Why

Our web designer & photographer/film maker, Mary P O Connor, asked me to try to explain why a 73 year “young” Senior Citizen is attempting move over one ton of  LIVE ABOARD boat and gear the entire length of THE ERNE NAVIGATION WITHOUT AN ENGINE. She was especially curious in light of the fact that, to our knowledge, no one attempted to take up this extreme adventure and endurance challenge previously. 

 Mary also wondered how I could think of taking on a challenge with stress factors which could overtax the capabilities of a young and fit athlete.

Being an ornery cuss and never one to submit to protocol, I’ll start with the last of her questions first. Such a physical challenge does not daunt me because I’ve kept myself in good shape by staying active and doing very heavy work on a regular basis.  Before I lost my holdings, I funded a research foundation, with the top priority remit of looking into the connections between diet and disease and general health/fitness. The information gathered by the foundation has helped to keep me physically young.

Also, to keep my cardio-vascular system up to extreme stress situations, I do a 3 sets of stress exercises each week. These intentionally take me very close to a heart attack. This is carefully done to a program developed by a Florida Doctor who specializes in promoting healthy and active old age. Had it not been for thisspecial stress program, at least 3 times during the 2008 Shannon Challenge I would have had a oxygen starvation stoppage of the heart. Any one of these would have been fatal, if no one was there to get the heart going again.  One of those times was going into the Drumshambo pool, as described in the section which is opened by clicking on the LOUGH ERNE 2009 tab. It is safe and reasonable to say that on several occasions, during the challenges, if the average “fit” athlete had attempted to keep up with me – puting in the same effort stroke for stroke, they would have suffered an oxygen starvation induced heart attack! 

Well that bit brings us to the “WHY??” portion. Why is like IF. While being short those two words may be the largest ones in the English vernacular. 

That said, there is one over-riding motivation for these extreme endurance and adventure challenges being conceived and taken up. That is the very special boy from India, Tony, OUR BOY OF HOPE!  The boy who has the potential to change the world for the better!

In some generations there is an individual raised up who has the capacity to change the face of the earth, or at the very least the society in which he lives, for the better. One such person was a man that we in the West tend to only know as a Poet – Omar Khayyam –  a man from the East who has changed the lives of men of all subsequent generations across the entire planet!

Because his patron was a powerful ruler, Omar Khayyam was able to revise the law codes in an enlightened way, far ahead of its time. This created a society which was eminently more just and equitable for those on the lower rungs. The new legal code greatly impacted on his own nation and had far reaching impact that is still traceable in modern codes of law.  AND  he advanced math to such a degree that most of out modern technology would not exist, in its present form, had this man not lived in his century. Without the influence and resources of  his patron it may well be that the genius of Omar Khayyam may never have surfaced, in a way that impacted the world from his generation to ours!   Had his work not surfaced in the 11th and 12th centuries we might not have developed modern automobiles in the 20th century, much less the space shuttle.  Without  the foundation of his advances in Mathematics, to build upon, if we had cars at all they would most likely be the pre-model T vehicles which resembled a buggy!

It is my conviction that Tony has a unique form of genius and attitude toward life that can beneficially impact on the whole world, if it is given a chance to flourish fully.  Given the life enriching experience of a bit of exposure in to Western Culture and Education, I am convinced that this unique little boy may be an instrument of building bridges between the East (especially his nation of birth INDIA) and our Western nations, which sadly do not tend to understand, appreciate and give proper credit to Eastern culture and thinking.

As you will see, if you watch the RTE TV NATIONWIDE, JULY 6, 2008 BOY OF HOPE segment, Tony is not only a very happy child he also has an extraordinary mind!  At a very young age we were able to get him transferred to a residential school. There were some deaf mute children at that school and Tony watched the way they communicated with each other and the rest of the pupils by using the standard sign language. Not able to use this form of communication due to his lack of fingers, Tony invented a sign language using his 2 toes, his stump and eye movements. He then taught this to the deaf mute children so they and he  could talk to each other!

A person who can invent and teach a language when still at a pre-school age has the potential to make earth shaking breakthroughs in many fields. I am speaking of the type of breakthroughs that can improve the lot of humanity! 

Bottom line – I want to see Tony have every chance to fulfill his potential and impact on the thinking of people all over our planet!

There are also other reasons that prompted me to take up the challenge. Too many people get into the “vegitive” state when the retire or are forced into early retirement. When they do so they become old. This is 90% a matter of mental attitude. There is no reason why most people can’t make gross liars out of their birth certificates and have so many golden moments and hours in their golden years that this becomes the best part of their lives – as it should be!  

We Seniors need a new and vibrant mindset! I pray that others, who may be thinking of themselves as old, will decide: ” If that 70+ year old character can do these things I can also get out and grab all the gusto which life can give!”

The final reason that motivated me is that no one has attempted to do these things previously. Since AD 1958 yours truely has been driven to take a shot at things that people say can’t be done. That year, over a half century ago, I became the first person from our area in Illinois to travel down the Illinois River (from Seneca) to the Mississippi at Cairo Illinois and then down the Mississippi to New Orleans and across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida in a power boat.  This was accomplished in the first boat I ever built, a 26 foot outboard cruiser, the MARY NOMAD. One place I had to cart fuel cans 19 miles in order to refuel the boat. The lack of fuel docks was the factor that had ended the attempts of others from our area to complete the journey. 

Even since then I’ve done the off beat and unusual – been where the local people (in the tribal memory) had never previously seen a white man, been on the cannibal’s supper menu more than once, worked the gold fields, wandered the oceans to remote spots, had two children born on a sailing ship, developed a building system which 28 US corporations had each spent over 1 million with a 100% failure rate, when $5,000. would buy a new basic family home. (GE  spent 1o million all by itself and Dow spent 8 million over 9 years of unsuccessful attempts)  So I guess you might say I’m fixated on things others say are impossible!

THE IMPOSSIBLE BUILDING SYSTEM

ONE OF MANY IMPOSSIBLE CHALLENGES UNDERTAKEN 

By Donnacha over the past half century   

 
 
 
 

 

all molded - plumbing & electric encased in panels

all molded - plumbing & electric encased in panels

 

 

 

Note wall grooves in roof panel - the houses were self alining, self squaring and self plumbing

Note wall grooves in roof panel - the houses were self alining, self squaring and self plumbing

Interior shot of world's first all molded conventional appearing home. It had only one fortieth the heat loss of a conventional house and was made of the only plastic material that had at that time (and for years later) passed class A fire ratings in Japan. Many celebrities, including Bob Hope, stayed in this house.

Interior shot of world's first all molded conventional appearing home. It had only one fortieth the heat loss of a conventional house and was made of the only plastic material that had at that time (and for years later) passed class A fire ratings in Japan. Many celebrities, including Bob Hope, stayed in this house.

Official open house day. 22 governments had representatives on hand this day to view the ribbon cuttting ceremony. This is the building system which G.E., Dow Chemical and 26 other US companies could not develop no matter how much money and how many resources they threw at the project!

Official open house day. 22 governments had representatives on hand this day to view the ribbon cuttting ceremony. This is the building system which G.E., Dow Chemical and 26 other US companies could not develop no matter how much money and how many resources they threw at the project!

After expending 8 millon dollars during 9 years (a 3 ton lincoln automobile ranged from $5,000 to $6,700 during this time span) Dow Chemical’s engineering department said the system could not be developed. (they had never made a good panel in all that time) Dow’s cost control department estimated that if it could be done the outlay to get to the first house would be in excess of ONE HUNDRED MILLION!

I developed the world’s first all moulded conventionally appearing housing system, after (and primarily because of the challenge that) 28 United States companies each spent over one million dollars attempting to do so, without success. The companies that failed after such expenditure included industry giants Dow Chemical Company, which gave up after eight years and General Electric, which set the record by throwing over ten million dollars into their failed attempt prior to giving up on the project. I designed the system and produced  the first small panels at my Sea Lord Boats and plastic company located on Route 66 in Pontiac, Illinois in what had been Scottie’s Garage. Under contract I then produced full sized molds, and directed production of the prototype in the Dura Plex Industries Plant located in Herrin Illinois. This system allowed for the production of a conventional appearing ranch style home in which each half of the roof consisted of one single moulded sandwich panel, as did each gable end and side wall. Design features caused the house to be self plumbing and self squaring and all interior walls were slotted into the side walls and roof. Plumbing and wiring were encased into the panels. The entire house could be erected and under lock and key in one day. An anchoring system incorporated into the design was conceived and designed by T.O. Church, a son of one of the founders of G.M. After the houses went into production the power company rated them at one fortieth the heat loss of a medallion rated home. Structures made from this process became the first plastic building materials to receive a class A fire rating in Japan. The initial production models, made from Attig’s process were comparable in cost per square foot to mobile homes. When first introduced the system was hailed as the number one breakthrough in construction methodology of the modern era. Prior to the fall of the Shah’s government, contracts had been signed with Dura-Plex industries for a licensed plant that would produce simple small homes for every poverty line family in Iran at the government’s expense. The spikes in oil prices have rendered the cost of producing homes from Attig’s system prohibitive. The high use of  CFC’s by the system also means that in the current ecology oriented business climate production using the system be very controversial to say the least. Many technical journals in all the widely used languages of the world described this system, for example Modern Plastics and it is also included in an book about the space age use of plastics which is still available.  22 national governments sent representatives to the grand opening of the prototype on the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds. For coniserations I allowed the patents to be fled in the name of  company directors, but have in my possesion company documents and literature which establishes that I formulated the chemicals, built the moulds, designed the system and supervised the manufacture and erection of the prototype on the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.  

M’s comments  Donnacha made the first pannels in a small shop with an outlay of a few thousand dollars.

In his early twenties Donnacha removed the word “impossible” from his dictionary, his life, and his mind!

 

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