I have the sense the United States is teetering on the brink of violence, in this odd civil war we are all witnessing. The amazing thing so far has been the way violence has been largely avoided, on the part of the right.
I think the left is frustrated by the lack of violence, for they expect it and to some degree are depending on it to justify their rash acts. They would like to enact “emergency powers” and “wartime measures” and “marshal law”, but lack excuses. Attempts such as Global Warming and The China-virus Pandemic have blown up in the left’s face, as increasing numbers awoke to the fact the so-called “emergencies” were humbug, involving absurdly tortured statistics. The January Sixth Hearings were further humbug, attempting to make an “emergency” where one hadn’t occurred, and once again the left only succeeded in embarrassing themselves. And now their inditing of Trump seems yet another attempt to provoke the right into violence. The left slaps the right in the face and then erects barriers of razor wire. Yet (so far) the right simply turns the other cheek.
In my own attempts to cool my temper and remain non-violent I turn to philosophy. When the left indites to incite, I become abstract to distract.
It is interesting to compare the powers of Light with the powers of Darkness. In some ways this is like comparing seeing with blindness (and I am referring to a higher definition of “seeing”; I’ve known blind men who “see” more clearly than men with 20-20 vision.)
It is important to remember darkness is not a “thing” but a “lack”. People enamored of darkness think they can build with a lack. They believe they can blind people, robbing them of education and increasing ignorance with misinformation, raising curtains of shadow. But you cannot build with a lack. In a sense a dictator of darkness has less and less the more he wants more. Bankruptcy is inevitable. The National Debt is but a reflection of their souls.
As the inevitable nears, the left is bound to become increasingly desperate. Doom is nigh. Hang in there, all those who believe in righteousness.
Now that Alarmists have gone whole hog on the sheer malarkey of their non-science, it is hardly worth the time rebutting their pathetic contentions any more. This frees me up to spend more time simply watching the most splendid rebuttals of their contentions, which are the realities of the weather. Compared to the glory of nature, the propaganda of politicians seems like the nitpicking of spiders in front of a tsunami. With their tweezers they can tweeze all they want; they sound as sad as a piano with one string.
Originally I looked at the reality of the weather to ascertain if what the Alarmists claimed was truth was truly true, and when I found evidence it wasn’t, I thought they might be interested to know they were in error. They weren’t. Instead they called me a “denier”, and subjected me (and many others) to censorship and shadow banning.
I suppose this treatment did bum me out, in some ways, but in other ways it was life as usual. I was never of the “popular” crowd in school, and was not the sort of young fellow a young woman would want to see approaching, to ask them to dance. Often I wasn’t even accepted among the nerds. Therefore I had to learn how to survive without flattery. I had to play the game without cheerleaders.
I think that attempting to live midst such disdain is actually too much to ask of any man, especially a young man, for we all need, if not praise, then uplifting. And the thing I found as a substitute for public acclaim, which was most uplifting, was the reality of the weather; AKA the beautiful clouds out the classroom window.
One wonderful thing about the reality of the weather is that it doesn’t care a hoot about our politics. It does what it does, irregardless of whether we throw virgins in volcanoes or buy electric cars. The only politician who seemed to grasp this was King Canute, when he ordered the tide to stop rising, in order to demonstrate to his flattering courtiers that he lacked the omnipotence of God.
It seems Alarmists utterly lack the humbleness of King Canute, for they feel they can stop the seas from rising. This audacity would be a joke if it was not actually spoken in their speeches.
Two reasons for the awe that leads people to believe in a Higher Power, (even if they detest religion and think they are Atheists,) involve the macrocosms and the microcosms of human understanding and comprehension. Once one understands how huge our galaxy is, and how many stars it contains, and then moves on to grasping the fact our universe contains more entire galaxies than can be counted, then some part of our tweezering intellect burns out, and we just shake our heads in wonder. In like manner, when we turn our minds to minutia similar wonders overwhelm us, as we wander into the worlds of sub-atomic particles and “energies”.
Perhaps the most depressing thing about Alarmists is that they miss this wonder. They feel God is out of business, for now they control the macrocosms and microcosms. They control the weather and they control the viruses. Oh! How powerful they are! They are like the puffed-up, adolescent football stars and cheerleaders whom all other students were suppose to honor and flatter, back in high school. Only it is not high school we are talking about. It is real life, and we are not immature teenagers.
To me there is something fundamentally insane about people who think they control the weather, and have jurisdiction over who shall get sick or not. They have elevated themselves to the status of God, and in the process have dismissed God as a higher power. This is insane because, sure as shooting, a day will come when a storm they did not forecast looms, and sickness they claimed they’d cured afflicts them, and on that day they will have no one to pray to.
This is not to say that there are some others among us who are mysteriously gifted, in terms of weather and/or in terms of healing. But such such people have no need to mock God while enacting Alarmism’s mockery of omnipotence. Why deny a Creator exists, when stating that same Creator gave you a gift?
My father was a surgeon who loved science and who loathed quacks, and snake-oil salesmen, and malpractice lawyers who exploited misfortunes. A story-teller, one tale my Dad loved to tell was about a witch doctor in Africa. The witch doctor made missionaries angry by curing people with a foul, stinking tea, when missionaries could not cure the same people with prayer. As my father told the tale, there was one missionary who did not condemn the witch doctor as a witch, and actually sent his sick converts to the witch doctor to drink his putrid tea. Not only did the sick get better, but the witch doctor became much more friendly, because he had finally met a Christian who didn’t condemn him for curing people. The missionary and the witch doctor developed a friendship that lasted decades, and eventually involved them hearing the news that penicillin had been discovered in England. The production of purified penicillin involved a long and complicated process. The witch doctor, in concocting his rancid tea, also employed a process that involved many steps. But how could an uneducated man in darkest Africa stumble upon penicillin? The only answer is: It was a gift. Maybe some degree of experimentation, of trial-and-error, was involved, but the guiding light was a gift.
In like manner I’ve met some in my time (usually men who spend much time outdoors) who are gifted, when it comes to sniffing out a storm which even the weather bureau doesn’t see coming. They are gifted. When you ask them how they know, they often just shrug, or give some unsatisfactory answer such as “they felt it in their bones.” In their cases as well the gift doesn’t seem to be given without some degree of trial and error. In other words, work is involved. Yet I too have worked, and my trial and error continues to mostly involve error. I am like a person who practices the piano but happens to be tone deaf. I lack the gift.
Gifts might appear to manifest in some cases without a lot of hard work, for example in the case of Mozart writing music at an early age, but even he was not above work. After all, a child picking out chords on a harpsichord at age three is practicing, just as a child learning to walk is practicing, and practice is work. However the gifted seem to have done a lot of the work before they were even born. Is it some memory from a past life? Is it a skill picked up during preincarnation in Limbo? Is it due to the mutation of some chromosome? Heck if I know. I just work under the general principle that every child is born with some gift, and therefore has value and a part to play in creation. That statement alone can get me into enough arguments to keep me busy.
But the point I am trying to work my way around to is that the people gifted do not deny the existence of the Giver of the gift. They are humble, and lack the audacity of Alarmists. They do not think they control weather, or sickness and healing. They do not claim to be all-powerful and all-knowing. Only Alarmists are so insane.
I’m weary of their bragging insanity, and of the media blaring their braggart nonsense, so I have clicked off the news, and also have largely withdrawn from debate about Global Warming. Why plunge into fog when one can remain elevated under clear skies? Why depart from pure waters to the company of those who delight in intentionally muddying waters? Some feel one can “win” a debate about Truth with lies. It is best to just skip their juvenile reality. Far better is the beautiful reality of the weather.
After a cold blast between Christmas and New Year’s, January has been gentle. Plenty of thaws and only a couple of light snows. Oddly, this has not made me happy. Instead I’ve become aware how dull midwinter is.
Last year there were too many calamities and disasters to attend to, for me to notice how dull it was. That is one good thing about storms and frozen pipes. However this winter, though it started out like that, became merciful. It seems almost an oxymoron to speak of a “generous January”, for January’s the high tide of starkness, or perhaps low tide of bleakness. No sap stirs.
Perhaps the boredom began because the thaws melted the little snow we had at my Childcare, and wreaked the snowmen, and spoiled the start to an igloo we planned to make ten stories tall, and even erased the fun of tracking animals in the snow. In any case, the tricks we’d devised (to avoid seeing how bleak and stark January is) simply didn’t work anymore, and one couldn’t help but look around and just think, “Yuk.”
Of course this presents me with an immediate challenge. If God is in everything then there must be a poem in every thing. Could I find a sonnet in anything so incredibly drab and dull?
It seems there comes a time every winter
When monotony triumphs. Sing an ode
To the sheer dullness, Oh my soul! In her
Majestic way Nature mines a rich lode
Of gray, so lands and skies slump to the edge
As silver with no shine. The world's pewter.
Brown leaves are ashy, and even the sedge
Has gone gray. Snows fell, but the thaws neuter
The bridal veil, and trails become trackless,
And, even outdoors, cabin-fever's blindness
Sees nothing of interest. Confess,
Oh my soul, that you doubt life holds kindness.
Strangely, when you moan this midwinter mood
You mouth manna which is poetry's food.
There. Did it. To me even a poor poem seems to be at least an effort at enlightenment.
To me making such an effort seems important, as the media and most politicians seem to be working very hard at being unenlightened. I don’t need to go into details about their dishonesty, hypocrisy, and unabashed lust and greed. They are the January of our age, and to witness their monotonous gray one only needs to turn on the news.
For my mental health I often turn off the news, and withdraw to my time machine, and travel back to the time of the true Enlightenment. Then I sit back and watch the Founding Fathers of our nation. They too were up against powers of gray, but rather than beaten down they uplifted.
It’s obvious why the denizens of the Swamp loathe them and want to discredit them, and it’s even sort of funny when Founding Fathers are described as rich, old slave-owners in white wigs. They were basically kids, up against the most powerful tyrant then alive. Jefferson was the “old man”, at age thirty-two, and Madison was only twenty-five, and Monroe was eighteen. If captured they could have been summarily hung or beheaded, for treason. Monroe nearly bled to death from the wounds he received in the Battle of Trenton, after crossing the Delaware with Washington on Christmas morning, 1776. Life was not roses for those men. Jefferson packed up books and important documents and rode away from his house exactly five minutes before the British cavalry arrived, hunting for his traitorous hide.
What impresses me about the Founding Fathers is their ability to be high minded even when up against the low minded. Jefferson and Adams were not brought down to the dirt by the fact King George wanted them dead. Rather they spoke of poetic stuff like “Liberty.”
Jefferson especially seems in some ways like an absent-minded-professor, wandering with his mind in the clouds through an earthquake, hardly aware of what makes others scream. But it wasn’t that he was unaware of the unpleasant details; it was that he thought beyond those details.
Jefferson dreamed up many excellent ideas he was never paid a nickle for, nor did he even dream of charging for such thought. Ought one receive royalties for writing the Declaration of Independence? Jefferson didn’t seem to think so, but was troubled by the fact he was in debt. He was a man of the enlightenment enough to take steps to make his plantation more profitable, perhaps shifting crops from tobacco to wheat or starting a nail-making industry, and he did see profits increase, but then his mind would go wandering off to some other project, such as starting the University of Virginia, which he made little money from, and while his mind was off in other areas he would fail to notice a dramatic downturn in the price of nails which made his nail-making industry less profitable. By the end of his life he was a man who had done a lot of good and had amassed a lot of debt. By his death he was, in modern terms, five million dollars in debt. This makes him very different from Nancy Pelosi, whose net worth is currently 125 million.
Perhaps that is why the so-called “Swamp” seems to hate the Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers truly served, while a modern politician only serves themself.
Be that as it may, I doubt I’ll get anyone to loan me five million dollars, so there seems little chance I can wind up so deeply in debt, as fun as it might be to do so. (Of course, with the Swamp printing money it doesn’t have, the National Debt has reached a point where I think my household owes a million dollars, so perhaps I will reach a debt of five million, after all.) But I tend to prefer a more pragmatic existence where I pay my bills. And therefore my mind often wanders off to the doings of Ben Franklin. He was very pragmatic, in his own enlightened way.
Not that Franklin didn’t think about high minded things like Liberty, and even fool around with unknown powers such as electricity, but he also pondered about very down-to-earth subjects such as how to heat a home. The “Franklin Stove” is one result of such pragmatism; it was far superior to a colonial fireplace, when it came to delivering the heat of burned wood to the house, rather than seeing it rush up the chimney and be wasted.
However his thinking didn’t stop there, and that is where I start to feel I can join him in his enlightenment. Like me, when he watched his fire burn, his mind went wandering and wondering, just like mine does.
One true conclusion he arrived at was that smoke was actually fire-that-hadn’t-caught. It was a wasted chance to heat the home, escaping up the chimney. He then dreamed up the idea of “afterburners”, or “scrubbers”, 200 years before people worried about smoke polluting the environment. He felt that nothing but steam and perhaps a trace of ash should exit a chimney, and every bit of smoke should be burned within the house, warming the house.
What he then did was to go upstairs and knock a hole in his chimney, stick in a grate, and enclose the hole with a metal door. The next time he had a fire downstairs he scooped up a shovelful of red hot wood coals, took them upstairs, and laid them on the grate. Then he likely shut the door almost all the way, but kept it open just a crack, to see what happened when the smoke passed through the red hot coals. Apparently the smoke did ignite, passing through the coals. The wasted smoke was no longer wasted.
However then, Ben being Ben, his pragmatic side kicked in, and he likely did some sort of “cost analysis”, and decided all the work wasn’t worth it. (If it had been worth it, every chimney in Philadelphia likely would have had a Franklin Gizmo in the flue.) Instead it seems Franklin focused on burning the smoke in the stove even before it started up the chimney.
And that is where Franklin’s thinking, 250 years later, splices into mine. Why? Because I too have had to focus on unburnt smoke going up my stovepipes and chimney. Why? Because such smoke can build up on the inside of a chimney as deposits of creosote, which does two bad things. First, it can block the flue to a degree where the stoves smoke, and second, if the creosote ignites the resultant chimney fire can burn the entire house down.
This might seem a good reason to heat with electricity, but the problem is that such electric heating is prohibitively expensive. Propane was affordable when Donald Trump was president, but Fraudulent Biden’s anti-fossil-fuel agenda has made propane prohibitively expensive as well. Therefore I have resorted to wood, which we have an abundance of in my area, although heating with wood involves a lot of work, which is why people gave it up for fossil fuels.
Besides lugging the wood from the woodpile to the stoves, which I tell myself keeps me in shape, (cursing softly under my breath), one must also care for the flues, which is downright dangerous for an old codger like me. However a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, even if elderly. Anyway, I have to live up to my grandfather, who cracked a vertebrae falling out of an apple tree he was pruning at age 86. (My grandmother was so mad she sold his ladder before he got home from the hospital.)
Therefore, due to Fraudulent Biden, I’ve been doddering about up on ladders and atop the peak of the roof, with chimney sweep brushes and heavy sections of stove pipe, making sure my flues are safe. I never even once fell and cracked a vertebrae, so I guess you could say I got away with it, this year. So far we have saved quite a bit of money, by burning wood. FJB
However this has gotten me interested in the creosote I collect when I clean the flues. I say collect, because I do not throw it away, which I suppose more normal people would do. Instead I find myself remembering Benjamin Franklin, and see the creosote as unburnt smoke, which should have been burned and should have heated the home. Could it not be used as fuel?
Besides reminding me of Benjamin Franklin, the creosote I collected also reminded me of a Mark-Twain-like humorist who wrote very popular cartoons for newspapers until just before I was born. Named E G Webster, on Thursdays he often wrote cartoons which seemed to apply to my interest in creosote.
Now my wife and I tend to vary, in terms of what we think is important, but we agree a warm stove is a nice thing to have in cold weather. However the ashes it produces, plus the spiders, centipedes and pill bugs that come in with the wood, do not fit my wife’s idea of a cozy hearth. In fact, back when propane was affordable, I thought she’d be glad to be done with the wood stoves altogether. To my surprise she didn’t like warm floor registers as much as warm stoves, so we didn’t quit wood altogether. But she does like the area around the stove kept clean, while I tend to turn it into a Ben Franklin laboratory. Not that I have any test tubes, but I do have ongoing experiments.
One experiment involves avoiding creosote building up in the stove pipe or chimney, (so I don’t have to dodder about on the peak of a roof at my advanced age). To achieve this aim it is best to have a blazing fire. However Nature conspires against this aim, by driving rain or snow into sheltered woodpiles, whereupon even dry wood behaves like a sponge, and becomes sodden stuff difficult to light, and very liable to just sit and smolder, producing lots of smoke but little heat or fire, and clogging your chimney with its smoke.
My way of avoiding a smoldering fire, and achieving a hot fire, largely involves bringing the firewood inside and heaping it high by the stove, so that it dries out before it goes into the stove. But I don’t always keep up with this task, and sometimes must bring in wet, snow-covered wood from the porch, and put it right into the fire, in which case the fire needs some help. The help tends to be stashes of various sorts of kindling which produce a brief blaze beneath the wet logs, which I hope gets the sodden wood to quit smoldering and start blazing. Birch bark is best, (but if you have used up every scrap of kindling you have, corn chips are a good, greasy emergency-substitute).
I take this job seriously, and have been at it for over thirty years, so you’d think I’d have it down and there would never be problems, but often my wife thinks other things are more important than stacking wood by a wood stove, or collections of twigs and birch bark or splinters of firewood. For example, a wedding, or funeral, or sick mother with two sick children. Or countless other things. In any case with attention diverted both fires dwindle down to embers, and the heat in the house drops down dangerously close to 49 degrees, whereupon the propane heat kicks on and we must pay through the nose. For another example, we come home late and just want to go to bed, and I throw wood on the fires but don’t shut down the draft enough, and by morning the fire has only a few coals left.
I have managed to keep the fires going , because I like to be able to tell people, “We’ve only had one fire this winter. We lit it in October.”
However there have been times when the wood is wet and the embers are few and I have only a little birch bark, when the fires definitely haven’t leapt to life, but have smoldered. It was when faced with such situations that I began to play around with creosote as kindling.
I had it in pails and paper sacks, and basically divided into two sorts. The first was from the stove pipe above hotter fires, and was thin flakes of gray.
And the second was much blacker, and from a stove closed down much as weather warmed in the spring, from fires that smoldered a lot:
As I began experimenting I was somewhat surprised my wife didn’t criticize all the bags of black and brown crud around her hearth, but actually demonstrated a keen interest, by asking the exact question I was asking: “Won’t that stuff just evaporate, go up to the chimney, condense, and block it all over again?” I could only answer, “I intend to find out.”
I then found out creosote is pretty wonderful stuff. For one thing, it burns without producing ashes. I guess it is like candle wax. The grey stuff hardly burned, and simply turned to red coals that shrank until they vanished, but seemed to put out more heat than wood coals did. However the blacker stuff was amazing. Likely because it was created by cooler fires, is seemed to possess more “volatiles”, and blazed like crazy for a while before becoming red coals that shrank to nothing without producing ash.
The trick seemed to be to gather together a little bed of wood coals, and then just put a crumb of the black creosote on top. It would melt, start to bubble, and then leap into flame, and then you could add more crumbs. The fire you then created had uncanny ability to dry sodden wood and turn a smoldering fire into a blazing one. I surmise creosote burns hotter than wood does, perhaps even nearing the heat of a coal fire. If I put a big chunk in, the size of the one in the picture above, the fire became wonderfully hot wonderfully fast. This is important to me, first thing in the morning, because then my primary interest is in sipping coffee, and not fussing with fires.
A problem then arose. The fires I was creating were so wonderfully hot I would never again clot a chimney so badly, and would never again create such wonderful creosote. I should treasure my limited supply. Therefore I kept my black creosote in a special bucket, and had the inferior grey stuff in a bag, among other collections of different grades of inferior sorts of kindling and bark. The area around the stove grew a bit cluttered, but I was defeating the drabness of January with the enlightenment of Ben Franklin, whereupon H.T. Webster struck again:
My wife swept in and tidied up. All my various samples of creosote got dumped into single bucket, and all the carefully sorted types of kindling got shoved into the woodpile with the drying firewood.
Two thoughts crossed my mind.
The first was, “Benjamin Franklin never had to deal with this crap!”
I think that, when people first start to pay attention to sea-ice, they tend to be shocked by the amazing amount of melting that occurs every summer. I know I was. Initially it dismayed me, for it seemed to fit into the narrative of man-caused Global Warming, but then I looked deeper, and studied history, and became aware such melting occurred every summer, as far back as records go. For example, back in the early Cold War records of military outposts out on the sea-ice, (in places like Fletcher’s Ice Island), there are requisitions for hip-waders, because the slush got so deep in July. In any case, my alarm turned to wonder.
My wonder increased when I became aware of a fascinating factoid. The North Pole actually receives more heat on a given day than the equator, during the height of summer. This seemed impossible, and it was difficult for me to get my mind around the idea, for the sun at noon on the equator is so hot that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out into it. Meanwhile at noon at the Pole the sun (at the equanox) is only at 23.5 degrees, and beats down with nowhere near the intensity.
However, that is only at noon. At a location in an equatorial time zone where the sun rises at 6:00, by 4:45 in the afternoon it has sunk to 22.5 degrees, and is actually lower than the polar sun, and at 6:00 it is setting, and abruptly not shining at all. The next morning it rises at 6:00, but is lower than the polar sun until 7:30. Meanwhile the polar run rolls around and around the horizon, neither rising nor setting (visibly), but simply shining from 23.5 degrees constantly. What this means is that the equatorial sun only outshines the polar sun nine hours a day, and the other fifteen hours the polar sun dominates the scorecard. In essence it is like the race between the tortoise and the hare. The equator races ahead for a while, but the plodding Pole wins the race.
I found an interesting chart which shows how powerful the Polar sun gets in terms of Watts per square meter per day. The first chart shows that by around May 12 the Pole is matching the equator, with both areas receiving around 412 w/m2.
By June 2 the Pole has increased to over 500 w/m2, while the equator has actually decreased slightly (due to the sun drifting north towards the Tropic of Cancer.)
By the equinox the Pole is receiving 550 w/m2 a day while the Equator dips below 400 w/m2, at which point we should ask ourselves, “Why aren’t palm trees growing at the Pole?”
Or at least we should ask, “Why doesn’t the sea-ice melt completely?”
The answer is that it very nearly does. When we look at the “volume” graph it swiftly becomes apparent that a colossal amount, roughly 20,000 km3, melts every year, leaving barely 5,000 km3. I’d like to see a calculation involving how much heat is used up simply moving all that water through the phase change from solid to liquid, changing available energy into potential energy, without changing the actual temperature a single degree. A fabulous amount of heat must be sucked up. Of course, all that heat is released when the phase change goes the other way in the autumn, and roughly 20,000 km3 of sea-ice is recreated. But that is what is so fabulous and wonderful about the yearly undulations.
The downward blips in this year’s line in the above graph occur because some goodly surges of thicker-than-usual sea-ice have been expelled down through Fram Strait, especially compared to last year. (In fact some of the ice was thicker precisely because it was held back last year.) This will effect the Atlantic to the south, which I may wonder about later in this post, but the focus of this current wondering is the enormity of the melting that goes on up there every summer.
Back when I was first learning about sea-ice I liked to peruse old aerial photos of the polar ice. I noted some showed meltwater pools that formed wandering channels on their way to some weakness in the sea-ice, where the water vanished down through a crack or a hole. At times these channels would approach a hole in the sea-ice from all sides, creating a look like a spiderweb, except spiderwebs don’t usually have so many branches, nor do webs get smaller and finer, away from the center of the web. I also noted that as soon as the sea-ice began to crack up these ice-geological formations ceased to be, and even meltwater pools found it harder to grow to a significant size. I was not particularly political; I was merely observing.
In those days there were wonderful cameras drifting about the Arctic Sea, sending us pictures via satellite. In 2013 the “North Pole Camera” witnessed the formation of a particularly splendid meltwater pool. Here is a time lapse of that pool’s creation:
The media got wind of the pool and dubbed it “Lake North Pole” and suggested it was alarming, leading to sensationalist posts on websites such as “Treehugger”. Here is a post from that time from their archive, (although it lacks a little of its authenticity because they “updated” it in 2021.)
At the time I commented at the “Treehugger” site what I had observed from aerial photos, stating the sea-ice was particularly thick at the “Lake North Pole” location, or else the water would have drained down through a hole or a crack, and adding such drainage likely would soon happen. To my astonishment my comment was deleted. It was not rude or scornful at all, but I suppose my observations did oppose the idea the meltwater pool was especially alarming. I felt a little sad about being excluded from an interesting discussion, but there were other websites where discussion was allowed, so I abandoned “Treehugger.” Also, I had started an obscure website of my own, and could post observations (even silly ones) to my heart’s content there.
Shortly thereafter a crack or hole did form, and Lake North Pole vanished in a twinkling. Furthermore, the NorthPole Camera showed the buoy draped in a fresh fall of snow. The media lost interest with amazing speed, but I noted my observations, and got quite a surprise. My obscure website, which seldom got more than 20 views, abruptly got 300 in a few hours. Here is the post where it happened, and I haven’t “updated” it, so it retains authenticity.
Considering my writing had brought me nothing but rejection slips for a half century, perhaps it is understandable that I was swayed by the attention I received. But it is also a little embarrassing, looking back, especially because I was not an authority. I was merely an observer, and wondered about what I was witnessing, and while I had been right about Lake North Pole vanishing some of my other conclusions were dead wrong, and I to admit it, which is never much fun (unless you are among especially good-hearted people.)
A lot of good discussion occurred, and I met good people who corrected me and who also shared wonderful observations of their own, but, sadly, there were also people who could never confess their conclusions were dead wrong. “Winning” the debate was more important to them than seeing the Truth. I think “winning” became overriding because “winning” brought money, fame, and power among a particularly repulsive bunch, now disparaged as “The Swamp”. In my view the “winners” sold their souls to the devil, and lost their grip on Truth, which is beauty and power and all we need.
In any case, a decade has now past, and now if you type “Lake North Pole Vanishes” into the “Bing” search engine you will see it is I who have vanished. In the “google” search engine “Lake North Pole Vanishes” still allows my old post to come up as around the eighth link, but if you search “Lake North Pole” I am nowhere to be found, even ten to twenty pages in. “Arctic Sea-ice” will not find me either, which is ironic, because initially I put “Arctic Sea-Ice” as a heading to all my sea-ice posts because it originally tended to raise my standing on search engines.
This is sad, for being shadow banned in this manner gets in the way of having discussions with non-political people who simply want to share observations, and to wonder. Now it seems hard to find that sort of innocent discussion. And at times all current wondering seems to be about political ploys, rather than about the sea-ice at all. But there is a good side to being shadow banned as well.
The good side? I suppose it is that I was originally drawn to sea-ice for reasons that had little to do with drawing attention to myself. The focus was upon sea-ice, not me. But once you become infatuated with “clicks” you unconsciously gravitate towards drawing attention to yourself, hogging the spotlight, and tap dancing across the sea-ice with a top hat and cane. Shame on me! I confess. I did it, and what’s more, at times it was jolly good fun!
Other times? Well, preening in a mirror gets boring. Therefore, it was good that I was “marginalized” and “shadow banned”, because it got me away from those who encouraged me to make a spectacle of myself. And this allowed me to again focus on sea-ice, and furthermore to realize that sea-ice was never actually my primary focus.
Actually, my initial focus was Greenland Vikings, but when I thought about it, I realized that too was but a side-focus, part of a greater focus on sea-faring men of all sorts, which also was a side-focus on a greater focus on adventure in general, which in turn was a side focus on….Hey! What is my focus, anyhow?
This led to an interesting period of reflection, which reminded me a little of being small and being asked what I wanted to “be” when I grew up. I always felt a little awkward, for it felt a little like a trap. If I answered honestly to the grown-ups, (which I seldom dared do), I likely would have responded, “I want to be free.”
In a sense it is like the Cole Porter song Will Rogers liked to sing, “Don’t Fence Me In.” Only rather than riding across the open range, I am riding across the world of thought. Sea-ice is but one topic of many. If I got stuck on sea-ice I would be like a bee stuck in one flower, (perhaps a pitcher plant or Venus-flytrap).
I lack the discipline it takes to be a true authority. Even in the realm of sea-ice it seems that there are specific areas and fields of study, so that one person may be an authority on icebergs and another on the algae that grows on the underside of ice. Scientific authorities are specialists who have amazing focus and discipline and attend to meticulous details, and I simply can’t match them. I haven’t the time for that. I’d rather pick their brains like thieves pick pockets, and then go hopping off like a happy-go-lucky Brer Rabbit with the cream of their ideas, the culmination of all their hard work, as a bit of trivia to add to my vast store.
When I think hard about it, I am not a true scientist, though I love Truth. I bounce about from topic to topic too much, (as this post is doing). Thus, what I know is factual, but not deeply researched. It is disparaged as mere factoids, and trivia, and I agree it is factoids and trivia, but feel it has value. Perhaps I’m not a scientist, but, to coin a word, I am a “triviaist” (as opposed to trivialist), and to be a triviaist is not a trivial thing.
How so? Well, if you know a little about a lot of topics you may not have the depth of knowledge a scientist has in his specific cubicle, but you can spot when that same scientist is straying outside his cubical into “an area outside of his expertise.” Why? Because your casual knowledge of Greenland Vikings and the Medieval Warm Period torpedoes some statement he makes about “modern warming being unprecedented.” Or perhaps your knowledge of tree rings, because you have actually cut down trees and counted the rings and have seen which are widely spaced and which are not, discounts some claim they make about a particular tree proving the “hockey stick graph” is accurate.
As an aside I should mention that, years ago, I was not paid to count tree rings. I was paid to cut trees. In fact, the boss back then was likely annoyed I was wasting time counting rings, but didn’t fire me because I worked hard otherwise, and a boss has to put up with a certain amount of weirdness in his employees. But a triviaist has that weirdness. He gets off track, and counts rings when he’s supposed to be cutting wood.
As a further aside I’ll state some do not like people who don’t stay on track, as if people were trains. If you “can’t look at hobbles and can’t stand fences” they describe you as being “off the rails”. They love regulation and dislike liberty, which means they miss what a triviaist has to offer, for a triviaist demands the freedom to be fascinated by whatever fascinates, even if is tree rings when he is supposed to be cutting wood.
I don’t doubt a triviaist is a royal pain when young, if you are a boss and trying to train him, but if that same triviaist has managed to survive fifty years the sheer bulk of the trivia in his brain starts to have unforeseen benefits. Let me give an example.
As my mind jumps from topic to topic it can arrive at places that truly seem “off the rails”. For example, a casual study of a battle in America’s Revolutionary War focused on the essential aid given by a certain general from Poland, which made me curious about the general, which made me curious about Poland, which made me curious about why the rest of Europe wanted to wipe Poland off the map, which made me curious about democratic societies which monarchies didn’t like which were favorable to liberty in eastern Europe, in the general area of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, back into the mists of history. So now, if I meet a person from Poland (or Ukraine) they are amazed I in some ways know more about heroes of their land than they do, due to all the trivia I’ve collected.
What has this to do with sea-ice? Well, the last good pictures we got from the arctic sea (not including MosaIc Expedition pictures) were from the final Barneo blue-ice jetport, which was a Russian base served by Ukrainian jets. One became aware the man masterminding the unique Barneo experience had to walk a razor’s edge of diplomacy, concerning certain frictions between Russia and Ukraine, and that his death would leave a void it was unlikely could be filled. So maybe my trivia included knowledge of impending trouble, which an on-track person would not have seen coming.
Not that I’m a prophet. I am no better at forecasting humans than I am at the weather, which is not very good, (though better than some.)
What I think a triviaist does, in following his mind hither and yon “off the rails” is actually in a way “on track”, albeit a sidetrack. The various subjects are usually related, though often to onlookers they seem so dimly related the leaps of logic cannot be followed. But the triviaist is following something. I often wonder what prompted me to veer far from my intended subject, but there can be no denying the prompting is there. Call it a psychological problem, such as avoidance, or pretty-it-up by calling it “intuition”, the triviaist sees more broadly than a specialist.
So, personally, in my younger day I was not a master of any particular skill, but rather a Jack-of-all-trades. If you wanted a job done expertly you would hire an expensive plumber, but if your pipe was leaking and you couldn’t afford a plumber you might hire me. (I could handle the easy jobs, and also could say when you needed a real plumber.) (But if I really needed the money, I would do jobs I didn’t know how to do, learning as I progressed, which lead to some hair-raising problems I always seemed to find the answers to, sometimes at the last second and by the skin of my teeth, sometimes due to asking for help from experts, both worldly and Divine.)
I suppose a triviaist is what is described as being: “A Jack of all trades and master of none.” It involves humbling shoes to walk in, for most everywhere you look you see people superior, but the ego can cling to one bit of pride. One has more “general knowledge”. Then one asks, “What good is general knowledge?”
Rather than predict the future, what a triviaist gains through “general knowledge” is to see the Now. One sees the present tense in a far broader way than a specialist can. A specialist tends towards myopia and must struggle against being prone to being one-sided, while a triviaist can see from many angles because that happens to be what he or she likes to do. This is helpful, when it comes to seeing the Now, because the Now has an enormity which cannot be comprehended from any one chair. Despite all the scorn “committees” get (and sometimes earn) the real purpose of a “committee” is to look at an issue or problem from more than one angle, and to broaden the view. For this same reason kings had advisors.
There is very little prediction and prophecy involved. The simple fact of the matter is that the solution to a problem first involves taking a hard look at what the problem is, in the present tense. The future will take care of itself; first you must see the problem in the Now.
The problem with the Global Warming mind-set is that it is so pretentious, assuming it possesses prophetic powers, that it fails to see the Now. In essence it tramples all over the present tense, flailing at a future when it cannot see the Now.
I don’t much care about anything else but the Now. The future tends to be worry. What good is worry? The Now is enough for me, as it usually gives me a boot in the butt and determines what I do next. If my triviaist tendencies have me studying Poland when I should be making money, a threatening letter from a bill-collector is the Now, and the trivia that interests me next is my next way of paying the bills, whether it be to focus on hard work, or studying the value of my coin collection before selling it. The future takes care of itself when you attend to the Now.
Despite all evidence Global Warming is not a dire threat, the Global Warming mindset has gotten so completely out of hand that its illogic itself has become the Now. How so? Because its believers are doubling the cost of oil, and fueling horrific inflation which is crippling the fixed income of elders and reducing the life’s savings of younger people.
Today I saw a poll which indicated that a majority of ordinary people felt that the believers in Global Warming fully intended that all the hardships (which ordinary people are now suffering) to occur. It was no accident. The people of the so-called “Swamp” fully intended to inflict suffering. It was their solution to a problem which they, as prophets, could foresee. Ordinary people lack their prophetic powers, and their ability to control the weather and heal all viruses. They, as gods, must not be bothered by the observations of mere ordinary people.
What amazing arrogance! What audacious gall, to suggest you control the weather and control disease! They don’t. All they are doing is hurting the backbone of society, the salt of the earth. They are sawing off the branch they are seated on, expecting a couple of doves at the end of the branch to hold the branch up when they are done. They are in for a crash, cruising for a bruising.
I honestly feel that the worst of these arrogant people never really believed Global Warming was a threat. It was just a tool they used to scare people into compliance. Now they are somewhat relieved, for they no longer have to pretend sea-ice matters. They increasingly are showing their true colors. Sea-ice never did matter to them. When they acted interested, it was pure pretense. Their real interest was power. Not Truth.
As a triviaist I could offer them historical examples of what happens to people who put power above Truth, but, considering they couldn’t hear simple Truth about sea-ice, I doubt they can hear Truth now that they are going for broke. I could tell them that when they go for broke they will end up broke and broken, but they won’t listen, so now the main aim is to avoid going down in flames to a smoking ruin with them.
Earlier I stated that, while I am not an expert, a triviaist has an ability to see when an expert is “outside his area of expertise.” In like manner, while confessing I am not a prophet (and am certainly not a god), I have an ability to see that, when a politician becomes so drunk with power that he deems himself a prophet and a god, and when he will bully anyone who dares suggest otherwise, he is “outside his area of expertise.” He has no idea of the powers he is messing with, like a little child playing with a hand grenade.
The frustrating thing is that I am in no position to dole out what the bozos deserve. I am an unwilling pacifist. I am not made spiritual because of this scripture:
“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”
Rather I am made spiritual because the truth is I can’t do a damn thing about lunatics in Washington but cast a single vote, and they can negate my vote with evil fraud.
Therefore, as a triviaist, I just go to what next fascinates me. Currently growing food interests me more than sea-ice, (because I don’t want to starve), and most of my posts this summer will be about dirt rather than the North Pole.
Sadly, there are not even the cameras on buoys up there, which once gave me great relief when a heat wave was hitting me “down south.” I can no longer leave a sweaty garden and bask in views of cool sea-ice. However, true to my triviaist nature, I’ll likely annoy my boss (myself) by not weeding the garden on occasion, and instead wandering off to look at the sea-ice situation, even if it only involves graphs.
While there is no excuse for skipping work, I could attempt to justify my behavior by stating I was looking for hints next winter might be going to be especially cold. (Not that knowing would do me much good.)
And indeed, there are some “concerning” examples of cooling, the greatest of which is the fact the cold La Nina won’t quit, and in fact is stronger than it was on its first year. It is interesting to compare September 2020 (end of first year) with now, (start of third). (The maps I use are anomaly maps, and red does not indicate warm but rather above-normal. Blue does not indicate cold but below-normal. IE: They blue water at the equator is warmer than the red water at the Pole.) But here is September 2020:
And here is now:
Likely it is unfair to compare September one year with June on another, for they are at opposite ends of the melt-season. Therefore ignore the brick red arctic in 2020 compared with the white sea-ice of 2022.
But the equator is different, and knows no summer and winter, and I find it interesting that in 2020 the La Nina was mostly south of the equator, but in 2022 the cold has crept up to the coast of California.
Also notice that the waters south of Greenland, which were a hot spot in 2020, are now below normal. Very Interesting. I wonder if all the sea-ice jettisoned through Fram Strait (and to a lesser degree through Nares Strait on the other side of Greenland), may be cooling the Gulf Stream, which could cool Europe eventually.
Back before shadow-banning I had a wonderful on-line talk with an alert individual who awoke me to the idea that a “freshwater-lens” might not be a phenomenon restricted to the arctic but might also include waters around sea-ice ejected into the Atlantic. After all, while sea-ice is flat bergs seldom thicker than ten feet, glaciers calve amazing icebergs as huge as a mile long and a hundred feet tall, (which means they have keels nine hundred feet deep.) Sailors say that as you even near such massive bergs the air gets colder. So too the water must get colder. And the phenomenon of cold fresh water on top of warmer saline water could occur well south of the arctic.
Such a discussion would involve the Now, and have value because a chilled Gulf Stream may influence the productivity of European farms. Then informed farmers might alter what they planted, in order to be more productive with cold weather crops. (A huge discharge of sea-ice in 1817 may have caused “The Year With No Summer” in Europe, and the consequential famines.) But having such discussions would be problematic if the topic countered “Global Warming”.
Rather than bicker with Alarmists and cancel-culture, I’d rather just move on to a different topic: The “extent” and “volume” graphs. They disagree with each other, for “extent” shows sudden loss, as “volume” shows a complete cessation of loss. How is this possible? Before I explain, check out the two graphs. Here is the “extent” graph showing a drop from nearly “normal” levels to what has been more “normal” in recent years. (red line).
And here is the “Volume” graph for the same time, showing that the volume, which had been dropping, now refuses to drop even a bit. (black line)
This seeming contradiction is explained by the fact “extent” is not the same as “area” or “volume”. IE: A patch of sea which is 85% open water and 15% sea-ice may only be 15% covered, in terms of “area”, but it is 100% covered in terms of “extent”. However, should that same area be swept free of ice “area” only loses 15% while “extent” loses 100%. Meanwhile the place where all the ice is swept-to becomes crowded and perhaps is 90% ice, which increases “area” in that spot to 90%, even as that spot, in terms of “extent”, was100% ice-covered before, and remains 100% despite the increase of crowding. Lastly, if the winds are cold and the water is cold, not one bit of the ice may have melted, which means the “volume” stays the same despite the ways the other numbers change.
Coming up with these numbers is very difficult, and I pity the scientists stuck with the drudgery of such toil. They likely suffer eyestrain, scrutinizing satellite photos, and they make me glad I am a triviaist and can just pickpocket their work and skip away avoiding the work they do.
But what is especially fun is to become a lurker, and haunt the periphery of an Alarmist website where people are totally sold on the dogma of Global Warming, and watch how deeply concerned they are by any indication the sea-ice is not melting away at an unprecedented rate. They were especially upset when the “extent” graph touched “normal levels” briefly, but wildly enthusiastic when it soon plunged. Then one of their members noticed the “volume” graph didn’t drop, and innocently wondered if maybe they were just seeing how a fortnight of north winds spread sea-ice south in Barents Sea, and then a following fortnight’s south wind compressed the sea-ice north again. I cringed, for I knew what was coming. It is why I lurk and never comment on such sites. The innocent fellow got pummeled as a “denier”. But all he had done was see the Now.
I prefer the community of gardeners, for you are not accused of being a “denier” nearly so much. True, you can run into politics if you praise chemical fertilizer and pesticides, but largely you are among people who are desperately trying to keep their plants alive midst an onslaught of bad weather and bugs, and everyone is equal. It is so refreshing, after being called a “denier” for simply telling the truth.
The truth is that there is a slight chill in the air. It appears in the temperatures at the Pole, which, after the last spike of warm Atlantic air surged up that way last winter, have spent more time below normal than I remember ever seeing.
I don’t claim to know what this means. I just collect trivia. And a lot of trivia is not as warm as it was. The UAH temperatures for the planet dropped nearly a tenth of a degree in May, to .17 above recent normals, from .26 above in April.
Chances are that graph will drop further in June, if certain climate models are correct. Usually, such models are inclined to exaggerate warming, but check this model’s forecast out for June:
I selfishly like how this model shows New Hampshire as slightly above normal, for that bodes well for warmth-loving crops in my garden like corn, squash, beans, tomatoes and peppers, but it unnerves me slightly to see such a swath of the tropics a little cooler than normal. This model is usually as warmth-loving as my beans. What is it seeing? Especially southeast of South America. That big blue blotch is (I assume) an obvious model mistake, but the model must have been seeing something to make such a mistake, especially as it is usually mistaken in a warmer direction.
Chill in the tropics unnerves me because things there are usually so stable. The Pole gets six-month days and six-month nights, but the tropics get twelve hour days all the time. My neck of the woods gets wild swings in temperature due to warm fronts and cold fronts, but such fronts are washed out if they can even reach the periphery of the tropics. The tropics have no wild swings in temperature, and therefore it is disconcerting when Joe Bastardi, on his blog at the Weatherbell site, puzzles over the chill forecast over Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.
Mr. Bastardi noticed a similar chill over tropical Africa quite accidentally. He was merely investigating media reports of a heatwave on the north coast of Africa. The north coast was bright red on the anomaly map, but the tropical guts of the continent was blue and even green, on the anomaly maps.
To be looking at Africa in a post about Arctic Sea-ice may seem off track, but that is how a triviaist mind works. It knows the Now knows no boundaries, and that there may be some correlation between the equator and the Pole.
In any case I wish my friend Robert Felix hadn’t died due to an adverse reaction to the covid vaccine, and his “Ice Age Now” site hadn’t been effectively “disappeared” from the web. His site was a treasure trove of information about where on the globe it was cooling, which the media does not report.
In the current case some unexpected cooling is appearing, and I sure wish we could talk about it like sane people, witnessing the Now and deciding what would be best to do. The fact the mention of any cooling has become a politically incorrect subject (which some of the cancel culture are appalled by) strikes me as absurd. It is what it is. I note it and move on.
The news tends to aggravate me so much I’ve decided it is bad for my health.
One conspiracy theory I toy with is that politicians and the media are attempting to drive healthy people insane by being utterly idiotic and then pretending it isn’t idiotic to be idiotic, but rather it is idiotic to call idiocy what it is: Idiotic. If this is their sinister plot, it is succeeding. But I counter them with a counter-attack. I ignore them.
Or…well…I don’t utterly ignore them. For example, when Fraudulent Biden’s idiotic energy policies threaten to put the price of home heating through the roof, I figure I should find a different way to heat my home. Either that, or start knitting like crazy and muff myself in yarn.
It actually isn’t that hard to find an alternative to taxable energy, for I live in an area with lots of trees. It also isn’t that hard for me to burn wood, for I’ve done it all my life. I don’t need to buy a wood stove for I already have four. If you search my website for something I wrote back on August 7, 2013 called “Firewood”, you’ll see even back then, I was a veteran.
I could write a book about the advantages of burning free, local wood, compared to using fossil fuels and enriching others.
Also, another conspiracy theory I toy with is that the idiots in control want to get rid of old people, because old people are not idiotic enough. They want to get rid of them by freezing them to death. Old folk like me can’t withstand the cold like we did when young and hot-blooded, and the majority of old folk do not die in the summer, due to Global Warming, but in the winter because their fixed-incomes can’t pay for inflated food costs, and also inflated heating costs.
The politicians promised, decades ago, that we were taxed in various ways because we were too irresponsible to save up on our own, and they were going help us by saving for us, so that when we were old and gray we’d be taken care of. Now politicians are annoyed, for too many of us have become old and gray, and too many quite understandably expect to be cared for. However the politicians blew the money they collected years ago. How? Basically by buying votes, often from refugees who never paid a penny into the supposed “savings for old age.” So now there are no savings, but there are a lot of good and honest old people who have every right to expect to be cared for, at least in a rudimentary manner. Yet some idiotic politicians are annoyed by the elder’s request that politicians fulfill their vows. In the case of the frailest old-timers, the cost of fulfilling vows is over $100,000.00 a year. If the politicians had kept their hands off the money, it would be there. But they didn’t, and to the worst of these unscrupulous politicians the evil idea occurs that, If you just bump off ten “useless old individuals”, you have “saved” a million dollars. And, if you intentionally introduce coronavirus into homes for the elderly, (like a number of governors did), you can have ten thousand die, and “save” a billion.
In actual fact you have lost much that money can’t buy. You have lost people who have decades of experience, and are not idiots. But some only value idiocy. Such people are the lunatics who are currently running the asylum.
Fortunately (for me) after being burned when young I never trusted the government, or any employer. I was not attracted to the idea that in some imaginary future the people who took my money would give it back. My sad experience was that people are selfish, and even when they mean well they tend to forget to pay-back. Even in the break-rooms of ordinary workplaces, where an honor-system asked folk to pay for the coffee they drank, people tended to only put a quarter in the coffee-can for every dollar they drank. (Oh sure, they might grandly put a five in at some point, but the memory of that five strangely blinded them to the following sixty days when they put in nothing).
Me? I’m (occasionally) not like the others, and am amazingly generous, (especially when it comes to rotton poetry), but many times in my life, after being generous, I have found myself unrewarded, sleeping in my car, cold, and hungry. This does tend to focus the mind wondrously on basic needs.
One need which privileged people with dark skins don’t know about, because God blessed them with warm homelands, is the curse poor, disadvantaged white people know, called “Winter”. It can kill you in an hour, easily. Therefore warmth is one of those basic needs the mind focuses wondrously upon. You cannot wait for a government check. You need to be warm right away, right now.
Years ago I faced this basic failure of others to tend to my needs. As a father of five, with a wife depending on me, and cold weather coming on, I turned to the government for help, and it did its best, which was a comical failure. (This is a funny story, hopefully for some future post.) So then I realized: It was up to me.
It’s amazing what you can do when you have to. I scavenged firewood like crazy, and learned a truism: You are likely to get more heat cutting wood for eight hours than you will get spending eight hours in the waiting rooms of bureaucrats.
And thirty years later, this is what I fall back on. The bureaucrats have basically gone berserk, and I doubt very much they care a hoot for old fossils like me, (no matter what they palaver), so it seems the best strategy I can enact, as winter approaches, is to gather wood.
One nice thing about firewood, in New Hampshire, is that it is basically free. It is all over the place. All you pay is your own effort. Of course, this involves a good work-out, but you would pay to have a good work-out at a gym, but this work-out doesn’t charge you. It actually pays you with free home-heating, and also warms you on cold days even before you start the fire.
Besides woodstoves, my home does have a propane heater. However it broke down in 1992 and I never could afford to replace it (with a far more efficient furnace) until around 2012. So what does that show? It shows that for twenty years I did not pay utility companies for heat in the winter. I did not support “Big Oil”. I did not support “Arab Emirates”. No politics were involved; no young American men had to die in a foreign land to heat my home. All I needed to do was cut wood.
Years later, this is what I fall back on. Furthermore, I have an advantage I didn’t have thirty years ago: The local folk know I will not mind if they skip the bother of hauling logs far away, and instead just dump them at the edge of my yard. This would seldom have happened thirty years ago, but logs are not as valuable as they once were. I assume it is because many have shifted from wood stoves to “pellet” stoves.
Personally, I am not certain it is worth it to reduce logs to pellets before you burn them. I would like to see a scientific comparison: How much does it cost to split a log into firewood, compared to how much it costs to reduce a log to pellets, and then, how much heat do you get from firewood, compared to how much heat you get from pellets. Maybe pellets are more efficient? I don’t know. It seems to me most burn pellets because it allows them more free time than splitting and lugging firewood allows. For them it is a good deal, but a cost-analysis might show they are paying more.
Me? I can’t afford to replace my four wood-stoves with pellet stoves, and therefore I’m an anachronism, because pellets do not matter to me. Staying warm matters. I need wood! And therefore I do my own sort of cost analysis, in terms of the exercise I get, and the time I get to spend outside, and the thinking splitting wood seems to stimulate, and (to me) burning wood and not pellets seems the better deal.
Recently my next-door neighbor had to to cut down a cherry tree because it threatened electric lines, and, rather than paying someone to haul wood elsewhere, he assumed I would be grateful to get the wood for free. I walked out one morning to find the logs neatly stacked close to where the the cherry tree had grown, which happens to be where I split my wood.
I was immediately grateful, and it wasn’t merely because the wood was free. It was because the wood was cherry, and as I looked at the reddish wood I immediately began to hear the voices of old Yankees echoing in the lanes of my memory. Not that I was actually hearing voices, like a madman, but those old-timers really knew a lot about wood, and they liked to compare notes as they worked.
Back when I was young there were far fewer power tools, and something about hand tools seemed to make men more intimate with boards, and with the various sorts of logs and lumber, and the differences between “green” wood and “seasoned” wood, and “clean grained” wood and “knotty” wood, and “live knots” versus “dead knots” versus wood that was “burled”. They could go on at great length about what many now only have a four-letter-word for, “wood”.
Not that I appreciated their knowledge. Men always seem able to bore the uninterested by going on ad infinitum about car-parts or computer-programs or whatever it is that they work with, and when young I was often uninterested. In fact I think I only became interested by watching, rather than listening. Something about the way an old-time-carpenter would examine several boards before choosing the one he wanted made me curious. What was he seeing? What was he looking for? Then the way the wood seemed to so easily peel away under his plane, when I had no such luck when using a plane, increased my curiosity.
Some old-timers looked too cross to question, but I initially was naïve and cheerful enough to pipe questions, and learned that, if I could withstand the initial grumpy torrent of abuse, wherein I heard my ignorance described in the most scornful and graphic terms, I sometimes learned those old-timers were quite glad to tell me what they knew about wood. In fact it could be difficult to get them to stop.
There were a couple of young men, Robert Bryant and Marshall Dodge, who, back in the 1960’s when I was young, blundered into making a good living simply by doing impressions of old New Englanders, playing the characters of “Bert and I.” As I recall one told the stories in a down-east Maine accent, and the other made the sound effects. They cut a humor-album, and what surprised them initially was that their album was a slight one-hit-wonder and they got nice royalty checks. What surprised them later was that the checks didn’t stop. Their popularity didn’t fade. So they made a total of four humor-albums, but people thirsted for more. Despite the fact they were relatively young and were not earning their living by working with their hands, their ability to imitate the way old geezers talk likely made old geezers wonder, “Why do they get all the glory, and not us?”
In any case, when young I liked “Bert and I”, and to some degree also liked old geezers. I wish I had listened more than I did, and had asked questions I didn’t, yet now that I myself am an old geezer I find my brains are the repository for an extraordinary amount of trivia I picked up along the way, and a lot has to do with firewood.
I also know the old-timers valued wood in a way we don’t, and there were forgotten rules about what you should use as lumber, an what was to be used as firewood. Those men likely roll over in their graves, seeing what we cut up for firewood or even grind up for pellets. They are likely appalled by every tree that falls in the woods and lays unused. The fact the ferocity of California forest fires is largely fueled by fallen trees and dead brush is something they could not imagine, for the forests of New England were well groomed when they were in charge, for they had a use for just about every fallen twig.
When you see video of California forest fires, does it ever seem odd to you that many in California are worried about an “energy crisis”? How much firewood do they waste, with their refusal to clean up their woods? If they cleaned up their woods, and used the deadwood to fuel a power plant (with scrubbers in its smokestacks), maybe they’d get energy, and we in the east wouldn’t have our skies dirtied and our sunlight dimmed by their stupid fires. However I am veering into the idiocy of the Elite. Let me get back on track.
Where was I? Oh yes, a pile of cherry wood neatly stacked on the edge of my property.
I recalled the voices of old-timers, and recalled one odd thing about cherry is that it is unlike other woods. Most wood, when green, has a certain spring and bounce to it, and it is easier to to split such logs as they dry out. Cherry is the opposite. Some process I do not comprehend causes cherry wood to bind and knit more firmly, the older it gets. For the old-timers, who used cherry to make beautiful furniture, this likely created rules for when to use “green” cherry and when to use “seasoned” cherry, but all I cared about was how to split the logs. Basically the rule is: “The sooner the better.” So, despite the heat of the summer, I attacked the wood. I’m glad I started early, for even green the wood can withstand a geezer’s first whack.
Another thing I recalled geezers saying about Cherry is that it burns “cool” compared to most hardwoods. Only Birch and Poplar burns “cooler”, (and Poplar is called “gopher wood” because it burns so quickly that even as you put it in the stove you need to “go for” more).
It seemed smart to first work on a wood that burns “cool”, because that is what you want, on the first frosty mornings of late September. You certainly don’t want a wood that burns “hot”, the king of which is Black Locust. Black Locust wood is so dense it is hard to light, but once going it is the opposite of Poplar. Poplar coals turn to ashes and go out in a twinkling of the eye, but a bed of Black Poplar coals burns all night. Therefore on a September morning a Black Locust fire would turn your stove into a furnace, as the morning chill became a memory, and it would cause unnecessary sweltering in the home by midmorning. Black locust, and oak, and even maple, should be reserved for sub-zero days in January. Cherry is for September and October.
A final thing I remembered from old-timers is that split cherry smells good, while other wood, and especially Red Oak, (which old-timers called piss-oak), does not smell as good. Therefore, if you want your wife happy you don’t want to stack “piss oak” in the box by the stove in her living room. You can argue all you want about how having the wood indoors will dry the wood and make a warmer living room; piss-oak is not what wives desire as an air freshener. But cherry? Cherry you can stack, and you don’t get in trouble. And so it is, before our first fire of the fall, the wood boxes of the stoves are stacked with sweet-smelling cherry. The wood is getting drier and drier, and the first fires will burn bright and clean without hissing.
Why do I tell you this? I suppose it is because it demonstrates a process wherein the knowledge of prior generations has a good effect on the present tense. I do this to fly in the face of so-called “cancel culture.” I do this because it is a big mistake to attempt to tear down statues and erase the past. It is a mistake because our elders may have been imperfect, but they knew a lot more than we do about a number of things, and if we insist upon ignoring them we are insisting upon being ignorant.
Santayana put it well, in this manner:
“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve, and no direction is set for possible improvement. And when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
As a poet, I have air-headed tendencies, which I have to rein in, in order to function in a responsible manner. I have to be down to earth, though earth can be a dreary place, and even be ungodly, when people assume being down-to-earth is all there is. It isn’t, which is why there is a need for poetry.
Dreary, down-to-earth, pragmatic people need to be reminded from time to time that there are such things as angels. We get plenty of reminders that we need to be more pragmatic. Life is good at that. Sometimes our less good attributes rise up as an evil so frightening we must descend to the crudity of war, where living is reduced to such a life-and-death level that lofty thoughts seem pointless, but even amidst crude violence people need to be reminded to think of God and his servants. (In fact, when it is least practical to muse of otherworldly things, people may be especially prone to do so.)
Evil people tend to curse the otherworldly, perhaps feeling it has failed them and therefore doesn’t exist, and that high thoughts are mere mush and slop, as childish as believing in Santa Claus, so they discount angels. Angels don’t vote, so politicians can ignore them, up and until it occurs to politicians that angels, even as a fairy tale, have power. Angels possess the power of poetry. While the word “poetry” is of little interest to perverted, power-mad money-grubbers, (beyond doggerel that might sell some cereal to rot children’s teeth with), the word “power” brings their Cadillac’s screeching to a stop. “What’s that? What’s that you say? Did you say ‘power’”? All of a sudden, politicians want to know about a world they basically believe is make-believe. However, because they don’t believe, they get it all wrong. They are like transvestites; no matter how perfectly they put on the make-up and pad their bodies and act the act, it is an act. It is make-believe and not the real thing.
What, then, it the real thing? Perhaps I should capitalize it: “the Real Thing.” Basically, it is what we are born for. However, when we come down to earth, something about being down-to-earth turns into thinking that being down-to-earth is the Real Thing. It isn’t.
I think everyone knows this on some level, but some are corrupted to a degree where, even when they believe in things beyond the down-to-earth, they somehow manage to corrupt the out-of-this-world with their perverted, power-mad money-grubbing. They don’t seek caring witch doctors who heal with kindly herbs, but prefer quacks given to hallucinogenic mushrooms and sexual stimulants; even back two-and-three-quarters millenniums ago the paranoid, power-mad King Saul sought out the Witch of Endor.
There is something creepy about the other-worldly souls one contacts via OUIGA boards, and people who get hooked by such seeking tend to become creeps. However it seems to be a phase some of us must pass through: Speaking only for myself, before I could believe in God I needed to first believe in ghosts; it was helpful to be persuaded such weirdness might exist, but also a big mistake. You shouldn’t believe in ghosts because ghosts lie. God, on the other hand, is Truth at Its purest and most beautiful.
Over the decades I’ve learned that in order to function in a responsible manner I need to make money, and I currently do so by running a Childcare. The youngest children are two or three years old, and give me ample opportunity to study the process of souls coming down to earth. The children really make me think. For example, if they are not fully down to earth yet, where are they?
To a certain degree they are still in heaven. This is especially true of children from happy homes, but even the unfortunate, traumatized children of drug-addicted parents are otherworldly. They are pleasantly mad, and optimistic, because they haven’t forgotten what we are born for. The Real Thing is still very real to them. Even if they have never heard the Lord’s Prayer, they seem to intuitively grasp the part about makings things “on earth, as they are in heaven.” This goal isn’t easy to achieve, which is why small children cry so much, but they haven’t forgotten the basic reason for being alive.
There are some who dislike the idea of anything so impractical as heaven invading our world. Many of these people do not see themselves as being the slightest bit ungodly. They see themselves as pragmatic. They believe they have common sense. And they furthermore believe children need to be whipped into shape. Children require some sort of indoctrination, some sort of brainwashing, to make them contribute to society in an acceptable manner, as cogs that fit “the machine”.
As a poet, I distain the entire concept of society as a machine, and people as cogs. In my view it is a disgusting idea from all angles, whether you are right wing or left wing. It degrades the value of individuals, who are beautiful in God’s eyes irrespective of what they “contribute”. One biblical hero was a thief being crucified on the cross next to Jesus. He contributed zilch to society, and in fact he stole. That was why society felt it was pragmatic to be rid of him. But was he banned from heaven? Apparently not, (but the fat bureaucrat who had the thief crucified may not have been so lucky).
In like manner a very small child contributes zilch to society, in the eyes of morons who can’t see how beautiful they are. They are small and cute thieves. They steal your heart. They make no sense economically until around age five, when they can be whipped into shape and do simple chores. Up until that point they are welfare recipients with an attitude of entitlement, or perhaps candidates for eugenics, or examples of overpopulation, or any number of other degrading ways of seeing small fellow men and women. I beg to differ. I hold a different view. A poetic view.
Not that I find it easy to live up to my own standards. This world has a pernicious way of forcing even idealists to be down-to-earth and pragmatic. I own a certain element of shame for even operating a Childcare. Sixty years ago, when I was young, a woman would have felt ashamed to have to work rather than to rule her household, whether she was wealthy and ruled a staff of servents, or poor and ruled a saucepan. For a mother to hand a child younger than six to another, for anything other than a brief period of baby-sitting, would have been a cause for deep, painful chagrin. So I am, in effect, profiteering off modern mother’s misfortune, a vulture on the carcass of happy homes. But I spread my palms. What can I do? It is the way things are.
(My wife and I have had talks with young mothers, distraught about leaving their wailing child in our care, where we have pointed out the young mother’s wages didn’t cover the cost of the Childcare, the car, the gasoline, the car insurance, and the spiffy clothing necessary for the job. We actually try to talk young mothers out of using our services. But the prospect of social isolation, home alone, is too daunting. The mother needs the job’s society more than she needs the paycheck.)
This world drags me down to such a degree that poetry feels impossible. I am like a little child, being whipped into shape. Left to my own devises, I slump into pragmatic functionality, and my heart feels squeezed. I need help from On High. It is time to pray fervently, or to do some zealous yoga.
Prayer and yoga is hard to do once pragmatism has a hold of you. Personally, I have never been very good at it. It never seems to make sense to get down on your knees and do nothing, or sit cross-legged and do nothing, when you should get off your butt and bust your butt. However, despair drives you to odd behavior. I confess I sometimes do confess my incapacity to God, and plead for help. Sometimes nothing seems to come of it. I then get up and hurry off to be pragmatic, but I always wonder if I should have persisted, and done nothing longer. And I must confess that, perhaps twice or thrice in my long life, my despair was so great I did persist, and then did seem to get visible help from On High.
But more often I persist in a different way, and the help from On High seems to be accidental. In such cases I persist at some physical activity past the norm. Perhaps this is why people climb Mount Everest. In pushing themselves past a certain limit they are like a person sitting cross legged doing Yoga past a certain limit. Walls in our minds, often walls we ourselves built with our own pragmatism, are peeked past, are peered over-the-tops-of, (even if they don’t actually fall down). And then we see as we usually don’t, (which we tend to call “a vision”.)
One such situation arose because as a teenager I was “the crew” of a 28-foot sailboat which had an engine that didn’t work and a self-sailor which sailed the boat in circles, and this required someone to sit and steer the tiller at all times. As the captain was busy elsewhere, holding the tiller was up to the “crew”, which was me.
To sit and hold a tiller may sound like a romantic and wonderful job, but we were on a haul around Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout and Cape Fear, and it took three days with the winds the way they were. The captain did give me some breaks, but most of the time I just sat and held a tiller. It got old. It got old halfway through the first day. The second day I was wracked by desires to go to MacDonald’s for a hamburger, to zone out watching a TV, to look at the weather maps in a New York Times, to do anything but hold the damn tiller of a damn boat. But that was my Yoga, and there was no escape (besides screaming and jumping overboard.) And under that duress I started to see angels in the clouds.
Most everyone at some point has seen a cloud that resembled something or another. On this occasion the clouds started out that way, but the faces and people became more and more numerous and commonplace and vivid, until the entire sky was full of portraits. By the third day it was ridiculous. The sky was one big mural. I’d look away, and then glance upward, and it took no imagination to see the masterpieces. They were the hues of Rembrandt’s work, by the late afternoon, and as gorgeous as his paintings. One I remember in particular, (as I was very hungry at the time), was a fat woman bringing a roast turkey to a table, a big smile on her face, and something beatific about her posture.
Now I look up, and the clouds are just clouds. I have to work to see a cloud come close to looking like a face. When no one is around, I ask the sky, “Couldn’t you do it again, just a little, just once?” But I guess you have to hold a tiller three days, to see such majesty. If you don’t do the yoga, don’t expect the samadhi.
Actually, one good thing about my current life is that I usually manage to avoid such situations. Pragmatism has paid off, and I seldom have to round Cape Hatteras the lone crew at the tiller of a malfunctioning boat with a malfunctioning captain. (Although being a citizen under the rule of Fraudulent Biden does give me a sense of Deja Vu). However, pragmatism has its penalty, in that the skies are not so amazing.
Yet this spring I have managed to bite off more than I can chew, as I always seem to do as days lengthen, in at least one area of my life. Usually it involves my vegetable garden. It is too big for an old geezer like me, but I have refused to age gracefully. I should turn 90% of the garden into a lawn, and have a little sissy garden, but some stubborn side of me has me out pottering away under the hot sun, hour after hour. It has been somewhat humiliating, as it takes so much longer to do simple jobs, but I have pushed myself and, hoping I might be a tortoise who beats the hare, I’ve kept working. And as I worked, and worked, and worked, I noticed, to my delight, the clouds were starting to change. The tedium of toil was becoming a sort of yoga, and I was being uplifted into a sort of heaven on earth.
Mind you, I didn’t sit and do nothing. Nor did I sit and do nothing, all those years ago, as I held the tiller of a sailboat during a long haul. You have to pay attention on a boat, or the sails start to flap, if you man a tiller, and in like manner you have to keep doing your pottering in a garden, or the weeds will win. But if you persist and do your job all of a sudden the world may become enchanted, even as you’re down-to-earth.
I was so struck by the enchantment that appeared as I pottered that I, being a writer, immediately pondered how I might share it to you, the reader. Sadly, it can’t be described to those who haven’t experienced it. It is like describing color to the color blind. The best I can do is compare it to some similar experience you might have experienced, perhaps assuming you have resorted to some socially inappropriate behavior in the mists of your past.
For example, one time as a teenager I purchased some pills in London with a pal and retreated to a nice country flower garden and ate them, and then we sat back expecting our minds to produce an animated Disney cartoon of some sort. The pills had tasted a lot like malted milk tablets, and around an hour later we decided they actually were malted milk tablets, and the salesman had made a fine profit by selling single malted milk tablets for six silver shillings apiece. Being young, we got a good laugh out of being such chumps and suckers, rather than becoming bitter and vengeful, and we then employed some whisky we liberated surreptitiously from my stepfather’s cupboard to produce more modest cartoons in our minds. But the point of my story is that we were able to identify the pills as fake by the enchantment which did not occur.
The negative aspect of enchantment caused by drugs is that it is not earned, and rather is brutally induced by a sort of maiming of the brain. Therefore it has a harsh quality more natural prayer and yoga does not have. Because it is unnaturally induced it has unnatural consequences which reverberate in life after the “trip”, but I don’t want to talk about that. I only bring up drugs because many of my generation were foolish when young. Despite the amnesia drugs induce, many have a vague recollection of how things went from normal to “high”. Natural enchantment occurs in much the same manner, but, because it is natural, it is possessed of a wholesomeness utterly unlike drugs, and also unlike the creepy quality of QUIGI boards. One suddenly becomes aware of what a gift life is. Like a little child, one sees the Real Thing.
The sense of beauty the Real Thing imparts is overpowering, which is likely why powerful people covet It, though they cannot grasp It. The sense of beauty involves a peculiar confidence and assuredness. It sounds silly to say, “Everything is going to be all right” when the world seems determined to go to hell in a hack, but when you see the Real Thing, worry limps away defeated.
As I pottered about, at around at a quarter mile an hour, pausing to lean on my shovel and huff and puff, I wondered if I might be killing myself with my foolish garden, and might be suffering delusions at death’s door. I’ve always said I wanted to die with my boots on; perhaps I was succeeding at that. Perhaps I was hallucinating, and about to collapse. However, I felt too healthy; too restored. In fact, I hadn’t felt so wholesome and healed in months. Apparently, heaven would have to wait a while longer for this old codger.
After a while my mind drifted to working on a sonnet, as well as the soil, because I wanted to share with you how wonderful we should feel, if we could remove the scales from our eyes. I looked around for details in the enchanted landscape I could use. What made everything so different; so ecstatic?
One thing I noticed was a big old crow, who lurks around the farm. There are several species in my area, and crows all look pretty much the same to me, but particular bird is so big that I suspect it is a raven. He or she is always alone, so I think it lost its mate. In any case, as I pottered, I noticed the raven kept bopping by, sometimes flying high overhead, sometimes hopping on a stone wall to the north, or pacing about at the far edge of a pasture to the south, or on a dead limb of an oak to the west, or on an electric line by the road to the east. Unlike smaller crows, he was silent, and often seemed to be watching me, leaning forward with his hands behind his back. I imagined he was muttering, “You still here? Don’t you think you should go indoors and write a poem?” But I kept up with my pottering, until the raven seemed to become disgusted and impatient, and simply flew down to the far end of the garden to strut around doing whatever it is ravens do, before I have planted my corn. The big black bird gave me the sense I was accepted, as part of the scenery, the same way my goats are accepted by that same crow. Then, as I glanced around, I saw other creatures were accepting me as part of the scenery. A brash chickadee pecked at a fencepost barely ten feet away. A chipmunk on a rock was far more interested in alerting the world to the fact a fox was trotting along the shaded far edge of the pasture, than in warning the world an old man feebly hoed close by. And the fox was more interested in fomenting a surprise attack on rats in the barn than in me. I was part of the landscape. And I really liked the sensation. It was very different from how I usually feel, which is to feel like every creature in creation is out to get my garden, and that a farmer is making a desperate last stand like Davey Crockett at the Alamo. Instead, I felt like a character in the old Uncle Remus tales I read to children at my Childcare. Along with Brer Fox and Brer Bear and Brer Rabbit, there was me, Brer Farmer. In the landscape of enchantment, we are not against each other, but with each other, (even when we eat each other).
Sorry, but that’s the best I can do, at this point, and surely my description fails to adequately describe the overpowering enchantment of the Real Thing to the uninitiated. But I will say this: There are powers about, which politicians woefully underestimate.
In “Lord of The Rings”, the wizard Saruman underestimated a tree’s ability to fight back, as he clear-cut beautiful groves to fuel the engines of his war of domination. Saruman’s plotting forgot to enter Ents into his calculations. He thought he had everything covered, but neglected to consider the Ents.
Ents may be fiction, but are perhaps Tolkien’s most brilliant creation, for those walking-trees are a perfect symbol of what the pragmatic lose sight of, when they become too down-to-earth. In like manner the perverted, power-mad money-grubbers in Washington D.C. forget they are stewards of a land like farmers are stewards of a land, and instead underestimate the land’s ability to fight back with powers given by enchantment. Most especially, they have forgotten the Real Thing, and that there are such things as angels.
I don't have a garden gate. Instead
I have a time warp. You will walk into
A different dimension. I've not the head
For the math, but I know this much is true:
If you're led down my garden path you'll see
Things that don't add up, and yet they all seem
Strangely true: The way you thought when three
When life was a wonder and you waltzed a dream.
Angels walked with you. Zephyrs and Dryads
Aren't allowed in science books. Their vote
Is not courted by politician's ads.
But they are there, not at all remote.
If you come work in my garden with me
You'll learn o a power the devils can't see.
I think one thing the so-called “Elite” don’t like about the middle class, and especially the lower middle class, is that they are happier than the Elite are. The Elite don’t like being reminded that money can’t buy happiness, although the tale of King Midas facing starvation because everything he touched turned to gold, and his grief when he even turned his daughter to gold, goes back to ancient Greece. Also Jesus stated “Blessed are the Poor” and “It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.” Yet people never seem to learn.
Recently a certain branch of the Elite have taken their dislike of the middle class to a degree where they seem to be using the coronavirus as a screen for an effort to eradicate the middle class, by closing small businesses and banning public gatherings. However a group of old geezers I am part of simply met anyway. If churches are closed we simply joined “small groups” and “Bible studies”, and if taverns were shut we had coffee in private. And I enjoyed it and was happy, which likely would make the Elite madder, if they saw it. But I figured that, as an ex-smoker, I was one of the old fossils they are attempting to guilt everyone else into wearing masks to protect, and therefore I must be the most important person, (not a VIP but the MIP), and concluded anyone worth ruining the economy of the entire nation for should be allowed to have coffee with other MIPs.
I would call us a group of grumpy old men, only we laugh too much.
This morning we found ourselves discussing the current panic about shortages of gasoline, comparing it to the shortages of toilet paper which occurred a few months back. The consumption of gasoline is up 36%, though people are not driving 36% farther. We compared this to the huge increase in purchases of toilet paper, though people were not pooping all that much more.
To some degree such hoarding behavior is like the wise ant preparing for the shortages of winter, as opposed to the lazy grasshopper just fiddling, but on the other hand it seemed to be a display of worry.
Worry is based on fear and lack of faith, and these are not among the higher human attributes. Also worry is tainted with greed. I mused that such worry may even be what causes the Elite to become what they are. They want to be “safe”, and amass more and more and more stuff, even if it causes shortages and causes others to go without. The result, to their bafflement, is that they are miserable, while those who are going without are mysteriously happy.
Looking back over the years, I have never qualified as rich, ever since I left the privileged suburb I grew up in, and often have been penniless, yet have been happier, I think, than many of the Elite. I raised five children who are not on drugs, and have seven grandchildren, with three more on the way. I still am living hand-to-mouth, yet feel blessed. What do I have the Elite lack? It must be faith. Faith is the cure to worry.
Too often people feel they would be happy if only they had more money, or gasoline, or toilet paper, and this leads them to misbehaving, like people sometimes do at a Sale in a store when items are in short supply. In some Sales people get in fights over rediculous things like undergarments, having tug-of-wars that tear the garment and render it useless to either person. In fact a sales technique is to stir up such greed and panic with phases such as “supply limited” and “Sale ends at midnight.” The best salesman can convince people they desperately need what they don’t.
Then you watch people who succeed in getting what they so deeply desired, and it is amazing how unhappy they become, though there may be an initial time of elation. The successful artist lolls in the limelight of riches and fame, and then later you see them arrested and disgraced. (Randy Travis springs to mind.) Then one sometimes sees them rescued from ruin by a spiritual awakening. (Johnny Cash springs to mind.) Or one sees a person win a million in the lottery, and their life be utterly ruined by the money.
As I sat with my group of old men I spoke of what I have learned as I moved from privileged unhappiness to blessed poverty. (They have to put up with me going on about a novel I’m happily scribbling called, “Phatty Buggers”, which describes this education). I said we need a word for the spiritual poverty of spirit the Elite unwittingly embrace, and the needless pain they suffer. I tried out a few words like “Eliteobia” and Wealthitis,” when a friend suggested, “Affluenza.”
“That’s It!” I bellowed, and was vigorously pumping his hand for coining such an excellent word when he said he hadn’t coined it.
The earliest use we could find, as we consulted various search engines, was from a PBS show in 1997.
Of course, this being PBS, they took the socialist tack. They tend to suggest we should feel guilty for success and prosperity. It almost is as if a farmer should feel guilty for growing a good crop, as if hard work was an example of greed. In actual fact they are two quite different things.
Money is not the problem, but love of money is. Love of money involves the worry I was talking about earlier, and drives people to sacrifice good elements of life for mere “stuff”. People prioritize the wrong things, making life unlivable in the name of “safety”.
For example, part of my childhood involved having scabs on my knees. Likely there were more days I had scabs on my knees than days I didn’t. However some are so over-protective of children, and worry so much, that they want to bubble-wrap childhood, inadvertently depriving their children of much of the fresh air and exercise they need. At the same time, wishing to “educate”, they make children feel environmentalism means nature is so fragile one should never walk in the woods for fear of harming moss by treading a path, which denies children the wonders of communing with nature, and even to feeling they are enemies of nature, and nature hates them. I was so appalled by such childrearing that I started my Childcare on a farm, to oppose such worry.
Of course I faced some opposition. How dare I say scabs were a good thing to have on knees!? What sort of cruel monster was I !? All I could do at first was say they could go to another Childcare, if they wanted their kid to grow up to be a…..(At this point my wife would usually intervene, asking me to go fix a fence on the far side of the farm. She was far more skilled at diplomacy.)
So was Kim John Payne. He tended traumatized children in refugee camps until he himself was traumatized, and sought escape by tending privileged children in wealthy neighborhoods, and to his astonishment and dismay became aware privileged children were suffering the same ailments as refugees. In 2010, about two years after we began our Childcare, he published his scientific conclusions:
In essence Kim John Payne’s book states less is more. How many times do we need to rediscover this? Is it not what Jesus stated when he said, “Blessed are the poor?”
In conclusion, we need to stand up to Affluenza. Do not allow the media to push your buttons and trigger panic. Not that you shouldn’t top off your gas tank, but you shouldn’t do so in a tizzy. Have faith. In God We Trust. And fight off the tendency to worry, (though, as Robin Williams discovered, it can be the most difficult thing).
I am not able to post as much as I like beause I face tax deadlines, but something woke me at 1:30 AM this morning, to share some thoughts.
The word “systemic” is currently being bandied about as a sort of scary boogey man, and people flinch from it without pausing to think what it means. Basically it means “all through a system” as opposed to “localized” which means “only in part of a system”. For example, an infected toenail is localized, whereas measles is systemic (you don’t get measles only in your big toe.)
Currently the United States is under attack by people who do not like the beautiful and spiritual principles upon which it was founded. One method of attack is to suggest the “system” is rotten to the core, rotten through and through. Therefore racism is not discussed in a rational manner, but rather as an inherent evil in the very foundation of the United States. This is absolutely and unequivocally not the case. The United States is founded on principles which are a standing challenge to racism. You cannot believe, “all men are created equal”, and be a racist. You cannot believe in “liberty and justice for all” and be a racist.
This is not to say the United States is perfect. No mere mortals are perfect, until they can sit beside God in heaven. Such a presumption is not made by the United States, and in fact the United States owns a system of government which assumes there must be checks and balances, due to the fact leaders have imperfections.
When you think about it, it is not the United States who claims it is without flaw. It is communist China. If you even dare suggest the government is flawed in China, they bring down the hammer. It is a flaw in the system called “communism”. If there is anyone who has a deep and ingrained “systemic” flaw, it is communists. Over and over they have seen their system bring nations crashing down in ruin, yet they never admit their mistakes.
This can also be seen in the history of ancient times, in the cases of kings who demanded others worship them as God. Christians were thrown to the lions for telling Nero they wouldn’t worship him, just as Danial was thrown to the lions for refusing to worship the Babylonian king. The arrogance and vanity of leaders is nothing new, and is the very reason the government of the United States has checks and balances.
Racism is deeply rooted in human nature, because it is based on a fear of those you don’t know; a fear of strangers. It has its sensible side: We tell our children not to get in the car of a person they don’t know, who offers them candy. Is it racist to tell our children to be wary? Not at all. Children need a “safe space” which involves boundaries, and boundaries create small and (hopefully) safe social-units called families and neighborhoods. These units are not racist just because the inhabitants tend to all be of one ethnicity. They only become racist when they go out of their way to hurt others of a different ethnicity. It is quite all right to be fiercely loyal to your school’s football team as they compete against a nearby town, but genocide is not football. Racism only occurs when our natural self-protectiveness goes on the offence, and steps over a sometimes-hard-to-see line between protecting our own children and harming other people’s children.
Any society which seeks to improve the human condition must begin with the premise we are not born perfect. We all own flaws, and all need to be uplifted; children are “raised”. We need to learn to recognize our more beastly impulses and redirect that energy into higher behavior; for example, greed tends to cause trouble which generosity does not. Hate causes trouble which love does not.
Fear causes trouble when it takes the simple fact we are wary of strangers and turns us into people who attack people we don’t know. If a stranger comes walking into your house it is acceptable to draw a gun, but before you shoot them dead you should first ask, “What are you doing in my house?” You should make the effort to know strangers. It may turn out they simply got the address wrong. Or they may be a mass murderer. We need to make the effort to differentiate.
If you judge another by the color of their skin and not the quality of their character you are skipping the process of getting to know them better. It is all right to discriminate if you are basing your discrimination on the quality of character, but not good to discriminate based solely on the color of skin. Yet some bandy about the word “discrimination” as if discrimination was one of the seven deadly sins.
The same is true of judging light-skinned people as all being scary and owning an invisible club they will clout you with, called “white privilege”, (even if they are dirt poor). Maybe they are good and maybe not. One needs to get to know them, and utilize a thing called “discernment.” Ignorance fuels racism, whereas knowledge ends it.
To judge people as bad, based on their skin color, tends to be frightening to the people being judged. Frightened people then tend to fight back. A society is pushed in a divisive direction, and a divided people are easier to conquer. This may in fact be a strategy being utilized by those who seek to destroy the United States. If they can stir up fear, they can stir up the self-protective instinct, and get people fighting among themselves.
The antidote to fear is faith. Times such as these actually strengthen faith. We are forced to stand up to bullshit. We need to assert we believe love is stronger than hate; we have faith. We need to assert that what is “systemic” in the United States is love, not hate, and that we intend to prove it. When people bandy about big words, attempting to shame the innocent with jargon, we need to laugh at them and say, “Do you even know what that word means? Don’t be such a dunce!”
With so much dour news emanating from The Swamp, I’ve found little reason to be optimistic and hopeful recently, and I always find I have to make a concerted effort to cling to my belief life is beautiful, when in fact life looks downright ugly.
This immediately brings me to a subject some object to, which is that our sense of beauty tends to be very subjective, and downright fickle. It also is quite personal. I recall, as a tender adolescent, being somewhat astonished by how my face looked pretty good in the mirror on some days, but on others looked ghastly. As a young scientist I understood it was the same face. How could it appear so different, and in some ways completely opposite?
Usually it seemed to involve whether I felt loved or not. If Nancy (or Betsy or Debby) smiled at me in the high school hallways, the face in the mirror looked handsome and debonair, but if the same female sulked, the face in the mirror was blotched by acne and had a vile, shit-eating smile. It was absurd, and on some deep level I recognized the absurdity. My boyhood diary at one point sardonically comments, “I looked bad in the mirror this morning. What’s it mean, Froid?” (I did not know how to spell “Freud”.)
Yet the passage of a half century hasn’t changed things all that much. When you are smiled at, you feel beautiful, and in fact are beautiful. You become radiant. People want to draw close to you. But when you are frowned at, you become depressed and neurotic, and people avoid you like the plague or corona virus. As Ella Willcox noted in her 1887 poem “Solitude”, and O Henry noted again in 1907, “When you laugh, the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone.”
In a better world we might show more sympathy, and obey the more ancient Roman proverb which ended, “Weep, and the world weeps with you.” But, sadly, a great deal of emphasis in the modern world involves whether you are accepted as politically correct, or cancelled by Cancel Culture; whether you appear on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter with lots of “likes”, or have been censored and banned from such platforms. If you take all this nonsense too seriously it can involve how you look in the mirror. If a collection of idiots and Karens call you praiseworthy, you appear charming and lovable, but if the same idiots and Karens disdain you, the mirror states you are deplorable, irredeemable, and a bitter clinger.
I knew this was nonsense at age sixteen, and nothing that has passed in the last fifty years has changed my mind in the slightest. I have always been a counter-snob to all snobbery. People who we now scoff at as “virtue signaling” were mocked fifty years ago as “slaves to status symbols.” For there has always been a deeper awareness that true beauty is not a shallow and superficial thing. True beauty is the reflection of Truth, and Love.
That word “Love” is crucial. As we age we discovered that Nancy (or Betsy or Debby) was not God. (I assume women discover the same thing about men.) We move on to discovering that owning a 1966 Mustang is not love. And so on and so forth. In fact, if we truly progress spiritually, we pretty much call all status symbols garbage, all positions of fame and power garbage, all political correctness garbage, and tell Hollywood, psychologists, and all bossy law-makers to go get screwed, for there is only one true author of Love, and that is God.
But if we fail to make such rapid spiritual progress, (and most of us fail), then we tend to get hooked on some worldly thing that makes us feel beautiful. Maybe it is heroin. When we take it we feel beautiful, and are actually attractive when high, so people want to draw closer to us, but later, when withdrawal sets in, everyone makes themselves scarce. Or maybe our hook is gambling, and when winning we feel beautiful, and walk with a woman on either arm, but when losing our complexation becomes green and everyone avoids us. Or maybe our hook is winning elections or writing hit records or appearing in blockbuster movies, and success makes us feel beautiful, but there is a down side as well. But for most the hook is less extravagant, and is more modest, the simple successes of a good marriage or a small business, but here too there is a down side. The good marriage will be wrecked, because one spouse will die. Must this make what was beautiful become ugly? In like manner the owner of the best small business, which succeeds with amazing compassion for both employees and customers, faces mortality, for he or she too must die. Does that make what was beautiful ugly?
No. I asserted this at age sixteen and I assert it at age sixty-eight. Beauty is beautiful. It doesn’t matter if you are a heroin-addicted, male whore of a Swamp politician who will throw you under the bus tomorrow, the glimpse of beauty you saw in your rise and fall was the real deal. Beauty is beautiful.
Ugly is ugly because it in some way denies the fact beauty is beautiful. However this is foolish. It is like shadows denying they exist because of light, and instead attempting to congregate and plot ways to attack the light, ignoring a glaring fact: The moment shadows step from the shadows to attack the light, they cease to exist.
What I just wrote was profound, if I do say so myself, but I confess it is not obvious, at this moment in the history of the United States. Currently the shadows are gathering, but haven’t yet fully stepped out to attack the light. Ugly is ugly, at the moment.
With what is ugly currently seeming triumphant, I seem to have chosen the wrong side. I haven’t. I know beauty will win, in the end.
But, in the meantime, a fellow like me has to run a small business and be patriarch of a small family, midst a global ugliness, and I can’t expect to see much beauty in my day-to-day dealings. Yet I crave beauty. I need to inhale some beauty, if I am expected to exhale any in my day-today dealings.
In order to inhale beauty in an ugly world, I do what I did in school in 1959. I look out the window, and not at the black board. I remove my nose from the grindstone and sniff the roses. I shut off the news and walk out into the view.
God made that view for us to enjoy, and even in rotton weather there is usually something beautiful to see, if you look for it. In the springtime it becomes easier. People refer to it as “communing with nature.” I was describing it in the comments of a recent post:
I was out with the children at my Childcare and watched a bald eagle battle the north winds. I get a thrill seeing eagles, for there were no bald eagles to be seen around here the first sixty years of my life, but the kids are rather ho-hum about such occurrences, for eagles are just an everyday bird to them.
Today the eagle was pretending to fish but the ducks knew he (or she) will eat a duck if need be, so they were zinging all over the place as he (or she) innocently looked for trout. But the chaos of thirty ducks and lone eagle was occurring in a thirty mile an hour gale from the north. What amazed me was that the birds behaved as if the wind was a minor matter, like the “temperature at game time” for baseball players.
A few weeks back I got a crick in my neck watching an eagle battle his (or her) way upwind in a fifty-mile-an-hour gale. At first I thought he was being battered, because he seemed staggered, lowering first one shoulder and then the other, like a boxer getting pummeled. But then I noticed he wasn’t being beaten backwards. In fact he was making remarkable progress, moving north at around fifteen miles an hour despite the winds whooshing south at fifty. It seemed that (and I’m guessing) that when he lowered first one shoulder and then another he (or she) was expertly tacking upwind with a swiftness and dexterity all skippers of all sailboats would envy.
One might wonder if birds are superior to humans, considering the remarkable things they do. They do what they do without a college education, utilizing some thing we do not understand, but pretend we understand by calling it “instinct”.
Considering a lone eagle can tack upwind better than a billionaire with an expert crew of twenty on the most lavish yacht can, one might wonder what is the use of human endeavor. We cannot even match a bird.
However there is an equivalent of instinct in birds, which does occur in mortal humans. It is something we do not understand, but pretend we understand by calling it “intuition.”
It has occurred to me that when I am feeling uglified by the world, and go out for a walk and wind up feeling beautiful, it is because I have been loved. When “communing with nature” my intuition (whatever that is) is communing with the Creator, and the Creator doesn’t want us miserable, and will rain love down upon us if we only allow it.
Thinking along these lines got me a little cross-eyed the other morning. It is a bit humbling to go for a walk and think the Creator is right there. I couldn’t quite tell if I felt tiny or enormous. But I was feeling loved, as the north winds had ceased and the sunshine was kindly. It occurred to me the spring birds would have come out from hiding, with the wind ceasing, and I should listen for harmony.
Rather than spring birds, a couple of winter chickadees came flitting out to serenade me. They are tiny birds, and very perishable in cold winds, yet they don’t fly south and survive extreme cold by avoiding wind, and becoming balls of fluff in calm places. You will never see them at a feeder in a cold wind, and even in a light breeze they will always face upwind, to keep the chill from getting under their feathers. But this morning was mild, and with winter behind them they were attending to some sort of territorial discussion, singing their “spring soon” call back and forth at each other. It seemed a bit like dueling banjos.
The call is two notes, descending, but these two birds were not agreeing on what key to sing in. The first sung an A followed by an F, and the second sung a G-sharp followed by an E. I was listening to the sequence of notes, telling God it was sweet and wondering if I could write a song with that sequence in it, when I noticed their calls were coming closer together. I knew what was coming, and with a sense of dread awaited hearing A sung with G-sharp, followed by F sung with E. They did it, and the discord made my fillings hurt. Perhaps they noticed my pained expression, for they only sung the discord twice before flitting away. I looked up at the sky and said, “Oh Lord; that was absolutely horrible!”
Then I burst out laughing, for it really did seem a great joke: A couple of chickadees attempting to be as ugly as Washington D.C. I laughed so hard I slapped my knee, but then I noticed a lady coming down the road walking her dog.
I set my lip. One needs to be cautious, when communing with nature in public.
I get the feeling things have not gone as the denizens of the swamp planned. There are certain actions and reactions one is taught to expect in Revolution 101 class, certain counterrevolutions which should be predictable, according to the college professors and the intellectuals in salons. However human behavior is as easy to predict as the weather. You can make a good guess, but amazingly often you are wrong. Humanity is full of surprises; not only times people you expect-a-lot-from disappoint you, but also times people you completely underestimate shock you with brilliance.
In essence mankind is a chaotic system, and cannot be successfully predicted. The true governor is God, not some mortal on a throne. To attempt to order the teeming masses is like attempting to herd cats. For this reason it is best to tend to your own small corner, obeying an agreed-upon set of rules called “law and order”, and not to mind other’s business.
There is nothing more prone towards calamity than a government that thinks it knows more than its citizens, and that it should tell everyone what to do, and mind everyone else’s business. Yet there is always some busybody bureaucrat who feels he knows more about hair than hairdressers and more about bees than beekeepers and more about milking than milkmaids, who refuses to just leave people alone to do what they do better than he. The result is that power-mad bureaucrats make a mess of things, and also that the focus becomes power and control, rather than on getting things done. There is little milk and honey and everyone’s hair looks terrible.
The trouble arises because of vanity. Some people become puffed up and disrespectful of others. “Law and order” no longer is an agreed-upon set of rules, but an imposed-upon set of rules. Liberty is replaced by dictatorship. The Founding Fathers of the United States thought long and hard about such trouble, and devised a form of government wherein respecting others was built in, and no one person could amass the power to be disrespectful.
The current denizens (I will not call them citizens) of the Swamp are attempting to amass power, and also the ability to censor and cancel the views of others, to a degree that is tantamount to a coup, and the overthrow of the American Way. This revolution has been long planned, and carried out with stealth and evil ability and a great deal of dishonesty and hypocrisy, but in the end must have seemed too easy. And it was too easy. It was not expected to be so easy, which actually was the first wrench in the works of The Plan.
The counterrevolution which textbooks stated would occur led the denizens to expect violence which did not manifest, (or did not manifest in the violent way they expected), from a population which has bought a record-setting amount of guns and ammunition over the past year. The citizens were more patient and peace-loving than the denizens dreamed they would be, which immediately put the denizens in a very uncomfortable position. Rather than fight, they had to lead. All the preparations they had made for chaos were rendered useless, as they faced responsibility they were unprepared for.
I believe they were itching for a Civil War of a violent sort, and likely had all their strategies and speeches prepared, and were ready to blame “deplorables” and “bitter clingers” for all the chaos, while portraying themselves as peace-loving bringers-of-order. Instead they find themselves ensconced in victory that has come too early, and, worst of all, with no foe to blame. Forced to reveal their policy in all its naked ugliness, all can see how inept, bankrupt, ill-conceived and foolish their high-sounding aims actually are.
Actually they have made a grave tactical blunder in a new sort of Civil War. They have been drawn out of hiding. Their camouflaged cannons have rolled into plain view. They can’t pretend to be other than what they are. Too many know about Jeffrey Epstein’s island, and who went there. Too many know about Hunter Biden’s enormous paychecks for doing nothing. The flagrantly dishonest press can publish all the falsehood it wants; people are increasingly seeing through the bunkum.
Actually this is a strategy Donald Trump clearly states in “The Art Of The Deal”, but apparently the denizens didn’t read the book. They exposed more and more of their cannons, and the voters didn’t like what they saw. Although polls were falsified, it must have been obvious to the denizens that Trump was increasingly popular, and was going to win reelection, so they prepared to use falsified election results. However so great was the landslide in favor of Trump the falsification became desperate, and obvious, becoming so blatant it too was exposed. The denizens were basically naked, emperors without clothes.
In fact it is said (by those who claim to know such things) that “exposure” is God’s purpose, in this gruesome time of being led by an unelected president.
“Exposure” has an odd effect on the human psyche. As long as one claims a sort of Right To Privacy, they have no great need to even think about the the back rooms where they “do what they don’t confess.” One is intimate in private with their spouse in a way they’d never be in public, and feels comfortable doing so, but when one discover the baby monitor in their bedroom has been broadcasting to every other baby monitor in the apartment block, one blushes ruby. And if one can feel this embarrassment about perfectly legitimate love-making, how much worse it is when one’s sneakiness is illegitimate, and broadcast to the entire world.
King David abused his absolute power, committing adultery with Uriah the Hittite’s wife Bathsheba, and then basically having Uriah murdered by placing him in a situation he couldn’t survive in a battle, and David’s conscience didn’t seem to particularly trouble him until he was confronted by Nathan the prophet. Apparently David didn’t much care what people whispered about him behind his back; (people were always whispering things behind David’s back;) however when Nathan made him aware God disapproved, David understood he, (and therefore the entire nation of Israel), was in big trouble. The result was Psalm 51.
Basically Psalm 51 is David throwing himself on the mercy of the court of God, counting upon God’s attribute of being all merciful and eternally benevolent. However it also is a confession of sin, and not a confession made in privacy, either. It is “for the director of music”, which indicates it was a very public confession.
It is interesting to contemplate any denizens of the Swamp publicly confessing in such a manner. It is largely unimaginable. What they seem to be doing instead is accusing others, and demanding others confess, while hoping they themselves avoid scrutiny.
What this seems to show is that “exposure” does bother people. Even evil people want to be loved, and desire the cheering of crowds, even when they snicker about how they are fooling the people. “Exposure” is a situation wherein the people are not being fooled any more. Not that we can ever fool God, but atheists don’t worry about God (perhaps showing they are fooling themselves), but they do worry about what people are saying behind their backs. They will do desperate deeds to keep the Truth from becoming clear, not merely censoring Facebook, YouTube and Twitter posts, but actually killing people, (which may have been the fate of Jeffrey Epstein, who perhaps knew too much).
The demand that Truth be hidden eventually starts to have a debilitating effect. It is like demanding one cast no shadow. One can indeed cast no shadow by laying flat on the ground, but it is hard to get any work done when in that position.
Eventually the facade of Power starts to develop cracks. The very people who felt above the law start to face backstabbers, as evil eats its own. The governor of New York faces impeachment as the governor of California faces recall, and vultures and hyenas gather to replace them and all their appointments. Biden proclaims open borders yet the governor of Texas calls out the National Guard to close them. Pelosi wants the minimum wage raised to fifteen dollars an hour, but seven democrats break ranks to vote against her. The cracks increase.
One Truth which is apparent is that the election was fraudulent. Biden is not duly elected. In essence he is a usurper, and, if I may coin a word, rather than President Biden he should be called Usurpee Biden. Increasingly people are aware the Dominion voting machines were rigged, but there is a continuing effort to cover up this ugly truth, and to hide all evidence.
But evidence keeps popping up. Recently a minor recount in New Hampshire left people scratching their heads.
New Hampshire has a huge house of representatives, with 386 representatives to be elected. In the last election one seat was won by a Republican by only 24 votes, and the Democrat apparently didn’t get the memo not to look at the vote-counting too carefully, for he demanded a recount. The recount revealed the Republican had roughly 300 uncounted votes. But, because the recount involved three other seats, (which would not have been recounted ordinarily because the Republicans won those seats handily), and it was noted those Republicans also had 300 uncounted votes. Hmm.
People thought this coincidence should be investigated. At first it seemed unlikely, for New Hampshire law allows only one recount, but after debate it was decided the investigation was not a recount, but a study. So the Dominion machines may be looked at. Then, if these particular machines prove faulty, other machines in New Hampshire may be looked at. This tiny pebble may be the start of something bigger.
Many cynically say that great pressure will come from Washington to halt any further investigation, but such hushing-up is evident to all onlookers, and represents more cracks in the façade. The denizens of the Swamp are up against a mighty foe, called Truth. And Truth doesn’t even need to raise a finger; the denizens are fighting themselves. And a pebble can topple a Goliath.