Reading Modbus devices from Linux (or any system with Python)

Problem:

Read a TCP/IP modbus device from a Linux server so that we can get power generated, energy generated, and voltages from our newly installed solar system.

Solution:

Search the web and find MBUtils, an open source set of python libraries that allow you to communicate with Modbus devices and servers. They also allow you to communicate with PLC’s and other control devices.

The project is on sourceforge (love this site) as MBLogic http://mblogic.sourceforge.net/ I recommend downloading the full package because you will need to install the libraries as well as the pollmb utility package.  Follow the install directions in the readme file.

 

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Solar is installed!!

We recently installed our solar system. Well,  we had someone come in and install what was supposed to be a 5.2Kw/hour solar system on our roof. One of the things I did almost immediately was setup tracking on pvoutput.org to see what our generation versus consumption is and how compares with others. pvoutput.org is a free website that is dedicated to solar energy generation and seeing how much carbon output is saved by solar panels. It tracks generation, output, import, export, and consumption on an every 5 minute basis.

The down side is that you have to send them data every 5 minutes (or in my case we send every minute) via json and html. The other downside is that many of the solar systems either do not have direct tracking capability or they are not easy to poll and securely transfer data to a service that is not proprietary in nature. For example, our solar system uses and SMA Sunny Boy 3.8 inverter (part that takes the DC power and makes it AC and allows it to be fed back into the grid or used). The SMA series is addressable internally with a web browser, and it will also automatically (sometimes… when it feels like it…) send readings about generation to the sunnyportal.com web site (owned and controlled by SMA). If you really want to see what your energy profile is you have to send: power generated (watts), energy generated (kw), energy used (kw), power used (kw) and also it helps to send temperature and wind speed if possible. Well, all of this does not come out of one device so I took advantage of a bunch of open source software and a linux server (have at least one running all the time here) to make this all work.

Here is our output (live):

https://pvoutput.org/intraday.jsp?id=57895&sid=51866

and our daily totals:

https://pvoutput.org/list.jsp?id=57895&sid=51866

I will post a page soon that shows how to set this all up.

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10:15: Lab Exams: The Real Deal

presented by Carter Stanfield from Pearson


Session is described as covering ways to administer hands-on exams in the lab, awarding defensible grades for lab projects, and documenting the results. Carter is co-author of HVACR Fundamentals (hvacrfundamentals.blogspot.com).

Why give shop exams? More like field work, grades demonstrated skills and not the knowledge that goes along with the skills, raises expectations, and students pay attention. What better way to test brazing than to have students do brazing. Raises student expectations because it breaks down the “group” with turning in papers for checking off purposes and forces each and every student to perform for a grade. This causes students to pay more attention in lab rather than just relying on their cohorts for answers. By using shop exams you can change the attitude of the students to be more “hands-on”. Students go from a compliance mode to a competence mode.

Compliance mode: you tell me what to do and I do it. Competence mode: I need to know how to do this. If I do not know how to do it perhaps I should learn. Competence requires practice.

Types of exams

One comprehensive project, series of shorter exams, or a troubleshooting round robin.

Comprehensive project:

  • Should cover most areas of a course
  • Closest o field competence test
  • Best suited for advanced courses
  • Good students really enjoy
  • Poor students struggle
  • Done over a longer period of time than a typical exam

An example: Install split system

  • Refrigerant lines
  • Power wiring
  • Control wiring
  • Evacuation/recharge
  • Final check and test
  • One week time allowed

Another example:

  • Recover refrigerant
  • Remove reversing valve and compressor
  • Install reversing valve and compressor
  • Evacuate and recharge
  • Final check and test
  • One week time allowed

The downside is that the units can get destroyed over time. Scheduling with larger classes is a challenge.

Series of short tasks:

  • Work well in introductory course
  • can be completed in less time
  • can be mixed with written exams

Examples:

Put labels on components, students write components (1,2,3, etc):

  • Name
  • Refrigerant state
  • Refrigerant pressure
  • Refrigerant temperature
  • Saturated, superheated, subcooled

Another example: Have gauges and thermometer on system and determine condition:

  • Saturated
  • Superheated
  • Subcooled

Another example: Have refrigerant recovery cylinders with gauges and an IR thermometer. Students identify refrigerant in cylinder from a list. Make sure refrigerants are far enough apart so that it is not overly confusing.

Refrigerant service tasks:

  • Flaring project
  • Swaging project
  • Light a torch
  • Small soldering project
  • Small brazing project

The short projects have the students use the information rather than just test on the material through multiple guess testing. If the student is paying attention as the exam goes on the good student will learn from the other students mistakes or instructors corrections.

Evacuation and recovery projects

  • Use core tool on valve cores
  • Connect recovery unit
  • Connect vacuum pump

Basic Electrical tasks:

  • Build basic circuits
  • Read resistance
  • Read voltage
  • Read current
  • Change cartridge fuse
  • Use non-contact voltage detector

Motor tasks:

  • Types of motores
  • Check windings
  • Wire and operate motors

Control System tasks:

  • Identify control components
  • Check control components
  • Wire a heat-cool thermostat
  • Check a heat-cool thermostat

Troubleshooting Round Robins:

  • Series of problems – one for each student
  • Challenge is to identify the problem – not fix it
  • No parts changing
  • Change systems after a period of time
  • No talking
  • Students are not given symptoms
  • Instructors do not answer questions
  • Instructors will not tell students if they are correct
  • Answers on paper only

Answers have five parts:

  • What is system doing wrong?
  • What is causing this?
  • How did you determine this?
  • How can this be corrected?
  • How much will this cost?

Assigning Lab Grades

Two basic types of systems are pass fail or letter grades.

Pass fail:

  • Simple
  • Tends to promote mediocrity
  • Most passing work is of minimal acceptable quality

Traditional grades:

  • Most familiar grading system
  • Grades below A motivate students
  • Can be difficult to determine grades
  • Grading tends to be subjective
  • Grading can vary between instructors

Rubrics to the Rescue:

A guide listing specif criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, etc. Adds objectivity to something that is an inherently subjective process. It boxes the instructor into boundaries for the grades. Provide a framework for determining grades. Shows students how their grade is determined. Reduces grade discrepancy between instructors. Demonstrated defensible grades.

Rubrics can use points for positives but also as demerits. Rubrics are built on standards. Standards can be characteristics of the process used; characteristics of the finished product; time taken to finish; number of attempts required. Standards should be definable, not vague, observable, and measurable.

Step 1: List standards

  • Too few give incomplete assessment
  • Too many standards can be confusing
  • 4-5 is good

Step 2: Standard Weight:

  • Can be equal across all standards
    • example: 5 standards each counting 20%
  • More important standards can count more
    • Example: 4 standards at 15% and 1 at 40%

Step 3: setup the scale

  • Numeric 1-5 or 1-10
  • Alpha: A, B, C, D, E, F
  • Descriptive: Superior, excellent, good, fair
  • Numbers work the best

Step 4: Assessment

  • Upper and lower limit examples
  • Examples of each level on the scale
  • Time
  • Frequency
  • Repetitions

*** Need to make sure you have a plan for students with disabilities on how to fairly complete these assignments.

Administering Shop Tests

No surprises:

  • Inform students early in term about shop exam
  • Make sure they do all procedures in lab during term
  • Allow them to practice

Timing:

  • Spread shop exam over a week
  • Fixed time slots are easiest to manage
  • 2 hours per time slot
  • Allow time between time slots for packing up and resetting
  • Students choose a time slot on sign up sheet
  • Use hours of availability on written exams…..

Test conditions:

  • Lap proctor at all times
  • Limit number participating in exams at one time
  • OK to have students in different classes in shop at one time
  • No group work
  • No talking
  • All answers written only
  • Students are not told if their answer is right during the exam
  • All exams graded by the same instructor

Paper mountain:
15 lab sheets per course
x 10 different courses
x 20 students per course
= 3000 Lab sheets

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8:30am – The Latest in Control and Communication Technology

Presented by Neal Thompson of KE2 Them Solutions, Inc.  (http://www.ke2therm.com) and A.J. Saucier of KE2.

Topic of conversation is Intelligent Refrigeration System Control. This controller controls all system operation but also does a continuous diagnostic loop. Controls and communicates.

Key features include alarms for door open, high temps, superheat issues, and defrost issues. Control eliminates: defrost time clock, thermostat, and defrost termination control.


Temperature difference across evaporator in traditional system is about 10 degrees bellow box temp. Control turns off the fan when the temperature satisfies, this is a change from the traditional commercial method of leaving the fan running. leaves question on hot/cold spots in cooler? Sensors are located behind evaporator about 18″ from ceiling and 8-10 inches behind evaporator. Cut in and cut-out differential is close to 1 degree. The control keeps track of compressor run times and cycling to prevent short cycling and compressor damage. The shut down of the fans prevents product warming between cycles.

TEV Superheat – is known for not being able to keep up. In a normal system when an evaporator fan goes bad the superheat changes. The superheat changes based on operating conditions and sometimes even seasonal. The books say that superheat must be checked at design temperature. If superheat is set with space at 20 degrees it will be lower when the space is at run condition of 0 degrees. The reality is that the coil temperature is more important than room temperature when checking superheat. Anytime the design changes (changing set point from 0 degrees to -5 degrees) changes the superheat and superheat must be checked. Loosing evaporator fan, bad defrost and partially iced coils, all cause superheat change and you have a possible flooded compressor.

  • Superheat changes with room temp
  • Superheat changes with ice
  • Superheat changes with faulty fan
  • Superheat changes with dirty evaporator

When is the superheat correct with a TEV? never. It is either too high or dangerously low.

(Diagnostic chart from Garth Dennison)
ColdWar-March-2006-Ups-and-Downs-of-Servicing

If using an EEV the entire Superheat column of troubleshooting does not matter. EEV’s control adjusts and adapts to the ever changing conditions of superheat.

The control being discussed (and advertised) in this session is the KE2 Evaporator Efficiency Control.  The technology is cloud based with multiple security/credential levels. There is a nice interactive demo here.

 

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Good morning!

Good morning from day 2 of HVAC Excellence in Orlando, FL. We start our day off with a breakfast meeting and a learning game of jeopardy on ductless split systems. This is going to be a full day.

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Council of Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Educators

First session of the 2017 HVAC Educators Conference at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center. Hope we have a great week at the conference.

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Danger! Danger! Danger! School Choice – Danger!

The talk of the Trump administration has changed direction again. This week it’s about school choice, or at least that is the reason for yet another trip to join with his pal Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, and visit a local Catholic school to push for a voucher system.  For those that don’t follow the news a voucher system would allow parents to take taxpayer money and use that money to pay tuition for their kids in the private, parochial, or charter school of their choice. In fact, parents could choose to take this money and use it to home school their students.  The second thing Trump and his Department of Education Secretary have been pushing for is removing a lot of the Federal oversight of education and returning it to state control. This would allow states to set the standards and the curriculum that their population feels that their children need, or what they feel is appropriate.

Now, before I go any further, I want to make a few disclosures.  First, I did attend a private boarding school during high school. No, it is not funded by the taxpayers, it is funded by a trust fund setup by Milton Hershey, the founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company and administered by a board of directors under the Hershey Trust brand. So, even though I was not attending school the taxpayer money was still going to the school district regardless if I was there or not. The second disclosure I need to make is that I have been a very strong proponent of educational change. I also have been a member of the alternative education resource organization (AERO) and am a firm believer on alternatives to traditional education. But all of this does not mean that I am a proponent of the voucher systems.

The premise of public education and the public school system is that every student will receive the same education regardless of location, race, income level, disability, and a number of other categories. What a student is required to learn in Indiana, another student needs to learn in New York, and another student must learn in California. The reasons for this are simple; we live in a global economy. Upon graduation students will go on the college, technical education, or into the workforce. Furthermore in our economy students will be competing against students from other countries. Additionally, the Federal oversight is important to those with learning disabilities or special needs. The Federal oversight prevents states from de-funding programs or segregating students with special needs. In the 1970s and 1980s students with special needs were put into special classes that covered a bare minimum, sent them to a shop based program, which kept them out of the way of the “real students” (that is a term I heard an administrator use once) and just graduated them with a basic diploma. The Federal Education Department guideline and laws are designed to prevent this scenario.

State control of education, curriculum, and content is not a good idea. States can be influenced too easily by groups of individuals within a state. For example portions of the South and Midwest are controlled very heavily by the churches. If a pastor in a church suggests (or in most cases preaches) about students being taught creationism versus evolution the majority of the people in those congregations will turn out at the next election and vote for removing evolution from the text books. This puts students at a disadvantage, unless they are planning on studying theology and entering the ministry after high school. Another example is even more life altering. A school district in Alabama would be able to decide that health class will not include any mention of safe sex practices other than abstinence. Now, we all know teenagers and young adults are going to eventually become sexually active. We also know that this is a very uncomfortable conversation for many parents to have with their kids and be open and honest. So, the students from this Alabama school system will not have honest conversation and instruction on safe sex and pregnancy prevention. The will know the mechanics, but they will not have access to options. This puts the young adult at risk for unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Some of them may be life threatening.

Lack of Federal oversight and federally mandated curriculum will lead to differences in educational standards, material, and potentially some life threatening mistakes. Lack of  Federal oversight will also allow states to de-fund special education programs, release special education teachers, and push those students into “alternative” classes to reduce budgets.

The voucher system that the Trump administration is pushing for is even more dangerous. Let’s break it down using rough math. A school district gets it’s operating budget based on a percentage of the property/school taxes taken into the city, county, state, and country. This money is supposed to be allocated to all of the schools in an equitable manner based on the population of students attending the school. The school funding pays for teachers, school improvements, books, testing, and transportation. It also helps fund after school activities and lunch programs for low income students. Each state does handle the school funding in different ways, based upon Federal guidelines.

The voucher program would say that “Johny” is worth XXX dollars to the school district per year. So, Johny’s parents would be given a voucher that would transfer that XXX dollars to any school that the parents chose to send him to. This would include religious schools, private schools, or even they could choose to keep that money and home school Johny. OK, make sense so far? So, let’s say Johny’s friends Bob, Billy, Max, and Chris parents all decide to take their vouchers and send the five angels to the “Academy of the Evangelistic Preaching”, a school that promises to not teach any science, history, or activity that is not in the Bible, interpreted by the Pastor (headmaster) of the affiliated church. So, the five angels go to this new school. Yet the other 300 students are still in their old school. The same number of teachers must be in the old public school. The same building maintenance must be done, and the same activities must happen. But, they now have to pay the Academy of the Evangelistic Preaching the value of the five students and this comes directly out of the operating budget of school.  Sounds about right? But think about it. You have the same number of teachers, the same building, the same core expenses, but five less XXX dollars to deal with. Since it costs about $20,000.00 per year to have a student in the public school this voucher number would very well be something close to that. So, in this fake scenario the cost to the district could well be $100,000.00 per year out of the budget. This will affect the quality of education of those left. This is two teachers salaries, a computer lab, or a librarian (or two). It isn’t about the students that are leaving, it needs to be about the students that are remaining. Those are the ones that are going to be short changed and eventually receive a lessor education when our societies contracts are that all kids will receive, at minimum, the same quality education.

Next let’s talk about the students that are leaving. Many parents have already said they would remove their students from the local public schools because they do not want them exposed to ideas, education, and beliefs they do not agree with. This could be racial differences, differences in sexual orientations, differences in gender identity, and the list goes on. So, in the case of my made up “Academy of the Evangelistic Preaching” described above, the church may not have tolerance for interracial dating, may be very white (or African American) centered, may not allow gay students, may in fact advocate hatred for various groups, under the guise of saving them. And do not fool yourself, this happens and is real. So, the impressionable young person may not learn tolerance, acceptance, and may be raised in company of a single belief system. What happens to them when school is over? What happens to them during their teenage rebellion years? Are they going to lash out against other groups in society? Or are they all of a sudden going to learn tolerance? Will they be more apt to trample on others rights? Or will they become supportive members of a diverse society? I believe we have learned over the years the answers here.

Corporations love school choice as well. They want to be able to run charter schools and make a lot of money from taxpayer money. Well, this has been tried in many states and has been a total failure. Look it up on line. Edison Educational services, a few educational companies in Washington, DC and Florida. New Jersey has had a trial with this idea. Each and every one of them has been a failure. Some of them failed and had their CEO’s and board of directors locked up. But in each and every case the students, teachers, and population paid a very steep price.

School choice and school vouchers are a way to further drive a wedge into the diverse society and roll back our country 50 plus years to a time of segregation, class systems, the haves and the havenots. School choice is a way to funnel public tax dollars to the religious schools in this country so they can further control and direct societies thought processes to their way of thinking. School choice is designed to destroy the public education system in this country, the system that promises that all children will receive and equitable, standardized education.

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The Job is Not Done!

Born in 1965 in Arlington, VA. Started school in 1970 in Balston Spa, NY. Started High School in Niskayuna, New York in 1979. Changed schools in 1979 and graduated from High School at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA in 1983. Following high school spent six years in and out of college and trade school, trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and learning about myself and my community. Had a very brief stint in the Air Force during 1989. Finally at the end of 1989 settled down, grew a career, met the man I would eventually marry, and have been together ever since. I returned to school and in 2010 earned my Doctorate of Education. That is the short version just to give you some background and put the timeline into perspective. Oh, I guess I may have given away my secret in this, I am gay, and very happy with who I am.

I guess I figured out my orientation someplace in 1976 or possibly earlier, but it really doesn’t matter how I figured it out, it really is just another part of the story. I was not a nice teenager in the late 70’s. I had a few minor run-ins with the police, school officials, and my parents around that time. The decision was made to remove me from public school and send me away to boarding school in the farmlands of Pennsylvania where I would be under a little more control, and possibly learn a trade. It was possibly the best thing that ever happened to me. Not only did I excel in school, I learned to love agricultural work, and I learned that I liked competitive sports. I did pretty well with swimming, and because the swim coach was also the track and cross country coach, I ended up doing pretty well as a distance runner with those two sports as well. By this time others had figured out the fact that I was not chasing the girls, and that the guys may have been a little more interesting, but until I was a junior I never acted on this. Except for once at the beginning of my time at Hershey I was never harassed either. Eventually I would end up in student government and graduated knowing that I had gained some respect and self confidence in the process.

Being sent to Hershey for school did something else for me, it gave me the opportunity to see parts of the country, parts of life, that I had never seen. Sure, as kids we traveled, but looking back at it, the travels were always a controlled travel. Three times a year I would be taken to the bus or train in Harrisburg, PA and go first to Philadelphia, then to New York City, and then on to upstate New York for vacations. After the first trip I never made the connection properly in New York City. See, from either Grand Central or the Port Authority Bus Station, it was a very short walk to Greenwich Village, or Times Square. And, being a young guy in that area, I made friends, fast. And no, it was not sexual friends until years later. But, I found the community centers, I found the non-adult bookstores (OK, I found some of the later as well), I found the underage clubs, and more importantly I found people I could relate to. 1979 to 1983 was pretty much before AIDS. It was a happy time, lot’s of freedoms, a sense of community was building. Those of us on the East Coast were not aware of the horror’s that were building on the West Coast. You have to put the time into perspective, this was before the days of the Internet. It took a while for news to spread, and it had to be acceptable by the main stream news outlets. I know that I was totally unaware until after High School graduation because I also had the restrictions of a set of houseparents whom controlled the programming that we were allowed to watch. My trips to New York City also showed no sign of awareness until much later.

In 1983 I graduated and spent the Summer working on the farms attached to Milton Hershey School, and later working on a neighboring dairy farm. I then started school in Cobleskill, New York as an Animal Husbandry major. I made frequent trips to Albany and a few to New York City during this time. I lasted in school until 1985 when I decided that this was just not for me. During this time I started participating in the gay pride events, some of the marches, and some of the demonstrations.

Sometime in 1984 the shoe dropped, the world I lived in went to hell. AIDS was becoming more and more rampant. I had discovered the Gay Community Center in Albany, NY and had started making friends and had started finding mentors. True, half the people there were just a bit too far out their for my tastes, but I found some down-to-earth people that made a difference in my life. I remember a trip in late 1984 where I drove up to Albany and was surprised by the feeling of fear. Everyone was scared. There was a general feeling of “did I have it?” among those standing around talking, and having coffee. I went to the Playhouse night club that evening and for the first time ever I saw people with signs outside of the club calling it the “plaguehouse” and demanding that the police shut it down. This got worse over time.

Someplace in 1985 I remember walking into the community center and most everyone was it tears. It seemed one of the founders had died in the previous month. I knew he was sick, but no one knew what it was. There were several people sitting around and talking about what they were going to put on the panel of remembrance for him on the AIDs memorial quilt which was being built. This was the first time I had ever heard about the quilt. Over the next few years I learned about, and heard about the quilt more than I ever wanted to. The community center in Albany had dedicated a few rooms upstairs where panels of the quilt were constantly being sewn. One panel would be done and another one would be started.

In this time there was also a fear that laws were changing. Under the umbrella of stopping the AIDS crisis the local politicians, police, and religious groups began to become frequent visitors at the bars and nightclubs. The purpose of these visits was to harass the owners and patrons by asking for ID’s, collecting names, and in general trying to shut the clubs down. In two or three cases it succeeded. I remember one bar that I used to socialize at never had any alcohol, was a piano bar, and was raided a few times because they were trying to catch the bartender selling booze without a license. They never did because it was a coffee bar. But, this gives the type of idea. Albany quickly became too small for me. I did not feel that this was the place I wanted to call home.

Someplace in 1986 I moved to New York City. Along the way I started becoming more and more in tune to the politics involved and I was becoming tired of watching people I knew die. Then, there was a movement building, blaming the government for not doing anything to cure the AIDS crisis. The government at this time was as bad as the religious organizations that had their heads firmly planted up their collective rear ends that this was a disease that was “God’s revenge (or solution)” to the homosexuals. I was 21 at this point and had started to vote, had started to realize that I needed to be involved. In mid to late 1986 there was a plan taking place. At first it was secretive, closed door, invitational only meetings, some in places I do not want to describe. Everyone was afraid of the backlash from the straight population of gay men. The plan involved many people, from all over the country, all showing up in Washington, DC demanding that the government do something about the AIDS epidemic as it had largely been ignored. In July of 1986 there was a public planning meeting in West Hollywood, CA that I was unable to attend. But the outcome was positive.  The planning continued with a follow-up meeting that representatives from all gay organizations were invited to attend in New York, NY in November, 1986. After that there were a few more major planning sessions.

On the morning of October 11, 1987 I made my way to Pennsylvania Station and along with thousands of others (so many Amtrak had to hurry to put extra cars on the trains) we boarded trains for the 6 hour ride to Washington, DC. People were showing up with signs, banners, and those who didn’t have some were hurriedly given some. Upon arrival we made our way to the National Mall. The energy was high. Then there was silence. Then there was anger. On the mall the volunteers from the NAMES project had assembled the AIDS quilt and it was breathtaking. It pissed me off. It pissed everyone else off. It made people cry. I remember people wandering looking for the names of their loved ones, their friends, I remember the pure outpouring of grief. I found someone that I had gone to school  with that had attempted to commit suicide while in school. He was now a name on the quilt. His true love was sitting there and touching the panel. He was also a classmate. He told me what he wanted on his panel, a promise I made, and kept a year later. I do not remember  much more from that day, it was a day that rebuilt the community. Between the quilt, the march, the anger, the grief, and the birth of a new organization – ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power.

We left Washington, DC in smaller groups of people for a much quieter trip back to our homes. But we left with a purpose. Chapters of ACT UP grew in most major cities. And we were not quiet about it. I participated in almost weekly marches in New York State – New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse carrying the ACT UP banner, the pink triangle with the words SCIENCE = DEATH. See, the purpose of these marches was to demand that the FDA release the “experimental” AIDS drugs through a fast track in the FDA. The only drug that had been released was a drug called AZT. AZT was responsible for more death than the AID’s virus itself. I saw a few of my friends be diagnosed with HIV and low T-cell counts be put onto AZT and die faster and harder deaths than those not on AZT. If you didn’t take the drugs you were actually better off. In fact I knew of a few people that refused the drugs and self medicated with marijuana and lived to the release of the current range of medications, and though we have lost touch, I suspect are still alive today.

ACT UP was successful. The in your face attitude of the protesters pissed off the politicians, upset the religious organizations, and in general did everything it was supposed to do. It was disruptive. It caused inconvenience. It brought attention on those dying and those living. It forced change. Yes, protesters got arrested (it amazes me to this day that I didn’t), we had to deal with tear gas a number of times, we had to deal with being called every name under the sun and then some. But, we did not give up. I was proud to be active until late 1988 or early 1989. For me the next part of life happened. I had to get a job, through these years I survived on managing a McDonalds, running a few Radio Shack stores, and in general minimum wage positions. I could no longer afford to live in New York City and make ends meet. I was also very disappointed and disgusted with some of the people whom I had considered friends.

During this time I had also gone through a series of failed relationships, I was somewhat trusting until I was proven wrong, and then I had no forgiveness. Scott, Shawn, Eric, Frank, and lastly Brian all had come and gone in five years, I was madly in love with them, but because I worked and they didn’t, I finally figured out what made them stay until I threw them out. I had some money, I always had food, and I had a place to live. Every one of them I had caught cheating. I blamed myself for many years, it took me all the way into my late 30’s to realize that it wasn’t me, it was them. I now believe that only because of my throwing them out the second I had the “they are cheating” feeling, or when I became aware, I was able to avoid AIDS myself. I had lived life in the early to mid 1980’s like many of my friends had. But, because I was considered sort of a “stuck up farm boy” by many, was still into athletics, and had different values I really was not that much into the partying and “free” sexuality of the times that took the lives of so many.

In 1988, after the last failed relationship, I made the decision to join the Air Force. Why? I have no idea, but I was looking for a career. So, with care I completed the enlistment process, leaving a few blanks on the paperwork that for some reason were never caught, and was given a “report” date in May of 1989. Between my enlistment and report date I went on the road again, alone, and went back to the West Coast to probably my favorite city in the country, Portland, Oregon. But, it was different this time. The clubs, the community, and the attitude was decimated. While I was on the East Coast I was unaware how badly the West Coast was ripped apart by AIDS. But, I did see some glimmer of hope. Seattle, Portland, and other cities were starting to pass laws that protected those with AIDS from harassment and discrimination.  These were the same cities that a few years prior were trying to pass ordinances to outlaw the though of being gay or associating with gays. In May of 1989 I drove back home to Albany, NY, put everything I had in storage, and reported to basic training.

My time in the Air Force did not last long. I was quickly identified for extra security screenings, perhaps the name gathering at demonstrations, bars, and where ever else may have had some impact, who knows. It sure was not through my lack of effort or anything I did in basic. I was a squadron leader, probably the Drill Sergeants pet (I still thing she was a very butch lesbian as I thought I saw her at an event a few years prior). I was confronted and asked if I were homosexual and had any homosexual relationships. At the time I was sort of interrogated (it was not a miserable experience, it was kept pretty civil) I was told that if I owned up to it I would receive an administrative discharge rather than a dishonorable discharge that would screw me for life. I chose to cooperate with the system.

While I was pissed I knew enough that a dishonorable discharge would have prevented me from accomplishing much in my future. However, this little “break” from the world and the ACT UP movement was enough of a break to make me evaluate what I had done and what I wanted to do. For me, 1989 was the year I knew that I really had to settle down. I could not continue doing what I was doing. So, I went back to New York state and stayed with a friend in the Utica/Rome area (one of my ex’s that I still talked with and he was now with someone else, so I accepted the offer of the couch).

After a few months I had the opportunity to follow him and his partner (fling of the month) to Dallas, TX were one of the first things he did was to introduce me to one of his ex’s from a prior life in Dallas. Well, one thing led to another and we are still together today.

Looking back at this all, I was one voice in a thousand. I played a very small part in the rights movement, the fight for AIDS drugs, and government recognition. I am happy I caused some inconvenience for government officials.  Probably caused a few cities to spend some extra money cleaning up fake blood from their city hall steps (Albany, New York). But my part in the grand scheme of things was such a small part. However, I would not ever want to re-live life and not be a part of it. I grew up in those years. Carrying the signs, screaming with thousands of others the now gone chant of “we are here, we are queer, get used to it” at ACT UP marches. The only thing I wish was different was that the government had reacted and released the drugs we all knew that they had much sooner. Lives would have been saved.

In 1996 the AID’s quilt was displayed again on the National Mall in Washington, DC. I saw pictures, I was too busy with life, and I could not be there. It would be the last time the quilt would ever be displayed in one place as a whole. It had gotten too big to transport and display. There was not enough room to lay it all out. In 2012 it was estimated that the quilt now weighed over 54 tons with the names of 94,000 people. Unfortunately, it is still growing and the size and growth is not something to be proud of.

I started this article with the title, “The Job is Not Over” because the job is far from done. Prior to the AID’s crisis the gay community was winning. Life was good, government had started accepting, and it looked like things were going well, as things were until late 2015. In July of 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that gay people had the right to marry and that they had to be afforded the same rights as heterosexual people with this respect. The rights of marriage include survivor ship, medical decision making, and tax benefits. It may not seem like much until you are looking at a major health crisis, or at your income tax returns.

As we all know religious organizations have been attempting to figure out how to shut down the gay rights movement for years. In late 2015 they started a new game of filing “Religious Protection” legislation at a state level in order to protect the religious freedoms of those that do not wish to acknowledge the LGBT community. These religious freedom laws allow for people to discriminate against the LGBT community based on their religious views. An example of this would be a baker, or a wedding venue, or even a county clerk saying “my religion is against homosexuals so I will not serve you!” and because of the law there is no legal recourse. These laws also allow an employer to terminate an employee because they are gay or lesbian.

In a few states there have been laws passed regarding education. One state has changed the law regarding science education that evolution is no longer taught, creationism is. The same state has changed the law on sex education that homosexuality must be taught from the bible rather than from science and that safe sex practices cannot be taught as the only form of sex ed is abstinence. Other states have gone so far as to try to put laws into place that if a teenager under 21 wants a condom the parents must be notified. Other states have begun to try to pass laws that prevent community centers, bars, and clubs from opening or staying open based on the sexual orientation of those expected to attend. Further, there are three or four states right now passing legislation on the ability of people to protest. These states are making it a felony to protest in any way that disrupts public access to a building or highway. In fact, one such law says that if a motorist runs their car through a protest (permitted or not) they cannot be sued or held criminally responsible for their actions. Another state has removed all references to the gay rights struggle from the 70s through 90s from the approved textbooks in their schools. History has been re-written with the attempt to be forgotten.

What do all of these laws have in common? They will eventually push the LGBT community back into hiding. That is unless the youth of the LGBT community sit up, pay attention, and take notice! To our young folks…. please consider the rights you have today, the anti-bullying laws, the idea you can get married, the idea that you cannot loose your jobs or housing for being who you are. The protections you have today were won for you by my generation and the generation before me. You do not have to deal with the AIDS epidemic at the same time, but you have to deal. Your rights to be who you are and not be pushed around for who you are, are on life support.

In January of 2017 the scariest thing since the start of the AIDS epidemic happened. A new President of the United States was sworn in. Along with this new president came his vice president, his cabinet, and all of the secretaries of the various federal agencies. Every single one of these people has strong ties to various religious organizations that have taken a stand against the gay community in their recent past. Every one of these people has already said that they will turn control of funding, education, and environmental controls back to the states because only their voters know what will serve the people of that state the best. Why is this scary?

Someplace in Wyoming there is a young teenager in middle school who is slowly realizing he is different from his peers. Someplace in Wyoming there is a religious freedom bill in the state house and senate. In many places in Wyoming there are pastors and preachers preaching the evils and the sin of homosexuality to their churches on a weekly basis. Someplace in Wyoming there is a teenager that is forced by his family to be sitting there listening to this on a weekly basis. This teenager will go on to high school and because of the religious freedom laws will not receive the education to protect himself and his partners from disease, will not receive the protection of anti-bullying laws, and will not have access to the community organizations that receive funding from the federal government for outreach and education. If he survives high school without being killed for being gay, this teenager will eventually leave Wyoming for a class trip, an athletic event, or to go to college. He will be expose for the first time ever to freedom. You can bet that this teenager is going to try to find out about, and try, much of what he has been missing. Without the education, the knowledge, and the science he is going to die. Replace Wyoming with any state in the union.

I have come to realize over the last few years as I have observed the changes that religion and some government officials are trying to force on educational policy that unlike the chants of my time, “SCIENCE = DEATH” the new generation needs to take up signs that say “NO SCIENCE = DEATH.” Because when you take science and history out of the schools, out of the states, out of the news media you are doomed to repeat the past. The past was not pretty.

What can be done about it? Many of the people that won these rights years back are gone. AIDS took many of them. But, those of us remaining, those of us who are concerned would tell everyone one thing. You cannot fight this battle on Facebook or via email. You cannot fight this battle with Instagram or SnapChat. You need to personalize this battle with bodies. Electronic communications, petitions, and other such things are easily ignored. People are not. Why do you think states are trying to pass anti-protest laws? I have not seen an anti-email law yet. Learn from the lessons of the past. Make some signs. Stand up for your rights, do so in person and with force. Do not allow them to just delete you and your rights. That is the process that began in November of 2016. You were marginalized. Do not allow it to happen again.

The next March on Washington is planned for June 11, 2017 on the heals of Capital Pride. Are you going to be there? Are you going to be doing anything more than getting drunk, laid, or partying? I hope so. Go to one of the rights groups and ask for a sign. Better yet, help make some. Your work is not done. It is up to your generation to protect everything my generation and the prior generation worked for. Do not be the single generation in gay rights that will go down as the generation that has done nothing.

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What next? No seriously, what next?

This is a first for me. I have never been let go from a job, I have never experienced a layoff, and I have never been through a furlough (forced unpaid vacation) since I started working in 1980 at 16 years old.  I was told yesterday by the school that I have worked for over the last 11 years that I will have to take three unpaid weeks over the next six weeks. A schedule was published late yesterday evening and finalized this afternoon. I am off next week, then back working for a week, off for another week, back to work for two weeks, and then off for another unpaid week. Sounds like an awesome vacation, right? Well not exactly since I will not get paid for this time off. So, what’s next?

As I was wrapping things up today I was asked by a number of people what my plans are for next week and what I will do with my free time. The answer is not simple, first because it was unexpected, and second it is a slightly troubling thing to go through. So, what is next?

First, I am going to take some seriously long runs next week while I think about my options. Most of my runs during the week are very fast and rushed as I have to get home, showered, and working. Next week I plan on doing some trail runs and spend some time thinking about what’s next. Then I need to do some yard work. The groves has not been mowed in four months or so. The dogs yard needs cut. I need to weed and feed the grapes. I need to wash the car. I desperately need to clean the garage and reclaim the work bench. But all of that is stuff that I should be doing on evenings and weekends anyways.

It hit me today, I also need to finish (or actually start) writing my presentation for HVAC Excellence, an HVAC trainers conference in Orlando at the end of March. I am giving a presentation on the good, the bad, and the ugly of instructional technology in the HVAC classroom. In prior conferences it has all been the good but based on four years of exeperience with and observing instructional technology it is time to address the not so good with the hopes that people do not repeat the same mistakes that I have been observing for the last several years. As I write my presentation I will post some of it here.

Many people have suggested I write and rewrite my resume. It is written. I am just not 100% sure what I want to do with my 50s. I know I want to be part of educating our future, our future service technicians and tradespeople, I just do not know how to be a part of it. I suspect it will be as an independent consultant working on a contract basis, but who knows how this will turn out.

The dogs are asleep around the room right now, not a care in the world, one of them is even snoring. Sometimes I wish I could ave their lives with the biggest excitement being the squirrel that shows up in the front yard. Let’s see what’s next.

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Musings…..

Good morning all! The backyard weather thingy says that it is a pleasant 62 degrees here in Babson Park, FL. The acuwindow says that it is a bit cloudy this morning but I think that will burn off in the next hour or so. On today’s agenda, a few meetings and someplace along the way I will get out for a run during my lunch break.

On other amazing news, two things popped up in my Facebook feed yesterday, the first was also reported on the evening news, that McDonald’s is lowering their soda prices to $1 in hopes of attracting customers back to their stores. Now, that by itself is interesting as many people are avoiding fast food because of the health affects.

The second article that showed up, and yes I went and found more reliable sources, was that big pharmaceutical is betting that their next big money maker will be drugs that treat NASH, a liver disease that occurs in obese people and most often progresses into cirrhosis and liver failure.

Is the idea of eating healthy affecting the bottom line of two companies? Perhaps McDonalds as well as the drug companies? Perhaps. May also have something to do with the lifting of the dietary restrictions in our public schools that seems to be sneaking it’s way through the House right now.

As someone who has been affected by both weight issues, fast food, and liver cirrhosis I find this more than coincidental. Are NASH drugs going to be the next push in all the doctors offices and hospitals? Perhaps people should go run a few miles a day and skip the drugs.

https://www.ft.com/content/e6ab5da6-f3c9-11e6-8758-6876151821a6

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-22/mcdonald-s-to-cut-prices-on-drinks-as-fast-food-industry-slumps

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/610/text?q={%22search%22%3A[%22hr610%22]}&r=1

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