Tag Archives: Hills

The Hills Are Alive with Wave Energy

When I was a kid there was a new family that moved in. They had two young boys that were about the same age as me. Of course, being boys, the first thing we did when we saw each other was to start throwing rocks at each other. We didn’t actually hit each other, but it took a while for us to get over our imagined differences that you sometimes see when are doing things like this. After we started to play together, without wanting to kill each other, we started going to a park that was behind our neighborhood. It was an old park, I don’t if they city had given up on it, but they kind of let it get overgrown and stuff. It wasn’t really dangerous, there weren’t any poisonous snakes or patches of quicksand or anything like that, and it was just an old park that had a bunch of overgrown trees and stuff. It had large hill in the middle of it, but the hill was heavily populated with trees, so you couldn’t really ride your bike down the hill or anything, because you might crash into a bunch of trees if you weren’t careful.

I remember watching a surfing competition once, and there was a big pier in the middle of the contest. While it certainly wasn’t required, for insurance and legal purposes, to “shoot the pier,” that is to catch a wave on one side of the pier and ride it through the pier, without crashing into the pier itself, surfers who would venture through this would ooh and ahh the crowd. Of course, the judges weren’t’ allowed to give any extra points for this, because they might be held liable for any body that injured themselves. Sometimes it’s important to make sure the recognition you want to receive from something is the kind of recognition that wants you. It’s important to balance the recognition that pays your rent, and bread and butter that inspires you to greater things.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been surfing, but it’s an interesting study in how to harness a naturally occurring phenomenon. Waves have been around long before mankind ever showed up on earth, and will likely be around long after mankind has left. The waves don’t care if you are in a good mood, or if you just got fired from your job. They just keep coming in regardless, based solely on a few basic laws of physics and gravity.

It’s interesting the different ways that humans have used to harness naturally occurring phenomenon. Wind energy, solar energy, and recently ocean currents have been, and continue to be a valuable source for electricity. And no matter how many billions of people live on Earth, the wind and solar and ocean currents will remain unchanged. It’s amazing the things that have been around for millions of years, before humans were a gleam in a single cell bacteria’s eye, and will likely be here long after out demise, will continue to consistently behave in a predictable way. And when you consider how ancient people used these same resources, compared to how we use them today, you can only imagine the creative ways humans will be using them a few thousand years from now.

After the new kids and I went to the park a few times, we realized that the densely wooded hill would be a perfect place for playing wargames, like capture the flag, and laser tag, and paintball. Before, I had never considered doing something like that. Maybe it was because our first instinct was to throw rocks at each other, but using that area for much different kind of games proved to be a great way to create lasting friendships, and build teamwork skills. We spent many summers trying to think of creative ways to run around those woods trying to pretend to kill and sneak attack each other. It’s really amazing what you can do when you figure out how to use the resources that have been around you since before you took the time to notice them, now.