Taking Flight

_MG_1249

You may have wondered why you didn’t get a photo-blog post yesterday.  But then again, maybe you didn’t.  You may have not even thought of it or even more to the point, you may have appreciated the break from the constant bombardment of that Dalrymple dude.

If the latter is the case, breathe easy.  You’ll have more days like that this week and early next!  I am traveling, hence the title and subject matter of today’s post – bird, obviously, on that can fly!  I wanted to let you know, dear friends, what’s up so you didn’t just think that I fell off the face of the earth (though I’m going to be traveling across a good bit of the face of this orb!)

As I write this, it is Monday evening, 9:10 p.m. EST and I am sitting in the Delta Airlines Sky Club (courtesy of my youngest son) while we await our next flight.  We flew here from Atlanta and have about a 3+ hour layover before our next flight to….(are you ready for this?!?!)… Israel.  (Not the best time go to, you say?  Yeah, probably not, but, when duty calls….)

Neither myself nor my son have been there before, and I’m going to help him with some project stuff related to his business (I worked in the high tech world for about 25 years).  We are fortunate in that we will have a couple of days to do some sight-seeing with our hosts, who seem like really wonderful people.  One of the best parts of it: neither my son nor I are having to pay for this trip!  His client is paying for it for the both of us.  How cool is that!

So, while I’m traveling and working, I may not be able to post very often.  But I plan to shoot lots of photos on our two days of sight-seeing.  We’ll be staying in a place right on the Mediterranean.

I’ll be in touch when I can…and hopefully will have some exciting photos to share when we get back.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1943, the worst British bombing raid on Hamburg so far virtually set the city on fire, killing 42,000 German civilians.

On July 24, British bombers launched Operation Gomorrah, repeated bombing raids against Hamburg and its industrial and munitions plants. Sortie after sortie dropped fire from the sky, as thousands of tons of incendiary bombs destroyed tens of thousands of lives, buildings, and acreage. But the night of the 28th saw destruction unique in more than three years of bomb attacks: In just 43 minutes, 2,326 tons of bombs were dropped, creating a firestorm (a word that entered English parlance for the first time as a result of these events). Low humidity, a lack of fire-fighting resources (exhausted from battling blazes caused by the previous nights’ raids), and hurricane-level winds at the core of the storm literally fanned the flames, scorching eight square miles of Hamburg.

One British flight lieutenant recalled seeing “not many fires but one… I have never seen a fire like that before and was never to see its like again.” Despite the terrible loss of civilian life, there was  strange and awful irony: The horrific bombing runs affected Hitler’s war machine only marginally. It did more to wound the morale of the German people and its army officers than it did to the production of munitions, which was back running full speed within a matter of weeks.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  North Korea’s current leader Kim Jong-il is only 5′ 2” tall. He wears four-inch lifts in his shoes to compensate for his short stature.

Gummy-Bear Bark?

_MG_3679

What is it about the females of the species and chocolate?  I just don’t get it.  Well, I guess that there are exceptions, like Snickers.  They say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but I think that might be debatable.  It is not wise to get between a woman and her chocolate!

Recently, as our oldest granddaughter was staying for us for a week, I took her to a chocolatier.  I had a milk chocolate cluster with walnuts and she chose gummy-bear bark.

I’d never heard of gummy-bear bark.  I think it is unique to this store, but it was interesting and she enjoyed it!!!!  And that’s all that really mattered to me…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1918,  Della Sorenson killed the first of her seven victims in rural Nebraska by poisoning her sister-in-law’s infant daughter, Viola Cooper. Over the next seven years, friends, relatives, and acquaintances of Sorenson repeatedly died under mysterious circumstances before anyone finally realized that it had to be more than a coincidence.

Two years after little Viola met her demise, Wilhelmina Weldam, Sorenson’s mother-in-law, was poisoned. Sorenson then went after her own family, killing her daughter, Minnie, and husband, Joe, over a two-week period in September.

Waiting only four months before marrying again, Sorenson then settled in Dannebrog, Nebraska. In August 1922, her former sister-in-law came to visit with another infant, four-month-old Clifford. Just as she had done with Viola, Sorenson poisoned the poor child with a piece of candy. The unfortunate Mrs. Cooper, still oblivious to what was happening, came back again in October to visit with yet another child. This time, Sorenson’s poison didn’t work.

Early in 1923, Sorenson killed her own daughter, Delia, on her first birthday. When Sorenson’s friend brought her infant daughter for a visit only a week later, the tiny infant was also poisoned. After an attempt on Sorenson’s second husband’s life left him sick–but not dead–authorities began to think that there might be a connection between these series of deaths.

Finally, in 1925, Sorenson was arrested when she made an unsuccessful attempt at killing two children in the neighborhood with poisoned cookies. She confessed to the crimes, saying, “I like to attend funerals. I’m happy when someone is dying.” Sentiments like this convinced doctors that Sorenson was schizophrenic, and she was committed to the state mental asylum.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The Chinese have made silk since at least 3,000 B.C. The Romans knew China as “Serica,” which means “Land of Silk.” The Chinese fiercely guarded the secrets of silk making, and anyone caught smuggling silkworm eggs or cocoons outside of China was put to death.

…a Colorful Dangly-Thingy!

_MG_3757

So, what is this?  It’s made out of metal and is one of those fun things that turns in the wind when  you hang it outside.  There must be a name for such things besides “colorful dangly-thingy”.  Anyone know?

This specific colorful dangly-thingy was hanging outside a store (where they just coincidentally sell them!) and it caught my attention while my wife and some friends from Pennsylvania were inside checking out the wares.  It was interesting to try to get it at its peak of colorfulness.

Why did I take the picture?  ‘Cause I like color and the way these colorful dangly-thingies look when they’re hangin’ in the wind!  And that’s all the reason I need.  It’s my camera, so I get to pick what I shoot with it!  So there!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: today, in 1991, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, police officers spotted one Tracy Edwards running down the street in handcuffs, and upon investigation, they found one of the grisliest scenes in modern history -Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment.

Edwards told the police that Dahmer had held him at his apartment and threatened to kill him. Although they initially thought the story was dubious, the officers took Edwards back to Dahmer’s apartment. Dahmer calmly explained that the whole matter was simply a misunderstanding and the officers almost believed him. However, they spotted a few Polaroid photos of dismembered bodies, and Dahmer was arrested.

When Dahmer’s apartment was fully searched, a house of horrors was revealed. In addition to photo albums full of pictures of body parts, the apartment was littered with human remains: several heads were in the refrigerator and freezer; two skulls were on top of the computer; and a 57-gallon drum containing several bodies decomposing in chemicals was found in a corner of the bedroom. There was also evidence to suggest that Dahmer had been eating some of his victims.

Neighbors told both detectives and the press that they had noticed an awful smell emanating from the apartment but that Dahmer had explained it away as expired meat. However, the most shocking revelation about how Dahmer had managed to conceal his awful crimes in the middle of a city apartment building would come a few days later.

Apparently, police had been called two months earlier about a naked and bleeding 14-year-old boy being chased down an alley by Dahmer. The responding officers actually returned the boy, who had been drugged, to Dahmer’s apartment–where he was promptly killed. The officers, who said that they believed it to be a domestic dispute, were later fired.

A forensic examination of the apartment turned up 11 victims–the first of whom disappeared in March 1989, just two months before Dahmer successfully escaped a prison sentence for child molestation by telling the judge that he was desperately seeking to change his conduct. Dahmer later confessed to 17 murders in all, dating back to his first victim in 1978.

The jury rejected Dahmer’s insanity defense, and he was sentenced to 15 life terms. He survived one attempt on his life in July 1994, but was killed by another inmate on November 28, 1994.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Enough sunlight reaches the earth’s surface each minute to satisfy the world’s energy demands—for an entire year.

…the Rule of Thirds

_MG_3443pp

There are those who say that rules are made to be broken.  I suppose there is some truth to that….but many rules are there to keep us safe (like speed limits, stop signs, not running with scissors, not putting beans in our ears, etc.).  So, discretion is advised and a word to the wise is sufficient.

There are so-called “rules” to help you take better pictures.  One of them is the “rule of thirds”.  The basic idea here is to NOT put the main subject of your photo directly in the center.  This is true especially when your subject is looking somewhere toward the right or left, or when they are moving toward one side of the frame.  In such cases, the pros suggest that you utilize the rule of thirds to get a more interesting photo.  If, for example, the subject of your photo is moving from the left to right, put them one third of the way into the frame from the left (leaving room for them, at least in the mind’s eye, to move further toward the right), OR, if you want to show trailing blue behind your subject by panning the camera with the action as you take the photo, you may wish to place them one-third of the way in from the right edge (of course, to get a panning effect, you have to pan your camera in the direction of motion and possibly use a slower shutter speed, too.)

Today’s photo is an example.  This young woman (who I got to shoot in a studio!) is not looking to the left, but by placing her about a third of the way into the frame from the right hand side, the composition is more interesting than if she were in the middle.  At least, I think so, and the rule of thirds would say so.  This is one of those rules, however, that is meant to be broken – a least, if you do, you’re not likely to break a leg or get hurt in any way.

Photography should be fun – doggone it!  I encourage you, however, to try experimenting with this rule.  Simply imagine that your viewfinder is divided up into 9 squares by three vertical and horizontal lines.  Put the main point of focus at the vertical line to to the left or right, or the horizontal line a third of the way from the top or bottom.  Play with it.  With digital, it costs you nothing.  Shoot a few with the rule of thirds and some without it – with your subject in the center.  See what you like and learn when you do like the rule of thirds.

Go ahead!  Break a rule or two – but not your leg!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1944, Adolf Hitler took to the airwaves to announce that the attempt on his life had failed and that “accounts will be settled.”

Hitler had survived the bomb blast that was meant to take his life. He had suffered punctured eardrums, some burns and minor wounds, but nothing that would keep him from keeping control of the government and finding the rebels. In fact, the coup d’etat that was to accompany the assassination of Hitler was put down in a mere 11 1/2 hours. In Berlin, Army Major Otto Remer, believed to be apolitical by the conspirators and willing to carry out any orders given him, was told that the Fuhrer was dead and that he, Remer, was to arrest Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda. But Goebbels had other news for Remer – Hitler was alive. And he proved it, by getting the leader on the phone (the rebels had forgotten to cut the phone lines). Hitler then gave Remer direct orders to put down any army rebellion and to follow only his orders or those of Goebbels or Himmler. Remer let Goebbels go. The SS then snapped into action, arriving in Berlin, now in chaos, just in time to convince many high German officers to remain loyal to Hitler.

Arrests, torture sessions, executions, and suicides followed. Count Claus von Stauffenberg, the man who actually planted the explosive in the room with Hitler and who had insisted to his co-conspirators that “the explosion was as if a 15-millimeter shell had hit. No one in that room can still be alive.” But it was Stauffenberg who would not be alive for much longer; he was shot dead the very day of the attempt by a pro-Hitler officer. The plot was completely undone.

Now Hitler had to restore calm and confidence to the German civilian population. At 1 a.m., July 21, Hitler’s voice broke through the radio airwaves: “I am unhurt and well…. A very small clique of ambitious, irresponsible…and stupid officers had concocted a plot to eliminate me… It is a gang of criminal elements which will be destroyed without mercy. I therefore give orders now that no military authority…is to obey orders from this crew of usurpers… This time we shall settle account with them in the manner to which we National Socialists are accustomed.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In Germany, Heiligabend, or Christmas Eve, is said to be a magical time when the pure in heart can hear animals talking.

Smithy

_MG_3786

These are the opening verses of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Village Blacksmith:

“Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man. “

It is an occupation that is vanishing from the world…at least from much of the United States.

On a recent visit to Columbia, California, an old mining town, I took today’s photo of a working blacksmith shop.  The forge was fired up and the smithy was busy hammering out horseshoes.  They weren’t destined for horses (at least these weren’t), as he was using some type of die to hammer a person’s name onto one side of the horseshoe iron.  They made cute gifts…which in this smithy shop, was the prime product.

Being a smithy had to be a hot and bone-tiring occupation.  Picture the heat of a Texas town in the summer, a forge blazing red hot, hammers ringing on the anvil as they forced the red-hot metal into the desired shape.

I don’t know about you, but if I was a horse, I’d not want a metal shoe hammered into my hoof.  I suppose there were advantages, but I’m just sayin….it doesn’t sound like much fun.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, spoke these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

The American effort to send astronauts to the moon has its origins in a famous appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” At the time, the United States was still trailing the Soviet Union in space developments, and Cold War-era America welcomed Kennedy’s bold proposal.

In 1966, after five years of work by an international team of scientists and engineers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted the first unmanned Apollo mission, testing the structural integrity of the proposed launch vehicle and spacecraft combination. Then, on January 27, 1967, tragedy struck at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, when a fire broke out during a manned launch-pad test of the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rocket. Three astronauts were killed in the fire.

Despite the setback, NASA and its thousands of employees forged ahead, and in October 1968, Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, orbited Earth and successfully tested many of the sophisticated systems needed to conduct a moon journey and landing. In December of the same year, Apollo 8 took three astronauts to the dark side of the moon and back, and in March 1969 Apollo 9 tested the lunar module for the first time while in Earth orbit. Then in May, the three astronauts of Apollo 10 took the first complete Apollo spacecraft around the moon in a dry run for the scheduled July landing mission.

At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, with the world watching, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong, a 38-year-old civilian research pilot, was the commander of the mission. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a famous message: “The Eagle has landed.”

At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. As he made his way down the lunar module’s ladder, a television camera attached to the craft recorded his progress and beamed the signal back to Earth, where hundreds of millions watched in great anticipation. At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke his famous quote, which he later contended was slightly garbled by his microphone and meant to be “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” He then planted his left foot on the gray, powdery surface, took a cautious step forward, and humanity had walked on the moon.

“Buzz” Aldrin joined him on the moon’s surface at 11:11 p.m., and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon–July 1969 A.D–We came in peace for all mankind.”

At 5:35 p.m., Armstrong and Aldrin successfully docked and rejoined Collins, and at 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:51 p.m. on July 24.

There would be five more successful lunar landing missions, and one unplanned lunar swing-by, Apollo 13. The last men to walk on the moon, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of the Apollo 17 mission, left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972. The Apollo program was a costly and labor intensive endeavor, involving an estimated 400,000 engineers, technicians, and scientists, and costing $24 billion (close to $100 billion in today’s dollars). The expense was justified by Kennedy’s 1961 mandate to beat the Soviets to the moon, and after the feat was accomplished ongoing missions lost their viability.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the night vision of a tiger is six times greater than that of a human being.

HodgePodge?

_MG_3607_8_9HDR

It is interesting how we use phrases as part of our vernacular without knowing where they came from or how they came into being.  I, for one, find the origins of such things interesting.

Take today’s picture.  It’s of an old wagon festooned with flower pots, flowers, buckets, wash tubs, planter boxes, etc., a veritable “hodge-podge” of items.  But what is a “hodge-podge” anyway?  Oh, I’m so glad you asked!

Hodgepodge and its older form hotchpotch are part of a group of words that rhyme all by themselves. Hobnob and willy-nilly are others. In the case of hodgepodge and hotchpotch,the rhyme is not an accident. These words came to English from early French in the form hochepot.The spelling was changed to make the second half of the word rhyme with the first. In French hochepot was a stew of many foods cooked together in a pot. Perhaps the pot was shaken instead of stirred since hochepot was formed from hochier, meaning “to shake,” and pot, which had the same meaning in early French as it does in English now. Before long hotchpotch and hodgepodgewere used not just for a mixture of foods cooking in a pot but for any mixture of different things.

So, I guess in the strictest sense of the word, this isn’t a hodge-podge because you wouldn’t eat it (unless you were a termite, perhaps), but we use the term today to describe any odd collection of things.  Kinda like the way my mind works, I guess…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1870, a drunken brawl turned deadly when “Wild Bill” Hickok shot two soldiers in self-defense, mortally wounding one of them.

William Hickok had earned his reputation as a gunslinger a decade earlier after shooting three men in a gunfight in Nebraska. He parlayed his standing as a sure-shooting gunman into a haphazard career in law enforcement. In 1869, he was elected interim sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas. Hays City, the county seat, was a rough-and-tumble frontier town, and the citizens hoped Hickok could bring order to the chaos. Unfortunately, after Hickok had killed two men in the line of duty after just five weeks, they concluded that he was too wild for their tastes and they elected his deputy to replace him in November.

Unemployed, Hickok passed his time gambling, drinking, and occasionally working as a hunting guide. He quickly became bored and was considering taking work at the nearby Fort Hays as an army scout. On this day in 1870, Hickok had been drinking hard at Drum’s Saloon in Hays City. Five soldiers from the 7th Cavalry stationed at Fort Hays were also at the bar. They were drunk and began to exchange words with the notoriously prickly “Wild Bill.” A brawl broke out, and the soldiers threw Hickok to the floor. One trooper tried to shoot Hickok, but the gun misfired. Hickok quickly pulled his own pistols and opened fire. He wounded one private in the knee and wrist, and another in the torso. The three remaining soldiers backed off, and Hickok exited the saloon and immediately left town

A clear case of self-defense, Hickok was cleared of any wrongdoing. Yet, one of the soldiers, Private John Kile, later died of his wound and Hickok’s chances of becoming an army scout evaporated. He spent the next six years working in law enforcement, gambling, and appearing in Wild West shows. He was murdered in a Deadwood, South Dakota, saloon in 1876.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Why is someone who is feeling great ‘on cloud nine’?  Here’s why: types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.

Walk on Glass

_MG_3670

Yeah, I’m tough.  I’m tough enough to walk on glass!  Well, at least at Glass Beach, where I took today’s photo.

In the early 20th century, Fort Bragg, California, residents threw their household garbage over cliffs owned by the Union Lumber Company onto what is now Glass Beach, discarding glass, appliances, and even vehicles.  Locals referred to it as “The Dumps.” Fires were lit to reduce the size of the trash pile.

The California State Water Resources Control Board and city leaders closed the area in 1967. Various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years to correct the damage. Over the next several decades the pounding waves cleaned the beach, by breaking down everything but glass and pottery and tumbling those into the small, smooth, colored pieces that cover Glass Beach.

The beach is now frequently visited by tourists.  Collecting is not permitted on the park’s beach, although sea glass can be found on other local beaches outside the park boundary.  A Glass Festival is held annually on Memorial Day weekend.

Thousands of tourists visit Fort Bragg’s glass beaches each day in the summer. Most collect some glass. Because of this and also because of natural factors (wave action is constantly grinding down the glass), the glass is slowly diminishing. There is currently a move to replenish the beaches with discarded glass.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: by the standard laws of pop success, 17-year old Tommy James and his band The Shondells had already had their chance and missed it by the winter of 1965-66. They’d recorded a couple of records while still in high school, but when neither managed to gain attention outside of southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, the young men were staring at the same fate that awaits most garage bands when they graduate high school: real life. But thanks to an incredible sequence of chance events, a very different fate awaited young Tommy James, who earned his first #1 hit on this day in 1966 with “Hanky Panky.”  The original Shondells would not be so fortunate.

The first chance event that led to Tommy James and the Shondells becoming one of the biggest pop acts of the late 1960s happened back in 1963, when the legendary songwriting couple Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich—who wrote “(And Then) He Kissed Me” and “Da Doo Ron Ron” for the Crystals, among many other hits—were recording a single of their own that needed a B-side filler tune. In a hallway outside the studio, they took 20 minutes to write “Hanky Panky.”

Fast-forward to 1964, when Tommy James and his Niles, Michigan, friends and bandmates were signed to a local record label called Snap Records. With a contract to record four sides but a repertoire that was even smaller, they quickly learned “Hanky Panky” based on James’ recollection of how it sounded when he heard it covered at a club in nearby South Bend, Indiana. The raw energy of the Shondells’ version made “Hanky Panky” a regional hit, but the record quickly faded away, along with the Shondells’ musical ambitions.

Nearly two years later, in late 1965, a Pittsburgh disk jockey named “Mad Mike” Metro happened to pull “Hanky Panky” from a record-store bargain bin. When he played it on the air, the response was overwhelming, and soon the record was a big enough hit in Pittsburgh to inspire bootleggers to press 80,000 illegal copies for sale in stores. When Tommy James got the call informing him of this turn of events and inviting him to come perform his hit song in Pittsburgh, he made his travel plans instantly, but none of his fellow Shondells could be convinced to join him. And so it was that Tommy James hustled to Pittsburgh alone and drafted a brand-new set of Shondells after hearing Mike Vale, Pete Lucia, Ronnie Rosman and Eddie Gray playing in a local club as the Raconteurs. This lineup of Tommy James and the Shondells would go on to enjoy a hugely successful late 1960s career that featured 14 top-40 hits, beginning with the song that topped the Billboard Hot 100 on this day in 1966.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The killer whale is the largest dolphin (true whales don’t have teeth but sift their prey through plates of baleen). The smallest dolphin is the Hector or Maui Dolphin, of which only 150 are left today.

…Then All Men Would Ride

_MG_3698

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, Anything your heart desires will come to you…”  Those are the first lines from the Disney song that has somewhat been their motto from the time I was a kid.

Oh, how I wish I could believe those words in their entirety!  As much as I wish I could, I can’t.  I wish my dad could be here again for even just a few minutes…but he’s gone.  I wish I could reverse certain misfortunes from the past, but I can’t.  I wish that hunger and poverty would end.  I wish that suffering were banished from the universe forever.

As adults we learn that wishing is far different from “happening”.

That’s not to say that wishing is a bad thing.  I think it is powerful…wishing is a way, perhaps, of hoping against hope, of holding on to that small ray of hope, of light, that keeps us from falling into deep darkness.

There is another saying: If wishes were horses then all men would ride.  Now that’s one that I think is probably true.  We all hope, we wish, for the best.  We won’t always get it, those elusive, fleeting dream-wishes, but we can’t stop wishing.  Some of the greatest advances in human history were made because people had dreams that often fed upon wishes: a scientist who finds a way to prevent a disease because they witnessed a family member or a friend suffer with that illness and they wished it could be eradicate.  Wishes and dreams are closely related, I think, and they are powerful allies in this thing called human existence.

Today’s photo was shot in a store in Mendocino, CA.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project came to an explosive end as the first atom bomb was successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Plans for the creation of a uranium bomb by the Allies were established as early as 1939, when Italian emigre physicist Enrico Fermi met with U.S. Navy department officials at Columbia University to discuss the use of fissionable materials for military purposes. That same year, Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin Rooseveltsupporting the theory that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had great potential as a basis for a weapon of mass destruction. In February 1940, the federal government granted a total of $6,000 for research. But in early 1942, with the United States now at war with the Axis powers, and fear mounting that Germany was working on its own uranium bomb, the War Department took a more active interest, and limits on resources for the project were removed.

Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves, himself an engineer, was now in complete charge of a project to assemble the greatest minds in science and discover how to harness the power of the atom as a means of bringing the war to a decisive end. The Manhattan Project (so-called because of where the research began) would wind its way through many locations during the early period of theoretical exploration, most importantly, the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi successfully set off the first fission chain reaction. But the Project took final form in the desert of New Mexico, where, in 1943, Robert J. Oppenheimer began directing Project Y at a laboratory at Los Alamos, along with such minds as Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, and Fermi. Here theory and practice came together, as the problems of achieving critical mass—a nuclear explosion—and the construction of a deliverable bomb were worked out.

Finally, on the morning of July 16, in the New Mexico desert 120 miles south of Santa Fe, the first atomic bomb was detonated. The scientists and a few dignitaries had removed themselves 10,000 yards away to observe as the first mushroom cloud of searing light stretched 40,000 feet into the air and generated the destructive power of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT. The tower on which the bomb sat when detonated was vaporized.

The question now became—on whom was the bomb to be dropped? Germany was the original target, but the Germans had already surrendered. The only belligerent remaining was Japan.

A footnote: The original $6,000 budget for the Manhattan Project finally ballooned to a total cost of $2 billion.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Abraham Lincoln was the first president to ever be photographed at his inauguration. In the photo, he is standing near John Wilkes Booth, his future assassin.

Living Color!

_MG_3610

Depending on how old (or young!) you are, you’ll either remember this or not: “Now…in living color….”  Ah, I knew you’d remember that!

Back in the day when color televisions first started coming out, there were still quite a few TV shows that were broadcast in black and white.  When those shows started being filmed in color, they would tout this new achievement by saying, “Now…in living color” or “Brought to you in living color!”  It was pretty heady stuff.  I recall when we got our first color TV.  It was exciting!

I am not a fan of black and white movies or TV shows.  I am not, as a general rule (though it depends on the subject matter) not a fan of black and white photography.  I love color…LOTS of color, and the brighter the better (usually).

That’s why these flowers struck me.  I love the reds and the contrast between the softness of the white and the blaring, almost garish red.   I am so glad that we have been given the gift of color vision.  I am sorry for those who are color blind, but also very grateful that each day when I open my eyes, I can think, “This day is brought to you in living color!”

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1882, John Ringo, the famous gun-fighter, was found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon, Arizona.

Romanticized in both life and death, John Ringo was supposedly a Shakespeare-quoting gentleman whose wit was as quick as his gun. Some believed he was college educated, and his sense of honor and courage was sometimes compared to that of a British lord. In truth, Ringo was not a formally educated man, and he came from a struggling working-class Indiana family that gave him few advantages. Yet, he does appear to have been better read than most of his associates, and he clearly cultivated an image as a refined gentleman.

By the time he was 12, Ringo was already a crack shot with either a pistol or rifle. He left home when he was 19, eventually ending up in Texas, where in 1875 he became involved in a local feud known as the “Hoodoo War.” He killed at least two men, but seems to have either escaped prosecution, or when arrested, escaped his jail cell. By 1878, he was described as “one of the most desperate men in the frontier counties” of Texas, and he decided it was time to leave the state.

In 1879, Ringo resurfaced in southeastern Arizona, where he joined the motley ranks of outlaws and gunslingers hanging around the booming mining town of Tombstone. Nicknamed “Dutch,” Ringo had a reputation for being a reserved loner who was dangerous with a gun. He haunted the saloons of Tombstone and was probably an alcoholic. Not long after he arrived, Ringo shot a man dead for refusing to join him in a drink. Somehow, he again managed to avoid imprisonment by temporarily leaving town. He was not involved in the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in 1881, but he did later challenge Doc Holliday (one of the survivors of the O.K. Corral fight) to a shootout. Holliday declined and citizens disarmed both men.

The manner of Ringo’s demise remains something of a mystery. He seems to have become despondent in 1882, perhaps because his family had treated him coldly when he had earlier visited them in San Jose. Witnesses reported that he began drinking even more heavily than usual. On this day in 1882, he was found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon outside of Tombstone. It looked as if Ringo had shot himself in the head and the official ruling was that he had committed suicide. Some believed, however, that he had been murdered either by his drinking friend Frank “Buckskin” Leslie or a young gambler named “Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce.” To complicate matters further, Wyatt Earp later claimed that he had killed Ringo. The truth remains obscure to this day. (In the movie, Tombstone, it was Doc Holiday who met John Ringo in a grove of trees and shot him dead in a quick-draw contest.)

 

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The bicycle was introduced into China around 1891 by two American travelers named Allen and Sachtleben. The bicycle is now the primary transportation for millions of Chinese. The last Qing emperor (Puyi) rode a bicycle around the Forbidden City in Beijing. China is currently the leading bicycle manufacturer in the world.

Lady Justice

_MG_3710

It is a familiar symbol: Lady Justice.  Lady Justice (Latin: Iustitia, the Roman goddess of Justice, equivalent to the Greek goddesses Themis and Dike) is an personification of the moral force in judicial systems.  The personification of justice balancing the scales dates back to the Goddess Maat, and later Isis, of ancient Egypt.

Lady Justice is most often depicted with a set of scales typically suspended from her right hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case’s support and opposition. She is also often seen carrying a double-edged sword in her left hand, symbolizing the power of Reason and Justice, which may be wielded either for or against any party.

Since the 15th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents objectivity, in that justice is or should be meted out objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness; blind justice and impartiality.

We have a deeply rooted appreciation to see justice done.  Well, up to a point, that is.  Justice is often thought of as seeing someone get what they deserve.  And there are times when our sense of justice just screams out for punishment to be meted out – especially if the wrong was waged against us or a loved one.

On the other hand, we have a great desire for mercy when we are the ones who have done wrong: in such case, we plead for mercy rather than justice.

Both have their place.  I’m not wise enough nor disciplined enough to always make the right call on such matters.  Maybe that’s why I should just stick to taking pictures like this one today.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1943, the Battle of Kursk, involving some 6,000 tanks, two million men, and 5,000 aircraft, ended with the German offensive repulsed by the Soviets at heavy cost.

In early July, Germany and the USSR concentrated their forces near the city of Kursk in western Russia, site of a 150-mile-wide Soviet pocket that jutted 100 miles into the German lines. The German attack began on July 5, and 38 divisions, nearly half of which were armored, began moving from the south and the north. However, the Soviets had better tanks and air support than in previous battles, and in bitter fighting Soviet antitank artillery destroyed as much as 40 percent of the German armor, which included their new Mark VI Tiger tanks. After six days of warfare concentrated near Prokhorovka, south of Kursk, the German Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge called off the offensive, and by July 23 the Soviets had forced the Germans back to their original positions.

In the beginning of August, the Soviets began a major offensive around the Kursk salient, and within a few weeks the Germans were in retreat all along the eastern front.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: during their lifetime, a normal person will have walked the equivalent of five times around the equator of the earth.

Pictures and Thoughts from a Day in Galen Dalrymple's Life

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 900 other followers

%d bloggers like this: