Being Different

Seeded tomatoes and peppers and set them on a heating pad under a grow light.

Saturday seemed busy. It could have been more productive. As a retired septuagenarian, there is never any difficulty staying busy. I do wonder if I could produce more during each day. More production is the American way.

A key aspect of America’s peculiar institution of slavery was efficient use of slaves. Especially on sugar plantations, but on others as well, every daylight hour was to be spent working in the fields or processing crops. If a slave died from being over worked, no problem. They could easily and inexpensively be replaced by another. The lives of slaves on a plantation were short.

The average lifespan of enslaved Africans who worked on colonial sugar and rice plantations was seven years. Extreme physical demands relied on equally extreme instruments of torture to ensure control over enslaved peoples and to protect plantation profits. The economies and societies they built were denied to them, along with human dignity.

National Museum of African American History and Culture website.

Making enslaved humans productive was essential to accumulation of wealth in the highly lucrative production of sugar, rice, cotton, tobacco and indigo. A system of overseers and supervision was developed. While slavery ended with the Civil War, those techniques from plantation days persisted in practice and in many cases are revered by business efficiency experts. In 1850, the average life expectancy for a slave was 36 years.

We’re not accumulating any wealth here, yet feeling like I’m accomplishing more would be a boon. Here’s what I have in mind:

  • About this time last year I stopped regular, daily work on my book. This year I plan to spend less time in Summer and Spring, yet write something or work on research every day. The major obstacle is I can’t seem to get through all the boxes of research documents in a timely manner.
  • Reduction of my book stacks will continue. The goal is to donate every time I shop over in Coralville, or about every other week. I have a process and things are moving more quickly now. Some time each day on this.
  • My goal is to read 25 pages per day. For historical books with a lot of detail, that’s probably right. When reading fiction, it’s too low. The idea is to adopt different goals for different kinds of books. If I can’t read 50 pages of fiction per day, there is something wrong with me.
  • Our refrigerator and pantry are good at keeping food and there is too much of it. I plan to work down the excess by cooking differently. Maybe I’ll find a few recipes that are keepers.
  • Listen to more music. I wrote this playlist in 2005. It is a story of my life in music. Back when I played, I sang all of these.
Cripple Creek (Traditional)
Lord Franklin (Traditional)
Shenandoah (Traditional)
Big Rock Candy Mountain (Harry McClintock)
House of the Rising Sun (Traditional)
500 Miles (Hedy West)
The Cruel War (Traditional)
Blowin' In The Wind (Bob Dylan)
Pack Up Your Sorrows (Pauline Marden and Richard Fariña)
Wabash Cannonball (William Kindt)
This Land is Your Land (Woodie Guthrie)
Freight Train (Elizabeth Cotten)
The Hammer Song (Pete Seeger and Lee Hayes)
Good Night Irene (Huddie Ledbetter said he didn't know who wrote it)
Someday Soon (Ian Tyson)
Early Morning Rain (Gordon Lightfoot)
Four Strong Winds (Ian Tyson)
Both Sides, Now (Joni Mitchell)
What About Me? (Scott McKenzie)
The City of New Orleans (Steve Goodman)
You Ain't Going Nowhere (Bob Dylan)
I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan)
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob Dylan)
The Dutchman (Michael Peter Smith)

2 replies on “Being Different”

Looking at that song list, I’d say that I’ve sung more than half of them more than once. The tune of Lord Franklin is a particular favorite of mine, nicked by Bob Dylan for his Bob Dylan’s Dream.

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