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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.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Did NOT Do That

While reading in Daily Kos about the much-praised speech that former President W.J. Clinton gave at the recently concluded Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, I was especially struck by one great line that he came out with either in that speech or on some earlier occasion, and that I am surprised not to see repeated since then, over and over. He said something to the effect that Republicans always would have you believe that they were born in log cabins that they built themselves.

This was a take on the "You Didn't Build That" idea that Obama recently threw out, as nearly as I can understand it, to illustrate how rarely one can do anything without building on the earlier efforts of others, many others -- a comment on the connection of everything, and also the "No man is an island" idea. Naturally the enemy threw all kinds of cowflops at Obama for saying that, and is still doing so, but the concept still holds up.

Actually the statement, "I built that myself" had already had a very loose meaning for a long time. Guys who like to claim that often are really just saying that they hired contractors to do all the major things, while they kept leaning over the contractors' shoulders.

However I can say that I live not in a log cabin but in something close to it, a green oak house made principally of locally fresh-sawn oak and other woods that I hammered together myself, though for a while I did contemplate building a log cabin, and to that end I accumulated nearly all the tools needed to do so -- a froe, a broadax, a timber carrier, crosscut saws -- nearly everything except log dogs -- before I came to my senses and saw that that could not ever be a one-man job. At least if I was that man.

But I was allowed by the local building inspectors to design and build my board and batten green oak myself, which I certainly did, every board, nail, wire, pipe, and idiosyncracy -- everything except the septic field. That's a picture of my house in the upper left corner here. Actually I could even say that I live in two such houses, because the same applies to my workshop, though, except for part of the floor construction, there I "reverted" to kiln-dried lumber, and I've spent a large part of my life in there ever since its original use as my "honeyhouse" or honey extraction building. And today I keep looking at both buildings with a mixture of awe and fear and trembling, because they are so completely and hopelessly past my present abilities -- that is, if I want to remain alive and without a host of broken bones.

But I did NOT hunt out and cut down all those large trees from which the wood came, and also I did NOT haul all those big, heavy logs to the various sawmills hereabouts, and I did NOT saw and grade all the planks that were sliced out from those logs.

But over a period of about three years I did drive regularly to four or five sawmills in a pickup truck, on an average of about 20 miles away and look through stacks of boards that were sound enough to load into my pickup, because I had no access to the really good boards, and I was restricted to the rejects. The good boards were always planed and then sent overseas to make furniture and stuff. And I did take all those big, heavy boards back home and unload them , all by myself, and at an eventual cost to my hands, especially my grip, because besides being very heavy, those boards, being uplaned, were rough, and this when I wasn't far short of 50.

That was a trying business, but still not to be compared with how it would have been if I had had to deal with all those huge trees and those giant logs myself. That always has to be emphasized -- and not to mention all that was involved in my having a pickup truck in the first place, and in having the roads for getting back and forth from the sawmillls, and a thousand other such factors similar to those that Obama's supporters keep having to point out to his "fools rush in" detractors.

Also, lest it be overlooked, not only was I not born in my little "green oak" shed roof palace that I built myself, but also I wasn't born in this county or even in this state. But I was born close enough, right across the Potomac, in D.C., in the kind of place that today's right wingers would not like to see existing -- a hospital that was originally built in the late 19th century for the health care of the newly emancipated slaves, called "Freedmen's Hospital," and is now a part of Howard University, which I later attended.


Blogger Katie said...

A fine green oak palace it is Carl. One of the most beautiful places in the world I think:-)

4:37 AM  
Blogger Carl (aka Sofarsogoo) said...

Okay, folks. Do not let yourselves be overcome by cynicism upon reading the above, totally fantastic comment. Contrary to what you may have immediately told yourself, the writer of that comment is not one of my creations in any way, shape, or form. If she were, by now my head would be about the size of Jupiter. Instead she is a living, breathing, absolute wonder of a young lady somewhere around the age of 30 who lives way across the Pond in ye olde England with her loving and incredibly lucky husband and their three remarkable kids, and I didn't ask her to say any of that. But now, since she did, and not to my great surprise, what can I say, except thanks very much, Katie, and great to hear from you again!

2:11 AM  

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