Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tips for building a "green" home

Thought this was neat. Larger homes require almost 3/4 of an acre of a forest when built. That really is a lot of trees.

Plant a tree

I think I may have figured out how to slow down global warming. Simple elementary biology. Photosynthesis. Trees take in our carbon monoxide and give off oxygen. What a wonderful symbiotic relationship. Maybe we should plant more trees. Just a thought. I am definitely not a scientist but it seems pretty logical.

Fight global warming

Came across some interesting information regarding a treaty that it seems our president conveniently promised to sign and didn't. It may not have all of the answers, but at least it was a start. I guess we are just left out of the loop once again. Who was it that said "seperatism was bad for our nation?" I think I vaguely remember a recent State of the Union address. But hey, who needs that treaty when our "president beleives that working through international processes, we can develop new technologies, market-based incentives and other innovative approaches that can combat global climate change."

No solutions, just acceptance?

I am under the impression that our current administration is going to do absolutely nothing to help the situation of increasing gas prices. The first step in solving a problem is admitting there is a problem and I must say the pres has done just that. I am disgusted at this point by the response of market analysts predicting the cost of a gallon of gas to increase even more by Memorial Day. No, realllly. Pay me millions of dollars and I'll tell you that. Maybe one day soon, we as a nation will stand up and "encourage" our reps to do something about it before we completely go for broke at the pumps. And yes, I have heard it hundreds of times, "Consumers affect the market and push prices higher." Why on earth are we doing it to ourselves? And if so, I would like to meet those who are driving up my gas prices because I can honestly look back and say at least in the last two years, I am not "consuming" any more than when gas was $1.79 at the pump. I still drive the same vehicle; I live in the same location near my job. The only difference now is $20 used to fill my car up, now $35 should do it (I honestly don't know because I haven't had a full tank of gas in almost a year). Just wanted to say thanks to the man for the not so good times.

Gore is green

As a fellow Tennessean, I truly admire the steps Al Gore has taken over the years as an environmentalist. I am so amazed that his views fall on so many deaf ears in Congress. He has been a global conservation activist for as long as I can remember and it seems he's at it again battling those who are not so expedient to jump on the global warming bandwagon. Even if some of our gluttonous leaders of this nation aren't with you, Gore you have my support and undivided attention. Good luck once again. Maybe, as a nation, we'll actually deal with our own problems before they escalate into something that our children and grandchildren won't know how to deal with in the future. Although we may not see an immediate effect, why leave it for someone else to deal with? Oh wait, that's the American Way.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Let there be peace and harmony

Well, the unthinkable has happened. And I was such a pessimist today. I have to remind myself that things take time to happen and the majority of people really do have the best of intentions. To all of the farmers out there, I applaud you for sticking your neck out, pulling together and speaking your mind. I truly believe that Weakley County farmers have given others in this rural community the courage to speak out on others' behalfs.
I attended a meeting tonight of the Weakley County Municipal Electric System board of directors and they voted unanimously to give back the land they had condemned and taken from the Adams family. Since the condemnation ruling, letters to the editor have been pouring into the newspaper that I write for against eminent domain. Anger has rippled through this community and ultimately divided those who were for the electric company taking the land and those who were dead set against it.
Two thumbs up for the board members in doing the right thing. Two thumbs up for the farm bureau board of directors and to everyone else that decided to voice their opinion -- keep up the powerful words of persuasion.
I had a chance to talk to the grandson after the meeting, power of attorney for the condemned estate, and it made me feel wonderful to know that his family was overjoyed with the decision.
The WCMES board members were also very pleased with the decision they had made as well. After many tense moments over the last several months in regards to the eminent domain situation, the board members had taken a lot of heat for trying to take the family's property. The Weakley County Farmers Co-Op offered the WCMES board 30 acres for $180,000 across the highway from the property they had sought. It was really a win-win situation for everyone invloved and I think now those people can rest a little bit easier at night.
Living in a small town makes an even greater impact on people's lives when something like this happens because you actually go to ballgames with these people or live down the road from them or go to church with them.
It was definitely an emotional circumstance and I am relieved to know that all involved are more than satisfied with the outcome. It was truly hard to hide the large grin creeping up my face when they voted to give back the property and buy the Co-Op's land. What a day. Now life in Weakley County can continue while everyone's wounds heal from the mentally trying road we had already traveled.
There's nothing like harmony and peace in Batesville, U.S.A., especially when there is so much chaos in the world.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Something that I just do not understand

Why is it when we see someone on fire, we turn our heads knowing the outcome before it even happens? Keep in mind; we are holding the bucket of water that would help extinguish the fire. When we hear of the death, we are outraged. We then take action against the company that built the matches that started the fire.It's great to have a cause, but if we fail to defend it before it becomes a miscarriage of justice, then what is the point? I do applaud those who conjure up passion over things that should matter in the long run, issues that require a careful thought out process -- from beginning to end. But I feel as if I am the failure when people step into the end of a conflict instead of taking preventative measures in the beginning.
I almost berate myself because I feel as if I did not do a well enough job giving everyone a fair enough warning. Then I remember, that's just human nature. People react how you would expect them to react, a majority of the time.
My only hope is that people are reading and paying attention now. The more a person knows, the more prepared they are when it comes time to do battle. My advice for those willing to fight: arm yourselves, knowledge is power. Curb your outrage because you will need justification. Newscoma has always said "Pick your battles." Take heed, that's very valuable information to keep in mind. I have a feeling that this really is only the beginning. It will be interesting to see the back-door deals that will come out of this issue. And then, we can all feel as if we made a difference. It's funny how people act during an election year.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The ultimate power of eminent domain

I attended a condemnation hearing yesterday afternoon in my hometown and was very disappointed in the outcome. The judge ruled in favor of an electric company that has been actively pursuing a family's farm for their new office complex. Chalk one up for big business and local politicians; yesterday was truly their day of celebration. I am bothered for a number of reasons concerning this particular case. I must warn you now, this will be lengthy and very biased, although I will give you the facts as I know them about the case.
1. When the Weakley County Municipal Electric System began their search for land, the general manager said they wanted to keep it quiet for fear it would drive market prices higher based on who the buyer actually was. They chose 15 original sites as central location for their new office. At a WCMES board meeting, they ruled out 4 and were left with 11. They contracted local realtor and appraiser, Wendell Alexander, to determine which of these sites would be best suited for their needs. He narrowed the search down to 1 and began "negotiations" with the landowners.
2. Alexander mailed a contract to Iva Adams, landowner, who has resided with her grandson after suffering a stroke 3 years ago in Chicago. Her grandson, David, is power of attorney for the estate. The land has been in their family for many generations and has been used for producing corn and soybeans by a local farmer. The contract stated Alexander as the realtor and the buyer with the option to assign the property to anyone he chooses. "I'm sorry, we are not interested in selling our family's land," was the response by the Adams' family. End of story, right. Oh no. The nightmare was only just beginning for the family.
3. The WCMES board decided they only needed a portion (29 acres) of the property instead of all of the land (66 acres). Alexander was back on the phone. The response he received this time was the family was not interested in splitting up the property either. My guess is they misinterpreted that statement to mean, they would negotiate for all on the property. Keep in mind, the family was still unaware of the identity of the "county" entity that actually wanted the property.
4. As farmland, the property had been declared a "Greenbelt" by Tennessee state law, which protects the conservation of certain lands, including farms and forests. The family has a lease with the local farmer to bear crops and provide an income for him. This is Tennessee and the land did provide cash crops, therefore, it is level and the topography made it appealing to the WCMES. The general manager addressed the reasons for wanting that particular piece of land to the board of county commissioners in January. Topography was a key issue, as well as location (on a four-lane highway) and it was directly in the center of their service area.
5. After receiving a Sunday morning phone call from Alexander stating it would be in the family's best interest to sell the land because it was set to be condemned, the grandson made a trip to the county courthouse to question the county mayor, Ron Gifford, as to his knowledge of the public entity that was so adamantly seeking his property. Gifford denied any knowledge of what was going on. So, as a tax-paying citizen of this county, I am supposed to believe that our county mayor knew nothing about what was going on considering a county commissioner was also a member of the WCMES board. I don't buy that for one second and I don't think the general public will either.
6. Alexander's brother, Marvin, is also in the real estate business and claimed he has known "Ms. Iva" for a long time. Hearing "talk on the streets" and after reading the local newspaper, Marvin mailed a contract to the Adams requesting to auction the property off to the highest bidder before it goes to court for condemnation. To his credit, I believe he was sincere and he was afraid their fate had been sealed. Marvin said he had property condemned before and felt they would not get enough compensation for the property if it were condemned. His letter claimed he had no ties with the WCMES and would be happy to sell it to the highest bidder. The family was eventually made aware of their "buyer." They still refused to sell.
7. The WCMES receives no funding from the general funds of the county, such as property, sales or wheel taxes. They are a separate entity of the county, but they are a municipal power plant. There was never a resolution passed by the board of county commissioners authorizing them to proceed with purchase of land. I learned in court yesterday, they did not need it because they fall under a power plant state law allowing them to claim eminent domain. Their funding comes strictly from their customers' bills.
8. The grandson made another trip to Tennessee to put up signs along his family's property in plain view of the public declaring them to help "stop the abuse of eminent domain and the WCMES land grab." I think it was obvious to everyone else the family did not want to sell the property.
9. The general manager of the WCMES in his presentation to the county commission board made mention of an individual that owned property along the four-lane they were interested in offered to sell his property to the WCMES. Out of the 11 sites chosen, the Adams property was the only property the realtor tried to negotiate with and he never approached any other land owners for their property. The board basically said "We want this property and either you are going to give it to us, or we will take it." That's exactly what happened.
10. Unfortunately for the rest of the landowners in that area, which is mainly used for farmland with the exception of a few houses, should probably consider future efforts by other "entities" to continue industrializing the area after the office complex is put into place. Eventually, I and other colleagues, foresee a merge of the two cities the four-lane connects. The city limits will extend to encompass that area, which will mean more taxes for home and land owners along Hwy. 22. The question now remains, "Which neighboring city will provide sewer and water to the office complex and by what means will it take to run the lines that will eventually supply it?" Some sort of digging is required in matters such as this and I am afraid the Adams will not be the only ones to suffer in this situation.
I expected to see certain elected officials on one side of the courtroom in support of the WCMES. What I did not expect to see were members of the farming community, numerous employees of the Weakley County Farm Bureau and one county commissioner on the other side of the courtroom in support of the Adams. I know the family greatly appreciates the citizens' support. Kudos to you Jack Vincent for standing up and proving you are not a politician, but an elected representative of the people you serve. The area in question was not even in your district. You would get my vote for re-election if I lived in your district. To everyone else on hand, thank you for not hiding in fear of the powers that be in a county full of back door legislation.
The family said they will consider their appeal options and also look at what they can afford to do at this point. If there is no appeal filed, the case will then be heard by a jury trial to determine the actual amount of compensation the family will receive from the WCMES for their land. Good luck to the Adams family in their continued fight of eminent domain.

Separation of Church and State?

Although I do not frequent a church on Sunday or any day of the week for that matter, I found a news story that struck me as rather unusual. I know that people are very passionate when it comes to their beliefs in just about anything. What I don't understand is how one person can be so passionate about something that he does not believe in. Luigi Cascioli, a professed atheist, has sued a priest, Father Enrico Righi, in Italy for false teachings concerning the existence of Jesus.
If this man of the church can be sued for his preachings, why are there not more names on Cascioli's list? Certainly entire governments can also be at fault if the courts rule in favor of the atheist. I am still unsure of whether he believes in God, but I would think not if he claims he is an atheist. The question remains "Where does it end?" If I believe or don't believe in something, I certainly don't want the courts to determine what I should or should not believe in. Thank goodness for free will. I think Cascioli's issue would be better if it were taken up before the One considered my many to be the ultimate Judge. If the courts rule in his favor, will it open the window for people to argue the existence of Buddha, Ghandi or even Allah. I may not agree with what Christianity has been construed into by people in this day and age, but if a belief in Jesus helps a person feel better about themselves and allows people to know right from wrong, I'm all for that. People need their faith, whatever that may be and so long as it's not an extremist measure, to get them through life. Why spend so much effort trying to prove a point that you never believed in anyway? I wasn't around when George Washington became the first president of the USA, but just because I didn't see it, doesn't mean that he didn't exist. History taught me many things about Washington.
The trial began earlier this week. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is. Cascioli has been quoted to say he will seek an appeal with the European Supreme Court if the court does no find in his favor. This issue may grace the front pages of many newspapers for a long time.

Monday, January 30, 2006

We have industry, but lack promotion

It's amazing to see how the past few years have backfired in our faces with the outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries. Our ancestors came to this country and what was the first thing they did (after they took most of the land from the Native Americans)? They learned how to be self-sufficient. Families needed to eat, so they depended on the earth to provide food for them, but not without putting forth massive amounts of effort. Farmers are willing to mass produce just about anything they possibly can because it provides a decent, honest living for them.
With all of the advances in technology and experimentation in the world, I see very few reasons why we cannot be a self-sufficient country when it comes to our natural resources. We have millions of acres in the south just waiting for someone to come out, till it and resort back to the ways of our ancestors by sowing the seeds that will very soon produce green crops of freedom for the United States. Our country was founded on the basic principles of freedom from the reign of foriegn monopolies that want to use and abuse us because they think they hold the keys to our successful ways of life. Have we regressed as a society to think that foriegn crude oil is a must for what can sustain us? BioWillie doesn't seem to think so.

Kudos to my editor

Way to go Newscoma. She has just managed to claim a spot on the Best Blogs list for this year. Not bad for someone new to the world of blogging. I go to her blog to catch up on my daily doses of local, state and national news. It's a good read had by all.

Random thoughts that probably do not make a bit of sense

Shrouded in our beliefs, we take comfort in knowledge. As a nation, our knowledge has inevitably divided us. The human race does not think that it knows too much. That may inevitably be our downfall. We profess to be a number of things that we sometimes forget that we are human.
For us to place faith in the higher powers that be, we tend to lack the willingness to accept that we do not know everything. Isn't that what God intended? We become so absorbed in other's wrong doings that it is not even an issue as to how we live our own lives. So much negative energy is spent on a belief we have toward others that a lack of concern for our own practices and judgments resonates.
The human race's focus has become rights and wrongs. We are diligent in our quest to condemn those that do not follow our beliefs. We do not allow others an opportunity to be different without labeling the person, as well as their soul. Yet we continue to "know" that we are doing right by our Lord. Seldom do we own up to our mistakes because that would make us human.
We know everything, therefore human is a word that cannot be used to describe us. We spend so much of our time trying to forgive others that we do not realize it is really ourselves that we need to forgive.
Wouldn't that just be conclusive of how wrong we actually are -- an admittance of guilt and blame for our own actions? In the end, we are sure of what the outcome will be -- for everyone else.

It's that time again

Pres. Bush will once again address the nation and regardless of if you agree or disagree with what he has to say, you will probably be fixated on your television sets tomorrow night (or at least you should be). There are many issues facing this great nation of ours and although as president he cannot mend them all, the time has come for us to demand truths from every representative that we have in office. Here are some highlights from Bush's State of the Union address in 2003 that I thought were pretty interesting to note.
Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. (Applause.) I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home. (Applause.) I have sent you Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70-percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years. (Applause.) I have sent you a Healthy Forests Initiative, to help prevent the catastrophic fires that devastate communities, kill wildlife, and burn away millions of acres of treasured forest. (Applause.)
I urge you to pass these measures, for the good of both our environment and our economy. (Applause.) Even more, I ask you to take a crucial step and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined.
In this century, the greatest environmental progress will come about not through endless lawsuits or command-and-control regulations, but through technology and innovation. Tonight I'm proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. (Applause.)
A single chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car -- producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free. (Applause.)
Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
In Afghanistan, we helped liberate an oppressed people. And we will continue helping them secure their country, rebuild their society, and educate all their children -- boys and girls. (Applause.) In the Middle East, we will continue to seek peace between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine. (Applause.)
Different threats require different strategies. In Iran, we continue to see a government that represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction, and supports terror. We also see Iranian citizens risking intimidation and death as they speak out for liberty and human rights and democracy. Iranians, like all people, have a right to choose their own government and determine their own destiny -- and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom. (Applause.)

The rest of the speech straight from the White House.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tangled webs we weave

This story by Insight had certain co-workers on edge the other day at work. What I still don't understand is when someone who is Republican does something illegal or unjust, it's the Democrats fault and vice versa. Wrong is wrong, I don't give a damn what your party affiliation is. Our founding fathers created the U.S. Constitution to protect us, the least our elected officials could do is uphold the laws that grant Americans freedom from the persecution set forth by those who we agreed by a majority vote to continue putting food on their tables and a roof over their head. Some of us may be starving because of actions set forth by past administrations, but at least they will continue to eat. If you can't give US food or a paycheck, at least give us the RESPECT and APPRECIATION we so rightfully deserve. For those who are pacified going broke, hungry, without adequate health care, battling the high costs of the inflated market and are not somewhat infuriated because you think the moral fibers that supposedly hold this country together are being jeopardized by Democrats, give me a break. I pray to the same God the rest of you do regardless of what my political party affiliation is. I wonder if concern for my fellow brothers and sisters well-beings makes me less than moral. May God Bless You All and keep you and your loved ones forever safe from harm. Until we can put those walls aside that seem to forever divide this nation based on D's and R's, we will never be strong enough to defend ourselves from enemy attacks, no matter how many wire taps are placed on our phones in the fight against terrorism.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The true state of the union

I have been avoiding the inevitable. I now that one day soon I will have to learn how to speak Chinese, yet I keep putting it off in the hopes that this country will escape becoming the United States of Asia. Now that China owns more than 80 percent of our country's national debt, I have discovered the only logical way to pay the deficit off to the Asian nation is to send our manufacturing jobs in their direction. That is exactly what the Bush Administration has elected to do. By their eventual mass production of all things that used to bear the great "Made in the USA" tags, we should pay off that debt in no time. There will be no need for people to concern themselves with immigration (illegal or not) because who would want to come to a country that has nothing to offer but poverty. We continue to allow the administration to place leniency on large corporations set on making more money by sending our jobs overseas to pay less wages.
I find it a slap in the face for these big businesses to feel as if the jobs we perform on a daily basis are not worthy of the proper compensation. The real issue is the lack of an increase in the minimum wage since 1997. I have yet to hear a realistic approach by senators and congressmen to keep well-deserved manufacturing jobs in this country or provide an increase in wages to supplement the ever-increasing cost of living demands placed on families by places such as day cares.
It really doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that moral issues have become so mainstream that amazingly real issues such as poverty, job loss, health care, education, Social Security and the national debt have become swept under a rug of deceit, lies and misinformation.
Someone once said "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention." So true. I wonder how to say that in Chinese.