Posts Tagged ‘energy’

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

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the Word BigBang

January 18, 2019

Way, way back in time, before all this stuff was here, even back before the Big Bang, something very amazing happened.

Reflect

I was wondering about our universal origin, so I  took a chance on a Wikipedia entry about it. This is what I found:

The (Big Bang) model describes how the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state.”

Scientists and dreamers like me have, for many and many a year, puzzled about what that “very high-density and high-temperature state” might have been.

I was pondering this development. My irrational dreamer self was wrestling with Reason as I attempted to figure out what that very high-density pre-Bang substance might have been. Being the 20th-century educated baby boomer that I am, my mind stumbled into an idea that I must have discovered in a science classroom somewhere along the line. Therefore, E=mc² banged into my big (bigger than a chimpanzee’s) brain.

Energy = mass x the speed of light squared.

Which means something like: When a very small chunk of (mass) material stuff gets its atomic parts whirling around at a certain  extremely high speed, and when that speed is zipping along at a rate of that same velocity multiplied by itself (faster than I can imagine), the whole baleewick crosses some kind of transformational threshold and suddenly that mass of nuclear stuff gets changed Presto Chango! into something fundamentally different— Energy!

Waves and waves of energy . . .

Energy. . . hmm. . . whataboudit . . . Now I do know that there are many different forms of energy. There’s kinetic energy, like a bat hitting a ball, which then suddenly propels that ball to an absolutely reverse direction from the direction in which the pitcher had pitched it. Pretty amazing thing for a batter to do, when you think about it.

Amazing. Lots of amazing in this universe. Moving right along. . . don’t blink or you’ll miss something.

And then there’s potential energy, like Mr, Newton’s apple, which was, naturally, connected to an apple tree until, all of a sudden, something gave way and the apple dropped to the ground, which provoked Mr. Newton to ask:

Say what?

Which translates from 17th-century English to: what the heck is going on here? Or, if you’re an out-of-the-box kind of thinker . . . what the hell is going on here?

Potential energy instantaneously being converted to kinetic energy! That’s what.

Perhaps it’s a little microcosm of the Big Bang, but on an exponentially smaller scale. The apple does make, you know, a kind of thud when it hits the ground, and then it transforms into a treat for an itinerant traveler to partake thereof.

Meanwhile, back at the tranche,  back to the the case of the macrocosm, the, as it were,  Big Bang, which was hypothesized as high-density matter being converted suddenly into kinetic energy, and subsequently expanding outward . . . (as John Lennon sang back in the day) across the universe . . .

and then, along the way, settling into a reverse of the mass-to-energy scenario, back into the energy-to-mass state of being, which brought forth . . . mass, stuff . . .

a Universe, duh . . .

I can only wonder, well, it is what it is, or . . . or it is what it has a become, as a result of all that instantaneous transformation, which has been transforming itself over 14.5 billion years to ravel as what we call “the Cosmos,” and everything therein.

14.5 billion years of unfolding Universe.

Wow!

Francis Collins’, in his book the Language of God, described the beginning of the phenom, this way:

“For the first million years after the Big Bang, the universe expanded, the temperature dropped, and nuclei and atoms began to form. Matter began to coalesce into galaxies under the force of gravity. It acquired rotational motion as it did so,  ultimately resulting in the spiral shape of galaxies such as our own. Within those galaxies local collections of hydrogen and helium were drawn together, and their density and temperature rose. Ultimately nuclear fusion commenced.”

All of this posited data reverberates in my 21st-century brain, settling into my born-again spirit, and restates itself as an expanded statement of Moses’ ancient, pre-science explanation:

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light; God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”

Makes sense to me. You?

Glass half-Full

The Better Waves

June 30, 2018

Everywhere everywhere we have waves bouncing around.

The sun sends them to us, across 93 millions of space. They hit our little planet; they reverberate in all kinds of ways. Some of them we capture and channel into energetic uses.

Others we do not capture at all. They just ripple around placidly in places unseen.

Out in the wild, in some natural place where the planetary stream gently trickles through unspoiled environs, we may notice waves just rippling along being their leisurely selves.

Ripples

If we peer closely at them, we may notice the universal vibration passing through our brief moment in time and space.

Waves

In other locations, where humans have captured the waves and trained them into commercial or utilitarian applications, they just degenerate into more of the blahblah interference that we encounter every day in our electronified existence. Like this pic taken at a gas station, where apparently the petrol pushers have determined that we cannot be without electronic stimulation for any amount of time—even the 2 or 3 minutes it takes to fill an itinerant gasoline tank.

EWaves

Although it is strangely reassuring to see a human face there in the mix, especially a pretty one. . .

GasGirl

Glass Chimera

Golden gated possibilities

June 18, 2012

The Golden Gate bridge was completed and dedicated for use in 1937. It was a pretty impressive piece of work. Check it out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Gate_Bridge

The idea of actually building this necessarily very big, complex structure took hold among some forward-thinking people; they were business leaders on the far side of the San Francisco bay area, in Santa Rosa, north of the waterway. Those enterprising folks in the California outback got together and started pushing the preposterous idea of building a bridge. Everybody who looked into the possibility of such a project knew it would be a tall order, no doubt about it.

Could such a thing even be done?

The Chamber of Commerce in the city of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, set the wheels of potential progress in motion. That is to say, in 2012 parlance, the “private sector.”  haha. They ran with the idea of getting something started. Together with “public sector” legislative bodies, the elected Board of Supervisors of Santa Rosa and of San Francisco, they recruited some engineers to actually get the ball rolling on the design requirements of such a gargantuan task.

An elected governmental body, the California legislature, eventually took on the massive project in 1928, turning its implementation over to their highway department. Bond financing became a problem in 1930, after the Crash when times were hard and folks didn’t have much money. Many didn’t even have, as they say, “two dimes to rub together.” So a major player in the financial industry, a founder of the Bank of America in San Francisco, bailed out the debt logjam by, according to Wikipedia, agreeing to buy the public-issue bonds, in order to get the bridge constructed.  Actual construction work began in 1933.

By April of 1937, long story short, there was a bridge where none had been before; and now, seventy-five years later, it’s still there. I know this is true. Pat and I have walked across the thing many times, even though we live in North Carolina.  Our business-administrating son, a SF resident, rode across it yesterday on his bicycle.

These things have happened in history. Put that in your public/private-sector pipe and smoke it, all ye 21st-century couch-potatoed Americans. Where there’s a will, as our grandparents used to say back in the day, there’s a way.  And they proved it.

Now these days, such projects would be much more complicated.

Or are they? Well, yes, but that’s a deep subject.

These days, you can’t just cook up a big project like that and go out and round up a bunch of folks in need of work and get them to do the thing. Americans don’t work like that any more, and besides, our infrastructure is already built anyway, right? I mean, nowadays you can’t just find a bunch of shovel-wielding fellers and get ’em to dig a big hole in the ground, pour some concrete and steel into it, then do the same on the other side, and bolt up a bridge between them. Can’t do it. Americans don’t work like that any more. We’re not programmed like in the 21st-century.

I wonder what it is that Americans can do now. We are, you know, pretty damned good at, what? making excuses, blameshifting? These days, we’re about as likely to do a big collective work like that as we are to wander out in the yard and watch the sun heat up the roof, or watch the lawn grow.

Glass half-Full

Seattle, spruce and sunshine

March 25, 2012

This January afternoon of 1855, the old Chief’s careful direction would be guiding his people, like or not, to a destination of peaceful reconciliation with those who were to come. Big changes were in the wind, and Chief Seattle knew this. The ancient ways were being compacted to legend by these whitish immigrants with their steam-breathing machines. In the face of narrowing options the Duwamish peoples had no simple, and no welcome, adjustments to make.

Chief Seattle was getting up in years. His footsteps along the mountain trail were not swift, nor as eager, as when he had first trod them as a young Suquamish.   As the ancient path turned his party into a high clearing on the ridge, between tall evergreens, Seattle’s sight was filled with  magnificence of the Great River and wide bay below– what the whites were now calling Elliot Bay.  At that moment the clouds parted; a rare burst of winter sunshine splashed its welcome brilliance through cold, silvery afternoon. He paused to appreciate the scene, then raised his right arm and placed it on a familiar spruce tree, resting. The sunshine warmed the old man’s face, and raised a smile upon his wisdom lips.

Down on the bay shore, Henry Yesler had been operating his sawmill since about two years ago. He had shut the machine off for the day, for this was a day like no other.  He would soon join a few others of his American associates, to sign a treaty with the natives whose ancient lands were all around. Chief Seattle would arrive to represent the Duwamish and Salish peoples; he was known among the new settlers as a reasonable man, a leader who understood the tectonics of this moment’s history.

By the next summer, the high spruce upon which Chief Seattle had leaned was cut down by hordes of Scandinavian lumberjacks who had immigrated across an ocean and an entire continent.  The woodsmen were busily thrusting their cut logs down a skid road to the Yesler sawmill at the waterfront. There would be many a skid road in the Northwest and beyond before this fierce harvesting was all over with.

By 1893, the Great Northern Railway had been completed. Its trestled tracks twisted through the Cascades and over the Rockies, all the from  St. Paul, Minnesota and beyond. Men with names like Washington, Smith, Stevens, Schwabacher, Nordstrom would soon carve a Pacific Northwest 20th-century culture out of the wild Washington woods.

The next hundred years tumbled an avalanche of civilized chaos and semi-organized caterwaullin’ enterprises across that Duwamish River, and out the Puget waterway to the wide Pacific and beyond: hauling millions of felled timbers on rails and ships and, with every imaginable sort of huffing puffing machine, slurry of mined minerals, casting Klondyke gold, picks and axes, bootstraps, neckties, highfalutin’ starched shirts, hopes and dreams, mice and men, with newspapers, rumor mills, steam-driven capitalism and a whole lotta just plain old hard work, driven by a slue of Swedes, Finns, English, Italians, Africans, Asians, Irish and generally all those Americanizing yankee types whose enterprised fervor propelled an expansion unprecedented in the history of the whole dammed world with all the blood, and toil and sweat that have ever and always dropped our tears along the holy terrible trail of human progress.

By late 20th, a slab or two of Seattle spruce had been railed across the prairies and the heartlands, and delivered to a shop in St. Louis, where a selected piece was seasoned, sawn thin and stretched across a resonant box with a hole cut out and a fretted neck with six steely bronzed strings stretched across it. And there from that sound-hole rolls out a reflected resonance of the sunshine and the spruce upon which old Chief Seattle had paused and contemplated, before he was to meet his Maker, all that was to later happen.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Something from Nothing

January 14, 2012

Today, I am going to expose to you my ignorance of quantum mechanics in the study of physics. Furthermore, you will plainly see that my childish grasp of the physicists’ exposition of this phenomenon is woefully inadequate, even naive.  But it doesn’t matter if you can detect right off the bat how blatantly dense is my take on the matter. You see, I am one of those who short circuits the rational pursuit of truth by inserting faith in a Creator where there should by all hypothetical propositions be an equation, or some hard-earned experimental data.

It all started with this: http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201201132, wherein Lawrence Krauss is discussing the contents of his new book,  A Universe From Nothing, with Ira Flatow, and Lawrence makes such potentially gravitational statements as “Nothing is unstable,” meaning that nothingness itself is unstable, insofar as that it has a habit of generating stuff out of itself (nothing) out in space.

“Empty space is a boiling, bubbling brew of virtual particles that pop in and out of existence in a time scale so short that you can’t even measure them.”

Spontaneous generation, we used to call it, and thinking about it is, as Lawrence points out, a little bit “like counting angels on the head of a pin.”

But somewhere in the half-life of Lawrence’s broadcast/webcast explanations, what really set my neurons hurdling  into photonic frenzies is this idea that an electron, which is whirring somewhat orbitally around a proton, cannot be adequately assessed in terms of its position in relation to the proton, or in relation to, for that matter (haha) anything else. This is because, as soon as the analyst, or scientist, casts light on the subject particle(wave) in question, in order to view the electron and make some kind of determinating statement about it, the light (the energetic effect of the light) itself alters the quarky little rascal, rendering its position indeterminable! Imagine that! Like trying to herd cats.

And Lawrence also mentioned:

“Whole universes can pop out of nothing, by the laws of quantum mechanics.”

Ha!  I was stumped.

I tried, well into the evening  and the nighttime, to wrap my warpish mind around all this, which must resemble a light beam trying to keep up with a neutrino, as the French say in Switzerland.  I was getting  a little short on the fourth dimension while trying to capture the essence of  those quarks in question and fathom their unquantifiable fidgettance. And then, as if that weren’t enough profundity to drag my faltering comprehension into a blackhole, Paul Krugman’s recent comparison between Austrian economics and the 18th-century theory of phlogiston in chemistry popped out of nowhere, not to mention Higgs-Boson confusion on top of that, and…

while I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping. . . and the faith-based  short circuit suddenly presented itself, when my friend Dave sent out his daily ditty, http://outdeep.com/2012/01/13/light-in-our-heart , which started with this conveniently accessible concept:

For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

to which my friend had also added:

 “The sovereign creativity of God to bring forth what to us would have been unthinkable is staggering.  This artistic endeavor of the Divine is used to illustrate the similar work of enlightening my heart.”

Wherefore, I in my lay-like confusion decided to just go with that, call it a day, and hit the hay, where my wife was so peacefully sleeping in preparation for today’s nursing duties. I had found a universal incarnation that I could wrap my weary mind around. Now this morning, the sun shines brightly on snow out in the back .40. Thank God for a beautiful winter day here in the inexplicable universe. Ignorance is, as they say, bliss. Grits is good too, for breakfast, with cheese.

Glass half-Full

The power of the universe

July 8, 2011

With impressive regularity, the moon orbits the earth every 28 days or so. This arrangement produces some very real effects on what happens to us and to our planetary home.

Long ago when I was in school, I learned that the mysterious white orb up in the night sky has a gravity of its own. Like every object that exists anywhere, it has a power to compel other objects in its direction. This gravity attribute of matter, which is proportional to its mass, is an important part of the mechanics of the universe. An intricate clockwork of physical events is constructed around it. Thanks to Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton, among many other wise men who lived long ago, for figuring this out.

I suppose heavenly objects are a little like people in this respect–posessing a kind of magnetism that produces a sphere of influence. But among humans the attractive forces are relatable more to personality, leadership, status, charm, and such immeasurable factors, rather than a person’s size, or what the physicists call ‘mass’.

But I was thinking about the moon because of what happened two days ago when Pat and I were at the beach; it was a scary event that is indirectly related to the moon’s orbit around us. Now as I write this the moon’s glory is fading, as its master the sun renders it invisible while I watch the sun come up over the island of Maui, Hawaii. Being awake so early, I must still be on east coast time, even though its been a week ago since I was there.

But about the moon…Mostly we tend to think of gravitational forces between earth and moon in terms of the earth’s greater gravity (due to its larger mass.) We see in the night sky the moon doing its thing, sort of hanging there night after night, seeming to travel an arc across the nocturnal sky as dusk pulls its curtain of darkness across the heavens, until dawn comes blasting all that blackness away, with sunny brightness and life-giving warmth.

We are forever accustomed to the fact that our earth powerfully determines the moon’s behavior. But their cosmological connectedness works both ways. That little white sphere, so hopelessly tethered by gravity to its giant companion, exerts an unyielding, and quite predictable, effect over our worldy substance.

This dynamic is most easily observed in our oceans. Collectively, they are an immense resource that no one can measure. But the little old moon, even as small as it seems to us, pushes our oceans around like plasmic silly putty all the time, every day and night. That precocious dimpled satellite grabs, for instance, our largest planetary mass, the Pacific ocean, at one end, so to speak. As earth revolves, the moon fluffs its massive surface waters like a great oceanic blanket, wrinkling it all the way from Canada to Australia, crumpling it from Japan to Chile, and everywhere in between and beyond.

Tremendous physical forces of nature are set in motion through thousands of miles of water, producing the tides, the ocean swells, waves on the beach.

Right in the middle of all that lunar-induced force field of liquid dynamism is a string of islands we call Hawaii, which is where I now write this. Down there on the beach, which I am beginning to see again in the widening light of dawn, a wave crashes in the sand. It crashes because all that lunar-inflicted energy, which has passed in wave form across thousands of sea-miles, is suddenly resisted, and stopped, by a physical object–the beach. The mixture of energy in the wave–it may have been (guessing) 70% potential energy and 30% kinetic–is uproariously transformed into 100% (?) kinetic energy as it strikes the shore and dissipates.

A couple of days ago, Pat and I, fools that we are, happened to be standing in that Maui surf, when the awesome power of the universe, having been channeled by our feisty little tide-jerking earth-moon through the oceanic medium, came crashing against us with a force we had never heretofore experienced. The big wave came as the first among a set of whoppers; it whipped Pat and me around like rag dolls for a few fearful seconds.

Having been caught clueless in a tenacious explosion of kinetic water energy, we were lucky to recover and walk away from its ferocity, back to our little beach blanket island of sun-screen and security. Well, not lucky–actually, more like “saved.” Saved by God, who is greater, and more benevolent, than all the jerky universe that stirs us around like fruity chunks in a beach-blender. Do you think me naive to assume such a thing as God’s protection in the midst of a terrible wave? It’s okay. You may say that I’m a naive believer, but I’m not the only one.

Another believer, one from ages long ago, wrote this about that same power of the universe, (from Psalm 93):

“The seas have lifted up, O Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice;

the seas have lifted up their pounding waves, mightier than the thunder of the great waters,

mightier than the breakers of the sea– the Lord on high is mighty.”

Glass half-Full

Defunding H2 from H20

April 8, 2011

I learn a lot about what’s on the cutting edge of scientific research by listening to Ira Flatow on ScienceFriday, NPR. The segment I heard today (8 April 2011) was downright inspiring as the program presented some good possibilities for  generating energy from sunlight by  experimental technology that could separate of hydrogen and oxygen from water.They call it artificial leaf; its something like synthesized photosynthesis. This ScienceFriday edition is worth a listen.

http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201104081

Dr. Daniel Nocera of MIT talks with Ira about this very promising technology of using silicon to  function in energy-gathering ways simulating what photosynthesis does in natural leaves, only better. Nocera’s rap goes like this:
What does a leaf do? It turns photons into electrical current, stores the solar energy while splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. In this new tech, silicon replaces the leaf. Stored hydrogen produced thereby runs a fuel cell. This silicon system catches the sun as much as a hundred times more efficiently than a leaf.
The real breakthrough is that these researchers are using earth-abundant materials: silicon, cobalt, phosphate and cheap metal.  Hence, some practical applications for energy generation are realized; they’re building prototypes at MIT, with the experimental apparatus going for days  with no drop in productivity. This water-breaking work has propelled progress well beyond the science; now its in the engineering phase.

Ira asks: whats next for commercial viability? Dr. Nocera says they’re working toward the apparatus being the workable size of two doors and thus operating effectively. Passing water over silicon and producing energy, but without wires–that’s the breakthrough– making the necessary gases  over surface of silicon. Next  challenge is engineering a gas collection system, and now they’re using regular water instead of something rarer, so that’s the real  promise of significant improvement.

Dr. Nocera also mentions in the closing comments that people in developing world are less dependent on old technologies  than we are; that is something to be aware of. Folks in the developing world are more open to new techs, being less dependent on the old (fossil-fuel) ones.

This is cutting edge; you won’t hear about it on fox or hln. That’s why I appreciate ScienceFriday, and that’s why I appreciate NPR.
Although I do not subscribe to the exclusively materialistic hypotheses through which Ira interprets our cosmological origins, I do appreciate the excellent coverage that he and his staff regularly provide on scientic frontiers.

And my appreciation extends beyond the ScienceFriday crew, to NPR generally, which is an informative aural venue through which we Americans can garner fuller understanding of our life on this finite planet as it exists today. National Public Radio is a place in broadcast space where we can hear, and participate in, real disscussions about relevant, timely issues. A little “liberal” perhaps, but its more productive, I think, than listening to some self-made mouthpiece who pontificates through a microphone and insults callers who disagree.

As a supporter of public radio, I hope to see ScienceFriday and all the other NPR programs continue. If the Repubs, of which I am one, succeed in cutting the funds for public broadcasting, I do not see that as an insurmountable obstacle for its continuance. I plan to continue my financial support. I truly believe that the excellence in journalism and educative programming supplied therein will find adequate means to prosper in the competitive world of commercial media–and without compromising their high journalistic and first-amendment standards.

If our Congress is inclined to consider cutting NPR out of the federal funding trough, I suggest that they defund Planned Parenthood instead, and then appropriate that money that would have otherwise aborted feti to promote growth–growth in public comprehension of the issues that define our existence in 21st-century America.

There’s no sense in aborting feti when we will have dire need, in the future, for young working citizens to support our expanding Medicare demands and our waning energies.

Glass Chimera

Cranked-up country

February 17, 2011

Poor ole uncle sam; all strung out on crack and heroin. Or, excuse me, I’m thinking of somebody else, some loser squatting in the abandoned house down the street.
Uncle sam is junked up with those other habits, the acceptable ones–credit crank and  mainline oil.
The politicians all have their two different camps for rehab strategies:

Liberals want to keep the methadonish greenback mainline flowing freely, with that rubbery Fed strapped around uncle sam’s arm so everybody rich and poor high and low has a little jingle to keep their jangle pump primed up, and they want to keep the oil price high with energy taxes to discourage consumption and theoretially get us weaned off the middle east fossilized mainline, which is so politically unstable these days due to widespread outbreak of democratic frenzy, rendering the Gulfs unpredictable, liable to be cut off at any time and you know we’d really be up shiite creek then. But it’ll be a sunni day in hell before we ever achieve energy independence. Nice thought though.

Conservatives want to cut the hell out of credit by going cold turkey with fiscal responsibility, which they mistakenly think the “American people,” couch potatoes all, want. They talk big about slashing budgets, but know it can never really happen thanks to the credit-cranked old new deal and all the neo-deals since then. On the other side of the pump, they wanna keep energy prices low so everybody can drive to work at the jobs they don’t have any more or are working parttime, gotta keep them gas tanks filled up, and if the Ahabs the Arabs get to be upstarts with their ole OPEC tricks we’ll send the boys over there to whip em in line and teach em a thing or two about democracy.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Dick and Jane are starting to figure out they better make the best with what they got. What will you do today to make the world a better place for you and yours?

Glass Chimera

The Four Seasons

October 10, 2010
How different life is now in these ole Appalachians mountains than it was many a year ago. In days gone by, a spring trickling water from the earth itself would have provided the most basic life support for the family.  Apples on the gnarly old tree would have been tumbling down from their rotchety branches.  The surreal orange maples, first firebrands of fall,  well…words cannot capture…
We don’t struggle against the elements on this mountain slope these days; it ain’t like the old days when the settlers forged out their homesteads from hostile nature with samwill lumber right off the land where they was a-livin’. No, we’re locked into the system now, not like them Scots-Irish forebears who came through here just a few years after Dan’l Boone, building barns and fences and cabins that now are old shacks that we pass by in our cars and sometimes take pictures of.
‘Specially this time of year.  There’s somethin’ special about them ole barns this time of year. A hundred and fifty year ago or more, the hard-scrabble struggle would have required a family to be domiciled down on the bottom, by a creek where we’d have a perpetual run of fresh water and a flat, fertile  land with dark loam to grow the crops on, or maybe if it weren’t a bottom it was a homestead by a spring  up on the slope a ways, where clear water is trickling out of God’s green earth, making a cool springhouse and  human household possible. Nowadays we’re up high-tech on the mountain, near the ridge. There ain’t no spring on this 1.5 acres, but there shure ’nuff is an unseen well-shaft ‘xtendin’ six hundred feet underground and a pump runnin’ on 220 that drives our water up here to where we are in the sunlight, and makes our domicile possible..
And by a miracle, on this golden, October Saturday evening,  of electrons racing through copper and silicon and God knows what other elements, I listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a recording I brought from worlds away, purchased when we were in Venice a few years back.
There’s a whole ‘nother world out there, with thousands of years of European pain and toil and tears and musical dynamicism vibrating through those trained violin, viola, violinocello strings and hands–a world of Venetian musicians, thrubbing now through a cd and a speaker and my mind as I sit here on the back porch in the 21st century beneath the poplars and the blue late-afternoon sky, three hundred and sum’n years after Antonio made the music happen. Hi-tech, y’know. What an amazing world we have wrought upon the raw materials of God. And I just finished setting flat stone in mortar and grout,  a setting-place for a propane fireplace stove that we bought.  It’s not like the old days any more,when the home folks would just keep the wood stove stokin’ through the winter.
We can do that wood-burnin’ thing if we have to, but it’s a lot of trouble for an old guy like me who’s still managing to  hold down a 40-hour. Thank God.
No, that pressurized, bottle-up hydrocarbon  gas will be trucked in from some distant place, maybe some rig out in the Gulf that BP’s a-runnin’, God forgive ’em. Maybe even from the Persian Gulf, I don’t know.
And God forgive me, too, but we gotta be warm in January. Makes me wonder how long this  highly leveraged, technified, transportified thing can go on…At some point that four-season cycle  ended for Vivaldi, and at some point in time it will end for me, but I’m loving the October late afternoon…
Thank God for another day on this golden earth.