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Cold Iron consists of random bits of irreverence, surliness, and contumely; sometimes it's even funny. Reading it is entirely optional.

...the iron monger and rusticater himself

Cool Iron

"Never hit someone over the head with a hot iron. Wait until it cools so you don't burn them."

...the source of my ideas

Iron Filings - 49

June 30, 2017

Iron Filings 49
A Curious Phenomenon A number of years ago my wife and I gave up our landline telephone. Today we each have a smart phone. Since shes still very active in real estate her phone announces its presence far more often than mine. What happens occasionally when shes home is that her phone will ring when shes out in the yard or down in the basement or otherwise occupied without her phone by her side (a relatively rare event). Good fellow that I am, Ill answer it. Then an awkward silence, sometimes a disconnect. Im calling Gayle, but this is a mans voice. Occasionally, Ill get a simple, Is Gayle there? Whats happening, I think, is that, years ago, when you called someone on a landline you knew that was a home phone; thus, anyone might answer and you would simply ask for the person you were calling. Now, however, the phone is so closely linked to a particular person that if that person doesnt answer were momentarily puzzled, taken aback. Sometimes, when I sense that awkwardness, Ill quickly say, Are you calling Gayle? I nearly always hear an audible sigh of relief.
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Recommended Read 102 Minutes, Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. We are so overwhelmed by tragic events these days Nice, London, Kabul, Orlando, Paris thats its easy for them all to just collapse into a jumble in our heads, reduced to something like, these terrible times. On September 11, 2001, however, we, in the U.S., experienced terrorism in its most evil and horrendous guise. Most of us recall what we were doing that day, and most of us recall the macro scenarios: endless repeats of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers, fuzzy repeats of bodies falling so terribly far, and repeats of the ultimate collapse of the buildings. In 102 Minutes, however, the authors researched what was actually happenings inside the two buildings. Its a fascinating and detailed account gleaned from interviews of survivors and cellphone records. Out of all the details in the book, what struck me most as hugely ironic and obvious when you think about it was that all the world watching events unfold on television knew far more about what had happened and what was happening than those inside the buildings.
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Speaking of reading, heres a couple of interesting facts. In a recent survey by the Huffington Post, 41% of respondents said they had not read a fiction book in the past year; 42% said they had not read a nonfiction book. Also, in a survey done in January of 2016, 11 of the top 35 books on Amazon were adult coloring books.
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If you recall my comments last month about our loss of trees, our planting of trees, and the necessary landscaping then, yes were spending the summer watching the grass grow. Frankly, its a little more exciting than watching paint dry.
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Theres a belief in higher education these days that maintains that a student who spends the first two years of college at a community college is getting the same education as a student who spends the first two years of college at a four-year college or university. They are not.
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Having given some thought not so much to the politics of the current administration but, rather, to where I see this administration wanting to take us, Im beginning to see Mr. Trumps great America and Im not so sure I like what I see. Because what Im seeing is an isolated America no longer willing to work with rich and poor nations alike in achieving both a healthier planet and a planet at peace. Im seeing an America of the wealthy that sees the poor as irresponsible and getting what they deserve; a divided America where reasoned discourse is replaced by the threat of insult and violence. Increasingly Im seeing a paternalistic America where the icon of leadership is not Ghandi or King or Lincoln, or Anthony or Merkel or OConnor but, rather, a Gingrich or a Putin or a Tillerson. And Im seeing an arts-averse America with unfunded museums and artists and cultural events, where the pursuit of beauty and enrichment is replaced by the pursuit of the deal, where the poets and painters and playwrights languish and the great theaters and concert halls grow dim in an America that just does not care. Im also seeing an upsurge in misogyny where women are once again regarded as playthings and where they have decreasing control over their own bodies and destinies, and an upsurge as well in hatred for those who are simply different whether by skin color or sexual identity or ambition or educational attainment or religious affiliation or health or personal politics. Im seeing a less healthy America, too, as nutrition programs and programs for the aged, the indigent, the unemployed, the uneducated, and the addicted are modified into non-existence, where our water and air quality deteriorate, and as our rapacious drug companies price themselves to a point where those who most need their products cannot afford them, and as our health insurers pull away from millions upon millions of people who can no longer afford their products. Finally, Im seeing a promise of prosperity based upon economic theories that have been proven wrong again and again.
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I hope the above hurt a little bit, because we need to hurt when our country is hurting.
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However, as we approach our great anniversary on the Fourth of July this year, keep in mind that this democracy of ours is, and always will be, an experiment. Like any experiment there will always be different hands pushing it this way, pushing it that way, seeking an outcome that may not always be clear to us. Keep in mind, though, the big sign on the door to the lab where this experiment takes place. It reads: Freedom.
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G.K. Wuori 2017
Photoillustration by the author

Selected Works

I think this book would appeal to anyone who likes a dark crime story set in a rural, somewhat remote part of Maine in a time when the radicalism of the nineteen-seventies was sweeping the country.
Ellen DeLay, an upstanding citizen of Quillifarkeag, Maine, suddenly and unpredictably leaves her happy, twenty-five year marriage for a lonely cabin deep in the Maine woods, where she makes a living dressing hunters' kill - bears, moose, deer. It seems an idyllic life, punctuated only now and then by rifle fire as she shoots into the air to scare off cheeky teens who come to taunt "the crazy woman."
A small-town lawyer in the middle of a gruesome murder case finds salvation in the world of a homeless woman and her daughter.
A young woman's morning walk through her small town finds her immersed in a small tragedy, an indifferent government, and the "science gone mad" of her best friend's husband. Quirky, goofy, nutty - yes, but a gentle look as well at some of the values that keep us from falling off the planet
A hint of generally true autobiography, this piece is part of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill's "How I Became A Writer" series.
Quillifarkeag is a state of mind, one marked by innocence and regret, by guile and sympathy. The people there will let you into their lives - but not very far. Go too far inside and things start to echo, people get close. Honesty becomes negotiable. Bare all and someone might still say, "Were you naked or nude?" It's an important distinction. In a small place like Quilli the naked truth is hurtful. The nude truth is not so bad.

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