T-Minus: Getting There?

National Geographic photo

I spent part of last night reading a story in a recent National Geographic Magazine edition titled: “T-Minus Getting There.” It was a look at the New Space Age 2.0. NASA, for instance, is spending billions of dollars to get back to the moon, while concurrently working stridently on eventual Mars missions. What’s more, private companies like Space X, Boeing, Blue Origin, and so on, are racing to get space tourism, planet/asteroid mining, and eventually space colonizing, on-line. In fact, the article notes that one of Elon Musk’s (Tesla) goals is to colonize Mars. “Much of today’s [private] rocketry is fueled by an intense competition among a few super billionaires whose ambitions (and egos) appear to be out of this world,” the piece reads. The article also cites Bill Nye, who is television’s “Science Guy,” and CEO of The Planetary Society: It’s noted he rolled his eyes when asked about colonies on Mars: “It’s incredibly cold, there’s hardly any water, and by the way, there’s nothing to breathe.” Translated spiritually, if God wanted us living there, wouldn’t He have provided this stuff? And staying with this theme, wouldn’t it make more sense, common sense, to be spending these exorbitant amounts of money on fixing the problems on this planet? A second Space Age? Our administration would nix NASA’s involvement in that, and re-direct the money toward all types of global humanitarian and environmental causes, again, on this planet. Note: Several years ago, I explained this part of our platform to a reporter from the Wapakoneta News. Wapakoneta, incidentally, is the hometown of astronaut Neil (“One small step for man…”) Armstrong. You can see why we didn’t carry Wapakoneta that particular election cycle. LOL, Lots Of Lunar (lunacy).

‘…going where no eyes have gone before.’

I just interviewed a man who is a local astronomer and spends a lot of time at this observatory. I interviewed him for an article that revolves around what is going to be a “…once in a lifetime” experience for many in this area. On April 8, 2024, there will be a full eclipse of the sun. And the epicenter for the best vantage, along the “path of totality” will be the tiny nearby village of Forest, Ohio. People from all over the world will come to see this. In fact, the astronomer told me local hotels within a 100-mile radius of Forest are probably already sold out for the days around this… Meanwhile, NASA just launched its $10 billion James Webb Telescope. It’s supposed to be 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope and will allow astronomers to look way further into the cosmos. Now, we just accept this as a logical next step in space exploration, and virtually no one in America will (vocally) complain about their tax money going to this. Yet, as just one example, over one billion people worldwide live with no electricity. And the New York Times did a story several years ago featuring a woman in an African village who got an $80 solar panel for the top of her one room shack, which powers one light bulb (so her six children can do homework at night), and she can charge a much-needed cell phone now. You know, given this, don’t you have to wonder how many $80 go into making $10 billion? It’s, indeed, a (spiritual) equation worth considering. “But Lord, when did we see you without electricity?”

$1 million sculpture; 1957 Nash; a world on the move…

1957 Nash …photo by Joe

Catching up on the last several months (continued)… Over the Christmas holidays, I did a story on two wood carvers. One, a local man named Dale Way, who, after long days as a handyman, would work in the evenings carving a big wooden Nativity scene he put in his front yard. It took him the better part of a winter to complete it. It took Jerry Taufler 20 years to complete his wooden sculpture. We met him in Le Mars, Iowa while we were out campaigning in 2000. He was a postal carrier in Le Mars. At night, after eating dinner and spending some time with his kids, he’d go out to a wood shop in the back of his modest home. There he’d spend a few hours carving a life-size rendition of “The Last Supper.” He intended to donate it to the Trinity Heights Shrine in Sioux, City, Iowa. Shortly before it was completed, a man offered Jerry, the carver/postal carrier, $1 million for it. Jerry said no. He told me he said to the man: “My reward is somewhere else.” Pretty amazing response… I recently did an article about a rare (at least these days) 1957 Nash Metropolitan. (See photo.) A local man had recently bought it from someone in Pennsylvania. He said when he was driving it back to Ohio, people were driving by him on the freeway taking pictures, he couldn’t stop in a gas station without people coming up, and so on. Yeah, on one level, I’m sure it was the look of the car. But on another level, perhaps, and quite unconsciously, the car reminded them of a time in America when the pace of life was slower, simpler, and more wholesome. Our campaign promotes a return to some of that… I was reading a story in a recent edition of National Geographic titled: A World on the Move. It was saying that with seas rising, crops withering, wars erupting… “humankind seeks shelter in another place.” It’s essential, in our campaign’s opinion, that we do not turn our First World backs, or tighten our First World borders for that matter, on these refugees in dire straits. And our foreign policy position’s ethos demonstrates this.

Vietnam War memories, and telecommunication memories

Catching up on the last couple months… For Veterans Day 2021, I did some writing about area veterans. One of them had been a Chinook 47 helicopter mechanic in Vietnam. The base was set off aways from the front line, but this veteran said he saw a good number of casualties/injuries. For a “Christmas present” in 1965, his division built a MASH unit pod to be shipped to the front line. It got there Christmas eve. This man said he was tremendously proud he had served, despite some of the negativity some soldiers experienced coming back from the war. And speaking of the Vietnam War… I also did a story about a local Ten Thousand Villages (fair trade) shop. Among many items, they feature a line of jewelry — made from bomb casings in Cambodia. During the Vietnam War, America regularly bombed the supply lines to North Vietnam, some of which were located in Cambodia. What’s more, bomb casings, all these years later, still are strewn across the landscape. “Craftworks Cambodia” helps subsidize some artisans to make the jewelry, while Ten Thousand Villages pays fair trade prices and displays the jewelry… I also did a two-part feature on telecommunications in the early part of last century. It was a time when homes had rotary phones and villages had “switchboards.” What’s more: “In April of 1920, the Ohio Public Utilities Commission ruled that the use of profanity over a telephone was justification for discontinuance of service.” And the switchboard operators would have to ‘make the call’ on this. Can you imagine the pressure, given the callers were neighbors?

Retro campaign; homelessness in our cities

1950 Chevrolet …photo by Joe

While traveling across Ohio recently, I stopped at the Red Tomato (That’s right. Dan Quayle couldn’t spell tomato right (Or was that potato?), but I can — thanks to spell check.) in Mt. Eaton. The gentleman in the blue shirt (standing) owned this 1950 Chevrolet. Mint! After admiring it a bit, I talked to him about my candidacy and passed on a campaign card. I talk, in our campaign, about it being somewhat retro. That is, we would like to see the country, in a number of aspects, go back to the 1950s, when things were slower, more wholesome, and so on. I also wrote a column about homelessness recently. A USA Today article noted that a recent poll indicated a whopping 45% of Los Angeles residents believe homelessness is the biggest problem facing the city. Homeless tent encampments, for instance, now seem virtually everywhere there — including even at some city parking lots. “We all agree that no one wants people living in a parking lot,” said Eric Tars, legal director for the National Homelessness Law Center. “But the way to end the homeless encampments is to make them unnecessary, not illegal.” Our family intentionally moved to a hardscrabble part of Cleveland, Ohio for five years doing outreach to the poor and researching the systemic causes of metropolitan poverty and homelessness. For a look at some of what we found, see…

ELF 2FR; United Way; 4-H Clubs

ELF 2FR …photo by Joe

Just interviewed the owner of this alternative vehicle. It’s called an ELF 2FR. It is, in essence, a sort of “Smartcar”-like body over a bicycle. And the 2FR suffix is that it has room for two (small back seat). These are gaining popularity in the states, and in countries like Switzerland, Denmark, and the like, they are already in significant use. They are designed as local transportation, to be able to be ridden in inclement weather, and as more of the answer to averting yet more climate change… I also interviewed a woman who is on the Board for the local United Way. She said she has been volunteering with them the past six years, and noted, locally, they support 19 partner agencies. Anything from Big Brothers & Big Sisters, to the YMCA, to The Council on Aging, to a domestic violence shelter, to… Their motto is: Neighbors Helping Neighbors. And that, incidentally, is the crux of our platform… I also interviewed an adult mentor with a local 4-H Club. She said, yes, the youth learn about animal life cycles, and such, but more importantly, through the club they learn life skills in general. I am a big proponent of 4-H, and our agriculture platform reflects a paradigm, in general, that youth today should be learning about.

Painting; value of community; churches; “grandude”

photo (and painting) by Joe

With fall in full swing now, I’m trying to get in as many outside jobs as possible before winter — while continuing to hone my populist image (“Joe the Painter’). LOL. This was a shed I was painting in rural Bluffton recently… In recent weeks, I have done yet more newspaper interviews, sat in on council meetings, and so on… For instance, I interviewed a woman from Ada, Ohio, who is originally from there, but had lived in other parts of the country before returning to Ada. She said there’s just something about being around “…people you’ve known your whole life.” She said she can best describe it as comfortable and rooted. We would do well, I believe, to value this a whole lot more than we currently do in our increasingly transitory American society… I also did a story on a local, non-denominational Christian church. A “core principle” of the church? “Prayer is powerful.” And so are “works.” The church helps fund international missions work, as it helps fund local community work. In fact, it is churches like these that are, often, the metaphoric “glue” that holds these small town communities together… Note: I have also just become a grandfather for the first time. Our Sarah and her husband Gabe have had a little baby girl, Eliza Day. The “Day” is after well-known Catholic Worker Dorothy Day. We volunteered a good deal with Catholic Worker groups around the country over the years. Anyway… Sarah asked me what I’d like to be called by Eliza Day: I said: “Grandude.” Sarah asked if I had a second choice.

At nature’s pace in agriculture

rural Bluffton …photo by Joe

I just interviewed a retired farmer from Hardin County who collects, and restores, old tractors. He currently has two from the 1950s. He said he’d recently read that the John Deere Co. has just come out with a $1 million combine, and the top of the line tractors are now $500,000, with between 400 and 600 horse power. What’s more, with this advanced, high priced farm machinery, he said a “small farm,” anymore, is 1,000 acres, or more. Our platform calls for a return to a small farm, agrarian based society. To evoke this shift, in part, we need to go back much smaller tractors (like the one pictured here), and such. The smaller farm implements will go hand and hand with smaller farms. Note: I once interviewed author/farmer Gene Logsdon who advocates for this as well. One of his books: “At Nature’s Pace.” For more on our agriculture position paper, see…

“Hop on the bus, Gus.” Artificial turf? And the gospel goes to a trailer park.

…photo by Joe

Bluffton has become an RTA experiment in this region. A bus out of Lima (pop. 40,000) is coming here five times a day, making a loop through the village (pop. 4,000), then heading back to the downtown station in Lima. I contacted the RTA Director of Operations who said ridership was steadily increasing throughout the first three months of this. With climate change accelerating, we, so many of us, need to (metaphorically, and literally) “Hop on the bus, Gus.” …Just did a story on one of the local high schools here that put in a new $766,000 artificial turf field. It will, in large part, be paid by a local tax levy. But you have to wonder, also in large part, whether that money would be much better (spiritually) spent on helping Third World farmers grow crops in food insecure countries. The artificial turf, when grass has worked so well for, like, forever, seems a bit First World spoiled. Our foreign policy would line up with the latter. And speaking of food insecurity, I also did a story on a local church that hired a food truck and went into a low income trailer park recently to pass out free meals. A spokesperson for the church told me that these generally low income people were, many of them, struggling even more in the midst of the pandemic. And this was the church’s way of bringing the Gospel message to life, he said.

A+ for Model A? Soccer anyone? Native grasses and less mowing…

1931 Model A Ford …photo by Joe

Catching up on August… I interviewed a guy from Maine who was on a 9,000-mile retro-drive (on the Old Lincoln Highway, Old Rte. 66, and so on in his 1931 Model A. This design followed the Model T, which was the first car an “average Joe” in America could afford. Given our carbon footprint at this time, “mass production” of these things, and so on, might not have been the best way to “go,” literally. See our position paper on transportation to see where I think we need to “go” with all this, at this time… On the sports front, I interviewed a local woman who swam for “Team Ohio,” competed in the Sectionals nationally, and also swam in a “Zone Meet” in Columbus, which featured Michael Phelps — who won more Olympic medals than anyone (28) in the history of the “Games.” I also interviewed a local man who was the first in the area to ever play professional soccer. He played for the Columbus Crew. You know, former Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre just came out saying youth under 14 shouldn’t platy tackle football because of the danger of CET. In high school, players hit harder, then harder in college, then even harder in the pros. While Brett’s caution is, indeed, merited, soccer might be the logical choice for more and more American athletes… I also interviewed a “naturalist” connected with a local park district here. She gives presentations around the county trying to promote the growing of more “native grasses” in yards, and such. She said these grasses are good for the soil, are good pollinators and contribute to having a relatively low maintenance lawn, depending, of course, on how many native grasses one plants. We are, indeed, strong on the environment. For more see…