Sunday, November 25, 2007

Conserve Clean Water

The above bathroom sink is where I shave each morning. The handle on the left supplies hot water. I measured the water volume and learned that 3/4 of a gallon of cold water flows before detectable warm water reaches the spout. I filled the blue cup several times and transferred the water into the half-gallon jar to make this determination.

This wait for warm water happens because of the 20 feet distance between the spout and the electric water heater.

I've allowed clean, potable, and cold water to flow into the drain and septic system each morning for over a quarter-century as I waited for warm water to arrive at the tap to begin washing my face. I recently decided that allowing this cold water flow down the drain was wasteful and changed my behavior to start collecting it for use in watering house plants. I can also use it for tea, coffee, or any other household need for clean water.

I now use the blue plastic cup and a plastic bucket to save this cold water. This behavior change will reduce the flow of clean water entering the septic system by slightly less than a gallon per day. This will also reduce the daily need for clean water at my house and reduce demand at our King Water Treatment Plant in King, North Carolina. Every little savings will help conserve this precious resource.

The picture below shows plants stored in our basement for protection from the winter cold.

Have a good week!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Military Order of Purple Heart

We had a great bus trip to Washington, D.C. on Friday and returned home to Winston-Salem on Monday evening.

We were Military Order of Purple Heart veterans (Chapter 638), spouses, and Veterans Affairs employees from the Triad area of North Carolina in D. C. for the Veterans Day 2007 parade.

We combat wounded veterans from WWII, Korea, or Vietnam rode (or walked along side) a special Purple Heart float in the parade along Constitution Avenue on Saturday. It was a well attended parade and appreciated by the veterans. I've never heard so many "thank you" words shouted by people along the parade route. People with cameras on both sides of the street took our picture as we waved and saluted in response to their expressions of thanks.

Our chartered bus carried us to Arlington Cemetery on Sunday morning where Vice President Dick Cheney laid a wreath at the guarded tomb at the exact minute of the eleventh month, eleventh day, and eleventh hour to honor unknown and uncelebrated warriors that brought this country to its current state of freedom.

After speeches in the Memorial Amphitheater at the tomb, we lingered to watch the changing of the guard. The sergeant-in-charge marched the replacement guard into position to inspect his weapon and personal appearance in a ritual of precision movements. Before the sergeant began, he stood at attention in front of the crowd and reminded us to assume an attitude of "high respect and utmost dignity" while at this place. We followed his command and remained silent and moved about slowly and quietly.

Throughout the weekend we visited memorials of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Iwo Jima. Each place was a moving and awesome experience. It is amazing how each artist captured and depicted the essence of that special time in our history.

Two thousand volunteers read about thirty names each at the Vietnam Wall to enunciate names of over 58,000 KIA's inscribed on the black granite. This reading took from Wednesday through Saturday to complete. We were there on Saturday afternoon and saw the line-up of readers at the micro-phone and heard the names broadcast. I read earlier how some reader volunteers had special connections to certain names and often choked with emotion when that name of their father, grandfather, or husband was ready to be spoken.

There were many pictures, letters, poems, and other articles laid at the base of the Wall.

We split into subgroups at night and ate dinner in different restaurants and enjoyed getting to know new people on the trip from Winston-Salem.

During the return trip home on Monday, we stopped at Marine Corps Base Quantico and toured the one-year-old Marine Museum. Everyone should visit this museum to see the rich history of "the few, the proud" military organization.

Have a good week!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Blackwater USA

Jeremy Scahill wrote the book entitled Blackwater The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, published by Nation Books in 2007.

The book is about Erik Prince who founded the private security organization, Blackwater, and built a huge training compound on 7,000 acres in northeastern North Carolina.

I have high respect for Erik Prince. He is, perhaps, the wealthiest man ever to enlist in the military according to page 26 in the book pictured above. As a multi-millionaire, he volunteered for service in the U. S. Navy, became a Navy Seal on Team 8 in the 1990's, and was deployed on assignments that placed him in harm's way. After his honorable discharge, he purchased swampland, developed a training compound, and assembled elite forces to respond to new demand for private security contractors.

I am a great admirer of Jeremy Scahill, the author of the book mentioned here. I read his book, have seen him interviewed, and believe he is the gold standard for investigative research and reporting. He possesses awesome verbal skills as demonstrated in television interviews. This young man should be a case study for excellence and quality in doing the job of investigative reporting.

I saw a news clip of Erik Prince's testimony before a Congressional Committee where he defended the mission of his company. I heard him say "I am an American fighting for America". I've never before heard another person utter those words. Have you ever said those words? Have you ever undertaken actions you feel mean the same as the words said by Mr. Prince?

I believe the subject of whether to use contractors in addition to the military should be debated with scholarship on university and college campuses. There should be more media discourse on who is and who is not volunteering for military service. I believe the size and socio-economic make-up of the military is an issue.

Have a good week!


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Stolen Valor

I recently received the below message from a reader about a grave marker highlighted on this blog in May, 2006. Read the comment which is dated 9/18/2007. Click on the below images to enlarge if needed.

Many people claim to be heroes, Medal of Honor recipients, Vietnam veterans or secret Special Forces operatives. Falsification of background is a widespread problem in this society. These type people live lies in order to gain favor with others or to get votes for elected offices. The problem is so significant that the U. S. Congress recently passed the Stolen Valor Act. This law makes it a crime to fraudulently represent oneself with a military background when there wasn't service in the military.

When someone you meet claims military service, you should question them thoroughly before you believe their story.

Have a good week!