Archive for the ‘work’ Category

Time for Covidic Database

May 5, 2020

Just looking around, I notice we’re in an information age.

Everywhere you look there’s info.

CovidGraf

The info gets stored and horded and whored in e-bundles to be harvested by humans and their bot-slaves. Then the info becomes digitally transformed into  a magic thing called data.

Now everywhere you go online, or off, there’s  a data trail that is tucked away somewhere in vast e-storage bins. Those gigabytes reside interminably in quiet isolation, until the gigs and megs are retrieved  by a dutifully wonkish  techie or faceless bot for various purposes:

Some purposes good, some bad. It’s all out there somewhere.

The system wants to serve you; the system wants to screw you. Its two sides of a digital coin or crypto coin or a capitalist dream or a socialist nightmare. Maybe its your best friend and maybe its your worst enemy.

We’ve learned that the powers-that-be open some mystical flood gates of that Big River of Idolic Desire. The powers  dangle desirable stuff and images of desirable people in front of your eyes so you’ll buy stuff you think you need to be like them, and by so doing you make yourself contented while  keeping the corporate ogres fat n happy as you become fat n happy like them.

Now many of us have begun to to discern that the data mining environment that we’ve surrounded ourselves with is corruptive.

Then Whammo!

Suddenly we have a worldwide disease that corners us into making judgements about what we must or should do to collectively  strike the disease down, or permit it to continue running rampant across our nation and the world.

Some data you know about; you can figure out what the social media operators are doing behind the scenes; other data is hidden. They say data is being gathered about you all the time in everything you do, and it is controversial because you don’t even know what it is that the wizards of data are putting together right now as we speak about you and yours and your habits and your travels and your social interactions and your blah blah blah and who cares about your stuff anyway. Maybe your mother cares about your stuff, or your boss or your partner or Boomchokka Analytica.

I don’t care about your data, although I am writing about it now in a matter-of-fact way because it does constitute a chunk of megabytes somewhere on that mega database in the sky or wherever the hell it is. You may get a call about it some time from Big Brother, although I doubt that because he likes to keep a low profile.

But I regress. As I was sayin’. . .everywhere you look, data this and data that. Database this and database that. Who cares?

Well now we’ve just found out that everybody needs to know about your stuff because of the damned coronavirus.

I mean, they don’t actually need to know about all your data stuff just . . .

whether you test positive for the COVID-19.

It’s just that simple, but now it happens to be a matter of life and death, not just a question of how much money some corporate entity can make off you.

We need to put together a database, you see, about the coronavirus so the professional health people and the doctors and the epidemiologists and the patholgists and the DHHS can make informed decisions about the best way to drive this damned disease back into the ground, instead of it floating around in droplets and vapors amongst the shoppers and the meat-cutters and the hair stylists and the movie ticket-takers and whoever else is trying to keep you satisfied while themselves  making a living in a public place in this here United States of America.

And furthermore, as it turns out now in this life and death situation of Covidic ruin, that mega database in the sky needs to get some real facts about how many deceased have actually met their demise because of Covid—not because of some other disease.

I just hope that the data-geeks can pull all this stuff together in a useful way without generating a hornet’s nest of privacy doowop flipflops.

We need to get some of these statistics straightened out so that discontented folks with gun-totin’ public tantrums can’t get out there in the public square and confuse uninformed citizens about how many folks actually died of  Covid and how many died of some other causes.

Just the facts—that’s what we need now. Read ‘em and weep.

Therefore we could theoretically make good use a Covid-infection database, so statisticians can project accurately and responsibly about how many people will likely catch the disease in the days and months ahead. . .

and to what extent public and commercial spaces ought to be opened up and made available again for common use so we can move  reasonably, safely beyond the socially-distanced construct under which we presently strain.

You see, just now when we are, as a human race, aspiring to survive and prosper on this planet in spite of the Covid destruction, we now hear reports of protests bustin’ out in the town squares and on the net, exerting pressure on whoever’s in charge to renew the openings and operation of this, that, or the other business, because so-and-so is fed up with the lockdown and Billy Jo is tired of the social distancing and Peggy Sue wants to get her hair done and Arnold wants to go work out in the gym and blah blah blah and mainly . . .

People want to get back to work.

We can understand that.

But We find ourselves in a nationwide conundrum because so many folk are getting  stir-crazy and they wanna push the envelope while others are goody-to-shoes politically correct and wanna play by the rules when we don’t have any rules yet about whether the covid numbers are political hype to impose political control on the clueless masses, or. . .

prudent practice for the defeating of Covid. . .

whichever the case may be.

But really, this whole big baileywick comes down to answering this very important question:

Who has the Covid-19 inside of them? and

Who has not?

So it makes sense (does it not?) to test everybody.

A testing campaign on a national scale and beyond, on a world scale, would not only provide a workable database for informed decision-making by medical doctors and pandemic-preventers but also

such a project as this would generate a whole lot of new employment opportunities for a lot of people. . . especially

Good training for new trainees in the profession of public health. They may be battling this disease for a long time. . . long after I’m dead and gone after 68 years of watching this amazing world cruise by.

Public health becomes more and more of a problem to-be-solved, as covid creeps through the mire of our excessive abuses and misuses.

A reliable Covid database would become an expanding industry during this time of suddenly massive unemployment.

It would require lots of people to be hired to gather information about who got infected and who did not. . . who died of the covid disease and who died of some other dysfunction.

We need to know.

So Get tested soon.

It’s your patriotic duty.

It’s that simple: get tested for Covid. Then we can get on with our lives.

Glass half-Full

Liberty or. . . Death by Covid?

April 30, 2020

Some people have to work for a living.

This reality does not just go away. In the next few months, we will see every shade of compliance and non-compliance with pandemic prohibitions and practices.

In a free nation, we should get used to the fact that not everyone is in agreement about strategies to strike a balance between defeating Covid and preventing a new epidemic of poverty.

Remember too, strategies vary, state by state. It just so happens that the New York Covid epicenter is also the media capital of this continent. Stringent restrictions for defeating Covid have been admirably initiated and administered by Gov. Cuomo in New York State. Media mouths and talking heads headquartered in the Northeast reflect the urgency of that region’s life-or-death struggle with coronavirus.

New York — especially the City — is a special case due to the extreme density of population there and the widespread use of mass transit.

In other states, however, especially southern states in which mass transit is not as highly developed, population is more widely spread out. There is far more space already existing between people, towns, suburbs, institutions, retail outlets, public parks, etc. Governors in these states, including many in the west and southwest, will have— regarding their policy responses and timetable — more flexibility in their judgements. Every Governor, every public official is now involuntarily sucked into an unprecedented, massive public problem: how to balance public policies to accomplish the defeat of Covid vs. preserving what is left of economic viability.

The immensity of this epidemic’s destruction is unprecedented in the history of our nation . . . except perhaps the dire destruction and loss of life of the Civil War, and the 1918 wartime war against a flu epidemic.

Official responses in states with low population density will not be as extremely restrictive as in high-density states; nor will such prohibitions extend as far into the months ahead. Balancing Covid-control against this unexpected 1930’s-ish poverty wave will be no walk in the park. Our entire nation–indeed the whole world–has been blindsided by this epidemic.

As Governors and other officials respond according to their states’ respective needs, so will the citizens therein be reacting in a wide variety of strategies,with some citizens acting much more cooperatively in the public space than others.

Many Americans still take quite seriously the words of Patrick Henry in 1775:

“Give me liberty or give me death.”

LiborDeathPH

Liberty does not come cheaply. The cost is dear.  Back in the day. . . 1970ff, Crosby Stills Nash Young Gilmour sang out a dirgeful reflection of just what this life comes down to. . .

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-Y0SMitMpk

“Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground.”

Do not expect all the citizens of this free nation to agree on all the strategies for controlling Covid while preserving freedom. Many will die, but many will not. The best you can do is be an example in wearing your PPE and mask while ardently exhorting others to do so, for as long as this damned disease requires.

Let’s not forget, though, that freedom of assembly is a Constitutional right. Public declarations in that realm are not too be taken lightly. Ultimately such restrictions are subject to the 1st Amendment assurance of our shared liberty.

So don’t expect that all Americans will agree with the myriad of public prohibitions and practices that are provoked by the spread of this disease; do expect that you will hear about, read about, and surely encounter in public places . . . unmasked citizens who are not wearing the politically correct mask and/or PPE. Pshaw! on them.

Also, get used to the fact that our showman President is clueless when it comes to speaking publicly about this very large problem. In his public persona, the man is too obsessed with interpreting every development in terms of whether those persons are for him or against him. If you don’t like what he does, vote for Joe.

As for me, I don’t care who is President next year. I care about defending my family and our households against this disease, while upholding the freedoms we are entitled to as Americans.

We sincerely hope that whatever measures our President initiates, implements, advocates  . . . will effectively reinforce the efforts and precautions undertaken by all Americans to slap this dreaded disease back down into the ground.

Lean on your state .gov and local officials for guidance.

As for me and mine (my ICU nurse wife). . . we wear the mask and use hand sanitizer while visiting enclosed places in our Appalachian town.

And remember: not every masked person you meet is a bandit.

Glass Chimera 

Turn to your Governor

April 20, 2020

What we need now is: 

50 working Governors. . . each one taking charge of their respective domains.

And those same Governors must agree—while leaving polarized party politics in the dust of social media mass confusion—to solve the problems, small and large, as they arise — in each state. 

NCflag

Each state is unique, with its own factor of population density, and its own percentage of citizens whose jobs depend on travel (potentially spreading the disease), and its own ratio of citizens who can actually “work at home” instead of having to “go to work” in the morning.

Governors taking charge — this is the true “federal” of federalism. The .gov in Washington — the so-called Federal government — must function, in this pandemic emergency, as a resource for the various states, as they are better equipped to solve their own problems.

But they do need — and will need for a long time — help from the national .gov, the chief executive of which is Donald Trump.

We need this strategy because each Governor is closer to the ground . . .

 “the ground” being a metaphor for . . .

 that  unique strategy policy required for the recovery of his/her own state, for which he/she has been elected to govern and protect. . .

To govern and protect, by: 

~ defeating Covid, according to the unique vulnerabilities of that state’s population distribution and demographics.

~ replenishing the economic opportunities and needs as an appropriate response for the unique conditions in that State, coordinating with mayors.

Eventually,

Each Governor will be accountable to the citizens of their own state, as citizens express, in the next election,  their appreciation or disapproval of that governor’s proficiency in responding to the Covid challenge of 2020.

The Governors need to get together and corner Trump into being their resourceful servant, instead of the other way around.

 

Glass half-Full

I hear America flinging

April 3, 2020

I hear America flinging

challenges of COVID dare;

UncleSam

I see America stringing up a net of Covid care.

I feel America wailing, with going-viral fear:

Pleas from nurses, sending out the call for protective gear,

Journalists following every viral report they hear

Doctors attacking the dreaded virus’ lethal spread

Families mourning for—and remembering— their dead

Health Officials call forth our care-giver legions

Media transmit the message to far/near regions

Friends fling phoning nets of loving, living care

Brave RNs march into the battle as they dare

Administrators send out urgent staffing calls

  flinging open clinic doors in crowded hospital halls

Governors rush out urgent calls for public health protection

Reporters fuel the urgency of that damned fast-spread infection

Every citizen who inhabits regions far and near

   gets affected with this dreadful viral fear.

As pleadings sound forth to maintain some social distance,

you could save a life—maybe your own!—in every social instance.

Hey you! Ask not what the world can do for you, in this anti-covid call;

Ask what, together, we can do for protection of us all.

 

(with appreciation for inspiration from Walt Whitman and John Fitzgerald Kennedy)

Glass half-Full

Tiananmen talk

The SwanSwoon of our Era

March 21, 2020

In her recent article at Social Europe,  Indian economist Jayeti Ghosh  accurately identifies a major consequence of our worldwide collective anti-COVID restrictions:

  “Supply chains are being disrupted, factories are being closed, entire regions are being locked down and a growing number of workers are struggling to secure their livelihoods. “

  https://www.socialeurope.eu/the-covid-19-debt-deluge

Her statement does indeed identify the crux of our economic problem right now, and the global complexity does unleash trouble on a very large, international scale.

You might say this COVID-crash is the “Crash of ’29” of our era.

Some compare this tsunami to the crash of ’08, or the blah-blah of ’87 (whatever that was.)  But it seems to me this thing is unwinding as an event historically more far-reaching than those two economic downfalls. This Covid thing can be compared to  what happened in 1929.

The Crash of ’29 exposed the vulnerability of a newly-Industrialized USA. This present Covid-crash exposes the vulnerability of a newly-Internetted World.

Ms. Ghosh is correct in her observation when she writes:

  “Today’s financial fragility far predates the Covid-19 ‘black swan’.”

The black swan represents the unlikely possibility that something like this could happen . . . . even though it did.

It seems to me the immensity of our present global Covid co-morbidity is indeed directly related to our newfound world connectivity in trade, travel and talk. The black swan in the background represents this unprecedented development in world history.

Swans

In that same technocratic network to which Ms. Ghosh contributes, Social Europe, Karin Pettersson posts her insightful analysis of our Covid conundrum, which includes this accurate assessment:

   “Already however, we know this: this type of disease cannot be efficiently fought at an individual level, but only as a society. It requires preparation, co-ordination, planning and the ability to make rapid decisions and scale up efforts. A strong state.

But nor is government enough. The situation demands personal responsibility, a sense of duty, concern for one’s neighbour. “

     https://www.socialeurope.eu/the-corona-crisis-will-define-our-era

What she writes there is so true. I agree.

Karin goes on to pose  a question that is surely the crux of the problem for millions of earth-inhabiting workers:

   “Yet what will you do if you simply cannot afford to stay at home?”

And I’m thinking . . . because of this widespread affordability problem, the response of governments and corporations in the days ahead should reflect benevolence, not authoritarian oppression. At least I hope it will.

Karin Pettersson also presents this profound thought:  

   “I wonder if young people might come to think that authoritarian China dealt with the crisis better than the US—the land of the free.”

We shall witness, in the days ahead, how this dilemma is dealt with between China, USA, and all the other nations of this planet.

Karin’s bright insight becomes dimmed, however, when she criticizes, in the same article cited above, Vice President Mike Pence’s public act of leading scientists in prayer.

She is displeased that Pence, a former Indiana governor, had cut funding for HIV-virus research and prevention, back in the day. . .

I can understand Ms. Petterssen’s emphatic let’s fix this humanism. It is quite the de rigeur among technocrat intelligencia who would like to run the world, because they could certainly do a more equitable and better job than all those corporate 1%ers whose rabid profit-taking shenanigans have now made such a mess of things.

 Yes, Virginia, the news is bad. Read ’em and weep. . . but act, benevolently. That also  goes for all you 1%ers out there who think you’re in charge of things.

But I also like to remember, and take seriously, a statement that I heard, many years ago, from a fellow who was then what I now am, an ole geezer.

  “What we need now is some damn prayer!”

So Let’s all work together harmoniously to get these problems solved. And remember that a little help from the OneWhoIs could only render our burdens a little easier to bear.

Glass half-Full

What is Fulfillment?

February 6, 2020

Isaiah set the stage for fulfillment thousands of years ago . . .

Isaiah

Among many other attributes, fulfillment means the Old . . .

IsOldJerus

. . . giving rise to the new:

Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look about you:
    All assemble and come to you;

your sons come from afar,

    and your daughters are carried on the hip.

IsShineCity

Other visionaries catch a glimpse along the way . . .

Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’  Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.  Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.

EzekielYadV

But the process is indeed a long one, requiring very burdensome periods of human history. Inevitably, and predictably, the going is tough.

But our Creator has a scenario set up where adversity brings forth endurance in the worst conditions, and creativity to produce tangible evidence of forward progress. The striving to fulfill any great, worthwhile endeavor is arduous and prolonged. It is not given to any one generation to construct; nor is it given to any one people-group to fulfill.

Fulfillment of  prophecy and human destiny is distributed  over many generations of people and time.

IsStairway

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins

and will raise up the age-old foundations;

you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,

Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

IsDamascusGat

Glass half-Full

Those Three ConeSpun Mills

December 31, 2019

2020 rings in another hyped-up year,

as traffic rumbles o’er this city’s streets.

The people slog through their habitual gears

as nights pass by and days repeat.

ConeMillsWO

My stopping by this mill’s ancient smokestack tower

drums up crumbling dreams of 120 years ago

When rev-upped steam drove industrial power

as workers toiled to make America go.

ConeFactry

Except for this site’s massive piled-up, silent heaps

no remnant’s here of their past incredible productivity

We hear no rumbling of gears, no wheeling peeps

Nothing but our clueless, wizzing auto-driven activity.

But down beneath those obsolete smokestack towers

under jagged rebar heaps and brickish piles

behind walls of long gone, humming industrial power

rolled miles and miles of denim ‘n flannel styles.

TextilMachn

’T’was there and then through toiling sweat and flowing tears

workers spun off vast bolts of denim cloth;

in feats of toiling ’20’s roar, then Depression fears,

cranking textile miles, yet with no thread of slouching sloth.

 A shrill whistling of the factory call is no longer heard at all,

just a sunny breeze in unseasonably warm December.

These three landmark chimneys stand so stubbornly, so tall

commanding us by their stature, to remember.

As if we could remember, but no; this legacy is lost to us.

For we, so enamored, or ensnared, by electronic spell,

cannot attain to the fierce pace of their spinning, weaving opus.

Now we demolish their wornout legacy, no more to tell.

But massive was their output–their product so dearly spun;

‘though its flannel flappings waiver yet in this, our age’s fatal breeze.

Soon our bulldozing might will render this heritage undone

as fiberoptic spinning of our  sorcery now weaves.

ConeRevStak

Glass half-Full

Crossing the Great Divide

December 26, 2019

Life is flexible and creative.

Mathematics is different from life; it is definite and conclusive.

When certain modern mathematicians recently figured out—and admitted— that equations can not account for all truth about life itself, they actually enabled themselves to make a quantum leap forward in human communications.

What George Gilder calls the mathematics of information theory is actually a “math of creativity.”

Human creativity is required to make this math work properly. If humans would not intervene—if we were to choose not to intervene, not to tweak, not to program—our stupid, soul-less computers would “churn away forever.”

Caught up in a never-ending loop—that’s what computers would do if we didn’t manage them and tell them what to do.

How did such a bright idea enlighten the computering pioneers of our 20th-21st century progress?

In his book, Life After Google, George Gilder describes a series of progressive mathematical proofs that eventually brought us to an advanced stage of modern mathematics. Beginning mainly with Isaac Newton, these theorems collectively lead, step-by-step, to a system of proven mathematical truths.

But the mathematicians ran into a problem—a dead end. The roadblock showed up shortly after a certain fellow, David Hilbert, came along and, being absolutely  sure that we could express all knowledge mathematically, famously said: “We must know; we will know!”

It seems to me David was gathering his sustenance from an old source that was long ago proven unreliable; it was, I surmise, that phenom that Moses called the “Tree of Knowledge.”

Actually, it was a little while later that his assistant—a fellow named John von Neumann—provided the missing link that exposed Hilbert’s wishful thinking for what is was.

Along those link lines, George Gilder provides in his book a list of other mathematicians and scientists whose work contributed to John von Neumann’s breakthrough. The list includes Kurt Gödel, Gregory Chaitin, Hubert Yockey, Alan Turing, Claude Shannon.

George Gilder explains. . .

“Gödel’s insights led directly to Claude Shannon’s information theory, which underlies all computers and networks today.”

In the midst of this move forward away from mathematical determinism and into creative computing, the contribution of John von Neumann was to encourage Gödel in his emerging proof that absolute mathematical proof was impossible.

Along this path of computing enlightenment, Gilder points out that

“Gödel’s proof prompted Alan Turing’s invention in 1936 of the Turing machine—the universal computing architecture with which he showed that computer programs, like other logical schemes, were not only incomplete but could not even be proved to reach any conclusion. Any particular program might cause it (the computer) to churn away forever. This was the ‘halting problem.’Computers required what Turing called ‘oracles’ to give them instructions and judge their outputs.”

Those “oracles” are human beings. Guess what: Computers need us if they’re going to work correctly!

George Gilder goes on to explain in his book that this creative guidance from us, homo sapiens, is what leads, and has lead to, all the computer progress we have seen in modern times.

Along that path of progress, Larry and Sergei came along and harnessed all that creative oracularity into a thing called Google.

You may have heard of it.

My takeaway is that, back in the dawn of the computer age . . . while Hilbert was chowing down on the Tree of Knowledge, his assistant Von Neumann managed to pluck some life-sustaining nourishment from the Tree of Life.

Gilderbook

Along those lines, here’s a cool quote from George Gilder:

“Cleaving all information is(:) the great divide between creativity and determinism, between information entropy of surprises and thermo-dynamic entropy of predictable decline, between stories that capture a particular truth and statistics that reveal a sterile generality.”

 Maybe you have to be a computer nerd to process all that quote in your very own CPU, or you may be like me and just read a lot . . .

King of Soul

Blue Ridge Mountain Home

December 20, 2019

Driving in bright, brisk December sunshine, winding slowly along a Blue Ridge mountain holler road, I arrived yesterday afternoon at the house address that I had earlier noted.

Turning off the car engine silenced radio reportage about the impending impeachment, which is neither here nor there. I am looking for an old fella that I recently read about in a locally written book.

The house is small, light green, near the side of the road, very neat and compact, meticulously maintained.I  This home is the kind of modest dwelling that was being built around these parts in the 1950’s, but it has been recently updated with vinyl siding. My carpenter eye notices the perfectly installed exterior. Nice job.

An attractive, low stone wall just a few steps from the roadway affords a stairway down to a welcoming front porch.  The front door is absolutely white, six-paneled proper in sunshine. It begs knocking, and so I do.

The lady who opens it is thin, with gray hair. She has a classic Scotch-looking mountain face, pleasantly aged with complimentary wrinkles. I forget now what she said, but it was some kind of greeting. I offered her my concise explanation for my visit this afternoon.

“Hi. My name is Carey Rowland. I’ve been doing some historical research—for a novel I am writing— about the Cone estate, and the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway through it back in the 1940’s or ’50’s.  I recently read an interview, published in 1997, with Mr. Paul Moody, who, I understand used to work for Bertha Cone.”

“I’m his wife.” she said

Well, gollee, I’ve come to the right place.

This was a pleasant surprise. I’m still new at this historical research stuff. The last few doors I had recently knocked on were run-down abandoned places with nobody home. A little confused about exactly what my next question should be, I blurted:

“Is he alive?”

“He’s right in here. You wanta talk to him?”

“Yes ma-am!”

“Come on in. I’ll get him.”

And so I did, and she did.  Next thing you know, I’m looking around in this smallish, comfortably lived-in den or living room. A few seconds later, Paul walks in, smiling.

Well gollee.

“Well, what can I do for ye?” he says, pleasantly.

And so I explained a little— that I had been living around here since the early ’80’s, raising a family with my wife, and the first job I had up here was working on the Linn Cove Viaduct, which is, as you know, the missing link, in the middle of a 469-mile parkway that took fifty years to build—

And, as the old shake and bake commercial says. . . “and I helped!”

“Well, sit down,” said Paul.

Not in that chair, I thought, noticing the easy chair. That’s obviously his chair, with visual evidence of Paul’s accustomed comfort, possibly reading comfort, over years of sitting.  No sign of a TV in the room.

So I took my seat on the couch. “Thank you, sir!”

Long story short. Paul began talking about the Moses Cone Estate, on which he had been born in 1933, and thereby born into the hired help. His grandfather had been superintendent of the place back in the day— since before 1908 when Moses had died, and his father had been foreman of the apple orchard.

Paul proceeded to answer just about every question about the place that had been on my mind these last few weeks. This was becoming a very productive day, from a writerly standpoint.

He is a very pleasant fellow, full of history, and willing to talk about it. A historical fiction-writer’s dream informant. After awhile he took me back in the other rooms. He showed me the kitchen cabinets he had built, with frame-and-panel cherry doors on cherry face-frame, then took me back into the expansive laundry room, which was sunshine bright and entirely paneled with whitish, wormy pine, milled from trees that he himself had cut down.

A true mountain man, this Paul. The 16-gauge shotgun mounted over the doorway had been bequeathed to Paul from the Cone estate when Bertha died in 1947.

BRPaulmoody

Here’s Paul with his life-long wife, Margaret, who also came from a family of the hired help of the Cone estate, now the Moses Cone Memorial Park. They’re standing in front of another piece of his handiwork, filled with a lifetime of precious family mementos.

BRPMoody

After more friendly conversation and explanation, he took me out to his shop, where he had built the cabinets and the furniture and God-knows-what else.

BRmoodysaws

as far as ole folks from the Old School go, they don’t make ‘em like Paul any more.

BRmoody

And the rest is history, which you may read about in two or three years when I finish the novel . . .

Search for Blue

Search for Blue

November 6, 2019

When we first came to Boone, the town in North Carolina where Pat and I raised our three young’uns, I had a job that lasted  a few years,  tieing steel rebar in the Linn Cove Viaduct.

It was a bridge that happened to be the final section–the Missing Link–of a 469-mile National Park road, the Blue Ridge Parkway. Why this missing link, which was located pretty much in the middle of the whole road project, took so long to get built is a long story.

That story will form part of the narrative of a new novel, which I have recently begun researching and writing. The working title is Search for Blue.

Back in the 1950’s, ’60’s and 70’s, a gaggle of disagreements had confounded any beginning of constructing that Missing Link. When they finally got the issues settled between owners of Grandfather Mountain and the National Park Service, construction of the final Blue Ridge Parkway section was begun in 1979.

And I helped. While the missing link was being built, it looked something like this:

BRPLinConst2

Recently, I, being now in what used to be called old age (but only 68!), I began to wonder what the cessation of work might have been like for a workman who had labored on that Parkway project “back in the day.”

This book will tell the tale that I uncover. Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1 of “Search for Blue.”

But in October of ’29 the whole damn thing just stalled out, real sudden like,   stone-cold dead in its tracks.

By that time, marauding manufacturing and rabid farming had stirred up a dust bowl in the wide prairies and a cloud of manifest debilitation over our formerly manifested destiny. Monetary manipulation absconded the bold thrust of old-fashioned capital-driven progress; frantic philandering pushed quaint front-porch watch-the-world-go-by domestic tranquility into a ragged soup line.

1920’s roaring jibber-jabber got lost in 1930’s Depression regression.  The country had shifted from financed euphoria to unemployed stuporia, and so in the election of ’32 we rolled Mr. Roosevelt into the White house on a Democrat wheelbase of socializing progressivism;  The new President, former governor of New York, wasted no time in arm-twisting the nation right on over into his New Deal.

As the dust of dystopia settled, some forlorn Americans pined for the good ole days. Ah, they said, those were the days. Wish we’d seen it coming!

It didn’t take them New Dealers too long to figure out that what was needed was to get  people working again, and fast.

Congress, shell-shocked by the deadening thunder of an American business-industrial dynamo self-destructing,  got themselves hellbent on a string of programs to shorten–if not eliminate–the    lengthening unemployment lines. Their legislating fervor reached way, way far–even as far as somewhere over the rainbow–and so they laid hold of the pot of gold!

But when the vessel was recovered, it turned out to be–not a pot of gold, but–a soup pot, and a damn-near empty one at that.  So they set themselves to re-filling it, although not with gold. There wasn’t, by that time, much of the precious yellow stuff around. They had to  begin filling the empty rainbow pot with . . . soup!

Out on the street, maybe while waitin’ in line for the soup, Joe Blow–or maybe it was Jane Doe–came up with a name for the collection of work and improvement programs that Congress was dishing out: “alphabet soup.” Take a gander at this list: FERA, FCA, NIRA, PWA,  FFMC, CWER, AAA, EBA, FDIC, FHA, NRA, NLRB, RA, REA, SEC, SSA, TVA, to name just a few, and we’ll certainly not fail to mention the two work outfits destined to be the most productive in our present scouting-out-the-land, search for Blue expedition: CCC  and WPA, which is the easy way of sayin’ Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration.

Since Mr. Roosevelt had proclaimed we had nothing to fear but fear itself, one of Congress’ first assaults against the dreaded enemy actually took aim at that “fear itself.”

In an inspired idea to nullify the power of the enemy attitude, our  lawmakers scrambled the word “fear.” They appropriated the letters. . . f, e, a, and r, reassigned them to a nobler cause, and came up with  the Federal Emergency Relief Act of 1933, which came to be known as: FERA!

And that was one of the early servings of the alphabet soup; it got  ladled into the bowls and hands of millions of unemployed Americans.

Most of the work was cranked up in the urban districts; city folks were much more dependent on the system than country folk. Out on the farms, people might be broke, and they might be deprived of some of the so-called necessities of modern life, but at least they had some ground out back to scratch a few seeds into the good earth and thereby harvest unto themselves some corn, beans, or potatoes to serve at dinner time. They might even still have a hog or two or a cow or at least a few chickens peckin’ around to have for some future supper time embellishment.

All that said, the farm folks did have their share of the alphabetizing bonanza that Congress was serving: AAA, FCA, FFMC etcetera etcetera. One way or another, everybody got a little help.

Back in that day and time, most men could still wield a shovel or a hoe. Even if they hadn’t done much with such tools as that, they or their kin were probably close enough to the land to at least know something of how to handle an implement.

As it turned out, a lot of them programs that the New Dealers came up with did involve shovels and hoes and rakes and such. By ‘n by, some Republicans who were not so convinced about the efficacy of Mr. Roosevelt’s wheelin’ dealin’ job programs–they hit upon the shovel as a symbol of the gaggle of “do nothing” alphabetized boondoggle make-work crews who spent more time leaning on their shovels than actually wielding them for the betterment of the country.

But that’s just politics. They’ll never get all that mess straightened out.

Probably about three years from now, I’ll have the rest of it done so you can read about how it all came together over fifty years of time.

Meanwhile, find a good book to read, today! You can find one here:

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