The Individual and the Collective

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Recently I was reading the comments after a notice about the FCC streamlining the process for obtaining a ham radio license. Several people were enthusiastically relating that they had just gotten their license and others were looking forward to getting one. Then come the comment, “The airwaves belong to all of us. Fuck the FCC”. I couldn’t help but laugh. The thing is, he’s right. They do. The problem is that without a protocol for using the radio spectrum they would be useless to all of us with frequencies overlapping, impossible interference, gargled communications, etc. It’s just the nature of the beast. A protocol for shared use must be established and that is the function of the FCC. I believe that’s the nature of a number of things in the world. The world is a complex, multi-faceted place and sometimes in order for us to share it we have to establish protocols.

Pandemic 2020

Day N of the pandemic. I don’t know what N is but it’s less than 90 and greater than 30, I would guess. I’m walking down Union Road on my morning walk. I’ve just passed the bridge over the Lockatong Creek and I’m starting to go up the hill. I have never heard it so quiet on a Monday morning in New Jersey in my life.

Reflections on a Sunday morning walk

Numerically today is  the one year anniversary since my lifelong acquaintance John died. However, since it was a leap year it’s more accurately about a year since the earth has been in the same place in space relative to the sun, so it was sometime between yesterday and today. That is especially significant to me because I knew him longer than pretty much everybody on earth. We bonded in Mrs. Babcock’s second grade class during a socialization period where we were telling tall tales about sliding our sleds down the hills and all sorts of made up adventures while doing so. We laughed and we laughed. 

We weren’t close but we were comfortable in one another’s presence for our entire lives. We did have interactions over the years and you could say he was a lifelong friend of sorts. I reflect on these things because I think a lot about death I think a lot about life and what it’s about. I think a lot about this world and what the significance of all of this. I think a lot about the ontology of it and about God and about naturalistic explanations and understanding and comprehension of it  I think about all of these things and I have for all of my life. I wish I could understand before I die. Every little piece of the puzzle I put together makes my understanding a little more complete but it’s never done. It’s never finished.

Anyway it’s appropriate that it is a Sunday and I’m walking over to the pond even though I realize, now that I’ve started down the road, that  I can’t get through the path by the bridge because there will be a puddle of water there and all I have is my sneakers. I could get my feet wet but, I don’t want to do that so I’ll just walk down to the pond, to reflect for a bit, then turn and retrace my steps back to Union Road. It’ll be my Sunday morning commune with God. Then I shall walk back home.

Monday, March 23, 2020

It’s a rainy, gloomy, chilling, dreary day. The Covid 19 pandemic is just getting into worldwide full swing. I have been staying at home constantly, except for morning walks and bicycle rides and an occasional trip to the market. I hope I can avoid this virus, since I am in a high risk group for severe illness and further lung damage due to a lifelong smoking habit that I finally left behind ten years ago. Of course, it depends I guess on innumerable factors including my own previous exposure to viruses of every which shape and form throughout my life. Who knows? What I do know is that nothing is given and we have to make plans and go ahead anyway as if they were.

Saturday, March 7 , 2020

I walked down the path through the park during my walkabout in this morning in New Jersey. I was thinking again about the solar machine I am building and two prototype versions which I want to begin installing at the farm this summer. The notion of farm machinery with cast iron parts and a 100 year lifespan and my grandfather sitting on the stump next to the 6 Volt battery powered electric fence unit he had installed at the farm all crossed my mind. I think it was the self sustained remoteness of it that led him to sit on a wood stump next to it as it thunked next to him, clicking like a clock and with each pulse kicking the pendulum away for anther swing and sending a high voltage pulse through the thousands of feet of a bare single wire strung on fenceposts and insulators to the far meadows and trees, keeping the cattle safely in the night pasture and saving hundreds of hours of fencing labor keeping the pasture fenced in the old fashioned way. He must have sat there sometimes unbeknownst to everyone in the moonlight, thinking of his grown children, his grandchildren, his long departed wife Rosa, the past, life itself, and that remote, independent beating machine next to him, out in the field powered by a lantern battery. I thought of that and how all of that drives me to invent and design this modest, rugged machine that runs by itself on sunlight and will capture and transform over 400,000 Kilowatt hours of solar energy into hot water and electricity over the next 100 years.

At that moment the whole world suddenly brightened as the morning overcast parted for a few seconds in the wind and the light of the sun burst though. “I help you someday, Butch”, his long ago words bubbled to mind in the same moment and I knew with little doubt I had just been contacted by my grandfather. Life is never easy even when we know where we must go and what we must do, but I feel ever more confident that my grandfather would be pleased with starting the solar installation at the farm.