In this technological age, everyone has heard of the internet…even those who don’t know how to use it. It is thought to be the most advanced way to access information, and that is true. People don’t have to even leave their homes to have access to information, products, email, or media…even social media. It was an amazing invention, and some might say it was a time hog. It was the invention of all time, but…it wasn’t the first of it’s kind.

On October 29, 1969, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) an early packet-switching network and the first network to implement the TCP/IP protocol suite was presented. Both of those technologies became the technical foundation of the Internet. The ARPANET was initially founded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the United States Department of Defense. It seems fitting to me that the Department of Defense would be the first ones to access such instantaneous information sources. Many people and even government agencies might have thought that the average person had no need to be able to access such information, but that would be wrong. Now it’s vital.

Paul Baran, Donald Davies, Leonard Kleinrock, and Lawrence Roberts came up with the concepts, and designed the packet-switching methodology employed in the ARPANET. The TCP/IP communications protocols were developed for the ARPANET by Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf. They also incorporated concepts from the French CYCLADES project directed by Louis Pouzin. As the network development progressed, protocols for internetworking were developed by which multiple separate networks could be joined into a network of networks. Access to the ARPANET was expanded in 1981, when the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the Computer Science Network (CSNET). In 1982, the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) was introduced as the standard networking software stack in the ARPANET. In the early 1980s, the NSF funded the establishment of national supercomputing centers at several universities, and provided network access and network interconnectivity with the NSFNET project in 1986. The ARPANET project was formally decommissioned in 1990, after partnerships with the telecommunication industry paved the way of future commercialization of a new world-wide network…the Internet.

I’m sure that, like the pre-windows DOS program, the ARPANET was quite a bit more primitive. Still, it was an amazing thing to be able to connect with people who were a good distance away from you, and pass data along to them. Of course, the only ones who had access were those in the network, but then when you think about it, if you don’t have internet access, you are out of the loop too, so I guess it is no different really. Most of us thought that the internet was a unique invention, but in reality, it was second in line.

When a person travels for business, they find that they really understand the importance of home. My niece, Susan Griffith is one of the many people who travel as part of their job. Susan works for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming, as a Client Development Executive, basically she is a health insurance agent. She travels to Cheyenne about twice a year around the time people have to update their insurance…open enrollment. She has to go for training. She has to travel around the Bighorn Basin for getting different companies signed up for Blue Cross. Because Susan has to travel for work, she knows how it feels to have to spend that time away from family. Everyone I have talked to about traveling for work has told me that they had little tricks to make a hotel room feel more like home. I don’t know if Susan has a way that helps her or not, but I do know that her home and her family are the most important things in her life. Nevertheless, travel time aside, Susan loves her job!!

Susan and her husband, Josh Griffith love to go camping in the mountains. They, like other members of her family, would live in the mountains, if it weren’t for jobs or school for their girls, Jala Satterwhite and Kaytlyn Griffith. They go camping every chance they get. They love to hike, and this year, they hiked Heart Mountain, which is relatively near their home in Powell, Wyoming. Heart Mountain gained world fame in World War II, when it was used as a concentration camp to hold Japanese-American citizen, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many people weren’t sure where Japanese-American loyalties lay, so the didn’t take a chance, and moved the people to camps. It was a sad, but understandable time. Susan’s family also hiked to Copper Lake in the Beartooth Mountains, but they don’t think they will try that one again, because in Susan’s own words, “It was crazy hard!!” This past year, they did something a little different too. San Diego can’t exactly be considered camping in the mountains. Nevertheless, they had a great time. They went to Sea World, and all the other great attractions of the area, including the ocean.

With all her traveling nearby, and far away, Susan somehow still finds time to grow a garden. This year, she had a good crop of onions and asparagus…just to name a couple. When she isn’t traveling or camping/hiking, Susan likes to be home. She enjoys nesting, and being with her family. In all, Susan lives a well rounded life, and finds herself very happy in it. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

There are certain people who fit in your family from the moment they join it. My niece, Dustie Masterson, who married my nephew Rob Masterson on January 18, 2003 is one of those people. Rob and Dustie met when he was in the Army, and was in Louisiana. It didn’t take them very long to realize that they were in love and that they were perfect for each other. When they returned to Casper, Wyoming where Rob’s family all live, the family liked Dustie immediately. She was sweet, helpful, kind, and most of all, she was very much in love with and loyal to Rob. That goes a long way toward endearing a person to their spouse’s family.

Dustie and Rob’s favorite place to be was always together. It didn’t really matter where. That is such an interesting thought now, years later, when the two of them work together in different areas of the local Sam’s Club. Not everyone has the ability or the opportunity to work at the same place as their spouse, but Dustie and Rob even got hired at the same time. Now, they get to work together sometimes, and on opposite shifts at other times, but either way, they work at the same place, and are part of the same team. They are both supervisors in their areas now, and the people they work with count on them to keep things running smoothly.

Dustie and Rob have three children together, Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna, as well as Rob’s daughter from his first marriage, Christina. Their lives are so full of joy and happiness. They love their family, and their extended family. They are always willing to help others. Dustie stepped in during the years that we took care of our parents, and even though they were her grandparents by marriage, she loved them like they were her own. She ran errands for us, helped out with meals and care, and visited, which we all know is vital when it comes to helping people feel good about life. Dustie is such a pleasant person too. She is light-hearted and fun, and she doesn’t mind being a little bit silly sometimes. So, seriously, what’s better than that…let’s face it, nothing. That’s what I really like about Dustie. Her little bit sweet, little bit silly personality. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Where my Aunt Evelyn Hushman was the beginning of my grandma and grandpa, Hattie and George Byer’s large family, Aunt Sandy Pattan was the end. Between them were 17 years and 7 siblings. When Aunt Sandy arrived, my grandparents had a disagreement as to what her name would be. My grandfather wanted to name her Sonya (or maybe Sonja, we will never know, since the name lost), but my grandmother wanted to name her Sandra. They simply could not agree, so the decision was made for Grandpa to go home and tell the rest o the children about the birth, and let a majority rule vote of the children settle the dispute. So, Grandpa went home and told the children about their little sister. Then he told them about the name dispute. They were to decide. Trying as hard as he could to make Sandra sound as plain as he could and, Sonya sound like the most beautiful name in the world, Grandpa waited for the decision. He didn’t have to wait long. Almost the split second he said Sonya, the children all said, “Eeeeewwww!! Sonya!! No way!! We choose Sandra!!”

Poor Grandpa. The decision saddened him. He liked the name Sonya. Nevertheless, Grandpa was an honorable man. The name Sandra had been chosen, and Sonya was out. He would accept that. I’m sure Grandma was happy, and my Aunt Sandy has told me that she is thankful, because she doesn’t think she would have liked the name Sonya. Maybe not, but once a name is given, most people can’t imagine themselves as anyone else. People tend to fit the name given, whether it is unusual or common. I can’t imagine having an Aunt Sonya, but then that is because I have always had an Aunt Sandy. That’s who she is, and it’s as simple as that.

Aunt Sandy must have some of the name/heritage gene in her blood, because she is as curious as I am about things like family history, and name history. We like to know if a name came from way back in the family, was made up, or picked out of a book. It doesn’t really matter which one it is, it’s really about the search. Aunt Sandy is a great teller of family stories. She remembers them in great detail. I could sit and listen to her all day. Many people don’t understand the importance of the family history, and people like Aunt Sandy and me, are important, because without someone to keep the stories alive, the family history could die, and that would be truly tragic. I’m grateful to have Aunt Sandy, who is still able to tell me the stories, so that when some of the kids in the family discover their interest, the story will still be there. Today is Aunt Sandy’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Tucker Schulenberg has been through a number of big changes over the past year, not the least of which is a name change. This past summer found Tucker’s dream coming true, when his dad, Ron Schulenberg officially adopted him. It is something Tucker had wanted almost since the day his mom, Rachel Schulenberg married his new dad. They are best buddies. Tucker has looked up to Ron for years now, and carrying his name is the ultimate honor for both of them. We are all very happy for them all, because we have all wanted this as well. Now, Ron and Tucker work together and play together. Ron is a great role model for Tucker, and he is very, very proud of his son.

Tucker is in his first year of middle school now, and with that change has come some other changes…some his mother is almost dreading. The biggest “dread” for Rachel is girls!! Nevertheless, try as she might to avoid it, Tucker is a bit of a chick magnet. So far this year, Tucker has had four girlfriends. I guess that his love of girls is definitely in the early stages…nothing serious for Rachel to worry about. Tucker is a complex kind of guy, and that might be what attracts him to the girls. He is well liked at school, for several reasons. Tucker likes to share the wealth, so to speak. He shares gum…by the 6 pound bags…with the kids at school. It’s not just the gum that makes the kids all like him, however. Tucker hates bullying, and will not tolerate it, against himself or others. He stops it in its tracks. While Tucker isn’t one to pick a fight, he will fight it it’s necessary to stop bullying. That is something that makes us all very proud.

Tucker likes LEGOs, YouTube, comics, the outdoors, shooting targets, and his dog. His varied interests, and his friendly nature, make him fit in everywhere. While his new interests make all the kids at school like him, Tucker still loves his daddy the best. They will always be best friends. Tucker is growing up fast, and I find myself amazed at how big he has grown. Where have all the years gone. It seems like just yesterday that Tucker was the almost 3 year old son of my brother-in-law’s new wife, but that was 9 years ago. Today is Tucker’s 12th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Reagan Parmely is the eldest child of my nephew, Eric Parmely and his wife, Ashley. She is a sweet little mommy’s helper, who loves being the big sister to her siblings, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. Reagan is very much her momma’s girl. She loves horses, goats, chickens, rabbits, dogs, and cats. And every other animal you might think of. She even likes snakes…which is where I have to draw the line. Of course, Reagan is smart about snakes. She makes sure they are ok to pick up, before she touches them.

A great big 1st grader this year, I find myself thinking that Reagan is growing up way too fast. She is starting to get her own sense of style. This year, she decided that she wanted a shorter hair style, and the resulting pixie cut is darling. Reagan wanted an easy going, out of the way style and she is very happy with the result. Of course, her mom wanted to cry a bit, but it will grow back…if Reagan ever wants it long again. Either way, she is a cutie and that’s all that matters.

Reagan, Hattie, and their mom love to go riding together, and I guess their daddy must be the babysitter for the younger kids, or maybe Grandma and Grandpa. Those rides on the horses give the three of them a little girl-time. That’s always nice for the older children to have some time with their parents, one-on-one so to speak. Reagan is growing into such a great girl. She is smart and helpful. She love to teach her younger siblings things and in general hang out with her best little friends. That learn about the farm animals, and about bringing baby animals into the world. And then how to care for them when they are hear. And all that is when she is not is school, which she loves too. I think Reagan is going to go far in her life. She has so much potential. Today is Reagan’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Ashley Parmely married my nephew, Eric Parmely on July 23, 2011. Since then, their happy family has grown to include four children, daughters, Reagan and Hattie were followed by son, Bowen, and most recently, daughter Maeve. These days, having four children is considered a large family, and many people would consider Ashley to be a supermom based solely of the number of children she has. I agree that with larger families, mom’s are supermoms, but coming from a family of five children, I don’t necessarily consider Eric and Ashley’s family to be overly large, and it is not the size of the family that makes me think of Ashley as a supermom.

There are, however, several other things that I think do qualify for supermom status. In years gone by, when people lived on homesteads, mothers juggled things that most of us don’t these days. These days, many mothers work outside the home, and their children spend their days in a daycare facility. Ashley, on the other hand, is stay at home mom, and while that isn’t unheard of either, it is a bit more unusual these days.

That still isn’t what makes me consider Ashley to be a modern day supermom, however. Eric and Ashley have lived in the country almost since they got married. Recently they bought a bigger place, because they wanted to be able to rise more animals. Eric works in the oilfield, and that leaves Ashley and the children they work of taking care of the animals. Don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t do it alone, because when Eric is home, he works very hard too, but Ashley loves her animals and love spending time with them. And this is where her supermom status comes in. It doesn’t matter if her youngest is too little to leave in the house, or to walk alongside “mommy” either, because Ashley has a backpack. The work must go on, and Ashley loves to do it anyway.

The day might find Ashley, baby on her back, moving hay, feeding animals, or mucking stalls. She has done this with all four babies, so she is a expert at working with the extra weight attached. She gives “baby weight” a whole new meaning. One might think that Ashley would be worn out and tired, and I suppose that at the end of the day, she is, but it never causes her to look tired or grouchy. Instead, all these babies…human and animal…put a smile on the supermom’s face, everyday. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My great grandfather, Cornelius Byer was a kind and a fair man. He was generous and honest. It was these qualities that earned him the respect of the Indian tribes in the Gordon, Nebraska area. Great Grandpa passed away on October 23, 1930, but the celebration of life, really began before the day of the funeral, and even before he passed away. Over the years of his life, my great grandfather became a great friend of the Indians. He was invited to their pow wows, he was asked his opinions on things…and they listened when he spoke. He was helpful to the Indian tribes, and they, in turn treated him with great respect.

The Indians would often show up at his home…something that would most likely panic most people. Most often the women and children would stay outside, while the men went in to visit with Great Grandpa. It was another show of respect. The Indians often camped near the house when the men were visiting. I’m sure it was a very interesting lifestyle for my grandmother.

While all that was interesting, probably the most interesting thing happened as Great Grandpa was dying and after his passing. When he lay dying, the Indians came…long lines of them. Each one, including the women and children, passed by his bed. They spoke words of respect and admiration. I’m sure it took hours, but none were turned away. Great Grandma knew how much they loved him, and how much they needed to say goodbye. I would love to have had the chance to see that scene. These were two groups of people who normally didn’t get along, and yet they showed so much love and respect for one another. There was no warring with, no stealing from, no depriving of one another. There was simply love and respect. I’m sure it made my Great Grandmother Edna (Fishburn) Byer and their children feel very safe over the years.

My grandfather, George Byer arrived at the homestead on October 20, 1930. My grandmother, Hattie Byer stayed home with their newborn daughter, Virginia, who was just 4 months old at the time. Grandpa brought almost 2 year old Evelyn with him. His letter at the time said that all the children were there, or soon would be. Three days later, Great Grandpa Cornelius Byer passed away. I’m so glad my grandpa got to see his dad before he passed. When it was time to have the funeral, they would have to travel into Gordon, Nebraska. We would never think of transporting our own loved one to the funeral, but those were different times. Nevertheless, the Indians would not leave their dear friend to go alone. With the casket in a wagon, and his son driving, Great Grandpa went to his funeral. Little Evelyn sat in the back of the wagon, wide-eyed in wonder as a long line of Indians followed the procession to the cemetery. In death, as in life, their respect for this man, who was my great grandfather, was on display. I can’t think of a greater honor than this. Cornelius Byer was truly loved and respected by all who knew him.

Over the years, ships that sailed the high seas, were faced with a number of perils, among them the biggest human danger there was…pirates. No area of the globe was particularly more dangerous than another, and no area was immune to attack, as was seen on October 19, 1927, when the Chinese steamer, SS Irene was on a voyage from Shanghai to Amoy with 258 passengers and crew. As she set out, she was taken over by pirates masquerading as passengers on that Wednesday. After boarding, the pirates quickly seized control of the ship and headed out to sea.

It was then that two L-class British submarines intercepted the vessel and demanded that they halt and surrender. The two submarines were based off Mendoza Island (now Shenggao Island) at the entrance of the bay. Upon their arrival, they had been ordered to split up. L4 went to patrol around the entrance of the bay and L5 was ordered to patrol within. It was at this point that they encountered the SS Irene. Pirates are a bull-headed group, and they aren’t afraid of very much. They are after all, outlaws, and that makes them a tough bunch. The pirates refused to surrender, and the submarines were ordered to fire. They fired two torpedoes into the ships hold. Even after being hit, the pirates continued to try to make it to shore, but they had been too badly damaged. Finally, they began to abandon ship. At this point, the ship stopped, but it was already beginning to sink. The British submarines then rescued the passengers and crew.

The Irene incident of 1927 was a significant event of the British anti-piracy operations in China during the first half of the 20th century. It was part of a British attempt to surprise the pirates of Bias Bay, about sixty miles from Hong Kong. Royal Navy submarines were sent to stop the pirates, and the merchant ship SS Irene, of the China Merchants Steam Navigation Company, which had been taken over by the pirates on the night of October 19th was one if the first. The British were successful in thwarting the hijacking though they sank the ship. Sometimes, drastic measures must be taken in order to bring about the necessary changes. While we don’t hear about it as much, piracy still exists today. There may again come a time when drastic measures must be taken, and I know the authorities will do what has to be done.

No, I’m not talking of foods to eat when you are feeling depressed, although the Great Depression really did qualify as depressing. Nevertheless, as I was considering the days of the Great Depression, I wondered what foods the people had survived on, when money was scarce, and food was suddenly expensive…more so than these days, when you consider the lack of jobs and money. People were forced to re-evaluate their priorities and their food choices.

It was at this point that foods like Bisquick, Good Humor ice cream bars, Kraft macaroni and cheese, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Kool-Aid, Toll House chocolate chips, Ritz Crackers, and Spam appeared on the scene. They were inexpensive foods then, and they have never left us. To this day, some people call them “broke food.” In many ways, foods had to be more filling, more calorie laden, because you didn’t always get to eat as much as you wanted. That makes the calories important. Some foods became too pricey. Less expensive options on things became a must. Crisco was a less expensive option to butter, Oscar Meyer Wieners replaced more costly sausages, Maxwell House Sanka coffee was an option to whole bean coffees, Heinz Ketchup was used as the base for a simple tomato soup, Underwood Deviled Ham substituted fresh lunch meat, Carnation evaporated milk replaced fresh milk, Ground acorns became a substitute for coffee. People added chicory to extend the coffee supplies, while honey, molasses and corn sweeteners replaced sugar, because sugar was at a premium, and later on in World War II, it was rationed.

It wasn’t just the new foods that were strange, but rather what people made with some of them, that amazes me. Basically, foods changed from what we had known before, because fruits, vegetables, and meats weren’t as readily available. Things like meatless meatloaf and appleless apple pie appeared on the scene. Meatloaf became “anything” loaf…from meatless meatloaf made with everything from peanuts to raisins to liver loaf, families used their creativity and whatever was available to make this alternative to the weekly favorite. With a shortage of apples came the “mock apple pie” which substituted apples for crumbled crackers sprinkled with flavored syrup and cinnamon, all baked into a crust. The most famous of these recipes appeared on the back of the Ritz cracker box in 1934, the “Ritz mock apple pie” was an instant hit. Things like chipped beef on toast or waffles was also a staple, and one my mom, Collene Spencer picked up from her mom, Hattie Byer. Mom liked it so much that it was something we had from time to time. Basically, it used a little chipped beef and a lot of gravy. I can see how it would have been a staple in the Great Depression, because it was very filling. And of course, my personal favorite, and one I still love since my grandmother first made them for us, Potato Pancakes. Because of the wide availability and low cost of potatoes, Depression-era cooks used potatoes as substitutes in other dishes. Potato pancakes, made with grated potatoes cooked or fried in a pan, was a common dish at every meal. We loved them, and nobody made them like Grandma.

People foraged in their yards too. These days, many people drink Dandelion Tea or put Dandelion leaves in their salad. Of course, the dandelions we use today have to be carefully cultivated, because most of us try very hard to kill them when they spring up in our gardens. Weed killer would not make for “healthy” dandelions. Wild onions were also used, and were something I remember Mom telling us about. She loved them. Of course, people who knew about plants could forage for herbs that could be used for everything from seasoning to medicine. Most of us today don’t really know many of the herbs in the wild, although we might know them if we plant them from a seed.

Soups took on various new forms too. Mulligan Stew came about from those who were homeless, because it entailed putting in anything that was available. Some people actually went so far as to put lint in to make it more filling. “Tomato” soup even took on new forms, substituting Ketchup for tomato sauce. And they even managed to have dessert sometimes. Prune Pudding was founded during this time. Prunes were easy to store, widely available, and much less expensive than other fruits, while providing needed nutrients to the Depression-era diet. The fruit is packed with fiber and supplies almost one-third of your daily needs for Vitamin K. And it already had sweetness, so there wasn’t much to do, but heat it. While some of the foods of the Great Depression era where designed to fill people up, some managed to be nutritious too. Either way, some of the foods developed back then are still with us today, and there are still a lot of us who have had some of the recipes that were developed in those days, by our grandparents.

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