Thoughts by Richard Bleil
My friend’s meme (yes I have a friend) was a play on an old song. Showing a ham with a clamp on it, the words said “If you’re happy and you know it” (clamp your ham). But, I didn’t think of clamping ham, I thought of pressed ham. So, I commented, “that’s not how I press ham!”
It’s an old expression, out of the fifties, I guess. In the heyday of the automobile, when kids would drive their hot rods up and down main street (ostensibly to be seen) on Fridays, they would “press ham” by having a passenger take down their pants and press their butt against the window of somebody as they passed. It was “mooning” if the window is down. Why this was pressed ham I do not know, but there it is.
My friend didn’t understand the reference. I’m not surprised.
There are a lot of colloquialisms that fall to the wayside with the passage of time. “Up your nose with a rubber hose” was a phrase when they rhymed. I grew up when it was good to be “wicked”. Each generation somehow believes they’re the first. Some phrase or way of speaking is, I believe, how each generation “stakes its claim”, although the reality is that these phrases will pass and most likely be forgotten, like so much pressed ham.
Sex is a great example. It seems as if every generation behaves as if they are the ones tho invented sex. They are the kinkiest, freakiest most creative lovers in history. Sorry, kids; your great-grandparents were freaks, and your own parents out kinked you. In time, you’ll catch up, but let’s be honest; they have decades of experience in the bedroom on you.
It is not my intention to embarrass or put down anybody. It’s more a general comment on how we always build on the foundation that has been laid out by our predecessors. Certainly these foundations can be improved and expanded, but the also rely on the generations of the past. I believe that this generation’s greatest accomplish seems to be heading towards sustainability, or, maybe that’s just my hope since it may well save our planet. But, as an example, a big piece of this sustainability will probably be the solar panel, which can certainly be improved but is based upon technology that developed alongside semiconductors. Semiconductors were built on the foundations of transistors and computers that took entire rooms before them. Those foundations were built on the generation that built analogue circuits, which were built on the foundations of the power grid. It goes on and on.
Sometimes I’ll hear a debate about how this generation is greater than that one. It’s all nonsense. We’re born in different times, but we are all part of the same civilization, part of the same global family. Will sustainable power and vehicles be better than the fossil fuels that preceded it? Of course it will, but without the fossil fuel power grid, what would sustainable electricity build on? It’s easy to criticize older generations who may not have realized the long term impact of their work, but we cannot know the long term impact of the sustainable power sources we are building today. It’s all too easy to look at it and say, “there, perfect.” Until we build in great quantities, we honestly don’t know. For example, I firmly suspect that solar power will eventually contribute to global warming. After all, light is being absorbed and converted into electricity, rather than being reflected back out into space. Isn’t this what carbon dioxide is doing? But will it be better, or worse for the environment? I don’t know; it will take time to figure that out.
Albert Einstein is credited for saying, “Every day I am reminded that I am standing on the shoulders of giants.” He meant that the science he was discovering was only possible with the foundation of the scientists that came before him. For example, Einstein’s work utilized calculus which was invented by Issac Newton and Gottried Leibniz (independently of one another).
We all rely on others. It’s the nature of human existence, beginning from the very beginning of our lives when a mother gives us birth after a father inseminates her. Even if the father leaves the picture that very day, our lives depend on him. The fortunate among us (and the majority) have a mother to nurture and protect us, even if we lose appreciation for that kindness by the time we’re teenagers. We’re not isolated. None of us. And I, for one, am thankful to have YOUR support.