Family

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I think most of us have heard of the Mason-Dixon Line, but do we really know what it is and how it came to be called that? Maybe not. It was on October 18, 1767 that two surveyors, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon completed their survey of the boundary between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland, as well as areas that would eventually become the states of Delaware and West Virginia. The Penn and Calvert families had hired Mason and Dixon, two English surveyors, to settle their dispute over the boundary between their two proprietary colonies, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The dispute between the families often resulted in violence between the colonies’ settlers, the British crown demanded that the parties involved hold to an agreement reached in 1732. In 1760, as part of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s adherence to this royal command, Mason and Dixon were asked to determine the exact whereabouts of the boundary between the two colonies. Though both colonies claimed the area between the 39th and 40th parallel, what is now referred to as the Mason-Dixon line finally settled the boundary at a northern latitude of 39 degrees and 43 minutes. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania’s crest on one side and Maryland’s on the other.

When Mason and Dixon began their endeavor in 1763, colonists were protesting the Proclamation of 1763, which was intended to prevent colonists from settling beyond the Appalachians and angering Native Americans. In reality, expansion was inevitable, but many in government couldn’t seem to see that. As the Mason and Dixon concluded their survey in 1767, the colonies were engaged in a dispute with the Parliament over the Townshend Acts, which were designed to raise revenue for the British empire by taxing common imports including tea. A protest that resulted in the Boston Tea Party, but that is another story. Twenty years later, in late 1700s, the states south of the Mason-Dixon line would begin arguing for the perpetuation of slavery in the new United States while those north of line hoped to phase out the ownership of human property. This period, which historians consider the era of “The New Republic,” drew to a close with the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which accepted the states south of the line as slave-holding and those north of the line as free. The compromise, along with those that followed it, eventually failed, and slavery was forbidden with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862.

One hundred years after Mason and Dixon began their effort to chart the boundary, soldiers from opposite sides of the line spilled their blood on the fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in the Souths final and fatal attempt to breach the Mason-Dixon line during the Civil War. One hundred and one years after the Mason and Dixon completed their line, the United States finally admitted men of any complexion born within the nation to the rights of citizenship with the ratification of the 14th Amendment…a poorly thought out amendment which continues to cause illegal immigration to this day, due to birth right citizenship.

Some people seem to have an exceptional mind. They might be a genius, or they might just be very good at one thing or a few things. Whatever the case may be, they are virtually impossible to beat at that one thing. The game of chess is one that many people don’t understand how to play. I played it many years ago, but I can’t say that I was ever very good at. I could play, and I could beat some players, provided they were not better than novice level. But, there are chess players who could only be classified as genius when it comes to the game of chess.

Two such players were 26 year old Donald Byrne, who on October 17, 1956, took part in what was destined to be called The Game of the Century. In the end Byrne would lose the game to 13 year old Bobby Fischer, in the Rosenwald Memorial Tournament in New York City. The competition took place at the Marshall Chess Club. It was nicknamed “The Game of the Century” by Hans Kmoch in Chess Review. Kmoch wrote, “The following game, a stunning masterpiece of combination play performed by a boy of 13 against a formidable opponent, matches the finest on record in the history of chess prodigies.”

I don’t suppose Mr Byrne expected to be bested by a 13 year old boy, nor did he likely appreciate all the publicity that came of his unfortunate loss. Donald Byrne was one of the leading American chess masters at the time of this game. He won the 1953 U.S. Open Championship, and later represented the United States in the 1962, 1964, and 1968 Chess Olympiads. He became an International Master in 1962, and probably would have risen further if not for ill health. Robert “Bobby” Fischer (1943–2008) was at this time a promising young master. Following this game, he had a meteoric rise, winning the 1957 U.S. Open on tiebreaks, winning the 1957–58 U.S. (Closed) Championship, and all seven later championships in which he played, qualifying for the Candidates Tournament and becoming in 1958 the world’s youngest grandmaster at the age of 15. He won the world championship in 1972, and is considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time.

According to Kmoch’s recap of the game, Fischer, who was playing Black, demonstrated noteworthy innovation and improvisation. Byrne, who was playing White, after a standard opening, makes a seemingly minor mistake on move 11, losing a tempo by moving the same piece twice. Fischer pounces with brilliant sacrificial play, culminating in a queen sacrifice on move 17. Byrne captures the queen, but Fischer gets far too much material for it…a rook, two bishops, and a pawn. At the end, Fischer’s pieces coordinate to force checkmate, while Byrne’s queen sits, useless, on the other side of the board. Responding to an interviewer’s question about how he was able to bring off such a brilliant win, Fischer said, “I just made the moves I thought were best. I was just lucky.” Looking at his lifelong record, I doubt that anyone would agree with that statement. Fischer’s wins were anything but luck. They were rather a matter of skill, focus, and a strategic mind.

I think that most people know about the simple, but imaginary way of making a boo-boo all better. It’s all about the power of a healing kiss. It starts when our little ones fall down, and they really aren’t hurt, but they still need some reassurance that everything is going to be alright. The simplest way to let them know that is to kiss it better. Before long, they are coming to you so you can kiss their elbow, their knee, or their head…and you know they really just like your healing kisses…even if there is no current boo-boo.

Pretty soon you find your little angel coming to you to re-kiss the same boo-boo over and over again. It doesn’t hurt anymore, the scrape, scab, and bruise are long gone, but the memory of how awesome it is to have mommy or daddy kiss it better is enough to make them feel very secure. It isn’t that these children are afraid of anything, but rather that they like knowing that their parents will always be there when they need them. Those little healing kisses are a great way to show your little one that you love them, and you will do everything in your power to protect them, and in the absence of being able to prevent a boo-boo, you will always kiss it and make it better.

There can be one little problem with kissing a boo-boo better, however…especially one that is days or weeks old. That is when you plant your healing kiss on the wrong spot. The other night I was visiting my sister, Cheryl Masterson, when her granddaughter, Aleesia Spethman came up to me and showed me a boo-boo on her foot. I looked at her foot quickly, but couldn’t see anything. So, I kissed my finger and touched it to the bottom of the foot she had placed on my lap. That was the wrong move!! Aleesia informed me that I had kissed the wrong spot. The real boo-boo was actually on the side of her big toe. So, I quickly obliged her and kissed my finger, and touched it to the side of her big toe. Aleesia smiled at me, and went merrily on her way. Thankfully when adults goof up by kissing the wrong spot, kids are quick to forgive, provided we correct the offending error.

Registering for the draft is a requirement when a young man reaches 18 years of age. There is no draft in the United States anymore, but by registering the young men, the government could hold a draft, should a war bring such a need. During the Vietnam War, there were a lot of people who felt that the United States shouldn’t be in the war. Many young men didn’t want any part of it, and they decided to protest the war by burning their draft cards. Of course, this was forbidden by law, but they didn’t care. They were willing to take the chance, if it meant that they could avoid going to war.

By May 1965 young men were protesting by burning their draft cards with greater frequency around the United States. To limit this kind of protest…in August 1965 the United States Congress enacted a law to broaden draft card violations to punish anyone who “knowingly destroys, knowingly mutilates” his draft card. Then, on October 15, 1965, in New York, David Miller, a young Catholic pacifist, became the first US war protestor to burn his draft card at a protest rally, in direct violation of a recently passed law forbidding such acts. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation later arrested him. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to two years imprisonment, but that did not stop the protesting or the burning of draft cards. Subsequently, 46 men were indicted for burning their draft cards at various rallies, and four major court cases were heard. One of them, United States v. O’Brien, was argued before the Supreme Court. The act of draft card burning was defended as a symbolic form of free speech, a constitutional right guaranteed by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court decided against the draft card burners. It determined that the federal law was justified and that it was unrelated to the freedom of speech. This outcome was criticized by legal experts.

From 1965 to 1973, few men in the United States were convicted of burning their draft cards, and some 25,000 went unpunished. I suppose it was difficult to wrap our minds around the idea imprisonment for our young men over a protest. Still, it was illegal. And something had to be done. Before 1965, the act of burning a draft card was already prohibited by US statute and the registrant was required to carry the card at all times. Any destruction of the card was against the law. Also, it was entirely possible for a young man to destroy his draft card and still answer the call to service by appearing at an induction center and serving in the military. It also seems to me that if they had registered, that the government also had a copy of the registration, so if they were going to be drafted, having or not having the card was really a formality. And it was possible for a registrant to faithfully keep his card on his person but fail to appear when called. The draft card burning was an act of protest against the war, more than it was a way to avoid the draft. Still, the image of draft card burning was powerful, and very influential in American politics and culture. Photos appeared in magazines, newspapers and on television. It was proof of a political divide between those who backed the United States government and its military goals and those who were against any United States involvement in Vietnam. With the political upheaval, Richard Nixon ran for president in 1968 on a platform based largely on putting an end to the draft, hoping to put an end to protesters burning their cards. As president, Nixon indeed did end the draft in 1973, rendering the symbolic act of draft card burning unnecessary, and registering just a requirement.

On October 8, 1871, one of the worst fires in history started in Chicago. Rumor has it that a cow kicked over a lantern in a barn, and the ensuing fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. According to the legend, the fire broke out after the cow, belonging to Mrs. Catherine O’Leary, kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, located on the property of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary at 137 Dekoven Street on the city’s southwest side, then the whole city on fire. You’ve probably heard some version of this story yourself. People have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow and Mrs. O’Leary, for more than 130 years. Mrs. O’Leary denied this charge. Recent research by Chicago historian Robert Cromie has helped to debunk this version of events.

From that event, came a proclamation by President Calvin Coolidge that the first National Fire Prevention Week be held on October 4-10, 1925. The move started a tradition recognizing October as Fire Prevention Month, the first week in October becoming Fire Prevention Week, and the second Saturday becoming Home Fire Drill Day. Fire Prevention Week is observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls, in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began October 8, 1871, and did most of its damage October 9. The month and week are filled with information designed to teach people how to prevent fire disasters, as well as activities for children designed to teach them too.

None of us wants to have to really get out of a home fire situation, but it is really important that people know how in the unfortunate event that their home does catch on fire. So, the last part of Fire Prevention Month is Home Fire Drill Day, which is today, October 14, 2017. It is a day to plane your escape routes, and practice getting out, especially with children. It is designed also, to point out where you might be vulnerable and what equipment might be needed to make your home safe, such as smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and escape ladders. Whether you have little ones or not, it is so easy to get confused or disoriented in a fire emergency. Just like in the schools, routine practice makes every step of a fire evacuation a habit, and it could very likely save your life or that of your family. Why not start today?

My nephew, Ryan Hadlock reminds me more and more of his dad, Chris Hadlock, everyday. He looks like him, talks like him, and acts like him. They also enjoy many of the same things, like sports, especially football and the Broncos. In fact, they are heading to Denver this weekend for a game. Ryan also loves camping, music, and most of all family. Ryan and his wife, Chelsea, who have been married nine years now, are raising two sweet children, Ethan and Aurora.

Recently, Ryan and his family went with Chelsea’s family to Disney World in Florida, where they had a wonderful time. The kids got to meet all the Disney characters, and ride all the great rides. Really, they are at the perfect age for a Disney World adventure…young enough to love the kid stuff and old enough to remember the trip. A wonderful time was had by all, because after all, there is a bit of a kid in all of us, especially Ryan, who will never really grow up, but then I guess that’s what makes him such a fun guy.

Ryan is a hard worker, and often picks up extra shifts at his job at Fleur de Lis, which used to be Anadarko, until they sold it to FDL, as its called. FDL is an oilfield company, and since things are picking up some, they are pretty busy. Ryan is also becoming quite a Do It Yourself guy. Recently, he fixed the central air in their home by himself, and most of us would have no idea what to do with that. Nevertheless, Ryan figured it out and saved his family from the summer heat and saved money too.

It has been a busy year for Ryan and his family, but as far as I’m concerned, the coolest thing that is going on with them is that Ryan is forming a family band. The plan is for Ryan to play the guitar. Ryan learned from his dad, and both are very good. Ethan will be playing the drums. Aurora hasn’t decided what instrument she wants to play in her dad’s band, but I’m sure she will pick something very cool. And the plan is to have Chelsea sing. I think this could be a wonderful musical family. Maybe they could be the Hadlock Family Band. I would definitely attend a performance, if they had one that was open to the public. Today is Ryan’s birthday. Happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I think most of us have, at one time or another, watched a car race, be it locally, NASCAR, or maybe even street racing…the illegal kind. We might have even raced some ourselves, because when a kid gets behind the wheel of a car, they tend to want to show off a little bit. I suppose it’s the thrill of the race, and feeling the speed of the car beneath you…whether it’s safe or not. Still, most of us don’t tend to get our cars going as fast as the real racecar drivers do. I don’t know about you, but I think that for most of us, going at some of the NASCAR speeds, in real life, is pretty insane. Those drivers are specially trained, and even then, some have been killed or severely injured in bad crashes during those races. As for me, I think I’ll leave the racing to the professionals.

Not all professionals are what you would expect, however. Yesterday, October 11, 2008 marked a very interesting day in the world of speed. On that day, a speed record was set. A man named Luc Costermans, from Belgium set a world speed record driving 192 miles per hour in a borrowed Lamborghini. What? You are sure the record is much higher than that. Well, you would be right, if we are talking about a sighted driver…but, we are not. Luc Costermans is completely blind!! I’m sure that you were as shocked as I was, but let me tell you that he is not the only blind speed racer. Luc Costermans’ record breaking run was performed on a long, straight stretch of airstrip near Marseilles, France. He was accompanied by a carload of sophisticated navigational equipment, as well as a human co-pilot, who gave directions from the Lamborghini’s passenger seat. How fast would you have to be able to give directions to correct a course error for a blind man traveling at 192 miles per hour? Seriously, I don’t know if the co-pilot was very brave, or simply insane!!

To add to the amazing nature of blind speed racing, Costermans is not the first one, and will not likely be the last. The record Costermans broke belonged to Mike Newman, who was a British driver, and who set his record exactly three years to the day before Costermans. Newman had coaxed his 507 horsepower BMW M5 to a top speed of 178.5 mph. For his part, Newman had smashed a 2 year old record 144.7 mph…that he had set himself in a borrowed Jaguar, just three days after he learned to drive. Unlike Costermans, Newman did not race with a co-pilot or a navigator. Instead, he got his father-in-law to zoom around the track behind him, shouting directions over the radio…what??? My mind was racing by this time. Again came the thought of how fast would his father-in-law have to be talking, and then, the thought that his father-in-law was also driving that fast. Was he a racecar driver too? I can’t imagine my father-in-law would have ever driven that fast. He would have asked me if I was insane.

Both of these blind record-setters are serious competitors who race all sorts of vehicles. In 2001, Newman became the fastest blind motorcycle driver in the world, with a record speed of 89 mph, set just four days after learning to ride. Five years later, Costermans flew a small airplane all around France. He was joined by an instructor and a navigator. Another record-setter, an Englishman named Steve Cunningham, had set the land-speed record himself in 1999, traveling 147 mph, while driving a Chrysler Viper, at the same time that he held the sea-speed record for a blind sailor. In 2004, guided by sophisticated talking navigational software, Cunningham became the first blind pilot to circumnavigate the United Kingdom by air. These men have taken record setting to new levels. I can’t imagine trying these stunts, but then I guess I’m not them.

Whether we like it or not, all little boys, and girls too, grow up way too fast. My nephew, Riley Birky is no exception. As a little boy, Riley loved to give hugs…especially to his mama. My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg tells me that he is still the best hugger she knows. You know the kind…they squeeze you tightly and their love for you just flows out of them and into your heart. Funny thing about those good huggers is that they never seem to get tired of hugging those they love…not even during the awkward teenaged years, when many kids are embarrassed by their parents, because they just aren’t cool. It isn’t that their parents aren’t cool…at home. It’s just that when they are with their friends…well, parents can say stuff that is just not cool…like I love you, or something. Of course, you want them to love you, just please don’t say it in front of the guys. Nevertheless, Riley was a boy who loved his mama, and he didn’t mind letting her know it.

Younger siblings can be a different kind of problem They always want to hang around, and they can be so nerdy. A cool guy can’t have his kid brother hanging around…or can he. Riley loves playing with his little brother, Tucker. He doesn’t seem to mind if Tucker is acting goofy, because…well, that’s just Tucker, and that’s ok. Riley feels very blessed to have a little brother, and they spend time together as much as possible. As a little boy, there were four things Riley loved, his mama, his little brother, his big sister, Cassie, and his bear, Fluffy. Family, you never outgrow, but toys are a different thing. Still, some toys are extra special, and you tend to keep them for life. Fluffy was just such a toy. He was like a best friend, who never left your side. While Riley doesn’t still play with Fluffy, he does still have Fluffy and probably always will. Who knows, maybe someday Fluffy can be handed down to Riley’s own child.

Riley loves playing football, and really everything about football, which is very common for boys. Sports becomes their way of life pretty early on in life. With the schools offering the opportunity and all their friends playing, it is just the natural thing for kids to do. Riley doesn’t really care about the other sports much, and other than football, would rather ride his bicycle. Like most boys, I’m sure he can do a number of tricks on his bicycle…and if not, I’ll bet that at the very least, he can pop wheelies, because I think every boy tries that one. And last, but certainly not least…there is Lilly. Lilly is the family dog, and she absolutely loves Riley, and he absolutely loves her too. Whenever Riley is at home, Lilly is by his side. Riley has such a loving, gentle way with Lilly. Dogs can just tell when they are loved, and when they are loved, they love back, with their whole being. Lilly would do anything to protect Riley, and Riley would do the same. This dog truly is this man’s best friend. Today is Riley’s 17th birthday. The little boy is gone, and in his place stands a young man with a very bright future ahead of him. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For a number of years the home of my niece, Machelle Moore, and her husband, Steve had no sidewalks or patios. While it looked nice because of the grass, it was really problematic in the winter…when they had to shovel the grass to have any kind of a walkway from the street to the door. For the last four years, they have been talking about adding cement to the south side of their property. Last winter finally pushed that idea from an option to a necessity. I’ve shoveled grass, and I can totally understand why they decided that cement was no longer optional. Having no sidewalks means that all that dirt is dragged right into the house. Steve and Machelle were determined not to spend another winter that way.

In April, Machelle asked Steve to come and look at what she had in mind. Steve was a little concerned, until she showed him her plan. This was not going to be a short term project. In fact, it would take almost the entire summer. Steve and Machelle normally like to do a lot of hiking in the hills looking for Indian arrowheads and other artifacts or camping with their family, so there were going to be some sacrifices, although they did indulge in their favorite pastimes too, but this would be a working summer. The yard had 16 sprinklers that had to be dug up, and capped off or moved to a different spot. That was the longest part of the project, and it all had to be done by hand. To me that part of the project would be the most daunting. I would have no idea how to go about that, and I don’t think Steve and Machelle had ever done anything like that either, so it was a big challenge for both of them. Nevertheless, I think they did a great job.

One thing that Steve and Machelle found out about this project was that there was a lot of digging. They hand dug out the front part of the new sidewalk to their fence themselves, and then Machelle’s dad, Lynn Cook and brother-in-law, Josh Griffith helped with the back. In the end, they decided to contract the cement work out, and they were not sorry that they did, because it turned out great…right down to their sons’ handprints in the cement. They were so glad that they worked together on the project, because they saved $5000 by making part of it a do it yourself project. Machelle is so proud of Steve’s ability to do anything he sets his mind to. They had never done sprinklers before…or a jack hammer to get rid of the old stuff, or a cement cutter. Still, it was fun working on their own project and it all turned out so great, that they have to pinch themselves to believe that it is their yard, but the greatest thing, especially with winter approaching…they can shovel the snow like normal people now!! Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

On May 1, 1960, CIA U-2 spy plane pilot, Gary Powers found himself in a lot of trouble. His plane was disabled after being hit by Soviet surface-to-air missiles. Powers had to let his plane fall from 70,000 feet to 30,000 feet before he could release himself and bail out of the damaged cockpit. It was 1960…and the Cold War was heating up. Powers was captured, and would remain a prisoner of war until a prisoner exchange on February 10, 1962. The United States now needed a plane that was safer for these men to fly. Something that went higher and faster than any other plane, and had a minimal radar cross section. It was imperative to have such an innovative aircraft so the United States could improve intelligence gathering. Enter Lockheed’s advanced development group, the Skunk Works® in Burbank. This team had already begun work on such an aircraft.

President Dwight D Eisenhower was very impressed with the U-2’s airborne reconnaissance during these tense Cold War times, but with the need for better protection for the pilots, Eisenhower’s request went out to Lockheed to build the impossible…an aircraft that can’t be shot down…and do it fast. American aerospace engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson was one of the preeminent aircraft designers of the twentieth century. He and his Skunk Works team had a track record of delivering impossible technologies on incredibly short, strategically critical deadlines. Still, everything for this project had to be invented. The group was known for its unfailing sense of duty, its creativity in the face of a technological challenge and its undaunted perseverance. Be that as it may, this new aircraft was in a different category from anything that had come before. This would be the toughest assignment Skunk Works had ever been assigned…at least up to that date. They needed to have the previously unheard of type of aircraft flying in a mere twenty months.

The Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” was that long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft, and was operated by the United States Air Force. It was developed as a top secret black project by the Lockheed company. During aerial reconnaissance missions, the SR-71 operated at high speeds and altitudes to allow it to outrace threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate and outfly the missile. The SR-71 was designed with a reduced radar cross-section, making it harder to spot. The SR-71 served with the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. A total of 32 aircraft were built. Twelve were lost in accidents, but none of them to enemy action. The SR-71 has been given several nicknames, including Blackbird and Habu. It has held the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft since 1976. This record was previously held by the related Lockheed YF-12. On October 9, 1999, the Lockheed SR-71 took it’s final flight, and what a flight it was!! In it’s amazing final flight, the SR-71 Blackbird flew coast to coast in just one hour.

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