Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘gas’

Quake, Shake & Roll

Excerpt from collection of stories for children Solar Girl and Lunar Boy.

Once upon a time there were three bad earthquakes and one good little wolf, known throughout the woods as Terra. Terra lived with her grandma, Nova. Nova was one of the oldest and wisest wolves in the pack. They lived together in the far Northwestern portion of the United States, by a city called Anchorage, Alaska.

Terra was a math teacher who taught the younger wolves many important lessons. She taught them how many times to bay at the moon, how to count members of the pack to make sure everyone was present, and how many meters it takes to run, jump and catch a fast moving mouse. Grandma Nova was a retired builder who helped construct lairs and other dwellings.

Terra and Nova lived in a lovely home made of stone. Their home had kept them cozy and warm in the winter storms, but was not built to withstand vibrations from the ground below.

One day as Terra was making their mouse soup dinner, a loud rumbling noise arose from the earth and shouted, “I am the Great Alaskan Earthquake. I’m going to quake and shake and roll your house down!”

Terra stood up proudly and said, “I’m not afraid of you. Our house is strong and made of stone.

The Great Alaskan Quake began to quake and shake and roll. Terra and Nova could barely stand as the walls swayed to and fro. The ground felt like Jell-O rolling under their feet. Dishes fell from the table, books from the shelves and pictures from the walls. The sound was like thunder.

Terra was scared and began to scream for help. Grandma Nova grabbed her by the hand and pulled her under a strong table. When the quake finally stopped they walked outside and saw that the outer walls of their home had crumbled to the ground.

As Terra stood outside crying she asked Nova, “How could our beautiful house get broken? It was so strong, even during a storm!”

Holding Terra tightly Nova said, “Our home was safe and warm during a wind or snow storm, but stone can’t sway back and forth to move with a quake. Our next home will need more support and should be built with material that can move and bend.”

Terra and Grandma Nova moved in with their cousins, whose wooden house had not been damaged by the quake.

Though they liked their cousins and were thankful to have a place to stay, Tierra and Nova both wanted to have their own home.

Within a few months they received some wonderful news. Terra’s relatives in California invited her and her grandma to come live with them and teach a new pack of wolves about math and building.

After a long journey on the Howling Bus Line, they arrived in the mountains of Santa Cruz, south of San Francisco.

In Santa Cruz, Terra and Nova made many new friends and built another beautiful home. This time they decided to not take any chances on losing their house to another big bad earthquake. With the help of their family and friends they made their home out of wood, with a strong floor underneath.

Early one evening, as they sat down to read, they heard a loud, scary sound come up from the ground.

A second quake had found them and began stomping it’s huge feet.

It said, “My name is Loma Prieta and I’m going to quake and shake and roll your house down!”

Terra jumped up and said, “You can shake and shout all you want, but this time our house is built to withstand your temper tantrums.”

Once again the ground began to quake and shake and roll as the Loma Prieta Quake pounded the earth with all his might.

The brave wolves held on tightly to one another under the dining room table and watched their furniture bounce up and down like a Yo Yo. After thirty long seconds had passed the quake came to a halt. Terra and Nova danced with joy as they saw their house was still standing.

Suddenly Grandma Nova stopped dancing and sniffed the air with her soft black nose. “Do you smell that? It smells like gas. We’ve got to get out of here fast!”

The quake had started a gas leak and they didn’t know how to turn it off! They quickly walked out the front door. Just as they turned around they heard a big bang and saw smoke coming out of the windows. From a safe distance they watched their home burn to the ground. There was nothing they could do to save it.

Terra sobbed, “How could this have happened a second time? What did we do wrong?”

Through her tears Nova replied, “We built a strong flexible home but forgot to find out where to turn off the gas during an emergency. When the ground shook it broke the pipe that brings in the gas to our house. Since we were cooking our new Mouse Ear and Tail Soup for dinner, the flame from the stove lit the gas from the broken pipe, which started the fire. If we had known were to shut off the gas pipe when we left the house, the fire would never have started.”

Once again, Terra and Nova were homeless and had to move in with friends. Although they enjoyed living in the Santa Cruz Mountains they decided to move far away to another country and build one more home. They saved their money and a year later flew on a Wolverine Airlines plane to Japan. Japan is a small country far across the Pacific Ocean. It has lots of humans but very few wolves.

They settled in a park, in a city called Kobe. Terra got a job teaching math at the local lupus college, which was named Wolfgang University. They built a sturdy home, with flexible gas pipes, and Nova borrowed some books from the Wolf Den Library on how to safely prepare for an earthquake.

The books said to always stay away from windows, get under a hard table and think before you act. Know where your gas, electric and water lines come into the house and learn how to turn them off. Store flashlights, batteries, lanterns, blankets, a tent, bottled water, canned food and wood in a dry, safe place.

Six years later, when Terra and Nova had forgotten all about earthquakes, a third quake caught them by surprise. They were enjoying a delicious breakfast of mousy pancakes, rabbit cereal and fresh mountain water when they began heard a loud mad roar of fury.

“My name is Kobeka. Look at my power! I’m shaking and quaking and will soon knock your house down!”

Terra answered, “Your brother quakes destroyed two of our homes before and we respect your strength and power, but this time you’re too late. We’ll stand our ground!”

The Kobeka Quake rocked and rolled with all its might. Terra and Nova took no chances. They crawled under their kitchen table, away from the windows and listened to the wood creak and moan. They knew they would live, but would their house survive such a terrible beating?

Even though some plates on the table, books from the shelf, and bricks from the chimney fell down, their house remained standing strong and tall.

They had prepared for another quake by fastening the cabinet doors, putting their breakable dishes and glasses down low and bolting their bookcase to the wall. The quake lasted for only forty seconds but it seemed to last forever. As soon as the shock waves stopped, the wolves nimbly walked outside.

Although their home had not been damaged, others had. With their stored supplies, they helped their friends and warned them of the many aftershocks to come. Aftershocks are smaller quakes that always follow a large one.

Now, whenever an earthquake decides to strike (and it surely will), Terra and Grandma Nova are always ready.

Who’s afraid of the Big, Bad Earthquake? Not the wise little wolves.

Solar Mike Keeps Shining

It must be excruciatingly frustrating to have the answers, see the solution and know that the technology works, but feel like you’re shouting into the wind. The old adage, “If a tree falls in the forest, will anybody hear?” could aptly be rephrased, “If someone shouts in the middle of a crowd, will anybody listen?”

Mike Arenson, better known in California, as Solar Mike, has diligently and consistently advocated for solar energy use for over thirty years. He and many others across the country, have proclaimed, from the highest mountain tops and the lowest valleys, that the answer to our energy shortage, energy “problems” and energy waste, is already at hand. They have been installing solar panels for businesses, homes, green houses, hot water heaters, hot tubs and swimming pools for decades.

Some people say it isn’t cost effective, that the cost, per kilowatt-hour, is cheaper with gas and nuclear energy. That use to be true, but now the rates are nearly equal. It takes an investment to get started, although many federal, state and county programs now give rebates for those wishing to install solar panels. Costs are declining and tax credits are on the rise.

I won’t talk about the politicians, agencies and businesses that seldom, if ever, mention or think of using solar power as an alternative to fossil fuels (though thought many more are now doing so), but I must say that we seem to be drowning in abundant sunshine while trying to stay afloat with sinking barrels of oil!

If you’re wondering whether I practice what I preach, we had solar panels installed 12 years ago, enough to meet all our electrical needs. We are tied in to the local power company grid and our meter often runs backwards, giving us credit during the spring and summer months for the fall and winter. Our unit also includes a battery back up system. When the power companies lines are down or there is a blackout, our lights keep burning and the refrigerator and computer keep humming along. During the sporadic blackouts in California, we stay lit, unaware that they have even occurred until hearing about it on the news or looking down the street and seeing it’s all dark. With energy prices always rising, we have already paid off our initial investment.

The panels fit nicely on the roof of our home’s design and are barely visible from the street. They can be placed in numerous locations, depending on your situation and do not hurt the ascetics of your home. Solar is especially valuable in hot, humid climates with abundant sunshine, including the southern U.S., South America, Africa and Asia.

While people in The States talked about becoming less dependent on oil, especially from other countries, and the continuing concerns about oil exploration, war and the environment; Solar Mike and his colleagues, have been providing the solution. With more patience than an old-
growth redwood, Mike has proceeded with one person and one home at a time.

Personally, I don’t see how he and those like him have kept their sanity. I would have been screaming, yelling and knocking my head against a wall long ago and said “forget about it”. I would have let somebody else make the effort and struggle to change our old ways of thinking about energy. I would have said, “Some day, someone will do something about this.” That “some day” is already here and has been for Solar Mike and a core of devoted sun worshipers who help convert the big orbs rays into energy.

I have no doubt that these pioneering solar advocates will continue plugging along with the patience of all the saints, until America wakes up and realizes these solar-shelled turtles of persistence passed the finish line far ahead of the fossil hares.

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