Generations (continued)

By: Bogon , 2:40 AM GMT on June 13, 2012

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In 1951 I was born into a different world. It was the Atomic Age. During my first year of life the world's first H-bomb was detonated on Eniwetok. As a child the image of the mushroom cloud haunted my dreams.

The pace of technological evolution was increasing. It was also the Jet Age, which soon segued into the Space Age. Combine the Atomic Age with the Space Age and you get ballistic missiles, which meant that no place on earth was safe from prompt nuclear annihilation. Learned and authoritative men such as Henry Kissinger and Zbignew Brzezinski reassured me that our international policy of Mutual Assured Destruction was working.



No wonder that one of my favorite movies is Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb!

Then there were the wars. I might not have worried so much if the earth had been a peaceful place. There were endless World War II movies for impressionable young kids to watch. John Wayne could be counted on to shoot the Krauts or blow up the Japs. Or you could turn on the news and hear about the Korean War. At first there was only AM radio, but around the time I was old enough to start school Dad brought home the family's first black and white television. Soon after that we got a high fidelity FM stereo receiver/phonograph. These spiffy new electronic devices were built with vacuum tubes. They were massive furniture. (Mom still has the stereo. By now it's pretty much in the same category as Grandpa's Victrola.)

Back then we got two snowy channels on the teevee. Still, that was enough to enjoy the effect of video, which enhanced the immediacy of current events. By the time LBJ escalated the Vietnam War (guns and butter!), we could view the carnage in living color.



That was life during the Cold War. The main event was the ever-present nuclear Sword of Damocles, but there was always a hot brushfire burning somewhere in the background. We talked peace, prayed for peace, sang praises to peace and goodwill, but there was always a war. There still is. I have stopped worrying about the hypocrisy of that. What's a little hypocrisy compared to the threat of Armageddon?

    *     *     *

The national news was no more encouraging. A series of charismatic and capable leaders and spokesmen got gunned down, erased: John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lennon. Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and John Belushi all dropped dead. I'm probably leaving somebody out here. These lists were compiled from my decreasingly reliable memory. Leave a comment, if you like.



Perhaps these people were too good for us here on planet earth. Perhaps we didn't deserve them. Perhaps we weren't ready yet to hear what they had to say. When will we be ready?

    *     *     *

The news at a personal, local level is better. In a single lifetime my grandfather went from horse and buggy to jet plane. He lived to see NASA astronauts land on the moon.

By the time I started school, my father had earned his Ph.D. His formal education was complete. He spent the rest of his life giving back to education. When I graduated from high school, he was superintendent of schools here in Burlington. He held that job during the period of mandatory desegregation that followed the Supreme Court's decision Brown v. Board of Education. He managed to satisfy federal requirements to end segregation in the city school system, while keeping the schools functioning and maintaining peace in the community. I recall that he was subsequently invited to appear before members of Congress in Washington, DC, to explain how he did it. In numerous other locations around the country the same process did not end as well.

If I were to pick one thing to represent my father's legacy, that would be it. Thanks to people like him, black people in the South get a better deal today than they did in my grandfather's time. There's more work to be done, but a lot of progress has been made. Heck, a black man is President. It gratifies me to see bright, well-spoken people of color in my community, who look you square in the eye and smile when you say hello.

My sister-in-law has adopted a black child. She tells me that they get funny looks sometimes, when they go out together. I look forward to a time when skin color will be no more meaningful than the color of your eyes or hair. Perhaps, one of these days, such externalities will all be equally adjustable. In that world little green men would not necessarily be alien.

    *     *     *

It is the Information Age. My first hands-on experience with computers came when I went to college in the early 1970s. Somewhere along the line I elected to take an introductory programming course. I discovered that I enjoyed learning programming languages. The logical thinking came naturally. I did not enjoy the process. At that time each line of code had to be punched into a paper card, the cards stacked into a deck, and the deck dropped into an In box to be queued to a card reader. Eventually your program would be allocated slices of processing time on the university's mainframe. The machine would generate fanfold output (usually just an error message, until you got the program debugged) on a line printer. The printout would be wrapped around your card deck with a rubber band and deposited in an Out box for pickup. Each iteration of this process took hours, and it was inherently error prone. I was not motivated to pursue this activity as a career.

Fifteen years later I bought my own personal computer. It was a miracle of microelectronics. The processing power of that desktop machine was comparable to the room-sized mainframe I had used at school. The difference was in the interface. The PC had a console. Feedback was immediate. Awesome!

At first my interest in personal computing was avocational. Playing with the machine was fun. I learned how to do stuff, how to make it go. This was back in the days of DOS. All I had was a command line, plus whatever commercial software I was willing to purchase on a hobbyist's budget. One of the most useful packages ever slotted into my floppy disk drive was called ProComm. With that and a 2400 baud modem I could go on-line. I could connect to bulletin boards, where I could download information and free software.



Gradually computing began to absorb more of my time and energy. Then I hit a mid-life crisis. I began to rethink everything, my whole setup. I floundered around for a while (years!), but the outcome was that I went back to school for a computer science degree. Since then I've had a tiger by the tail.

The rate of technological change in the field of computing outstrips anything I might have dreamed as I was growing up. The internet — who could have imagined the internet? (Well, William Gibson had a vision of the digital future in 1984. J. C. R. Licklider foresaw the possibilities way back in 1962. I reckon Lick wins the prize.) Now I'm talking to you across it. Pretty neat, huh?

Okay, I've probably talked long enough. Your ears are going to wear thin, and I'm liable to get hoarse. C U L8r!



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57. Bogon
8:56 AM GMT on July 06, 2012
Good morning, campers. You may recall that I started having forebodings of summer heat back in commment 12. Since then heat has arrived with a vengeance. The last time we had something resembling a cool day was on June 26.

I know, because I saved a temperature map from that morning.



I don't remember the last time we had a decent rain. The last mention was in comment 5, three weeks ago. There have been some near misses. My hopes rise whenever the sky grows cloudy, as it did yesterday. The grass is turning brown in my yard. I water daily, but my efforts are directed at preserving the garden, trees and shrubs. The grass can fend for itself.

Barefoot - Wife invited the in-laws over Wednesday night. They brought fireworks and ingredients for making banana splits. I was a bit tired and grumpy when they arrived, but the banana split helped. I have a personal tradition of consuming one each summer. This year I didn't have to bestir myself. The banana split came to me.

Ylee, I considered inserting a link to the wiki for air conditioning. Sounds like you found your own way to the page about Willis Carrier.

Air conditioning is one of those things that have become commonplace during my lifetime, which makes it on topic for this blog. I dimly recall a time when most places I went were not air conditioned. It's hard to remember what that felt like. One's memory works better for the good things in life and selectively filters out the bad. I surely don't miss mildew and clammy sheets at night.

Some of my readers may live in places where summers are cool enough that you don't need air conditioning. A lot of you live in Florida or elsewhere in the South, where AC is largely taken for granted these days. Folks who live in the South and don't have air conditioning are probably not reading this blog, because computers and hundred degree heat don't go together.

Ah, that spurs a thought: unlike the traditional desktop PC, mobile devices like the iPhone should be expected to perform in ambient conditions indoors and out. Does anyone have stories or experience of snazzy new smart gadgets that can't handle the heat?
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3698
56. Ylee
1:43 AM GMT on July 05, 2012
I'm afraid the photos in comment#30 are still in my filtering software's "no-fly" zone! :(

However, your Wikipedia links have been most valuable, as I've been able to find the lyrics that I used in my blog!

A salute to Mr. Carrier and the other folks by which we benefit with cool air! :)

Hope you had a good 4th!
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55. Barefootontherocks
7:15 PM GMT on July 04, 2012


Thanks for stopping by my blog. Happy Fourth!
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54. Bogon
6:23 PM GMT on July 04, 2012
Hi, Mass. Thanks for the holiday greeting. I just returned from a mad-dogs-and Englishmen style walk in the noonday sun. My goal for the rest of the day is simply to keep cool. On this day we honor the birth of our nation, but this also seems a propitious time to recognize all the folks who worked to develop air conditioning. Good ol' Benjamin Franklin contributed to both.
You've certainly made the most of all your life experiences and education along the way!

You know, there might be at least one missed opportunity in there somewhere. Thanks very much for the vote of confidence. :o)
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3698
53. masshysteria
5:30 PM GMT on July 04, 2012
Good Afternoon, Bogon!

Lately, computer and other problems have made it difficult for me to do any extensive WU posting or blogging. Now that I've managed to get online, I wanted to be sure to wish you and yours A HAPPY AND SAFE FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY AND WEEK!




Wow, that Stephen Stills Youtube sure brings me back to those happier moments I experienced in the late 60's and early 70's. I was such an ardent fan of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and had all their albums until my younger sister absconded with my favorite collectibles. Such was life and younger siblings! LOL!

I've so enjoyed reading your blog-header entitled, "Generations", as it's truly relatable to this particular "Baby-Boomer". You've certainly made the most of all your life experiences and education along the way! Thanks for sharing!

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52. Bogon
1:18 PM GMT on July 04, 2012
Tuning up for the Fourth...

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51. Bogon
12:25 PM GMT on July 04, 2012
Good morning, Ylee.

I'm happy to be the unwitting instrument of your liberation! :o) Do the upgraded privileges enable you to see the photos in comment 30?

And speaking of glitches, I have been trying to modify comment 30 since shortly after I posted it, and for some reason it won't let me. No major changes, the version that's up there will do, but there's a slightly better version (in my opinion) waiting to go up.

Ah, well, I don't suppose it matters much by now.
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3698
50. Ylee
8:00 AM GMT on July 04, 2012
There's some stormage to your south that seems to be blowing up in your general direction, but I don't know if it'll make it to you or not!

I'm not sure whether to thank you or another poster on this particular blog, but some stray bit of html on this blog causes a second login window to appear(I'm already logged in through a generic login name), and when I relogin using the same info as the first, I get supervisors' privileges, which enable me to go to more than just .mil or .gov websites! I call my computer the Glitchamatic for good reason! :)

The added surfing capabilities has its drawbacks, as visiting several blogs causes my computer to lock up IE6(Haven't figured out how to upgrade the browser, but I keep tryin'! :)) There's even a time limit, as the computer reverts back to "normal" after an hour or so.

Don't know how long this will last, but I intend to ride this wave as long as possible!

Hope you have a good 4th!
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49. Bogon
11:09 AM GMT on July 02, 2012
Big blob on the radar in the middle of the night. It waffled and faded the closer it came to the Dry Slot. The weather station at the airport recorded 0.07 inch of rain.

There was still moisture on the driveway when I woke up this morning. I went out to determine whether the rain would count as a watering. Not really, I decided, but it would work as an excuse to water less.

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48. Bogon
5:18 AM GMT on July 01, 2012
For the second night in a row we've had lightning and big wind. This time the storm dripped about five drops of water on the sidewalk.

The big wind dropped the temperature. I opened the garage door to let the hot air out.
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47. Bogon
7:18 PM GMT on June 30, 2012
100° at 2:54 pm EDT

Dewpoint was 69°.
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46. ycd0108
5:59 PM GMT on June 30, 2012
Bogon:
That scene from "Cool Hand Luke" has stuck with me all these years.
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45. Bogon
4:56 PM GMT on June 30, 2012
ycd - Thanks for clearing that up. Stampeding grandkids!

I'll have to take your word concerning the relative viability of English versus other languages. I have not traveled the world widely, and I'm fluent in no other tongue.

Those Englishmen certainly got around, but so did the Dutch, Spaniards, Portuguese etc. If English won out among all such imperialist languages, then there must be something special about it.

English certainly doesn't stand on ceremony. It can't afford to. The history of England is full of invasions. Various parts of the United Kingdom have been overrun by Celts, Picts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, and Norman French. Each left a mark on the language. Perhaps English conquers by being conquered.
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44. Bogon
2:44 PM GMT on June 30, 2012
Here's a tune to counter the seasonal trend. At ten o'clock on Saturday morning it's already 86° outside.



I'm on the inside looking out. :oJ



Now there's a sound I haven't heard in a while.
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43. ycd0108
2:19 PM GMT on June 30, 2012
Having worked and traveled a bit in countries where English is not an official language I have thought a bit about why this particular language should be (and in effect is) the universal language:
One can understand at least part of the speaker or writer's intent no matter how garbled the pronunciation, spelling, grammar or sentence structure.
Don't try that in Dutch or Spanish
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42. ycd0108
2:02 PM GMT on June 30, 2012
Is it already another morning, Bogon?
Two of the grandkids came storming up the stair and I knew I had to post or lose the comment.
Oh yeah, the last flight of the DC 8:
It felt like we were on approach to the Kelowna airport but all there was below would be about a hundred miles of mountain ranges. Then the cabin attendants started hurrying back and forth from the kitchen to the main door with damp towels and stuffing the towels around the door seal. The Captain came on the loudspeaker and explained we had lost cabin pressure and would be proceeding to Kelowna at reduced altitude. Needless to say we made it to Kelowna but the DC 8 was soon replaced with a Boeing 737.
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41. Bogon
12:49 PM GMT on June 30, 2012
Karen - My granddad never lived to see computers, the internet or cell phones. He lived in a simpler, quieter, less well connected world. He experienced that world from a big rocking chair on his front porch. His neighbors would wave to him as they passed on the road in front of his house. He knew them all by name.

Sometimes I think I know better how to live in that world than in this one.

I did visit Barefoot's blog; it was worth the trip.

NumberWise - Thank you very much! I appreciate being appreciated.

Credit for any skill I may possess in the use of the English language goes to my mom. She was a school teacher. My other teachers surely deserve an honorable mention, too, especially during junior high school (now called middle school), when they taught me how to diagram a sentence. I no longer remember how that worked, exactly, but I do know how to build a complete sentence. I can break a complex sentence into clauses. I can identify subject and predicate, and I can identify each word's part of speech.

I say all that, not to brag, but to point out the mechanics behind what I do. I don't know what goes on in our schools these days, but a whole lot of people seem to graduate without these fundamental skills.

It's not about being didactic; it's about effective communication. It's about how well you can understand your world, and how well that world understands you. It's about being literate.

For what it's worth, the same skill set that works for parsing English also works for other natural languages (of which I know only a few words) and for computer languages (with which I made a living). Computer languages are less forgiving than natural languages. Poor grammar invariably yields poor results.



shoreacres - a Black Russian? I wonder which time and place that was. :o]

Memory is a funny thing. There was a time in my life, when Gordon Lightfoot was younger than he is in the video, when his song was new. Peter, Paul and Mary's black and white version of the song was new. That time passed unnoticed. I had other things on my mind back then, such as squeezing zits in the mirror. The song was a small, unremarkable feature of the background. Back then the song was a normal production of the world in motion. Now it seems quite different, a jewel crystallized from a moment in time, whose like we shall not see again.

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40. shoreacres
4:14 AM GMT on June 30, 2012
Evening, Bogon - I've been so buried, I didn't even realize you were traveling. Love that Gordon Lightfoot song - what memories. I never hear it that I don't get a craving for a Black Russian... different times, different places.

I'll be back tomorrow to give all this a good read. I did notice Briar's mention of tv dinners and suddenly remembered the days when they came in silver metal trays. And there were "tv trays" to put them on while you sat in front of the television and ate your modern dinner!
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39. NumberWise
4:05 AM GMT on June 30, 2012
Yes, I've flown on a 707. I think that dates me!

From your Comment #30 - For a while the landscape was little different from New Mexico, Thank you! Although it's a very minor point, most folks now use "than" when "from" is correct. Sometimes I just walk away from the computer, for I no longer can tolerate the poor grammar, misspellings, etc. Whether I agree with you or not, I do appreciate your careful and correct use of the English language.

And tonight I learned a new word - "conurbation".
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38. SBKaren
2:10 AM GMT on June 30, 2012
The news at a personal, local level is better. In a single lifetime my grandfather went from horse and buggy to jet plane. He lived to see NASA astronauts land on the moon.

I had almost this exact conversation with my grandfather. He was born in 1901 and told me once....that buggies were the mode of transportation in his day, yet he saw man land on the moon. He told me, who knows what you will see in your future! I often wonder what he would have thought of computers!

Do you know barefootontherocks? She wrote a similar blog!

You should be very proud of your father. I wrote something just about learning to accept folks in barefoot's blog.
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37. Bogon
6:51 PM GMT on June 29, 2012
Morning, ycd. It's midafternoon here, but I bet it's still morning where you are.

I like the Tron analogy. Here on the east coast I remember being able to make out a lake from the air, because the homes and streets were lit up all around it. The lake itself was a pool of darkness.

The night flight I made from Chicago to Sacramento had much less to offer. Towns were few and far between. Many of the lights on the ground were isolated, maybe a single streetlight over a church parking lot or playground. With so few cues to guide me, I soon lost track of time and geography. I think I might have passed over some portion of the greater Salt Lake City conurbation, but this long after the fact it's hard to remember exactly what I saw.

I look forward to hearing the rest of your tale... or at least an explanation of what happened while you were trying to post it.

Karen, I know, so many blogs, so little time. Thanks for stopping by.
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36. SBKaren
3:37 PM GMT on June 29, 2012
I'll have to come back for a more indepth read. I was born in 1952, so we're aren't so far apart! This deserves some time, so I'll be back. Right now I've got to get the dog out for a morning walk!
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35. ycd0108
3:32 PM GMT on June 29, 2012
Morning Bogon:
Comment #30:
I enjoyed the travel story. Maybe 'cause it saves me the time to write basically the same thing: I do pretty well the same things you describe in the flying bits.
I'm too tall and I usually forget my map.
Flying over settled areas on a clear night reminds me of the movie Tron".
The sculpture in O'Hare was not there last time through and the "stack in Sac" has that je ne se que.
Very likely I have flown on a 707 but one trip on a DC 8 comes to mind:
We took off from YVR heading for Kellowna and climbed normally. Somewhere above Hope we started descending and I said to the guy beside me
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34. Bogon
2:41 PM GMT on June 29, 2012
There's a new drought monitor out today. Interesting to see that Debby effectively closed out the drought in Florida.

It's only moderately dry here in the Dry Slot, but with the high temperatures expected over the next several days, it won't take long to bump things up a category or two. The low temps are not too shabby either. For instance, the forecast low for tonight is a balmy 76°.

The heat wave comes to us courtesy of high pressure, sinking air, which is the same mechanism that makes rain unlikely. Forecasters in Raleigh proffer slender hope that a mesoscale convective thingie may develop over the Ohio Valley today, and that its dying remnants may descend on Virginia and North Carolina later tonight. Meanwhile I'll be drinking lots of fluids. I will not be holding my breath.
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33. Bogon
9:56 PM GMT on June 28, 2012
Here is one artist's take on the Jet Age.

Lightfoot sings of the Boeing 707, which pretty much defines an era. Have you ever ridden a 707? I have, and I got better service on it than you'll receive on a wide-bodied airbus today. We used to complain about "airplane food". At least back then we got meals on a long flight. Good luck with that today.



There's no early morning rain hereabouts. Definitely no rain, morning or otherwise. Instead I'm dragging the hose around the yard each morning to keep the garden going and preserve major elements of the landscape.
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32. Bogon
9:30 PM GMT on June 28, 2012
Hey, Ylee.

I'm signed up with a photo server where I can upload pictures that might not fit WU's weather-related criteria.

The first picture is the plane that carried me from Raleigh to Chicago. I took the picture through a glass wall from inside the terminal. The horizontal lines are part of the window.

Photo number two is a replica dinosaur skeleton advertising the Field Museum in Chicago. When I was a kid, I would have called it a brontosaurus. Since then the paleontologists have indulged in revisionism, so the beast has a different name now.

Next is a photo I took in the baggage claim section of Sacramento airport. That airport has various whimsical art objects scattered around about. Here we have a cart loaded to the ceiling with lost luggage, enough to support an expedition to Mount Everest.

The last photo is as I described in my previous comment: the high Sierra framed by Jet Age concrete and steel.
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31. Ylee
7:17 PM GMT on June 28, 2012
Even though I cannot see a single picture from here at work, your descriptions of the flight are plenty enough for a visual! Thanks!
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30. Bogon
7:02 PM GMT on June 28, 2012
In previous blogs I've talked (or ranted!) about mobility in the post-9/11 world. Born in the Jet Age, I'm most mobile when riding a jet. Since the Transportation Security Administration got in the way, I have been much less inclined to deal with airports, and hence my mobility has effectively diminished. Last week's trip to California was noteworthy for the enabling role that aviation played. I waited through the zigzag line, suffered silently through the TSA inspection, and (eventually) boarded the big silver bird.



One can complain about the length of time an airplane sits on the taxiway or how many times it circles the airport waiting to land. I have always liked the flying part. Wife wants an aisle seat, so she can get up, stretch, go to the restroom etc. I like to look out the window. It's tough folding my long frame into an economy seat for an extended period of time. Sometimes I feel as if I must explode. In the window seat you're pretty much confined for the duration, until all the people ahead of you recover their luggage and stagger back out into the world. But I think it's worth it, at least for a daylight trip in good weather. You can see where you're going. The views are awesome.

Some people worry about terrorists when they fly. Some people get airsick. Those problems never bothered me. I do worry sometimes about factors beyond my control. Must I listen to that baby wail all the way to my destination? What if one of my fellow passengers is carrying some dreadful disease? You never know where these people have been. What if there is something wrong with the plane or pilot? I lean my head against the wall and contemplate the thin, frigid six hundred knot wind roaring mere inches away on the other side of the window. I cannot exist out there. This vehicle must remain intact until it delivers me back to the ground. At this speed I'm carrying something like 4 megajoules of kinetic energy, which must be dissipated harmlessly before I can walk away. Usually I can shove those worries to the back of my mind. That baby... just might get on my nerves.

It took six hours of flying time to get to California. There is no way to schedule a direct commercial flight from Raleigh-Durham airport (RDU) to Sacramento (SMF), so the trip broke down into segments of two hours and four hours. On the way out I had a three hour stopover at O'Hare in Chicago. That's where I noticed this fellow standing patiently beside the concourse. I think maybe his flight was cancelled.



It was after sunset by the time a second plane took off for Sacramento. I was looking forward to the scenery on this leg of the trip, but darkness put an end to that plan. Lightning from a string of thunderstorms provided fireworks for an hour or so. Traveling west, the plane chased the sunset. It was past 10:30 at night, Eastern Time, before the sky grew fully dark. By then we were over the sparsely populated high plains, and even city lights were hard to find. The next clearly identifiable landmark on my side of the plane was Reno, NV, which appeared when we were only minutes from landing. Local time was midnight, but it felt like 3 AM to me.

I got lucky in baggage claim. My checked bag was one of the first to trundle around the carousel. You could tell that not everyone had been so fortunate.



We departed Sacramento at midday. Except for a band of clouds banked against the Sierra, visibility was excellent. Lake Tahoe was big, blue and obvious. South of the lake remnants of snow clung to rocky slopes. Nevada was revealed as a series of mountains and valleys, which from my lofty vantage looked a bit like a washboard. The farther from the Pacific we flew, the dryer the conditions below. In western Utah a south wind was raising clouds of dust from salty dry lake beds. Dust tinged the air eggshell tan.

I could have used a good map. All I had was the one in my head, which kept me guessing. I recognized Lake Powell, then my eye traced the involute course of a river winding eastward. It was the San Juan twisting and churning down from the mountains of southwestern Colorado. I missed Mesa Verde, but it was hard not to notice a pillar of black smoke rising from a forest fire northwest of Durango. The Rio Grande valley divided mountains in northern New Mexico, then we crossed a zone of canyon lands, headwaters of the Canadian River.

Soon the character of the terrain changed again. There was a dividing line, a sort of cliff, after which the land became a patchwork of fields. A series of white windmills sprouted near the edge of the caprock. If ever there was a place that looked liable to be windy, that was surely one.

With no external reference to guide me, I was never quite sure where we were. When we crossed down off the caprock, I reckoned we had reached Texas. My best guess now, after spending quality time with Google Earth, is that we angled south of Lubbock over Abilene. For a while the landscape was little different from New Mexico, but gradually the land turned greener. Somewhere along the way, probably about the time we crossed I-35, patches of trees appeared. Suddenly roads and towns were everywhere.

It was 95 degrees in Houston — and humid. We had just enough time to plod from arrival gate to departure gate through Bush International. The sun was already setting when we took to the air again, even though it was still late afternoon in our heads. I searched to the south to spot Shoreacres; alas, the air over Houston was murky in the oblique light. Visibility sucked. I was glad I didn't have to breathe that stuff for long.

The pilot steered us generally east to a point north of Lake Ponchartrain, then tipped the plane onto a northeasterly heading. The jet danced with thunderstorms over Charlotte, but never fear. You already know how this story must end.

Back on terra firma! We hiked down into the quiet late-night terminal, recovered our baggage when the klaxon sounded, then bailed Wife's car out of long term parking. By midnight our journey was over. Home, sweet home.

I took this picture while I was waiting to board the plane in Sacramento. Sort of a farewell shot. In the distance, under the bridge, you can see the Sierra Nevada beckoning.

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29. BriarCraft
12:23 AM GMT on June 28, 2012
My MIL has a saying, "House guests are like fish. No matter how much you love 'em, they're no good after three days." In my experience, three days is just about right for catching up on everyone's doings, but short enough that you don't run out of things to say. Also, just about long enough to make you appreciate home all over again. Glad you had a nice visit and were able to cool your heels on the left coast for a bit.
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28. Bogon
6:39 PM GMT on June 27, 2012
Hello, Cal. Thanks for bringing that news. I had not heard of the Chain Reaction sculpture.

I can't say that I'm a great fan of this visual pun. Still, I would say that its message ought not be forgotten. We still have this problem with the world. How long can we keep the nuclear genie bottled up? Is there no viable alternative to Mutual Assured Destruction? Must we remain hostages to international good behavior indefinitely?

Peace out, man. :o)

A combination of being too tired or too busy has kept me from saying more about my trip to California. The topic is rather large for a comment, and I'm not sure it deserves a new blog entry. In any case, I haven't started writing. With half the week gone, it's rapidly becoming old news.

Getting back to weather, our stay in California provided a welcome break from a heat wave in the Southeast. While we were cool, calm and dry in Placerville, the "feels like" temperature here in Burlington was 104°. Indeed, a cool shot midway through our stay had me donning jeans to keep warm. Our host put on a long-sleeved shirt over his shorts. I might have done the same, but it never occurred to me to pack a long-sleeved shirt this time of year.

Yesterday a rare cool day in June happened right here, but it is so over now. Tomorrow the real heat returns. The weather service has posted a warning for high temperatures in excess of 100° this weekend.
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3698
26. Bogon
4:01 AM GMT on June 25, 2012
Home again. Today was for recuperation.

Barefoot - Thanks! Our excursion to California must be accounted a success. A good time was had by all.

We didn't spend more time in your old home town than it took to get on and off the airplane. It was a very nice airport.

BriarCraft - Been there, done that. d:o)

We went to see people, not places. Well, we saw some places, too, but we had native guides to show us the way.

sp - We hung around El Dorado county (located at the elbow in the CA/NV line). That's where we had the Mexican food.

We depended on our hosts for shelter and transportation. We only had three days, because we didn't want to wear out our welcome. We didn't travel farther than they were willing to drive us. This was our first visit to the area, so everything we saw was new and interesting.

Maybe next time we can cover more ground. Wife and I both agree that there should be a next time, though it may take years. Meanwhile it's our friends' turn to visit us again.
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3698
25. sp34n119w
9:49 PM GMT on June 22, 2012
Oh, hey, HELLO! Welcome to California! (I'll leave the second part out)
You may already be back home, for all I know, but hope the trip is/was enjoyable :)
Mexican food in Sacramento? Okay, but don't forget you can get decent Chinese, too!
Be sure to wave if you head this far south ;)
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24. BriarCraft
11:39 PM GMT on June 20, 2012
California-style Mexican food. Yummmmm! You're not far from Yosemite and Kings Canyon. Rent a car and go have a gander if you can make the time for it.
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 80 Comments: 4043
23. Barefootontherocks
11:29 PM GMT on June 20, 2012
Hi Bogon,
Wow. Sacramento. Funny, that's where I saw Sputnik on TV. lol Spent early growing up years in Sacramento.

As to your question, "Is it possible there was just a smidgen of overreaction?" LOL. Thought the news clip illustrated it well.

Enjoy San Francisco or the High Sierra, or both if you can. Whatever you two decide to do, have a great time!
Member Since: April 29, 2006 Posts: 154 Comments: 18624
22. Bogon
9:53 PM GMT on June 20, 2012
Thanks, BC. I'm on the road right now. I'll follow that link when I can get around to it.

Wife and I are on the left coast for a few days. I flew into Sacramento last night. Sadly I will not be traveling as far north as Toledo this trip. It's possible I might trend a bit closer to the origins of hippiedom. Or I might head for the high sierra. Our agenda is still subject to negotiation. Mexican food for lunch made a good start. :o)
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3698
21. BriarCraft
8:43 PM GMT on June 19, 2012
Shortly after spending time here yesterday, I was flipping through the pages of the latest Vanity Fair. If you're thinking that, by being a subscriber to Vanity Fair, I'm unduly influenced by Madison Avenue marketing gorillas, you'd be wrong. I hate to shop and, when I do, I consistently avoid the trendy things and head for the tried-and-true, getting seriously bummed when one of my favorite standby products is made new-and-improved or is discontinued. Believe it or not, I subscribe to VF for the articles, some of which are really good.

Anyway, returning from my marketing segue, I was going to say that VF has a rather long article recalling the details of the Summer of Love, a lot of which I didn't know or realize at the time. It seems to fit right in with this blog topic of being part of the Boomer generation.

According to that article, "Certain places, for unknowable reasons, become socio-cultural petri dishes, and between 1960 and 1964 the area of Northern California extending from San Francisco to Palo Alto was one of them." What I found of particular interest was the people and events that brought the Hippie era into being, which I didn't previously understand. If you've got the time, you might enjoy taking a look.
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20. Bogon
1:39 PM GMT on June 19, 2012
Good morning, Prose. No culpa required.

Religion remains a touchy subject for a lot of folks, so most of the time I try to avoid it or tread lightly.

My own beliefs and convictions are the result of a lifelong journey. My parents raised me to be a Protestant. For years they took me to church on Sunday. I still have a Bible around here somewhere.

Even as a youngster I began to have doubts about religion. For one thing, there's more than one of them. They can't all be right! Then there are scientific and historical reasons to think that religion is not all it's cracked up to be.

It took a while, and I don't remember all the stages I went through, but eventually the doubts reached a critical mass. I "fell away" from the church.

I have no regrets. It's one less thing to worry about.

I do worry about the way religion is inculcated in very young children. My greatest respect is reserved for those parents who encourage their children to make up their own minds about such things.

Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3698
19. Proserpina
7:01 AM GMT on June 19, 2012
Yes, it is Bee Balm.

I read and enjoyed your 'Generations (continued). I recognize a lot of what you wrote because those are the same things that I experienced and lived. I remember clearly the assassinations, the Civil War Marches, the gradual changing of people's attitudes toward Afro-Americans, the Space Race, the incredible advancements in technology/medicine, the Cold War, the banging of the shoe by Nikita Krushchev, the movie 'The Russians Are coming, The Russians Are Coming', a Catholic President, Geraldine Ferraro the first woman candidate for Vice-President etc., my niece marrying a black man with all of our family at the wedding to joyfully celebrate their love, etc. etc.

For my family the biggest change was in the realm of religion. All we knew for centuries was Catholicism. To be honest, until the age of 14 I had never heard of nor met a Jewish person or a Protestant. For centuries my ancestors dedicated a son to the priesthood, usually the second son since the first son inherited the family estates. Yet starting in 1954 we had very good Jewish friends, soon to be followed by friends and neighbors of many faiths. My parents (especially my mother) welcomed into her home all of our school friends, their religion was never an issue.

My parent's six children, including me, married non Catholics, agnostics, non-believers, and Catholics. Our children have followed the same path with our blessings. Our second sons are not priests, and we have had three divorces and remarriages between my generation and our children's generation, something formerly unheard of in my family. Are we rejecting our roots and traditions? No, but we are willing to blend, and to accept people for who they are as long as they are decent human beings.

Is my family an anomaly? No, I believe that most of America has slowly but surely changed during my lifetime, people are more inclusive and open-minded. Are we a perfect people? No, but what you and your SIL say is a possibility:

"My sister-in-law has adopted a black child. She tells me that they get funny looks sometimes, when they go out together. I look forward to a time when skin color will be no more meaningful than the color of your eyes or hair. Perhaps, one of these days, such externalities will all be equally adjustable. In that world little green men would not necessarily be alien."

I believe that the same is happening with religion. As you say,it is a matter of "adjustment".

I finished writing the above at 3am, hopefully I did not commit any faux pas, if so, mea culpa or better yet I attribute 'culpa' to lack of sleep.
Member Since: May 6, 2008 Posts: 171 Comments: 18188
18. Bogon
4:34 AM GMT on June 19, 2012
Whoa, hey, a couple more people sneaked in here while I was typing. Shucks, I'm fading fast. You west coast folks have an unfair advantage. ;o{

I guess I ought to finish up tonight, because tomorrow will be busy. Gotta pack. Gonna take my act on the road for a few days. Hopefully I'll come back with pictures to upload.

Shore - Note cards may be one of those technologies, like rolodex, that have fallen by the wayside. There are a lot of things like that, that I learned how to use, that are still not broken, but I don't need 'em any more. Probably grist for another blog entry in there somewhere.

ycd - I hear you.

Perhaps I should take this opportunity to clarify my remarks about Vietnam in comment 12. I'm certainly not calling everybody who went to Vietnam stupid. That word would surely have applied to me, given my beliefs about that war, if through thoughtlessness or inaction I had allowed myself to get sucked in.

It could have happened, though. If I had lived in Niagara Falls, crossing the bridge to avoid the draft might have seemed a simple choice. For a southern boy like me the notion of hieing off to Canada did not come easily. I'm not sure I would have been comfortable with the label "draft dodger", either. I'm still glad I did not have to make that decision.
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3698
17. Bogon
3:42 AM GMT on June 19, 2012
Ah, good things do come to those who sit and wait! :o)

Hi, Barefoot. <beep> <beep> <beep>

That sputnik video cracks me up. I mean, it's one thing to understand that there was a time before which there were no artificial satellites orbiting the earth. Then we see the CBS crew at such pains to explain the concept to viewers who had never given the matter a second thought. Once familiar voices gravely intone everything from orbital mechanics to rapidly evolving geopolitical ramifications of the newly christened space race. All this because of "beep, beep, beep"? Is it possible there was just a smidgen of overreaction?

Then there's Khrushchev. Who will show up this time? Will it be sweet old Uncle Nikita, or will he pound his shoe on the lectern and promise us all a Soviet funeral?

Historians do pick and choose what to report. They must. They have a lifetime (sometimes many lifetimes) of material upon which to draw, but they have much less than a lifetime to make sense of it and write it down. What they write will always be an abridgement; it will always reflect a certain point of view.

The internet won't change that, but it does have the potential to add depth and dimension. With thousands of voices "in the cloud" it becomes possible to take a cross section or perform statistical analyses. With a sufficiently large sample, it might be possible to identify laws of history or social dynamics akin to gas laws in physics. At the very least it should be possible to quantify rather precisely what we mean by "signs of the times".

As for personal aspirations, it would be cool to write something... but what? I doubt I have the right stuff to write anything big. I would probably get ten percent of the way into it (a novel or whatever), then wander off fascinated by something new.

Hello, BriarCraft. Good to see you out and about, not only here but alongside the waterfalls of the Columbia gorge.

I like your list. Hula hoops! Slinky! There was always a fad when we were growing up. Yo-yos. Tops. Barbie dolls. Penny loafers. Had to have 'em! The irresistable demands of peer pressure.

Now it's a matter of keeping up with the Joneses. Did we learn anything from all those hours of watching television and flipping through magazines? Did we build up any resistance to marketing? Or are we still helpless kneejerk pawns of Madison Avenue?

The space race is still going, sort of. And it just took a new turn, as commercial enterprises enter the field. Maybe we'll really go this time. We need a new dream. Ever since Y2K we've been aimlessly drifting, because all the prophecies and prognostications timed out then. There are too many disturbing trends, too much bad news. We need a new shared vision, something positive to strive toward, something to believe in and hope for.

Can we build a better world here, or must we travel and try again elsewhere? Space travel would add to our options.

Woo, falling asleep. Must stop now. Mañana.
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3698
16. ycd0108
1:36 AM GMT on June 19, 2012
Bogon:
I was not particularly thoughtful as a youth. I thought it would be an adventure to fly off somewhere with a bunch of weapons and some buddies and raise Hell or die in the process.
I think I posted somewhere about trying to talk the kids I went to school with up here to come with me to Washington State to sign up to go to Vietnam.
Can I say: "Damn Fool"?
Yes I can.
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 178 Comments: 4625
15. shoreacres
12:58 AM GMT on June 19, 2012
Bogon ~ I did indeed take that class. That was one thing that kept me pretty much under the radar for a few weeks. I can't say I'm all that much more knowledgeable, but I've got a bit more vocabulary and a little less techno-fear. Oh - and now I "get" the xckd "binary sudoku" cartoon.

The mention of China reminds me - when I was on the lead high school debate team my senior year ('63-'64) our topic was: Resolved: That China be Granted Admission to the United Nations.

I can't remember now if it was "China" or "Red China". What I do remember is all the research, in real libraries with real 4x6 note cards. I still have my wooden reference card box from those years. Now, I keep recipes in it.
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14. BriarCraft
11:34 PM GMT on June 18, 2012
I was born in 1951, too! No wonder we speak the same language and have many of the same thoughts. Very much enjoyed this entry and will be back to follow various links. It'll be interesting to see how much they coincide with my none-too-dependable recollection of events.

It was good to see Alfred E. Newman again. Long time, no see, Alfred! And I remember Peter Sellers with the hand that he had to continually fight and Slim Pickens riding the bomb down, just before that closing scene video you provided. It does seem as though our lifetimes have seen almost constant warfare and with the elimination of the draft, warfare has become sterile and distant for most of us.

We grew up in turbulent times. There was a lot of unhappiness and discontent, but it wasn't all bad. More and more, as I mellow out and slow down, I find myself focusing on happy memories and profound moments. I'll leave the anger and the protests for the newest batch of teenagers and young adults. I did my fair share of protests: not just anti-war gatherings, but handing out leaflets in support of Cesar Chavez and the grape boycott.

In the spirit of this thoughtful blog, I'd like to share some of my happy memories. Maybe you remember them, too:
Transistor radios
TV Dinners
Hula Hoops
Silly Putty
Slinky
Etch-a-sketch
Legos
A school assembly to listen/watch TV as Alan Shepard became the first American in space on May 5, 1961.

The 50s and 60s were when the middle class really came into its own. Regardless of, or perhaps despite Korea and the Cold War and Vietnam, it was also a time of personal optimism and national pride. Unions were strong and even blue collar working stiffs could support their families with good-paying jobs. The interstate highway system was built and motels and burger joints came into being.

We had the space race, which not only fanned national pride but gave us things like Corning Ware and plastics and teflon and velcro and Tang.

While technology advances faster and faster, it doesn't seem that there have been that many new things in the last 20 years, especially as compared to what the Space Race gave us. Computers and cell phones have gotten better, along with a lot of other things. But what was the last, most recent Next New Thing? Was it portable personal computers? Compact data storage ala CDs and DVDs and memory cards?

Thanks for winding me up and turning me loose, and indulging me in a little blog-hogging down memory lane.
Member Since: June 21, 2004 Posts: 80 Comments: 4043
13. Barefootontherocks
8:33 PM GMT on June 18, 2012
Hi Bogon,
Just read this blog and the previous installment. Promised I'd stop by and I'm glad I did. Wow.

Among my earliest conscious memories of watching that black and white TV (U.S. news reports, fwtw)

The sputnik satellite

Nikita Krushchev at the UN
including excerpts from speeches by Dag Hammarskjold and Jawaharlal Nehru.

A blend happened in 50 years of Boomer memory which might not have been visualized by anyone in 1960.
2012: China a leading economic power. Space exploration at a near standstill. A new brand of potential extinction for the human race.

You talked a while back about history and (what I gleaned anyway was) how historians can pick and choose what's recorded for future generations. Computers and the internet add an X factor because anyone can put history out as "verity according to Garp." 'Course maybe it was always that way and the only difference in the "Information Age" is worldwide access to the thoughts of many more true, and wannabe, historians.

Maybe you have no such aspiration, but somehow I envision you retiring to your NC mountain and writing something really great. Generational fiction, maybe, that includes your perspective on history.

Love the metaphoric fractals and pink polka dots. Been seeing leaves as fractals for some years now. lol

Also on the warm side here this week, but rightfully so. July's not even two weeks away. The breeze, well I should say the Oklahoma warm wind, makes life outdoors not just bearable but comfortable.
Member Since: April 29, 2006 Posts: 154 Comments: 18624
12. Bogon
3:47 PM GMT on June 17, 2012
Howdy, y'all.

The Dry Slot is slowly growing dryer. I'm not complaining, because the long daily sunshine is accompanied by a cool north wind. I don't know how long it can keep this up. I'm loath to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Cool weather in June encourages speculation: might we get a temporary reprieve from global warming? Could there be one more cool, short summer? Any day now I expect sultry heat to roll into town, and that for months thereafter I shall be condemned to sweat and swat whenever I venture outdoors.

Shore - I didn't consciously time this entry to coincide with Father's Day. It could have been unconscious, though. One's mind sometimes works in mysterious ways.

When it works at all, that is. Your mind has certainly been busy. :o) I can tell by the rate at which your blogs update. Did you ever take that on-line programming course you were considering? You might find yourself giving the WP techies regular assistance.

Scuttlebutt, omens and portents all agree that your part of Texas may become a destination for errant tropical moisture within the next several days. That's the good news. We all know the bad news, which is that tropical systems are wont to bust droughts with immoderate enthusiasm. Once again I'll avoid intimate inspection of the equine's dentition, for fear that he might bolt and not return.

ycd - Many moons have passed since I parted the pages of MAD or even met the lopsided gaze of Alfred E. Neuman on the cover. Like you, I wasn't sure the magazine was still published. The first issue appeared in 1952. Would it still be recognizable after all this time? Could I still stifle a moronic snort while poring over "Spy vs. Spy"?

Maybe not. After briefly sampling the fare on YouTube, I was forced to conclude that a little bit goes a long way.

I don't suppose it matters. The magazine was iconic during the period when I passed through adolescence and was therefore situated squarely within its target demographic. The wiki says that was also the era when the publication reached its greatest circulation. Whoever writes it, buys it or reads it nowadays — I reckon it must be a whole new passel of people, and I wish them well. Maybe I should drive down to the mall and pick up an issue for Auld Lang Syne.

I suspect that a lot of MAD's current subscribers will not remember the draft. I was lucky. My birth date drew a high number (249) in the lottery. Funny how that number sticks in my mind all these years later.

Those ‘random’ numbers changed a lot of lives. What would I have done if things had turned out differently? If my number had come up snake eyes, would I have been brave enough, for example, to go to Canada or join the Peace Corps? Or would I have been stupid enough to go get my ass shot off in Southeast Asia? To this day I cannot answer that question.

Later, when I dropped out of school, I joined the Air Force to, you know, get the heck out of my parents' home. By then the war was over. I judged it was relatively safe. Given the antiwar tenor of the times, the United States was less likely to suffer a military spasm then than at any time since.

It's a different world now. Now we have an all-volunteer army. People are less likely to protest against brushfire wars, because such wars have become traditional background noise in America, and because most people don't have to confront life-wrenching decisions over whether to fight or flee. By the turn of the century enough time had passed that President Bush figured it was okay to initiate two wars at once. Hardly anyone batted an eye. It was all part of Dubya's Great Patriotic War on Tur.

The framers of the Constitution never envisioned that their new nation would support a professional standing army. Indeed, they warned against it. They spoke of a citizen militia, members of which would always face that life-wrenching decision before picking up a musket. The reason we have so many wars today is that war is big business. God forbid that we should interfere with the machinations of the “free market”.

Prose - Thanks for dropping by. Is that bee balm?
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11. Proserpina
12:09 PM GMT on June 17, 2012
Photobucket

Wishing you a Happy Father's Day.
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10. ycd0108
6:13 PM GMT on June 16, 2012
Mad magazine is still in print!
I saw a copy at the grocery checkout yesterday.
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 178 Comments: 4625
9. shoreacres
5:45 PM GMT on June 16, 2012
Nice entry. I agree with GG - it's also a good father's day post. Since my dad's been gone for over thirty years, I don't exactly miss him when the day rolls around, but I do think of him. Gratefully, as a matter of fact.

Yesterday was the day I discovered there's such a thing as an "error log". Wordpress had been having quite a time with an annoying glitch. The natives were restless, and there was lots of forum chatter. When a fellow found a workaround, I tried it. It worked, but if you refreshed the page it didn't hold.

I happened to post that on a forum thread, and the next thing I know I've got an email from the WP techies, saying it looked like a clue and could I please send along a screen cap of my error log. I told them I'd be pleased to do so, but where could I find it?

Well, I found it and sent it along, and within a couple of hours the bug was debugged and I had a nice thank you note. My goodness. This only proves that even the ignorant have their role, sometimes!

What's really exciting is thunder and showers. It's not much, so far, but it's wet. We're happy.
Member Since: October 4, 2004 Posts: 205 Comments: 15288
8. ycd0108
5:34 PM GMT on June 16, 2012
Morning Bogon:
Good music but I can not watch the images. The Vietnam War was a big deal for us as well: at least half of my circle then and still were U.S. citizens who chose to cross the border at that time.
In a way the conditions of that time enriched my experience by inserting many special people in to my life.
Yes, some were "Dodgers" and some were "Deserters" some came so their children would not be drafted. Their stories are very much a part of my life, as is the music of the time.
Just brought two younguns from Oregon who are connected to the earlier influx here last night and I'm waiting for them to arise so we can wander off and pick up some wood or help a buddy tear off some stucco or whatever we get up to today.
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 178 Comments: 4625
7. Bogon
12:55 PM GMT on June 16, 2012
The Vietnam War was a big deal to my generation. I wonder what effect the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will have on the young people of today?

Here's a reasonable substitute for CCR above.

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About Bogon

Unemployed software engineer. "What is that?", you may ask. It's someone who has time to blog about the weather...