Monday, November 28, 2011

my parents

These are my parents.   My dad had a small vegetable market in Catskill, New York.   My mom always worked right along next to my dad.   They were a devoted couple and as you can see in the picture that they are holding hands.    This picture was taken a very long time ago and I was around 4 or 5 years old.   As young as I was, I do remember the vegetable market.  Or should I say the Catskill Fruit and Vegetable Gardens.    And I also remember Ted's Diner next door.
This was all a very long time ago and back then buildings weren't one story just for the stores on the first floor but were three story structures with the 2nd and 3rd floors being rented out as apartments.   Now that makes sense, why collect rent only from the markets when with the extra two stories you can collect apartment rents.   Makes sense to me.    However my parents didn't live above the store, they lived in a neighboring town called Athens.   Like I say, all of this was a very long time ago.   How long ago?   Well this picture should tell you.   Just take a look at the car parked in front of the store.
I guess business wasn't as good as it should have been because he eventually left the vegetable business and went to work first at the Liberty grocery store just down the block and then on to Grand Union grocery store in another town.   He remained with Grand Union for the rest of his life.   He really loved the grocery business.   But, oh my, what a serious expression.   He actually smiled all of the time and everyone liked him.   He probably decided to pose with a serious expression for the picture which people did back then.
It is good to remember our parents from time to time.   They were good times.   I was young.   I didn't worry about how the bills were going to be paid.   My parents did that.   I didn't have to go to work.   Once again, my parents did that.   I didn't have to lay down in the snow to put the chains on the tires of the car.   My dad did that.   So what did I do?    Well, I played all day.   What a great life!    Have a fun day today.    Lew

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Atomic Soldier

I recently checked out a book from the local library.   It is about atomic testing.   The book is very good.   In this particular book there was a note written in blue ink by an individual.
It appears that his name is David Baird and that he lives here in Florida.   I see that the note was written 15 years ago.   I have tried unsuccessfully to make contact with this individual.    I think that he would be an interesting individual to talk to.    Does anyone know of this individual?   Any information would be helpful.
Here is a picture of the atomic blast Upshot-Knothole - Encore.
I wonder if Mr. Baird was in this picture.
Or maybe in this picture.
The Atomic Soldiers, as they are known, were  brave men from a bygone era.    It was a much different world back then.
It must have been an awesome site for those who were there and fortunately according to Mr. Baird he didn't suffer any ill effects.   The movie Nightbreaker starring Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez was a good movie about the soldiers participating in the atomic tests.   There is also a good book Atomic Soldiers which also describes the experiences of the soldiers at the Atomic Test Site.   I have had the good fortune of having visited the Nevada Atomic Test Site.   It was very interesting from a historical perspective.
Have a nice day and enjoy life.    Lew

rocket launch

So there I sat in front of the television watching the launch of the Mars rover with only 1 minute and 12 seconds to go.    The clarity of the picture was exceptional.   The moirĂ© pattern is from my camera and not the television.    The camera must have a polarizer somewhere which is creating this pattern.   I have cable television and I was watching the launch from the NASA channel.   The launch was spectacular.   I watched the rocket go up until the external supplementary rockets fell away.   Then I decided to go outside to see what I could see.   From the front porch I could see the smoke trail from the rocket.
As I looked at the wavy rocket trail I chuckled and thought "who is steering this thing".    It is weaving all over the place.   But actually it is the winds moving the smoke trail around.   I waited too long before going outside to look at it.   Normally it is nice and straight.  
I didn't hear the actual rocket roar (which can be heard here in Orlando) because as I watched the launch on television, the roar of the rocket engines from the television speakers was so loud that it would have drowned out the actual roar from the engines outside.
Hey, would you like to see a picture of my nephew?
Yeah, he had a job putting the tiles onto the space shuttles.   Sounds like a really neat job.   And it is also neat to be a part of history.   Have a fantastic day and one more left-over turkey sandwich for lunch.    Lew

Saturday, November 26, 2011

cannonball hole?

Do you see anything unusual in this picture?   No?    Look more closely.   See it now?   Okay here is a little hint.
How about now?   See it?   Well some of you do and some of you don't so here it is.
Isn't this just absolutely incredible?   A large hole through the middle of the tree.   How did it happen?   I don't know.
And look at it from the backside.   It is hollow inside.   How can the tree possibly survive?
But here is the real "kicker".    This is an orange tree and with all of this damage the tree is still producing oranges.   It is amazing how living things cling to life and in the face of terrible adversity still keeps on doing its purpose in life. 
I think that this tree deserves a medal for carrying on after it has been so seriously wounded.    It looks as if a cannon ball from civil war had plowed through it.  Perhaps, it was from one of Ponce de Leon cannons as he was searching for the fountain of youth.  I know, a fanciful imagination run amok.    But hey, anything is possible.   I will keep an eye on this tree to see how well it does.   How long has it been like this?   Once again I don't know.   Sometimes things will just amaze me and this is one of them.    Have a nice day and take time to smell the flowers and appreciate all that nature has to show us.    Lew

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mars Rover Launch

Are you ready for the rocket launch to Mars tomorrow?   The launch is scheduled for 10:02 am.   Get yourself a nice warm cup of coffee and watch the launch on television.   Preferably the NASA channel if you receive it.   The Mars rover called Curiosity is being launched on an Atlas V rocket.
This is quite a razzle-dazzle piece of space hardware.   It looks like it is going to be landing in a pretty sandy place on Mars.
I find it interesting that so many meteorite impact craters are still visible.   I would have thought that they would have been buried by the planet-wide dust storms that they have on Mars.   I would bet that the two guys from the show Meteorite Men would love to search this area with their metal detectors.  
By the way, the television show Meteorite Men is really fascinating.   Watch it if you get a chance.   On Saturday morning I will be in front of my television watching the launch.
The picture above is what I will see on television.   And then I will run out into the front yard here in Orlando and this is what I will actually see.   But I can also hear the roar of the engines right here in Orlando.   Absolutely amazing.
So set a timer to remind you of the launch so that you will be sure not to miss it.   It will be a piece of history in the making.   Oh, by the way, if you don't drink coffee then how about a drink and some chips when you watch the launch.   Enjoy the day tomorrow and have a turkey sandwich with turkey left over from Thanksgiving.   Take care and enjoy the launch.   Lew

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Yearling

I am currently reading a very old story written in 1938.    It may be an old story but it is a good one and I can see why it won a Pulitzer Prize when it was written.   The story is about a young boy and a fawn.   I don't want to say more about the story line because I don't want to give it away in case someone who reads this blog decides to read the story.   One of the things that I like about the story is that the author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, lived in central Florida and used central Florida as the setting for her story.   She lived in a community called Cross Creek here in central Florida.  
The places that she writes about in her story actually exist and you can go see these same places described in the story to this today.    Living in central Florida myself, it is much easier to identify with the story when it describes places that are familiar to me.   The one thing that I don't like about the book is the use of the "N" word in the story, I guess that it was done in 1938.    However, I would still recommend the book if you would like a relaxing, slow paced and interesting story to read.
I also liked the science fiction story Alas Babylon for the same reason that an area in Central Florida (Mt. Dora) was used as the locale for this post-apocalyptic style story.
And the author Pat Frank actually lived in a small community called Tangerine which is located just south of Mount Dora.   It is also a good story and one of my favorite sci-fi books.   I assume that it might be easier for an author to draw on their own locales when writing stories.   Well, the autumn weather is a pleasant time with the heat of summer behind us and the cold of winter not yet upon us.    Sounds like a good time to sit outside and read a good book, especially here in warm and sunny Florida.    Enjoy your day.    Lew

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


My daughter asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  I told her that I would like one of these antique dictionaries just as a remembrance of my youth.   I had one as a child and I was fascinated with the illustrations and then I would read the definition.   I spent quite a bit of time all total with that dictionary.  I guess you could say that I was “reading” the dictionary as I browsed through it.   When I tired of reading the definitions I would put the dictionary down and then a few days later browse through it again.   Plus the dictionary had beautiful full page color plates of flowers, butterflies, birds, flags of the nations, etc.    My daughter has found one on ebay (naturally, ebay has everything) and is shipping it to me as a Christmas present.   In  my retirement I have become very nostalgic about items from the past.   I remember the first time that I got suckered into these chinese handcuffs as they were called at the time.
I absolutely couldn't get out of them and someone eventually showed me how to release them after I had spent considerable time in a panicky struggle.  
How many people know what these are?
An easy question for older folk and a difficult question for younger folk.
And the popular lava lamp?   This is a picture of one that is sitting on my dresser right now.   I don’t know why but the lava lamp has always fascinated me.
I even had a Fort Apache play set which would occupy my time for hours on end.    I had so many toys as a child.   My parents absolutely spoiled me.   Maybe that is why I am so nostalgic about my youth (good fun times).   
Take care and "dream a little dream" of your youth.     Lew

Sunday, November 20, 2011

hidden discrimination

Are you going to go shopping on Black Friday for the sales?   I did a couple of times a long time ago but there were way too many people for the number of items that they had in stock.   But why do they call it Black Friday and not just a After Thanksgiving Sale Friday?
In 1970 when I worked at a large metropolitan hospital an African American male janitor who worked evenings use to come to x-ray to chit chat with us.   He had gone to the University of Alabama and played college football there (the Crimson Tide is what the football team was called).   I found him to be quite an intelligent fellow and we became friends.    He started educating me on discrimination (at that young age I thought that I knew everything about anything.   Boy, was I wrong).    He told me about hidden discrimination.   I told him that I had never heard of hidden discrimination.   Then he asked me why is Angel food cake white
and Devils food cake is very dark brown, essentially black.
Hidden discrimination!   White is angelic and black is devilish.   I had to agree with him.   I began to see the light.
He asked me what a white lie was.   I told him that it was a good lie.   Yep, white is good.  Another example of hidden discrimination.   Even today, in large corporations, when management has to wear a hard hat, it is usually white.   Like in the old westerns the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats.   I had to agree with him that discrimination was still threaded throughout our culture.   We talked on a variety of topics that night from "block busting" to "where can a black man get a flesh covered band aid in America".   I learned a lot from him.   Where is that African American today?   He is 74 and living in Nevada.    I wonder if he realizes the impression that he made on me?    He was a good person.    I always liked this picture because of its irony.
Have a good day and listen and learn from others.   You just never know from whom you will learn some of life's lessons and have your eyes opened some as mine were on that evening.     Lew

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Benny the bunny has been caught by the camera in Tammy the cat’s litter box.
Benny doesn’t use the litter box for it’s intended purpose but thinks of it as a play time sand box like we all had in grade school.   Fortunately Tammy hasn’t used her litter box for months.  
She prefers to go to the bathroom outside house.    I guess that she likes to “think outside the box”.     
We keep the litter box available for emergencies.   If only we could get the rabbit to “think inside the box”.     Have a nice day and try to “think outside the box”.   Or “inside the box” as the case may be.   Enjoy the day to its fullest.    Lew

Friday, November 18, 2011


SCRAM.    Do I mean “scat” or “go away”?   No, I mean the acronym which stands for Safety Control Rod Axe Man (S.C.R.A.M.).  
In modern terms it means to immediately shut down a nuclear reactor by “dropping” the control rods into the reactor to shut down the nuclear reaction.   A SCRAM is usually only done during times of emergency or unusual occurrences.   This is done by hitting the "SCRAM" button on the control panel of the reactor.   But what a funny sounding acronym "SCRAM" is.  
What on earth is a Safety Control Rod Axe Man?   Well, here he is, Norman Hillberry.  
One of the scientists of the Manhattan Project in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II.   During the war a nuclear reactor was built on the campus of the University of Chicago to see if a chain reaction of uranium was possible.   This was headed by Enrico Fermi.
This reactor would be controlled by a series of control rods being either pulled out of the reactor or pushed into the reactor.   To go faster, you pull the rods out.  To go slower, you push the rods in.  To stop, you push the rods all the way in.   Some of the rods were motor driven, some were moved by hand, while others were suspended above the reactor held by a rope and if the rope were cut they would drop into the reactor under their own weight.   The rope was attached to a railing on a balcony overlooking the reactor.    This is where Norman Hillberry came in.   When the reactor was started for the very first time, he was given an axe and stood by the rope tied to the railing.  
Can you see him?   He is at the railing and bent over in this painting.
In an emergency he was to cut the rope and the control rods would be pulled into the reactor shutting it down.   Primitive but effective.   I got to meet Norman Hillberry on a number of occasions when I worked for the Arizona Atomic Energy Commission and attended the monthly dinner meetings of the Arizona Chapter of the American Nuclear Society.   He would tell stories of the early days of nuclear energy including how the acronym SCRAM came about.   A very interesting fellow and a pleasure to listen to.  So the next time you hear about a nuclear reactor being “scrammed” you will know the origins of the term.   Have a great day wherever you may be.    Lew 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reese's peanut butter cups

Ah, yes, I remember Reese's peanut butter cups from my youth.   Back then they only came one peanut butter cup to a package.    That combination of peanut butter and chocolate is delicious.
This confection was created by a nice gentleman whom I only knew as Mr. Reese.
I first met him in the early 50's.   He was retired at that time.    I met him when my parents traveled south from New York to West Palm Beach, Florida for vacation during the cold winter months.   We stayed at the Broadway Motor Court on Broadway in West Palm Beach.    It was really an apartment with a living room, a dining area, a full sized kitchen, a bedroom, and a full bath.   Some vacation for my mom, she still had to cook and make the bed (I slept on the couch).    Mr. Reese said that he would travel back and forth between Hershey, Pennsylvania and the Broadyway Motor Court in West Palm Beach, Florida.   I remember him as a very gentle and kind gentleman.   He said that his hobby was cooking soups and he would make soups for us.   There was a small grass lawn in front of the Broadway Motor Court and my dad and Mr. Reese would sit in lawn chairs chatting.   He told me once that he used a sausage stuffing machine to make his first peanut butter cups.   He even took us out on his boat once.   That was a lot of fun.   He had a man who drove the boat for him.   I wish that I had gotten to know him better but I was a young lad and all that I wanted to do was play in the sandlot next to the motor court.    So be assured that the next time that you eat a Reese's peanut butter cup that the person behind the Reese's name on the wrapper was a good-hearted person and kind and gentle.    Lew