Archive for the ‘design’ Category

The Tower of Signals

August 17, 2019

Thousands of years ago, we built a legendary tower, the shadow of which has seemed to darken our human history even unto today.

According to a certain well-known historical source, the Bible . . . the tower of Babel was erected in some location east of the Euphrates River. The region therein has been known since that ancient time by various names:  Chaldea, Shinar, Babylon, and a few other identities, such as the current one, Iraq.

So an ancient tale about the tower of Babel, especially its fall, has been passed down to us through the ages.   The biblical account says that The Tower of Babel’s undoing happened because the people were unable to communicate. So they were not able to get the thing built.

In our modern reflection upon that archaic project, I think what Will Rogers or Mark Twain or Yogi Berra, or some such sage  said, applies:

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

It’s an old story, but true.

Nevertheless, I’m here to tell ya that in spite of ourselves we people of the earth have managed to erect some pretty impressive towers here and there throughout the ages.

For instance, notice this  classic religious tower in San Francisco, which happens to be a double.

Spires2Chrch

This structure represents that spirit of religion that dominated our Western culture for a couple of thousand years.

Here’s a Spanish project representing a more contemporary creative impulse toward the divine.

Sagrada

Very impressive. But the era of God-inspired basilica-building has been overtaken by more humanistic projects. Since the so-called Enlightenment in the 18th-century, people have aspired to ideals even loftier than mere religion. This modern emphasis has wrought even higher and higher feats of skyscraping.

BuildSkysc

The long epoch of God-inspired tower-building has been overtaken by a New Age of Man.

CityPhild

And yet, our rising human spirit has morphed itself beyond mere commercial, citified projections. Check out an Olympic objet d’art that the Barcelonans fashioned for the 1992 Olympics:

BarcOlymp

This fluidic rising structure embodies a humanic zeitgeist; it aspires to inspire ascension to world peace—a peace wrought through zealous sports competition instead of bloody wars fought with destructive weapons on muddy battlefields.

Pretty damned impresseve, huh?!

Higher and higher we strive; higher and higher we arrive.

Now in 21st-century AI, We find ourselves in the upper regions of human accomplishment.

Physical upbuilding has now taken a back seat to the loftiness of our ideals.

So we’ve built a stupendous net of ideas, an electronic network that ceaselessly transmits gigabytes of presciently important data around the world. It is a web as ethereal as the sun itself . . . as surreal as a Dali . . .  as real as a Warhol.

And towards this end, we’ve built towers of a different—a new and different—kind:

The Tower

Towers such as this one–structures of ascending human perfectibility– are slavishly repeating signals all day and all night for the benefit of all mankind!

For the benefit of Mr. Kite, ever and ever onward to greater heights!

We hold these spires to be self-evident—that our updated tower-driven secretions will project a worldwide web of human achievement to rise higher than  the Tower of Babel ever did!

Good luck with that.

Glass Chimera

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what the Original artist did

July 28, 2019

While universe was expanding in all directions, Creator chose one lump and began working with it, rearranging its underneath mass so that water could rise to the surface. The hydrogen/oxygen element would move in a purposeful way instead of just sloshing around.

Creator spun that world into motion so that the sunlight which struck its surface would brighten half of world for a day while allowing the other half to return to darkness during the same interval.

Thus did this division between the lightened side of world and the darkened side establish a cycle which would become known to us as day and night.

Then Creator used the interaction of sunlight and water to introduce an earthly cycle by which water could morph between two different states: liquid and vapor. The liquid would generally flow on, and within, the surface, while the vapor would rise to celestial functions.

This was a heavenly arrangement, although it was happening on crude earth—pretty cool, definitely an improvement over the old lump. Let us just call it day and night. Makes sense to me. You?

Creator was inspired, and so, kept going with it, stirring the flowing waters, gathering them together and thus separating the water from a new thing that was emerging—dry land.

Formless

Thus did we have earth and seas. Once again. . . pretty cool, and btw, cooling; by this stage, progressive processes had definitely been set into motion to produce something worthy of a good narrative.

RockStory

But Creator didn’t stop there. Next thing you know, from out of this developing earth—this interplay between light and dark, active and passive, wet and dry—here comes a new kind of stuff having the coding wherewithal to sprout new stuff never before seen or heard of. Long story short—plant life that could and would regenerate itself on a regular purpose so that Creator could go on to bigger and better things. Awesome!

Jungle1

Through the veggies and their seeds, it was obvious that things were getting better on earth, through the continuing interplay of this very predictable, dependable alternating cycle between light and dark, day and night, active and passive, living and dying.

All in all, not bad for a day’s work, as we say out here in flyover country.

But, hey, that was just the beginning. . .

SSetBrite

Glass half-Full

Bridge across Time

July 9, 2019

Setting old stones with new methods lays a solid foundation for future pathways of our life together.

Here’s a Blue Ridge Parkway bridge, near my home, built when I was a kid long ago, in the 1960’s.

BRPHollowa

It’s a well-built public-works project.

Incredible strength was laid into the bridge’s inner structure when concrete was poured around a steel rebar framework. Unseen in the finished structure, the silent steel still contributes to ongoing structural integrity and function. Internal strength assured the bridge’s longevity, allowing the structure to bear up under the heavy demands of continuous motored traffic for many and many a year.

This solid piece of work has been sustaining motored traffic for most of my 68 years.

Use of reinforcing steel roads, tied together with wire like cages, then buried forever with gravel aggregate in solid ‘crete mud, is a relatively new architectural practice in construction history. The internal rebar method was devised by constructors over time, to assure deep integrity and resilience in vast concrete structures.

Such built-in reinforcement has enabled folks to progressively build bigger buildings, longer roads and bridges, as civilization marches on.

BluRiOvPas

This strong, continuous, time-tested concrete underbelly enables motorists to drive without stopping, on a road that crosses o’er a  road that passes beneath it. In this photo, you can see the structure’s rock-hard underbelly, which bears the surface imprints of wooden planks that were used in forming the main arch  when the concrete was cast, back in the mid-1960’s.

Certainly our attention is drawn to the large veneer stones on the outside face of the construction. These chiseled rocks, having been skillfully cut with calculated angles, lend a classic appearance to the roadway, which would have otherwise been a dull utilitarian construct.

Thus did the bridge become something far more than an elevated roadway; it stands as an artistic statement of architectural continuity, in agreement with its older, 1930’s-era bridge “ancestors.”

The stone masons who erected similar Blue Ridge bridges back in the earlier days were ancestors–whether by profession or by blood– of the rock masons who set these stones three decades later.

Such chisel-sculpted work  becomes a masonary tip-of-the-trowel to time-honored traditions of stone masons who lived and worked on this same 469-mile parkway back in the day, and then eventually crossed that great celestial bridge to eternity.

Having stood the tests of time and traffic, this good work stands as a long-lasting homage to both structural integrity and graceful design.

About six miles up the road from the bridge pictured above, there’s an S-curved structure that I tied steel on, back in the early 1980’s– the Linn Cove Viaduct on Grandfather Mountain. It’s a very special construct, being the final missing-link in the middle of a 469-mile, 50-year Blue Ridge Parkway project. But this one was special–not for the classic stonework–but for the cutting-edge technology of building the thing from the top down, instead of the bottom up!

BRPLinConst2

Here’s solid evidence that in this life it’s a good idea to do things right. Build it to last, whatever it is you’re working on in your time here.  Our children’s children will notice the quality and be inspired to do great works in their own time.

Search for Blue

What Waves Do

May 22, 2019

Pushed and pulled by forces from sun and moon

waves rolls across entire oceans

until they strike some thing.

Some waves pound upon a sandy shore and climb

until they can climb no more

and so they recede.

In great rounded loops they fall back into the sea.

Yet somehow their rounding retreats

striate into crisscross lines in sand.

Wavenccross

Some waves slap on roots, or reefs and rocks;

swiftly they swing and swerve in uncertainty

recasting light as swirly pearls.

SurfSwirl

Some waves churn up discrepant truth by summoning stuff

into yon distant slick of dubious flotsam fluff:

Is it mirage or mire or  mystery oil or what?

OceanSpots

. . . as seen plainly from a plane ! a glut of what?

Glass Chimera

Our Responsibility for Creation

May 11, 2019

Back in the 1960’s, when the Greening urge seemed to dawn upon us domesticated industrialized people . . . after the influence of Rachel Carson and others who followed in her path of conscientious awareness . . . we found a useful word to name the bad, destructive stuff we dump into our environment.

The word was: Pollution.

In the last decade or two, when the contemporary Green movement adopted the “global warming” and “climate change” phrases, they did not realize they were doing their cause a disservice. Those two terms—what has now been settled into as “climate change,” are too ambiguous to be of any real use.

Why? Because in the billions of years this planet has been evolving, the climate has always been changing; furthermore, those changes have, all along, included periods of warming. Now that we have determined—accurately, in my view—that much of that “warming” or “change” is our fault, we need to start fixing the problem, not fight about it. The fighting will only throw up more carbon.

But we ought  not, in that campaign, negate the human rights of people to make judicious use of what we have found in this planet.

For Greens and others who advocate for clean or redemptive policy to ceaselessly nag the rest of us about climate change is self-defeating. The chosen terminology confuses the real issues. Joe Sixpack and Jane Doe don’t understand what you mean by “climate change.”

The term is counterproductive. Citizens are missing the point because of your ambiguous terminology.

The real point is that we are polluting this, our planetary home. And we collectively must find a way to minimize that pollution as much as possible, if not altogether eliminate it: pollution—whatever is bad shit that adversely affects or damages our holy Earth. Some pollution is carbon, and some is even more seriously destructive than mere carbon.

Carbon is, after all, the essential component of life itself. You can’t go organic without it.

See what you think about this idea . . .

Let’s just divert all the carbon into one place and then form it into bicycles so we can pedal around the planet without spewing destructive gases everywhere we go. Is that a good idea? Yes? OK, you go first and maybe I’ll follow along if I can summon up the energy in my 67-year-old legs to pedal from here to wherever I have to go from now on  in life.

Furthermore, how are we going to get all the carbon diverted to a pre-assigned appropriately contained space?

Good luck with that.

AirSilt

As far as getting started or building up some momentum in this planetary cleanup project is concerned, let’s just cut to the chase in our strategy. Tell everybody:

Give a hoot; don’t pollute!

Widespread awareness among mankind is the key to making reparative change on this front; education is the means to achieve it. All ye extreme climate change advocates need to focus on educating us the public instead of threatening all mankind with your proposed centrally-planned regimes of soviet  oppressive control.

I am supportive of your zeal for our threatened planet, and I want to help. But my entrance into the fray is colored by a worldview that, among your peer group, seems alien to the cause of planetary cleanup.

But we Christians are not really against you. We are against politics that wants to abscond our human rights for the sake of improvement that may actually never be workable.

Meanwhile, back at the green, hopefully carbon-neutral homestead . . .

I just read an essay that says concisely almost everything I have been trying to say about environmental issues for the last ten years.

   https://www.amazon.com/Sex-Economy-Freedom-Community-Essays/dp/0679756515.   

Thirty or so years ago, a compatriot of ours, Wendell Berry, wrote and spoke:

~ “the culpability of Christianity in the destruction of the natural world,  and the uselessness of Christianity in any effort to correct that destruction are now established cliches of the conservation movement. This is a problem. . .”

~ “Christian organizations, to this day, remain largely indifferent to the rape and plunder of the world and its traditional cultures.”

~ “Our predicament now, I believe, requires us to learn to read and understand the Bible in the light of the present fact of Creation.”

~ “. . . careful and judicious study. . . (and) making very precise distinctions between biblical instruction and allegedly respectable Christian behavior.

~ “. . . our native religion should survive (and should be allowed to survive -editor) and renew itself so that it may become as largely instructive as we need it to be. On such a survival and renewal of the Christian religion may depend the survival of the Creation that is its subject.”

~ “We will discover that God found the world, as He made it, to be good, that He made it for his pleasure, and that he continues to love it and to find it worthy, despite its reduction and corruption by us.”

~ “We will discover that for these reasons our destruction of nature is not just bad stewardship, or stupid economics, or a betrayal of our family responsibility; it is the most horrid blasphemy.”

~ “We have the right to use the gifts of nature but not to ruin or waste them. We have the right to use what we need but no more, which is why the Bible forbids usury and great accumulations of property.”

In support of this last statement, we note In the book of Leviticus:

“The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine (the Lord’s); for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.

“Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land. . .

“ . . . but if he (the poor one who has defaulted) has not found sufficient means to get it back for himself, then what he has sold shall remain in the hands of its purchaser until the year of Jubilee.”

So we understand from the Bible that private property is a part of our heritage. But in a larger sense—a world understood to be co-habited by billions of pooping people— the earth belongs to all of us, and we are all, all of us, collectively responsible for it.

—Even as we are individually responsible for our own souls, and whatsoever property the Lord hath entrusted to each man, woman, family, group, nation, species of us.

Looking even further back in our history, and in the enduring Biblical canon which many of us still subscribe to, we find in the very first chapter, this directive:

“God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Back in the industrial age when we mechanized using steam power to rearrange the entire civilized world, we interpreted that “subdue it” command as: do whatever you need (want) to it to make it work in your favor.

But now, two or three centuries later, we need to interpret that “subdue” differently.

In biblical retrospect, we see It means: make Godly use of the resources we find. It does not mean “destroy it.”

It does not mean use nature for a dump. It does not mean “pollute it.”

It does not mean frack it.

Fracking? What the hell?

I think you fracking oil companies should voluntarily cease the practice of injecting poisonous chemicals and busting up earth’s crust for the sake of pumping out oil. If that means I’ll have to do with less oil and/or gas, then I’ll just have to deal with it.

When God created the world, he pronounced it “good.”

Let’s keep it that way if we can.

King of Soul

From Grand Coulee to Grand Solar

May 8, 2019

Everybody ought to have something meaningful to do. Wouldn’t you agree?

A job, a volunteer project, or at least some personal pursuit, to occupy one’s time in an activity that is beneficial to one’s self, or helpful to others, maybe even improving society.

Whether it’s a job with a private enterprise—a small business,  a corporation, or a .gov agency, a non-profit foundation, or a personal pursuit . . .

Everybody finds benefit in having meaningful activity,

especially if it may make life better for the rest of us.

Recently I caught wind of some public discussion about maybe combining this need for individual productivity with work that benefits our public purpose. Consider the prospects of projects that would improve our infrastructure.

Infrastructure is, you know . . . roads, bridges, electrical grids, communication networks, parks, public spaces and lands . . . systems and places, etc. that we share—

networks and common spaces that tend to fall apart or degenerate if someone doesn’t take responsibility to maintain or take care of them.

As I was pondering this idea, my mind wandered back in time to an era in our national history–the 1930’s– when people working together got a lot of important work done by teaming up to improve what was our infrastructure at that time.

Back in that day there was a fella who went around lending a hand in public works of all kinds, and he wrote songs about his experiences,

Woody Guthrie.

Woody wrote a good ole song about the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, out west between Washington and Oregon.

It’s an authentic song about a great project. Listen to Woody singing  Grand Coulee Dam, which he recorded in 1941.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vLZOKshJPs.     

And check out this pic of that immense, power-conserving structure, when it was being built, back in 1933: 

CouleeConst

You can find more about the building of the Grand Coulee dam here:

    https://omsi.edu/calendar/science-pub-portland-building-grand-coulee-dam   

As I was a-listening to Woody’s song about the Grand Coulee, the thought occurred to me that we should perhaps take on a similar project, or two, today—construction of a cooperative facility to provide electricity in a manner that is clean and green and maybe even carbon-neutral.

So I added a verse to Woody’s ole song:

In a trillion solar sunbeams of any shining sunny day

flies a steady stream of energy, more watts than man can say.

We oughta build a great collector like the big Grand Coulee dam;

and capture solar megawatts in this great  Grand Solar Land.”

Have a listen and see what you think about it:

    http://www.micahrowland.com/carey/GrandCouleeSolar.mp3

And envision electricity this way:

SolarGrand

King of Soul

Gold I Have Seen

April 22, 2019

On the Periodic Table of earth elements, gold is found in the middle of pack, at number 79. So while the shining yellow metal is just another lump or two in the great planetary array of substances, it is, and has always been, coveted and collected by us humans.

Gold has a curious effect on us. Through the ages, people have assigned many meanings and uses for the lustrous stuff.

I have seen gold on a few occasions in my life.  Like most folks, I am fascinated with the sight of it.  Here are a few pics of the bright metal I have collected. While pondering what gold represents, I made a list. For what it’s worth, here’s my take on what gold means to us.

~~~Gold as Wonder

Amazing how . . . ?

GoldCrys

~~~Gold as Beauty

GoldUrn

~~~Gold as Value

GoldCoin

~~~Gold as Religious Ceremony

An altar in a Catholic Church in Rome

GoldAltar

~~~Gold as Authority

This gold-tipped mast and dome is seen at the top of San Francisco City Hall.

GoldSFCity

~~~Gold as Power

In this room, the last emperor of the Hapsburg empire, Karl I of Austria, renounced all claims of royal authority over nations and empire. The renunciation took place November 11, 1918, the last day of World War I.

World War had begun in 1914 after his uncle, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo, Serbia, which was at that time a part of the Hapsburg Austrian empire.

From that point and time in history, the many families, dynasties, kingdoms, and empires of royal authority who have ruled the world for so long . . . began their slow, modern slipping into mere ceremony, and —many would say—irrelevance.

This room in the Schonbrunn palace, near Vienna, is now property of the Republic of Austria.

EndRoom

~~~Gold as Precious

a golden moment of precious repose, reflection and contemplation

GoldnMomnt

~~~Gold as Fidelity

Good as gold. . . in our case, 39 years and continuing.

Marriage

~~~Gold as Heaven

“. . . and the street of that city was pure gold.”  (Revelation 21:21)

I haven’t seen this one yet, but one day I will, thanks to Jesus, who was resurrected after being nailed to a cross.

King of Soul

DNA the best Way

April 1, 2019

The dispensation of DNA

is best when it’s done in an orderly way.

What’s needed is that any man who so yearns

should direct his emissions in loving terms

to the same loving recipient every time:

all his kids have the same mama on down the line.

So let the ladder of life, the DNA

be distributed in a family way.

From the itinerant visionary

LadderJ

to the coding contemporary,

DNAdubhelx

counsel the loopy adventurer with his genital arrow

to find motherly love in the strait and narrow.

So the resulting kids will grow up right,

and not be left in a social services plight.

You may think I’m old-fashioned in this,

but ’tis not a principle to flippantly dismiss:

The distribution of our precious DNA

is bestly dispensed in the family way.

Now if you guys think that I’m not cool,

well I AM cool, y’all. . . and no April fool!

Glass Chimera

Believing or Figuring it all out?

January 8, 2019

You may believe, as I do, that we were created long ago in the image of God.

Or you may think that we evolved, even longer ago, from lower life forms,

Since we don’t really really know exactly how it all spun out, let’s consider these two scenarios for a moment.

What if one of our hominid progenitors were set aside in a select place and given a “special” touch by the LifeForce, so that the new being would share a certain spiritual characteristic or two with its Creator? . . .

instead of being just, you know, another dumb critter.

What if some of us, caught up in this mysterious thing called human history, chose to identify with the special Creation?

What if others of us just continued to evolve the rough-and-tumble way, acknowledging our primeval struggle through the long ranks of evolving, biological creatures. . . vertebrates, primates, hominids, neanderthals, and ultimately homo sapiens?

What if the  Creator (aka the LifeForce) set up both paths of human development—one being “special’ and the other being the long, gradual process that Mr. Darwin sought to explain?

And what if, according to our human predicament, you were able to choose which model of development you would subscribe to, and thus pattern your life by?

Which would you choose?

Come let us reason together.

Could it be that the LifeForce ignited that first big shbang, and then later selected a spot from whence to spark something new, called “life”, beginning at the very lowest level? and then took a sort of sabbath break from creating while allowing the life process to move forward in a natural way over a vast expanse of time?

On the other hand could it be that, at some point in said development, that LifeCreator sovereignly made a supra-natural selection, setting a particular primate aside and, sprinkling in the dust of the earth, and initiated thereby a spiritual, civilizing character through the soulish man and his other half, the loverly (wo)man?

I’m thinking that scenario would render some of us Sons or Daughters of God, while others would be sons or daughters of nature.

What if—way back when— the Sons of God saw the daughters of Men? And then, finding them desirable, chose to hookup with them?

What would we have then?

Perhaps we have a human race torn between simply believing versus  trying to figure it all out—a homo sapiens species somewhat divided between them who settle for the simple wonder of believing . . .

MornGlor

versus them who propose to analyze it and document the results:

Layers

Which would you be?

I have made my choice, because I have not yet been able to figure it all out.  How about you?

King of Soul

Shifting Sands Sublime

November 3, 2018

Beneath the appearance of things

behind the wonder that contemplation brings

there lies a universe of joy and pain

entrained upon whatever relics still remain

of a world colored by some eternal stain;

and wherever that stain remains

things are not and will never be the same

provoking some to surmise it’s just a game

that they can play and then refrain

from any effort to name

or explain.

And yet,

so many live for what they can get;

they allow no time to pause and let

life just happen along the way

so they can soon look back and say

what a joy it is to pause and stay

in the lingering light of a well-lived day

while the world just turns on come what may.

Oh, history breaks on sands far away

while here we enter into the fray;

we laugh or cry along the way

tomorrow and today,

I say, I say:

If I could comprehend this troubled world

so creative, yet destructively unfurled

I’d grasp the mystery, so sublime

that slaps between the sands of time

on this ever-shifting, long shoreline—

this consciousness of mine,

maybe it’s in or out of line

and maybe with a little sip of wine,

yes, I’d dream up some silly little rhyme,

and whether it be sublime and fine

or not worth a dime,

it nevertheless is mine,

and yet it can be thine

if you take the time.

 

King of Soul