Monday, September 06, 2021

PARTIAL STORY OF AMERICAN INGINUITY: EXTRACTED FROM REVOLUTIONARY IDEA OF MASS MANUFACTURING OF GUNS USED PRIMARILY TO KILL AND TERRORIZE INDENGENOUS FOLKS MORE EFFICIENTLY

 


INTRODUCTION:  The other night, while turning on one of my most used products of the industrial revolution – my relatively big screened smart television set – I listened to, and watched the following exchange of information. 

TRANSCRIPT FROM:  video clip from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, Season 23, Episode 14 Titled Appraisal: 1834 US Model 1819 Hall Rifle & Bayonet

GUN OWNERS’ WIFE - This rifle belongs to my husband.  He inherited it from his grandfather, and to be honest with you that’s all I know about it.  My husband told me to tell you it’s a breach loader, which I am sure you know.  That is supposed to make it unusual, perhaps. 

APPRAISER - Well, it is for the time period it was produced.  What you have here is a US Model 1819 Hall Rifle.  Bear in mind that during the early part of the 19th Century, the standard military arm is a flint lock, muzzle loading, smooth bore weapon.  This is innovative because not only is it a rifle, so it has a rifled bore that gives you more accuracy at greater distance, it is also a breach loading weapon.  By operating this lever, you open the breach, you can put in your powder and your ball, close your breach again, and your ready to go!  Much faster then loading manually through the muzzle with a ramrod.  However, that’s not the really innovative part of this story. 

This is the story of the American Industrial Revolution.  John Halls design concepts and manufacturing concepts, provided for the first interchangeable parts guns to ever be produced at a US arsenal.  The US Government was so impressed with what he had come up with, that they hired him to build the rifle works at Harpers Ferry, which was one of our two national armories during that period.  And the guns that he produced there, were made with fully interchangeable parts.  And this is a time when any manufacturing is by hand essentially, and even though some machine tools are being used, there is no interchangeability of parts.  If you took five guns and took them apart, you could not swap the parts between them.  Any Hall rifle made at Harper Ferry could be exchanged with any other.  So, it was an amazing feat of engineering.  Now Hall starts working in 1819, it takes him several years to get the rifle works up, operating, and producing guns.  By the end of the 1830’s he produced about 20,000 of these rifles. 

It had one little design flaw.  When you fire the gun, gas tends to leak out of the breach area here.  So, every time you fire it, you’ve got this puff of smoke, and hot gas right in front of your face.  So, for some people it wasn’t a real popular weapon.  (Gun owners’ wife can be heard laughing at this.)

It’s got a couple of little condition issues.  It’s missing the top jaw and the screw that held the flint here.  And it’s got a little crack here which is not uncommon in Hall rifles.  When you see this crack, you know that sometime, probably in the last 50 or 100 years, someone took the gun apart inappropriately, and that’s how the crack was developed. 

The other neat thing you have is the bayonet.  Those were interchangeable, any Hall bayonet would fit on any Hall rifle.  This gun was made in 1834, right on top of the breech (lady – ok its on there).  You got the marks.  [J.H. HALL, H. FERRY US 1834].  For John Hall, Harpers Ferry, it was made in 1834 – during the second production run of these rifles.  Because the gun is still in its original flint lock configuration, its worth more.  The gun on its own in a retail setting is going sell somewhere between 2500 and 3000 dollars.  (WIFE OF GUN OWNER can be heard exclaiming – haa -ok!).  The bayonet adds at least another 500 dollars to that price. 

So, you’ve got a 3000 to 3500 dollar package here.  And you have a great example of American ingenuity, and the birth of the American system of interchangeable parts manufacturing. 

GUN OWNERS WIFE – Nice!  Well thank you so much.  Well it will stay in the family, and stay on the wall. 

APPRAISER – Fantastic! 

GUN OWNERS WIFE – Were not selling it!

CONCLUSION OF CLIP CAPTION – 1834 US Model 1819 Hall Rifle & Bayonet $3000 to $3500. 

QUESTIONS AND OTHER THOUGHTS THAT CAME TO MIND AFTER WATCHING THIS–

How many Indians (and who were they) were killed by the 20,000 or so of these types of rifles?

Was the neatness of the interchangeability of the bayonet, in that if the bayonet became stuck in the bones of the person you were trying to kill, the ability to find another bayonet you could easily attach to your rifle so you could stab more people in between shooting them (if that makes sense)? 

How much money did Mr. Hall make for his innovative manufacturing techniques?

How popular was the breechloader for folks facing the other end of the barrel?

What was life like for folks employed to manufacture the guns for Mr. Hall, using his innovative new techniques? 

How did this gun  with interchangeable bayonet used primarily to kill and terrorize people currently valued at $3000-3500,and other products of America’s Industrial Revolution, help to meet the real needs of the people impacted by its manufacture and use?

How many of these sorts of mass-manufactured marvels do I have hanging on my walls and will I keep them in my family?

These and other questions might be answered in follow-up posts. 

 

Thursday, September 02, 2021

PURPLE HAZE: WILDFIRE SMOKED FRUIT COCKTAIL

 

I am not sure what inspired Jimi Hendrix to write the lyrics

Purple haze all in my brain

Lately things just don’t seem the same

Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why

‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky

but the song he entitled Purple Haze became the soundtrack inspiration I needed to complete a recent fruit canning project that I decided to also call – Purple Haze.  

The project was initiated when I removed from my basement fossil fuel fired, electrically powered, chest freezer – a couple gallons of raspberries (with a few assorted strawberries mixed in), a gallon of elderberries, and a half gallon of rhubarb and placed the fruit-filled plastic bags in large bowls to unthaw overnight.  I had collected and froze the homegrown fruit from this summer’s harvests until I gathered enough to further process and ultimately can, so I could easily eat them during the upcoming winter months.  After combining the semi-thawed multi-colored purple and red fruits in my mother’s old hand-me-down heavy duty aluminum cook pot, I added some maple syrup to the mix to sweeten the pot.  The contents were then stirred, and placed to boil on the blue flamed natural gas burner of my stove.  Then I went outside to check to see if there were anymore ripe elderberries on my backyard shrubs that I could add to the foam-covered purple concoction. 

Besides the additional quart or so of freshly ripened elderberries dangling from the tops of my elderberry bushes, I was also greeted by the smell of wildfire smoke and its visual component, the particle containing haze that turned the distant evergreen trees a softer – whiter shade of blurred gray.  Smoke from the pristine Minnesota Boundary Waters wildfires had made its way to my northwestern Wisconsin town, past my olfactory cells, and into my lungs as well as eyes.  Once again, wildfire smoke was becoming a more common part of my life on planet earth, and I am convinced (despite what I have been told) that my way of life is indeed linked back to the flames producing the smokey haze that seems to fill my days, and sometimes nights.  My way of life is defined by my dependence on the use of fossil fuels to stay alive.  This is not to say that wild fires have not always been a part of this planet, at least as far back as the times when green algae started pumping the combustion source oxygen into our atmosphere a few billion years ago or so.  However, I do believe that the rate at which the planet is currently burning is reaching a peak, at least in it’s recent history, for whatever that belief is worth.

Last year I breathed in, and got a lot of smoke in my eyes, during visits to Colorado, while record setting wildfires burned up hundreds of thousands of acres of Colorado.  This year’s Minnesota burns are relatively small in comparison with only tens of thousands of acres burned so far.  We also got some smoke in the area earlier this summer when wildfires in Canada filled what is often referred to as the “Indianhead” portion of the state, a reference to the profile formed by highlighting the outer boundary of the counties that make up this portion of northwest Wisconsin – at least some name-calling folks saw a stereotypical Indian face in the outline. 

 Fortunately, later on that latest day of smoke, I received a text message on my cellphone from the National Weather Service with the standard government issued “air quality advisory   warning me to avoid exercising and breathing the smoke filled air as best I could, especially if I had lung or heart disease.  I also came across a story on Wisconsin Public Radio, that included the suggestion from Karen Eagle, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service – "I know a lot of people in this area don't have air conditioners, but I highly recommend to keep the windows shut. That way the air won't be able to circulate from the outside in, and mask up if they can. I know that sounds kind of weird, but I’m actually sitting in the office right now with a mask on and it's been helpful."      

So returning to the song, reminded me that although Karen’s suggestion was apparently helpful:  

that girl put a spell on me

leaving me to believe that shutting myself off from the outside world, firing up the air conditioner – if I had one, and masking up would be the ticket to the solution to my latest smoke-filled woes.    

But as her spell wore off, I dove further into the latest smoking, and came across a new weather term related to these latest burns - pyrocumulusclouds.  


Mike Lock, the Fire Behavior Analyst for the Gold Team of the US Forest Service, shared with viewers of his video update, that the latest record setting burns where resulting in the creation of these crazy hot clouds.  These lightening filled storm clouds are created when volcanoes or large wildfires heat up lots of air and spew lots of particles into the sky.  These flaming events create cloud conditions where Jimi Hendrix should be advised not to be kissing the sky, unless he masks up with some heavy-duty asbestos lined mask, in order to avoid serious chapped lips, and possibly even third-degree lip-burns.  And the heat and particle generating lightening could really fry the brains of anyone who might be foolish enough to practice sky-kissing when pryocumulus clouds are present.  These twisted tales of extreme weather leave me asking the same thing Jimi asked when he sang:

Purple haze all in my eyes, uhh

Don’t know if its day or night

You got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind

Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?

Oh well, assuming that it is not the end times Jimi sang about, at least during the next fire related air alert warning when I shut myself up in the house, I will be able to enjoy some sweet purple haze fruit cocktail while I watch the world burn outside my doors.  And if the electricity still works, perhaps crank out some Jimi Hendrix tunes to dance to.  I have a feeling though, that Jimi’s concluding lyrics to his version of Purple Haze will likely be echoing through the halls of my enclosure, whether the power is still on or not

Purple haze, n-no, nooo

 Purple haze, no

its painful, baby

   

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

FOND OF FOUND FROGS

 

For the past several days, a tree frog has taken up residence in the recesses of the handle of my plastic green watering can.  When I first noticed the amphibian holed up in the dark handle, I left the plastic can in place in order to avoid disturbing the new resident, and used my galvanized can instead.  But with the dry weather, I soon found I needed both my cans to keep up with the watering needs of my gardens, so I pulled the frog’s house back into play.  I figured the jostling and splashing the frog received in the watering process would have resulted in the frog jumping ship and finding new quarters, but so far, the frog doesn’t seem to mind my occasional use of its residence, especially if I leave an inch or two of water in the bottom of the can.  It even tolerated my carrying the can into the darker garage where I could shine a spot light on the frog to film a video of my watering can model (see below). 


I suspect that the watering can frog is the same frog who had been hanging out the recycling bin I keep below the watering can, but since most tree frogs look alike to me, I can’t say for sure if it is the same frog.  I have come across what seems like a pretty diverse mix of other frogs and a toad in my gardens today.  Besides the Gray Treefrog in the watering can, I found an American Toad in what I hope will be my fruit tree garden, what I think was a Spring Peeper near the perennial herb garden, and last but not least what might have been a wood frog in the hay garden (or lawn).  Although I can’t say for sure, I would venture to guess that all the watering I have been doing this summer is attracting the moisture loving creatures to my place of residence. 

As my sprinkler continues to spray out a constant stream of water over my gardens, I get lulled, by the repetitive sputtering sound the water makes as it drives the spring-loaded water distributer back and forth, into thinking this endless stream of water will always be there to keep my gardens green and my amphibian friends happy.  Of course, there is a part of me that realizes that despite the lifetime of hypnotisms I have been receiving, that water like so many of the other things I take for granted is in limited supply.  I do my best to only use the amount of water I need – which I verify by putting a rain gauge in each garden as I water to stop the flow when I hit the magic one-inch mark.  I worry however that should more of my neighbors try to convert their lawns to food gardens, that in years to come the Village well that supplies my watering needs, might just go dry.  Especially if the planet continues to heat up, and as my higher ground brown grass reminds me, dry up as well – at least in my neighborhood. 

For the moment, I take comfort in finding frogs and toads hanging out with me, and tolerating my annoying ways.  But as the smokey haze from the Canadian wildfires continues to block out the sun for what I think is going on three weeks, I am not so sure I should get too comfortable with my fellow water loving creatures.  The days of a seemingly endless supply of fresh water, and other creature tolerance – I do believe may be coming to an end.  Where will we all go then when we need some water? 

Thursday, July 08, 2021

CONTEMPLATING FOOD

 



FIVE CONTEMPLATIONS BEFORE MEALS

1.  How much energy and efforts it took, to get this food to me;

2.  How I honor this gift of life on a daily basis and how I give back what is offered to me;

3.  How this food protects me from the greed of anger and the illusion of being seperate;

4.  How this food nourishes my body and maintains my health;

5.  How this food awakens me to my life and instils in me the joy to keep walking.  


From WHEN WE EAT WE ARE EATING THE WORLD

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

ASSORTED ACTS OF KINDNESS

 


Some thoughts from October 18, 2004 that brought back memories of an old neighbor who passed on July 3, 2021.

I waited with my mom and dad at the VA hospital while my dad was having some exams.  As I sat in the waiting room, I started talking with a woman who was waiting for her husband who was also having an exam.  She told me about a book she recently came across that was written by her husband’s lieutenant from the Vietnam War.  She had first heard about the book from a friend who was reading it and then called her to tell her that the book had mentioned her husband.  The woman did not believe that her husband could be mentioned in a book, but then read the book and found out it was true. 

The book was about the experiences of a young lieutenant while he served in Viet Nam during the war.  I asked her what part her husband played in the book and she told me that her husband was only eighteen when he went to war.  He was assigned as a machine gunner in the lieutenant’s unit.  The lieutenant had stepped on a land mine called a “Bouncing Betty” that was designed to “jump” up out of the ground and then explode.  Apparently, the lieutenant had two legs and an arm blown off by “Betty”.  Her husband had gone over to the lieutenant and asked if there was anything he could do to help him and the lieutenant asked him to go pick up his arm as he did not want to leave it lying in the jungle.  So, he went and got the arm and placed it on the stretcher next to the lieutenant.  As the helicopter was landing to take the wounded lieutenant away, one of the soldiers carrying him became nauseous and slipped and as a result the lieutenant’s detached arm fell to the ground once more.  Her husband again picked up the arm and placed it back with the lieutenant on the stretcher. 

The woman talked about how reading the book had helped her to finally understand some of what her husband had been through in Vietnam.  She mentioned that she had told her children that their father’s experiences in the war had shaped who he had become.  The woman said that reading about the act of kindness her husband had done helped her to see the acts of kindness he had done in his life since then.  Her eyes filled with tears when she talked about the kindness in her husband. When her husband returned, I said goodbye to the woman, and then her husband whom I had not met before came up to me and shook my hand.  As I looked into his eyes, I could see that he was indeed a very kind man.   

Later in the day we sat in another waiting area and I noticed a poster taped to the window over the chairs where my parents sat.  The poster read, “VA Cares; about veterans exposed to ionizing radiation, we have programs to help you”.  The poster went on to list some telephone numbers and web sites that could be contacted for more information.  It seemed ironic that an organization would show its concern for veterans by proclaiming that they cared on a poster and then sending them for help by going to a web site or calling a telephone number.  Was not caring something that human beings were supposed to do with each other face to face? When had it become easier to use posters, computers, or telephones to do the caring for us?   It seemed to me that if we really cared about veterans, why did we continue to send them to war, or only post our concern if they became ill from exposure to weapons meant to kill our enemy?  It was unfortunate that we used the veterans first and then cared for them later if they came back wounded or sick.  Would it make a difference if we cared for them face to face, before we sent them off to war?

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Spring Runoff Trade River Headwaters

 


Video clips along the headwaters of the Trade River in Straight Lake State Park located in Polk County Wisconsin filmed March 11, 2021.  

Thursday, December 31, 2020

CAFFINATED OBSERVATIONS ON RECYCLING CORVIDS AT THE CLOSE OF THE COVID YEAR

Pencil Tracing of Crow on the Wing
on Recycled Paper in Repurposed Frame.


I was treated to the antics of some scavenging crows this morning.  I had returned to my front enclosed and heated porch, with my second cup of coffee, while I participated in my morning ritual of drinking the beverage while trying to swallow the latest news from the world-wide-web.  And while walking to my favorite perch in front of my computer screen in front of the screened windows, overlooking the trees in my front yard, I noticed one of the large black birds swooping through the tree branches, with what appeared to be a large chunk of bread, donut, or other flour-based treat clasped in its beak. I ducked down to get a better view through the window, to try and see where the fortunate bird might have scored the gift from we benevolent humans, and noticed my neighbors overflowing green plastic garbage bin placed next to the street.  The “trashcan” parked at the snow-covered curb reminded me that it must be garbage day-Thursday, which in this case was also New Years Eve - the last garbage day of the year.  

 Concern filled my mind, as I pondered if I should go out to add my collection of garbage to the bins who had lined the street to wait for their turn to be dumped into the soon to arrive garbage truck, where it could then conveniently be carted away to some unknown landfill, in a place, somewhere far away.  Optimistically I recalled from my last trip to get rid of another bag of my own trash that my bin was still half empty.  Unless I produced a lot of trash in the first days of the new year, I would not have to worry about curious critters finding their way into my completely closed bin in hopes of feeding on my discarded bones, bread, or other edibles for at least another week.  I put that worry out of my mind and returned to watching the crows trying to eat garbage, while I drank my coffee.

Gathered around the neighbors “can” was a collection of the black feathered corvids – three or four of them perched in the branches of the trees closest to the bin, and another three or four where climbing around the up-tilted top of the over-topped bin, trying to get a foothold on the lid, so they could take a stab at trying to score some scraps of their own.  It was probably just my overly optimistic ongoing attitude, but the crows seemed to be enjoying their ride as they took turns sliding down the sloping snow covered lid of the bin taking their best shot at trying to rip something tasty from the white plastic bags enshrouding the former treasures soon to be turned to entombed trash. 

The assemblage of crows, which if there were more of them might have been called a “murder”, but likely the flock of a few only constituted a “mob”, continued their antics while I finished off my second cup of coffee.  One of them landed in one of the dead branches in the eighty or so year old oak tree in my front yard, and began washing up after breakfast.  The beak and face washing consisted of the crow rapidly wiping first the left, and then the right side of its large black beak against the snow that lined the top of the branch the bird was perched on.  I wondered if the morning morsel scored from the neighbors’ garbage was coated with butter, another greasy substance, or maybe sticky frosting as the crow seemed to have to put a lot of effort into the cleanup process. 

As an after thought, I also contemplated if the crow struggled like I did with trying to remember which was the left and which was the right side of its beak. After repeating this face washing multiple times, the crow then began to gulp down beak-fulls of snow it scooped up from around it’s claws, to pass on  to its waiting gizzard, in an attempt to flush away the previously consumed ground up junk-food, or maybe to just stay hydrated.  The bird then flew off, and was eventually joined by the rest of the mob who each in turn eventually took off to apparently participate in more sustainable practices after they grew weary of the their attempts at recycling the neighbors organic wastes from the unclosed receptacle.     

Last Garbage Truck of the Year
as Viewed from Screen Porch.


Eventually, the garbage truck showed up, stopped in front of the overflowing bin, and dropped down the claw-like mechanical grabber around the waiting plastic garbage can.  It was then hoisted up to the top of the trucks trash holding cargo bay, where the white plastic bags and other contents were dumped and combined with the collections from the rest of the community.  The claws of the bin grabber then returned the now empty bin to its resting place at the curb where it was released to wait for the neighbors to retrieve it and refill it with their coming weeks collection of trash.  As the truck drove off to collect more human waste, I worried that the diligent waste hauling humans would have to repaint the logo on the side of their trash truck that proclaimed “Waterman’s Recycling and Disposal”, proudly displayed next to a waving American flag, with the slogan “Keeping It Clean” placed thoughtfully below the flag.    

For we the patriotic consumers who employed Waterman’s to carry away our trash, were informed the previous week that it was no longer cost effective for the company to send a second truck around on the first and third Thursdays of the month to collect what we had for years been convinced was the more valuable separated “recyclable” portion of our trash.  For the coming new year anyway, Waterman’s would be focusing on the more lucrative “disposal” only portion of their business, and we would have to deal with the recyclables, if we so choose, on our own, or return once again to the less environmentally-friendly option of comingling the recyclables with the rest of our trash in the final resting place of the properly designed landfill in somebody else's back yard.   

And with that, I went off to refill my last cup of coffee for the year, in hopes that it wouldn’t overflow, like the neighbor’s garbage bin, and listened to the screeching brakes of the retreating truck as it slowed down to pick up one more batch of disposables from a neighbor somewhere further on down the road.