I am in Iowa near Iowa City. The land is parched, the corn stunted, the grass brown, and the rivers low. The talk is all of drought and despair. The heat is intense and unpleasant. I try to remind myself it is nice to be warm after a long, wet winter in Vancouver, but to no avail.
Today all concrete pours were cancelled due to the heat. The inspectors, engineers, and construction workers prefered to stay indoors. You never see anybody outdoors walking or cycling. Only cars plowing through the shimmer off the asphalt. It is almost eery.
The mall was desultory: a few souls of courage who had braved the hot trek from car to indoors. We went to see the new Batman movie on Saturday night. Today we went to see Ice Age 3. The kids loved them both. I preferred Ice Age. I like the animation and total remove from reality.
I also enjoyed the profanity. They said “holy crap,” at one point. The grandkids assure me they said wholly crab. But I heard the former and am sure I was intended to hear that. Then I heard “bugger you.” The grandkids assure me they said bug are you. But I am sure I heard the former. Shows how informed yet good-intentioned the grandkids are. For this is Iowa, a land of vast liberal thinking and ingrained conservative family values. Even though the family is not conventional, i.e., one marriage until death do them part. Here is it marriage, or cohabitation, until emotions change. For the grandkids it means many parents and multiple grandparents. And a kind of insurance system that will ensure no great change if one of the many parents or grandparents dies.
Mining got a rough reference is Batman. A rather nasty character of great wealth is said to have made his money from West African mining. He meets a nasty end. Not because of his mining activities, but because of his fellow crooks. They kind of twist his neck with predictable results. For the rest, the movie is full of clichés of nuclear horror, urban violence, the French Revolution, and class warfare.
I enjoyed the spectacle of the bad man being called Bane (or was it Bain) and the implications to Romney. But Romney has retroactively retired and Bane was in the comics before this became a funny political reference. So that was probably just another Hollywood liberal mistake.
The economy around here is a bit better than the rest of the nation. In the counties I am travelling through, it is about five percent. In the county around Iowa City it is less than three percent. There are large cars and enormous trucks galore. Nobody seems to be without a job. The salaries are not high by comparison with those of mining, but then houses are not that expensive. I am told, however, that if the drought persists, these great statistics may not continue.
There are some egregious examples of what ails the country. A young man of eighteen who ran off with his first girlfriend, failed to finish school, and is now sitting at home unemployed and basically unemployable. The forty-year old who is deep in debt to one of those bogus colleges for a useless degree and who just hangs on at $12.50 an hour. The thirty-five-year old whose parents sold the farm implement company he worked for and who is now with money but not job or ambition. Talk of the travails of the rich. He admits he is glad there are still many nice places to travel to that he has not yet seen.
So we too will travel, but mainly for mining work.