October 14, 2010


I have worked underground.

I worked in an underground coal mine in Illinois for about 9 months, and worked in an underground oil shale mine for about a year.

Working underground makes you appreicate your fellow workers. You rely on them unconditionally. I am not sure if it is a universal signal, but in the underground coal mines in Illinois if you shake your "bug light" (hardhat lamp) back and forth horizontally at someone they stop IMMEDIATELY. It does not matter if they are the president of the company or the lowest red-hat (that would have been me) on the crew - you react to that signal without question.

You do that because you hold your co-workers lives in your hands at all times. And you never take that for granted.

Now, that is not to say that there was not a certain level of horseplay underground. But you would never, ever knowingly endanger someones life.

We were talking here at the office about the Chilean miners, and how they survived the first 17 days through the strict discipline and rationing by their shift boss. One of the guys here said that he would have just knock the boss out, and taken all the food.

I said he wouldn't - because that is not how those miners think.

When you work underground you are the member of a very small fraternity. And you worry about everyone you know.

But I will point out one very sad thing about this rescue.

Where were the mine owners when the guys came up?

Flying can be 'hell' for tall passengers - CNN.com

Flying can be 'hell' for tall passengers - CNN.com: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Not sure why Hell is in quotation marks.

That is my life!

October 9, 2010

Questions Of Travel - Elizabeth Bishop

There are too many waterfalls here; the crowded streams
hurry too rapidly down to the sea,
and the pressure of so many clouds on the mountaintops
makes them spill over the sides in soft slow-motion,
turning to waterfalls under our very eyes.
--For if those streaks, those mile-long, shiny, tearstains,
aren't waterfalls yet,
in a quick age or so, as ages go here,
they probably will be.
But if the streams and clouds keep travelling, travelling,
the mountains look like the hulls of capsized ships,
slime-hung and barnacled.

Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?

But surely it would have been a pity
not to have seen the trees along this road,
really exaggerated in their beauty,
not to have seen them gesturing
like noble pantomimists, robed in pink.
--Not to have had to stop for gas and heard
the sad, two-noted, wooden tune
of disparate wooden clogs
carelessly clacking over
a grease-stained filling-station floor.
(In another country the clogs would all be tested.
Each pair there would have identical pitch.)
--A pity not to have heard
the other, less primitive music of the fat brown bird
who sings above the broken gasoline pump
in a bamboo church of Jesuit baroque:
three towers, five silver crosses.
--Yes, a pity not to have pondered,
blurr'dly and inconclusively,
on what connection can exist for centuries
between the crudest wooden footwear
and, careful and finicky,
the whittled fantasies of wooden footwear
and, careful and finicky,
the whittled fantasies of wooden cages.
--Never to have studied history in
the weak calligraphy of songbirds' cages.
--And never to have had to listen to rain
so much like politicians' speeches:
two hours of unrelenting oratory
and then a sudden golden silence
in which the traveller takes a notebook, writes:

"Is it lack of imagination that makes us come
to imagined places, not just stay at home?
Or could Pascal have been not entirely right
about just sitting quietly in one's room?

Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there . . . No. Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be?"

The Long History Of American “declinism.” | The New Republic

Latest Entry In The Long History Of American “declinism.” | The New Republic: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

October 3, 2010

The Case Against Expatriation: Not Cutting the Mustard - James Fallows - National - The Atlantic

The Case Against Expatriation: Not Cutting the Mustard - James Fallows - National - The Atlantic: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Having lived overseas I can understand this fellow's point.

And I met many Americans (and Brits and Aussies and Dutch) who fit that mold. I toyed with the idea of never returning, but never seriously.