Monthly Archives: March 2016

Liz and EmmaSwap DayMy niece, Elizabeth Masterson is a journalism teacher at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Wyoming. She also takes all the photos for, and designs the yearbook every year. Her photographs have given her so many opportunities over the years. She now has her own photography buisness and she takes senior pictures, wedding pictures, as well as pregnancy photos and family photos. She catches action photos in sports in such and interesting way. You feel like you are standing right there with her. There is a lot to be said for having a talent that people find out about. Her photography sessions have steadily increased, which is very nice for her.

Liz is a teacher, but she is not your typical teacher. Liz is also a friend to many of her students. She has friends from probably every year she has been a teacher. Her students judt don’t go away after high school. They keep in touch. I have run into a couple of my teachers over the years…even favorite teachers, but they are aquaintances now, not friends that I stay in touch with or do things with. Not so Liz…but then, she is not your typical teacher. Liz participates in things with the students, like swap day, when two of her students decided to come looking like her, and so she came to school dressed like them.

Liz doesn’t mind getting dirty when the situation warrants it either. When the 5K Mud Run event was going on, she got on a team, and got a whole lot dirtier than I ever would have. I suppose it might be fun, but then, I simply can’t imagine being covered with mud, so…maybe not. Nevertheless, Liz had no issue with it, and I think that’s very cool.

Liz is all about family. She is very close to her mom and her siblings. She spends a lot of time with them, and photographs them often. Her pictures have helped me with my stories more than once. As to her own little family, well Liz is mom to four babies…pet babies that is. She has 3 cute little dogs, and a cat who lets everyone else know that she is the boss. The dogs never stood a chance agains the cat…I mean, she has claws, The BabiesDirty Girland she will use them. So they have learned to get along and so has she, but she doesn’t put up with any guff from those dogs. Liz is the typical mom to her babies, even to the point of not wanting them to spend too much time alone, so sometimes, they go to the babysitter’s, ie Grandma’s House. My sister, Cheryl has adapted herself to having mulitple pets, or should I say multiple additional pets, at her house from time to time, because Liz is a big softie when it comes to her pets…whether she admits it or not. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageThere is an old saying, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.” If that’s the case, then one must assume that the opposite is also true. And in the case of March, 2016…the opposite would definitely be the case. Bob and I were married on March first, and so we go to Thermopolis around that time to celebrate our anniversary. This year was absolutely beautiful!! It was warm with no snow, and our quiet little walks were just lovely. The groundhog had predicted an early Spring this year…and unusual prediction for him, so I was feeling very optimistic about the remainder of the Winter…or the lack thereof. Now it’s not that I’m superstitious, and I don’t believe that these predictions are superstition anyway, but rather God’s way of showing us little signs of His plans for the future. He tells the animals things that humans just don’t hear, like telling the geese when to fly south or to head north. We humans have somehow become so scientific that we fail to listen to the signs from God.

Of course, the scientists would say that they are able to predict the weather too, and perhaps they do listen to the signs of God, whether they admit that is what they are doing or not. Still, I find it odd that things like the groundhog not seeing his shadow on February 2nd, or the way March makes it’s annual entrance, can have such an impact of the weather over the next month or so, but they do nevertheless. One thing that many of us have come to look for is the time when the geese fly south. If they head out early, we have a pretty good idea that Winter will soon follow, but if the stay around into late fall, things could be very different for the Winter. They simply have been told that there is no hurry to leave. It is maybe the one sign from God that we humans have noticed over the years.

Be that as it may, we have arrived at the end of March in Wyoming. Enter Winter Storm Troy!! This Winter has been a relatively easy one, even though, the snow that fell in mid-December, didn’t leave the streets until mid-February. Nevertheless, I am pretty much over Winter after the first snow of the season, so I was looking forward to an early Spring. Now, with the end of March upon us, it decides to follow the old saying, and go out imagelike a lion…since it came in like a lamb. That said, we are sitting here in Wyoming with about sixteen inches of snow on the ground, many businesses closed, and schools that would be…were it not for Spring Break. This storm is not supposed to hang around very long, but those unfortunate people in its path could get anywhere from 1″ to 47″ of the white stuff. I certainly hope we are not on the 47″ end of that scale. The snow is expected to continue through tonight and finally heading out around 6pm tomorrow. After that, look out, because when the temperatures heat up to the low fifties by Sunday, all this snow is going to melt, and become…a whole lot of water. I guess that is the April Fools Day joke in all of this weather prediction process.

Lift Bridge at Minnesota Point, Duluth, MinnesotaBecause I was born in Superior, Wisconsin, located at the tip of Lake Superior, and across the bridge from Duluth, Minnesota, I am interested in all things that have to do with that area. My family moved to Casper, Wyoming when I was three, so I was not raised in that area, but somehow, it is in my blood. I will always have roots I can feel there. We still have a large number of family members there, and we continue to get to know them more and more due to a trip back there, and continued connections on Facebook. For that family we are very grateful, because they are all amazing.

As I said, I love the area around Lake Superior, and the shipping business that comes through there is an amazing thing to watch. In order for shipping to thrive on Lake Superior, they had to have a way to get the big oar boats and other large ships into the port. In 1892, a contest was held to find a solution for the transportation needs to go from Minnesota Point to the other side of the canal that was dug in 1871. a man named John Low Waddell came up with the winning design for a high rise vertical lift bridge. The city of Duluth was eager to build the bridge, but the War Department didn’t like the design, and so the project was cancelled before it started. It really was an unfortunate mistake.

IMG_3700Later, new plans were drawn up for a structure that would ferry people from one side to the other. This one was designed by Thomas McGilvray, a city engineer. That structure was finished in 1905. The gondola had a capacity of 60 tons and was able to carry 350 people, plus wagons, streetcars, and automobiles. The trip across took about a minutes and the ferry crossed once every five minutes, but as the population grew, the demand for a better way across grew too. They would have to rethink the situation, and amazingly, he firm finally commissioned with designing the new bridge was the descendant of Waddell’s company…the original design winner. The new design, which closely resembles the 1892 concept, is attributed to C.A.P. Turner. I guess they should have used that design in the first place, and it might have saved a lot of money.

Construction began in 1929. They knew that they had to be able to accommodate the tall ships that would pass through. In the new design, the roadway simply lifted in the middle, and after the ship went through it lowered IMG_3750again, becoming a bridge for cars. The design is amazing, and grabs the attention of thousands of people on a regular basis. The new bridge first lifted for a vessel on March 29, 1930. Raising the bridge to its full height of 135 feet takes about a minute. The bridge is raised approximately 5,000 times per year. The bridge span is about 390 feet. As ships pass, there is a customary horn blowing sequence that is copied back. The bridge’s “horn” is actually made up of two Westinghouse Airbrake locomotive horns. Long-short-long-short means to raise the bridge, and Long-short-short is a friendly salute. The onlookers love it, and the crews often wave as well. It is like a parade of ships on a daily basis, and probably the reason that the bridge is so often the subject of pictures of the area. Happy 86th Anniversary to the Duluth Lift Bridge.

Caryn, Corrie, & Amy at Beartooth Pass abt 1980As a young mother of two daughters, both under 4, there were days when the world seemed a scary place. March 28, 1979 was one of those days. At 4am that March morning, an event took place that changed the way we felt about nuclear power. Suddenly, it became just a little bit dangerous. We were used to power plants, and they had never seemed like anything that could cause great harm. All that changed on March 28, 1979, when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at Three Mile Island failed to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation, drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to dangerously overheat. It was the worst accident in the history of the United States nuclear power industry.

The place was the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. It was built in 1974 on a sandbar on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, just 10 miles downstream from the state capitol in Harrisburg. The second reactor began operating in 1978, and the plant was given rave reviews for generating affordable and reliable energy in a time of energy crisis. Then came disaster. A broken pressure valve started leaking the cooling water, and the emergency cooling pumps automatically went into operation. This process would have taken care of the problem, if not for human intervention. The operators misread the confusing and contradictory readings, and shut down the emergency water system. The reactor was also shut down, but residual heat from the fission process was still being released. The next morning, the core temperature was over 4,000 degrees, just 1,000 degrees short of meltdown. Had a meltdown occurred, deadly radiation would have drifted across the countryside, fatally sickening a potentially great number of people. The plant operators struggled to understand what had happened, while contaminated water was releasing radioactive gases throughout the plant. The radiation levels, were not immediately life threatening to the plant imageworkers, but they were dangerous. The core continued to cook as the contaminated water was contained and precautions were taken to protect the operators.

Then, about 8am the news leaked to the outside world. The company tried to sugar coat it as much as they could, saying that no one outside the plant was in danger, but when it was discovered that at least a small amount of radiation had leaked to the area, the governor told people to stay in doors as a precaution. The reality was sinking in. This wasn’t as benign as they had tried to make it seem. In the end, I suppose the damage wasn’t great, but it could have been, and I recall feeling just a little less safe.

Amanda & SeanMy niece, Amanda Reed, my brother-in-law, Mike Reed’s daughter is living her version of the dream. She and her family bought a house a little over a year ago, and they have spent the last year fixing it up to be exactly what they want. It’s been a wonderful experience for them, but this year, Amanda got a bug bite. No, she wasn’t bitten by some strange kind of insect, but rather by the need to buy a Volkswagen Beetle. I can understand that bite. I thought I wanted a Volkswagen Beetle once. My best friend had one, and we had some great times in that car. In the end, I got what my dad deemed a family car, and I was too excited about having my own car to be upset about it for long. Nevertheless, I do remember the fun times we had in a Volkswagen Beetle. With Amanda…once the bug bit her, she had to have a Bug. This year, her dream of owning a Volkswagen Beetle came true, when they bought her cute little Bug. image

Of course, you can’t always be on land. Amanda and her family love being on the water, and this year, they will be getting lots of that when they go on their first cruise. My sister, Caryl and brother-in-law, Mike are taking their whole family on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas and Key West. I love to go on cruises, and I remember my first cruise. It was amazing. I know that for Amanda and her family, this is an exciting time. There really is nothing better than getting the whole family together for a vacation, where you can just enjoy each other’s company and relax. I hope they have a wonderful cruise, and that it is a trip they will never forget.

In deepAmanda and her family love all kinds of sports. They spend a lot of time at the lake in the summer, but in the winter, they have another way to get in deep. Deep in the snow, that is. The have snowmobiles, and snow motorcycles, and sometimes those items get buried in the deep snow. The only thing left to do is dig them out. Thankfully they have good friends that go along on these excursions, and everybody gets in there to get the unit out of the deep snow. Now personally, I think they might be just a little bit crazy, but then they didn’t ask me, and I suppose that since I’ve never tried it, I should hold my opinion until I can make a more informed judgment…like that will ever happen. As long as they like it, I say to each his own. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Hitler 1When we look at the reasons that the United States entered World War II, we think of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and we would be correct, but there was another dictator who committed so many atrocities during and before World War II, that it seems to me inevitable that we would have had to make that decision sooner or later. Adolf Hitler was a German politician, the leader of the Nazi Party, elected Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and Führer, or leader of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. One of his worst acts as Führer of Nazi Germany, was when he initiated World War II in Europe with the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the worst act was, of course, the Holocaust.

During the Holocaust, an insane Hitler, decided that the Jewish people were Untermenschen, or sub-human and socially undesirable, and determined in his heart to kill them. His first move in that direction was to begin rounding them up and placing them in prison camps. And one of the worst was Auschwitz. For a time, Hitler only placed the men in Auschwitz, but then on March 26, 1942, the first women prisoners arrived at Auschwitz. AuschwitzOf course, Hitler’s intent was always to put the prisoners to death, but he decided to use them in whatever capacity he felt necessary and useful, before the time came to kill them. Since he considered the sub-human, he felt no guilt making them slaves. The prisoners were forced to work long hours, and were also used for medical experimentation. When the prisoners entered the camp, they were strip searched, male and female alike, and forced to stand naked in front of the guards during that time. It didn’t matter how cold they were. They did not count in the eyes of the Germans, because they were Untermenschen…sub-human. As a woman, I can only imagine how these first female prisoners must have felt. They were already very much aware that the Germans did not respect their race, so why would they feel differently about the fact that they were women. It would have been a very scary time. I’m sure they did not know if they would be raped and then killed, or what would happen to them. Their entry into the prison camp had already proven that they were nothing in the eyes of their captors.

July plotBetween 1939 and 1945, there were many plans to try to assassinate Hitler. The most well known, Operation Valkyrie, which came from within Germany and was at least partly driven by the increasing prospect of a German defeat in the war. On July 20, 1944, Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in one of Hitler’s headquarters…known as the Wolf’s Lair at Rustenburg. Hitler survived because staff officer Heinz Brandt moved the briefcase containing the bomb behind a leg of the heavy conference table. When the bomb exploded, the table deflected much of the blast. Later, Hitler ordered savage reprisals resulting in the execution of more than 4,900 people. In the end, he would take his own life, in an effort not to be taken alive. Not a bad thing if you ask me, because the world is truly well rid of him.

Caryn watching televisionTelevision was invented by a 21 year old man named Philo Taylor Farnsworth, and first successfully demonstrated in San Francisco on Sept. 7, 1927. It’s odd to think that my dad, Allen Spencer lived both before the invention of television and after it. I suppose that isn’t so very odd, because I have lived before and after the cell phone, and that doesn’t seem strange to me at all, so I suppose it didn’t seem strange to my dad either. Then, on March 25, 1954…just a month and a half before my sister, Cheryl Masterson was born, RCA announced that it had begun producing the first color television sets in its Bloomington, Indiana plant.

I’m sure it was a while before most homes made the move to color televisions, and RCA-CTC162-ColorTVthen, of course, there was the wait for shows to be filmed in color. I know that I remember watching a black and white television, and I’m sure most people my age can say the same. The current generation would have no idea what it was like to watch a black and white television, or an early color television. They have seen everything from HD television, to cell phones with television, as well as tablets. The old televisions would seem completely antiquated…and in reality, my generation would look at them that way too. It amazes me just how quickly we get used to new technology, and it amazes me just how long people will hold on to the old stuff before making the transition too. I suppose some think that if it isn’t broken, there is no reason to replace it just yet, but others simply wait until the see how well this new fangled gadget is going to work, or if it’s around very long. So many fads come and go, and are never New TVsheard from again. Others, like televisions, cell phones, and computers are here to stay.

Television sets have gone from average size to ultra big, to ultra small, and everything in between. Of course, as we all know, the television has continues to improve in color and clarity too. Sometimes I think the color is almost better than real life…if that’s possible. With new abilities in editing, color can be enhanced to amazing levels. I’m sure that there are some people who would think enhanced color is not a good thing, and sometimes…if it seems completely outlandish, I would have to agree, but when it comes to watching television, I think they do a pretty good job, and I can’t imagine going back to a black and white television.

1901177_1471143999768586_1314387885_nThere comes a time in every child’s life, when they hit that magical age…the age when they can drive by themselves. For my nephew, Weston Moore, that day has arrived. Of course, each child has to pass the driving test, and most of them do. They are so anxious to be independent, that they study as hard as they can, because they want that license. Having your own license means that you don’t have to be driven around by your parents anymore. It means that you can get a job and have your own money. It means that when you take a girl on a date, you can drive. Of course, it also means that your parents will ask you to drive your younger brother around, or go to the store, or 11892064_973495936035064_875279534068125191_nrun some other errands. It is just part of the territory. Weston has reached that age. I’m sure that he can’t wait to go and get his license. It is an exciting day for him. For the rest of us…well, that remains to be seen.

Weston is my niece Machelle Cook Moore, and her husband, Steve’s son, and like most kids his age, Weston likes to hang out with his friends, play video games, and of course, he likes girls. He likes going to dances, and is enjoying high school. Still, like most kids, he can’t wait for summer…but then I think we all feel that way. Summer for Weston brings camping in the Big Horns with his family and cousins. Weston also helps out his grandparents with their lawn and such. Now that he has turned 16, I wonder if he will still be able to do 11253_1533940126822306_7776747781160954750_nthat. If he gets a job, he may not have time to mow the lawn as often. I suppose that job will be passed down to his little brother, Easton. Time will tell.

Weston is a great young man, and I am amazed that he is 16 years old already. The years have flown by so quickly. Before long, he will be graduating from high school and going on to college, or a career, and then marriage and children of his own. I know we will be shocked at how quickly the time flew by then too. Nevertheless, that day is down the road a little bit yet. Today is Weston’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

AsteroidToday, March 23rd, is known as Near Miss Day because it was on this day in 1898 that a large asteroid, named Apollo Asteroid 1989FC…an asteroid that was, in fact, bigger than an aircraft carrier and traveling at 46,000 miles per hour, passed the Earth, and it was a mere 400,000 miles away. The Earth had been at that place in space just six hours earlier. Six hours was all that stood between the Earth and the asteroid. Had it hit the Earth, scientists predicted that it would have left a crater the size of Washington DC, and destroyed everything around it for up to a hundred miles. Of course, that asteroid did not hit earth, and so was forgotten in the minds of most people, with astronomers being the possible exception. Earth does get hit periodically with meteors…some larger than others, and our atmosphere deals with them quite often, burning most of them up, causing what we all know as a shooting star. I find it interesting that we are in the middle of another close encounter right now. This time it is with a comet…or to be more accurate, two comets.

The smaller comet, Comet P/2016 BA14, was difficult to see, but it passed by us at a distance of just 2.2 million miles, making it the third closest flyby of a comet in recorded history. The larger comet is called Comet 252P/Linear. It was first discovered back in 2000, and has been monitored since that time. Comet P/2016 BA14 was only spotted in January this year. At first, astronomers thought it was a potentially dangerous asteroid heading towards us. Comet P/2016 BA14 will make its closest approach at around 11:30am EDT on March 22 (2.30am AEST on March 23). Of course, if you live in the United States, these two occurrences will not be on Near Miss Day, but they will be for those who live in Australia. I don’t know if Australia recognizes Near Miss Day, but if they do, they would find this weeks event interesting too. Two-comets-will-pass-by-Earth-on-next-week

I think that most of the time, we think very little about space…at least most of us do. Space seems so far away, and while we know that there are lots of things floating around out there, we somehow don’t believe they will ever impact Earth. That is even more strange, in that the craters on the moon come from meteor strikes, so why would the Earth somehow be immune. Of course, it wouldn’t be immune at all. The Earth occupies pretty much the same space as the moon. So we could get hit. I know that 400,000 miles seems like a lot, but in the perspective of space, it would be classified as a near miss.

Aunt LauraIn every war, there are soldiers and there are those who serve in the background. Sometimes these people in the background have an astounding impact on the war effort. Such was the case, during World War II, when so many men were involved in the fighting, that it left very few people to work in the factories. It became obvious that the women were going to have to step up and help. Of course, it wasn’t all women either. My Uncle Bill Spencer did that work as well, because they wouldn’t take him in the service due to a hernia and flat feet. Uncle Bill, and his sisters, my aunts, Laura and Ruth Spencer, all worked at a job that would make the women famous as Rosie the Riveter. These people worked at jobs traditionally done by men, such as building bombers at Ford Motor Company’s Willow Run plant in Michigan, and the shipyards in Wisconsin, which is where my aunts and uncle worked. The work was different than work the women had done before, but they proved that they could do it. Their motto became just that…We Can Do It!!grandpa spencer125_edited (6)

Now, seven decades later, and after several memorials in their honor, 30 of the “Rosie the Riveters” were honored with a trip to Washington DC to visit the National World War II Memorial. These women are in their 80s and 90s now, and it was a wonderful trip for them to go and see the memorial, pose for group photos with the US Capitol as a backdrop, have lunch at a Library of Congress building and visit Arlington National Cemetery. All that was awesome, but the real honor was that at every stop, people approached them, shook their hands, and said, “Thank you.” So often we overlook the opportunity to thank those who have served our country. We might feel like we are intruding, or don’t know what to say, or we just feel strange, but sometimes we need to set those feelings aside, so that we can honor all those who served…no matter in what capacity they served.

Aunt RuthThese women symbolized the American spirit that made this country great, and it is a spirit that needs to be brought back to this country. We are a great nation, with great people. When we make up our minds to do something, we get it done. The was the attitude these women took to the bomber factories and the shipyards. They decided that they could carry the load of the homefront to make the fighting men safer…and they did. I’m very proud that my Uncle Bill, and my aunts, Laura and Ruth were a part of such an elite group as these women who were honored today, I only wish they could have been a part of this trip. Both of my aunts are in Heaven now, and Uncle Bill in in a nursing home with Dementia, so they could not be there. Nevertheless, I’m very proud of all three of them…and these incredible women who were honored today.