Early Morning Writing Exercise

It is dark and still at 03:14 A.M. The thrumming of the AC has ceased, no longer needed during the cooler hours of the early morning. I doubt I will receive a second reprieve from the heat and humidity during the rest of the weekend.
It is peaceful at this time, not very much stirring to disturb the silence, just the occasional static croak from a hopeful amphibian, signaling for a mate.
Tea should be steeped and ready to sip, excuse me while I fetch it.
Nala is awake now; her hopeful yellow eyes follow me across the darkened living room, she wonders to herself, “Will he show kindliness, make an oblation, and feed me early?” Not likely, her silent adjuration is far less effective in the dark. It is not cruel; cats love regimentation and regulation, just try missing a feeding, and see what happens.

This little exercise in flash composition should take me to the dawn, the start of another day, a euphemism for having nothing to do, and far too much time in which to do it.
I started out with the premise of writing something around the words “Kafkaesque Kakistocracy” but I just could not weave it in, oh well, I am certain there will be ample opportunity to do so in the coming weeks and months.
Stay cool and hydrated out there, perhaps let the yard work go for a day or two, suffer on then.
There it is, a slight brightening over the tops of the trees, and in the immortal words of the artist formally known as Cat Stevens, “Morning has broken…”

Do we always lose what we love, or is it just me?

Is it part of human nature to lose what one loves or have I just been singled out for this particular curse?

I have observed many happy couples who have overcome life’s vicissitudes and remained pair bonded, or what passes for marital bliss well into their golden years; therefore, I know that it is possible. Unfortunately, for me, if I love it_ I lose it.

“There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.” ~ C. JoyBell C.

I loved deeply when I was a younger man a most beautiful young woman and my first real love. I lost her to the malfunctioning of my damaged brain; it would not be the last time that this cruel defect of birth would interfere with my rosy envisioned destiny.

Maybe my destiny is to walk the final miles alone, although, that hardly seems fair. Apparently, there is no justice in this world. It is difficult to process the emotions of loss, strange because you would think that I would be really, really good at it by now but no; it never gets easy. The scars are always fresh, just waiting to be reopened anew.

Lunch with President Trump

If you could have lunch with the President, what would you ask him?

 

An old man finds himself in a near empty MacDonald’s restaurant, not quite sure why or how he got there. Sitting alone, in a booth at the back of the home of the Happy Meal, is a rather large golden haired man in a business suit.

Clearly recognizable as arguably the most powerful man in the world, the President of the United States of America is chowing down on a Big Mac, fries, and a coke.

Seeing this as the opportunity of a lifetime, the old man cautiously approaches the larger man.

“Pardon me Mr. President, I am sorry to disturb your lunch; however, as you are an employee of the Federal Government, my government, I wonder if I could impose upon you to answer a question or two?”

Looking up from his burger, with grease, and special sauce running down the sides of his mouth and dangling from his ample double chin as the old man offered a handful of napkins and locked gaze with the coldest pair of blue eyes he has ever seen, the President said, “Thanks, what do you want to know?”

“Well, some would say that Kim Jong-un has played you like a violin, the North Korean leader received world recognition, a cessation of war Games between the US and South Korea, all without having to give anything up in return. What do you plan to do to make the world safer and fulfill your promise that the Korean peninsula will denuclearize?” The old man inquired, nervously leaning on his walking aid.

Setting down his half-eaten double-cheese burger with pickle slices and special sauce on a sesame seed bun, he irritatingly replied.

“No, no, you have that all wrong! I have made the World safer; the North Koreans have stopped there testing! No missile tests, no nuclear detonations. I have had many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well! In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!” [1]

Undaunted and unconvinced, the old man continued. “I beg your pardon Mr. President but did it ever occur to you that the only reason that the North Koreans have ceased their testing, nuclear detonations, and missile firings is because they already have completed development of the weapon systems that they desired and are now simply making more and stockpiling them?

Without a response, the old man moved on to his second question.

“With the enactment of your Tax Reform Bill, America’s budget deficit has ballooned to $779 billion in 2018, as higher spending and stagnating tax revenue pushed the nation’s debt burden higher. How do you propose to offset those disturbing numbers?”

“We will cut wasteful spending and that will eventually put the nation on a sustainable fiscal footing.” The golden haired man confidently replied with hubris and bluster.

“So what you are really telling me that the $1.5 Trillion that has been gifted to large corporations and the wealthy will be paid for by the most vulnerable, by cutting their social safety net programs and you are OK with that?” The old man asked with a more acerbic tone than he would have liked.

“Well, you know, we all have to sacrifice a little to make America great again.” The President said with a diabolical grin stretching across his pouchy face.

“One more question, if you do not mind Mr. President?” Asked the old man sliding onto a seat in the booth across from the man with grease on his chin and feeling a sense of disbelief that this person occupied the highest Office in the land and yet he felt no remorse, no empathy for the agendas and actions for which he was directly responsible.

“There are over 200 children from separated, undocumented immigrant families who remain in US custody, according to what officials have said in a court filing Monday night. Most of the 245 children in custody have parents who were removed from the United States — 175 children, according to the latest government tally. How do you justify what many would call a cruel and inhumane policy?” [3]

With burger still masticating in his mouth, the blond man across the table replied between chews.

“Well, I will say this: If they feel there will be separation, they don’t come. You know, if they feel there’s separation, it’s a — it’s a terrible situation. We want to go through Congress, but the Democrats don’t want to approve anything. They’re obstructionists.

If they feel there’s separation — in many cases, they don’t come. But also, in many cases, you have really bad people coming in and using children.  They’re not their children.  They don’t even know the children.  They haven’t known the children for 20 minutes, and they grab children and they use them to come into our country. You got some really bad people out there.

We’re doing an incredible job. But the one thing I will say: The country is doing so well economically and every other way that more people want to come in than ever before. So we have to be very strong.” So said the leader of the Republican Party and President of the United States of America, the onetime beacon of the Free World.” [4]

“Thank you Mr. President for answering my inquiries. I only have one final question, why have you and your Republican supporters in Congress introduced a series of proposals that they say would replicate the existing protections but really do not. Critics contend none of them covers as many situations as the ACA does. For example, a bill unveiled by several Republican senators in August would require insurers to offer coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions, but not require coverage of the conditions themselves.

I mean why lie about it; you have been trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act since you were elected. Therefore, why use subterfuge to achieve your goal, why not simply do the right thing for the American people and do what you promised, give them great healthcare insurance without pre-existing conditions exclusions?” [5]

Again, the only response from the man across the table was silence as the old man searched those vacant blue eyes.

“While we are discussing the Health Care issue, why the falsehoods around ‘Medicare for all’ harming Medicare Advantage programs, it is as if you want to confuse seniors like me! This stuff is difficult enough to comprehend without the Federal Government trying to muddy things up! Just give people a fair and honest deal and perhaps you would not be so vilified.”

“No, you do not understand! The Sander’s version of ‘Medicare for All’ legislation actually abolishes Medicare and Medicare Advantage, as well as employer-provided coverage, union plans and plans people buy for themselves. Every person will be forced into a mandatory, government-run system with the phony name “Medicare for All.” Whether you want it or not. The quality of your medical care will plummet.” Railed a red faced visually perturbed Trump.

“Well, let us just go to the source and check the facts of that statement, shall we? The Sanders plan plan would create a federally administered single-payer health care program. Universal single-payer health care means comprehensive coverage for all Americans. Bernie’s plan will cover the entire continuum of health care, from inpatient to outpatient care; preventive to emergency care; primary care to specialty care, including long-term and palliative care; vision, hearing and oral health care; mental health and substance abuse services; as well as prescription medications, medical equipment, supplies, diagnostics and treatments. Patients will be able to choose a health care provider without worrying about whether that provider is in-network and will be able to get the care they need without having to read any fine print or trying to figure out how they can afford the out-of-pocket costs.” [6]

You and your unified republican government have botched the sixty-five year truce that has kept the peace on the Korean peninsula and allowed North Korea to successfully develop nuclear weapons, blown-up the deficit to a new high with a tax scam that has benefited no one except the one percent, avoided taking responsibility for the most heinous treatment of innocent refugees that the civilized world has witnessed since the 1940’s. Your economic policies are a rehash of the failed trickle down economic policies from thirty years ago; they are a swindle, and a fraud. As for your international policies, you have single handedly made the world a more dangerous place. You have alienated our allies, abandoned our best hope of mitigating the damage caused by anthropogenic climate disruption, the Paris Accords. Not to mention scraped the functioning Iran Nuclear Deal for no other reason than because your predecessor negotiated it. Your unified republican government has destabilized a functioning healthcare insurance program for millions of American Citizens and cast aspersions on their best chance for a single payer system that would benefit us all. In my opinion you are an epic failure!

You would do better to choke on that Big Mac or have it clog your arteries and succumb to a heart attack.

I will be voting this November but not for any member of your Party! In addition, I believe many people will vote along with me but not for Republicans.” So concluded the old man’s soliloquy.

Like magic, the old man found himself back in his humble apartment facing another lonely, repetitive day. As for President Trump, he continued with his lunch alone, putting the recent conversation out of his mind, and assuming incorrectly that his regime would just continue doing what he wants without the repercussions that result from abuse of Executive power.

 

References:

[1] “Trump brags in tweet that he saved us from war with North Korea”, “Amid reports North Korea isn’t going along with denuclearization, Trump wants everyone to thank him for not being at war.”, “By Emily Stewart”, “03 July 2018”. < https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/7/3/17530456/north-korea-upgrading-nuclear-trump-war >

[2] “Deficit balloons to $779 billion in Trump’s second year”, “The Washington Post”, “By Jeff Stein”, “15 October 2018”. < https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/10/15/deficit-balloons-billion-trumps-second-year >

[3] “More than 200 children from separated immigrant families remain in US custody”, “CNN”, “By Catherine E. Shoichet”, “16 October 2018”. < https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/15/politics/separated-families-reunification-update-undocumented-immigrant/index.html >

[4] “Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure”, “IMMIGRATION”, “White House Press Briefings”, “13 October 2018”, < https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-marine-one-departure-16/ >

[5] “FACT CHECK: Who’s Right About Protections For Pre-Existing Conditions?”, “NPR”, “By Julia Rovner”, “11 October 2018”. < https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/10/11/656503264/fact-check-whos-right-about-protections-for-pre-existing-conditions >

  [6] “Medicare for All: Leaving No One Behind”. < https://berniesanders.com/issues/medicare-for-all/   >

Chapter I, Achmid

Just in time for the Holidays, here is a little present for the readers of this blog. The origin story of Achmid Huchmid. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!

 

Notos, A.K.A. Achmid Huchmid, is a Jack Frost-ian type spirit. However, where Frost brings icy sidewalks, frosted windshields and ice patterns on windows, all associated with cold air masses, Huchmid brings sultry, hazy, hot days and increases in electric bills. This is due, in large part, to the obligatory use of Air Conditioners during his visits, because honestly; when the weather is hot and sticky that is not the time for Duncan Dicky. Now Duncan Dicky is a personal friend of mine who I am loath to see disappear but when Achmid Huchmid is around Duncan is nowhere to be found, outside of a home with Central Air that is. Now you may think these whimsical characters do not really exist but to the contrary, I assure you that they do, though they are none too friendly towards us humans.

Take Jack Frost for example; hails from Northern climes, Arctic and Polar regions, seen mostly during the winter seasons in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, alternating depending on the tilt of the planet. It is likely you have experienced his practical jokes if you have ever slipped and taken a dixie while walking down your front stairs, driveway, or sidewalk because of an invisible coating of ice, sometimes referred to as black ice, although I question the political correctness of that term. Yup, that is the particular calling card of one Mr. Jack Frost.

Jack Frost is the personification of cold, ice, snow, sleet, and all other forms of freezing cold weather. Jack has a variant, that being known by the name, old man winter, the character that is responsible for frosty weather, for nipping the ears, nose, and toes at such times, turning the color of the foliage in autumn.

Jack Frost is reportedly a friendly spirit, but he has a very dangerous side due to his propensity to return a verbal insult by covering the perpetrator with snow or turning them into a frost covered pile of ice; so take care what curses you utter concerning the sprite Mr. Frost. He is mischievous and carefree, happiest when he is unconfined by rules. He flourishes with no obligations. He is the being that your parent or spouse warns you of, on cold winter mornings when you leave for school or work, imploring you to bundle up, put your hat on, and asking you where your mittens have gotten too.

His roots may originate from Anglo-Saxon and Norse winter customs but he has become fully Americanized in recent years. [2]

 

Achmid on the other hand originated in the air masses associated with the Equatorial and Tropical areas of our planet. Hot, humid air was first documented in Greece around 400 BC by Hippocrates, who noticed that health could be tied to the source of the winds flowing into a city, although the science behind Hippocrates’ writings on the subject are totally without merit.  Our sprite Achmid is much older and traces his lineage back to ancient Egypt. He is a cousin of Shu (/fu/ meaning “emptiness” and “he who rises up”) one of the primordial gods in Egyptian mythology, a personification of air, one of the Ennead of Heliopolis. Like the air, Shu was considered to be cooling, and thus a calming influence, and a pacifier. Due to his association with air, calm, and thus Ma’at (truth, justice and order), Shu was portrayed in art wearing an ostrich feather. [3]

Well, they say family traits skip a generation and that does appear to be true in Achmid’s case because he could be the poster child for all things un-cooling. At the end of the Old Kingdom there occurred a terrible weather disaster when Tefnut and Shu argued, and Tefnut left Egypt for Nubia, a more temperate clime, and did not return until Achmid convinced her that heat just was not that sexy without moisture to make it humid.

However, I digress; our Achmid is a sprite of the air. The south wind to be precise; the south wind is a hot, fiery wind, concerned with power, energy, and excitement. It is said that when the south wind blows, go to a windy place and light a candle in a lantern or glass jar and say:

“Spirit of the south wind,

That brings the fiery heat

Bring passion and excitement into my life

And fill me with your energy.” [4]

 

Now I am quite aware of the incongruity of this incantation, beseeching the South wind, a wind that blows hot air, makes us hot and sticky, causes Duncan Dickey to seek out cooler locals, and generally raises our electric bills to assist ones love life. Why would anyone want that kind of weather? Well if you are someone who enjoys the company of females then you know the sublime pleasure of watching a woman wrapped in a loose fitting garment stroll by on a hot summer’s eve. The gentle movement of her shape, curves, prominences, and symmetries are the things that drive passion and excitement.

You see dear reader just writing about warm, moist air causes my mind to wander and I beg your pardon while I return to the topic at hand; where and how Achmid Huchmid originated and what his role is in our story.

From this data we can surmise that Achmid originates in the equatorial regions of the Middle East and after a lengthy period of time moves off the coast of North Africa and begins his long, solo journey across the Atlantic ocean, picking up copious amounts of moisture along the way.

 

References

2. “Jack Frost”, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 9 May 2016. <http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Frost#cite_note-1>

3. “Shu (Egyptian god)”, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 10 May 2016,”< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shu_(Egyptian_god)>

4. Franklin, A. (2005) “Working with Fairies: Magick, Spells, Potions & Recipes to Attract and See Them”, Career Press, 2005.

Waiting for the Fog to Lift

“Areas of fog before 9am. Otherwise, cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph in the afternoon.”

I began my morning Facebook session at 05:00 A.M. It was still dark but I could see by the village parking lot lights that it was very foggy outside. O’course none of that matters to Nala, whose early morning needs are simple, food for which she does not like to wait. Mine are a bit more complex. I need to get to the Wood’s Plaza CVS but prefer not to risk life and limb in doing so; I will be forced to wait until the Sun burns off the fog. I would not wish to ruin some motor vehicle operators day by crashing my body into his or her shiny, two to four thousand pound automobile, getting it all messy with my viscera because they could not see me walking along the highway.

“Waiting,” it is what the marginalized are expected to do! If you do not have a personal conveyance device at your disposal, you are expected to wait, patiently. I have no issue with waiting; I am quite proficient at it. I usually bring whatever book I am currently reading to pass the time. It suits me.

Some people express great annoyance with waiting, delays, or loss of time due to things beyond their control. What is that about? Do they really believe that their time is more valuable than the next persons? Are they in a hurry to get to the end of their day, week, month, year, or life?

I am thinking a great deal about waiting this morning, while I wait for the fog to lift. It is helpful to me to read what others have written on the subject of waiting.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell

I like and respect Mr. Campbell, I imagine that he has a very old soul.

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” ~ Joyce Meyer

Ms Meyer, on the other hand I have my doubts about; although, this quote of hers does have wisdom in it.

“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” ~ Bertrand Russell

Mr. Russell, now he is a classic!

“The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.” ~ Fran Lebowitz

Ah, I love the wit of Ms Lebowitz, I wish everyone was so blessed.

 

The machinations of government are painfully slow, as our notoriously impatient Forty-five is realizing of late, with his having to deal with his own Party’s inability to execute his wishes. I am certain that having to wait to get your authoritarian legislative agenda through Congress is a real drag, regardless of how heartless the initiatives might be.

Reportedly the president does not read, if he did perhaps waiting would be easier for him, not that I give a furry rat’s arsehole about Mr. Trump’s discomfort, I do not. I only mention it here because I too have had to endure the seemingly endless interval of bureaucracy’s languidness, e.g. sidewalk installation along Great Road.

I recently posted my intention to apply for the open volunteer position on the Acton Sidewalk Committee having learned of their inability to meet quorum when I attended their meeting last Monday. I filled out the required paperwork and submitted it on Tuesday of last week. Yesterday I received a response asking me if I could attend the Volunteer Coordinating Committee meeting so that they could meet with me “to discuss your interest and qualifications.”

I responded informing the chairperson that I would make arrangements to take the Cross Acton Transit (CAT ) to the Acton Memorial Library (AML) and wait there until the start of the meeting at 07:40 P.M. but that I would require a ride home, as it would be full dark by meeting’s end. I also requested that the Chairperson confirm with me that a ride had been secured or accept the withdrawal of my application, which he did, offering to drive me home himself if I would be willing to wait until the conclusion of the committee meeting.

This dissertation is of course leading up to a point, I hope. You see the irony of the story is that I would not have to wait for the morning fog to lift, take the CAT and wait at the AML, or ask and wait for a ride home at night if there were sidewalks installed along Great Road.

While not directly under the purview of the Sidewalk Committee, the members can make recommendations and certainly have more influence on the outcome than one, single, solitary, peripatetic individual.

a mini-end of days

The power went out around 06:00 P.M.; how thoughtful that it waited until after I had already microwaved diner. I have read about as much of Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” that my brain can handle for one day, besides the light will be gone soon, so now it is just you and me. It is a bit apocalyptic in a quiet, peaceful sort of way. If you think about it, a power outage is very much like what I would imagine Armageddon to be like. Perhaps these mini-extinctions are a prelude to the real event; i.e. our Forty-fifth finally looses it and calls his opposite number in Moscow to inform him that the deal of deals is off and if he wants his condo money back, he will just have to come and take it. One thing leads to another and it is on, bitch!

The result is the end, so here I sit, imagination running rampant, and with limitless pages to express it on, while I wait for the power to return. Good thing I have candles, good thing the humidity is lower, good thing Nala does not require heated cat food; I could go for a cuppa Sleepy Time tea though.

Excuse me; I need to light a candle because I cannot see the keyboard in the growing dark. Ah, that is better. Another catastrophe, I just knocked over my mouse. In the process, the battery lid took advantage of the chaos to escape, I think it went somewhere beneath the couch. Far back in the dark recesses, where only lost pistachio nuts, cat toys, and fallen food debris now hold dominion; that is where it has sought and found refuge. No point in trying to coax it out, I will have to mount an expedition to retrieve it, and that means moving furniture in the dark [gasp].

Another crisis averted, still no power but I now have an intact mouse-pointing device. It is now 08:10 P.M., a tad early for bed, besides I can still hear children playing outside, the noisy little bastards; are they not aware that the world has come to its inevitable end.

I suppose I could take a dose of ZZZZ-Quell and sleep through the End of Days but then I would miss so much. Too bad that I have no randy, loose-moraled neighbors to cavort with, scenarios like an end-times’ power outage are rife with sexual fantasies at such moments as these. Not that it would do me much good, it has been so long since__, I am not sure that everything functions as designed. It could be a hardware or a software issue, or perhaps both.

I wonder what caused this electrical faux pas. The last significant power failure was due to a less than diligent motor vehicle operator who crashed his car into my building’s power supply, (those gray-green metal boxes that control the electrical supply) while attempting to park his truck. That outage lasted over a weekend; damn I hope this is not a repeat of that event. Oh, it is probably only the North Koreans detonating an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) air-burst nuclear device, which has disabled the entire National power grid. I am such a worrywart.

Chapter XXIX Dreamers, Ice Pirates, and Wishful Thinkers

 

When Alice and George first visited Miami in 1932, it is brilliant and coruscant. Hailing from the cold New England environs of Boston, MA, the verdant mango groves and lush green landscapes of this Southern Florida town wins their hearts and they decide to one day relocate permanently in the eclectic area known as Coconut Grove. It smells of lush, subtropical riparian woodland, which escapes my ability to describe but is unforgettable once experienced. It took them forty years, one son, and a lifetime of winters spent up North shoveling snow but when George approaches retirement, they knew where they would live out the remainder of their lives.

Leaving their only son with all their household goods, furniture, kitchen utensils, and the like they prepare to take their leave of their home of nineteen years and depart for South Florida’s promise of warm, mild winters.

“Goodbye Basil, take good care of yourself and do come visit us whenever you like.” Alice says holding her precious baby boy, now a young man on the cusp of twenty, close to her bosom.

“Sure Mom, I promise, I will visit just as soon as I can.” Basil mendaciously replies.

“Son, you are welcome to come with us.” George falsely states, eager to leave behind all the trappings and baggage of his former life and embark on his just reward for thirty years of dedicated service to a City he could not wait to escape.

“Thanks Dad but I have to finish school and all my friends are here, you know how it is.” Basil truthfully answered his father, shaking his hand for the final time. They are not an affectionate father and son.

Alice and George are by no means affluent; they are humble folk. Alice is the daughter of Irish immigrants; George is the youngest son of a single mother, widowed with six other young mouths to feed and no English language skills. This was well before there were any social safety nets established for the less fortunate. Therefore, they planned to drive to Florida and purchase a modest home in the Coconut Grove area, that they loved so much. Of course, they could never afford to live close to the coast so instead they chose a property suited to their means on high ground miles from the coast, yet possessing all of the delights that southern living offered.

After too short a period of time, a mere six years, George develops an aggressive lung cancer, the reward for twenty odd years of smoking cigarettes along with his partner inside the confined space of their patrol car, primary and secondary smoke is difficult to survive, for long. George passes at home with his loving wife by his side and Basil is summoned to attend. Alice takes Georges death stoically and faces life as a widow with aplomb and dignity. Unfortunately, George’s City pension dies with him and Alice is left with only her savings to survive. She owns the little house outright and with years of practice living frugally, she believes that she can manage; however, Basil has his doubts but as a single man cohabiting with three other young men, he is in no position to provide assistance.

There is a new paradigm in the South Florida Real Estate Market that promises to affect Alice’s fortunes dramatically. By whimsy or fate, the ground where her humble abode is situated is now desirable. People are departing the very beachfront communities that were off-limits to black people by law and custom until the mid-1960s. Moreover, in the era of climate change, those who are fleeing sea-level rise will be on the lookout for a place to live on higher ground, which is likely to push people of color and the poor out of neighborhoods that have historically been mostly black or Caribbean. 80 None of this is lost on the cogent Basil; unfortunately, he does not possess the acuity to exploit these circumstances.

***Boston, MA***

Basil Ring has a brilliant idea but no money or connections to realize it. Many have thought of methods to bring the fresh water stored in frozen form and locked away in the Cryosphere to the thirstier areas of Planet Earth. Many schemes have been floated to capture massive Icebergs after they calve from their parent glaciers, wrap them in plastic, and tow them to North Africa. 81

Feasibility studies have determined that one day it will be scientifically, and more importantly, economically viable but that day has not yet arrived. However, no one, with the exception of Basil, has thought of Strip-mining the ice in the same manner that coal is gathered from the earth and hauled away to be burned. Why not develop a similar process with ice and transport it using converted Oil tankers instead of allowing it to melt and flow into the Ocean? According to Basil’s logic, “If the Ice Sheets at the poles are going to melt anyway, why has no one suggested harvesting that ice before it melts and allowing it to add to global sea level rise?” It is a brilliant idea, even if Basil is the only one who thinks so! His current problem is to find someone who will take him and his idea seriously without dismissing him out-of-hand,  like so many have done before; at least in Basil’s mind, that is.

The need,

Fresh water is a finite resource that remains in a relatively constant supply; continually recycled through the atmosphere and back for the inhabitants of Earth to use. It makes up only 2.5 percent of the aggregate of water on the entire planet. The total amount of water that covers most of the surface of our little blue ball in space has a volume of approximately 332,500,000 cubic miles (mi3) or (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers (km3)). This includes all of the water in the oceans, ice caps, lakes, rivers, groundwater, atmospheric water, including the 55 to 65 percent of water that makes up the human body, your pet, and the vegetables in your garden. 82, 83, 84 More than enough, one would think to address the inhabitants of Spaceship Earth’s thirst; however, the human population has exploded along with our uses for this precious resource. Just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields. In essence, only 0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available to fuel and feed the needs of its 6.8 billion inhabitants. 82

Agriculture is responsible for 87 % of the total water used globally. Industrial usage is much more difficult to determine. An accurate percentage of Industrial Water Consumption varies from country to country and from industry by industry; however, Energy Production is considered a potent consumer or withdrawer of Fresh Water for use in Steam production and cooling.

In the United States alone, much (92 percent) of the surface-water withdrawals and nearly all (99 percent) of the ground-water withdrawals for industrial use were freshwater. 85

“Water scarcity is an abstract concept to many and a stark reality for others. It is the result of myriad environmental, political, economic, and social forces.” 82

 

 

The source, the means.

One estimate of water distribution:

Oceans, Seas, and Bays hold 321,000,000 cubic miles or 96.54 percent of the total amount of water on the planet. Ice caps, Glaciers, & Permanent Snow holds 5,773,000 cubic miles or 1.74 percent of the total. However, what is accessible and available is a fraction of that amount.

How much of the total water is fresh water? The world’s liquid fresh water (groundwater, lakes, swamp water, and rivers), the volume comes to about 2,551,100 mi3 (10,633,450 km3), of which 99 percent is groundwater, much of which is not accessible to humans. The water that people and the rest of life on Earth need every day comes from these surface-water sources. The volume of this water is about 22,339 mi3 (93,113 km3). 82, 83

Basil has researched this information, because he can, and thought to himself one day, “If so many people around the world are thirsty for clean, fresh water and there is so much of it sitting around frozen at the Poles waiting for a warming climate to melt and lose it to the ocean then why not mine it and distribute it to those in need?” Basil never inherited the gene for making money so he does not think in terms of a market driven economy; the concept of selling water for profit never crosses his mind.

Could surface strip coal mining techniques be used to mine ice for fresh water in the Arctic and Antarctic?

Forget towing huge Icebergs. 81   Basil envisions a stable platform on the ice of Antarctica or the Arctic to begin ice-mining operations. Break up the ice into transportable chunks using explosive charges then move the ice to waiting tanker ships. Processing the ice could be accomplished en route or when it reaches its final destination. If transporting crude oil by bulk-tanker is acceptable, profitable, and the norm, then why not water?

Even Lloyd’s of London produced a very comprehensive Study of risk assessments associated with business opportunities in the Arctic. However, no mention of mining ice for freshwater appears anywhere in their sixty page document, available on their web site. “Arctic opening: Opportunity and Risk in the High North”, Lloyds and Chatham House, 2012. 91

Which makes one wonder if it was very comprehensive to begin with and how much Lloyds paid for the study in the first place?

Perhaps it is because entities like Lloyds think only in terms of commodities and risk. The underwriters at Lloyds are not concerned about enriching or saving human lives; therefore, they overlooked the humanitarian benefits of bringing fresh drinking water to the millions who are currently without it. Basil, of course, does not think in terms of Return on Investment, Risk Management, or the Political ramifications of mining the Poles for fresh water. He only thinks of the lives that might be saved, enhanced, and afforded the opportunity to make the World a better place. Gain, personal or otherwise, never enters into his thought processes.

One bright sunny Sunday morning Basil is sitting in his apartment’s kitchen breakfast nook. He shares a flat in a Boston suburb with three other single men. All four men are reading one shared copy of the Boston Sunday Globe. The conversation finally turns away from the latest local sporting team’s win in the playoffs to topics that are more cerebral, allowing Basil to feel comfortable participating.

“Climate Change, how can these libtard tree huggers believe that the climate is warmin’ when it’s been so fackin’ cold out?” Paul states derisively in his strong Boston accent.

“Actually, you are expressing your dismay at our local weather’s temperatures; Global Warming is referring to Climatic conditions that are planetary in nature, so two different things.” Basil offers.

“Oh here we go again, the professor is going to give us a lecture on climate change and why we need to stop driving our cars, turn off the lights, give up meat, and go back to living in teepees.” Richard mocks to the laughter of the group.

“Laugh if you like but anthropogenic climate disruption is real and we had all better start thinking of changing our lifestyles to mitigate its affects if we want to continue living here.” Basil responds. This statement only elicits further pejorative comments accompanied with peals of laughter from his flat-mates all of whom, at six foot heights, are much larger than the diminutive Basil.

“So Basil, how is your big plan to save the planet and provide fresh water to all the towel heads in the desert workin’ out? You would be better off if you found yourself a better payin’ job and maybe a girl friend to occupy you time.” Roger comments, he is the largest and most critical of the three, relentless in his badgering of the knowledgeable but sensitive Basil.

“Explain to me why then it is perfectly acceptable to spend $29.3 billion in taxpayer dollars subsidizing the Oil and Natural Gas Industry but not OK to develop a way of mining ice?” 88 Basil asks, not knowing when he should just shut his mouth and just walk away.

“Because water don’t keep the lights on, cook our food, or fuel our cars, you dimwit!” Roger implacably and callously responds.

Three against one in a scientific disquisition is a winnable scenario_ if everyone agrees that scientific facts are the measure of reality; remove that leg of the milking stool; however, and all bets are off. Basil might just as well debate with a barn full of dairy cows than try to convince his burly but doltish roommates of the veracity of climate change or the benefits of providing clean, fresh water to those who need it.

“Well then, would you agree that temperatures have risen dramatically since the mid eighteen hundreds?” Basil asks.

“Yeah, so what.” Roger responds.

“Have you heard about the Pine Island glacier? Temperature rise and a warming Ocean melt the Ice at the Poles. That fresh water flows into the Sea and is wasted, resulting in Sea level rise and a desalinization of the Ocean. None of which are good things, yes?” 89, 9o  Basil begins.

“Again, so what. What’s your point?” Roger retorts.

“Rather than wasting that resource, allowing the melt to add to ocean rise, and ocean desalinization, would it not be better to harvest the ice before it melts and redistribute it where it is most needed?” Basil concludes.

“Dreamers gotta dream!” Paul states.

“Lets us know when you’ve got it all worked out, there Basil.” Richard mocks.

“Basil, you really are a fool. Why do you waste your time on such nonsense? Get a practical grip on yourself and find a decent paying job. You spend all your time thinking about things that don’t matter and can’t be changed. Find a girl and settle down, she’ll straighten you out.

Basil feeling dejected once again returns to his laptop; a suitable escape for dreamers, ice pirates, and wishful thinkers.

 

References:

  1. “The resurgence of Coconut Grove”, “Miami Herald”, By A. Viglucci, 29 NOVEMBER 2014. < http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/coconut-grove/article4199797.html >
  2. “Mining’ Icebergs For Fresh Water Believed Possible”, Toledo Blade , 02 September 1973 <news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1350&dat=19730902&id=1tBOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=DAIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=7264,4925994&hl=en>
  3. “Freshwater Crisis” National Geographic, < http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/freshwater-crisis/ >
  4. “Human Appropriation of the World’s Fresh Water Supply”, University of Michigan, 04 January 2006. < http://resilience.earth.lsa.umich.edu/units/freshwater/index.html>
  5. “The Water in You”, U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey, 09 December 2015. <http://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html
  6. “Water & Energy Efficiency by Sectors”, EPA, 23 February 2016, http://www3.epa.gov/region9/waterinfrastructure/industry.html
  7. “How much water is on Earth?”, The USGS Water Science School, 26-Feb-2016. <http://water.usgs.gov/edu/gallery/global-water-volume.html>
  8. “Just Thaw And Serve”, Time, 29 May 2011, <http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2071147,00.html>
  9. “Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2013”, The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Release date: 12 March 2015, Revised: 23 March 2015 <eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/>
  10. “Pine Island Glacier”, AntarcticGlaciers.org 16 September 2014. <http://www.antarcticglaciers.org/glaciers-and-climate/shrinking-ice-shelves/pine-island-glacier/>
  11. “Future sea level rise from ice sheets”, AntarcticGlaciers.org 03 March 2013. <http://www.antarcticglaciers.org/2013/03/future-sea-level-rise-from-ice-sheets/ >
  12. “arctic opening: Opportunity and Risk in the High North”, Lloyd’s and Chatham House, 2012 <lloyds.com/~/media/files/news%20and%20insight/360%20risk%20insight/arctic_risk_report_webview.pdf>