Wednesday, March 25, 2009




When you find yourself with the time, take a very slow and thoughtful walk through the woods along the creek, stream or river nearest your home. As you do so, focus on the geography of the earth you are walking upon. Focus also on the quality of air you are breathing and the manner in which you breathe. As you are walking, breathing and focusing on the geography you are walking upon, look up into the canopy of trees above you, and in doing so look even higher and study how the trees above you filter and eventually project in quite the prismatic manner the sun as its spotted rays bounce lazily upon the forest floor you are walking upon.

As you walk, ask yourself a few questions. The first question you might ask is, “Why am I walking through the woods?” If you are like most people, your answer to yourself is that you enjoy the tranquil nature of the walk. If you are like most people, your answer is experiencing such tranquility enables you to regain your perspective on a life lived outside of that woods that is at times rather stressful. If you are like most people, that forest walk is a time of personal renewal. And if you are like most people, the time you have for personal renewal is quite limited.

While the time you spend walking through the woods is relaxing and while doing so you are feeling somewhat relieved and thankful that you have allowed yourself such a personal luxury, thoughts beyond the woods you attempt to escape to, none the less invade your contemplative, organic experience. Thinking that without the stress of the daily world staring you immediately in the face and thinking that without that stress you can simply breathe easier while walking in the woods, you none the less experience breathing difficulties.

As your organic surroundings appear to be so tranquil, as the sight and sound of a bubbling brook appears at least on the surface of your walking experience to help wash away your anxieties, you none the less still experience breathing difficulties.

Continuing on with your walk, your gaze at the bubbling brook is replaced by your gaze into the canopy of trees above the path you are walking upon. Within that canopied gaze, you find yourself experiencing another level of tranquility as you walk upon the trail. At that level and although you cannot actually physically do so, you imagine yourself walking among the limbs of the trees some fifteen feet above the forest floor you are actually walking upon. At that level, the stress of the every day world becomes even less burdensome and you of course find yourself with the ability to breathe in a much more relaxed state than you did while walking upon the forest floor that is now in your imagination fifteen feet below you. None the less, as you walk within your imagination, limb to limb from one tree to another fifteen feet above the forest floor below, you still experience difficulty breathing.

As your time spent walking in the forest enables you in so many different ways to expand your imagination and in turn release yourself from the world that seems so determined to remind you that your imagination is far less important than your responsibilities, you walk in the woods takes you to another level of thought.

On this level, you are not walking on the path or limb to limb attached to tree to tree fifteen feet above the path, but you are walking instead upon the tree tops, seeing and feeling the sun and breathing in with quite exquisite ease, the fresh oxygen that exists “beyond the land of negative economic moss”.

From this elevation and this perspective, your walk upon a forest path takes on an entirely new meaning and in doing so enables you to see just exactly why you take the time to walk to begin with. Your walk in the woods is driven by the sense you have inside of yourself to get away and simply breathe. From the perspective of the tree tops however, your sense that the forest you walk in is but an extension of the house you live in troubles you. As neither of these environments are actually providing you with what you really need and what you really need is oxygen, you know that the quality of air that resides inside of your home is as polluted as the air that comes from the garden that surrounds your home and the quality of air that exists in the forest alongside the brook that bubbles adjacent to your home. Your walk in the woods then becomes a not so subtle reminder that air quality is sorely lacking in both your manmade and natural environment. Your sense that the internal environment of your home, the external environment of your garden and the forest you walk in, all of which have historically allowed your most peaceful and productive thoughts to flourish are turning those thoughts instead into an accumulation of truly unhealthy and haunting thoughts.

As mounds of negative economic moss thoughts begin to invade your otherwise proactive environmental consciousness, the dreams you have of remodeling your home, growing organic gardens around your home and walking upon brook side forest paths take on a certain sense of futility and within that futility, you are left with the realization that until you can actually breathe fresh air, all of those dreams are in jeopardy.

But, are they?

As moss only grows on the north sides of trees and houses and garden rocks that do not have adequate natural ventilation and so to do upper respiratory ailments grow and attach themselves to the lungs of those who live in houses surrounded by trees, garden rocks and brooks deprived of adequate ventilation, what would happen if proper ventilation was provided in each of these environments? What would happen if naturally occurring winds were free to blow unstrained by communities over stuffed with too many houses? What would happen if naturally occurring winds were free to blow across the surfaces of residential gardens and through the canopy of trees that shade the paths of the forest floors we walk on? What would happen if those same winds were free to blow through the walls of the homes we now live in but cannot breathe in?

What would happen is that our communities would flourish economically as a result of applying a broad spectrum of environmentally sustainable micro technologies that are designed to micro-manage the wind and sun and water that moves constantly above and between the rooftops, treetops and gardens of our nation’s communities.

In as much as our larger national industrial focus has been and is currently centered on coming to terms with how a broad spectrum of 21st century alternative energy technologies will successfully come on line to produce a cohesive and sustainable nationwide public utility grid, are we within that pursuit barking up the wrong tree?

Do we actually need a national public utility grid put in place? Do we actually need a new generation of electrical transmission lines stretched across our nation to connect those grids together? Haven’t we already done that in our 20th century? Haven’t we in the process of being visually and physically trapped beneath the wires of our 20th century utility grid come to realize that the removal of those wires altogether might just enable us to focus our 21st century industrial inventiveness on an entirely new thought process? Could that process be benchmarked upon the improvement of the quality of air that surrounds any given home in any given community anywhere and everywhere in America? Would the development of community based public utility grids more quickly and efficiently enable us to develop regional utility grids? Would the grass roots development of locally managed energy companies become the model or blueprint for nationally based 21st century public utility companies? Are we thinking entirely too big when in fact we should be thinking small? Will small thinking produce a much more dynamic set of answers to our nation’s larger alternative energy public utility riddle?

If we collectively were to acknowledge that the typical American home was technologically obsolete, if we were to acknowledge that the unhealthy moss that grows on the north side of these homes was growing due solely to the fact that air was not properly directed in and around these homes, would we in the process of incorporating micro-solar and wind systems lay the foundation for the development of micro-municipal public utility grids? Would the utilization of these technologies serve to eliminate excessive moss and mold build up? Would the adoption of such preventative environmental health initiatives serve as the foundation for an entirely new generation of community healthcare standards? Would the adoption of such standards serve to broaden the funding horizons for 21st century, technologically enhanced community healthcare?

If local air quality standards were met at a house by house level, would we not effectively create a municipal public utility financing mechanism quite capable of being paid for on a homeowner’s clearly articulated monthly public utility bill? Would that monthly utility bill come to reflect our collective ability to manage through technological monitoring the sustained growth of virtually all alternative energy resources? Would such monitoring serve to enable our nation to mend a host of environmental problems that have been steadily growing out of control in our nation for far too long?

As a rolling stone gathers no moss, unfortunately in our nation today, far too many of our stones, particularly the stones or the potential building blocks of our public utility industrial infrastructure, are sitting idle and abandoned and in the process gathering negative economic moss. While we seem hell bent on solving this problem on a national level, while we think that the application of alternative energy technologies must come from the top down, this approach entirely overlooks the fact that before we can put an energy efficient roof on our house, we must first build the foundation that is capable of sustaining the technological future of that roof. If the stones that are supposed to build that foundation are covered in moss and the tradesmen and women who are capable of resetting those stones are sitting idle and out of work while continuing to suffer from negative economic upper respiratory breathing problems, how can we as a nation reconcile waiting for another set of above ground electrical transmission lines to be strung across a nation that simply doesn’t need them?

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

Tuesday, March 24, 2009




There is a remarkably shallow measure of success that enables us as Americans to validate our sensibilities. That measure is anchored in the belief that we as Americans are always right and in being always right, there is no need whatsoever to accept the fact that we might or could possibly be wrong.

Bernard Madoff capitalized on that assumption completely. He was able to see in such clear and focused terms that Americans would do absolutely anything to make a fast buck. Realizing just how easy it was to persuade people to trust in his wisdom, his knowledge of outdated economic investment strategies, the very strategies that have brought our nation to the brink of economic collapse, enabled him to see in others, the hope so many had that if they would only invest their financial resources into a scheme he was much more aware of than they themselves.

Now that this man is on trial, now that the powers that be have figured out that he was wiser than they, the pregnant pause of our nation’s collective economic redundancy is coming home to roost within the context of the essay Bernard Madoff wrote and of course made off with. As it does so, and, as we remain still entirely oblivious to his scheme, the man that stole 56 billion dollars from others remains the essayist of our collectively inept ability to produce a sustainable national economy, laughing all the way to the bank and now of course, the jail cell he will undoubtedly spend the rest of his extraordinarily unique life with a bemused smile of contentment.

As bits and pieces of his life story may or may not unfold immediately today, the remnants of his conniving brilliance will remain as financial benchmarks from which historians will, over the course of time, clearly be able to discern Mr. Madoff’s motives. As selfish as they appeared to be at one time in the history of America’s 21st century, they were nothing but his entirely accurate assumption and observation of the fact that America at the time of his capture and imprisonment, should have been focusing on its economic future as opposed to being obsessed with the immediate gratification of its economic present.

While Mr. Madoff made off with billions of greenbacks, the ultimate question becomes, what were those who entrusted their fortunes to this supposed fortune maker going to do with those fortunes if and when they had actually made them? Given the overall poor state of our collective national economy, it seems that very few of these investors, if indeed any would have become any wealthier. As these people seem to have had the financial wherewithal to seek Mr. Madoff out in the first place, it strikes me that, their entire motivation was most likely to further advance their own financial wealth and their own financial wealth alone. As opposed to investing their greenbacks in something that would benefit others, these folks simply wanted to fatten their 20th century piggy banks with virtually no intention of investing in the 21st century piggy banks of others.

As America is most certainly going through the most remarkable industrial transition it has ever faced and in spite of the fact that an awful lot of people who have money seem to be oblivious to anything other than the sustainability of their ancient 20th century financial nest egg, the fact of the matter remains, nobody in America will be making anymore money until the industrial foundation of our 21st century economy is properly blueprinted, organized and financed. Mr. Madoff’s obsession with acquiring the greenbacks of others therefore, was nothing more than a collective essay on the shortsighted investment strategies of many who thought and still think greenbacks and greenbacks alone are crucial to economic momentum.

The reason Americans are not spending money today however, is due entirely to the fact that common sense has enabled most to realize that money cannot buy us out of a jobless economy. While there are those who still insist that money can, the vast majority of these folks are loosing money hand over fist to either people like Madoff, the overall failure of financial institutions to invest in our nation’s industrial future and the general belief that hoarding financial assets will at some point in time enable those who do so to experience a windfall profit in much the same manner as a child who found a dollar on the street and quickly turned his or her new found wealth into an investment in penny candy in 1962.

With virtually no comprehension of how the candy was made and knowing only that they had a lot of it, the windfall profit of that found dollar enabled them to become overseers and overeaters of their instant candy empire. As time went by and the contents of their candy jar diminished, because they found the initial dollar as opposed to earning it, they searched for more lost dollars to feed their candy addiction without ever taking the time to learn how the candy was actually made or realizing the actual price of labor that went into making the candy in the first place.

As 1962 was a long time ago and the dollar then bought a lot more than a dollar today does, the facts remain the same. As there is virtually nothing of any value gained in finding a lost dollar on main street and investing it in candy, there is as well nothing of any value in finding a lost dollar on Wall street and investing it in fantasy. As fantasy seems to have become the new gold standard in America, the greenback wholly attached to fantasy has become valueless. While the irony of this whole self centered addiction to eye candy here in our America can be seen in the overall lack of performance in every industrial sector, the greater irony is the fact that we have failed to invest our greenbacks in green industries.

As defining, shaping and growing green industries is clearly at the core of reinvigorating our nation’s greenback, one has to wonder why the quest for eye candy has entirely overshadowed the greater quest and responsibility we should have to anchor the value of that greenback to the growth of these industries. As the old adage of “no reward for bad behavior” once anchored children to a fundamental morality that in 1962 compelled many of them to search for the owner of that found dollar bill before investing it in meaningless self gratification and as that search was anchored by the larger morality of parents who insisted that not only was eating too much candy bad but adhering to the even larger principle of “an apple a day kept the doctor away” was wiser, common sense was ultimately the foundation of not only personal honesty but a much broader and extraordinarily honest essay on our nation’s collective understanding of what true social health implied.

When you think about this and you think about the fact that our nation’s natural food supply has become a victim of eye candy food manufacturers who have placed candy profits above apple nutrition, again Mr. Madoff’s name comes to the surface as a startling omen warning us collectively of the dark side of yet another national economic tragedy. Selfish nutritional economics, the fine art of corporate profit at the expense of regional health and nutrition simply states that as long as investors can see themselves as beneficiaries of the growth of national food manufacturing empires, they do not even for a moment have to consider the fact that America has become a nation of over weight neurotics who simply cannot afford either the time to cook well or the foods that enable them to eat well, behave rationally or think creatively.

Within the constraints of this frenzied food for profit logic, organic food anger grows and within the constraints of this organic food anger, an army of truly conscious organic food entrepreneurs is growing. Yet because the Madoff’s of the world still seek fast food profits, the organic farmers of America’s 21st century are left to fend for themselves within a food and agricultural industry that remains determined to destroy the underlying truth of an apple a day.

As our nation’s food industry holds virtually every American family hostage in its packaged food utopia, in doing so it is clearly serving as an overwhelming impediment to the sustained growth of a number of remarkably advanced green American agricultural based industries that with the proper technological and economic interface in place would wholly redefine our nation’s food industry as well as our greater humanitarian position on feeding through comprehensive education the populations of the world that have come to rely upon us for precisely what we can’t at the moment seem to provide for ourselves.

In the great redundancy of squandered candy cane billions, our nation remains devoid of a comprehensive network of solar and geothermal powered and heated regional food producing greenhouses that should clearly be numbered in the tens of thousands and clearly be built within every geographical sector of our country. Within the void of sugar coated dreams, our nations network of neighborhood grocers that clearly could become the centers of proactive community agricultural and nutritional education sit as insolvent reminders of green potential just waiting to be actualized. Between the greenhouse and the grocery store, fleets of hybrid food delivery vehicles remain on the drawing boards of lollipop licking, nutritionally starved and financially unemployed automotive engineers. As the highways linking greenhouses and grocery stores do not today serve any conceivable functional purpose other than to carry a nation of wandering job seekers madly rushing from one temporary candy company position to another, the non-repairable potholes created by a society that has lost its agrarian roots fill with the rain and ground waters that flow unrestrained and un-harnessed. While such waters today are as crucial to our economic livelihood as they were and have been throughout the history of mankind, keeping the car that holds the unemployed, overweight and overly sedated motorist safely constrained and perfectly clean belies the fact that the underlying filth of our nations economy is chronicled by the sediment that splashes up and disfigures the factory finish of over priced autos and under financed efforts to address the development of green rain and groundwater technologies.

In the grand oddity of Madoff styled prosperity, the greenback has been pitted against the very industrial mechanism that actually produces the greenback. In the grand oddity of unregulated, undisciplined and wholly self-centered profit for the self-involved aspiring only personal enlightenment, our nation operates beneath a financial canopy falsely illuminated by socially dysfunctional light bulb gurus. As we sit patiently awaiting some form of leadership to emerge, as we patiently await discipline and structure to once again become the benchmark of our industrial momentum, tangible solutions to our collective dysfunction are in abundance as are they are clearly visible and virtually everywhere around us.

Discipline anchored in common sense should suggest the overwhelming need to define common cause, unfortunately common cause in our nation today has been hidden behind hopelessly isolated and insular common goals. As Americas corporations have more or less evolved themselves into secular hierarchies focused exclusively on self-survival, the capacity to share, the capacity to realize true industrial cross training has been relegated to the realm of hard work which unfortunately in our nation today has been considered to be pointless. With self-survival or self-preservation as the foundation of corporate logic, America has simply failed for far too long to realize the true potential of dynamic industrial cross training. Thus, the American auto and truck industry within it secularist survival mode has virtually refused to understand the transportation needs of the American food industry. Focusing exclusively on the simple minded logic of developing a new line of luxury Cadillac’s that are competitive with a new line of BMWs that are competitive with a new line of Lincoln’s, the auto industry has not for a moment focused its engineering brilliance on a new line local grocery store delivery trucks nor the sheer volume of aftermarket technologies that if produced would support the 21st century advanced industrial needs of American agriculture.

Regardless of the industry, regardless of the secular plight of indivudual industries, until we as a nation look at our desire to own a sustainable investment portfolio for non-secular reasons we will have no choice other than to suffer the consequences of Madoff minded investment scams. As the greenbacks we collectively hold so precious to our singular retirement goals were never designed to create self-centered dynasties, as the greenbacks we earned were earned with the realization that constant reinvestment of those greenbacks was essential to the greater good of a nation that allows dynasties, the ultimate good of a nation must come from our capacity to constantly reshape and reconstitute the formula that made the dynasty strong and dynamic to begin with.

Bernie Madoff in essence, is not a criminal. Although he made off with the fortunes of many, the ancient principles of our nation’s ancient economic and political dynasties allowed this to happen. As the principles that allowed this man to pave his own highway to heaven are still very much in place in our nation today, the greater principles of true 21st century industrial reinvention are also in place. The question therefore, is one of conscious communication. I have an idea that is directly related to your idea. I cannot execute my idea unless I also help you execute your idea. While this type of socio-economic dialogue is viewed by many as a form of socialism, this author chooses to characterize the changes that must be made in our America today as a celebration of the fact that we have finally and collectively as a nation moved beyond our social dysfunctionalisms.

Welcome to Candy Land.

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


The Embodiment
Of America’s
Emerging Cultural Wealth

When does a municipal sewer system become something much larger than a complex series of interconnected pipes?

That sewer system becomes something much larger the moment the joints connecting those pipes rust and fall apart. That sewer system becomes much larger the moment a municipality realizes that what was intended to go through the pipe is no longer capable of reaching its final destination. That sewer system becomes much larger when along with rusting connections and rusting pipes, the final destination of those pipes along with the sewerage contained within them has a greater financial value when it is dealt with in an entirely different manner.

As sewer systems have not over the course our constantly evolving human experience been directly associated with the cultural enrichment of a society, they are in their quiet subterranean existence today as they have been throughout the history of mankind, highly representative of either the sustained growth of an industrial empire or its eventual demise. While flushing toilets may not on the surface be considered as an integral part of America’s emerging culture wealth, the fact of the matter remains that until we as a nation realize and capitalize on the full potential of what is actually being flushed, there is the very real possibility that we ourselves along with the potential of that new wealth will be flushed as well.

While it has become quite clear all aspects of the subterranean infrastructure that has for many decades sustained our above ground lifestyle quite nicely is now unsustainable to itself, unfortunately, the discussion of replacing sewer systems isn’t quite as glamorous or politically correct as going to the ladies room at the local opera house. None the less, our sewers are crumbling and as they are, so to is our capacity to afford the designer toilets found in designer opera houses both of which sit atop our crumbling sewer pipes. Having said this, the question becomes, what will it take to elevate our discussion of sewer systems to the level of discussion normally reserved for a Renoir painting? Do we at the onset of a remarkably dynamic 21st century have the responsibility to view our potential to create new sewer systems as a clear social responsibility? In doing so, do we as well have the capacity to view them as progressive expressions of 21st century industrial art?

When you think about the above questions for awhile and in doing so realize that everything mechanical that has been installed above those decaying pipes has for decades been elevated to a high form of bathroom industrial art, why not address the pipes below that bathroom in the same fashion? When you think about all we have learned about what has gone into these pipes for decades and in doing so invented ways to recycle what goes in before it does, the fact remains pipes are still not only needed but sewerage contained within them has clearly become a commodity that due to the poor condition of those pipes, very few municipalities can benefit financially from. As municipalities do not have the financial means to retrieve and recycle this potentially golden harvest of subterranean organic waste and as a broad spectrum of technologically evolved industries do manufacture the equipment to assure that such harvesting becomes both viable and profitable, one has to ask, have we spent too many years in the opera house with our heads held high above designer toilets or have we spent too many years with our overly elevated designer heads stuck in those toilets?

The only reason I am bringing this up is that on occasion, not only do I take in an opera but I also use the toilet. As I am a builder who has like so many other builders over the course of decades worked with municipalities and in particular building inspectors who work for those municipalities, all of us today are broke and out of work. In the same breath, I have worked with manufacturers of plumbing fixtures to assure that my clients functional and artist tendencies have been met when designing and building bathrooms. Unfortunately today and in as much as we within the context of living in a 20th century economy have more or less maintained a decent income, beyond the final closure of a toilet seat, beyond the final inspection of the bathroom plumbing fixture manufacturer’s are as broke as building inspectors, municipalities and building contractors.

So what’s the deal? What is preventing the emergence of our potential 21st century cultural expression of advanced industrial art from actually emerging?

Ancient building codes anchored in nothing other than an equally ancient disrespect for the brilliance of ordinary plumbers is the answer. Due to the overly elevated egos of investment bankers and venture capitalists who don’t respond to an industrial concept unless that concept can be manufactured and placed upon a retail shelf, mining the organic waste that sits in America’s crumbling sewer lines is simply not cool. As such mining actually takes a little bit more time than the ordinary man spends sitting on a designer toilet, investment bankers and venture capitalists along with their equally redundant political counterparts are pathetically ordinary men. Thinking that the mining of organic human waste can be as profitable as drilling for Saudi Arabian oil, they collectively wait for the right moment to flush the toilet that is killing our economy in hopes that in doing so, they will become the 19th century Rockefellers of our 21st century economy.

Beyond their collective grasp however is the fact that there are many subterranean sewer lines and all of those sewer lines within the context of our 21st century industrial blueprint have vastly different inlets and outlets attached to vastly different investment portfolios. There are the sewer lines that redirect rainwater. There are the sewer lines that redirect waste form the sinks of American kitchens. There are the sewer lines that redirect the waste from American laundry rooms. There are the sewer lines that redirect the wastewater from American washbasins and bathtubs as there are of course the sewer lines that redirect the waste from American toilets. When one really thinks about sewer lines and one as well really thinks about the scope of public education that must be brought forward before such sewer lines can be profitable, one also has to wonder just when the last time investment bankers and venture capitalists sat down with building inspectors and tradesmen in the privacy of their own bathrooms.

In as much as we in America are dealing with an economic scenario that is collectively brutalizing each of us in precisely the same manner. In as much as new economic opportunity abounds and all of that opportunity is benchmarked by a sadly selfish sense of excitement laced with needless anxiety, I for one simply want to know that the water that I use to drain my organic vegetables at my kitchen sink can with the aid of technologically advanced and monitored pipes, be recycled to water the garden that grew the vegetables in the first place. If that technology was actually in place and as I’m certain that such water flow must be regulated and monitored, I would find great comfort in the fact that the folks who do monitor that flow hired me to build their kitchens and their gardens in the first place.

If I were to design and build their kitchens and gardens, I would undoubtedly design and manufacture a host of products that would serve to accessorize those technologically advanced and monitored pipes and in doing so, find equal comfort in the fact that the folks who manufactured the system and its accessories were working and making money in just the same manner as myself. In turn, I would find even greater comfort in the fact that my municipal tax dollars were clearly being diverted to foster the growth of the subterranean economy that today quite unfortunately still lies far beneath my designer toilet seat in pipes that should have been replaced a long time ago.

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

Monday, March 9, 2009

Geodesic Domes


As virtually everyone in America agrees that virtually everything in America must change, there can be no Sacred Cows, there can be nothing whatsoever that is allowed to escape the inevitable responsibility of change.

As the healthcare industry must change, so too must the radiologist and the heart surgeon. As fitness guru’s must change so to do the architects who design the fitness centers guru’s congregate in. As the auto industry must change, the engineers who design our vehicles must as well. As the unionized autoworker must change so to does the manufacturing process the autoworker functions within change. As our public education system must change so of course do the teachers and administrators within that system adapt to that change. As the truck driver must change, so to does the designer of the container that sits on the chassis of that truck. As the farmer must change, so to does the grocery store owner. As the psychotherapist must change, so to does the patient.

With so much change occurring, with so much anticipation of change in our hearts and minds, there is as well a remarkable sense that although no Sacred Cows should be allowed to escape the responsibility of change, all of us are seeking the comfort that Sacred Cow implies. As the our country’s political system has always been the collective anchor of our greater national momentum, as our collective body of separate but equal religions have always resided as the core of our greater human compassion and understanding, these two Sacred Cows along with the Sacred Cow of the industrial mechanism that has assured both the longevity of our political system as well as the sanctity of our collective freedom to worship within the faith we believe is right for ourselves and our families, is of course undergoing the same all encompassing exercise associated with change.

With virtually nothing left for us as Americans to traditionally seek some sort of collective comfort in, with virtually no sense of collective belonging to our traditional national goals staring us directly in the face, it seems to be somewhat important that we do in spite of confusion, find some sort of a collective cow even if it is non traditional, to worship.

Having said this, a particular thought comes to mind. What about soccer moms? What if in spite of all of our beleaguered forays into embracing and understanding change the white vinyl soccer ball orb that has over the course of the past twenty years here in our America been adhered to the back windows of our nations remarkable fleet of family minivans was to become the new Sacred Cow symbol for America? What if, in spite of all of our attempts at getting a handle on the concept of change, that white vinyl orb was indeed the guiding symbolic force behind that change? Realizing that such a thought could in the minds of all who are seeking change be absolutely absurd in content, let’s delve into this concept anyway.

First of all, soccer has in so many communities across America come to be viewed as a much more progressive interpretation of physical interaction for our children than the more traditional American sports of baseball, football, basketball and hockey. Within the context of that more progressive interpretation, a remarkably large army of forward thinking woman have emerged and in the process of doing so pilot minivans that are filled with children who while being driven to soccer fields are engaging in conversations that for the most part are devoid of the worries of their beleaguered parents. Not that they don’t sense the frustration their parents are dealing with, these kids because they are being driven to a soccer field as opposed to being driven to a baseball or football field, simply have a different slant on life and due to the fact that their pilots are predominantly mothers, the emerging American soccer mom culture has within the constraints of everything in America that has become so ordinary, quietly produced something quite out of the ordinary.

Removed from the constraints of traditional overly competitive American sports dialogue, these kids instead of looking at futures laced with dreams of multi million dollar Hall of Fame contracts are instead focusing on the orb. In its distinctively unique physical presence, the soccer ball presents a distinctively unique and alternative point of view to American engineering. Whereas the football cannot in any manner whatsoever be viewed as the key ingredient to the game of football without also looking at the arsenal of equipment engineered to protect the multi million dollar football player from being torpedoed by an army of other multi million dollar football players that are equally well equipped, the soccer ball speaks an entirely different language.

A language designed to enable a child to use his or her body much more in the manner of a ballet dancer, the soccer ball and the game of soccer does within the more evolved philosophy of the sport, fly in the face of America’s football Sacred Cow(or pig) logic. While the football does indeed resemble a torpedo and the baseball does indeed resemble a hand grenade, the soccer ball resembles a geodesic dome. Whereas as the high speed sports car gets the football player to the stadium, the minivan with the white vinyl orb gets the soccer mom to the soccer field, the school and the grocery store.

When one really thinks about this whole scenario and one as well thinks about the notion that everyone in America realizes that everything is really changing, the rational conclusion that any rational American must come to is that soccer moms and only soccer moms are responsible for shaping the direction of this change. The growth of America’s industrial future hinges upon their insight. The redefinition of America’s healthcare model depends upon their stubbornness. The chassis upon which little soccer players roll along in can only be engineered by mothers who patiently listen to emerging geodesic dome architects as the culture of healthy eating can only emerge from grocery bags filled with yogurt and organic poultry products commingling with bouncing geodesic orbs and emerging ballet dancers that reside with those groceries in the backs of minivans.

Within the culture of change our America is poised to embrace, the belief that change will come much sooner than later resides in the potential America’s soccer moms have to solarize as opposed to polarize their children. Whereas torpedoes and hand grenades have left our America with a lasting legacy personified in many ways by footballs and baseballs, they have done so because all along we as a nation knew we had the potential to design geodesic domes.

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Good and Evil


What do Jerry Springer, Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh have in common?

Although each of these socially redundant human gadgets operate from somewhere within the bodies of middle aged American men, none of the three have ever evolved their emotional or intellectual make up beyond the age of their own, clearly suppressed adolescence. Fully involved with their points of view, none of them have, over the course of their entire adult lives produced anything that could even remotely be considered as a truly professional or socially enlightened contribution to the future growth of the United States of America.

Locked within their collective belief that somehow, somewhere someone in America actually needs their particular form of adolescent insight in order to attain a certain sense of personal validation, these guys are actually paid by other men who own media empires for the singular purpose of fostering the ongoing belief that in America, if we only focused on the cleavage of jiggling girls(Howard Stern), the arenas of domestic fist fights(Jerry Springer) and the fear of pursuing intelligent political discourse(Rush Limbaugh), we as Americans would be light years ahead of ourselves and of course, more than capable of forever existing within the adolescent frame of mind their imaginary socio-economic empires actually exist in.

Given the fact that over the course of the last fifteen years, focusing on jiggling cleavage, domestic fist fights and highly opinionated but none the less empty political diatribe has done virtually nothing other than assure sameness, one has to wonder just exactly why those who claim ownership of media empires find such comfort in producing television and radio programs comprised of pure human trash.

At a point in time when our nation is nervously anticipating the birth of a remarkably resilient new industrial momentum, my thoughts of these three particularly redundant human gadgets is entirely at odds with my understanding of the service and function of three other men who during similar times of such industrial transformation, chose to chronicle the human aspects of America’s plight for rediscovery in a decidedly more robust and healthy manner.

As I don’t believe Edward R. Murrow, Studs Terkel or Paul Harvey ever for a moment chose to seek out personal satisfaction in such shallow terms as Springer, Stern and Limbaugh, I don’t as well see how the media empires who employed the iconic global personalities of Murrow, Terkel and Harvey have somehow managed to retard themselves and in the process reduce America’s collective intellect to such poor standards of quasi-journalistic narrative.

Just the other day, Rush Limbaugh, the chubby adolescent punk of ultra right wing conservative and ultra childlike thought found himself being characterized as the official voice of the Republican Party. Within that characterization, little Russ was able to conclude that at any point in time, the President of the United States of America would be more than welcome on his show. As I have over the years listened and watched Mr. Limbaugh anointing himself as the patriarch of rich and salivating adolescent insight into the plight of America’s never evolving teenage population, I can’t help but wonder why this oversized bully was not confronted on a playground many years ago by a skinny kid with clearly defined adult social tendencies.

Now that the skinny kid has become the President of the United States however, I’m inclined to believe that much sooner than later, Mr. Limbaugh will find the guidance of a fully evolved Jungian psychoanalyst much more beneficial to his personal and professional growth than a half trained Freudian sex analyst.

As the icons of America’s remarkably wealthy journalistic history have relegated their personal issues to what is discussed in the privacy of their own homes, within the context of that highly prized and unfortunately lost art of self discipline, Murrow, Terkel and Harvey found within the remarkable love they had for their country, the audacity to say in their own remarkably adult and remarkably human admonition of their own equally remarkable understanding of their limitations as men, Good day!

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

Things are just fine. I think?


Within the last six weeks since President Obama gave his inaugural speech, we as a nation have been inundated with one piece of economic bad news after another. Regardless of what we here, virtually everything that we do hear is laced with a highly negative and remarkably blunt analysis of all the troubles we as a nation are facing. As all of this actual negative analysis is based upon actual pragmatic fact, there is virtually no reason in the world that we as Americans should expect to hear or in fact deserve to hear something positive. Yet as the president is only stating the severity of both the scope and complexity of our problems and those problems began to emerge close to a half a century ago, there are people across the spectrum of our nation’s socio-economic make up that are now beginning to say that our president is being too negative. These people are saying that the president should be weaving something positive and hopeful into his speeches.

These people are saying that if the president did say something positive and hopeful, we as citizens of America would respond by doing something positive and hopeful as well. While such an argument has within itself a positive and hopeful dream attached to it, given the fact that we have not in any manner whatsoever managed to do the work that makes the positive and hopeful aspects of dreams come true, belies the fact that we must actually begin to do so.

President Obama has never even for a moment suggested that the challenges our nation is facing are anything less than monumental. He has stated over and over again that work is the recipe for change. He has stated over and over again that the scope of change we are capable of achieving and must confront will not only require work, but a substantial amount of it. As the boss has repeatedly suggested that such work will require the sustained effort of everyone working together to attain the actual potential of our collective brilliance, I find it quite odd that within the time frame of only six weeks, people who seem to be capable of giving themselves the license to do so, are saying to the president that although we have ignored fifty years worth of opportunities to come together as a nation, six weeks in office should be more than enough time to have effectively transformed the history of political laziness that has brought us to the problems we face today.

It is absolutely amazing to me that for a man to have inspired a nation to retrench itself and in doing so establish a sense of national self discipline that has been entirely lacking in this country for far too long, so many of his countrymen have within just six weeks concluded that because President Obama stated that such change could happen, it already has. Thinking in quite a convoluted manner, the partygoers of our nations past fifteen years are already beginning to state to themselves that we as a nation have endured enough hardship and its time to move forward with the magical ideas espoused by a magical president and in doing so use positive words filled with hope rather than pragmatic words filled with fact to characterize the fact that the work we are all supposed to be doing and have yet to start is actually work that will undoubtedly serve to redefine our collective national maturity for decades to come.

While our nation’s leaders should be presenting a certain collective sense of optimism as to the severity of what it is we are actually facing and we as a nation should collectively be responding to that optimism with even more optimism, the fact of the matter is that many of those within the role of political leadership in our nation most likely shouldn’t be in such a role. The reason why they shouldn’t is simple, without the actual ability to contribute to the solution neither pessimism nor optimism has any real bearing on the work that needs to be done. Having said this, perhaps the reason why many in America are tired of hearing dire economic forecasts is the sense we collectively have of the credentials policy makers claim as their own distinct and separate privilege. More to the point, as that sense of privilege is cloaked in their association with other “experts” who claim to have the same privilege, the license required of professionals charged with reshaping our nations 21st century industrial model has in so many different fields of expertise, quite simply not even been invented yet. None the less, as America waits for insightful leadership to arise from arrogance and that arrogance is shrouded in the absurdly blind protectionism of nitwit political egos, America waits in vain.

The question becomes why. Why is it that with the combined brilliance and combined ego of experts are so many so of our leaders so remarkably stupid?

An answer to this question can be found and should be found within the foundation of what we in America have created and have come to cherish as the holy grail of our nation’s socio-economic progress. America’s universities both public and private, America’s community colleges, America’s high schools both public and private and America’s public and private grammar school education systems have long ago disassociated themselves from the act of applying education to the actual needs of the communities they are supposed to serve. As getting an education has for decades been associated with leaving the surroundings of one’s cultural upbringing, as education has been viewed as a license to achieve for one self at the expense of the community and neighborhood one belongs to, departure from neighborhoods for a job as a space shuttle astronaut has taken precedent.

Yet within the context of virtually every advanced degree in industrial science, within the context of every one child who left home to pursue that degree there is the larger context of the ten who did not. While the ten who did not achieve a doctorate at Harvard may very well be viewed by the one that did as somehow redundant and inconsequential to the larger purpose of advancing our industrial sciences, we as a nation today experiencing collective redundancy might very well be inspired to few this anomaly as a tremendously powerful if not terrifying warning sign.

Again, I must reiterate that in as much as President Obama has managed through his remarkable use of our contemporary English language create a national if not international dialogue that is clearly serving to bridge our collective educational gap the gap remains. Unfortunately for our president and our nation, of all of those who he has recruited to move us collectively beyond our American educational redundancy, every one of them have advanced degrees in education. While not a single member of his cabinet, while not a single appointed czar is an ordinary American brick layer, while not a single expert on his staff actually knows how to frame a house or install an additional electrical outlet in their kitchen, they are all quite capable of convincing themselves that those who do possess such skills must ultimately wait for a Rhodes scholar to hire them before America will be able to produce a sustainable 21st century public electric utility grid or an actual working model of a national public transit system.

As the ten who did not go to Harvard and who admire immensely the brilliant industrial skills of the kid in the neighborhood who did, we quite sadly as a nation are nothing but a group of under delegated, under achievers. When does the gifted child come home? When does he or she upon his arrival home come to see that the other ten as just as gifted? When does the one who has the capacity to delegate common sense progress become viewed not for his or her advanced doctorate but for his or cumulative degrees in life long learning. Can an environmental scientist learn to take orders from a garbage man?

The myth of American education has unfortunately become the rule from which counter productivity reigns and within this counter productivity, polished essays with either negative or positive slants on the hopes for America’s future potential are virtually meaningless. The work our nation is embarking upon today does not in any manner whatsoever suggest that false pride has a place of significance at the community table. As such false pride has become the false recipe of our failed national meal, organic gardeners, many of whom are garbage truck drivers are waiting just as patiently as agricultural scientists who are also organic gardeners for someone to actually produce an industrial blueprint that allows us as a nation to simply get on with the fine art of 21st century socio-industrial cooking we are collectively capable of celebrating.

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

Monday, March 2, 2009

Who Decides Our Nation's Future?


At some point in time it seems it would become rather apparent that in spite of the fact that America is made up of two political parties, both of them are actually made up of Americans who in all likelihood actually do possess not similar but identical goals. At some point one would think that coming to such a conclusion would foster a sense of national unity that would in turn foster a sense of national productivity that was not in any manner whatsoever characterized by political differences and instead benchmarked by an entirely wholesome portrait of industrial inventiveness. At some point in time one would think that the term “sore looser” would be replaced in our political dialogue with sore shoulders and/or aching backs.

At some point there must be the realization that in spite of the political differences that have served quite well together to close out our nation’s 20th century global industrial building empire and in doing so see that empire characterized as both a total tragedy as well as a comical farce, one might assume that political egos might just give way to a much more advanced level of technological thought. At some point, it would seem that possessing such thought that is clearly the foundation from which our 21st century global industrial empire must be built upon would entirely out weigh political differences and in turn meld into a much needed and much deserved celebration of the socio-economic unity we as a nation are more than capable of producing.

Unfortunately today in 2009 America, Republicans are still determined to get the last philosophical points of their version of the 20th century across to a population of Americans that don’t for any reason see the existence or argument of such points as being the least bit pertinent in America at all. As the Republican party has come to embrace nothing other than some vague definition of morality anchored to an equally vague definition of America’s need to “save the world from itself”, forward thinking Americans who have virtually no desire to save the world and are more or less focused on saving themselves through the creation of intelligent industries, clearly see this Republican insistence upon expressing their morality in much the same light as they see an ancient anchor tethered to an ancient Titanic sailing vessel that sunk long ago under the very weight of its own blind industrial ego.

When I listen to Republicans speak in lock step fashion against the ideas of a newly elected president who was elected across the board here in our nation by people from all walks of American life who simply want to move forward, I just shake my head. In doing so, I’m compelled to ask Republicans just what it is they want from American citizens before these Republicans actually acknowledge to themselves that they are also American citizens. When do Republicans see they are actually a part of the solution and in fact American citizens actually want to hear their ideas? When do Republicans actually start producing ideas?

What on earth has happened here in our America over the course of the last several decades that has so successfully served to anchor the Republican party to the total failure of industrial and economic growth here in our own homeland. What on earth compels them to continue to think that the world viewed through the eyes of bombers, bibles and oil barrels would be better off than a world viewed through the eyes of 21st century industrialists who see a much more dynamic global economic interaction through the collective American industrial consciousness whose focus is instead bio fuels?

I suppose the answer to this question can be found in part by the way we in America have come to learn the English language. Another part of this answer can also be found in the fact that in as much as we have come to learn the English language so well, we have also come to invent new words that much more accurately enable us to use the English language to our greater technological and social benefit. As we have collectively evolved that language to express our evolved technological evolution, the fact that we use words such as evolution to convey the fact that we have evolved is of course at the heart of our nation’s quandary over the social reforms that must be enacted if in fact we are to evolve into a nation that embraces the brilliance of our technologically evolved minds.

Unfortunately, using just the words evolve, evolved and evolution in the last paragraph have come to be met by our nation’s Republican party as an assault on our nation’s moral and spiritual beliefs as opposed to an expression of our nations greater 21st century industrial capacity to flourish economically. While such words were certainly not used by either the democrats or republicans that made up the demographics of previous generations, none the less, previous generations did use the words of their generation to move our nation collectively forward. Having said this, for some reason while we as Americans today have managed to move ourselves forward technologically due in large part to the fact that we have managed to use the English language for such purpose, the words we have selected conjure up fears as opposed to manifesting a collective national momentum that should enable us to confront that fear. While the fact that we have become a nation who can use the English language in terms that are far more evolved and enlightened than previous generations should be considered as positive, unfortunately it is all negative and unfortunately Republican seem determined to constantly remind us of that fact.

As a child born in the 1950’s, the word “evolution” was not used in any social manner or dialogue whatsoever. It is not that this particular word was not known but within the context of the universal knowledge expressed in everyday 1950s America, there was virtually no need to use it. Life back then was simply not that complex and any evolving we were collectively doing was defined simply as going to the local bingo hall, the local American Legion post on Friday nights for a perch fish fry and of course the local church on Sunday. Within that evolution, the only time the word evolution would come up would be in bible study. Needless to say when the word evolution did come up it was not within the context of my Catholic upbringing anything the church looked favorably upon.

The same is true of the word “consciousness”. This word not only didn’t exist in the bible, it did not exist in our English language or in any other text or place those who read the bible would most likely read or frequent. The word conscience however did exist and for decades, we collectively were trained to examine our conscience before doing anything that would even remotely suggest that we might actually be coming to the realization that we had a consciousness.

Low and behold, another word started being used in our American interpretation of the English language. The “actualization” was used to define the fact that we actually as a nation were coming to believe that we collectively possessed a “consciousness” and because we did, we were also “evolving”.

While today these words or terms are still somewhat obscure in our larger American interpretation of the English language, they are used and used by highly educated experts in the fields of alternative energy, environmental sciences and those whose professional focus have found it necessary to describe the complex inner workings of the very technologies that are being brought forth as a result of using such words. Unfortunately again however is the fact that the main reason that such words are not universally understood by more Americans is that those in political power who choose to hold that political power over undereducated Americans are republicans who are just as uneducated as those they think they are protecting and whose fear of God equals their fear of using the English language for the larger socio-economic good of America.

I realize that by making these statements, I am exposing myself to a remarkable army of American Christians who through fear of actually understanding the natural evolution of the English language are through that fear, hopelessly incapable of understanding the larger concept of hybrid automobiles, solar energy, organic gardening and the larger and much more dynamic attributes of an economy that fosters social progress as opposed to perpetuating social redundancy.

None the less, America is moving forward and as a deeply personal sign that in fact it is doing so with its Christian beliefs firmly intact, the medal of Saint Christopher worn around my fathers’ neck throughout the life and times he lived through in his World War II generation is indeed around my neck here in 2009.

With the lessons of examining ones conscience both my father and mother taught me as a child being still very much the anchor of my both my spiritual and moral foundation today and as I have instilled those same lessons in my daughters, it is quite disturbing to me that such strongly held values have been corrupted by a republican party here in our America today that essentially states that for one reason or another my use of words such as “new age” belie the Christian teachings and hopes for a “new America” my beloved father Al shared with me up until the day he died.

I find a great deal of disgrace and disrespect in the notion that in as much as my father’s generation was blessed by the leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and they collectively regardless of political persuasion instilled in their own children the urgency to move beyond the horrors of world war, President Barack Obama is today met with a republican party too self-serving to realize that they are not the holders to the keys of America’s moral future any more than my father who prayed on his knees every night was the author of the Bible.

At a time represented by such exciting and dynamic change, I find it extremely difficult to rationalize the thought that leaders throughout the world looking upon the extraordinarily positive portrait our new president represents to that world’s future must bear witness to a republican party lost within its own ancient understanding of the very English language America has always quite positively represented to a world of many separate but equal faiths.

Teamed with both a father and a grandfather who served our nation’s military in precisely the same manner as myself, at the ends of the wars we fought was the consciousness of the homeland we loved that allowed us from three separate generations, both the privilege and right to come home and pick up the tools of our trades as master carpenters. Whereas my grandfather sketched out designs for furniture on pieces of scrap lumber and my father drafted blueprints on wooden drafting boards, I use computers to design and engineer environmentally sustainable homes that represent the singular fact that each generations responsibility is to evolve the dreams of the previous.

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

Eco Friendly Dreams


It’s 19 degrees below zero. You’re driving down an interstate highway. You are about sixty miles from your home. Although there is not much of it, snow is everywhere. The roads are more or less clear. The wind is blowing in steady gusts. Except for an occasional car coming in the opposite direction, nobody but you is on the highway. You’re anxious to get home. You’re anxious about the temperature and the condition of the highway and of course, you’re anxious about everything else anyone else would be anxious about while driving on an interstate highway when it is 19 degrees below zero and snow but not much of it is all around you and other than a few cars passing in the other direction, you are entirely alone in your vehicle traveling only in your direction which places you about sixty miles away from the warmth of your home.

As you are driving along, you find yourself drifting in and out of the state of road consciousness that comes quite naturally from driving alone for extended periods of time on the interstate. Within this state, things as ordinary as something blowing across the road in front of you have a way of enhancing or exaggerating the imaginative aspects of that consciousness just as signs posted along the interstate or buildings off of the interstate do the same.

On this particular day however, the things that appear along the side of the interstate seem to be just a little bit more out of the ordinary than usual and given the fact that it is extremely cold and your senses seem to be slightly out of whack, your response to these things is as well.

Approaching a familiar landmark, one that you have in your travels passed hundreds of times before, a giant clear plastic bag filled with the very air that is blowing it across the highway and obstructing you view of that familiar landmark wisps directly across your windshield. Startled, you swerve to avoid the bag and although the roads are more or less clear, the temperature of the day has created a patch of black ice on which you and your SUV slide and spin uncontrollably to an eventually abrupt stop.

Shaken, fearfully frozen in a state of confusion and alone on the side of the interstate, leather gloved hands clenched to the steering wheel, you in a daze sit in total silence, a silence that is only broken by the sound of the howling wind and an annoying flapping sound.

As you regain your composure and come to realize that you have not been injured and as the mesmerizing state of traveling interstate highway consciousness slowly, quickly and oddly leaves you, the everyday reality you normally function in begins to take hold. Of course, the first thing you instinctively reach for within this reality is your cell phone. Unfortunately, as you and your SUV were spinning out of control, so too was that cell phone and of course that cell phone has spun well out of the realm or place it would otherwise reside in and that you would otherwise be in control of. Trying as you may, finding that cell phone proves to be pointless and as you search for it to no avail, you are left with only the incessant sound of the howling wind and that equally annoying flapping sound.

Angered by your inability to find your cell phone, becoming slightly concerned over your unfortunate predicament, the wind and that annoying flapping sound persists as the engine in your SUV comes to a sudden stop. With no cars coming in either direction, with no cell phone and sitting motionless in a vehicle that has become the same, the wind howls louder as the snow carried by that wind polishes the black ice in a manner that can only be described by a dark essay written by the unmercifully comical Gods of fate that roam interstate highways in search of victims much the same as yourself.

With nothing but a slowly rising pensive panic as your survival reserve, with nothing but resigned commitment to the God’s of fate as your license to survive, you gaze out at the landmark you saw just before spinning out of control and that is now for some odd reason, gazing back at you. Even though you have passed this landmark many times before and have in doing so, more or less forgotten its architectural features, your gaze this time becomes more focused. As you study the form of that architecture, a clear glass dome that seems to be somehow attached to that landmark attracts your attention. The more you study that dome, the more you come to realize the fact that this particular landmark had indeed taken on a new physical presence and of course, that presence is comforting in its oddly vague but none the less reassuring architectural presence.

Sitting in you idled SUV, listening to the howling wind and growing colder by the moment as you do, the darkening horizon, the emerging earthen glow of the glass dome and the incessant sound of something still flapping provokes a sense of personal survival in you. Sensing the warmth of the dome calling, you reach for the door handle of your SUV, pull it towards you and as the door opens, you are slapped in the face by the clear and now airless plastic bag that had not only caused your accident but had produced the incessantly annoying sound that had hauntingly pestered you inside your motionless SUV.

As you struggle to free yourself from the sticky clutches of that clear plastic bag, a set of lights coming from the only vehicle you had seen all day that was actually traveling in your direction came steadily towards you.

Freeing yourself finally from the bag war, you are met by the people who had now exited that vehicle and had while you were battling a clearly lifeless air bag, been steadily walking towards you. As these people were in a decidedly different frame of mind than yourself, they approached you with remarkably warm and ordinary smiles. As if everything you had gone through had somehow not happened at all, their smiles and invitation to join them in their vehicle, reduced you to the frame of mind of thinking that whatever had just occurred in your life, your SUV, interstate highway and clear plastic bag situation would be resolved.

Frozen to the bone and in somewhat of a state of shock, you accepted their offer of a ride. Once inside their car and in spite of the fact that you were still recovering from a black ice attack, the lighthearted nature of their conversation warmed you just as much as the glow of the glass dome you were approaching while driving in their car was doing the same.

Once at the dome and having finally thawed out, you and your rescuers (friends) exited their vehicle and entered the warmed vestibule of the glass dome. Inside, warm, cozy and comfortable, the remaining shredded remnants of the plastic bag that had caused all of your black ice problems to begin with, fell from the shoulders of the coat that covered your emotionally disheveled torso into your still leather covered hands. As you watched in awe, those plastic bag remnants disappeared. In their place, the cell phone you in your interstate of mind had seen somehow misplaced as you were spinning out of control and out of your life reappeared.

Sensing that this was all just some kind of a dream and that you had not really been traveling down an interstate highway in the middle of winter on a very cold day, sensing that you SUV had not really hit a black ice patch and a clear plastic bag did not actually blow across your windshield, the cell phone now in your hand began to ring.

Answering it as if nothing unusual had ever actually occurred, you realized just exactly where you were, who you were, who you were with, and, of course, who was calling you. The person that was calling you was calling you from her cell phone. She was calling to tell you that she was stranded on a 19 degree below zero interstate and that no one was going in her direction and that she was cold and alone in her disabled SUV that had hit a patch of black ice only after a clear plastic bag had swept across her windshield and just before exiting to the landmark of the glass solar dome that covered the kitchen and the food, you and her good friends had prepared for her on her January, 2009th birthday.

What is strange about this whole story is that in January 2009, very few people in America were going in either direction on 19 degree below zero interstate highways. In as much as most of our nation was covered in snow and indeed it was one of the coldest winters on record, and, in fact black ice became a certain buzz phrase for a nation growing increasingly aware of changing climate patterns, it was not the weather patterns that were altering human patterns of driving. As weather patterns and human patterns have throughout the course of history, somehow managed to coexist, it was the odd pattern of seemingly innocuous clear plastic bags that floated across our nation’s interstates in 2009 that told the real story.

As the winter still lingers and reports of clear plastic bag sightings remain on the rise, what is even more odd than the plastic bags themselves, is that every sighting that has thus far been reported, has been reported by people driving SUVs’. As virtually every one of these sightings have been investigated and there exists virtually no physical evidence of bags, each of these sightings occurred within sixty miles of a landmark each traveler had driven by many times before. It was then, only after travelers on 19 degree below zero interstate highways were stopped in their self contained SUVs’ by the imaginary presence of a clear plastic bag floating across the highway close to that landmark and forcing them to stop in their tracks that they realized the significance of their interstate highway, solar dome dream.

On her birthday in January 2009 on an interstate somewhere in the United States of America, a woman rescued by friends was brought to a solar dome that covered the kitchen of a 21st century American home. In the sitting room adjacent to that kitchen, she was given one birthday present. Emerging from the paper she carefully unwrapped was a book entitled “Driving on 19 Degree Interstate Highways in SUVs’ While Dreaming Of Home”.

As every clear plastic bag that crossed America’s 19 degree below zero interstate highway system in 2009 was but another fascinating chapter in this book, the premise brought forth within its introduction and table of contents and forward was simple, American architecture graced with the engineering of solar domes, not only kept the home warm but in doing so assured the traveler that dreams of clear plastic bags blowing across windshields would eventually lead towards a new way of establishing the landmark examples of progressive 21st century American architecture they did indeed call home.

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke