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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I have a serious physical problem, and that is that I feel cold ALL the time. No matter where I am, no matter what I'm wearing, and no matter what I'm eating or drinking, I'm cold, and I have no idea as to the cause of this malady. Can it be that my blood has thinned that much after having gotten old? Or is it this particular winter? All I know is that if this keeps up, I'm going to start dreading the approach of any other Decembers that I may see coming up.

I guess it doesn't help that at night I like to eat a bowl of ice cream, laced with a liquor bottle capful of either applejack brandy or vodka. And it also doesn't help that I spend a good deal of time walking around outside every day, often in pursuit of wood to feed the voracious little stove in my workshop, and lately hoeing aside -- not shoveling but hoeing away (quicker and easier on the heart than shoveling) the snow and ice from where we have to walk and cars have to go. But even when I finally get the stove there and the other big soapstone one in our house to going good, I can hang close to them and still I'm cold.

Until the big snowfall nearly two weeks ago, the results of which are still heavily present on top of our house and all over the ground, because the temp hates to rise much past freezing, I was at least warm when in bed. But now I sleep on top of an electric mattress pad set at "5," and under a sheet and two thick comforters, while wearing my regular underwear plus a thermal underwear top and some longjohns, plus a big, heavy lined shirt, plus a woolen watchcap, which invariably falls off as soon as I fall asleep, and I'm still cold.

One of the reasons given for the failure to reach any sort of definite agreement on what humans will do about climate change, in the big international confab in Copenhagen a few weeks ago, was the fact that the U.S. has not suffered any of the bad heat spells that have been experienced by other countries in recent years. But I don't feel that Copenhagen was a failure. Instead the mere fact that so many countries finally took climate change seriously and met to talk about it was a big victory in and of itself, regardless of the fact that it has become so much the fashion to blame every disappointed expectation on President Obama and on him alone, when in fact the only failure that has been his alone, without plenty of help, was the decision not to sign the landmine treaty, for which he should be excoriated, big time, because, as far as I know, he has not yet said anything about his reasons for that -- maybe because there can't be any that make any real sense. And many people are not aware of or either conveniently forget the seeming paradox that cold winters like this one may be a sign of the growing global warming in itself, because there can't be any doubt that the ice is being quickly melted off of Antarctica, Greenland, and the Arctic Ocean, not only making the Earth less reflective of the heat rays coming from the Sun and so retaining more and more heat trapped under the carbon dioxide layers that humans are steadily adding to the atmosphere, but also pouring fresh water into the ocean and disrupting the "conveyor belt," the underseas currents that keep so many climates in various parts of the world temperate instead of like the usual conditions in Greenland.

Whatever is happening -- and I feel sure that global warming is a fact, not a hoax -- I am still cold, and my only consolation is that I know a warm Spring, a hot Summer, and a temperate Fall are on the way. I know this because I have seen so many of all of them, every year, and it even won't be long now. I just have to sweat out the lingering, exquisite pain of being cold every day till then, and here it's just the end of December.

I am not unhappy. I am not sick. I feel fine nearly all the time. But all the time, I also still feel my bones shuddering with cold!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Homemade Universes

It has turned out that the only universes in which I could ever feel really comfortable are the ones that I can create myself. But there's still a big problem, about which nothing can be done. These universes are not like a house that one can build himself and then tangibly live in it for years afterward, which I have managed to do. The physical body on which the mental depends is too closely tied to this universe in which everybody else also lives, and despite all the theological dodges and misperceptions, there is absolutely no evidence that changing this setup can result in anything other than entering complete and eternal nothingness.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

About the Recent Snowfall

Starting in the late afternoon last Friday, four or five days ago, we and much else of the Eastern Seaboard had what Reuters called an "extreme storm" -- a big snowfall, just as Weather Underground had predicted with its usual accuracy. The snow kept at it for two days, with sleet and freezing rain mixed in, and when it was over we had about 20 inches of crystalline whiteness proudly settled all over everything. In fact the place that recorded the deepest amount in the whole region was Wintergreen, the big ski resort that happens to sit many transmission-straining miles up in the mountains in the northwestern corner of this county in which we live in Virginia, Nelson. They reported 30 inches, which wasn't far from what we got, though I noted only how far it was above my boottops, which was about 10 inches. . Nothing that wasn't covered up was safe from the snow, even far under the roofs of my various decks, indicating that the wind kept shifting every which way, though by my definition, at least around here it wasn't a real blizzard as some in the media called it, as the wind wasn't strong, and the snow fell with almost absolute silence.

Among many other precautions, having been through several heavy snowstorms before, here and in D.C., we moved my wife's Saturn up close to the head of the driveway, though in her opinion not far enough, because now, days later, we still haven't actually gotten the car out on the road, which took three days for the authorities to get around to plowing. And we have two other vehicles still thoroughly trapped by all the deep, cold whiteness, at the house and at my workshop -- my little Isuzu pickup and my wife's Cadillac (which has never been driven by me) that she inherited last year from her mother.

Meanwhile a son of one of our neighbors was allowed to use his father's nearly new tractor to go around the whole neighborhood clearing driveways, and even ours, though to my wife's dismay -- though not particularly to mine as it wasn't something that he was obliged to do -- he wasn't able to get to most of ours, because the Saturn was blocking so much of it -- meaning that we would've been better off if we hadn't moved that car at all. But who knew? This is the first time that that kid had done all this snow-clearing and he doesn't even live around here.

And meanwhile the snow persists. Some of it has melted, but the nights have kept dropping to close to 20 F, and there are still a good 10 inches of the snow still left, at least here in our cool frost pocket of a little valley, and it looks as if it's going to be that unusual thing -- a white Christmas for all -- when and after which, however, after several changes in its prediction -- I guess by popular demand -- Weather Underground is now calling for some sort of ice storm.

Meanwhile this last snow has added greatly to the lore and legends around here. It seems that among our friends and neighbors, a large number of them were not nearly as hip to Weather Underground as I was, or either they didn't believe, because for various reasons of either employment or Christmas shopping , they were happily up in Charlottesville, the college metropolis 45 miles north of here, near and in which Thomas Jefferson spent so much of his life, when he wasn't messing around in Philadelphia, Washington, and Paris. And having been through many snow false alarms in recent years, they took things lightly when the snow started falling -- though not for long, because once it started, it kept coming down at an increasingly rapid rate, to the point where if you weren't as clever or as lucky as me and my wife, if by six that evening you weren't where you wanted to spend at least the next two or three days of your life and your warm, comfortable beddy-bye time, you were in the toilet, so to speak..

Consequently the many members of this group -- and I don't doubt all over the county -- ended up later with tales to tell, of the hours needed just to get out of Charlottesville, and of the misfortunes of others that they saw on the road, which was just the prelude to more hours required to get to their various far-flung homes in the county, to the point where some opted to spend the next couple of nights in places other than their homes, and others ended up stuck somewhere, sometimes not that far from home, and if they didn't want to remain penned in their cars in the cold they had to think of friends and neighbors who had four-wheel drives and who would not be completely outraged at being summoned by cellphone as late as after midnight at the height of the raging snowstorm.

But in the several sunny days since then, the world has been beautiful around here, as it always is after a good snowfall. And this is one of the many reasons why I wanted to move here those many years ago. In D.C. whenever there was a big snow, I was always deeply dismayed at how short a time it took for all the human activity to turn all the beautiful fallen flakes into a big nightmare of blackened slush and ugly tracks all over. Here the snow keeps looking almost freshly fallen right up to when the last little clump has melted into the leaves.

But an old guy like me still has to watch himself every moment when he's outdoors, which is often in my case.. The dangers of slipping on all the ice and falling, you know, and all the shoveling that's needed.


Still Here, But....

I'm still here and in good health, but two months ago, in October, I fnished my woodcutting and immediately went back to my stained glass projects, and ever since my mind has been somewhere else, and that's no kidding. Actually in several places at once, which is usually the way that happens.