georgia shrimper wondered about the sudden disappearance of the DNR, EPA, DEA, FBI, CIA, Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services, Department of Homeland Security, Army Corps of Engineers, US Coast Guard, city and county police, and military aircraft from the coastline.

Large retailers, who expected mass looting when the dollar collapsed, discovered nobody wanted anything they had. The stores have been abandoned.  When asked why she no longer visits Wal-Mart, one former shopper said she just enjoyed spending money.  Now, she uses what she has.

The packaging industry is in crisis, because like the government, fast food, and Wal-Mart, it provides nothing of lasting value. Similarly, bankers, accountants, and lawyers have found their skills obsolete in a cashless, lawless society.

The rest of the world has questioned why the US stopped bombing Iraq.

“Economics,” everyone says. “When no one gets paid, the relative value of life goes up.”

The collapse of the US economy has surprised no one except the economists, who claim the dollar really does have value, despite appearances.

Overall, the implosion of the United States government has not been the disaster everyone feared. Of course, creditors with liens against the country want to collect what they can, but they are finding little worth taking.  Some have even resorted to accepting government employees.  It is hoped that outsourcing the largest worker force in the nation will spread democracy around the globe and provide the balance of trade so crucial to world peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s How 061416: “Value Added Packaging”

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I consider it a triumph when I can extend the life of packaging beyond a single use. To add value to packaging sometimes requires as little as soaking labels off jars or cutting the flaps off a box.  Then I can re-label as needed, using masking tape and a felt pen.

This photo shows some of the uses I’ve found. Jars, preferably those with metal tops, work for everything from keeping mice out of chicken food (and pantry supplies) to serving as storage containers for my dried herbs.  Claussen pickle jar, chutney jar, and preserves jar shown.  The preserves jar holds my chocolate chip/dinner mint/nut snack food.  The tall jar is a re-purposed red wine vinegar jar that serves as a pen dispenser.  It dispenses one pen at a time.  The plastic topped jars that I’ve converted into “Supreme Court Balls Starter Kits” held Publix natural peanut butter (crunchy).

The “Supreme Court Balls Starter Kits” were an inspiration following the infamous 5-4 “Kelo” (eminent domain) decision of 2005. This land grab by Pfizer pharmaceuticals, acting through the New London, Connecticut City Council, invalidated property rights for individuals when a higher bidder comes along.  Subsequent events by all levels of government have proved they are quick to eminent domain property whenever it suits their financial interests.  The jars pictured here hold coins.  One is full of pennies, $6.80 when filled to the brim.  The pennies weigh 2.025 kilos or 4.45 pounds.  The jar holds 400 ml or 1.75 cups of water.  It is 12.7 cm (5 inches) high and 24.75 cm (9.75 inches) in circumference.  So this jar is also a teaching tool for metrics.  It also highlights my belief that saving spare change in jars is a good hedge against bank failure, since they can’t be hijacked by a keystroke, they retain metal value, are hard to steal, and don’t burn up in a fire.

I imagine the “Supreme Court Balls Starter Kits” and the accompanying “Supreme Court Balls Designer Labels” will be worth a lot of money when people wise up to what the Supreme Court has done to individual property rights.

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The metal spice container is now a salt shaker that allows me to add uncooked rice in the large middle opening and shake the salt out of the shaker opening. This is necessary in the humid South, because rice alone does not keep the shaker holes from getting clogged.  For this, it is necessary to close the top.

The yogurt containers (or any dairy container, such as those for sour cream) are useful for cooked food or to freeze cooked food. They are also great for giveaway food.  This maneuver serves the dual purpose of adding food value to used containers and getting rid of the packaging without having to throw it away.  Note the mouse-damaged plastic top that prompted me to transfer chicken food from yogurt container to glass jar.

The home-made pesto is in a re-purposed cake icing container.

Old spice jars are also good for storing small items, like hooks and screws. Film containers (for those of us who still use film cameras) store things like razor blades and small screws.

Then there’s the grocery store produce bag, which can keep whole bowls of food fresh in the refrigerator. This one is protecting grated cheese.

Old shoe boxes make great storage containers for CDs and photographs. Any de-flapped box becomes a great, lightweight tool for organizing and storing clutter.  I use them as trash cans, too.

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Then, there’s the tool room, where old tin cans serve to organize my supplies of bolts, drill bits, and nuts. The plastic containers hold various screws, hooks, and assorted hardware, including replacement blades for the box cutter.

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Chicken food, wild bird seed, and deer corn bags become trash bags. They are sturdy enough to hold sharp objects, like broken glass, without puncturing.  Buckets like the one here that held joint compound are valuable enough by themselves to be sold at outlets like Home Depot.

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Finally, the water-filled milk containers between the mint and stevia plants are an experiment. The idea is to keep plants cool on the hot deck and to have spare water if the pump breaks or the power goes out.  I washed the jugs thoroughly and added 3 drops of chlorine bleach to the water, as we were taught to do during the Cuban missile crisis in the 1960s.  The versatility of concrete blocks will be explored more thoroughly in a future blog about my inventions.