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Fred Koschara

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#BlowUpTheTunnel renamed to #RaceToSpace

Dec. 03, 2017, under bootstrap finance, call to action, goals, progress reports

Someone told me they thought the name of my #BlowUpTheTunnel campaign was promoting domestic terrorism – really?!?!?!?  That idea was so totally out of my perspective when I built the campaign I couldn’t believe it.

Now the project has grown in scope, and a new name is in order:  It’s now called #RaceToSpace. Instead of just resulting in a book describing how to get space colonies and solar power satellites built, there’s a full-length “predictive fiction” action novel thrown into the mix – and maybe a major motion picture, if things go right.

The campaign to underwrite the project is on GoFundMe, donations are now being accepted…

Race To Space

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#BlowUpTheTunnel – I’m writing a book

Sep. 29, 2017, under call to action, progress reports

Blow Up The Tunnel!!

 

I launched my #BlowUpTheTunnel GoFundMe campaign, looking for support so I can spend my time writing a book (about a long term energy solution that will create thousands of jobs) instead of going to another 9-to-5. Please check it out now at https://www.gofundme.com/blow-up-the-tunnel and add your support:

 

We’re going to run out of oil .

You may not see it, your children might not, but your grandchildren probably will.

When we do, two things are going to happen: Everything that depends on cheap, abundant energy will become impossible, and there will be no more plastic. Those electric hand dryers in rest rooms – where do you think the electricity for them comes from? Electric airplanes could provide local air travel – if there’s electricity – but transcontinental or transoceanic travel? Forget about it! Washing machines? Electric stoves? TVs? Cell phones? The Internet? They all need cheap, readily available electricity. “But we actually don’t need plastic” you might say. Really? Look around you, and notice where plastic is used – cars, furniture, cell phones, ATMs, computers, disposable forks, spoons and cups – the list goes on and on and on: I’ll bet there’s not a room in your house that has no plastic in it.

Eventually the demand for oil and oil products is going to exceed the total production capacity. When that happens, civilization will start to collapse. Look forward to widespread starvation … rampant civil unrest … WAR … and if things get really out of hand, a nuclear winter that makes life itself “difficult” anywhere on Earth.

I’m sure you want to save your descendants from this horrible fate. I’m asking you to help me save the future of mankind: There is a way to avert this disaster, but only if we act now:

Fossil fuels – oil, coal, gas – stored the Sun’s energy falling on the Earth in the past; in essence, they are fossilized sunshine. Over the course of the last century and a half, we used up a large portion of the Sun’s energy stored over millions of years, and the gas tank is getting low.

The only feasible energy source to replace oil is large scale direct collection of solar power: The Sun ultimately powers everything on Earth. However, trying to collect solar power at the Earth’s surface to run our entire modern civilization is not practical: In any given location, the Sun is overhead only part of a day. It may be obscured by clouds in the air or snow on the ground. Solar collectors take up a lot of space, and the power consumed by a city far exceeds the amount of solar power falling directly on it.

Because of these problems, solar power is generally ruled out as a viable replacement for oil power. It is those very problems that make it imperative for us to build a network of solar power satellites in orbit, where the Sun always shines, and beam the power to the ground. Only then can we hope to have enough area in the collectors to gather the energy needed by a power-hungry civilization and make it cheaply available.

Oh, and don’t forget: We’re going to need to replace the source of our plastics. How is that going to happen? By using more energy, of course, to power the recycling plants that convert old plastic into new.

Building a constellation of solar power satellites will require a tremendous investment. Thousands, if not millions, of people need to work to make it happen, and the construction is not going to happen overnight. We must get started NOW or the end of civilization predicted above will befall us.

Here’s my problem, and this has happened before, too many times: I’ve gotten to where I can “see the light at the end of the tunnel.” I know if I can keep going, I’ll come out on the other side where I can “stretch my wings and fly” – to put the story together that gets this project off the ground. However, I’m fighting an uphill battle against a strong current that’s sucking everything out of me. The tunnel is channeling the flow, pushing me to return to where I’ve struggled to leave. The pressure is making forward progress impossible. I’m losing my grip. If I don’t do something to relieve the pressure, I’ll end up falling back to where I started – or further behind. It’s time to “#BlowUpTheTunnel,” to shatter the lid that’s holding me down, and to give the current somewhere to go that doesn’t involve eroding my progress.

I’m running this campaign to raise money to finance writing and publishing a book: When it’s done, my thesis will have realistic estimates of the costs involved, how many jobs will be created, and how long it will take to finish. It will define a specific course of action that we can “take to the bank” to get the funding to put the plan in motion.

For those who don’t know me personally, here’s a brief introduction:

I am a Capitalist (spelled with a capital ‘C‘, please) in that I believe that voluntary trade for mutal profit is the only proper form of human interchange: for profit because expecting to gain is a good reason for doing something; mutual profit in that both parties should enjoy a benefit; trade since interchange must be a give and take thing; and voluntary in that both parties must enter into the trade of their own free will or a crime is occurring: Initiation of the use of force (i.e., the victim is not acting voluntarily) can be shown to be the root of any act that is properly considered a crime. Trade and profit need not necessarily be goods or money, for example, the reason you feed your cat and give it a warm bed is for the love you receive in return.

Although I am a Capitalist by philosophical ideals and on moral grounds, I am not a “capitalist” according to the definition Google returns – “a wealthy person who uses money to invest in trade and industry for profit in accordance with the principles of capitalism” – I didn’t start with an inheritance of money to invest. Instead, my wealth derives from the two things that are fundamentally mine, by their nature: my TIME, and my ABILITIES. Using nothing else, I have to trade my life for everything I want or need to maintain my existence.

Most people are basically happy with their lot in life, even without a lot of money and the “life of leisure” that it could theoretically bring. An average person goes to work each day, buys a house, gets married and raises a family, and retires when they get older. The details vary, but the pattern fits the vast majority of the population. They expect to have a job, bills to pay, a fairly comfortable routine where the biggest excitement is going to football games, planning for vacation, or four-wheeling in the mountains.

Unfortunately for me, that doesn’t work: I was born with an eager mind, a fertile imagination and a creative streak that won’t quit, a desire to change the world and build a better future for all of mankind. There are times when I wish I could have a simple life, wanting nothing more than a quiet home, a family and a steady future. Those bouts don’t last long, though – usually because I find something else I want to try.

When I was five years old, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. I’m still working on it.  One way or another, nearly everything I’ve done in my life has been working toward that goal – although sometimes the connection has been “rather obscure.” A more accurate term for my goal would now be that I want to be a “space man” – I want to move off-planet (live in space), and make a lot of money doing it. Toward that end, I’m trying to attack three problems:

* providing a grid-scale energy source before we run out of oil, that energy also being needed so we can recycle resources and continue to have plastics that currently come from oil,
* building a new frontier where there is (also) space for displaced populations to resettle and grow, and for dissidents to live independent lives,
* creating planetary diversity to help ensure the survival of the human race in case something happens to make the Earth uninhabitable.

I’m trying to build a system, a private enterprise run for profit that will address those three issues. Neither NASA, the ESA, nor the Russian, Chinese, Indian or Japanese space programs are going to make them happen: Any politically controlled space program cannot have the managerial stability necessary to provide general civilian access to space, except perhaps by dictatorial decree – in which case general access would probably be denied by similar decree. In addition, space programs run as not-for-profit operations have no economic incentive to succeed. They are likely to merely be an expensive play toy as long as taxpayers can be convinced to support the effort – then either discontinued or curtailed as much as is needed to quell the public outcry. A massively complex and expensive industrial system is needed to make human life possible beyond Earth’s bounds. The only way it will be built is if investors can be reasonably assured they will have a profit at the end of the day – and I believe I can make that happen.

I need to write a book that explains my plan in sufficient detail that a realistic budget can be defined, and work can be started. I expect that effort is going to take 6 months or so. While I’m writing, there will be bills to pay, groceries to buy, things that need fixing, infrastructure to put in place, etc. On top of that, I have to get the book printed once I’m done writing it. I expect the effort is going to cost about $75,000, which is the goal of this GoFundMe campaign. To top it off, getting the cash flowing is an urgent problem, because I’m already a bit behind on covering expenses.

If you read through the material I’ve written on the Space Power Now Web site (hashtag #SpacePowerNow), you’ll see I’m offering contributors there a “matching funds” deposit in an L5 National Bank account once the Bank is set up, convertible to L5 bonds once everything else is in place. I’m making the same offer here: The US dollar amount you donate to this campaign (before GoFundMe takes their fees) will get you an equal L5 dollar amount deposited in an L5 National Bank account in your name. This is in addition to all of the other benefits described for various donation levels in this campaign.

I’m trying to protect the future of humanity. I want future generations to enjoy a life that’s at least as good as what we have today. I’m asking you to help me in that effort through donations to this campaign. Please help with a donation today, for as much as you can reasonably afford.

I will sincerely appreciate any contribution made to support this campaign. Your grandchildren will thank you as well.


We are going to run out of oil. Before that happens, we MUST have a replacement source of energy and feed stock for our civilization that has become so dependent on plastic. The time to act is NOW!! Please visit SpacePowerNow.org to help build a solution.

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Building the Web, continuing work in progress

Jul. 29, 2014, under progress reports, Web development

I spent a lot of time getting the next iteration of Space Power Now into proper working order for the Apollo 11 anniversary on July 20 & 21. The Development Plan mentions several other sites. It wouldn’t have felt like the job was finished without live links leading to pages with some level of polish.

The worst offender was the Space Questions site that still had the hosting company’s default page from when I first registered the domain. At least now it’s got a blurb saying what it’s supposed to be about, with a “keep me posted when this site is updated” form.

The Space History Newsletter has had a banner image for a few years, but it wasn’t even shown on its home page. I had to fix that, and as I started working on the site, I wondered how difficult it would be to just move the newsletter over from the L5 Development Group page – I’ve got most of the code written, after all, so it shouldn’t be too hard, right? Oh, if life were that easy! When I wrote the SHN code in 2005, I built a template system that seemed like it was going to provide the flexibility for publishing in several formats. It works well for creating the email version and updating the page on the L5 Development Group site – but getting it to work on the SHN site is going to take figuring out the template system again, at a minimum – more work than I had time for just then. The first line item for SHN on the Space Power Now Development Plan page already was “move the space history newsletter from L5Develoment.com to its own site” – so that puts it off until there’s more funding to cover the cost of the development.

Next on the first-level links list was SpaceColonists.com – another one that’s had a banner of its own for quite some time, but still had an unstyled text page for its face. I gave it a quick touch up, but since I was running out of time, it didn’t get as much attention as it probably deserves. (Such is the life of projects that are waiting for funding to arrive…)

The L5 Development Group site is a bit of a thorn in my side: I started a complete rewrite a couple of years ago, and made a lot of progress (an incomplete development version is at the beta site) but got stuck when I couldn’t get the floating accordian menu to work right in both Firefox 3.6.28 and InternetExploiter 6. (Yes, I’ve been obsessed with backwards compatibility – but that’s another story.) Since then I’ve decided the menu needs to be rewritten using a better combination of CSS and JavaScript, but I haven’t had the time and resources to get back to it. As a result, L5Development.com is stuck in the past, with a somewhat clunky interface that’s really showing its age. Instead of being the showcase that ties everything together, it’s another project simmering on a back burner, waiting for the day when there’s enough money to bring it back to the front.

The last of the direct links from the Space Power Now Development Plan on July 20th was to the L5 National Bank site. The frames-based implementation of the site had not been touched since I first put it up in 2004, but it had the site’s banner displayed, the stub menu illustrated some of the features that are planned, and it had an appropriate disclaimer to be sure visitors understand it’s not a functioning bank yet. I wasn’t happy with leaving it like that, but I was up against my deadline, and let it stay the way it was.

I got my Remember the Moon – and Mars! post published on July 21, the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon, and told my world about it. I was hoping people would read it, and that at least a few would follow one of the links leading to Space Power Now, and that some would even push the buttons on the Invest page to help support its mission. That hasn’t happened yet, so I’m still scrambling to get the (back) rent paid by the end of the month – on Thursday.

Since the “High Holiday” (the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing), I’ve been working on the network of sites linked to by the Space Power Now Development Plan. “Working” is a bit of a euphemism, I guess – I’ve been programming night and day, feeling like it was almost to the exclusion of everything else. I did have to take a break on Thursday for my “one day a week” day job, spent a few hours reading in a book store cafe, took a couple of days on some eBay business, and went to visit my cat over the weekend. Other than that, I’ve been tangled in the innards of the World Wide Web, building components of my development program. Oh, yeah, I did sleep a few times – but nowhere near 8 hours a night…

The first thing I had to fix was the L5 National Bank Web site: Not only are frames-based sites considered obsolete by much of the development world, but it took a long time to load. I’d recently done a frames-to-divs upgrade on another site, so I expected it would be a fairly short project. When I was done, I’d be right back to working on getting the rent paid. It wasn’t until I’d started editing the code that I realized it was “ten years after” that I’d returned to it from when I first put the site up. It could have been a real nightmare, but I’ve always tried to follow the best practices to avoid future problems. As it turns out, the conversion did go smoothly, and if I had stopped there, I would have been doing something else for the past few days.

Right before I got to work on the L5 National Bank site, I made the mistake of clicking a link, probably when I was looking at the banners displayed on the Fred Koschara Enterprises site. The link led me to the Interplanet Dating Service site where I found it was another one with an existing banner – and a favicon – neither of which were being used on the text-only existing page. I did postpone working on it until I’d finished the L5 National Bank upgrade, but once I saw the state InterplanetDating.com was in, fixing it was an itch I found I couldn’t ignore: I’d put a list on it some time ago of the types of affiliations with the space T/E/D field one could have with a suggestion for the “not interested” category: Go use another dating service. Besides not having the banner or favicon in use, I felt that list really needed to be addressed more fully. Again, if I had stuck to that bit of work, I wouldn’t have slipped further down the rabbit hole, but no, I couldn’t leave it alone. I had put a “Your Link Here” place holder as an action item under the “not interested” entry. Shouldn’t that be a link someone with another dating site could use to request their site be added to the list? (That’s what I had in mind in the first place.) I considered putting a mailto link there, but that could lead to long conversations before enough information came across to decide whether to add a link or not. What I needed was a link to a “simple” form with fields for all of the appropriate information. OK, build the form. Now, what to do with the collected data? Just email it, and “some day” add it to a database? That sounded like another unfinished project in the making, certainly not something I need. That meant building a database table to store the entries – but I didn’t have a database set up for the site. Since I was setting up the database, why not drop in the “stock” FAQ system, that code’s mostly complete, right? – except that the publicly accessible FAQ page was way out of date, and cleaning it up turned into a bit of a project, by itself. Eventually I did get the “submit your link” database code implemented, but I still had to write the email notification part of the form handler when I crashed for five hours. After my nap, I realized that if the email notification told me there was data in the database I’d need an Admin page to do something with it (as if I needed another project to work on) – so the email processing has to forward all of the entered information as well. A number of iterations later, I’d finished testing the page, and had the email formatted so the information would be readily understandable, even if the requestor wrote a small novel in submitting their link. Nineteen hours had elapsed (including the five hour nap and “some time” dealing with email, etc.) since I started on it, but in the end the Your Link Here page was operational, and I could set the Interplanet Dating Service site (including its newly functional FAQ system) aside feeling it was “done enough for now.”

I still wasn’t done: The site blurb at the top of the L5 National Bank page says it’s (going to be) “the premier banking institution at and for the L5 Nation” – and the L5 Nation Web site was in pretty bad shape: There was a banner, but it wasn’t being used on the site, and there wasn’t a favicon for the site, which was also just a crude text implementation. The site did include some minimal text and a couple of links that I’d want to preserve in a reimplementation, but not much. I’ve got a set of prototype files that I use to bring up a new site with minimal effort – but before I used them again, I needed to add some recent changes, or I’d have to repeat fixing the copied files over and again. Once I got the prototype file set updated, though, putting a new face on L5Nation.com went pretty smoothly. I still needed to create the favicon, but there was another diversion that had to be addressed first:

The L5 Nation site is only half the picture – and it’s got a link to the other side of the coin, the L5 Colony web site. L5Colony.com was in a similar state: There was a text site with minimal text and a couple of links, a banner not being used on the site, and no favicon. By the time I started on the L5 Colony site, I was really leery about looking for other links that could lead further down the rabbit hole, so this update went pretty quickly – just a few hours later, the L5Colony.com facelift was done, except for the favicon.

Creating the favicons for the L5 Nation and L5 Colony sites was a straight-forward task. I took care of it with minimal effort, but getting Firefox to display the newly created ones was a challenge, as usual. I found a Firefox addon that claims to make it possible to delete an existing favicon association. I installed it, which required restarting Firefox – and when the browser came up, it knew about the new favicons, so I didn’t have an opportunity to test the addon I’d just installed.

While I was writing this blog entry, I had occasion to go look at the Fred Koschara Enterprises site again, and noticed one of the “extra” places a page title could be displayed had been activated recently – changing server-global files can have unexpected consequences like that. I was certain I knew what the problem was, and how to fix it. The only thing is, it turns out the FKE site is one I’d done a lot of experimenting on when I was implementing the floating accordian menu. Some of the code is pretty old, and other parts aren’t implemented quite the way the more recent work has been done. Consequently, my simple fix proved to not be, and before I was done, I’d had to touch six files, some multiple times – and it was two hours later. So much for a quick solution!

I wanted to clean up a couple of things after getting my Apollo 11 post finished. I’ve done that, and now it’s eight days of a week later – and I’m not any closer to getting the rent paid. This could be a problem. I guess I’m going to have to reach pretty deeply into my hat to find the rabbit I’m supposed to be pulling out of it. Considering how far down the rabbit hole I’ve been in the past week, it seems like there must be an answer here somewhere – all I have to do is find it…

Go visit Space Power Now – I’ve been working on the projects described in the Development Plan this past week because I believe it’s a project that is really important for the healthy future of humanity. I wouldn’t be the evangelist I am if I didn’t think so.

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My own blog theme – finally!

Jul. 18, 2014, under progress reports, Web development

Since I first installed WordPress and set up my blog on this site, it’s been using the pixeled theme, which was OK – but it made my blog look like something attached to my site with bubble gum, duct tape and baling wire – it didn’t fit in. Among other things, while it was easy to pick a menu item from my home page to get to my blog, there wasn’t a link in the reverse direction: Once you were in my blog, there was no going back to the rest of my site unless you used your browser’s button or re-entered the Web address. I’ve never really been happy with it, but I also had the impression it would take a significant investment of time and effort to build my own WordPress theme.

I read through a couple of tutorials Monday night (July 14) and got a rather different perspective: Between having delved into the workings of WordPress when I was contracting at MIT Sloan School last year, and the presentation in the tutorials, I thought it might not be too much work, after all, to create my own theme, to make my blog fit into my site smoothly.

I started working on creating my theme about 9:30 Monday evening. By 2AM I’d made a couple of slight changes, but most of the time had gone into cleaning up the ghastly code I was trying to adapt. Who was the VisualBasic idiot that came up with the if: endif type of conditionals for PHP? Brackets are much easier to follow – and to make sure you’ve got your blocks properly closed! I’ve got WordPress 3.8.1 running here, so there’s no need for pre-2.7 code – gack!

I had to take a break from 2AM until about 3:15 to post another picture on Photo By Fred, and to validate Tuesday’s entries for the Space History newsletter. After installing my barely changed theme on my blog, it took practically two hours just to get back to where it would display again: There’s something wrong with the PHP installation at eApps and syntax errors in nested function calls aren’t being recorded in the error_log, so I had to trace through WordPress to find out where there was an extraneous close-bracket in one of the theme modules where I’d been optimizing the code, and a missing close bracket in another module where I’d missed a VisualBasic PHP block being closed.

Once I got the theme to display, I started modifying it, an iterative process that kept going and going and …. Eventually it converged on a solution, and before 11:30 Tuesday morning I’d gotten to where I was happy with the way it looks: My blog now looks like an integral part of the site, and I’m pretty comfortable with the color scheme and layout (at least for the moment).

There are still HTML validation errors because the AddThis plugin uses the same ID for every element on the page and doesn’t escape ampersands the way it’s supposed to, but those problems are common enough that most browsers handle them without taking particular notice. I should probably submit bug reports to the plugin’s developers. I’ll get to it one of these days when I’ve got nothing to do and a staff to do it with…

In the mean time, my blog has a new look and feel, and I’m happy with the way it works – so the roughly 12.75 hours of work I put into it paid off nicely.

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