Monday, October 31, 2011

Remount Station, 1917

Relates back, in some ways, to my attempted poll on Working With Animals.

Will somebody please turn out the lights?

The news has hit today that Kim Kardashian is filing from divorce from whomever she married two months ago.

It's good to know that in this time of crisis, with ever increasing distressing news, with moral, financial, and political decline becoming more evident every day, that our nation still has time to following the actions of twits who are famous only for being famous.  It's a sign that, um. . . . , well, um.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Old Picture of the Day: The Iron Horse

Old Picture of the Day: The Iron Horse: The Iron Horse, or Steam Locomotive is probably as responsible as anything for taming the West, and leading to a country that stretched from...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Old Picture of the Day: Emiliano and his Men

Old Picture of the Day: Emiliano and his Men: Good Monday morning to you all. Hopefully some of you have this week off and can enjoy a little time unwinding from the busy year. Bandit We...

Old Picture of the Day: The Brothers Madero

Old Picture of the Day: The Brothers Madero: So yesterday we talked about the short-lived presidency of Francisco Madero. I suggested the tragedy was due to him forgetting his bandit r...

Old Picture of the Day: The Sad Saga of Maximo Castillo

Old Picture of the Day: The Sad Saga of Maximo Castillo: I have to say I have very much enjoyed researching Mexican Bandits and the Revolution of 1910. It is a particularly hard topic to get your ...

Old Picture of the Day: The Butcher

Old Picture of the Day: The Butcher: Merry Christmas to you all. I hope you have a blessed day, and enjoy some good times with family. We will not have a mystery person contest...

Old Picture of the Day: Old Delivery Truck

Old Picture of the Day: Old Delivery Truck: Good morning to you all, and I hope each of you had a blessed Easter weekend. I had a great time, and our sunrise service was excellent. Th...

Old Picture of the Day: Old Dump Trucks

Old Picture of the Day: Old Dump Trucks: Today's picture is from about 1910. It shows three old dump trucks. The sign on the building and on the trucks reads "S. M. Frazier". I am...

Old Picture of the Day: United States Express Truck

Old Picture of the Day: United States Express Truck: Today's picture was taken in about 1910, and it shows men loading a cabinet onto a United States Express Company truck. I guess this was b...

Old Picture of the Day: Train Deopot

Old Picture of the Day: Train Deopot: I realize that this is Train Week, and that this picture does not have a train in it. This is the train depot in Maricopa, Arizona. It is t...

And here's another classic example.

Old Picture of the Day: Old Train Station

Old Picture of the Day: Old Train Station: We finish out the week with this picture of a train station in Gardiner, Montana. The picture was taken in 1905. This is a classic photogr...

Classic example of an early 20th Century rural Western train station.

The Big Crash

Today In Wyoming's History: October 29.

Today is the day, in 1929, when the legendary Wall Street Crash occurred. In spite of what we might think, we've never seen anything like it since. Up to 1/3d of the population ultimately was out of work in the United States and Canada. There was no real government established "safety net", and in that era, men were the overwhelming majority of wage earners which meant, by extension, that a huge number of families were left with no ability to support themselves. Every region, and every industry, in the country was impacted.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Today in History. October 28, 1919

The Volstead Act goes into effect. Booze, banned.

The movement to ban alcohol had really been around for a good twenty or so years, and was sort of oddly and closely wrapped up with a bunch of other social movements to which it otherwise had no obvious connection. For example, it was related in a way to the Women's Sufferance Movement, even though voting and drinking (or not drinking) are not obviously connected.

It was really World War One, however, that managed to get Prohibition enough traction to be come the law. That may sound odd, but it was the fear that American servicemen had been exposed to booze and corruption in France that caused enough Americans to want to address what they feared would be a post war drinking problem to pass it. Of course, we know the rest of the story.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On Painted Bricks: Opal, Wyoming

I recently posted a photo of a general store on Painted Bricks, as Painted Bricks: Opal, Wyoming.

This store isn't the Old West type General Store we so often imagine, but an example of a substantial business located in a small town. Indeed, this was a substantial business because it was in a small, isolated, town. This sort of general store basically doesn't exist anymore, and indeed this store doesn't exist anymore. The town hardly exists.

But not all that long ago, before the Safeway's and Albertson's became the norm, and before WalMart, small towns like this were both isolated, and viable, served by stores like this one. A fairly large, two story, brick building, selling everything, including groceries. As can also be seen, this town was serviced by rail.

As odd as it may seem to us today, this town, which the highway bypasses today, and which was always remote, once had a railhead, and no doubt a hotel, and a substantial general store. A person could easily stay there for a day or two if need be, or live there without needing to get the necessities elsewhere. No longer the case.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Holscher's Hub: Who would have guessed it?

Holscher's Hub: Who would have guessed it?: A cartoon blog by a female West Point cadet, about West Point . That's not something I would ever have expected to see.

In terms of change, sort of speaks for itself.

Electronic Communications

On Saturday I was staying in a hotel room with my family, in Rapid City. It was a quick trip, and I forgot to take a book, which is my traveling habit.

I did, however, take my Ipod, which has become my traveling habit, substituting, for the most part, for the radio.

While there, there was a moment when I found that both my son and I were on our Ipods, I actually took a photograph of him on his with mine, and it struck me how dependent we've become on modern electronics. During the time I was there, I checked email to check on a relative in the hospital, I found that an old friend had "friended" me on Facebook, and I accepted, I actually took a photograph from the hotel and posted it on Facebook, with my Ipod, and I checked for the local Mass times for Saturday and Sunday masses in Rapid City. I also checked Google Maps for various things while there.

Recently, while in Tulsa for business, I used Facetime on my Ipod to connect with my daughter's Ipod and visit with my family. It's free, as long as you have a WiFi connection, and while the video quality isn't good, the audio is, and you can see your family.

I started to think about this, and the dependency we have developed on this in short order. It's temping to bemoan it, and indeed there is a lot to bemoan about how technological and electronic we have become. On the other hand, however, I'm not so sure that in some ways all of this doesn't take us back a bit to one of the more warmly remembered aspects of our past, which is who people were in close association all the time. To a degree, this lets us do that, although the element of distance and separation is still there. Still, at any rate, for the traveler, things aren't as lonely as they used to be.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pay the last penny

Gospel according to Luke: 12:54-59

Jesus said to the crowds,
"When you see a cloud rising in the west
you say immediately that it is going to rain--and so it does;
and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south
you say that it is going to be hot--and so it is.
You hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky;
why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

"Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate,
make an effort to settle the matter on the way;
otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge,
and the judge hand you over to the constable,
and the constable throw you into prison.
I say to you, you will not be released
until you have paid the last penny."
I've seen this passage from Luke distinguished by commentators by era, ours to the period in which it was spoken. That is, some people will attempt to say that this quote is unique to its period, and not a commentary on modern law:  " If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable,and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."

I don't know why this comment would be just as applicable today, as then.  It seem to me to be a perfect comment on the average legal proceeding.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Steve Jobs to the Graduates

Cigarette in the mouth, no hard hat or safety glasses. This photo was clearly taken before the invention of safety.

This audio clip is of Steve Jobs delivering a commencement address.  It's been on the radio a lot, although usually only in snippets, since his recent premature death.

The part of it that gets played is that part about finding something you "love" to do.  Basically, the advice is to do something you love for a career.

But how realistic is that for most Americans now days?  I really wonder. Certainly it isn't realistic for the great mass of people who simply enter the workforce after high school. Does anyone even care what they "love" career wise.  Men who would have been machinist or worked in factories, and liked it, are working at Wal Mart now.  I doubt they love it.

And is it even true for college graduates?  Most college grads don't go on to found a major computer company.  Most cannot.  Do they love their careers?

And assuming they do not, is this a change in the nature of the world?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Holscher's Hub: Casper's "neighborhood schools"

Holscher's Hub: Casper's "neighborhood schools"

Here's another link in from the hub blog, a rare editorial on my part.

Shifting away from that, here's a change that's occurred locally that's very much within my own lifetime and observation. This is, of course, a local story, but I'd guess that similar things have occurred in many locations.

When I was a kid, I went to Garfield Elementary School. The school had been built in the 30s, I think. Originally it was called the "Harding School", named after President Warren G. Harding, and it was a school for developmentally challenged students. Some time in the 50s, or maybe earlier, it was added on to and became Garfield Elementary School, a regular grade school for students living in that portion of the Standard Addition to the City of Casper. Basically, the school took in those students who did not go to Park, which was downtown (named for the nearby park) or Grant, which wasn't really far away either. Garfield was pretty much the only grade school on that side of town until Crest Hill was built in the 1960s.

Starting about 1990, and really getting ramped up in the late 1990s, the local school district went to a new system that abolished boundaries, and created a competitive system between the schools. Some old schools died, Garfield included. New schools were built, but without any consideration for local population considerations. They usually were built with land availability in mind.

Now the school district wants to shift back. But I doubt it really can. Too many things have changed, most locally. But some things have changed everywhere in the US. Whereas we walked to school, hardly any kid does that anymore. Vehicle transportation is the norm for everyone now. I routinely find that various people I'm working with, no matter where they are located, will have to stop work early to pick up children from school. That just didn't happen with us, when we were young. We walked to school, and walked back.

And competition between schools seems to be the norm all over now. Lots of kids go to "charter schools", etc. Our district may be unusual in that all the schools are competing with each other, but an element of competition seems to have come in everywhere. This makes public schools a bit more like private schools, in some locations. Generally, I think that's a good thing.

On one more thing, it is simply the case that a lot more students, no matter how we might imagine things to be, complete school, or more grades of school, than they used to. Even as late as mid 20th Century a very high percentage of Americans did not complete high school. Probably around 40%, on average, of Americans left school in their mid to late teens at that time. It wasn't regarded as that big of deal. Arguably school was harder to get through then, but it was also the case that a high school degree was less valued then. It wasn't regarded as necessary for those going to work on farms or ranches (although many farmers and ranchers completed their schooling, and in some regions of the country, by that time, many were going on to college educations). And it wasn't necessary for those going on to many types of industrial, or even office, employments. Now it is not only necessary, but for many some degree of college is as well.

Holscher's Hub: Flying back from Tulsa

Holscher's Hub: Flying back from Tulsa: Sunrise over Colorado, Kansas, or Oklahoma. Wyoming.

This is another one of those topics which relate to the massive change in transportation we've witnessed over the past century. As followers of this blog know (okay, there are not followers, it's just me) this blog is attempting to focus on the first part of the 20th Century, and look at that era, but we do occasionally stray into more recent ones for comparison purposes as well.

This topic nicely illustrates these changes.

On Sunday I flew down to Tulsa, which is the second time in the past three months I've visited Tulsa (very nice town, by the way, in my view). This time, I left Casper around noon and flew via United Airlines to Denver Colorado. I had a three hour lay over in Denver, and then flew on to Tulsa, arriving about 8:00 p.m. their time. I worked in Tulsa the next day, and then I flew back yesterday morning, leaving Tulsa about 6:30 am. I was back in my office about 10:00 am, local time.

Okay no big deal, right?

Well, take this back a century and lets do the same trip, for the same purpose.

Now, granted, a person in Casper Wyoming would be pretty unlikely to make such a business trip to Tulsa in 1911. That's illustrative of the change right there. Hardly anyone would do that unless there was a very significant reason to do so. Given the region, I don't doubt that this did sometimes occur, but it would be infrequent. By the 1930s, however, such a trip would have been much more likely.

In either event, such a trip would have been by train, not plane (plane is a theoretical possibility for the 30s, but mostly theoretical). What would that have entailed. Well, it would have started with boarding the train downtown here in Casper, probably early Sunday morning, and then making a series of train transfers all day long. You'd probably sleep in the train at night. Maybe you'd have to leave on Saturday, particularly if you intended to start work on Monday.

You'd still stay over Monday night, as I did, but you'd re-board a train on Tuesday morning, and spend all day traveling back.

Perhaps all this doesn't seem as dramatic of change to you, as to me, but it is significant. What we now do in a matter of hours was then done in terms of days. I still had time to myself Sunday morning, and worked most of Monday here in my office. That, at least, would have been different.

What about plane travel, when that became possible? I'm not sure when Casper received regular air traffic, but I believe it would have been some point in the 1930s. I have no idea what the travel patterns were like, but it sure would have been a lot slower. Could you fly from Casper to Tulsa in a day? Perhaps, but I'd guess it would have been pretty much an all day type of deal.

Interesting article from the Tulsa newspaper.

Not the usual fare here, but an interesting article that notes some societal changes from the Tulsa newspaper.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Funding Failure

One of the topics that's been kicking around the GOP Presidential race is that of student loans.  At least one candidate, Ron Paul, says he wants to phase them out altogether.

I wouldn't be in favor of that, but I really do think that the entire topic needs to be revisited, as it's helping to fund failure, and has a weird impact on our economy.  This is the reason why.

Generally, student loans are a government backed system in which private young individuals receive funding for university or college irrespective of the needs of the economy, or the wisdom of their choice.  I'm not suggesting, of course, that we should override the choices of individuals who make study choices that are not likely to advance our collective economic well-being, but I do feel that it's a bad economic choice to fund them.

Students of the history of student loans often point out that they've been a boost to the American economy, which is somewhat true, but which really confuses the loans with the GI Bill, which was an outright grant.  At any rate, what they fail to note is that the early post World War Two American economy was such that that the student population (largely male) was unlikely to be study something that wasn't directly useable in the work sphere, and that having a college degree in the 1945 to 1975 time frame was rare enough that nearly any college degree could translate into business utility.  Neither of those factors is true today.  Indeed, at this point in time college degrees have become so common that a lot of them have no economic value to their holders at all.

This is not to say that pursing a college degree is worthless. That would hardly be true.  But if the government is to back the study of something, it ought to be something useful to the nation as a whole.  Not something that's likely to have no use to the nation, and which moreover is likely to have no real value to the holder in later economic terms.

As an example of this, which I've already noted here, one of the protestors at the Wall Street occupation was reported to have a $90,000 student loan for the study of art.  Why would the nation help fund this.  If she wants to study art, the more power to her, I just don't want to help.  In economic terms, this isn't going to help the nation at all, and frankly she'll be really lucky if she ever fines a job.  By funding her, we've made ourselves poorer and, chances are, her too.

What I'd propose to do is to restrict funding to areas where we really feel we need to boost the nation's educated populace.  If we're weak in the sciences or engineering, that's what I'd fund.  Other areas where we need new workers, who need an education to obtain it, would likewise be eligible for loans.  I wouldn't bother funding art students, or literature students. That doesn't mean their studies are unimportant culturally, or personally, but rather if they are important, it's in a manner that cannot be economically judged, and therefore people shouldn't be taxed to help fund it.  Law is the same way.  The nation has a vast oversupply of lawyers and I can't see any good reason to give a person a loan to study that.

I don't think that this would mean these other fields would dry up by any means.  But it probably would mean that a lot of people who don't qualify for private scholarships and who don't otherwise have the means of obtaining such a degree would do something else. Frankly, however, that would be a good thing, as by funding the non economic, we're fueling the hopes of a lot of people who aren't going to be able to find employment later.

And, no, I didn't have any student loans, thanks to the National Guard.

An observation on protesting

Protestors are occupying Wall Street right now.

But why?  Nobody seems to be able to define the nature of the protest.  It seems partly economic, but every other cause imaginable, on the left, is also being advanced in the protest.

A protest that protest for every left wing cause is not going to do anything, and actually looks fairly foolish.

There are some legitimate things to protest right now.  But what are they protesting?

An Observation on Immigration

There's some interesting things going on, in terms of immigration law, right now, but I don't know how many people have noticed it.

One thing is that Alabama has passed a strict new immigration law, and it appears that illegal aliens are clearing out of Alabama at a surprising rate.  The undercurrent in the news is that this is unjust, but it cannot be denied that there are a large number of people in the country illegally, and that if the Federal government was actually capable of enforcing the law in this area, these people would not be in the country.

At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case concerning whether or not a state can pass its own laws regarding illegal immigration.  This is full of all sorts of ironies.  At one time, the US government did enforce immigration laws in the interior of the country, rather than just at the border, but an agreement reached with forces basically opposing immigration restrictions resulted in the US agreeing not to do that.  That's why it is basically the case that illegal immigrants face much reduced risks of being caught if they get over the border and into the interior of the country.

Most Americans are not anti immigrant, they are simply not in favor of unrestricted immigration.  People are well aware that unrestricted immigration reduces wages country wide and reduces employment for those legally here.  Illegal immigrants, already being illegal, frequently work at low wages and put up with poor living conditions.  You have to admire them for their drive, but by extension this means that wages in certain types of employments are kept low and an American cannot, therefore, earn a living in those occupations.  Remove illegal aliens from the country, and wages in those occupations would rise.  Yes, it would mean a rise in the price of some things too, but frankly, that's only just.

Encouraging illegal immigration, which the GOP at the national level basically does by ignoring the law as it favors low prices on things, and which the Democrats at the national level do because they basically favor an open border, results in American unemployment and, I suspect, also provides a relief valve for Mexico which needs to clean up its own house.  Of note there, however, for the first time in its history most Mexicans are in the middle class, so things really are changing in Mexico.  Perhaps this problem will take care of itself.

Anyhow, the Federal government failing to enforce its own laws is shameful.  It's no wonder that the states are acting.  And this is yet another example of how the national government isn't really fully functioning right now. The Federal government suing to stop states from enforcing what are essentially Federal provisions, when it won't do it, is bizarre.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Unsolicited Career Advice No. 3: Excitement isn't necessarily exciting.

In this day and age a fair number of people are inspired to enter careers based on television and film portrayals of that occupation.  This isn't really new, I'd note.  I've heard of a fair number of people being inspired to become lawyers because of older films, like To Kill A Mockingbird, or Anatomy of a Murder.  Both fine films, I'd note.  I'll be the same is currently true for people becoming fireman today, as fireman dramas have been pretty common.  War stories, of course, seem to be perpetually.

But a person should really think about it if they are saying things like "I loved the courtroom drama and knew I wanted to do that".

We love the depictions of stress in story as we like artificial stress.  We don't like real stress, however.

Stressful situations are usually agony for the people in them.  A person would be foolish to watch The Sands of Iwo Jima and think they wanted to be a combat Marine, as being a combat Marine is not fun at all.  Seeing a trial lawyer in a movie may be fun, but that doesn't mean actually working a trial is (just ask anyone who has ever done one).  There's no doubt a million other examples.

So, if we're looking for excitement in a career, we should keep in mind there's good excitement and bad.  If we think something looks fun because it's "exciting", we should consider what that excitement really would be like.

UW Religion Today Column for Oct. 9-15: Moral Challenges in Catholic Higher Education

UW Religion Today Column for Oct. 9-15: Moral Challenges in Catholic Higher Education

An observation:

"As a result, Catholic University is being sued by Professor John F. Banzhaf under Washington's strict anti-discrimination law. The restriction of freshman dorms to single-sex is criticized as sexual discrimination"

Obviously Professor Banzhaf is a complete idiot. Discrimination? Please.

Can somebody check Prof Banzhaf's credentials? What was his degree in?

"Many if not most American Catholics disagree with their church's position on family planning and use contraceptives regularly. Furthermore, Catholic University employs many non-Catholics on its staff. Should the university force them to pay for contraceptive services when all other Americans can use them for free?"

Why should any employer have to pay for anyone's contraception?  I've never grasped that.  Even setting aside the moral aspects of contraception, what about the morality of taxing people to subsidize sex?  Doesn't seem like a very fair thing to do.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Unsolicited Career Advice No. 2: Don't count on outside observations about another occupation.

When assessing careers, don't count on the members of one profession or occupation to be able to assess what another is like.

Lots of that type of advice is given.  People will say, for example, "you should be a lawyer" or "you should be a doctor" or you should be an accountant, based on their view of what these people do, even if they have no real experience with that work themselves..  Somebody, for example, sat through a lawsuit and found it fascinating, or saw lawyers interviewed on television and found that fascinating, and based their view on what a lawyer does based on that.  Or somebody likes their doctor, or maybe their doctor's car.  Such opinions are wholly erroneous.  Same with negative views.  Somebody will hate members of some profession based on what that individual did, rather than on what the professionals actually do.  A person must get the inside view, not the outside one.

No, that doesn't sound nifty to me.

Two nights ago my son answered the phone, and it was a solicitor from a hotel outfit. Somewhere during business travel I stayed at one of their hotels, and I must have enrolled in their program to get some pricing advantage.

Of course, it was some sort of time sales sales pitch.  I listened through the babble about going to Hawaii, when suddenly that deal disappeared, and the offer was for Orlando Florida.

Now, here I should note that I'm no doubt a tele solicitors worst nightmare.  I usually won't even listen to the pitch, and I'm such a contrarian that the conventional arguments they have are completely lost on my.  For example:

Q.  Now sir, how much would you  normally pay to go to Orlando?

A.  Um, I don't know. . .

Q. Well sir, when was the last time you were there?

A.  Um, five years ago.

Q.  Well, it's changed a lot, would you like to go back?

A.  No.

Q.  Um, why not.

A.  Why would I?

Q.  Well, there's a lot to do, what did you do last time?

A.  Worked.

Q. Well, it's time to go to play. . .you'd like to do that, right!

A.  No.

Q.  Why not.

A.  There's nothing there I want to do.

Q. Well, certainly you'd like to go to the local amusement facilities. . .

A.  No I wouldn't.

Q.  Well your family would, right, don't you think your family deserves that?

A.  They deserve a vacation, that's for sure, but that's not anything I'm interested in taking them to.

Ultimately I hung up.

Style, Fashion, and the decline of American Standarsd

There have recently been an entire series of posts on blogs about American standards of appearance, and what it means.  I'm proud do say that I've yapped about it myself, and did so early, so I was a pioneer in complaining, on blogs, about this.

Well, maybe that isn't really something I should complaint about, but I have done it.

Anyhow, most recently this comes up in the context of Catholic bloggers noting how poorly some people appear at Mass.  Ms. Scalia has noted it on her blog The Anchoress.  Deacon Kandra got things rolling recently when he noted the same on The Deacon's Bench. These blog entries all noted that a lot of Catholics show up looking pretty darned bad, or even dressed in fairly suggestive clothing.  I've noted that myself, although in all honesty I think that this phenomenon was worse a few years ago, and this is less the case now.  I've also noted here and there that the standards of dress at Mass vary considerably by region, and for some good reasons.

Anyhow, I don't really think, as I've posed here before, that the decline in American sartorial standards is unique to Catholics at Mass. Rather, I feel that what people are noting is a general society wide decline is standards of dress that has become so ingrained in the American culture that we're now the sloppiest people on earth, and we don't know it.  Oddly, as I've also noted before, we still judge others by how they dress, which is interesting and says something, I guess, about the nature of symbols and appearance.

Is this phenomenon real?  If yes, why did the decline happen. And does it matter?

Well, it is real. Take a look at the last century and a half in terms of dress and it becomes pretty evident.  Let's start with the 1860 to 1920 time frame.

If we do that, what we would find is that most people owned far fewer clothes than they do now. That's an irony of this situation that often fails to be appreciated.  Lots of clothing is a fairly recent phenomenon for a lot of reasons. For one, cheap easy clothing didn't really come about until the modern machine age, when clothing could be easily mass produced.  For another, there was simply less wealth in the society until post WWII, so people couldn't buy a lot of changes in clothing. For yet another, clothing was washed by hand until the washing machine, and washing clothing by hand is really hard work.  People didn't change their clothing nearly as much as we do today.

For that matter, wool clothing was dominant up until the washing machine.  We think of blue jeans as cowboy wear today, but it wasn't until well into the 20th Century.  Wool trousers are what cowhands wore up until the washing machine became common.

Perhaps the connection with standards of dress isn't plain here, but there is a connection.  Most people had a good set of clothes for social functions.  They also had fewer clothes.  Men who worked indoors basically wore their good clothes all the time.  Those who had hard manual labor tended to have a set of good clothing for certain functions, such as church, and they didn't want to appear poor or disrespectful so they wore such clothing whenever the function suited it. For this reason, we're often surprised to see how well people are dressed just to be in town, in the 19th Century.

Additionally, clothing wasn't really used to send the same sort of personalized individual message that it is today.  Working men didn't need a set of clothing to send the message that they were working men. They had a set of clothing that suited work as they were working me.  Those who worked indoors likely did wish to send the message that they were not manual laborers, and wearing suits sent that message.  That was about all the more message their was.  Exceptions existed, in the United States, principally only for those who occupied specialized occupations, such as military men and the Protestant clergy (Catholic male clergy in the 19th Century largely dressed in suits).

Of course, as part of this, the standard was simply higher.  Caps, which so predominate now, were regarded as vulgar and vaguely obscene up until the automobile became common.  Why this is the case isn't really clear, but caps were something that were pretty much only worn by manual laborers whose jobs precluded them from wearing real hats.  That's probably the reason.

With modifications over time, this remained the general situation for pretty much the entire Western World up until the 1950s. Some things did change, but for real reasons.  Caps came in as acceptable men's ware in the 1910 to 1920 time frame, as they proved handy in connection with automobiles, and that converted them, at first, from being sort of a dirty working man's headgear into a sporty item.

Real change, however, came in the 1960s.  The "Cultural Revolution" not only brought about a challenge to every standard going, including clothing standards, or so it seemed.  In retrospect, it coincided with a change in material wealth and production in the US which was unprecedented.For the first time in our history a generation was born with the expectation of higher education and the means largely existed to obtain it.  That generation was also born into an era when material goods were much easier to obtain than previously.    As a result of that, clothing that had been the domain of working men, t-shirts and Levis, became everyday wear for middle class children trying to affect the look of working men.  We've never gone back.

But does it really matter?

Well, yes and know.  It can't rationally be argued that people should return to the clothing standards of an earlier era.  But people should be aware that clothing sends a message.  Wearing clothing that looks disheveled or sloppy in some settings sends the message that we so value ourselves that we do not value anything else. We just can't be bothered.  The spread of clothing with fake messages, like fake schools or fake entities (very common amongst the young) sends the message that we have a fake life. Rude and suggest messages demean ourselves and cause us to loose respect, no matter what our intent is.

Stated another way, G. K. Chesterton once stated that:  The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.  Today, if a person really wants to dress like a radical, they'd have to dump the t-shirts with rude suggestions blazoned on them and dress a little decently. That doesn't mean wearing suit and tie, except where appropriate, but it also means dumping the "Hurley" cap on sideways and the t-shirt with skulls on it.  This is particularly true, I'd note, for the middle aged, on whom these things look silly.

Still, at the end of the day, I find that when I go to Mass, which really matters to me, I am not dressing up a great deal.  I'm not dressed like a slob either, but I'm not in a tie.  I'm probably wearing Levis.  Most other people I see are similarly dressed.   Part of the regional culture I suppose.  I'm better dressed at work.  I'm not sure what that says about me.

Unsolicited Career Advice No. 1: Plan for life

For those high school aged kids, or college kids, pondering their career choices.

Fist a caveat.  I'm not a career coach, and have no business being one.  I'm not certain that I've ever listed to my own career advice.

Anyhow, in planning a future career, most people sort of vaguely imagine the first ten years of it, maybe.  Maybe they only generally envision the career.

Try to imagine yourself 20 or 30 years into the career.  Indeed, try to imagine yourself married, with a couple of kids, having worked it for two or three decades.  Does it still sound interesting to you?  Why?  Do you really know anyone in that position.  That is, really know them, not casually know them.  If so, talk to them and see what they have to say about it.

Holscher's Hub: Dugout

Holscher's Hub: Dugout

This is a dugout. That is, this is a very early dwelling by some homesteader, most likely.

A lot of homesteads started in this fashion. For that matter, quite a few started and failed having never become any more built up than this. I've seen dugouts that I could date to as late as the 1930s.

This gives us an example of many interesting changes that are hard for modern Americans to really appreciate. The conditions of living expectations were simply different. Not far from this example, I know of another one in which a stone dugout was built, and about a mile away another wooden framed dugout, which were the homes of families. Not single men, but families. Man, wife, and children. And this was their bedroom and kitchen.

Early homesteading was hard, of course. But homesteading continued on up until about 1934. The peak year for homesteading was 1919. The dream of owning a place of ones own was strong (it still is) but making it in agriculture was hard in ways we can hardly imagine. Movies and television have liked to portray mansions on the prairie, but that was very rare. More typically, they have liked to portray white clapboard houses on the prairie, but frankly that was somewhat of a rarity too. For a lot of people, this was their starter home. A log structure likely came later. If it was a 20th Century homestead, and the homesteaders were Irish, a house in town was actually almost as likely.

To add a bit, another thing that is hard for some to appreciate is that in the mid 20th Century there were a lot of little homesteads. They were being filed, proven up, and failing, in rapid succession. Almost all of these little outfits have been incorporated by neighboring outfits now. A few hang on as rentals to neighbors. There is no earthly way these small outfits could survive economically today, on their own, and they barely could earlier. But, while there were many of them, they were also very isolated in an era when a lot of people still traveled by horse, and those who had cars, sure didn't have speedy cars.

No, that doesn't sound nifty to me

Two nights ago my son answered the phone, and it was a solicitor from a hotel outfit. Somewhere during business travel I stayed at one of their hotels, and I must have enrolled in their program to get some pricing advantage.

Of course, it was some sort of time sales sales pitch.  I listened through the babble about going to Hawaii, when suddenly that deal disappeared, and the offer was for Orlando Florida.

Now, here I should note that I'm no doubt a tele solicitors worst nightmare.  I usually won't even listen to the pitch, and I'm such a contrarian that the conventional arguments they have are completely lost on my.  For example:

Q.  Now sir, how much would you  normally pay to go to Orlando?

A.  Um, I don't know. . .

Q. Well sir, when was the last time you were there?

A.  Um, five years ago.

Q.  Well, it's changed a lot, would you like to go back?

A.  No.

Q.  Um, why not.

A.  Why would I?

Q.  Well, there's a lot to do, what did you do last time?

A.  Worked.

Q. Well, it's time to go to play. . .you'd like to do that, right!

A.  No.

Q.  Why not.

A.  There's nothing there I want to do.

Q. Well, certainly you'd like to go to the local amusement facilities. . .

A.  No I wouldn't.

Q.  Well your family would, right, don't you think your family deserves that?

A.  They deserve a vacation, that's for sure, but that's not anything I'm interested in taking them to.

Ultimately I hung up.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Railhead: Natrona County Soda Shed Sidetrack

Railhead: Natrona County Soda Shed Sidetrack: This photograph probably doesn't make much sense in comparison to the earlier ones in this blog, but this is the sidetrack for what was once a soda shed.

Like the post just made on the topic of the small town of Arminto, this photographs shows an interesting change, which is significant in what it demonstrates, if only in a small way.

The soda shed that was located here was a huge affair. It appeared to be on the verge of falling down my entire life, but it was probably a pretty solid structure. The soda stored here was from a nearby mine, and the mine itself, a very smalls scale operation, was in operation for a century. Indeed, the original intent to mine nearby was in the 1870s, but mining didn't really commence until the early 20th Century.

Not that this is particularly significant, but it does certainly show the importance of railroads in various activities.
The first  reading in the Roman Missal for Sunday October 2.

Isaiah Chapter 5:  1-7.

Let me now sing of my friend,
my friend's song concerning his vineyard.
My friend had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside;
he spaded it, cleared it of stones,
and planted the choicest vines;
within it he built a watchtower,
and hewed out a wine press.
Then he looked for the crop of grapes,
but what it yielded was wild grapes.

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard:
What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I had not done?
Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes,
did it bring forth wild grapes?
Now, I will let you know
what I mean to do with my vineyard:
take away its hedge, give it to grazing,
break through its wall, let it be trampled!
Yes, I will make it a ruin:
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
but overgrown with thorns and briers;
I will command the clouds
not to send rain upon it.
The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah are his cherished plant;
he looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed!
for justice, but hark, the outcry!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20

R. (Is 5:7a) The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
A vine from Egypt you transplanted;
you drove away the nations and planted it.
It put forth its foliage to the Sea,
its shoots as far as the River.
R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
Why have you broken down its walls,
so that every passer-by plucks its fruit,
The boar from the forest lays it waste,
and the beasts of the field feed upon it?
R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
O LORD, God of hosts, restore us;
if your face shine upon us, then we shall be saved.
R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.