Sixteen Tons of Asteroid

Now that humans have successfully landed on a comet, excitement is building about the previously strange notion of Asteroid Mining.

Lots of new technology will have to be developed to make this work.

Not to mention a boatload of re-written classic mining songs.

There was never an Asteroid made outta mud.
They’re stone and copper and a whole buncha crud.
A whole buncha crud that’s a-flyin’ around,
That’ll never stop and it won’t come down.

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky!

I was born around minerals, buried and old
there was coal and palladium and iron and gold.
But we took it all and we filled our cup
Then the straw boss said “Let’s dig way, way up”

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky!

When I got to space then I started to drill.
I dug down and down in that airless chill.
Then I got so deep the whole hole just spun,
so I kept on digging up towards the sun.

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky!

If you’re out in space you better let me pass
I will take your metals. I will steal your gas.
And I’ll make tear the end off your flying stone
‘Til it’s as brittle and hollow as an ice cream cone.”

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky.

What’s the most physically demanding job you’ve ever held?

60 thoughts on “Sixteen Tons of Asteroid”

  1. Without a doubt, working as a CNA in a nursing home. God bless the men and women who do this job well, it is not easy on either the mind or the body and the compensation is slender, especially when you consider that many of these jobs are kept to a part-time , no benefits level.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Retail. 10 hours a day on your feet, schlepping books and magazines around all day. And, of course, it is physically exhausting to be nice to customers who are being a pain in the patoot!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. my grandfather was a bridge and road construction company owner. he had jobs going on all over the state. my cousin charles was real good at brown noing and got jobs every sumer for good union pay as a teenager. i asked and was told to get a haircut which i reluctantly did. when i showed up my grandfather want the beard trimmed by his barber. that was the end of our relationship on a civil basis. i went to work for a different construction company that paid more and was doing work over by the river mining limestone to refurbish fort snelling. it was hard physical labor lifting rocks all day. fred flintstone kind of work without the dinosaurs. lifting big rocks. swinging a sledge hammer and doing the most strenuous work that could be done was the daily routine. by the end of the job i was solid as the rocks i was lifting. i would be able to mine asteroids with the best of them back in the day. 40 years is all it takes to let those muscles soften up a little. maybe i should get out the old sledge hammer again. splitting wood is another good way work up a sweat and do some good physical labor. warms you twice as the old saying goes.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I spent a summer detasseling seed corn for Dekalb. It was hot, boring, and tiring. We had to walk down row after row of corn fields pulling the tassels off of corn plants. It was really miserable when it rained and the biting insects came out and our shoes got full of mud.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That was common summer employment in the town I grew up in (Ames, Iowa). Detassel kids got paid at the end of the summer because only that arrangement would keep them coming in to do such miserable work. Kids would sign up for these crews because they’d be working with other kids their age . . . in skimpy clothing. Detasseling taught many kids how hard work and discomfort could distract them from being so horny and just make them want to go take a shower!

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      1. They bussed us from Luverne to Jackson in a school bus (no air conditioning), which is about 60 miles, and meant for an hour ride each way. On the way to the fields we were hardly awake and on the way back we were exhausted and filthy.

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        1. Hey – that’s my story! l actually did this god awful job for two summers. A flatbed truck would snake around the town, picking up victims of child labor, then drop us off in the cornfields at 6AM. We were then ordered to spread ourselves across the many rows of corn and begin the journey of mile long labor. lt didn’t matter if our feet got stuck in mud or it was 95 and humid. The reward, besides 25 cents an hour, was eating a hastily thrown together lunch at the end of the row.

          The job itself entailed grabbing onto the middle of a 8′ tall cornstalk, then walking it far enough to be able to reach up and pluck off the flowering top. This was sweaty work and as each tassel popped off, thousands of tiny corn bugs would spray over our sticky bodies. lt became a daily endurance challenge, but we kept at it because nobody wanted to be the one who wimped out. l’ve never worked that hard since – except maybe birthing babies!

          Liked by 2 people

    2. I could never do that one due to serious allergies

      Just being in a town where seed corn was processed was miserable

      You have my deepest respect (well you had that anyway)

      Liked by 1 person

    3. i had forgotten about corn. i picked corn for chadwicks. they were the sweet corn kings of the twin cities back in the 60’s. they rented out river bottom land and fields all over the city. once it was time they loaded a bunch of kids into the back of a pick up truck and we sat with empty burlap bags and each others giggles and adolescent jokes until we got to the fields as the sun came up. we then jumped up grabbed the first bag. hooked it on the nails on the special belt we wore and walked down the rows of corn from one end of the field to the other. each stalk has one ear of corn and you pick it throw it in the bag and move right hand left hand right hand left hand through the morning 60 ears to a bag that got real heavy at about 45 ears but it was only 15 more ears until a reload so it was tolerable and inevitable that the weight pulled on your back almost to the limits of toleration only to be releaved with a fresh bag and renewed 45 ears later. 100 times a day 15 or 20 boys would go up and down the rows with the lsft right motion that made us all comrades in the corn field. with the dew on the leaves of the corn stalks they kind of wet your forarms down as they try to slice through the long sleeved shirt you wear for protection. the sweat as the morning warms up leaves you feeling like you got in a good workout when noon rolls around and old ed the senior member of the truck farming family turned retail vegetable entrepreneurs before the days of the farmers market were common. the burlap bags were the old burlap bags that you picture in your mind that when hanging form your belt , drag on the ground between your legs and while filling them with corn they get clumsy and dirty and smell like wet burlap adding that special smell memory to the replay that includes a sore but ever stornger back of a teen aged youth. the best memory was when old ed woulf crack out the watermelon at noon for us to eat and wear before getting back into the truck on out way back to the starting point to get on with the summer antics that boys partook in back in those days. money in your pocket for french fries and coca cola at the corner where we all hung out on our bikes then as we neared young adulthood on foot or driven by the bigger 16 year olds with 56 cheveys with the gas cap hiden under the tail light or 59 chevys with giant tail fins or a banana yellow 63 chevy convertable that had a secret reach through into the trunk where coolers full of liquids that made men of boys and boys of men. youth is wated on the wrong people

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  5. Package sorting at the airport post office, right after I got out of high school and didn’t know what to do with myself. My adoptive dad and his sister, my grandmother, had both worked at the USPS for years (I think he’d gotten her the job), and the pay was excellent, so I thought it’d be something to do while I cleared my head and figured out my future.

    There were three or four rows of the big canvas bins set up, and our job was to check the code and throw it–not drop, not place–THROW the package into the correct bin. I wasn’t physically fit enough for the job even then, so I quit pretty darn fast. Then I took my few days’ pay, spent it all at Amazon Bookstore Cooperative, and started applying to colleges. My dad said I should have asked to be put on flats (magazines) instead of packages. I do occasionally send packages through the mail, but I wrap them in as much bubble wrap as I can manage and insure them for every cent they’re worth.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And now in Mankato they have zero interest in special services, such as holding your mail. If something is lost or if their is a wrinkle or a or a problem, they just don’t give a damn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. they will be out of business in another couple of years they are poorly run poorly overseen pitiful excuse for an agency. wait a minute. im talking about 100 different government agencies and even more in the common sector where the inefficiencies are excused and the only saving grace is that they are paid for by the mega corporations who rule the planet. cmon clyde lets grab the pitchforks and go burn down the post office and the dmv and the walmart and the dairy queen. well maybe not the dairy queen

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  6. Good morning. I worked as roofer for about two years when I wasn’t able to find work in my field of study. This was a small roofing company owned by a friend of friend. The company didn’t have any equipment to place bundles of shingles on the roofs. We carried them up ladders on our shoulders. The was also a lot other kinds of very physical work associated with that job.

    I actually liked the physical work involved in doing roofing. I was never the equal of a professional roofer who could carry two bundles of shingles at a time up a ladder. One was enough for me.

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  7. My toughest job is kind of wimpy, painting houses the summer after high school. But it was a hot and dry one, 1973, and i remember we only had one day off due to rain. Worked 10-hour days, constantly moving, bending, stretching, contorting oneself to reach that last little corner or to get the right angle on the trim brush so you wouldn’t glob up the window pane trim. Scraping on a scaffold setup was an adventure 20 feet up, too. Painting the south side of a house, maybe on the roof to do second story dormers, was a steam bath too. But the heaviest thing I ever had to lift and haul was an extension ladder.

    For non-paid work, I’ve dug sod with a sod cutter, hauled and poured cement to construct a patio and a sidewalk, and scraped southern MN clay with a shovel to level off my yard so I could lay a sand/gravel base for my own brick patio.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. what a great collection of horrible jobs. i thought the sod cutter would be the top sucking job but scraping clay beats it for sure. scaffolding the south side was your summer of 73. mine was the limestone quarries. salt pills was the standard operating procedure. and gallons of water when the break whistle went off.

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  8. Morning-
    Well, farming ranks right up there. But some days are harder than others of course.
    There are days in the theater that are mentally exhausting. And I’m not sure which is worse; physical or mental exhaustion.

    OT:
    It was on this date in 1991 that Freddie Mercury died.
    Here’s to the greatest singer in Rock and Roll*:

    *So says me…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think the really taxing part of dairy farming is that there are no days off, you are never “finished”, and those cows never graduate.

      And as long as you are in the business, there is always going to be another cow.

      Still rather do that than dance to the corporate tune.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. have you seen the new nyquill commercial about the dad then the mo calling in sick for the next day. there are no days off for mos and dads. farmers either. or in reality for the rest of us either. get to work….

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  9. I’ve written before about the unpleasant and exhausting job I did for three summers, cleaning the flock of sweatshirts in a silk screen processing plant. The work was hot, sweaty, LOUD, tiring and frightening (frightening because if you weren’t extremely careful you ruined a shirt, and then the whole crew would have to set up a production line again to replace the shirt you spoiled). The machines were so noisy you couldn’t talk to anyone all day except when the lunch break finally came. I think I earned $1.65 an hour.

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  10. I used to work as an academic counselor at the U of MN. I can report that there was one wonderful thing about jobs like the ones we are describing. Kids who floated through high school doing weed and never taking their homework seriously would get one of these jobs and suddenly learn what life is like for the economic underdogs of our society. They would then come to college with fire in their eyes and a determination to qualify for a better job.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. If my childhood counts, then that was it, especially for my age. There were lots of special tasks that were very hard work, such as digging our basement by hand. The hardest regular task was logging.
    In college I worked in the dairy barn. In the summer we worked 5 out of 7 and then 2 out of 7 days, 13.5 hours long I think. But the work wasn’t that hard. The demanding part was not killing one of the full time employees we worked with who hated everybody but hated students the best.
    Teaching is a much more exhausting job than non-teachers realize, except for that large pile of dead wood in most high schools who do so little. In the style I taught I was on my feet almost all day long. My last semester I had 144 students in three high writing classes (AP English, College prep English, Journalism). The paper correcting was exhausting.
    Doing workshops were high-pressure and made for long days.
    But I never did do the classic hard physical labor job like 16 ton or tim describes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clyde, you digging out that basement has become a sort of polestar for me when I contemplate some dream projects I have.

      The trick will be to get the cash/time calculus to work out while I am still physically able to do them.

      Ever mindful of Thoreau’s tale of the young man who wanted to be a poet, but decided to work to get “enough” cash to do it. By that time, he was no longer fit to be a poet.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. My Dad gave my brother and I the job of hand digging the foundation of the house he built for our family. We also hand mixed the concrete for the foundation and walls, then pushed the concrete over to the foundation and the walls in a wheel barrow.

      Fortunately the walls were not tall because they were for a crawl space under the house and not basement walls. The cement for the walls was poured into forms made from plywood and 2 by 4s that were held in place by wire. My Dad designed and built this house himself doing almost all the work with some help from my brother and I in addition the help we provided with digging and with cement work.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Undoubtedly working as a produce “coordinator” at the Wedge. Hauling 50# bags of carrots, dragging 100# bags of potatoes (I may have asked for help for the lifting part), etc. out of the walk-in cooler; stocking them to be visually appealing, rotating older stuff to the front, of course. There was always some slimy spinach, a rotten apple… Luckily I was 30 years old, but I only lasted under a year. I agree with others that it did feel good to be using my physical strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I never did much that was physical for pay. I was once part of a Habitat for Humanity crew that showed up on a cold winter day to find a house, suspended on I-beams over a hole. The house had been moved from somewhere else and now it was time to put a basement under it. Wisely, they had professional masons to wrangle the concrete blocks but they used a volunteer crew to get the blocks down to them. So that’s what we did all day under the shadow of the looming house above.
    I think that digging a basement would be much harder, though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.

      Should probably just learn to live of the land in an easily replaceable tent.

      Nearly all the manmade landmarks of my personal history are gone.

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  14. The most physically demanding jobs I’ve had didn’t require a lot of heavy lifting – although I’ve done some of that too – but rather required an inordinate amount of speed walking. By the end of my brief stint as “menu girl” at Northwestern Hospital I had lost 15 lbs in three weeks. Making the rounds to every bed in the hospital twice a day in a timely fashion was very demanding. No way would I be able to do that today.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. i worked at the old folks home as a janitor but i loved working woith the people. it was 4 stories tall and the stairwells were my home. i had a friend who was very proud of his ability to run up extended stairwell reaches and he was amazed when i matched him step for step without being winded at the consclusion of his challange. i guess i just lived hard and didnt think about it. of course youd kick ass going up the stairs, the other option was not to. that made no headway into contention for the top choice.

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  15. I imagine that branding cattle and castrating calves every spring is a lot of work, too. I hear the annual bison roundup in TR National Park is hard work as well. I guess they have to be virtually silent during the operation since voices make the bison panicked and upset. Then they sort the ones that will be given to tribes for food pantries and tribal herds from the ones that will be let back out into the park.

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    1. When my daughter took the call in Bowman, a rancher decided she needed to know ranch life. So he took her out on a spring roundup with branding and castrating. She treasures that memory.

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      1. whats the point to the castrating? i guess i never thought about it. what would happen if you didnt. you have bulls to make hamburger out of? im not sure i get it?

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        1. So they will taste better and won’t run around impregnating cows at the wrong time of year. Androgens make the meat taste odd. Few people eat bull meat.

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        2. I wasn’t aware of the difference in taste Renee, but googling that tonight proves your point. Thanks for that
          There is some benefit toward ‘disposition’. A steer will be calmer than a bull.
          When I had cattle I used the ‘banding’ method with the holstein bull calves. A clever tool open a tough little rubber band and I could slip that over the testicles. Fairly painless and no blood for the calves. I’d do that at a few weeks old; before they got too big.
          Beef calves were out in the open and I usually didn’t have as much contact with them. So those were the ones rounded up, run through a shoot and ‘cut’. You could band those as well, but it was quicker and easier and more reliable to have them removed.
          We had the vet do the actual removal. We were busy rounding up the cattle and controlling gates. Fine with me!

          Kelly says shearing sheep is hard work too.

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  16. The grunt, low-paying, difficult-people-dealing-with, ignored, must-be-done jobs are the truly hard ones I think: menu girls and orderlies, aides, nursing home workers, those who work in homes for the disable, etc.
    My son is dealing with a person who has a tough job, a person who wants to help him through a government agency but she cannot until her supervisor makes a decision. But he has been sitting on the papers for three weeks without acting. Nate calls. She apologizes and tries again. He does not act, etc.
    Stress is now defined as responsibility without power.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, Clyde – there are seemingly scores of people who help my mom dress, shower, walk… and most of them are cheerful and competent, probably glad to have a job, but what a hard job for so little compensation. Wrote them a thank you card in August because my mom had made some improvements, and it was really appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Indeed, responsibility with no authority. The reverse often seems true- there seems to be a trend that those few with high-paying positions of authority can often shed responsibility. That buck does indeed seem to trickle down.

      What? someone without papers was hired? shocking!!! So the illegal gets deported, the person in HR who told TPTB that papers needed to be seen first gets fired and the guy top? not a scratch. The company may well get fined (passed on to the customers and employees), but if there is an exec that sees a serious personal sanction, I have not heard of it.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. My current job is very physically demanding. It’s also emotionally demanding. Sometimes it’s intellectually demanding but not often. As many of you know, I returned to nursing two years ago at this time. I work 10-hour shifts now, often 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and mostly on weekends. I like the 10-hour shifts because I earn an extra day off every week. I need it to recover. I’m usually on my feet most of the time that I’m working and the guys really do keep me running.

    It’s not the most physically demanding job I’ve ever held though. Back in the ’90s (remember the ’90s?) I worked as a nurse in a medical hospital for physically and developmentally disabled people. The people I cared for were often medically fragile and very, very sick. We often had 25 – 30 patients who needed constant care. We ran IVs, tube feedings, and oxygen therapy. The oxygen was old school so we had to go to the basement and bring up a huge, green oxygen cylinder and hook up all the fittings ourselves. Patients needed to be checked and assisted constantly. Charting was not digital, it was handwritten and had to be done at least every two hours. I was young then and I enjoyed the hard work.

    One job I’ve always really enjoyed is carrying firewood. I enjoy using my body outside in the cold air to accomplish a simple task that can keep you warm all winter. I don’t have to carry firewood now, no woodstove in my life, and I miss that type of outdoor labor.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I suppose the most physically demanding job I’ve had is the one I have now – yard & garden maintenance. It’s not always very demanding, but can be from time to time. Trimming a long hedge can be difficult, holding a trimmer at shoulder height for a long time, or going up and down a ladder and moving it every five feet or so. There’s a lot of reaching and carrying. I was much better at it when I and my rotator cuffs were all ten years younger.

    The bookstore was a close second. Books are not all that heavy, but magazines are. I still remember heaving big boxes of magazine returns into the back room.

    Physically demanding can be a good thing, though. The worst jobs are those that keep you sedentary, so that you are exhausted at the end of the day but have not had any physical exercise. That leads to poor sleep, stiff joints, and general sluggishness. At least if you’ve had a workout in your workday, you tend to sleep well.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. After tonight, I will say wrangling children – in groups of more than three – under the age of 12. Set construction required heavy lifting from time to time and bending in unusual ways to get to someplace I needed to paint or drill…but keeping children on task and focused (and mostly in one place), oy. I feel like a herding dog nipping at heels and yipping at strays.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. im good at that. i am a tyrant but a fun tyrant. i will not cut you any slack until you earn it then we can agree to figure out a fun and rewarding way to do it.
      my office mate just got back form taking his 10 years olds class to survival camp north of two harbors where they had groupds of boys trying to get away with stuff from sun up til lights out.
      the times i did that i was greeted with surprise by the teachers and camp leaders as the boys in my group always played hard and did the crash and burn until the next days activities led us to more nirvana. herding cats every now and again is wonderful. a lifetime would make me coocoo

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  20. gosh, i would say – even though it isn’t a job since there is no pay involved – that being a mom of little ones was the most demanding. you just never get to stop, except at night (if you’re lucky). between feeding them constantly, wiping noses and butts, and the 101 other things you do throughout the day, exhaustion is the norm. it was more exhausting than any paid job i had – planting trees, working in a laundry, kitchen work in a restaurant, none of them compare to

    second most demanding – being grandma to twins. uffda.

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