2.18.2009

don and dan

This past week, we received a new addition to the farm in one Don Young, an energy expert who will be here for the next few weeks. Don met Ben several years ago at a permaculture gathering in Asheville, NC, and they have kept in touch over the years. Don comes to visit the farm for a month or so every winter. Last year, he began setting up a biodeisel lab in the container pad. Ben hopes to continue working on the project and eventually get the farm off of fossil fuels.

Don has a background in electrical engineering and computer electronics. He spent a few years in the late 80's designing computer chips in Japan. He eventually got into solar power after becoming disillusioned with the inefficiency and decadence (among other things) in the industry. He even became disillusioned with the solar power industry after spending several years installing very large solar systems for rich people who didn't care to reduce their consumption, but merely used the fact that they consumed solar power as a way to justify. That is where cognitive dissonance comes in... but I digress.

Don has been teaching me so much about the way energy works. It is definitely something that I think most people in America take for granted, and it has been enlightening to realize exactly how governments have chosen to distribute energy throughout the world. People like Nikola Tesla discovered that the universe is literally pulsing with energy, but their work was disregarded, even burned, and they were ostracized, while people like Thomas Edison were praised for their (far less advanced) work because someone saw a way to gain economically from it.

So it has been a blessing to be able to learn from Don everyday. He brings out the voracious learner within me, which is something I never want to squelch. As Don puts it, so many people are satisfied to learn for a while, find their niche, and then "fart, drink beer, and watch football."

My other main teacher, Dan Glenn, is my focus area adviser.


Dan has been living on the farm since the beginning, about 5 or 6 years ago. He and his finacée, Jen, will be moving back to his family farm in Georgia after their wedding in May. Dan has already given me a great foundation for learning about electricity. It has been inspiring to see the system he has set up at his home here on the farm.

If nothing else, though, Dan has reignited a lost passion of mine: chess. Almost every night for the past two weeks, there has been a highly competitive chess match after dinner. Dan is usually involved, and Dan always wins. Except for one time, when Marshall somehow pulled out a victory - one that required much bloodshed. Maybe when I get back home I will spend my free time carving a personalized chess set.

2 comments:

Jessie said...

Ben,

I'm glad you never want to lose your desire to be a voracious learner. One thing I always admired about Granny Happy is her love of learning new knowledge. That is why at 106 yrs old, her mind was still active.
Enjoy your last month there.

Love,
Mom

Will Rucker said...

Wow. Don looks like a mixture of Sean Connery and Lapedis from LOST. He seems like a really cool guy. I want to be like him.

And the way you describe people's relationships with the island reminds me of Lost sometimes. when you say he's been there since the beginning, I feel like you're describing Ben Linus.

Anyways, see ya.