Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tributes...

  My mind has been dwelling on those persons that have made a difference in my life, of which there have been many.  Without offence to anyone, I am going to talk about those people that were a help and inspiration to me and were not related to me.  Lord knows there are many family members that have been there for me, but I will save them for another day.
  I am thinking back as far as I can remember, with the knowledge that I will probably overlook someone.

Unknown Store Keeper - When I was a young boy in Rensselaer, New York, there was a little store in my neighborhood.  The store owner was a nice man who would occasionally let me sweep the floor for five cents.  That was my very first employment of sorts.

Mrs. Getchell and Mrs. Clark - Grade school -  Great teachers who, in spite of my antics, managed to foster and encourage my interests.

Mr. Pageau - A neighbour in Saco, Maine when I was a boy.  He was always friendly and helpful when I was working on a project in my back yard.  He would give me scraps of wood and be interested in my tinkering efforts.  The most prominent one I remember, is building an antenna tower for my crystal radio.

Mrs. Winward - Grade school - I believe it was 6th grade.  By training she was a music teacher.  I suspect that the only opening at the time was as a class room teacher.  Great luck for our class, because she gave a great emphasis to music.  She made music fun and interesting.  We often listened and talked about musicals and classical music.  One piece of work I remember and became fond of, was The Peer Gynt Suite by Grieg.  Often we did fun songs.

Mr. Anagnostis - High School - Another great teacher who could see my potential and always, I mean always, had a smile on his face.  I was fortunate to have him as a teacher and a friend and his recent passing was a sad event.  Before he passed, he wrote an autobiography called 49 Storer Street.  He had a very interesting life.

Susan and John York - My neighbors across the street.  After I got my drivers license, I was anxious to enjoy the thrill of driving on my own.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to drive the household car because my grandparents couldn't afford to add me to their insurance.  John and Susan were gracious enough to let me use their car when I needed it for dates or whatever.  They were super in other ways, letting me do odd jobs to earn some extra money and just being good friends.

George Noiles - An older gentleman in our parish.  While I was in high school, I had an amateur radio license, commonly called a 'ham' license.  With it, I could transmit and receive in Morse code to other 'ham' radio operators.  Mr. N. was also a 'ham' and fostered my interest in it.  Because of his connection in the local power company, he was able to help me get a telephone pole planted in my back yard for an antenna to my radio.  He even got me a summer job working with commercial radio equipment.

Carol and Fred Holmberg - Carol was like a second 'mom' to me, always being there to speak frankly about anything and everything.  Always a great sense of humour and always upbeat.  She continues to be a great friend and it pleases me to no end that I am considered a part of the family.
  Fred was the minister at the church my grandparents and I attended.  In addition to Sunday services, he conducted early morning 'youth group' meetings for the high school kids in our church.  This was how I became integrated into the family.  I would go to their home after school the day before the youth meeting, spend the night, and bright and early the next morning go from the parsonage to the church.  This way, I didn't have to rely on transportation from my home so early in the morning.
  I could go on for hours about the many, many things they have done for me and how they have always been a positive influence on me.  Many of the events that I have already depicted in this blog have often involved them.

The Hamlyn Bros. - Before the term 'nerd' became a part of our vocabulary, I was one while in school.  Besides tinkering in my workshop, I would be found watching the construction of a house behind ours.  It was summer and I would do this for hours on end.  They were Bob and Charlie Hamlyn and their crew.  I would watch the progress from the framing to the wiring, to the plumbing, to the plastering (yes, they still plastered in the '60's), to the finish work.  During this project, they asked me if I would like to be their helper.  I was ecstatic.  They gave me a hammer and paid me five dollars a day.  The next couple summers, I worked full time for them.  The many things I learned was invaluable in later years for my
many projects.

John Poulson - While I was in Air Force technical school,
1968, John, my barracks roommate, thought I needed some direction in life.  He introduced me to his church and I have been a part of it ever since.  The combination of Church, family, and friends, has made my life complete.  This summer, 45 years later, I had the opportunity to personally thank John for sharing what he had, and the profound difference it made in my life.

Dick and Mary Thornton - Probably the most giving couple I have ever known.  They were and are like family to my family.  Always willing to help and always happy and humble.  When my family needed a place to stay when we first arrived to the West, they opened their home to us for as long as we needed it. 
  Dick's recent passing was very sad for me.  He continued to be happy and grateful for his life right to the very end.  An example to anyone and everyone.

Phil Meppen - I always tell people he is my personal hero.  I was caught in a jam with an unfinished home after my contractor abandoned the project.  I asked Phil for help and he dropped everything he was doing, and without concern for payment, jumped right in and resolved the problem very quickly.
  On another occasion, I was in the early stages of building a deck.  While digging the holes for the concrete piers to hold it up, I underestimated how difficult it was to dig the very rocky soil.  Again I asked Phil for help and in no time at all, he was on the scene with his backhoe and the problem was solved.  A great example of a true 'brother' looking after his fellow man.

  I sometimes wonder the things that were done for me through my life that I was never aware of.  The highest praise for anyone is entitled to those that do not seek it while in the service of others.
So to those unsung hero's that have helped me in the past, present, and future; I thank you.

To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness. - Confucious


 


Monday, November 25, 2013

VJ Day In Retrospect

  August 12th was VJ Day or formerly known as Victory Day.  That was a great day when the war in the pacific was over.  A sad day when we lost 2400 lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  I can't help but think about August 8th and 9th of 1945, a few days before VJ day, when we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, claiming 150,000 lives, a very sad day for the Japanese.  That doesn't even include the tens of thousands that died later from radiation sickness.  An action a bit excessive, I think, to bomb Hiroshima and then do the same thing the next day to Nagasaki.  I don't think the US realized how powerful a weapon the nuclear bomb was and probably one of the most irresponsible actions we ever took as a country.
  Bottom line, war is a terrible thing and we should celebrate when it is over, as depicted in this marvelous video but we should never celebrate to glorify it.
 
 The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem.  It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one. - Albert Einstein
 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Best Vacation Ever!......

Ignore the 'grown-up', he's a prop. (Just kidding, Bobby, oops,
not suppose to say 'Bobby'.  Just kidding, Bob 
  Had the great joy of being part of a family reunion this summer.  It was brief, only a few days, but I had a blast.  (am I dating myself using the term 'blast'?).  Nothing better to perk you up then to be immersed among fifteen grand-kids!  There were a total of 28 people including all six of my kids, altogether at the same place and the same time.  We rented a large house for three days and each family 'subset' had their own area.  Kinda reminded me of my college days where we had a 'suite' of rooms with a few guys in each room.
  The whole operation was like a well-oiled machine.  All the activities were planned out and all the meal schedules were divided up.  I was impressed.  All I had to do was enjoy the whole thing.  I have to admit that the greatest pleasure was spending time with each grandchild, one on one.  Spending time with my grown-up kids was a treat, too.  I marvel at how well the married kids compliment each other.  No, I don't mean they kept saying "You're pretty great!" to each other, but how they are a good fit.  I imagine some of that may happen immediately and the rest of it develops over time.
  Like I said, it was a blast.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

John F. Kennedy

  Tomorrow, November 22, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination.  I mentioned this in one of My Life's Itinerary So Far-Part 2 entries, because it was one of the major events in my life.
  Even though the Cold War was going on and we were on the brink of the Vietnam War, the American public had become enchanted with our new, young president and his wife.  Some had compared it to an air of Camelot in our kingdom of the USA.  So when Kennedy was assassinated, the walls of our castle came crumbling down.
  We probably will never know the full truth of the event.  And as the media specials on TV and in the magazines indicate, we have yet to fully recover from the tragedy.  Even though JFK wasn't perfect, he was our Royalty and his passing came too soon.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Life's Itinerary.....So Far - Part 13

  1984 brings us to Vermont, courtesy of my employer.  Vermont is a beautiful place.  Very aptly named from the French, Vert mont, meaning green mountain.  It seems like everything is greener the moment you cross the state line.
  In preparation for the move, we had previously gone on a house hunting expedition, in the dead of winter, of course.  Many years later I learned that it is better to not buy or rent in the winter time, because in the Spring you may learn there was no lawn beneath the snow.  The realtor were a couple who were real Vermonters.  They drove us around in there not-so-new car to look at homes.  Parts of Vermont are very hilly and the roads can be icy.  That is why our hosts were explaining the benefits of 'sandpaper' snow tires while showing us the houses.  It seems that 'sandpaper' snow tires actually have a component of sand in them which aids in their gripping action on ice.  I never saw them marketed anywhere and wondered if this was a joke that the natives pulled on 'flatlanders'.  Even today, when I google the term, there is no reference to 'sandpaper snow tires'.
  We found a home on a cul de sac street (much nicer to say then 'dead end street') called Lisa Drive in Barretown, Vt.  Usually the whole area is just refered to as Barre.I thought both names were unusual.  Story has it that Lisa was the name of a daughter of the developer of the street.  There is also the city of Barre, not to be confused with Barretown.  Actually, the city of Barre is almost completely surrounded by the town of Barre.  They were named after Isaac Barré, an Irish soldier and politician.

File:CamelsHumpVT2012.jpg  What was marvelous about the place was how QUIET it was!  Our previous home in Rochester, NH was near a state highway so there was a steady din in the background, but up on the hillside on a dead end street, I mean, a cul de sac, the silence was thunderous!  From the living room window you could see Camel's Hump Mountain.

  After a short time of working out of my car, my employer (Capitol Cash Register) established a small office in nearby Montpelier.  See It's A Living - Part 5.
  In 1991, I was getting a little nervous about my job security.  A couple of the guys in the company were laid off and I worried that I might get caught up in some cut-backs.  We decided to be pro-active and talked about moving to the West.  I researched the idea, and concluded that the target states to consider were Utah, Idaho, Colorado, and Wyoming.  Of course that was contingent on finding employment.  A bunch of résumés were sent out, after which I flew out there to follow up.  Employment was found with Mid-Mountain Data Systems based in Boise, ID.  I was to work in their Salt Lake City, UT office. See It's A Living - Part 6. So that is where we headed.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Taking A Step Back.....

  In a previous blog entry, A Declaration!, I talked about taking one day out of the week and not turning on my computer.  I would like to take that a step further by taking a step back.  In this high technology world, our attentions are constantly being pulled into all directions.  Are we doing justice to all these simultaneous endeavours?  Makes me think of the old adage; Jack of all trades and master of none.  I have already chosen to take one day of the week to find some rest and solace from the other six days.  On that day, Sunday in my case, I try not to find the need to turn on my computer.  Most of the time this effort is successful, I am human after all!  On that day of personal rejuvenation, I also have instituted the practice of only listening to classical music on the radio.  Actually, this was something I use to do years ago when my children were small.  They would refer to the classical music station on the radio as the 'Sunday station'.
  Ok, so one day a week I can unwind and unclutter my mind.  That is six whole days without 'refreshment'!  May I offer this suggestion that I find helpful?  Occasionally, through the week, I will 'snack' on a clip from Classic Arts Showcase.  There is something very calming and relaxing when watching and listening to a ballet or orchestral piece.  In my case, I watch it on Dish Network channel 9406.  There are other sources if you click on their name (Classic Arts Showcase), above, and then click on 'Find A Station In Your Area'.
  Don't get me wrong!  The rest of the six days, I am cranking out the pop music and oldies while working the computer, smartphone, tablet, and what have you!  But we all need to catch our breath and recharge so we can be better for ourselves, our families, and our friends.

Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work. - Ralph Marston

Monday, March 4, 2013

Literally, A Blast From The Past...

  While I was in grade school, I was fascinated by all the current events surrounding the 'space race' where the U.S. and the U.S.S.R were always trying to out-best each other.  When my interest peaked, NASA was engaged in Project Mercury from 1959 to 1963.  As a twelve year old, I would closely follow the efforts of the space program in my Weekly Reader, a children's newspaper that was used in schools.  I would sponge up any information about the Redstone rocket, the Mercury capsule, and Alan Shepard, the first American in space.  The fact that I was living in Kittery, Maine and Alan Shepherd was from Derry, New Hampshire, gave me a sense of kinship to the astronaut as a fellow New Englander.  Not to mention my cousins also lived in Derry.  I remember Derry had the nickname of 'spacetown' and when entering the town, there was a motel that had a rocket as part of it's signage.
  As time went by, the programs of NASA became routine news and relatively commonplace.  As always happens, if you do something hazardous long enough, something is going to happen.  There were a few training jet accidents that led to fatalities in the '60's.  Not to minimize those tragedies, the first highly publicized accident took place in January of 1967 when the three astronauts of the Apollo 1 mission were killed inside the capsule during a launch rehearsal. The two space shuttle disasters that followed in 1986 and 2003 were disturbing for me as it lent more reality to me and less fantasy.
Image result for space shuttle columbia  In 1986, I was living in Barre, Vermont and my employer was in Concord, New Hampshire, a place I use to commute to regularly for work when I lived in New Hampshire.  On January 28th, the space shuttle Challenger was destroyed 73 seconds after take off.  All seven of the crew members perished including Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher from Concord who was chosen as part of the Teacher In Space Project and would have been the first civilian in space.  A sad day when the hopes of doing so many great things on that mission by a very talented crew were lost.
  And then in February 2003, the loss of the shuttle Columbia and it's diverse and talented crew when returning from it's mission and being destroyed during re-entry.  Too much to take in.
  I am sure there were students who were fascinated and captivated by the magic of space travel as I was when I was a kid.  During the 39 years of the Space Shuttle Program that fascination certainly continued.  However, I can't imagine coping with the fact that my teacher started out on the ride of her life, only to meet death a few moments later.
  Nevertheless, our thirst for knowledge and adventure continue on.  Better still, instead of competing with Russia, we now share the International Space Station with them.  In fact, several countries participate in the program which has been running since 1998 and the station has been occupied for over 12 years.  There is a fantastic website here about the station.  And you have GOT to see the Take a Tour of the ISS with Suni Williams video.  She is the station commander.
  Hope you have found this entry interesting.  I had fun putting it together and reminiscing and reinforcing the past.  What were YOU doing when these events occurred?

The president felt that it was important to send an ordinary citizen to experience the excitement of space travel as a representative for all Americans. - Christa McAuliffe


Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Life's Itinerary.....So Far - Part 12

  It's 1975 and I find myself in Somersworth, NH.  We lived in an apartment on Maloney Street, off the Salmon Falls Road, just down the road is Berwick, Maine.
The Rochester house, today.
 In the late 70's, there was no garage.
  I started a new job in a new industry.  It turns out that my wife was friends of a family who had a small cash register sales and service company.  He needed a technician and hired me on.  You can read more of this spell-binding story by going to It's A Living - Part 2.
  It was here that we were blessed with son #2 and son #3.  That is, within ten minutes of each other!  Yes. Twins!  There names are Scott and Trevor.  I loved the language they had between them.  So now we are a family of five.
  In a year, we bought our first house.  We moved to Rochester, NH to a street called  Paradise Drive.  Oddly enough, it was also off the Salmon Falls Road at the northern end of it, just before Route 202.  Route 202 continues easterly to our former residence of Sanford, Maine.
  In late 1976, #4 son, Brent, was born, another unique personality, like Aaron, Scott, and Trevor.  Amazing how same parents can create such variety!
  In 1978, my first daughter, Stephanie, was born, woo hoo!  From her first breath until today, what a joy in my life!
  Also in 1978, I started working at a larger cash register company based in Concord, NH (See It's A Living - Part 5).  That meant commuting almost an hour to get to work.  Fortunately, I could often start work from home by going directly to service calls in my area.
  1980 brought us #5 son, Bobby (he now prefers Bob).  Another great addition to the family.
  While at this house, I increased the living area by two-thirds.  I added an addition on the back which contained three bedrooms and a family room.  To do this, I had to sacrifice the smallest of the three bedrooms in the main part of the house.  Six kids need the space!
  More changes in 1984 when my employer asked if I would be interested in transferring to Vermont to service that newly acquired area.  Of course!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

An Overdue Musical Break...

   I think a musical break is overdue and it's MY blog so I said so!
  One band I enjoyed during the '70's and '80's was Heart.  I want to talk only about one song in particular and that is These Dreams.  The lyrics in this piece are, to me, poetic.  I almost feel like I am listening to something that falls somewhere between a fantasy novelist and Edgar Allen Poe.  It conjures up a state of mind between sleep and consciousness.  Actually it was written by; Martin Page, a musician, singer, songwriter and; Bernie Taupin, a lyricist, poet and singer.  Mr. Taupin is well known for his collaboration with Elton John.  More about the song is here.
  As usual, I am yammering on, again.  Just click on the title above and see if you aren't carried away a little by the song.

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past. - Thomas Jefferson 

Being Battered Comes In Many Forms....

  These days, there are many subjects of discussion that varies from the  inane and inconsequential to those of great importance. One that is on the high end of the scale is that of bullying and issues related to it. My cousin, who is a counselor by profession, sent me a link which I wanted to share.  It touches on several aspects of human development that some of us might be able to relate to.  A higher awareness of this matter is way overdue.  The video is called To This Day by Shayne Koyczan.  Click on the link and check it out.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Few Words Of Wisdom...

I don't know the source, but they were passed on to me by my wife and I thought they were good:

I Believe...
That just because two people argue, It doesn't mean they don't love each other.
 
And just because they don't argue,
 It doesn't mean they do love each other.


I Believe... 
That we don't have to change friends if
 

We understand that friends change.

I Believe.... 
That no matter how good a friend is,
 They're going to hurt you, 
Every once in a while
 And you must forgive them for that.


I Believe..... 
That true friendship continues to grow,
 Even over the longest distance. 
Same goes for true love.


I Believe... 
That you can do something in an instant
 
That will give you heartache for life.


I Believe.... 
That it's taking me a long time
 
To become the person I want to be.


I Believe... 
That you should always leave loved ones with Loving words.

It may be the last time you see them.

I Believe.... 
That you can keep going long after you think you can't.


I Believe.... 
That we are responsible for what
 
We do, no matter how we feel.


I Believe... 
That either you control your attitude or it controls you.


I Believe.... 
That heroes are the people
 Who do what has to be done 
When it needs to be done, Regardless of the consequences


I Believe.... 
That my best friend and I Can do anything or nothing
 
And have the best time
..


I Believe... 
That sometimes when I'm angry
 I have the right to be angry, 

but that Doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I Believe... 
That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had
 
And what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.


I Believe... 
That no matter how bad
 Your heart is broken,
The world doesn't stop for your grief.


I Believe.... 
That our background and circumstances
 May have influenced who we are, but, 

We are responsible for who we become.

I Believe... 
That you shouldn't be
 So eager to find out a secret. 
It could change your life forever.


I Believe.... 
Two people can look at the exact same
 
Thing and see something totally different.


I Believe... 
That your life can be changed
 In a matter of hours 
By people who don't even know you.


I Believe... 
That even when you think
 You have no more to give, 
When a friend cries out to you,
 You will find the strength to help.


I Believe... 
That credentials on the wall
 
Do not make you a decent human being.


I Believe... 
That the people you care about
 
Most in life are taken from you too soon.


I Believe...

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; 
They just make the most of everything they have.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Want, I Need, I Gotta Have.......

  There are some material things that are low or non-existent on my "want" list.  Some of these items are:  clothes, guns, cheeses, jewelry, motor vehicles, and piercings, to name a few.
  There are a few things that are high on my want list.  Some of these items are:  spending time with my wife, old radios, certain tools and gadgets, time with kids and grand kids, and certain technology items.  I am here today to talk about the last item, more specifically, a tablet computer.  In fact, the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet.  Omigosh, it has been like waiting for Christmas.  Ever since the Surface RT was announced in October, I have been extremely interested.  When I researched the RT, I learned it wasn't the real deal, but a stripped down version of Windows 8.  It sorta fell somewhere in between a 'droid and a PC, not having the full potential of the full version Windows 8.  Then I had hope, because it was announced that a full version Surface would be released about the end of the year.  Now, I was really interested, because, not only was it going to be Windows 8 but the Professional version.  So, December came and went, no release of Surface Pro.  January came and went, still no joy.  Then, at last, a release date of February 9.  Oooops, somehow 'karma' must have known I wanted one, and was determined to disappoint me.  After the release, it was sold out and stayed sold out.  In the meantime, further research showed that their was a drawback with the standard model that had only 64GB of storage. The operating system uses up most of it, which put me off a bit.  There was a reprieve  however that there was a 128GB model, but it has been out of stock for what seemed like forever...until, TADA, today! (February 21)  So I finally put my order in and hoping for delivery in about four days.  Whew!  Man and Machine together!  Now wasn't that a heart wrenching story?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Traveling On The Taconic State Parkway...Or Am I???

A paved roadway seen from its right with a solid yellow line on the left, dashed white line in the middle and solild white at right goes into an area at the center of the image where branches from the tall trees on either side hang over and shade it from the sunlight coming in from the left  Occasionally I travel on the Taconic State Parkway, an interesting stretch of divided highway that starts at Mount Pleasant, NY, located outside of New York City.  It continues north for 104 miles where it intersects with Interstate 90.  Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had long envisioned a scenic road through the eastern Hudson Valley, was instrumental in making it a reality.  It is a very pleasant road to drive for several reasons; trucks aren't allowed on it, there are very few structures that can be seen, and it is very scenic.  Sometimes I will see a deer or two and even a herd of them.  It is also toll free.  However, you have to watch for traffic at the occasion crossroad, the speed limit is 55 mph, and there is no lighting at night.
Old London to Oxford mail coach, May 1890 (b/w photo)  Today, as I was driving, I imagined myself in a horse drawn coach in the 1800's going from London to Oxford.  A distance of about 60 miles.  It wasn't hard to imagine this because today was a gray February day, very reminiscent of days that I had spent in England.  All I had to do was erase the images of asphalt pavement and the occasional guard rails on the side of the road from my mind.  The rest of it was quite lovely; leaf barren trees on both sides with so many fingered branches reaching over the road.  The curb stone that edges the entire parkway is also a nice touch that adds to the fantasy.  Looking between the trees and out to the gray cloudy skies made me feel like I was taking in an English landscape with a patchwork of snow and ground that blanketed the roadside.
  The summer is glorious as well, with a green lawn for road shoulders and the trees with a full coat of leaves.  It goes without saying that the trees in autumn can explode with colors.
  Eventually, I had to come back to reality because I had come to the end of the parkway and it was necessary to merge into the traffic on Interstate 90.  
  I suspect that riding a horse drawn coach on a deeply rutted frozen dirt road wasn't as smooth a ride as an automobile on smooth pavement.  Maybe next time I will take off my tires and ride on the rims to add to the realism.