Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Day My Boss's Wife Sent me to Go Pick up Her Pot

I was 19 years old and working as the executive secretary to the president of a small, family-run HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) contractor.

The company was building a kind of co-op city in Tehran, Iran. This was about 5 years before the Iranian hostage crisis, back in the late seventies.

My boss, the president, had been in Tehran for 3 months and was expected to be home over the weekend.

On Friday morning, his wife calls. She asks me to pick up a package for her that was coming in from her father-in-law's Brooklyn office at a construction site in New Rochelle. Since it was a small company, it was very common for me to make deliveries for them. I drove into New York City about once a month to deliver paychecks and other packages to construction sites. So the request wasn't unusual.

So she gives me the directions and tells me who to see. Now one of the employees had previously told me that the boss smoked pot and that they get it from this guy who works in the Brooklyn office. So right away I'm thinking, a special reunion weekend for the hubby and wifey? Hmmm.

Of course, I didn't say anything. I went down to the construction site as was requested and I was handed a plain yellow envelope. So plain it was ominous. And this envelope was covered in more tape than an entire hockey's team's ankles. That, of course, only strengthened my suspicions.

So I exited the construction site and drove down about two blocks, making sure I wasn't visible from the site, and pulled over. My curiosity was killing me. I just had to know. So I looked the envelope over front to back, trying to find the best corner of the tape that I could gently peel back without ripping it. I very carefully removed it, and had to remove a couple more pieces before I could get the envelope open. Thankfully, there were no rips.

Finally, I opened the envelope and there it was: an ounce of pot rolled up in a baggy. I smelled it for a moment before sealing it back up. But my boss and his wife were none the wiser. They never knew that I knew.

Just one of those funny little memories in life that you look back on and laugh!

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Four Ways We Should Be Maximizing Our Planet's Resources Right Now

The sun is free and there's plenty of it. So why wouldn't we take advantage of it?

In the summer, there are always power surges from all the air conditioners on at the same time, and some communities even organize rolling brownouts to make sure there is enough electricity for everyone.

So here's a way to make sure we always have enough electricity, and that we're not paying an arm and a leg for it either: every electric company building should have a solar farm on its roof. And every piece of property owned by any electric company should have solar panels on it.

Of course, not every part of the country gets the same amount of sunshine. But why not take advantage of the sunshine we do get? It's not like we're going to use it all up.

If they do that, solar energy would become so advanced and the price would become so affordable that more and more homes would be able to incorporate solar panels on their roofs as well.

Tesla Solar is even making roofs out of solar material. That's the way to go with every house. I hope I live long enough to see a day when every roof is made of solar material and actually serves as an energy producer, relieving our dependence on the energy grid.

That's my first idea. My second idea is this about water. Think about all the purified water that is sold today. Millions of bottles a year. Eventually -- and probably in the not too distant future -- we're going to run out of fresh water! We need to do two things and do them well.

1) We need to start collecting rainwater in a more strategic way. That means the plumbing systems for every building and home should have an automatic rain collection system that sends filtered rainwater to nonpotable sources -- such as in toilets, and for watering lawns and gardens, so that it becomes a process that residents aren't required to proactively manage. This way, there's 100% buy-in instead, of, say, 20% buy-in.

2) We need to put some serious energy into learning how to desalinate salt water. If we could do this well and do it all around the coastline, we would virtually eliminate droughts. Then we could teach other countries to do it too. Or maybe other countries are already doing it better and we should be looking to them for lessons in doing this well.

My third idea is converting all landfills to energy. In 2010, Americans made 250 million short tons of trash, according to Wikipedia. That's just one year! It would be great if we cultivated all the methane gas that emanates from decomposing landfills and used it to create energy. Good news: we're actually doing a lot of that now, according to Forbes. But I'd also like to see us get better at burning garbage and turning all that elimination into energy as well. I think it would great if, someday, we were so good as recycling our waste that there was no such thing as a landfill.

Finally, my fourth idea is complete commercial and government commitment. I think reuse, recycling and composting should be big business. I would love to see the top 10 on the Fortune 500 include the number one recycling company in the country. And it would be great if the recycling industry was so large and so well run that it was a top 10 job producer in America.

There are pockets of these ideas everywhere. I think it would be great if these ideas simply became the way the country -- and the planet -- were run.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Right Way to Accept Refugees, in my Opinion

According to the Hartford Institute, there are approximately 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. What if, say 10% of these -- that would be 35,000 -- each sponsored one refugee family?

Suppose it would work like this. Each religious institution and its congregation would be responsible for adopting one family. They would find that family a place to live in their community. Church donations would help with the first month's rent and the security. They would help the parents write resumes and find jobs, show them how to get around the neighborhood, teach them English, help them enroll the children in school, show them where the grocery store is, teach them about American culture, give them names and phone numbers of doctors, and basically be there for them every step of the way for a year or more.

If just 10% of all the congregations in the whole United States did this, that would be 35,000 refugees. These people would become easily and well integrated into society without the need for state or federal funding.

They would be spread out in communities all across America rather than in one community or one state. They would not live off of American taxpayer dollars and at the rate of, say, two per neighborhood or even one family per town/city, they wouldn't be taking jobs away from existing Americans.

Does this kind of plan make sense to anyone other me? It's sort of like the expression "it takes a village". Well maybe it really does take a village.

Some people get really upset when there is talk about tens of thousands of refugees being taken in by the United States. I get it. I understand their concerns. But if we did it in a way where we didn't just throw open the doors and said here you go! Knock yourself out! And leave them to their own devices with no help and no support -- if we integrated them into society one family at a time, and gave each individual family the help they needed through volunteers, wouldn't we all -- not just the refugees, but everyone -- be in a better place?

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.