On Quarantines and Trees, Pencils, Technology, Art and Music

On Quarantines and Trees, Pencils, Technology, Art and Music

Due to some sustained winds, I had a large limb of a sizable ash tree blown down. And, in consideration of the Emerald Ash Borer, which is sort of the COVID-19 of ash trees complete with its own federal quarantine regulations, I decided not to save the tree.  Instead, I chose to cut it down in 18-inch chunks, stack it, and let it season in the round.  Then, as needed, I’ll split it and restack it prior to its ultimate delivery into my high-efficiency wood burner on some crisp winter day.

Although I am sad to lose the tree I find myself grateful for technology, and capitalism, when undertaking such tasks.  These gratitudes cross my mind when disassembling the saw and using an air compressor or vacuum to clean the components. Or as I’m sharpening the chain and oiling things up for storage, I’ll think of those who designed and built the machines; creations that are, truly, three-dimensional manifestations of intelligence, logic, and love.

I’ll wonder how many people have benefited from such inspirations.  I’ll think of Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” and the “rising tide of capitalism” lifting all “boats”; and the “I Pencil” essay… those beautiful words written by Leonard Read. He was a libertarian peer of Austrian School of Economics luminaries like Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. He was an author who founded the Foundation for Economic Education; and he had the surname of Read. The irony.

To be sure, wealth happens when labor is applied to resources – and visionary innovation expands the opportunities for preferences and also saves time.

Years ago, I was talking to my neighbor who lives southeast of me.  He was in the process of building a new garage attached to his existing garage. His tension of thought and hard work transformed concrete, brick, lumber and other materials into increased equity in his home and property.   When I complimented him on his attention to detail in matching the existing construction he said: “Oh that’s nothin’.  You should see Dean’s work.  Makes me look like an amateur“.

Now, Dean was my neighbor straight to my south and when I was out for a walk one time, he started up a conversation as he was snagging his mail.  He invited me into his shop where there stood a beautiful dresser he’d just finished. Literally, it looked as if it was built from cherry-colored glass.

As I expressed my admiration for his work, Dean said: “That? Oh, that’s nothin. You should see what Chuck does. It’s unbelievable.

Chuck is our neighbor further to the south. He’s a retired physician and has presses and kilns and a vacuum apparatus that, I believe, said cost him 50 grand.

Indeed. The difference between a house framer, a finish carpenter, and an artist, is applied knowledge, practice, and the size and quantity of their tools, gizmos and gadgets.

I’ve often stated how technology is like fire because it can warm or burn.  It’s what we do with the technology that makes the difference.  And how much more so now.  As the world is locked down, we have veritable video libraries online at our fingertips; even as men in high places desire to corral society with digital Windows and devious Gates – both of which, paradoxically, have enabled these very words to shine through. For now.

So, for those who wish to take a mental break from practical prepping and hellacious headlines, the video below is (in my opinion) a frivolously worthwhile and relaxing 13 minutes.  It shows a creative craftsman at work, applying his labor to pencils and technology – and for a generous cause.

Cheers to the artists; their creations sound as beautiful music. Especially in challenging times.

4 thoughts on “On Quarantines and Trees, Pencils, Technology, Art and Music

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