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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Some Observations About Time On Earth

I was born to 'older' parents.  My father was born in 1902 and my mother in 1912.  As far as I can determine my maternal grandfather was born sometime around 1882.  My ancestry is one generation before that of my age group peers.

I suppose that may have had a great deal to do with the way my childhood unfolded.  But, I've written about those things in earlier postings.  This is not about my own trials and travails but about the course of progress of humanity in my time on this earth.

My father was born in 1902 and my mother in 1912.  Think about that.  My father came into this world in the year before the Wright brothers famous first heavier than air flight.  He passed away in 1992 at age 90.  Imagine all the changes he saw in his lifetime.

In his 90 years he lived from the time man had never flown except in lighter than air craft.  He died after he saw World War I, served in World war II and served in the time of the Korean War though he was never sent to Korea.

He lived through the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, Neil Armstrong's first step of mankind on our moon in 1969.  He watched the TV coverage of the first Gulf War.  He saw so many things his and my children only know as far off events in a boring, history class.

It has made me often wonder about myself.  Would I ever witness such leaps forward for mankind.
From pre heavier than air flight to the explorations of our solar system.  Those changes were so dramatic it seemed nothing would be so weighty in my life time.

I was born at the tail end of 1953.  I was born to "older" parents.  The kids of my age were a whole generation younger than me.  That might seem a small thing because they were still my same age but it was.  I was never completely comfortable with kids of my own age and much more comfortable with their parents.  This lack of "fitting in" had quite a few, long lasting effect on my emotional development but that is a completely different story.

Reviewing, in my mind, all the things my father witnessed, and, with a view my life did not see the same kind of historic events and changes, I have now revised my perspective.  Though the events my father lived through were more popularly dramatic than the events of my life, so far,

At the time I never thought of things as "historic" the same as today's youth will not think of the events of today as "historic".  Historic events are decided by historians living in the future and looking back on our time.

Some of my memories include the assassination of President Kennedy, Neil Armstrong's first human steps on our moon.  The first and second war in Iraq, the attack with destroyed the "twin towers" in NY, the second (and unnecessary) Iraq war,   I saw the war in Afghanistan, which was maybe justified but horribly mismanaged.    I saw the great housing bubble which resulted in the worst depression since the great depression which started in 1929.

Right now things are going on which will be history to my grandchildren and their descendants  Some of those include such things as a more detailed exploration of our own solar system.  Advances in detecting and understanding exra-solar planets.  When I grew up that seemed something our of science fiction.

We are sending robotic explorers to Mars, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and finding conditions which might allow for life beyond earth.    I have lived from paper and pencil to I-Pads and school kids not even learning to write in cursive.

I lived in a time when advanced science classes did not even allow a square rule to a time when use of a computer is universally accepted.  Even  when I attended school to become a computer programmer no one could even come close to imagining computers as they are today.  What do we fail to envision which will be computers of tomorrow?

Along about the time I was in the fourth grade I discovered Science Fiction in the works of Asaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlien, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Silverberg,  Clifford D. Simak, Andre Norton and a multitude of others.  It changed my personal world.

Because I grew up as a social outcast I relied on my books for my friends.  I think they were much better friends than the people I grew up with and around.  Those people seemed anchored in the present time and location.  My books let me live from pre-history to an a time so far in the future it was not really imaginable.  I lived in the ancient world of the Greeks, Romans, Etruscans and many others.  I experienced history from the perspective of the Bible as well as that of archaeology and a purely scientific look at the past.

To me, books are the most magical of all things.  They are time machines, star ships, transportation to everywhere, every when and all things withing the scope of human imagination.  I developed, not just an appreciation, but a love of the written word.  Not just the English language but all writings from the earliest examples of written information historians have yet discovered.

I've lived through the Trojan War, the settlement of far off planet in unseen stars, times before history was even written down.  I've lived in worlds where magic was a fact of live,  not just humans bur Dwarves, Elves and other mythological creatures were real.

But in the physical, "real" world, I have seen things proceed from a time when cancer was a 100% death sentence to a time where a lot of cancers are, if not curable, at least having treatments slow it way down.

So many things I've lived through I don't even think about which my children, grand children and beyond will go to sleep in class while their teacher drones on in  a monotone about things they feel have no bearing  on their own lives.

I think I am fortunate I have always had a love for the written word, but also, a love for history.  I am just as happy living in Troy, ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire and other time far in our past as I am in today's world.  Maybe more happy.

My first great love was Nefertiti when I saw a photo of her bust in the Encyclopedia Britannica back in the fourth grade.  I've stood with the Greeks at Thermopylae, explored the wilderness which was early America, explored the moon and distant solar systems.

I've seen things which were only fiction in my youth become today's reality. I deeply desire to see what happens tomorrow and the day after.

I think that is my only real regret with mortality.  My own death means little to me.  Everyone dies.  What means the most is all the wonders of the future I will not see.

A lot of people do not see the wonderful time in which we are living.  The advances in medical technology (though opposed by the big pharmaceutical companies which make money only for treating symptoms rather than developing cures); the developments in methods to locate extraterrestrial worlds which might even evolve into finding other worlds where live exists.

Advances in quantum theory which may develop computers of unimaginable power; breakthroughs in physics which may someday lead to an ability to cheat the light speed limit and allow us to eplore and settle far off worlds.

The lifetimes of my parents saw many amazing and historic events.  My own lifetime has seen more.  The lifetime of my children and grandchildren will see wonders which were only things of fiction in my lifetime.

I envy that.

That is my one big regret in a limited lifetime.  I will miss all those things.  I hate it.

Monday, December 28, 2015

VanHoose's Devil Worshiping music

A good many years ago, back in the late 1980's I worked as a "night writer" at the Separation/Transition Point at Ft. Jackson, SC.   We worked nights writing the separation papers for soldiers getting discharged the next day.

I had a "boom box" with earphones and duo cassette players I listened to all night.  I can recall one night one of the NCOs said everyone else has let us listen to their music, what do you listen to?  So, I just pulled the earphones out and let it go.  From then on it was just VanHoose's Devil Worship music.

It is not Devil Worship music at all but it is about 100 times better than some of the explicitly non-devil worshiping music.

"Paranoid" by Black Sabbath.

"Iron Man" by Black Sabbath

"Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin

"Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd

While it is definitely not "Devil  Worshiping" music it does tend to reflect some of my attitude toward our world and all the people who have wrenched control away from the citizens in  favor of the wealthy elite.

But that was a long time ago.  Now, I'm still an uncooperative prick in the eyes of some because I don't buy of on the BS presented to us by  our politicians.  And, that is fine.  When I die I'd rather it be as a rebel for a good cause as opposed to a good, little sheep, just waiting on the axe.  It is ok if they harvest my wool but when they come for my chops it has gone too far.  Seems our politicians want our chops for their elite slave masters  these days.

Well eff them.  I'll just rely on my history of Devil Music and rebellion.  When I start kowtowing to the Political establishment it is time to start shoveling dirt in my face because all that is really  me has died no matter what the body is still doing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Black Walnuts

Back almost a half century ago I can recall us going out to feed sacks full of black walnuts  from the many walnut trees in the area.  It was a job to hull them as the thick, soft, outer hull contained the black walnut stain.

No matter how much care one took by the time all the walnuts were hulled we were all stained walnuts up to our wrists.   Those stains were pretty much permanent and would only disappear once the skin had been replaced.

I can recall one or two years when after we had gathered all the sacks full of walnuts, my brother would park the car near our grandparent's old coal house.  Then he'd jack up the rear, right side (drive wheel) , start the care an put it in gear to leave the wheel which was off the ground spinning.  Then the adults (I was much too young then, surprising as it may seem now) would toss walnuts in front of the spinning tire and it would strip off the outer shell.

Then we'd carry all the hulled walnuts to put in my grandparent's old, steamer trunk.  Memory fails me now, but I think they must have had two of those old trunks.  One was left on the front porch to be filled with coal from the coal house on a regular basis.  If I remember correctly my grandfather paid me $2.00 a week to keep it filled.

But there was another trunk upstairs in the attic where the walnuts were stored.  My grandfather had an oblong piece of metal which we used to crack the  nuts on.  It seemed so large to me at the time but looking back it could not have been all that large.  At a guess with failing memory it might have been 3/4 inch thick, 2 inches wide and 4-6 inches in length.

I can readily recall sitting in front of the pot bellied stove in the living room/bedroom with that piece of steel on my lap and with a hammer cracking those walnuts and gobbling up the nut meats.

It is one of the great mysteries of aging, but I can clearly recall things which happened over a half century ago far better than I can recall things which happened last year, last month, last week or yesterday.  It always puzzled me when my parents and grandparents talked about this phenomena as well as the experience of time passing at an ever increasing speed.
Now, I'm quite old enough to understand what they were talking about.  And it is very true.  My days, weeks, months, years slip by so quickly I just can't keep up.  Still, I have so many memories from the time I was around two years old up until just a few years ago.

I don't know why I'm so nostalgic about black walnuts since they always gave me "fever blisters".

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Brown Eggs

This morning I was making an omelette for breakfast when I got the eggs out of the refrigerator.  Organic, brown eggs.  Organic is mostly because of my wife though I do agree with only buying "free range", "cage free" eggs.  But the brown eggs are my choice.  Why?  Just my childhood.  See, I do understand the color of the eggshells have more to do with the color of the hen's ears than anything else and all color chicken eggs are equal nutritionally.  But, my parents preferred brown eggs so I do also.  Nothing to do with any real positive for brown eggs.  Just something unconsciously learned from my childhood.

Made me wonder just how many things I do which really does not make any sense but are just things I learned in childhood and I choose because it is "comfortable"?  I got to thinking about it and find maybe I don't really have that many things I do just because "that is how I grew up".  But "how I grew up" makes some things "normal" and "best".  No matter what nutritionists say.

Like, no breakfast is complete without bacon.  But the best breakfasts have bacon, sausage and ham.  That is what my grandparents had every morning.  Eggs are best "over medium" so I can melt butter in the yolk before eating.  That was leaned from my now deceased brother-in-law, Homer.  Still the only way I want to eat eggs.

Redeye gravy.... different things different people consider redeye gravy.  Most think it needs coffee.  My grandmother must made it by putting water in the pan where the ham was fried and "degassed" it so the water turned red with ham fat.  Put regular gravy over my eggs and crumbled bacon then a couple of spoons of "redeye" gravy on that...  Yum!

I thing there are things we learn as children we don't even think about later in life.  What we had as children is just the "way it should be".  Even today at age sixty-one breakfast is just not breakfast without "over-medium" eggs, bacon and either biscuits (my preference) or toast (a surrender to my waistline).  Some Fridays I still have to have gravy and biscuits with my breakfast.  Generally makes me sick but it is still worth it going down no matter how much it hurts coming back up.  :-)

Just kind of amazing how many things in our lives are determined by how we lived out lives while our ages were still in single digits.  Looking back now I can see so much of my thoughts, views, beliefs were "set in stone" while I was still quite young.  Thing is, I'm also sure those things were NOT what either of my parents were trying to beat into my head from the other end.

Friday, June 19, 2015

At the Bottom Looking Down

Looking Down From the Bottom

Today is a day I don’t want to last
Nothing I can do about present or past
Always these memories keep coming ‘round
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down.

Tomorrow may be different; I really don’t care
For better or worse I know how I’ll fare
How much longer can I stay above ground
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down

At night I don’t sleep; Just lie in the night
Wondering if it’s worth it to keep up the fight
I’m a stray dog on my last day in the pound
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down

I used to love reading; Now they’re just words
I used to love Robins: Now they’re just birds
I used to love music:  Now they’re just sounds
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wood Smoke and Ice Cream

The past few days I've been thinking about little things.  Things like the smell of wood smoke from a small campfire or a raging forest fire.  Wood smoke brings in images of late summer and early autumn when the leaves are dry and forest fires prevalent.  Also, of times I've been alone or with others and built up a fire under a rock cliff.  Sometimes it was to keep warm.  Sometimes it was just because I like fires.

This particular memory is when two of my cousins, Skip and Steve and myself walked through the snow  over to a small store just across the county line.  It was just a tiny, old building.  It did not have much but it did have a freezer with ice cream.  This particular time we each bought a half gallon of ice cream.  I don't even remember the flavors.

In the cold and snow we plodded back toward home but about half way there we cut over the hill and made our way through a half frozen, swampy area and up Rush Fork until we came to a nice sized rock cliff on the left side of the creek.  That area always had a distinctive smell because there was a sulfur spring on the upper end of the cliff which oozed into the creek and left long, yellow trails.

We all gathered wood from around the area and build up a roaring fire under the cliff.  Each of us opened our carton of ice cream and, bending one of the flaps into a "spoon" we each dug in.

I do not know for sure how old I would have been then.  No more than twelve I think.  I think that because after we ate all that ice cream they went home and I went to my grandparent's house.  Since we moved back to that area when I was thirteen and I did not go home I'm thinking twelve or a little younger.

Steve was about a year younger and Skip was a few years older.  I don't know what we talked about or how long we stayed there under that rock cliff by the fire but it was long enough for each of us to consume all of our half gallon of ice cream completely.  Quite an accomplishment for being so young.

And as I recall, none of us got sick from all that ice cream.  Little things like that are what we remember most.  The big things are there but they are always there.  A smell, an object or a sound can trigger the memory to recall some small thing.  Those are the kind of things I remember when I smell wood smoke.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Shhhh, Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet. I'm Hunting Weality

Paraphrasing one of the great intellectuals of our time, Elmer Fudd in the title.  It seems the search for reality is as doomed to failure and frustration as Elmer's search for that "Wascilly Wabbit".  It is simple enough to look around us and take what we see as the pure and simple reality but is that really the case?

It has been proven the the mere act of observation can alter reality at the Quantum level.  Light for instance acts both as a particle and as a wave.  It just depends on how the observer measures it.  Electrons act the same way.  Unobserved they act as a wave but "look" at them and they start acting as a particle.  So, if reality can be changed at the quantum level merely by the act of observation just how "real" is the "reality" we think we see?

There is also another part of Quantum Theory which states the belief the universe needs a conscious observer in order to exist.  To me that raises a very interesting question.  See, the universe is something on he order of thirteen billion years old.  Our dear, back water planet Earth is only around four billion years old and  what we could consider a being capable of conscious observation would only be several hundred million years old.  Given one is willing to accept the dinosaurs and their predecessors were conscious observers.

That raises the question of who was observing the universe for those intervening eight to eleven billion years?  Someone or something conscious had to be in order for the universe to exist according to that theory and it assuredly was not mankind or any of his/her predecessors on earth.

Given the millions and billions of years it took for even the first starts and planets to form let alone any conscious life on those planets this universe had to exist for an awfully long time without any internal conscious observers.  Would that not imply there were one or more external conscious observers?  Someone or something (singular or plural) outside what we know as the universe who had to exist in order for the universe to come into being?

To me this thought has all sorts of implications.  While I do not believe at all in any human created deity or pantheon it does lead one to speculate if there is not really a creator of our universe.  No, not the Semitic War God YWEH/Jehovah or his peace loving hippy of an abused 'son' or Osiris and his brethren and sisteren(? Is that even a word?) or any other of the human creations used to explain a world beyond our understanding that does not preclude the possibility the universe we live in did have a creator.

For 'god' did not create man in his own image but just the reverse.  Man created all gods in our own image and imbued them with all our human characteristics good, bad and indifferent.  Love, hate, intolerance and lust.  Oh, lots and lots of lust.  One thing you can say about our gods they do love a good sex life.  The kinkier the better it seems.  Just like us with all our nobleness and failings.  Really nothing god-like about our gods.

So, just leave all the human imagined rulers of the universe out of the equation.  Forget the invisible big Daddy in the sky who loves us all like the chronically abused children we are.  Think about the big picture.  Think back to those billions and billions of years before humanity started imagining supernatural beings to explain the weather and other, at the time, inexplicable events.

If the human created gods were not around to observer the universe from pre-creation who or what conscious entity or entities were?  Are we the product of some super being's science experiment?  Perhaps for some doctoral thesis at Pharoutthar U.  Perhaps just a complex super computer simulation?  Maybe just a hobby universe given to some kid who got tired of playing with it and left us ignored or just grew up and tossed us in the attic?

Maybe there are space aliens from other starts visiting earth after all.  I mean how much effort would it take for Mr (or Ms... can't be gender biased when contemplating super beings)Super-being to just "drag and drop" beings from one star onto another?  Or maybe just create them on a whim to see what would happen?

I wonder what Mr Spock would make of all this?