“Help Mates” (a family portrait of Adam & Eve);  my acrylic painting, 2019

Historian Yuval Noah Harari has said : my most central idea is simple. It’s the primacy of fictions, that to understand the world you need to take stories seriously. The story in which you believe shapes the society that you create.  ~ from NYTimes interview, with David Marchese, Nov 7, 2021

Philosopher David Hume imagined an adult Adam opening his eyes in the garden, having no experience upon which to base any perceptions. (Blink!)  Adam can conclude nothing. But interpretation is everything. How to proceed?  How to process the story of humanity born into Nature’s reality?

The bully-world preaches “us versus them” — insiders, and outsiders — our tribe, and all those other folks. Yet a longstanding “minority” position is that we humans are all ONE.  Einstein reflected upon this:

A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.   (quoted from p.13, EINSTEIN and the RABBI, by Naomi Levy.)

We can hold to this, in part, because one is the only real number — everything else is fractions, and factions. Yet humanity is a rainbow of colors all streaming light — but only if we will allow ourselves to sample, to refract and behold them. However there is often tension between interpretation of stories, and reality.

We all arrive here like Adam or Eve, genderless initially; innocent according to some; or guilty of the sins of our ancestors according to others — attempting to fathom the story we’re awakening into — asking ourselves: “are we awake yet, or is this still dreamland?”  Big questions pose themselves : what is consciousness? what is real? who am I?  who, these others?  who’s narrating? am I inventing everything on the fly?  Is it too late to sleep-in today?

Who are you?

Since my own arrival in this global theater many decades ago, I have favored a minority position (along with Carroll’s Alice) — that the world is not what it seems – which is to say not “fallen” – but perhaps reality is merely distorted in a fractured mirror. So often, so many of us are persuaded that the senses reign, reporting all there is to be known – that it’s all a hot mess, with nature being indifferent to our plight. And so the questions persist as the story unfolds: What is allegory? What is apocalypse (revelation) ?  How are we to read this story? Are we willing to do our own thinking, or should we allow an authority figure to tell us what is “settled” dogma, the majority view — “it’s true because they said so”.  Well, curb that dogma!

Every culture has a creation myth. With an open mind, let’s now revisit two famous creation stories which are prominent in modern western society, favoring neither, curiously questing for truth:  a science story (Darwin, mostly); and a religion story (Adam & Eve).

The religion story is older, so we’ll look there first.  The word myth regarding Adam and Eve might find you preparing to decamp, but please stay. Rest assured that I don’t intend to damage anyone’s faith, instead seeking grounding on reason, with some help from the Bible.

Creation myths began in pre-history, and were forms of both philosophy and entertainment, shared around the campfire at night, after we invented language. They ask how the world came about – but especially, why bad stuff happens, like: why did a tiger eat little Gorq – stuff which is a theme of the Garden-of-Eden story, proceeding to the first murder, in chapter 4.

A Tiger is coming      by Kenn Amdahl

A tiger is coming, I don’t know his name

But he moves like a shadow at dusk.

He waits with the sureness of death for his claim

In the stillness of spice trees and musk.

A tiger is coming , I’ve not seen his face

But I’ve heard the grass sigh in his wake.

There is no philosophy in his cold eyes

And his fangs leave no room for mistake.

The tiger who comes, I can’t say who he loves

But he whispers a name to the moon.

His muscles ripple like silk when he turns —

Yes, a tiger is coming here soon. 

Source:  The Wordguise Alembic, Volume One (fair use)

In ages past, a philosopher named Leibniz, in an attempt to defend God against charges of either indifference or impotence, named such bad stuff theodicy, and he advanced a view that claimed that our world is the best of all possible worlds. Another philosopher, Voltaire, (their lives overlapped; Volatire was 50-years his junior) wrote a satirical-fictional account titled Candide, after a huge, nonfictional tsunami hit Lisbon, Portugal, during the very hour of prayer one Sunday morning in 1755, killing thousands, in church and out.  Bad stuff!

The account of Adam and Eve, from Genesis 2:6 – thru chapter 4, was an effort to explain such bad stuff thousands of years earlier. But many of us have been told by parents or clergy that this second account of creation is literal – and that the entire Bible is historically true. (Einstein once said that just because you believe in something doesn’t make it true.) Ironically, those who read their Bibles as history may not have noticed that there are two distinct creation stories present.

Genesis 1 sets forth a radical account of creation in which God (Elohim, plural in Hebrew, remembering that the Bible was not written in English) — God spoke everything into being – a spiritual creation, an ideal, without dust-infused people – where humankind had dominion over all the creatures, and “behold it was very good”.

Genesis 2 (v.6 and beyond) is quite different, so both accounts can’t be true, as they are contrary to each other, yet many readers conflate them into a single story. But they were each written at different times and places, set down from oral tradition by different human authors with different writing styles. How do we know? By using a powerful tool which we’ve come to call rationality, or logic (narrowly termed biblical criticism in this case.) Let’s ask ourselves this: When God said Let there be light (1:3)how could there be light on Earth before there is sun, moon, or stars (as in 1:14)?  Or, from chapter 2, comparatively: how could humans arrive before plants, animals and rain? In this second story we encounter a different name, LORD GOD,  (Jehovah, “the existing one”).  Wait, I thought the Creator’s name was Elohim! (More on such topics later.)

Some of these same readers seem quick to blame woman (see 3:20 – Eve; life; life-giver; mother of life) for eating and sharing “the apple”. Well, go have a look for an apple in that story. Read carefully.  Ain’t no apple! (If this be you, you’ve swallowed stem, core and seeds of a cultural fruit.) If, as a result you feel duped by religious culture, don’t walk away. Instead, let’s ask ourselves about the story’s utility. The human mind seems always to want to blame somebody; and if it can’t blame woman, then it blames God who gave me this woman. After all, in the second version of the story God gives lonely Adam a little piece of Adam’s own self!  Well, what can we gain from such a story, rather than rejecting it outright? Surely it has instructive purpose or it wouldn’t have lasted this long.

                         Uploaded by Anna Rust to P-¡nterest   (Fair Use)

Perhaps you’ve heard of modus operandi from reading Sherlock Holmes or watching police shows, in which carefully detected habits of mind are often key to solving mysteries. Couldn’t this second creation account be there to help us understand the behavior of the human mind? — to catch it in the act of deception or lazy habit?

You may have heard of an old film Inherit the Wind, about the Scopes Monkey Trial, documenting a quest to prevent discussion of evolution in public schools — based upon an actual court case in which science does battle with religious sentiments. (There is also an episode of The Simpsons, titled The Monkey Suit about this event.) How will we ever understand life if we unreasonably restrict discussion of ideas in public education? If education has become “what to think” instead of “how to think” — our society is in deep trouble.

Did you know that Hitler took over national funding of German churches by the state shortly after he rose to power?  See STRANGE GLORY: Bonhoeffer, by Charles Marsh.   Did you know that “scientific atheism” was the official religion of the Soviet Union, enshrined in their constitution?  It could be argued that in the USA we have an analog to the Soviet position, redlining discussion of intelligent design in our schools, ruling it an intrusion of religion into education.  This asserts a junk argument not unlike the Soviets.  Let me explain:

Our First Amendment was created to protect the state from the church, and the church from the state.  It’s a brilliant balancing act which has been eroded and is now under attack, because strident people on both sides of our creation myths have become warriors over words, over stories, and have rejected rational approaches.  (Can you hear the sound of jackboots marching today, wanting to tear down that wall of separation?) But the jackboot could be on the other foot, if separation of church and state is lost. Yes, prohibiting discussion of origin-of-life evidence in biology class is anti-scientific, and anti-philosophical, which is to say anti-educational.  The study of origin-of-life has nothing to do with religion.  It’s a scientific inquiry. But a lower court has decided otherwise, (see Dover School District case).

What do you think you know about “Intelligent Design”?  Many have heard that a court decided ID was an attempt to import religion into biology class.  (The actual decision declared that students could not even be told there was a book in the school library about intelligent design.)  But was the judge’s finding that ID was “not science” a valid finding?  (Turns out that many scientists have been rabidly against ID research, and the deck had been stacked in the Dover school board decision by such biased scientists and lawyers.)  Earlier, a highly-regarded biophysics professor, Dean Kenyon, was removed from teaching freshman biology at San Francisco State, for his position on ID.  (His assignment was restored later by a faculty vote of 25-8, all biologist colleagues voting against him.)  What gives?  Is ID a scientific inquiry, or not?

Ideas on design and evolution, in my view, have been wrongly red-lined by courts — but science has some “storied” issues of its own on this topic. Apparently there’s been some major fakery of evidence in the past (eg: Ernst Haeckel’s Embryos), thumbing the scale in favor of a case for evolution — chance, over intelligent design.

But let’s be very careful that we not conflate ID with “young-earth creationism” as so many journalists have done with a knee-jerk examination of cursory sources.  So I’ll cite two sources arguing credibly on behalf of intelligent design — one for the religion crowd, by a former legal journalist who is also a former atheist, now a pastor: THE CASE FOR A CREATOR.  And another author with three science PhD’s (including one from Cambridge U): SIGNATURE IN THE CELL. Both books are science-centric, and well told.

As a retired designer, I may be biased, but I don’t recall ever having seen a design without a designer. I also have a scientific bent, with a deep respect for basic principles, that is, for grounding – for a solid foundation. Most designers start with a plan. Randomness, like evolution, rejects planning, favoring chance. So, how long would you need to shake your box of Lego’s before the Eiffel Tower assembled itself? Well, 13.7 billion years (the age of the known universe) is not enough time.  Chance has been debunked by rigorous origin-of-life research – by math.  Signature… overrules spontaneous generation thoroughly, establishing that there aren’t sufficient probabilistic resources (time and particles) in the universe to assemble even the simplest of cells.  Many of us were told in biology class that life came from “spontaneous generation” – brewed in pond scum or near volcanic vents.  Yet there is no evidence for this teaching.  Zero!  Not scientific!

Einstein once said “make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This is a central aspect of intelligent design, which, ironically can no longer be discussed in American public high school biology classes. Yet discussion is how we learn! And both Michael Behe’s mousetrap-analogy, and the RNA molecule itself, still need their simplest parts.

Could there have been a Divine Design, a Principle that spoke beauty and order into being, roiling the heavens with Life? Or, is chaos a creator? — Sounds like a reasonable discussion to me, especially if hard evidence is lacking for either claim (see “argument from ignorance” in Signature…).  Real science proceeds by asking What is the best explanation?  Intelligent design can’t be ruled out by baseless arguments claiming spontaneous generation.  If we can’t discuss origin-of-life rationally, science education has been snuffed.

Logos, a Greek word from where we get our English word logic, is another word for reason, or principle-of-order. It’s a safe foundation.  Yes, logos is also thought by many to be another name for Jesus of Nazareth, see John 1, where it is rendered Word.) But this could be a restrictive assignment for a rich Greek word.  And it should be noted that this same Jesus was declared to be God-in-the-flesh by Emperor Constantine three centuries after the crucifixion, to quell a church fight — yet Constantine didn’t become a Christian until decades later, on his death bed — and his political decision has not been challenged by the mainstream church – see Bart Ehrman HOW JESUS BECAME GOD However, we need not discuss church history in biology class!  Origin-of-life is a scientific quest, in a scientific age. Church history is a separate topic, altogether.

If we look at the friction between science and religion raised by Darwin, termed “non-overlapping magisteria” by the late Harvard biologist, Stephen Jay Gould, we will notice some unscientific storytelling, and some flabby logic.  What we have here are distinct belief systems — “churches”, if you will.  Professor, there is overlap!  (It is further complicated by various science disciplines holding forth with differing scientific methods – “doctrines”.)    And many scientists are noticeably strident about refusing to even consider the rigor of ID research.  (By the way, there is no discussion of the origin of life in Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. His book is mostly about  changes after life began.)  Why is the science community refusing to think about this major question?  <end of excerpt>  more available.

Thanks for reading this excerpt. Inquiries for the author, by interested publishers, could be left in the comment section – for future private exchanges.



The supreme arrogance of a court, and a public, that pretends to believe in self-rule!  Can morality be forced?    Unless we are willing to allow for diversity, we will kill democracy.  No group will ever completely agree, so society must be able to flex to remain stable.  None of us is as smart as all of us!  Have we learned nothing from prohibition, from attempting to outlaw alcohol?  Jesus himself said “let both [tares and wheat] grow together until the  harvest.” (Matt 13)

SIX Catholic jurists should not get to dictate to the entire populace without announcing they have thrown the First Amendment under the bus.  (A sixth Catholic justice, Chief John Roberts did not concur completely with the other five, but wrote a separate opinion supporting the demise of Roe v. Wade.)  Sonia Sotomayor, a seventh Catholic justice, seems balanced about democracy’s nature, and need for tolerance.  The remaining two justices are Jewish.  One, Justice Stephen Breyer, has announced his retirement at the end of the court’s term this year.  So, seven Catholics; two Jews. (I wish separation of church and state were more highly respected; and believers were more inclined to illustrate their ideals with their lives, rather than by enforcing their ideologies onto others.)

Conclusion: the First Amendment is now dead, and America is a theocracy, ruled by a half dozen Catholic lawyers.  Welcome to Banana Republic of America, where the religionista-majority judges do all the driving, and choose the route.

Photo by Liz O’Neil



If you’ve read Richard Power’s OVERSTORY, you will recall a character named Patricia Westerford, who is modeled after this author, Suzanne Simard, a forester who is now a professor.  She’s written a brilliant book which is structured like a mystery and a life quest for the holy grail of Nature’s nature — communication between species.   In my view, her discovery is worthy of a Nobel prize.  Here’s a quote from the book:

We emphasize factions instead of coaltions.  In forestry, the theory of dominance is put into practice through weeding, spacing, thinning, and other methods that promote growth of the prized individuals.  In agriculture, it provides the rationale for multimillion-dollar pesticide, fertilizer, and genetic programs to promote single high-yield crops instead of diverse fields.

She goes on to tell her account of her own radical research to prove that some forest species communicate and cooperate through fungal networks, rather than competing, as long asserted.  She faced a male-dominated culture dedicated to waging chemical warfare against nature, and was able to prove that their methods largely lacked basis or merit.  Her research has changed the industry, and the planet.

Her storytelling is lively and gritty, while her vocabulary is a bit lofty at times.  But Suzanne Simard‘s victory is sweet, and profound — earth shaking, even.

Amazon book link:  FINDING THE MOTHER TREE:  Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

For those not inclined to read, here’s an 18-minute TED Talk by her.



INFILTRADAS : : Live Music w/Brunch

INFILTRADAS perform (today) Sunday morning @ BistroCultural (BC66)

A pleasant surprise this morning.  We went for breakfast, but wanted to get home before walking got too hot.  We heard this group’s first tune.  I found a youtube video posted a month ago. But I don’t find a website.  (They’re on facebook, which I won’t use.)

2nd-Amendment Crime Against Civil Society

The Buffalo News, 15 May 2022

Don’t dismiss this act as that of a sick person.  It’s an act of a sick society!  As a native Buffalonian, I’m wounded, and ashamed.  America is utterly intoxicated — drunk on false  “liberty”.  Mass shootings are now a daily event in America.  The Second Amendment, badly misinterpreted by a right-wing Supreme Court, is now understood to say that individual citizens have a right to own military assault weapons, when in fact the 2nd-A assigns the right to each state’s national guard: “A well regulated militia…”.   So where are these “regulations” from Congress on individual gun owners, when Republicans in Congress won’t raise a finger to control toxic gun policy — afraid of the gun lobby, afraid of losing their next election?  What have these elected officials done to defend America against gunner-bullies? — Nothing. They’re cowards.  They serve themselves.  And they deserve to be replaced.  A vote for any Republican is a vote for more daily mass-murder. (It’s ironic how Republican legislators, and their jurists, are so passionate about defending the yet unborn, while turning a blind eye to those neighbors who are already living next door.)

America is falling-down drunk on its own stooopid notions as to what makes for a free and civilized society.  Yeah, “Make America Great Again” by letting every drunken loon in the land own a basement full of assault weapons, extended clips,  and ammo.  Should we put metal detectors on grocery stores and churches, and all of us buy handguns and flack jackets so we can take down the next lunatic shooter?  Well, the white racists of the so-called white race deserve to be “replaced” along with those legislators who pander to them.  It can’t come soon enough.  (Today I’m ashamed of my pale caucasian face.)
Psalm 75:1   We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks to you! We proclaim how great you are and tell of the wonderful things you have done.
2   “I have set a time for judgment,” says God, “and I will judge with fairness.
3   Though every living creature tremble and the earth itself be shaken, I will keep its foundations firm.
4   I tell the wicked not to be arrogant;
5   I tell them to stop their boasting.”
6   Judgment does not come from the east or from the west, from the north or from the south;
7      it is God who is the judge, condemning some and acquitting others.
8  The Lord holds a cup in his hand, filled with the strong wine of his anger. He pours it out, and all   the wicked drink it; they drink it down to the last drop.
9  But I will never stop speaking of the God of Jacob or singing praises to him.
10 He will break the power of the wicked, but the power of the righteous will be increased.
[Good News Translation]
. . . where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  (2Cor3:17 kjv)


Photo of propane tanks (uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by J.Smith)


“I read the news today—oh, boy   About a selfish species which failed the grade…

BigCarbon WANTS you to believe that propane is utterly safe and friendly — that it’s not a “greenhouse gas” — that it’s good for the planet.  BUNK !   We’re choking ourselves to death by burning and leaking hydrocarbons — methane, propane, butane, insane.  I was in my backyard up north when I heard a huge explosion 20 miles away which killed seven people and leveled a four-story building, demolishing a four block area in downtown Buffalo NY, 37 seconds after the firemen arrived (and died). Yep, an employee tried to move a propane tank with a forklift, dropped it, cracked it.  Soon — BOOM.  Propane explosions are not rare, as can be readily noticed by searching.

So I was not happy when a supplier exchanged an empty tank for full, of propane for our home.  What they delivered was so badly rusted that it leaked away in less than a week.  In spite of the evidence, they said I had a leaky gas line, blaming me.  And they refused to replace the lost propane, abandoning the tank (which I still have).  They sent me a bomb, which didn’t detonate.  Well, I cancelled my account and bought my own tank, and began traveling to a local depot where it could be refilled.  But I also began to research a plan to heat hot water with the sun.  It’s crazy not to do this when you consider that we live in a hot zone that never freezes.  The lowest temperature I’ve ever experienced in Merida was in the lower 50º’s F (10ºC).   Yet few people in this zone (which includes much of Florida, Texas and the Gulf Coast) ever experience a hard freeze. So we get free solar energy year-round!  But why do we still heat water with such a risky source?  It’s time for change.  A solar thermosiphon can do the job.  And you can make your own.

Yeah, there are turnkey systems which are, in my view, often over-engineered.  I’ve learned much about water over the years on the farm, and in business.  Minerals complicate plumbing, and this certainly applies here in Yucatan, where pumps and plumbing systems often fail due to mineralization — so I didn’t want a system that relies on a pump. I wanted a passive system, using convection, as there is less to go wrong.  I enjoy plumbing (supply-side only) and have maintained four wells, and plumbed a large-format commercial photo lab.  (But I’m still a rookie, always eager to learn.)

Below is a photo of a 3/4″ plastic fitting, the flow of which has been reduced by ~50% due to “hardening of the arteries”, discovered when I modified our propane water heater for this project, which device had failed after only two years of low use — adapting it to its new role as a storage tank for my DIY solar collector.  (The tube had accumulated minerals over a longer period.)

Replacing tanks and pumps and pipes can’t be avoided, but it can be reduced.  And harvesting energy for free directly from the sun makes it more fun.  Note: I spent about $6000 pesos ($300 usd) on parts and materials to build my device.  It would have cost almost that much to replace the water heater, foregoing the cost of fuel, which I expect now to harvest for free.   “Here comes the sun, deedle-doo-dah — here it comes.”

Before I show you my low-tech design, I will share a bad design that failed, at a place we rented in 2013.  The unit had burst because of poor design, and poor maintenance.  The glass tubes appear to be vulnerable to hail and hurricane damage, since they are exposed.  And they lose heat to the breeze.

Apparently the storage tank required frequent “blow-down” to reduce minerals, which had not been done, resulting in a failure-to-open, of the pressure-relief valve. So the tank burst along a seam, below. Oooops.  Bad investment.  (Maybe designs have improved since then.)

My design uses (strong) blue, inch-and-a-half cpvc tubing, as a collector, and is then covered with clear .125-inch polycarbonate as a “concentrator”, which also shields the collector tubing from airborne trash during windstorms, and prevents heat loss by housing the tubing inside an insulated “sandwich”.  Polycarb’ is a clear plastic used in banks as “bulletproof”, but thicker.  (I would have used wider diameter blue tubing, if I could have found it, but inch-and-a-half was the max available here.)

If you venture forth to build your own, be sure to use tubing that is rated for hot water!  If you can’t find blue, you could use “yellow”/beige/normal cpvc tubing, painting it black; but the blue probably absorbs more heat due to its darker color throughout.  (Paint might flake off.)  Don’t use hydraulic pvc, as it transmits light which will grow algae.  And don’t use thin “sanitary” drainpipe, as it will melt and collapse.  Be sure to use cpvc cement on all fittings, first “cleaning them” with cpvc solvent before applying cement, to soften the plastic before bonding, installing parts with a twist to make a good adhesive seal.  This should prevent leaks at joints, which are frustrating, especially when there are so many bonds in such a manifold.  Don’t build a “sprinkler system”!  And be sure that there is always water above the manifold (the collector tubes) in the supply tank.  If your tank is drawn down below the manifold, you will collect no energy, as convection will cease to recirculate the water, due to lack of “head pressure”.  (Adjusting the fill-level of a rooftop tank is easily done simply by sliding out the cord of the float valve, shortening it to maximize the fill level.)  I’ve adjusted mine never to fall below the shoulder of the tinaco, our 1100-liter rooftop tank.  Also, avoid dead-ends when designing your manifold.  Convection moves in one direction only, with help from gravity; it doesn’t have a “reverse”.  Circulation wants to be circular.  Think like water.  Also, dry-fit your manifold before gluing, to study this flow.  Avoid sharp turns by using 45º (codetes) fittings instead of right-angle 90º turns (codos), as this enhances flow.  Chamfer the interior of all tubing edges, removing burrs that could slow the flow.

One thing I wish I had done, would have been to orient the system slightly toward the north.  My photo-voltaic panels are tilted south for maximum collection of solar electricity, returning it to the grid.  So I copied that tilt for the hotwater system, too, without thinking.  But January is the coldest month here, and the sun is furthest north then, so maximum gain for hot water arguably should be in January — meaning a northern tilt.  For much of the year the water stored in the rooftop tank / tinaco flows by gravity into the home at about 82ºF (28ºC).   Without any heating system that’s tolerable for a refreshing rinse on hot days, or even for a cold shower — but if much colder, as in January, when hot showers are preferred, it would not be pleasant.  This system will not deliver scalding-hot showers. However, reasonably hot showers can be had without burning hydrocarbons, getting by with a little help from our friend, The Sun. . .  Here it comes.

CONCLUSION:  heating water year-round with propane is wasteful, dangerous, stooopid.  Tempering it with sunshine, is smart, practical, affordable.  Be a good Scout – let’s try to leave the campsite better than we found it.  It’s been said that people in hell want ice water.  Hot showers from flaming devices are surely contributing to bringing hell on Earth.  Please consider a solar hotwater approach.  (Note:  At our house we still use propane as a cooking fuel on the stovetop, which lasts and lasts; but we close the tank valve at night.)

One of the principles of successful living, established by the Stanford Marshmallow Test, is “delayed gratification”.  Those who “gotta have it now” are more likely to have a failed experience in life: unhappiness.  Do you really want a hot shower right now, at any price, even if it means humankind will soon choke itself out of existence ?  (May your grandchildren survive to wonder why we’ve been  so careless.)

NOTE :  My design, as configured, does not promise a hot shower, but rather a lukewarm shower, very suitable for the subtropics.  (In part, this is due to a long copper line inside a concrete wall, which I can’t insulate, dissipating heat.)  I will be collecting data and observations gleaned from operating it over the next several months, which I will share here.  I may modify the orientation after January, re-tilting it northwards to capture more energy from the northern track of the sun, if it isn’t enough  during January.  Presently the system boosts the hot side of the shower stream by ~10º, from 80 to 90ºF  by 10:30 a.m. — adequate for our needs.

Friend Jim Conrad over at BackyardNature cooks eggs with a passive solar cooker which he designed.  He starts ’em in the morning, and they’re ready by dinner. (He is also developing a solar sourdough bread.)  I admire his example.  For a guy with a size 14 shoe, he has the smallest carbon footprint of anyone I’ve ever met. But my wife and I like to cook, so we’ll continue to use some gas.

BELOW is a slide-show of my project to help you imagine your own.  (Ask a friend to help each other if you don’t have the handyman skills to do this.  Two heads can git’er’done !

Red roof above our 2nd floor bathroom is the chosen location.


Constructing piers and frame. Diagonal corners should be the highest point of delivery, and the lowest of supply. The concrete blocks are filled to add weight, preventing liftoff during high winds.  I’ve also tethered the frame to the home.


A solar manifold baffles the slow moving water during convection, collecting heat radiated by the sun onto more than 50 feet of tubing. I added one length of blonde 2-inch cpvc (which I plan to paint black) for delivery to the old heater, to increase volume.


Chamfer all interior edges, removing burrs to improve flow.  (Note: in reusing the old hotwater appliance as a storage device, I decided to fill the fire chamber with sand and gravel, displacing air which would have invited cooling, to store heat in thermal mass for quicker recovery.)

The installed system prior to painting 2-inch download tubing. (Fat tube is a roof drain.)

Also, be sure to add a breather tube extending above the elevation of the tinaco, for proper drainage, preventing glug-glug-glug when the home calls for water.  I’ve also added two beer-maker thermometers to monitor the system across high-low points ($15 each/Amazon), for learning purposes.  My design has increased the volume of available hot water from 40-liters to maybe 60.  (I’ve included a drain valve, and several threaded unions / tuercas uniónes, so I can disconnect the system if I want to modify or service it.)  Plastic valves often fail in intense sun.  Bronze ball valves are better.

Plumbing is a language about parts and relationships.  If we want our relationship with Mother Nature to remain friendly, we need to respect her.  Farting carbon pollution into her living space is not nice.  Think globally. Act locally.  Do it yourself!  (Don’t wait for politicians to solve this – they’re too busy getting re-elected.) Act before it’s too late. Form a solar-collector club, even. Help each other to save this precious planet. We can do this.

NOTE: for those living in freeze zones, turnkey solar hotwater systems exist which use antifreeze and a heat exchanger (like your car’s radiator).  In this era of Russian gas turmoil such a system might be wise and economic.  “Pay now, or pay more later.”

ROBOTICS.  Do you remember that scene from Sorcerer’s Apprentice where Mickey teaches the broom to carry water, but fails to teach when to stop?   Well, that just happened here.  There was so much mineral on the float valve that it changed the balance, and overflowed the tinaco.  It’s only water, and flowed into the downspout, like rain.  But glad we were home to halt the waste.

Minerals changed the flotation balance and caused overflow of the tinaco.


Polluting the commons is disgusting and deadly.  Having recently weaned myself off propane for heating water, I’m bummed to learn that the gas industry is daily dumping massive amounts of methane into the atmosphere.  Intentionally!  This is beyond rude. The stench of death will soon be overwhelming. :
Click READ MORE, and then NOTICE the leak map which includes Texas and Louisiana!
AND consider this excerpt from an NPR report:

Over the course of two years, during 2019 and 2020, the researchers counted more than 1,800 large bursts of methane, often releasing several tons of methane per hour. Lauvaux and his colleagues published their findings this week in the journal Science.

The researchers consulted with gas companies, trying to understand the source of these “ultra-emitting events.” They found that some releases resulted from accidents. More often, though, they were deliberate. Gas companies simply vented gas from pipelines or other equipment before carrying out repairs or maintenance operations.
















CLIMATE CHAOS : : Book Review

Climate has crushed ancient civilizations. Often, climate-change denialists dismissively argue that “climate is always changing”.  Well, it’s not mere change which is troubling, but the current trend. Like BigTobacco, BigCarbon wants us to remain addicted to their commodity, urging us to “pay no attention…”  Their propaganda is using “tribal” loyalty to brainwash a portion of the human family into believing that our present energy-tech is no big deal.  But the public is now increasingly feeling the problem behind that curtain of lies, in their own regions.  [more, below]

DROUGHT. Photo by Bob Nichols, Wikimedia Commons, public domain. 2013

WILDFIRES.  Photo by Stuart Palley/EPA

FLOODS.  (Houston) Weather nation tv dot com (fair use)

MELTING.  Greenland.  Foto: Caspar Haarløv/A P  (fair use)

VOLCANICISM.  (fair use)

FAMINE. Photo from Buzz Nigeria dot com, Fair Use.

The authors of this excellent book, CLIMATE CHAOS: Lessons on Survival from Our Ancestors, are deeply acquainted with the tools of climate study, and are experts in the history of significant climatic events which have caused major suffering in the past — suffering we have mostly forgotten.  Humanity has survived some profound challenges, but often forgotten the lessons.  Two hundred years ago New England, Europe and Asia had several years of deep cold, with 1816 called the year without a summer, when it snowed in July and August.  Did your gran-pappy tell you of this? (Neither did mine.)  Our authors share detailed observations of how coal soot, studied in Alpine ice cores, may have contributed to the severity of this event.  And the tools and findings they reference are intriguing and impressive. 

They take us on a guided tour of numerous successful civilizations which collapsed, due to changing climate issues. (In their sequel, will one of them be ours?)  You can travel back in time with them to Egypt, Rome, the Maya, Cambodia, Peru.  It sure beats staying home to watch the sNEWs, which ignores history at our peril. (Although it’s less detailed about the fascinating tools and methods, this longish article by a paleo-climatologist also covers much of the undeniable climate change the planet has already endured.)

Remember what the old-time farmers knew:  a drought will scare you to death; but a flood will starve you to death.

As Jorge Santayana said, those who cannot remember the past are destined to repeat it.




J6   : :    “ WHAT IS TRUTH ? ”

Fair use. Photo from CNN

“What is truth?”sneered Pontius Pilate, into the face of the man Jesus, who famously said we should know the truth if we want to be free. (see John 18:38)

J6 (January 6, 2020) is muddied in lies.  FIVE persistent lies are being repeated “bigly” by Donald J Trump and his followers. ¿Do you love truth? —  Those who love truth will want to be clear about their facts before repeating these lies, no?  

CNN has done a fine job of debunking these five persistent lies, here. I’ve put them into a table for you so they can be readily, quickly, compared.

BIG LIES :                                         FACTS :

Rioters unarmed 75+  dangerous/deadly weapons-charges,  including several handguns
“Merely protesting” : 1st Amend’t 140 cops assaulted by rioters
“Invited in” by police Hours-long  hand-to-hand combat
“Political prisoners” Dangerous, and/or flight-risk
“False flag” DJT: “fight like hell”

Of course, the biggest lie is that the election was stolen.  No evidence has sustained judicial scrutiny, not even in front of judges appointed by Mr Trump !


See these 24 photos at CNN.  Then ask yourself if any of the lies in column-1 above have the ring of truth. Or these photos from NPR.

Fair use. Photo from CNN

Don’t repeat lies !   All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for a good person to do nothing.






Pyramid of Kulkukan, Mayapán, Yucatán, afternoon of winter solstice. 2014. Dome’d astro observatory in background.

This linked article in Spanish reports that there is a tiny pyramid in Campeche state that apparently was a proof-of-concept for the construction of the big ones at Chichen Itza and Mayapan — preceding those major projects by several hundred years.  

Geometry!  It proved that the Maya could establish the equality of length-of-day/night, for purposes of understanding the agricultural growing cycle — when to plant, and what to worship (respect) — sustenance!  Mother Earth feeds us, if we respect and understand her!  (Worshipping a Creator-Principle-God, without respecting creation, is folly.). And remember, these pyramids were all done without clocks or telescopes, but plenty of ingenuity and sweat.  Where did that come from?  ¡Gracias Mamá!

The aforementioned maquette is also a cute little pyramid, at least in the photo, although I’ve not been there.   Note:  while the “feathered serpent” doesn’t actually slither down the staircase in real time, it appears to do so in our imaginations.  (I suppose it could be more vivid if done with timelapse video — and sure enough, somebody has posted it to youtube:  from Chichen Itza, about 30 seconds.)

Conclusion :  prototypes can confirm our hunches, so we can then render them successfully.