Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Deja Moo

One day a group of people were standing on a river bank. All of a sudden they hear a baby crying. They searched frantically and then saw a baby drifting down the river, gasping, crying and about to drown. One person instinctively sprang to action. He jumped in the river to rescue the infant.
As the rest of the crowd moved toward the river to help, they noticed to their horror that ANOTHER baby was coming down the river. This baby was also fighting to stay afloat, while gasping and crying. This drowning infant was followed by another and another.
The people jumped in and frantically swam to save each of the children when they notice something. One of their group wasn't jumping in. As a matter of fact, he was walking away.
Amazed and appalled, the rescuers yelled back at the man leaving and they screamed with disdain, "Where are you going? How could you leave?" To which the man responded, " I'm going upstream to stop who ever is throwing babies in the river."

This little story shows how lateral thinking and trying an unconventional way to solve the problem at hand can often meet resistance from peers, but in the end may prove to be vastly more effective.

Today I am still on the cross country trip with my mom and stepdad, Leon. We drove from Wichita up to Salina. The Kansas countrysides roll on and on. We saw cow after cow after cow. Actually it began looking like the same cow after a while.

Deja Moo

I watched the cow fields and thought that Kansas may have more boring maize fields and cows than I-65 has boring pine trees (and that is an impressive feat). The only things for hundreds of miles are fields. These fields are planted with corn, maize or soy and they virtually all have a few dozen rusty old oil wells, some pumping away, some rusted to a stand still.

I've driven through Kansas a few times so its repetitive landscape no longer surprises me. Its flatness and more flatness can be mundane. Luckily for me my little warped mind loves to find complexity in the simplistic and simplicity in the complex. Therefore I haven't been bored despite having had plenty of simplistic to complexify (and now pontificate about).

Leon and I fantasized (surely to mom's dismay) about how Native American life must have been. We imagined some poor hunter being sent out by his squaw to hunt. How long would he have had to ride or walk to find any wildlife? Once he found them how was he going to sneak up on them? There is no sneaking up on anything out here. You can see 20 miles across the flat land.

Subsequently we discussed different elements of what we believe the pioneers lives to have been like. Surely it was a hard life, but how wild it must have been to be pushing the frontier. How exciting it must have been to be the first your culture to explore this vastness.

Leon and I let our imagination run free and told our stories for a couple hours, mixing fact and fantasy with humor and absolute absurdity (to see when exactly mom was tuning us out).

Once we got to Salina we were getting a little stir crazy so we decided to break up the monotony by visiting a random roadside attraction. We saw signs for Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure so we thought we would try it. We were pleasantly surprised to find this place to be an incredible museum and zoo (I saw a multitude of animals and thankful that repetitive cow wasn't there). If you ever get to the middle of Kansas for God's sake stop there. It's great. It is great inherently and not only because it is the only thing for 4 hours in any direction. I highly recommend visiting Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure if ya get the chance.

After we spent a couple hours in Salina we again hit the road. We were now heading West toward Colorado. A new direction meant……..same old scenery. Cows in Corn fields, maize fields, and old oil wells. Every so often we would pass a soybean field and the shorter darker green plants would alter the view by .0001%. But that is little to get excited about.

Not too far out of Salina we entered Lincoln County. For the entire trip I have used the Wiki Hood app on my iPhone to scout cities and towns before we enter them searching for ANY information that might spice up the adventure. Well Wiki Hood told me that Lincoln County had a big Wind Farm (Smoky Hills Wind Farm) that generates over 250 Mega watts of power (enough to power 88,000 Kansas homes). That's definitely something more interesting than cows, corn and oil wells.

Before I even finished telling Mom and Leon about the Wind Farm we began seeing the enormous turbines on the horizon. We had all seen wind farms on our last road trip but it was still impressive nonetheless. Hundreds of these huge 3 bladed fans spinning as far as the eye could see. Harnessing the power of the wind.

The thought of wind power replacing fossil fuel isn't new but it made me think of a time when it was. Suddenly it felt like this orchard of turbines filled my skull with all 250 MW.

My imagination went wild.

I could see the first guy in Kansas telling his neighbors he was devoting millions of dollars to farm the wind. Surely they must've thought he had lost his mind.

Potential investors must been even more skeptical.

While the potential "wind tycoon" gave his "Wind is the new fuel" spiel he must have been not only laughed at but also chastised and ridiculed by his peers. As he decided to abandon the old methods and take a fundamental change of approach, I can imagine his peers yelling, "Where are you going? How could you leave?" just like the baby rescuers at the river bank.


PS- I am not saying wind power is the answer to all the world's energy problems. Wind power has drawbacks, for instance It's rather expensive to implement. It also can't supply enough energy for all our needs. But I definitely know that thinking outside the box IS the answer. Using the old methods forever will not work. We know for a fact that burning oil is not going to work forever. I doubt wind energy will ever be the be all to end all but it may thrive and continue to be a small portion of the newer cleaner energy.

The message is: even if wind energy becomes an archaic, antiquated energy source in a decade or so, I applaud the "wind tycoon" for thinking outside the box.

Oh and I applaud him for giving me something to look at other than that same cow AGAIN.

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