Monthly Archives: September 2009

Set In Concrete

A phrase commonly used for either leaning toward change or not accepting the possibility of it is “it’s not set in concrete” or “it’s set in concrete”, meaning it is firmly established.   A similar phrase is “set in stone”.  Concrete was a world changing discovery… and not just in the modern era, but literally thousands of years ago.  We have still not been able to replicate the quality of the concrete made by South American cultures centuries ago.

Concrete is the most used foundational material in all construction, and is used to stabilize any crumbling cornerstone.  With all of its stabilizing qualities, ask any contractor and they will tell you that concrete always cracks- it’s just a matter of time.  Furthermore, as long as there is earth under the concrete foundation, chances are very good that it will move.  To reduce the possibility of movement in many projects, holes are drilled all the way to bedrock so that the concrete pylons may be poured on rock.

We have all smiled as we have walked across sidewalks that have animal tracks on them- their timing is impeccable as they leave their mark in time.  Concrete has made possible so many things from swimming pools to skate board parks, from park benches to bridges and boat docks- the list seems endless.  In all uses, concrete lasts the longest and seems as permanent as anything.  Hence the idioms “set in concrete” or “set in stone”.

My recent infatuation with this subject began last week when I walked around the driveway and was struck at all the cracks in it- mostly small fissures over time.  I was reminded again that change is constant, and even when things are set in concrete there is little chance it will remain unchanged over time.


Then I walked into the back yard and saw a square of concrete that we have preserved in memoriam.  It has all the hand prints of our children.  They have all left home for now so perhaps its significance was more striking than before.  And then a truth which I believe in hit me…

Concrete may crack, decay, and even crumble over time.  Families change as well; however, in the grand scheme of things, though change in our families is constant, FAMILIES ARE FOREVER!

A square of concrete reminded me of that.  I guess some things ARE set in stone!

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Posted by on September 21, 2009 in Uncategorized


The Science of Interpretation

I have visited some of the caves and ancient ruins of the world that have engraved images and paintings.  I have been on tours where the leader explained what the images meant and how it fit into the culture of peoples long since turned to dust.  I have often wondered how on earth anyone could have made so much out of what looked to me like a man without clothes shooting an animal with a bow.  True, my mind is simplistic, but still… so much if this science seems imaginative.

I used to draw a cool picture of a guy with blood shot eyes with a long tongue catching his snot as it dripped off his nose- this was my signature picture on most high school math papers.  I didn’t do too well at math.  I bet the math teach took my papers and got professional interpretations to determine where my roots were messed up.  I could have told him it was my twisted cousins, but that’s another story.

These stories preface one of the greatest discoveries of my life in the last week.  I came home from work in the mild evening light, totally unprepared for what was to follow.  As I entered the drive toward my garage, I discovered something on my driveway I had not noticed before:

The outline of a fat dog (named Emma) with a gray beard.  Interpretation- The people that occupied this space worshiped a fat dog with a gray beard.

An eagle with outstretched arms, and a giant blue eye.  Interpretation- Occupants of this territory were under the watchful care of an eagle with a giant blue eye.

A long giant monster looking beast with short limbs and big teeth.  Interpretation- Lurking in the area is a long giant monster; hopefully the eagle with the giant eye will protect the dwellers from this evil beast.

A square house with sunshine above it, flowers in the yard, and a welcome entry stone walk.  Interpretation- Dwellers in this “cave” were very happy people.

Eventually I traced this very interesting scene of hieroglyphics or petroglyphs (whichever) to two small grandchildren, smiling brightly near a bucket of chalk, with a college graduate uncle giving instruction and supervision.

Here is my scientific analogy.  The ancient scenes we have spent millions of dollars interpreting were the work of happy and imaginative children.  The meanings have no more significance or truth than the guy I put on my math papers.

The moral of this life lesson is to not make too much of things we don’t know.  Truth eventually comes out, and the truth is, there have been happy children scribbling with chalk for thousands of years.  Let’s just accept it.  Happy children make fun pictures!


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Posted by on September 4, 2009 in Uncategorized