Today’s prompt: discuss three well-known innovators. You might immediately think of Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs. The high-tech pantheon goes on; there’s Sergei Brin of Google, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, or Bill Gates of Microsoft. Along with changing how the world functions, they all have another thing in common: misjudgment and hubris. Microsoft is as synonymous with “doesn’t work” as it is with “everyone’s software.” Google is how we gather most of our information, including how Google misleads us in biased search rankings, which we can learn about, by googling. Facebook was vulnerable to foreign agent interference into our political process.
However, American arrogance from American inventors isn’t something high-tech leaders invented. In my trip through the Midwest, I had a chance to dive deep into the stories of three well-known American pioneers: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Each in their own way let the genie out of the bottle, changing how we live. Each in their own way also left behind a spotted legacy as well.
Assembly Line Cars, Assembly Line People
Take Henry Ford for starters. He didn’t invent the automobile or the assembly line, but by putting them together, he created the ability to mass produce autos at a cost that made them affordable. He didn’t personally design the Model T, but with the right team of creative engineers, he spearheaded creation of a car that was easy to build, operate, and maintain on the rough roads of the early 20th century. Continue reading “American Invention, American Arrogance”
Time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
So listen closely
Not for very much longer
I’m going to lose control
Quick–what’s the next line?
Forty-two years ago, I saw the legendary Canadian actor Brian Bedford play three roles at the Stratford Canadian Shakespearean festival in repertory: Angelo in Measure for Measure, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, and Richard III. The breadth of his performances changed my idea of what actors could do.
Forty years ago, as a freshman in college at Berkeley, I watched a science-fiction movie about a transvestite where people shouted at the screen and threw toast and rice. It changed my idea about how a movie can connect with an audience.
Who would have thought that, getting old, we would wax nostalgic about doing the time warp?
If you trace your ancestors, how far back do you go? Great-greats? Where the four brothers married the four sisters? Pre-Civil War? Neanderthals? Perhaps I should start simply, just with my mother and my grandfather, a more manageable task.
Last week, I wrote about the inspiration of seeing the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. This week, I am traveling the path of my own people, my mother’s family, whose lives were sprinkled across the northern plains of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. We are Finns, who emigrated from Lapplander landscapes with thin, tall trees, who journeyed from bleak places of chill and sleet to cross the American “west” until they reached an equally bleak landscape. Home!
Not to worry. This is not a full genealogy review, not a list of begats and son ofs in biblical proportions. I did a Family Tree project in the fifth grade which had some of these details, but don’t have it with me. I may be misremembering or fictionalizing pieces (I think Grandpa Hugo was oldest of 11… I think there were four brothers and sisters intermarrying…) In point of fact, my aunt has also compiled some kind of detailed review, to the point where if you go into the Finnish-American Center in Hancock, Michigan and mention the surname Busse, they say, “Oh, Ainie!” even though she lives 350 miles away.
This is about the environment of my mom’s family. What was it like where she was born and grew up? Why did she always yearn to be near a city, preferring traffic over trees? Why did she enjoy the 108-degree heat of Sacramento? Why did her family have such a strange, biting sense of humor? What was all that SISU about? Continue reading “Heartland II: Where My People Lie Buried”
Korczak, the sculptor, slung his drill over his back and climbed over 900 steps for almost 40 years. He blasted bits out of the granite mountain, day after day, grinding down the 563 -foot side to lay out room for a long pointing arm. If ever there was a visual definition of the word “surmount”–to mount upon, to prevail over–this must be it.
One man, one drill, one mountain.
He hadn’t gotten especially far by 1973, when I first saw the Statue-To-Be, driving across South Dakota on our cross-country trip moving from Detroit to Sacramento. Now, returning back to visit some of my old haunts in Michigan, the memorial was the first big stop on our trip through the heartland, this pink-tinged grassland of our country’s center. Korczak’s grandchildren are now in charge, and the crew is slowly but surely pulling the image of the proud warrior out of the granite. Continue reading “Heartland I: The Carving Climbing Out of the Mountain”
Take deep cleansing breaths.
Change your perspective, often.
This is either about practicing yoga or putting together a large jigsaw puzzle.
3000 pieces is a gobsmacking lot of pieces. The level of difficulty is turned up to an eleven. It’s like completing six separate 500 piece puzzles with their pieces all mixed together. There is a lot of guesswork involved.
3000 pieces is not for the faint of heart.
Assessing Your Puzzle
The first thing you must do is look the puzzle in the eye and show it who’s boss. (You are.) Make it clear that there will be No Nonsense here! These pieces are going to fit together, and that’s all there is to it.
Does that work? Meh.
Pick an exemplary puzzle. Choose one with lots of little bits to work on and not too much of the same color. The Tribuna of the Uffizi worked quite well. But all start the same.
The first thing you do is take some pieces out of the box and flip them over. I hate flipping the pieces over. That is my least favorite task of all the tasks, except putting together 50 black pieces all the same shape (see What Makes a Bad Puzzle, below). If it’s 1000 pieces or less, I enlist helpers in the house to do the flipping, spreading, and sorting, but when it’s big and on the other table, they are no help. They sit in the other room with the TV, shouting out Jeopardy answers, chortling, and munching popcorn as I sit alone, wondering if that shape is a bit of elbow or windmill. Continue reading “How to Assemble a 3000 Piece Puzzle”