Family

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Some people always have a calm look on their face, even if they are not smiling, they somehow manage not to be frowning. Things don’t really work that way for the concentrator…which is what I am. Concentrators tend to have a frown on their face, so people might think they are mad, when in fact, they are not. They might not have even noticed that anyone is looking at them, much less smiling at them. At least not until that person says something to them or writes them a note saying, of all things, “You really should smile!” For the concentrator, there is really no bigger insult. Maybe the person who said it, meant no harm, but if they thought about it, there are much nicer ways to get someone to smile.

In fact, the other day, while I was driving down second street in Casper, Wyoming, I saw a young man walking down the street. It was not a warm day, and the young man was bundled up in a coat and hat, but even with the distinct chill, to put it mildly, the young man has a smile on his face as he walked along. He wasn’t on the phone, or walking with someone else, and he wasn’t talking, so I could see no specific reason for the smile on his face.

I wondered what he was thinking about that would put a smile on his face. It didn’t matter really, because I smiled instinctively, because he was smiling. It didn’t matter what he was smiling about, his smile made me smile. It was sort of like the movie, Pay It Forward, except with smiles. I though about what a nice young man he might be, but whether I was right or not, didn’t make any difference. His smile told a tale all its own. A tale of Smiling it forward. It sounds silly, but that is what that young man did. His smile brought a smile to my face, and perhaps my smile brought a smile to the face of someone else, and so on…smiling it forward.

On October 13, 1972 a plane crashed somewhere in the Andes Mountains. That isn’t such an unusual event, but the crash was the last part of this event that was not unusual. Flight 571 was en route from Uruguay to Chili at the time it went down. The Uruguayan Air Force plane was chartered by the Old Christians Club to transport the team from Montevideo, Uruguay to Santiago, Chile. On October 12 the twin-engined Fairchild turboprop left Carrasco International Airport. The plane was carrying 5 crew members and 40 passengers. In addition to club members…friends, family, and others were also on board, having been recruited to help pay the cost of the plane. Because of poor weather in the mountains, they were forced to stay overnight in Mendoza, Argentina, before departing at about 2:18 pm the following day, October 13th. Although Santiago was located to the west of Mendoza, the Fairchild was not built to fly higher than approximately 22,500 feet. Because the Andes mountains were higher than that, the pilots plotted a course south to the Pass of Planchón, where the aircraft could safely clear the Andes mountains. An hour after takeoff, the pilot notified air controllers that he was flying over the pass, and shortly thereafter he radioed that he had reached Curicó, Chile, some 110 miles south of Santiago, and had turned north. However, the pilot had misjudged the location of the aircraft, which was still in the Andes mountains. Unaware of the mistake, the controllers cleared him to begin descending in preparation for landing. Then suddenly, the Chilean control tower was unable to contact the plane.

The pilot basically found himself caught with high mountains all around him…mountains that he could not climb over. When the plane tried to climb out the wings were clipped by the peaks, and the plane crashed in an unknown location. Because the Chilean control tower thought the plane was much further south, they weren’t even sure where to look. To make matters worse, the white plane was extremely difficult to see against the white snow. Search and rescue efforts from the sky were almost impossible…despite the survivors’ attempts to become noticeable. After 11 days, it was assumed that all of the 45 passengers and crew were dead, so search and rescue efforts ceased. The passengers had access to a radio, and when they heard the news of the search being called off, they were devastated. The crash killed 12 people instantly, leaving 33 survivors to try to stay alive until help could come. A number of the survivors were injured. At an altitude of approximately 11,500 feet, the group faced snow and freezing temperatures. There was no heat, and they only had each other to depend on. While the plane’s fuselage was largely intact, it provided limited protection from the freezing temperatures they faced. Food was scarce…mainly candy bars and wine. Even with rationing, those were gone in about a week. Now the survivors faced the most horrifying decision of their lives. Do they stay alive at all costs, including eating the bodies of the dead for food, or do they simply give up and starve to death? After a heated discussion, the starving survivors resorted to eating the corpses. Their survival instincts had kicked in, even though they knew they might be condemned by the world. Nevertheless, they would probably never forgive themselves anyway, so what the world decided made no real difference. Over the next few weeks six others died, and further disaster struck on October 29, when an avalanche buried the fuselage and filled part of it with snow, causing eight more deaths.

It was decided that someone would have to walk out and tell the officials that they were still alive. On December 12, with just 16 people still alive, three passengers set out for a 10 day journey to find help, though one later returned to the wreckage. After a difficult trek, the other two men finally came across three herdsmen in the village of Los Maitenes, Chile, on December 20. However, the Chileans were on the opposite side of a river, the noise of which made it hard to hear. The herdsmen indicated that they would return the following day. Early the next morning, the Chileans reappeared, and the two groups communicated by writing notes on paper that they then wrapped around a rock and threw across the water. The survivors’ initial note began, “I come from a plane that fell in the mountains.” The Chileans must have heard about the crash, and were most likely stunned to find that there were actually survivors. They hurried to notified authorities, and on December 22 two helicopters were sent to the wreckage. Six survivors were flown to safety, but bad weather delayed the eight others from being rescued until the next day. The rescue was called the Miracle of the Andes. In the resulting media frenzy, the survivors revealed that they had been forced to commit cannibalism. Many people were outraged until one of the survivors claimed that they had been inspired by the Last Supper, in which Jesus gave his disciples bread and wine that he stated were his body and his blood. This helped soften public opinion, and the church later absolved the men. After watching the movie based on this event, I wondered how any of the rest of us would have handled that situation. We should never be too quick to judge people in such a situation, because we might find that given the same circumstances, we might do the exact same thing.

My nephew, Ryan Hadlock is a very tall man, having taken after his dad, Chris Hadlock who is 6’4″ tall. Ryan isn’t quite as tall as his dad, but at 6’3″ tall, he still towers over most people. Nevertheless, while he teases everybody, and tries to act like a tough guy, Ryan is really a big teddy bear. He is a quiet man, until you get to know him, and then he becomes more talkative. Of course, as his aunt, I have never really known a time when Ryan was shy with me or other family members. That can be a good thing, but it can also make me a target for his teasing, Thankfully, I don’t mind teasing, and I would probably wonder if Ryan was mad at me, if he didn’t tease me. That is par for the course in our family, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We always know that the teasing is done in good fun, and never mean, so we all welcome it. It just adds to the family fun.

Ryan works hard to take care of his family. He has worked at Fleur de Lis Energy for a number of years, where he is a compression operator. I wasn’t really sure what a compression operator does, so I looked it up. I found out that “often natural gas from the wellhead must be compressed to a higher pressure in order to increase it’s pressure enough in order to get it into pipelines for further transportation to market.” So I assume that Ryan’s job is to be the person who knows when and how much to increase the pressure so the natural gas can successfully move to the pipelines for distribution. That’s a pretty important job, because so many people depend on oil and gas products for everyday life. If thing go wrong, shortages occur. Ryan must be very good at his job, because he’s been there for a good long while.

Still, while his job is important to a lot of people, Ryan’s first priority is his family. I will never forget when Ryan met his wife, Chelsea Carroll Hadlock. Chelsea is a beautiful girl, and it took Ryan about 2 seconds to know that she was the girl for him. He never looked at anyone else from that day forward. Ryan and Chelsea were, and are, perfect for each other. They love doing the same things, and both of them are dedicated parents to their children, Ethan and Aurora. When I think of the man Ryan has become, I am very much aware of the amazing blessing he is to Chelsea and the kids. Life for them is just going to get better and better. Today is Ryan’s birthday. happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Where there is a forest, there is a possibility of a massive forest fire. The area around Moose Lake in Minnesota, had just such a fire that started on October 12, 1918. The fire, known as the Cloquet-Moose Lake fire, killed hundreds of people and leaving thousands of people homeless. The fire burned a hug area at least 1,500 square miles. The fire, which began at the rail lines near Sturgeon Lake, did the most damage in the Cloquet and Moose Lake areas. This is a region of Minnesota, north of Duluth in the eastern part of the state.

The area was really a recipe for a major disaster of this sort. The timber industry used a crude slash method in the thick forests, thus leaving behind dry scraps that were perfect kindling for wildfires. They were not careful where they left the slash either, tending to leave the scraps lying around the rail lines that carried wood from the lumber mills. Train engines of that time often gave off sparks, and when the sparks hit the slash pies, fires were nearly inevitable. The months leading up to October 1918 were very hot and dry, which made matters even worse. The fire began that October 12th, and it quickly spread due to the high winds that day. More than 200 people died in the Moose Lake area, when the fire raced into the community. Many of the local residents tried to escape the raging flames by driving down Highway 73, south of the Kettle River. The road had a very sharp curve that proved to be too difficult to maneuver for drivers who were speeding away from the flames surrounding them. At least 15 vehicles went off the road within minutes, which resulted in 25 deaths.

In all, he fire destroyed 38 towns and villages. The total dead was 453 and another 85 people were seriously burned. The area lost 4,000 houses, 6,000 barns, and 40 schools to the flames.The fire came up so quickly that there was no time to try to get the livestock out, and hundreds of thousands of farm animals also perished in the fire. It was a huge loss for area farmers. In all, the region suffered close to $100 million in damages.

Since graduating from high school last year, my nephew, Riley Birky, who has always loved the feel of the small towns over the bigger towns and cities, moved to Lovell, Wyoming, where he is currently working double shifts at the Brandin’ Iron Restaurant there. He has his own place, and has a roommate to share expenses with. These days, that’s about the only way the young adults can make it, so I’m glad they are working together on this. It makes it easier for both of them.

This is a whole new adventure for Riley. Being on his own, and in a town that is away from his parents. His mom, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg calls him a free bird, and says he is doing his thing. She misses him, of course, because he is too far away to visit often. Rachel hasn’t seen Riley since May, but they stay in touch, and these days, with texting, phone calls, and Facetime or Skype, that is much easier to do. Riley has always loved his family very much. His little brother, Tucker will always be his best friend, and of course, loves his mama to the moon and back…which always warms her heart.

Riley is a natural born leader, and it has carried him well in the past. He is hard-working, and is a very trustworthy young man, who always has your back when it is needed. I know that his friends and his employer have seen this before, and continue to see it in him today. Working double shifts is tough, but Riley just takes it all in stride and gets the job done. Riley is a good young man and he makes those who depend on him very proud on his faithfulness. Riley loves Jesus, and knows Him as his Lord and Saviour. He knows that God will guide him in every step he takes.

Riley has a passion for music, and particularly likes to find the meaning in the lyrics. He is a deep thinker, and discovering the meaning of lyrics takes deep thought. I know that Riley loves to lose himself in his music. He also loves to get away to the mountains, because that is his peaceful place. He goes there whenever he can, just to relax, and that makes perfect sense to me. Today is Riley’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Steve Moore is one of the most at home in the mountains people I know. He and his wife, my niece, Machelle love sending time in the Big Horn Mountains near their home in Powell, Wyoming. Their favorite thing to do there is to go exploring on new trails or roads, in areas they haven’t explored before. This past summer, while exploring such an area,the came across a cabin. It was in such a beautiful setting, and of course, it heightened their desire to have their own cabin in the mountains, which I truly believe they will have one day. They had seen the road to the cabin before, and that day, they decided to go see where it led them. I think that if anyone I know could live off the grid, it would be Steve and Machelle. Steve is extremely handy when it comes to building things, and living off the land.

Last winter, Steve decided to build a gun. It is a 22 Dasher. Steve has a Labradar Witch, which is a devise that tells you how fast your bullets are going. He can measure the speed, and decide if he wants to add or subtract gun powder for reloading. The gun shoots accurately, and Steve got a couple few Rock-Chucks this summer on the mountain. While it is a great gun, it isn’t one that you want to have to pack very far, because it is pretty heavy. Their youngest son, Easton got to shoot Steve’s 1911 for the first time this summer. their older so Weston is four years older, and so has been shooting or a while now. Their ideal camping sot is one where nobody else is around for miles, so target practice can be done from camp. Another thing Steve likes to do in camp, is experiment with the fire. Of course, he is careful, but he can say for sure that discarded bacon grease will make the flames flair up nicely.

Steve got a chainsaw from a really good friend last year, so firewood is never in short supply. He never has to be asked twice to go to get some firewood for camp, or for his father-in-law, LJ Cook’s garage. In fact they have so much now, that he had to tell us that’s enough…for probably the whole next winter. Te way Steve and Machelle see it, better to have too much, than not enough. Needless to say there is also always enough firewood for camp too! Camping is a way of life for the Moore family, and this summer they tried to go someplace different, instead of always doing the same things, in the same places. They had a great time exploring new roads, hiking around, and just enjoying each others company. It was great while summer lasted, but they said that it sure went fast this year. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

We have all heard of the atrocities that took place in Nazi Germany regarding the Jewish people. And many people might have seen the movie called Schindler’s List. When the movie came out, I did not have a real interest in the old war movies, but I really should have in this one, because it is not your typical war movie. The movie documents the actions of a member of the Nazi Party, who saw something that was morally wrong, and did something about it.

Schindler wasn’t what would be considered a moral upstanding citizen to the Christian way of thinking. He married Emilie Pelzl at nineteen, but was never without a mistress or two. When his family’s business went under, he presided over the the proceedings, and then became a salesman when opportunity came knocking in the form of the war. Schindler was never one to miss a chance to make money. He saw opportunity in Poland, so he marched in on the heels of the SS. Soon, he was deep into the black-market and the underworld..making friends with the Gestapo officials along the way…softening them up with women, money and illicit booze.

It was his newfound connections that helped him acquire the factory in Krakow during the German occupation of Poland, which he ran with the cheapest labor around…namely the Jewish people from the nearby Jewish ghetto. Schindler was a hard man, and didn’t care much about others, but somewhere along the line, something changed. When the Nazis decided to liquidate the ghetto, he persuaded the officials to allow the transfer of his workers to the Plaszow labor camp. I’m not sure what they workers thought of that situation right away, but in the end, to saved them from deportation to the death camps, for which they were grateful.

By 1944, Hitler had become more and more crazed, and all the Jews at Plaszow were to be sent to Auschwitz, but Schindler couldn’t bear to see his workers murdered by Hitler. Schindler decided to take a huge risk, and bribe the officials into allowing him to keep his workers and set up a factory in a safer location in occupied Czechoslovakia. Miraculously, they agreed to let him have his workers, probably thinking of the factory’s production, and not the fact that these Jews would not meet the horrible fate awaiting them in the death camps. So, Schindler gave them a list of his workers, and of course, that is where the name of the movie came from. By the war’s end, Schindler was penniless, but he had saved 1,200 Jews. And that makes him a very rich man, indeed. In 1962, he was declared a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official agency for remembering the Holocaust. Oskar Schindler died on this day, October 9, 1974, and according to his wishes, he was buried in Israel at the Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion.

When the pioneers headed west, they were leaving the comforts of home behind. They would be traveling in covered wagons, with bushes for restrooms and rivers for bathtubs. Water was often scarce, so daily bathing was out of the question. You bathed when you came upon a creek or river, and drinking water was far too valuable to waste on such frivolous things as bathing. That said, anyone who has ever camped out where there was not a readily available water source, can tell you that people can get pretty stinky before they finally get to a place where they can bathe. I suppose that is why many of the women…if they were financially able, had things like lemon verbena to cover the inevitable odors. While things like toileting and bathing were inconveniences, they were things people learned to live with as they traveled west in search of a homestead, and they weren’t usually life threatening, other than transferring of germs from less than clean hands to food that was to be eaten.

One of the most important things to know, of course, was what to do in the event of an emergency. An injury that is not take care of can quickly turn septic. And an illness that is treated in the wrong way, can bring death. That was one of the more difficult problems the pioneers faced. There were no doctors in nearby towns, and often there were no nearby rows either. They had to fend for themselves. And if they didn’t know what to do, people died. These days many people rely on a doctor or nurse for most illnesses, but the did not have that luxury. They had to be their own doctors and nurses.

The pioneers also had to know how to build their own homes, even if they had never really built a house before. Just because someone has lived in, or seen a house built, dies not mean that you automatically know how to build one. They had to know how to fix a broken wagon or wagon wheel, and how to shoe a horse. These were not normally skills that just everyone knew. And they certainly aren’t the life skills that any of the students of today would be taught in a life skills class, but I suppose that life skills is a class that has to be suited to the times. These days, life skills classes might include cooking and sewing, budgeting, and child care. I suppose it was taken for granted that people knew those things before they headed west in the days of the pioneers. These days it seems that fewer and fewer have those skills. I used to think life skills was rather a wasted class, but I suppose that depending on what is taught, maybe it isn’t.

There is a wall that lots o people might have known about, or maybe few people know about, but while I’m sure I’ve seen parts of it in movies, I didn’t really know about it. The series of walls, known as the East Bay Walls or the Berkeley Mystery Walls. Of course that doesn’t really apply to one area, because the reality is that there are many of the crude walls throughout the hills surrounding the San Francisco Bay area. In some place the walls are as much as 3 feet tall, and 3 feet wide. The walls are very old and they were built without mortar. The walls run in sections, and they can be a few feet to over a mile long. Even more odd, is the fact that the rocks are a variety of sizes ranging from basketball-sized rocks, to large sandstone boulders weighing a ton or more. Parts of the walls seem to be just piles of rocks, but in other places it appears the walls were carefully constructed. No one knows the exact age of the walls, but they have an old appearance. Many of the formations have sunk far into the earth, and are often completely overgrown with different plants. The walls are not continuous, so they are not fences. They are not tall enough to have been used as defensive walls. The East Bay Regional Park District simply calls them “rock walls” and insists that they are not mysterious. Livestock, such as cattle, have grazed in the east and south Bay Area hills since the arrival of European settlers. Clearing land of scattered rocks would have eased the ability to move livestock. Placing the rocks into walls would have helped to guide the movement of the animals or to help corral them. That makes sense, but some of those rocks were very heavy. So how did they do that.

There is no written documentation to identify when they were built, by whom, or why. So, some people consider them mysterious. It has been suggested that the Ohlone Indians might have been the builders, but in reality, they were hunter-gatherers, and didn’t build permanent structures. Some specialists have mentioned that the walls look similar to structures found in rural Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine, but they are different in that those walls were built around farms by the early setters, and these don’t have the same kinds of layouts. In 1904, UC-Berkeley Professor John Fryer suggested that the walls were made by Mongolian Chinese who traveled to California before the Europeans. Unfortunately, there is little evidence for this or for pre-Columbian Chinese influence in America. Forensic geologist Scott Wolter has theorized that the wall is only two to three hundred years old, suggested by the thick weathering rind on the limestone rock he was authorized to sample. Recent testing of lichen on the rocks suggests that they were probably built between 1850 and 1880, the early American era in California. Settlers might have built the walls using Chinese, Mexican, or Native American laborers, although specifically who built them has not been determined.

One of the many old stone walls that appear around the San Francisco Bay area is in the foothills of eastern Santa Clara County. The stone walls are accessible in several area parks, including Ed R. Levin County Park in Santa Clara County and Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Alameda County, as well as many other parks. As of 2016, archaeologist Jeffrey Fentress has been measuring and mapping the walls, hoping to eventually gain protection from development or other destruction. Additional stone walls with unclear origin or purpose occur in other places near the San Francisco Bay, and researchers continue to discover more information about the walls. Whether these walls had a purpose at one time or not, they are certainly strange to those who try to look into them these days.

Submarines have always fascinated me. To be able to travel completely submerged for extended periods of time is quite amazing. One of the greatest submarines ever was the USS Seawolf (SSN 575). Seawolf was not the first nuclear submarine. That honor goes to the Nautilus, but the Seawolf was an amazing submarine with an amazing future ahead of her. The Seawolf was built by the General Dynamics Corporation’s Electric Boat Division, Groton, Connecticut, and was laid September 15, 1953. Mrs. W. Sterling Cole christened the SEAWOLF at the launching ceremony on July 21, 1955 under the command of Commander Richard B. Laning, United States Navy.

Unlike, Nautilus, the Seawolf used liquid sodium instead of water as a moderator and cooling medium. The Seawolf was to be given many honors and awards during her time of service, with one of the greatest being on September 26, 1957, when Seawolf hosted President Dwight D. Eisenhower for a submerged run off Newport, Rhode Island. It was the first time the Commander and Chief was transported by nuclear propulsion. That makes it an amazing event for the Seawolf and for the President. Additionally, while on a port visit in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Seawolf was host to NBC telecast of “Wide, Wide World” on December 8, 1957.

One of the greatest moments, however, happened on October 6, 1958. After submerging on August 7, 1958, Seawolf remained submerged for a full 60 days. During that time she was completely independent of the Earth’s atmosphere. The submarine was self sufficient and able to produce all the life sustaining air and water the crew would need for life. It was an unheard of accomplishment. Of course, that record would be broken in the future, including twice by Seawolf herself. In 1976, Seawolf remained submerged for a US Navy record breaking 87 days. In 1977 she again went under, this time staying submerged for 79 days. Over the years of service, Seawolf received four Battle Efficiency “E” awards for excellence in battle. She received three Engineering “E” for Excellence, three Supply “E” awards, a Communications “C” award, a Damage Control “DC” award, and the Dec Seamanship Award. In April 1986 USS Seawolf (SSN 575) was decommissioned, but her name has lived on in other submarines named in her honor. The USS Seawolf (SSN 575) was truly an amazing submarine.

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