Thursday, September 30, 2010

Music, Food For The Soul

  Whenever I hear certain old songs, I immediately think of where I was when that song was popular, it is like an instant mental time machine.  For example, when I hear Time Won't Let Me by The Outsiders (1966), I think of being in my grandparents living room in Kennebunk, Maine, listening to the copy I bought.
  I was at the Austin School on Philbrick Street in Kittery, Maine, for sixth grade (1960), and my teacher was Mrs. Winward.  I remember she drove a Chevy Bel Air.  She was one of my favourite teachers because she made education fun.  By training, she was a music teacher, but because there were no openings, she took the class room position.  I don't know why I know that, but for some reason I do!  Consequently, we had a lot of music time in class.  Though I am not talented musically, she did instill the love of music into me.  It was in her class that I had my first exposure to classical music, to wit I was fascinated by the magical sound of the Peer Gynt suite by Edvard Grieg.  We would often sing fun songs in class, one of which; Do your ears hang low?  Do they wobble to and fro?  Can you tie them in a knot?  Can you tie them in a bow?.........    Thanks, Mrs. Winward!

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent - Victor Hugo

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Different Strokes For Different Folks

  One thing I marvel at in this world is the variety of EVERYTHING!  On just about any subject, there are choices and preferences.  Whether it be colour, or taste, or size, or what have you, which certainly makes the world more interesting.  Can you imagine what it would be like without variety?  Pretty boring!  Well, there are certain times when less variety would be okay; when I am waiting while my wife is trying to pick out a dress or a handbag or when she is waiting while I am trying to decide on which tool to buy.  But that's okay because then we can exercise other disciplines like patience.
  I think the best variety is the differences of people.  With all the different languages, cultures, traditions and lifestyles; studying them is a profession or hobby all on its own.  Unfortunately, there is one human trait that is inherent when we meet someone different and that is mistrust.  The fear of the unknown, if you will.  If we aren't familiar with something new, we don't trust it.  I suspect this trait is a carry over from Early Man as part of self-preservation, but we need to learn to manage it in a civilised way.  Just as we find joy in our own families, so can we find joy in the family of the world.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. - Douglas Adams

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Mom

  My memories of my mom are very dim.  Fortunately, I have my older sister to fill in some of the blanks for me.  I remember her being around but can't remember specific events.  Mom had some issues but my sister remembers many positive attributes about her.  Unfortunately, many people remember the negatives more then the positives.  I do remember her being gentle, and have no recollection of any behaviour to the contrary.  As a child, the last time I remember seeing her was when we moved  from Rensselaer, NY across the river to Albany.  I recall that there were still boxes to unpack, but the TV was operational and I was watching the Steve Allen Show.  I estimate I was about eight years old (1957).
  I was oblivious to the marital problems my mom and dad were having and before we had finished settling into the apartment, Dad drove me to Maine and I found myself living with his parents in Saco.
  It was thirty years later when I saw my mother again.  I was living in Vermont and my mom was living in Florida.  Occasionally she would visit her side of the family in upstate New York.  My older sister was living there, also, so on one of my mother's visit, my sister piled her into the car and drove her to Vermont to see me.  I was very happy about that, because, previously, I had invited my  mom to visit us but she never followed through.  I suspect guilt might have been one reason why she didn't come.  So it was good that she was 'kidnapped' and brought to see me.  It wasn't long after that she passed away so I am grateful to my sister for her action.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Personality Degeneration

  I have concluded that there are at least two things that can turn a a mature, self-sufficient, cool and collected adult into a babbling idiot.  They are:

  1.  Babies, because what do we do when we see one?  We start talking like a baby to it with some weird expectation that they can understand us and that they will respond in a similar language that we will comprehend.
  2.  Animals, particularly dogs and cats, because, well, just read the above paragraph again.

Truffles
  Let's just elaborate on dogs for a moment.  How is it that we won't alter our schedule for anyone, including our spouse, the President of the United States, or the Queen of England, but we will reformat our entire day to accommodate swinging by the house to let the dog out for a nature call.
  On the movies, we aren't bothered about all the blood, guts, and mayhem , but we panic if a single hair might be harmed on the dog that is also in the film.
  If we are sick, we will suffer for three weeks and not go to a doctor, but will drop a hundred bucks in a heart beat for a vet if our pet loses its appetite for a meal.
  I have but one bed to sleep in and have to share it, and our dog has three doggie beds scattered throughout the house as well as access to all the furniture, including my bed.  Don't get me wrong, I love our dog and wouldn't change a thing about her, except maybe it's yippy bark. All I am saying is, dogs and babies bring out the best in Humans, showing their compassionate, loving and caring side, and that is a good thing!

It often happens that a man is more humanely related to a cat or dog than to any human being. - Henry David Thoreau

Friday, September 24, 2010

You Have Mail!

Dear Reader,
 
  If you are of my generation, you will remember when Cable TV first came out.  It was a hard sell to the public to get people to pay for television viewing.  The big attraction was no commercial interruptions on the cable channels.  Hmmmm, that didn't last long, after awhile there were just as many commercials on the cable channels as on the network channels and you were still paying for the service. 
  Jump forward to this decade.  Now we have satellite radio available.  XM touted commercial free radio.  I thought that was great because I was forever hitting the preset buttons on my car radio to avoid the commercials.  So I signed up for satellite radio.  It wasn't long that commercials started to creep into the some of the satellite radio channels.  I also noticed that the XM jargon changed from 'commercial free radio' to 'mostly commercial free radio'.  I couldn't even go to the competition because XM and Sirius merged together.  What happened to anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws?  Why do the corporations get to 'double dip' by taking money from the listeners and the advertisers? (Whew!  I feel better now.)
  So where am I going with all this?  I decided to spare you, my reader, from the advertising clutter on my blog my turning it off.  From looking at the statistics, you are far to intelligent to be clicking on them anyway, so I wasn't going to get rich real soon.  I decided that $4.69 profit from a month and a half of blogging wasn't going to put me on easy street.
  So enjoy my ramblings and feel free to post comments and/or become a follower so I know how I am doing!

Sincerely,
Mr. T. Observer

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Morning Vietnam!

  My August 24th post, The Cold War, indicated there was another story.  I made reference to the fact that I felt fortunate I did not spend any of my active duty military service in Vietnam. 
  I had the opportunity to attend college but being the dumb kid that I was, I didn't 'apply myself' (one of my paternal grandmother's favourite expressions).  Consequently, my grades were horrible and I judiciously opted to withdraw from college.  Problem was, the Vietnam war, oops, excuse me, 'police action' was going on (1968) and the draft was going strong.  I believe that there was a 'hotline' phone between the Registrar's office and the Selective Service Board.  Assuming I would be drafted into the Army if I didn't take some evasive action, I started enlisting into the Air Force which would reduce my chances of seeing any jungles.  Not good enough, while I was enlisting, I received my draft notice.  Normally, that would supersede my enlistment efforts and I would be on my way to Army boot camp.  However, the Army had my grandmother to reckon with.  When she heard the news, she was afraid that I would be doomed in Vietnam and never make it back alive.
  It just so happened that 'gram' was tight with Senator Ed Muskie of Maine and she wrote him a letter expressing her concerns.  Basically it said that I had a great desire to join the Air Force and apply my technical talents and I shouldn't be inducted into the Army.  Well, it worked, the draft notice went away and I found myself on a plane heading to Lackland AFB, Texas.  It happened so fast, that I got to the base before the paperwork did.  That caused some confusion and the remaining four years in the Air Force was always an adventure.  After I was discharged from active duty, I was in the inactive reserves for two years (which required nothing) and then did Air National Guard for 17 years.  Following through with retiring from the military was one of the smartest things I ever did.  It might even make up for dropping out of college.
  In retrospect, I did have some remorse about being rerouted away from the Army.  I wondered about the guy that took my place and hoped he made it home okay.
  Finally, I want to add that it would do anyone good to spend a couple of years in the military.  It builds character, responsibility and maturity.  And adding national guard service to the blend makes it all the better.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Dad - Part 4 (Good-Byes)


Dad and Aaron 1974

  When my dad remarried, I rejoined him and the reorganised family.  I now had a step mom and three step brothers.  I never had brothers before, so this was a new experience.  I had kids to play with 7 by 24.
  I don't remember Dad interacting with us a lot.  I just remember being happy I was in his company, that was enough for me.  Probably because he was away so much, his being home was a treat in itself.  Later on, when I went to live with my paternal grandparents again, he would occasionally visit on weekends.  Again, not a lot of interaction, I was content to sit and watch TV with him.  One evening we watched The Jetsons premiere on prime time television (1962).  Funny, the things you remember.
  My favourite gift he ever gave me (they were few and far between) was a pocket transistor radio.  Very popular at the time, I remember it was made in Japan and  had a brown sewn leather case.  I wish I knew the brand it was, as now I collect radios and would love to find a duplicate of the first one I had.
  Years later, when I had a family of my own, we stopped by to visit him and my step mom in Newburyport, MA, as we occasionally did.  On one particular trip, I remember getting ready to leave and before we did, I walked up to him, hugged him and told him I loved him.  As far as I remember, that was the only time I ever did that and I am glad I did, because soon after that, he was no longer with us.
  I wish I knew what made Dad tick, how he felt about things and about himself., but I suspect he simply kept everything inside.  My loss.

Love is the child of illusion and the parent of disillusion. - Miguel de Unamuno

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Childhood

Picture of Electricity Transformer mounted on a Utility Pole - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.com  While I was growing up, my two sisters and I weren't together much because of our parents breaking up.    I was bounced around between grandparents and aunts and uncles which had its pros and cons.  Grandparents were great because they had a tendency to spoil.  Aunts and uncles were great because there were cousins to play with.  They were the closest thing I remember to growing up with siblings. Most of my time like that was spent with my dad's brother, Frank and his family.  I had spent many visits and once an entire summer with them in Derry, NH.  Nothing but great memories, even when I got into trouble for taking things apart or swinging kittens around by their legs.  There was something about those hot summer days.  The insects would make their high pitched noise in the tall grass and the stones were too hot to step on in bare feet.  It seemed like summer lasted all year as a kid.
  As I may have indicated before, I always had a tendency to look at things technically and even when I was small, one of the things I was fascinated by were utility poles and all the things that were attached to them.  I use to lie on the back seat  of the car as it traveled and stare up at the wires as they jumped from pole to pole and occasionally hop right over the road.  I liked the smell of new poles that were freshly planted in the ground and still aromatic with creosote.  The old poles would be faded to a dull gray, the wood rough and splintered and filled with many holes made by the side cleats of lineman's boots.  I could never make out the rhyme or reason of the little metal numbers that were nailed to the pole for identification.  I did understand at an early age, however, why birds weren't electrocuted when sitting on the high voltage wires at the top of the pole.  So naturally, when I made my little villages with my building sets, I always included the little toy plastic utility poles and would even hang thread between them to simulate wires.
  Okay, it is psychoanalysis time, perhaps I had this fascination with utility poles because they are symbolic of keeping parts of the world together by connecting them and since my world was a bit shaky at times, that is what I thought I needed.  Okay, so psychology is not my forté!

The Big Picture

File:Omaha-beach-cemetery.jpg  Yesterday, I was stuck on the southbound side of the interstate in miles of stopped traffic.  Sitting in a car that is not moving is completely contrary to the concept of the design of the road.  I was listening to the chatter on the CB radio from the truck drivers as well as a safety message that was inserted into the talk.  I learned that five miles ahead there was a fatal accident on the northbound side, that side was completely closed and my side was reduced to one lane.  I have never been able to figure out the math to explain how two lanes of moving traffic can come to a standstill when reduced to one lane.  I suspect it might have something to do with the age old art of rubbernecking.  This was the second time this season that I have been stuck in traffic due to a fatal accident. I learned later that it was a church passenger van with 14 people in it and six of them lost their lives.  The more I thought about it, the more I realised that this is different then being delayed due to road construction.  We are being inconvenienced for thirty minutes while several families are being devastated with life long results for the survivors.  It really puts things in a different perspective.  We see these things happen and forget that the slightest thing in our daily activity that delays us or accelerates us could put us in the right place at the right time with horrible results.  I am not saying that we should be paranoid but that we should appreciate what we have and have sympathy and patience for those who lose what they have.  It reminds me to cherish what I have and never say goodbye to anyone on bad terms.

No one can confidently say that he will still be living tomorrow. - Euripides

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Parodox


Image result for paradoxSomething that has always vexed me (and many others) is:  how, as a human race, we can be so profoundly intelligent and so incredibly stupid at the same time?  We can put a man on the moon but can't solve the problem of the homeless.  We have amassed an enormous amount of medical know how, but there are still diseases we cannot conquer and to add insult to injury, we can't even cure the common cold.  We talk about attaining world peace when we can't get our country's leaders to agree on solving domestic problems.  We have numerous ways to communicate throughout the world, but find it difficult to talk to our family members.  And lastly, to get right down to a personal level, our first and primary thought is "What can be done for me?" instead of  "What can I do for someone?"

"The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom." - Isaac Asimov

"It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity." Albert Einstein

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dream A Little Dream Of Me...

dare-to-dream.jpg Dreams are fascinating, don't you think?  Everybody has them and if they say they don't, it is because they can't remember them, but they do have them.  I can only speak from personal experience, as I haven't been able to participate in anyone else's dream.  Maybe if I had a gizmo like the one used in the film Inception, I would have some real stories to tell!
  Sometimes my sleep starts with a short dream.  I am not in deep sleep yet, and I often wake up afterwards then fall back to sleep again.  Kinda like a movie 'short'.  Then I will get into the feature length dream.  My perceptions are that they can be in colour, though I don't always notice that they are.  Sometimes the dream is through my eyes and sometimes I am an onlooker.  The people in my dreams can be anyone that I have known through my life.  Sometimes friends, family, people from school, and occasionally total strangers.  The activities in my dreams can be mundane, such as being at work, or just hanging out with people or there might be some danger.  Speaking of which, in the dream I may be worried about my safety but I will think to myself while dreaming that I am only in a dream so there is no problem.
  In a recent blog entry, Scaredy Cat!, September 12, 2010, I mentioned having reoccurring nightmares when I was small.  I don't recollect having any nightmares since then.  I use to remember what happened in the nightmare, but have since forgotten.
  I had a conscious experience that seemed like it was a dream.  In November of last year, I had a heart valve repaired and right after I regained consciousness, I had numerous deja vu events.  I would see something and then see it again two or three more times.  I suspect my brain was getting back into 'sync', after being unconscious.  I believe that when we do have a feeling of deja vu, it is just the brain 'short circuiting'.
  Sometimes, for me, the dreams I have before waking can set the tone for me as I go into a new day.  If it was a happy dream, I feel happy, if it was a depressing dream, well, you know.
  The mind is so amazing.  I wish we had the know how to fully utilise it.  See Memories, August 11, 2010.
Actually, our dreams can be a tool for us.  If we pay attention to what we are dreaming about, we can learn what our subconscious is up to.  Depending on what it's desires are, we can help focus ourselves towards or away from them, depending whether it is good for us or not.
  Someday, we will have a USB port on the back of our head so we can tap into our brain's vast resources!

Dreams are the touchstones of our character. - Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Geek Corner


Up to my elbows in a Data General Nova 1200

  What was the first computer you were ever involved with?  (That sounds romantic, doesn't it?)  Was it a Timex/Sinclair or a Radio Shack TRS-80 or a Commodore 64 or something more recent?  Mine was a Data General Nova 1200.  It was part of a supermarket scanning system that I installed in a dozen Shaw's Supermarket's in New Hampshire in the late 70's and early 80's.  It was comprised of a CPU containing 32 Kilobytes of core memory and a 10 Megabyte hard drive that required two people to move it.  There were two units, side by side, that ran simultaneously, backing each other up.  They were quite comfortable in an air conditioned 8x10 room.  Very old technology compared to today when we normally talk of 8 Gigabytes of memory and 500 Gigabyte or 1 Terabyte hard drive.  As you can see, it was almost as tall as me and twice as wide as what you see in the photo.
  I really enjoyed installing these systems; it started out with over 100 boxes and crates and hundreds of individually crimped wire connections and finished with firing it up and bringing it to life.  It truly seemed like I was waking a sentient machine.
  I have been servicing cash registers, aka POS systems for over 30 years, the machines change, but service is still the name of the game!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Dad - Part 3 (Opening Up)

  My dad passed away when he was 54, way to soon in my way of thinking.  I was 28 and very busy as a young dad.  In retrospect, I would have done a lot of things differently.  Granted, Dad was not the outgoing type and never in any one's face.  I suspect he may have had a lot of regrets and would have done a lot of things differently as we all do (reminds me of my August 11th post, Memories).  I sometimes wonder what kind of relationship my dad had with his dad.  Point is, if I had it to do over, I would have telephoned and visited him more often, even if I was in one of my moods or preoccupied with working.  There is so much more I would have wanted to know about him.  Life is way to short to carry grudges or prejudice, especially when it comes to family members.  I am sure that if Dad had a chance at a 'do over', he would have done things differently.  On second thought, he did have a chance, his first heart attack might have been a wake up call, but he didn't have much time to act on it before his next and fatal attack.
  So I am 61 and have outlived my dad by seven years.  As long as I have a bunch of stuff on my 'to do' list, I figure I will be around for awhile longer.  But who knows?  I say don't be shy about showing love to your kin.  I don't mean to sound negative, but treat them like you may not see them tomorrow.  Let them know, today, how much you appreciate what they have done for you, instead of wishing tomorrow ,when they are gone, you had told them. Who knows, you might be the one that is gone and the living will be the ones that wished you had opened up to them.  One of my big regrets is not telling my grandparents how much I appreciated their sacrifices for me.
  Not to belabor the point, don't let time slip by, because it happens at an alarmingly fast pace and before you know it, it is too late.
 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Scaredy Cat!

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.  

Image result for fear  What have been the scariest moments in your life?  I can think of a few. 
  When I was quite young, we were living on Woodlawn Ave, in Kittery, Maine, and an event occurred that might have been real or imaginary, to this day I am still not sure.  I remember running madly up the cellar stairs trying to out run a bee that was chasing me.  Well, I survived that OK.
  While living in the Admiralty Village in Kittery, I would have reoccurring nightmares but I don't remember the details of the dreams, just that it was the same dream each time.  I don't think that lasted too long.
  It sounds silly now, but when I was in high school in Kennebunk, Maine, I was beside myself with worry, wondering if I would be ready for a test or get homework assignments done on time, and just making the grade.  Not to mention public speaking.
  While a teenager, I was still inexperienced at driving and lost control of the car when driving too fast through a turn and went off the road resulting in an accident.
  When living in Somersworth, NH, I was really freaked out when I saw my baby son falling from the kitchen table to the floor and not being able to get their fast enough to catch him.  It was like a slow motion scene in a movie.  Thankfully, he was OK.
  Probably the most scariest of all were the moments before my heart surgery.  I was lying on the gurney, ready to be rolled into the operating room when a wave of fear went over me, with the knowledge that I am going to be knocked out, my heart and lungs are going to be stopped, and I may never wake up again.  Of course, everything turned out fine.
  I am fortunate that my experiences of fear are relatively trivial.  I can only imagine the trauma that others have been through.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Dad - Part 2 (Memories)

  The first car I remember Dad driving was a Hudson.  We lived on Woodlawn Avenue in Kittery, Maine at the time.  I don't remember the colour but it was similar to this '53 Hudson Hornet.  It seemed like he was partial to big, heavy cars, but then, most cars in those days were.  While living on Goodrich Street in Kittery, he had an Oldsmobile convertible.  He would wear his sun glasses and look like Steve McQueen.  Dad always had the radio on and tuned into the popular music of the day.  One song I remember coming from the Oldsmobile in 1962 was Wolverton Mountain by Claude King.  He never tinkered with the cars, just drove 'em.
  Dad loved to play cribbage, he must have been desperate for someone to play with because he taught me how to play.  He had a cribbage board that a Navy buddy of his made for him.  It had a wood base with a stainless steel top and engraved markings.  I wish I had it but it was lost.
  Sometimes Dad would cook and one thing I remember him making was S.O.S. which was chipped beef in a white sauce on toast, or a variation of that by substituting tuna for the chipped beef and adding peas.  He called it 'Tuna Pea Wiggle'.  I don't know where he got it from, maybe while in the Navy or from his mother who was a cook.
  I miss him.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Open Road

  I love my job, for several reasons.  One reason is that I get to travel around by car, locally.  Most of the time it is on the interstate to the same group of customers.  I have my satellite radio playing and it is quite pleasant, except for the occasional rude driver or inclement weather.  Sometimes, on purpose or by necessity, I will travel the 'back roads'.  The best place to do that is in the New England states, which I get to do occasionally, but upstate New York is pretty good, too.  There is something about the character of the roads, the assemblage of houses in their many varieties, the farms and barns, and the foliage that makes it a joy to drive.  Usually, on my way to a call, I am focused on getting there and can't really enjoy the splendor of the drive until my return trip home.  I sometimes think about the location I am in and imagine what the same view would look like 150 years earlier.  Yup, I like my job.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Great Truths

  Since this blog is about life, I couldn't resist including the following:

GREAT TRUTHS THAT LITTLE CHILDREN HAVE LEARNED:

1) No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.
2) When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.
3) If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.
4) Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato.
5) You can't trust dogs to watch your food.
6) Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.
7) Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.
8) You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
9) Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
10) The best place to be when you're sad is Grandma's lap.

GREAT TRUTHS THAT ADULTS HAVE LEARNED:

1) Raising teenagers is like nailing jelly to a tree.
2) Wrinkles don't hurt.
3) Families are like fudge...mostly sweet, with a few nuts.
4) Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground.
5) Laughing is good exercise. It's like jogging on the inside.
6) Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fibre, not the toy.

GREAT TRUTHS ABOUT GROWING OLD

1) Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
2) Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get.
3) When you fall down, you wonder what else you can do while you're down there.
4) You're getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.
5) It's frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions...
6) Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician
7) Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.

And They Call It Puppy Love......

Puppy Love Smooches by Taylor Sawyer  The first time a girl was attracted to me was in kindergarten.  Her name was Patty and I had no interest in girls so paid her no mind.  As we all know, girls mature faster then boys, so eventually, I was attracted to a girl by the name of Nancy Falvey.  I thought she was sooo pretty.  Looking back, I think she reminded me of Annette Funicello from the Mickey Mouse Club who I thought was a bit of alright.  I believe I was in the 4th grade at Bonython School in Saco, Maine, so about 9 years old.
  Occasionally I would steal a kiss from her in the back of the room and she didn't seem to mind.  One winter day I even asked her out on a 'date'.  I walked to her home with my sled in tow to pick her up and we walked to a nearby hill upon which we rode my sled.  She must have either become bored or cold but said she wanted to go home.  I said OK and she went home alone and I continued sledding.  Obviously my dating skills needed some work.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Is There Anybody Out There?....

Milky Way map_Atlas of the Universe  It is hard for me to imagine that we, the Human Race, can be so conceited as to think that we are the only intelligent life in the universe.  That being said, I think it is highly unlikely that we will actually ever encounter an alien race.  It is probably a good thing, too, since we can't even get along with our own kind on our own planet.
  Just the region visible from Earth (the observable universe) is about 92 billion light years across.  That comes out to 540,833,960,000,000,000,000,000 miles.  Again, that is the observable universe or the part we can see, not the entire universe which some believe is infinite.  It is highly unlikely that we would ever come up with the technology to traverse such great distances.  Hmmm, at one time, didn't we say we would never be able to go into space?  So whether it is by default or design, it is in our best interest that we have these great distances between us and any other intelligent beings in the universe.  As the expression goes, "Good fences make good neighbors".  Otherwise, we would most likely have conflicts with them as well as our earthly neighbors.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. - Albert Einstein

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Dad - Part 1 (The Chief)

  One nice thing about having my own blog is that I can indulge myself with any subject I want.  So there!
One subject that has always been with me since the beginning of my awareness is my father.  He had been in and out of my life more times then I can remember so was always kind of an enigma to me.
  The earliest recollections of my dad are probably in the Admiralty Village in Kittery, Maine, where we lived on two or three occasions.  The 'Village' was off-base housing for Navy personnel and their families that were assigned to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  Later on, much of the housing was sold off to private owners.  My dad was in the Navy for some 28 years as a Pharmacist's Mate which, I believed is now called a Hospital Corpsman.  He retired as a Chief Petty Officer which is the equivalent of my retirement grade from the Air Force of Master Sergeant (E-7). 
  He had both valid and invalid reasons to not always be around.  One very valid reason was that he served in two wars, WWII and the Korean War.  Like many veterans, war wasn't something he talked about much, let me rephrase that, he NEVER spoke of war.  I remember one time as a child, we were watching a war movie on TV and I made some immature remark about it and he gave me a chewing out.  That was the only time he made reference to war.  I can only imagine what horrors he saw; for example, he was offshore during the Normandy Invasion assigned to the Navy mine sweeper, YMS 351.  On December 24, 1944, the Belgian ship Leopoldville, was being used to transport American soldiers and was torpedoed by a German submarine, and on December 26 a British destroyer escort was torpedoed.  On both occasions, he was involved with rescuing survivors and giving them medical aid.  I would assume that also ncluded recovering those that didn't survive.
  I wish I knew what my dad was like before he joined the Navy when he was still a teenager.  I would be curious to know if his demeanor was different compared to coming home from the wars.  I don't know much about him when he was younger, except what I have heard from family members.  He grew up in Maine and enjoyed winter sports, particularly skiing and hockey.  While in school, he received a cut on his upper lip from getting hit by another player's hockey blade which left a scar for the rest of his life.  It was pretty cool, actually.  I am told through the family grape vine that my dad's parents had a live in house keeper who was a young girl.  Rumour has it, he had some carrying on's with her!
  Anyway, the father I knew had a mellow personality.  They say he was an alcoholic, but I never saw him drunk.  Though there were times when he was feeling pretty good, I think.  I always wished he would have opened up to me more.  It had even crossed my mind that maybe I was a disappointment to him, but I don't think that was the case.  He was just quiet and not outspoken
  The other reason for his absences was the fact that he and my mother had separations and eventually divorce.  With my parents divorced, I was raised by my paternal grandparents during my teen years until I was on my own.  They did so much for me, and I, as a bratty teenager, didn't express any appreciation at the time.
  Over the years as a father, I identified with some of the trials and tribulations that my dad might have gone through.
  To be continued....

It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was. - Anne Sexton

Thursday, September 2, 2010

If I Were A Carpenter....

Image result for construction  While I was working on my deck this afternoon, I was thinking about the multitude of projects that I undertook over the years.  Some successful, some not so.  In an earlier entry, In The Recesses Of Your Mind (August 19), I mentioned my feeble attempt to build when I was very small.  That continued to evolve into things like tree houses and play houses.  Anytime there was any kind of construction going on, boom, I was there watching and watching and watching.  When I was still quite young, there was an addition being built onto the YMCA in town.  Of course I was there to supervise.  I think this was the first time I actually watched masons at work, building with block and brick.  After the workmen had gone home, I would come back, find my way inside the work-in-progress, and get a closer look at what was going on.
  While I was in high school, in the 60's, there was a house being built in the empty lot behind our house.  Naturally, I was there to watch everything.  The builders were an outfit called Hamlyn Bros. out of Wells, ME.  A couple years ago, I called them up and had a good chat.  It was run by Bob and Charlie Hamlyn and their crew.  They got use to having me around and before the summer was over, I was working for them for $5.00 a day and they gave me a hammer.  I was tickled.  Actually get to do real work!
For the next summer or two after that, they kept me on at regular hourly wages.  The skills I picked up there were invaluable later on.
  Time went on, and I would occasionally do handyman jobs from hanging doors to putting in or taking out walls, or building decks or what have you.  After I had my first home, and there were too many kids for the number of bedrooms available, it was time to build an addition that added four rooms to the existing house.  It was very satisfying to see it all come together, thanks to what I learned during my summer jobs as a teen.
  When we had a house built in 2005, I was very involved with its completion and continue to enhance it with various projects of finishing off the basement, building a shed, and currently building a deck and a fence.  For all the various activities I do around the house, whenever I am asked what I am doing, I simply reply, "Puttering!"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reminiscing

  Today I am cheating a bit.  The following is pirated from an email I received.  I don't know the original source, but it fits with my age bracket because it mentions newspaper routes and the price of the paper which was the same price as The Portsmouth Herald that I delivered as a kid when I lived in Kittery, Maine.  I found it interesting and thought those that were the same vintage as me would like it also.

'Someone asked the other day, 'What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?'
'We didn't have fast food when I was growing up,' I informed him. 'All the food was slow.'
'C'mon, seriously. Where did you eat?'
'It was a place called 'at home,'' I explained. !
'Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn't like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.'
By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table.
But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it :
Some parents NEVER owned their own house, never wore Levis, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of the country or had a credit card.
In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at  Sears & Roebuck. There is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.
My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer.
I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow)
We didn't have a television in our house until I was 12. It was, of course, black and white, and the station
went off the air at midnight, after playing the national anthem and a poem about God; it came back on the air at about 6 a..m. And there was usually a locally produced news and farm show on, featuring local people.
I was 16 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called 'pizza pie.' When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It's still the best pizza I ever had..
I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn't know weren't already using the line.
Pizzas were not delivered to our home But milk was.
All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers --my brother delivered a newspaper, six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which he got to keep 2 cents. He had to get up at 6AM every morning.
On Saturday, he had to collect the 42 cents from his customers. His favorite customers were the ones who gave him 50 cents and told him to keep the change. His least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.
Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. There were no movie ratings because all movies were responsibly produced for everyone to enjoy viewing, without profanity or violence or most anything offensive.

  Do we ever tire of hearing or telling how so-and-so walked to school uphill, both ways in ten feet of snow, year around?  Every day is personal history in the making!