Before Art there was only Time

Before Art there was only time. by: Pfeltner

I sit alone in this cold dark room
How long I’ve felt their sense of doom
I’ve seen their art and read their rhyme
I’ve cooked their food and drank their wine.

Cezanne, Monet, Lautrec, and the rest
I’ve studied their works a lust for the best
I’ve copied them all in search of art
I’ve all their crayons but not their part.

We rob their hearts of all they own
We smile and say it’s only a loan
They left a message but too late it’s read
No one notices until they are dead.

The death of Van Gogh was a deplorable crime
I can think of no loss since the beginning of time
He asked for so little he asked for our hearts
He changed the way we think he redefined art.

We are slow to see or we just don’t care
The man’s whole life was merely a chair
My crime is deeper the truth is so real
I have no art there is nothing to steal.

Upon my death there will be no crime
No diamonds, no art, no magic rhyme
I must be content with my small part
I feel for those with lust for art.

Posted in Family

Afraid and Alone without Hope

I awaken in the dark surrounded by bars. It must be night because the room is dark, cold, and quiet. I have been here before or maybe forever. Months or years have passed I cannot be certain. I cannot remember when I ate last, but I am weak from lack of food. My blanket has fallen and I am too weak to reach it. My vision is blurred but I am sure there is no one to see. The monotony is broken only by my own unanswered cries for help. The room and my body smells of my own waste, but there is nothing I can do.

A noise from the hall and the door swings wide as someone breaks into the room. There is a blinding light behind them and I cannot see. I protest swinging my arms and kicking with all my might but the person is big and strong and throws me about. Sometimes words are spoken but I cannot understand them. Sometimes there is food but not this time. I have never understood what they want and then just as sudden the door is shut and the dark and quiet comes again. It would help if I knew why I was here but no one can tell me. Weary I sleep and again the room smells of my own waste. It has been this way forever and there is no chance of escape. In this room there is nothing to live for and it is not an honorable way to live or die.

With all my strength I rolled over falling off the couch into my living room floor. I looked about the room realizing it was a dream that I have had through the years. I’ve always thought it was a dream about the future, but now I awake in tears for the dream wasn’t always a dream. I don’t think we were supposed to remember our first months on Earth lying face down on those endless dark quiet nights unable to see clearly or comprehend that awful crib with bars. It depresses me more that we wonder why children are afraid of the dark and why infants die in the crib.

Posted in Family

The Canyon

The Canyon    (Pfeltner; Father’s Day, 2000)

I got lucky today and drew number 11 which is my starting order out of some 50 bikers. That means less bikes in front of me and less trash on the road. Something crazy happens to people when they get on a fast motorcycle, but I wouldn’t know about that. I sat on the bike checking things that had been checked too many times already. There was nothing wrong with the bike, but I was nervous and needed something to do. I started the bike to let it warm up and sat facing west. The morning sun felt good on my back, but the cool desert air wasn’t going to remain cool for long. A stream ran beside the road and the sound of water and the smell of flowering trees in the morning reminded me of Kentucky. I was born in a small town near Wolf river at Dale Hollow. Dale Hollow, I never thought of it before, but I don’t even know why they called it Dale Hollow.

Dad usually went fishing with uncle Martin, but when I was old enough he took me along. They always caught fish, but some how fishing wasn’t really why they came. They talked about other things. That is things other than catching the fish that were all around the boat. The fish that I was intent on catching and eating. The whole reason we came to the lake was to catch fish, at least I thought it was the reason. They talked about hunting trips and fish they had caught a hundred years ago, instead of showing me how to catch the fish not twenty yards from the boat.

The here and now was my concern, because I was too young to have a past. The conversation always gravitated to the trip they took out west in ‘54. They would talk about the different towns, but it was the mountains and the deserts and the National Parks that really got them going. Driving for two days without seeing a tree and jumping out to take pictures of the first tree by Route 66 going west. This was the original Route 66 mind you, not some dolled up elevated interstate highway of today. This was two lane blacktop right down on the desert floor with the cactuses and coyotes. I could hear them saying it as they completely ignored the fishing rods in their hands. Half the time their hooks weren’t even in the water. If I was going to eat fish tonight, I would have to catch them.

They talked about trees that were older than the United States and so big they had names. They drove through the middle of one tree and stopped to take a picture with the car parked inside the tree. On dry land, we would be looking through a scrap book or a slide show about now, like I hadn’t seen those pictures before.

I think Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park were their favorites. Having fresh trout in that Jackson Hole restaurant cooked just right with an almond and butter sauce. They talked about the drive along the Grand Teton mountains through the forest coming out at in the valley floor and finally reaching the Old Faithful Geyser and the bubbling mud pots. That was what really lit up their faces. The geyser blowing exactly on time at one hour intervals, shooting tons of water half way to the moon. The mud pots were a bubbling lake of red streaked gray mud with a strong smell of sulphur. They walked on narrow planks out over the hot mud and were very concerned about falling in the boiling mud.

They talked for hours about the mules in the Grand Canyon, the painted deserts, the Bonneville Salt Flats, and the Elk in Montana. Just when the conversation would never end they suddenly stopped. They smiled, bit their lips and shook their heads. After a long moment of silence, dad would say, “Do you think we’ll ever make it out that way again?”.

The answer never came and their eyes clouded up. The two blabber mouths were through talking for the day as we sat in complete silence in a boat looking at water, not seeing water or even knowing why we were anywhere near water. It wasn’t a fishing trip at all. It never was a fishing trip, it was a place to go to talk about other things. I was too young to know that we weren’t in a boat and that we weren’t fishing. I was too young to know anything, but I knew we weren’t eating fish tonight.

The noise around me picked up and someone slapped my shoulder. The man with the flag pointed at me and I revved my Ninja motor and it roared like a wild animal. I had three minutes to clear five miles of a curvy canyon road. Not as easy as it sounds, but then races never are. It was a timed race through the canyon and then it breaks out across the desert for a hundred miles. We left the line in three minute intervals to keep all fifty bikes from crashing into the canyon walls. I pulled up to the line, the motor roared, and then I was gone. The bike pulled through the gears as I passed one hundred partway through third gear. The wind played on my shoulders and just turning my helmet could turn the bike.

As I entered the canyon I leaned hard into the first curve and the scream from the motor bounced off the walls. I was reminded of cowboys on horses being chased by Indians through the canyon. The rim of the canyon was a great place for an ambush by Indians with bows and arrows. There must have been thousands of Indians around these canyons over the last 500 years. They camped in the meadow, hunted the buffalo that grazed on the grass near the flats, and speared fish in the stream off to the left. I picked up speed and the jagged canyon walls became a smooth blur of color. The layers of rock melted into wide bans of earth tone colors fresh from an artist brush.

The meadow suddenly popped up on the right with pink and white flowering dogwood trees near the creek that passed through the middle of the meadow. The fragrance from a dozen different flowers filled my helmet. I knew many of the flowers, but dad knew them all. He knew the Latin names and how to make them grow. He was a walking encyclopedia on plants, because plants were his life. I never needed to read a book on flowers, because I had listened to dad. I don’t remember the Latin names, but I certainly remember how deep to dig the holes for the plants.

I dropped down a gear and leaned into the bike and hammered the throttle. Speed smeared the meadow into a three dimensional collage of colors. I passed two blue birds in flight and freeze framed them across my living canvas creating some kind of strange Monet painting. I let off the throttle and coasted by the birds in silence. I forced myself to breath slowly, as I turned in the seat, my eyes followed the birds as they floated to the white dogwoods near the water. I looked up and a much larger bird hung over the meadow. Perhaps waiting for a rabbit or eyeing a fish in the stream. Fish I now knew how to catch. The only thing missing were the buffalo and the Indians, one being nearly as extinct as the other.

This was the straightest patch of road in the canyon and I was wasting it. I leaned into the bike and pushed it hard. The bike was heavier than most in the race, but I wanted that extra large radiator and weight for stability on the hundred mile run. Others could beat me through the canyon, but the heat and wind would play hell with them on the open run through the desert. The scream from the motor was echoing off the canyon walls all around me, and suddenly it was gone as I cleared the canyon. I let go of the throttle to cool the motor and took a deep breath as I coasted in the cool desert air.

All was silent and I was floating, perhaps in a boat on a lake, not talking, not fishing, and not caring. Maybe it was a genetic curse or perhaps it was a test older people use to see if they can still remember the past. A test for dementia without asking embarrassing questions out loud. Some kid on a new factory supported bike would win this race. A kid too young to have a past and he wouldn’t know when to set the fishing rod down and spend time talking to his dad. Like my father, I thought of other things. I saw the canyon the way they would want me to see it. The painted desert was ahead and I was where I needed to be.

I smiled at the temperature gauge and ran the tack up for the long haul. The tires were expensive and the motor was balanced and blueprinted. I leaned forward on the bike and wound out fifth and pushed it into sixth gear to burn up the remaining miles to the finish line. A helicopter don’t catch me now. The desert was in full bloom and the cacti were old and huge. I saw a badger and several other animals up real close and a deer came so close I could touch it. There were no bikes behind me and I passed a couple of bikes that were smoking. Literally they couldn’t wait till the end and pulled over to share a funny cigarette. I suppose to some this was just a social event.

As I finally blew by the finish line, I ripped the number off my chest and threw it on the ground. There was no reason to stop. The race wasn’t why I was here. I leaned into the bike and listened to the motor roar like a wild animal. Something crazy happens to people when they get on a fast motorcycle. I was back in sixth gear and like I said a helicopter don’t catch me now. The road was down on the desert floor with the cacti, snakes, and whatever else there was to see. Not one of those dolled up interstates mind you, but more like the original Route 66 from the old days. I make Jackson Hole by night fall and tomorrow, I see Yellowstone.

Posted in Family

The Energy crisis can finance new Jobs in electronics.

This letter was sent to  President Obama and Steve Case 2012 and to Dr. Bill (MIT Special Projects)  and several marketing managers in Silicon Valley

From: Pfeltner (Physics, Math, Electronics, Hardware/Software Engineer)
Subject: The Energy crisis can finance new Jobs in electronics.

I have some ideas that may interest you. The cost of power has become much more expensive over the last few years and power is notoriously wasted.

Because of the jobless rate, people are sitting on their money. I saw a store display that said this refrigerator uses $35 of electricity per year and suddenly I was buying a new refrigerator. Absolutely nothing in the Universe moves without power and the cost of power affects everything. That should be the number one law of economics. Our dependence on other countries for power allows those countries to adversely control us.

Electronics circuits in telephone, network, and computer rooms are out of date because the operating companies are afraid to spend money and development companies are conserving development dollars. Power efficiency sells cars and refrigerators and it can sell electronics. Power company and telephone company voltage distribution systems were designed when gasoline cost less than a dime and predates the transistor and space travel. These unfortunate voltage choices waste power and creates noise that wreaks havoc with today’s electronics.

I am a physicist in systems engineering in Silicon Valley working on telephone and network systems. The power cost for the telephone company and other companies is staggering because of the poor efficiency of existing electronics, air conditioners and the power distribution systems. For decades the lowest selling price for a product has taken precedence over the long term cost. In telephone and network electronics a few dollars of components and a more efficient electronic design would save hundreds of dollars in electricity over the life of the product. I have many years invested in developing low power circuits and there are other engineers with excellent power saving circuits tucked away, but companies need incentives and the proper direction to use them.

Using a barrel of oil as an example, 50% of the barrel is lost by the power company in power conversion to electricity and power distribution to the telephone office. Another 25% is lost from the customer power meter to the actual electronics by converting the line voltages to usable filtered DC voltages, battery backup and power distribution in the telephone office. The remaining 25% is shared by the air conditioners and the electronics. The air conditioners typically use 5 times more power than the electronics so 25% divided by 6 leaves about 4.2% of the barrel to power the electronics. This is pathetic by any measure. Reducing the power consumption of electronics carries a bonus of deleting some of the air conditioners. Investing in the more efficient LED lighting reduces power for lighting by more than 90%, removes the mercury and much of the heat.

We buy oil from foreign countries; mine the ground for coal, natural gas and oil, we erect countless wind mills and build huge hydro electric dams for power. It is more economical to mine our electrical systems to recover the wasted power and save the resources for another day. We kill birds, grind up fish and make a horrible mess of the land and the ocean, when better electrical designs can reduce power consumption. The huge hydro electric dams have become a maintenance nightmare. One mistake at a dam and cities are washed away and power is out for hundreds of miles for a very long time. The public is simply scared to death of nuclear. No matter what we do environmentalist will picket, petition and publicly complain that we are destroying something. We have far more power than we are using but most of it is wasted. Reworking electrical systems to regain wasted power is transparent to the public and there is nothing to picket.

Designs for battery operated devices like laptops and cell phones use very low power circuits for reasonable battery life and heat reduction. This type of technology could be used in many other circuits. A national bounty for ultra low power electronics designs would give development companies the incentive and new direction they need. The power company distribution voltages create noise problems along with huge power losses. Power company and telephone company voltages could be reduced to voltages more agreeable with today’s electronics. Think of the lives lost each year to high voltage electrical shock and electrical fires. Think of the power that can be recovered and the copper and aluminum that could be saved to replace the tons of precious metals lost in recent wars.

There are dozens of ways to reduce power in electronic circuits. Make use of the ultra fast power on/off times of solid state circuits by keeping them off or in low power hibernation until they are needed. Design integrated circuits to reliably work at a lower standard voltage range. The higher voltages are more prone to noise, voltage overshoot and spiking. Design circuits to work on lower voltage rails and make the circuits work closer to the voltage rails. Minimize voltage and current since a detectable high/low voltage deflection is all that is needed for most digital circuits and buffers can be used when more voltage and current is needed. The list of possibilities goes on and on.

Turning the energy crisis around could put the country back to work. A national bounty on ultra low power electronics with tax breaks and loans is a real incentive. Requiring the engineering and production to remain in the USA and phase out tax breaks that send jobs overseas.

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter.

Posted in Power

Can we afford High BC bullets?

Can we afford the new High BC bullets?       (Pfeltner Jan. 2017)

I am an avid reader and while on the Internet a gentleman was complaining about the outdated gun manufactures and their old fashion ideas about rifle twist. The bullet industry was producing these new wonderful high ballistic coefficient bullets that required very fast rifle twist. None of his rifles had the required fast rifle twist and the available economy rifles on the market don’t have the twist he needed either.

His rifles would require new barrels or he would have to buy expensive custom made rifles with the fast twist. He could not use the new interesting high ballistic coefficient bullets because they would not stabilize in his rifles and wobble down range making them worthless.  He said out loud for all the world to hear what so many of us were thinking and I had to admit I was also irritated.

How did we end up with the typical rifle twist of today? Actually the rifle twist were to accommodate the public’s demands for the lighter bullets that would get the most speed with moderate bullet weights to maintain a relatively good knock down punch. The long slender bullets of some of the older popular calibers had long heavy bullets and were just too slow by our demands.  They faded out over the years in favor of the lighter faster bullets and the twist rates had to go slower to allow the increased bullet speed.

The public was pushing for higher speeds which meant flatter shooting so rifles used slower twist that favored the light faster bullets. The rate of twist is very important when compared to the speed of the bullet. The fast rate of twist puts a speed limit on the bullet. A bullet that is pushed too fast for the rate of twist causes the bullet to push hard against the leading edge of the rifling deforming the bullet, which is not good for accuracy or barrel life.

A very fast twist has a narrow range of applicable bullets and speeds. The high ballistic coefficient bullets are heavy for caliber. The high rate of twist forces the loader to slow the bullet down to keep from distorting the bullets. It has to do with high mass of the bullet resisting change of angular momentum thus making the bullet to push hard on the leading edge of the rifling to the point of the bullet striping over the rifling. Pressures go up and perhaps the barrel blows up.

To actually take advantage of the high ballistic coefficient bullets for extra long range shooting would require a very well made expensive heavy rifle with a really good trigger, more money, much more money.  To shoot well we would also need a shooting table which is not fun to carry around. We would also need a range that would be longer than 700 yards and hunting grounds where we could see well for more than 1000 yards.

Ultra long range shooting ranges are not that common and are expensive to maintain. Walking back and forth down range to put up a target tires me out making it much harder to shoot.  Remote cameras would help and another man that stays down range to put up new targets, not always practical.  A military style shooting range would be a big help.

If this is for hunting, shooting an animal at very long ranges doesn’t seem practical. The animal could easily be lost considering the time it takes to walk, jog and run 1000 yards over broken ground and carry the 15 pound gun as you go.  You would also have to walk back to get the shooting table.  Perhaps we could practice shooting rats at 200 yards with a modern 17 caliber rifle. Heart shoots only on the rat of course so you don’t spoil the head mount.

I worked with a well respected army sniper that used a 50 with special loads, the rifle was very special.  The rifle was fitted with a new barrel every few shoots or before he was sent out. Shooting the gun was like holding a stick of dynamite at the end of a yard stick. It was expensive, loud, very heavy and not an easy or fun gun to shoot. Just shooting the gun was enough to give a normal person PTSD.  Finding a place to shoot a gun like that is not easy for the average citizen.

There are some European made rifles in 6.5 mm and 7 mm that use fast twist but the bullet speeds are slow so they are not real popular in America.  A 7 mm Remington magnum, 30-06 Springfield, 300 Winchester magnum or a 338 Winchester magnum have good twist rates for long range and they are reasonable calibers for hunting.  Good high grade ammunition is readily available and great bullets are available for reloading. There other calibers that are also good but the available choices of rifles and ammunition is more limited.

Posted in Shooting

Seven, Poem

SEVEN     (Pfeltner 1994)

Mom blew out the candle, “To bed”
“It’s much too early for bed,” he said.
“The room is too dark and cold,
Please by the fire until my book I’ve read?”
“Don’t be so daring, you’re not that old,
Off to your room, it’s time for bed.
Go right to sleep, no candles tonight.
No reading for you, there isn’t enough light.”

Too old I feel to know these fears,
This house it lives two hundred years.
The furniture old and glaring,
I feel past owners staring.
Away from the fire and into the dark,
The stairs sag weary from lack of heart.
Under the covers cold and shaking,
My life they’ve bet and if I’m waking.

Reciting prayers in fear of sleep,
Through eternal darkness I might leap.
The living house it screams and screeches,
From the claws of ancient branches it reaches.
Under the covers I dare not speak,
Before I sleep that one last peek.
There by the bed all dressed in red,
That familiar face with horns on his head.

Claws gently tapping, “Why this fear and dread?
You think you safe in this flimsy bed?
These covers are thin and made of cotton,
Your friends downstairs have long forgotten.
It’s not death you hear, it’s life you fear.
Why this worry of death when I’m so near?
You’re mine you hear, Tis foolish these thoughts of Heaven?
The night is My Domain,” clutching the child of seven.

Posted in Family, Uncategorized

A Vacation Paradise, Poem

A Vacation Paradise ( Pfeltner 1994)

It was a vacation paradise the trip of a lifetime.
Hunting in the rain forest, it didn’t cost a dime.
We were proud to be chosen, just lucky they said.
Stories to brag about, but don’t lose your head.

We walked through the forest, enjoying the trees
When the new guy tripped, knocking me to my knees.
The machine guns swept, as I fell on my gun,
I lived, they died, and that’s how it’s begun.

Eighty-nine in one day, it was all I could carry
I stacked them like wood for mothers to bury.
Alone in the dark, I couldn’t stop crying
It’s not about death, it’s the manner of dying.

My life continues with a new set of friends,
It didn’t seem fair, but that’s not where it ends.
The helicopter exploded, it burned in midair
All dead but me, it didn’t seem fair.

I bagged my friends for two years and a day.
A miracle they tell me, a morbid curse I say.
The months slowly pass, but life quickly changes.
My friends are my weapons and books of their ranges.

We joined their club to prove we were men,
But they put us in bags and gave us a pin.
Make sense of it, if you possibly can,
War is death, and the dark side of man.

Interested in miracles? Then read this again,
It happens all over with shiny new friends.
A few made it home and I am here to stay.
No more friends, there is no one to play.

I showed this to my brother, he threw it in my face.
“I thought you could write, this things a disgrace.
Where are the children and the freedom to win?
Where is the purpose for the death of those men?

I want to see agony, men walking through fire
Show me their hearts, there winning desire.
Schooling to write, where the Hell have you been
Get back to your room, leap fire from that pen!”

I picked up the paper, of course he was right.
I had neither skills nor ability to write.
With headache and pen I start writing again
About life and death and the valor of men.

Posted in Family