Saturday, January 14, 2017


Java, the country where Obama grew up

Today I’m sort of shell-shocked.  At 4AM I woke up, went to get a glass of water,  but when I turned it on, I discovered very low flow, so I figured my pipes were too cold.  Set up my clamp light to shine under the sink and went back to bed.  So did the cats.  
In a few hours the Valier maintenance man was pounding on the door to tell me that the main water line for the whole town had broken and the new water tower was totally drained.  Isn’t there an alarm system for that?  Didn’t this happen a few months ago?  In fact, the water had flooded everything north and east of me and was gradually freezing, though the air temp is about 35.  At this point there is enough snow to melt it for household water (like flushing the toilet) but it’s warming and will soon be gone.  No restoration of the city water until Tuesday.
Zoomed to the store for bottled water to drink while there was some on the shelves.  Luckily, most people in Valier have connections with families outside the city limits — like on ranches — where they can go to get water from wells.  I don’t have those connections but, worse, I originally replaced the bathtub with a shower, so no place to store large amounts.  I got two large demijohns plus a pack of individual water bottles.
I settled at the computer to see what Trump was up to this time with his outrageous stereotypes and know-nothing threats.
Erik Erikson, a psychoanalyst, wrote two books addressing the idea that a person could be a sort of illustrative result of a specific culture, or at least an aspect of it.  “Young Man Luther” and “Gandhi’s Truth” were about two very major people and anyway, it was an interesting gimmick.  
Dr. Justin Frank picked up a version of that idea to write two books of his own:  “Obama on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President” and “Bush on the Couch.”  Now he’s pondering “Trump on the Couch” and already has a pretty good start.  Here’s what he’s figured out so far:   It sounds to me as though Frank’s got the spine of his theory already worked out and is on target.  If only the voters had recognized what he sees, but he does recognize the voters and doesn’t berate them.
I also thought this essay at Aeon (url below) is pretty perceptive, but a person needs to appreciate Javanese culture to really get it.  As it happens, I went on a Java-jag in high school and did a lot of reading, so I get it.
Good stuff to think about instead of having no water, but this is Saturday and if I didn’t get to the trash roll-off, the pickup wouldn’t be empty enough to do a laundry in Conrad on Monday when the roll-off is closed, so I went for gas and headed just out of town.  Alas!  The pickup went crazy and wouldn’t run.  My thrashing around in drifts got me stuck.  
But “Peter,” a Hutterite young man who works for Curry, whose ranch entrance I was blocking, came along in a 2017 Silverado 2500HD Heavy Duty Truck and pulled me out, towed me to the tire shop (closest we have to a mechanic but it wasn’t open anyway) and drove me home.  I could have hugged him, but I think I sprained my arms hoisting myself into a pickup that tall.  He was a handsome, courteous young fellow, very willing and able.  I salute him!  
We left my runty little pickup in front of the tire shop.  In my experience, if you let balky vehicles sit and think about it, they often repent.  I told Peter I would bake him a pie as thanks except that I could never bake as well as a Hutterite, and that’s the truth.  He said that was okay, he might be the one broke down on the road next time.
I think the trouble with the pickup is just that there’s still ice in the undercarriage from driving through the watertower flood, but since it’s sitting broadside to the sun and out of the wind, and the temp is forecasted to be nearly forty tomorrow, warming alone might work.  Now that I’m safe I have to rebuke myself: I didn’t have my winter jacket on nor boots neither.  I do carry them in the vehicle.
In this weather, but even more in the arctic cold we just had, I think of the woman who lost her key to her house and stood outside in the snow, actually freezing to death because she didn’t want to break a window.  She was so invested in appearances and what was admirable, that she couldn’t save her own life.  Of course, it doesn’t take much hypothermia to make a person’s thinking go bad.  Be prepared is a survival motto.
Other predicaments can create the same pressure.  Dr. Frank, the shrink, remarks on what a number of people have noted:  Trump pretty clearly was as surprised to be elected president as everyone else and hasn’t really been able to do much more than fake it.  He’s totally unsuited but can’t admit it.  Dr. Frank feels the inappropriate Twitters are a way of blowing off steam from an inner volcano about to explode from the pressure.  I know the feeling.  (What else is this but steam with a question mark?)  But if I act and talk wildly, it does not send nations careening off into disaster.
That’s the way life goes, lurching from the stupid to the atrocious to the funny to the exalted.  The trouble is that it’s scary and confusing.  One hardly knows how to prepare.  Maybe it can’t be prepared for.  But then along comes Peter and knows just how to tow my pickup.  I’ve discovered that one can wash one’s hands in snow as well as in water.  And I haven’t thought about fleas all day.  Out in the road the ground heater is purring away over the broken pipe.  At least we don’t have to burn tires.  And I did get the water home before the pickup broke down.

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