7.21.202 – ten, twelve hours a day

ten, twelve hours a day
8 cents a box, drops to 6
pictures for today

Today’s haiku comes from the poem, Onion Days, by Carl Sandburg, that I recently ran across.

It is a poem about a woman who picks onions 10 to 12 hours a day for 8 cents a box.

The owner of the farm worries about how to make his farm produce more efficiently so he hires more workers so he only has to pay 6 cents a box.

The poem was written in 1916.

I also recently watched the movie ‘The Irishman”.

I wonder if its time for DeNiro and Pesci to close the door on mob movies but I digress.

The movie was about Jimmy Hoffa, a man today more famous for not being here than for what he did when he was here.

And that’s too bad.

Right or wrong in his methods, Hoffa cared about the people who did the working.

Not sure there is anyone in that role today.

His first strike was on the loading dock of a grocery company in 1931.

The crew on the loading dock was expected to work 12 hours shifts.

They were paid 32 cents an hour.

12 cents in cash and 20 cents in credits at the grocery store.

BUT they were only paid for the time they spent actually unloading trucks.

Hoffa organized the crew and on a hot summer day when truckloads of strawberries rolled in, they went on strike.

They demanded a full 32 cents an hour in cash and a minimum of 4 hours pay for a 12 hour day.

The grocery store, a place called KROGER, gave in a signed a one year contract.

Congress will meet this week to ‘discuss’ a further stimulus package.

How many of them are really thinking of the people who work.

Don’t the men and women of Congress enjoy chanting the Nicene creed with their daughters on each side of them joining their voices with theirs?

I am lucky.

I have a well paying job and am allowed to work from home.

No one would ever write a play about me.

But as Mr. Sandburg says in his poem about Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti …

or the crew on the loading dock …

or the people who need to work and can’t work because there is not enough work …

or can’t work enough because stores are closing …

because restaurants are closing …

because businesses everywhere are closing …

No dramatist living COULD put them into a play.

No one could capture that.

In 1916, in 1931, or today.

But I hope the men and women in Congress at least think about them this week

– – – – – – – – – – –

Onion Days in Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg, (1916)

Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti comes along Peoria Street every morning at nine o’clock

With kindling wood piled on top of her head, her eyes looking straight ahead to find the way for her old feet.

Her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti, whose husband was killed in a tunnel explosion through the negligence of a fellow-servant,

Works ten hours a day, sometimes twelve, picking onions for Jasper on the Bowmanville road.

She takes a street car at half-past five in the morning, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti does,

And gets back from Jasper’s with cash for her day’s work, between nine and ten o’clock at night.

Last week she got eight cents a box, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti, picking onions for Jasper,

But this week Jasper dropped the pay to six cents a box because so many women and girls were answering the ads in the Daily News.

Jasper belongs to an Episcopal church in Ravenswood and on certain Sundays

He enjoys chanting the Nicene creed with his daughters on each side of him joining their voices with his.

If the preacher repeats old sermons of a Sunday, Jasper’s mind wanders to his 700-acre farm and how he can make it produce more efficiently

And sometimes he speculates on whether he could word an ad in the Daily News so it would bring more women and girls out to his farm and reduce operating costs.

Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti is far from desperate about life; her joy is in a child she knows will arrive to her in three months.

And now while these are the pictures for today there are other pictures of the Giovannitti people I could give you for to-morrow,

And how some of them go to the county agent on winter mornings with their baskets for beans and cornmeal and molasses.

I listen to fellows saying here’s good stuff for a novel or it might be worked up into a good play.

I say there’s no dramatist living can put old Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti into a play with that kindling wood piled on top of her head coming along Peoria Street nine o’clock in the morning.

7.19.2020 – Lay down the burden

Lay down the burden
of hate. Hate is too heavy
a burden to bear.

We are one people with one family.

We all live in the same house, the American house.

… and through books, through information, we must find a way to say to people that we must lay down the burden of hate.

For hate is too heavy a burden to bear.

John Lewis (quoting Dr ML King, Jr.)

7.18.2020 – nation in conflict

nation in conflict
tendency of society
to human blindness

C.S. Lewis explains how a democracy comes in an end in the short essay, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” (1959), first published as an article in the Saturday Evening Post.

The ‘Toast” is a sequel to the Screwtape Letters.

Lewis writes, presenting the views of those managing Hell, that:

We, in Hell, would welcome the disappearance of democracy in the strict sense of that word, the political arrangement so called.

Like all forms of government, it often works to our advantage, but on the whole less often than other forms.

And what we must realize is that “democracy” in the diabolical sense (I’m as good as you, Being Like Folks, Togetherness) is the fittest instrument we could possibly have for extirpating political democracies from the face of the earth.

For “democracy” or the “democratic spirit” (diabolical sense) leads to a nation without great men, a nation mainly of subliterates, full of the cocksureness which flattery breeds on ignorance, and quick to snarl or whimper at the first sign of criticism.

And that is what Hell wishes every democratic people to be.

For when such a nation meets in conflict a nation where children have been made to work at school, where talent is placed in high posts, and where the ignorant mass are allowed no say at all in public affairs, only one result is possible.

The democracies were surprised lately when they found that Russia had got ahead of them in science.

What a delicious specimen of human blindness!

If the whole tendency of their society is opposed to every sort of excellence, why did they expect their scientists to excel?

It is our function to encourage the behaviour, the manners, the whole attitude of mind, which democracies naturally like and enjoy, because these are the very things which, if unchecked, will destroy democracy.

You would almost wonder that even humans don’t see it themselves.”

I agree.

Except for the word, “almost.”

I wonder.

I wonder why even humans don’t see it themselves.

Governments fall back on bread and circuses for one reason.

Bread and circuses work.

7.16.2020 – Only thing to fear

Only thing to fear,
is fear itself and that what’s
we got, fear itself!

I stole that line.

I am not talking about the, “Only thing to fear …” line.

That line came from Frankin Roosevelt’s 1st inaugural address.

There is some history that that line was suggested by FDR advisor, Louie Howe.

There is also some thought that the line may have had it roots in the Sept 7, 1851, entry in the journal of Henry Thoreau that read, “nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”

And there is some more thought that the line goes back to back to Francis Bacon in 1623 when he wrote, Nil terrible nisi ipse timor, or, Nothing is terrible except fear itself. (De Augmentis Scientiarum, Book II, Fortitudo – 1623).


Not that line.

I am talking about stealing or in today’s usage, repurposing the line, “That’s what we got, fear itself.”

That line was said by Deputy Barney Fife in season 4, episode 2, The Haunted House, (air date October 7, 1963)’ (did you ever notice how you can quote Andy Griffith Show episode references like you were citing a Shakespeare quote, ie “we band of brothers” from Henry V, Act IV Scene iii).

The Internet Movie Database or IMDB credits a Mr. Harvey Bullock as the writer of the scene and I will go with that.

Remember that Opie and his buddies got their baseball into the ‘old Rimshaw Place” and when they went to get the ball, they were scared out of the place by sounds and rumors of ghosts that haunted the house.

Andy tells Barney to go get the baseball and Barney, with Gomer, gets scared out of the place.

Andy chides Barney with, “Wasn’t it you that said we got nothing to fear but fear itself?”

To which Barney replies, “Well that’s exactly what I’ve got – fear itself.”

Sometimes the 1st step in dealing with a problem is admitting you have a problem.

And that is where I am.

I think about politics, the world at large, covid and the economy.

What do I get for my thinking?

I got problem.

And what is that problem I got.

I will tell exactly what I got.

Fear Itself!

As an end note, the Andy Griffith show exterior shots were filmed at Forty Acres in Culver City, California.

This is the same back lot where the movie Gone with the Wind was shot in the ’30s.

The exterior of the Rimshaw Place is a house on the lot right next door to the house and front porch used both as Andy’s home in Mayberry and the Atticus Finch home in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Rimshaw Place itself was used for the exterior of the Miss Pittypat’s home in Atlanta.

Where Rhett Butler carries Miss Melly to a wagon to get out of town, Clark Gable carried Olivia de Haviland down that walk past where Andy, Barney and Gomer stare at the haunted house in Mayberry.

7.15.2020 – hidden derangements

hidden derangements
abnormal psychology
of national mood

Today’s haiku is not based on what you might be thinking.

It comes from an article written in Forbes Magazine in 1948 by one of the Forbes editors, Lawrence Lessing.

Mr. Lessing was writing about the State of Florida.

He wrote, “Florida is a study in abnormal psychology, useful in signaling the hidden derangements of the national mood.

I came across the quote in an article about Florida and Covid-19.

The author, Geoffrey Kabaservice, of the article, “I’m from Florida. Our coronavirus crisis doesn’t surprise me” states, “A lot of bad trends in American life find their most bizarre and refined forms in the Sunshine state, which is why “Florida Man” has become shorthand for the bad behavior of too many state residents. As far as the present pandemic is concerned, the simplest and most convincing explanation for why Florida is experiencing an explosion of Covid-19 cases it that it is an extreme case of the broader American failure to take the pandemic seriously.”

Mr. Kabaservice ends his article with a short vignette of a couple who had just visited Disney World in Orlanado.

The couple told interviewers that, “was the first thing that made us feel like we could leave our house and still feel safe.”

And why did they feel safe, they were asked.

“It’s Disney!”

As Frank Lloyd Wright would say, “There you are.”

7.13.2020 – When I get old, I

When I get old, I
shall read Proust, was the thought – will
I see with new eyes?

I like stories about people and their books.

Maybe because I feel more at home in the world when there other people who regard books as parts of their lives instead of props.

Young Abraham Lincoln reading a borrowed copy of the Life of George Washington at night and placing in between the logs of the cabin for safe keeping.

Then it snows and water seeps in and ruins the book.

Young Abe walks 50 miles and offers to split thousands of fence rails to make up for the loss.

When he finishes the chore and reports to the owner that he is done, the owner presents him with the somewhat waterlogged copy of the book.

Paul the Apostle, writing a reminder in one of his letters to please send his coat AND don’t forget the books!

Thomas Jefferson selling his library to the US Government to establish the Library of Congress and also pay off some personal debts.

As soon as he gets the notified that the money from Congress is in the bank, Mr. Jefferson orders more books.

James Thurber getting his nerve together and going over to an ex-wfe’s house to reclaim his collected works of Henry James.

There is a marvelous video of an interview with historian Shelby Foote on YouTube.

CSpan’s Brian Lamb has Mr. Foote walk the viewer on a tour through his personal library where he did most of his work.

What surprised me is that Mr. Foote stopped at a set of the collected works of Marcel Proust.

It is a set that Mr. Foote says his mother gave him for his 17th birthday.

Mr. Foote said, “Everytime I feel the right to do it, I quit everything and re-read Proust.”

One reason he says if for the pure enjoyment.

And the other is that a writer can always learn from Proust.

I was intrigued to say the least.

Don’t much besides a few quotes from the writings of Marcel Proust.

Like Calculus and Neils Bohr’s heavy water and the Taft family of Ohio, Proust, or at least his name, is floating around in my brain like an ice berg.

Something I was aware of but didn’t know much about.

And aware that a lot more of it was below the water line if I cared to find out.

Cricket was like that and one summer I decided I would learn to understand what cricket was all about.

Now I am hooked on cricket. T20, ODI or TEST?

Mr. Foote, in the sweet Mississippi voice of his, recalls the pleasure of reading the 3000 pages.

When would I have time for Proust?

Every summer I try to read a famous classic that I have never read.

The Way of All Flesh.

Sinister Street.

War and Peace.

Last summer I hit Look Homeward Angel but got lost in the slog.

After hearing Mr. Foote I promised myself that when I got old I would read Proust.

This is the summer I turn 60.

I an thinking I have earned the right.

Stay tuned.

7.12.2020 – Kelvin, Centigrade

Kelvin, Centigrade
Celsius or Fahrenheit
Gosh its hot out there

Of late we have been watching CNN International.

It has weather breaks with world temperatures in Celsius.

Which raised the question how many countries officially use Fahrenheit?

Not many.

According to Wikipedia,

The Fahrenheit scale was the primary temperature standard for climatic, industrial and medical purposes in English-speaking countries until the 1960s. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the Celsius scale replaced Fahrenheit in almost all of those countries—with the notable exception of the United States—typically during their general metrication process.

Fahrenheit is used in the United States, its territories and associated states (all served by the U.S. National Weather Service), as well as the Cayman Islands and Liberia for everyday applications.

So that is about it.

US, Liberia and the Caymans.

It is important to note, the temperature of a body in its own state of thermodynamic equilibrium is always positive, relative to the absolute zero.


When its hot, its hot.