Happy New Year




Photos from Danang, Vietnam, Tet New Year Celebration. A little different today then back in our day.

Danang is Fireworks Festival city. Lunar New Year’s Eve Fireworks is a great celebration.

Which is the way I remember it. We watched the Tet Celebration for 1970 from the top of Hill 327 looking over DaNang and south to Chu Lai.  You could see many tracer rounds fired up from positions up and down the coast, with multiple explosions. Very impressive. The rounds were going up, mostly. They just don't make fireworks celebrations like they did back in the good old days.


This time-lapse photo shows a Douglas AC-47 "Spooky" at work on the outskirts of Saigon. The sheet of red raining down from the night sky represents only one of every five bullets fired from the gunship’s miniguns. (U.S. Air Force)

The New Years celebration in Vietnam in 2021 is much nicer and better than the ones during the Vietnam War.

Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men (and Women)


Life expectancy (from birth) in the United States From 1860 to 2020


The graph above shows life expectancy (from birth) in the United States from 1860 to 2020.  Remarkable increase due to better sanitation, improvements to the environment and health care.


The tables below shows the years remaining in your life on average.

Women live longer then men.  For a child born in 2020 the difference is nearly 5 years. For people who have reached 75 the difference is less than 2 years. And by the time you reach 115 the difference is zero.

Source:  https://www.health.ny.gov/health_care/medicaid/publications/docs/gis/20ma08_att_i.pdf


Walipini Earth Sheltered Greenhouse


  1. A sunken Greenhouse

  2. Walipini, also known as sunken greenhouse, underground greenhouse, pit greenhouse, or earth-sheltered greenhouse, is a structure with the growing area dug into the ground. Having the growing area under the ground level gives you the thermal benefits of being cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather similar to a root cellar .

  3. A walipini (or underground) green house is a greenhouse that is dug into the ground, typically well below the frost line, which uses a combination of heat from the sun and naturally occurring geothermal heat to keep plant life warm. Walipini greenhouses were invented in the 1990’s by philanthropists volunteering in Bolivia.

  4. Introduction: The Walipini (underground or pit greenhouse) in this bulletin is designed specifically for the area of La Paz, Bolivia. However, the principles explained in the bulletin make it possible to build the Walipini in a wide variety of other geographic and climatic conditions.

  5. Jun 23, 2017 · The original Walipini was designed for Bolivia, 16 degrees south of the equator. There, the sun is high in the sky year-round; shallow roof angle will allow light to penetrate the greenhouse ...



A Very Interesting Land Development in South Dakota


Buy your own 2200 square foot bunker for $45,000 plus $1,000 a year. Live in splendid isolation and security.

Such a Deal!! Click to read more. Be sure to look at the videos.




Agrivoltaics: combining agricultural and renewable energy production on the same piece of land.

Farming under solar panels - A win-win

Click to read the article:


I have long thought that solar panels on road, rail, power line and gas right of way easements makes sense. And grazing of livestock under solar panels should also work. It seems obvious, doesn't it?  Gas and electric power companies generate and distribute power.  They own substantial right of ways.  Incorporating solar panels in the right of way should work well.




Magical Music


Magical Music


Eight-year-old daughter, Virginia Bocelli. On the empty stage of Teatro Regio di Parma, father and daughter sprinkle some Bocelli magic on Leonard Cohen's timeless ' Hallelujah'; Andrea on guitar and vocals, and Virginia on vocals and harmony.

At age 12, Bocelli lost his sight completely following an accident during a football game. He was hit in the eye playing goalkeeper during a match and suffered a brain hemorrhage. Doctors resorted to leeches in a last-ditch effort to save his sight, but they were unsuccessful and he remained blind.

Click to view and listen.



Showcase for Art


How France Turned the Humble Roundabout Into a Showcase for Art

From children’s boats to snails and a giant thumb, the spaces drivers pass around are now islands of creativity. 

Thousands of visitors recently flocked to France’s most famous roundabout — Place Charles de Gaulle in Paris — to see its centerpiece Arc de Triomphe wrapped in fabric by the late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

But, away from international crowds, there are myriad lesser known projects that dot the islands of more humble traffic circles across France. A construction frenzy in recent decades to reduce accidents opened up the opportunity for creativity: how to use tens of thousands of empty spaces that range in diameter from just a few meters to the length of two soccer fields.

Click to read the full story:


US Long Term Growth of GDP


The long term growth of GDP shows steady growth. Which party in power and which president does not make much difference, despite all the rhetoric.


Gross domestic product

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the value of all goods and services produced in the US. This number is used to measure the health of the economy by observing when GDP is growing or shrinking.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports GDP both as a current-dollar value and inflation-adjusted to 2012 dollars. Most values shown here are current-dollar amounts, which can be viewed on their own or with the USAFacts inflation-adjustment option selected. But only the official BEA inflation-adjusted "real GDP" value is used to calculate annual percent change in GDP and therefore how well the economy is doing. Economists generally consider the US to be in a recession when real GDP shrinks for two consecutive quarters, though recessions are officially declared by the National Bureau of Economic Research

Adjusted For Inflation


Cost of Living - Metro Areas Compared


An interesting program that compares two communities. Could be useful when considering a move to a different region. I don't know how accurate it is. And of course the costs can vary widely depending on what part of a metro area you are leaving versus moving.





Like many American cities, Sarasota is installing many new roundabouts. 

More photos of Roundabouts



The Federal Highway Administration designated roundabouts as one of nine proven safety counter measures. Roundabouts provide a number of benefits as described below:


  • Fewer crashes, 90% fewer fatalities and 75% fewer injuries

  • Fewer severe crashes

  • 10 to 40% fewer pedestrian/bicycle crashes

  • Roundabouts are safer for beginner and elderly drivers

  • Can be used in multiple road intersections

Time Savings

  • 30 to 50% increase in traffic capacity for intersection, less delay waiting at stops and signals

Environmentally Friendly

  • Reduces pollution (from cars not waiting at traffic signals), reduces noise, reduces fuel consumption

  • Roundabout islands can be landscaped with native plants and trees

  • Roundabouts generally take less land than traditional intersections as they don't require turning lanes

Saves Money

  • Without traffic signals, no cost for traffic signals and yearly maintenance

  • Intersection still operates in power outages, no need for police to direct traffic

  • Roundabouts can help  improve sales at nearby businesses across the country as more people can walk or easily drive to locations compared to traditional intersections

  • Can act as a marker to a business or downtown district


Where the Buffalo Roam – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie



Videos of Bison at Midewin

In 1993 23,500 acres of land in Will County south of Joliet Illinois was declared to be excess. The old Joliet Arsenal had produced ammunition and explosives for WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

Redevelopment plans included 3,000 acres for two industrial parks, 455 acres for the Will County Landfill, 982 acres for the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, and 19,000 acres for the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. I was the Planning Director of Will County and worked on the plan for redevelopment. 

The old ammunition bunkers and surrounding land were heavily contaminated by chemicals from ammunition manufacture. One of the solutions for the contaminants was to spread molasses on the contaminated area.  Bacteria would consume the molasses and contaminates, rendering them safe. The old ammunition bunkers would be left in place, although some have now been removed.

The conversion of the majority of the site to permanent open space was a great deal for the Chicago metropolitan area. And the bison are a nice addition.

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

The Midewn National Tallgrass Prairie was created from the Joliet Arsenal. I worked on this project as the Will County Planning Director. It was a great redevelopment of the site.

Interesting video by Bill Curtis about Midewin and prairie restoration.

Another video about the restoration process.

And the landfill solved a critical problem for the area.  It was an interesting negotiation with landfill companies on the landfill, with the County Board selecting the firm. I won't say any more about that.

The Veterans cemetery was in a beautiful place.  Some nice sculptures were created there. 

And industrial redevelopment created many jobs. 

So I joked that I got to work and plan the conversion, including the major open space, the industrial park, the landfill, and the place where I would be buried.

At one point I interviewed to be head of the industrial park conversion. I talked to some of the Board of Mayors who would hire the person and they assured me they did not have a political candidate. So I did quite a lot of preparation - created maps and a plan for creating and marketing the major industrial park.

My interview consisted of nine minutes with no questions from the mayors. They seemed a bit embarrassed. It was obvious to me that a political deal had been made for the job. I thanked the Mayors for their time and gave them the redevelopment plan and maps that I created and told them they could use the material.

The next day I found out that the Mayors had been informed from the State the day before the interview that they could hire anyone they wanted, but if they wanted the millions set aside for the redevelopment they had better hire the person the State wanted.  Oh, well.      

Joliet Army Ammunition Plant

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Proposed redevelopment of Joliet Arsenal, February 2002. Drawn with North at the top, the arsenal was bisected by Illinois Route 53 with Kankakee Ordnance Works in the west portion and Elwood Ordnance Plant on the east.

Joliet Army Ammunition Plant (JOAAP, formerly known as the Joliet Arsenal) was a United States Army arsenal located in Will County, Illinois, near Elwood, Illinois, south of Joliet, Illinois. Opened in 1940 during World War II, the facility consisted of the Elwood Ordnance Plant (EOP) and the Kankakee Ordnance Works (KNK). In 1945, the two were deactivated and combined forming the Joliet Arsenal. The plant was reactivated for the Korean War and renamed Joliet Army Ammunition Plant during the Vietnam War. Production of TNT ended in 1976, and the major plant operations closed shortly after in the late 1970s. The facility briefly revived an automated load-assemble-pack (LAP) artillery shell operation that was managed by the Honeywell Corporation during the Reagan administration in the 1980s before it was finally closed.[citation needed]

Portions of the site have been redeveloped forming the CenterPoint Intermodal CenterAbraham Lincoln National Cemetery and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

Pre-World War II[edit]

Before the Second World War, the land in Jackson Township, Will County, Illinois, where the Joliet Arsenal was built consisted mostly of small family farms some of which were owned and managed by descendants of pioneer Illinois settlers. The federal government acquired some of the land in Jackson Township to build the Joliet Arsenal through eminent domain.[1] Prior to the plant's construction, there were 450 farms that had to be vacated by March 1, 1941. Initially there was some resistance from local farmers relating to prices and moving problems, but 90% of the land was paid for through negotiated settlements. The entire land acquisition cost the government $5 million for the 40,000-acre (160 km2) project.[2] Ten preexisting farmhouses were moved from their original locations and used as staff housing. Six cemeteries were also on the property and they were maintained in place by the operating contractor.[3]

World War II[edit]

Joliet Army Ammunition Plant is located in Illinois
Joliet Army Ammunition Plant
Location in Illinois

The United States had very little capacity for manufacturing military munitions in 1939 when World War II broke out. Since the manufacture of munitions required specialized equipment and techniques there were no existing plants that could be converted. The solution to the lack of capacity was to create a large network of interlocking ammunition plants. They would be government-owned, but contractor-operated (GOCO). More than 60 plants would be constructed between June 1940 and December 1942.[3]

The Elwood Ordnance Plant, named for Elwood, Illinois, and the Kankakee Ordnance Works, named for the Kankakee River, were two of the first five to be constructed. In September 1940, Stone and Webster Engineering of New York was awarded the contract to construct the Kankakee Ordnance Works. Another New York firm, Sanderson and Porter, received the contract for the Elwood Ordnance Plant soon after. Construction on both plants began November 1940, with Elwood beginning production July 12, 1941, followed by Kankakee in September. The plants were separate since they had different purposes, Kankakee manufactured various types of explosives for use at other plants and Elwood loaded artillery shells, bombs, mines and other munitions.[3]

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, an experienced explosives manufacturer, was selected to operate the Kankakee plant while Sanderson and Porter would operate the Elwood facility. In April 1944, United States Rubber Company would replace DuPont as contractor at the Kankakee facility. TNT production at the Kankakee works occurred until August 1945 with a peak output of 5.5 million short tons (5.0×106 t) per week. In November 1945, Elwood and Kankakee were combined to form the Joliet Arsenal. Following the war the site was not completely inactive, DuPont leased space to manufacture ammonium nitrate for fertilizer.[3] Over 10,425 people were employed at the two plants during the peak production of World War II. Elwood loaded more than 926 million bombs, shells, mines, detonators, fuzes, and boosters, and Kankakee produced over 1 billion pounds (450,000 t) of TNT.[4]

Plant explosion[edit]

Though both plants were designed with safety as a primary concern,[3] at 2:45 a.m. on June 5, 1942, a large explosion on the assembly line at the Elwood facility resulted in 48 dead or missing and was felt as far as Waukegan, Illinois, over 60 miles (97 km) north.[5] Assembly Lines were located in separate buildings which were separated by substantial distances limiting major damage to the facility as a whole.

From a United Press newspaper article written at the time, "Explosion shattered buildings of one of the units of the $30,000,000 Elwood Ordnance plant gave up the bodies of 21 workers Friday. Army officials said 36 more were missing from the blast that could be felt for a radius of 100 miles. Another 41 were injured, five of them critically, from the explosion that leveled a building.... Not one of the 68 men inside the shipping unit when the blast occurred escaped death or injury."

"The explosion put one of the 12 production units out of action temporarily, but operations continued in the others."[6]

Korean War[edit]

Production resumed in 1952 after rehabilitation of the facility by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The Kankakee portion was used to manufacture TNT under the control of contractor United States Rubber Company while Elwood operated under U.S. government control. Following the Korean war, Elwood would continue production in a limited capacity until deactivated in 1965.[3] Kankakee production would end in 1957.[4]

Vietnam War[edit]

The Elwood unit was reopened in 1966 and would produce artillery rounds, supplementary charge assemblies and cluster bomb units. The Kankakee unit was reopened in 1965 and would manufacture TNT until 1976.[3] During the Vietnam War the Joliet Arsenal was renamed Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. The majority of operations at the facility were terminated by the late 1970s.[4]


In 1993, 23,500 acres (95 km2) of land was declared to be excess.[4] Remediation of the site occurred prior to the redevelopment.[7][8][9] Redevelopment plans included around 3,000 acres (12 km2) for two industrial parks, 455 acres (1.8 km2) for the Will County Landfill, 982 acres (4.0 km2) for the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, and 19,000 acres (77 km2) for the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. The government retained a portion as the Joliet Army Training Area.[4] The industrial parks are composed of the largest inland intermodal center in the country, CenterPoint Intermodal Center which is served by the Union Pacific Railroad and the BNSF Railway.[10] and a 3,400,000-square-foot (320,000 m2Walmart distribution facility.[11] along with several other prominent U.S. companies distribution warehouses.

Environmental issues[edit]

The EPA maintains portions of the property on the Superfund National Priorities List. Cleanup includes composting by the Army Corps of Engineers. The cemetery and industrial parks were on the buffer portion of the facility, and there was little or no cleanup required. However, portions of the site that became Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie were heavily contaminated.[12] Some of the clean-up included disposing of live explosive cartridges and shells using controlled explosions. The explosives to be cleaned up were buried by the army in unknown years. The residents of surrounding small towns could hear the controlled explosions being used in the disposal activity from 2–3 miles away.

In early 2008, site cleanup was finished three years ahead of schedule, while groundwater monitoring remains ongoing. Part of the prairie restoration at Midewin includes introducing American bison to graze on an experimental basis on approximately 1,200 acres of fenced pasture located within the Prairie’s 19,000 total acres. In October 2015, the U.S. Forest Service announced the arrival of 27 American bison to the prairie.[13]