Atomic City

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Because I grew up during WWII, I read books about that terrible time. One that I just completed is titled “The Girls Of Atomic City.” Years ago when I traveled the country with the family I studied maps of the USA. Yes maps, that was a time before computers and GPS were invented. One area that always intrigued me was Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This small town was always connected to the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority). The TVA was one of President Roosevelt’s make work projects during the Great Depression. Basically he brought electricity to the rural South by damming rivers, and building power plants. Oak Ridge was just a ridge named for its oak trees. There was no town. After the war started Roosevelt initiated the Manhattan Project. This was the most secret effort ever worked on by the USA. The Manhattan Project involved several different places; one in Chicago, another in Las Alamos, New Mexico, and one in Tennessee called the Clinton Engineering Works. The project was the most closely guarded of any ever worked on involving hundreds of thousands of people across the country, except for a few traitors who regularly fed information to the Russians.

The secret has been public information for many years now, and the Manhattan Project was a success. We developed the atomic bomb, and used it to end WWII. There are people who argue that the USA was wrong to kill so many civilians, but to do other wise would have meant seeing millions of military people slaughtered on both sides. Are they not also civilians?

The atomic bomb needed fuel to make it work. The fuel was Uranium 238, and Uranium 235. In order to get the Uranium to work it had to be concentrated and close to pure. The effort to process Uranium ore into bomb grade material is what spawned the Oak Ridge section of the project. The US Government spent 2 billion dollars (1943-45 money) to make it happen. To keep the secret, no one who worked at Oak Ridge knew what any one else who worked there did. Workers had only the information they needed to perform their specific jobs.

Most of the men at the time were drafted to fight the war in Europe and the Pacific. This meant the job force was mostly women, young high school graduated women. Many of these girls had brothers fighting in the war, and many of the brothers were already killed or wounded in action. The girls never knew what was going on at the plant, but they did know they were working for the government and believed they were working to help end the war.

As I read this story and marveled at the system the Army invented to keep the project secret, I was reminded of the company that I worked for. The owner, whom I will refer to as JEC, used this system to guard his manufacturing process from winding up in the hands of his competitors. Departments were closed off from each other, and employees were given badges that would open the doors. That is, if they were authorized to enter the area. As a new engineer, I sought entry into the production room to watch a specific machine work. It was my project to improve the machine. Within seconds of arriving the supervisor of the department was at my side asking questions about my need for information. I received a very stern rebuke about the need to call the department head in advance of a visit to his area. Our security system was so strict, I often wondered who invented it. Now I know. I am positive that JEC had worked as an engineer on some aspect of the Manhattan Project. JEC never lost his trade secrets to a leak because no one employee ever had the whole picture of the processes.

At its peak, Oak Ridge had seventy-five thousand people working at the site. Imagine the effort it took to build plants, to install custom machinery, hire and house staff. The site they picked was in the middle of nowhere south of Knoxville, Tennessee. Roads were nonexistent. Roads inside the fence that surrounded the project were mud. Buildings to house employees were many different kinds: some were crude dormitories, some mobile trailers, some pre-fab apartments. They built cafeterias to feed the workers who worked around the clock. They had a bus system that rivaled those of large cities. They had shopping centers where employees could buy necessities. A single building provided space for worship of many different faiths. In other words, they had to build a city as well as a factory to make the product.

I found this book fascinating and could not stop reading until I finished. Oak Ridge the city that did not exist finally became a city after the war.

Denise Kiernan did a wonderful job of reporting a piece of history that has been long neglected while integrating the personal stories of several  women who worked there, and who were still living at the time she wrote the book.

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PSA-170311-Did You Ever Wonder?

“They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot. Once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive, you were known as ‘piss poor’ But worse than that were the really poor folks who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot. They ‘didn’t have a pot to piss in’ and were considered the lowest of the low.”

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“Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good in June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.”

“Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the sons and, then the women, and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!’”

“Houses had thatched roofs with thick straw-piled high and no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained, it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, ‘It’s raining cats and dogs.’

“There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house either. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.”

dustbowl photos

“The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the term, ‘dirt poor.’ The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter especially when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence, ‘a threshhold.'”

“In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day, they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not have much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot overnight and start over the next day.

“Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, ‘Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.’
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.

“When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could ‘bring home the bacon.’ They would cut off a little to share with guests, and would all sit around and ‘chew the fat.’”

“Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

“Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the ‘upper crust.’”

“Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a ‘wake’.”

dust bowl

“In the older, small villages, local folks started running out of places to bury people, so they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside, and they realized they had been burying people alive, so they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.

“Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (‘the graveyard shift’) to listen for a bell to ring. Thus, someone could be ‘saved by the bell’, or was considered a ‘dead ringer.’”

Now, whoever said history was boring?

=== THE END ===

PSA-170313-Liars Figure Figures Lie

 

In addition to what Tami has exposed about the Obama Care number manipulations remember a few more things:

  1. You have to vote for Obama Care to learn what is in it.
  2. A failed billion dollar computerized sign up.
  3. Multiple delays in getting it active
  4. Too many illegal changes to the law without the consent or advisement of Congress
  5. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.
  6.  It will reduce your health care premiums by $2500 per

If ever there was a law that needed repealing, this is it.

My own personal experience up until now has been neutral. I’ve had an eighteen year  relationship with my doctor, I like him and want to keep him. His usual routine was to see me three times a year, first a blood test then a consult. Scheduling was easy, I call his office and get scheduled. Most times I dd it as I was leaving from my latest consult. Obama Care came along and now my doctor decided he didn’t want any part of it so he sold his practice to some humongous  doctor group. He is just another physician on the roster. He is in the same office, but he is scheduled by the central group. I’ve been trying for a month to get an appointment for a blood test which he prescribed six months ago. I can’t reach anyone in his personal office anymore. Now I have to complain, and say that all the crappy things we have heard about Obama Care are worse than true. Is this what America wants and believes is their God-given right?

Am I Normal?

I’m Not Eighty Yet

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I used to think I was just a regular guy, but . . . I was born white, which now, whether I like it or not, makes me a racist.

I am a fiscal and moral conservative, which by today’s standards, makes me a fascist.

I am heterosexual, which according to gay folks, now makes me a homophobic.

I am non-union, which makes me a traitor to the working class and an ally of big business.

I am Jewish married to a Christian which now makes me a double infidel.

I believe in the 2nd Amendment, which now makes me a member of the vast gun lobby.

I am older than 70, which makes me a useless old man.

I think and I reason, therefore I doubt much that the main stream media tells me, which must make me a reactionary.

I am proud of my heritage and our inclusive American culture, which makes me a xenophobe.

I value my safety and that of my family and I appreciate the police and the legal system, which makes me a right-wing extremist.

I believe in hard work, fair play, and fair compensation according to each individual’s merits, which today makes me an anti-socialist.

I believe in the defense and protection of the homeland for and by all citizens, which now makes me a militant.

Recently, a sick old woman called me and my friends a “basket of deplorables”.

Please help me come to terms with the new me . . because I’m just not sure who I am anymore!

I would like to thank all my friends for sticking with me through these abrupt, new found changes in my life and my thinking!

I just can’t imagine or understand what’s happened to me so quickly!

Funny . . it’s all just taken place over the last 7 or 8 years! As if all this crap wasn’t enough to deal with. I’m now afraid to go into either restroom!

PSA-170217A-God’s Plan

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God’s Plan for Aging?

Most seniors never get enough exercise. In His wisdom God decreed that seniors become forgetful so they would have to search for their glasses, keys and other things thus doing more walking. And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God saw there was another need. In His wisdom He made seniors lose coordination so they would drop things requiring them to bend, reach & stretch. And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God considered the function of bladders and decided seniors would have additional calls of nature requiring more trips to the bathroom, thus providing more exercise. God looked down and saw that it was good.

So if you find as you age, you are getting up and down more, remember it’s God’s will. It is all in your best interest even though you mutter under your breath.

Nine Important Facts To Remember As We Grow Older

#9 Death is the number 1 killer in the world.

#8 Life is sexually transmitted.

#7 Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

#6 Men have 2 motivations: hunger and hanky panky, and they can’t tell them apart. If you see a gleam in his eyes, make him a sandwich.

#5 Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks, months, maybe years unless you give them your email address.

#4 Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.

#3 All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

#2 In the 60’s, people took LSD to make the world weird. Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it normal.

#1 Life is like a jar of jalapeno peppers. What you do today may be a burning issue tomorrow

Super Bowl, & Land Of Opportunity

I have to admit that Super Bowl LI was exciting. This was the first time in ten years that I watched. I must admit, however, that I didn’t see the entire game. Atlanta was winning 21-0 when I tuned in. I watched the half-time shows and then kept watching to see if the Pats would come back. I felt certain that if they could score quickly in the second half they would win. I saw the Pats score one touchdown. That’s about the time I noticed my wife Peg beginning to fall asleep in the wheelchair.I turned the tv on mute and we put peg to bed. It has been my habit to hold her hand and to say my prayers while she falls asleep. This can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to forty-five minutes.  The idea of living with regrets doesn’t appeal to me, so I made myself follow the ritual even though the game was not over.

I finished my prayers, Peg was fast asleep and I covered her with a second blanket then dressed down into my PJs. I emerged from the BR to see the score was at 28-28. Oh well. I watched the overtime and thought the Pat’s deserve the win for such a remarkable comeback. They are certainly a model for positive thinking and that it ain’t over till it’s over attitude.

Everyone always remarks about the fabulous commercials during the Super Bowl. I want to comment on two that stood out. The first was a picture story about a mother and daughter from a Central American country who leave home to find a better life. The story ends too soon with a message to go to the sponsors website for the conclusion. Someday, I may do that. There is no doubt that this mother-daughter team prevailed some awful hardships to make it to America. I was near tears watching them overcome the hardships of their journey. The message was they are willing to undergo tremendous hardship to get to the land of opportunity, except for one thing, they didn’t bother to get a proper entry VISA. I’m sure no one ever told them they needed such a document, but someone else must have told them to just walk in because America’s doors are wide open.

The second commercial was also about immigration. This one involves a young man with big dreams and proper credentials who journeys from Germany to Saint Louis, Missouri. There, he meets a fellow immigrant and the two of them team up to form the Anheuser-Busch brewery. The immigrant is not well accepted in this story. He is different, and people tell him so, but he overcomes the hardships and he prevails. His story is not different than those of my father and the many immigrants I lived with growing up. My dad was called  Hunky, others were called Dago, Kraut, Kyke, Pollack, Chink. There was a degrogatory name for every ethnic group in America. My parents and the parents of my many childhood friends all overcame the slurs and prevailed. They worked hard, they  learned the language the best they could, and became citizens. Their safe space was America, and they did not need the ACLU protecting them. They didn’t want to change America into their home country with their ethnic culture, but they didn’t give up celebrating in their howetown garb, or to play their failiar music, or to dance the dances they left behind. When their clebrations ended they reverted to being Americans.

Both stories are compelling. They tell the story of America. They show that America has a huge heart. The M-D  story, however, told me that we seem to have forgotten that our responsibility to immigrants is to give them a key to enter the house, i.e. a proper VISA. With the VISA the laws permit free and equal opportunity, but breaking into the house without an invitation marks them as unwanted criminals.

The immigration laws of the United States are very fair and well drafted. However, over the years our leaders from both sides have decided to ignore them. Instead of asking Congress to revise the law to allow free entry, they have opted instead to disregard the laws, and to complain that the system is broken. The system is not broken, it is a sensible workable law. If we want to accept more immigrants we should change the law to raise, or to remove the limit. Evidently, we don’t pay our Congress enough to work very hard on writing law. They spend more time worrying about becoming reelected than they do about keeping America viable, and strong.
Congress has invented many ways to circumvent the laws to allow more immigrants in. One way is the add-on to allow family members of those who are already here to come without vetting. Another is a law called DOCA passed to allow children without adult accompaniment to enter and to stay. There are many more ways.
So, instead of changing we continue to allow free entry and then complain about illegals spreading about the country.
Refugees are another exception. We have taken huge numbers of Vietnamese, Cuban, and Syrians. The Cubans and Vietnamese have assimilated, we are not yet certain about the Syrians. Maybe they will, and maybe they won’t only time will tell. If they don’t I am sure we will pass laws to change our ways. Except, the horse will be out of the barn when we finally close the door.

PSA-170205-Philosophy 101

Philosophy 101

As we grow older, and hence wiser, we slowly realize that:

Whether we wear a $300 or $30 watch – – – they both tell the same time.

Whether we carry a $300 or $30 wallet/handbag – – – the amount of money inside is the same.

Whether we drink a bottle of $300 or $30 or $3 wine – – – the hangover is the same.

Whether the house we live in is 300 or 3,000 or 30,000 sq. ft. – – – the loneliness is the same.

And we realize our true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world.

Whether we fly first or economy class, if the plane goes down – – – we go down with it.

Whether we fly first or economy class, if the plane reaches its destination – – – everyone arrives at the same time.

We should realize that when we have mates, buddies and old friends, brothers and sisters, with whom we can chat, laugh, talk, sing, talk about north- south-east-west or heaven
and earth — that is true happiness.

Six Undeniable Facts of Life

1. Don’t educate your children to be rich. Educate them to be happy, so when they grow up they will know the value of things, not the price.

2. Best wise words: “Eat your food as your medicines. Otherwise you have to eat medicines as your food.”

3. The one who loves you will never leave you because, even if there are 100 reasons to give up, he or she will find one reason to hold on.

4. There is a big difference between a human being and being human. Only a few folks really understand that.

5. You are loved when you are born. You will be loved when you die. In between, you have to manage.

6. If you just want to walk fast, walk alone; but, if you want to walk far, walk together.

Six Best Doctors in the World

1. Sunlight
2. Rest
3. Exercise
4. Diet
5. Self Confidence
6. Friends

And, finally: The nicest place to be is in someone’s thoughts, the safest place to be is in someone’s prayers, and the very best place to be is….in the hands of God.

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