Tag Archives: relaxation

Time to Relax

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I have been way too busy. I am trying to find a way to not be so busy, but I’m not sure I’ve found it yet. Every night I’ve been telling myself that I need to post some to this photo blog, but I’ve been too tired and busy to do so. So, I just forced myself to do it tonight!

This photo was shot with my cell phone along the Chattahoochee River in Norcross, GA. It was getting late in the day and I was looked eastward up the river to catch this light. I’d not taken my Canon 7D with me, so I had to make do with my phone.

I am looking forward to this coming Saturday to try to unwind and relax a bit – and who knows? – maybe even take some photos. But until then, looking at pictures like this will have to suffice.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1950, U.S. President Harry S. Truman publicly announced his decision to support the development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.

Five months earlier, the United States had lost its nuclear supremacy when the Soviet Union successfully detonated an atomic bomb at their test site in Kazakhstan. Then, several weeks after that, British and U.S. intelligence came to the staggering conclusion that German-born Klaus Fuchs, a top-ranking scientist in the U.S. nuclear program, was a spy for the Soviet Union. These two events, and the fact that the Soviets now knew everything that the Americans did about how to build a hydrogen bomb, led Truman to approve massive funding for the superpower race to complete the world’s first “superbomb,” as he described it in his public announcement on January 31.

On November 1, 1952, the United States successfully detonated “Mike,” the world’s first hydrogen bomb, on the Elugelab Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands. The 10.4-megaton thermonuclear device, built upon the Teller-Ulam principles of staged radiation implosion, instantly vaporized an entire island and left behind a crater more than a mile wide. The incredible explosive force of Mike was also apparent from the sheer magnitude of its mushroom cloud–within 90 seconds the mushroom cloud climbed to 57,000 feet and entered the stratosphere. One minute later, it reached 108,000 feet, eventually stabilizing at a ceiling of 120,000 feet. Half an hour after the test, the mushroom stretched 60 miles across, with the base of the head joining the stem at 45,000 feet.

Three years later, on November 22, 1955, the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb on the same principle of radiation implosion. Both superpowers were now in possession of the “hell bomb,” as it was known by many Americans, and the world lived under the threat of thermonuclear war for the first time in history.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: During the Civil War, 2% of the U.S. population died. This is equivalent to 6 million men today. While rifles were the deadliest weapons during the war, disease killed more men. Camps became breeding grounds for measles, chicken pox, and mumps. One million Union solders contracted malaria.

Stop and Take a Breath

Double click for a larger version of the image...
Double click for a larger version of the image…

Well, it’s Labor Day weekend. The time of summer and sand is over, school is back in session, and the crisp fall air will soon be slithering its way down from the Arctic and the leaves will turn and fall. I wrote a bit about that last post, but today I want to take moment and just recall the summer that we leave behind.

On Saturday, we drove up to Dahlonega, GA to pick up something my wife had ordered. It is a bit cooler in the north Georgia mountains than it is here where we live, though it isn’t a long drive to Dahlonega. It was still a warm day, but as we turned off to wind our way up farther into the hills to the town, we saw scarecrows along the side of the road (you’ll be seeing some of those pictures in the next few days). Scarecrows in Iowa were always pretty much a sure sign of the summer being at an end.

My wife has a favorite restaurant in Dahlonega and we stopped there to eat. It is a seafood restaurant and their food is good and the prices are not unreasonable. We sat on the enclosed porch on the second floor as we ate. I noticed the sign in today’s photo as I sat there. It drew me in to the summer one more time. While I am not a beer drinker at all, the image of the blue sky and billowy clouds, the thatched roof shade over the lounge chair, the beach and water quietly lapping at the shore in the near distance…it almost made me feel the gentle breeze over my skin and I felt the peace of the scene.

I hope that your summer was a good one. And I hope that you get to relax a bit this holiday weekend when we honor the working women and men of our great country. Stop, take a breath and enjoy…it is a sign that the summer is over, but one can always look back in the mind and review the scenes and events of that made our summer what it was.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1915, a prototype tank nicknamed Little Willie rolled off the assembly line in England. Little Willie was far from an overnight success. It weighed 14 tons, got stuck in trenches and crawled over rough terrain at only two miles per hour. However, improvements were made to the original prototype and tanks eventually transformed military battlefields.

The British developed the tank in response to the trench warfare of World War I. In 1914, a British army colonel named Ernest Swinton and William Hankey, secretary of the Committee for Imperial Defence, championed the idea of an armored vehicle with conveyor-belt-like tracks over its wheels that could break through enemy lines and traverse difficult territory. The men appealed to British navy minister Winston Churchill, who believed in the concept of a “land boat” and organized a Landships Committee to begin developing a prototype. To keep the project secret from enemies, production workers were reportedly told the vehicles they were building would be used to carry water on the battlefield (alternate theories suggest the shells of the new vehicles resembled water tanks). Either way, the new vehicles were shipped in crates labeled “tank” and the name stuck.

The first tank prototype, Little Willie, was unveiled in September 1915. Following its underwhelming performance–it was slow, became overheated and couldn’t cross trenches–a second prototype, known as “Big Willie,” was produced. By 1916, this armored vehicle was deemed ready for battle and made its debut at the First Battle of the Somme near Courcelette, France, on September 15 of that year. Known as the Mark I, this first batch of tanks was hot, noisy and unwieldy and suffered mechanical malfunctions on the battlefield; nevertheless, people realized the tank’s potential. Further design improvements were made and at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, 400 Mark IV’s proved much more successful than the Mark I, capturing 8,000 enemy troops and 100 guns.

Tanks rapidly became an important military weapon. During World War II, they played a prominent role across numerous battlefields. More recently, tanks have been essential for desert combat during the conflicts in the Persian Gulf.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: though it has been found on every continent on earth, gold is so rare that the world pours more steel in an hour than it has poured gold since the beginning of recorded history.